634: Clay Christensen Threatened with Excommunication for his Podcast Interview

ClayChristensenIn December, 2015 Mormon Stories Podcast interviewed Clay Christensen and his brother-in-law Matt Elggren about Matt’s loss of LDS faith in 2003, and Clay’s subsequent loss of faith in October, 2015 after 50 years active LDS membership, and after 7 years as a high-level LDS Church employee.

In April, 2016 Clay was contacted by his stake president and invited to a disciplinary council to be excommunicated for apostasy.  The reason given for the disciplinary council was Clay’s Mormon Stories Podcast.  This is Clay’s update since his December, 2015 interview.

 

 

 

Comments

comments

70 comments for “634: Clay Christensen Threatened with Excommunication for his Podcast Interview

  1. b0yd
    May 3, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Nails in their own coffins. The more people they remove the worse it becomes for them. They can’t win

    • charlie
      May 5, 2016 at 7:55 am

      dude, they’ve been claiming this since before they killed joe smith…….and it never happened.

      So don’t get your hopes up and think they can’t win.

      They are in it for the long haul i.e eternity. There’s still time available to find new converts.

      • Brad
        May 5, 2016 at 10:03 pm

        “dude, they’ve been claiming this since before they killed joe smith…….and it never happened.”

        Yep, you are right adherents today actually continue to teach and follow Joseph Smiths doctrine and is alive an well in the FLDS church. I suppose they never will completely disappear. As for the Brighamite LDS? ya, I suppose they also will never completely die out, either.

        • charlie
          May 6, 2016 at 11:51 am

          Ha! …But they don’t bring in the amount of converts the LDS church brings in.

  2. May 3, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Yes! What and excellent update. So glad to hear Clay and his family are doing so well. I have I common with him a quick exit. From the time of my faith crisis to my firm decision to resign…just a matter of hours. Also, I remember the night of my crisis using the exact words he used, “the deception ends with me.” Love that mug. I agree, being able to coffee is a real bonus. Thanks, John.

  3. Left TSSC at 14
    May 3, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    This gives me hope that family members who are TBMs and have been so ugly and judgmental of my sweetheart and me because I stopped believing 40 years ago and he was exed in 92 may – just may -read the CES letter and wake up from the mormon dream. Thank you, Clay for being so authentic and raw. I hope you are able to feel all your feelings and grieve your losses and let anger move through you. You are a good man and I am certain you are helping so many people by telling your story. I am so happy to hear your immediate family is doing so well now that your non-believing kids can be real with you! Hugs to you.

  4. Tim Harper
    May 4, 2016 at 4:38 am

    I laughed at first when I saw the tag “Faith Promoting Stories”, but realized after watching this my faith in humanity was slightly improved. Great interview. Thanks Clay. I felt inspired by you and Matt when I watched your first podcast to love my family and focus on what’s important, and I felt that inspiration renewed with this.

  5. Scott
    May 4, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Clay, thanks for taking the time to do a follow-up interview. As one who nearly lost my own marriage to the Church, I couldn’t agree more with your views that if one marriage is saved then your podcast appearance was worth it.

    It was also great to hear that there are other post-Mormon “Christians” out there. Your experience sounded nearly identical to mine–I still identify as Christian out of a sense of respect for so many of Christ’s teachings but joining another Church is a big “nope” for me and I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future.

    Your genuine kindness tends to make these interviews incredibly powerful. Please keep it up as you continue to interact with still-faithful members!

    Thanks again!

  6. briain
    May 4, 2016 at 10:26 am

    thanks for being brave, Clay. & thanks for saying “truth matters!”
    for some percent of the population truth totally matters (me included:)
    yet some others are not so interested in it (they’re not interested enough to seek it out).
    i sought out the history & it took a few years to track things down back in the mid 1980s.
    Now it can all come crashing down in a few hours – a different kind of trauma then the 3 or 4 years it took me!
    Mr. Runnels did a wonderful job of compiling many years worth of that info for the CES letter.
    Thank you for being willing to follow the truth.

  7. Charlotte
    May 4, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Really enjoyed this podcast. We left Mormonism in 2003 and formally resigned in 2008. We, too, can’t seem to commit to another church. However, we found a very liberal Christian church (First Congregational) that we have been attending for 11 years now. They have open communion for anyone, no dress code, highly educated attendees, and a loving, embracing group of people. When they asked us to join their church their attitude was like – we’d love to have you join, but if you’d rather not that is okay, too, we’re just glad you are here. We even teach Sunday School and serve on the Christian Education Board without being members of the Church. Luckily, we were educated in basic Christianity during our final years before exiting from Mormonism. The transition WAS NOT easy, but I was happy we didn’t resort to agnosticism. Good luck to Clay and his family and extended family. I had to laugh at Clay’s love of coffee. The church we attend has a COFFEE hour after the service – they don’t avoid coffee, they actually promote it.

  8. pcskierdude
    May 4, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Clay I loved your comment about Coffee. Morning Coffee and the occasional Beer without all the guilt and shame are some of my favorite things about leaving the Church. God Bless!!

  9. BeerCanMan
    May 4, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Wow, just incredible. Being a never MO, I find it fascinating how beliefs and feelings rule the day. I’m married (23 years) to a returned female missionary, she still believes, but rarely attends or participates, which I’m greatful. If I was a member, I’m sure she would be all gung ho. Obviously, they are still on the BKP mantra of “Sometimes the truth is not very useful.” Really enjoyed both segments, really well done. All the best and continued good fortune and happenings for you and your family.

  10. LindaE
    May 4, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    If it’s possible, even better than the first one. Clay, your authenticity and kind heart shine through in every word. You are a true example of integrity with great courage.

  11. TedT
    May 4, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    Wait, wait did I miss something?? Clay said he resigned from the church, the SP has no biz summoning him to a church court because he has lost his authority. It’s amazing how leaders feel they can insert themselves in peoples lives when they really don’t belong. Boundaries! Completely unacceptable, I have so much respect for you Clay…fight this and don’t let them demean you, you’re not a member any more.

    • Clay Christensen
      May 5, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      I didn’t resign until just a few days before the church court would have happened. The court was scheduled for 0700 on 1 May.

      Quitmormon.com!

  12. Wandering Wonderer
    May 4, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Clay, I agree that you should be offended at the use of the term, “conduct unbecoming a member,” because it is a catch-all phrase that is used to announce the excommunication of various people for various reasons, including child molesters. I’d rather be specified an apostate. Since leaving the church behind, our immediate family has experienced a sense of relief, closeness, openness, and joy in joining the world community, rather than remaining trapped in a small, restrictive, exclusive club. There has been the laying on of guilt and the blaming by TBM extended family for disappointing them and breaking their hearts. It is a tragic and untenable situation for both sides. Even if we can love others without insisting that they share our beliefs, it remains difficult to feel loved by them while being unheard, misunderstood, or judged. It certainly gets in the way of feeling respect, acceptance, and unity when each side assumes the other is deluded. Religion sets countries, cultures, families, and individuals at odds with one another. It definitely has a divisive effect. Instead of “Come, Come Ye Saints,” I am now singing, “Imagine.” John Lennon got it right.

  13. Sandra Harper
    May 4, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Good.

  14. dbambs
    May 4, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    My great grandma on my Dad’s side is a sessions. Patty Sessions is my relative. When my parents were serving in Nauvoo on a mission we decided to go because we thought we’d never go. We saw her house. Just thought I’d throw this out there, Clay. My mom asked me, can you feel the spirit it is so strong here? I told her no. Not a response she wanted to here.

  15. StillConfused
    May 4, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    What an amazing man. Very classy. I love how he stayed above the fray, even when they told him his conduct was “unbecoming.” I would love to hear how things go for him and his family.

  16. Kevin
    May 4, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Unless I misunderstood, did Clay imply that a DNA test is being or has been conducted and we are awaiting results?

    • Clay
      May 5, 2016 at 11:14 pm

      There have been DNA tests, there is another test with the latest technology that is soon to come out. Keep in mind that Windsor and Joseph were both married to Sylvia. It is a tragedy and an abuse of power that Joseph was able to do what he did to so many young girls, children and already married women, let alone what he did to Emma.

      Sylvia believed that Josephine was Joseph’s daughter. We will see when this DNA study comes out. Regardless of the outcome Joseph is no prophet and he is no less of a sexual predator.

  17. JASH
    May 4, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Thank you Clay, for another insightful interview. As in your first appearance, your kindness and generosity of spirit shine through. You are so fortunate that your immediate family supports you unwaveringly. That the Church sought to discredit you with a description of ‘conduct unbecoming’ is shameful on their part and very un-Christlike. The Church does not seem to understand the importance of truthfulness in regard to their foundational claims. The lack of transparency regarding historical facts and their unwillingness to entertain open inquiry and questions will continue to create problems for the hierarchy as well as a crisis of faith for many. Your example can only serve as a beacon of hope to those who are struggling with these issues. Each time the Church behaves in this way – they loose big time. I wish you all the best as you honorably lead your family into a new day of truth and honesty .

  18. Frank, be frank
    May 4, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Wonderful comments, and a wonderful outcome. This gives hope to others in similar situations that eventually TBM family members may come around, see and admit to the truth, and again have a loving relationship with the one who has recognized and admitted to the truth, then gotton on with his/her life. Clay, you are obviously a man of integrity…oh how I wish I felt Church leaders were the same! Thanks for your courage. I am sure you will be a catalyst for providing help to many!

  19. Ksmith
    May 4, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Thank you Clay! I m still in but I wish more than anything I could do what you have done. You are a strong example of finding out the truth. I am in because I fear the pain of my younger kids loosing the love of their cousins. Thank you for telling the story of your son. That brought me so much peace.

    • Clay Christensen
      May 30, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Hi Ksmith,

      Your younger kids will most likely be shunned by their cousins I have seen this and it hurts, no matter what age. I am an old man with lots of advice so please pardon me, but I think you should be more concerned that your kids will grow up and find out on their own. They will loose respect for you and wonder why you didn’t tell them the truth. They may find out from asking too many questions in seminary or they may just have too many doubts to serve a mission. There is a great deal of trauma for teenagers who find out. There are far too many stories of regular teen age angst mixed with faith crisis angst that end tragically or have more long-term consequences than the trauma of being shunned by cousins. I have seen a lot more than I have talked about publicly. It is extremely sad what the church does to youth. I plead with you to consider getting them away from the church while they are young.

      Please also consider what may happen if they become fully indoctrinated members. There is also so much trauma and sadness for people who are in the church. At the very least, so much time and money wasted, so much of their lives will be devoted to a fraud. Please do not risk letting that happen.

      Good luck to you and your family.

  20. Janice
    May 4, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Clay
    In your first podcast you exhibited a fresh and hopeful countenance mixed with the startling realization that you found yourself a part of the many people deceived for so many years of their lives. This time your conviction is stronger but quieter. I sense you have had to stand your ground against the onslaught of people who approached you in the name of “love” and “caring” but really had an agenda to bring you to your senses and back to the “fold.” (Of course it is only to make things more settled in their own minds.) It seems you have also had to deal with hurtful and self righteous attitudes from people you love and trusted. Much is said in your silence. And the notice for a disciplinary council of course is sobering. Congrats on keeping your power and removing your name. The Church will not be able to label you and use you as a negative example with any credibility.
    Huge life changes take time. You are so fortunate to have your family together in your decisions. I am sure the people who are more likely to “go off the deep end” as John suggests are those who do not have that support. The Church permeates and entangles every aspect of our lives. It takes awhile to find just who one is without the Church telling you. Not only that but I completely relate to your hesitation to join another Church. With the complete sacrifice of ones life to being an “active Mormon” then to find it was all a sham pretty much leaves one with “Been there done that!”
    My very best to you and your family. There is so much good in the world and in others to discover. Despite what you have been told all your life the LDS Church does not own the “goodness” of the human spirit.

    Mark Twain- “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

  21. Lois
    May 4, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    I appreciate this so much! Thank you Clay and John Dehlin. I listened to and watched the original long podcast, and it was great. So good to hear and listen to Clay as to where he is now. My best to you and your family!

  22. King
    May 4, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    I spent a large portion of my life as a member of a church. I was active, participated in ceremonies, and served in minor positions of authority in that church. Today, I no longer believe in that church, and I don’t attend their meetings. Most members of my family are still believing members of that church. Immediately after I left that church, and up to today, my only feeling about that church is indifference. I can’t imagine any other feeling being normal. I’m not disturbed that I was taught things at that church that I no longer believe in. I’m not disturbed that this church positioned their history and teachings in such a way that sounded appealing. I’m not surprised that the Priests didn’t commonly teach from the pulpit aspects of their history that were unappealing. If I go home for a holiday and my family members invite me to a church meeting, I politely attend and try to appreciate it for what it is. I realize that my family would prefer that I was still a member of their church, but I don’t use my imagination to extend that into a story about my family members ostracizing me. Perhaps I am not paranoid about how they feel about me because I treat them, and their beliefs, with respect. I don’t agree with how their church was founded or how it is being run today, but I don’t say anything to them about it because I know that it would be insulting for me to mock their deeply-held beliefs. I certainly don’t make Facebook posts, or podcasts wherein I laugh at their beliefs and proclaim my current understanding superior to theirs. I don’t make fun of their imperfect founders or current leaders. Behaving thus would obviously be insulting, and not normal familial behavior. The idea of making fun of the deeply-held beliefs of family and friends and expecting them to react in a “Christ-like” manner sounds deeply illogical. Who mocks their family and friends anyway? I certainly would never spend any of my time and money discrediting and attempting to recruit others to join me in my unbelief. I certainly wouldn’t encourage other former members of that church to band together as a community of unbelievers with a dependence upon me as a healer. Seriously!? How does all this emotion around something that ya’ll supposedly don’t care about make any sense?

    • David
      May 5, 2016 at 7:21 am

      King, very respectable position… I’m an active member, and though I certainly don’t believe the same way I did before I try to appreciate the good, but I also notice the bad.

      What I try to do is just keep the good reject the bad, and politely explain my position when anyone asks it from me. But I am considering sharing my testimony saying what I like and don’t like about the church. I’m yet to do it… but I will very soon.

    • Mr.
      May 5, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Wow. Best comment I have read on this board – EVER!

    • Anna
      May 5, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      King,
      That is so wonderful that you never felt ostracized by your family. So much of what you say is wise. I especially like this part “The idea of making fun of the deeply-held beliefs of family and friends and expecting them to react in a “Christ-like” manner sounds deeply illogical.”
      I need to remember that any of my “new” ideas that oppose theirs, can and does put my loved ones in a defensive state.

      But your last question, “How does all this emotion around something that ya’ll supposedly don’t care about make any sense?” Is fundamentally flawed to me because you assume that we don’t care about this. I deeply care about it. I care that I dedicated my entire life, and enormous amounts of time and money to a “one true church” that just isn’t. I care that while trying daily to follow the example of Jesus and thinking I was “open minded” and Christ-like, I had in fact been holding some serious prejudices of my own toward people who were not members of my church; namely pity and condescension that I never even knew were in me until I abruptly lost my testimony.

      I care so deeply that I was deceived by the institution that I thought stood for truth and righteousness on the Earth. I cared about what people I hold in high regard would think of me now that I have been “deceived”. I am scared of running into friends and acquaintances at the grocery store for fear of them asking me what my current calling is. It causes me deep emotional turmoil to side step these (uncomfortable for me) conversations, because I am trying so hard to balance my need to have personal integrity, with the deep desire to be understood, with the awareness of how jarring and “attacking” it once felt to me, to have someone not agree with my deeply held beliefs. So in short, I am not to a place yet where I even have the luxury (or mental health, perhaps) to NOT care.

      Furthermore, I care deeply that this institution, for all its good, is simultaneously causing my extended family so much grief over losing me in the eternities. I care deeply that though I took your original approach, everyone wanted an explanation of *why*, but when I would be explicit in my reasons, I was seen as “under Satan’s power”, not as the human they have always known and loved. I care that I have been attacked for MY beliefs by my own parents, who love me more than anyone on earth, and real damage was done to our relationship. This re-shuffling of boundaries, which I believe is common, has been painful for all of us. We are all trying to navigate these new boundaries, but part of the boundary respect requires a detente that bars me from having the fully open and authentic conversations about the truest of my experiences to very people closest to me.

      I feel a lot of hope that some day my experience can be as smooth as yours, but keep in mind that part of what I care deeply about, is my need to defend – even to you-how important this community of support has been during this awful ordeal. I am so thankful that there have been so many other vocal and kind humans who have gone through similar experiences, and are willing to put themselves out there, even at personal cost. Were it not for their podcasts, blogs, facebook posts, etc, I would have had to navigate this horrific loss on my own. Your insinuation that anyone in this community is perpetuating the problem (that they DID NOT CREATE) in order to elevate their status is so mistaken…and I care deeply about that as well.

      • Janice
        May 6, 2016 at 4:33 pm

        Anna beautifully said.

    • Clay Christensen
      May 5, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      King,

      Your comments are super condescending. How is it that you feel so comfortable implying that I’m “using my imagination” to create a story of being ostracized? You’ll notice that I didn’t say much about my extended family and all I said about my friends and ward members is how great everyone has been. I think if you listen carefully I’m not blaming them. I am pointing out the fact that the church leads people to extremely culty behaviors and they are still caught up in it. I was caught up in it.

      You are good at patting yourself on the back for your respect for your family’s deeply held beliefs. I think you over state how much I am mocking. You seem to think it is a virtue that you would never encourage people to leave the church. You assume way to much when you claim that we don’t care about the church.

      I am happy for you that you were able to leave the church and leave it alone. I believed it. I am not willing to accept that the church actively deceived me and my family. I was lied to and I perpetuated the lie. I will not just walk away and act like it is OK. I am respectful to believers. I am not forcing anyone to watch my podcast but there are plenty of people who are curious. They are looking for the truth. They want to find out if they are being lied to. When they look on the internet I want them to see my testimony that the church is not true and that they can be happy if they leave it. They can continue to believe if they want.

      My testimony may seem like mocking, I think that is because the church is absurdly not true. It is false on so many levels and in so many ways that it is difficult to talk about it without a bit of a mocking tone. What you call “positioning the church to sound more appealing” I call lies. I will continue to speak out about the lies because I don’t want any of my children or grandchildren to wonder why I didn’t at least try to warn them about mormonism.

      • King
        May 11, 2016 at 9:07 am

        Clay

        I am sincerely trying to help, and you missed my point; so let me try again. I have a friend (call him Randy) that believes Big Foot exists. He collects pictures, stories, and videos and has them all over his office. He has a website where his believing friends gather to share “evidence”. He occasionally tells me about his new “discoveries” and tries to convince me that Big Foot exists. I don’t believe Big Foot exists, but I don’t think he is “Liar” because he tells me things that I don’t believe are true. That would be absurd! I don’t post Facebook messages or make podcasts to try and make Randy look silly. That would be absurd! The basic principles at play here are Common Courtesy and Social Maturity. When Randy tries to convince me that Big Foot exists, he is just sharing something with me that he is passionate about. He REALLY believes in Big Foot, so it isn’t a “Lie”. Honestly, sometimes when Randy is presenting his “evidence”, he sounds silly to me. But why would I suggest that Randy is stupid or deceived? Who the hell behaves like that?! Randy doesn’t need me to save him from his Big Foot-ness. He’s fine. He’s good. His belief in Big Foot isn’t going to harm my grandchildren, or his. Look, Big Foot exists or it doesn’t. Either Randy, or I, am right – we both can’t be right; but we both recognize that we may never know the absolute truth about Big Foot, and that there is a pile of “evidence” that can be found on either side of the aisle. If I offend Randy, I lose a golf partner – I have one less guy at my funeral – where is the value in that?

        PS Now imagine how Randy would feel if I also once passionately believed in Big Foot and actively participated in Randy’s website, contributed toward his research, but now I aggressively attack and criticize him and his social community. How dopey would that be?

        PSS The [man] doth protest too much, methinks.

        • Clay Christensen
          May 12, 2016 at 8:27 am

          King,

          Your Big Foot strawman is way too cute and condescending. Big Foot isn’t giving your friend false hope, he isn’t asking for 10% of his gross income, he doesn’t have a homophobic, rascist, and misogynist doctrine and history. Big Foot isn’t seducing your wife. Big Foot isn’t sending missionaries all over the world to convert people, if your friend quit believing, Big Foot wouldn’t excommunicate him. Big Foot doesn’t divide families and spread hate with is “policies”.

          You imply that I insult members, I am very careful to not insult. If pointing out that the church is true is insulting. I make no apology for that. I believed it too. Joseph Smith was a con-man and we are all victims. Anyone who has any family, friend or history with the church is a victim of Joseph Smith.

          The church taught me that when I have been warned I should warn my neighbor. If you don’t want to share the gospel that is up to you, but I think you should consider what the church teaches us about our responsibility to one another before you judge me.

          PSS The [man] doth protest too much, methinks. What is that supposed to mean?

          • King
            May 15, 2016 at 9:05 pm

            Again, I am just trying to help. I don’t want you to continue down this path of hatred and hostility until it destroys all of your relationships and you and John are sitting alone in Pioneer Park talking about when you could throw a football over them mountains. One final attempt…

            So come on let it go
            Just let it be
            Why don’t you be you
            And I’ll be me
            Everything’s that’s broke
            Leave it to the breeze
            Why don’t you be you
            And I’ll be me
            Let it go, let it go…

          • Clay Christensen
            May 30, 2016 at 11:33 am

            King,

            You are very smug and condescending, and you still don’t get it and you avoid my questions. I think it is great that you personally are in a place where you can leave the church and leave it alone. I think that is fine, but I see people being lied to, I see the church continuing to recruit new members using the same lies that I taught as a missionary. I don’t think it is a virtue to stand idly by patting myself on the back because I’m not “insulting current believers”. I would ask you to consider that it is right to stand up to lies, it is ok to “make fun” of people who are lying and conning people out of their time and money.

            You continue to assume way too much and I don’t appreciate your condescending concern when you say, “I don’t want you to continue down this path of hatred and hostility until it destroys…”. Again, I ask you, how have my comments been hateful and hostile? The truth is not hateful or hostile, it is just the truth. I have made every effort to make sure that my love and concern for all the victims of this fraud know that I care about them and want the best for them.

            Note: posting as a reply to my own comment because it appears we’ve reached the end of allowed comment replies. This is my reply to:
            King
            May 15, 2016 at 9:05 pm
            Again, I am just trying to help. I don’t want you to continue down this path of hatred and hostility until it destroys all of your relationships and you and John are sitting alone in Pioneer Park talking about when you could throw a football over them mountains. One final attempt…

    • Blessing Victor Meteke
      May 6, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Thanks for this King. It is good to know that someone can be outside the church and still think this way.. Thank you.

  23. jay
    May 4, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    It seems possible that you did more good by leaving than the fifty years as a church member.

    I think of the couple who was helped by your leaving – the faithful wife who was able to accept her unbelieving husband. And the generations who won’t suffer living a lie.

    Thank you & congratulations.

  24. Eve
    May 5, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Thank you for this Clay, you speak after my own heart. I wish you and your family a full and happy life.

  25. Eve
    May 5, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Thank you Clay, you speak after my own heart. I wish you and your family a happy and full life.

  26. JT
    May 5, 2016 at 7:02 am

    “At some point facts matter.”

    Thank you Clay.

    Facts do matter, including the fact – which you so critically expressed – that many believing Mormons do reach out to “apostates” with kindness and generosity; and genuinely seek to maintain, and even build, relationships.

    I understand that these facts of goodness can be missing in many lives. I agree that goodness can be found everywhere, and that the causal direction is primarily from the hearts of people to religious institutions.

    Which is not to say that religions do not inspire and promote compassion and acts of generosity. But, to my mind, they too often to delimit and distort their expression.

    Once I separated myself from the Mormon Church I began seeing its doctrine and policies in a new light. They seemed skewed toward serving a monolithic institution even though every justification was couched in terms of individual blessings. Their Heavenly Father and Son began to look like its ventriloquist dummies for promoting its social conservative and financial agendas, all guided by expediencies.

    Mosiah 2:17 indirectly relates to the above.

    “And behold, I tell you these things … that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

    With a bit of distance, I saw this as spoiling my humanity by misdirecting my natural affections along a selfish institution-serving detour. I was being asked to be good “only for [my] God,” who, as far as the facts of this church, and this world, are concern, has kept himself profoundly aloof and silent.

    Clay, with this interview you are likely helping far more people than you realize, including believing members.

  27. May 5, 2016 at 8:49 am

    I love his passion and conviction. Beautiful bittersweet story.

  28. Jared
    May 5, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Clay, you mentioned a DNA study being done to determine whether your wife is descended from Joseph Smith or Windsor Lyon. When and how can we hear about that when you find out the results? Thanks!

  29. David
    May 5, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Is it fair to say that the church was going to excommunicate him when all they did was invite him to a disciplinary council?

    I would appreciate not exaggerating situations that haven’t or didn’t happen. We don’t know what the outcome of the council would have been. If I were the leader in charge I would like a dialog and a commitment going forward, but I don’t think I would have excommunicated Clay.

    Perhaps you could invite the Stake president to offer his point of view, he probably won’t come on the podcast, but I can assure you his intentions were not to excommunicate him. This is the sense that I perceive from hearing these stories. Maybe it could have been a result if he were persistently telling people the church isn’t true… but I believe respect for one another is key.

    I’m looking forward to how the church will move forward from all this, something interesting ought to come out of all of this.

    • Elizabeth
      May 5, 2016 at 11:59 am

      It seems reasonable to suppose that excommunication was imminent, though you’re right, we shouldn’t be so quick to assume.

      OTOH, I see a pattern emerging: Otherwise kind, humble bishops and stake presidents are ministering to their flock, listening and responding with love as Clay describes, when suddenly (seemingly out of the blue), an urgent message arrives; a disciplinary council needs to be convened ASAP.

      I don’t think we can know for certain, but it seems like Church HQ is behind it, notifying and directing local leaders, demanding swift action. Some leaders have even let it slip that their orders indeed came from SL (see Kirk & Lindsay Van Allen’s story, if I’m remembering correctly).

      That’s my take, anyway. Someone at the top seems desperate to maintain control, and threatening church discipline seems to be their only recourse (if only to scare future interviewees from appearing on MS).

    • G-
      May 5, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      This is a real inside look at how these go. Witch-hunt/Kangaroo court. No love, no answers, literally a medieval mindset/punishment in the name of Christ! It made me sick to my stomach to watch it. Jeremey must have felt he was in a time warp from the middle ages.

      The church still ‘burns-at-the-stake’ (and the stake centers).

      Jeremy Runnells excommunication video –

    • Clay Christensen
      May 5, 2016 at 10:15 pm

      Huh? You can assure me that the Stake President wasn’t going to excommunicate me? By the way, you will notice that I never said anything bad about my Stake President or my Bishop. You weren’t here when they visited. Let me tell you, there is no way they wouldn’t have excommunicated me. The point of it all is that they shouldn’t be convening church courts at all. Jesus didn’t excommunicate.

  30. beth
    May 5, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Clay and Jon, this is a really great interview so courageous and personal full of honesty and love, Jon please bring more people on the podcast to talk about their points of view about church history and joseph smith’s life, it’s all all so interesting and many members also non members don’t know much at all about Mormon history or joseph’s life and his personal history within the church, l am so pleased that clay is strong within himself and that his family are all pulling together to support each other, l hope he will keep in touch and talk again some time, very best of luck to clay his wife and family and also to matt his brother in law, l hope his life improves in the coming future. best of luck, thank you again for such a great interview, keep these podcasts coming, Jon, honesty within the church is so important, god bless.

  31. Deb
    May 5, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    In my eyes, you exhibit conduct becoming a human. Thanks for your integrity.

  32. David
    May 5, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Clay, did you consider visiting also other websites that acknowledge the difficult issues and offer alternative faithful perspectives?

    Such as:
    http://www.mormondiscussionpodcast.org/

    I also like leadinglds.com

    • Clay Christensen
      May 5, 2016 at 11:29 pm

      David,
      I didn’t look at that website but I was a member for 50 years. I knew enough of the history that I was perfectly versed in the apologetic answers to “difficult issues”, I had been giving them. After reading the CES letter it became apparent to me that it was time I considered the possibility that Joseph Smith might have been lying and the Book of Mormon might not be true. I had subscribed to the FARMS newsletter, I kept waiting for real evidence of the Book of Mormon. For whatever reason, I was content that there is ZERO evidence of the Book of Mormon. I looked at the FAIR Mormon “debunking”. There is nothing there. I read No Many Knows My History. It is well documented. I read No Ma’am That’s Not History and once again there is nothing that contradicts. I also don’t believe that apologists speak for the church. There are too many contradicting theories. I would look to LDS.org to debunk but the opposite is happening. The church is publishing the story of the seer stone in the Ensign. The Essays are confirming what we were always told were lies. Sorry, the church just isn’t true. Let yourself consider that possibility.

      • David MacKay
        May 6, 2016 at 9:09 am

        Hi Clay,

        I don’t consider it an apologetic website at all, but it offers alternatives in order to maintain a faithful perspective. I think we can agree that as a church the narratives went off a tangent… sort of a broken telephone type of system we members of the church we unknowingly propagating and exaggerating truths.

        It would be nice if the church offered certain retractions and a way to move forward with faith, and this is sort of what websites such as: http://athoughtfulfaith.org/, http://mormonmatters.org/, & http://www.mormondiscussionpodcast.org/ offer.

        I’m glad you found a better place for you and your family. What I want to do is try to shape the church to be more inclusive and acknowledge that some of the truth claims are not as true as they say they are, but I guess the truth is where do we turn to now? Who has the words of truth and salvation… and can’t I do something to make this church work for everyone.

        Any how, I have deep respect for your choice and conviction and perhaps one day I shall do the same… but for now I will continue to follow God’s inspiration for myself. In your case He has led you out of the church… and that is to be honored and respected. It would be nice to have you back, but until you do and if ever that happens… God bless.

  33. Emily
    May 5, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Thank you, Clay, for sharing your story, and also for mentioning quitmormon.com. I had never heard of it before today but plan on using it just as soon as I submit this comment! What a wonderful—and needed—service Mark is providing.

    And John: a million times thank you for continuing to provide a forum for so many people to share their stories. I discovered Mormon Stories pretty late (just a couple of years ago) but have listened to 200+ episodes—including some of the earliest ones—and have been so impressed with every one.

    For me one of the most touching moments of this interview is when you are discussing emotions and you (John) say “we don’t choose them, and it’s healthy to talk about them.” Such a simple thing to say, and maybe obvious to lots of people, but I think it speaks to one of the most important things you do, which is helping people to talk about their emotions, and to understand and embrace a diversity of emotions that can’t—and shouldn’t—be boiled down to simple dichotomies of good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, etc. Thank you thank you and keep up the great work.

  34. Debbie Osborn
    May 5, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Ha! I knew it!! You left because you wanted to drink coffee! In your British Museum mug, no less! 😜

    • Blessing Meteke
      May 6, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      My thoughts exactly

  35. Playing Along
    May 6, 2016 at 10:07 am

    In mixed-faith marriages, is it better to keep playing along and trying to make it work, or to leave and risk destroying my marriage?

    • Clay Christensen
      May 30, 2016 at 11:04 am

      Hi Playing Along,

      My wife came to me with the CES letter on her phone. She had the look of Eve in her eye. I could tell she had seen things she couldn’t unsee. I don’t believe we have the right in our marriages to refuse to share what is troubling one another. I had no choice but to read the CES Letter and once read, you can no longer, “just believe” you either become an apologist or an exmormon. I know it isn’t this simple for everyone but it was for me. I am sorry for you and your spouse, I can imagine what life is like not being able to discuss your faith crisis with your best friend. I can only suggest that you continue to have open conversations and plead with your spouse to consider the evidence. Good luck to you both.

  36. BK Nelson
    May 6, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Hi Clay. It’s soooo nice to hear someone so logical, & forthright. My jaw hit the floor when you mentioned Redmond utah in your first interview. My dad grew up there and I too visited growing up. To this day I love going there. The connection made you’re story much more personal to me. Thank you for validating my thoughts and emotions reading church history. And thank you for still having all the wonderful characteristics my favorite people and my dear family have. Most of all thank you for sharing.

  37. Koskey
    May 9, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Clay – would u mind shooting me an email? Have a couple quick questions for ya.

    Thanks for sharing your story and personal situation, much respect.

    Mountainmankoskie@gmail.com

  38. RandyH
    May 9, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Clay,I especially appreciated the way you framed what happened: “I found out the church isn’t true” vs. “I lost my faith”, or “I no longer believe”. You kept the onus exactly where it belongs, on the Church. The Church is the one making the truth claims which are demonstrably false.
    Your clear calling out of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as creepy predators was so powerful, I got tears of revulsion and sadness.
    I’m so grateful to be free, it’s like joining the human race. I’ve been out for almost 20 years, and my ex and child have also been spared but I still need encouragement to be clear with my tbm family and not just hide out. Thanks for your transparency and desire to share the good news.

  39. Leslie
    May 12, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Clay says he doesn’t foresee any more podcasts, and I say – why not? He’s got a great voice, a passionate presence and inspiring story-telling ability. He would be great on more podcasts. He’d be a great guest and a terrific substitute host if J.Dehlin needed one. Wonderful follow-up podcast. Thank you.

    • Clay Christensen
      May 30, 2016 at 10:56 am

      Hi Leslie,

      That is very nice of you. I admit that I am still willing to do whatever I can to help. I admire people like John, Jeremy and Sandra who are devoting their time and talent to exposing the truth. I support them because I wouldn’t be here without them. I have a little taste of the criticism that comes from being a public person in this fight for truth. No one has really questioned my motives but they question theirs. I don’t like that. The message of truth needs people who are willing to advance it full-time.

      I said that on the podcast because I want people to know that I am just a regular member, if I can leave, you can too. If I can leave and publicly (if only briefly) correct the false testimony I have born, then perhaps it will help others do the same. I think there is a place for full-time public faces of the movement for truth. I want to keep seeing John, Jeremy and Sandra out there sharing the truth. I think a little of me goes a long way, but if there is anything I can ever do to help them, I’ll do it. My truth sharing activities will probably be much more one-on-one and less public in the future.

      Thank you again,
      Clay

  40. Phoebe Spitzenberger
    May 12, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    I would like to say thank you to Clay and his brother-in-law Matt. Thank you for putting into words why I can’t just sit back and say nothing. I was a Young Women’s President at a very young age. I bore my testimony regularly. I was all in, and it is so important for my self-respect that I am able to be heard and known as no longer a part of the church. And because of Doctrine-not cause “satan” finally got to me. I want my testimony to go up there with the rest, fixing my mistaken, innocent testimonies from before. I know this church is a cult and hurts families. And that is why people get out and then “can’t leave it alone”. Life is so much happier on the other side where we’re allowed our basic human rights without any shame or guilt. And our love for others that drives us TO the church is what also drives us to sometimes wish others would leave as well. Some never will. I thought I never would though, and I bet a lot of people thought you never would…so… there’s that to keep in mind. I have found healing through books, I am an avid reader and would like to share some of my favorites that helped shape the new life philosophy I have that you can be good with or without a god, so let’s just do it. Books: Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Other Abusive Relationships, and Raising Freethinkers. I will say for me, at first, it was hard to imagine not believing in God, and I could see from the last podcast that you are not in that place either. Keep being patient with yourself, like you said there’s so much still just to research within the confines of the church. When you are ready to consider the Bible I highly recommend reading: The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. It’s a comedy writer, but he does real and compassionate research into many different religions and beliefs and has fascinating insight into the Bible. The most important thing, and you seem to already get that is that YOU CAN STILL BE A GOOD PERSON AND NOT BE A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH. Good for you for being open-minded. Good for you for your conviction to honesty. Good thoughts your way on the rest of your journey.

  41. Valerie
    May 13, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Clay,
    I am so amazed at your story. I am married to a fantastic man who has really been hurt deeply by my leaving the church. I am often confused as to why certain people hear the same information and they feel it is a matter of integrity to leave, while others hear the same information and are able to dismiss it. I am just happy that in the case of your family that everyone is on the same page. I am saddened by the pain and misunderstandings that have occurred on both sides of this in my family because our personalities have not allowed us to see this the same and we are stuck with a very uncomfortable divide. I love my family and wish we didn’t have this emotional and spiritual disconnect from each other. But I REALLY appreciated your stating that you still love Christ and HE isn’t the one who has hurt you. I feel the same way. I too have no desire to go to another church, but I believe my Savior loves me and understands my heart. Thanks for sharing your story. Best wishes to you and your family.

  42. joy
    May 13, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I have SO much admiration for Clay. It takes so much courage to be open minded in this church. They instill such a fear factor in people that it is so sad that intelligent, educated people do not know such obvious truths. You do not need to dig deep to see that JS was an absolute and total fraud. He was a very imaginative 14 year old boy that was not having success in his treasure seeking. He saw his father and his family struggling to make ends meet financially and was a very smart, resourceful, creative boy…I’ll sure give him that. But a prophet? NO WAY! Read, educate yourselves…the truth is so easy to find and it is so sad that the lds church suppresses communication/open debate. If they are the one true church, let’s discuss it! It is so devastating that Matt is living his life like this. He obviously loves his family very much but to me, he seems so sad over this whole thing. You can tell that he is looking for a way to lighten his load and just live the best he can but he is so young still and life is worth living openly. The other factor is that this cycle will continue with his children. I admire Clay so much for facing the music and being open minded enough to see the truth. Jesus loves all and would want families to be happy, not live in fear that they would lose their families for speaking up.

  43. Derek Baker
    May 18, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Clay —
    If I had had anything to do with who you have become, I would be proud.
    Impressed with how you handled your situation.

  44. Holly Kravetz
    May 19, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Clay,
    After suspecting my husband of loosing his faith and testimony for years. He finally felt he could come to me and share his feelings about a month ago. I am so grateful that he felt he could finally talk to me, but I fear I am not enough… he needs someone to talk too. I want you to know you said something in your words that resounded inside of me (in not so many words), we can love God, we can love Christ, we can be a family, we can be happy without being apart of the church. Also it’s not about partying and wanting to leave the church because you’ve decided to “sin”… You’ve decided that truth is black and white. He started his journey reading the essays which I led him too, in all honesty thinking this would give him the answers. Full disclosure I hadn’t read them at the time either. But instead of helping him answer his questions, they produced more and more and subsequently has led us to this point now, where is ready to resign from the church. Because of the essays alone and reading the material the church itself has put out he has made this choice, not by reading “anti mormon” literature. That troubles me… I’m trying to sort my own feelings out now, because my husband knows so much more than, he served a mission, he’s read the bom several several times… so I’m trying to become as educated as he is, and I know this is important now more than ever because of your words. I’m trying to not let fear guide my actions… I am worried about the future and what it holds, I don’t know how to live without the responsibility, the guilt, the striving, the doing… but I find solace that you see God’s hand on your life and God’s hand and the church are not mutually exclusive.

    I wish we could talk in person. We’re a new couple in that we’ve been married or sealed for 6 years with 2 kids. I don’t know how to navigate these waters. And I’m full of fear. But I’m hanging on that God and the Gospel, that Jesus and the Gospel are not mutually exclusive. Because I treasure my relationship with them. My anchor in my testimony is Heavenly Father.

    I hope this finds you well…
    Holly

    • Clay Christensen
      May 30, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Hi Holly,

      I have not forgotten those early days of finding out that the church was hiding its history. Going from fully-believing, never-doubting, to seeing clearly that it has been a complete fraud was traumatic. That process unfolded over just a couple weeks. Our Mormon Story 616-617 was filmed just six weeks after I found out. It has been almost eight months now. It is still difficult. I would be happy to meet you and your husband. You are welcome in my home. We have met many of the people we have helped and it has been uplifting for all of us. You can reach me at claychristensen@hotmail.com.

      One of the greatest joys I have experienced from doing these interviews is the knowledge that I have helped to unite couples who were struggling with different stages of the faith crisis.

      I hope to see you and all couples caught up in this united. Good luck to you and your husband.

  45. Dave
    June 1, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    His integrity and fairness is obvious. He is not vindictive or seeking attention, he just tells his story and sincerely wants to help others with their faith crisis, especially if they are having family issues because of doubts about the church.

    Instead of just leaving him alone and letting him fade into inactivity, the church just had to excerise their “muscle heads” and try to excommunicate him. Clay took the high road and as Clay said, they are in middle ages using excommunication as weapon instead of love and kindness.

Comments are closed.