Vindictive people and passive aggression in Mormonism: The Story of Barry

I’m going to open this post to remind us of a very obvious fact, you get people with “issues” everywhere. In all social and professional settings, you will encounter “Passive Aggression” that is when someone has a specific grievance or grudge, but does not directly express it or seek to resolve it, and resorts to hostile indirect behaviours in a spiteful or vindictive way. That’s life.

However, when this behaviour is happening in a church which is supposed to represent the teachings of Jesus Christ and moreover build love, fellowship and faith, it is a serious problem. That’s because people should not come to church with the expectation of feeling unwelcome, upset or an underlying hostility. Of course again, we are human beings and we constantly let our emotions get to us and make flawed decisions in the process. I have done this a lot and so have many others.

But in the LDS church especially, an organisation which is premised exclusivity on guilt and a competitive self-righteousness, rather than forgiveness, love and tolerance, this behaviour occurs more often than it should. To be fair, many Mormons very much are tolerant and do try, but the church’s own culture creates a sense of “elitism” whereby some people assume they are better than others in observance of its standards and therefore look down, judge and don’t want anything to do with outsiders.

As I have wrote about before, this “Mormon cultural problem” (besides the many issues with the church’s doctrines and history) is a root cause of its decline in western countries because Mormon’s are as a general rule, despite their ridiculous investment in the missionary program, unwelcoming to outsiders and don’t see people as worth the effort until you come up to their level. One of the immediate differences of The True Jesus Church I noticed was the level of serious and sincere effort people put into fellowship, and language and ethnic differences did not seem to deter them in any way.

But Mormons at large don’t want anything to do with “investigators” and remain socially aloof. This leads to the story of a man who was exceptionally obnoxious even by the church’s own standards, known as Barry. Barry, who lives in my hometown, was a member of the Stake Presidency, which is a regional leadership of the church across several approximate towns and cities. Despite this, Barry engaged in constant passive aggression against those who he did not like, often over petty reasons, including myself at one point.

In the year 2013 I helped the missionaries in my hometown baptise an elderly man who was only able to operate one of his arms. Because he was old and disabled, as the ward mission leader supported the missionary’s requests in the Ward Council that this man should be helped get to church by members giving him a ride. As it happened, Barry lived in that specific area and could pick the man up on the way. He responded with outright refusal to this proposal and we were told, indirectly, that he does not like bringing new people to church, despite the fact he went out of his way to also pick up a lady on a morning who was part of his inner social circle.

Barry responded to this disagreement by essentially adopting a behaviour whereby he would explicitly ignore me in church. He would greet others, but deliberately not speak to me or say hello. If you asked him if there was a problem, he would deny that there was one. However, on asking others people about this behaviour, it soon turned out that he did this to other select people as well on a routine basis, targeting a High Priest in his group known as Michael, who is by virtue a very nice man. It was claimed Barry even went as far as walking out on one his classes.

It soon materialised that while I was away as a missionary, Barry had been previously removed from his Stake Presidency position because he had been treating people like this, and that when he had previously been called to the position around 2003, he was also even opposed by some members, which is a very rare occurrence in Mormonism as an opposition vote to someone’s calling for no good reason is a disciplinary level offense, and thus those who opposed him ultimately had to agree to do so or face penalties.

Unsurprisingly, even given the culture of the church, Barry’s behaviour was contrary to any aspect of faithfulness and he ultimately left the organisation in the end, taking his wife with him. In December 2023, I seen Barry walking in a shopping centre with his wife. He looked me in the eyes seeing me, but ultimately said nothing. Yet even though he was a particularly bad example, the culture of passive aggression in Mormonism continues on a much smaller scale, with some members constantly waging micro wars against other, even while claiming to be faithful and charitable

This is because Mormonism demands high requirements from its members, enforces only with fear than spirit, and makes people feel insecure and competitive against their peers rather than fulfilled through Jesus Christ. Mormonism is a game of appearances, it is superficial, has no real love and thus passive aggression prevails in every level of its operation. They either judge you or they envy you.

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