Episode 170: William and the “I Am An Ex Mormon” Videos

40 comments on “Episode 170: William and the “I Am An Ex Mormon” Videos”

  1. A.B. Reply

    What’s so great about Mr. Johnsons videos are that they are better and “truer” in about every way to their counterparts on the billion dollar corporations side. 

  2. Flackerman Reply

    Good interview guys. I had a great time with William when we made my video, and I want to thank him for helping me share my journey. I think that his video series accurately have shown the raw emotions of the experiences of his interviewees that have left the church, and let others going through the same process know that they are not alone.

  3. Chuck Borough Reply

    Just listened to this podcast. Kudo’s! I also put it on pause to look at a few of your videos of “I am an ex Mormon.” Very impressive and nicely done. Such obvious good people.

  4. Eric Reply

    William, your videos have been some of the most poignant things on YouTube.  There’s usually a line toward the end of each video that gets me emotionally almost every time.  It seems to say something like, “I finally am me and it feels great.  I’ve never been happier.”  Thanks for your work.

  5. james hafen Reply

    The video of Steve is simply fantastic.  I must have watched it 20 times and shared it will so many people.  

    Good interview.  It’s really nice to hear the backstory behind his project.  

  6. Dan Reply

    I think the I am an ex-mormon videos are genuine, honest, and very well done. John and Zilpha did a great job with the interview as well.

     Unfortunately, I think this particular interview hurts the cause for me. I thought the I am an ex-mormon series was something that would help members have more compassion and respect for those who have made their journey from Mormonism  as well as a place where those who are facing struggles with Mormonism can find company and understanding. I appreciate William’s honesty, and empathize with the anger, but I was discouraged to hear that his original intent was to “take down the church” but to do so in a more subtle way.  I think this diminishes the cause and is not compatible with what  I feel the videos are actually portraying. I just think hearing the backstory and intent painted a bad picture for the ex-mormon community and distracted from the value it has for people to find comfort and understanding. True, the institutional church can cause psychological harm to some, but for many, it is a place of comfort, even if some of us don’t share the beliefs.  Mutual respect should be given to those who pursue their own path–in or out of Mormonism.  

      • Chuck Borough Reply

        Agree with the “honesty,” part, but not with exclusiveness. If we get an attitude that we are right and the others are wrong, we’re becoming too much like others that do that. Nobody knows a trillionth of what there is to know. Insects, who know far less than we, are far more successful than we. We are not likely to last anywhere near as long as they have. It’s because we use our superior intelligence to compete, and we will destroy ourselves. Religions will participate, but so will non-believers, those among them who have an agendum. I don’t believe a lot of things, but so what? I don’t care what others believe so long as they are “nice.” Santa Claus is ok with me; a mean god is not. (A nice god is fine.)

        • Anonymous Reply

          I’m not sure what you’re saying Chuck.  We can’t insist that they are wrong on key moral issues like their awful position on homosexuality?  I think people deserve respect but I do not think ideas automatically deserve respect.  Religion never feels like they need to earn their positions.  They want to hide behind the wall of blasphemy and “hey, respect my belief that being a bigot is moral.”  I think history has shown us the church won’t move on this particular kind of issue until it becomes too socially unacceptable or embarrassing.  And to get there it will take a cumulative voice of people telling them “you’re wrong and it’s immoral.”

          • Dan

            Mutual respect and empathy must exist in a world with conflicting beliefs and culture.  While the church and religion have negative sides, we are free to choose whether we want to subject ourselves to it without having to be persecuted.  If you hold to the idea that only your set of beliefs and values are the more superior or exclusive way one should live their life, and strive to take down those who oppose it, then you too become guilty of the same persecution you profess to be against. I think its noble to stand up for bigotry, but why not just stand up for bigotry itself instead of classifying a whole institution as bigoted where much good is also found? 

          • Chuck Borough

            The way I put it is that religions do not repent. Science repents, (i.e., changes its position), and that is a salient difference between scientific method and the “warm feeling” method. I have often heard religious people actually criticize science for changing positions. Fortunately, the Earth is no longer flat. The Sun does not revolve about the Earth, etc. But religions keep all their old stuff no matter how little sense it makes. I give them the right to be against gay marriage (for their own religious ceremonies), but not in the civil law, I don’t like their position, becasue I regard it as cruel. I like inclusive religion.

          • Anonymous

            I had to reply to myself because there was no “Reply” option on Dan.  Anyway Dan, mutual respect and empathy are always a good thing to extend to people.  However, ideas do not automatically deserve empathy and respect.  That’s my whole point.  Furthermore, you are advocating a position that is known in the atheist world as “accomodationism.”  The other camp is the bold and forthright “new atheist” movement.  The debate is always which is the best way to get the message out?  I don’t think that’s the right question.  I think both voices are needed because different people respond to different voices.  Take the civil rights movement.  It took voices of anger and outrage along with the peaceful civil disobedience of King to wake white America up that this is wrong and needs to change.  Having said all that, I cannot agree with you more in that people that disagree with me deserve empathy and respect and I’m not advocating persecution of Mormons but your point that “we are free to choose whether to subject ourselves” to Mormonism is not always true.  I’m thinking of the teenage kid that is homosexual and hates themselves and is suicidal about it because their church teaches that they are perverted and most of these people aren’t free to choose to leave it yet.  Institutions are not people and if there is institutional abuse, voices need to call it out for the victims who aren’t or don’t feel free to just walk away.  It’s just not that easy for some people.

          • Chuck Borough

            Honesty comes from the word “honor,” not from the word “truth.” Many ruth-tellers are dishonest. Most honest people lie when it is honorable. “The dress you made looks nice.” Or even, “The Tooth Fairy will bring you a quarter for your tooth.” So long as the real truth is told when it becomes appropriate. The problem is that we always eventually tell the truth about the Tooth Fairy, but not about gods and ghosts, etc.

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      Excellent statement. We become much like the “bad” religions when we are not inclusive. Atheists are fine so long as we are not antitheists. When we are antitheists, we become a “denomination” of believers.

      Rather than destorying churches, a beeter goal is to improve them. The exclusive parts of religions, like the proposition 8 stuff, the somewhat bygone Negro doctrine, the notion that each religion is the only correct one, etc., need to be destroyed, but not all the good the religions do for people.

    • Helaman's Wife Reply

      Aside from the general fraud the church is guilty of, the church lies, telling its members that apostates reap “the bitter fruits of apostasy”… that they are left alone to kick against the pricks, that they are in darkness and deep misery.  This video series challenges that false teaching and belief.

      Dan, you said that you thought the “I Am and ExMormon” video series had the goal or motive to increase compassion, respect, understanding, and support… among members and exmembers…  because the videos themselves give that very impression.  The videos speak for themselves… and the end result is oftentimes a greater indication of motivation or purpose.   Sometimes we begin a behavior or project for one reason and continue it for a different reason all together.  I believe William’s main motivation now is less to “take down the church” as you seem to think and is more about the good things the videos themselves result in.

      William, I LOVE your videos.  The quality is amazing.Thank you for making them for all of us.  You have changed the world for the better and I appreciate all you have done.  I appreciate your story too.  Thank you!

    • Megan Reply

      Dan – William’s purpose in starting the series is one thing, and it’s something a lot of people transitioning out of the church can relate to.

      But I think it’s really important to remember that the participants, the real people in the videos, have their own purpose and that is so often expressed as a message of, as you say, ‘compassion and respect.’

      It’s not a monolithic project with One Man, One Purpose, it’s an organic thing.

    • Chino_Blanco Reply

      Throughout this discussion, D.W. maintained a tone of voice that I tend to equate with people who would love to give everybody on the planet a free hug if they could.  Anyway, I’m people, too, and I happen to find comfort and understanding in hearing folks describe their mo/exmo experience in frank and unapologetic terms.  And it’s really discouraging to me when others suggest I’m wrong for not sharing their exquisitely low tolerance for conflict.

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      What do you mean by “hurts the cause”? (What “cause” exactly are you referring to?)

      If it were a written interview and you could put into the words any tone you want and not get the context with the rest of the interview, his experiences, and the general feeling of love, empathy and happiness that exudes from nearly every word, than yes, I might agree that the “take down the church” words could be harmful or at least cause for TBM’s to be skeptical of the videos or even for apologists to use as ammo against them.

      Luckily, here we have the full context. The words, tone-of-voice, and the story behind it that gives us an understanding to why William might say that. I think many of us apostates have felt that way at one point or other in our disaffection. He admitted he has moved on from that anyway.

      Just because an organization has some good (or “much good” as you put it) does not mean it should be respected or admired, or left to run rampant without reigns or reason. The important question to ask is if the bad outweighs the good; if it causes more harm than help. I have seen many people go through this debate-process within themselves and concluded (as I have) that the bad far outweighs the good in the case of the church. It causes far too much harm, and much of the good can be found in other institutions or non-institutions that don’t have the negative side-effects coupled as heavy baggage.

  7. Nathan R Kennard Reply

    I think this interview gave valuable perspective to the iamanexmormon video series. Thank you William, John and Zilpha. Perhaps it should be linked on that website.

  8. Chuck Borough Reply

    After reading Jame’s statement about Steve’s video, I watched the video a couple times. It was a wonderful, honest, and cheerful speech. I have been going along for many years as an atheist and believing I could do more good in affecting change in the Church by remaining active and still truthful when it is sensible. (Leading the music is not threatening to people, because I am not using my own words, so I have had that job for many years.) I haven’t gone into the primary to announce that I’m an atheist; that information is for those who have a need-to-know.
    I’m seriously considering that I might do better completely inactive. Many people know that I’m an atheist, but also many other people do not know. I think my very presence is a kind of testimonial, or considered so, a testimony I have not had for fifty years. All my Bishops (at least for twenty of those years) have always known, so that I don’t get improper callings.

    This will be hard for my wife to feel comfortable with. We have 6 children, with spouses, and 23 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild. There will be some uncomfortable feelings. My parents are gone, and that was one of the things I felt the need to wait for. I took a year off and visited 52 other religions, and that was a year of wonder, but I was not looking for another church, just studying people. No church teaches the truth; I like science for that. All churches teach bullshit, but some of them teach good inclusive bullshit (like Santa Claus), while others teach exclusive cruel bullshit, doctrines that cut people out and doctrines that make people feel bad about their own natural selve. (“The natural man is an enemy to God.” How’s that for a really stupid piece of scripture?)

    I was so encouraged when the church gave up the cruel Negro doctrine, and then, 20 years later, they got on this multi-million dollar run against gays having a civil contract of marriage. It’s a contract Mormons don’t even believe in, though they have accepted it as not adultery, they believe it is the wrong way to marry. It requires no priesthood, is not a religious ordinance, and anal retentives want to make a law against the making of a civil contract. For heaven’s sake, murderers are allowed to make this contract, so it’s not a moral question, someone dying of cancer can make this contract, so it’s not about an illness. What the hell is it about?
    It’s cruel; it’s supported by most of the people I love in the Church, and I want out. I’m not gay myself, but this level of cruelty is not part of any religion I want to support any longer.

  9. Elder Vader Reply

    Dan.  Your trouble with masturbation stemmed from the need to confess everything.  It’s too bad your ecclesiastical leaders didn’t share with you the talk by Boyd K. Packer called ‘The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than The Intellect’.  There is a quote that is very applicable to masturbation and confession. 

    Some things that are true are not very useful. 

    No need to bring every little thing out into the light of day. 

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      But the Church requires it. One is asked if he masturbates. Most just lie, which is probably the best action.

          • Chuck Borough

            Well, you know, if the Lord watches people masturbate, it’s a good thing He is not subject to our laws, for He would go to jail for whatever they call Peeping Tom ism.

        • Chuck Borough Reply

          Did you serve a mission? That’s when they ask. Generally in a temple recommend interview they don’t get that specific, but for missionaries, they do. If you did serve and were not asked that question, good for your Bishop and Stake President – I like them.

  10. Anonymous Reply

    “Only once did I have the feeling that [God] existed.  I had been playing with matches and burnt a small rug.  I was in the process of covering up my crime when suddenly God saw me.  I felt His gaze inside my head and on my hands.  I whirled about in the bathroom, horribly visible,  a live target.  Indignation saved me.  I flew into a rage against so crude an indiscretion.  I blasphemed.  I muttered like my grandfather:  ‘Sacre’ nom Dieu de nom de Dieu de nom de Dieu.’ [‘God damn it, God damn it, God damn it.’]  He never looked at me again.”

    – Jean Paul Sartre, Words [his autobiography]

    Bravo William.

    Best wishes,


  11. Mike Reply

    There hasn’t been a new I’m an Ex-Mormon since August. Are you done with the project? I used to look forward to a new one every week.

  12. Mike Reply

    There hasn’t been a new I’m an Ex-Mormon since August. Are you done with the project? I used to look forward to a new one every week.

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