In my role challenging the Mormon church to do/be better, and in supporting transitioning Mormons, I generally have two types of detractors:
1) Believing Mormons and apologists who attack me because I sometimes criticize the church.
2) Other Ex-Mormons (often former friends) who attack me for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s personality differences. Sometimes it’s jealousy. Sometimes it’s a way for them to get cheap attention once they start slipping into irrelevance. Sometimes I have literally no clue as to why they attack me.
Anyway, occasionally but reliably over the years (and oddly usually around the holidays), a coordinated group of attackers will try to soil my reputation on the Internet with lies and misinformation. I’ve been accused of harming women and children. I’ve been accused of breaking up families. I’ve been accused of getting rich off of the podcast. I’ve been accused of not being financially transparent with the podcast.
Literally NONE of these accusations are true. I’ve never harassed or abused anyone. Ever. We’re not wealthy, and in fact are still paying off debts connected to my work with the podcast. We will NEVER recoup the money we lost leaving Microsoft and MIT spending 9 years in graduate school (and we’re at peace with that). We have ALWAYS been financially transparent in the OSF. Etc. Etc.
It sucks, but I’ve come to accept this reality as part of the job. Critics of high demand religions are regularly smeared. Just ask Leah Remini. There’s literally no way to stop it.
I used to feel the urgency to respond publicly to the smears, but such responses are usually unwise, since my public responses then help to advertise the smears, which literally never stop. If I were to respond to every smear it would become a full time job, it would drain me of all my emotional energy, and I would never create anything meaningful. Responses also reward those who lie/smear with the attention they crave.
Sometimes this scenario makes me feel briefly discouraged and powerless, but I’m not powerless. There are at least three things I CAN do in response to constant smears:
1) I can refuse to give the misinformation oxygen or visibility on my platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, my blog).
2) I can block the smearing critics on social media, which I try to do regularly. And,
3) I can continue producing quality content that helps my listeners.
Finally, as a flawed human, I always welcome sincere criticisms, especially regarding the podcast or my YouTube channels. I sincerely love, love, love constructive feedback intended to help me be more effective at my objectives.
If someone has concerns about the non-profit, and if they are donors or sincere prospective donors, they are welcome to email me, or message our amazing board: firstname.lastname@example.org.
But if someone wants to use my platform to spread baseless misinformation or even lies about me, they are not welcome in my world. I will continue to avoid responding to the misinformation, to avoid giving the critics what they most crave: more attention. They will have to find a more constructive way to get attention. I suggest they consider finding a way to do good in the world.
If you have questions for me about anything, feel free to message me directly. I will respond when I can, but please remember, there’s no way to prove a baseless lie false. That’s why baseless lies are so effective.
In fact, that’s how many religions get their start — with baseless, yet undisprovable lies. That’s why we value evidence.
Sincere love and gratitude to you all.