Martha Nibley Beck (born 29 November 1962) is a sociologist, therapist, life coach and best-selling author. Beck is the daughter of deceased Mormon scholar and apologist, Hugh Nibley. She received national attention after publication in 2005 of her best-seller, Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith in which she accuses her father of sexual abuse.
Beck's first book, coauthored with her then husband, John, Breaking the Cycle of Compulsive Behavior mostly focused on overcoming homosexuality. Upon the birth of her son, Adam, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Beck returned with her husband and children to Utah, to be nearer to family and support. Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth and Everyday Magic is Beck's story about her decision to give birth to and raise her son Adam.
In 1990, soon after the birth of her third child and second daughter, Beck joined the faculty of Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, teaching a course on the Sociology of Gender in the Department of Social Science. During her tenure at BYU, five faculty members were excommunicated from the LDS church as a consequence of public writings that were deemed critical of the Mormon church. She and husband John Beck also made critical public statements about both the excommunications and other church and BYU matters, which led to first his leaving the church, then her in 1993.
Beck claims that as a result of nightmares, unexplained pain, some memories of a childhood trauma and symptoms of depression, along with vaginal scarring that could be consistent with childhood sexual abuse, she underwent psychotherapy, which uncovered alleged sexual abuse by her father. In 2005, she publicly accused her father of sexually abusing her when she was a child.
In 2003, Beck separated from her husband, divorcing him in 2004. Recently, both Martha Beck and her now ex-husband have publicly stated that they are homosexuals, despite authoring a book about overcoming homosexuality which is still sold in LDS bookstores.
Today, Beck lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is a partner in NorthStar, Inc. a life coaching consulting and seminar company. Beck also authors a monthly column in O-The Oprah Magazine. She has also written several self-help books, including Finding Your Own North Star, a book aimed at providing guidance to finding a purpose in life, The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life, which offers insights into the importance of healthy and happy living habits to a fulfilling life, and Breaking Point: Why Women Fall Apart and How They Can Re-create Their Lives, which analyzes stresses and challenges that modern women face and offers advice on coping with and overcoming these issues.
Prior to and after publication of the book, several national newspapers in the United States reported how Beck's memoir had quickly become controversial in Mormon circles. Numerous articles were published in response to the book, including a critical essay by the author of Hugh Nibley's biography, Boyd Jay Petersen. Petersen states in his conclusions, "Throughout this book, as with her other books, it is obvious that she distorts the record as much as or more than she reports it, jumps to conclusions more than provides evidence leading to conclusions, and blurs fact and fantasy. But to stick to the facts requires more than simply assuring readers that you do. You actually have to stick to them, something it seems Martha seldom does. Beck responded to many of these criticisms by stating that she began having memories of her traumatic events prior to the use of any therapy (including hypnosis), that her vagina had scarring that may have been the result of sexual abuse, and that her recovered memories were vivid and intrusive.
Although most of the criticism centered around the alleged sexual abuse, a substantial portion of the book involves a discussion of the LDS church specifically describing how her father may have intentionally misinterpreted certain Egyptian hieroglyphics in order to confirm some of the writings of the early LDS church leaders, including Joseph Smith.
Hugh Nibley's family, including all of Beck's siblings, have denounced the book's accusations against their father as "false". All of her siblings have expressed "outrage" at the book and rallied around their father, and expressed disbelief at the allegations. Beck did not attend her father's funeral after he died on 24 February 2005.
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