054: Mormons Burning Bridges

IMG_6723This podcast was recorded several months ago and yet is readily applicable as the Mormon church currently grapples with the issues surrounding feminism, faith transition and LGBT members.  Hilary Brown embodies a life experience with all three and knows from personal perspective what it’s like to try to “fit in” when one’s personal health requires authenticity that does not.

Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Hilary Brown who presented a paper called “Mormons Burning Bridges” at the Sunstone Symposium this past August of 2014 where she speaks frankly of her love of Mormonism while simultaneously calling out Mormon culture on bullying behavior at times of disagreement.  She quotes Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s important statement in his talk Come Join With Us during the October 2013 General Conference:

One might ask, “If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?”  Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations.  Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question whether they should separate themselves from the Church…To those who have separated themselves from the Church, I say, my dear friends, there is yet a place for you here.

Natasha and Hilary discuss her history within Mormonism, the effects of bullying/inequality, and the implications when one is trying to claim self-identity when it goes against the norm of one’s family/culture/religious belief systems.  These effects on mental health can include such things as loneliness, depression, suicidal ideation, and the tearing apart of family/friend relationships.  They also discuss different ways of approaching self-care, including having to leave church activity if it comes to the point of self-perseverance.  This by no means minimizes the fact that many have very healthy and healing experiences within the church system.  It’s more about recognizing the great variety of experience happening within Mormonism, and making sure we are not leaving those who are being hurt behind.

Hilary is from Sugar City, Idaho, is studying English at the University of Utah where she is interested in creative writing, and lives with her partner in Salt Lake City.

Are Women Human? by Dorothy L. Sayers

Exponent II: Am I not a woman and a sister?

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