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268: The Spiritual Trauma of Mormonism

****Episode Warning**** : This episode discusses in a raw way  the trauma and abuse in Mormonism.  For those who feel triggered by such a conversation please avoid or at least avoid listening to this alone.  This episode should be listened with others who honor and validate your faith journey.  People whom you can press pause and have healthy conversation around our communal trauma.  This episode also contains explicit language.  Please do not listen around children or if you are sensitive to such display of raw emotion which is at the surface today.  I try to pride myself on generally clean language but today my emotion is at a breaking point.  I sense that those who have been through this pain will fully understand why it had to be stated this way.  For those who haven’t…. I apologize upfront.

It has culminated.  The pain is raw.  The trauma is noticeable in me and in this community.  It has to stop.  We can’t keep telling the stories of others and preventing them from telling their own story.  Mormonism is culpable but at every turn it tells those who have experienced the trauma that it is you and me who somehow did something or didn’t do something to get here.  To avoid accountability is abusive and only magnifies the trauma.  To tell those you have hurt that they can not voice their story and instead you will tell it for them and tell it incorrectly is abusive.  It must stop.  Today it stops.  Today…… it ……. ends!


95 thoughts on “268: The Spiritual Trauma of Mormonism”

  1. An amazingly power episode, Bill. I couldn’t help but cheer out loud during parts of it and wipe some tears during other parts of it. I live thousands of miles form Utah, but if I only could have been in that Elder’s Quorum meeting with you … man o man! I’d have had your back. Many of us would have.

    I know the feeling that you described and I felt it only telling the Elder’s Quorum president and a counseling of my concerns, and this was in my own house (slightly numb arms, heart beat pounding in my head, etc.).

    Stay strong. You’re doing great work.

  2. I have been waiting for this podcast for 2 years. Bless you for all you do to show us the way to speak our truth! I have been cowaring so long I am at a loss. So much is at stake for me…my children’s respect, my parent’s sorrow, my own authenticity. May be we hold spiritual hands together and support each other as we press forward in love and clarity! With love and deep gratitude, A Pare

  3. Thank you for sharing your real concern on this subject Bill. I have been waiting to hear the word SORRY publically from our leaders and Im still waiting. It seems to be hard for people in power to say sorry and I cant help but compare our leaders with our politicians where by saying nothing or or saying something without explanation is all they think we deserve. If our leaders have been told by the Lord to say nothing and not to say sorry then they should tell us so

  4. Thank you Bill. The trauma is real. My TBM father (he would never listen to a podcast) agrees that I’ve been through a trama….but he blames it on Satan and anti-mormonism. I’m sure most “in” the church will agree with this assessment. They must protect themselves and others from validating our struggle. I don’t see them changing that until the entire church is at the breaking point.

  5. Dear Bill,

    I am at a loss of words, one must pause to consider the methods in order to achieve the means. I guess most of go to church to warm our hearts with heart felt stories.

    Most people don’t believe to the same extent that you & I once did, then again most members are not in Leadership positions.

    Might I suggest that all of us find opportune moments to defend truth the way we’ve come to understand it, in respectful manners and opportunities during our church experience?

    Perhaps while bearing our testimonies in Sunday? Seems like the hero of the story now are the people who chose to leave the church, but that doesn’t leave much of a church afterwards.

    I still need to figure out the best methods and tactics of introducing change to the church, it’s best when it comes top down.

    Currently we are more concerned with Goodness, than truth… and for as long as that is the case the raw truth may never be acknowledged or said.

    1. Wish there was an edit button to fix up parts where I ate up some of my words. In summary, there is a problem… but let’s address it carefully not in an alarmist fashion.

        1. The restoration is a work in progress.

          What you are hoping for is quite the long shot and like you said requires a huge overhaul that can only be completed from the top down in a coordinated manner.

          Can the church handle such a rapid transformation?

          I know we are being trained as teacher’s to stop using guilt trips, to avoid using words such a must & should, I like to think that as a church we’re pointed in the right direction and we will get there… we will continue to press on.

          ***As a feedback for this podcast*** I felt it was grossly exaggerated and could be better said, with better tones.

          1) We definitely should stop making those who leave feel like they were unworthy, but we should focus more on we will miss their presence and love.

          2) The gospel topic issues is very difficult, the tipping point will happen on it’s own, but to require that the church teach that everything is just Santa Clause story… well that will hurt a lot, but I guess we need to stop expecting Santa to pour out his gifts down the Chimney.

          3) To focus more on truth, new theology, and love… I’m all for that, but who’s with us? It needs a lot of people, and mostly from those who are inactive today to make the church progress. We need everyone who is inactive to come back and contribute to the change that is sorely needed and that which we are advocating.

      1. Well said, David. I agree. Bill you know I respect you and support your efforts, but I thought several times during this podcast that I’d wished you’d found a gentler way of saying your truth. I know, that harmful and horrible way ‘truth’ is treated by the Church and many of its members is deserving of your passion.
        But it won’t help those that need to change.
        Remember the story of the village woman that lost her son?
        Yeah. Carry on.

        1. ok, i don’t recall if it was a son or not. the story is told in this (excellent) podcast: Mormon Awakenings: 001: The Lone Villager

        2. May I share a woman’s perspective on this reply. When someone has been abused it is inappropriate to expect the victim to manage their emotions “better” and to protect the abuser because, hey, except for the abuse, he’s a really nice guy and pillar in the community.

          You don’t get to gauge the rate at which this unmasking will occur. You don’t get to tell people who have been abused, and it is abuse, how they should respond, and when you say it was an over reaction when someone is telling their truth, you are perpetuating the abuse, you are dismissing the pain and trauma.

          This thing that Bill is talking about, men may not understand, but women who have been abused get it. They have been shut down and shut up and dismissed and managed far too long. It is more White male privlege you are displaying and it’s just another layer of the problem, not the solution.

          1. Amen, Wendi. Sometimes the truth is hard to hear. But those of us who have been abused know that it’s important to stand up and speak our truth. Only then can healing occur.

  6. I feel for you Bill. At this point I can’t speak up as it causes so much internal friction for me. I emotionally need to get a bit more healthy before I can be even as bold as you.

    But I am still struggling on just driving the point home that change is needed by no longer attending and being clear as to why.

  7. I heard nothing in this podcast that was exaggerated. It expressed perfectly my experience and no doubt the experience of thousands of other members suffering from this trauma, both in the church and within our own homes.

    Bill – Thank you for having the courage to speak up. You are inspiring many of us to do the same.

    You have an amazing gift. Please keep sharing it.

    1. I agree with Tyler. This was not exaggerated or unwarranted. This was a very meaningful podcast for me. This is the one and only time I have ever posted a comment on anything online. Bill’s truth and sincerity was very impactful for me. Thank you Bill. May God bless you.

  8. Bill…loved the cast.

    You know who I am personally, so this will make sense.

    You said in your cast that many can’t raise their hand and “speak their truth”. The process I went through (which you know) ripped that fear out of me as part of the trauma–and no longer am I victim to information control and shaming/fear tactics. I’ve lived in it most of my life,..but no more.

    For you to engage the way you did was courageous. I love you brother…I really do. I have always felt kindness and love when I’ve spoken to you, and I consider you a friend.

    Bill,..if the time ever comes when action is taken against you because you have an opinion, you will learn (and You already know this) that there are many of us on the outside. And guess what?…we aren’t burning in hell. We have happiness….can you believe that?

    You will be loved regardless of your future pathway. As a friend, I just want to say that. You are NOT ALONE, even a little.

    You got lots of friends…. 🙂

  9. Thank you Bill. I really don’t know where I would be without being able to vent vicariously through people like you. As you stated, if I were looking for a reason to leave, I’ve found more than enough. I’m hanging on for a reason to stay.

  10. I want to be the author of my own story!*** Thank you, Bill! This episode has touched me deeply. I’m grateful to you for shouldering such a heavy burden, and am so sorry it is taking its toll. Spiritual abuse on the level of harshly judging others – making them feel “lesser than” – had no place in our church. Your words today pricked my soul because I am seeing how in the past, I have been guilty of thinking and saying much of what you mentioned. In other words, I have been spiritually abusive. My oldest children withstood my harsh judgement…”You are being deceived!” I’ve apologized but the memory of it hurts. It hurts to hear my loved one tell me that my questions and concerns signify “apostate thinking”. There’s so much more, but I just really want to say Thank You, and God bless you, and I wish you so much love and strength as you bravely help life and enlighten our tribe.

  11. Many of the points you raise in this episode are valid and need to be said. But Bill, you’ve always been the host I turn to for a steady, positive, even-keeled message.

    I expect this type of message from John Larsen or the Infants on Thrones guys, not Bishop Bill.

    I empathize with you and feel the pain you experienced in your Sunday School class. But as a podcast host with a certain brand, I felt like your message was out of place this time.

    1. Could it be that Bill is tired of trying to manage an image to protect the delicate feelings that erupt in a faith crisis? Now it’s time for you to manage your own. That’s like saying, Bill, I need to you keep being someone other than who you are because it helps me feel better in my journey. The best podcasts aren’t those that are staged. I’m tried of trying to protect members feelings as well. I, for one, am far more interested in authenticity than needing someone to preserve the brand.

  12. Bill, you have expressed yourself in powerful and vulnerable ways here.
    The emotion and difficulty in palpable.
    I am with you in the difficulty and the pain that is all around us. You and I (along with many others) are in the trenched with so many amazing people who have spent their lives in dedication to the Church, that does not always feel like it has a place for them after they have learned and wrestled with the realities of our very messy and difficult history and doctrine.
    You represent those who are hurting, who feel alone and are in need of support, those who feel unaccepted and unheard.
    It is a lonely and often frightening place to be.
    We all need a place to be heard, accepted, embraced, and validated, as none of us asked for this, we just *believed* what we were taught.And most people I know who find themselves here have spent a lifetime of serving with their whole heart in the Church.
    You have an incredible ability to meet people where they are, and then lift where you stand. Thank you for the blood sweat and tears that you have put into this effort to provide a space to make people understand they are not alone, and that they are not crazy.
    You are a good soul, and I am personally grateful for you, and that you give voice to so many in the borderlands.
    Namaste my friend. <3

  13. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings in such a raw manner. I have not been able to understand where you were coming from most of the time because I thought you would have had this experience long ago because you are so knowledgeable. Thanks again, I have enjoyed your podcasts and will enjoy them even more now that you are no longer an enigma for me.

  14. Bill,

    This episode explains so much of why I find myself walking the hall and sitting on the couch in the foyer, Sunday after Sunday, year after year. Mormonism is how I have identified my entire life. My heritage is deep within the foundation and history of the Mormon church. I could not find comfort anywhere but the LDS Church as far as a religious community goes. But I find myself more and more distant and uncomfortable. I want it to work. I have wanted to speak up and share my perspectives and when the time comes it is too much and I just leave. It’s the easy out…but not really because it builds and builds inside me.

    Please do not stop doing what you are doing there are many of us that are only holding on by a thread and your podcasts have given us a rope. You are not in this alone there are thousands of us standing behind you. Far too often the ones that give us hope go silent. They are either forced out or give up. When these voices go silent it only validates the feelings that we, or at least I, have in no longer being welcome or even wanted. So be careful and take care of yourself but whatever you do please do not stop.

    So, with that said “THANK YOU!”

    Thank you, for demonstrating the courage to stand and share your experience.

    Thank you, for helping me feel less alone in this community we both love.

    Thank you, for giving me hope! If a guy like you can make it work, then there may be room for others like me.

    Thank you, for providing a platform where I feel validated in the mess we call Mormonism.

    The list of Thanks would go on and on and on.

  15. Yes. Yes. And Yes. Once you realize the extent of the programming, and the extent to which you silenced your voice and accepted the system – therein for me, was the low point. But the next step is to find a way to find the beauty and meaning amongst the BS as you say, even if it means leaving or continuing to stay. I absolutely showed up too. I’ve been recording my faith transition and I have posts just like this. Your words are my words. Thanks so much for being vulnerable and sharing the core of you. We walk with you side by side. xx

  16. You know, Bill, I have known you ever since you started this path in the borderlands. You’ve been a great example of trying to make it work — and you’ve always been far less cynical than I am. I admire your fortitude and endurance.

    Many people can easily see for themselves that the church is abusive. The leaders from the beginning have lied. The truth claims, without exception, are bogus. The manipulation of identity, to force foreclosure into the mormon identity by shaming any other possible self is deleteriously harmful to mature human development.

    While these comments, and the ones you make in your podcast, are all very real for many of us, they do represent an extreme: the “all false” side of the “all true or all false” dichotomy.

    Is there a “Middle Ground” between these two positions? Not really. A middle ground means that there is a third rail on what are often tracks with only two choices. For any given “this or that” choice, we must choose. The problem, however, is that the Church and culture require us to make an all or nothing choice on the aggregate whole: the church is either “all true” or “all false”. And this is where a Middle Way actually does make sense.

    And a “middle way” is not a ground — it is not a third choice, but rather, an appropriate selection of choices on things we can measure and justify.

    Did Joseph Smith see GOd the Father and his son Jesus Christ in the flesh? Who knows? Yet when we look at the story itself, described as a “vision” and including a black-out prior to the experience and a “coming to himself” afterwards, then Josph, by his own words, did not have a visitation but rather a vision or dream (if he had one at all).

    This is but an example. The more important thing that helps survival amidst these difficult waters is to deconstruct our false beliefs. Throw away the whole thing, and start anew. THis is where it’s important to deconstruct mormonism completely — something that you now are finally embracing — if I hear you correctly.

    And this is a really good thing.

    If you discovered that the foundation of your house had significant erosion becuase it was built on a sandy substrate, then the answer isn’t to paint a new coat of paint on the house, but rather, tear the whole thing down and build on a solid foundation.

    This is what we all need to do. The fundamentals of mormonism are built on distortions and literalized myths. While myth is often the language of faith, there are significant problems if we make them literal. Once we literalize the myth, and use it to abuse members of the church, then the myth becomes toxic. Mormonism is full of these toxic, distorted and literalized myths. They harm people.

    That’s why your complete deconstruction is necessary. And if you are patient, and i know you are, in time you will realize greater faith and understanding.

    Best of luck to you, Bill.

  17. This is a crock. Bill, you were also taught that your testimony would be challenged in these last days. Has that changed too? The answer is no. What do you expect, that your testimony would only be challenged lightly? I got news for you, all the stuff you mentioned has destroyed your faith. Repentance might be something to think about. Which by the way hasn’t changed either.

    1. weird…. this sounded like the very “shame the victim” rhetoric that I was speaking about. They use that same tool set in scientology and Jehovah witnesses. Do you have something better ?

      1. Call it what you want. It doesn’t become the standard because you said it. Some people lose their faith because innocent church members and leaders did something that offended them. They are human afterall. Even joseph fielding was. Others lose their faith because they choose not to live the commandments. Not everyone who leaves is a victim of church trauma or abuse. The challenges to our testimonies are as individual as our testimonies themselves. The challenges we face today are are only going to get more intense. Stop blaming everyone else and playing the victim and start helping others to understand how it works. You can do it.

        1. Jim,

          Will you try to set your defensiveness aside and hear me with compassion?

          you said “Not everyone who leaves is a victim of church trauma or abuse.”

          No one is making that argument. I am speaking about a specific segment of people who have left. Is it possible some of them have been a victim of institutional abuse?

          read their comments. are they saying this expressed their experience well? Can there be any truth to their experience? Can you make room for their pain and anguish to be real and for any criticism to be justified? could their be any institutional unhealthiness in our faith?

          1. Institutional abuse implies that there is a purposeful agenda by the church to harm some members. While there certainty are some individual members who prey on others and abuse them, the church or institution as a whole is not out to abuse any of the members. So to answer your question, no it is not possible that some of them are victims of institutional abuse. Individual abuse? Maybe so.

            Some people may feel they have been abused by the church as an institution but your story and theirs, based on the comments, tell something different.

            This isn’t being decisive. It’s illustrating the correct picture. That my friend, IS compassion. There are far too many members who need an inaccurate excuse to not believe the restoration. When the real reason is something different. It easy to blame and point the finger. Trust me. I’ve been there many times.

            1. your defining trauma and abuse in a limited way that no health professional would. And it ignores many of the mechanisms in place meant to silence and pressure those who don’t fit a mold. Abuse and trauma can be caused by one who does not have the motive of hurting another but who has a motive of covering their ass. Often such motives lead to us hurting others and some of those instances are abuse and trauma. Any further dismissiveness will be deleted as there are people on here who are really sensitive due to this episode to the very trauma your causing with your dismissing another’s experience.

          2. That’s a cold, hard perspective that fortunately I have seldom seen. I hope that Bill will forgive you. As for me and my house, we send our love and support to Bill, who deserves nothing less. How does it work for you Jim? You must be hurting in ways that aren’t obvious to me, to be able to not feel for Bill allowing his pain to show. He has spoken truth to our ears. Over and over.

            For the sake of your grandchildren, I hope your heart will soften.

      2. Found the TBM in the comments! Really? Are you seriously calling someone to repentance for sharing their feelings? Get a life dude. There is real hurt being shared, and all you do is blame the person sharing their feelings and call them to repent. Pathetic.

    2. I have been going back and forth on this for some time, and I am trying to be careful about what I say. I fully understand that there is a lot of pain and anguish about many of the issues here. I do not doubt the pain, nor am I attempting to trivialize it.

      I remember the first time I realized my father was not a really great guy. We grew up in the South, my parents were converts, and my mom embraced the Church with gusto, but my father was always in and out. He had commitment issues, across the board. He is also pretty racist. We were picking him up from the airport for some reason, and he paid the attendant in the parking lot (before they had automatic pay), who was black. He gave her a $20, and she gave him back the wrong change, including the $20 he had given her. We left the parking lot around $17.50 richer because of her math error. I pointed it out to my dad…I think it was 8 or 9, and he said something like “Good for us” and drove off. My dad never looked the same to me. He is still my father. I still love him. But he was no longer perfect. Other perfections became obvious. I now see him as an incredibly flawed person. I still call him when I have a big decision to make, and I do not always do what he recommends, but we still talk.

      I think the Church is the same. A lot of the pain seems based on completely unreasonable expectations. The Church is not perfect, and realizing that is painful, but it was never perfect in the first place. It was always flawed.

      I also do not necessarily think that it was the responsibility of the Church to point out it is flawed. This is just part of life. The question is can you still love and respect the institution for being as human as everyone else is?

      There are multiple accounts of the FV? There are multiple accounts of most events, even in modern times. Does this mean all of Joseph’s accounts of the First Vision are accurate? No. Some of them may be. Some of them may not. Maybe all. Maybe none. But it is not uncommon. Other faiths have the same issues.

      The BOM has issues with historicity. So does the Exodus. The whole of Judaism is based on a story that no archeologist can corroborate at all. By all accounts the Exodus does not exist. Most of my Jewish friends know this, and are ok with it. Many aspects of Catholic history are not based on a real understanding of the events. Islam is the same way. Many of the Buddhist sutras include something like “This is what I heard” and few Buddhists actually think anyone heard the Buddha said this. The same with Islam; historical issues are known and ignored. And so on… The natural answer to this is “Well the Church was supposed to be different…” but all of the above are supposed to be “different”.

      The reality is that the Church is as flawed as any institution. Its history is whitewashed, because this is what organizations do, including the US. Anyone interested could find out that the FF of the US were a real cast of characters. Good, bad, and everything in between. There are plenty of cultural reasons for making them into titans of democracy, but the simple fact is that no one is immune.

      There is an old poem that says…

      “A little learning is a dangerous thing;
      drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
      there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
      and drinking largely sobers us again”

      I learned how the Church was as susceptible to organizational inflation as any other group when I was growing up, not years later, and maybe this made the difference? I also really got into religion, studying almost anything I could find, got a Masters, continued to study…and it helped. And I am not talking apologetics, I think that is a huge waste of time. I am talking about really diving into faith as a study, and forgiving others the same way I would like to be forgiven. I am not saying that since everyone does it I think it is ok, I am just a little more tolerant of the flaws when accepting that everyone has flaws. I love Catholic liturgy, even though they have a horrendous history of oppression and bloodshed. I can love the depth and beauty of Judaism, despite the lack of support for any of the underlying theology (did Moses even exist?). I respect the devotion and piety of Islam despite current events.

      But at the end of the day, I’m Mormon. I think the Prophet is inspired. I do not think he is perfect. I think there is something there. I can appreciate the BoM, BoA, and even D&C as scripture, despite their flaws (partly because I can appreciate the Koran, Torah, NT/OT despite knowing their flaws), and I do not need to point out their flaws during GD. I don’t care about the flaws in the NT or OT, so I do not care about the flaws in the BoA. It really does not matter. Some people call this cafeteria Mormonism, but I think this is a misnomer. All Mormons are ultimately cafeteria Mormons; I have never met two who believe the exact same thing. We are all growing and learning at different ways.

      So, while I can understand the pain of seeing your spiritual father pocket the $20 and laugh about it, you don’t really get to be your own person until you do. But this does not make him less of a father figure, it just means you get to decide for yourself whether or not you follow his every word of advice.

      1. Josephat, I love what you have written. I too have studied the various religions and in my quest for knowledge I came to a similar conclusion that nothing is, “complete,” I prefer that term rather than, “perfect.” However, where I differ is the belief that this church has the most complete picture. The Lord has only incomplete humans to work through, so the messages he tries to impart will be garbled and warped.

        I personally have had the Lord, on many occasions try to impart messages to me and there are times I know that I am not fully understanding what that message is. It is for this reason that I rarely share what I do learn. As I have stated in my own post I have no problem turning down callings if I have felt they are not right for me. I have spoken up many times and know that I have made other church members uncomfortable. I was divorced before I became a member of this church, and I have left SS and/or RS when there are lessons on Celestial Marriage. Not because it is painful, it just doesn’t apply to me, not at this moment in time. Plus, I don’t see Celestial Marriage the way the church does. I know there are comments made about me when I leave because one of my church member friends have told me. I don’t become offended or upset, I just laugh. The point being that I don’t care what others think about me, the only opinion that counts is the Lord, not the Bishop or the Apostles.

    3. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I literally cheered & cried as I listened to this. I have experienced the same feeling of anxiety & trauma as I commented in Relief Society or even while trying to answer a question about church history honestly. I’ve been shushed, ignored and told that “we don’t talk about those things. I spent years sitting silently, saying nothing until I just quit going. I could no longer endure…. my heart was broken. You have given me hope that together we can change things but it’s so difficult when you are the lone voice in the wilderness.
      Please continue to speak your truth. I will do the same.

    4. You nailed it with this podcast. Warnings were duly given for listeners inclined to taking offense. None taken here.

    5. Such a thoughtful, emotional, raw message. Thank you, Bill. I’ve stopped going to church, but I probably would not have done so if I felt the top leadership had been honest with me from the beginning. I would even consider returning if they started being upfront with the truth about its history and apologize for not doing so (not just giving lip service to “increased transparency,” which STILL leaves out so many important truths). However, right now I simply don’t feel safe discussing my OWN story, even with my own spouse or other family members! It’s very disheartening that the Church has been this wedge in my family despite outwardly proclaiming how family-oriented they are.

    6. Bill,
      I appreciate your heart felt, honest story. I take exception with your premise that those who have stayed are less well read than you, or those who have left. There are many who have read all the same things you have read and have chosen to stay. We do need to make church a safer place, for everyone.

      On another note, I feel that your use of the word “abuse” is perhaps not the best word. Abuse is intentional. Abuse has intentional velocity. “Trauma” is broader, and more applicable. Yes, it’s messy, it’s painful, it is a battle. Your experiences are your own and you cannot claim to know what happens in every ward, in every class, in every meeting around the globe. There are safe places. There is accountability. There is growth, there is light, there is hope. I have seen it and felt it.

      1. In terms of well read, I am speaking in generalities. And I stand by it. I believe I comprehend the historical data better than 99.9% of church members. Call it boasting though I am happy to take the test.

      2. One definition of abuse is to misuse something for the purpose it was intended. The church has misused our trust and our innocence for the purpose of protecting themselves. I don’t know who “they” are, but those who hide documents and make choices to protect the Saints from truths that may disturb their agenda, clearly fit the description of abuse.

        It is not by accident these things have happened to us. The outcome may not have been intentional but it has been a clear abuse to our trust. It wasn’t for our benefit things have been hidden, it was for theirs (those who enjoy the bounty of the innocent and ignorant followers)

        We have experienced religious and spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse may not appear violent because we cannot see physical evidence like broken bones, a black eye or severed body parts. But if we could see the spiritual bodies of those experiencing LDS faith crisis we would see horrific damage and the sad thing is, is that they are being admonished to continue returning to their abusers out of obligation. At what point to we administer triage? When will there be rest for the weary traveler in this road?

    7. Bill, if you haven’t yet heard of him, you should google “Rob Bell” and read every one of his books. You would seriously love them. His works lit a long extinguished fire in me.

    8. Bill, believe me, I once felt your pain and anguish over all of my prideful, endless works I had so willingly sacrificed for 34 yrs in the lds church.
      Not until I learned from Jesus himself that all my works “were as filthy rags” to the Lord. Christ and Christ alone has done ALL the work and we are to but believe in Him and His finished work on the cross with all our faith and trust. “Rest in me” is what He said.
      I also have learned to forgive those who have trespassed against us so I can be forgiven. I seriously doubt the lds authorities will ever stand up and do the right thing and admit all the lies, cover ups and stories we all were told and believed with every fiber of our beings.
      I have learned that a religion cannot save me through obedience to the laws and ordinances that were done away with when the veil of the temple was rent. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can. We must be “crucified with Christ” in our hearts.
      I felt much better when I stopped being so mad and gave it all to the Lord to judge, not me, and make right in His own due time.
      Rest in the arms of Jesus. He is on His thrown and rules and reigns forever. He has overcome it all. Even for those of us who gave all we had to a religious institution.
      Our Father is well aware of all your endless sacrifices of service and compassion rendered, but they were to glorify Him…and they did…not glorify a church.
      All through the NT many churches were teaching false doctrines and had to be reprimanded. Even Christ called some “filthy vapors”. Let it go and give it to to the Creator, He foresaw all false prophets and knows exactly how to make it all right. May God bless you.

    9. Thank you Bill……for your courage and vulnerability. The unvarnished, authentic emotion and feeling is the message.

      When I was a Bishop, I think I formerly apologized for the church every week in interviews. It was a powerful thing to witness the healing this brought to people when some one in a “authority” spoke authentically.

    10. Thanks, Bill, for this powerful episode! Very forceful but worth it to listen to. I don’t shame people that are struggling. Even my bishop, who is a great man, doesn’t seem to get it. I just more members did get it.

    11. Thank you so much. I was tired of being shut down. I am tired of trying to defend myself. I am tired of feeling like I should be ashamed of myself for not being strong enough to keep trying to make a difference on the inside. I am tired of feeling like I have to dance around everyone else’s delicate emotions while dismissing my own. I am tired of not having my pain acknowledged. I am tired of being dismissed as deceived when I have put in more work and effort to know the history, theology and dynamics of my religion more than anyone in my physical ward or Stake. None of my efforts to seek the truth have been acknowledged or considered. Only God knows the hell I’ve been through in my effort to know the truth, that is until I heard this podcast. Now I know I’m not alone. There is someone who understands and who is brave enough to call it out even when he knew he would be shut down again by those who still can’t see it. Dear God, thank you for my brother Bill

    12. I will say this: I can only tell my story I have no right to another persons truth. It is time to kick apologists to the curb. It has to stop.

      This is really bad and unforgivable.

      I don’t think you have been critical I think you fave spoken a great many truths. AMEN to your words.

    13. Thank you Bill, your podcast is very revealing and forthcoming. I have been a Church member for fifty years and faithfully served in callings as long as I’ve been a member. While I have had many spiritual experiences during the time I blindly followed our leaders, I did not experience “the spiritual trauma of mormonism” until a few months ago when I began to investigate the facts you mentioned in the podcast. My perspective about the “Truth” as taught to me fifty years ago, has caused a significant cognitive dissonance change.
      I thank you for your resolution and fortitude to speak up and
      share your candid feelings about this sensitive topic.

    14. Thank you Bill. I’ve spoken with other members and leaders about my concerns; however, I have found that members’ primarily only listen far enough to issue spot. Once they have assessed what the issue might be (insert canned response of prayer, scripture study, sin, anti-lit, etc.), listening ceases and they start telling you your story. It’s utterly frustrating, disheartening and defeating.

      But our experience here made me think of Thomas. There you have an apostle of Jesus explicitly say he didn’t believe in or trust the first-hand accounts of the other 11. While the account is sparse, I think it is telling that in John 20:26 the narrator states unequivocally that Thomas was with the apostles even after refusing to trust and believe in their accounts. There apparently was no offense taken and no distance placed between the unbelieving Thomas and the others. Profound.

      When Christ appears, His first order of business is to impart peace to the apostles including Thomas. He knew the struggles they and Thomas, in particular, were having, and He first sought to bring peace to their souls. He then asks Thomas to touch him, which is above and beyond Thomas’ requirement of seeing the Lord. He didn’t just satisfy Thomas’ request, He went above and beyond and ensured Thomas was convicted and committed. He didn’t ask why or how Thomas didn’t believe the others’ accounts. He didn’t issue spot or blame. He succored Thomas. He brought him close and provided the peace, assurance, conviction and connection I think we all crave. Such a beautiful story.

      1. Thank you so much for that comment, Nathan. Your insight is truly beautiful and made me tear-up just now. I am an evolving Mormon, but a committed Mormon. I’ve never felt any more understood by anyone that I did last night listening to Bill. I have experienced a about 15 years of bewilderment and pain as a very serious truth-seeker in this church. Things turned out to be much more complicated than I ever imagined, not only in trying to make sense of Church history, but very prayerfully and honestly attempting to discern truth. It’s not as simple a process for me. I’m a deep thinker and a careful examiner by nature. That doesn’t mean I have weak faith. I think it takes a lot of courage and faith to go that route,at least if you’re an honest, faith+fact-based seeker. It requires honesty, and sometimes going-it-alone–and that can make one very vulnerable.

        I’ve learned through the process of painful experience that Jesus indeed succors those who come to Him with with their pain, needs, doubts. I could never describe the metaphysical experiences to do them justice, and nobody needs to believe me. But for me, I had to find Jesus outside of the LDS Church. The Jesus I grew up with was not a being I could trust as one who really loved me unconditionally. I heard a more encouraging, hopeful version of the gospel, and that;s where I found my foundation. None of this shaming stuff that totally messed me up as a little child, mostly from the way my parents raised me. Building a relationship with Christ and learning to trust Him has been a process, just like any real relationship. It’s become the air I breath and the ground beneath my feet. The rest, as we say, is just an “appendage”.

        Disappointment has caused me to realize that people and organizations fail miserably. Not only is the LDS Church no exception, it may be the “Poster-child”! This is not “the best God could do”, as one comment stated, but simply the best WE could do. And thank heaven I no longer have to make myself believe every choices made or word spoken by Joseph Smith was the “mind and will” of the Lord Himself. THAT made me crazy for awhile. Like “Really, God? Is this REALLY what you intended???” He let it be, but not all of it has his fingerprints. This is not Jesus’s church because we are all so noble and great, but in spite of us. That’s where I have to do some “re-translating” of a few scriptures. The fall happened, and suddenly we are no longer all that “noble”.

        It was once hard to trust the Heavenly Father who, in my mind, operated on rewards, threats, and shame. Like my own parents, right? In Primary, for the life of me I could not grasp how Jesus’ love was real with all that NOT Jesus baggage I was picking up on. It’s gotten a lot better since the 1960’s era church, but these elements, though less overt, remain. But this is not the gospel. Christ only placed shame on those who abused and shamed others, when they did so intentionally for their own personal gain, fully understanding they were using people. It was the only way he could get his point across to hardened hypocrites. (If we’re honest, we certainly must admit that we all use accusation and shaming at times, in effort to self-justify, and we’re all hypocrites too.) Jesus did not use shame to manipulate, and he does not want us to use it in any case.

        It has been a long road, and thankfully, I’ve come out the other side ok, but I have many deep concerns for the Church and our members. We are evolving as a church, and we need one another. People are hurting. Others are afraid, and some of those who are afraid are the one’s who accuse. We need to learn to really love each other, to gain and show compassion for one another. Christ’s example is perfect. Thank you so much for sharing. You are an insightful person, and sensitive to others—I can feel your own empathy in your post. This is what is needed for the spiritual growth of the Church. We have an opportunity to mature. There are growing pains, but if this is really Christ’s church, then we can learn to bear one another’s burdens through what is a very tough time, a time to dig deep, and a time to reach out.

        Bill’s podcast was very courageous. I listened and wished I could hug him. Love is the answer to everything. Love everyone, especially those who despitefully use you. And how, how can one love that way without Jesus in your very heart and soul? It is completely beyond this fallen earth. But we gotta try.

        Holy cow, that was LONG. Turned out to be more for me than anyone. I hope Bill reads it.


        WORDS ARE SO INADEQUATE…Forgive me if I’m off base here, but please, let this whole season of life continue to shape you for the better. I believe in you. Only love could prompt you to do this. Ignore the rest. I get why it all came out so raw. It’s been months now, and I truly hope you are finding a path of healing. Jesus never defended himself. There is NO NEED for you to defend yourself either. God knows your heart. It’s all just between you and Him anyhow.

        Do what you gotta do, let Him lead you. Stay soft-hearted, even though the price is high.

        LOVE, MARCI

    15. Thank you for this podcast. I pray that this can become a more open discussion. I tired of being blamed for not being okay with manipulation.

    16. Until the ego is allowed to die we’ll never really live. Time to put aside the “I” and and let God do His work His way. Otherwise, madness and pain is the only future. It’s hard to do but this route is not going to bear the fruits I believe are intended. Good luck on the travel!!

    17. I have so many thoughts and questions right now, thank you for that! As a convert to the church,and in Sweden where we’re not that many members, I still see this problem. I guess it’s a world wide problem. And I’m so happy you shared your story. I guess It’s easier to just stay quiet and be oppressed by authorities. And to take in their stories and truths. And believe in their truths rather than to seek your own.
      So thank you for encouraging people to seek their truths and to tell their stories.
      Sorry the bad English, but I’m a swede.
      Love and Care/Pippi

    18. Great podcast, very relevant for me and my family, Iv had similar experiences and deeply sympathise, I do have a question though, forgive me if it sounds patronising or an attempt to disseminate , that’s not my intention at all, my question is , when you were working your ass off in church duties , did it change you internally? Did you draw closer to Christ? I love what you’ve done with this podcast and wish you and your family all the very best ????

    19. Bill,

      You are so close brother, just let go and find peace in moving on with the next phase of your work. So much to do. It’s time.

    20. Honestly, I don’t know why people want to try and change all of it. Is it so you still have a place to go? If the Church had to admit to everything, you’d be left with little more than something resembling the Unitarians. The whole point of the Church was supposed to be that it is meta-physically true. That’s all that really matters. I mean just the Temple itself, if you aren’t worthy, then you will be kept from your family in the next life. That’s spiritual abuse. The Temple itself is based the masonic experiences of J.S., and does not originate from the Temple of Solomon. Either it’s a social club, or it’s meta-physically real. You can’t have it both ways. The narrative is that the Restoration occurred to get things right, that the word of The Lord would be revealed through living prophets. God is just so messed up if this is the best he can do in clarifying what people need with regards to His will, that this rats nest of lies and deceit is what we got to guide us out of the “great apostasy.” It’s all preposterous. Seek the Eastern path. It’s a better way to find yourself spiritually and learn how to grow up and deal with REALITY.

      1. By the way, if I even went into my story it would blow your mind. It’s the most “spiritually abusive” and cruel thing you can conceive of, and it’s fresh for me. If you’s like a good podcast story, I have one for you.

        1. Mike C. there is a right way, and the only way that makes sense, is what this church teaches. The temple, the kingdoms, etc., most of it makes sense. The problems experienced by those in the church is they focus on the, “things,” and not on the Lord. The problem comes from worrying about and thinking about what others will say and do about various things you may or may not do. The problems come in when people have the audacity to tell other people what they should or should not be doing. The problems come when you perform callings because you believe this will win you a place somewhere in the church or one of the kingdoms. The problems arise when you believe the church teaches that paying tithe will magically bring you more money. (When in truth the Lord allows whatever it is that we receive. Food, clothing, lessons, blessing etc., according to the lesson we need to learn.)

          We humans tend to believe in magical terms, as if the Lord is in some magical place. He, the Lord is in the future. Perhaps if we thought in those terms we might better deal with ancient documents. I believe this is why Revelation is so hard to understand. It was written for the future in that way because no, “man,” can screw with it.

          Mankind is finite, the Lord is infinite. Finite humans think and write in those terms, we cannot and do not understand what is infinite. Looking for what is wrong with anything, you will find it.

          I investigated everything about this church, both the negative and the positive. I read everything! And in this quest for learning I asked myself the following.

          1. Why are we here on this planet?

          2. Does it make sense for us to be here simply to return to Heaven?
          3. Does it make sense that this universe began with an explosion?
          4. Does any of the other religions make sense?
          5. What is the future of certain actions?
          6. If believe the current trend, such as men should be allowed to become women, and women, men aren’t we left with males and females?
          7. IF we go with the current trend and allow gay marriages do we then believe that we are mere blobs, with no distinctions?
          8. Although we should be allowed to make personal decisions according to our beliefs, some decisions most actions have a domino effect. Should we be allowed to free ourselves up to the extent that has a negative effect on all?

          Finally, what is going on with the world now is predicted in scriptures. Regardless of what I say or what others say what will be, will be.

    21. As a convert who knew all of the things that you are talking about in this podcast BEFORE I converted I have to wonder why people are saying they have no clue about this information on this podcast. You all do realize that NO CHURCH will EVER meet the needs of this members. All churches have been wrong at one point or another. ALL churches will have problems because humans tend to believe that there is such a thing as perfection. I read somewhere that the word, “perfection,” is mistranslated. A more accurate translation is complete. All scripture is subjected to man who will by their very nature, write things that is from their point of view. All mankind will do things that are not in keeping with the Lords teaching.

      I knew and know about all the things that people have said about Joseph Smith and the church in general. However, I also know that no church has made sense in regards to where we came from, why we are here and where we will end up going. No history will make sense because we humans are looking back, we are not living that history and hindsight is not really 20/20.

      As a convert since 2004 I have turned down several callings, worn pants to church several times. I speak my mind almost all of the time and I will tell you when I disagree with something. And guess what? I don’t care what people may say or think. Because I do this people just do not approach me. I’m okay with this too, because my pursuit is for the Lord, and what he wants to teach me. My eyes are focused on the Lord. I read the BofM once and listened to it once. I have found that there is too much fighting and it loses my interest. I have also found that the Lord can and does teach through everything and everyone.

      I honestly feel bad for people that leave the church for all the wrong reasons.

    22. Pingback: Spiritual Trauma: Men Bleed Too | Journaling to Discover and Express Faith

    23. Mormonism?
      Bill..ism….. You are Satans very tool Bill…..Ive never heard anyone tell me I could not use my free choice to believe what I hear! FACTS are FACTS!! Yes, but history is history and we cannot go back and make every mistake made by those who I feel did what they felt they should do at the time to bring the truth to the world. Why are you still attending Bill? Tell me? Sounds like you have many followers on here that you have taken to your level–YOUR language is ridiculous!! I’m sure you Heavenly Father is so proud of you–YOUR EGO is incredible!! Glad you served you tail off!! Stay in your mode!! and all those who jump on me for my words … should question your intent!

      1. I love how 99% of the people who have listened to this responded that this spoke directly to their experience in a real and valid way and yet the other 1% can only respond by shaming and marginalizing the messenger instead of asking themselves why this touched so many people and seem to speak directly to their own experience? But please by all means attack me. I am willing to bear the brunt of it. People have been deeply hurt by Mormonism and they need a vulnerable conversation. Are you going to give them space? Or are your beliefs so sacred to you that no matter how many people are hurting, you simply can’t make room for their story? It is okay. I realize many can’t go to this space. A space where their church may have done great and serious harm to the souls of another. Can you not see your walls and moats? Can you not see your defensiveness? take a breath and simply ask if such an experience is valid even if not your experience?
        your friend in Christ
        Bill Reel

        1. Bill, please be, “reel,” with these people, if you were in this truly to, “help,” folks nothing on this website would have a charge. Plus, how is what you are saying and writing really helping people? Confirming something that people already may be feeling or thinking isn’t helping them one iota. People do all sorts of things that they later regret both in and out of church. If you are treating the church as a casino then you should know that there will be losses as well as wins. If you treat the church as a place to learn and heal you will come away with something positive. I realize that is probably tough for a lot of people, because very few people are capable of independent thought. But, people MUST understand that the harm comes in leaning on everything and everyone but the Lord. You Bill should feel shame in charging for any part of this website.

          1. you got it. “If you truly wanted to help folks nothing on this website would have a charge”
            – deseret book
            – church owned restaurants
            – tithing to go to the temple
            – housing developments and land deals
            – city creek
            – cost to get into Fairmormon apologetic conferences

            when your ready to hold me to the same standard you hold your church let me know. By the way I took no income from the podcast last year and it only raised $11k but lets not let the facts get in the way. But then again this was never about the facts was it?

            any other questions

            1. Two wrongs will never, ever make a right. I am curious….I came from mainstream churches and when I didn’t like the church and what it was doing I moved on. I didn’t go online or join a group of people that bemoaned that church. And EVERY church collects money, right wrong or indifferent. But, not everyone that leaves a church makes a blog and then tries to raise funds for it. Your answer was as immature as your actions on this website.

        2. My friend in Christ? Christ is my true friend Bill.
          Surely you by now, you should have grown in strength and knowledge to know that the human imperfections, even in the gospel as it has been brought to the world again, experienced problems as we are humans. Many mistakes were made by honest men and women who learned many lessons as they worked hard to bring the gospel back.
          So I ask you back, Can YOU not see your walls and motes? I am healthy enough to accept mistakes in the history of the church.
          YOU have given space to one of my nieces who listened this podcast and who shares mental disorders, a new path to discredit everything she held so dear in the gospel. She has taken her whole family away from our family and continues to discredit anything to do with the gospel. The only time in her life that she was able to function was from the strength of the gospel and the members who were so good to her. That is SATAN at HIS very best!
          I hope you find you way Bill….I told her, Free agency is our most precious gift! Use it wisely.

          1. I am truly sorry to hear from your perspective about your niece and yes even unhealthy groups provide stability for some. In the end people deserve to know what they are signing up for and once informed they choose to stay as I do then great. Let’s truly honor that while the church is a absolute and utter blessing for some it does cause others trauma and hurt. That seems valid. The far and wide majority find such vulnerable conversations helpful. I am sorry you feel your niece isn’t one of those

            1. Wow, I hope people are paying close attention to the fact that you talk out of both sides of your mouth Bill, “Reel.” In your answer to me you say it is my church, then you turn around and say it is your church. Which is it “Reel,” Bill? You are a charlatan you have your foot in the church, just to make money, while having your foot out the door.

              Btw, my point is that people can’t seem to just leave this church. They seem to have this HUGE problem of having to explain why they left the church and feel justified in it.

              1. maybe ask yourself why that is? why it that those who leave, hold onto their anger and resentment. Mormonism is a high demand, fundamentalist type of religion. It weaves itself into your identity and when that crashes not only does one have to disentangle their identity but they also have to deal with loss of family and friends that comes when one leave. When you leave the Methodist sect you don’t lose your relationship with your parents/friends/spouse/kids. But Mormonism and other high demand religions have their members handling such transitions much harsher and with more behaviors that cause hurt and harm on relationships. These people not only don’t believe the childhood of their faith, but they feel betrayed by that faith in every facet of their life. you could try to be more sensitive to experiences different than yours. They are seeking validation from those they love who have distanced themselves over the change in belief of their loved one.

      2. Bill,

        There are fundamental churches throughout the world, and they do not have all the emotional problems of those leaving this church. Again this mostly is due to the culture of the church. Understand I do believe the culture of the church MUST change in order to make it truly welcoming to everyone. However, the basic premise of this church is the most correct, logical and true. The culture and mentality of is what is wrong about this church. And what I am referring to is what started from the beginning of the church.

        Leaving the church will not change the church, and those that are falling apart after leaving will not help them or anyone else.

        1. Hi, Carrey,
          You said: “There are fundamental churches throughout the world, and they do not have all the emotional problems of those leaving this church.”

          That is likely true, in part. Some people are able to leave fundamentalist churches without much trouble. The same is true for some LDS leave-takers. There are plenty who leave without much fanfare. They simply stop coming, and you don’t hear from them again.

          However, there are many other fundamentalist type religions that DO cause people anguish and emotional harm. Similarly, when people leave these other religions, they face slander and ridicule from their church and even their loved ones. They tend to get just as raw, angry, and hurt as what you have witnessed here. If you want to see examples, please casually browse some of these forums:

          Ex-Jehovah’s Witness Forum

          Ex-Seventh Day Adventist Forum

          Ex-Worldwide Church of God Support Network

          Ex-Pentecostal Forum

          This one is particularly good. It’s from a person who left Regnum Christi, a fairly extreme Catholic group:

          I’m glad that you are happy in your church. But, just because it has worked well for you doesn’t mean that it hasn’t hurt others.

      3. Bill – I think you should give Kim and Carrey free Premium membership for so perfectly exemplifying the attitude and approach that the church’s leaders and culture motivate. Judgement, condemnation and shaming? Check. Attack and demean the messenger? Check. Ignore the message? Trifecta. Ladies, you nailed it. You just validated the title of this episode. On second thought Bill, this one is on me. I’m heading to the Donate page to pay for their membership. We need to keep them around to prove your point for you.

        1. isn’t it odd when folks shame and marginalize someone who just said that such behavior is shaming and marginalizing and hundred and hundreds and hundreds are publicly saying they have had the same experience?

          1. Bill, if the definition of feelings being right is simply going by the number of people that are feeling it, than those that still follow the Mormon belief far outnumber those that have left the church, and their feelings. It is pitiful for those leaving the church to only see the wrong instead of making the effort to examine the world in general and what they DO BELIEVE.

            1. those who have spiritual answers different than Mormonism far outweigh believing Mormons…… be careful as I don’t think your changing minds to your side and if a betting man you are actually giving evidence against your position by the way you callously have reacted to others hurt and pain.

              1. Apparently you didn’t understand what I was inferring when I was talking about numbers. Basically numbers mean nothing. I’m not trying to change minds I’m trying to get people to think outside of the box. I don’t know if it will work or not, but I do know that reacting isn’t an action. Saying you don’t believe in what the Mormon church teaches doesn’t address what one believes or if one believes in anything. Your blog is just a reaction blog.

                I am also saying that others that are hurt or in pain is perhaps self piety that is not helping or serving them.

                1. my episodes are full of what I believe and where I stand. My podcast is full of both deconstruction mechanisms as well as reconstruction mechanisms. I think your statement is naive of the scope of the subjects we have discussed. but please keep painting with a broad brush as you attempt to define me.

        2. Powerful and full of courage. Thank you. That’s all. Just THANK YOU. I get it. And you are not alone. You’ve inspired me.

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