In this two-part episode of Mormon Stories, we interview Sean Carter—traveling law humorist of Lawpsided Seminars.  In this entertaining and lively interview, we discuss:

  • Sean’s upbringing as a black youth in the Compton area of Los Angeles, and later in suburban L.A.
  • How Sean was bused into a primarily white high school, and how he developed his talent for comedy as a way to be accepted/liked at school.
  • His attempts to “exempt himself out of blackness” to keep himself safe, and to achieve success in white America.
  • His path to attending Harvard Law School, where he studied law alongside Barack Obama.
  • His marriage, and how his investigation of the LDS Church began as a way to “bring Jesus” to his wife.
  • His experiences as an investigator learning about Mormonism from Mormon Stories Podcast and other progressive/post-Mormon sources, and how he joined the church as a non-literal-believer.
  • His growing awakening as to how unsafe America can be for black people, his feelings of regret around downplaying his black identity, and growing concerns for the safety of his own children.
  • His ultimate realization that the policies of the Mormon Church favored white culture, and how recent excommunications (e.g., Kate Kelly, John Dehlin) and the November 2015 LGBT policies (declaring same-sex married individuals as automatic apostates, and preventing children with gay parents from church membership) ultimately led him out of Mormonism.

https://www.lawhumorist.com/

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Part 2:

16 Comments

  1. Frank September 5, 2017 at 11:11 am - Reply

    John,

    OJ grew up in San Francisco..

  2. Avejoe September 5, 2017 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    Sean said he grew up in “Compton adjacent” Chino Hills. Chino Hills is 40 miles away from Compton and very middle class.

  3. Jasmine September 5, 2017 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed this. Thank you! This is such an important conversation!
    I had never heard about this white supremacist “mommy blogger”. It is so infuriating that she (and John’s example as well) are still in good church standing.
    The last time I attended church was after a horrible relief society meeting where a young woman (in her early 30s) stated that we shouldn’t have interracial marriages. About half the room rolled their eyes and a few of us disagreed with our voices (the 3 of us in the room who are in interracial marriages). And she pulled out her trump card saying that it’s what the church teaches. And she’s right; that is what the church taught–I remember my young women’s teacher talking about that when I was 14, and I knew it was wrong then. I had been debating whether or not I should leave the church, and this conversation settled it for me: It is ok for her to insult my interracial marriage and she is still welcome and safe at church. But its not ok for me to say what’s in my heart. I could never make a comment or even ask a question about female ordination in relief society without fear of a bishop interview and possible excommunication and a complete shunning from the ward, yet she can mock my marriage. Mormons need to take a good look at themselves, and like you said in your Trump example, not choose a racist and a misogynist because they think they’ll get a tax break.

  4. Laura September 7, 2017 at 8:12 am - Reply

    My favorite podcasts are the ones that teach me the most. By that parameter this one might top them all. Thank you Sean, John, and all who helped put this podcast together.

  5. Dot September 8, 2017 at 8:39 am - Reply

    Non-American, non-black, non-man here. Loved it, learned a lot, enjoyed the wisdom and the laughs. Thank you!

  6. Lilli September 8, 2017 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Excellent content. Thanks Sean for helping us understand these vital issues. Very entertaining but even more insightful. Thank you!

  7. Lisa Angel September 10, 2017 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    I watch something like this and I am embarrassed to say I was ever mormon. I
    appreciate that we are having these conversations, it’s the only way we will ever seea positive change. So thank you Sean and John. Not to defend but to add some insight-
    Most Mormons do not like to appear imperfect or confrontational , so they sit there with the blank stare. But I think Sean is right we need to speak up and have the hard conversations, none of us are perfect we don’t like to admit anything negative about ourselves, but those who are the most controversial are usually the loudest and we need to stop letting them get away with it !

  8. Jose Galdamez September 12, 2017 at 11:38 am - Reply

    To anyone doubting the extent to which a TBM can defend white supremacy, look no further than the YouTube comments section of this interview. I had some personal back and forth with a member throwing mud at Sean’s character while vehemently defending Richard Spencer as someone who is merely misunderstood. I’ve also seen other TBM friends spend significant energy defending the legacy of American figures such as General Robert E. Lee.

  9. Leah September 13, 2017 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    When Sean was talking about the members who said “how dare you tell me how to live my life!” That was hilarious. On a more somber note, before I left the church, I voted for Trump. I regret that now, obviously, now that I am outside the church and no longer religious. I was like those mormons, Sean spoke about, who would listen to those of color and seem empathetic but completely disconnect from that to give my support to a candidate that I thought was better than Clinton.
    In hindsight, I am not the same person but the experience taught me that I didn’t have opinions or standards of my own, but relied on those of people strong in the church and that resembled the church’s standards.
    I loved the interview. There is close mindedness in the church but those people are unaware of their biases. I’m ashamed of my past but the important lesson was for me to change my view of the world and its people, looking in as a human being who sees others as equal as myself.

  10. Doubting Thomas September 13, 2017 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Sean is very funny. I loved when he would participate in the general conference reviews. (John bring those back brother!)

    I don’t know how any African American man or woman could be part of Mormonism knowing the information that in on LDS.org and the Internet. Read the letter from Delbert Stapley (Google it) and you can see just how racist Mormon leaders were. Glad you’ve left Sean.

  11. cl_rand September 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Very enlightening. Being a child of the fifties and growing up within the white and delightsome arms of Utah Mormonism I was 18 years old before ever even saw a black person other than on TV. In the 50 years since then I’ve learned that discovering ones own racism, misogyny and/or homophobia is a bit like peeling back an onion. Inevitably, whenever I take the time to listen to folks like Sean Carter, Kate Kelly, Kimberly Anderson and many others, I am surprised to discover some new ignorance within my own world view. Listening to this episode was like that. One of these days, when I finally know it all, maybe I’ll stop getting these surprises but I hope that day is a long way off. Thanks for facilitating these wonderfully thought provoking discussions John.

  12. Cory September 15, 2017 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    Great interview! Substantive, informative, and entertaining.

  13. David September 18, 2017 at 5:53 am - Reply

    I am aware of the truth problems of the Mormon Church but like you at one time, John, have had some desire to stay connected with the good that is there. However, discussions like this really tip the balance for me.

  14. Mormon X September 18, 2017 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Another good and educational interview. I’m surprised Sean didn’t bring up the subtle and not-so-subtle racism here in Arizona against the Mexican-American community. Arizona Senate Bill 1070 was supported by many state politicians and their constituents who were LDS. State rep Russell Pearce, a member from the Mesa area, helped in the conversion of a well-known white supremacist. Many members also supported the actions of Sheriff Arpaio, the toughest and most racist sheriff in American. I guess that’s part of the curse for being a Lamanite in Arizona!

  15. cory September 20, 2017 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Sean, regarding use of the n-word: at least in Logan, Utah, during the 80’s, among decently educated middle-class Mormons, we definitely heard–and sad to say–occasionally used the n-word. Not excessively, and not, I think, maliciously, but still, it was used. I don’t know if that is true today, likely less so.

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