What Kind of Inactive Mormon are You?

So you’re thinking of taking a church break or just slow down a bit. Or leave altogether. But HOW?! Which kind of semi/non-attending Mormon do you want to be?

Gone, by nrg_crisis. Used in accordance to the (CC BY-NC 2.0) license

Christmas and Easter Mormon

This one is classic. Catholics have been doing this one for centuries. Show up at Christmas and Easter and celebrate the major Christian holidays. You might go to a baby blessing or two from time to time as well. Great for marking and keeping traditions, but you don’t want a calling or other obligations.


This one is easy. Just come on Sunday! Don’t bother with the midweek youth activities, but maybe you’ll go to the occasional ward talent show (or not). Great for people who have busy weeknights: late work hours, children in evening activities, professional meet ups, or just like to go to bed early. You might have a Sunday-only calling, but that’s manageable for you.


Wait, were you in the ward? What happened to you? Did you change your number and your email? Also maybe your address? No callings, no obligations, no nothing except maybe random texts from the missionaries asking if you’d like them to come by and share a message.

The Sabbatical

For when you want a break, or just a “breather”. Jana Reiss wrote about her own year off of Mormonism. Maybe it’s 3 months for the summer. 6 months to finish up your thesis or go travel the world. But you aren’t ready to stop leaving altogether. Maybe a break is all you need.

Trickle Away

It might have been a while since we’ve seen you at Church, but not long of a while. The ward might think you just leave right away after church and that’s why they haven’t seen you. And you might be there this Sunday. I saw you sign up to bring that family food during that long hospital stay. You’re there. You might be active for all we know- I don’t remember.

The Calling-and-Go

You show up for your calling, but that’s it. This is a lot like Sunday-only, but you happen to be the organist, so once sacrament is over, you’re done. Or you have a Relief Society calling so you only need to be there every other week. Or maybe you have a weekday calling and so you help out with the youth activities, but you’re not there on Sundays.

The Passive Actor, Open Embracer

You aren’t going to throw yourself out there and go, but if your ministering sisters check-in or the missionaries drop by, you welcome them in with open arms. You’ll come out to the Primary Program Sunday because you got that cute invitation in the mail.

The Name on the Email List

People might not be able to pick you out in the crowd, but they know your name and your email signature. You’re that person on the list sharing that you’re giving away a dining room table and would someone in the ward like it? Anyone have a recommendation for a dentist?

Are you looking to take a break, or have you in the past? Which inactive Mormon have you been? Do you know of another category I didn’t include?

Heather Moore-Farley
Heather Moore-Farley
TopHat is putting her roots down in the Bay Area with her husband and three children. She loves the earth, yarn, and bicycling.


  1. I love these! I spent a few years as a Sunday-only, then transitioned for a couple of years to a calling-and-go (I did primary music, so that was easy), then I ghosted. Now I’m sort of a hybrid between an Easter and Christmas/Passive Actor-Open Embracer, which means I go whenever I happen to be visiting my brother’s family and my nephews are singing/in the primary program/want me to play the piano for their singing time/otherwise being cute. Oh, and of course marching in the Pride parade, which is a different sort of activity level all its own. 🙂

  2. How about another category: the Shrinker. This is the person who is gradually doing less and less, and eventually goes through some of the other stages named. Here’s a typical path: 1) transitioning from teaching Gospel Doctrine to active comments, 2) when it’s clear that those comments are increasingly less appreciated, a comment once in a while, 3) silent grimaces in class, 4) skipping Sunday School some weeks, 5) Sacrament Meeting Only, 6) Easter/Christmas, 7) reprising a common response from people I met on my mission in France, “I’m a believer, but don’t practice,” 8) I used to be Mormon, 9) indifference.

  3. I never considered missing the mid-week activities that are optional as a level of inactivity! I guess I’m a Sunday only/once-in-a-blue-moon activity type of person.

  4. I am a “be my friend if you want, but don’t preach” type of inactive Mormon. After many years of active Mormonism, I think I have heard just about all the “inspiring” messages. And, I long ago decided Mormonism isn’t for me. So, don’t go thinking that by preaching at me you are going to say the perfect thing that will make me repent and bring me back into the fold.

    • Going to another ward means there is no one that can give you a calling. It is not your place, not your bishop. It may not be what you want, but it is how it is.

      However, if the reason for going to another ward is sufficiently persuasive the First Presidency can authorise you records to be moved the other ward – and they do do this, I have been part of the process as a Stake Clerk. And they have done it where the Stake President wasn’t even sure they would.

  5. I think there is a category, at least in our stake, of “I’m always there, but I do nothing” inactive member.

    We have plenty who simply do nothing. They come every week, make a lot of comments, ensure everyone knows they are there. But the don’t accept callings, do nothing else to help the Kingdom grow, and often are not keeping basic commandments. But to all intents and purposes they are active members.

    These people are fooling themselves more than others.

    Making choices is what our mortal existence is all about. And accepting the choices of others should also be. I don’t think that means we should not talk to others about their difficulties with the Church, and the decisions they make. But it does mean that we should accept their decisions, and still accept them as the same people they were. The same friendship, the same family relationship, etc.

    So for those who have actively chosen to no longer attend the only real label and active member can give them is the same one they had before – Child of God (even if they don’t think of themselves in that way). And our Heavenly Parents love them no less.

  6. Great list, TopHat! I think you really highlight in an interesting way the different ways a person can semi-engage with the Church. And Andrew R., I like your addition of the meeting-attending inactive person.

    My suggested addition: The person who is choosing to be offended, but hasn’t yet chosen exactly *how* offended to be. Am I so offended that I’m never coming back? Or will six months be enough? Or refusing callings? It’s all my choice!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Click to subscribe for new post alerts.

Click to subscribe to our magazine, in circulation since 1974.

Related Posts

The Toxic Language of Polygamy Culture

The parallels between societal rape culture and Mormonism’s polygamy culture are alarming. “Rape Culture” is a term used to show the ways society blames victims...

Surviving A Mixed Political Orientation Marriage

I’ve been a Democrat since I was 18. I’ve never had any regrets about this political affiliation, though I have on occasion found myself...

Smash the Plate-riarchy: A New Feminist Ritual

  I grew up hearing the legend about the early Mormon pioneer women who sacrificed their china to be smashed up for the plaster on...

Guest Post: Mormon Fundamentalist Women Know Heavenly Mother

Guest Post by Cristina Rosetti, an Assistant Professor of Humanities at Dixie State University. Her research focuses on the history and lived experience of...
submit guest post
Submit a Guest Blog Post
subscribe to our magazine
Subscribe to Our Magazine
Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :