Here are the slides for my talk at CORT 2022 (Conference on Religious Trauma):
The slides from my 2021 Thrive Day presentation on overcoming toxic perfectionism:
The most backhanded compliment-insult combos start out with a Big But. And in this talk called The Culture of Christ (delivered at Oct. 2020 General Conference), Elder Jackson sure likes Bug Buts.
“What a magnificent world we live in and share, home to a great diversity of peoples, languages, customs, and histories—spread out over hundreds of countries and thousands of groups, each rich in culture. Mankind has much to be proud of and to celebrate. But… [emphasis added]”
We can think Elder Jackson is promoting ethnic diversity and recognizing the strengths of the world’s highly interesting and varied cultures, but, everything after the “but” cancels out this otherwise beautiful paragraph.
The rest of his talk reads like a white supremacy how-to. His real message is that White, Western, Christian (specifically Mormon) culture is supreme over every other culture on earth. It is literally the definition of “white supremacy” and follows the white supremacy playbook to a T.Continue reading
The slides for my 5-part presentation on Mormon Stories can be found here:
The full series on YouTube:
Mormon Stories 1443: Recovering Agency Pt. 1 – Examining Mormon Mind Control w/ Luna Lindsey Corbden
Mormon Stories 1444: Recovering Agency Pt. 2 – Examining Mormon Mind Control w/ Luna Lindsey Corbden
Mormon Stories 1445: Recovering Agency Pt. 3 – Examining Mormon Mind Control w/ Luna Lindsey Corbden
Mormon Stories 1446: Recovering Agency Pt. 4 – Examining Mormon Mind Control w/ Luna Lindsey Corbden
Mormon Stories 1447: Recovering Agency Pt. 5 – Examining Mormon Mind Control w/ Luna Lindsey Corbden
With the April 2018 General Conference, many hoped LDS Leadership would address the most recent abuse scandals that have rocked the foundations of trust for members of the Church.
Many of us have been aware of systemic abuse and cover-ups under the roof of God’s house for a long time, yet recently, two of those cases have been shouted from the rooftops loudly enough for those both within and without the Church to hear.
In February, two ex-wives of Mormon White House staffer Rob Porter alleged not only abuse by their husband, but mishandling of that abuse when they reported it to Church authorities.
And more recently, former MTC President Joseph Bishop was accused of rape by a former missionary, and his admission to sexual assault was recorded on tape. The victim reported her abuse to the Church many times, and in return, LDS Lawyers compiled a file containing every speck of dirt they could find on her to give them an advantage in the legal settlement — including Church and employment records. Greg Bishop, Joseph Bishop’s son, sent a copy of that file to Utah news outlets in the hopes of smearing her name in the court of public opinion.
The weight of these public stories, and the thousands of lesser-known stories of abuse and cover-ups, have led to mass outcry and movements such as Protect LDS Children. For many victims of rape and domestic violence, this is a Mormon Me Too movement. For many children, victims of predators who were protected by the Church, this is the Mormon Spotlight, because it compares to Catholic abuse cover-ups.
One protester during a Saturday session in Conference shouted, “Stop protecting sexual predators!” before being escorted out of the building.
The Church’s public response has been less than encouraging. They have:
- Blamed the victim.
- Slandered the victim.
- Gathered evidence against the victim’s character that had nothing to do with the actual rape.
- Issued non-apologies.
- Protected perpetrators by declining to report to law enforcement, failing to place them into the Church discipline process, allowing them to maintain high callings, protecting their “good names” above the good names of the victims, and allowing them advancement to high levels of status in society.
To many of us, this isn’t news, and these aren’t isolated incidents. I’ve seen this pattern for decades and been frustrated at the Church’s inattention and inaction.
This Conference was a further exercise in misdirection.
Let’s take a look at the talk by Apostle Quentin L. Cook, in which he presumably addresses this issue, yet his attention is still focused on making the Church and its leaders look pristine while making members feel inadequate. In which the seriousness of the sins of violation and abuse is watered down. In which the Church places blame on victims and decides to await further instruction from the Lord rather than taking proactive steps.
This is spiritual abuse of the worst kind. Continue reading
I’ve created a number of blog posts and videos analyzing line-by-line the mind control and manipulation in LDS General Conference Talks and articles. Here you can find links to all of them in one place.
It first may help to have an idea of the named manipulation techniques used by cults and high-demand groups. They are all listed in The Methods of Thought Reform, with brief definitions. And of course I expand upon these greatly in my book, Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control, where each gets its own chapter.
To help familiarize yourself with these control tactics and develop your critical thinking skills, I’ve created a set of Mind Control Bingo cards that you can print, so you can learn to identify these techniques while watching Conference or reading the Ensign. (I am not responsible for any consequences that may result from playing Mind Control Bingo in Sunday School!) I don’t want you to just take my word for it – you can be an analyst, too.
To get an idea of how it’s done, here are my written analyses of LDS Conference talks:
- Thought-Reform Analysis of a Thomas S. Monson Talk
- Elder Uchtdorf’s Spiritual Abuse: “Be Not Afraid, Just Tune Out All Opposing Signals”
- “Therefore Apostle Bednar Induced Their Fears”
- General Conference: Scrambling to Close the Floodgates of Apostasy
- Dear Elder Oaks: Loving Others is Easy When You Don’t Focus on Differences
If you’re more visual, here is a series of videos I made with Jonathan Streeter, in which we watch a Conference talk together and discuss the manipulation tactics as we first see them:
- Undue Influence in General Conference #1 – Saturday AM Oct 2015 – Elder Uchtdorf
- Undue Influence in General Conference #2 – Oct 2015 – Elder Ballard
- Undue Influence in General Conference #3 – Oct 2015 – Elder Maynes
- Undue Influence in General Conference #4 – Oct 2015 – Sister Marriott
- Undue Influence in General Conference – Oct 2015 – Behold Thy Mother, Elder Holland
- Undue Influence in General Conference – April 2017 – Obedience, Elder Clayton
I continue to develop new material along this vein, so watch this space for more!
And I invite critique. If you think I’m off base, I would love to hear why. I respect logical, fact-based counterarguments. If I’m wrong, you should be able to make a solid case against these posts and videos. But I expect you to actually read and/or listen first – not doing so means you are committing a Straw Man Fallacy.
This week, rockstar Tyler Glenn will launch his new solo album, “Excommunication.” As a teaser, he has already released two music videos, Shameless, and the highly symbolic and controversial exmormon coming-out video, Trash. You can take three minutes to watch it now. I recommend full screen.
We exmormons have never had an anthem before. Not officially. Sure, we’ve clung to some of the obvious mainstream pop greats, like REM’s Losing My Religion, Tori Amos’s Crucify, or one of my favorites, Sarah McLaughlin’s Witness. (I’ve got a whole playlist of atheist-themed music right here.)
As true-blue Mormons, we had a hymnal cram-packed with songs that praised the Church and all its trappings. We had many musical ways to express our feelings. But since leaving, we have to make do with whatever generic anti-religious or faith-transitiony music we happen to come across, and bend it to fit our specific experiences.
But not anymore, thanks to rockstar Tyler Glenn, frontman for Neon Trees, a Mormon who came out as gay two years ago, and who optimistically clung to the belief that his Church, which claims to espouse “the pure love of Christ,” had a place for him.
For those of us who hoped the LDS Church was trending to broaden their range of invites to the spiritual banquet, our hopes were crushed last year, when they made it clear that gay, bi, trans, and queer folk (like me) would be denied the full earthly blessings of marriage and family. Not only that, but our children would also be denied the sacred saving ordinances and blessings of the Gospel, and all the social benefits that come along with it, the most important of which is a sense of belonging in your family and community.
No other “sin” in Mormon canon has this designation.
This policy change has come to be known as “The Exclusion Policy,” and in my mind, it encourages and excuses further bullying among Mormons against LGBT people and their children.
This must have been a soul crushing time for someone like Glenn, who did as he was taught and stood up for the Church, who risked mockery from worldly critics, who remained loyal, and sincerely believed the Church was making progress toward opening their arms to welcome LGBT members fully into the fold.
It was soul crushing for me, and I’ve been out of the Church for fifteen years.
In response, Glenn has spent these months, especially since April when he released Trash, using his musical and speaking talents to express his deeply felt conflicts over this policy, over its effects on gay Mormon youth, over his faith crisis, over uncovering the lies the Church has taught, over his sense of betrayal, and over his exit from Mormonism. These past months, he has done as he was taught by the faith of his birth: He’s stood up for what he believes.
As much as we like to think human beings are rational, we primarily think in emotion, symbols, and imagery. This is what I mean when I speak positively of “spirituality”, this irrational aspect that is central to our humanity. Music is important for our spiritual selves. It is symbolic and resonates the multiple parts of our minds in sync toward a particular theme or idea in a way that words and logic can’t.
Music is a mantelpiece of Mormon culture, and I was a musical child. We were taught a scripture: “For [God’s] soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” D&C 25:12
As a spiritual atheist, I have room in my symbolic mind for a bigger God than the Mormon God of my youth, a God who can delight in all kinds of songs, any song that arises from the sincere heart of man. Not only does he think the simple, off-tune passionate Primary song of a six year old is delightful, he also would think that the angry, critical, irreverent exmormon, mourning his loss in a high-production-value music video, is delightful. It is an honest expression of one of his children revealing genuine, raw pain, and pointing a much-needed accusatory finger at an organization which has legitimately wronged a whole class of people. Several classes of people, in fact: Gay Mormons, heterodox Mormons, exmormons. Or pretty much any Mormon who is, as Glenn described of himself and many of the rest of us have as well, a square peg in a round hole, a round hole which refuses to accommodate the shape of the peg, and expects the peg to contort until it is snapped in half. Continue reading
Here are the slides and text for my two presentations at Sunstone Symposium, delivered July 28th and 29th in Salt Lake City:
Neurodiversity (Autism) and Mormons
(panel with Natasha Smith and Adia Heuser)
ExMormons Online: How Internet Communities Fuel the Exodus, and Aid Faith Transition and Recovery
The slides for my talk given on June 30, 2016 at the International Cultic Studies Association annual conference in Dallas, TX. The title of this talk is, “Mormons Online: How Internet Communities Fuel the Exodus and Aid Post-Totalist Recovery.”
This is perhaps the biggest moment in all the history of Mormonism. Most definitely in my lifetime. Whatever comes, however this is handled, the fallout from the news that leaked on Thursday will ripple down to generations to come.
For those who don’t know, the Mormon Church changed their official policy for how to handle same-sex marriage. These couples are to be excommunicated (no surprise there) for apostasy – a surprise, because the sin of apostasy typically deals with orthodoxy of belief, not with sin.
What has people so fired up is that children of same-sex couples – including children of divorcees where only one parent is same-sex married – are:
- Not allowed to be blessed as a baby to get their name on the records of the Church.
- Not allowed to be baptized and confirmed with the Gift of the Holy Ghost along with their peers at age 8.
- Not allowed to receive the priesthood with their peers at age 12 (boys only).
Which also means they will not be able to attend the temple, pass the sacrament, or participate in many other activities with their peers, even if they are active in Church.
When they turn 18, they may receive these ordinances and go on a mission only if they are not still living with the gay parent(s), disavow same-sex marriage (thereby disavowing their family system, which is like disavowing a part of one’s self), and get permission from the First Presidency. This applies to any child who has ever lived with a parent who has ever cohabited or been married in a same-sex relationship.
I normally write analytical posts, logical, ordered trains of thought, pointing out contradictions, backed up with facts and science. I’ve been asked, for instance, to write an analysis of Apostle Christofferson’s interview, similar to what I’ve done for various conference talks.
I can’t do that this time. This policy, and Elder Christofferson’s interview, would be easy enough to pick apart logically, especially since this flies in the face of many LDS doctrines, and Elder Christofferson contradicts himself in his own interview several times.
The trouble is, I can’t distance myself emotionally from this topic to provide an intellectual perspective. These policy changes are way too personal for me.
Not because I know so many LDS LGBT people and mothers of children who are directly hurt by this policy. And not because I’m bisexual and genderqueer myself. And not because if my 21-year-old son wanted to be baptized, he’d have to get permission from the Prophet. (He’s shown absolutely no desire to get baptized, but if he did I’d support and accept his spiritual choices 100%.)
No, this drills deeply into to old wounds in my soul which have never fully healed. Wounds inflicted on me at age 7 by my first grade school teacher. Emotional wounds that caused me, a little child, to want to die, and that made me get very, very sick and to almost die.
According to a story my family proudly tells, I was saved only by a Priesthood Blessing, given by my brother, in which he was inspired to bless me with a will to live. After that, my fever broke and I pulled through.
These wounds, both physical and mental, would inform how I related to other people for the rest of my life. They would leave lingering social anxiety that I battle to this day, with the help of medication. Continue reading