Randy vs. Heather

Minisode

Posted January 12th, 2016

Randy finally convinces Heather that the Mormon Church is pure unadulterated evil and that no people of good conscience could associate themselves with it. Get your noisemakers and sparklers ready for the moment of Randy’s ultimate victory.

Heather

Randy

  • toddspage111

    Really enjoyed this episode. Very thoughtful.

    Although [spoiler alert] I was disappointed that I didn’t get to use my sparklers and noisemakers.

    • Randy_Snyder

      [spoiler alert] Heather wrote that description (remember she’s a full fledged Infant now) and it was snarky and meant to playfully make fun of me. It is merely a respectful discussion between two people that enjoy talking to each other trying to better understand each other. Not a debate.

    • I plead guilty to trying to create clickbait.

  • Sker

    WTF??? No closing prayer???

    Just so wrong!

  • Carmen (The Nevermo)

    Heather,
    This is exactly the reason why moving away from going to Institute every day is just so hard for me, even as a nevermo. I have never had the amount of support and care anywhere else, not even at the churches I had gone to in the past. While much of it really seemed to be in an effort to convert me, as a new college freshman I really needed some community and that is why I gravitated to Mormonism in the first place, despite finding some of their beliefs to be reprehensible.

    After over two years the struggle for me has been turned up in intensity even more lately due to the “revelation”/”policy” change. Over night, when I couldn’t just keep my name signed to a church that would instate such a rule, I went from being the VP of our campus’s LDS Student Association, very much fellowshipped, to being somewhat forgotten. I worry that now that I have made it clear that I won’t ever join that I have lost all of that community forever. I worry that the friendships weren’t even real.

    I know that I am only a nevermo, so there’s a lot of stuff that I never had to go through, but I’d be lying to say that it doesn’t hurt.

    Should I just go join a lacrosse team now? I’m really lonely, and I miss having friends, and it’s really bringing me down. Heather, Randy, anybody, what do you guys recommend?

    Thanks,
    Carmen the Nevermo

    P.S. Sorry, this ended up being longer than I thought…

    • Carmen, this breaks my heart. I don’t have a ready answer. I wish I did. My other college community was my choir, and those friendships are real and lasting and were never contingent on my being Mormon enough.

      It pains me to think of the friendships that may change for you, but I respect you for following your conscience.

      • Carmen (The Nevermo)

        Thanks for the support. I was a music major for some time so it was a little more tight knit, but now that I switched, its been harder. I am in a handful of organizations, but none of them have the same sense of community that institute did, so it is a hard adjustment to make.

    • Mark Norris

      A never Mormon who was Vice President of the LDS Student Club at your school? There needs to be an episode about you. Seriously. Someone please make this happen.

      • Carmen (The Nevermo)

        There was actually one in the making… but it was before I got so involved and became VP and I flaked out in fear of the people at institute finding it and not wanting to be my friends anymore.

        If the Infants would have me, I would do a kind of “then and now” thing with the other raw recording we have.

  • Brooke

    This episode was really frustrating to listen to. It’s easy to talk about all the great things about the church when you’re a white, straight, cis Mormon girl who did everything the church said she was supposed to. Maybe it’s just my own issues, but I get the impression that she doesn’t take the harm the church does to LGBT people very seriously. Heather is one of my favorite parts of the show, but whenever she defends staying in the church it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    • Honestly, Brooke, I might feel the same as you if I were listening to someone else say exactly the words out of my mouth. I’m conflicted about staying or going, and The treatment of LGBT people is a huge part of that.

    • Truth Cannot Be Harmed

      Exactly this. Thank you for posting.

    • jeremy

      Huh. Seems like you’re doing exactly what you’re accusing Heather of doing: invalidating her experience because it isn’t yours. It would be one thing if she suggested her experience was representative of all Mormons. But in this episode especially she stresses that these are the parts of Mormonism that work for her, but that they don’t work for everyone, especially LGBT members. Maybe show the same genorosity of spirit you seem to expect in others.

  • Alex

    Heather is a mob wife, it’s as simple as that. It was infuriating. Randy was such a pushover in this conversation, he didn’t have Heather defend her position, not once! He just accepted it and sheepishly softened and softened his position. Randy never just rolls over in podcasts, and never so blatantly. What was he thinking? Maybe the problem was he couldn’t think clearly, as all the blood had rushed from his head to the raging schoolboy hardon every male infant has for Sister Craw.

    Seriously, Heather is the worst thing to happen to Infants on Thrones. She’s fucking Yoko Ono. I’m calling this now–Mark it, Brother Rigdon! In a year or two everyone will look back to now as the moment when IoT jumped the shark. Pity.

    • Ryan Gregson

      oh for hell’s sake.

    • Too late. I already called it on my first appearance. That’s old news.

    • Randy_Snyder

      Jesus fucking Christ Alex. Overreact much? And your analysis was so detailed and not vague at all. Pray tell Judge Alex how you would have countered the point where the church descends on a family in need with support of all kinds, where you can find something similar outside it. Details please. Don’t hide behind insipid metaphors.

      It’s hilarious Alex, in the same day I was slammed for being too hard on Heather and now by you for rolling over to her.

      And since you made an assumption that my dick got in the way of my thinking clearly, I’ll do the same to you. I think your insecurity w women has clouded your judgment in this instance bc you prefer women to be in their proper place. Submissive, deferential and easily controlled by men. Aww, the natural order has been restored.

      Do I know that’s true? Of course not. It’s probably not. I don’t know you and you only know a caricature of me. But that didn’t stop you from coming to conclusions and posting your half-cocked assessment and idiotic prediction invoking a Joseph Smith quote for chrissakes!

      The only jumping the shark was your fucking comment.

      • ART

        Alex’s stupid comment isn’t worth getting worked up over. This was an awesome episode, and I’m glad you guys preemptively thought that a lot of us would like to hear you two have a longer discussion on it.

      • Alex

        Community better then the church? You should have stuck to your original response. No one commits suicide over lacrosse, no one is pressured into giving up 10% of their income to Lacrosse so it can build a megamall, Lacrosse doesn’t order its players to march and tract for right-wing politics. Why is Mormonism better? Because babysitters? For fuck’s sake…

        I made no assumptions about your dick, but I made a valid inference based on your recorded behavior that has been observed by other commenters. Heather’s not even on the Star Wars panel and you guys talk about her. The dynamic when she’s on is deferential and schoolboy-like. I went to highschool, Randy, I don’t need a degree in human behavior to know when men are swooning over a leggy brunette. Whether or not I’m a misogynist (which, when I was a good little LDS drone I was–another strike against staying in LDS inc.) has nothing to do with the obvious fact that you’d all love to bring back polyandry so you could have a go at someone else’s wife.

        Look, I’m not judging you for your seven-year itch or whatever, all I care about, relative to you people, is the quality of the podcasts you produce. As long as Heather’s part of the equation, it seems like it’s the HEATHER SHOW, everything has to revolve around how much you all like her and how fucking amazing she is. That’d be fine if it was contained to one or two episodes, but it’s not. It’s getting annoying, and it’s clearly causing IoT to lose it’s original savor. Like bad salt, it’s going to be thrown out by a lot of listeners. I’m not predicting the end of the podcast in saying you’ve jumped the shark, but it is clearly the end of IoT as we’ve known and loved it. You’ll get new listeners to pick up for the one’s you’ll lose, but they’ll be saccharine blueballed pansies like you’re all becoming.

        • Man, so many softballs in this one. Which do I swing at first?

          I find your comments odd for a lot of reasons. First, this certainly isn’t the first episode where we’ve gotten pushback from listeners for “rolling over” for people being supportive of religion or justifying their participation in it (the Damn Peterson smackdown comes to mind). And yet, this is the first time we see you chiming in on the issue.

          Now, I don’t tend to agree with this criticism, but let’s take your premise at face value–that Randy “went easy” on Heather. Why might that be the case? Could it be that he’s hesitant to criticize the life choices of someone he’s still getting to know? Could it be possible that Randy, a great respecter and champion of education, naturally feels deference toward someone with a list of academic credentials as impressive as Heather’s? Could it be (*gasp*) that Heather’s ability to articulate her motivations in a moving way is actually compelling?

          No! Of course not. Perish the thought. It’s because Randy wants to have sex with her. It’s the only explanation–except for all the other explanations.

          The way you’ve gone about this has been weird, too. Ostensibly, if you thought Randy was giving Heather a pass, the foundation of your criticism would be that Heather deserved to be challenged more on her “list o’ good stuff” about Mormonism. And yet, at no point have you attempted to interact with her directly about it. No, your entire approach has been to skewer Randy for thinking with his dick. What this illustrates is that you were never really interested in what Heather was saying saying one way or the other–you’re just whining about what you see as a lady ruining “the club.” Heather’s not a person to you. She’s a vagina.

          Nobody doubts you went to high school, Alex. We just all think you never left. And honestly, knowing that you were ever a listener makes me a little bit embarrassed to be part of Infants on Thrones–but a few bad aspects don’t ruin the whole experience. Sounds familiar…

          • Huzzah!

            And FWIW there’s absolutely nothing wrong with there being chemistry between smart men and women of all sizes, shapes, ages, and matrimonial states. Most people who didn’t grow up Mormon understand this.

        • Lord have mercy! You appear to one of those who change the station as soon as you hear a female voice and don’t even know you’re doing it.

      • And, BTW, not everybody believes Yoko Ono was a villainess. I for one don’t. She made John Lennon a better person. He said so himself.

        That meme is pure, misogynistic bullshit.

    • I really wasn’t going to comment on this episode, but I’m feeling moved by the spirit here, folks. The reason I wasn’t going to say anything is because I worked in the military-industrial complex (MIC) for thirty-odd years. Talk about enabling some dodgy institutions! My group in the eighties actually went and set off nuclear bombs—I mean “devices”—in the Nevada desert. At first my justification was that somebody had to keep those evil-ass Soviets at bay. Later it was just for the money: Working for MIC contractors I could make (seriously) two to three-and-a-half times as much as I could make in a purely private sector job.

      The point is: honestly apply the same criteria you’re judging Heather by to yourself and see how spotless you come out. Like someone (Bob? Randy?) said in the PPI episode, you can’t be an American and not have SOME blood on your hands. When I turned the mirror on my self, I got the chills. Try it.

      (I should add that I don’t think Heather’s doing anything wrong or being hypocritical or disingenuous to begin with. This whole thing is her business. Period. Now I will shut up like I know that I should.)

      • Wow! Yours is a Mormon story I’d love to hear, Saint Ralph.

    • This is hilarious. Thought about upvoting it but reconsidered as I don’t really endorse it. I did sense Randy was a bit “unmanned” by the formidable Heather. But I think she’s a net plus for sure and makes IOT stronger and more interesting.

  • Thomas Moore

    Heather, I think you’re one of the greatest humans and Mormons I know. I also love Sage and Tanner and could see them on IoT. So this follow up conversation is sort of frustrating in the same vein that it was with Kate Kelly or John Dehlin or Benji Schwimmer or the people who joined “Affirmation” or “Building Bridges”. Now having said, I was like you. I was BIC, Pioneer stock, gained my testimony at age 14 of the Book of Mormon. etc… I also saw myself as a liberal Mormon (I was raised in a single parent household so I didn’t get a lot of misogynistic examples). It is fascinating, humorous and sad though to watch someone doing their whole Don Quixote fights and keyboard warrior games trying to defend the church and their position in the institution. The institution that use to have purpose, but now provides absolutely no good to individuals, families, communities or the world. It only takes resources, times, wealth to waste on nothing or worse on bad things. So please excuse me if I am amused and entertained by your excuses and life justifications (many of them are echoes of my own). You know the old story that Sir Isaac Newton said his proudest accomplishment was that he died a virgin. Okay?!?! He died happy and satisfied and helped humanity in so many ways I guess.

    • Aw, thanks! I may look back on these arguments in a year or even a month’s time and find them cute and puerile, but then they could never be as saccharine and adorable as the write up of Randy’s MTC conversion. 😉

  • Tierza Rose Askren

    Heather, you made the point that you do not just leave your children’s moral upbringing to the church and I agree with that idea (for the record, my children still attend church – not because I want them there, but because their father does) but I am endlessly frustrated at how unfairly the game is rigged in the fight for my children’ souls. Simply put, the church will do anything and everything it can to win them to its side – lie, cheat, manipulate, anything. The church has ear- worming songs and cutesy games and a whole cadre of willing soldiers on their side. I do not. And I refuse to stoop to their level. I will not choose for them. I will not lie or manipulate them (as much as I am able).

    Meanwhile they are being taught SO many things I believe are wrong. Our Primary Program – the one Sunday a year I go to church – ended up being the week the new policy was leaked. So I took notes about the things my children were being taught in Primary that I fundamentally disagree with – my list filled a page and a half just from the songs and scriptures in the program.

    It is incredibly hard to negotiate the path out of belief and I don’t think we help each other by insisting that we all follow the same path, but I really question how much power we have to shape our children compared to the power the church has. — I have HOPE that my honesty and openness and generosity and patience and, of course, the fact that I have reality on my side, win out . . . but I worry a lot that they won’t.

    • Way to go for so proactively finding out exactly what your children are being taught! I’m impressed and inspired. For the record, I went alone to church this week, and it was a relief not to have to interrogate and rebut after primary.

  • Cliff Crosland

    Awesome episode! It is extraordinarily tough to separate oneself from a powerfully tight-knit community. If my wife and I were as integrated into our new ward as we were in the student ward where we met, it probably would’ve taken us much longer to leave the church. (Heather, any love for the Stanford First Ward 🙂 ?)

    I really hate to address some of the points Heather raised in the episode since I really know jack-squat about life, but I can’t help but share some of the positive outcomes we’ve had since leaving the church (while acknowledging one of the unfortunate outcomes):

    TL;DR – 1. We’ve found several tight-knit communities, and I believe they exist everywhere in the world. 2. The good concepts in the church are taught all over the world, and you can find them without the baggage of the bad concepts. 3. Heather is right, though, that choosing to disengage from church activity can cause some friendships to diminish. However, I’ve discovered that many of the friendships that languished were those that weren’t really friendships between two people anyways: they were between two people and the church.

    Long version –

    1. I truly believe that extremely tight-knit communities exist in every corner of the planet with the same level of compassion found in the Church. Awesome communities we’ve found the last few months: Junior League, effective altruism groups, work colleagues, art classes, and college friends. I’ll readily admit that these friendships aren’t as instantaneous and won’t pop up immediately after every move-in. However, I’ve found that these relationships have been more meaningful in some respects because there is no sense of obligation forcing their development.

    2. The positive concepts taught by the Church are present in every corner of the planet. As I’ve learned more about the effective altruism movement and the incredibly productive efforts improving human well-being around the world, I feel profoundly elevated. It is not naive to say that we might see the end of extreme poverty (poverty where you can’t afford to buy enough food) in the next 20 years. This thought brings tears to my eyes, and I’m humbled to be on the planet to witness it. Some science literature extols the virtues of very “Mormony” things, like the psychological values of keeping a gratitude journal and the dangers of addictive drugs. I’d submit that the positive concepts taught by the Church are not actually exclusive to it. I think you can have your cake of virtues and eat it too.

    3. Heather is right, however, that leaving the church causes you to lose many of the benefits of being part of the LDS community. And that is tragic. In a sense, I felt forced to choose between some of my friendships and my conscience. I’d submit that this is a choice you don’t have to make in other religious communities. (Does anyone care if you go to Mass 2 times a year or 50?) It has been surprising to me how prevalent the Church was in conversation with my Mormon friends and family when I was active. I’ve realized a bit that some of my past relationships with other church members were between two people and the church, not just between two people. It’s sad. Now, however, I try to embrace friends and interact without any pressure to conform to a shared set of ideals. It feels more real.

    • Thomas Moore

      We found a copy of the “Church Handbook” and at first read it explains how to organize meetings and set up teachers and organize quorums and choirs… Yet once we read further, well… https://youtu.be/dk01eeKMD_I

    • Read every word. And not one to disagree with. I’m currently reading Phil Zuckerman’s “Leading the Secular Life” right now and getting excited at the idea of sending my daughter to a secular humanist summer camp instead of EFY.

      Certainly Mormon community is not the only true and living community on the face of the earth. Nor is it a negligible factor in my life. That is all. 🙂

  • Happy Hubby

    For some reason listening to this reminded me of when I was young and very active in sports. I had always thought of myself as not being misogynistic and progressive when it came to treating men and women equally. I was in an intramural racquetball league and low and behold I had a match with a lady that looked a few years younger than me. I concluded that I would make sure not to beat her too much, just to be nice. You can guess what happened. She kicked by butt, picked it up and knocked it around some more with her racket. After regaining my self esteem (I won’t mention how many years that took) I realized I still had some things to work on.

    I am not trying to say that Heather looks like she is a cat playing with a toy mouse named Randy – oh wait. I think that is EXACTLY what I was trying to say. But my point was that I know a bit how Randy feels.

  • mangetoute

    As a non-Mormon who just loves IoT because it’s a great podcast, I would like to weigh in but I’m not sure how relevant my observations are. I’ve enjoyed Heather’s arrival, her crystal clear intelligence and sugary Mormon girl tone (do they teach that tone in church? it’s hard to describe but unmistakable) are a definite net addition. Is there a but? Well not really but kinda, not really because dissension (in myself) as a listener is obviously something that draws me in and creates interest.

    Heather, I am so curious whether you realize how deeply institutionalized you are? Reading between the lines (not that you have to look too far) it seems that in life you have lots of blessings…good looks, children, money, upper middle class life, good marriage, education etc. You don’t need the church for anything. Life is literally there on a plate for you like a pig’s head surrounded by sweetmeats and fruit at a medieval feast, and you are looking at it (life) out of this tiny velvet lined box rather than just frolicking around and figuring it out (which you are so capable of I’m sure).

    I’m not religious, and have moved countries and moved several times within the country and to me it would seem incredibly weird and unnatural to have a life waiting for me at the other end of the move into which I fit like a puzzle piece instantly, that’s not how life works. Life is organic and natural and friendships develop when they develop. I’m a natural introvert and I’ve never had trouble making a life and making friends, but they are mine, not a package that was handed to me. You seem capable of so much more than accepting that safe, Caucasian, upper-middle-class Mormon instalife that you describe.

    I wish I was more articulate but I’m rushing because I have to get ready for work. But my final point, about your ability to turn a blind eye to the disgusting side of the church (and allowing your children near the place, however much you police their exposure to it), the racism in the doctrine, the foundational nonsense of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, the deep, entrenched homophobia etc, my question to you is where would you draw the line about the net benefits of membership being sufficient excuse to maintain membership? I hope I don’t lose all credibility by saying this but if you remove “LDS Church” from your position and substitute, I don’t know, say “Ku Klux Klan”, would it still sound justifiable? I’m sure at certain times in certain places all kinds of unsavory groups have been the safe place to be for the white majority and that there were lots of otherwise good people involved in them who just ignored the nasty stuff.

    • Ryan Gregson

      Your example of how finding a community instantly after a move is “not how life works”. I think you mean “that’s not how MY life worked”. There are some very real and valid benefits of church membership, just because they weren’t part of your experience, doesn’t make them any less real. That goes the same for relationships built within the system.

      • mangetoute

        I would sincerely and respectfully question whether those are actually benefits to someone who isn’t so institutionalized that they feel like they can’t do normal, natural things like make and find friends without a framework in place to help them. Even if the framework speeds the process, I would also add that you would have to subtract the lost benefit of all the diverse and wonderful friends you never made because you weren’t looking for any, because you’d already had your new social life prescribed for you.

        • Ryan Gregson

          I think it’s unfair to describe relationships made within the church community as ‘prescribed’. Sure, programs like home and visiting teaching sometimes come off as, or are used as prescribed friendships. But real relationships made within the community are made the same way they are everywhere else. You find people you get along with and have things in common with, and the relationship evolves organically and naturally. There were always people in the wards I was a part of that I didn’t care for and didn’t get a long with, and there were people I loved and built relationships with. This is the same way it works in clubs, lacrosse teams, workplaces, bars, etc. A person who isn’t interested in finding friends and relationships outside of their comfort zone wouldn’t do so wether they were part of a church community or not. By the same token, the church isn’t stopping people from finding friendships etc outside of it. Meanwhile it provides a framework that would be ridiculous not to take advantage of (given one finds the organization agreeable). It almost seems like saying that an education gained through the prescribed system of higher education is less valuable, because you didn’t go out and find all that knowledge yourself.

          • Tierza Rose Askren

            I would actually argue that the church does keep people from making friends outside of it – in several ways – one, the church keeps you very, very, very, very busy with church stuff; two – the very act of making it really easy to have a ready-made social group that is very much like your last ready-made social group makes it easy not to bother; three – the word of wisdom is purposefully boundary making. there are probably complicated reasons for the choice of foods prohibited, but I doubt it is coincidence that the key prohibitions are social as well as health related – coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco – cutting those items out of your diet limits (or at the very least drastically changes and shapes) your ability to socialize with the outside world. Just think about asking someone to “go get a coffee” – even if coffee isn’t involved that feels weird for a Mormon to say or have to parse – “well, I don’t drink coffee, but . . . ”

            That all might be easier for an extrovert to navigate, but for an introvert like me Mormonism was a huge impediment to building relationships outside of church – I deeply wish I had left the church before graduate school because the church standards and time expectations severely limited the connections I made in school –

            And my experience of those “inside the church” relationships is similar to many others – they feel very fragile – a ward split can devastate your relationships because you just do not have the time or energy to put into crossing those boundaries and hey look you’ve got a whole new heard of “friends” to take their place.

          • There’s an inertia and an ease in making church friends. And once you’re a mom with all your own activities and your children’s involvements in the church, it’s hard to even find time to do other things that might bring you into a different community.

            My sister found it much easier to leave the church because she was not integrated into her ward. She had less to lose and more time to spend with non Mormons. And I am very happy for her and the choice that she has made.

          • Sorry, Heather, playing the mom card doesn’t cut it.

          • Ryan Gregson

            Sorry Heather, your own personal reasons for your decisions, which again are very personal, do not meet Sharon’s criteria. Would you please align your decisions and reasoning with Sharon’s values?

          • Do, Heather, do. I feel so powerful.

          • Nail meet hammer.

          • On this topic. Alzheimer’s is rampant in my Mormon family. When the news came out the coffee may offer some protection from the disease, I mentioned that to a TBM niece because some of us had started to worry about a brother. She said, “How could you expect someone to go against his morals even if that’s true?” Doinnnnng! Morals?!? Coffee is moral? WTF?

          • windy_way8192

            I agree. The church is a time and energy sink.

          • False equivalence.

        • Dayum, you’re smart, Mange.

        • jeremy

          Truly breathtaking how keen your insights are about the inner workings and motivations of a person you don’t know and an institution you’ve never belonged to. I would sincerely and respectfully ask you to look deep inside yourself and ask why it makes you feel good to try to hurt someone you don’t know by basically accusing them of being naive and, er, stupid by cloaking immature put downs in psuedo intellectual language like “deeply institutionalized.” Just wondering if you realize how much you betray how deeply institutionalized you are by even using the term. Anyway, wish I was more articulate but I have to run to work and then fly to a few countries to hang out w all my self important friends

    • Lovely prose and an inspiring representation of a satisfying nonMormon life. I hope you don’t actually think I turn a blind eye. I try to open blind eyes around me by gently representing a different perspective. And I feel good about that– for now.

    • Dear Omnivore, absolutely brilliant comment. I was a Mormon girl growing up in the 50s in rural south Louisiana when I asked my mother, “Mama, have you noticed that all Mormons look alike?” I found the feeling creepy, not comforting. I guess Heather has never felt that way in spite of being too smart.

  • Good episode. I was reading through the comments, and just wanted to chime in on some thoughts on them and thoughts I had when listening.

    First about Heather. I like Heather. One of the things I like about this show is how you all make fun of each other and just have a good time. That is how I am with my friends. So it makes me feel like I’m just hanging out with my IOT friends while I listen. (I have said this before.) And Heather doesn’t ruin that. There have been female guest in the past that this wasn’t really the case.

    Are there things that infants may say that I don’t like all the time. Sure people are people, they are who they are. And they shouldn’t have to worry about saying things just to make someone else happy.

    Now to comment on something Heather talked about in the episode. All the good the church does. This is one point that I disagree with. Some think it does good and others think it doesn’t. And it’s cool that we all don’t think the same way.

    Growing up, I never had any issues with the church. I fully believed it. I never questioned. It just made sense to me. And I fully trusted my parents and my leaders. They were older and smarter so they would know. Especially my Dad, he was a very very smart man. He converted to the church (a long with my Mom) when I was 3. And if he was telling me the church was true, then why would I doubt him?

    So why my big issue with the church? Because of how I felt about myself growing up. I hated myself, I wanted to die so many times. All because I was being a natural young teenage boy. Yet I thought I was so evil. I would look around at my friends and think “I am the only one here doing this. I am so wicked.” This alone makes me want to keep my kids as far away from the church and all religions. They are selling snake oil. They have the magical cure for the disease that they say you have. Except their cure never really works. So you have to keep coming back for more every week. And it only cost you 10% of your income. No big deal.

    I also hate the fake friendships. While still TBM I thought I had some great friends. Then I moved 15 mins away and I never heard from these great friends again. They deleted me from FB, and they just disappeared. They are your friends while you are in the ward, but once you leave you are dead to them. I have moved wards a lot. Nine times in my first 13 years of marriage. And I only ever had one friend who stayed my friend, for a while anyway. Yet I have some never-mo friends who are friends because they like me. Not because I moved into the ward. They didn’t stop being my friend when I left the church. (Which also happened with all my ward “friends” out here.) I can trust these friends because they are real friends. Not instant friends because we believe in the same god.

    And I hear a lot about community. And how it’s such a great community. But while that could be a good thing, it can also be a bad one. We live in Virginia. And my wife’s only friends are Mormons. That’s all she knows. out here. And when she had an issue with the gay policy almost everyone in her ward turned on her. And she didn’t have any non-member friends to turn to or to do things with. All she has are these friends who honestly don’t really treat her like a real friend.

    Let’s not even get into my wife being told to friend sister’s who doesn’t want visiting teaching visits so they can keep track of them. (This has happened in two different wards, in two different states.) That just makes me sick and I hope these poor less active sisters don’t learn that these ladies are being told to be friends with them.

    Anyway those are just some thoughts on why I don’t like the church. Why I don’t think it’s good. I kind of rambled but that’s what I do.

    Heather you can’t make everyone happy so don’t even try. Keep it up for the DC Metro Area!!!! Love having an infant in my neck of the woods.

    And Randy keep rocking hard man. You are one of my favorite infants. Love having a good atheist on board. 🙂

    • Thomas Moore

      I’m going to butt in here: Because at one time. I loved the church and all it did for everyone. I’m 52yrs old so my church is much different than many of you youngster’s church. E.g. on Tuesday’s we would bring our pennies for primary for the Primary Children’s Hospital. On Sunday Mornings we would have early morning Priesthood meeting then Sunday School and in the evening we had Sacrament Meeting. Mother would go to Relief Society on Wednesday afternoon. teens would go Mutual (Boy Scouts) Wednesday night. Friday and/or Saturdays were Dances or Roadshow practices. We had craft shows, Halloween parties, basketball games, we actually had a purpose for putting stages in our cultural halls by having Talent shows, visiting A Capella groups [kinda like BYU’s Vocal Point, but many more]. I picked pineapple 2 seasons for Y.D.E. which started as an LDS program. Now it’s all gone. The Children’s Hospital, Cultural Shows, Youth programs, Boy Scouts is a joke and bad in the LDS corporate hands. It’s not only hollow, but now rotten with bigotry and old ideals and practices that can’t be changed. So even if the BoM, D&C have “words” that are good and can be used to live by…The corporation sure isn’t doing it. The white geriatrics running the asylum don’t seem to care or have a handle on anything or seem to be listen to the patients. It’s a sad, sad waste of money, time, humanity.

      • Very well said. Even in the last few years I had seen church parties dwindle to one or two events a year. Down from four for five. Because the old men in SLC need that extra money for malls and who knows what else.

      • That’s really an interesting perspective that I hadn’t considered. I have a couple book clubs and a dinner club and our ward is considering putting on a musical, but all of those are unofficial, unfunded, extracurriculars run independently by ward members. Times have clearly changed.

  • Ryan Gregson

    First of all, thanks for sharing this discussion, and thanks Heather for sharing some very personal aspects of your life. Thanks to Randy for that as well.
    I’m kind of appalled by how judgemental some of these people are being with Heather. It’s clear Heather had had struggles in life just like everyone else. We’re lucky to get an insight into how Randy and Heather think about these things, but in the end it’s really none of our business, and Heather sure as hell doesn’t have to explain herself.

    • Ryan Gregson

      It’s just funny to see all these people feeling threatened by Heather coming out of the woodwork. I can now see exactly what she means by the difficulty of being a woman who’s too smart.

  • Gamma

    Hey, Infants! So I want to send in a listener essay about my story of leaving the LDS church. I just wanted to know if there was a time limit you’d like it to fall under and was wondering if it would be okay to kind of have two topics within it. I have a really great story and I think it would be helpful for all to hear. I just don’t want to send it in if its not good enough. Thanks for all you do!

  • Mark Norris

    I look forward to seeing this line of thought continue to be discussed in future episodes. It’s an important question. How to live in the church but not of the church, if you aren’t going to leave altogether.

  • Truth Cannot Be Harmed

    I’m sure the Ku Klux Klan has a tight-knit network and BBQs also… I love Heather but this was a tough episode for me to listen to. I don’t believe an organization that is morally bankrupt and has driven MANY to suicide is worth staying in for some book club buddies and some free lasagna from the neighbors. A butt in a sacrament meeting seat is a non-verbal vote of approval of the sexism, racism and homophobia taught over the pulpit. To me staying for the friends is a bit shallow while kids are killing themselves out there. Especially because most of those friends wouldn’t be your friend if they knew you that you thought their religion was bullshit.

    • Ryan Gregson

      Exaggerated comparisons, black & white morality, self-righteous judgement, and broad characterizations of people you don’t know. A good reminder that the church is far from having a monopoly on these things.

      • Truth Cannot Be Harmed

        People always get hung up on you can’t use extreme examples to make a point. I think that’s silly. I’m not comparing the two, I’m making a point. Learn the difference. The point is: When do you say “enough is enough”, maybe I get something out of this for myself but it’s doing harm to those around me and if I can’t see myself taking a stand, the least I can do is remove myself from the ranks.

        Also, the irony of you self-righteously judging me for being “self-righteous and judgmental” is fantastic. Bravo. I got a good laugh out of that

  • DontSpamMeBro

    Props to whoever chose the intro music. Long live Peaky Blinders, one of the best shows out there.

    • I love Peaky Blinders and Randy loves Nick Cave–and it sounds like showdown music which I liked for its irony. Glad you got it!

  • Jesus H. Christ

    I’m really looking forward to listening to this episode. Having read the comments, I have to say I cannot believe how judgmental and mean some of them are. I know Randy and Heather are a big boy and girl and can defend themselves, but I have to say it’s saddening to see how judgmental and mean we humans can be with each other. None of us chooses our DNA, the body chemistry we inherit, our looks, our height, our natural body type, our parents and siblings, where and when we were born, our parents’ income, the programming and conditioning we received at church and school in our youth, the social expectations we’re expected to meet, the economic demands of life, etc., etc., etc. All of these circumstances of life are just dumped on us long before we’re even able to recognize and understand them. Then we’re left to figure out the best way to navigate life within our circumstances using our extremely limited and fallible subjective perspective.

    We’re all on a fool’s errand called life. Life is a three ring shit show that we’re dropped into without the vision, knowledge, and tools required to figure it out. In light of the human condition, it’s insane that we criticize and condemn ourselves and each other at all.

  • chicagoinfl

    I’ve thought a lot about Mormon relationships. I have come to find that in my own life, my Mormon relationships were through the Church and not directly with the other person. Once I left the Church I lost many (nearly all friends) and have badly damaged family relationships. The community might help in times of crisis, but now the community feels like it serves members. It is now clear to me that the community cares little about Randy, Heather or me as people.

    • That’s a huge failing of the Mormon community. Too often they (we) take care of our own but neglect or shun the defectors. It’s sad.

      • chicagoinfl

        It is sad. I have heard it said that Mormon relationships are a mile wide and an inch deep. In my life that has proven true – even with my parents. The big difficulty with condemning the Mormon Church is, as you rightly point out, that there are good things. The Church is even right about some things and almost right about others. However, the cost for having those good things is that one has to turn over themselves to the organization. I tried for a while to find a middle road (in the Washington, DC area, like you) for a while. What I found was that there is no place in the Church for former temple recommend holding non-fully believing members to be officially embraced. Having said that, my experience was about 8-10 years ago and things may have changed. Hopefully you can find your niche because the loss of community (and family) when one leaves the Church (especially if you take children with you) is real and more painful for most people than they anticipated. Best of luck to you as you make this important decision for you and your family.

      • windy_way8192

        Have you seen the 1997 horror film “Cube?” I think it can be used as a very interesting exploration of the ways an institution mimics an organism. Have you read much on that topic, specifically on ways institutions are unique organic creatures much more complex than individuals?

  • Zoe Harris

    I know that the lacrosse thing was kind of a throwaway comment, but it made me think about my childhood.
    My sister, for nine years, was on one of the top five travel field hockey teams in the US. This meant that every single long weekend and school holiday, my family and fifteen other families would drive to a different state for some tournament.
    Over time, these families grew incredibly close. We older siblings babysat for some of the families with little ones. A lot of us stayed at one of the family’s grandmother’s house whenever we were in Pennsylvania, and we all called her “Grandma Maggie”. I got my first summer job from one of the fathers in this group. And when my grandmother died, we had casseroles galore for a week.
    I probably sound oversensitive, but I’m not offended or anything. I just wanted to add that sports really are one of the ways that people build secular communities.

  • decadyn

    Part of why people, including myself find Heather’s position vexing is because she’s so damn smart. As if her staying in the church invalidates others decisions to leave. Or conversely, validates the church by staying. But that’s presupposing that all smart people make the same decisions and that we have the same concerns in decision making.

    I just feel incredibly uncomfortable pushing people towards decisions that are this personal because you bear a responsibility to that person if you do. Say Heather leaves the church prematurely over this and loses her social group. Could IOT and meetups really fill that huge gap left behind?

    I get that Heather’s decision to stay is selfish, or more accurately, self interested. And I do disagree that the list of pros and cons is as long as each other. But as long as she has all of the facts, I don’t see how pushing her to leave is good for her, or IOT. Because it seems like once she does decide to leave mormonism, she’s probably leaving exmormonism/postmormonism/etc, and that would be disappointing for me as a fan of the show.

  • Desert Rat

    So good to hear more about you Heather. I came from a tiny town in Southern Utah as well, (89 people to be exact) so there is that. However, having moved multiple times over the past 25 years (military) the church has always been a mixed bag when it comes to friends and support. When the chips were really down it was my military family who rallied, without sighs and passive aggressive consternation in having to perform one more act of service.

    I have been in numerous wards, and held leadership positions in most, and never was Home Teaching or Visiting Teaching any thing more than an afterthought. I certainly was to be blame for that as the “teacher” but the experience as the “teachee” was never any different. As one commenter below talked about, church friendships only lasted as long as you were there, and on the outside chance you did find someone you really connected with and made the mutual effort to keep in touch with, when they found you were questioning or leaving the faith, that was more than enough to stop any effort of continuing the friendship you had worked to build.

    Me and my wife were very fortunate to find a fabulous Post Mormon group when we decided the church was harmful, and we couldn’t subject ourselves and our children to its half truths and controlling ways any longer. What I found with this group was the ability to be real. No one there was worried about masking who they were in their quest for Super VIP Heaven as Bro Jake puts it. The discussions were painful and raw but there was, and continues to be, a connection that I never found possible in the church because of the expectations to climb the ladder of perfection.

    I spent a lot of time being angry about my discovery of how members are groomed and treated. Even after five years of almost zero church contact, and 48 years in this world, I feel like I still don’t understand what my purpose in life is, since the packaged one fed to me as a child was all bullshit. But never has a day passed in those five years that I have regretted, missed, had any desire, hope or want to step back inside an LDS inc. building and accept any part of mind boggling bullshit they spew for hope and happiness in this life.

    I know all too well that everyone is on their own journey. I never really found all that much connection or happiness in church once I left my tiny home ward at 18. I think I was always trying to goad the brethren into better performance. But I do see your point in trying to live life less isolated and part of a caring community. Glad you have found that.

    Just want to thank everyone at IoT. It has become one of the highlights of my week. Oddly enough your insights and humor have helped to keep me sane. Keep up the great work!

    • Desert Rat

      Sorry for the book. Didn’t realize how I’d droned on.

      • As a Russian lit person, I love a good long book.

    • As I said above, I’ve been away 50+ years and my story when I was fully in was not at all similar to any I’ve heard on IOT or Mormon Stories. But I’ve been fascinated with Mormon history my whole life. It’s the Galapagos Islands of religions. A true memetic case study. What was a wacky cult that should have faded into obscurity long ago instead survived, thrived and multiplied in the isolation of the 19th century western frontier. It’s remarkable really, and it’s touched me profoundly.

      • I agree completely. Friends and family want to know why I care, what’s it to me? I don’t care. What it is to me is a really, really interesting story that I can’t look away from. How in the world did this happen and how does the church maintain such a strangle hold on the lives of it’s members after what’s turning into centuries? Some of its members. That’s another aspect of the story. I grew up in Salt Lake in a sort of Jack Mormon splinter of a very Mormon family. No one seemed to care that we weren’t particularly devout and eventually drifted away entirely. I don’t remember any angst over that at all, even though we had (and still have) TBMs in the extended family.

        I’m a sucker for a good story and, especially when you throw in the Fundies and the polygamist stuff that Lindsay Park has talked so extensively about, this is a great story.

      • mangetoute

        I feel the same way about Mormon history, and it touches me not because I was ever part of it, but as a nevermo (not even American) transplant to a somewhat Mormony part of the US, I am surrounded by it (not as claustrophobic as Utah, more like just enough to make me curious).

  • Hoooooooooold on a minute here. There’s a whole lot of to do over things I didn’t say.

    Things I DID say:

    Randy’s conclusion that it was his moral imperative to leave the church is valid.
    Randy’s decision and actions constitute a right way to live.
    I’m not giving anyone advice one way or the other.
    I haven’t even made up my own mind about staying or going.
    One person’s choice to stay or go does not invalidate another person’s choice to do the opposite.

    This rhetoric that “what’s right for me must necessarily be right for you” is a narrow, one-true-church mindset that I am way over and done with.

    The decision of whether to stay or go is for many of us monumental. It would make that decision so much easier and so much more psychologically comfortable if all of our favorite people made the same decision we do. Unfortunately, that’s not how life usually works.

    I see comments here that boil down to “my experience was different than Heather’s. The community was shit, the friendships were fake. I didn’t live in a liberal east coast ward where some people taught with nuance or tolerance. I made a different choice. My pros and cons were different.” YES! THAT IS MY POINT! If your right decision was to leave and you did, I’m happy for you.

    All I claim for myself is the right to make with my husband the best decision we can for our family.

  • Pointless1492

    This is the part I find so odd. Like you really think your friends would reject you if you left? I live in Utah, so maybe it is different in the east, but I have Mormon friends over for dinner all the time sure they don’t drink (we have to pray so the Mormons will start eating)but they still come. My wife has a Mormon friend and they go to “paint nite” in bars regularly. We still pay the bishops kids to babysit and we have removed our names. Hell, I loaned the man my chain saw last weekend, I’ve been out for 4 years and the Bishop still asks if he can borrow my chainsaw.

    Not to get all weird, but I kind of feel like the social net work thing is a smoke screen. Maybe you don’t know but Bookclub + Booze = BEST NIGHT EVER! Also, they have this thing called AD&D insurance, it is like the relief society but instead of bringing you dinner when you get hurt or sick they send you cash. Leaving the Church nuked my family relationships but I don’t think I lost a friend.

    If you say that you will lose a ton of students and friends if you leave, I believe you, but in my experience you only lose your fake friends, and I was just putting up with the fakers anyway, you know?

    • That is truly great. I will say yours is the minority story of leaving at least of those I’ve heard.

      And to be clear, I’ll do as my conscience dictates no matter the social cost. I never meant to imply that I just can’t leave because I can’t find a babysitter!

  • Elevate

    Hey randy, heather, get a room, sheesh…seriously.

    • Mark Norris

      I got that same vibe from this episode as you did, Elevate, As I observed in her PPI, it seemed obvious (to me at least) that the guys are smitten with Heather. For her part, she comes off as crushing on Randy (obviously) and maybe Glenn. Maybe “crushing” is the wrong word, but there’s plenty of sub or pre-romantic communication going on, if you understand me.

      I think that the longer Heather is a regular, everyone will get used to each other and they’ll stop acting so “twitterpated” as you put it. That is assuming Infants on Thrones doesn’t morph into a Mormon-themed reality soap opera. I must say I have mixed feelings about that possibility.

      • Ryan Gregson

        You guys are making it weird.

        • Mark Norris

          It wasn’t weird until you called it weird. 😉

        • And that’s a problem why?

    • Tim

      If you go back to the Infants first episodes with John Hamer, you’ll notice the same deference that Randy showed Heather here. They still don’t go head to head with Hamer. I think all the boys (including John Hamer) are impressed with Heather’s ability to articulate insights and feelings that she has clearly thought through. In the context of this podcast, being whip-smart, well-spoken, thoughtful, sensitive, and still able to stay natural with this group of irreverent men — well, that’s some podcast super talent. I think you mistake a bit of awe and respect for attraction.

      • Thanks for the compliment and the astute observation which, having listened to those early Hamer episodes, I totally agree with. I’m happily married, but I will admit to having a huge brain crush on John Hamer. Which he knows all about. /wave

        • Elevate

          Loved your conference talk by the way. It was truly brilliant. Especially liked the wordplay around Satans “tool” My wife and I laughed about that for about a week after hearing the episode. Best.

      • I’m sure all the Infants have crushes on Heather. She’s a force of nature. Remember When Harry Met Sally?

        • Tim

          I trust you mean well, but I think these projections of a “crush” are sexist. To assume a “crush” implies that Randy caved on his points out of sexual attraction rather than yielding to a nuanced, articulate, well-presented rebuttal by a person who happens to be a woman. It’s subtly insulting to both Randy and Heather.

          Granted, it’s not uncommon to use the term “crush” to refer to non-sexual admiration. But I think because of the listener comments that have been rolling in, it’s better to avoid this use of the term to keep from conflating sexual attraction with intellectual admiration.

          The Infants have a great chemistry on the podcast. That’s why literally dozens of people listen to them. In spite of that rapport, no one assumed any crushes when it was just a bunch of men shooting the shit about religious doctrine and history.

          I thought When Harry Met Sally was an entertaining fiction with a silly premise that thankfully doesn’t hold true in the real world.

          • Mark Norris

            Well, I for one think straight-up sexual attraction was present in this episode. The cues of flirtation between both of them was pretty obvious, imo.

          • I’ve been away from Mormonism 50+ years, long enough to have finally overcome the notion that sexual attraction makes intellectual attraction illegitimate.

    • Hilarious! I picked up on that too. It was kinda like a Rock Hudson Doris Day movie. But I looooved it.

  • Ernie Aldo

    Wow, if Randy and Heather had a spiritual child, I think it would be me. I relate directly with Randy’s angst and vehement dislike for the LDS church when he talks about why he just had to leave. On the other hand, I still cling to Heather’s outlook on “re-evaluating daily” her membership in the LDS Church and seeing the good along with bad. I am always trying to remember that there can be various ways for different individuals to be “right” when there view points may be diametrically opposed. We are right for ourselves, but not always right for others…and somehow we need to find a way to get along. This is what perplexes me so much in trying to maintain a modicum of activity in the LDS Church–to keep peace in my family and marriage, to not “rock the boat” for my kids, to make change from within, to recognize the good amidst the bad–all while trying to feel “authentic” (sorry if that word is trite, but it seems to fit). So Heather, I I have a question for you! What would you say to someone like me, who feels much like Randy, but who is trying to be like you? So much of being “Mormon” (and I live in the South end of Salt Lake County, so I’m in the thick of it…but I was raised a SoCal Mo) is about the BOM being literal, the restoration being literal, etc, etc. It’s really a stretch sometimes to maintain a sense of integrity when I’m going through the motions, but believe little to none of it in a literal sense. The BOM is so central. My wife wants to read it with the kids and all I want to do is point out the warts along with the beauty in it so that my kids can have a more balanced and real view of the book than I did. I feel like I’m in effect reading Harry Potter with them as if Harry Potter and Hogwarts were actually real. How do you do this?

    • Travis Gower

      Echo.

    • I feel like the contrarian in me has kind of forced myself into this position of defending activity in the church when realistically, can I see myself staying as a non-believer for 15 years or 10 years? Five? One? Low probability. So I feel awkward spending time and energy defending a position that is not rightly mine. However, of the ~1050 Infants on Thrones listeners who have filled out a survey, 38% describe themselves as either Active or Semi-Active. That’s a minority, but a large one, and those 2 out of 5 listeners like you are probably asking a lot of the same questions.

      I’m not in the position of having a TBM spouse or needing to maintain membership for family reasons, really, but I also don’t want to discount the several positive life skills and values I took from my membership (even if maybe the bad outweighs them). I don’t teach my kids things I don’t believe, and I take extra care with my 8 year old to explain where and why I disagree with past and present church policies.

      Maybe Tom who still attends, or one of the many Infants who attended for 1-4 years in your position (Scott, Randy, Glenn, at least) would be the better person to field this question.

      And I teach the scriptures to my children the way I understand them as culturally important, sometimes morally instructive fairy tales. So yeah, Harry Potter.

      • Elevate

        I had a few friends in NY who were Jewish and successfully walked a similar line to what you describe above. I’m also attempting to walk this more socially based conversion to mormonism line…but after over a year, I don’t know if it is possible within Mormonism, which demands so much orthodoxy if you want leadership experience. If you are not TBM, you appear to quickly get blacklisted. No more leadership growing callings, few responsibilities, less chances to speak in sacrament. I’m not sure it can work. I do relate to your struggle.

  • gryndyll

    This is the first ‘Infants’ episode where I was yelling aloud, in anger, at what was being said.

    You should get five or so of your ‘average’ respondents in this thread and allow them to do a ‘Smackdown’ on this episode.

  • Travis Gower

    The members make the church good, not the other way around. Any good you derive from the church comes from the community. They and you are responsible for the good in the church.

    Okay, I’m generalizing. But it’s a generalization that is needed to combat the lie that “the church is perfect, the people are not.” As if we are in debt to the church that runs its programs that we fund. The people, their support, their encouragement, and their love are responsible for most of the benefits one acquires from church participation.

    The “good” of the church certainly does not come from the institution, teachings, or general authorities. These often provide members with some combination of false beliefs, bigotry, intransigent ideology, persecution/superiority complex, bad epistemology, and so on. “The church is hopelessly wrong and harmful; the people are good and trying” would be a better assessment.

    If the church refuses to accept blame for the bad in its members, we need to stop giving it credit for the good in its members (and former members).

    • windy_way8192

      Yet the group cohesion created by the church makes these relationships more likely. The church has a thousand different tentacles on each individual. Some stick on a person, some don’t, but the sheer number and force from those connections keeps hooking people together in close ways that are hardly matched by any other society. If you think about it, is is an incredibly optimal institutional model for modernity: keep the members close to the church and close to each other, but promote their material success which they can then channel back into the church. It makes the church incredibly powerful. The close relationships are indeed one dimension of this device.

  • Lincoln

    I really enjoyed this episode and it is refreshing to hear the voice of a TBM on the panel, but I think I have PTSD from the church and hearing Heather talk about the church kind of angered me in a weird way. Maybe it’s because I had such a bad experience in the church that I have a hard time believing her position is genuine. I see the church as so incredibly damaging, especially to children, and it’s something I am happy that my kids won’t be exposed to. How can Heather understand the damage the church does to children as the develop yet still expose her kids to the church? I can’t believe she would knowingly expose her kids to these doctrines so I have to conclude that she doesn’t yet really understand the depth of the harm the church is engaged in. Either that, or she’s trolling the podcast which is another possibility. One other small annoyance is, I get she’s smart, we’ve heard about it over and over, but book smarts doesn’t equal real world wisdom. It’s one thing to read books and pass tests, and another to understand how ideology and belief structures influence us as humans. Many of the comments are negative towards Heather which I think is because we constantly hear about how smart she is, yet she doesn’t apply the same intellect to the church, it’s like a blind spot for her, or she’s still ‘brainwashed’ to a certain extent. I get it though, I was there too at one point, trying to make it all work. If she’s not willing to take a deep look at the church and wants to show up and joke around, I don’t think she will last long because listeners hear TBM justification all the time and one of the reasons we listen to IOT is because the perspective is refreshing. If we wanted to listen to TBMs justify their participation in the church we could attend sacrament meeting.

    • Jenni

      Come on, really? Heather isn’t a TBM. That means “true believing mormon” and clearly doesn’t apply to a woman who said that she doesn’t even believe in God, let alone Joseph Smith or the BoM. The church was a terrible experience for you and you left easily. Fair enough. Heather isn’t defending the harm it does, but she has the right to leave on her own damn timeline. She fears, with reason, the loss of friends and even some students when she does, inevitably, leave. She’s not required to follow the path you did. Her choices don’t invalidate yours. She stays for a community that has helped her during very difficult times, a community she has never yet lived without. She’s allowed to be reluctant and even afraid to leave that community. She isn’t claiming that makes the church true, and she doesn’t see herself staying long-term. That doesn’t make her a TBM.

      And let’s be honest. When some of the infants are so long out of the church that they don’t read or listen to the stuff that is really pissing off those of us who have only just left (cough-Glenn-cough), having someone who is still in the process of leaving the church on the panel – someone who admits to reading the conference talks so she actually has her finger on the pulse of what is happening in the church now – is not just refreshing, it’s necessary for the continuation of the podcast.

      And people aren’t saying Heather is smart because she passed a fucking test. Have you listened to the 14 fundamentals smackdown? The mother in heaven essay smackdown? They think she’s smart because she is smart. Listen to the way she talks about obedience doctrine and her own fears over raising her daughter in the church and then tell me she “doesn’t understand how ideology and belief structures influence us as humans.” Seriously, is this the only episode you’ve ever heard her on? She isn’t brainwashed. She gets it. She gets angry about it and worries herself to distraction over how best to get her daughter out without further damaging her. But she also doesn’t want to burn bridges.

      At the end of the day, an intelligent person is making different choices than you would make, and that scares the shit out of you.

      Full disclosure: I’m Heather’s little sister. And having just read through this comment section, I am sick to death of you self-righteous jackasses. For some reason, you’re getting the brunt of my anger. But that doesn’t make you any less wrong.

      • Lincoln

        I wasn’t trying to be self-righteous, it’s just hard for me to comprehend someone continuing church attendance if they understand the harm the church does. Her decision doesn’t scare me, I just really like listening to IOT and it seems odd having her on when she’s still an active attending member. By the way, I use the term TBM loosely to describe those who regularly attend church.

        Even simple church attendance demonstrates some level of belief in the church, otherwise why go? Sure, the community aspect can be great, but the LDS community is nothing like other communities, and LDS relationships are shallow in comparison to genuine relationships. And don’t be so quick to dismiss communities like “lacrosse” or other sporting communities. My boys play competitive soccer so we spend a ton of time on the soccer field. As a result, we are really close with the other soccer families. We have play dates, dinner parties, and other events together, we are a very tight community. I’ve found that when you take the church out of community it becomes much richer because you are building relationships at a different level.

        I honestly don’t care either way if she stays in the church or leaves. I was just voicing my opinion of having her on the show.

        I also wasn’t trying to imply that Heather is not smart, just that there’s a difference between book smarts and street smarts. LDS people tend to be very juvenile in general and are awkward around non members. When I was at BYU, the recruiter from Intel told me the biggest problem with LDS employees is they are anti-social in the workplace. Meaning, they don’t socialize well with non-members and are super awkward at work events like happy hours because there’s alcohol involved. It cracks me up when my TBM mom has “parties” with other ward members where they do things like craft together. Meanwhile the rest of the world is going to parties where they have deep, meaningful conversations over a few good IPAs. Adults do things like go to pubs together and bond over a few drinks. LDS people don’t even participate in those activities so they choose juvenile activities instead.

        Maybe this doesn’t make sense to anyone but me. Sorry for the wall of text, this reply became much longer than intended.

        • Jenni

          Well then, you are using the term TBM wrongly and thereby undermining your point. By your definition, several of the infants were TBMs when they started podcasting, and Tom is still a TBM. I think you need a new term. “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” Heather could not even be classified as a NOM at this point, and by your definition you would be lumping all NOMs in with TBMs. But I don’t think you’re just being sloppy with your terms. This seems more like an attempt to classify Heather firmly as an “other” in this community – belittling the complexity of her situation in order to better justify ignoring the value of her perspective.

          Moving along, simple church attendance does not demonstrate some level of belief, except perhaps the belief that she loves conducting choir and is afraid to lose friends. Yes, she can make friends outside of church, and maybe even replace the choir if that’s what she wants. But that isn’t going to happen at the drop of a hat,; building/finding a new community takes time and she is perfectly justified in being reluctant to take that leap. That doesn’t mean she believes a word that is said in church. What about those who keep attending to appease spouses? Is their reluctance to jeopardize a marriage evidence that some part of them still believes in the church? Honestly, you need to allow for some complexity here. This black and white thinking of yours (You’re either a TBM or an exmo; if you attend at all you must believe it) is reminiscent of something else…the thinking of a TBM. (And I have never said a word dismissing lacrosse communities, or any other communities. That’s someone else’s argument that I am not required to defend.)

          And yes, some Mormons can be really weird in social situations. No argument here. However, that doesn’t really back up your earlier contention that Heather “doesn’t
          understand how ideology and belief structures influence us as humans.”
          You’re making a totally different point now. Social awkwardness and the inability to understand the psychological ramifications of religion are not the same thing. Are you really trying to say that Heather comes of as socially awkward and that’s why she hasn’t stopped attending church? Not only does that not reflect reality, it just makes no sense.

          And I acquit you of being a self-righteous jackass. But you’re still wrong.

          • Ryan Gregson

            I’ll still call it self righteous jackassery to label all relationships within the church as shallow, and to think that everyone outside the church is having these “deep meaningful conversations, but not Mormons, they’re too juvenile!”
            Ridiculous.

        • “Even simple church attendance demonstrates some level of belief in the church, otherwise why go?”

          Wellll, I’ll tell you why I started going to church in 2010 after 50+ years away.
          1. I moved from Albuquerque back into the house where I grew up.
          2. I didn’t know a soul except my Mormon family and extended family.
          3. I was curious. When I left there were perhaps 30 people in church on a good Sunday. The church building was so primitive there was no plumbing. Now it’s a impressive brick edifice sporting a “cultural” hall. There are 1000+ members split into 2 wards.
          5. I got to sit beside my beloved brother and his family and sing with them. It was the only time they had to spend with me.

          I went for a year and I found it refreshing that there were so many members it was possible to fade into the woodwork. I was ready to tell anyone who asked I believed every word out of Joseph Smith’s mouth was a lie including “an” and “the”. Nobody asked. I even started paying a modest tithe thinking, “Heck, if I’m using the facilities, I should contribute something.”

          Then I went back to Albuquerque to tie up some loose ends and was gone for several months. As soon as I returned I was diagnosed with cancer. Not one single how-are-you. Not one single do-you-need-anything. Not one single casserole.

          • BTW, I need to say I loooooove Heather. Wonderful voice. So intelligent, articulate, witty. Good catch, IOT.

      • Nice rant, Jenni, and I feel duly chastised.

    • Hi Lincoln,

      I love your name. It was my first choice if my daughter had been a boy. I’m glad you liked the episode, but you seemed to have missed what I thought were some of my central points.

      A TBM is a true believing Mormon. That label doesn’t describe me at all. I was not trying to convince Randy to go back to church or anyone to stay in it NOR to justify my own involvement which at this point is conducting choir.

      For most people, not all but most, there is a period of going to church after faith transition, and leaving the church can be very hard. I was merely describing why that is.

      It is highly likely that I will leave the church sooner rather than later, so I don’t want to waste any breath defending a position that isn’t mine to defend. Sigh. As far as leaving the church being a requirement for being an Infant, why does that not apply to Tom who is active? Or Scott/Jesse who went to church for what, over a year as an Infant? Or to Glenn who was 75% active when he started podcasting? Yes, 54% of IoT listeners have left that church, but there are another 38% of listeners who still consider themselves semi active. Maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to listen until they leave? That makes no sense.

      One can take a critical look at the doctrines and conduct of the church and condemn them while also *acknowledging* the benefits of membership and even (gasp!) recognizing that I have known a lot of lovely, worthwhile people who are members. I’m NOT saying those benefits or those members justify or outweigh the harm the church does. I have NEVER said that. I’m just acknowledging their existence. Can you see the difference?

      I do want to address the anger you felt listening though. The anger that even so much as the mention of a benefit of membership engenders speaks to just how much harm the church has done. The church has done despicable, inexcusable wrong to women, ethnic minorities and gay people. I make no attempt to justify such shameful mistreatment.

      I feel and share the pain and frustration and resentment of the many people who have, often without ever asking for it, lost friends, lost family relationships, lost marriages, to say nothing of time and money to a church that defrauded them. The majority of that anger is directed at the institution and its leaders, some at the (actual) TBM’s who still buy and sell its bullshit, and some at the 38% of IoT listeners who for whatever reason aren’t voting with their feet–yet. I get it.

      Having said all that, I will agree with you that it also makes me angry when I hear other people talk about the benefits of church membership or their reasons for staying. I know that seems paradoxical, but it’s also true.

      It’s highly possible that in a year or even a month I may look back at this conversation with a little psychological space from The Institution and say, “Wow, that sounds like Stockholm syndrome. She’s displaying a weird affection for and dependence on the abuser/captor.” Yep. Totally possible.

      But I’m not the only person transitioning out of the church and mourning the things I’ll lose that you’re going to meet in your life.

      • mangetoute

        I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the Stockholm Syndrome. The church does such a thorough job of convincing members that they are a breed apart, living on a slightly higher plane than other humans, that they receive all these blessings for being righteous. I’m starting to see that this belief is perhaps more deeply ingrained than the religion itself, so that when the literal belief in Joseph Smith et al dissipates, the feeling of superiority remains, but it’s such an integral part of the person that they don’t even know it’s there.

        The fear of what you will lose and the relationships that may be harmed, could it be that some part of you is sad to confront a future of new relationships with non-Mormons because there is that pernicious belief that has been baked into you that non members are somehow less than?

        I think it’s the implication in saying that there is a lot to lose, that the church is simply a gathering place for really really super people that is rubbing some listeners the wrong way. It’s so myopic.

        I very much admire your willingness to discuss this and to look at yourself…reminds me of Hannibal Lecter asking Clarice is she was willing to turn her magnifying glass onto herself. Wow, that was such a high brow literary reference, next I will cite that lady that wrote Fifty Shades of Grey.

        • That “you are the important ones” mindset, that “chosen generation held in reserve for these latter days” rhetoric, and that “you are blessed to be a Mormon in this life for your pre mortal faithfulness” doctrine are absolutely real in the church and psychologically influential. I remember the first day I defined myself as a nonbeliever. I went to the gym, and I was looking around at all of these people with new eyes. And I realized for most of my life I had believed I was somehow more important to the plan of salvation than they were because I was Mormon and I was taught that the universe literally revolves around Mormonism. It was like being awake for the first time. I was so embarrassed. I had this urge to run up to all the people I saw and apologize for being an elitist a-hole in my thoughts for so long.

          And it’s certainly true that the church uses scare tactics to keep you in by talking about how wonderful the shiny happy people of The Church are compared to the The World full of evil, sad people who don’t know how to be truly happy or love others. I’ve been fortunate enough to know people of various faiths and no faith well enough to realize that is not true.

        • “the feeling of superiority remains, but it’s such an integral part of the person that they don’t even know it’s there”

          Bingo!

          Whenever I’m in the company of TBMs from my youth it’s an endless recitation of this kid or that kid who was the best, the first, the highest, the most talented. They talk endlessly about this or that prestigious school or financial achievement. On and on. I’ve had some of them over for lunch along with old friends from my 50+ years in secular society. These old friends inevitably notice the phenomenon. They (the TBMs) don’t even seem to know they’re doing it. It’s like Tourette’s. They simply have no training for life outside the bubble. They have no idea how rude and overbearing they seem.

  • wilburson

    Great episode. But I just want to say that the Mormon church did not invent bringing meals and serving and loving and taking care of their own. I left the church 10 years ago and am now part of a Christian church that does all the service the Mormon church ever did and then some – even very involved in helping the poor in the community and the pregnancy center and on and on! I think it is great that the Mormon church does these things well, but they don’t stand out compared to many other religious organizations.