Why People Leave The Church, But Can’t Leave It Alone

A hopeful plea to the Church’s faithful

Nate Bagley
9 min readMay 10, 2021


Preface: I feel it’s important to note that I consider myself a nuanced/progressive Church member. I wrote this article to create empathy and build bridges, not to harm or attack anyone’s faith.

Since I was a kid I’ve heard active members of the church complain that people, “Leave the church, but won’t leave it alone.”

In my experience, the phrase “They can’t leave it alone” was often used to demonstrate how lost, angry, and bitter “ex-Mormons” had become.

It hammered home the idea that we, the faithful members, were happy, at peace, and confident about our beliefs and salvation. And the people who leave are so miserable, resentful, and filled with the ideas of Satan that they want to tear the church down with them.

And I believed it 100%.

I pitied people who left the church. How could they just walk away from Eternal Salvation over something as silly as a church history issue, or a disagreement with a local leader?

As I’ve gained a bit more life experience, I’ve realized that this black-and-white view is not only flawed, but actually contributes to the reason people can’t “leave the church alone.”

It All Starts With Trust

Trust is the heart of any healthy relationship.

Trust is what allows us to relax, feel safe, and let down our guard. It allows us to give a rest to our paranoid animal brain that is always on the alert, looking for danger.

When most of us encounter the Church, we put a lot of trust in the organization and its leaders.

Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

We’re taught that the Church possesses the fullness of the Gospel. Answers to the most profound of humanity's questions. “Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?”

The Church possesses the keys and saving ordinances to qualify you for exaltation and an eternity surrounded by the people you love.



Nate Bagley

I’m the creator of the Growth Marriage Podcast (http://growthmarriage.com). My mission in life is to rid the world of mediocre love.