A quick Q&A with Todd Whitaker about that testimony of his
Todd Whitaker recently bore his testimony. The video of Todd testifying to his ward has now gone viral. As you may have seen, it was not your typical Mormon F&T meeting fare.
I caught up with Todd by email and he agreed to answer a few questions.
CB: Before we get started, I just wanted to mention a comment I noticed on another board that neatly described my own reaction the first time I watched your clip: “This video has many layers of win.” From your deadpan delivery of some harsh home truths about Mormon involvement in the Prop 8 campaign, to your calm side conference with the concerned bishop, to your not skipping a beat when the mike goes dead, all the way through to the calm exit with your escort in tow … The clip is a baklava of win. Did you have any idea – before you stood and bore witness at that meeting – that there’d be anything like the kind of response you’ve seen?
TW: I had no clue that it would become what it has … but I am pleased to have helped so many other closeted gay Mormons, as they seem to have derived some sort of courage from my testimony to stand up to their own bishops and friends and family members.
CB: What did the Bishop whisper in your ear when he got up?
TW: He said, “Todd, this is about Testimony, please step down.” My reply to him was, “I am almost finished. This is a Testimony, sir.”
CB: What thoughts were running through your head when you realized he had turned off the microphone?
TW: I was thinking to myself how one-sided this church really is. After all, I helped pay for that mic and the power to operate it. It also made me think about what my mother told me when I came out at the age of thirteen. She said, “I don’t want anyone to hurt you my son, and the Mormon Church will hurt you if they know who Todd really is. They will never accept you for who and what you are, so my advice to you is to not get too involved, as the rest of the Whitakers are deeply entrenched in this religion.”
I was also thinking that if I had any doubts before, I was absolutely certain now. I wanted to say a few words to the bishop but decided it wasn’t worth my time.
CB: Were further words exchanged in the foyer or outside the chapel as you left?
TW: Yes, a lady from the aisle in front of me followed me to the parking lot, grabbing my hand tightly as we walked to the rear of the building. She wanted to share her personal experience with me regarding her former husband of twenty-three years, who had left her for a man. She informed me that due to the animosity she had harbored towards him, she herself was disfellowshipped from the church. No one else dared to come near as they were all dismissed to go to their regular Sunday school meetings.
CB: What has the reaction been from friends and family?
TW: My immediate family, especially my father, has commended me for standing up for my rights, and I have unconditional support from my siblings and nieces and nephews. I am overwhelmed by the positive support they have all displayed. As for the Utah family members? I have sent a few emails to selected individuals and absolutely no reply. I haven’t heard a word from the Church or any Whitaker Mormons, interestingly enough. As for friends, again, I am overwhelmed by their unconditional love, respect, and support through all of this.
CB: Thank you, Todd.
And with that, we will now turn the remainder of the time over to Main Street Plaza for your comments.
And Todd, if you’re reading, please feel very welcome to join in!
Todd (and Chino), thanks for this additional background. In a world of splash you are a cannonball gangsta, sir. Even more liberal mormons have taken offense at your unorthodox use of F&T Mtg. Just goes to show that orthodoxy is a matter of opinion.
Thanks again and I really hope that we continue to hear from you.
Cool interview. Thanks.
Thanks for giving us more details!
I’ve seen so many former Mormons speculate about what they’d say if they stood up at the pulpit one last time to explain why they’re leaving — but I’ve never heard of anyone actually doing it. That must have taken some courage.
If this is true, it’s unfortunate. Testimonies in F&T Meeting are expected to include information about how the gospel has affected your life. Todd was a contributing member of that congregation, and his experience with Prop 8 is as authentic as that of any other member congregation.
I anxiously await the day when a Mormon bishop walks on to Glenn Beck’s set, takes that good brother by the shoulder to deliver a much needed admonition, and then proceeds to move off-camera to do the necessary … cut Glenn’s mic and escort him from the building.
Todd–YOU ROCK, and you have done the church and the entire planet a very great service.
At first, I was inclined to side with the bishop and say – this is about “testimonies” and shouldn’t be politicized.
But then I started thinking about all the times I’ve seen some “Righteous Limbaugh” from High Priest Quorum get up and subject us to a 10 minute tour de force of Conservative American values while the bishop squirms uncomfortably a bit, but doesn’t actually do anything about it.
Then I decided to just keep my mouth shut about it.
Its been a week and a half since I left the church and still, Not a Word from Any of My Utah Relatives Or Representatives from the Mormon Church…My Sister Wendy, (Not to confuse My cousin Joan who the letter was from) Has Been the most support next to my father and Mother, again I had No Idea that My Testimony would have had such a positive impact on so many lives…My heart is warmed by the incredible comments both Pos And Neg I Have seen about this video on Numerous web sites and Blogs…
Thank You Everybody
Thank you, Todd!
Todd, You’ve done a wonderful service for those out that didn’t have the courage, strength, or ability to voice what you voiced in Sacrament Meeting that day.
Thank you for this.
Thanks Todd. I wish I could have done the same when I was a member.
Todd – Awesome!
Hey Everybody I have a question for you? Has My testimony Given any other “Gay Mormons” the Courage to stand up to their Ward, Bishop, Or Family Members? I would really Love to know, And Thank you for your Positive comments … a Dear Friend Of mine has asked me to Join her in her synagog and I think I May give it a try …..Thanks Again Everyone
I can understand why the gay community is upset regarding Prop 8. What I cannot understand is why they are upset about what practices the church sets for its members, e.g. not condoning homosexuality among its members.
The church is a private organization, and therefore has the right to set its own standards. If there is a tenet of mormonism that one doesn’t agree with, one is not forced to be a mormon. If you disagree with the Mormon Church, then you don’t adhere to their ideology. Get over it and either leave their church, or conform to the ideology if you would like to be a member. Asking a church to change its ideology to suit the political climate is absurd.
Wow, that took some serious stones to do. I agree with just about everything you said, but I’ll be honest, it did feel a little weird to watch (i don’t really have a good reason for why though). Still, I’m glad you said what needed to be said. Best of luck to you moving forward.
John, the Mormon Church is not just any bowling league. It claims to be the one true Church of Jesus Christ.
That comes with certain obligations that go far beyond minimal legal standards.
Is it really asking for too much that parents and Church leaders do not condemn their own children because they have been born gay?
“Asking a church to change its ideology to suit the political climate is absurd.”
Except that the LDS church (and others) changes its tenets to fit political and cultural realities all the time. Polygamy, for example. Allowing members of African descent to receive the priesthood for another. So its not unreasonable to hope that the LDS church will one day move beyond its historical attitudes toward homosexuality.
“I can understand why the gay community is upset regarding Prop 8. What I cannot understand is why they are upset about what practices the church sets for its members, e.g. not condoning homosexuality among its members.”
It’s called “empathy.” I highly recommend it.
Out of curiosity, Todd, why did you decide to video this event?
Honestly after several months and quite a few serious discussions with my Father, after all he is and always has been very proud of his son Todd, he Decided to give me his blessing with Divorcing myself from our family’s Pioneer History religion based on the fact that the church and certain members of Our family had contributed to taking away my right to marry the man I Love…He lives 300 Miles away and Just turned 80 years old and is not in good health to make the trip, so I Decided to record it for him…Thanks for the question
This is hilarious. At one fast and testimony I got up and came out of the cupboard also.
However, I am metaphysical and told everyone that I speak to Advanced Beings and I see visions in my third eye.
A member of the stake presidency got up and told me to sit down. I said, “I don’t care if you disfellowship or excommunicate me but I have every right to say what needs to be said.
Later the Stake President called me into his office and I refused to co operate with his rules.
Later in a combined Relief Society/Priesthood meeting I questioned what he said about testimonies. He shouted at me and told me to be quiet. He clearly lost the plot, his face was so red, and he had to ask someone else to speak in his place.
I had clearly brought up his issues that day!!
Thanks, Todd. In my opinion, anyone would document the hallmark events of their life. That’s just natural.
We all documented our baptisms, our mission farewells and returns, our weddings, and our graduations.
Confronting our friends when they are hurting ourselves and our loved ones is certainly a seminal moment that ought to be recorded.
Of course, LDS leaders want to monopolize the images that can come out of Sunday meetings. That’s in their best interest.
Just like the brethren, the Saints ought to do what’s best for them, especially when the “rules” violate our values and principles.
Todd didn’t bear a testimony. He made a political statement in church and should have his tax status adjusted accordingly. Todd did a cowardly thing by hijacking a meeting intended for something entirely different. Much more brave to just start your own church and preach gay marriage at the pulpit of believers of that.
mormonanswerman: I agree. Todd’s tax status should be changed to “exempt” … just to be fair.
Hijacked a Testimony meeting? I Don’t see it that way, For me it was a True and Honest testimony and the Holy Spirit was My Inspiration.. The church’s Political statements made from this very pulpit several months earlierin a “Call To Arms” WAS A political statement NOT Inspired by the spirit to take away My rights that I had achieved in california as an American, Nothing to do with Being a Mormon, So ask yourselves if we can allow this church to do this to Todd and several million other californians, Where will they Stop?
Thank You for your comments…Todd Whitaker
Todd, I’m confused. If you videoed your outburst in a mormon meeting house, and videoed it for, as you say, your ailing dad, why did it show up on UTube? so your dad could see it? I called a mormon friend of mine and asked him if his church allows video’s in their meetings but their members and he said they don’t. Would it have been too difficult to ask them first? I think you knew what you were doing and it had nothing to do with doing it ‘for your dad’. Just a comment.
Evan thanks for your Comment, I guess I should clarify that because you’re right, it does look sorta like it was intended to be posted on Youtube from the Beginning But I can asure you It was not..It truely was intended for my Father’s Purpose and The Bishop Cutting Off My Mike Is what made me discide to Air It So Others Can See How the Mormon church Treats One of their Own Members when it comes down to something they disagree with, Thank You for bringing that up, and as a result So Many Gay Mormons Here in California are taking Something genuine from this video and are Resigning from the LDS Church, But its interesting how the church Never opens its records To prove This But only to Boast about How many new converts they have’…. As for Asking Permission? No One ever asked My Permission before We began a Sacrament meeting in June of 2008 when the church issued a “Call-To-Arms” Message To Protect the Sanctity of Marriage and as a member From a Long Line of Mormon Whitakers, I was Deeply Offended, Especially when I Know People that were Married Legally in California Earlier that year and its such a shame when a church Acts in a manner such as this…Taking away Freedoms we enjoy as Americans … So I did’nt deem it necessary to Ask the Bishop If I could Divorce Myself from the church before doing so…with all due respect sir, Thanks for your Comment
Todd, you’ve done a good job of twisting my comments into an editorial for gay rights. In the church I belong to they don’t ask the members for permission either. Were you offended because you were gay and didn’t agree with your church’s position, or that no one asked for your permission? I’m not trying to ‘bust your chops’ Todd, its just a question. If someone stood up in our church and did what you did, I’m guessing our pastor would do the same thing. If your in conflict with your church’s position on marriage, I would recommend you leave…….with all due respect sir.
If you listen to the video, it sounds like he did. However, I think that some people who care about the LDS church are concerned to see how many good, ethical people are being shown the door because they object to the church’s political activism.
Evan, To answer your first question, I Believe Chanson Had it Right’ and the other question, I was not offended about my churchs position Towards Gays, I have always respected the church’s Position towards Homosexuality, that being said does not mean I agree with it, but when they Took My Tax Free contributions and used those Moneys Towards Funding a Political Campaign whos purpose was to Deny Me as an American the Legal Right to Marry, Adopt Children etc…Now That Offended me and Millions of other Tax Payers enough to March in the streets and Try to get Prop 8 Repealed in the Name Of Love for the Sake of Ourselves and Ours and your Children … as for permission, This was My Testimony of How the Gospel Of Jesus Christ Has Effected my life and as far as I remember it was a fast and testimony meeting, That being said, I dont believe I needed Special permission as My testimony was No different than anyone elses besides The Content, It was Calm and Respectful and Honest…If you Listen very carefully in the end you will hear Todd Saying, “I am Divorcing myself from this church” ….I am sorry you feel I have twisted your words in any way, I try to be fair and honest. Again I have to agree with chanson , I Do believe Many People Close to the LDS Church are Very concerned with how dissent is handled and After seeing the Censorship Of a Mic being cut Off, well it sorta speaks Volumes on its own’
Uh oh, who’s gonna cut Harry Reid’s mic?
Reid rips LDS Church’s Prop. 8 support
Todd, We’ve met once before at a rally. hi! I must admit I hate saying this, but I agree with Evan. If you were an active member of that church, as you say you are, and you went often wouldn’t you know their stance on marriage? I mean wouldn’t you have known this ‘all your life’ as you say. And if you did, and you objected to it, why in the world would you still belong? I’m guessing you weren’t as active in that church as you are saying. And if you weren’t active in that church, why would you go into someones, sacred meeting place and do what you did? Do you really need to stand up in a very personal place and announce it? Couldn’t that have been done with a phone call to your pastor? It just makes no sense. We as a gay community need to show more class than that. You desecrated something that was important to them. At our church you wouldn’t have even made it close to the pulpit. I applaude their pastor for being as patient as he was in letting you run off. Todd this isn’t the way of getting our message out. We have more class than this. Don’t drag all that we stand for down into the gutter with this sort of out scripted manipulation. I think you knew exactly what you were doing and it had nothing to do with your dad. I think you owe all involved an deep and personal apology. Civil Rights are always a matter for the people to decide. We lost this vote so I applaud them for winning. Thank goodness we have a constitution that allows us to vote. In this case the citizens of California voted and exersized their rights. If we lose our rights because of a vote, its not your church’s fault Todd. Give them a break. Lovingly Jamie 🙂
Admin note: “Jamie” is posting from the same I.P. address as “Evan”. I don’t want to have to close comments on this thread, but I also don’t appreciate sock-puppets and other such shenanigans.
Please do not respond further to this person — there’s nothing to be gained from feeding the trolls.
That’s sad. Thank you, Chanson. Please, forgive me if I answer anyways.
I knew that the Church engaged into unethical practices for decades before I left.
I knew that the Church refused to disclose its finances and tolerated it. I knew about the numbers game and suffered it. I knew about the racism and rationalized it. I knew about the misogyny and supported it.
If you believe that you have a testimony, you are willing to put up with a lot of abuse. For some of us, eventually, it reaches a threshold where it becomes too much, the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
In my case, it was learning about the September Six. In Todd’s case, it was Proposition 8.
I have to give you this, Jamie Evan, I am ashamed that I participated in such an unethical enterprise for such a long time.
Hello Again just an update about the video .. I have removed it from the web in order for it to be published in a new Film Documentary called “8 The Mormon Proposition” This New Expose Explains in better detail of the Harm Damage And Suffering the Mormon Church has caused and is ignoring to this day through its involvement in Proposition 8 and their intolerance for Homosexual members
I Urge Anyone who is interested in knowing where their tax exempt Donations to the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints are really going to and how they have misused Honest funds and tithes to Supress The rights of Many Minority groups in America throughout the Last 100 years.. they have been on the wrong side of almost Every Civil Right Debate we have ever known
Todd — That’s cool that it’s going into “8: The Mormon Proposition”! It looks like it’s going to be quite a film!