This article was previously posted by the website Conflict of Justice (which is no longer public) and is shared here with permission from the original author.
I keep seeing Anti-Mormons on Reddit talk about “Mormon therapists” who have helped them “transition” out of the faith. This is not something I have experienced first-hand, so I will not use any names are give any specifics. But I also see certain Anti-Mormons frame themselves as experts of mental health, and I see some therapists advertising themselves as “Mormon” specialists while they seem to in reality be Anti-Mormons. I have to wonder how many Latter-day Saints are being taken in by it.
Need For Wisdom – Concourses of people are seeking out therapy right due to the today’s challenges. Depression and anxiety on on the rise, and it is not only because of the lock-downs. It is also because there is no great music being produced, no art, no culture, no optimism. Everybody is angry about politics and our society is crumbling–there is little to look forward to. A lot of people just need someone to talk to, especially someone with wisdom.
For thousands of years, humans sought the wisdom of tribal elders, someone with the answers to life’s practicalities and deep existential questions. But the Baby Boomer generation is not out there passing down wisdom. They haven’t experienced the Great Depression, and they aren’t offering any solutions to society’s downward slide.
We are just too prideful to admit that wisdom is what we crave. Society has conditioned us to pull up our bootstraps and take on life alone. I don’t need religion to tell me what to do! Well, we weren’t built to take on life alone, and I don’t think that is what God intends. We at least need to talk to friends.
Today, all people have is internet forums–though they are heavily censored by big corporations. Terrible Netflix movies. Google. It is a wasteland where big tech companies rule our informational environment, and it is leaving us very lonely and exploited. Latter-day Saints are as hurt as anyone, as we are accustomed to getting our wisdom at church on Sunday and at the temple, and that has been taken away for many. Being controlled by big corporations is new to us, and we cannot pretend that these terrible Netflix movies and Disney Plus documentaries are satiating our thirst like they apparently are for other people.
We need real life interaction with wise sages to receive their life wisdom. We need to read classic literature that contains age-old wisdom. We need to constantly be reading scriptures and meditating.
Need For Treatment – Then, of course, there are depression and other issues which need to be addressed and treated. It is very understandable to get depressed under today’s conditions, and Utah is an area that naturally has higher depression rates due to the altitude. The new convenience of video chat technology and abundance of therapists (paid for by health insurance) is an obvious solution.
Again, I do not have first-hand experience with what is going on with “Mormon therapy”, but I have to wonder how much they are addressing the rule-of-thumb solutions to depression and other such issues: exercise, diet, sunlight, prayer, etc. I would think those would be the first things to talk about–like a tech support specialist asking you, “have you tried restarting your computer?” I would talk to a psychologist.
Need To Complain – For me, many of my life issues are helped simply by talking to friends. Everyone needs people to complain to, face to face, and the problem is people are complaining on social media instead. Everyone is ranting on Facebook. But social media does not really help us release our frustrations or get advice. I don’t think I have ever improved my life by ranting on social media. It causes further issues instead of resolving anything, and any advice we might get comes from people who likely are bad influences.
Before going to therapy, I would careful fully consider who my real life friends are and what they are doing for me. Do we discuss each other’s life challenges and help each other find resolutions? Do I have a parent, family member, or wise acquaintance I can go to for help with life’s deep issues–things such as romantic break ups and religious doubts? Before sending my children to therapy I would ask the same questions. Therapy certainly helps people sort through issues and therapy can be great–I have seen people receive a lot of help from therapy–but I do not consider it a substitute for the need we all have to complain about life and socialize.
I see many Anti-Mormons (and a lot of Anti-Mormons seem to have therapists) describing their therapists as helping them with common sense stuff that I learned from my teachers, parents, and friends. These are life lessons that everyone needs to learn, and for thousands of years people have learned it from family and friends. Maybe these folks do not have positive role models in their lives to learn this from, in which case they do need to find someone. But also, many times I get the sense they just need someone they feel “comfortable with” complaining to.
I make sure to have someone I would feel comfortable talking to if I had doubts about my religious testimony or had serious life problems. We all need that. Plenty of times, what these Anti-Mormons seem to be receiving is bad advice. Maybe they are misinterpreting what their therapists are telling them to do, but how much is it really helping?
The Anti-Mormon Fake ‘Bishop Interview’ Podcast – I hear horror stories where Latter-day Saints sent their child to a therapist and he walked away with Anti-Mormon ideas. Even in church institutions, I see many patients seem to come out of therapy with ruined testimonies. Don’t think it won’t happen just because the church is associated with the therapy they are getting!
A therapist once told me her family therapy friends get together and brag about how many patients they had get divorces. You’ve got to be careful.
I have noticed that the current Anti-Mormon podcast trend to is make the podcast seem like a bishop interview. The podcast is video recorded in a warm comfortable home setting, with evening sunlight streaming through the window. The fake “Mormon expert” is leaning back in his cozy chair, smiling, and jovially welcoming you to the show. He has a slightly dorky Utah smile that puts you at ease. It is every doubter’s fantasy of what a bishop’s interview should be like.
Nobody likes driving to the church building in the dark night, awkwardly setting in the foyer waiting for our turn, and then sitting in the stiff wooden chair while the Bishop examines our faces for any sign of guilt. Who enjoys that? These Anti-Mormon podcasts provide the experience we wish for, and when the “Mormon expert” affirms everything we say instead of calling us to repentance, it is very unlikely that we will want to step in a real bishop’s office again.
The problem is these fake “Mormon experts” are Anti-Mormons. They have practiced in front of a mirror for hours to get just the right facial expression. They have studied at university and trained hard to learn the right manipulation techniques. They act deeply concerned about your problems and offended that nobody in the church seems to care, but in reality they only care about dividing you from your faith. This is not a real interview but a slick video production, financed by unknown sources and targeted to the most vulnerable.
I have also noticed that these certain “Mormon experts” play the victim. Everything you say either agrees with them or is an attack on them. They frequently complain about persecution they receive from those horrible “Mormons” who want don’t want the “truth” getting out. Meanwhile, these “Mormon experts” themselves are constantly censoring and silencing Latter-day Saints. You can’t just have a different opinion. They are on constant attack mode, even if they pretend to agree with you when it is convenient to do so.
The Crusade Against Bishop’s Interviews – A few years ago, Anti-Mormon organizations launched a massive propaganda campaigns against Bishop’s interviews. Do you remember that? It was a pretty ridiculous attack, completely devoid of substance, relying purely on innuendo. “My Bishop asked if I ever had sex and that made me uncomfortable.” “What if a Bishop took advantage of the situation to do this or that?” The attack was effective because it rode on the coat-tails of #MeToo and because the news media spread the attack so pervasively.
Defenders of the faith reflexively fought back, stating the obvious: Bishop’s interviews are useful opportunities for Latter-day Saints to talk about life’s problems and receive wisdom. Bishop’s interviews are a huge benefit to us. But I did not see defenders of the faith talk about why Anti-Mormons were attacking Latter-day Saints with this narrative. It is not only to separate us from this vital source of wisdom and socializing–it is also so they could replace it with their counterfeit podcast and possibly with subversive therapists.
This Anti-Mormon propaganda campaign which was so aggressively pursued by online trolls, Utah’s news media, and other big corporations was apparently successful. There is now a lot of taboo about Bishop’s interviews, which is frankly infuriating. Anti-Mormons even film Bishop’s interview themed pornography. Satan hits this part of the church hard because it is so vital at this time and so useful in getting church members to lose their testimonies. And for some reason members seem to be falling for it!
If we were to expose what is going on, Anti-Mormons could just argue we are against therapy–we are against science and healthcare. They frame it as if any competent therapy would lead people away from faith, and there couldn’t possibly be subversion happening. Of course, there are great therapists out there who do a great job and help people enrich their lives in ways beneficial to their faith in Jesus Christ. But we need to be extremely careful, because I am seeing some troublesome stories out there.
Nothing in this article should be considered medical or legal advice.