Accounts in Alma indicate that some of the bitterest enemies against the people of God among the Nephites were those who had once been Nephites themselves and had learned of the doctrines of the gospel but had fallen away and joined the enemy forces.
In his commentary, Mormon remarks: "And thus we can plainly discern, that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things." (Alma 24:30.)
In his April 1989 general conference sermon, Bishop Glenn L. Pace, then second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, spoke of such persons today, "former members who have become disenchanted with the Church but who are obsessed with making vicious and vile attacks upon it."
"Most members and nonmembers alike see these attacks for what they really are. What credibility can possibly be given to a person who mocks beliefs held sacred by another? Anyone who would resort to these attacks unwittingly discloses his or her true character or lack of the same. As members of the Church we are appalled by such attacks. Hopefully, however, they make us more sensitive and extra careful not to make light of the sacred beliefs of other denominations.
"In addition to attacking our sacred beliefs, some former members speak evil of the Brethren. Joseph Smith received his share of this criticism from the dissidents of his day. The Lord's revelation to him is applicable to us today:
" 'Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.
" 'But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves.' (Doctrine and Covenants 121:16-17.)
"It seems that history continues to teach us, You can leave the Church, but you can't leave it alone. The basic reason for this is simple. Once someone has received a witness of the Spirit and accepted it, he leaves neutral ground. One loses his testimony only by listening to the promptings of the evil one, and Satan's goal is not complete when a person leaves the Church, but when he comes out in open rebellion against it."