63: Friendly Advice for Interacting with Believers

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Brandt, Jerilyn, Jen, Lori, and Amanda dish out some friendly advice to apostates on how to better interact with believers.

33 Comments

  1. G. White

    (Non-believer here) Brandt, overall I’d say this was excellent advice. I think most of it is representative of a minority of ex-Mormons, at least in my experience, but the panel covered a lot of things that are good to be aware of. Brandt, you especially did an excellent job playing devil’s advocate because almost every time one of your panel would bring up something that bothered them, you countered with my exact thoughts.

    You did cover this but I couldn’t help but think the entire time that the primary thing driving a wedge between our two camps is D&C 1:30. Believers can’t escape the “one true church” mentality without becoming a liberal Mormon or disavowing their own scriptures, since the idea that Mormonism is necessary for *everyone* (at some point) is something that Mormons absolutely believe. But the believers (like your panel) that can respect boundaries and agency will absolutely have a friend in me.

    Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 10:22:48
    • brandt

      I think D&C 1:30 is something that Mormonism is starting to re-evaluate. When you have divine truth claims, you (in essence) have the authority to say “God said we are true, therefore there is no other true.” I think you saw that with the tenuous relationship that the Mormons have had with the Catholic church, and with the Community of Christ over the years. They obviously cannot be “true” (whatever that means), because we are, and there cannot be two “truths.”

      We’ve backed away from that more and more – at least, I would say we’ve publicly backed away from that. However, privately, there is still this feeling that we are #1, and I think when you have people leave the faith, it puts that into question. I think that is why many of the stereotypes that believers give to exMormons (offended, wanted to sin, etc), in my mind, are defense mechanisms. “No, it couldn’t be because it wasn’t for them, or it didn’t resonate with them, or it wasn’t true, because that would mean it’s not capital-t True, and then…”

      With respect to boundaries, I will go on record and say that Mormons suck at that. We do. We’re not very good. Part of it goes back to the capital-t Truth thing (and something that Clay and I discussed in the Missionary Throwdown episode) – if it’s THAT important, if the message is SOO vital, then yes, we’ll stand on your doorstep, we’ll pester you, we’ll (borderline…or maybe not) harass you. I hate it. It’s not who I am, and it’s not how I view my religious experience as a Mormon. I’ve given away…1…(i think?)…Book of Mormon in my 30 years on earth (outside of my mission). One. I don’t keep one on my desk, I don’t do “missionary work,” I go to bars with my co-workers, and I keep my religion to myself. Some know. Some don’t. I don’t care. It’s between me and God. And if I look at the core tenets of my religion, it was to love God and love others around me. If I look at my promise I made to God when I was baptized, the essential portion was to “mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” To me, everything else is ancillary.

      Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 12:09:49
  2. DuzTruthMatter

    Does anyone on the panel think the term “apostate” is condescending? If not condescending, it is at least offensive to think that someone who doesn’t believe as you do is less than you, which is what that term implies to me.

    Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 12:46:03
    • brandt

      I use apostate in the literal definition term, “a person who renounces a religious or political belief or principle.”

      Not meaning anything derogatory by it. I also use it in place of ExMormon (as there are those out there who are non-believers, but still like to maintain a connection to the Mormon cultural movement) as well as non-believer, as (to me) the word apostate describes what many go through (as compared to non-believer, which doesn’t really encapsulate the essence of what many apostates go through).

      I don’t think any of us on the panel meant any malice by it, just using it as a cultural identifier.

      Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 13:12:32
      • Heather C.

        It seems like a matter of personal preference to me. Lots of people find the term “TBM” to be offensive. I tend to use it. I don’t mean an insult by it. It’s just a convenient way to refer to that group of individuals (those with literal/conservative belief, as opposed to cultural non-believing Mormons or non-literal liberal believers, etc).

        For me personally, unless someone is INTENDING to hurt my feelings, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about their word choices. I know others would disagree and that’s fine. :)

        Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 13:25:06
  3. KC

    Russell Ballard gave a talk in Oct 2001 called “Doctrine of Inclusion “. The talk was played in priesthood last week and discussion ensued. While I agreed with most of his points about inclusion I kept thinking how ironic this talk was because our doctrine which is quite exclusivist. Most of his example were to members to be better neighbors etc. but here in Utah I know that much of the animosity towards the church from non members and mostly from non attending or ex-mormons has nothing to do with the members but with the Corporate Church. Yet, E. Ballard accepts no blame for perceptions of our faith caused by the “Church” but rather puts all the blame and impetus on the members. I commented in class, that if anything we are guilty of trying to hard to reach out. Sometimes we dont respect boundaries, and are seen as judgmental and proselytizers. There are exceptions to everything but generally, having lived in Utah for 20 yrs as a active member, I think its true.

    My stake is pushing big time for more member missionary work. Brandt, you mentioned keeping up on the latest buzz, have you heard about using “mormon words and phrases” when talking to our non member friends. Oh ya, the example was given when a co worker asks about your weekend, drop in words like primary, or sunday school, or something like I had a great sacrament meeting. Thus, causing our friends to want to know more. Dont know if outside Utah you’ve heard this campaign to use “mormon words” but it reminds me of interaction with MLM (multi level marketing) people that are expert at using loaded words or phrases to sign you up.

    So, the podcast discussion was fair. Good points. I just know how good it feels to attend church and not have to do the “mental gymnastics” (i know your guest hate that word) anymore. I like church for what it does that works for my family and I ignore the rest. It was very hard for a few years but once I stopped going into double twist back somersault mode every time someone made comments about literal historical BM, or other literalistic views, I am doing fine. If it gets too much, i just leave. No hard feelings against anyone. I protect my fam from the harmful stuff and enjoy the rest. Its a little sad to see whats happening even here in Zion. Lots of people just dont come back to church anymore, and there are more and more like myself, non-literal believers that realize its not worth trying to bring up anything that might be seen as non-literal or controversial. Its much more enjoyable to just keep quite and take the good and leave the rest behind. I wish there was more room for non-literalism in sunday worship. I get the feeling its going to be a slow drain for the foreseeable future.

    Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 13:36:23
  4. Jenna

    I think this might be your best episode, ever. You’re really forcing me to examine by assumptions and actions. I see how I have been hypocritical in some ways, wanting everyone to accept me for who I am and what I believe, but not affording the same approach to my Mormon friends and family because I assume they just aren’t trying as hard as I have. “If they would just learn the things I have learned, they too would leave” has been my previous thought process.

    This discussion helped me see that I was looking to my believing friends and family for validation in my choice to leave. Somewhere deep inside of me is a part that wants to hear them say “You are doing what is right for you. We understand why you would leave. You did your best,” but I’m not willing to say to them “You are doing what is right for you. I understand why you would stay. You are doing your best.”

    Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 14:16:59
    • brandt

      Thank you for that comment, Jenna. Our whole goal wasn’t to bash on those that aren’t believers any more, but to extend an olive branch and say “Hey friends, here’s a few things that might make our interactions a bit better.”

      Your comment means a lot. :)

      Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 14:24:04
  5. Jay Bryner

    I enjoyed this a lot. I think Brandt, and the panelists did a great job with the topic.

    Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 16:02:17
  6. M. P.

    Rape, really? Do you know anyone who has been raped? What a disgusting analogy, I can’t believe it. Revolting. Do you really think that being raped is of so little consequence? You compared it to being told historical facts that you find unpleasant.

    Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 17:25:56
    • AP

      I want to echo what was stated by MP.

      Comparing crushing someone’s belief in the church to rape IS NOT RIGHT! Some exmos have had a faith crisis because of RAPE or abuse perpetrated upon them by church members/leaders. I am disappointed that the female panelists (all very educated and well spoken) did not stop this sorted analogy. I have always enjoyed your thoughts and perspectives on various issues within Mormonism, but this was not cool. Please be more sensitive in the future.

      Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 19:27:04
      • Getoveryourselves

        Totally agree with the both of you, it was seriously disgusting and disturbing to hear. I notice Brandt is dodging this topic here and other places he’s posted the link to this podcast. I’m extremely disappointed in all parties involved in this podcast (you all really should be ashamed of yourselves, for more than just the inappropriate rape analogy) and I won’t be listening again. You all need to get over your persecution complex and fragile egos.

        Reply Feb 13, 2014 @ 02:04:46
        • M. P.

          Yep, Brandt definitely crossed into Mike T. territory with that for me.

          Reply Feb 13, 2014 @ 09:34:16
          • Expositor's Heather

            OK. I feel I have to respond.

            I am sort of the “director” of this podcast. We aren’t nearly that formal behind the scenes. But, I edit the episodes so I basically have the last say on what content makes it into the episode.

            Was Brandt’s rape comment “cringe-worthy”? Sure. Brandt, himself, told me it was cringe-worthy before the episode was even released. But I think these outraged responses he’s been receiving are a huge over-reaction.

            What is the definition of rape? Seems to me it means something like, “someone forcibly taking something extremely personal from you, without your consent.” Is there a conversation to be had there about “force” or what is “being taken.” And like I said, even we agree that it’s cringe-worthy. It’s a clunky comparison. But that’s it.

            Feb 13, 2014 @ 09:55:39
          • Expositor's Heather

            That should have said, “There is a conversation to be had….” not “Is there a conversation to be had…”

            Feb 13, 2014 @ 09:56:47
    • anonymous

      Completely agree. Comparing faith crisis to rape is unacceptable. People use the term rape so loosely these days which I see as just another example of minimizing, degrading, and sexist behavior. Having experienced both it boils my blood to hear the two equated.

      Reply Feb 15, 2014 @ 15:49:00
    • LDSRevelations

      Brandt’s comparison was a mistake and seriously unfortunate. At the risk of catching hell myself I will say though that I have heard similar rhetoric employed by former LDS in describing their relationship with the LDS Church— which I find to be problematic hyperbole as well. I do think the use of such language shows a lack of understanding and likely just carelessness however I think it usually expresses underlying and real emotion. Of course hearing things about Mormonism that challenge one’s faith is not like rape and neither is being raised and indoctrinated as a Mormon and I while understand the reason for this language I think it is part of the communication problem that exist between believing and disaffected Mormons. Exaggeration on both ends of the spectrum only pushes the sides apart. Is a change in one’s faith status hard? Sure. But dialing up the rhetoric only makes that worse.

      ….. for what it’s worth.

      Reply Feb 18, 2014 @ 17:44:54
    • ozpoof

      I agree.Letting people know historical facts that the church actively (let’s be brutally honest here) lied and lies about is not comparable to rape in any degree.

      However, standing by and watching someone be told lies by a manipulating and controlling organisation that demands payment of money for salvation is comparable to doing nothing to help someone being mugged in the street.

      Reply Feb 20, 2014 @ 00:26:19
  7. D.D.

    I challenge the claim of and call for “Respect” (defined by the dictionary as ‘deep admiration’) of others beliefs. Can any panelist honestly claim that they have a deep admiration of my belief that they are deluded (but happy) in the Cave? Should we all have a deep admiration of Brandt’s hypothetical 30 year believer in Santa Claus? Should I respect someone’s knowledge claim “I KNOW that X is Y” when there is no evidence for it (and plenty against)? Should I have respect for a belief system which, when translated in political action, causes great pain to ones I love? Should I have deep admiration for those that have taken an oath to give up everything, even their lives if necessary, for building up a bigoted organization?

    The call to respect rings a bit hollow when throughout the podcast I hear the interpretations of my/our intentions as “crushing their world”. For some apostates that might be their intent, but I believe in most cases (after the anger phase) it is to reach out and help our friends out of the cave. Not to crush the believers world, but to expand it – to see and fell and experience the ‘real’ world.

    Reply Feb 12, 2014 @ 18:05:37
  8. Lookinthemirror

    If it is considered rape for ex-mormons to actively, and pro-actively, try to convert believing mormons to leave the LDS church by sharing historical facts about the LDS church, then what is it called when 50,000+ LDS missionaries actively, and pro-actively, try to convert Christians out of their tradition and into the LDS tradition. Isn’t it the same thing?

    Furthermore, the LDS church encourages (now more than ever) member missionary work where you have members inviting non-members over to their homes to get LDS gospel messages, or to hear the missionaries. And what is the message to those non-members?… Well if you are a Christian then *ultimately* here is the message: “Your version of Christianity is an abomination, and let me tell you why.”.
    Again, how is this any different than what the evangelizing ex-mormons are doing?

    It seems like believing mormons have established a double standard whereby it is perfectly fine for them to pro-actively convince other Christians how their tradition is wrong, yet it is completely deplorable and offensive for ex-mormons to pro-actively try to convince believing mormons of the errors of the LDS church.

    Reply Feb 13, 2014 @ 10:03:40
    • Expositor's Heather

      I think this is an excellent point, LITM. I totally agree with you.

      Reply Feb 13, 2014 @ 10:06:27
  9. Lookinthemirror

    Another point that got under my skin a little was how one of the panelists was lamenting about how she has lost friendships with some of her apostate friends because those apostates no longer have trust in the relationship.

    While I can empathize with that panelist, I lack complete empathy because I believe the reverse happens to apostates on a far more frequent basis and on a far greater scale. How many apostates have lost friendships and family ties because their believing member friends and relatives don’t want any “negative” influence to come into their lives? The believing members, all of a sudden, no longer trust the apostate regardless of how the apostate tries to reassure that they have absolutely no intention of leading the believing mormon astray.

    Reply Feb 13, 2014 @ 11:16:35
  10. AP

    Heather- I do not want to belabor my points with the rape analogy, but I do feel like I need to respond to your comment. I take exception with your statement that these “outraged responses he’s (Brandt) been receiving are a huge over-reaction”. Rape is a very emotional topic for many. I think the responses you have been receiving reflect that emotion. There may be some of us that know of someone that has been raped. There may be those that have been raped. Rape is a terribly violent act. There is physical damage done to the body. While the physical wounds may heal, emotional and mental impacts can be felt for years. To my knowledge, there have been no cases of physical violence or physical force perpetrated upon believer from non-believers when they discuss historical issues regarding the church. In my option, there should be no comparison between discussing historical church issues to a violent sexual act–clunky or not. As I stated in my original comment, perhaps you can use this feedback to show a little more sensitivity in the future.

    I have included the definition of rape to support my comment:

    noun

    1. the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.

    2. any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.

    3. statutory rape.

    4. an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation: the rape of the countryside.

    5. Archaic. the act of seizing and carrying off by force.

    verb (used with object), raped, rap·ing.

    6. to force to have sexual intercourse.

    7. to plunder (a place); despoil.

    8. o seize, take, or carry off by force.

    verb (used without object), raped, rap·ing.

    9. to commit rape.

    Reply Feb 13, 2014 @ 12:55:51
    • M. P.

      Thanks, AP, for your great response. My emotional reaction to this has taken me by surprise, it has helped to know that I’m not totally off-base in my reaction.

      Reply Feb 13, 2014 @ 13:51:41
    • anonymous

      Expositors Heather, it is not a clunky analogy it is an outrage. I bled for five days after being raped. I lived in fear that I looked different after being raped and that everyone. The horror i went through in no way compares to faith crisis.

      Reply Feb 15, 2014 @ 15:56:08
  11. Expositor's Heather

    We’re just going to have to agree to disagree here, AP.

    I take no offense where no offense was intended. I think that’s just as important as being sensitive to the hurts of other people.

    Brandt’s not a bad guy. On the contrary, he’s a very good man. I’m not an awful gal. I try my best to be a decent person. I doubt any of you are bad people either. I’m sure you all try your best to be good folks. We just don’t see this particular situation the same way.

    Hopefully we can just agree to disagree and move forward with good will and maybe even friendship. Cheers.

    Reply Feb 13, 2014 @ 15:02:27
  12. Jay

    I could not agree with you more “Lookinthemirror”. It is safe to say the panelist did not recognize the duplicity of what they were saying. We as apostates were asked to consider how we might destory someones faith that is precisous to them. But why would that only apply to apostates (or non-Mormons) and not the Mormon missionaries who are doing the exact same thing. What I heard was, It is not okay to destroy the faith of Mormons, but if you’re a Mormon missionary it is okay to do what you are doing and heck we will even feed you before you walk out the door. I looked so forward to hearing this podcast, because I really wanted to have insight into building some strained relationships, but the hypocrisy of what LDS expect from spostates versus what they expect from themselves was never more obvious. In order to be fair panelist would you please do me a favor. The next time you talk to the missionaries please tell them that what they are doing is comparable to rape. That would only be fair wouldn’t it?

    Reply Feb 13, 2014 @ 15:50:29
  13. Matthew Crowley

    I have Brandt a swat and he seems duly chastened.

    Reply Feb 19, 2014 @ 14:56:15
  14. Jay

    You can’t listen to expositor and not love Brandt regardless of what world view you hold. I have no doubt he certainly meant no harm by his comparison. If we all had his nature the world would be a much better place.

    Reply Feb 19, 2014 @ 19:59:48
  15. ozpoof

    I agree with comments that noted how some of the panelists obviously knew full well that there are issues surrounding the church that could be testimony shakers (wake-up calls), and suggested we, the apostate families and friends of active Mormons, keep quiet about these issues lest fragile faith be damaged.

    Some panelists intimated that the aim of telling true believers what the church would have buried forever is to hurt, or mock or make believers feel their world is being undermined. What many TBMs seem to forget is that apostates have people we love who are still in the church. Would any of you suggest we lie to our loved ones by omission if they were involved in any groups other than Mormonism?

    I want to burst my parent’s bubble because I love them. I want my elderly parents to stop struggling financially while giving at least 10% of their fixed income to a church that has to lie to retain this income. I want my elderly mother to stop feeling like garbage because her children are apostates. I want my mother to feel happy instead of sad, angry and stressed because my father isn’t the perfect Mormon. I want my parents to spend their last years with their children and grandchildren on Sundays instead of attending meetings all day. I want my niece and nephew to be able to watch nature documentaries without my parents stating evolution is a lie and the Earth was created as is.

    I want my family out of the LDS faith because I love them. I want them to be happier than they are. They are miserable. I want them to be wealthier. The promise that the Lord will provide is a fraud, and has been noted so in a recent Ensign, obviously after many faithful Mormons were destroyed in the financial problems. Mormons are no longer told all will be well, but to keep paying anyway. When people are watching every dollar, that’s unacceptable.

    On respect for religious beliefs, I have none. The notion that just because someone believes something to be true means that belief should be respected and no arguments against it ever be presented is dangerous. We would still be sacrificing children to get a better harvest if no one ever challenged nonsensical beliefs.

    I do treat Mormons in the same way as I do other people – based on what they believe and how they attempt to change the world for everyone else. As a gay man, I can’t treat Mormons like I would people from a Green Party meeting or a Secular Humanist group. Mormons taught me I chose to be gay and I am evil. Automatically there is a wall between someone I find is an active Mormon and myself. An individual who is still active in the church and is temple “worthy” is even more of a threat to me. No matter what they claim they think of me, they support the church leadership first with finances, work, and attendance.

    With Mormons, it’s always church first, family second and friends a distant third. That’s why people don’t trust Mormons. They are duplicitous, and are taught the ends justify the means. Nothing is secret. Your location is shared, as is your personal situation. People don’t want to be treated like crap for how they were born, they don’t want to be harassed, and they don’t want their families to know their personal struggles. Mormons simply don’t understand normal human interaction.

    Reply Feb 20, 2014 @ 03:01:09
  16. Bob

    I was “conned” into believing the message of the Church when I was 18, young, naive and impressionable. Being the type of person I am, I jumped in with both feet. I spent most of my life feeling guilty and unworthy. When I discovered all of bald face lies and the sordid history of the Church and it’s “leaders”, I couldn’t help but be angry. I’d been duped. When I couldn’t stand under the pressure, my true believing wife divorced me. So far, I’ve been forced to miss 3 of my children’s weddings. My first grandson was put into the LDS family services program and placed for adoption. All of my children have been taught their dad is an apostate for discovering the truth about the Church.
    The Church is a fraud and rivals the Nazi’s in terms of it’s mindless devotion. Check out youtube’s “Hitler’s Children”, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2O9WB8MRMc) the BBC documentary and see if this doesn’t match what the LDS Church does.

    Reply Feb 22, 2014 @ 16:27:45
  17. Steve

    When it comes down to it, I was a pretty lousy missionary. I went mainly for social reasons, and didn’t feel comfortable pressuring anyone into doing something they didn’t want to do. I’m pretty much the same way now as an postmo. If people ask me point-blank why I left the church, I won’t lie. But if they start getting defensive, I back off. I just want to live and let live.

    Reply Feb 25, 2014 @ 17:36:24
  18. Christina

    The podcast seemed a little one sided. Not all ex-mos are vocal about what they know. I relate to the person who didn’t trust the member. I feel the same way. In my family the mormon church is like a white elephant in the room. We just. Don’t talk about it. How do we get past this?

    Reply Mar 18, 2014 @ 21:47:11

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