Part 1: A Colombian Immigrant Mormon Story – Laura Schnell (episode #1473)

In part one of this exciting three part interview, Colombian immigrant and former Mormon seminary teacher, Laura Schnell, shares her very unique Mormon story. Laura left South America with her mother and sister in the 90s to Queens, New York, and remembers her time in their small Spanish speaking LDS branch with fondness.

In this episode, she discusses her step-dad joining the family, her time in India with BYU’s International Development Program, and the road she took to choosing a career in the Church Educational System and meeting a friend of the podcast, Marc Oslund. 

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Part 2: Facing Sexism as a Female Mormon Seminary Teacher – Laura Schnell (episode #1474)

When we left off with Laura Shnell at the end of part one, Laura had decided to pursue a career in the LDS Church Education System as a seminary teacher. In this episode, we hear her describe the inappropriate interactions from her mentor, the great lengths Laura went to for her Spanish speaking seminary students, and the sexism she faced as a woman working for CES.

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Part 3: Mormon Seminary Teacher Leaves the Church – Laura Schnell (episode #1475)

In our final segment with Laura Schnell, she describes her faith deconstruction, responds to criticisms, and expresses the immense beauty she’s found rediscovering her own voice as a post-Mormon woman. 

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  1. DOC HANSEN September 9, 2021 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Loved her story. I didn’t see her as a minority of color . . I just saw her as a beautiful woman with great hair and wonderful life stories.

    I’m 69 . . had my name removed from Church membership 10+ years ago after my greatest spiritual experience.

    I love Mormon Stories.

    • Dee September 10, 2021 at 10:36 am - Reply

      YES ! I so appreciate these interviews, after 40 years as a member, beautiful people like Laura willing to share their spiritual journey stories is healing and affirming. THANK YOU.

  2. Sandra Phillips September 11, 2021 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    ANOTHER GREAT INTERVIEW!!!! Laura is incredible! John, you seem super relaxed lately. I think it’s having the amazing Carah B. co-hosting. You two are a great team!

  3. John September 13, 2021 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    The sexism against men in this interview is unreal. Why do women and girls assume most if not all men are bad? That the older or larger a man is the scarier he is? Is a woman/girls’ fantasy to run around with only other females while giggling at and simultaneously hiding from men like they are all flesh-eating ogres? Is a woman’s ideal world one where women flee from men similar to how birds flee from everything simply because rape is possible and escaping once in his grasp is almost impossible? How about perusing the book, “Nurses Who Kill” (1990). Or how about spending the same amount of time it took you to listen to this interview to research female crime. But even if most violent crime is done by men, I guess women are just animals, too, running away from the alpha if he’s even remotely near making orangatang noises as they flee. Would women feel offended if men didn’t want to have a female teacher? “I don’t feel comfortable with this big, old woman, I want to be in the other teacher’s class…” If the genders are different then be complete in your logic and apply that truth across the board instead of pretending there are no differences between the genders and simultaneously differences whenever it’s convenient for you. #gross

    • Mro cardits September 27, 2021 at 12:09 am - Reply

      Them hiring man who had 1 year of experience for the promotion instead of the more qualified woman who trained him who had several years of experience–the same thing happened to my friend years ago when she worked at church office building. Jobs means money and power and liking what you do. They also form part of our identities. When they are unfairly given to someone due solely to his gender, it matters. Money is at stake. Money that could have been used to support her family. The coordinator job might have been more supportive of her family life, she not needing to be teaching all the time, having more down time in her office when she is at work. Discrimination is disgusting. She is bravely sharing her experiences. She acknowledges the wonderful men she worked with and her wonderful experiences and shares her bad ones in a way that is honest and real. It is obvious that she doesn’t hate men at all, only the experiences of being treated so badly by some men while at her job in the church. She also shares that a woman from HR was being fussy with her, so her criticism is not just toward men. My opinion is that there should be full equality of women and men in the church in callings at all levels of the church, paid and unpaid. Equal numbers of women in charge at church, locally and at the top. Quotas, if needed, otherwise we will never get parity, for all paid jobs and stipended work in the church. The best jobs in the church are paid ones that they ONLY give to men. This hurts families. I knew someone while at BYU whose mom was the lowest paid professor in the business school at BYU because she was a woman, he told me at the time. It upset him because it affected and impacted him and his entire family negatively financially and was so unfair. He has since left the church. Some men are harmed by the sexism too. And for some reason how the church treats women and men so differently causes a lot of problems for men too. It harms them. Most men raised in the church do not stay in the church. Something is pushing them out more than it is pushing women out.

  4. Fatfinger September 14, 2021 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    Add me to the list of those that love Carah!

    I think she is a wonderful addition and am glad she joined in!

    And thanks Laura. I enjoyed hearing your story and appreciate your vulnerability.

    Oh, and great job Carah asking how Laura reassesses her “spiritual experiences” now. I think it’s crucial that is asked so any believer watching/listening doesn’t wonder why anyone having had such experiences can ever deny them (or what they mean).

  5. Bill Jones September 14, 2021 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    Absolutely LOVE the “You don’t need me anymore” vision! I am much more comforted by the lack of god than I ever was trying to justify Mormon God. Atheist me has so much more peace in my life!

    Great story–thanks for sharing!

  6. Ruth September 15, 2021 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Thank you very much to everyone for sharing this story.

    As an attorney, I just wanted to clarify the general legal issue at play in a potential discrimination lawsuit against the church.

    Discrimination is a federal issue and these kinds of cases are filed in federal court. The law providing for discrimination lawsuits was passed by the US Congress.

    The issue isn’t that the church is THE church, but that it’s A church. The separation of church and state guaranteed in the Constitution means that the federal government can’t tell churches how to hire and promote religious teachers.

    Someone employed by a church as a janitor, for example, could potentially sue for employment discrimination. But once a church employee is involved in teaching doctrine, all bets are off. It’s any church’s prerogative to decide who can teach doctrine and what doctrine they teach.

    Therefore, religious teachers employed by their churches are not protected by the federal discrimination laws. Churches can apply doctrine however they see fit in promoting teachers. They can say “it’s revelation,” or even have rules that they promote men over women in every case.

    One major case in this area involved a female Catholic religious teacher who sued the Catholic church for gender discrimination when less qualified men were promoted over her. She lost in federal court.

    The moral of this story is that you have to be aware as a religious teacher employed by any church that you are not protected by the same anti-discrimination laws as employees of secular organizations.

    My heart goes out to Laura for the tremendous anxiety and pain she experienced.

  7. Myo Carditis September 26, 2021 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    No one ever told me I could go directly to the celestial room from initiatories. So much not told to us. We are just women, so I guess we are not allowed to ask.

  8. Mro cardits September 26, 2021 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    when i was young like her, I wanted to be a full time seminary teacher, but the job really was not open to women at that time. you had to be married and male. the church also used to fire women in the 1960s from even womens jobs at the church office building if they got married. the fact that things change over time means the church is not true at all. seminary for us was a long drive every morning. i liked it when i had a good teacher and didn’t like it when i didn’t have a good one.

    That is weird that she was told to shrink, not be so good. their sexism drives men out of the church and their meanness and sexism drove this woman out of seminary teaching. She left a sexist church.

    Weird that her LDS employer mentor/boss/trainer told her she wasn’t attractive enough for dating. Wow. And suggested she shave her arms? What? People find me more attractive when I don’t shave my arms. He should not have been advising her on sexual attractiveness or asking her about dating. “I met my husband and he loved my hairy arms, so i didn’t have to do that.” I’m glad she didn’t cave to the demeaning counsel. He wouldn’t have advised a male colleague to shave his arms or to give his spouse sex whenever his spouse wanted. Okay, I will stop commenting as I listen to this so that i do not write a book. What happened to her is really outrageous, and sadly, treating single women outrageously is very common in the LDS church. Though my experiences are just as outrageous, they are not exactly the same.

  9. Jose October 15, 2021 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    My comment is a question for Laura. Have you ever been interviewed for a postMormon Spanish-speaking podcast, to get your story out there to non-English speaking Latina LDS members who may be undergoing similar experiences and are looking for answers or a path forward? If not, would you ever consider starting a Mormon Stories style podcast aimed at Latin Americans, like Mormon Stories Europe. In my opinion there are millions of Latin American LDS members who haven’t learned or been told the whole truth about Mormonism. No one that I know of is helping them to keep their shelves from breaking. Just asking.

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