Share this Episode

Comments 56

  1. So interesting that he speaks of a RICH church service right from the get go, yep we all know your a multi millionaire with connections at the top. Just so you know sir as has been proven on mormon stories and other places your part of a business acting like a Christ driven church when even he probably knows the Methodists and others today donate more money from what they get than the trillion dollar LDS church.

  2. Shill for the church. No offense John, but the guy was totally in the tank. Every church leader he’s known is just swell and the business end of the church is just swell – and transparency is completely unreasonable to expect. He’s benefited well from his church masters and is meticulous with every word to not turn on them.

      1. I’ve been waiting for a shoe to drop. It doesn’t make sense that this man with all of these connections would come on Mormon Stories and say ANYTHING about the details of his “calling” as a board member of Deseret Trust Company.

        On another note, just listening to Roger talk makes me uncomfortable about Mormonism and the claims the organization makes. I no longer believe that individual Mormon leaders are making huge amounts of money working for the church, but amassing huge amounts of money seems to be the goal of the LDS “family of companies.”

    1. I definitely had some “is this guy a shill” thoughts as I was listening. Wouldn’t he be in some hot water for appearing on MS? Curious to hear the rest. Fascinating interview either way.

  3. He seems to like to talk about himself a lot but definitely isn’t very forthcoming about things most people who listen to your podcast are interested in.

    1. I haven’t listened to all of this interview, but I feel uncomfortable when I here someone relate so many grandiose stories. Can someone do a little more fact checking? Hollywood contacts, did he say major leagues, John Lawrence Miller, turning down a calling… Call me a skeptic. I guess my skepticism is also part of my struggle with the mormon church.
      If I am wrong, I apologize in advance.

      1. I think the guest meant “Major League” and “Minor League” as divisions of youth baseball where they strive for parity. The more advanced kids play in “Major League” while the less advanced kids (and polio survivors) play in the “Minor League.”

  4. That’s how it in the Winnipeg Stake, too far to travel, many, many on the bus and they simply can’t afford it so they drop out. The leadership doesn’t do anything about it because they all have cars so what do they care. There is stake of , “actives” and about 3 stakes of inactives

  5. Awesome interview! Great job John asking all the questions we all want to ask. He did a good job spinning the answers too!

  6. Watching this episode reminds me of something that’s been on my mind for several decades. There seems to be three separate divisions within the church. One is reserved for people who work within the church, receive a worthy compensation plan, and live very well. Then, there’s those who live in Utah and see skyrises, malls, parks, and other improvements they can enjoy daily. Then, there’s everyone else. They tithe and are constantly being asked to volunteer their time and resources but for what? To build up Utah? No one gets paid for anything. Every time there’s a leaky roof or a pricey improvement, the first act is to seek donations from local members. If you think it’s tough paying tithing and giving alms while living in SLC or while working for the church, try living anywhere else.

    As for Deseret Trust Company, as long as someone knows what they’re getting into, so be it. But let’s be clear. The objective is for the church to take your money after you die. After fees are taken, the chances of DTC outperforming an S&P 500 with a no-load fund during their retirement years is nil. Simply put I don’t believe it. I’m guessing their numbers are shrouded in secrecy.

    1. He stated that they outperformed the S&P 500, but then stated that the market crash of 2008 and 2009 were pretty rough years. He also stated that they had to give the bad news to individuals when their account was not performing well in general. He mentioned RIT and other types of investments that were exactly the type of thing that got you burned when the housing market crashed. If they were truly either inspired or had wisdom that went beyond the conventional wisdom that governed other trusts or funds you’d think they would have been able to both take advantage of that massive swing and avoid the pitfalls of certain investment types. John mentioned the guys behind the “Big Short” that did exactly that. So, unless this is what they did, and based on this interview it sounds like they did not, I agree that there’s no way they could outperform the S&P. Maybe in the short run on a few deals, sure. But in the long run, I’m not buying it.

  7. Interesting interview – My initial impression – it appeared as if Roger was couching a lot of his responses he was very very careful how he answered he didn’t come over as genuine – I was wondering if there was some other motive as to why he agreed to be interviewed –

    All in all John an interesting conversation-

    The Deseret Trust is an extremely interesting financial operation. Individuals leaving a lump sum of their inheritance to the church. There may have been a comment from you John about vulnerable people being compelled to leave their investments to the church – it may be reasonable to connect the temple service which commands / instructs obedience to the church and commands people to give of all their talents and works to the building of the Kingdom ( The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) – putting the church first above all others – it would be reasonable to suggest that these instructions do make individuals vulnerable- and of course you find these instructions subtle outlined in lesson manuals

    1. I meant to conclude my previous comments — Thank You John for this interesting conversation look forward to hearing the final podcasts

  8. I think it says a lot about the listeners that this gentleman’s high level of professionalism and class are being interpreted as “shilling for the Church”. *hint* When you achieve his level of accomplishment both professionally and within the LDS corporation there’s no need to be hurt or angry about personal evolving perspectives.

    Many feel betrayed by their faith and come from that wounded perspective, he doesn’t seem to though. I’m interested to listen to the concluding segments of this interview and hear the perspectives he holds today regarding his faith etc.

    Brilliant interview easily one of the best done here on Mormon Stories.

    1. Personally, I’m not expecting angry, just staight shooting regarding leadership and the business end of the church, not PR puff that shields both of these entities. This gentlemen is clearly very, very careful not to offend any of his past relationships. He is as transparent as the church is, which is not at all. I might as well get my information from the church news or from the trust’s prospectus.
      Am I to honestly believe that an organization, that makes slick heart sell videos that encourages parents to disinherant their apostate children does not have some improper shenanigans going on in the trust….that this guy is aware of after 18 years?
      You say its one of John’s best interviews and I say okay, but for me it was meh.
      Hey John your podcast is still loved by the way. Will definately give the last episodes a listen.

      1. It seemed to me it was a consistent matter of pride with Mr. Hendrix that he maintained both high performance and his own integrity across all the fields he’s both worked and served in.

        I think it’s healthy to be suspicious of any corporation that claims to hold another souls eternity under their judgment and control.

        For those familiar with trusts and with business at the corporate level, all of what Mr. Hendrix shares is not only common practice but common knowledge. The unique aspects are those related to the LDS specific details. They are unique because most assume a different mode of operation for Gods corporation exists lol.

        The insight into how people are tested, groomed and chosen (called) for LDS Corp. positions is not generally known. It’s good to have these things put into the public domain as it dispels a lot of the superstitious speculations church members have around their leadership.

        It’s also fascinating to hear how a man of Mr. Hendrix’s stature was easily shamed and belittled about his appearance by his religious superiors. This shows that while modesty is used as a weapon to shame females within the LDS faith so too is conformity used as a means of judging and shaming males. This is not currently as popular a talking point in the current critical LDS dialogue.

        To mistake professionalism for “PR puff”… I suppose this is why interviews of this caliber can be valuable, to supply a glimpse into the behavior and operations of men that operate at this level.

        Mr. Hendrix’s comments on Johns bubble were priceless btw-

        1. 100% agree, Caleb.

          Roger and John are both intelligent, professional, and entertaining. Roger provided amazing insight into being part of, and progressing in a system.

          My guess is we find out in part 6 and 7 that he was no longer progressing, and felt the Church was no longer meeting the needs of the people, something that was initially a motto where he served/worked.

  9. Thanks John. Great interview! Made me feel nostalgic for what I remember of the church as a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s.

  10. Two observations , first, dreaming that you will be call as a second counsel in a stake presidency, and it happens in real life, is not a proof of any personal divine revelation when you fit that critiria , it is well know that only academic proffesionnals are call to serve in high callings, it would had been , if you instead of been a professional, would had been a janitor, driver or a mailman, that maybe .
    Second, the fact that you advanced and progress and achieve worldly things, is not a sign of any personal divine revelation, that’s is call your personal achievement. The fact of the matter is ,that layers, PhD of any kind and financial advisors, run the so call new church of Jesus Christ, compared to the original church we’re carpenters, fishermen and women’s did the job.

  11. John, thanks for bringing Roger Hendricks on MS! I have loved each episode thus far. He seems like he could have been my mission president back in the day. Roger was so deeply entrenched I am amazed that he agreed to come on in the first place. The higher up one is in the church it is exponentially more difficult to admit anything wrong with the church inside your own head and and even to verbalize it to any TBM family and friends…at least it is for me. He seems comfortable in his own skin and where he is at. Good for him. I can’t even fathom how much courage it took for him to stand up and go against his peers, GAs, Apostles, etc. knowing full well he is about to get slammed by all TBMs including his family and friends…and equally slammed by the disbelievers who think he didn’t open up more to criticize the church.
    I was not aware of DTC but understand it to be similar to a Donor Advised Fund. I work with community foundations sometimes and see them benefit the wealthy quite a bit by providing 1. Charitable Tax deduction 2. Removing assets from your estate 3. Providing a viable channel for individuals to donate where their passion lies…
    If anyone is disinheriting any family members and donating ALL of their money to DTC that would be a travesty. I certainly will not be leaving my estate to DTC, but I guess that I don’t have a problem letting people donate their money into it. If donors don’t give it to DTC they will most likely give it to some other Donor Advised Fund.
    Can’t wait for the rest of the interview…way to drag it out John…just like on American Idol…with Seacrest giving the results,………..right after the commercial break. Nice!

  12. I’m still listening to the episode where he talks about his mission, but I can’t believe how easy you are letting him off, John. Going from 9 stakes to 22 stakes in three years?? Wish you would have dug a little bit more into that. Some CRAZY stuff went on is South America in the ’90s and you had one of the guys sitting there that directly presided over it and you just let it slide. I served in the same mission as his son in Argentina back when he was a mission president. We actually heard about the Michael Jackson fiasco all the way in our mission…

  13. Aside from John’s interview with the American Crucifixion author Alex Beam, I don’t recall another interview where John’s questions were so transparently slanted against the church. He relentlessly grasped at ways to construe the church’s operations as corrupt, to which Mr. Hendrix responded quite professionally (and even elicited a few comparisons by Mr. Hendrix of John to Anderson Cooper). John went so far as to engage silly hypotheticals such as, “If a trustee wanted to donate a remainder to the Mormon Stories Foundation, would that be allowed?” It grew tiresome.

    The Deseret Trust company seems to operate with the highest level of integrity, but John refuses to acknowledge this. Yes John, we know the church saddles its members with misinformation which members rely to make massive, life-changing decisions…. but all that baggage aside, this was a missed opportunity to come across as a fair interviewer.

    1. I thought John’s question about donating part of an estates managed by Deseret Trust was fascinating, as it probed into the area of arms-length, conflict of interest, and decision making. I wonder what the process is regarding which donation entities are acceptable and which are not.

      1. I appreciate you allowing my comment in light of its critical – but hopefully somewhat constructive – tone. It was a fascinating interview nonetheless. Thanks for posting, and here’s to hoping more high-profile members continue to come out and speak openly.

  14. This was a great interview. What i like about all of the episodes is that he’s an incredibly professional guy, John does hit him with hard questions, and you can tell John’s looking out for his audience with these questions and ensuring that he digs deep enough to be 100% sure where he can. I like this interview because it reminds me of mormonism at its best – it also reminds me of what i loved about mormonism growing up. There was always a tangible goal in mind. I’m incredibly interested in the next 2 interviews. I really liked the financial interviews as well. When i worked for the church it made me so mad to see how money was wasted and how the corporation itself was run that i basically could no longer pay tithing. I’ve since learned more about how corporations work, and also come to realize that running a massive global church is not easy, and it requires piles of money to the degree most of us really can’t understand. It doesn’t change my view on the doctrine, and the lies told to keep the illusion of the “one and only true church on the earth” alive, it doesn’t change the fact that the church needs a lot of work when it comes to the basics of christianity like loving our neighbors, but this interview helped my view of some of the financial aspects of the church soften.

  15. Why? Why this interview?
    Boring… no real disturbing truth we need to learn about
    Or personal struggle with the church

    Can’t understand why you would waste your time and ours
    Please answer John

  16. Hi John, not my favourite interview, but always good to listen to new people, l would just like very much to hear more truths and openness of the church history be shared and talked through and acknowledgement of what the church really believes and stands for, roger did come across as nice enough. Thank you for another interview, it really would be very good to listen to more interviews about church history and the reality of the truth claims.

  17. What a fascinating interview! I’m always amazed by John’s stellar interviewing skills, and that, combined with Dr. Hendrix’s likeability, loquaciousness, openness, and intelligence, makes this a “Top 25,” in my opinion. Thanks, John, for always striving to showcase a wide range of experiences and opinions.

  18. I read through all the comments and did not see a link to that LDS Philanthropiess vídeo that was referenced. I found a post about it on Zelph on the Shelf but the link to the video on the post had been removed and another link to the video on YouTube had been removed but there was a third link that can be found in the comments section that works. It’s called “Journey to Become.” Not sure if I should post it here as well or not…

  19. John
    Don’t know if you read my question
    Could you please tell me why you did this interview?
    Did you think he would be more open and actually share some disturbing information about the church now or church history

    I didn’t hear anything that was vitally important
    Or even very interesting

    1. Emma, I personally don’t come to Mormon Stories just to be disturbed. My objective as a viewer is to search for the truth and see where that leads me. I had never heard of Deseret Trust Company but coming from a financial background, I probably found it more interesting than most. It sounds like they’re doing things the right way so long as people are going in with both eyes open. All of us from the church are used to seeing good, righteous people take turns filling ward or branch positions but anything higher seems to be reserved for the financially blessed. It was important to discover the First Presidency and Quorum have no direct knowledge of who participates in the Trust before picking mission presidents and general authorities.

      The thing I’ve discovered about myself is what I most liked during my active period. It was the locals. It was meeting during the week and playing basketball, volleyball, scouting, or whatever goofy things we did as kids, teenagers and adults. It was priesthood meeting, sitting with the guys and bonding while we talked pretty freely about whatever subject we were studying that week. It was Sunday School and having a partition that separated one class from another but after a few minutes, no one noticed and the entire chapel or room just became a chorus of voices. It was the small talk in the hallway.

      For me, it wasn’t the sacrament meeting. The talks were okay but laughs were reserved and respectfully given mainly to visiting speakers. I always wanted to clap when the children finished singing at Christmas instead of sitting in dead silence. I dreaded testimony Sunday and the awkwardness of wondering who would stand up next or which person would get emotional and call out an unsuspecting member in the pews. I got tired of watching people pass on partaking of the sacrament because they felt unworthy due to Joseph scaring people to death with his warning of damnation (something borrowed from Paul- 1 Cor. 11:27 but heated up to boiling). I hated the interview process and watching the bishop put a check mark beside the question when he was done. I grew weary as I watched my friends get excommunicated for premarital sex while other friends had premarital sex and went on to the temple and were sealed.

      This is why I watch Mormon Stories. I want to get a full load of ideas, opinions, and experiences on a broad range of topics. Not just what I consider bad or good but rather where I can find the truth. Some interviews will interest me more than others. When asked who would win the Super Bowl, John Madden said, “I don’t know, that’s why they play the game.” Will a particular interview knock it out of the park? I don’t know and neither will anyone else. That’s why they do the interview.

    2. Hi Emma,

      I thought it was interesting that Roger believes that the BOM contains ‘stories’ rather than historical fact, that’s rather unusual for a former Mission President and someone who has been in Church employment (at least it’s unusual to voice such a belief publicly).

      He is also a pragmatic businessman ie as long as the Church works for him and his family he will stay with the Church, despite it’s history. As a grand father with 16 grand kids he may be struggling with the LBGT issue ie if the Church doesn’t work for his grand kids perhaps he will kick it to the curb ( or advise them to). It will be interesting to hear his final interviews.

  20. I have been away from the LDS church for over fifteen years. However i grew up in the Palos Verdes, California stake and have known Roger for many years. I have always known him to be genuine and authentic. I read my way out of the church and may disagree with Roger on some things. However, I am very interested to hear the last two episodes. Roger is a smart cookie and the fact that he has been listening to mormón stories should tell you he is not afraid to look where others may not. Whether or not he has come to the same conclusions about Mormonism as me, my experience with him is that he is the real deal. Roger has always been a people person and would not knowingly hurt a flee. This may come off as spinning the truth. However, knowing Roger, I can tell you he shoots straight… Just with a bit of diplomacy. You don’t have to tell the truth in mean way. I loved the interviews and they helped me appreciate Roger that much more. Thank you John and thank you Roger!

  21. So much build up and hours spent talking, but so far, not much of substance has been said… I don’t understand what his testimony was/is based on other than feeling like he can become a better person through the church- which, almost seems like, for him, equates to rising through the ranks, being admired by others and receiving impressive callings. He admits throughout to valuing appearance and speaks at length about trivial and mundane things, embellishing stories about himself with details that don’t matter and dodges any difficult subject or question. The moving thing about your interviews is people opening up- so far, it hasn’t felt like there is much to dig into and has felt rather superficial.

    Issues with church history or character of Joseph Smith? Didn’t care. Book of Mormon not being what church says it is? Didn’t matter. He was clearly excited about adding members and stakes as a mission president- so did he hear much or see anything in his mission like sloppy work focusing on numbers? He seemed to get defensive and say nothing like that happened, then a second later describes his huge success, fancy living setup and numbers/stakes added under his leadership. Joseph Bishop and church abuse? He compares it to an unhappy primary teacher who isn’t nice to the kids and blows it off completely. It’s been a bit frustrating listening to him go on and on, I keep wondering why this man’s story is noteworthy.

    John, I really wish you would have pushed harder on so many issues. The amount of respect you have for him is clear, so there must be a good reason. I’m hoping the last interview segments will take a turn and change my opinion of him for the better.

  22. I was quite interested in the Chile Mission discussion. I served in Chile in the early 90s. The problems with baptisms being less than legitimate was very real. We had GAs come to talk to us to tell us that we needed to clean up the problems that had been caused in the late 80s and early 90s. It was very well known by area authorities and our mission president. It was discussed openly because they did not want to continue the problem. Additional rules were put in place to make it more difficult to baptize and we were required to spend at least 4 hours a week in “retention” work because it was such a mess in every ward. We would have 800-900 members on the books for a ward and have 50-75 people attending.
    For further proof of Chile just being a baptism ground without conversion take a look at this history of the lds church in Chile http://three-peaks.net/chile/historybydate.html This discusses the fact that in 1999 Chile has 502,153 members and 116 Stakes (744 wards/207 branches). That is an average of 528 people per ward/branch. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_in_Chile in 2011 Chile had 563,689 members, with 74 stakes, 421 wards, and 199 branches.
    That is a reduction of 42 stakes! A reduction of 323 wards and 8 branches during a time that membership grew. Now the number is an average of 909 members per ward/branch (knowing that a branch would really be half the size of a ward, this would push the number of a ward up near 1300). Why would each ward have so many members? Because no one attends – because during the surge of stakes and branches of the late 80s and early 90s a good portion of those baptisms were not legitimate.

  23. It’s very validating listening about the crazy baptisms in South America during the late eighties. I served in Argentina from 88-90 and listening to this episode was like a dejavu. Sometimes I hear stories like this one and I go like “really? Wow!” In this case is more like “Yup, I remember.” We had a lot of pressure to baptize people, it was a lot about the numbers. Missionaries with lots of baptisms were praised. We wondered about their retention rate though, the rumor was that it was very low. Still, we had a lot of pressure. I had less than 20 baptisms during my mission, so I felt like a failure even for years after coming back home. Listening to this, now it all makes more sense. To be fair with my mission president, when my father mentioned they way I felt to him (my dad worked for the church and used to travel to the missions) he told him I was too hard on myself and that I was a great missionary. According to him, that’s why he made me a trainer and kept sending me newbies. So, that made me feel a little better, but the pressure was definitely real.

  24. I found this to be one of the more disturbing interviews I have listened to. A wolf in sheep clothing type of guy who will sell out your kids and think it is just fine because they have such smart people in charge of your money. It was very eye-opening that TSCC is simply a business operating as a church and to hell with how many families are affected by it. Made me think of a family who came into a lot of money because the land they owned was bought by a large hotel chain. They were simple people and totally pressured by LDS philanthropy. Meanwhile, their two gay sons must scrounge for every dime to try and get an education. But after all, this is the Lord’s church and he needs their money. I found this Mr. Nice Guy to be much more disturbing than the Bednar personality who you know is screwing you over.

  25. Wow, commenters are being really hard on Roger Hendrix! I found this interview to be intriguing and, to me, he comes across as a thoughtful, fun, interesting gentleman whom I would enjoy knowing in real life. As for the “purpose” of interviewing him, this podcast is all about showcasing the diverse range of Mormon stories—from couples on a faith journey, to people who dealt with being gay or transgender in the church, to people who suffered abuse, to apologists for whom the church provides something really meaningful. Each of those stories has value to us as a community of people who have some relationship, past or present, with Mormonism.

    I found Roger Hendrix’s story to be unique. He brings a different set of Mormon experiences than we’ve seen before on the podcast, certainly, but also his faith trajectory seems unique to me. Here’s someone who was “all in,” but in a different way and for different reasons than most Mormons who’ve come on this podcast. He came across to me as willing to be vulnerable—admitting his focus on appearance and desire to progress in church leadership, as well as his somewhat shallow “testimony.” I think there were probably a lot of people in his generation for whom the church represented a way to improve yourself, be around good people, and be part of an organization that seemed to make the world better. For such people, it was more about that than about deep conviction of doctrine. Of course, that perspective may do harm—Hendrix himself speaks of his early awareness and discomfort with church stances toward people of color and people who are LGBT—and perhaps John could have probed more into Hendrix’s role in indoctrinating young people who then built their entire lives and made all their major decisions on the premise that this was the One True Church. But the interview was already pretty long…

    As for Hendrix’s experience with Deseret Management Company, I think it’s entirely possible that it’s a well-run entity that has benefitted investors and that isn’t just helping GAs get rich. I can accept that and respect the work he did there while still believing the existence of such a church-associated financial organization—and all the church-owned businesses and real estate and commercial ventures worldwide—to be fundamentally inappropriate and anathema to what the biblical Jesus told his disciples to focus on.

    I thought John pushed the envelope on most of the subject matter, without being disrespectful to this older gentleman who has shown himself willing to sit for many hours and expose himself to intense questioning that will likely generate a lot of pushback for someone with his network and reputation. Thanks to both of you for being willing to do this. I do not regret the time I spent listening!

  26. This is very informative. My parents just informed us children that they are doing this DTC program. My father is a bit paranoid and thinks that his children only want his money. In his words, “When I die, I’m giving it all to the church!” Sad thing is that my father is way off point. All his children ever wanted, no wait, want, is a relationship with our father. And yes, if you are no longer a member of the church you are disowned and cut off from any inheritance.

    John, you pointed out in this interview how many men in the church aspire to be bishops, high councilmen, stake presidents, general authorities. Those positions define their worth. My father was a man in the church that aspired to the highest levels and sacrificed all his children and only got so far. Sad. Extremely tragic.

    I appreciate this mans time. He really tries to be positive and learn from his experiences. That is inspiring and he is still building.

  27. The thing that stands out to me the most after listening to this series is the two very different ways that higher authorities and the rank and file experience the church. The caste of higher authorities seems to enjoy more privileged, interesting, and exciting lives, while the rank and file is struggling with more basic issues of daily survival and lives of drudgery. The higher authorities are generally more educated, more successful, and more wealthy. Rising through the ranks of the church involves receiving the acceptance and recognition of more powerful men, and that cultivates in ambitious men self confidence and loyalty to the church. Any questions about the authenticity of the religion become of lesser importance than the operations of the organization. Despite having more inside information, the good old boys at the top are trapped in their station, just as much as the less informed but faithful rank and file members in the wards are bound by an obligation to follow and obey,

  28. Finally listened to the whole batch.
    Good, but damn long. Kudos to Roger, real champion.

    Can’t wait to put my money in Deseret Trust.

  29. Just finished the 10.5 hour interview! Here’s my take on Roger– I think he is very smart and had a more sophisticated “testimony” from the very beginning. (Maybe because he was a good Californian!) He never was a rabid TBM. He appreciated the good things that the world offered and did not develop a black and white view of it. I get the impression that he got far in life because of a gregarious personality. Because of his more nuanced view of the church, he didn’t go through the anger stage (which I’m still in after 40 years!) when he came to realize that the church was founded on compelling stories, and not reality. I admire him for being open and honest and taking a public position. It may be that now that he is retired from Deseret Trust, he is less invested in the church than he is in other areas of his life. It was an interesting look into the affairs of the church institutions and its leaders. Thanks Roger!

  30. Not sure if someone has mentioned this already or not, but I was a TBM who attended and graduated from early morning Seminary in San Diego in the late 80’s/early 90’s and I remember discussing Joseph Smith having polygamous relationships, the historicity of the Book of Abraham, etc in Seminary. I believe that there may be regional differences in approaches to the Church because I’m flabbergasted that people in other parts of the U.S. apparently did not have these types of discussions in Seminary. I also remember being told that the Church could be approached as a “buffet” and it was a-okay to put the items on your plate you liked/wanted and leave the rest. I will mention too, though other Southern Californians may deny this, that the Mormons in Southern California have a healthy disdain for what they call “Utah Mormons” (properly said with a sneer and/or an eye roll). Part of the disdain is financial in nature – whenever anything special was afoot in Southern California, the same families would be approached over and over again to give more than they were already giving in tithing, fast offerings, and missionary support. This would be everything from the building of the San Diego temple when the Church went over budget to buying tickets to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir because the Church wanted their concerts to be sold out and ticket sales were sluggish. This type of thing would happen repeatedly and would come as a directive from Salt Lake. There was grumbling about this in part because of a perception that Utah Mormons were making wide use of the welfare programs in the Church, while we were constantly being asked to pony up more money. I believe this to be true because these stories were relayed to me by two different Bishops and a Stake President, one of whom is my father.

    Another piece of the SoCal disdain is that they perceive Utah Mormons as thinking they’re somehow superior for not living in the “mission field.” I remember an Institute teacher originally from Utah remarking to me that he did not realize until he was assigned to an Institute in California how “easy it was to live Mormonism in Utah and how difficult it is to live it anywhere else.” I believe he went on to say that it’s very easy to be something when everyone else around you is that thing too and that the Mormons in Utah are lazy and lack intellectual curiosity about their faith. Not meaning to be offensive toward any Utahns here, just want to point out that the “tension” Roger Hendrix spoke of is real, goes deeper than people may realize, and isn’t confined to differences of opinion amongst the “brethren.”

    I can’t speak for how things are now because I’m not a TBM any longer and haven’t been to church in years, but intellectual freedom was also a big deal in the 90’s and early 2000’s for the TBM’s in SoCal. The September Six hit the SoCal Mormon community hard as did the Church asking us to campaign door to door in support of Proposition 8. Prior to Prop 8, the directive we had always received from Salt Lake was that there were to be no political discussions in church and to vote our conscience. This was taken very seriously and I still recall it was a tremendous scandal when one of my ward members was running as a Republican in a local election and he put his campaign flyers on our cars while we were in church. If I recall correctly, the offending ward member was read the riot act by the Bishop in front of a good portion of the ward. To have the Church suddenly reverse position and say “Now we want you to get involved in the politics we want you to be involved in so go door to door and say that LGBT people shouldn’t be allowed to get married because it ruins marriage for the rest of us” did not sit well. I know a number of people, including myself, who parted ways with the Church at that point. The “buffet” had become too unappetizing and I didn’t want to eat at that restaurant anymore.

    Apologies for the ramble, I’m just truly shocked that many of these things that people say they are only learning about now weren’t openly discussed in other parts of the country. The gentleman, whose name I can’t recall, who revealed on his episode that he did not know who Joseph Smith was until he was in the MTC still has me shaking my head over how that could possibly have ever happened and confirms many of the biases the Mormons in Southern California felt/feel toward the Mormons in “Zion.” Love the episodes I’ve listened to so far, keep them coming.

  31. I am a Jewish convert to the church and i used to go to l.a harbor college institute of religion in 1972. Brother Hendrix was so helpful to me. My maiden name was LeVine. It is so nice to see you again… i joined the church in 1974 june 22.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.