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Leaving Zion: The experience of dissafiliation from the LDS church

26 July 2013


The purpose of this qualitative dissertation was to gain a greater understanding of the lived experience of those who have chosen to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). I used a criterion-based strategy to find participants. I conducted five semi-structured, in-person interviews with individuals who had willingly left the LDS Church. The sample consisted of five Caucasian, middle-class individuals residing in Utah. The mean age of the participants was 38.4 and had been out of the LDS Church for a mean of 8.2 years. I constructed the study and analyzed the interview transcripts using the Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (ITP) with the focus on understanding the phenomenon. I found four main themes through the data analysis and organized them as stages in the process of disaffiliation. The stages include religious affiliation, process of disaffiliation, internal impacts and external impacts. Participants reported that although there were many benefits from disaffiliation, they also had many challenging experiences related to this decision. Effects of LDS disaffiliation include strained family relationships and the loss of friendships.


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