Recently, the Former Mormon community has been in a bit of a tizzy. Legendary host of Mormon Stories podcast, John Dehlin, has been accused of not always being nice. Respected newcomer, Kristy Money, has been lectured on how exactly she should have handled her business. Ordain Women founder and politically active lawyer, Kate Kelly, still mindful of the crazy trolls that attacked her for getting some help to buy a new laptop, suggested the whole thing be reported to the government so they could audit and probe and get to the bottom of whatever there is to get to the bottom of. Even the new kid on the block, Ryan McKnight, the co-founder of mormonleaks.io, the people that helped us learn unpaid clergy doesn’t always mean unpaid, has weighed in with not one, but three (count em three!) blog posts about the dust up. The cool kids at Zelphontheshelf.com have offered their two cents, Infants on Thrones had their take and even Tyler Glenn may or may not be preparing a new music video about the whole thing.
Meanwhile, thousands of former and doubting Mormons who feel some allegiance to one or all of the participants feel like kids that have just learned before Christmas their parents are getting a divorce. There is hand wringing and sobbing by many. Social media is filled with posts and threats and counter posts and counter threats and clarification posts. There’s been some mansplaining, rumors of mansplaining and even possibly some womansplaining. I’ve enjoyed all the awesome memes that capture the chaos, fury and noise of what must appear to church leaders as a total nuclear melt-down.
Here’s why the stuffed Mr. Mac suits in their ivory office tower should chill out. In the real world, people disagree and have disagreements. People argue and fight. Some block others from their groups. Some feel that isn’t right and complain. Some ask for and get MacBooks. Others ask for and get hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some feel this and others feel that. To a general authority who is used to everyone kissing his modest stipend, this bedlam must surely signify the end of times is here. I’m sure they are polishing up the big executive leather chair reserved for Jesus cuz this all must mean he’s coming again any minute now. It’s just not in their wheelhouse to comprehend this type of public dissent and discussion. Could you imagine Elder Holland going on a twitter rant against Elder Bednar? Castigating him for being even more of an uptight prick than he is. How dare a junior apostle upstage him like that! Yet, there is this deafening silence from all church leaders no matter what backwards and twisted policy oozes forth from the Holy of Holies. They work so hard to project this united imagine of boring sameness. The closest they come to outright dissension is Uchtdorf going rogue at General Conference when he says the exact opposite of what others just preached from the same pulpit. Yet even this is all done with polite grinning pilot smiles and wide toothy public singing of kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya.
Meanwhile, we hear loudly from the strident social media justice warriors in the former Mormon corners of the Internet. They are doing their best Rodney King imitation and pleading for everyone to please just all get along. Come on people! Unity and togetherness, let’s all get on the same page and help each other journey and heal.
Here’s the cool thing though. This is what healing looks like. It’s messy. It’s dirty. Sometimes it’s unpleasant and there are disagreements. It takes a lot of courage and guts for someone to leave a high demand religion. Multiply that by a thousand for someone who publicly offers support to others who want to follow them out the door. People cut from this cloth, for the same reasons that led them out, don’t always play nice with others. Make no mistake about their intentions though. They all, each and every one, truly want to help. Collectively, they’ve given aid and comfort as they’ve influenced and changed millions of lives. There isn’t a single player in this drama that hasn’t personally sacrificed a tremendous amount to earn their seat at the table where they sit. I respect and love the hell out of them all. I’m not bothered when they don’t agree on everything because I just don’t expect them to. That would be weird.
Each has their own ideas on why and how they left and on how to move forward with their lives. Sometimes there will be clashes and skirmishes as they jockey for position to help guide the looming exodus from the pews. Former Mormons, even ones in the public eye, are under no obligation to coordinate their messages and goose step in the public square to each other’s tune. That’s what church leaders do and, remember, these people all abandoned that mentality.
If some people are more thin-skinned than you feel they should be, deal with it. They don’t owe you a thing. If others are shrill or you just can’t stand the way they push their agenda, ignore them. You have the right to do whatever you want now. You aren’t required to like every one. In the church we were taught that contention was the work of the devil and we did everything we could to avoid it. It made us feel sick and yucky. In the real world, contention is just a part of humanity. Embrace it. Come up with your own thoughts and opinions. Don’t just blindly adopt what others say. You can think for yourself now. You are allowed to fight and bicker and heckle and do a host of things that proper Mormons aren’t allowed to do.
Disagreeing with others is your birthright gift that comes from waking up from a high demand religion. When you see people you respect engaged in messy disagreements, don’t cower and head for the hills, roll up your sleeves and jump in. Some won’t like your tone. You may trigger others by mistake. It will be glorious though as you learn to enter and engage in the real marketplace of ideas. If you want squishy safety and platitudes from dear leaders who promise you warm correlated faux love, go back to church. They kind of specialize in that. If you want a seat at the newest campfire of humanity, grow up and learn how to disagree. Even if you can’t master it without being disagreeable at first, do it anyway.
If you are upset that I’m using this post to shamelessly shill my soon to launch awesome new comic strip called “Peter and Molly”. (About a Peter Priesthood married to a Molly Mormon and all the crazy stuff they do as TBMs), you can complain all you want that I’m a sell out and I promise you I won’t care one bit. Just make sure your insipid, small minded whiny posts include proper links to Doubtsy.com so your super intelligent and thoughtful former Mormons friends can find my cool stuff. (And can some more of you buy a Paper Tapir, those things are hilarious!)
Voices like mine, and hundreds more, are starting to wake up. The brethren should clasp their life jackets hard because their Titanic is sinking fast and we plan on pulling a Kate Winslet. They are not allowed on our sliver of floating door.
We owe a huge debt to John and Kate and Kristy and Ryan and so many more. We will not be silenced and I can promise you, we will NOT agree on everything. You see, the real reason it never has and never will matter much when Former Mormons fight is this, through it all, no matter how or why people leave, or how they agree or disagree over the way to handle what comes next, the simple fact is this – the church remains still not true.