Ep 281 – Of Tea Parties and Faith Transitions – Larry’s story


Posted June 5th, 2016

Listen as guest contributor Sage takes the driver seat in an interview with Larry – an ex-ultraconservative ex-Mormon as he shares his political and religious life transition. Featuring the dulcet tones of Heather who attempts to class up the joint and set us straight on Bernie Sanders.


  • David

    I have noticed some ex-mos do a pretty wide swing in their political views, my political views have not changed much since I have become non believing in Mormonism’s truth claims. My view always been the most important minority is that of the individual; I have always been anti-war, anti-state, pro-market, and pro-individual freedom. I always thought the LDS Church was evil in how they seek to limit liberties of individuals and promoted laws that effect people that do not have the same values and a different truth besides was’t using force was Satan’s plan?

  • Ryan Gregson

    At first I thought Heather was being facetious about Sanders. That’s disappointing to hear.

    • Thomas Moore

      I too was surprised and disappointed; guess I am voting Libertarian this year.

    • Chicago

      I’ve also heard from a guy who worked in his office that Bernie is a mean old grouch, whereas (I’ve read) that Hillary is quite warm to her staff and remembers birthdays. Too bad that whenever she speaks I only hear the screams of dying Iraqis.

      • Ashley1313

        Heather’s comments on Sanders were very surprising to me but, admittedly, I don’t know much about him. Does anyone have any links to stories like these? I tried to look for them but the only websites I found had obvious far right leaning agendas. I have no doubt that the Sanders campaign would try to bury such stories so that they wouldn’t be easily found with a simple Google search. I do not want to vote for Hillary Clinton but it seems that voting for any candidate that is not a Republican or a Democrat is as good as throwing your vote away and I’m terrified of a Trump presidency so if she gets the nomination, she will likely get my vote albeit begrudgingly.

        • Chicago

          Well Bernie won’t be the nominee, and won’t be on the ballot in November, so I wouldn’t worry about it either way. I object to Heather’s implication that Bernie is bad because he is a nasty misanthrope. I don’t vote based on personal charms. Bernie is not my buddy, Bernie is a vehicle for social democratic politics.

          • Baby Bush, or Shrub as I like to call him, got elected at least partially because he was “a guy you’d like to sit down and have a beer with.” Boy, those were a great eight years, weren’t they? Maybe the fact that he was a recovering alcoholic who wasn’t going to have a beer with anybody should have been a clue? Longing to have a beer with a non-drinker is sort of emblematic of the American mind set these days.

          • All I did was disabuse him of the notion that Bernie is sweet. I don’t vote on sweetness either, but I do think temperament is one of the many things that would make Donald a terrible president.

          • Jonathan Stiles

            Do you have any sources for that claim? I don’t doubt it, but I was surprised as that was the first time I’ve ever heard anything like that about him.

          • One of our closest family friends that we get together with all the time was a staffer in his office for years and would tell us stories. Bernie’s support for things like parental leave, a living wage, and education debt relief doesn’t extend to the sphere that he has control over, namely, his own office. He says in person Bernie is a miser and a crank whose primary care is, “how many comments did we get after my TV appearance?”

          • Chicago

            I heard the same for a staffer who worked with him when he was in the House. I also once set up some AV for him at talk he was giving in my town. “Gruff” is the nicest possible adjective I’d employ to describe his behavior towards me.

          • Chicago

            I think your point about Bernie is important, because the left is quite sentimental about its leaders, and tends to create cults of personality. I say this as an admitted Bernie Bro (who will vote for Hillary if my state is in play).

  • Thomas Moore

    As part of my personal “smack-up” , I like that the corporation has been “pro-immigration” and “anti-trump rhetoric”. Now when the rubber meets the pavement, most Members are so Tea-party and Republican ingrained that they will never vote for a Democrat. I lived in NM when Gary Johnson was Governor, he’s now the Libertarian candidate. Will a third party become a choice, or are most just waiting for a conservative independent? The Church issue becomes more and more convoluted with their canonized “Mormon Political Manifesto”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_Political_Manifesto

    Yet, they still employ lobbyists (such as William Evans) http://www.motherjones.com/documents/811352-lds-church-gay-marriage-lobbying-reports; But this was prior to 2011 when it became more canonized (Better than bad?). How many LDS know that their tithing is going to lobbyists, lawyers, PR for things they can’t or don’t support (i.e. non-flat tax rate)? http://www.deseretnews.com/article/600160145/LDS-Church-lobbying-on-taxes.html?pg=all
    It’s bad enough that the corporation spent sacred tithing money on a bail out for Beneficial Life (investments); now we’re finding out how much is being used for political voice.

  • Very interesting interview. Thank you all. I loved Larry’s evaluation of Trump. How am I supposed to respect a Trump supporter? They have just labeled themselves the worst judges of character since the 1930s.

    I don’t know . . . Could Gary Johnson (the Libertarian candidate) grab up the Republicans who can’t bring themselves to vote for Trump and the Democrats who can’t bring themselves to vote for Hilary and a bunch of the millennials who weren’t going to vote for anyone at all until Bernie came along, and moosh them all together into the world’s biggest ball of string or rubber bands or tin foil or whatever and roll right over Donald and Hilary? I have a Bernie sticker on my truck and I will absolutely vote for Hilary rather than Trump, but what worries me is that Hillary won’t pull anyone but lifelong mainstream Democrats. My Republican acquaintances, even the ones who deplore Trump, have such a deep seated hatred of Hilary that if their only choice is Trump or Clinton, they will see it as a choice between Trump and staying home. C’mon, Gubner Gary, make us a coalition of the disaffected. Then you can go be the first person to scale Everest on a bicycle and we’ll work on fixing the country.

  • Cynthia Rees

    I’m happy for Larry that he has found his way to further light and knowledge at his advanced age. I was sixty five when a series of events allowed me to acknowledge truths I had tucked away on the proverbial shelf for years. It is not the easiest time of life to make such a transition and Utah is not the easiest state to in which to make the transition. The thing that we do not have in common is his view on the role of government. I’m going to play the lady card now, so those of you who find that offensive, will probably find the rest of my comment offensive. If you are a white male, strong state government serves you well. You have never been in a position where you needed the federal government to insure your individual rights. Women and minorities have, at times, and in some states, experienced that need. Larry’s suggestion that people who don’t like their state government can move to another state is the statement of someone who has the benefit of white male privilege. Larry sounds like a great guy who is trying to be a feminist, but he may take for granted the advantages he has enjoyed just by being born male, especially in Mormon culture . For residents of Utah it is not a matter of balancing federal control and state control, it is a matter of balancing federal control and church control. Utah is a theocracy. The medical marijuana issue that Larry mentioned is just one case. Just one more point and then I’ll take a deep cleansing breath and go back to my book. I am a life long liberal (that’s hard, when you’re also a card carrying Mormon matron) who never considered that the safety net programs that I supported were meant for me. In my entire life, I have collected one unemployment check and no other state, county, or federal benefits untill I retired. Even now, I am self employed part time and pay self employment tax. Those benefits that I support are for people who were not born with my luck. Sure, I made a few good choices, but mostly, I’ve been lucky. I bet that Larry will admit, that he’s been lucky as well.

    • Yes. If States Rights really ruled, we’d still have segregation in the South. Sometimes an adult in the room is necessary.

    • Thomas Moore

      I too wanted to sit Larry down and teach him about the “History” of the U.S. It seems that the Articles of Confederation were indeed, States rights and powers were above the Confederation… States were issuing their own money, their own tariffs (against other states), making ridiculous laws, their own militias–it was a mess. Kind of like the “practicing of the United Order” in theory it sounds great, but never worked. Then the Constitution (1789) was ratified but only after the Bill of Rights was amended to protect individual rights. The Federalists party became one of the most powerful parties because they learned that to stay United they needed a strong Constitution of Union. So yes, states gave birth to the need of a strong central Federal Govt to protect individuals and other State’s rights.

    • Jonathan Stiles

      I agree. I’ll admit I haven’t known a ton of libertarians, but all of the ones that I’ve known or even heard of have been white males. It’s easy to want personal liberty and to let others fend for themselves when the system already benefits you.

    • black_but_delightsome

      I must admit I was taken aback when he said that as well. I get the impression he seems to still be sorting out these issues after abandoning mormonism so I don’t want to be too harsh. However, I think one of the hardest things to do and one of the things society lacks these days is the ability to step outside of ones self to put themselves in other peoples shoes. I am always impressed when white people or people in privileged positions of any race in general are able to empathize with the no so fortunate even when they share very little in common. As a black person, whenever I hear states rights the first thing that pops into my head is discrimination because that is the euphemism that has traditionally been used to further slavery, segregation, poll taxes, discrimination against the lgbtq rights etc.

    • larryj

      I’m just seeing these comments for the first time a week after. First, it’s not easy being interviewed as a regular Joe. I’ve never done anything like this. After listening to it there were several things I said that I wish I didn’t say because they didn’t reflect the way I actually feel. There were several things I wished I would have said. I was truly answering questions off the top of my head. As to “white privilege”, I do not recall that ever being mentioned in the interview and frankly I have never thought about it in the context of “State’s Rights”. To be clear, I fully understand that as a prosperous, white, male living on the east bench of the SL Valley for 60 years, I have been absolutely privileged beyond most men’s wildest dreams. I have been lucky. I recognize that fully and would have stated so if it had even been hinted at in the interview. Second, when I hear the term states rights, I do not automatically think of slavery. I have no context, ability or right to even comment on slavery. My ancestors were in Europe during the time of American slavery. Of course, I don’t view state’s rights as a tool for states to deny basic human rights. For me, state’s rights is a healthy balance of having the Federal Government perform very specific tasks it does best and leaving the remainder to the individual state governments and the people who live there. I believe Utahns know best how to educate their own children, take care of the poor and less fortunate and provide stewardship for their own lands. I think those tasks are most efficiently done by locals not by the federal bureaucracy. With that said, I think I did state in the interview that it is abhorrent to me that a Church can influence people through state and local government the way the LDS Church does. I hold out hope that their control will lessen over time as market demographics change. I won’t be reading or commenting after this, I just wanted to shed some light on that critical comment about the podcast.

      • Cynthia Rees

        No one mentioned slavery, the affect of states rights on segregation happened during, mine and Larry’s lifetime. Larry and I have lived very different realities while inhabiting the same terrain. We will probably never agree about many issues and that is okay.

      • black_but_delightsome

        I hope you did not take what I wrote as a personal attack. I am not implying you are racist anything. I actually enjoyed listening to your interview and it seems you have well thought out views. All I was asking was for you to put yourself in the shoes of any minority group and look at the history of how state rights has been asserted since the founding on this nation.

  • GeraldV

    To me it is not too surprising how Heather described Bernie, it is what I would expect from a socialist, just look at Venezuela


  • Susan Mowers

    I’m curious about Larry’s relationships now with his children. He started to mention that it had changed, but then the interview went in another direction instead of delving into that deeper (for shame!). 😉 How has his relationship changed with his son that left the church earlier? And are his other children still TBMs? And what about grandchildren, especially if any are going on missions or getting married in the temple?

    • sageturk

      Hey Susan – perhaps one day we can archive the unedited interview that had a solid hour of additional content. I can say that we did discuss that issue and his relationship with his two sons who have left the church is better than ever – the same is unfortunately not true with his daughters, one in particular (and her children / Larry’s grandchildren). It’s a point of incredible pain for he and his wife – but time has a way of healing deep wounds so there is hope.

      • Susan Mowers

        That would be a great to listen to the full archive. No episode is too long in my book. If I can listen to Mormon Stories I can listen to any length podcast! 😉 It would be very interesting to hear his experiences from the other side — I think most of us are in the opposite boat, having parents still in while we’re out. But time does have a way of working its own miracles.

  • TheMooMan

    I’ve been a long time listener to this and the other popular ex-mo podcasts. (They’ve been great therapy for me.) It’s so rare to hear a libertarian leaning viewpoint expressed and I was thrilled to hear it!! My revulsion at political manipulation set in long before my revulsion at religious manipulation ever did. And you can’t just walk away from the political either, you are stuck with the insane health insurance costs and the taxes etc.. I’ve been surprised to see so many ex-mos run out of the arms of one lying manipulating organization and then run right into the arms of another. I’m too pro-choice now for either party, but especially the party that makes the pro-choice claim.

  • Jared Sholar

    Funny hearing Heather saying “The Negro”.

    • There were air quotes around it. “I was taught in.seminary that ‘The Negro race was….’l

      • Voltaire

        Clueless baby boomer here, didn’t even pick up on that. Is “black” or “African-American” the acceptable term now, or both? Just so you do not feel too bad, Heather, I remember that Malcolm X used the term, “The Negro” in his speeches in the sixties.

      • Voltaire

        As an aside, Heather, please tell the guys that a good song to use with the topic of racism is “You Have to be Carefully Taught” from the movie, “South Pacific” which came out in 1958. It was a bold statement for Hollywood to make in those days. Not only was there segregation and racism against blacks, but also against anyone with Asian features because of the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor and the loss of approximately 112,000 American lives in the War in the Pacific during WWII.

  • Jared Sholar

    You should cut the clip of Heather saying “I was thinking” and chop it in to other podcasts where appropriate.

    • black_and_delightsome

      Fuck off !

  • Voltaire

    Thank you Sage, Heather, and Larry for a great podcast. For the young people out there, take notice that you CAN teach old dogs new tricks, and I am one of them. I especially enjoyed this interview because I am a baby boomer too and completely understand and relate to Larry. I have a very similar story. I was very active for years, loved the Saints (well, most of them anyway), and was proud of all that is good about the church, but I also had a shelf where I put bothersome things. We busy little Mormon bees get stuck in our hives working so hard on our checklists, raising a family, trying to make a living, and filling callings, that there is no time to do the research and fact checking. I was 57 when my shelf collapsed and I became totally inactive by 61, but the last straw for me was not any of the tons of damning evidence that is now easily available on the internet. I got a glimpse of the Wizard behind the curtain, and it became clear that the leaders are just corporate heads, not men inspired of God, and not necessarily committed to Christ-like standards in all their dealings and their dictums. The information that is coming out now is further confirmation and validation for me that I was right . . . the Emperor IS stark naked, even if everyone else sees him dressed in beautiful new clothes. When the new policy (oops, the new revelation) regarding homosexuals came out last year, it was the most embarrassed and ashamed I have ever been to have to say that I used to be associated with the LDS church. What was I thinking?