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What to believe? Confronting crises of faith

February 2nd, 2013 Posted in Opinion

By Katie Feinauer

LOGAN—Laura Simons is worried. Born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Simons raised her children in the same religious tradition. But recently two of her kids and one of her sons-in-law have begun to struggle with their long-held beliefs.

Hoping to help them as they consider what they believe in, Simons attended the new Utah State University workshop, “Navigating a Crisis of Faith,” Monday at the Taggart Student Center.

Simons hoped the workshop would help give her understanding and insight into her children’s struggles. She also hoped it would help her find ways to support them; she didn’t want a gap to form because of religious differences.

Erica Youd can appreciate Simons’ dilemma. Youd grew up as an active LDS Church member, but last year decided she no longer believed in God.

It took Youd six months before she was ready to tell her family she was leaving the church.

She decided to tell her brother first. When he heard the news, he began to cry. “My family just thinks I’m going through a phase,” Youd said. “They don’t believe this will last.”

Youd says her parents struggled with her decision. From her view, they seemed very narrow-minded when she was growing up.

When Youd first became friends with an atheist, she says her parents were not supportive. “My parents thought that if you believed in God you were a good person and if you did not believe in God you were bad,” she said.

Youd says this new USU workshop can be beneficial for all who attend, and she thinks it can help family members understand their loved ones better.

During the first meeting, workshop leader John Dehlin showed a diagram outlining the four stages individuals typically go through as they try to find what they believe in.

The first stage is “foreclosure,” where people accept without question what they were taught as a child. Next is “diffusion,” in which individuals reject old beliefs but do not actively seek new ones. Third is “moratorium,” when individuals actively explore and seek new ideas in an attempt to identify what they believe in. And last is the “achievement” phase, in which individuals have come to a decision about what they believe after considering past beliefs and confronting their crisis of faith.

Youd said these stages accurately reflect her experience.

For her part, Simons hopes that understanding these stages will help her more effectively communicate with her children families.

“I don’t want to be part of the problem,” Simons said. “I want to do right by my kids.”


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