Bill Reel and Spiritual Abuse

Interview

Posted June 24th, 2017

What is Spiritual Abuse and when is enough enough? Bill Reel, faithful active host of the Mormon Discussion podcast, joins Glenn, Tom and Matt to discuss the finer points of head-butting dense brick walls.

Glenn

Matt

Tom

  • This was one o’ them old-timey Infants episodes. Didn’t want to look, but I couldn’t look away.

    Yay, Matt! The most effective blow you can deal The Brethren is to ignore them, and you can’t ignore them from within the church. The church is theirs, not yours. They have no reach outside of their bubble. If you walk out of the bubble, they can’t touch you.

    “Mormonism is deeply, deeply, unhealthy, but still useful,” Bill? I almost feel as if I’m listening to you say tuberculosis can be really beneficial for some people. Can’t buy it. I’m reminded of the time Heather was saying that she was coming to the conclusion that she didn’t want her daughter growing up in the church and Randy asked, “If the church is an unhealthy place for your daughter, can it be a good place for any of your kids?” Think about it.

    I can really identify with Matt saying that to leave Mormonism, you must also leave ex-Mormonism. I only listen to Mormon Stories anymore if somebody I like (Lindsay or John Hamer or somebody) is on. The rest of it I’ve heard. God knows I ain’t no therapist, but are some of these folks just enablers? Enabling others to remain in a debilitating addiction? We all need to pinch it off, myself included.

  • Ryan Gregson

    I REJECT all of Matt’s dismissals, simply because he doesn’t believe it, however passionate that belief. Look, I’m not saying you’re wrong Matt, but I would have loved to hear more reasoning. “I’ve already had this argument with others” doesn’t cut it. But more specifically I don’t understand Matt’s conflation of contrarian voices with those of professionals and therapists. They don’t serve the same purpose, and I don’t think anyone is claiming they are the same. I’m still listening, and Tom is actually taking this point right now. You don’t have to be a licensed therapist to be a confidant and a friend.
    More than that, I don’t see the problem (from our point of view) of there being a voice in the congregation saying “hey, you don’t have to buy all this at face value, and if you want to leave that’s an acceptable path”. And for Matt to say “you’re just one voice, you’re not doing anything” that’s incredibly dismissive and cynical on your part. If those lone contrarian voices were so ineffective, the church wouldn’t be working so hard to silence them.

    • Ryan Gregson

      One more thing on the value of the in group contrary voice. It’s fine and all to say, hey, if you don’t believe it, and you think it’s damaging, leave! I think that’s true. But if we’re talking about lgbt kids in these communities, is that really a realistic option? I don’t think it is. It’s expecting far too much of them to go against their families and communities. I think THAT is the value of a Bill within the congregation. Unless that kid’s parents are on board to leave, that option is extremely difficult. As Matt pointed out, that doesn’t mean it will save all kids from the trauma, but I think it would be an obvious help for someone in the group to be there saying “No, you’re not wrong, be yourself, you don’t have to accept what the authorities tell you, and when you’re ready and able, leave.”

      • Ryan Gregson

        p.p.s.
        I’ve said before Matt is my favorite, and that’s still true.

  • Spencer

    @30minutes into the podcast…

    Is staying in the church to protect people like getting in the car of someone who is driving drunk? How does that contrast with saying it’s wrong and maybe even calling the police before some kid has their privates connected to electrodes to un-gay them, or kills themself because they like wearing a tie to church when they, “should be wearing a dress.”

    • Spencer

      Maybe it’ll all be okay when the wards of dead teenagers do the temple work for them… that’s how most of our ward has dealt with it.

  • William Benton

    I love hearing Matt berate guests, tell them how right he is and how wrong they are. It’s almost as if I’m back in church!

  • Marie Frandsen

    I agree with Matt that the longer people stay inside the church the longer they will prolong their abuse. Abuse and control is what the church does. Every single member is being used and abused. Every single one, whether they like it or not. The internet has an abundance of information that explains how manipulative abuses are used by con men, bullies, domestic abusers, narcissists, religions, and other forms of cults. To those who know what the manipulations look like, it is easy for them to recognize it in the LDS church. Not only that, but the fact that the top leaders are using the manipulative tactics on the members is evidence that these leaders are aware of the tactics. They are fully aware that they are using and abusing their followers.

    I posted a comment on another pod cast site. It seems as though it would be relevant hear so I am going to paste it hear.

    I have compassion for those who choose to stay involved in the church to keep their families intact, to maintain their employment until they can find something else, or because they are emotionally not ready for the trauma that they may be facing by leaving. I personally do not have a problem with discussions that are helpful to people that choose to stay in the church for those reasons. That being said, I would like to bring forth a perspective that should be considered when people are looking to stay involved in the church, especially for those who want to stay for social reasons.

    Many, many people are being damaged by the church, even to the point of committing suicide. Staying involved in the church is supporting the church. Supporting the church is supporting the abuse. The victims of this abuse feel a sense of being invalidated, disregarded and devalued by people who continue to support the church after they are aware that the church is so harmful.

    Quite often I hear that the church can be beneficial and does many good things. This is like a slap in the face to it‘s victims. Many plantation owners benefited from the enslavement of the African people. People throughout the American South defended the “benefits” of slavery, even when they were not slave -owners. They believed so strongly in the enslavement of another people that they rebelled against their government and fought the bloodiest war in American history. Did their strong belief in the superiority of one race over another make slavery okay? Of course not. Would you tell an African American today that slavery was a good thing because it was so beneficial to some people? Of course not.

    I would also like to point out a few other things to consider when deciding to stay active in the church. The perceived good that comes from the church is a facade. You can’t catch fish without bait. The wolf dresses in sheep’s clothing to fool it’s prey. The church is very good at taking credit for, and cloaking itself with, the good nature of it’s members. The good that comes from the members is not created or owned by the church. People in and out of religions are both moral or immoral. It is a lie that people need religion to have good morals. Empathy is the mother of good morals. Religions have adulterated morality with prejudices, bigotry, superiority, racism, sexism, ego and ridiculous reasons to judge one another.

    Although there are some real benefits that many members may enjoy from the social aspects of the church, all of the socializing and organizing that the church has their members do is designed for the church’s benefit, not the members. Keeping members doing busy work has a purpose. The more time that is devoted to the church, the less time that can be devoted to anything that would take a member away from their faithfulness to the church. Also their time is free labor. People don’t need churches to be social. They need commonality or causes and people that are good organizers.

  • Todd

    Matt’s righteous indignation is a thing to behold!

    But I’m not sure I agree with Matt’s claim that having NOM types around the LDS Church somehow “gives cover” to the Church. This argument is in tension with Matt’s other claim that their presence has virtually no effect at all. Personally, I agree with the second claim, that having a handful of more-liberal believers in such a fundamentally conservative religion–and one that seems to be going through a period of conservative retrenchment no less–probably makes very little difference. Still, I ultimately agree with Matt that the obvious solution is to leave ASAP, for one’s own sanity and especially to spare one’s children from the messed up sexual shaming, homophobia, and backward gender roles.

    I’m also continually surprised that more NOM folks don’t just join the Community of Christ. It’s such an obvious alternative for liberal Mormons that I’m shocked more don’t try it out. I suspect that the residual LDS black-and-white thinking and notions of a One True Church is why most NOM folks seem not to transition to the C of C and instead just become secular. But it’s a puzzle to me. I have no idea why Dan Wotherspoon or Gina Colvin, for example, don’t just join the C of C. It’s so much more in tune with their spiritual approach that it boggles my mind why they stay LDS. The theologically liberal Restorationist church that they seem to pine for exists, just not in the Utah branch of the LDS movement.

    I would love to hear a discussion between John Hamer and Dan Wotherspoon or Gina Colvin on this topic.

  • Matthew Brewster

    Matt was obviously emotional about this topic, which is understandable since he said he has a gay son if I’m not mistaken. But I felt uncomfortable at the way he was dismissive of the possible validity of what Bill was saying. If you have a gay kid, yes protect him/her, but it is a personal decision for everyone on the question of leaving the church or staying. People need support wherever they’re at, and although I haven’t listened to his podcasts myself, it sounds like Bill meets a need that some Mormons have.

    • david

      when is matt not emotional?

  • laurenzo snow

    I’ve tried to make Mormonism irrelevant to myself and be a safe person on the outside but my spouse is believing, along with my parents and half my siblings. I go to sacrament to to keep the peace in my home and figure if I’m there I should try to be a safe person in that space. However I do not want to be any sort of reason for anyone to think Mormonism is an okay safe place to be if it’s not for them. Idk man.. it’s such a weird place to be in.

    • Glenn

      You are not alone. That is a tricky place to be, and it sounds to me like you are doing the right thing in keeping the peace in your home. I’ve done it. Matt has done it. I think we pretty much all have. That’s what it is all about. Love and support your spouse. The world needs more selfless acts of love. You should take a ton of pride in that (regardless of what Ezra Taft Bensen said about pride)!

  • Simon

    Oy my god, best podcast ever!

    I wish I was as persuasive as Randy…

    Please do more in person smack-downs!!

    *****

  • Matthew Brewster

    Having listened a little further, I want to say that I am hugely appreciative of how passionate Matt is about validating LGBTQ people and their need for emotional fulfillment, intimacy, and mental health like all people need. It’s important to me as a gay man to hear allies who are outspoken on my behalf. So thank you, Matt. But I do believe that everybody has their own individual paths and you need to meet people where they’re at. Some LGBTQ people’s circumstances may be such that it’s more beneficial to stay rather than to leave, at least for the time being. (I’m not one of those people. I have been out of church activity for quite a few years.) People need support regardless of where they are at spiritually, and I think it is presumptive for anybody to say they know the path somebody is on and have seen it before, and they know where they’ll end up later and to just hurry up and get out and get it over with. Some people will just never leave the Church, and they’ll benefit from any more moderate voices inside.

  • Paul EH

    Matt, I feel strongly with you that the best option for anyone with a LGBT child is to get out as fast as possible and it frustrates me and my wife that many wonderful MAMA Dragons are still in the church for all the reasons you discussed. But, I would like to make sure that part of the discussion makes it clear that many MAMA Dragons are no longer in the church and that many others are finding the exit door because of their LGBT children and their new PostMo friends they have come to rely on in the MAMA Dragons. My wife and I sometimes bang our heads against wall because of some of the friends of LGBT issues who are still trying to rationalize their testimonies, but we feel it is a process and many will soon find the door, but it is frustrating to watch.

    Like you, my wife and I feel so lucky to have gone through our awakening right before our amazing 18 year-old-son came out to us. We got him emotionally out of the church that day and officially a few months later. Because of our journey, we were in a place to just love him unconditionally when he finally got the courage to tell us he was gay. We are so grateful. Later, attempting to help our son find some friends he could relate with, as PostMos we took our son to Affirmation last year and we were just heart broken. Yes without question many of the people running that program are first-class, some are PostMos, and most are amazing and give so much. However; we had to leave several sessions and especially the testimony session, because it was so heart-wrenching. The final lunch on Sunday, my son had to comfort me as I lost my emotions as the audience sang such a beautiful 30-part-harmony rendition of “God be with you til we meet again.” All I could think is “you are all so beautiful and you are trying so hard to stay in a homophobic church who do not want you.” We will never go to Affirmation again because it is so tragic. We don’t know the answers to such complex questions, but it seems that helping encourage LGBT individuals to leave and the many reasons to leave should be stressed as the #1 option and #2 option and the #3 options before anyone even tries to make it work.

    Great discussion and I really like Bill and hope he is out soon. Like I said above, it is a process and everyone does it their own way on their own time schedule.

  • Brad

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard Matt as agitated/indignant/animated/angry as he was on this podcast. It definitely made for riveting listening. And let me say upfront, he made some very persuasive arguments. In general, I agree with him. Almost thou persuadest me to rain the same righteous indignation on those with significant LGBT ties who remain affiliated with the church, Matt. However…
    The social/spiritual reality that surrounds these people is just too complex for Matt’s ‘run away as fast as you can, no matter what’ argument. Some of these people still have a ‘testimony’ of the church, which is still a fundamental part of their being. If they were to leave before realizing for themselves that the church is not what it claims to be would lead to some significant trauma. It might be less than the trauma that would occur if they stay too long, as Matt suggests (and is likely correct in most cases). But it is still pretty significant trauma that has to be considered. People like Bill Reel, Mama Dragons, and others still have some ties to the church that are associated with a significant emotional burden/investment. Of course these ties have to be reconciled in each case. I would hope that families with LGBT members would reconcile them more quickly, and leave the church more quickly, than those who are just leaving for other reasons. For these people, the cost of staying too long might lead to very significant trauma and possibly the loss of life. But the fact remains that everyone, including those who Matt railed against, has to deal with those same emotional costs that he, I and others did before we made our exit official.
    I’ve been out for 5 years, in part because my daughter experienced same-sex attraction (insert John Hamer alert here). She’s been out for around the same time. Neither of us identify as Mormons anymore. IOT is pretty much the only connection I have to the church now. She still visits ex-mo forums from time to time, but she will be equally as ‘unafilliated’ as me soon enough. She has every reason to rail against the church and curse its existence, even more than I do. But she still feels the loss of belonging and purpose that the church gave her. These are not insignificant feelings. There still is a cost to leaving the church. Everyone needs to make that calculus for themselves, because there still will be trauma no matter how ready people are when they make the break. We can hope for as little trauma as possible, especially for those who have LBGT family. But they are struggling with the same decision and consequences we all did. They at least deserve empathy, even if I agree with Matt that we know what the trajectory will be of most of these people.

  • Charlie Brule

    I wanna be like Matt Long when I grow up!

  • David Johnson

    As someone who had his name removed 2 years ago, I have Mormon and ex Mormon cred. I must start off by stating I was disappointed and to be frank, embarrassed by Matt’s tirade. No wonder faithful LDS people feel that Ex Mormons are angry. This was a case in point. I have gone through the angry phase of my exodus, and feel I am out of that stage. Perhaps Matt is still neck deep in it? Maybe something triggered you? Only you can know? But you are entitled to your emotions and experience. But to demand the respect of your experience, how about not emotionally invalidating Bill’s. See how this works?

    I felt Matt was dismissive and frankly disrespectful to Bill Reel. I feel that Matt’s “one size fits all” approach invalidates other’s life experiences. To think he knows the only answer is naive, dangerous and frankly arrogant. Matt, everyone’s situation is different and requires different approaches. You basically invalidated my experience and I assume other’s. You disregarded your guest’s faith and his concern for others…..because the mighty Matt knows all apparently. Hate to break it to you, but the world isn’t black and white. And to be brutally honest, you are not a therapist, although you pretended like you were. Maybe before calling out John Dehlin, and other “so called therapists”, you may want to take a few more classes on human behavior.

    Now to be fair, I do agree with Matt, if you feel you are gay….it is probably best to leave as soon as you can, easier said than done. But to those who are struggling with belief and are trying to save family relations, marriages, friendships or just your peace of mind, take all the time you need. Your whole world view has been rocked and you need space and time. And in my case, I would have appreciated someone like Bill Reel. I had no support, it sucked, but I left how and when was suppose to, and not a day earlier. Matt was like a train wreck, but I couldn’t look away. I actually couldn’t believe what was coming out of his mouth. FWIW, not my favorite podcast, mainly because of Matt’s behavior, but to each his own.

  • Daniel

    What the hell, Matt?

  • Daniel

    Reading the comments, it looks like IOT needs to start doing angry croud-pleasing Mo. Expression episodes. I’m out and realize the church is toxic, but damn, constant berating of a guy just trying to acclimate to what is inevitably, a life outside the church? The guy is hurting. Why don’t you beat him up a little more, Matt?

    • Min-shaft

      I think Matt’s frustration with Bill, a somewhat public figure in the LDS world, certainly the NOM world, is different than how he would have talked to someone that doesn’t have a podcast and doesn’t have the voice and influence on others that Bill has. Bill has a responsibility towards those he’s affecting, and Matt was correct to point that out and express frustration towards him. I have the same feelings towards Dan Wotherspoon. I followed and listened to him for years, thinking it was helping me, when it actually delayed my healing and made things worse. Bill is going to be responsible, not only for those he helps thru this transition, but those he delays/prolongs/exacerbates the transition process and causes more harm. I hope that is finally dawning on Bill and he thinks long and hard about it.

  • oldscoop

    I have not yet been where Matt is, but I am currently right about where Bill is. My current experience tells me there are many who are not in a place where leaving the church is possible. It’s also the case for me. And I don’t want to see people stranded in hostile territory. These are the people I think need the kind of advocate that Bill represents. I would hope that my tenure and history have made me visible enough, and that something about my personality and reputation would make me approachable enough that I could help a hurting soul. But I also feel that my withdrawal from the mainstream of my ward over the past year or two have diminished my potential for helping.

    What I hear from Matt is a desire to see people leave as fast as possible to help minimize all the effing pain. I support his logic for those who are ABLE to leave. But I keep seeing this metaphor with Desmond Doss in Hacksaw Ridge continually going back – as a conscientious objector, without a weapon – to rescue wounded soldiers when everyone else had given up. I’m concerned about those who might leave if they could – but they can’t. I hope for good people to stick around to help them in spite of the risks.

  • Jake Anderson

    Bill I very very much respect your patience and silence as you listened to tirade after tirade respectfully and kept your cool and validated Matt again and again after multiple 5 minute lectures. I was amazed at how long the infants would talk as you sat quietly by. I appreciate what you are doing. The church is big, but I do feel you are making a difference you are moving the needle. You reach an audience that others don’t. You still have respect and some credibility with members including even some of the Mormon apologetic community. Keep doing what you are doing. Matt, I’m seriously disappointed I don’t think you could have handled the attack like Bill did without losing your cool. This episode really frustrated me, I hope you guys can treat your future guests with a bit more respect. Matt made his point after 5 minutes and went on for 30, it was a bit ridiculous. I also respect the other path. Everyone needs to stop coloring the world black and white, there are very few right and wrong paths. This is not an argument that needs to be won in the court for or against Mormonism (Matt), this is a discussion. I still love you Matt, consider what ever you did before this episode and maybe remember to come with different head space next time.

  • I’m a Middle Way’er. I disagree with Matt on the matter of whether it’s possible or good or right for someone to stay in the church having gone through faith crisis and no longer believing in a traditional way.

    The main area I disagree is simply that I want to. It’s good for me. It’s good for my family. Not just a slight positive but a huge positive. You touched on the aspect of community. And I like the church for that, but I like it for many other reasons. A place to worship. A place to serve and be served. Emphasis on Sabbath. The doctrines, the scripture. The commitment to marriage. Youth programs. The rites of passage. Missions. Family Home Evening. Going home teaching with my son. etc. Church is good for me, and I like the Mormon Church. There didn’t seem to be a lot of conversation about that.

    The next area I disagree with is that Matt seems to think the church has no potential for change and members can have no influence on change within the church. I strongly disagree. I agree that the church is harmful in some ways to some members. Especially on LGBT+ issues. Absolutely there needs to be change. I believe there has been change and there will be change in the future.

  • Marie Frandsen

    I agree with Matt that the longer people stay inside the church the longer they will prolong their abuse. Abuse and control is what the church does. Every single member is being used and abused. Every single one, whether they like it or not. The internet has an abundance of information that explains how manipulative abuses are used by con men, bullies, domestic abusers, narcissists, religions, and other forms of cults. To those who know what the manipulations look like, it is easy for them to recognize it in the LDS church. Not only that, but the fact that the top leaders are using the manipulative tactics on the members is evidence that these leaders are aware of the tactics. They are fully aware that they are using and abusing their followers.

    I posted a comment on another pod cast site. It seems as though it would be relevant hear so I am going to paste it hear.

    I have compassion for those who choose to stay involved in the church to keep their families intact, to maintain their employment until they can find something else, or because they are emotionally not ready for the trauma that they may be facing by leaving. I, personally do not have a problem with discussions that are helpful to people that choose to stay in the church for those reasons. That being said, I would like to bring forth a perspective that should be considered when people are looking to stay involved in the church, especially for those who want to stay for social reasons.

    Many, many people are being damaged by the church, even to the point of committing suicide. Staying involved in the church is supporting the church. Supporting the church is supporting the abuse. The victims of this abuse feel a sense of being invalidated, disregarded and devalued by people who continue to support the church after they are aware that the church is so harmful.

    Quite often I hear that the church can be beneficial and does many good things. This is like a slap in the face to it‘s victims. Many plantation owners benefited from the enslavement of the African people. People throughout the American South defended the “benefits” of slavery, even when they were not slave -owners. They believed so strongly in the enslavement of another people that they rebelled against their government and fought the bloodiest war in American history. Did their strong belief in the superiority of one race over another make slavery okay? Of course not. Would you tell an African American today that slavery was a good thing because it was so beneficial to some people? Of course not.

    I would also like to point out a few other things to consider when deciding to stay active in the church. The perceived good that comes from the church is a facade. You can’t catch fish without bait. The wolf dresses in sheep’s clothing to fool it’s prey. The church is very good at taking credit for, and cloaking itself with, the good nature of it’s members. The good that comes from the members is not created or owned by the church. People in and out of religions are both moral or immoral. It is a lie that people need religion to have good morals. Empathy is the mother of good morals. Religions have adulterated morality with prejudices, bigotry, superiority, racism, sexism, ego and ridiculous reasons to judge one another.

    Although there are some real benefits that many members may enjoy from the social aspects of the church, all of the socializing and organizing that the church has their members do is designed for the church’s benefit, not the members. Keeping members doing busy work has a purpose. The more time that is devoted to the church, the less time that can be devoted to anything that would take a member away from their faithfulness to the church. Also their time is free labor. People don’t need churches to be social. They need commonality or causes and people that are good organizers.

  • Min-shaft

    Matt, I couldn’t have agreed with you more. I spent a few extra years trying to make this whole thing work because of Dan Wotherspoon and his podcast. Wish I had never found it and gotten out sooner.

    The question we have to ask is, if there were no podcasts/websites/resources like Mormon Matters, Stay LDS, Momma Dragons, Ordain Women, etc., and all the Dan Wothersoon’s, Gina Colvin’s, Bill Reel’s, etc. didn’t exist, and we replaced them with qualified therapists and counselors who could really help people the trauma, PTSD, depression, etc. they experience once they learn the truth about the church, how much healthier would the exmormon community be than it currently is relying on these middle-way resources?

    If you have a friend that’s being abused by their spouse, and that friend is listening to podcasts, reading materials, talking to other abuse victims where those resources are encouraging the person to stay in the abusive and unhealthy situation we would all scream that is crazy. There are no “A Thoughtful Abuse Victim” podcasts, or “Abused Matters” podcasts, or “Stay Abused” podcasts. But we give a free pass to the NOM versions put out there by Dan, Gina and Bill. Matt was correct in calling them out.

    The other thing I kept thinking listening to Bill was this… the Church has this way of making people think they’re important, needed and necessary, which, despite all our efforts to appear humble, feeds our egos. For example, talk to any former Bishop or RS President and they’ll tell you how rewarding it felt to help others while they served, kinda like a runner’s high, and about the huge sense of loss and let down they experienced when they were released. I think Bill is still trying to hold on to the runner’s high he used to get while he was a bishop, which means, despite what he thinks or says, he isn’t really doing all of this to help others, he’s really doing it for himself. As the podcast continued and Matt’s comments forced him to think, his justifications felt more and more desperate and self serving.

    Like Matt, I now feel people like Bill, Dan, Gina, etc. who try to help people hang on are doing more harm than good. What we really need is a landing pad of professional therapists that people go to once they learn church history, discover they have an LGBTQ child, etc.

  • David Johnson

    One more thought on Matt’s rant and advice. He is coming at this issue after going through the stages of being a NOM, “middle wayer”, etc. So it is easy for him to tell everyone to leave, but it isn’t realistic. He is looking at this in hindsight. It was a process for him to get to this point. Leaving the church is a scary and intense experience. So to naively say, “to leave” or “get out now”, isn’t realistic. It is a major shift in a world view, relationships and of self identity. In an ideal world, if you feel you are being abused, leaving immediately would be best, but this is isn’t a dream world. Hell, most members and doubting members aren’t even in a state of mind to know they are being abused. Even in abusive spousal relationships, it can take time for the abused to get out. And FWIW, I would push back on him and say, I doubt when he first started to question and began recognizing the abusive church relationship, that he could have just got up and left. He left when it was the right time for him, no sooner or later. No one can tell you when that is, it is up to you. Also, it sounds as if his wife left with him, which is not the norm, I assume that made it a softer landing for him. So in a dream world yes it is good to pack your bags and just leave, but this is reality and not a dream world.

  • Eliz

    Holy Shmolies Matt’s an idiot.

  • aerin64

    I hear where Matt and Bill are coming from. This has been a conversation in the former Mormon world for a long time.
    But it’s like telling someone in a marriage they need to get divorced now. No one can really tell another person they need to get divorced. Divorce is very difficult emotionally and financially. While it may be the best solution for some couples, it seems to me that people need to make that decision themselves. It’s not an equation (everyone in x situation needs to divorce).
    With that said, there is an impact to everyone from the patriarchy as it appears in most mormon congregations. Sometimes people don’t realize that impact until years later, after leaving Mormonism. The misogyny and emphasis on strict gender roles is damaging.

  • EB.Sledge

    Can we rename this episode ‘Bill Reel and Verbal Abuse from Matt’?

  • Marie Frandsen

    I agree with Matt that the longer people stay inside the church the longer they will prolong their abuse. Abuse and control is what the church does. Every single member is being used and abused. Every single one, whether they like it or not. The internet has an abundance of information that explains how manipulative abuses are used by con men, bullies, domestic abusers, narcissists, religions, and other forms of cults. To those who know what the manipulations look like, it is easy for them to recognize it in the LDS church. Not only that, but the fact that the top leaders are using the manipulative tactics on the members is evidence that these leaders are aware of the tactics. They are fully aware that they are using and abusing their followers.

    I posted a comment on another pod cast site. It seems as though it would be relevant hear so I am going to paste it hear.

    I have compassion for those who choose to stay involved in the church to keep their families intact, to maintain their employment until they can find something else, or because they are emotionally not ready for the trauma that they may be facing by leaving. I, personally do not have a problem with discussions that are helpful to people that choose to stay in the church for those reasons. That being said, I would like to bring forth a perspective that should be considered when people are looking to stay involved in the church, especially for those who want to stay for social reasons.

    Many, many people are being damaged by the church, even to the point of committing suicide. Staying involved in the church is supporting the church. Supporting the church is supporting the abuse. The victims of this abuse feel a sense of being invalidated, disregarded and devalued by people who continue to support the church after they are aware that the church is so harmful.

    Quite often I hear that the church can be beneficial and does many good things. This is like a slap in the face to it‘s victims. Many plantation owners benefited from the enslavement of the African people. People throughout the American South defended the “benefits” of slavery, even when they were not slave -owners. They believed so strongly in the enslavement of another people that they rebelled against their government and fought the bloodiest war in American history. Did their strong belief in the superiority of one race over another make slavery okay? Of course not. Would you tell an African American today that slavery was a good thing because it was so beneficial to some people? Of course not.

    I would also like to point out a few other things to consider when deciding to stay active in the church. The perceived good that comes from the church is a facade. You can’t catch fish without bait. The wolf dresses in sheep’s clothing to fool it’s prey. The church is very good at taking credit for, and cloaking itself with, the good nature of it’s members. The good that comes from the members is not created or owned by the church. People in and out of religions are both moral or immoral. It is a lie that people need religion to have good morals. Empathy is the mother of good morals. Religions have adulterated morality with prejudices, bigotry, superiority, racism, sexism, ego and ridiculous reasons to judge one another.

    Although there are some real benefits that many members may enjoy from the social aspects of the church, all of the socializing and organizing that the church has their members do is designed for the church’s benefit, not the members. Keeping members doing busy work has a purpose. The more time that is devoted to the church, the less time that can be devoted to anything that would take a member away from their faithfulness to the church. Also their time is free labor. People don’t need churches to be social. They need commonality or causes and people that are good organizers.

  • Marie Frandsen

    I agree with Matt that the longer people stay inside the church the longer they will prolong their abuse. Abuse and control is what the church does. Every single member is being used and abused. Every single one, whether they like it or not. The internet has an abundance of information that explains how manipulative abuses are used by con men, bullies, domestic abusers, narcissists, religions, and other forms of cults. To those who know what the manipulations look like, it is easy for them to recognize it in the LDS church. Not only that, but the fact that the top leaders are using the manipulative tactics on the members is evidence that these leaders are aware of the tactics. They are fully aware that they are using and abusing their followers.

    I posted a comment on another pod cast site. It seems as though it would be relevant hear so I am going to paste it hear.

    I have compassion for those who choose to stay involved in the church to keep their families intact, to maintain their employment until they can find something else, or because they are emotionally not ready for the trauma that they may be facing by leaving. I, personally do not have a problem with discussions that are helpful to people that choose to stay in the church for those reasons. That being said, I would like to bring forth a perspective that should be considered when people are looking to stay involved in the church, especially for those who want to stay for social reasons.

    Many, many people are being damaged by the church, even to the point of committing suicide. Staying involved in the church is supporting the church. Supporting the church is supporting the abuse. The victims of this abuse feel a sense of being invalidated, disregarded and devalued by people who continue to support the church after they are aware that the church is so harmful.

    Quite often I hear that the church can be beneficial and does many good things. This is like a slap in the face to it‘s victims. Many plantation owners benefited from the enslavement of the African people. People throughout the American South defended the “benefits” of slavery, even when they were not slave -owners. They believed so strongly in the enslavement of another people that they rebelled against their government and fought the bloodiest war in American history. Did their strong belief in the superiority of one race over another make slavery okay? Of course not. Would you tell an African American today that slavery was a good thing because it was so beneficial to some people? Of course not.

    I would also like to point out a few other things to consider when deciding to stay active in the church. The perceived good that comes from the church is a facade. You can’t catch fish without bait. The wolf dresses in sheep’s clothing to fool it’s prey. The church is very good at taking credit for, and cloaking itself with, the good nature of it’s members. The good that comes from the members is not created or owned by the church. People in and out of religions are both moral or immoral. It is a lie that people need religion to have good morals. Empathy is the mother of good morals. Religions have adulterated morality with prejudices, bigotry, superiority, racism, sexism, ego and ridiculous reasons to judge one another.

    Although there are some real benefits that many members may enjoy from the social aspects of the church, all of the socializing and organizing that the church has their members do is designed for the church’s benefit, not the members. Keeping members doing busy work has a purpose. The more time that is devoted to the church, the less time that can be devoted to anything that would take a member away from their faithfulness to the church. Also their time is free labor. People don’t need churches to be social. They need commonality or causes and people that are good organizers.

  • Greg

    Matt,
    Thank you for speaking so honestly and forthrightly. I agree with everything you said. I made the same basic commentary to Bill last year on one of his podcasts – that he is covering the same ground that John D. did.

  • Brrrrr

    Matt,
    One either believes in freedom of religion, or not.
    Bill is free to attend any of the mind-blowingly dumb religious traditions availble in the USA.

    PS, can you guys spice up some of these episodes? Maybe a series on “Beer babes and motorcycles, alternative voices in the mission field”.

  • Marie Frandsen

    I agree with Matt that the longer people stay inside the church the longer they will prolong their abuse. Abuse and control is what the church does. Every single member is being used and abused. Every single one, whether they like it or not. The internet has an abundance of information that explains how manipulative abuses are used by con men, bullies, domestic abusers, narcissists, religions, and other forms of cults. To those who know what the manipulations look like, it is easy for them to recognize it in the LDS church. Not only that, but the fact that the top leaders are using the manipulative tactics on the members is evidence that these leaders are aware of the tactics. They are fully aware that they are using and abusing their followers.

    I posted a comment on another pod cast site. It seems as though it would be relevant hear so I am going to paste it hear.

    I have compassion for those who choose to stay involved in the church to keep their families intact, to maintain their employment until they can find something else, or because they are emotionally not ready for the trauma that they may be facing by leaving. I, personally do not have a problem with discussions that are helpful to people that choose to stay in the church for those reasons. That being said, I would like to bring forth a perspective that should be considered when people are looking to stay involved in the church, especially for those who want to stay for social reasons.

    Many, many people are being damaged by the church, even to the point of committing suicide. Staying involved in the church is supporting the church. Supporting the church is supporting the abuse. The victims of this abuse feel a sense of being invalidated, disregarded and devalued by people who continue to support the church after they are aware that the church is so harmful.

    Quite often I hear that the church can be beneficial and does many good things. This is like a slap in the face to it‘s victims. Many plantation owners benefited from the enslavement of the African people. People throughout the American South defended the “benefits” of slavery, even when they were not slave -owners. They believed so strongly in the enslavement of another people that they rebelled against their government and fought the bloodiest war in American history. Did their strong belief in the superiority of one race over another make slavery okay? Of course not. Would you tell an African American today that slavery was a good thing because it was so beneficial to some people? Of course not.

    I would also like to point out a few other things to consider when deciding to stay active in the church. The perceived good that comes from the church is a facade. You can’t catch fish without bait. The wolf dresses in sheep’s clothing to fool it’s prey. The church is very good at taking credit for, and cloaking itself with, the good nature of it’s members. The good that comes from the members is not created or owned by the church. People in and out of religions are both moral or immoral. It is a lie that people need religion to have good morals. Empathy is the mother of good morals. Religions have adulterated morality with prejudices, bigotry, superiority, racism, sexism, ego and ridiculous reasons to judge one another.

    Although there are some real benefits that many members may enjoy from the social aspects of the church, all of the socializing and organizing that the church has their members do is designed for the church’s benefit, not the members. Keeping members doing busy work has a purpose. The more time that is devoted to the church, the less time that can be devoted to anything that would take a member away from their faithfulness to the church. Also their time is free labor. People don’t need churches to be social. They need commonality or causes and people that are good organizers.

  • Marie Frandsen

    I agree with Matt that the longer people stay inside the church the longer they will prolong their abuse. Abuse and control is what the church does. Every single member is being used and abused. Every single one, whether they like it or not. The internet has an abundance of information that explains how manipulative abuses are used by con men, bullies, domestic abusers, narcissists, religions, and other forms of cults. To those who know what the manipulations look like, it is easy for them to recognize it in the LDS church. Not only that, but the fact that the top leaders are using the manipulative tactics on the members is evidence that these leaders are aware of the tactics. They are fully aware that they are using and abusing their followers.

    I posted a comment on another pod cast site. It seems as though it would be relevant hear so I am going to paste it hear.

    I have compassion for those who choose to stay involved in the church to keep their families intact, to maintain their employment until they can find something else, or because they are emotionally not ready for the trauma that they may be facing by leaving. I, personally do not have a problem with discussions that are helpful to people that choose to stay in the church for those reasons. That being said, I would like to bring forth a perspective that should be considered when people are looking to stay involved in the church, especially for those who want to stay for social reasons.

    Many, many people are being damaged by the church, even to the point of committing suicide. Staying involved in the church is supporting the church. Supporting the church is supporting the abuse. The victims of this abuse feel a sense of being invalidated, disregarded and devalued by people who continue to support the church after they are aware that the church is so harmful.

    Quite often I hear that the church can be beneficial and does many good things. This is like a slap in the face to it‘s victims. Many plantation owners benefited from the enslavement of the African people. People throughout the American South defended the “benefits” of slavery, even when they were not slave -owners. They believed so strongly in the enslavement of another people that they rebelled against their government and fought the bloodiest war in American history. Did their strong belief in the superiority of one race over another make slavery okay? Of course not. Would you tell an African American today that slavery was a good thing because it was so beneficial to some people? Of course not.

    I would also like to point out a few other things to consider when deciding to stay active in the church. The perceived good that comes from the church is a facade. You can’t catch fish without bait. The wolf dresses in sheep’s clothing to fool it’s prey. The church is very good at taking credit for, and cloaking itself with, the good nature of it’s members. The good that comes from the members is not created or owned by the church. People in and out of religions are both moral or immoral. It is a lie that people need religion to have good morals. Empathy is the mother of good morals. Religions have adulterated morality with prejudices, bigotry, superiority, racism, sexism, ego and ridiculous reasons to judge one another.

    Although there are some real benefits that many members may enjoy from the social aspects of the church, all of the socializing and organizing that the church has their members do is designed for the church’s benefit, not the members. Keeping members doing busy work has a purpose. The more time that is devoted to the church, the less time that can be devoted to anything that would take a member away from their faithfulness to the church. Also their time is free labor. People don’t need churches to be social. They need commonality or causes and people that are good organizers.

  • Marie Frandsen

    I agree with Matt that the longer people stay inside the church the longer they will prolong their abuse. Abuse and control is what the church does. Every single member is being used and abused. Every single one, whether they like it or not and whether they realize it or not. The internet has an abundance of information that explains how manipulative abuses are used by con men, bullies, domestic abusers, narcissists, religions and other forms of cults. To those who know what the manipulations, the undue influences, look like, it is easy for them to recognize it in the LDS church. Not only that, but the fact that the top leaders are using the manipulative tactics on the members is evidence that they are aware of the tactics. They are fully aware that they are using and abusing their followers.

    I wrote this on another site but it is relevant to this episode of thrones as well.

    I have compassion for those who choose to stay involved in the church to keep their families intact, to maintain their employment until they can find something else, or because they are emotionally not ready for the trauma that they may be facing by leaving. I personally do not have an issue with discussions that are helpful to people that choose to stay for those reasons. That being said, I would like to bring forth a perspective that should be considered when people are looking to stay involved in the church, especially for those who want to stay for social reasons.

    Many, many people are being damaged by the church, even to the point of committing suicide. Staying involved in the church is supporting the church. Supporting the church is supporting the abuse. The victims of the abuse feel a sense of being invalidated, disregarded and devalued by people who continue to support the church after they have become aware that the church is so harmful.

    Quite often I hear that the church can be beneficial and does many good things. This is like a slap in the face to it’s victims. Many plantation owners benefited from the enslavement of the African people. People throughout the American South defended the “benefits” of slavery, even when they were not slave-owners. They believed so strongly in the enslavement of another people that they rebelled against their government and fought the bloodiest war in American history. Did their strong belief in the superiority of one race over another make slavery okay? Of course not. Would you tell an African American today that slavery was a good thing because it was so beneficial to some people? Of course not.

    • Marie Frandsen

      I would also like to point out a few other things to consider when deciding to stay active in the church. The perceived good that comes from the church is a facade. You can’t catch fish without bait. The wolf dresses in sheep’s clothing to fool it’s prey. The church is very good at taking credit for, and cloaking itself with, the good nature of it’s members. The good that comes from the members is not created or owned by the church. People in and out of religions are both moral or immoral. It is a lie that people need religion to have good morals. Empathy is the mother of good morals. Religions have adulterated morality with prejudices, bigotry, superiority, racism, sexism, ego and ridiculous reasons to judge one another.

      Although there are some real benefits that many members may enjoy from the social aspects of the church, all of the socializing and organizing that the church has their members do is designed for the church’s benefit, not the members. Keeping members doing busy work has a purpose. The more time that is devoted to the church, the less time that can be devoted to anything that would take a member away from their faithfulness to the church. Also their time is free labor. People don’t need churches to be social. They commonality or causes and people that are good organizers.

  • Rachel Johnson

    Couldn’t agree more with Matt. After being out for about 2 years, I couldn’t be happier. Everything good in the church can be found outside it. I’ve found friends, community, recreation, and support in abundance, and I’m totally free from the cognitive dissonance that darkened my mind. I can live authentically and I’m surrounded by humans who love me for it.

  • justMe

    Bill’s description of the ‘ideal’ church – one where open questioning and growth are rewarded, where one can tell their own story, one where leaving/staying are equally respected – left me a bit baffled. What motivation does the church leadership have to provide such an environment? The more members they can control and exact strict obedience from the more they win – both in money and power. This type of Mormon church is a pipe dream. The closest church as described is the Universalist Unitarian Church, and this church has a difficult time maintaining any kind of consistency or committed membership, not to mention funding. The current leadership of the church has no interest in empathy towards individuals’ experience on the ground floor – only interest in maintaining centralized control and are more than happy to throw individuals under the bus to further their own power. Bill’s comment that if people like himself left the church, the environment would continue down a path of right-wing fundamentalism is correct, but I think this is inevitable at this point. Just get out. Leaving the church will send a stronger message than staying any day.

  • justMe

    One more comment – I highly doubt that many people stay in the church out of obligation or delusions they can make it better. People stay because of the community it provides; friends, family, etc. Leaving is hard and relationships do suffer and some collapse. If people stay, it is because they (currently) believe the benefits from friendships and community outway the costs. Telling oneself they stay to make it better is just an excuse to hide behind rather than facing the fear of stepping into the unknown. I doubt many people will stay because ‘Bill made it ok for them to do so’. They stay because they want to, and Bill just feeds what they already want to believe. My guess it that Bill himself gets enough out of the community that he also doesn’t really WANT to leave. Yet.

  • Devilish Mary

    I agree with the speaker who said that it’s wrong to call abuse by a new name such as “spiritual abuse”. My comparison would be with someone being abused by a spouse, but who is staying in the marriage because of the children, because of the security, because there is the hope of improvement in the situation. Abuse is abuse, whether by a spouse or by a church. Staying is enabling, and getting out is the only answer, and sometimes it takes more strength to depart than to stay in and continue to deal with the abuse.

  • Elti

    As I listened to Bill say over and over that he stays because he feels like there is still good in the church, all I could think about is having a plate of brownies that is 90% chocolatey-buttery goodness, and 10% dog feces. Man, that 90% is sure good, but you’re still getting 10% feces. Is it worth trying to eat around the shit? Is it even possible? In Bill’s opinion it still tastes good and there’s no reason to throw it all out because you can eat it and almost forget that you’re also eating shit. But, isn’t it better to get a new pan and bake yourself a new batch of brownies without adding the feces? Does any amount of good justify dealing with the bad? By staying, you cast your vote and you accept the bad along with the good. The church isn’t going to change for one individual. The church isn’t going to change, period.

  • Eric C

    I hadn’t listened in a while but chose to download and check out this episode. I enjoyed it a lot. I tend to think we need to pressure the church from within and without, but that made me genuinely enjoy hearing the other perspective from Matt (well, except when he got very personal with Bill, talk about traumatic experiences for Bill…). I can definitely see Matt’s point. I’m out of the church, my kids attend, but if one of them came out as LGBT I’d put my foot down on pulling them at that point.

    I think I still disagree with Matt though, and here’s why: despite what exmos say the number of people who have even an inkling of desire to leave the church is relatively small. For those people who are safe in their bubble in the church it makes exactly zero impression on them when their ward size decreases by 5%. When a family leaves the church quietly the only thing it results in to the kids of believers is the kids being told that that family was unfaithful and it just reinforces their narrative and the in group/out group behavior. Now, when they’re in a class or meeting and they hear someone say, “I disagree!” on a given topic? That can have power. That can make them think. The church is (perhaps “rightfully”) more worried about the inside threat. That’s why they have to exclude children of gays from the church, because they know the youth would interact with normal kids who are raised by gay parents and see it’s normal. Once someone is an outsider their voice is completely silenced. In that regard it might be that Bill’s approach is the most effective: being a vocal dissenter from within who eventually leaves. I know the day they ex-communicated John Dehlin was the day I stopped attending.

    Of course, if the numbers leaving were huge then I’d agree with Matt. If wards were all of the sudden decimated by 50% within a few years that would be a different story. But as it stands leaving doesn’t really get through to the insular community that is being told not to listen to apostates. Especially not to the even more insulated kids who might be LGBT.

  • efil ym fo flah

    “All generalizations are false, including this one.” – Mark Twain

    In the last couple years I’ve listened to around 90% of all episodes of IoT, ATF, Mormon Discussion, and about 50% of Mormon Matters.

    I can understand Matt’s reaction after listening to a few episodes of Mormon Discussion. I remember being alone in the car, listening to some of the NOM type podcasts when they would interview the kinds of apologists who make excuses for the ugliness of the church’s history and screaming profanities at them at the top of my lungs.

    But it seems to me Matt came on a little strong by prescribing a one-size-fits-all solution. That approach is more befitting of the leadership in SLC…

    A worldview is a purely subjective, internal, personal thing. Brow beating can’t change anyone’s worldview, and unfortunately usually makes people hold on tighter. Bill has talked about this on his podcast too: I think it was called “belief persistence.” Also called “backfire effect.”

    I don’t mean disrespect for Bill Reel by saying this next bit: If this were a competition to convince people in the church to leave, then Bill Reel’s podcast is most likely beating IoT hands down. IoT is for people who are ready to be done with the church, not for true believers. When a TBM encounters an IoT episode they will most likely recoil in horror, and after having all of their preconceived notions of exmos confirmed they’ll run fast and far away from IoT. But when TBMs encounter a Mormon Discussion episode they feel safe enough to stay and listen a while. They may come to like Bill. And from there they may find their way down the rabbit hole. The TBM of 2017 isn’t even going to listen to John Dehlin’s current episodes. They already “know” that guy is an evil apostate because he was excommunicated. The Mormon podcast space needs all kinds. It needs podcasts that won’t immediately offend TBM sensibilities.

    I would prefer to hear you guys go Socratic on Bill, but I get it: To someone who has been out for a few years now, like Matt, hearing a few Mormon Discussion episodes is likely to be very very triggering.

    While I was intent on improving my language, I met with an English grammar (I think it was Greenwood’s), at the end of which there were two little sketches of the arts of rhetoric and logic, the latter finishing with a specimen of a dispute in the Socratic[21] method; and soon after I procur’d Xenophon’s Memorable Things of Socrates, wherein there are many instances of the same method. I was charm’d with it, adopted it, dropt my abrupt contradiction and positive argumentation, and put on the humble inquirer and doubter. And being then, from reading Shaftesbury and Collins, become a real doubter in many points of our religious doctrine, I found this method safest for myself and very embarrassing to those against whom I used it; therefore I took a delight in it, practis’d it continually, and grew very artful and expert in drawing people, even of superior knowledge, into concessions, the consequences of which they did not foresee, entangling them in difficulties out of which they could not extricate themselves, and so obtaining victories that neither myself nor my cause always deserved. I continu’d this method some few years, but gradually left it, retaining only the habit of expressing myself in terms of modest diffidence; never using, when I advanced anything that may possibly be disputed, the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, I conceive or apprehend a thing to be so and so; it appears to me, or I should think it so or so, for such and such reasons; or I imagine it to be so; or it is so, if I am not mistaken. This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me when I have had occasion to inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures that I have been from time to time engaged in promoting; and, as the chief ends of conversation are to inform or to be informed, to please or to persuade, I wish well-meaning, sensible men would not lessen their power of doing good by a positive, assuming manner, that seldom fails to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat everyone of those purposes for which speech was given to us, to wit, giving or receiving information or pleasure. For, if you would inform, a positive and dogmatical manner in advancing your sentiments may provoke contradiction and prevent a candid attention. If you wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet at the same time express yourself as firmly fix’d in your present opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed in the possession of your error. And by such a manner, you can seldom hope to recommend yourself in pleasing your hearers, or to persuade those whose concurrence you desire. Pope[22] says, judiciously:

    “Men should be taught as if you taught them not,
    And things unknown propos’d as things forgot;”
    farther recommending to us

    “To speak, tho’ sure, with seeming diffidence.”
    And he might have coupled with this line that which he has coupled with another, I think, less properly,

    “For want of modesty is want of sense.”

    It takes all kinds to make the world go round.

  • Danny Robertson

    I disagree with the blanket statement that there is “no tenable situation” where an LGBTQ individual can healthily be involved in the church. A quick Google search will reveal anecdotal accounts such as the case with Mitch Mayne or Tom Christofferson, while recent empirical evidence also suggests some positive outcomes (Cranney, S. (2017). The LGB Mormon Paradox: Mental, Physical, and Self-Rated Health Among Mormon and Non-Mormon LGB Individuals in the Utah Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Journal of homosexuality, 64(6), 731-744.). To quote from that study, “the LGB Mormon population’s reconciliation of particular facets of their sexual and religious identities does not lead them to having discernibly worse mental or physical health than their non-LBG Mormon and LGB non-Mormon counterparts”. Obviously, there are situations where people must get out for their own well-being, but it is disingenuous to assume that church involvement cannot, in no circumstance, work for some individuals. By claiming that it is always detrimental or that it is only a matter of time until it becomes harmful makes you guilty of the same thing that you were condemning in another part of the podcast: you are trying to tell someone else’s story. The church narrative purports that you can’t be happy outside of the church, whereas you’re saying the analogous thing by stating that you can’t be happy inside the church.

  • Eric

    Matt, it is refreshing to hear that type of passion and anger in the post mormon discussion. I appreciate all that the John D and Bill R do to let struggling members know they are not alone, but I do get tired of the “messy” bits being propped up by the weak apologetics and a hang in there mindset.

    If god is not leading the LDS church it is a dead end! Being emphatic when warning others they are wasting time, money and possibly putting LBGT lives in danger should be a noble thing. Those who are sightseeing in the dead end of mormonism should not be advertising it as a destination resort. (Open During Renovations! Completion date unknown?)

  • Ironosity

    I’m not sure I have much to add that hasn’t been said other than my personal story. When I first lost my testimony I was very depressed. I was convinced that I had to just up and leave the church. Due to where my wife was at the time, and her subsequent reactions despite my “taking it slow,” it’s likely that I would have ended up divorced had I simply left the church. Nevertheless, I was ready to face it as I didn’t know what else to do. Then, I came across Bill Reel’s podcast on Mormon Stories (first podcast ever). My whole life changed. I felt that I wasn’t alone and that there was possible a way to work through this. And so I have. I’m more ex-mormon than mormon now a days, though I still go somewhat regularly. And my days are numbered where I will go at all. But the whole process of trying out the middle way and listening to the advice of Bill and others like him has made it so that there was (most likely) less suffering in my life. My wife has been able to accept the baby steps I’ve taken over the years such that I don’t really worry about her leaving me over this. So thanks Bill! Not everyone can or should do what you do (I can’t, tried) but know that your work has made a tangible difference in many lives (though I know you know this).

  • Jose Galdamez

    I hear where both Bill and Matt are coming from. I agree with Matt that for most people the healthiest choice is just to get up and walk out. I just don’t know how viable an option that is for teenagers—especially ones who are likely to get disowned or thrown out on the street for not remaining active. Perhaps a better time for an LGBT to bail would be after college is over?

    Where I think Matt veers off the rails is when he accuses John Dehlin, Mama Dragons, et al. of inadvertently putting more LGBT at risk of suffering by suggesting that they stay. Maybe that was the case 10 years ago, but if you’re a fan of Dehlin’s podcast these days it likely means you’re already on your way out. His most recent posts do more to stir the pot than convince people to stay. Furthermore, the Mormon Primer document Bill wrote is quite the Trojan Horse. I don’t see how one can read that and come away with their testimony intact.

    Is Mormon Primer really just CES Letter 2.0? If people walk away because of it who cares?

  • Melanie Delton

    Matt’s arguments were arrogant, maybe even correct but still super arrogant and privileged…people take the time to leave that they take and should not be judged by another. An individuals way out is their own. I personally know TBM people that Bill changed hearts and minds on. He is having a huge impact on people for sure… In the end they both make great points but Bill just made them more generously. Matt FTR he has the mama dragon thing wrong. Not all mama dragons are in the church. In fact I would guess it is 50/50. We left the church after finding out my daughter was gay. Most, not all Mama Dragons, simply share a mormon background at some time in their lives. Please don’t lump us all together in that way.