They're Calling Me A TBM

6:35 PM



I'd never heard the term TBM until just a few days ago. I guess that might make me ignorant.

TBM can sometimes mean Totally Brainwashed Mormon*, while most of the time it means True Believing Mormon, and it's a term that I've been reading about myself quite a bit over the past few days.

See, I wrote an article about a year ago. Some of you have probably read it. It's called "10 Things Girls Who Aren't Serving Missions Want You To Know."

I'm really proud of this article. I finally got to put into words what I, and so many people that I love, had been feeling.

After I posted it, I was shocked at the response. Thousands of views, hundreds of comments, repost after repost. And I was still proud. Because I felt like this was something people needed to hear, and understand.

Negative comments came flooding in. I was called selfish, egotistical, not worthy to serve a mission, against the church, among other things. I was still proud of that post. My goal wasn't to voice my own anger, insecurity, or issues. My goal was to help others see the journey I had gone through, and how they maybe could help lessen the problem for others. Not everyone understood that, and that's ok. People are entitled to their opinions.

In the past few days, that post has again begun popping up. I'm glad to be getting more notes of "thank you" and "this explained my feelings perfectly." I love knowing that my experience isn't just mine, that maybe part of the reason I went through what I did was so I could help other people.

I was looking through where some of these people were getting referred to my blog. I found a few forums that had posted the blog for discussion. And that's where I saw it. The TBM. Nobody had a problem with my post really, just were saying that "the shame in the LDS church is horrible" and "too bad this TBM won't leave" or "if this post was about men, it would be anti-Mormon." No disrespect to those forums, or to anyone in particular.

I just want to clear the air about why I post what I do.

I wouldn't say I'm a Totally Brainwashed Mormon. But I would say I'm Totally a Mormon. My post about missions didn't stem from an issue with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, revelation from prophets about a lower age change, or even God himself. It came from my experiences with my own questions, my route to revelation, and the comments I heard and saw around me. Comments from imperfect people, just like me. I'm quite positive I've said offensive things. And so have you. 

*I've had lots of people tell me that I'm trying to play into a persecution type of role, that I am making things worse for myself, etc. Let's be clear here; I'm not trying to say I'm persecuted. I don't feel that way at all. I do feel, however, that as a member of the Church who strongly believes in its teachings, I should set the record straight that with my mission post, I wasn't trying to boycott the LDS church, its teaching, its leaders, or anything of that nature. This is simply a post to stipulate that my issue is with LDS culture, not the church itself. 

I'm not brainwashed, though I'm sure many would like to believe I am. I am a person who loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ with every ounce of me, because I choose to. Every, single day I wake up and choose to continue living this. Not because I have to, but because I want to. 

The people in the Church aren't perfect. But the Gospel itself, is perfect. Jesus Christ is perfect. And this is His Church. It's full of people who are trying. And I wanted to bring attention to a cultural subject that people might not have realized, so we all could continue to try to be more like our perfect older brother.

So I'm glad I found my post on various types of forums and on social media. I'm glad the issue is out in the open, so we can all discuss it. I love how the attention on how we talk about modesty in the Church is changing that discussion. The LDS culture is one that is ever-evolving. The Gospel itself is not.

So my hope is that people who read my mission post, remember this about me: that I love the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with all that I am. I believe that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, and is leading the church in the way God wants it to be lead. I don't question his revelations, and nothing about my beliefs on mission-culture in the church are against his revelations. This church is true. That's all there is to it really. Do I think there are some things we can all work on? Yes. Does that make the church any less true, real, or right? Absolutely not. 

So thank you for your kind responses, suggestions, discussions, etc. It means more to me than you know that the discussion is open. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Happy Tuesday everyone!


*I was recently told by several friends that TBM is more normally used to mean True Believing Mormon. More positive acronym! When I saw Totally Brainwashed Mormon in one of the forums, I assumed that's what the acronym meant all around. Hopefully others used it in the more positive way! Thanks for correcting me friends! 

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27 comments

  1. I've never heard TBM mean anything other than True-Believing Mormon. Seriously. Who told you that it means Totally Brainwashed?

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I've made the appropriate changes in the article to correct ! I got the brainwashed term from a post at postmormon.org - I shouldn't have just trusted the one source! Thanks for correcting me!

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  2. TBM really stands for True Believing Mormon, but some people got clever and repurposed it.

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    1. Thanks for the correction - I've made adjustments to the article!

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  3. TBM doesn't mean Totally Brainwashed Mormon. It mean's True Blue Mormon, or True Believing Mormon. I'm fairly certain exmormons coined the term, and it's always been used in either of those two meanings. So yeah, you would be a TBM.

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  4. You do realize that TBM mean True Believing Mormon right? In the side bar of those same ex-mormon forums it even says that.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/wiki/index/common_abbreviations

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    1. Thanks for correcting me! I got brainwashed from a post in postmormon.org - should have double checked! Thanks!

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  5. It actually means True Believing Mormon, not totally brainwashed Mormon. :D

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    1. Thanks for the correction - I've adjusted the article!

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  6. To be fair, TBM in the exmo community means "true believing mormon."

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    1. Thanks for the correction - I've adjusted the article!

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  7. The more you say anything along the lines of "The Church is True.", we(the group of people who can actually accept evidence, facts, logic, etc) roll our eyes and yes put that term TBM all over you.

    The people you surround yourself in your life tell you weekly or more how in some way the "Church is True". Whether it's something wonderful happening to someone, something terrible happening and being something meaningful from Father, or just to basically chant that the ....Church is True. You even need to tell yourself it is true, because if it isn't?...then what would you do?

    Don't simply dismiss that. And don't even lie to yourself when you say "you choose", because ....yes you do choose, but the reason you choose is not honestly without an ulterior motive.

    Anyway, I'm not even Mormon, never was, but I got into researching up about the religion because sociology is entertaining and ...sad. CES letter will tell you all you need to know about the church to "open your eyes" to the worldview that can exist outside of Mormonism.

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    1. Thanks for your post Kevin! I agree that we need to look outside the scope of the Church and "open our eyes." I've researched many other religions, attended Catholic Mass, gone to Sikh worship, studied Judaism, and took classes about world religions. What I have found, through my time studying other religions, is that God loves all his children, and wants us all to be happy. In the end, I still believe in the LDS Church, but I fully understand the issues that some people have with it, and the goodness in other religions that can be found. People can find God and find happiness in many, many places. For me, it's within this church! Thanks for commenting!

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  8. In the context of Mormonism people see TBM as standing for True Blue Mormon or True Believing Mormon (or totally believing mormon or whatever), while many other people think it stands for Tunnel Boring Machine, Transcontinental Ballistic Missile or Trailing Bit Manipulation. The "Totally Brainwashed Mormon" is held by a much smaller group of people and used mainly as satire or out of spite. Where did you even get that? All I see when I google 'TBM' is Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary (plus the slew of articles about Technology Business Management). Did you seriously consider Urban Dictionary as the most credible source? People don't always vote the best or most widely accepted definitions to the top you know. Why do you think the top definition for Lion King is a sex move and not the Disney Movie or Broadway play? Even wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TBM) says TBM stands for True Believing Mormon (in the context of Mormonism).

    And if we look at those ExMormon forums even they think it stands for True Blue Mormon or True Believing Mormon above Totally Brainwashed Mormon (however they still "Totally Brainwashed Mormon" think it is an apt replacement). (https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comments/3hjcqb/she_is_mad_that_we_talked_about_hertheyre_calling/cu7vu5p) (https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comments/3hjcqb/she_is_mad_that_we_talked_about_hertheyre_calling/cu7vjbn)

    It's almost as if you are using a non-issue to feed into a persecution complex. Doing so makes life outside of your group appear worse than life within the group when it really isn't, which is a technique used in brainwashing to make the victim less likely to leave the abuser (plus it helps with information control as the victim will not trust anything that comes from outside the group, which is important, as free access to information and logical thought makes brainwashing effectively impossible). You really aren't helping your point with this article.

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting - I must've stumbled on that smaller group and should have double checked! I really appreciate the correction! I've made the appropriate changes to the article, so thank you again.

      As I recently posted in the article, I'm not trying to feed into a persecution complex. I was merely concerned that my mission post would be taken as a rant against the church and its leaders, which it is not. I wanted to stay on top of the message and make sure people understood that I believe fully in the church, while having issues with LDS culture. Thanks again for the comment!

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  9. It's too bad that this statement could be needed. Most Mormons have areas of discontent: with aspects of Mormon culture, with political statements made or not made by the church, with correlation, with common LDS artwork, with a million other things. It isn't exceptional to have disagreements --- it's inevitable. And someone's status as Mormon isn't determined by this, or there would be no Mormons.

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  10. Well of course you don't think you're Totally Brainwashed...that would be some crappy brainwashing if you really knew about it...just like cult members don't realize they're in one. Brainwashing means you believe you are not being controlled, that you are choosing all of your actions, while you are complying with the behaviors the controlling group wants from you. Saying that you aren't brainwashed because you are choosing to believe isn't much of a defense.

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    1. I guess by that definition, we could all be brainwashed! By all religions, video game corporations, media, social media, by society at large. I guess the point is this - I'm free to leave the LDS church any time I want. I'm free to stop believing any time I want. The reality is, for me, it's not just about belief. I KNOW that God exists, and that this is His church. I know that more than I know anything else. It's not about blind following, it's that I know with absolute certainty these things. The LDS Gospel is honestly the only thing in the world that I can be 100% sure of. I don't understand fully every aspect of it, but I have come to a point where I KNOW that it's real and true, that God and Jesus Christ are real, and that they love me. And for me, that's more than enough. Thank you for sharing your comment, and if you'd like to keep talking shoot me an email anytime!

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    2. Okay, how do you know that? Outside of feelings which every other person has for their own respective religion, how do you know that your church is God's one and only true church? A long time ago, people "knew" that Zeus was real the same way that you know that your God is real so what makes your God real and their God not real?

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    3. Great question! I don't think anyone else's God is less real than mine, I think it's the same God who is over all the earth. I don't think God just ignores people who aren't Mormons. I think there are elements of truth in all religions, they all stem from the God who created everyone and everything. And it's good for people to remember Him and rely on Him even if they aren't a part of my Church. And if they choose to believe in no God at all, that's also their choice! I think that Christ instituted one Church when He was on the earth - one institution, if you will, that had all the pieces. And Joseph Smith restored that institution, the very one that Christ created when he was on the earth. So God isn't silent to others, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has all of the truths, not just parts. My knowledge of that comes from lots of prayer, lots of study, and lots of personal inspiration. It comes from the fact that the LDS church is set up in the way that Christ set up His church, with the same structure, ordinances, and authority that Christ gave. Thanks for your comment!

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  11. Hi Maddy! Thanks for this post, as well as your "10 Things..." post. I love that you're willing to share your beliefs and your feelings and start a friendly, non-judgmental dialog about your experiences. I love the LDS Church, too, and I don't think it does anyone any favors to whitewash over our sometimes-odd culture, especially the parts that can be difficult for people. I'm also really impressed with the sympathetic, friendly, and patient replies you've given to people who disagree with what you've written. You're awesome.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment! It's so wonderful to hear words of support, thanks for keeping the discussion going!

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  12. I agree with everything you said! I believe that the boys have a responsibility to serve and the girls have a responsibility to ask, through prayer and with faith, if they are supposed to serve. Sometimes the answer is no and that's okay. People should be accepting of that. But in the end, all that matters is what heavenly father thinks. I think some people that don't get married in the temple first, have similar experiences. I know some couples that waited a year after marriage to be sealed, and they could be hurt by all the praise young couples heading straight to the temple recieve. But it shouldn't matter, because we are all on the path of discipleship, the path to Heavenly Father. It doesn't matter where we are on that path, just that we are trying. Mormons aren't perfect! But we are trying. :) thanks for your post and your patience with all your comments and opposition you get. Mormons are in the church because they love and believe it. Of course many of us grow up with it, there comes a time when you choose to believe and choose to strengthen your own testimony. If I didn't know of its truth, I would have stopped going to 3 hour meetings a while ago ;)

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    1. Thanks so much for your comments! You're totally right, in the end Heavenly Father will judge us by our desires and our hearts! I sure take comfort in that! Thanks so much!

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    2. I think it is important to remember that boys are also supposed to determine if serving a mission is the right thing for them because sometimes it isn't. Sometimes leaving right when they are 18 is not the best for them but when they are 20 they feel more prepared. I feel like our culture also has a way of shunning men who did not go on a mission, even though they are very righteous, worthy men. I feel that we could all improve on accepting others for who they are and not for what they have or have not done in their past.

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  13. You are an inspiration! I first read and shared your mission blog post when it first came out and you really put my own thoughts and feelings into words. Lately I was feeling some of the same pressures of serving a mission and was feeling inadequate to others because I have not served one & your post came up on my news feed again. I too have felt the pressure & questioned my decision several times. Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us. Right now is not my time for a mission but I'm blessed to continue my education and become a nurse. And I'm happy with that! I hope to serve a mission someday and will continue to be a missionary and example in my everyday life. The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true! Thanks for your example!

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