49: Friendly Advice for Interacting with Apostates (Part 2)

In part two of this three part series, Heather and Amber sit down with their sisters. In the first segment, Heather’s sister, Tamara, joins a conversation about how to fellowship apostates during an emergency. In the second segment, Amber’s sister, Katie, joins us to discuss whether or not it’s OK to fellowship an apostate’s children.

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34 Comments

  1. Aaron

    This episode is highly relevant to my current family situation. My parents are mormon, I’ve left a long time ago. We have a good relationship and my parents respect our wishes to raise our kids outside the church. They would live to take my kids to church occasionally, and I was fine with this at first but a rouge primary teacher tried to “project” my kids! After going a few times, my youngest started having anxiety and nightmares about evil spirits. When I asked my older boy what they learned at church, he said he wasn’t supposed to talk to me about it. My mom was upset to learn about this but didn’t seem very surprised. Long story short, my wife and I will no longer allow even occasional church visits. And 2 years later my youngest is still really confused about evil spirits based on some crazy &%#% he was exposed to when he was 3.

    Reply Sep 04, 2013 @ 08:59:44
  2. John

    You guys are going to need to do a divorce episode since that muddies the water even further. My ex is still active and treats me like Satan himself. The rules discussed in this episode are couched in a nuclear family environment.

    Reply Sep 04, 2013 @ 14:42:47
    • Expositor's Heather C.

      I don’t think this advice is couched in the nuclear family unit. The advice about emergencies applies to anyone whether they are married or not. The advice about fellowshipping children applies to outsiders, not what happens within the family. The same rules would apply to a divorced apostate dad or a single apostate mom in someone’s ward. You wouldn’t approach fellowshipping those people’s children any differently just because they aren’t married to the baby mommies or daddies.

      Reply Sep 04, 2013 @ 18:40:46
  3. Gail F. Bartholomew

    Heather,

    I am enjoying these two episodes. The hard part is these people are in their own world. Remember Alma “boldnes not overbarence” which means to Mormons as long as you smile, are nice, or “feel directed by the spirit” you can be as pushy as you want. There is so much that is completely inappropriate that Mormons are taught is the “right” thing to do. These are the middle aged men that think it is ok to as 12 year old girls if they masturbate.

    Reply Sep 06, 2013 @ 19:32:13
    • Expositor's Heather C.

      I agree, Gail. I feel people often use kindness and happiness as weapons. I think Mormons have perfected the craft, but I don’t think they’re the only ones who do it. We are doing the right thing! (said with a big smile) Why are you so angry? You must be doing dark, sinful things to be so full of anger like that. (big frowny face)

      Reply Sep 11, 2013 @ 20:47:43
  4. RayG

    Dear Mormon Expositor,

    After trying to listen to your most recent podcast on advice from apostates to TBMs, I thought I’d offer apostates advice in return. Please don’t be offended by generalizations and hostility, as that didn’t seem to be taken into account in your production, I’m sure you won’t be offended by mine.

    Here are some thoughts, in no particular order:

    1. If you’re going to complain about Mormons being gossipy and talking about people behind their backs, don’t get four whiney women together and talk about people behind their backs, then record it and put it out there for the world to listen to.

    2. Just because you’ve left the church, it doesn’t make you morally or intellectually superior. Believing that life and DNA can self-generate is just as much an act of faith as believing in God is, and there are plenty of intelligent, educated and thoughtful individuals who find good reason to believe in God, Jesus, and Joseph Smith.

    3. When you leave the church, be committed and quit using us. I can’t count the number of funerals and weddings done in the church for people who haven’t stepped inside it for decades, just to save themselves a buck. Also, don’t freeload at Thanksgiving dinners and ward socials, and quit calling us to help you move because you can’t afford movers.

    4. Realize there are imperfect people inside and outside the church as well. Just because you’ve had an odd bishop, or nosy relief society president, doesn’t mean that is a failing of the church. What are you going to do when you have to abandon atheism because some heathen offends you?

    5. Have a little respect for family and friends who still believe. Making fun of people who are fasting for your child?? How completely immature and rude, and no, it’s nothing like washing your hair for them. You don’t have to buy what they’re doing, but mocking it just makes you look petty.

    6. Mormons are pretty decent people. Getting over your hate for them will go a long ways towards letting you live a happy life, especially if you live in Utah.

    7. Take responsibility for your own life. I realize you’ve done that now, but reminiscing about how Mormonism forced you to do this, that, and the other makes it seem like you’ve been held hostage. Maybe you didn’t know it, but you could have said no at any time. It might have been tough, but life outside the church is full of tough choices too.

    8. Get over your “Mormons hate women” thing. I don’t get how not being able to be a Bishop is such a horrible thing or is proof of oppression. Are there some women who could do a fantastic job of it? Sure, but overall that would cause more problems than it solves. Hard as it is to say in the PC world we live in, there are more differences between men and women than just plumbing.

    9. Don’t hold up the worst examples you can find of members/leaders to judge and discuss the church. It’s not fair, not reflective of the institution as a whole, and shows your hostility and bias. The church has to use who they have to do the job, imperfect as those people may be, and there are plenty of wonderful people in the church who do great things that you completely ignore.

    10. Get over the obedience thing as well. I don’t see the problem with a religious organization trying to help people live better lives and encouraging obedience. Will that cause guilt in people? Yes, but so what. That’s part of being human. You may find that other organizations expect adherence to certain rules of conduct as well. That doesn’t make them evil.

    I’ve gone on long enough. For the most part, I get along pretty well with apostates. My brother and father-in-law have both left the church and are good people, but for some reason a certain percentage of apostates have to linger around message boards and infest podcasts with their snarky comments and condescending attitudes. Maybe we can agree that both sides of the aisle have room for improvement.

    Sorry for having such a long post, and please recognize that this is just one cranky person’s opinion, and nothing to judge the church by.

    Reply Sep 07, 2013 @ 08:46:44
    • seasickyetstilldocked

      1. Describing the women on this podcast as four whiney women is disgusting on your part. Trying to protect your kids from Mormons trying to manipulate them back into activity is called being a responsible parent. Trying to take care of your special needs child going through a health crisis is called being a hero and being pissed because you have to juggle some bishops agenda during the crisis is called being a normal non brainwashed person. How dare you take a cheap shot at these women.

      2. Yes it does. Not believing in the Tower of Babel, world wide flood, the earth is 6000 years old, the Book of Mormon being an ancient record etc makes you intellectually superior because you are not clinging to beliefs that are either demonstrably false or unsupportable. Happy to make that list a lot longer if you like. Not endorsing the human rights history of the church regarding blacks, women and gays makes you morally superior.

      3. You of course are ignoring the plain fact that wards and stakes WANT to stage weddings and funerals at their buildings because they are a missionary opportunity for people that are vulnerable. Who is really mooching off who here? So what if the RS is making funeral potatoes for free because the bishop is going to make up that cost and then some with the first tithing check of anyone who is reactivated. The church takes advantage and uses their members to the extreme! The church is the biggest freeloader in this whole mess.

      4. Strawman and give me a break. If you listen to podcasts like these then you full well know that people who you consider apostates do not have an expectation of perfection upon central or local leaders. Why would they? The Brethren NEVER do anything that would make you think they were actual prophet, seers or revelators led by GOD himself. You are either being naive or engaging in self deception by repeating the whole perfection crap.

      5. The whole point of this podcast is because tbms are incapable of respecting family and friends who don’t believe. How can you when you just KNOW your right and they are wrong, not worthy of the spirit, deceived by Satan (lol), pride full and on and on and on. Also, as soon as you demonstrate that fasting is more effective than washing your hair when trying to heal someone in the hospital…..well, then I will stop making fun of it.

      6. I don’t think anyone thinks Mormons are not pretty decent people. Again, you miss the point. The point is how these pretty decent people have a blind spot the size of Texas when dealing with their non believing family and friends.

      7. So this is the point in your list when you decide to dish out some stellar advice. It is rich when a tbm tells anybody to take responsibility for their own life.

      8. Having a women Bishop would cause more problems than it solves? You sure about that? Once again you demonstrate the need for this podcast in the first place. You have no idea why women want the priesthood or how this is damaging to women and yet you will condescendingly and without empathy dish out gems like “get over it” and “there are more differences between men and women than just plumbing”. You just know your right don’t you! Feels so good!

      9. These women are talking about what happens on the ground. This is Mormonism in action. Good things happen and bad things happen. The problem goes back to the blind spot. TBMS don’t know how to discuss the flaws in their culture, their programs, their gospel etc. Somebody needs to talk about it and I am glad these ladies are breaking it down. The fact is that when you step out of line in the church, when you stop doing the programs, stop thinking the way they want you to think and stop doing the things they want you to do……the fact is the church has set it up so that you are labeled, punished, ostracized and looked down upon. It is the built in self defense mechanism of the church to create pain for people who do not conform. The last thing the church wants is for their members to respect and empathize with non believers because it is not in the best interest of the Church.

      10. More “get over” advice. Incredible. There seems to be no limit to your hubris. So you see no problem with religions trying to “help people live better lives and encouraging obedience”. Boy that sounds nice. Too bad you are not talking about the Mormon Church. The mormon church REQUIRES and DEMANDS obedience at every turn. You HAVE to pay them money to get back to heaven. You HAVE to get married to get back to heaven…..I mean the list is endless. Good luck with that.

      Love your passive aggressive apology at the end. Typical tbm. So you rip on these “whiney women” for having the temerity to give advice to believing members. Looks like the refiners fire of the one true gospel as found in the one true church has really turned you into quite a guy.

      In the end, there is nothing you can do about these internet apostates. There is nothing you can do about more and more people communicating together and talking about ways to make Mormonism safer and more healthy than it is now. These women represent reality. They represent a small part of what really happens. Nobody is saying good things don’t happen as well. This is even taken into account in the podcast several times. However, you demonstrate how the church and their tbms are incapable of honestly and critically evaluating what is wrong in the church and how to make things better. This does not exist in the church. You have to wait to get the word from the top 15. Have fun waiting while not only the rest of the world but even the majority of Mormons pass you by. You can always tell yourself all is well and tell everybody else to GET OVER IT!

      Reply Sep 11, 2013 @ 10:11:03
      • Expositor's Heather C.

        I’ve watched the back and forth about this episode with interest. To be honest, I doubt the wisdom of responding to any of it. But I’m going to do it anyway.

        I welcome criticism. While I’m human and it makes me defensive, I do my best to take a breath, set aside my defensiveness, and listen to what is being said. Here is my own little list, based on what I’ve read and the thoughts I’ve had over the last couple of days:

        1 – I foolishly have a teeny tiny hope that some believers might listen to the experiences shared in this episode and hopefully avoid mistreating people in the future. If I’m being objective, there are a few snarky comments in this episode that should have been edited out in order to “cater” to that audience. I think I’m going to re-edit this episode and remove those few remarks that might make a believer shut their ears. So thanks for reacting to those the way you did. Hopefully a little editing will keep other believers tuned in where you tuned out.

        2 – There is a difference between discussing general situations, not giving specific names, in a forum with a degree of anonymity… and telling specific lies about specific people to others who know the target of the lies. One is gossip the other is not.

        3 – This episode and the one before it was an attempt to take on problems. This will naturally skew the discussion to the negative. I don’t know what people expect here…. for us to provide advice on things that are not a problem? “My old bishop waves to me and says hi when he sees me around town. What advice do we have about this?” Or, “when visiting my family, my children like to attend church with their grandparents. At those times, the primary leadership treat my kids kindly. What advice would we share regarding this situation?”

        4 – Related to #3, I can’t help but think that part of the problem here is the way kindness and happiness are used as weapons. I could be making an unfair generalization here. But it has HONESTLY been my experience that as soon as one JUSTIFIED complaint is expressed, one bad experience shared, one problem stated… that believers get their hackles up and become defensive. “Negativity! Negativity! I don’t have to listen to anything you are saying because you are being contentious (or a whiny woman).” There were positive things said in this episode and defenses given for believers. But for some reason those are being completely overlooked. Amber said there are people who are still her friends and some of her kids still have believer friends. Her sister pointed out that she hasn’t had any bad experiences with believers in regards to her children. She also described a very mature and thoughtful interaction with an evangelical family in the neighborhood. In the discussion with my sister, I twice pointed out that it’s unfair to lead believers to think their help is wanted and then turn around and be resentful about it. Are these episodes skewing negative in tone? Sure. But I also think there is some unfair representations of the conversation happening here in the comments as well.

        5. I can’t help but notice that men can bitch up a storm and be eye-popping negative without one peep of criticism. But as soon as a group of women dare do so…. there is always at least one person, usually more, who come running to criticize women for being whiny or complaining. I don’t think it’s all that surprising, to be honest. A man is powerful and full of authority. A woman is a bitch. Men are raising issues and having productive discussions. Women are bitching and complaining.

        6. I do this podcast as a hobby. I do it for free and in my spare time. While I’ve been podcasting since 2010, I am still quite an amateur and I will remain an amateur for the entire time I continue in podcasting BECAUSE it’s a part-time hobby and not my profession. But I don’t think listeners have one OUNCE of understanding at how much time and effort these episodes take. Let me assure you, outside of the hour here or there recording, there are MOUNTAINS of work behind the scene with coordinating episodes, cramming as much prep as possible, editing audio, and administration of the podcast as a whole. This hobby could EASILY be a part time job for the amount of time I put into it. But, this podcast is NOT my job. I don’t have the time or the energy to do the legwork and production work that professional audio programs invest in their product. So, stop holding this podcast up to that standard. Not only am I an amateur, but I included panelists who have even less experience than I do. That was intentional – I wanted to share the stories of people who have had bad experiences and offer advice that might stop those situations from happening again. Sorry my part-time unpaid hobby didn’t live up to your standards. Until you’ve run a podcast and you know the time and effort it takes, don’t offer advice on what I should do differently. Your criticism about specific CONTENT is fine. But telling me what format or technical things could improve with experience, when I haven’t sought that advice, and when you haven’t done this yourself, is really-really gauche.

        Reply Sep 11, 2013 @ 18:15:17
        • RayG

          Heather, thank you for your time and efforts putting this together. I agree, I don’t know what is involved in podcasting, and it was gauche (lacking ease or grace; unsophisticated and socially awkward) of me to tell you what to do.

          However, your friendly advice was lacking some of the friendly aspect, and yes, I think it would be effective to discuss positive things, to encourage others to do so. The comment about the primary president asking permission to involve the kids in the program was a great suggestion. More items like this would be welcome.

          FWIW, I’ve thought about donating to the podcast, but the few episodes I’ve listened to make me feel believers are not welcome here. There are always plenty of jabs at TBMs and the church. I have no problem with difficult issues being raised, but there is always a hard edge to it. I’m not telling you what to do, that would be gauche, just telling you that a good chunk of potential listeners are being discouraged from listening.

          Reply Sep 11, 2013 @ 19:45:55
          • Expositor's Heather C.

            We can’t please anyone, Ray. Believers complain that we are too mean. Apostates complain that we are too nice. Honestly, that makes me feel like I’m right where I want to be with the tone of my episodes. Sorry we’re not a fit for you. I’m sure there are other Mormon themed podcasts that will meet with your desired tone.

            Sep 11, 2013 @ 20:33:46
        • RayG

          Seasick, that’s a lot to reply to, so I think I’ll just say that I don’t think we’ll ever see eye to eye on most of these issues and leave it at that (although I would say, in point 5, if TBMs are incapable of respecting family…etc., then why would this podcast be made?).

          Your responses are highly emotional and not really thought out intellectually.

          You also reflect a bitterness that many atheists and apostates harbor. I think one reason TBMs avoid you (speaking in general) is not the fear of your new found wisdom and knowledge, but the nasty, hate filled attitude that many exhibit. Maybe I should have had an 11th point regarding that on my original list. Next time I guess.

          You really should try and do something about the anger though, the church you left isn’t worth the ulcers it must be causing you.

          Reply Sep 11, 2013 @ 20:05:33
          • seasickyetstilldocked

            RayG, thanks for your sincere concern for my “anger issues” Your soft touch when delivering a passive aggressive ad hominem attack serves you well. Also, I will make sure to read your post again for intellectually well thought out pro tips.

            Look, you and I have been a great example of why and how tbms and former believers don’t get along. Let’s see if we can’t just find something that we do see eye to eye on.

            You have mentioned a couple times now that you were hoping for some better advice. However, what was the one common thread woven between each and every one of the stories given? What was the one common theme that non believers found upsetting?

            I am wondering if you can put your finger on it and am asking sincerely. These podcast threads don’t deserve you and me arguing with each other but rather they deserve sincere and meaningful discussion.

            We share a common problem.

            Sep 12, 2013 @ 08:33:47
          • RayG

            Seasick,

            I would say the common thread is for members to not stick our noses in your business, or at least be more tactful and sincere when we do. Valid concerns and criticisms. For an episode titled friendly advice it failed, so likely wasn’t very effective in achieving it’s goals, and I would like to see things improve. For some ex-members the anger is very hard to get over, and some members take the rejection of their beliefs too personal.

            Where many of us fail is in trying to see things from the other perspective. Could the Bishop in question have been more clued in? Sure, but obviously the grandparents had invited him into the situation, and he probably wasn’t sure exactly what to do. Likewise, the offended mother (can’t remember who it was) could have just said I don’t have time for this or I need to be with my daughter, and left, and not let it become such a huge, festering issue to her.

            Another difficulty in the mormon–apostate dynamic is the fact that most inactive members are not “apostates,” they just don’t come to church, or are on the records from their childhood. As a ward missionary I’ve visited most of the less active in my ward, and have never had a theological difference voiced. Usually they’re pretty nice and wish us well. The ones who have actively left the church are a small minority, so we haven’t learned yet how to deal with them appropriately.

            Are there members who go overboard? Yes, some members make me cringe, but that is more a reflection of that individual than the church organization, and for the most part it is from a sincere desire to good, misguided as that effort may be.

            Sep 12, 2013 @ 13:33:28
          • Expositor's Heather C.

            The reply box has disappeared because the column has become too narrow. So I have to respond to this message instead of your newest comment.

            No, my parents did NOT “obviously” invite their bishop into my sister’s situation. The man showed up of his own volition and welcomed himself into my niece’s ICU room all by himself. As my sister explained, they lock the ICU during shift change. I was stuck outside, waiting for the shift change to happen while she was locked in the ICU with him. My parents showed up shortly after shift change ended. They were shocked, my dad specifically, that the bishop was even in Salt Lake City, let alone in my niece’s hospital room. I verified this with my parents after recording this episode. Also, you’ve obviously never been in a situation like the one my sister was handling with her daughter. If you had been, you would have a little bit of empathy for how emotionally and physically drained people become and how they aren’t capable of dealing with situations the way they would if they weren’t under incredible stress. Further, this isn’t a huge festering issue for her. When I approached her about doing the episode, she had forgotten some of the things that had happened. She has moved on with her life. But for some reason, like a stereotypical TBM, you are insisting that she is hanging onto being offended. You’re completely off base.

            This reaction you’re having is exactly why I wanted to record this episode. Unfortunately, you’re also the perfect example of why it’s pointless. Were the panelists of this episode blunt? Yes. Did they make a couple of snarky remarks? Yes. But you are entirely too defensive and you are choosing to be angry at the tone so you can avoid actually LISTENING to the content. In your opinion, believers have good intentions, so they can do whatever they want and the apostate has no right to take issue with it. The WHOLE POINT is that the entire responsibility does NOT fall on the shoulders of the apostates. If believers and church leaders want to have productive interactions with apostates, then they need to start taking responsibility for their behavior and they need to start critically thinking about whether or not what they are doing is productive, or helpful, or even sane.

            I’ve re-listened to this episode. As I’ve said before, you’re right. There are a few snarky remarks that I should have edited out. But, aside from those remarks, there is no hostility in what is discussed. You are reacting as if all we did was sit for an hour and bitch. That is entirely unfair and a mis-characterization of the episode. The panelists were blunt. But, being blunt is not the same thing as being hostile.

            You are defensive. You are choosing to ignore the content the episode actually contained. It’s too bad that your heart is so hard that you can’t set aside your pride and objectively listen to the things said in this podcast. There WAS advice given. The panelists DID say that apostates need to take responsibility for themselves and set boundaries. Specific advice WAS listed. It’s too bad you won’t hear it.

            Given your unwillingness to be fair about what content the show actually contains, I’m not going to interact with you any further.

            Sep 12, 2013 @ 14:44:57
          • seasickyetstilldocked

            Great comments RayG. For me, the common thread is that non believers are never going to like believing that the Church is more important to their tbm friend than they are when it comes to their relationship. I think this generally holds true for less or inactive members who simply care less about being an active member even if they have not considered truth claims of the Church.

            I believe in these cases the tbms would be well served to make Church a much smaller part of the relationship. I will try to use real life examples:

            From the podcast: When the well meaning (I have little doubt) bishop showed up at the hospital and mentions her going to Church more or otherwise increasing her Church activity, it makes the mom feel like to him, the Church is more important than her and her child. He would have made a much better impression if he just showed up and asked what he could do and how he and the ward could make her life easier…..no strings attached.

            My Mom: I don’t mind my Mom talking about the Church. It is her life and I enjoy hearing her talk about the ward etc. However, when she tells me that I am a bad father if I don’t raise my kids in the Church, it makes me feel like she has no respect for me as a father beyond my activity and obedience to the Church. She currently struggles to be respectfully engaged in what we are doing as a family and individuals because she can’t seem to go very long into a conversation without trying one kind of reactivation ploy or another.

            My In Laws: So they just called last week and asked my wife if our kids were in Seminary. Wife said no. They expressed their displeasure by saying that the kids HAVE to learn these things etc. It made my wife, who is not even a total non believer yet, feel that they did not respect her ability to know what is best for her kids.

            Youth Leaders: So I have a hundred examples. Suffice to say that when youth leaders try to use any and all means necessary to get your kids to attend stuff or to do stuff without your knowledge or permission. It makes you feel like they have no respect for you as parents. How can you heal or even consider the Church again under these conditions? Why would you want to be friends with adults who behave like this?

            My old AP comp: So several years ago, when I was still tbm, my MP called me up and asked me to reach out to xyz because he had lost his testimony and no longer went to Church with his family. I did. Years later, when I no longer believed, he told me that I made him feel like the only reason he heard from me was because I wanted to reactivate him. He also did not like it when I basically spoke to his wife behind his back (hey, they were an eternal family and I had to fix this right?)

            I think the difficult irony for tbms is that while the Church may be the most important thing in their life, they need to treat non believers and members who don’t go as if the Church does not matter at all. Church re activity or even incremental improvement (while it may happen) must no longer be perceived to be a requirement for the friendship or for help.

            Early on in my non belief, I remember having lunch with an old non member friend. He was only interested in my happiness. There were no conditions. There were no invitations to do something or read something that would make me feel better. There were no questions about my kids in a way to find out information to use later in a meeting. He was simply a friend. My word it was refreshing.

            Non believers need to feel like they are fully respected, with no strings attached to their friendship and with no timetable for conforming behaviors or beliefs. We can smell the Mormon agenda from a mile away. Hell, many of us played the game so we know when we are being played. People don’t want to be made to feel like that.

            There is an urgency in the Church to get people active, get them a calling and then get them to the temple. I think it is a question of effectiveness and building real and sustainable friendships that are based on a track record of trust. There is nothing hurried or rushed about this. I think the constant harping on numbers etc only reinforces a tbms ability to build healthy relationships. So we wind up visiting less actives unannounced and inviting them to the adult session of Stake Conference.

            I don’t think as a Church we are good at fellowshipping or re activating members because I don’t think we have learned how to build relationships that are based on real mutual respect and that are not conditioned upon the “friend” moving in an acceptable direction toward activity. We are insular and in a hurry and don’t have much time to even build real relationships with anybody that is not active like us. (take former tbm hat off)

            Sep 12, 2013 @ 14:51:55
          • RayG

            Seasick,

            I agree with your comments. Too often “friendship” seems to be conditional on activity in the church. I don’t think it is completely insincere, per se, but because the church takes up such a large chunk of our lives, it’s hard to stay fully involved in the ward and have relationships outside of the church. It’s so much easier to be friends with active people because they are at all the stuff you are at and you socialize that way. We don’t consciously choose not to hang with non/ex members, there just isn’t that much time for it, so it comes off looking more insincere than it should.

            I do agree, though, that too much of our missionary/activation efforts are done as an assignment rather than our of sincerity.

            I was thinking about what you said while i was at work this afternoon, and I think one reason most TBMs have such difficulty with people who reject the church is because they’ve never had a faith crisis, so it’s close to inconceivable for them to imagine how someone could actually reject the church or God. There must be other reasons that can be corrected or overcome or resolved, and if we can find them and fix them, then everything will be good again.

            Once a person comes out the other side of a faith crisis it changes how they think about those things, and I think makes them more understanding (though far from perfect). My mother struggles with this with my brother, but I can deal with him pretty good.

            A story from my experience. I used a less active member to do some sub-contracting for me. The job site was an hour away, so we rode out together. We got along well, and he’s a pretty good guy, but a large part of the journey was his itemizing all the things he sees that are wrong with the ward, the church, and the members. He had a lot of valid points, but listening to that for over an hour was exhausting. I haven’t used him again (too expensive), but I’m sure he thinks I don’t like him because of church issues, and to be honest, even if he was competitive price wise, I probably wouldn’t use him because I don’t want to listen to that all the time. Could I do better? Sure, but I’m human and do things that are less stressful.

            Anyway, appreciate your thoughts and I’ll strive to improve.

            Sep 12, 2013 @ 21:51:50
  5. Aaron

    Hi Ray,
    You raise some good points and I’m not looking to debate you, except on your first point. If you are LDS, you already have a forum for discussion. Most of us don’t. We are pretty well scattered and don’t have a brick and mortar forum for discussing something which was a huge part of our lives. Also, your characterization of the generous participants in this program as “four whiney women” undermines item 8 just a bit. Just my $.02

    Reply Sep 07, 2013 @ 09:18:49
    • RayG

      Aaron, I’m not trying to break up discussion opportunities, heaven knows we all need them. I guess I felt a little frustrated with the podcast. I was anxiously hoping for some well organized advice, as I do have family who have left the church, but instead it seemed like an extended gripe session. The points could have been made more effectively in 1-2 minute anecdotes, with an explanation or example of a better way to do things. Some of the dead horses were beaten for a very long time and seemed to be on the excessively critical side as opposed to friendly advice. Hopefully with experience technique will improve.

      Reply Sep 10, 2013 @ 20:57:49
  6. Kathy

    Oh, how I wish we could all just get along and respect each other. Unfortunately, I experienced yw leaders who tried to come between myself and my daughters because of my unbelief. I had to confont them with a do not contact my daughter, or speak to her unless she is at church. I became deminished in her eyes. Here she stills loves me and sees that I’m a good person, yet she questions my opinions, actions, motives. I supported her on her mission, at BYU etc.., yet I am still suspect. Now she is 26, still believes and is looking forward to a temple sealing. This will exclude me and it will be my fault, that’s what she believes because it is what she was taught at church. She is right unfortunately I raised her in the church and left when she was sixteen. I taught her that it is ok to choose an organization over loved ones. When you have to make a choice the loved ones are always wrong and the organization is always right.
    How I wish leaders from the church would listen. I don’t want their religon to fail, to each his own, I say. I would love to be more included in my daughters spiritual life. I would love to be invited to attend when she is set apart for callings or help her with a service project.
    It seems there is a battle going on and the lines are drawn and you have to pick a side.
    Are you with us or against us?
    Please there are no sides there are just people who need and want to have connections, relationships, friends, loves while not giving up who they are.

    Reply Sep 08, 2013 @ 12:27:08
  7. SloppySeconds

    There are times when my wife and I think about moving back to Utah to be closer to family but every time we talk it through we come to the same conclusion: life in a heavily Mormon-populated area would be very difficult and probably not worth it. Even now I have missionaries trying to find ways to get into our “part-member home” to charm me back into the church. (Apropos, today a couple of elders brought us cookies.) No one’s a fan a being treated as though you need to be fixed.

    Reply Sep 08, 2013 @ 20:44:20
  8. Phoebe

    I thought this was a great episode. We also experienced intrusive behavior directed toward our children from members of our ward after we left. However, it didn’t really bother me because I know that those members were sincerely trying to offer our children an option of going to church/activities even if their parents didn’t go AND our children were older and able to decide how much involvement they wanted in the church and convey that. They told their friends and other church members that they didn’t want to go and eventually the attempts stopped. We are lucky though. We were very open with our bishop about our lack of belief and asked to not be contacted in regards to church, so I believe the few attempts that were made came from the individual rather than a directive from the leaders. It really wasn’t an issue. On a side note, my kids don’t really associate with their friends from the ward anymore. I don’t necessarily think it was a conscious decision due to us leaving the church, but more that they no longer had as much in common and drifted apart. And that’s ok.

    However, there is one point I wanted to make concerning active children who continue to hang out with children of apostates. Even if you and your children are careful to not say negative things about the church, the fact that they are associating with someone who has left the church and can see that they are still a happy person and doing well may cause cognitive dissonance in the active child, especially if they are older and don’t like going to church. My kids have had active friends who asked them why they don’t go to church anymore and my kids are honest, which can create doubts for believers. So from the perspective of a TBM parent who wants to keep their kids in the church, the children of apostates are a risk to their child’s testimony, especially in Utah where the majority is Mormon and it’s easier to shelter kids from other view points. I don’t see that as a bad thing because I feel that anyone who chooses to be a part of an organization should be fully educated about the organization. But, as we all know, that can lead people away from the church, so it is a risk.

    Reply Sep 10, 2013 @ 11:53:10
  9. CK

    I hate the word “Apostate” while the definition fits one who has abandoned faith, it is used as a pejorative. Unbeliever fits better without the negative connotation associated with calling someone an apostate. Apostate is often viewed in similar terms as Anti-Mormon.

    Reply Sep 11, 2013 @ 09:52:37
  10. hpmbh

    I have to admit that I agree more with RayG on these last two podcasts (although he was a little over the top on his delivery). The women come off as ungrateful and selfish of the good intentions and sacrifice of others on their behalf. I am sure they are good people just like most but that was the vibe I got from listening. Sorry, just being honest.

    P.s. I haven’t finished listening so I hope that the young girl that was in the hospital is ok.

    Reply Sep 11, 2013 @ 14:13:03
    • Expositor's Heather C.

      So, hpmbh, I’m trying to understand what you’re saying here. Do you really think that someone in the middle of a crisis has a responsibility to make other people feel good about their behavior, even if it’s overbearing and burdensome?

      Reply Sep 11, 2013 @ 20:49:29
      • hpmbh

        Heather,

        I just finished the podcast and have a slightly different take now. First it sounds like the best advice for “TBMs” and “apostates” is work on your communication skills. Telling someone to not be an a**hole is not constructive advice. I don’t think that someone should have to put up with an overbearing person, especially during a medical crisis, but you also have to speak up and communicate your feelings.

        I thought that driving 3 plus hours to check on a member and her mother was very thoughtful and caring. Calling someone to repentance at that time was improper and rude. If both sides had shown a little more understanding and compassion it could have been a very positive experience for both.

        I thought the catholic priest from the next town over visiting you analogy didn’t work. If i remember right she said it was the ward she grew up in, her parents still lived in the ward, and her daughter was baptised in the ward, so there was a far greater connection that just a random ecclesiastical leader stopping by.

        I also thought the fast was a very kind thing for the ward to do. Even though you may not beleive in the efficacy of their prayers the actions are thoughtful. I would be delighted to know my hindu neighbors were praying for the benefit of my child even if I don’t believe in their religion.

        Most mormons really just want to help when help is needed. Yes there are some overbearing and self-righteous one in the bunch but the majority are just people who are trying to do what they feel is right.

        My heart does go out to the single mom trying to raise a special needs child and working a night shift job. That is a load and a half to bare. She doesn’t need people heaping guilt on her for not being active, but just needs someone who honestly cares. I am glad to hear that her daughter is doing well.

        I thought that the second story was a little more balanced and a good example of positive communication. I think the idea of helping mormons and ex-mormons to communicate better is a in and around mormonism is a good idea, but would spend more time on giving positive advice than negative experiences.

        Reply Sep 12, 2013 @ 22:12:38
        • Expositor's Heather C.

          I think the difference in opinion comes down to how we view the situation. It’s obvious that you believe the intention of the bishop count. Which is fine & I understand why you have that point of view. I just don’t agree. (Sorry for the long response that follows. I tried not to write a novel and failed.)

          Take the situation out of the circumstances. While my sister and I grew up in that ward, the bishop is someone who moved in after we were both grown and gone. He really IS a stranger to my sister. He is well known to my parents. But he didn’t seek out my parents. He sought out my sister. The man has my parents’ cell phone number but he didn’t track them down when he arrived in SLC. He just showed up at the hospital and intruded upon my niece’s hospital room.

          Imagine your parents are involved in some sort of social club that you used to belong to also, but haven’t been a part of it for over 2 years. Imagine that someone you don’t know was appointed to be the leader of that club after you left. Imagine that you let your kids participate in that club with their grandparents from time to time but that you’re completely unaffiliated.

          Imagine the leader of that club, a man you barely know, one you have spoken to only a few times, showing up at the hospital, putting his hands on you, and “escorting” you back to your child’s hospital room. Imagine that man asking you questions about your private life and insisting that you partake in club rituals. Is this normal human behavior? Or is this creepy and intrusive?

          Maybe I’m missing something here. But when I read this situation, if I take the situation out of the Mormon context, it’s easy to see how messed up it is.

          I agree with you that *technically* my sister should have told the bishop to scram when he showed up at the hospital. But let’s be real. As an apostate, my sister is already seen as a problem-maker. And, as a struggling single mom, she has to rely on my parents’ help A LOT. From where my sister sat at the moment it happened, she was afraid my parents would have been upset if she had told the bishop he was not welcome. (It turned out that even my parents were shocked at what he had done. But my sister didn’t know they would have that reaction.)

          Imagine your child going through traumatic treatments – having the worst, most painful days of her life. Imagine how emotionally drained and physically wrung out that would make you. Is it really fair to say that person, after all they’ve been through, is responsible for navigating those situations perfectly… and that if she doesn’t, the results are HER fault? Even if you say it’s also his fault, it seems unreasonable to me to say she had an obligation to do anything in that situation. It seems to me she shouldn’t have been forced to deal with the situation at all.

          As my sister said during the episode, she had real friends… people she was close to and from whom she would have derived actual comfort… who had the sense to back off. They reached out to her in an noninvasive way to let her know they were available to help, and then they stood back and DIDN’T step all over her.

          Why didn’t the bishop do that? Let’s be honest here. It’s because he was on a “mission” and he felt his position gave him permission, or rights, into my sister’s life. If I was to try to put it in a believer friendly way, I’d say he felt he had a stewardship over her. He was obligated to “mourn with those who mourn.” I *GET* why people use that as justification for what happened. I understand the reaction. “Who could be offended that someone wanted to help you? Who could be offended that someone felt an obligation to make sure you were OK?”

          And that reaction is THE POINT. That is WHY I thought this situation was so important to share and glean advice from.

          As I mentioned in the episode, apostates don’t see people in positions of authority as having authority or being special. A believer sees the bishop as someone with special authority. A nonbeliever sees the bishop as Joe Schmoe, the accountant who lives 2 blocks away. I think this distinction is a VERY, VERY Important thing for believers to accept and respect… especially if they want to have productive interactions with apostates. I’ll give my parents’ bishop the benefit of the doubt and say he had the most noble intentions possible. That’s fine. But he should have stepped outside of what he was doing for a moment and asked himself if my sister saw the situation the same way. Did she see him as a concerned bishop or a stranger digging into her private business? I’m sorry, but I don’t think he gets let off the hook for that, regardless of what my sister *should* have done.

          I will grant you that, yes, my niece is kind-of a member of that ward. If we were to get super technical, and use the church’s own rules about wards, she’s not. But whatever. That’s where she attends church. So, I can agree that makes the bishop’s concern more understandable. But the guy knew my sister wanted to be left alone. It wasn’t a secret that my sister had separated herself from the church… and the bishop wasn’t oblivious to that. So, if the bishop had left my sister alone and sought out my parents, this episode would nave never happened. It’s not that the dude cared. It’s that he was intrusive and walked all over someone he KNEW to be an apostate when she was in a compromised situation.

          But all of that aside… regardless of disagreements we may have over how my sister handled this specific situation… the real point of the episode was to give our opinions about advice on a general level. The general advice that was intended to be taken from my sister’s story is that leaders should stop and double check what they are doing. They should make SURE their presence is wanted and their actions are welcomed. They shouldn’t just assume familiarity or intimacy with someone simply on the basis that they have a leadership role in the church. They should, instead, evaluate the situation from the point of view of an outsider. They should also ASK PERMISSION and not assume. I don’t think this is unfair. I think it’s rather reasonable.

          Reply Sep 13, 2013 @ 00:05:49
          • hpmbh

            I will keep my response short and sweet.

            1. Thank you for the detailed response. It added a lot of perspective and additional information.

            2. I couldn’t agree more with your last paragragh. Fantastic advise that should be followed by all.

            3. The bishop absolutely overstepped his bounds based on what you have said. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt on his intentions as he is not here to defend himself. The bishop should have commincated with the grandparents first or asked how he could help instead of assuming he knew what was best.

            4. I think the details you have added in the comments along with advice given in a neutral point of view have greatly improved the message you were trying to convey.

            5. I appreciate the time that you put into the podcasts. I rather enjoy the podcasts with a mix of believer/unbeliever participants as the entire podcast doesn’t get askewed to one side or the other. Thanks and keep up the good work.

            Sep 13, 2013 @ 12:00:06
    • seasickyetstilldocked

      I am curious to know specifically what good intentions and sacrifice the panel is supposed to be grateful for. I think clarification would be beneficial to the discussion as I have run into this line of thinking before from my own tbm family and friends.

      Reply Sep 12, 2013 @ 10:25:47
  11. seasickyetstilldocked

    I just found out the visiting teachers are coming over tonight to see my wife. She has not had VTs over in at least a year so what’s up? Well, she does not go every Sunday but worse than that, she asked to be released from her calling last Sunday. Now, women she does not even well, if at all are coming over. A tbm may wonder, Seasick, what is the problem? Here are the problems:

    1. These women have never reached out in any way before and now they are reaching out because of an assignment. My wife knows this.

    2. Women in the ward in general have been reaching out less and less to my wife over the years. tbm Friends and their kids don’t come over anymore, lunch dates don’t happen anymore, nobody calls to go out to a dinner and a movie anymore (believe me, I am not complaining :) )

    3. After a little chit chat and my wife likely feeling like crap because she is now a working mom and they are SAMs, they will INVITE her to do something….read this, go to this meeting, go to this upcoming Enrichment night. Hell, they may even say they could come by and pick her up. My wife has a Masters Degree with high honors and they are likely going to ask to come by and pick her up like they would a 12 year old.

    4. Then they are going to say they hope they see her at church. Nice, did not seem to matter to them before but hey, why not now?

    5. Then my wife is not going to hear from them unless they are following up on their invitation.

    6. 50/50 they show up again.

    Now I ask you, did my wife just make a friend? Is she going to feel like she is more important to them in their relationship than the Church? Can she pursue a friendship with these women that is 50% on her terms? Do you think she is going to feel like in order to be friends with them that she is going to have to change and conform her behavior in order to be friends? Does that feel good? Do you think my wife wants to surround herself with people who make her feel like crap or would she surround herself with people who accept and love her for who she is and simply want her to be happy for her own sake?

    This
    is
    not
    effective…..and it is not nice or respectful.

    the church continues to do a WAY better job at getting my wife to leave the church than I ever could.

    Reply Sep 12, 2013 @ 16:58:17
  12. CK

    So you made a lot of presumptions about the motives of the VT’s. I wonder how it went, were your assumptions confirmed or misguided. How did the visit go?

    Reply Sep 16, 2013 @ 13:48:43
    • seasickyetstilldocked

      Well, I was not around for the visit but I did ask how it went and I got an eye roll and a shake of the head. The presumptions I made were based on past experience. I am it did not play out exactly and I thought however, I am not sure it mattered. I think RayG made a good point when he said that tbms are so busy with their own church activity and their tbm social network that it is hard to authentically reach out for genuine friendships beyond that social bubble.

      I used to be there. I know what that is like. I understand their are exceptions to this assumption but I have largely found his observation to be accurate in all of my years as a tbm. The VT visit with my wife seems to have only reinforced this stereotype. Additionally, my wife had a good fellow tbm friend in the ward. We went out together, play dates back and forth, they would communicate several times a week on stuff. A nice friendship. As her activity pulled back however, the friend pulled back too. My wife has mentioned that she is disappointed in this person. This woman is a great person! She is nice and personable and helpful etc. but she just pulled back as my wife went less active, not even inactive. I mean she still went twice a month with a calling that she did well at. We have found this generally true in the ward in general. Friendships pull back and are replaced with tbm behavior that treats us as “inactive”. It is a shocking difference when you go through it because you just don’t think you will get treated like that. It is a weird thing to go though when you used to be totally tbm.

      What my wife would need is real friends to respect her for where she is at. She does not need people basically telling her things to go to or how to be active again or how to conform. She gets that already, she just needs real relationships.

      So whether my predictions were 100% accurate is sort of irrelevant because the net result is they are pushing her further away. Happy to hear your comments

      Reply Sep 17, 2013 @ 07:41:55
  13. PT

    PT

    Reply Sep 16, 2013 @ 19:31:24
  14. SMcMullin

    In response to the above comments without addressing individually, I think these reflect perfectly WHY this podcast series was made. There is clearly bitterness and misunderstanding between members and former members, and the only way to fix it is to TALK about it, even in disagreement. Heather, please take the negative criticisms as feedback that is emotionally charged and see, rather than backing away, that this is an important topic that people feel strongly about and which merits spotlighting.

    Reply Sep 25, 2013 @ 08:45:27
  15. Owl

    Wow, lots of stormy conversation. I just wanted to say that this episode reminded me perversely of an experience I had growing up. My siblings and I were home schooled and pretty much the only regular contact we got with the outside world was at church. Sometimes my mom would want to ground my little sister but its kind of hard to ground someone who has no friends outside of church that she will mostly interact with at church events. So my mother decided to ground my little sister from early morning seminary. The seminary teacher was a very loving woman who was concerned that my little sister was skipping so much early morning seminary. She started to ask me questions and see if she could gain my assistance in getting my little sister to come back to seminary. I explained that it was my mom’s doing, not my mine or my sisters. The awkward questions continued and I told her to take it up with my parents, not me. Which she did. Then we got to have an awkward conversation about how my mothers discipline strategies were, well, peculiar. Its another example of how I as a child got put into a situation of being a go between for a short time between adults who had different ideas about appropriate church activity attendance. Fortunately I was able to put up boundaries and have them respected that I did not belong in between them in this disagreement and that was respected. Nowhere near the level of awkwardness and inappropriateness described in the podcast, but I thought I’d share my two cents.

    Reply Oct 08, 2013 @ 23:52:20

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