In this interview, we interview Don Anderson (Casias) regarding the 12+ years he worked as Sr. Vice President of Patron & Partner Services for FamilySearch for the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Topics we will discuss today include:

  • The process for name extraction, and the challenge to find enough names for temple work.
  • The use and occasional re-use of ordinance names for temple work.
  • The tendency to harvest names of famous people to do their temple work.
  • The controversy around the performance of ordinances for holocaust victims.
  • Concerns around the ability to prevent temple work from being done for those who do not desire the work.
  • The Mormon genealogy industry.
  • How FamilySearch handles the history of deceased church leaders.
  • His interactions with LDS apostles during his work there.
  • His own story/faith journey.
  • And much, much more!

Part 1 – Don describes the scope of duplication in the LDS Church’s ordinance work for the dead:

Part 2 – Don shares the joys and difficulties of working for the LDS Church:

Part 3 – Don shares the difficulties the LDS Church faces in the architecture of the ‘family tree’:

Part 4 – Don shares his personal faith journey:

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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Part 4

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  1. jessica March 6, 2019 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    I think this is my favorite mormon story ever and I’ve listened to them all! Thanks for sharing. Glad your life has ended up in a happy place.

    A note about the church making microfiche records. When I was a teenager living in a small town on the south shore of Nova Scotia we had a missionary couple from Idaho serve in our branch. Their assignment was to take pictures/microfiche of local records and send back to SLC. So the church supplied the equipment – the couple supplied the free labor and their own room and board. (They were busy “working” but still had plenty of time to love all the members of my branch – it was wonderful!)

  2. RLeeG March 7, 2019 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    I thought Don was one of the best all around people I have ever heard interviewed on Mormon Stories. You could tell he just loved people. I think this statement, (paraphrased) “the leaders are just good people trying their best, but I wish at times they could do better,” was a very honest and heartbreaking statement from Don. I think for many of us when we were TBM and finding out negative things of the church, it is incredibly frustrating to look at the leaders and feel like they don’t care. I felt the same, I wanted to believe the best in them, but they just seemed so dissociated with normal life, stuck in some elitist world view they grew up in. I think we all want them to do better.

  3. Mary Moon March 8, 2019 at 10:47 am - Reply

    One of my very favorite of your podcasts. I hope with all of my heart and soul that Don remains happy and healthy in this new path as he is finally able to be exactly who he is. It seems to me that he has finally found love in all of its true definitions.

  4. Liveandlearn March 9, 2019 at 9:21 am - Reply

    I hope that Mormon Stories will reach out to wives of gay men so they can tell their stories. Stories of how it feels to be raised in a religion that, from the age of 2 or 3, tells girls that their sole purpose in life is to get married, support the “priesthood”, and, of course, have, and take care of as many children as the Lord will send them. A religion that tells girls that their bodies are sinful (if uncovered), that it is their responsibility to make sure that Mormon males do not even think sexual thoughts, let alone act on them, and that they are not to seek a career (other than motherhood and wifehood), keeping house, keeping up appearances, and making sure that all of their families do not stray. If any of her children stray, she knows it’s her fault; she hasn’t done enough. And, above all, no education beyond high school because having all those babies is her first priority. And, all the while, living with a man who is not attracted to her, but who wants to be with males, is attracted to males, and who wants, above all, sex and fun. What it feels like to be a worn out mother, dealing with all the details and work of running a household, all the while operating with a tiny bit of testosterone, low energy, low libido, while her husband is loaded with testosterone, and if that’s not enough, there’s always Viagra. For him. Yes, let’s here from these women.

    • Ron Hales March 11, 2019 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      I think growing up Mormon most of us had this image of a perfect Mormon family and there may have been a few examples in our ward that seemed to have it all together. Thirty years later you find out that nearly all those families had really devastating issues from that perfect Mormon perspective and that we all have trials and should not be so hard on ourselves. Jesus said that we should put our burdens on Him, trust in his everlasting love, and mercy.
      God bless

  5. Nancy March 10, 2019 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    We have to stop saying that the church is family oriented when they are openly engaged in breaking families up.

    • Lesley O'Connell-Maritz March 11, 2019 at 6:59 am - Reply

      I so agree. And quite frankly FamilySearch has been a mess since whenever.

  6. Angie Coulter March 10, 2019 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    I love hearing from people who have worked for the church in an intimate way. While I’m not questioning Dons sincerity or memory, it did seem like he was being overly protective of the the church’s preferred image of the “brethren” being ‘ just good people doing the best they can’. Of course they are just human beings , but they have put themselves above us in terms of expecting the members to submit to their policies, no matter who they hurt….so we have a right to expect more of them. For example, if he believed, having interacted extensively with ‘ Christiansen’ that his PR statement to the members after the November Change was not reflective of his own beliefs, then why did he let the “APOSTLE” off so easy?????? should an apostle not be required even more than the average person to have the moral courage of integrity in such serious matters????????…no matter the personal cost to himself????? Dons surprising sympathy was one of, ‘Oh well, poor guy drew the short stick and had to do the dirty job. Whats he gonna do?” How about , the man has a lot at stake, including a huge salary and tons of prestige and celebrity status, so his integrity was the casualty. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe sympathy for the man in that instance is appropriate, considering the vast harm that policy has caused so many, already suffering families. I know he wrote the man a letter, thank goodness, but in this interview, I thought he was still too excusing of him. Just an observation, for what its worth.

    I believe that Don was most accurate when he responded to critical questions…’not that I ever observed’. The corporate CEO’s are at no obligation to reveal anything that goes on behind the scenes of the higher up planning, in fact its better not to. No one disputes the church’s superlative efforts to promote a certain image, particularly to its underlings and tithing paying members. Hans Mattsen’s experiences as a former member of the quorum of the seventy show that you have to get a lot higher than that to get direct contact with what ‘s really going on. And the affects of the first president’s agenda trickles down in evidential ways every day. They are not an open book, by ANY stretch.

    Any major concessions the church has had to make has been forced on them due to avoiding negative consequences they can’t control and then it gets spun as something they decided or was revealed because they are being progressive and ‘helping’ us. Please, how long will the members buy this???

    The church is losing such good people, as a man such as Don evidences. God Bless!

    • Joshua Butterfield March 25, 2019 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      As a former life-long Latter-day Saint, I prefer to look at the bright side of this. I am grateful to the homophobia and un-Christlike behaviour of the General Authorities and their November 2015 policy as it demonstrates to me without a “shadow of doubt” that these men are most definitely not inspired of God and their claims to be “prophets, seers and revelators” are entirely bogus. This knowledge has actually made me much happier, allowed me to concentrate on just being a good person and freed me from the nonsense of Mormon dogma, patriarchy, wearing garments and time wasted in interminable meetings.

  7. Bsp A March 11, 2019 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful and brilliant guest. I love his ability to express himself and the respect and tolerance he has for humanity.

  8. Mormon X March 15, 2019 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    I was at the opposite side of Don in the Church’s family history spectrum serving as a Ward and a Stake Family History Consultant. Here are some quick points that come to mind:
    -When a name of an ancestor with a dubious and questionable character (IE fathered children out of wedlock), the attitude or mindset was “it will be taken care of in the eternities.” Their temple work would still go forth. Yet the same is never said about gay relatives.
    -I question the push to increase indexing efforts during the time it was announced that members would have free access to I wonder if it was to appease because, at least in our stake, there were indexing goals to be met, youth were recruited, and even a contest for the most indexing. I have a feeling may be benefiting off the free time and labor from the efforts of members. Yes, we get free access but they turn around and charge for subscriptions to nonmembers.
    -The rule of getting permission from non-member relatives to do temple work for their next of kin was more then likely a suggestion. One fellow consultant (who was seemingly interested in my family history business) told me it was more important to submit names for temple work for the salvation for my grandfather’s siblings then to get his permission.
    -I hated that family history research always coincided with submitting names to the temple. Why couldn’t we just do research to find out more about more about our ancestry or to just help someone discover their roots?
    Even though many other things surrounding family history bugged the crap out of me I do have to state that it was rewarding to see people fill with joy when they discovered a tidbit about their family history.

  9. Chad Petersen March 16, 2019 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    I had been taught in my early morning seminary class (1988), that there were two individuals with whom the church would forbid any posthumous temple work. Those two being Lilburn Boggs & William Law. Since I listened to the podcast later, I would love to get Don’s comment on that if possible.

    Would anyone else care to comment?

    • marlbey March 19, 2019 at 12:12 pm - Reply

      I’ve never heard that, but that’s awesome. I worked, for many years, for a descendant of Lilburn Boggs in Florida, and he was fascinated by Mormon history. I will have to share this information with him (with the caveat that it is apocryphal)… he will get a kick out of it.

  10. Cory Jorgensen March 17, 2019 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    This comment is late (I listen through a podcast service), but I wanted to mention that at least 4-5 years ago I looked on my own family tree and saw Joseph Smith with multiple wives at that time, just to confirm that that information has been up for some time. Great interview!

  11. Quanah Parker March 28, 2019 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    Pros: Don is an enjoyable, sincere individual. I enjoyed his comments and his stories.

    Cons: John, at times, was disengaged. A couple of times he was given an answer and proceeded to ask the same question.

    Once again John interjects the false narrative of “patriarchy” society when Don is talking about the lack of photos of women in the “tree”. Fortunately, Don didn’t play along.

    John, your podcast helped me come to terms with my faith crisis; however, I’ve stopped listening to your podcast and only come back when I feel there is a subject that doesn’t lend itself to your false liberal narratives. For someone who finds joy in exposing the false Mormon narratives, you seem to enjoy peddling the false liberal narratives (ie white privileged, subpressive patriarchy society, and systemic racism). In this episode, Don said there aren’t a lot of photos of women in the family tree. Those are the facts, nothing more, nothing less. He didn’t say why that was the case, he just said there aren’t a lot of photos of women. Rather than give a thought pause as to why that is the case ,you have to interject “patriarchy “ as the reason. You don’t have any evidence for “patriarchy “ and it took away from the conversation.

    As it relates to false narrative of “partriarchical society” I want you to to consider two facts. 1 – why does a patriarchal society lock up more males than females and why do more females graduate from high school and college than males? These are just a few of the facts that seem to go counter to the narrative.

    John you’ve traded Mormon lies for liberal lies and sadly, your podcasts aren’t safe for disaffected Mormons who don’t believe the liberal and Mormon lies.

    John I came to your podcasts because I wanted to listen and find solace and comfort in the stories. Your podcast are no longer safe place for me and I’ve stopped my support.

  12. Tom April 17, 2019 at 9:28 am - Reply

    Here is some info about Jay Verkler, mentioned in the podcast, who was Director of FamilySearch for a decade ending in January 2012. He sounds like an interesting character:

  13. VFanRJ May 9, 2019 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    This is absolutely an amazing interview. Most interesting and full of new insightful information. Delightful and informative guest, and John does a great interview.

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