003: Inside the Mind of an “Anti-Mormon”

Today we interview a young man named Hyrum, founder of the thechurchisnottrue.com web site. In this interview, Hyrum tells his story of why he left the Mormon church.

Comments

comments

21 comments for “003: Inside the Mind of an “Anti-Mormon”

  1. Bob Powelson
    September 23, 2005 at 7:11 am

    I have in past years surfed the anti-Mormon sites with gusto. I was “banned” from quite a number of them, mainly because of a generally agressive response to any attacks on MY church. In more recent times I go to some of the sites for the entertainment factor.

    I began listening toe podcast with Hyrum but after listening to about 8 minutes of rather banal excuses as those such as Hyrum are intelligent, sincere and etc. an how we should be “loving” and “understanding” I gave up. I almost felt as if the intro was a bait and switch to get me to listen to someone not so subtlely attack the church. Heck, I can do that on my own.

    I have done so from time to time, usually on policy things, rather than belief and doctrine. My basic question is; Just what is wrong with an aggressive hard edged debating style? After 26 years as a trial lawyer I rather appreciate the discomfiture these deluded souls feel when a good set of leading questions can cut their position down quite well.

    You may not win them back but by exposing their shortcomings of reason and faith you can mitigate the harm they do.

  2. September 27, 2005 at 12:15 pm

    I never came here to check this guys post out till today.
    COOL!
    I would invite HIM to come on the show to expose our SHORTCOMINGS!
    John Dehlin didn’t want to have his show be a hard debate . . . and I respected that, but if you want it: BRING IT ON!!!

  3. Tom
    September 30, 2005 at 3:54 pm

    I was touched to see Hyrum being vulnerable and open without feeling the need to snigger and smirk at the beliefs of those whom he claims to want to help. If he was a little more serious like this on his podcast then perhaps genuine people might take him seriously. I realise, however, that his co-workers don’t help by their clowning around. You seemed very much like a polite latter-day saint during the interview, Hyrum. Let’s hear more of the ‘old’ you!

  4. September 30, 2005 at 6:10 pm

    BOB
    Thanks for the comment. Glad you were a little touched. Though I understand that you believe that “genuine” people might take me more seriously if I were “more serious” on the other podcasts that I do . . . the joking around is quite fun! Rather therapeutic if I don’t say so myself.

    Though I don’t accuse you of this, I think that there are a lot of GENUINE people who DO listen, and find themselves quite entertained from the podcasts I help produce. I don’t stump to think that you believe that all people who aren’t Mormon aren’t genuine. Though, I do encourage you to listen again to the intro that John Dehlin gave on this podcast. He talked about labels.

    The MORMON MASK that many people wear, seems to fit them while they have it on. Bob McCue writes about this. Check out his wonderful site here:
    http://mccue.cc/bob/spirituality.htm

    When many people take off that mask, which they choose to do of their own free will and choice, the enjoy a little light banter. Or should I say, some loud laughter. It’s funny! Come on! Wouldn’t you think it was funny of the debate in your next Sunday School class is whether we’ll poop when we have Celestial Bodies. Now that’s comedy! According to traditional Mormon thought:
    We won’t have blood, just flesh and bones. BUT . . . Joseph did put in that section on D&C where we’ll harvest and grow GARDENS in the millennium. Things won’t change much, apparently, from how we live here. So if we grow gardens, and consume the stuff we grow, won’t we defecate?

    Sorry, I apologize. It’s just fun to think of funny stuff like this! I don’t mean to come off as “shallow.” But if I do, to you, that’s alright with me. I really enjoy who I am. It’s fun to goof off at times. And it helps me grow.

    The only reading I would suggest to you, besides the BOM (wow look, I can challenge just like Gordon B.!) is Bob McCue’s site. He’s a tax attorney. His writing is just exquisite. Check it out!

    The amount that I’ve grown since resigning from “the church” just doesn’t stop. Thanks for listening to John Dehlin’s podcast at least. He’s a wonderful person.

    May the force be with you!

    -HYRUM

  5. Daniel W
    October 11, 2005 at 11:07 am

    Frankly while the gospel and doctrine are celestially founded and infallible I realize the church is still run on earth by mortal men even if Christ is the leader. Anytime moral men are brought into the mix it automatically become imperfect.
    I never have thought that aggressive debate tactics were always required when someone attacks the church. Christ never reacted that way when people attacked him or what he taught so why should I?

    Someone mentioned that it’s easier to watch a game when you already know the final score. I already know that God will triumph over the efforts of the adversary and therefore I don’t feel threatened by those who attack the church.

    Will he lead people astray who might otherwise join the church? Sure he will just as we convert those who normally would never join. They have free will don’t they?

    Anyways, great podcast. Thanks for it.

  6. October 31, 2005 at 6:59 pm

    I really enjoyed the podcast with Hyrum and hearing his experience of growing up in the church and his experience of leaving the church.

    Hyrum presented himself as a very polite and pleasant guy. He came across as a very reasonable guy that I might probably enjoy listening to.

    Unfortunately, it seems that Hyrum was putting up a rather disingenuous front.

    His first podcast I listened to was “Pacifists Suck”. The title itself made me a little suspicious of what I was getting into.
    Anyway, his behavior in his podcast made it quite apparent that the reasonable and polite Hyrum that was in your interview was only a pretended character. The real Hyrum is a crude somebody else.

    The discussion in the “Pacifists Suck” podcast was glaringly antagonistic and extremely disrespectful. It was far from a “reasonable” discussion about controversial Mormon issues.

    One of Hyrum’s criticisms about the LDS church in your interview with him was that the LDS church was not honest about everything; that it is not what it “claims” to be. I really do think he makes valid points. However, after listening to his Podcast I felt that he needed to take the mote out of his eye. It seemed to me that he was just presenting himself in the best light possible on your show so people would be more inclined to go to his website and/or his podcast. But isn’t that what he criticises the Mormon church for doing? He said that the the church casts itself in the best light possible so that people will be more inclined to get baptized or to treat it favorably.

    Here is one example of his crudeness and desrespect in his podcast:
    He was talking with his other buddies on his podcast and he started reciting an Article of Faith. It went something like this, “The reason we point this stuff out is because the whole we believe in being honest – Bull Sh**!”
    This is just one example of his disposition that contradicts that of which was displayed in your interview.

    I respected Hyrum after I listed to your interview with him. I gave him Kudos for coming on your show and talking in such a reasonable and polite manner. I even agree with many of the points he makes, although I have not come to the same conclusions he has. However, after listening to his podcast I can’t help but feel he is self-righteous, hypotrical, and quite crude in his disposition toward Mormonism.

  7. Craig Woller
    November 7, 2005 at 3:29 pm

    Like Justin, I too enjoyed listening to Hyrum and his experiences. I too, see that he makes several valid points and I even felt that we shared some of the same feelings about the church. However, I also agree that he is disingenuous.

    Hyrum likes to point out how he feels that the leaders in the LDS church lie and/or hide the truth from from the membership. He makes these accusations without ever telling us his name. Hyrum is not his real name. He gives what I considered to be a weak excuss for not telling us, but if Hyrum really had the courage to stand by what he says and does he would at least disclose his name.

    Second, “Hyrum” found it quite convenient to lie to his Bishop and Stake President so he could get married in an LDS temple. Again, it seems to be appropriate for Hyrum to lie when it serves his purposes.

    Finally, I wanted to know more about Hyrum and his experiences so I ventured to his podcast and tried listening to one. It was obvious from the outset that he was a different person than he projected in his interview with John D. I found him sarcastic and crude. (His podcast clearly merits the explicit label iTunes gives it.) Yes, Hyrum does have the right to behave in such a manner, but I found it to be the final indication of his duplicitous nature.

    Thanks John for putting him on and keep up the great work.
    Craig Woller

  8. November 8, 2005 at 6:49 pm

    Ohh goodness
    My “duplicitous nature”???
    SHEESH.
    The podcast I run is targeted at exmormons and others who enjoy joking at all of this. The podcast description is right on the money. We say we’re satirical at the onset.
    I never told anyone that Dehlin’s show was how I act on my show. It’s like asking David Letterman to act just like he does on his show when he appears as a guest on a daytime talkshow.
    You went to my show and found that it’s not your listening style. I applaud you for that. As for the alias . . . well . . . some of my relatives would still take blood oaths seriously if given a small inkling from ‘the spirit.’
    I chose to give the explicit label in iTunes, which I could remove and be fine.
    The mistake you made in hoping that my show was anything like Dehlin’s was just that, a mistake.
    May the truth be with you.
    -Hyrum

  9. Sam
    November 9, 2005 at 3:29 pm

    “As for the alias . . . well . . . some of my relatives would still take blood oaths seriously if given a small inkling from ‘the spirit.’”

    Yea, obviously your relatives don’t know your real name.

  10. Interested Observer
    November 11, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    WOW

    Sorry that I have just joined you but when I read over what has
    been said I was shocked to say the least!!!

    I too enjoyed Hyrum’s interview. I thought that it was interesting to hear him talk about the different things that he has gone through and share them openly.

    Now, his podcast is definatly a different tone, it isn’t for everyone and is impossible to accomidate everyone’s different tastes.
    BUT
    he never lead any of you too believe that his other podcast was anything else. Even when he was asked to promote it, he kindof
    shoved it to the side.

    I think it is very interesting that he is being attacked for something that you all assumed. You assumed that he would carry the same tone to his own show, and you should be held responsible for that assumption. He does speak differently on his show, it is not the same type of show as John’s, that is the point of having a variety. You get to pick and choose the ones that you like to listen to and stick with those. If you find one that you don’t like, great!!! Don’t listen to it.

    Craig: “He gives what I considered to be a weak excuss for not telling us, but if Hyrum really had the courage to stand by what he says and does he would at least disclose his name.”

    He hides his name only to protect his immediate family. He is respecting them, and doing all he can to protect and accomidate them so that this “situation” is easier on them. It is too bad that you wouldn’t do the same to protect the ones that you love.

    If he didn’t have the “courage to stand by what he says” then why would he do it at all. Why would he invite other exmormons on the show, wouldn’t he be afraid to have them know who he was????

    Sam: ” Yea, obviously your relatives don’t know your real name.”
    This too is interesting. Just because he doesn’t share his name of the internet with people like you, doesn’t mean that his family isn’t aware of his choices and situations. BUT what would you do with his name even if you had it?? Why would sharing his name make him better??

    Anyway, I just think that it is interesting to see how many of you reacted to the interview. You applaude him for being open and talking about his experiences and yet you attack him.

    It is sad when others attack you because of their own assumptions

    Hyrum, I think that you are doing a great job! Being there for those who need help in their journey, whether in mormonism or out. You are there to help when others and those attacking you are not even attempting the same.

    Thank you

  11. Sam
    November 11, 2005 at 7:19 pm

    Interested Observer,

    The point that he made about not giving his real name was “some of my relatives would still take blood oaths seriously if given a small inkling from ‘the spirit.’” In other words, he has to hide from them fearing for his life. My point was simply that they already know his name and I am quite sure they could track him down if they truly wanted to. Basically telling us his name is going to make him in no more danger than he already is. In short, it was a silly and pathetic excuse.

  12. Craig Woller
    November 11, 2005 at 10:12 pm

    Interested Observer

    Sam makes my point exactly. It does seem to be a silly excuse. But what bothered me the most about Hyrum was his blatant hypocrisy. He was very willing to be critical of the leadership of the LDS church for not being forthcoming with information about the history of the church. In fact, if I remember correctly, he more or less called them liars. However, Hyrum seems to be willing to excuse his own lies and acts of deceit. Consequently, he loses all his credibility.

    Concerning his Podcast. It was a mistake on my part to assume that his Podcast would be similar to John’s. I was hoping to find more of the same kind of open, honest discussion. I clearly made a very poor assumption.

  13. November 11, 2005 at 11:16 pm

    Craig Woller
    You seem to be bothered by the fact that I “lied to my bishop/sp”
    You don’t know the circumstances, and apparently, according to mormon standards, you’re not to be a “judge in zion” aren’t temple recommends valid for TWO years now? nevermind that anyway, i said IN THE PODCAST, that I don’t really care what people make of my decision to get married where, and how i did
    so you can eat it! LOL. just joking.

    Sam
    it’s not a lame excuse. i can keep private what i want to keep private. if Joe doesn’t have to tell emma about his liasons, then i don’t have to tell people my name. besides, i only give my names, signs and tokens for money! LOL. (i already sold my green apron)

    all kidding aside
    you guys have your opinions about me and my chat with dehlin. he’s a great guy and i consider him a friend. we can see that even though we have a different set of opinions, we can get along without judging one another. just because he defends something that i don’t like, and i feel hurt me . . . i don’t attack him. my wife is in the church still for goodness sake. you guys can have your opinions about me being a hypocrite as well, i just think it’s silly, because people who know me personally, which you do not, know that i’m not a hyprocrite.

    if i say something i do it. if i do something i don’t lie about it. apparently that isn’t something joseph smith or brigham abided by . . . but that’s not saying anything about you guys. you see, if i talk about george washington you can defend him, i can defame him, but if you attack me (the messenger) or if i attack you (the messenger) your own arguments gets shot down the poop shoot

    seriously guys – a tip:
    i never said, or at least i don’t recall i said, MORMONS ARE THIS OR MORMONS ARE THAT. then you would have seen that I was defaming you i suppose. when i talk of joseph smith or papyri, or church history deceiving people, just deal with the message, not me.

    good luck in your listening.
    next time you hear something someone says that you don’t like, whether it be politically or ethically, or about religion, just deal WITH THE MEAT, THE MESSAGE, THE STUFF. once you try to defame the person who brings you the order, you start to lose.

  14. Sam
    November 12, 2005 at 7:21 am

    “it’s not a lame excuse. i can keep private what i want to keep private.”

    The excuse you used was lame. And yes you can keep private whatever you want. I never said you couldn’t. But why didn’t you just say that instead of making this not-so veiled attack on the religion that I love? You know, I prefer to keep my name private. Not, I fear revenge and death at the hands of my relatives still within the grasps of the Church of the devil. That is basically what you were saying. Pathetic.

    Your very first post I read on this blog was defamation against the person of Joseph Smith. You didn’t deal with the message. You dealt a personal attack on the person. I wouldn’t be so sanctimonious about defamation.

  15. November 12, 2005 at 9:12 am

    Sam
    You said:
    I wouldn’t be so sanctimonious about defamation.
    It’s not defamation when he had sex with lots of ladies and said that God told him to. Same category as Brian David Mitchell.
    http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/AF/individual_record.asp?recid=7762167&lds=0

    Sam . . . I have a family member who is mentally ill, but goes to the temple every day but Monday and Sunday. This individual would take it very seriously that anyone even talk openly about Joseph Smith, or church history. There would much more that words exchanged if the individual was aware that people were even openly discussing Smith in the manner that Dehlin does. Even when he defends the church, if I were Dehlin, and I had my family member to be concerned about, I WOULD NOT reveal my name. I think it’s nice that the church gives the person something to do, but the death oaths are not something that are taken lightly in this person’s mind.

    To put in bluntly . . . you know all the wierd crimes that happen around Utah and Mormonism, by the wierd fundamental, fringe, and obsessed members? Well, I could become a statistic. For you to claim you know something of which you have no idea probably isn’t the best idea.

    Interested Observer is someone I know personally. They don’t share the same conclusions I do, but they know mean. I don’t care to have your respect, believe me! But you don’t do anything for the TBM crowd by bashing the messenger. Just because they’re being critical of a “prophet” you care for, again I suggest dealing with the messenger.

    I fear what Mormonism’s influence will do to my children. Respecting authority is one thing. People mature into adults and should be encouraged to make decisions, choices, and think on their own. I hope my kids can have this opportunity. I believe that Mormonism will quash this.

    Old thoughts from apostles werre much like this one: (From Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said in a
    conference address in April 1947,)
    … when we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.

    Now you would think that it would diminish over time. The feeling of censorship! But McKay’s attitude didn’t stay. You get stuff like this from current prophets:

    My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Saviour. Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors. (Apostle Dallin Oaks, footnote 28, Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon, Introduction, page xliii)

    Apostle Boyd Packer:
    Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer.
    There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not.
    Some things that are true are not very useful.
    That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith — particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith — places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents, he will not be among the faithful in the eternities. … Do not spread disease germs! (“The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect”, 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pages 259-271)

    You may have your valid reasons about why you like, love, appreciate, and participate in Mormonism. I have mind about why I stay away from it.
    If you want to assume things about my personal life, email me. If we’re on a board, let’s chat Mormonism.
    Can you imagine what would have happened to my “credibility” if I would have inquired or made an assumption here on the board about YOUR personal life?

    So what about it. What do you make of the censorship. We don’t like Commies doing that kind of thing. How come it’s cool to do this within a “spiritual” community?

    I should really get some homework done now.
    -Hyrum

  16. April 17, 2006 at 7:40 am

    This is a way after the fact post, but I just listened to the podcast. I was also touched by Hyrum’s story. But I am reminded of something said in a future podcast on this site. (I paraphrase) If people are going to leave the church I want to see them leave it to find happiness not bitterness.

    My dad always told me “Don’t let your life become a negative statement.” That has been a challenge for me after leaving the church. The more seriously you got into the church when you were active, the more there exists this feeling of betrayal when you leave. I know when I first fell away I felt let down by a whole litany of people I had trusted: my parents, church officials, even God.

    I had put so much into this faith and felt like I was doing all the things I was promised would lead to me to knowledge (or at least some level of belief) that the Church was true. When that disappears (and in my experience that is what it felt like) I was hurt; I felt betrayed; I felt bitter.

    It has become very important to me to not feel that way. I do not want to live my life feeling like I was stabbed in the back because I wasn’t.

    (From what I understand of logic) It is impossible to prove a negative. I have never liked it when people say, “I know there is no God” because how can you know something isn’t there? How can you prove that?

    May I suggest (both to active Mormons and inactive) that we step away from this word “know” a little? I don’t know the Church isn’t true. All I know is that it isn’t for me. But it seems counterproductive to hold on to the bitterness and make that your focus. Besides it being just a horrible negativity that can poison your life and ruin your relationships, it also proves that Joseph Smith prophecy about not being able to leave the Church amicably.

    If you have left the church my challenge to you is to find a way to forgive the church. Not in some condescending way where you are sure you are right and the church was wrong, but in a way that you recognize that you have been hurt but that you will not go on living in pain, trying to repay the hurt.

    Hyrum, if you ever check this again (which 6 months after the fact seems unlikely): move on man. One attractive aspect of leaving the church is you relinquish its control over you. But often leaving gives the church more control than had you stayed in. Make your peace. Let it be.

  17. jordanandmeg
    April 17, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    Very well said.

  18. April 17, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    KIRK

    You said:
    Hyrum, if you ever check this again (which 6 months after the fact seems unlikely): move on man. One attractive aspect of leaving the church is you relinquish its control over you. But often leaving gives the church more control than had you stayed in. Make your peace. Let it be.

    To be honest, I haven’t listened to this podcast episode for months. I’ve probably forgotten much of what is in it. Thanks for the tip. I appreciate it. To updated, in case you’re interested, I have moved on significantly. I even talked to Dehlin at the beginning of the year about possibly removing my episode completely from the web … I was contemplating killing my website as well and just leaving the ExMormon community all-together. Now there are things that force me back into the Mormon worldview, understandably. In-Laws and living in Utah doesn’t assist in my efforts to let it go. I have found that I’m pretty much finished with studying, reading, and investigating all things Mormon. I have started playing drums again, reading TONS about various topics, and life is so much SWEETER now that I’m finished with my initial seperation from Mormonism.

    I do contemplate how to raise children with my wife a lot. We discuss things often, but most of the time is quite a peaceful chatting. Not that this subjective fluff matters, but my world has taken a turn for the best ever since my official break from Mormonism. Last year at the Exmo Conference there was a guy who stood up the last day (when most of the other people had gone home) and he suggested that everyone “forgive” Mormonism. He used a metaphor of which I’ve tried to keep in the back of my mind ever since. He talked about looking at our Mormon experience as a bunch of STONES and ROCKS that someone ELSE put in our back pack while on the hike of life. Let’s just shrug off what happened, take out the ROCKS, and continue on the hike.

    What a wonderful life!

    (If that wasn’t cheesy enough … I don’t know what is! LOL)

  19. April 17, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    Hyrum,

    That’s great man. I reread my post and realized I need to take my own advice more too. It is always easier to tell some one else what to do.

    It does sound like you are moved on to the next step of “the process” (whatever that is). Good luck with the wife/kids thing. In that arena I have absolutely no experience and am in constant awe of people who make it work even in the most optimum circumstances.

    And Utah is hard. I left the church at BYU and high tailed it out to NYC as quick as I could.

    I look at Mormonism a little bit like an ex girlfriend who broke my heart. I can admit it was partially my fault. I can hope there will be new loves in the future. I can tell myself it is all for the best. Blah blah blah. But there are still nights when i stay up late playing our song, looking at old pictures and cursing her for leaving me high and dry.

    But in the immortal words of the great poet of Titanic: “And my heart will go on and ooooooooooooooooooon.”

    Kirk

  20. May 14, 2006 at 10:23 pm

    Great podcast! I think Hyrum’s main point that the church covers up its controversial history was right on. People in South America don’t have access to these obscure references to the controversies in the church; if the church was more open and honest the following links http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/changecontents.htm and http://www.realmormonhistory.com/ would not shock those brave Mormons who do read it. I consider the church’s cover up the sin of omission. I believe this leads to the current high turnover rate of people both joining and leaving the Mormon Church. LDS members will continue to become shocked and disillusioned when they learn the whole truth, until the Mormon Church offers full-disclosure in their publications. Hyrum’s other point was profound, it is either the church guided by Jesus of Nazareth or it isn’t? Throw in critical Jesus scholarship, where we learn that Jesus probably never left Judaism and never intended to found a church, and modern cosmology that calls into question a flat earth and heaven as a place up in the sky, and we must ask how can the Mormon religion be the church run by the historical Jesus “up there”?

  21. jordanandmeg
    May 14, 2006 at 11:45 pm

    I agree with much of what you say, Kempton.
    I don’t, however, think there is much to say for the critical Jesus scholarship. No one would ever be able to historically prove Jesus’ intentions either way.
    Must rest on the spirit.

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