Category Archives: liberals

How can I survive as a liberal at BYU?

Dear AMG:

I am a member of the church who has lived outside of Utah for the past 10 years. I attended two very liberal universities in my time away (University of Washington and Northern Arizona University), and developed very strong liberal ideologies. I have returned to Utah, and am now a graduate student at BYU.  Outside of Utah I found I was able to reconcile my political views with my church membership just fine. But the longer I am here in “happy valley,” the more I feel that this church does not define me. While I am consciously aware that it is Mormon culture, and not the gospel, that I find so annoying, I am having an increasingly difficult time separating the two. Now that I am at BYU, the discomfort is increasing, and my desire to stage my own private rebellion and discontinue my activity in the church is powerful.  My frustration is affecting my husband, and I do have children who attend church. If I make the decision to be less active it affects them deeply.  I’d be thrilled to learn whatever survival strategy you have for attending BYU as a liberal democrat. As you know, I do need an ecclesiastical endorsement.


Bad Grad

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Filed under academics, BYU, faith transition, liberals

Ask Mormon Girl: My pro-gay-rights Mormon YouTube video is drawing heat. Help?

Dear AMG:

A few weeks ago I made my own version of the “I’m a Mormon” ads the Church has been running and put it up on my friends YouTube account. [Note:  The video ends with the words “I’m pro gay-rights, and I’m Mormon.”  See it here.]

Making that video seemed like a great idea at the time.  I got a lot of good responses at first.  Then, I started to get Church members telling me I’d be excommunicated.  And now the only people who seem to be viewing are hardcore Mormon haters.  I tried to ignore them and deleted most of the comments, but you can tell by the dislike count that I’ve been getting a lot of ridicule now.

I should have just ignored all the comments, but one person told me about a video with Bill Maher and Craig Ferguson. I watched it and it had too much in it for me to just toss aside.  I will admit, though I have a testimony of the LDS church, I don’t know as much about it as a lot of nonmembers apparently.

Bill talked about so many things I’d never heard of before. And he of course had to make a point that we are all extremely weird and something about how we ignore science and anything intellectual.  I hate that stereotype more than any of the others because I am an intellectual.

Anyway, I don’t know if you’ve seen the video already, but he made a lot of really short points that supposedly proved our entire religion wrong.  I’m sorry to bug you about this, but I can’t think of anyone else.  All the members I know personally will only slap me on the wrist for watching the video and tell me that it was Satan or something.  I don’t want to live the rest of my life just brushing these things off – I want to fully understand all of it so that I know my beliefs are justified.

Do you have any advice?


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Filed under gay rights, intellectuals, internet, liberals, young women

AMG: The Great Mormon Novel Part 2; or, no, seriously, why does Mormonism seem so allergic to scholarship?

Okay, everyone, maybe it’s just the Molly Mormon perfectionist streak in me, but it looks like my answer to last week’s query—“Where is the Great Mormon Novel?”—missed the mark a bit, and I need to give it another go.  For here is a follow-up query sent along by Nick, our diligent but lonely young Mormon scholar in St. Louis. Grab some gorp to munch on, folks, because it’s a long one, but it is worth reading.

Dear Ask Mormon Girl:

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. But to tell the truth I was really less interested in the fate of the Great Mormon Novel than in hearing you talk more about the status of Mormon scholars in the humanities.  I know there are a number of influential LDS humanities scholars out there, but I still feel compelled to ask myself where humanist scholarship stands in relation to Mormon culture. As a graduate student in literature I am the perpetual outsider (my wife is also marginalized by default because she is not a “medical school widow”) in wards filled with aspiring physicians, lawyers, and businessmen (and sometimes women).  Each fall when introductions are made in priesthood, special emphasis is given to my marginal status as I am referred to as “our token humanities student” or “the English guy.” When a member of the EQ presidency realized that I wasn’t a medical student on my first Sunday here, his response to me was: “Oh. Well we do have a social work student that just moved in. Perhaps the two of you can be friends.” Periodically I am told (with kind intentions, I’m sure) that “I could never do what you do” by one of my fellow church members, but the subtext is always that “I would never want to and can’t understand why you do.” What makes literary scholarship such a strange pursuit?

This may be nothing more than my limited personal experience, having only been a member of the church since I was 18 and having only lived in Michigan, Missouri, and northern California since that time. Yet I doubt it. A few months ago our current mission president came to speak at our ward and made a point to explain why medical students and physicians eventually make excellent general authorities and church leaders. I felt sick to my stomach as I watched most of the heads in the congregation nod in agreement. What is it about our culture that glorifies these professions as more appropriate that the fabled “life of the mind?” Why must the “bookish” Mormons be isolated and few? Do we have no roles within church leadership? Is our resistance to hierarchy and willingness to deal in contradictions and ambiguities too unstable to be useful/productive?

I love what you said about our role in breaking stereotypes, but at what point should I be concerned that maybe Mormon culture isn’t a living human culture? That maybe we are just as conservative, insular, and intellectually uncurious as I fear? Perhaps it is part of the genetic makeup of literary scholars to be overly anxious about our place in the academy, our communities, our churches, and the world in general. Still, I find myself genuinely confused when I attend my church meetings and leave feeling like I don’t belong there.  Help?

Nick in the STL

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Filed under academics, intellectuals, liberals, literature, social connectedness

Mormon and liberal? Really???

Dear Ask Mormon Girl:

My wife and I recently heard you on the radio, and we thrilled when you used the words “Mormon” and “liberal” in the same sentence to describe yourself.  We sometimes feel like we are the only liberal Mormons in the Church.  Can you direct us to other podcasts, writings, etc.?


T & M in Tooele County

Dear T& M:

You’re not alone!  Every time I encounter another Mormon liberal, I feel the way I felt that night when I ran out onto the field of the Rose Bowl for the great LDS Southern California Dance Festival of 1985:  Stoked!  Proud! And finally, truly, among my people!

Unless you live in an urban or university ward, chances are you’re one of just a handful of liberals sitting in your Sacrament Meeting. A recent Gallup poll found that Mormons are the most conservative and most Republican of any major religious group in the United States.
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Filed under bennion, liberals, nibley, politics