1771: A Tongan Mormon Story Pt 1

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Today John Dehlin is joined by Tongan Mormon, Saane Siale, with special guests Nate Byrd from BYU’s Black Menaces, and Beau Oyler, her former Bishop, as they delve into the unique experiences and challenges faced by racial minorities within Mormonism. They discuss the integration of Mormonism into Tongan culture, the complexities of being part of an ethnic ward, and the impact of white beauty standards on individuals of color. They also explore the internalized racism and the pursuit of academic excellence within marginalized communities, shedding light on the need for advocacy and social justice. Don’t miss out on this insightful conversation as Saane shares her journey, from her upbringing to her awakening as an activist, while grappling with her faith and preparing for her future at BYU.

1771: Seeking Social Justice – Saane Siale Pt. 2

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In the highly anticipated Part Two of Saane’s story, we pick up as she navigates her first year at BYU. Prepare for a candid exploration of her experiences as a person of color, including the challenges of dating and the fetishization she encounters from those who served Polynesian missions. As the conversation unfolds, Saane reveals the pervasive racism and hostile environment she faced from white peers, exacerbated by the election of Donald Trump. Saane shares her journey of self-discovery as she grapples with deep conflicts between her beliefs, values and identity and her determination to make a difference wherever she serves be it family, BYU and her mission to Tahiti. Don’t miss this eye-opening episode as Saane discusses her evolving views and offers recommendations for a more inclusive BYU, all while reflecting on her heritage and the profound impact of her experiences.

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Show Notes:


  1. Whit June 7, 2023 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    Thank you Saane for your bravery in telling your story, you told it beautifully and powerfully <3
    I wish more current members realized how many people leave so they CAN FINALLY live with a sense of integrity and peace, rather than the narrative about 'apostates' we grew up with. You are a wonderful example!
    The statement of support from your bishop at the end was very moving too, as one of the only people in my family out of the LDS church I've never experienced being supported in that way and I feel for other ex-Mormons who won't be receiving that kind of love from their families or former communities. It's a good reminder that that is what we (all humans) deserve and to seek out relationships and communities that do practice unconditional love!

  2. Duane June 7, 2023 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    Hey John, LOVE the podcast and have taken away so much from many of your guests. This one caught me on the hop though. As a Maori living in New Zealand, Married to a Samoan and having served part of my mission in a Tongan speaking program, I bet my bottom dollar that many of Saane’s comments would be very offensive to the LDS Tongan community. In my opinion so much of her issues arose more from choices made in the home rather than the way the ward ran or how the LDS Tongan members live in the US. Like why bemoan the fact that all her youth leaders in the ward were white, when the family chose not to attend Tongan wards instead opting to attend a “white ward” because it was better? Soo many eye rolling moments from me I’m afford.
    Fia Palagi

  3. Trombone Trouble June 11, 2023 at 3:22 am - Reply

    I believe Obama being viewed as evil was even brought out by Jeff Holland when interviewed by John Sweeny. Jeff slipped calling Barach Osama. Im convinced that was not a slip-up. I believe he had referred to Obama that way among close friends.

  4. stellamarina June 22, 2023 at 11:17 am - Reply

    BYU Hawaii is a much more multi-cultural experience.

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