Trigger Warning: This section discusses how the church impacts minority groups and discusses abuse, childlessness, LGBT+ issues, and gender roles.

I am inspired by the lyrics to “I’ll Walk With You” in the Children’s Songbook:

If you don’t walk as most people do,

Some people walk away from you,

But I won’t! I won’t!

If you don’t talk as most people do,

Some people talk and laugh at you,

But I won’t! I won’t!

I’ll walk with you. I’ll talk with you.

That’s how I’ll show my love for you.

Jesus walked away from none.

He gave his love to ev’ryone.

So I will! I will!

Jesus blessed all he could see,

Then turned and said, “Come, follow me.”

And I will! I will!

I will! I will!

I’ll walk with you. I’ll talk with you.

That’s how I’ll show my love for you.

View Full Song

It is disgusting to me, then, that the church would ever feel unwelcoming to anyone. Of course, the church is often welcoming to wealthy or middle-class white men. I often feel that part of the reason I was able to stay in the church so long was that I (as a middle-class white man) was allowed to be comfortable. I was eligible for any calling I could possibly want. The church had made it clear to me for decades that I was born into my comfortable status because I had won God’s favor (perhaps even before I was born).

As much as I thought I could understand others’ experiences, I simply didn’t see the harm the church can cause to anyone who doesn’t fit the mold (which was, conveniently, the mold you were to fit in around the time the church was established). I am ashamed to have been unaware of the suffering or struggle of minorities in the church, and I sincerely hope that my research and experience can help me write this section as sensitively as possible.

Who Is “The Other”?

Perhaps you’ve been “the other” before. I remember how it felt to be picked last in gym class, how painful it was to be teased because I didn’t have social skills, and how it felt to be a relatively-disliked racial and religious minority. While these experiences are obviously not exact parallels to everyone, I hope that I can draw on them as a way to empathize.

If you have spent much time in the church, you’ve probably already got a good idea of who “the other” might be. I know everyone’s lives are unique and this list is in no way comprehensive, but perhaps “the other” includes some of these groups:

  • Women
  • Introverts
  • Single adults over 22
  • Racial minorities (i.e., anyone who isn’t white)
  • The LGBT+ community
  • Parents, children, and other family members of people in the LGBT+ community
  • Members of other faiths
  • Part-member families
  • Inactive members
  • Ex-mormons
  • Non-mormons
  • Unmarried couples who live together
  • People with disabilities and chronic illnesses
  • Neurodiverse people
  • People experiencing poverty or homelessness
  • Non-conservative voters (in some areas)
  • People with tattoos
  • People who drink tea, coffee, or alcohol
  • People who disagree with church leaders
  • Nuanced members
  • Activists
  • Missionaries who return early
  • Survivors of abuse and domestic violence
  • People with non-conservative hair or clothes
  • People who don’t take the sacrament
  • People who swear
  • Readers of non-church-produced media
  • Teachers who take on controversial topics in Sunday School
  • Disobedient missionaries
  • Middle-aged men without significant callings
  • People who turn down callings
  • Couples who don’t want or can’t have children
  • Adults without a college education

This list could go on for quite a while, but I believe I have made my point. I suggest that fewer people are made to feel welcome in the church than are not. Because I cannot possibly do all of these groups justice due to my lack of experience, I would like to discuss in greater depth how just a few of these “others” are impacted.


I had a terrible time knowing even where to start with this one. Women are not equal to men in the church. They simply are not. Because I, occasionally to my demise, have a Y-chromosome and do not have the understanding this topic deserves, I would like to quote two women who have been extremely supportive as I have deconstructed my faith.

Note that throughout this letter, I refer to my wife as “my wife” rather than by her name. After much discussion, she determined it was in her best professional interests to make it hard for search engines to index this document using her name. If the day comes that she would like her name to appear on this website, I will wholeheartedly support her and update it, but for now, know I omit her name by her own request.

First, a quote from my wife. I recorded this thought shortly after we learned we likely couldn’t have kids, and we were working on processing the trauma that came with that.

Growing up, I was taught I was nothing more than a baby-making, housekeeping sex toy, an object for my husband’s use and enjoyment. Beginning in primary — before I had even started puberty — I was overtly taught that the greatest role I could ever fill is that of a righteous homemaker, a wife, and a mother. I was a second-class citizen in the church from my conception, and I was expected to be treated as such for time and all eternity as my husband’s wife.

While the news was challenging for both of us, my wife seemed especially devastated. She felt like because God won’t let her have kids, her worth was gone. Never mind her academic and professional success and her amazing skills in so many areas of life; her job was to be a mom and now she couldn’t have that. We talked about how she could still be a nurturing, motherly figure, but her role as a mother was so deeply ingrained in her beliefs about herself.

Second, I roughly quote one of our good friends who has been extremely helpful as we have deconstructed our beliefs:

It feels like the playground bully is holding equality over women’s heads. It feels so “gaslighty”. They say women are equal and toss us a little tiny bit: young women passing the sacrament to women in mothers’ rooms, relief society presidents helping more with church welfare. But it’s not equality. I’m still a helpmeet to my husband, I’m still first and foremost a mom, I’m still a second-class citizen who needs a man to make my decisions for me.

When we first started talking about gender dynamics in the church, I learned that there was a whole world I had never even noticed. I didn’t have any clue that my wife felt less-than when she learned in the temple that I was required for her to be exalted. I didn’t know how painful it is for women to feel like they don’t have a voice at church. I am ashamed to have benefitted greatly from imbalanced gender roles without even realizing it. My wife has mentioned that she didn’t even realize it, but she was conditioned to expect to be less-than, even in her own home.

Since leaving the church, we have made it a priority to have truly equal roles in our marriage. I still have a lot to learn, and I am so grateful for my wife’s patience as I have learned about the subtle ways I was conditioned to oppress her in our own home. We are becoming happier than ever, and our relationship is healthier and more balanced than it ever was.

Racial Minorities

This topic has been discussed to no end in both support and opposition of the church. While I condemn the racist teachings and practices in the church (many of which still exist today), I do not feel especially qualified to thoroughly address racism in this setting.

I will simply say that I am disgusted that the church and its leaders would teach for decades that racial minorities are inferior, were less righteous before this life, or should not participate fully in the church. It is, in my opinion, horrifying and reflective of low moral character to insist that the church is not (and has never been) racist. It is disappointing to see racist church leaders from generations ago hailed as prophets and revelators without acknowledging that many of their fundamental teachings were inherently racist and directly contradictory to God’s nature as “no respector of persons”.

The LGBT+ Community and Their Families

LGBT+ issues are a hot-button topic, especially as they pertain to the church. It is likely you know many people in the LGBT+ community, and it is likely that (if you are a faithful church member), you experience a great deal of cognitive dissonance about them. Chances are, most or all of them are wonderful people who live happy and peaceful lives. It is confusing, then, why church leaders emphasize that they are inherently sinful.

I do not feel I can give a fair perspective on LGBT+ issues in the church, as I still have a lot to learn. But I would like to share a few thoughts that, in my opinion, serve as a thorough indictment of the church.

It has become common to talk about micro-aggressions in the context of inclusion. Essentially, there are a number of things people say, potentially meaning well, that work to give someone the impression they are less-than, or that they are not truly a member of the community. They have the potential to create a powerful us-vs-them attitude. I have personally heard more micro-aggressions in the context of LGBT+ issues in the church than in any other context.

TW: Micro-aggressions and coming out

Perhaps you have heard (or even said and believed) some of these statements, which serve to make someone feel unwelcome:

  • It’s not a sin if they don’t act on it
  • They’re not gay, they experience same-sex attraction
  • It’s not actually a sin to be gay
  • They can work it out with God for themself
  • They’re gay, but we still love them
  • I don’t understand why someone would be trans
  • I can’t support their lifestyle, but I love them anyway
  • LGBWXYZ, Alphabet People, There’s too many letters, etc.
  • Gay isn’t an identity, they’re a child of God

Perhaps you’ve heard or even said similar sentiments. I am deeply saddened to know that I likely hurt a great number of people by propagating these sentiments. When we left the church, I told my wife, “I feel like I’m finally free to just plain love and support people. I don’t have to worry about balancing God’s commandments with loving my neighbor.”

I am deeply discouraged when I hear many church members and leaders treat LBGT+ individuals as less-than. I am ashamed to have once believed that “same-sex attraction” was just a temptation from God. While his story is his to tell, when my high school best friend came out as gay (in his 20s), I started to really consider how I was treating and thinking about LGBT+ issues in the church. I recently sat uncomfortably through a meeting while a stake president mentioned that we shouldn’t care or even acknowledge that someone is gay. He taught that all of our identities boil down to being a child of God, and that we should look past anything else.

I bit my tongue, but I wanted to ask: if the only part of our identity that matters is being a child of God, why would The Family: A Proclamation to the World indicate that gender is a vital part of our identities? And why, if we only care about being children of God, can women and men not have the same responsibilities within the church?

I have tried throughout these epistles to avoid throwing unanswered questions at a reader, so I propose my own answer to the above questions: The church’s leaders benefit greatly by putting themselves above others, especially when someone’s identity can be dismissed as sinful.

Further complicating the issue, parents of people in the LGBT+ community are often stuck between a rock and a hard place; damned if they support the church, damned if they support their child. I regret remaining silent in a Sunday School class sitting next to the parents of my gay best friend while the teacher taught that “if you raise a kid up in the way they should go, they won’t depart from it”. The lesson condemned parents who didn’t do enough to keep their kids “on the strait and narrow”. My friend’s mom decided to prioritize loving and supporting her son over defending the church; his dad chose to prioritize the church. Neither was able to balance the church’s teachings: his mom was condemned by staunch church members for letting her morals slide, and his dad was condemned by others for letting his child down.

An aside (slash angry rant) on deadnaming. I am still appalled when some church members expect someone to remember and recite “Member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” and become genuinely upset about the use of the word “Mormon” while deadnaming people (i.e., using someone’s former name or pronouns after an identity transition) or refuse to use any of the several appropriate ways to refer to the LGBT+ community (e.g., LGBT, LGBT+, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA+, etc.). I cringed in church meetings when someone talked about “alphabet people”, “LBTQ”, or any other combination of letters. The LGBT+ community is huge and there are 4-7 letters to learn.

Less-Common Church Membership Status

While it seems to be becoming more acceptable, church members have long-condemned nuanced, less-active or inactive church members, calling them “lazy learners” or “fence-walkers”. I remember feeling morally superior as they sent young men to recruit our less-active friends to come to activities. It was made clear to me that people were to be exactly obedient to the church, and that meant giving it 100%. We talked in classes and meetings about people who were “falling away” or “giving in to the influence of the adversary”. Especially if someone sins visibly (i.e., swearing, drinking coffee, tea, or alcohol), the church has members believe they have been deceived by Satan’s lies and should be preached to.

Neurodiversity and Introversion

I am autistic and introverted. Church meetings and ordinances were a living hell. It was exhausting to act like a door-to-door salesman during two years of missionary work. It was painful to be baptized over and over for the dead or have water and oil dripped onto my head during initiatory ceremonies. It was humiliating to be expected to give equivalent talks and testimonies to everyone else. And I was one of the lucky ones: I have relatively low support needs and can “mask” well enough to fit in during church meetings.

A family member with ADHD has also shared her experience being judged and criticized for playing games, drawing, reading, or working on crafts during church meetings. Because it was painful to sit still and focus on the speakers in church, she always felt like a lower-class citizen among church members.

The church’s message is clear: if you are not an extroverted neurotypical person, you’re not welcome.

Early-returning Missionaries

Thankfully, the church seems to be trying to correct this issue, but so many missionaries who return early deal with shame, fear, and all the negative emotions that come from feeling like a failure.


It is, in my opinion, a damnable tragedy that the church, which claims to be the one and only church endorsed by Jesus Christ, causes so many people to feel unwelcome. This is especially sad when the New Testament tells stories of Jesus focusing on “the other”, from the woman taken in adultery to lepers and people with mental health challenges.