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Radio Free Mormon: 179: The Illusion of Agency

How do LDS Church leaders get the members to do what they are told, while at the same time telling them they are free to choose?  RFM digs into the heart of this fascinating subject!


22 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 179: The Illusion of Agency”

  1. The whole plan of salvation thing is something I have been pondering on for awhile and I have come to a conclusion. Why would God sacrifice his son….what father would sacrifice their children? If anything, most fathers would sacrifice themselves for their children…if God so loved the world…he should be sacrificing himself…hmmm….am I wrong?

    1. that’s where the actual Christian Trinity comes in. Jesus is God. You are right. That is what He did to save us from the fall…..

      that is why Mormons are not considered Christians. Their teaching of God has been completely perverted from the get go.

    2. The Gospels seem to go back and forth on this issue; whether it is God sacrificing his son or Jesus sacrificing himself.

      John 3:16 has God sacrificing his son.

      Jesus tells his disciples that no man has greater love than he who lays down his life for his friends.

      I think this issue has been with us a long time!

  2. I no longer ponder anything regarding the church’s fairy tale…..because, for me, it’s all fake…js=fraud; bofm=fake; plan of salvation=fake

  3. Also, so glad I finally have FREE agency……no FREE agency in the mormon church. Loved this podcast RFM…keep it up!

  4. RFM…..what an excellent episode!! It was so incredibly satisfying to hear these ideas put together and expressed in such a logical, orderly manner.

    It’s not that we all haven’t had some sense of this, but getting it articulated this well is so freeing.

    I think you barely scratched the surface of a huge topic that I would love for you to address in more episodes. This concept of illusory freedom of choice runs through every cell of Mormonism.

    How did we tolerate our freedom being so shamelessly taken? It’s because the tradeoff of the security in having all the answers, was worth it to us, whether we care to admit that now or not.

    And unless we take responsibility for our part of the equation, we can leave without ever escaping…at least that’s been my experience.

    Love you RFM

    1. “How did we tolerate our freedom being so shamelessly taken? It’s because the tradeoff of the security in having all the answers, was worth it to us, whether we care to admit that now or not.”

      For me, Angie, it was Pride (my Original Sin, if you will): “I will be like the Most High”.

      1. We don’t differ. What is more self satisfyingly smug than the pompous assurity that you will be a God?? It’s the most heretical, blasphemous theological premise that can’t help but breed the most insufferable brand of arrogance!

    2. Dear Angie,

      I agree with you. When you have living prophets who can show you the way to the celestial kingdom, you are often habituated to doing whatever they tell you to do.

      Up to and including sacrificing your family relationships for your church calling. Because that is the only way you will be with your family forever!

      In the upcoming part 2, we go over a talk by Elder and Sister Gay where Elder Gay tells the story of how an apostle called him to be a mission president.

      Elder Gay politely declined.

      The apostle then browbeat Elder Gay and his wife into accepting the calling.

      On what basis?

      Because God is trying to save you!

      Elder Gay then realized his life was “out of balance.”

      You see, unless you are all in; unless you do absolutely everything you are “invited” to do in the LDS Church, you are “out of balance.”

      Part 2 is going to be a lot of fun!

  5. If someone lies to me once I tend to put a question mark behind everything else that someone says. The trouble for me is that I didn’t know I was being lied to. Thinking back to your work on Adam God and the coverup I see that I was unaware of the coverup. It seems questionable that an accurate and honest letter sent by Bruce McConkie to Eugene England would need to be confidential. Six months earlier he had publicly stated he knew that Brigham Young didn’t teach the Adam God doctrine. The England letter proves that he did. If he had just learned this he should have publicly corrected it. At least that’s what I think an honest response should be. The Brigham Young lesson manual used the sanitized Discourses of Brigham Young as a reference without double checking the original. I remember reading that compilation by John Widstoe thinking Brother Brigham was right on and could do no wrong. Later I learn some stuff that is really in his writings. I have often gone along naively under the illusion of honesty being sent my way. It is interesting how Brigham doctored revelations and writings of Joseph Smith to support the Apostolic takeover and later Brigham’s words are doctored or reduced, without benefit of ellipsis even, to cover up his teachings. I was under the illusion of honesty. I would like to see a side by side of some original words followed by the doctored words. You don’t happen to have that 330 page book of Brigham quotes on PDF? Now it’s a question mark behind everything. Thanks for another thought provoking episode.

    1. Dear Jim,

      Just to be clear, Elder McConkie actually never said Brigham Young didn’t teach the Adam-God Theory. He just used words to make it sound like that is what he was saying.

      If you go back and actually read that section of “The Seven Deadly Heresies” speech, you will see what I am talking about.

      This is a skill set above and beyond simple lying.

      This is the artful use of words to give the impression you are saying one thing while you actually aren’t saying it.

      This is done to give you wiggle room should you be called on it.

      It is sometimes called “equivocation.”

      Equivocation is one of the primary themes of Macbeth.

      “I pull in resolution and begin
      To doubt th’ equivocation of the fiend
      That lies like truth.”

  6. I think this is such an important topic for you to cover and I am so glad you have decided to take it on.

    I hope you will use as an example the temple. I think it is the ultimate manifestation of this “illusion of agency”. You don’t get to know before hand what you are agreeing to. You are given a “choice” at the beginning of the ceremony to leave but there is immense social pressure to stay. I mean for most people you’re either about to get married and you have family that have flown in from all over expectantly waiting either outside or in the temple.
    Or you’re about to go on a mission which you’ve been preparing for all of your life. Everyone is expecting this of you and if you don’t do it, you’ll basically be a second class Mormon that no good woman will ever want to marry.
    You have this one chance right at the beginning to leave, and if you stay, you’re basically signing your name in blood to all of it before ever being allowed to read the contract.

    I think this experience is so hard core that we have to be primed all our lives with all of the other trespasses against our agency to go along with this. I am surprised more ex Mormons don’t talk about it.

    My temple experience shocked me so much that it was the reason I ultimately left the church. For me, this was the moment when the mask of the church was finally removed and I saw it for what it really was.
    But I just think that if most people could fully and with clear eyes know beforehand what happens in the temple, how weird it is, and what they have to agree to, they would never do it. I also think most people wouldn’t do it if their own family wasn’t right there with them lending legitimacy to the whole experience.
    So many tricks have to be in play for this to work and I think all of the temple conditioning starts at a very young age.

    Thank you so much RFM for all of your hard work and all of your astute observations and your impressive ability to put the pieces together in such a clear way.

    1. This is an excellent example about the vows made at the temple, Maren!

      I am going to have to include it in part 2!



      1. Another point to add about the temple….what about the whole premise of baptizing, endowing and sealing deceased people without knowledge or permissio from their families???????

        ….only to have it justified by saying the deceased will have the choice to refuse or accept AFTER the fact.

        ….That’s like getting dunked in a bucket of shit and then asking you if you wanted that or not ….ah, too late, damage done.

        It’s just so messed up! what presumptuous arrogance!

  7. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

    Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

    In this parable, the merchant man gets the opportunity to examine the pearl to determine its value before selling all that he has in order to buy it.

    How many of us have paid a great price only to discover later on that the pearls of Mormonism are made of plastic?

  8. Look, I don’t want to be militant, but the way the ideas are expressed in this episode focused my “general unhappiness” with the church into white-hot rage.

    Over and over I hear well-meaning ex-members saying they are not trying to take away people from the church. They generously proclaim “I love my Mormon upbringing” without acknowledging that any genuine alternative was carefully held out of reach.

    When an organization engages in this kind of information control, its true intentions are laid bare. Make no mistake. Members born into the church are born to serve the organization. Propagandized as soon we could speak, we eagerly embraced our servitude; driven by our good intentions and insulated by our ignorance.

    It is as heart-breaking as it is infuriating to be so ill-used by those who claimed to love us. Those who yoked us and told themselves it was for our own good.

    I’m angry RFM. 50+ years of my life living for a promised afterlife that upon inspection evaporated into mist.

    How can we stand against this? How does one make a stand?

    I’m not truly angry with anyone who loved their upbringing. I’m just weary of the soft language we are forced to use to prove we are well-adjusted, non-rapid-anti-mormons.

    Any organization that engages in a campaign of birth-to-death misinformation and obfuscation deserves to be dragged into the bright light and shown for what it is.

    Thanks RFM for being so candid. I’ve donated. I really wish I knew what else to do.

  9. Chris….that was so well articulated! You described so brilliantly the lifelong slavery we were all subjected to and especially the outrageous expectation for our white hot rage at discovering the outright exploitation, to be kept contained lest we be invalidated by it in one fell swoop.

    ….as if our natural reaction to such unforgivable evil makes what they did and continue to do to millions of unsuspecting victims null and void.

    ….as if our lifetimes, (myself 60 years)spent conforming to a cesspool of lies, deception and manipulation means nothing if we become angry when the curtain is pulled back on the truth of it!

    I feel you brother!

  10. Response to Chris’ message… I totally agree. This illusion of agency topic is particularly sensitive to those of us who were born and raised in the church. We were lied to all along the way, while presented with this false agency/freewill paradigm that RFM talked about.

    RFM, it would be great if you could do an episode focusing on the experience of people born and raised in the church as it pertains to this agency illusion aspect.

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