313-316: John and Brooke McLay – From CES to Ex-Mormons

In this episode we interview John and Brooke McLay. John served for 14 years as an employee of the LDS Church Education System (CES). In this capacity he served as: a seminary teacher and principal, an institute teacher and director, a BYU Education Week speaker and an EFY Director. John also served as a member of a stake high council, and was serving in a bishopric during the months leading up to his decision to leave the LDS Church. John and Brooke resigned their membership of the LDS Church in August of 2011.  This is their story.

Part 1: Growing up in the LDS Church and Serving as an LDS CES Seminary and Institute Teacher

Part 2: Ceasing to Believe in the LDS Church as a CES Seminary and Institute Teacher

Part 3: The Decision to Resign from the LDS Church as a CES Seminary and Institute Teacher

Part 4: How the LDS Church Education System (CES) Harms the Church and Its Members

Comments

comments

298 comments for “313-316: John and Brooke McLay – From CES to Ex-Mormons

  1. Houser
    January 8, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Wishing you the best in your new journey, McLay’s.   Finding truth and living your truth is always a struggle and is not easy.  Wishing you well–from fellow Sprigvillians.

  2. JR
    January 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Only through segment 1 so far, but this hits so closely to home (literally) that I can’t seem to break away from watching and anticipating the segments to come. John and Brooke, your courage and spirit are a gift. Good luck and happiness to you on your journey. I hope to get the privilege of meeting you one day.

    John Dehlin, hats off to you once again for making these kinds of stories available to the rest of the world. I’m inspired!

    • JR
      January 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm

      Finished up the series, and it is even better than I could have imagined! My love and compassion for you and your story, John and Brooke, are beyond words. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Shane Anderson
    January 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    John and Brooke are both excellent communicators and tell their story brilliantly.  Excellent interview John Dehlin!  Well worth listening to.

  4. Redneckzilla
    January 8, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    It’s a brave step to act on integrity and belief. It’s beautiful to see someone truly using their agency, and I don’t say that with any sort of negativity. You all are using your minds and spirituality in the ways that God intends; truthful to yourself. I have had a lot of the same spiritual crises and even gotten to a place of doubting the existence of God and the truthfulness of the Church. I personally found places to grow and expand within the framework of the Church; places to respect and honor homosexuals, empowered women, and, in general, all individuals. I understand that Church culture can be stifling and a hindrance to personal spiritual growth all too well. I hope you all find your own places to grow and experience life to its fullest, whether it be in or outside of the congregation. Best of luck and sincere love.

  5. Jpwhicker
    January 8, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Why is it that the people who have decided to listen to their integrity and have left the church are so inspiring?  

    While those who make apologetic arguments (Horses and chariots are functional translations which means there doesn’t actually need to be any wheels or horses) leave me with a dark feeling?

     If I listen to the fictional Moroni’s advice, it is because something spiritual is telling me that a man will get closer to God by having integrity of heart than he will by using his intellect to “apologize” for the church.

    • Twanda
      January 21, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Maybe I was just brought up a lot differently than a lot of LDS kids,  but my parents raised me always highlighting free agency, I was asked if I wanted to be baptized and chose for myself.Everything ended with it being “my choice.” 

      My parents required us to attend FHE and scripture study and Church as long as we lived in the home, but I can understand that. I was told in great detail all about the birds and the bees when I was 11. It was not told to me as evil or dirty but sacred. I remained a virgin until I was married not just because of covenants but because sex was not a great mystery. There was an open dialog at my house about what curse words meant and what slang jargon was with things like “getting to first base”. I was allowed to question my beliefs in a safe environment without feeling judged. I watched my Dad as he told my brothers his desire for them to serve a mission was very important but he told them if they did not believe in and have a testimony of the BOM, that they needed to think why they were going and why they wanted to serve a mission. He told them not to go unless they went for the right reasons.

      I had friends who were not members that were devout Christians that I played with all the time. My parents NEVER treated a non-member differently than a member and explained they weren’t bad people but had different beliefs than we did. One of my Dad’s best friends was Jewish and yes people, I’ve lived in Utah since I was 3. I suppose if the church was shoved down my throat and I was not explained anything about agency, was told people were evil or bad who were not LDS that maybe I would have felt the “pressure” this couple did. And BTW, I kissed lots of boys, lots and lots of them and never once felt guilty.

      The culture in the church drives me nuts. Those stuck up snotty, narrow-minded mormons are in my ward too and frankly they don’t represent my beliefs.  They bug me too and don’t treat me very kindly because I don’t fit into the stereotypical mold of what they think an LDS woman should be and never will.  I’m ok with that.

       The gospel doctrine stands on it’s own two feet for me because I was taught it in the way the church leaders have asked us to do it. These self righteous bigots are God’s children too and have their own set of challenges. I have always had compassion for those who have fallen away or left the church. I am learning to understand these other people who give our religion such a bad stereotype. Not there yet.

      On a side note. Any place where you have a bunch of people who are the same religion you run into this problem…….the “culture” of the church. If my testimony was based on the imperfect people in this church I would not have one. My testimony is based on what I’ve read studied, and felt.

      My heart goes out to this couple for being so candid about this. May God bless them.

      • Linda Rich
        February 15, 2012 at 10:44 am

        Twanda, I must be your sister and don’t know it because I feel like my LDS home and life have mirrored yours. I love the McLays and admire their talents and beautiful family. My testimony is not based on their lost of testimony so I can still believe and still love them. I hope their departure from their former beliefs don’t result in others changing their beliefs who are immature in their spirituality.  The McLays feel like this is the right path for them and their children.  They will find their way in the world and will be okay. And, hopefully, eventually all those who are hurting from their choice will adjust and continue to love and enjoy their great talents. 

      • Jennifer
        April 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm

        Twanda, John and Brooke made it very clear that they are not leaving because of the culture, but because of the ever-shifting doctrines.

  6. sophshepherd
    January 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    This couple reminds me of my husband and I. It feels so good to know we are not alone in this journey! It feels validating to meet kind, happy, post mormon people who feel the same way we do. Thank you John and John (what’s with the many cool “John’s” in these Latter Days? “John Larson” too!?!) Anyhow, thank you Mormon Stories for the work you are doing. Keep it up. Please! 

  7. JJ
    January 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    McClays, you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings and journey. I admire the courage it took to do what you did. I also can see the inevitability of your particular trajectory, or maybe inevitability is the wrong word, maybe its that I can see the integrity of it as well.  Its funny that I think the same things you all do and yet I stay. I have a problem with historicity, Joseph’s flaws, polygamy, gender discrimination, flaws in the Book of Mormon. My membership is a paradox.  I sometimes wonder why, but that’s where I am now, taking it one day at a time. I am lucky my wife is there as well. Maybe we can help people who think like us in the church. Or maybe we think we can do more  in the church than outside of it. I am not CES, so I am sure that helps. But just know that you would be welcome to our house any time and not for fellowshipping!  It would just be so that you would know you are not alone and that we do not judge you. We are all brothers and sisters in this world, orthodox or not.

    • Anonymous
      April 12, 2012 at 6:17 am

      JJ – an interesting post! I think you are right, for you it is best to stay where you are. The church needs to be saved from within, so many people are leaving, or have left, myself included. Some of us stay, others leave!

       In many ways the church is such a wonderful organisation, it has evolved into that over the years, but can we say that about Joseph Smith or Brigham Youngs church? I doubt it – it was a living hell for many, especially those good people conned to SLC from Europe by lying missionarys. This is why the present day leadership wants to forget about it, it’s gone, it’s all in the past now, it’s behind us – these are all familiar rationalisations that we have heard from recent Prophets. It’s all BS, all this history matters ALOT because these are the foundations of the movement that claims to be the one and true church – clearly it’s not, it can’t be!

      The Bretheren need to get real, but they won’t, they can’t – not the present lot anyway. The 15 are way too old to change, they are so caught up in their perfect world, they will protect the firm whatever it takes! Any big change must come from within by people coming up through the ranks of the church over time – I hope it happens!

  8. Jeffcolemanfamily
    January 8, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Thank you so much for your courage as you are helping more people than you realize. This was exactly what I should have watched today instead of going to church like I did NOT want to. I can so identify with EVERYTHING you have shared, and your journey out has mirrored mine, complete with the manic-like hurry to go back and having second thoughts {I think that’s a part of the process}. I will carefully share this with my husband and hope that this will help him as he is a TBM and I am now out. 

  9. David
    January 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Is there a middle ground John Dehlin?

    • Tyson
      January 9, 2012 at 2:48 am

      No, it’s a zero sum event, but don’t worry, the good guys are winning.

    • Rude Dog
      January 9, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Define middle ground.  I was under the impression that somebody important postulated the church either totally true, or completely fraudulent.  Is the “bigger tent” philosophy now alive inside the church, and not just at the margins?

  10. Kevin
    January 8, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    An epic interview in scope and duration. You would be
    welcome in my home any day, John and Brooke. Tears came several times during
    the interview. My family is also going through foreclosure. Lacking any spare
    cash to share I’ll have to settle for quietly offering a prayer in your behalf.
    With the help of Mormon Stories I’ve explored many of the questions that
    trouble you, John.  Perhaps because I’m
    not bound by the expectations of CES they’ve never struck me as deal breakers.

    Isaiah 55:8-9 has long given me cause for hope and faith. In
    a universe where God thinks different thoughts than we do and his ways are as
    much higher than ours as the heavens are from the earth—literally anything
    could exist and it still be right with him regardless of how disturbing it
    seems to us. (Think the commandment for the Children of Israel to commit what
    we would consider genocide on the Canaanites.) I believe evidence of God’s love
    for us is manifest in the agency he’s given us to choose our own paths.

  11. January 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I’m only a small portion of the way through – I actually skipped ahead to the segment where they lost their testimony, almost finished with it, but I wanted to express in the comments some feelings while they are still fresh in my mind.

    I want to specifically point out the part of the discussion where they talk about the black and white limited, narrow box they’ve lived in within the CES/church bubble for so many years.  And as they moved away from the church, they have discovered this full techni-color world outside of it.   Also, the comment where Brooke describes John’s job in CES as this drudgery of sameness, teaching the same curriculum with the drab four year rotation, without any hope of exploration or richness.

    I don’t doubt it.  I understand they are sharing their personal journey and their experience within the church gospel and the way it was expressed to them and the way they were living it probably did feel limiting.  So, I applaud their journey.

    May I offer, however, a rather nuanced criticism of the way they are describing the church as they were deciding to leave it?  Well, let’s start by contrasting their experience with the one described in the Mormon Stories interview Dehlin had with Terryl Givens.  Here Givens describes a very rich, deep and nuanced church quite different from the one the McLay’s describe.  Givens found a way to fully embrace the church and finding depth and beauty and color within that embrace.

    That’s been my experience as well.  I can’t help to think that perhaps John McLay missed the point of CES or maybe he just wasn’t a good fit for it or evolved out of that role along the way.  I owe so much to my seminary and institute teachers.  If their job was to lay bare a complete accurate, in-depth portrayal of church history before my 14 through 25 year old eyes (the years, minus my mission, I was most immersed in CES), it would have been an enormous disservice to what I personally needed at that time.

    I needed to feel loved and connection and I needed a strong education in how to develop my faith during a very difficult time in my life.  That’s it.  I didn’t want to hear about polyandry.  I needed faith and repentance and forgiveness, basic principles that in their own right are deep and complex and difficult to fully live.   These are religious classes not historical ones.  If your life’s purpose is to be able to make a difference in adolescent and young adult lives, that’s a very enriching, challenging, and ever-changing mission.  Perhaps this is not what John ultimately wanted to be doing?

    Again, I do think it’s possible to live a very full enriching life within the boundaries of the church and I feel like I’m doing it right now and every day I get (hopefully) better at it.  I also think it’s possible to find it outside of the church.

    I don’t criticize the McLay’s decision here, I just think the way they are describing it seems a bit unfairly dismissive of those of us who remain well solid in our Mormon faith.

    Just one minor hint on the way I approach it.  Sometime back I encountered (admittedly a pretty superficial and kind-of cheesy self-help book) the book “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.  One of the principles in the book is:

    “‘Sfumato,’ which translates to ‘going up in smoke,’ is a ‘willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty,’
    and is the fourth of the da Vinci habits recommended by author Michael
    Gelb. He writes, ‘As you awaken your powers of Curiosità, probe the
    depths of Dimostrazione (experience), and sharpen your senses, you come
    face to face with the unknown. Keeping your mind open in the face of uncertainty is the single most powerful secret of unleashing your creative potential.'”

    Quote from this blog:  http://ridingthewave.typepad.com/kowabunga_surfs_up_for_cr/2011/04/fear-of-the-unknown-.html

    One common theme from Mormon Stories, is this struggle with being authentic, this struggle with dealing with disconnects.  How can I believe in God and evolution?  Or how can I belong to the church that declares “We are the Only true church” while I continue to see so much richness and truth outside the church.

    Again, I think the Givens interview hits this forcefully in a way that resonates with me.   I don’t see this as much with the McLay’s.  I do know and love people personally who have left the church who show this capacity.  At least in my conversations with them, they have this ability to express love and admiration for the church and for the people in it, but just don’t believe in it.  One person I’m thinking about in specific, lives in the heart of Salt Lake City surrounding by active family members but has completely left the church.

    I think this is the trick I guess.  To stay true to your own spiritual journey without being critical of another’s journey and being open to evolve and embrace uncertainty as we grow within our faith no matter where it may lead us.  Perhaps I’ll see it in the later segments, or perhaps the McLay’s have more exploration to go to get there.  Or perhaps I’m full of it and am completely misunderstanding their position.  All of these are possible :-).

    • Anonymous
      January 9, 2012 at 9:24 am

      Terryl Givens’s interview resonated with me as well for the same reasons you cite. I would not go so far as to say that the McLays missed the point, though. One common theme through all (most) of the MS podasts is that different, equally smart people encounter the problematic issues differently. I’m always surprised and perplexed to hear people say it doesn’t really matter to them whether Joseph used the plates or not, whether we have the true Abraham papyrus or not. Doesn’t matter that he embellishes his stories over time. Other people, perhaps like Givens, know those things and can explain them to their satisfaction. Others, perhaps like John McLay, hear them and conclude that it’s a fraud.

      I don’t know how to explain these differences. My wife is in the first camp. She and I read Grant Palmer together and her reaction was a big shrug. She’s able to say, It doesn’t matter to my happiness and salvation, so why should I care if he used a peep stone in a hat?

      John Dehlin, is it simply a matter of personality? How is it some people are genuinely not concerned about these issues?

      • Allenjulie
        January 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm

        My take is there is no right or wrong, valid or less valid, good or bad interpretations of the problematic issues of the church.  There are only——–interpretations.  Each one as valid as the next.

      • Anonymous
        February 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm

        I found your comments very interesting, I do believe that there are many long standing memebers of the Church who are unaware of some of the historical ‘problems’. Many I think, are just not interested – they are happy with their status quo in life and don’t want to disrupt their lives.

        Those that are aware, show amazing ability to rationalise it all away – members of my own family are very happy with ‘milk before meat’ and ‘lying for the lord’ mentality. I don’t agree, I can see their way of thinking inside the Church box, but it is dishonest, it really is. No God would work this way – never. That is why SO many people are concluding that Joseph lied, and the deeper you dig, the more you realize the truth – which is also a deep spiritual experience!

    • Paul Bohman
      January 9, 2012 at 10:53 am

      John McLay said he watched the Givens interview twice. John was obviously very interested in Givens’s perspective, and even expressed appreciation for it. He just came to different conclusions. John also said he kept to the basics, and kept the mission of his job as a CES instructor as pure as possible, meaning that he used the scriptures and the manual. In other words, he was treating his job exactly as you say you wanted seminary teachers to treat it, without all of the details like polyandry. And he did this because he believed it was the right thing to do. It sounds to me like he was a perfect fit for the CES system.

      It wasn’t until his own belief in the church fell apart that he felt dissonance in teaching as he did. Once he felt this dissonance, he made a clean break with his job. I see that as someone acting out of integrity.

      And from what John said, it seems as if he has also embraced ambiguity, or “sfmuato” as you call it. He finds it easier to do that outside of a church that repeatedly emphasizes that “there is no middle ground.”

      • Phill Dickerson
        January 12, 2012 at 11:58 am

        I personally don’t see why people take issue with small details like polyandry.  This is merely evidence of the natural man within all of us and not proof that Joseph was less than a prophet.  Who is his right mind would not want to send John McLay off on a mission knowing that he would be able to mclay Sister McLay?

        • Jillmchristensen
          February 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm

          Polyandry according to D&C 132 vs 61 is wrong.  Joseph broke his own supposed revelation.  That is why people take issue with it.  If a prophet receives a revelation, by hell he should set the example in keeping it!

    • January 9, 2012 at 11:15 am

      Scott,
      Great comments and I agree with you about the luminous and fulfilling life a person can lead within the church.  I feel the same way. Thank you for your thoughts and feelings.

      I wanted to comment on your Davinci quote about the willingness to embrace ambiguity.

      John Keats defined it as “Negative Capability,” the ability to live without predefined philosophical schemes, belief systems, and a catacomb of categories and boxes into which the universe must fit. It’s the ability to live with uncertainty.  Kierkegaard also expressed his disdain for Hegel’s systematizing of the universe into a predefined philosophical apparatus and further objected to this tendency within Christianity as well.

      While you use this principle as support for living with the uncertainties and the doubts that arise within the gospel and its theological system of belief, the McLay’s are saying something that gets more to the heart of the principle. They are saying that the Mormon theological system itself is the overreaching impulse, the striving after boxes of categories into which the world must fit.  They’re saying that breaking free and moving beyond this impulse to systematize the world, escaping the predefined formulations, living without the burning need to have all the answers in advance of knowing the questions, is precisely the kind of negative capability that you mention above.

      Negative Capability is not intended to fill in the gaps where the system itself breaks down, where the machinery of theology falls apart, gears flying in all directions, and the wrecked apparatus shows itself as false and inoperative at its core.  Negative Capability is the ability to live without the systematizing mentality in the midst of uncertainty, outside the false comforts of the system. That’s what they’re saying.  They broke free and discovered a “technicolor world.”

      The naked vulnerability of living outside the false comforts of the system, the humility that this vulnerability brings, is precisely what renders its joys so much more vibrant and amazing and awe-inspiring.

      My question for you is this: can you really know what they’re talking about, can you really understand the theological matrix for what it is and the expansive world outside for what it is, and the humbling uncertainty for what it is, if you remain embedded within the comforts inside?  I would suggest no.  Not in my experience.

      Once again, I truly believe your comment is inspirational and uplifting on so many levels.  I just wanted to offer a perspective that may help you understand what the McLays are saying.

      • January 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm

        Jonah, thank you for a very thoughtful response to my comment.  I think it’s possible you misunderstood the point I was trying to make so I wanted to clarify it a bit.

        In specific, I’m not sure I agree with your description of the LDS gospel here:

        “They are saying that the Mormon theological system itself is the
        overreaching impulse, the striving after boxes of categories into which
        the world must fit.  They’re saying that breaking free and moving beyond
        this impulse to systematize the world, escaping the predefined
        formulations, living without the burning need to have all the answers in
        advance of knowing the questions, is precisely the kind of negative
        capability that you mention above.”

        I agree that seems to be the McLay’s view of the Mormon theological system as you put it and I think there are many members who have used the Mormon church to create a limiting box both for themselves and for others.

        But at the core of the church – both in its theology and it’s potential as an organization, it’s not that way, at least as I’ve evolved within it.

        I guess the way I think I’m trying to live my faith is to live within this tension of justice and mercy, obedience and freedom, conformity and authenticity and individuality.  That the church can be a perfect and flawed, that we can be people with unlimited capacity but also incredibly weak.  That we need to follow church leaders but also listen to our inner voice and that sometimes they will come in direct contradiction with each other.  That church authority matters but so does our own personal spirituality.

        To extend this even further (maybe even beyond where I actually am :-), I view myself as a Mormon, a Christian, but in some ways I’m also a Methodist, a Muslim and and an Atheist.   And in that way, I can connect with my Muslim, Hindu and Christian friends in a very deep and thoughtful way.

        In fact, in a very real sense I almost wish I could register as a Republicans and a Democrat because I think both sides, on practically every issue, are right and wrong all at the same time.

        I believe the Mormon theological system is big enough to absorb this kind of view.  And it’s why I never feel much tension when I go to church.  I listen to people’s points of view and if I’m living correctly, and if the speaker is speaking from a sincere, authentic place, my faith grows.  The content of their message is almost irrelevant.

        I hope this makes sense.

      • January 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm

        Jonah, thank you for a very thoughtful response to my comment.  I think it’s possible you misunderstood the point I was trying to make so I wanted to clarify it a bit.

        In specific, I’m not sure I agree with your description of the LDS gospel here:

        “They are saying that the Mormon theological system itself is the
        overreaching impulse, the striving after boxes of categories into which
        the world must fit.  They’re saying that breaking free and moving beyond
        this impulse to systematize the world, escaping the predefined
        formulations, living without the burning need to have all the answers in
        advance of knowing the questions, is precisely the kind of negative
        capability that you mention above.”

        I agree that seems to be the McLay’s view of the Mormon theological system as you put it and I think there are many members who have used the Mormon church to create a limiting box both for themselves and for others.

        But at the core of the church – both in its theology and it’s potential as an organization, it’s not that way, at least as I’ve evolved within it.

        I guess the way I think I’m trying to live my faith is to live within this tension of justice and mercy, obedience and freedom, conformity and authenticity and individuality.  That the church can be a perfect and flawed, that we can be people with unlimited capacity but also incredibly weak.  That we need to follow church leaders but also listen to our inner voice and that sometimes they will come in direct contradiction with each other.  That church authority matters but so does our own personal spirituality.

        To extend this even further (maybe even beyond where I actually am :-), I view myself as a Mormon, a Christian, but in some ways I’m also a Methodist, a Muslim and and an Atheist.   And in that way, I can connect with my Muslim, Hindu and Christian friends in a very deep and thoughtful way.

        In fact, in a very real sense I almost wish I could register as a Republicans and a Democrat because I think both sides, on practically every issue, are right and wrong all at the same time.

        I believe the Mormon theological system is big enough to absorb this kind of view.  And it’s why I never feel much tension when I go to church.  I listen to people’s points of view and if I’m living correctly, and if the speaker is speaking from a sincere, authentic place, my faith grows.  The content of their message is almost irrelevant.

        I hope this makes sense.

        • Mike
          January 10, 2012 at 1:23 am

          While it’s important to try to understand where others are coming from, I don’t think most people find it necessary to define themselves as everything and nothing at the same time.

          Perhaps the “Mormon theological system” (as you see it) is big enough to accommodate your postmodern point of view, but as a practical matter, dissenting viewpoints are not at all welcome in the Mormon church. I’m glad you choose to stay, and hope people like you who can tolerate (and maybe even appreciate on some level) the predominance of black-and-white thinking in the church, will eventually help change the church for the better.

        • Scott Brady
          January 10, 2012 at 10:16 am

          Scott,

          I think some have the talent to openly share their non-orthodox feelings at church in a way that doesn’t bring down the house.  You sound like one of these people.  You can vent and share your liberal viewpoints without causing problems.  Your church experience is uplifting and I envy you!

          I don’t have that gift so I stay silent.  At church, I feel welcome.  I just don’t belong.

          • Scott Turley
            January 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm

            Scott (and others),

            I just want to make it clear, I wasn’t being critical at all of the McLay’s decision.  I did listen to the entire podcast now and it seems clear they were making their decisions with integrity.

            All I’m saying is their experience with the church has been pretty significantly different than mine.    I’m just making a slight push back that perhaps their description of the church is more based on how they have experienced it than how it really is.

            I think being as immersed as they have been in CES has definitely been a core cause of that.

            Again, everyone’s spiritual journey is unique and I think it’s good and healthy to appreciate, learn from and even sustain each other even when we are on different paths as long as we are all trying to grow in the same direction.

            I think our church culture and the people within the church have their own limitations and weaknesses and I’m part of that.  But the church itself is bigger than the people who happen to be a part of it.  That’s my view anyway :-).

          • January 10, 2012 at 5:16 pm

            Scott,
            I love your perspective because you’re the type of person I would relate to within the church.

            Your perspective seems to have discarded large portions of the Mormon theological system, which is why you may not sense its machinery of constraints as others do.  Is it possible that this is the reason you see the church as more expansive than it is?

            Once again, in my opinion, it’s not the theological system per se that’s the problem; it’s the idea that the system never changes and never adjusts itself to reality; the idea that the world itself must change in order to force a fit within the system.  You sound like you’re open to external input and that you’ve adjusted your beliefs to the world around you.  Because of that, I see you as someone who already lives outside the theological arrogance and the absolute rigidity of the system. Just some thoughts.

          • Scott Turley
            January 11, 2012 at 1:39 am

            Thanks Jonah, it’s all true.  I have definitely had tons of inputs and influence both within and outside of the church, and I can’t really relate to someone who hasn’t.

            However, I do admit, I grew up in a town where Mormons were the minority, I did not go to BYU nor have I ever lived in Utah and obviously I do not work in CES (nor have come close to doing so).

            All of this probably has something to do with it :-).

          • Brad
            January 11, 2012 at 4:15 am

            I’ll add my voice to others, Scott, in saying that as pleasant as the description of the church life you say you experience may be, it bears little resemblance to my lived experience. You may be able to live that way in your mind, but to the extent that you verbalize your ideas, and act in accordance with them, you will eventually encounter some hard, correlated edges. I wish you well when that happens. 

      • classof 91
        April 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm

        Well-said!

        • April 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm

           Thanks Class of 91.

  12. January 8, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    While Katrina was watching this (I will get to it soon) we kept talking about how very grateful we are that I didn’t end up getting into CES. I took the Seminary Teacher Training course and got really close to going down that path, but thankfully I went another way!

  13. jen
    January 9, 2012 at 12:35 am

    wow.  theses stories represent the bulk of my journey as well.  it makes me so happy to be able to relate to others in the very delicate and emotional process of separating oneself from the church.

  14. Anonymous
    January 9, 2012 at 1:41 am

    One of my very favorite Podcasts.  I can but hope that other CES employees will find the inward strength to act on their integrity and demand change to Seminary and Institute classes.

  15. Lindsey Gustafson
    January 9, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Thank you so much for your story!! For your integrity and your courage! I hope that doesn’t sound trite after hearing it so much, I really admire you both so much. 

  16. GM
    January 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    This is tremendous. This story, their character, and this whole movement. 

    I was deeply moved by the sacrifices you have made, John and Brooke. So sad to hear about the job situation and the home foreclosure. It made me want to send you a check. Is there anyway we could set up a fund?

    • Anonymous
      January 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      GM (and others),

      Here’s the address:

      John & Brooke McLay
      6435 Maroon Mesa Drive
      Colorado Springs, CO 80918

      Thanks to all for supporting this great family.

      John

      • Charles
        January 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm

        Thanks, John.  Any chance we can send our love and support via paypal?

        • Ashleyann
          January 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm

          Yes, I agree- Paypal would be great.  I would love to support this family, as my family went through the same crisis a few years back.  

          • January 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm

            The thing is Paypal takes 3-8%. Checks are better if possible, but I’m sure anything would help!

  17. Major Bidamon
    January 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    This is one of my all time favorite episodes.   I can’t wait for John to interview the Oklahoma Temple President that left the church.  

    • Anonymous
      January 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      I’d love to hear that interview as well.  I knew President Chesney when he was serving as president of the Shawnee stake during my mission.

      • Anonymous
        January 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm

        If ya’ll know how to contact President Chesney, I’d be super grateful.

        • Anonymous
          January 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

          My understanding is that he and his wife aren’t speaking about their experiences.  If that ever changes, I’d imagine they’ll come to you.  Hopefully podcasts like this will encourage them to come forward.

      • Anonymous
        January 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm

        If ya’ll know how to contact President Chesney, I’d be super grateful.

    • Anonymous
      January 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      I’d love to hear that interview as well.  I knew President Chesney when he was serving as president of the Shawnee stake during my mission.

  18. Major Bidamon
    January 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    This is one of my all time favorite episodes.   I can’t wait for John to interview the Oklahoma Temple President that left the church.  

  19. Lisahaeberle
    January 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    I was so deeply moved by this interview. It hits very close to home and I am so grateful that they were willing to share their story! Thank you McLays. Good luck to you and your family.

  20. Lisahaeberle
    January 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    I was so deeply moved by this interview. It hits very close to home and I am so grateful that they were willing to share their story! Thank you McLays. Good luck to you and your family.

  21. January 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I”m only the second part, but I love this. It all sounds so familiar, and it’s nice hearing that things can work out, that there is happiness on the other side. And that I’m not the only one who’s finding happiness outside the church.

    John, I loved your comment that there is growth outside the church that you can’t have inside the church. My family often tells me that my choices are cutting me off from things, but it’s so true that there is so much outside the church, so much to learn and experience. Thanks for reminding me.

    Brooke, I love your description of finding so much joy outside the box. I’ve been feeling hat recently as I really opened up to all the possibilities in my life. It’s so incredible to feel as though there is so much to be done, to learn, once you remove yourself from things that limit you. I love that you say that God is bigger then we are taught in the church! I find God in so man places and people now that I do not have to fear the “world” or feel that I’m more right then anything else.

    I recently had a conversation where someone told me that everyone who leaves the church is a sinner and leaves because they are doing something wrong. It was so irritating to hear that, and I plan on passing this on to them, to show that kind, good people who were good members can leave for legitimate reasons without having dome something wrong. Thank you for this podcast!

  22. January 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I”m only the second part, but I love this. It all sounds so familiar, and it’s nice hearing that things can work out, that there is happiness on the other side. And that I’m not the only one who’s finding happiness outside the church.

    John, I loved your comment that there is growth outside the church that you can’t have inside the church. My family often tells me that my choices are cutting me off from things, but it’s so true that there is so much outside the church, so much to learn and experience. Thanks for reminding me.

    Brooke, I love your description of finding so much joy outside the box. I’ve been feeling hat recently as I really opened up to all the possibilities in my life. It’s so incredible to feel as though there is so much to be done, to learn, once you remove yourself from things that limit you. I love that you say that God is bigger then we are taught in the church! I find God in so man places and people now that I do not have to fear the “world” or feel that I’m more right then anything else.

    I recently had a conversation where someone told me that everyone who leaves the church is a sinner and leaves because they are doing something wrong. It was so irritating to hear that, and I plan on passing this on to them, to show that kind, good people who were good members can leave for legitimate reasons without having dome something wrong. Thank you for this podcast!

  23. Vicki
    January 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    You both are amazing people!!! What courage it took for you to leave with so much to lose.  I loved your positive outlook and how you were not trying to make excuses or place the blame on anyone else.  What an admirable quality.

    I think this podcast will help so many people that are trying to understand why people leave the church.  I think there are so many more people out there that are in shoes comparable to both of you but are afraid to take the first step forward because of the rejection and consequences that will follow.

    I admire you both, and hope I can demonstrate the same integrity, kindness and love that you have shown when I finally take my next step forward.  Thanks for your journey story.

  24. Vicki
    January 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    You both are amazing people!!! What courage it took for you to leave with so much to lose.  I loved your positive outlook and how you were not trying to make excuses or place the blame on anyone else.  What an admirable quality.

    I think this podcast will help so many people that are trying to understand why people leave the church.  I think there are so many more people out there that are in shoes comparable to both of you but are afraid to take the first step forward because of the rejection and consequences that will follow.

    I admire you both, and hope I can demonstrate the same integrity, kindness and love that you have shown when I finally take my next step forward.  Thanks for your journey story.

  25. Kathleen
    January 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    First, to Mr. John Dehlin, just when I think I know which is my favorite Mormon Stories podcast, you go and outdo yourself again. WOW. And wow again. This interview was amazing. 

    To Brooke and John, I was spellbound yesterday and watched almost the entire episode in one sitting. My heart just breaks for you over some of the things you have had to go through, particularly with family members. I admire your courage and integrity. I kept thinking of my TBM father-in-law who values honesty above all else and wish he could appreciate the kind of honesty that the two of you (and my husband and I) are practicing.

    I admire so much the tone you took in the interview, how clear you were with your thoughts, and how positive and loving you were. I have all the respect in the the world for you and wish you all the best as you go forward. Thanks for having the courage to do this. 

  26. Kathleen
    January 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    First, to Mr. John Dehlin, just when I think I know which is my favorite Mormon Stories podcast, you go and outdo yourself again. WOW. And wow again. This interview was amazing. 

    To Brooke and John, I was spellbound yesterday and watched almost the entire episode in one sitting. My heart just breaks for you over some of the things you have had to go through, particularly with family members. I admire your courage and integrity. I kept thinking of my TBM father-in-law who values honesty above all else and wish he could appreciate the kind of honesty that the two of you (and my husband and I) are practicing.

    I admire so much the tone you took in the interview, how clear you were with your thoughts, and how positive and loving you were. I have all the respect in the the world for you and wish you all the best as you go forward. Thanks for having the courage to do this. 

  27. Anonymous
    January 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Just finished listening to the podcast. This was a great episode, and it broke my heart multiple times–especially the part about John’s father’s initial response to his leaving and the aftermath of quitting his CES job. In the Teryl Givens interview, I believe the word that he used to describe Church curriculum was “deplorable” (a very apt description). I agree that I think we will continue to see many members fall away because of the betrayal that is felt when comparing white-washed Church curriculum with actual events (even when they are as trivial as the use of a peepstone in a hat, Joseph drinking wine at Carthage, Brigham teaching Adam-God, etc.).

    I really like interviews like this that put faith crises in a personal perspective (i.e., how faith crises individually effect a person’s/couple’s life in detail). I look forward to hearing more interviews of that nature. It’s interesting to contrast the McLay’s experience with my own. I’ve chosen (as of today) to remain in the Church despite my doubts, so I greatly respect the integrity that it would take to do what the McLays’s did (I admittedly lack that integrity and don’t want to face some of the family repercussions that I would have to deal with).

    Although every situation like this is very unique, I think, personally, that this story really highlights how important it is to take the faith-crisis process slow–especially when contemplating removing one’s name from the Church. I just really felt for the McLay’s, and think I sensed some regret in how soon they submitted their letters (although more power to them for owning that decision). I definitely agree that the first priority is your family. If you feel as though you have been deceived by the Church, you don’t have to be all value-based in your reciprocity with the Church. If you’re in CES, don’t feel bad about keeping your job until you have found a new one. (This is all just my opinion, or course. Like I said, I lack the integrity that John has, but respect his choices a great deal. Furthermore, hindsight is always 20/20, and the glass always seems clearer looking in.)

  28. Anonymous
    January 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Just finished listening to the podcast. This was a great episode, and it broke my heart multiple times–especially the part about John’s father’s initial response to his leaving and the aftermath of quitting his CES job. In the Teryl Givens interview, I believe the word that he used to describe Church curriculum was “deplorable” (a very apt description). I agree that I think we will continue to see many members fall away because of the betrayal that is felt when comparing white-washed Church curriculum with actual events (even when they are as trivial as the use of a peepstone in a hat, Joseph drinking wine at Carthage, Brigham teaching Adam-God, etc.).

    I really like interviews like this that put faith crises in a personal perspective (i.e., how faith crises individually effect a person’s/couple’s life in detail). I look forward to hearing more interviews of that nature. It’s interesting to contrast the McLay’s experience with my own. I’ve chosen (as of today) to remain in the Church despite my doubts, so I greatly respect the integrity that it would take to do what the McLays’s did (I admittedly lack that integrity and don’t want to face some of the family repercussions that I would have to deal with).

    Although every situation like this is very unique, I think, personally, that this story really highlights how important it is to take the faith-crisis process slow–especially when contemplating removing one’s name from the Church. I just really felt for the McLay’s, and think I sensed some regret in how soon they submitted their letters (although more power to them for owning that decision). I definitely agree that the first priority is your family. If you feel as though you have been deceived by the Church, you don’t have to be all value-based in your reciprocity with the Church. If you’re in CES, don’t feel bad about keeping your job until you have found a new one. (This is all just my opinion, or course. Like I said, I lack the integrity that John has, but respect his choices a great deal. Furthermore, hindsight is always 20/20, and the glass always seems clearer looking in.)

  29. Sean
    January 9, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Bad form in asking them to bare their testimonies!  I’m a NOM and that line of questioning was offensive John.  I believe your underlying intent was completely muddled by a few ridiculous questions.  

    • Anonymous
      January 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      Sorry.

      Sent from my iPad

      • FullyWashable
        January 11, 2012 at 9:32 am

        I respectfully disagree. I’m a never-Mormon, and I found that part of the podcast educational and interesting. They were simply illustrations given with frequent assertions that this was no longer what they believed. No one ridiculed anything.

        • Sean
          January 13, 2012 at 11:37 am

          As never having been Mormon, you simply don’t have the necessary perspective in understanding why asking them to bare a fake testimony would be offensive.  As is evidenced in your opinion.  Respectfully of course… 

      • Anonymous
        April 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm

        I thought all questions were appropriate and anticipated what the viewer wanted to know. I really enjoyed your questions and the answers from your guests, even asking them to bear their current testimonies. 

        • Anonymous
          April 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm

          After reading the rest of the blog entries I learned the testimonies were edited out, so what I saw I thought were the testimonies.

  30. Sean
    January 9, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Bad form in asking them to bare their testimonies!  I’m a NOM and that line of questioning was offensive John.  I believe your underlying intent was completely muddled by a few ridiculous questions.  

  31. Magan Eckstrom
    January 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm

     I  am happy you have left the Mormon church, but sad in the fact you dont know if you believe in God at all. I am glad you have all these people supporting you right now,  and that is great, but as you obviously know, religion always, ultimately becomes a matter of faith, and the danger is that the rejection of a religion can become a rejection of faith, and that is inherently dangerous. (to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” so to speak). I will pray, to the God I am sure exists, that he will make himself known to you. -Outside of any religion, but inside the heart and mind that he made expressly to know him, and eventually to worship him. At some point, it isn’t about us, and our understanding, it’s about a holy, sovereign GOD who cares about us, but also deserves our honor and subservience, regardless of how much we think we deserve to know, or have figured out in the narrow functions of our human existence. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death”…The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life” -from Proverbs 14.
    “Wise men still seek him!”

    • Kevin
      January 10, 2012 at 11:19 am

      Well said, Megan. If mortality is a post graduate school for potential gods predicated on living by faith and having the agency to learn by our own experiences there is real possibility that we can talk ourselves out of the program. Paul understood this and indicted the Greeks for being too smart for their own good, for relying on their minds at the expense of their souls. May we all find our way forward. A big thank you to John for establishing and nourishing a place where we can learn from the stories of our fellow travelers.

      • GM
        January 14, 2012 at 11:02 am

        Magan: It’s hard to focus on or worship god when you genuinely don’t have any reason–emotionally, intellectually, or intuitively–to believe he exists.  And Kevin, the thing I am wary of above all else after my experience in Mormonism is someone telling me to forego the use of my mind.
        I completely appreciate that many people’s experiences lead them to belief in god that is very rewarding, motivating, and fulfilling, but please know that that’s not the case for everyone, even after trying for years to believe. And for those who don’t believe, life can also be deeply fulfilling, joyful, and meaningful.

  32. kmiller
    January 9, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    When you buy a new tent it comes nice and neat in that little canvas bag.  Once you open it and set it up, it never quite fits back into that little canvas bag, but that’s ok.  Tents aren’t much good if you never take them out. 
    I do not fit back into my little Mormon bag any longer, however I am sooooo much better of a person now than I ever was back when I was Mormon.  Hang in there…it gets easier and soon you will not believe that you ever lived inside the bag.

  33. Cal
    January 9, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Christianity should be muscular.

  34. January 9, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    This podcast is an example of the true genius of Mormon stories.  Personal, intimate, authentic, honest.  The human stories–the deeply personal and authentic “Mormon Stories”–really make this website compelling and powerful. Ask me about the apologists and I’ll give you a different opinion, but as for this podcast, brilliant!!!

    Here’s an example why: my wife and I are trying to figure out what to do next.  It’s a big question.  What are other couples doing?  We want to know.  We both watched this video and were inspired by the McLay’s courage–and remarkably, their faith.  They have stepped out into the darkness with a decision that disrupts their spiritual and economic realities, not knowing what the future would hold in store for them. Unbelievable. Truly inspirational.  Where do you go for a job after working as a CES employee for 14 years?!  This is what real faith is about.  I’m blown away. God bless them both.

    We haven’t shown this much courage ourselves.  We still attend church, still serve faithfully, and continue to observe the principles and ordinances of the gospel, even though we have discovered all the negative evidence that renders the church false and vitiated at it core foundational claims. 

    Why haven’t we been as courageous and authentic as this beautiful couple?  Why have we chosen to avoid disrupting our lives for now?  We’ve taken a very slow and measured approach–an approach that in some ways embarrasses me.

    • KC
      January 10, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Its a matter of costs vs. benefits.  The costs are real as evidenced by this interview. Career, family, friends, reputation, house, finances are no trivial matter. The McLay’s have paid a very high price by choosing their pathway. This price is way to high for many of us. But I understand their choice and wish them the best. Personally, I would have found another job before I took some of their steps, which could have cushioned the impact. Unemployment and loosing the house add such a tremendous stress to an already very difficult choice. Im sure I cant completely understand the position John was in working for CES.  I wish your family all the best, your journey has just begun. 

      • January 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm

        KC,
        I hear you and I’ve apparently done the same thing.

        What I love about this couple is that they didn’t really do the cost/benefit analysis.  They doubled down on their bet and they bet on the truth.  Perhaps the truth is a fanciful thing we think about when we have the comfort of a job.  I don’t know.  I do admire them for their decision. 

        If there is a God, and if that God does care about us, this is exactly where I’d like to see God give a little help–when two people show this kind of faith.

        Faith isn’t for the next life and it certainly isn’t for abstract theological notions.  It’s for moments like this and for people like this. God bless them.

        • KC
          January 11, 2012 at 1:48 am

          Amen

        • Michael Rider
          January 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

          What are you talking about?  Of course they weighed the costs and benefits!  Remember when they frantically attempted to reverse course only to find out their whole family would have to be re-baptized?  They spoke of the humiliation this would have brought upon them.  If not for this they would not be calling themselves ex-mormons today and receiving so much praise for their outstanding “integrity”.  My dad had to be re-baptized under much more humiliating circumstances, but he sucked it up and did it.

          • Anonymous
            January 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm

            I have noticed on the Facebook discussion, and now here, that those making snide, disrespectful remarks seem be believers defending the faith. Why do you think that is?

          • Michael Rider
            January 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm

            No defense of anything in my remark.   my wording was too harsh looking back at it.  I have noticed how gentle we are with those who choose to leave and how critical we are of those who try to stay.  you are right that the McClay’s don’t deserve critique because they are just beginning this process and seem very honest.  That Jonah guy is really smart and I was actually hoping to get slammed by him after my comment but there is still time.

          • January 14, 2012 at 11:41 am

            Michael Rider,
            Why “hoping” to get slammed?  Do I know you?

            I’ve sent a lot of friends to Mormon Stories Podcast, so … just wondering …

          • Michael Rider
            January 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm

            Jonah – We likely don’t know each other.  I am the guy you might see in the back row at Elder’s Quorum who never contributes to the lesson and darts out the second it is over.  Part of me wants to believe this Church is inspired enough and part of me doesn’t.  The part that wants it to be completely false is never quite satisfied regardless of how many sound arguments I find against the Church.  My problem is I’ve had some very strong, undeniable spiritual experiences which compel me to believe that even a very flawed person can receive revelation from God.  It could be, in my mind at least, that God chose Joseph to show what he could do with the weak things of the earth as described in D&C (but articulated much better by Terryl Givens).  How is it that I could possibly believe and still in a real way sometimes hope it could be a complete fraud?  The answer to this lies in the answers that I received to a particular prayer just over 12 years ago.  It was far from the answer I wanted although there were only 2 possible answers as I posed the question.  Why did I even ask?  It didn’t even relate to the Church but it had a much larger impact on my life than any church could.  The reality of what happened was unforgetable.  I tried to deny that I had actually received an answer to prayer and hoped it could have been less than what it was.  Just to be sure, I asked the same question a week later hoping for the opposite answer or for no answer at all.  Same exact answer came with just as much power – and I obeyed. 

            Sub-four with about eight doesn’t make sense, does it? And not even a member at the time? But that was it.  And no, back then I didn’t want to get slammed.  That we had no beginning doesn’t make any less sense than that we will have an end.

          • Michael Rider
            January 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm

            Jonah – We likely don’t know each other.  I am the guy you might see in the back row at Elder’s Quorum who never contributes to the lesson and darts out the second it is over.  Part of me wants to believe this Church is inspired enough and part of me doesn’t.  The part that wants it to be completely false is never quite satisfied regardless of how many sound arguments I find against the Church.  My problem is I’ve had some very strong, undeniable spiritual experiences which compel me to believe that even a very flawed person can receive revelation from God.  It could be, in my mind at least, that God chose Joseph to show what he could do with the weak things of the earth as described in D&C (but articulated much better by Terryl Givens).  How is it that I could possibly believe and still in a real way sometimes hope it could be a complete fraud?  The answer to this lies in the answers that I received to a particular prayer just over 12 years ago.  It was far from the answer I wanted although there were only 2 possible answers as I posed the question.  Why did I even ask?  It didn’t even relate to the Church but it had a much larger impact on my life than any church could.  The reality of what happened was unforgetable.  I tried to deny that I had actually received an answer to prayer and hoped it could have been less than what it was.  Just to be sure, I asked the same question a week later hoping for the opposite answer or for no answer at all.  Same exact answer came with just as much power – and I obeyed. 

            Sub-four with about eight doesn’t make sense, does it? And not even a member at the time? But that was it.  And no, back then I didn’t want to get slammed.  That we had no beginning doesn’t make any less sense than that we will have an end.

          • michael rider
            January 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm

            Jonah – We likely don’t know each other.  I am the guy you might see in the back row at Elder’s Quorum who never contributes to the lesson and darts out the second it is over.  Part of me wants to believe this Church is inspired enough and part of me doesn’t.  The part that wants it to be completely false is never quite satisfied regardless of how many sound arguments I find against the Church.  My problem is I’ve had some very strong, undeniable spiritual experiences which compel me to believe that even a very flawed person can receive revelation from God.  It could be, in my mind at least, that God chose Joseph to show what he could do with the weak things of the earth as described in D&C (but articulated much better by Terryl Givens).  How is it that I could possibly believe and still in a real way sometimes hope it could be a complete fraud?  The answer to this lies in the answers that I received to a particular prayer just over 12 years ago.  It was far from the answer I wanted although there were only 2 possible answers as I posed the question.  Why did I even ask?  It didn’t even relate to the Church but it had a much larger impact on my life than any church could.  The reality of what happened was unforgetable.  I tried to deny that I had actually received an answer to prayer and hoped it could have been less than what it was.  Just to be sure, I asked the same question a week later hoping for the opposite answer or for no answer at all.  Same exact answer came with just as much power – and I obeyed. 

            Sub-four with about eight doesn’t make sense, does it? And not even a member at the time? But that was it.  And no, back then I didn’t want to get slammed. 

          • michael rider
            January 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm

            Sorry, it said “system error” so I posted again…and again.

          • February 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm

            Thanks Michael.  I feel your sincerity and the depth of your spiritual experiences–and I do NOT wish to slam you, despite the fact that you requested it 🙂

            Hope all continues to go well for you.

  35. January 10, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Damn.  I don’t know how I am going to finish this one.  I just finished part 3 on my drive into work and caught myself in tears twice.  So, so good.  Hits SO close to home.  I  will reserve further comments after I have finished part 4.  Thank you for this one, John and the McLay’s.  

  36. Jake
    January 10, 2012 at 9:29 am

    The
    heavy price the Mclays have paid for their integrity is heartbreaking, and
    clearly augmented by the whole CES issue. However, if someone is thinking of
    leaving the church and can stomach a bit less integrity, I have a couple of
    suggestions based on my own experience: 1) Move out of the intermountain west. Go
    somewhere where there are multiple spiritual alternatives and where being an
    ex-Mormon does not carry a stigma; 2) Take your time. For several years, I
    attend churches in the morning and LDS sacrament meeting in the afternoon. That
    way, every week I was able to compare how I felt being at that church vs. the
    LDS one. By the time I was ready to leave (my Mormon singles ward was disbanded),
    I had already integrated myself into another religious community and the
    transition was easy; 3) Don’t discuss religion with Mormons. This is a tough
    one and perhaps the least honest. However, I have learned Mormons will treat
    you better as a slacker inactive rather than an apostate spawn of Satan. Trust
    me, no TBM wants to know why you left the church. Yes, the relationship with my
    family is strained, but (to my knowledge) nobody has wished I were dead!; and lastly,
    4) Once you’re out, make it a clean break. Over time, I was able to develop
    relationships and community that far surpassed anything I experienced in
    Mormonism. I do not believe this would have been possible if I kept trying to
    associate with Mormons, who no matter how tolerant, would always see me as “the
    other.”

  37. guest
    January 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    This was a really great interview and I commend the McLay’s for their honesty and integrity.  I identify a lot with what Brooke was saying about God being so much greater than any religion.  God should not be limited by a religion and neither should our relationship with God.  Good luck to the McLay’s in their future endeavors.  They seem like awesome people who will be able to make a good life for themselves and their children.    

    I would like to say that my experience as a volunteer seminary teacher has been very different than what Brother McLay went through.  My ward is far from Utah and our bishop has a VERY difficult time finding anyone who is willing to teach seminary.  Most of our members are converts from Latin America and many of them see seminary as an optional program for a few members who are fanatical enough to send their kids.  Of the 100+ youth on our ward roster, only 8 attend seminary.  The reason I say that is because I have a huge amount of flexibility in how I teach.  I teach from my home and I use the church seminary website, but we also freely use the internet everyday in our class.   There is no onerous oversight from my CES supervisor.  I have been honest with the students about church history but it didn’t bother them a lot.  We don’t discuss it in a “Ewwww look what crazy things I found” manner.  Rather we just accept that this is the way it was.    It’s possible that I could get into trouble for teaching the scriptures and church history in full technicolor, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. The worst thing that could happen is that I might lose my unpaid 6 a.m. job.   LOL 

    It may be us peons in CES – the volunteer teachers – who have it best.  We have the luxury of teaching the scriptures and church history in an honest way.  If we lose our “job”…….so what?

  38. Anonymous
    January 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Brooke: “I am Mormon-PLUS.” How brilliant is that?? To me it has more positive connotations than “post mormon.”

  39. Info
    January 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    John, Brooke, just as you spoke about not wanting to completely divorce yourself from your heritage, I believe you have the right to call yourself a “lower case ‘m’ mormon.”

  40. Di
    January 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I loved Brooke’s story about the friend who invited them for dinner. Having friends whose friendship was not in any way dependent upon my church membership was one of the brightest spots in a difficult time.

  41. Joe S
    January 10, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    John and Brooke:

    Thank you so much for your time (and for this podcast).

    After listening, I am left incredibly sad. Sad because as you stated, John, The LDS Church doesn’t leave much ground for a middle-of-the-road, non-literal-believing members. And this is costing The LDS Church incredible, amazing people (such as the both of you).

    You two are so articulate and well spoken. It is horrible that you felt forced out.

    I wish you nothing but the best for you in your journey. John, I hope that you find employment soon. I suspect you will. And though I don’t know you personally, I hope we cross paths someday.

    Warmest Regards,

    Joe S

  42. Jill
    January 10, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Dear John & Brooke,

    I started watching and couldn’t stop. Your journey is so similar to mine–i.e. the experience of having your world-view blown open and your mind expanded by truths and people outside of the church. 

    I’ve been out of the church for about 18 months now and when I think back, I’m amazed by how I was able to live in “the world” and yet know so little about it because I was living in the Mormon box. Although that box is comfortable and beautiful and good in so many ways, “the world” has so much more to offer.  

    I am so very happy for you and your family and the new truths that you have discovered. It is sad that it has to come at such a high cost, but I can tell that you are both beautiful, bright, talented people and good things will come to you. 

    You have my heartfelt wishes. I wish we could go out to dinner and talk about all this–I would dearly love meet you and hug you. Thanks for sharing your story. 

    xoxo

    Jill

    p.s. Brooke–you’ve got a sweet blog! I’m going to cook me up some sweet treats from it! 

  43. Brian D
    January 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    I loved the way the interview showed two sides of the LDS church.  There is the institutional side, where you have to comply.  It is either the truth, or a damned lie!  You are with us or against us, and if you are against us we can’t really be friends

    Then there is the personal side, with everyone from a normal lady in the ward up to an apostle wanting you to know that you were still loved, and helping you remember why you loved being in. 

    I wish the personal side was stronger, because I want to return to the people, but the institution tells me I am not welcome if I am me.

  44. Bill
    January 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm

     I remember an experience I had in a teaching seminary class at BYU in the late 80’s that made me realize that I was definitely NOT CES material. Bro. Packer was telling us that during the summer he worked on a road construction crew to make ends meet. One summer he announced to the crew that his wife was pregnant again (5th or 6th child, I don’t remember). One of the men on the crew made the comment “Well Rand, there are things you can do to keep that from happening!” Bro. Packer was absolutely incensed that a person could be so evil as to dishonor and trivialize the scarifices his wife made in bringing spirits into the world with such an insensitive comment such as that. I was chortling in my seat because I thought the comment was pretty funny! I made a mental note to remember it and use it some day! At that very moment, I realized that I was not the type of person that would be happy at CES!

  45. Samuel the Lamanite
    January 11, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Tonight, I finished watching and thoroughly enjoyed the
    McLays podcast; Excellent work, John Dehlin and John and Brooke.

     

    I view this story to be all too common, the learning of “the
    correlated vs. the historical”. Many of us have lived this story. I rejoice
    with the McLays that they have this opportunity to tell their story. I wish
    every person who would want to, could have this type of opportunity to air
    their story and their feelings in such an encouraging environment and context
    as Mormon Stories. I so appreciate their sheer honesty and the rawness of their
    genuine emotion. I wholly admire their integrity and can truly relate to the
    emotional roller-coaster ride they endured. It is almost therapeutic, even for me, just watching them tell their
    story! I was, as it were, “edified”, feeling a sense of vindication seeing
    others that suffered as I did. I hope all my LDS friends who “heaped
    un-committed sins upon my head”, get see this podcast.

     

    It was however, definitely an unexpected twist that they
    began to return to the church. I wasn’t anticipating that at all and must
    admit, I wasn’t edified in that. I predict the McLays will eventually again
    someday, be full-fledged Mormons. They just need time to heal and regroup. But
    then again…John looks as though he may “throw out the baby with the
    bathwater” as do so many when Joseph Smith, his office, his church and his
    work are the focus (not Jesus Christ); Alas, when Joseph, his church and his
    work cease being true, so then goes God as well. That is always so very sad to
    see.

     

    Thank you for the very enlightening, revealing, up-close and
    personal look at how the church educates it’s young people via CES; The culture
    of omitting truth to create a palatable narrative for the youth and the church
    in general, without regard, from the top down, is inexcusable. I do not fault
    the general, rank-and-file members, nor even CES teachers, nearly as much as I
    do the Brethren. They drive this whole operation in the direction that it goes.
    It is plain that top LDS leaders do not possess the level of integrity of many
    people under their charge. This is tragic.

     

    As for this “All or Nothing” idea in the church: Joseph
    Fielding Smith, Gordon B. Hinkley and others have made that principle crystal
    clear. I agree with John, that through that, the church and CES cause great
    damage to people’s lives, families, relationships, etc. The McLays are but one
    example of the many, many people whom have been falsely accused and ostracized
    amidst their efforts towards honesty and integrity. Again, very tragic, indeed.

     

    You really do not ever see this candid a view of CES. Thank
    you McLays for the rare glimpse. God’s best blessings in your future.

     

    Samuel

    • All_Black
      January 14, 2012 at 10:48 am

      Samuel the Lamanite, you’ve resurrected!

  46. Simon Southerton
    January 11, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Mormon Stories is bad for my health. I had to listen to the whole interview in one sitting so I am now severely sleep deprived.  John and Brooke are two very special people.  They have a tough road ahead but they are more than capable of rising above the challenges they face. 

    When I left the church back in 1998 I was serving as a bishop.  I had also become extremely troubled by the power being exerted by the CES (I used to refer to them as the brownshirts). They were completely inflexible, intolerant and often rude to parents who were justifiably troubled by the impact of early morning seminary on their children’s educations.  Many early morning seminary classes in Australia start at 6.30am to allow kids time to travel across the city to private schools.  This means that many kids had to be waking up at 5.00 to 5.30am every day of the week.  This takes a heavy toll on kids by reducing the time they have to study in the evening. CES never moved an inch and concerned parents were always left feeling that they weren’t faithful enough.

    The McLays have my deepest admiration. They are very decent people of such amazing integrity.

    • KC
      January 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Simon what are up to these days?  You were involved in the whole DNA and book of mormon thing, right? I’d like to hear your story.  Mormon Stories should interview you.

      • Simon Southerton
        January 13, 2012 at 5:30 am

        stick around.  It may happen

    • All_Black
      January 14, 2012 at 8:39 am

      That still happens today…..and they could change for one weekly class for the kids who can’t make daily seminary but no, they are still totally inflexile and intolerant, especially the two guys that run the Sydney area CES.

    • Daddask8
      April 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Seminary starts early in many places of the world with no ill effects on the youth! I had seminary 30 years ago at 5:55! Early morning seminary in some cases provides the best options for students who want or need extra credits at the high school. The CES is an ARM of the LDS Church and if there are problems going to the Stake Pres. can usually help clear things up. To say that the CES is unmovable because in your small area the PEOPLE running CES were, is not a fair depiction of the organization as a whole. We have lived all over the world experiencing many different types of seminarys that always try to accommodate the students…
      in my experience when someone leaves the church regardless of their position in it there are underlying issues seldom brought up to the public. We admired the McLays when we lived in the Springs and pray they can find peace in their life. Blaming the church or CES, etc is not the way to find that peace.

  47. Anonymous
    January 11, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Very enjoyable and enlightening conversation. Many thanks to the McLays and, of course, to John.

    I was especially struck by the brief discussion at 15 minutes into part 4 about the LDS church’s us-versus-them attitude toward other faiths. As an exclusivist and very proselytizing church, it’s probably inevitable that Mormonism sees itself as being in competition with other churches. This is an attitude that most churches have adopted at some point in their histories, but it is rare these days.

    At least in mainstream, non-fundamentalist Christianity, the general point of view is that God is bigger than any church or other human institution, and that God tries to cultivate relationships with us in different ways. Therefore any (or no) particular religion may be “true” for someone, depending on the type of person he is and God’s will for him.

    This attitude is clearly not part of Mormonism, in spite of the church’s apparent desire to be accepted as a mainstream Christian denomination. And it will probably not change easily, given the church’s inability to acknowledge past mistakes because of its core belief that it is led by a prophet.

    Mormons should not be surprised that others are offended by the belief that Mormonism is “the one true church on the face of the earth.” It’s not simply a matter of one religion versus another. It’s a matter of exclusivism versus a humble reverence for the individual relationship between God and each person.

  48. FullyWashable
    January 11, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I was incredibly moved by the McLays. They are such warm, honest, thoughtful people that I can’t bear that they are struggling so much. I hope you find a job soon, John! Maybe you folks should move out of the West to an area of greater religious diversity? I know it can be hard to uproot, but I’m sure you can find a welcoming Mormon Stories community in a lot of places. I know that you are just the kind of people I want to meet!

  49. Kathleen
    January 11, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I can’t get you two beautiful people out of my mind. I’ve got a tab on my browser for Brooke’s blog http://www.cheekykitchen.com and I plan to go there and click on one of her ads every day. That should help generate a bit of income.

  50. MoHoHawaii
    January 11, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Great interview! I watched the entire series and thought the McLays’ sincerity was completely evident. It’s tragic that the cost of leaving has been so high for them.

    I got the sense that if the CES curriculum’s treatment of LDS origins had been other than blatantly fraudulent, these folks would likely not have left. The cover-up is worse than the crime in this case. Falsifying its
    own history is something the Church could have chosen not to do. Of
    course, as was discussed in the interview, at this point the Church has
    pretty much painted itself into a corner and would have a difficult time
    if it undermined the edifice of historical myth it has spent so much
    effort creating.

    It was also interesting that Sister McLay’s friendship with non-Mormons played a role in their disaffection, including a significant friendship with a gay man and his partner. In my experience, discomfort over the Church’s rejection of  gay people is very common among
    younger members.

    I wish these good people the best of luck. It breaks my heart that they are perceived by their family and friends as radioactive.

  51. danko
    January 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I’m confused. Did they stay or go? It wasn’t very clear whether they still attend regularly and will continue to. Are they attending again as non-members? I’m also curious about what they do on Sundays. Brooke mentioned that they have found a good Sunday rhythm. I’d like to know what it is. Sundays are always the biggest trigger for church-related remorse in our home.

  52. T Hompson140
    January 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Powerful, I wiish the best for both of you.!
    T.

  53. Tim
    January 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I think Mormon Stories made a mistake to interview them at this time. It’s clear that they are still experiencing all aspects of the grief cycle and still have many changes coming in their lives.

    The rawness of their emotion and their story is part of what makes it compelling.  But I think all the relevant and interesting parts would have remained if the interview had taken place in about 6 months time. I think there will be large chunks of the interview and how they interviewed that the McLays may regret at some point. 

    Perhaps everything they said would have remained if the interview took place in June 2012. I think they will feel that they have greater control of their lives, their relationships and their story at that point.

    • Major Bidamon
      January 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      I disagree … I don’t think there’s ever a bad time to interview someone.  For example, if Dan Petersen ever left the church, would it have been a mistake to interview him defending the Book of Mormon?  The McKlay’s have a lot of emotion … emotion that may hard to replicate years from now.  

      • David Clark
        January 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm

        Emotion sells and is compelling.  And yes, that emotion would be hard to replicate in time.  And that’s precisely why the LDS church wants people to make life altering choices on emotional whims accompanied by strong feelings.  Don’t you see that you are advocating a practice that you would most likely disparage when done by the LDS church, its missionaries, and EFY sessions?  And it won’t do to argue that they are not making explicit demands or invitations, unlike the LDS church.  For one, the LDS church doesn’t always make explicit demands or invitations.  Second, it’s often the implicit demand or message in an emotional presentation that is all the more powerful because it is processed emotionally, not intellectually.

        I enjoyed the podcast too, and salute their bravery.  But, I also think it might have been wiser for them to wait before doing this.  This is something that more experienced people in the Mormon Stories community are going to have to look out for, cooler heads need to act with wisdom in waiting until people are really ready to talk.

        • Major Bidamon
          January 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm

          well said.  I can’t argue against that.  

        • Anonymous
          January 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm

          The McLays wanted to tell their story and MS provided a forum. Simple. If they were trying to get listeners to take some kind of action, your parallelism would hold. But they’re not…they’re just sharing. To me, what you’re describing sounds patronizing and paternalistic. There, there, dears. Don’t talk about it now…wait until you’re not so emotional. We know better than you when you’re ready to talk.

    • Bitherwack
      April 20, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      The most helpful part of this interview may be in the comfort it can provide for people who are undergoing a similar experience.  The emotions, sense of betrayal etc.  appearing as experienced wouldn’t come across six months later.  

  54. David Clark
    January 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I think it’s time for CES to realize that some people are going to lose the faith and to make provisions for these people other than, “There’s the door.”  I realize that they are under no obligation to do this, but I seem to remember some guy talking about “Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me.”  Or something, I don’t have a good memory.

    Call it the “Grant Palmer Faith Transition Plan” or something similar.  Grant lucked out in that he was able to maneuver himself into a job inside CES that he felt comfortable with.  It would have been nice if the McLays had a similar opportunity to teach generic Christianity like Grant, take a desk job, or even just get a severance package.  It need not be permanent, it would be with the understanding that CES would provide excellent references and the employee would be actively looking for employment outside CES. 

  55. Maddy
    January 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks to John and Brooke for sharing their journey.  Best of luck to you. 

    Random thoughts:

    To put it bluntly, I believe the Church is full of authoritarian followers who would readily adapt to a more correct/honest representation of Church history and teachings.  As an example, the vast majority of LDS members in the U.S. are politically conservative, yet I’ve seen them easily discard declared “deal-breakers” to support a particular candidate with the “right” “credentials”. 

    Over my many years in the Church I’ve felt an increasing rigidity.   One small example, in additon to the curiculumn, the white shirt many/most LDS males now wear at church.  Really?  Shirt color?  Facial hair?  Hair length? 
    This all needs to stop.  We need to teach truth.  We need to enlarge the “tent.” 

    My journey continues, stuck between Givens and the McLays.  I have the luxury of not having a calling which does not require me to testify of truth or convince others.  I appreciate the great courage and strength exhibited by the McLays in their decisions. 

    I would’ve liked to have heard more about how they handled this as parents, their children’s reactions, experiences etc. 

    Thanks again John, for bringing the McLay’s story to us.   

     

     

     

  56. RC
    January 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    This was such a great podcast…I really enjoyed hearing the McLay’s experiences.  As I came across these issues quite recently (about 6 months ago), there was a real feeling of betrayal and deep disappointment.  I can only imagine that, had I staked my entire career on the lds church and then ran into all this stuff 14 years later; those feelings would have been way, way more intense.  I certainly don’t fault the McLay’s for their choices with regards to their relationship with the church and I wish them the best in their journey.   

    I appreciate that John said more than once that, while this is the path they have chosen, they don’t want to be considered as a model of how everyone should proceed when they come across this stuff.  So far my church attendance has decreased by about 20% and my tithing donations have decreased by more than that.  Other than that, things are mainly the same as before as far as outward appearances. 

    While my wife is in on the whole thing and ok with whatever decisions I make, I’ve kept my extended family out of the loop – except for the time I couldn’t keep my mouth shut during our Thanksgiving meal when one of the missionaries mentioned there is actually a pill out there now that corrects the chemical imbalance that exists in gay peoples’ brains and fixes their sexual orientation.  After arguing with him on that, I think they got nervous that I might be gay (I did win the argument, though).

    I know there are countless, unambiguous statements by church leaders pointing to the idea that there is no middle ground.  I don’t think that means there isn’t any middle ground, though.  I don’t have any proof that there really is a middle ground, but I’m trying to carve out a space for myself for the time being and we’ll see where it leads.

    Something I picked up on from the podcast with Terryl Givens is that comments from church authorities can sometimes give us valuable, although subtle messages.  It could have been one of the other podcasts, but I’m thinking it may have been Givens who, when asked about the “one true church” idea, brought out, among other things, the fact that President Hinckley often warned members not to be arrogant. 

    The idea I took from this is that, while the prophet will never come out and retract the truth claims we profess, you still have to wonder why he would have spoken out so often against arrogance – making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud.  Is it possible that his emphasis on this could have been more than just a plea for members to be humble?  I don’t know for sure, but I think it is possible.  I also don’t know that I would want to hear church leaders explicitly tell me some of the things I have become suspicious of.

    The clip below can be interesting when you listen for a parallel, more subtle message.  When I heard it, explicit phrases such as “perfect Christmas”, were transmitted to my mind as “perfect church”.  It was kind of weird but it did have meaning to me since my “picture perfect Christmas” recently shattered around me.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrgKW1E3OtU    
    You skip to around the 4:35 minute mark if it gets boring at first.

    Thanks for another great podcast, John.

  57. Devin Felix
    January 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    I really enjoyed this. The McLays’ integrity is inspiring.

  58. smithgirl
    January 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    John and Brooke have the courage of Adam and Eve, forsaking the Garden of Eden in the pursuit of knowledge. I pray that their journey for truth will lead them back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, though with an expanded view. Like Adam and Eve, I pray that they will always stay together, never forsaking one another. Their love for each other is worth believing in, if anything is.

  59. Leslie
    January 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I am amazed at your integrity and courage!!!  My husband and I left a church several years ago and I could relate with SO much of what you talked about.  We were both return missionaries, MTC teachers,  presidents of different auxiliaries, bishopric member and what we felt was as hard core as you could get.  Leaving was one of the hardest things I have been through but looking back I count it as the best thing I have done in my life behind my marriage and four beautiful children.  I feel like I lived my life in black and white and I now I have the color version – it is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL!  Thank you for being willing to share a very personal journey.   I wish you peace and joy in your journey.  

  60. January 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    The fake testimony share felt really icky. I hope you aren’t putting that in all of the episodes in this new series of podcasts.

    • ashley
      January 12, 2012 at 9:31 am

      I found that to be one of my favorite parts.  I enjoyed Brooke’s willingness to put on her old believing hat for a moment which required integrity and objectivity.  At the same time I can sympathize with John for feeling the need to attack it from a different angel.  This was an original approach that I would like to see incorporated into future interviews.

      • Kevin
        January 12, 2012 at 9:46 am

        Your typo of ‘angel’ for ‘angle’ is pure found poetry, ashley! I agree with you that the testimonies were a meaningful part of the interview.

        • January 13, 2012 at 11:32 am

          You don’t feel like you can get across the exact some information without faking a testimony? What about that approach made made it meaningful for you? I found it offensive and I am not easily offended.

          • Anonymous
            January 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm

            We are editing that part out (with full support/permission from the McLays). We feel badly that this offended people. So sorry. Sincerely.

          • DogCatBird
            January 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm

            Thanks John. I would like to share this podcast with my DW, which will be hard enough anyway, but I cannot do it with the testimony part still in. She would come unglued, no question.

          • Anonymous
            January 13, 2012 at 11:32 pm

            FYI. It’s fixed now. The awkward testimony stuff has been removed (with full support of the McLays). Thanks for the feedback all!

          • January 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm

            I can certainly see why people found the fake testimony to be a bit unsettling, but it was one of the most engaging parts and it served it’s purpose well. By  hearing they way they bore their testimony it gave me insight into what sort of believers they had been, which is just what John had been after. While it wasn’t the only thing which gave insight into what type of believers they were, it did so in a very unique way, that  showed me a side of them I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to see. I can understand the discomfort but I’m sorry to hear that part of the interview has been removed, though I guess if it was enough of a stumbling block it would cause people to not listen to the rest, then having it removed is probably fine.

            Edit
            Reply

          • Anonymous
            January 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

            Christopher — That’s exactly it. If we turn people off needlessly, we’re missing the point. Thanks for seeking to understand what I was trying to do.

          • Richard H.
            January 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm

            BTW – Just a few parts were edited to not make it akward and much of what John M. said is still there. You can see the edit at

          • Jennifer
            January 19, 2012 at 10:25 pm

            I actually really liked that question, John.  I thought it was interesting, and I understood why you asked it.  That said, I’m also a mental health clinician, and I think it’s the kind of question that a therapist might ask, which is perhaps why it didn’t bother me a bit.  

      • January 13, 2012 at 11:29 am

        How integrity? Felt like the opposite to me.

    • January 14, 2012 at 11:41 am

      I can certainly see why people found the fake testimony to be a bit unsettling, but it was one of the most engaging parts and it served it’s purpose well. By  hearing they way they bore their testimony it gave me insight into what sort of believers they had been, which is just what John had been after. While it wasn’t the only thing which gave insight into what type of believers they were, it did so in a very unique way, that  showed me a side of them I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to see. I can understand the discomfort but I’m sorry to hear that part of the interview has been removed, though I guess if it was enough of a stumbling block it would cause people to not listen to the rest, then having it removed is probably fine.

      • Richard H.
        January 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm

        Only certain parts were removed and much of it is still there. You can watch the edit at

  61. Derek
    January 12, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Great interview and incredible story…thanks John and Brooke for sharing and John for putting it together!

  62. Guest
    January 12, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I’d just like to add my voice to those who expressed distaste for the pseudo-testimony portion of the interview.  John indicated his purpose in asking was to get a sense of “what kind of believer you were.”  I think he perhaps underestimates his skill as an interviewer.  I feel I got a much better sense of the kind of believers the McLays are from their thoughtful answers to his equally thoughtful questions.  To me, the testimony felt like mockery of a ritual (albeit an informal one) that LDS people view as sacred.  I don’t mean to belabor the point or get into a debate—I know others have commented that they found it meaningful, and I’m sure they speak sincerely.  I just know that for me that portion of the interview seemed laced with a current of particular disrespect I have never encountered before in the hours I have devoted to listening to Mormon Stories.
     
    That being said, I appreciate Brooke and John’s openness and willingness to share and value the perspective they bring to the issues they discuss.  Thanks to all of you for bringing us this interview.

    • Gibby
      January 12, 2012 at 11:23 am

      I rather liked that segment of the podcast.  I wondered whether John had to do this in real life on a fast Sunday or something inasmuch as he was a member of the bishopric until a few months ago.  Don’t they take turns starting off with a testimony on the first Sunday of every month?  This likely is a sticky situation people get stuck in when they begin having doubts but it is a very real one.  The McLay’s need to assess how their former beliefs fit into the new world they have uncovered and they certainly know what those beliefs were.

  63. RSF
    January 12, 2012 at 10:39 am

    First off, my heart goes out to the McLays.  I found it a sad and moving story.

    However, I would have appreciated a little more push back from John D. in the interview.  As it stands, the interview seems to mostly just support a fairly orthodox view of disillusionment and disaffection, while there were statements that weren’t followed up in the interview that might have led to a more interesting and informative interview:

    1) Brooke seems to have precipitated some kind of collapse of their Orthodox CES modeled marriage.  She says that she told John that they couldn’t do it anymore, it almost sound like she said she wanted a divorce.  While John M. was clear not to put any type of blame on Brooke, there seems to be a lot more to explore here.  How did working outside the home start to shift their traditional Orthodox CES worldview?  This was touched on, but it seems like the collapse of this worldview was much more important than anything else, and perhaps the shock of this very personal marriage dynamic triggered some of the searching that led John M. to (self-justifyingly?) question the foundations of his CES style marriage (=Mormonism)?

    2) John M. repeatedly brought up black and white style stark comments about no middle ground.  Their decisions to follow that black and white style of thinking seem to be a huge contributing factor in their leaving the church.  While John D. at one point brings up the black and white vs. color analogy, the interview itself perpetuates a myth that LDS thinking is NECESSARILY black and white, while many of us vehemently deny that.  Instead of passing out cookies and pillows to people who have wandered away from the Tree of Life, why aren’t we doing more to help people be prepared for and appreciate the fruit of that tree in the church?

    3) While John M. repeatedly claimed to not want to make decisions out of fear, it seems evident that fear of excommunication, hurting others, etc. played a huge factor in their decision to walk away from their church membership.  I would have liked to have seen more pushback on this.

    In short, this is far from a simple story of losing faith due to intellectual questions.  There were many other issues that were glossed over here, and I suggest we aren’t being well served by perpetuating a new myth of intellectual disaffection when there are clearly emotional and interpersonal and sociological crises at play that seem to be underlying and perhaps triggering intellectual questioning.

    • Anonymous
      January 12, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Here again, the dismissive attitude by a believer. (“Instead of passing out cookies and pillows to people who have wandered away from the Tree of Life, why aren’t we doing more to help people be prepared for and appreciate the fruit of that tree in the church?”) Can you imagine that the tree of life is bigger than the church and that some people can’t appreciate its full fruit from within the church box?

      That said, I’m interested in your assertion that LDS thinking is not necessarily black and white. From my experience in classes and discussions with orthodox believers, nuance is discouraged. Plus, how do you reconcile your claim with Pres. Hinckley’s and others’ insistence that there is no middle ground? I’m not challenging you…am genuinely interested.  

      • RSF
        January 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm

        Not dismissive, but perhaps a bit challenging.  To echo your question, can you imagine that the church is bigger than the black and white boxes that people sometimes find themselves in?  That the church encompasses all truth–and yes, we don’t always appreciate that in our church activity or incorporate all the truths that are available from other sources, but that is one of the fundamental projects of gospel activity?

        Black and white thinking is a problem.  It is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that we all partake of as fallen mortal beings.  The gospel is supposed to get us beyond that, and lead us to take of the fruit of the tree of life.  Of course, we seem to fail at that miserably most of the time.

        I think some put too much emphasis on statements like the Pres. Hinckley quote mentioned here, and we would need to be more careful about what he did and didn’t say–as well as what that might mean and the implications of his statement.  Perhaps it should be seen as a rhetorical statement, rather than an invitation to draw lines in the sand.

        • Anonymous
          January 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm

          I agree and like what you say about a fundamental project of gospel activity is embracing all truth. Yes, I can imagine a church that is bigger than the black & white boxes, but my imagining it don’t make it so and doesn’t match my experience. For example, the expansive church you posit might applaud me for paying my tithing this month to the local Baptist church to support its youth outreach ministry. The real church? Not so much.

          I also agree that “some put too much emphasis” on those types of statements. Hooray for you not thinking in black and white. But this Sunday in gospel doctrine class, try saying that about anything any prophet has said and observe the response. Then return and report. 🙂

          I like what you’re saying…I only regret that it does not describe the church I know. Is your experience different?

        • Anonymous
          January 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm

          RSF, I know many non black-and-white Mormons, but I don’t know many (any?) non black-and-white leaders.

          • All_Black
            January 14, 2012 at 8:49 am

            Exactly…leaders need to stand on their own, based on their own testimony and no one else’s. If they can’t they don’t last too long and you will see them go inactive soon after loosing their testimony, as clearly the McLay have after loosing their testimony.

            I agree with what Hinkley said: either it is all true or it isn’t; either we are the one true church or we are not. And it’s the power and authority of the priesthood, which no other church has, that makes us the only one true church. Other churches may have the right belief or may believe in many true concepts but they don’t have God’s priesthood, that’s the difference.

          • Another Guest
            January 16, 2012 at 12:44 pm

            I would be curious to know what percentage of current general authorities believe in evolution.  Not what percentage teach it necessarily…just how many accept evolution as the most probable way man was created by God.  I would venture to guess the percentage, which would be impossible to determine, would be fairly high.  Didn’t Mitt Romney get questioned at BYU for his belief in evolution?

    • Anonymous
      January 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      To me it’s a bit like driving along on what you see as a wide and safe road doing whatever you do with the wife and kids in the car when she starts pointing out things to look at in the distance or off to the left or ……  Then in a moment of distraction you realize you’ve driven off a cliff that was not on the map.  In those first few seconds nothing about what else was going on matters.  All that matters is there is that there was a cliff on the road and not on the map.  I think John and Brooke are in those first few seconds of this free fall and about all they can see is that the map they thought would keep them safe on the road was not complete or truthful.  So I’m not sure now’s the time to probe about what was going when it happened.  

  64. Anonymous
    January 12, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I was absolutely moved by this podcast. Thank you John and Brooke or sharing your story! I found myself empathizing with John when he spoke about the feeling of deception and betrayal that he felt as he discovered the true facts behind our church history. He sat in front of possibly thousands of youth and testified to them about the truthfullnes of the foundational events of church history, the limited practice of polygamy etc. – and then he finds out that he has been teachng a carefully edited version that bears little resemblance to reality. Talk about being used! I too was used when I gave two years of my life telling the good people of California that I had the truthThe good news is that the cat has been let out of the bag. Church defenders can kick and scream and even smear those brave souls like the McLays but the truth will win out. I am confident that as time marches on, more and more objective documentation will come to light that will paint an accurate picture of the truth. Yes, there will always be those fundametal believers who insist on swallowing the blue pill, but I suspect that Mormonism will ultimately become more of a cultural way of life as the majority of it’s members see it for what it is – a benevolent man-made organization.

  65. Anonymous
    January 12, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Thank you John and Brooke for an amazing podcast! I am so excited for you and your future. My wife and I have had our own crisis of faith that has helped us lift the cobwebs from our eyes as well. It is an emotional process but the rewards are marvelous. Now you are free to be the people you truely want to be in your hearts without compulsion, threat or guilt. Good luck to you both.

    (My fellow homo-sapiens, be couragous and take the red pill!)

  66. Karasmithwest
    January 12, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    In the same sentence where the revelation characterizes the church as “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, which which I. the Lord, am well pleased,” it’s important to note that the Lord goes on to qualify, “speaking unto the church collectively and not individually.” To me this is subtly significant. To me, this says that though the church as a whole is true (in that it restores the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth) and living (in that revelation is alive), there are individual acts committed by people within the church in which the Lord is “not well pleased.” When I read about sketchy actions taken by leaders or other church members, especially with regard to the way polygamy was abused, or power was abused in any way, I think about this verse. The church is true “collectively, not individually.” Though guided by revelation from God, its an organization administered by human beings with all the complexity and failings you would expect from humans. If the Lord wanted the church to be perfect, he’d send angels down to administer it. There’s something he must want us to learn by giving us mere mortals the keys.

    The gift this church brings to the world is that it restores the Gospel. I love it that the Book of Mormon duplicates the Sermon on the Mount and the writings of Isaiah regarding Christ, emphasizing what should be our focus. The other great thing about Mormonism is that its constantly growing in light and truth, ever evolving into a thing of greater beauty, putting aside lesser doctrines, as the New Testament replaced the Old in the Bible. 

    To the extent the gospel is “institutionalized”–a phenomenon most present in CES–I am troubled.

    • Markburton77
      January 13, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      The early church was totally different to the church that we know today, would you have joined it in Joseph Smith’s day? Too many mistakes were made by the founding fathers of the movement, this is unacceptable now and then. Their actions were far more than ‘sketchy’, I can’t believe that church members such as yourself can rationalize these undeniable facts away!

  67. Anonymous
    January 12, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Well……… I have often wondered how CES people can have so much knowledge of church doctrine and never discover the truth about it all, exepting Grant Palmer. John and Brooke, you have taken very bold steps terminating your church membership – you jumped before you were pushed! But make no mistake, you have apostasized from the church, and the way back will be very difficult and long, if that’s what you decide to do.

    Seeking re-admission back into the church was understandable, as you realized what you had done – the fear element kicking in. Your chance meeting with Pres Monson on the way out was very funny, he has a talent of looking straight through you with those sparkling clear blue eyes of his – yes, I have been on the recieving end of those too. He is a very nice guy, and always very friendly.

    I predict that as you continue to work your way out of the church your emotions will change, you are already experiencing a new found freedom of thought and time in your lives. Also, you will consolidate your new testimony of the church – that it’s false. As time progresses this testimony will get even stronger than your last one, because this time you have tangable proof, look no further than the Book of Abraham. Also John, study the life and times of Sydney Rigdon, I believe that he holds the key to the whole story of Mormonism and it’s foundations – the church hardly ever mentions him these days. Within a few weeks of him joining the church he was Josephs right hand man, even writing and recieving revelations!

    Always remember that there are more ex Mormons in the world than there are Mormons, food for thought. I often wonder what they will do when Christ still has made no appearence in 2212!
    I’d like to see the GA’s explain that one away. Good luck guys – enjoy yout life.

  68. Margie
    January 12, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I just finished the podcast. I really admire Brooke and John’s honesty, courage and integrity. On a light note, I have to say that John M. looks so much like the handsome actor, Bill Paxton (Big Love)!

  69. JulieAnn Shaw
    January 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I finished listening today – thoroughly enjoyed all of it.  I was raised in an CES family – my father taught seminary until I was 12 then was the sole Institute teacher in Edmonton, Alberta a few years before joining the faculty at ASU.  I hope my children will listen to the podcast to give them a better understanding of why I was the dogmatic, strict Mormon I was for so many years and why I can see the church so differently now.  There is no way I can squeeze myself back into the Mormon think box.  It is wonderful to be open to enjoying the spiritual growth of people of many religions and perspectives and still love and appreciate the way I was raised.
    Thank you John D. for the great way you facilitated what was shared.  It was so very meaningful to me.

  70. Shelama
    January 13, 2012 at 11:42 am

    What  a marvelous couple, people and story. I ultimately left Mormonism when I finally actually read and studied the Bible and left all of Christianity. My greatest joy was finding a spiritual home in the Synagogue, which was filled with liberation and fresh air. My leaving Christianity and Mormonism was relatively easy and painless. And accompanied by a warm, swollen, burning bosom you wouldn’t believe. A true testimony and knowledge.

    I’ve nothing but pride and admiration for those  like the McLays who struggle with such total integrity and finally come to the right conclusion. I’m amazed at the similar thoughtful, informed, heart-felt sincerity of so many other former Mormons and Christians, and the tremendous liberation and breath of fresh air they enjoy. I’ve never quite understood the Mormon admiration for Harold Bloom, whom I believe understates the extraordinary, authentic religious genius of Joseph Smith.

    The stories here, and the “I’m an ex-Mormon” series, have such incredibly warm, honest, genuine, thoughtful, insightful and truly enlightened and obviously liberated, free people. Also easy to find are similar stories by other ex-Christians. People who have discovered what is truly important in life and what is dispensable and even hurtful.

    That Mormonism makes a large and positive difference in the lives of the relatively small minority of Mormons who remain active renders it virtually moot that it’s not true. If it makes you happy and  improves the quality of your life, family, community and death, it just doesn’t make any difference. But the taste of genuine freedom is so sweet.

  71. January 13, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I honestly don’t mean to troll and I sincerely apologize in advance for lacking charity and empathy here, but I think that the McLay’s biggest problem is not that they used to be Mormons, but that they kind of used to be jerks!
    My wife said on a post about this elsewhere: “I was pretty shocked at Brooke’s characterization of things that she wanted to do that she felt she couldn’t do within Mormonism like have gay friends, male friends, and socialize until midnight. I do realize that someone in the CES universe is in a totally different Mormon universe than I am, and I recognize aspects of Mormon culture that COULD lead someone to a place like that, but it sure sounded foreign to me.” Or how about when she said that it wasn’t until after leaving that she walked outside and saw that everyone was important? They STILL maintain that going on a hike on Sunday is a bad choice. In my opinion, these are not the example of good Mormons that they’ve been held up as here, they are the kinds of Mormons that give Mormons a bad name in the rest of the world. They are the EXACT same kind of Mormons that persecuted me when I was growing up for not living up to the glossy impossible standard. Part of me is actually glad that they are out of the church, knowing that they aren’t representing my beliefs (while referring to themselves in the third person).I’m sorry if this seems overly harsh, but you’ve kind of held them up as a symbol and I guess I decode that symbol differently. People like the McLays have caused me a lot of pain in my life for not fitting into their narrow view of Mormonism and now, because they’ve been out for a couple of months, I’m supposed to feel sorry for them? I think it might be healthy for them to live on the other end of the judgement they’ve been doling out all these years. They weren’t more committed to the gospel than me, they were just “naively committed.” I don’t begrudge them their transition, I certainly don’t want their children to go hungry, and I sympathize with their feelings of loss of faith and culture, but these are the kinds of Mormons I’d like to inoculate against. These are the kinds of Mormons that fall the hardest. Because they were so all or nothing, when some things start to fall apart, nothing seems like the only option.End venting now. Best of luck to the McLays in their journey through life.

    • Anonymous
      January 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      Hmm. “Or how about when she said that it wasn’t until after leaving that she walked outside and saw that everyone was important?” I experienced something similar to this awakening they tried to describe. A layer of insulation sloughs off and you’re exposed to the world in all of its grit and color. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t see everyone else as important before this…what it meant for me was that I engaged with others on common ground, not with that layer of smug certainty that caused me to hold their human experience in lower regard than mine. If you’ve been progressive all along, maybe you haven’t experienced a similar awakening. It is very much like taking off a pair of dark glasses you didn’t know you were wearing. It’s a difficult thing to explain, even in writing. Let alone an interview where you’re trying to assemble thoughts in front of a mic an camera. I cut them a lot of slack.

      • January 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm

        I GUESS I can see that, but I can’t relate. That smug certainty seems antithetical to the teachings of Christ. Thanks for sharing. I want to be more empathetic, but this really rubbed me the wrong way.

        • Anonymous
          January 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm

          I agree it’s antithetical. I’ve evolved–repented if you will. Had we met 15 years ago, I probably would have offended you.

          • January 17, 2012 at 12:19 am

            That’s okay. I’m offending people all the time. Thanks again for sharing your experience.

  72. Catsent
    January 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    This is so beautiful! I had the same struggles coming out. Also lived polygamy for 13 years trying to obey everything Joseph Smith said we had to do. Now that’ a circus let me tell you. I have learned that life is a wonderful smorgasbord and it is all about love and that is all it is about or ever will be about! It feels so wonderful to love without judgement or reservation. I love being free and truly for the first time really feeling like I have open choices.

    Thank you for this well spent time with these two beautiful, brave people. Please bring us more. Cathie

  73. Grateful Guest
    January 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    John and Brooke’s story was my first discovery of Mormon Stories. As a current LDS member who was born into the Church, I was very cautious of what this story might contain and looked over the website first to see if this was something I should be looking into…aka, was this anti-Mormon literature and if so, I wasn’t going to indulge in it. After deciding to proceed with the videos because it looked “safe”, I was immediately drawn into the story. I want to express my gratitude for the form this was presented in…very respectful, very honest and clean. Not knowing what MS was about, I expected bashing and information exposed about sacred things or phrases about “those crazy Mormons”, proding and poking in a negative manner, etc.  Because that was not so, I was able to really listen to their story and feel a such a connection and joy that there are others who feels how I do about certain doctrine!! I’m amazed and comforted that people with their background ended up at the same fork in the road that I’m at, even though our paths getting there were very different…point being that I thought only those who had the crazy-college-year route ended up with my skeptical thinking.

    I’m glad this was shared. I’m glad I don’t feel as flawed now though the guilt/fear is still there, and hope I gain something from this as I transition more into my current role as a wife and eventually a mother.

  74. Drewskione
    January 13, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Great first video!  Brilliant ending.  Gotta keep going.

  75. All_Black
    January 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Well I’ve listened to all 4 videos and one thing that stands out is the McLay’s commitment to honesty and integrity. They should be commended for taking the high road when leaving the church and not becoming bitter ex-mormons in the process.  Obviously they will fit in well in the terrestrial kingdom.

    I do have some questions though. I wonder to what extent Brooks mother’s leaving the family when she was 16 influenced her choice to stay with her husband as he left the church? Did she choose the marriage over church or wasn’t it an issue? Seems that it was her who was willing to return to church -although clearly having to be re-baptized was a stumbling block, but that could’ve been done discretely.

    Also I wonder why there wasn’t much of Spirit and Spiritual events talked about during the interview. There was a little bit but it seemed to be glossed over as emotions and not considered as important as all those minor historical issues, like Helen Mar’s age or the stones in the hat. For me church is all about the Spirit and it is a Spiritual experience that both brought me here and is keeping me in church so it really stands out to me when I hear these complaints about Helen’s age but nothing about what the Spirit could say about it, nor any spiritual events by someone in a church position of authority and church job all day but never hearing the voice of God? something’s wrong in this story cuase if a dud like me has heard God’s voice then surely it will be easier for someone who is church day in and day out, would it not?

    The only part I’ve agreed with is the damage that CES does in the church. It does seem that they are another church or a church within a church at times, and Elder Perry’s comment was spot on, but I don’t know why the apostles don’t bring CES into the normal church once and for all. It reminds me of what was happening in the early ’90s when the missionary side of the church seemed to be working completely independently from the members side of the church until they started fixing that in the late 90’s/early 00’s.

    As for the reasons they expressed which lead to loss of faith, well, they are minor and have satisfactory answers. For example Smith was Sealed to many women but that doesn’t mean they married nor cohabitated, unless you believe some apostates, like William Law, who clearly had an agenda. Plus there are no descendents from those polygamous marriages even from Eliza Snow who was a close friend to Joseph which places cohabitation at unlikely at best.

    Helen Mar Kimball’s age? I know two women in our ward who married at 14 and 15 respectively and married legally with witnesses before the civil authority as the law required and then in the catholic church with two ‘padrinos’ (since they were catholic back then) , they raised a family and both are now widows in their early 70’s -and mention that they are now alone probably due to having married so young to much older men. Plus many states in the US allowed marriage at 13 up until congress pushed through chances during the Clinton years. So Helen being only Sealed to the prophet at 14, and again by proxy when she married some dude for life at 16, isn’t all that weird when put in its proper context. Today, in the 21 century, it would be illegal but then again for the church has also changed by not recommending even dating before 16, so times do change.

  76. All_Black
    January 14, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Well I’ve listened to all 4 videos and one thing that stands out is the McLay’s commitment to honesty and integrity. They should be commended for taking the high road when leaving the church and not becoming bitter ex-mormons in the process.  Obviously they will fit in well in the terrestrial kingdom.

    I do have some questions though. I wonder to what extent Brooks mother’s leaving the family when she was 16 influenced her choice to stay with her husband as he left the church? Did she choose the marriage over church or wasn’t it an issue? Seems that it was her who was willing to return to church -although clearly having to be re-baptized was a stumbling block, but that could’ve been done discretely.

    Also I wonder why there wasn’t much of Spirit and Spiritual events talked about during the interview. There was a little bit but it seemed to be glossed over as emotions and not considered as important as all those minor historical issues, like Helen Mar’s age or the stones in the hat. For me church is all about the Spirit and it is a Spiritual experience that both brought me here and is keeping me in church so it really stands out to me when I hear these complaints about Helen’s age but nothing about what the Spirit could say about it, nor any spiritual events by someone in a church position of authority and church job all day but never hearing the voice of God? something’s wrong in this story cuase if a dud like me has heard God’s voice then surely it will be easier for someone who is church day in and day out, would it not?

    The only part I’ve agreed with is the damage that CES does in the church. It does seem that they are another church or a church within a church at times, and Elder Perry’s comment was spot on, but I don’t know why the apostles don’t bring CES into the normal church once and for all. It reminds me of what was happening in the early ’90s when the missionary side of the church seemed to be working completely independently from the members side of the church until they started fixing that in the late 90’s/early 00’s.

    As for the reasons they expressed which lead to loss of faith, well, they are minor and have satisfactory answers. For example Smith was Sealed to many women but that doesn’t mean they married nor cohabitated, unless you believe some apostates, like William Law, who clearly had an agenda. Plus there are no descendents from those polygamous marriages even from Eliza Snow who was a close friend to Joseph which places cohabitation at unlikely at best.

    Helen Mar Kimball’s age? I know two women in our ward who married at 14 and 15 respectively and married legally with witnesses before the civil authority as the law required and then in the catholic church with two ‘padrinos’ (since they were catholic back then) , they raised a family and both are now widows in their early 70’s -and mention that they are now alone probably due to having married so young to much older men. Plus many states in the US allowed marriage at 13 up until congress pushed through chances during the Clinton years. So Helen being only Sealed to the prophet at 14, and again by proxy when she married some dude for life at 16, isn’t all that weird when put in its proper context. Today, in the 21 century, it would be illegal but then again for the church has also changed by not recommending even dating before 16, so times do change.

    • Anonymous
      January 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      “As for the reasons they expressed which lead to loss of faith, well, they are minor and have satisfactory answers”.

      Goodness, you really don’t know your true church history do you. Have you not listened to anything that John has said in this interview?
      Please could you give us all, satisfactory answers to the Kinderbrook Plates, the Book of Abraham fraud and Joseph Smith’s practise of Polyandry, especially when he sent prospective wives husbands on missions to get them far away. When the poor men got home Joseph had already married their wives – nice guy.  Also, I would value your comments on the Nancy Rigdon affair, when Joseph tried to marry Sidney Rigdons daughter – you must know about the famous letter that Joseph tried to deny when confronted by her father, until it was practically shoved in his face. Obviously very minor things in your opinion. Also, your comment about the terrestrial kingdom was in poor taste – or is it meant to be a joke?

      I think you will find that the terrestial kingdom will be very much like Santa Land, a myth!

      • All_black
        January 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm

        Really westernchamp? Book of Abraham a fraud? No, not at all.

        Once you get that it is an inspired translation, as is the Book of Mormon, those papyri become irrelavant. Plus, who ever said that egyptologists are always 100% right? If the rosetta stone changes meaning then so will every translation made since then. As one inspired book says, its foolish to trust in man’s knowledge only.

        Smith’s polyandry, again, was about ‘Sealings’ not cohabitating in marriage. But I guess you’d rather believe the rumours that come from Smith’s enemies and not Smith’s word, right?

        Rigdons daughter?… have you ever considered that Joseph’s denials were the truth? Probably not -my guess- seeing that people who loose all faith find any critisism or story critical of Smith to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth -as long as it is critical of Smith. Why not accept his word?

        My comment on the terrestrial kingdom was no joke. Doctrinally, that’s mormon doctrine, it is exactly what will end up happening. You call it myth….well let’s wait for the second coming, then count 1000 years and then we will see who is right here.

      • All_Black
        January 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm

        Really westernchamp? Book of Abraham a fraud? No, not at all.

        Once you get that it is an inspired translation, as is the Book of Mormon, those papyri become irrelavant. Plus, who ever said that egyptologists are always 100% right? If the rosetta stone changes meaning then so will every translation made since then. As one inspired book says, its foolish to trust in man’s knowledge only.

        Smith’s polyandry, again, was about ‘Sealings’ not cohabitating in marriage. But I guess you’d rather believe the rumours that come from Smith’s enemies and not Smith’s word, right?

        Rigdons daughter?… have you ever considered that Joseph’s denials were the truth? Probably not -my guess- seeing that people who loose all faith find any critisism or story critical of Smith to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth -as long as it is critical of Smith. Why not accept his word?

        My comment on the terrestrial kingdom was no joke. Doctrinally, that’s mormon doctrine, it is exactly what will end up happening. You call it myth….well let’s wait for the second coming, then count 1000 years and then we will see who is right here.

        • All_Black
          January 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm

          Sorry moderator but I keep getting a ‘System Error’ message so end up trying again but then both posts come up.

          Please delete the second repeated one.

        • Anonymous
          January 14, 2012 at 6:56 pm

          Hi All Black, thanks for coming back to me. I see that I may have started a bit of a hot discussion for you here – others are wading in! You know, I see the church very differently to you. I have studied the REAL historical facts for a while now, and I cannot accept Joseph as a prophet or man of God – the buck stops with him. It’s plain to see that the church has, over the years, spun the real history almost out of existence to suit it’s own purposes. It is a matter of historical record that missionarys came over to England (Apostles) and swore on their lives practically that polygamy was NOT being practised in the USA – they lied through their teeth. Good, English people were baptised and gave everything to the church to come to Zion, only to find that polygamy was rife. This makes me very angry, I don’t take kindly to my fellow countrymen being conned.

          There is a series of very good books called ‘The Mormon Delusion’ that just spells it all out, correlates all the info and proves beyond any doubt that the church is man made – a product of early colonial America – christianity on steroids.
          Give them a read,  if you are brave enough!

          I wish you well on your chosen path, after all, we all have our free agency.

          • All_Black
            January 14, 2012 at 7:32 pm

            “I don’t take kindly to my fellow countrymen being conned”

            your fellow countrymen back then weren’t nice, sweet gentlemen either. They eliminated an entire race of people -Tasmanian aboriginals- and practised ethnic cleansing in many other parts of the world as they raided native populations’ assets.

            However my understanding was that most apostles didn’t know about polygamy at first and then it was a practically a state secret for mormons needed for their own protection and survival. Sometimes you just can’t tell the whole story because of the way the audience reacts.

            I don’t have access to that book where I’m working now but once I go home I’ll get a hold of it. However I need to stress that this religion isn’t a historical argument. That is irrelevant since it’s a spiritual journey.

            I wish you all the best too and hope that one day you will allow the spiritual side of things work in your life.

          • Anonymous
            January 16, 2012 at 8:59 am

            All Black, that denial on polygamy in England in 1850 was made by none other than John Taylor – who had 12 wives back home at the time! see quote;

            Among the papers of my grandfather, who had served a mission to England in 1910, I found a number of tracts and pamphlets that he had used on his mission. One was the transcript of a debate in 1850 between John Taylor (then an apostle, and on a mission in England) and a Methodist minister. Among the topics discussed in the debate was the rumor, common at the time, that the Mormons were practicing plural marriage. Taylor vigorously denied the rumors as a vicious lie, and firmly asserted on his honor that Mormons were good monogamists. At that very time, however, Taylor himself was married to twelve living wives. All of the top men in the church also had multiple wives at that time. How could a prophet of God lie so blatantly? It bothered me, but I tried to put  thought aside.

            There is so much evidence out there of this sort of activity by apostles – the evidence against them is overwhelming.
            Also, these converts were in the main good, simple country fold looking for a better life……..they were conned.

    • Sean
      January 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      Straining at gnats while swallowing camels.  

      With all due respect Mr. All-Black, you don’t know of what you speak. Your false indifference regarding the many issues that have caused thousands of people to leave the Church is astounding.  You come across as someone who is more interested in being right than searching for truth.  

      If all Church related inquiries are “minor and have satisfactory answers”, then please answer JUST one for me:
         
      Why did Brigham Young preach the Adam-God theory from the pulpit?

      • All_Black
        January 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm

        Because he believed that it was the truth but he was just simply wrong.

        The fact he was wrong is why the theory never made it into D&C although other revelations did.

        Note that for a prophet to be correct and for his word to constitute a new revelation, his counselors and the twelve will support him becuase the Spirit confirms the truth of the teaching, as they did with Joseph F Smith’s vision of the spirit world and the 1978 revelation on the priesthood.

        • Sean
          January 14, 2012 at 6:02 pm

          Ok…so I guess this discussion, as with most debates in regards to the Church, is going to turn into a discourse on semantics?  Your “logic” is all over the map, so I really don’t know where to begin. 

          Please clarify why Brigham Young was wrong about the Adam-God teaching.  Was it because he didn’t have support from his counselors?  (Really?  Provide a reference please)  Or because it wasn’t included in the D&C?  You seem to be providing two distinct/separate litmus tests in regards to discerning a valid revelation.

          I wonder why God would allow his prophet to preach, FROM THE PULPIT, a false teaching?  Based on Brigham’s own words, you two seem to be saying two very different things…

          “I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . ” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264; see also p. 95).

          “I am here to answer.  I shall be on hand to answer when I am called upon, for all the counsel and for all the instruction that I have given to this people.  If there is an Elder here, or any member of this Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason.”  (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 161).

          “I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom…I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).

          • All_Black
            January 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm

            “I wonder why God would allow his prophet to preach, FROM THE PULPIT, a false teaching?”

            because god didn’t take away free agency even when young became prophet. And it isn’t a false teaching, it’s a mistake made during conversations on an issue. False teaching happens whenyou know information is wrong but teach it anyways. here they were treating an issue but Pratt especially and a few others disagreed and eventually the jist of the idea was rejected as mistaken even though it is true that we will be judged by Adam as our Father and he will by then by at god level. But then we go on to be judged by jesus which is were young’s theory is incorrect.

            your quotes are simply out of context and refer to other matters but the first one is another mistake by young; those matters are like the bible once the spirit confirms them and all the apostles agree otherwise we would be a spiritual dictatorship.

          • Sean
            January 14, 2012 at 8:12 pm

            Mr. Black, you have outdone yourself!  You are the king of semantics and a world class mental gymnast.  I wonder what current doctrine, recognized and accepted as a saving truth, will be subsequently vilified and written off by future generations under the guise of “speaking as a man and not a Prophet”?  

            Quotes out of context?  LOL!  Keep going Mr. All-Black, I think you’ve almost convinced yourself.  Don’t be late though, fantasy land awaits.

          • Anonymous
            January 18, 2012 at 11:33 am

            I don’t know about you Sean, but once you have got your head around the true history of the LDS church, reading the D&C is quite bizarre – I don’t know how anyone can read it and keep a straight face. Joseph and Sidney really did exel themselves when writing such ficton about everyone around them.

    • Hebe
      January 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      What about the six following presidents of the church that did cohabitat with their plural wives and produce many children?

      • All_Black
        January 15, 2012 at 11:32 pm

        yes , they practised polygamy fully as both marriage for time and eternity. No problem there. last person to do so inside the church was apostle Lyman but he was excommunicated -in 43′ odd- since by then it was banned.

  77. Jenhillaz
    January 14, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    There just are answers to every question and even understanding to everything in life but there is ‘faith’!  Why does a 30 yr with 4young kids have cancer?  Why do I have chronic hives(many doctors and test..we don’t know?)! This is an informational society and so we think we need hard core answers to everything! That is just not how ‘life’ works! We learn and grow from these unanswered questions! My life is colorful, rich, fun, spiritual and full of love!

  78. Jenhillaz
    January 14, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    to my comment above.. Meant to put in There are just NOT answers to every question. Sorry for the typo!

    • Sean
      January 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      So what exactly is your point?  Are you saying that because there aren’t satisfactory answers to every one of life’s questions we should stop searching and questioning?  A reasonable person has every right to question the myriad issues regarding Church history, polyandry, polygamy, BOA, Kinderhook plates, Adam-God, blood atonement, etc…(I could go on and on and on…)  

      I wonder if you’d give the same advice to a questioning Scientologist, or Jehova’s Witness or Catholic, etc…”Oh don’t worry about old Ron Hubbard and the kooks that run Scientology, it’s the unanswered questions that really make life spicy!”  LOL!

      BTW, I don’t know why you have chronic hives either.

      • All_Black
        January 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm

        “What Causes Chronic Hives?

        Chronic hives, unlike sun hives and cold hives,
        are caused by chemicals called histamines in the blood stream. When
        your body thinks an allergen is present in or on the body’s surface,
        the immune system tells the body to release histamines into the blood
        stream to fight them off.”

        Two seconds of Google.

        Anyways, I agree with you to an extent Sean. We should be studying church history, polyandry, polygamy …etc why they happened, why they ended etc because we are a knowledge seeking people. But there is a place for that study and sunday school, which is meant to strengthen people’s testimony, isn’t the place. Plus study these issues should imply a neutral view point until an answer is found. What I see happening with you guys, those who have left the church, is that you find out about , say, Helen Kimball then apply today’s standards and voilá, Smith is a criminal pedophile. Maybe once every so often you should at least try to find another answer to your doubts.

        • Sean
          January 14, 2012 at 6:15 pm

          All-Black, first off, you have no idea what methods of study “[us] people” use or for how long we use them in order to come to an honest conclusion regarding tough Church issues.  Do you honestly see yourself as having a “neutral view point” as you have counseled?  I see you making every excuse under the sun to excuse every false teaching, indiscretion, lie, historical blight, false prophecy and scandal that you happen to stumble upon.  I understand why, I was once in your shoes. 

          BTW, I haven’t left the Church at all.  Heck, I might be your home teacher…MWAHAHAHAHAHA

          • All_Black
            January 14, 2012 at 7:16 pm

            ” every false teaching, indiscretion, lie, historical blight, false prophecy and scandal”

            That’s the problem. A mistake made 150 years ago was false teaching to you when it was just a mistake, same with so called “lies”

            Your point of view is hardly neutral but always lacking a spiritual dimension.

            Now if you don’t believe the church is true why stay? Integrity will mean you leave and do somethng else.

          • Sean
            January 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm

            I find it laughable that you as a member of the Church are telling me that I must leave if I don’t believe!?  Wow.  Just wow.  So much for leaving the 99 to rescue the 1.  I can tell you’ve let the teachings of Jesus sink deep into your soul…

            I understand why you didn’t answer the original question though – you don’t have the answer.  No one does.  

            I’m already bored with the endless semantics and mental gymnastics you incorporate in order to make sense of non-sensical Church related issues.  

            Enjoy the box!

          • All_Black
            January 15, 2012 at 11:38 pm

            Again you take things out of context. Leaving the 99 to rescue the 1 is only possible if that 1 is recoverable. You have made up your mind, aren’t recoverable, and if you were honest, you’d leave the church and do something else. I can’t see a reason for staying when people don’t believe anymore. Don’t waste your time in this church.

          • Luisandtreva
            January 15, 2012 at 11:52 pm

            I can think of one reason to stay … My wife wants to stay. Not so simple to tell us heretics “be gone!” … And not particularly Christ like (not that I believe in Christ at this point … Lol)

          • Sean
            January 16, 2012 at 3:11 am

            Mr. All-Black, I find it amazingly UN-Christ like that you are able to state with so much certainty that I am not “recoverable” after a brief and superficial conversation.  I realize that in your world you play both judge, jury and executioner.  Fortunately your sphere of influence stops where your judgmental fingertips begin.

            You supposedly believe in Jesus but seem unaware of his teachings.  Your words make you appear as the white washed sepulchers of which Jesus spoke.

            But please Mr. All-Black, continue to post, it’s people like you that make the transition out of Mormonism so much easier…  

  79. distracted
    January 14, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    My mind is swimming with thoughts and ideas as I’ve sat enrapt at this series of podcasts. I hope my brief comments can contribute in some small way to the conversation…

    I’ve sensed a recurring motif in listening to these Mormon Stories and to other faith journeys away from the LDS church: the assumption that prophets and other leaders of the church are perfect and if they’re god’s mouthpiece on earth they will not say/do anything to contradict what god wants or what predecessors have said/done.The old adage is painfully true: The Catholics say the pope is infallible, but don’t believe it. Mormons say their leaders are fallible, but don’t believe it.As long as this idea perpetuates, there will continue to be stories like the McLays have expressed.The question we must all ask and answer for ourselves (and be able to live with the answer) is: can a prophet of god be a prophet and be, sometimes very deeply, flawed as a human being?Yes, the church, especially CES, whitewashes its history…but that’s because the people who run it aren’t perfect. I believe they’re acting on old fears and traditions that doing otherwise will lead members astray. It’s taking a while for them to learn that the opposite is true–especially as wired culture thrusts information into every nook and cranny and cranium. The church’s slow response is not surprising considering the juggernaut that is LDS church bureaucracy.Yes, members of the church have RUN AWAY with the idea (one that was debunked the year it appeared, but 99.99% of the church hasn’t received the memo) that “once the prophet has spoken, the conversation is over…” and it’s being taught and propagated week by week, for years and years. But it’s because people are imperfect and some people need that kind of guidance and direction and unfortunately they want to force it on others, but it’s because they’re imperfect.And yes, Joseph Smith was flawed in MANY ways….just one example: his decision to destroy the press that was fighting him cost him his life.How I ended up able to deal with the paradoxes and contradictions within the church is beyond me…..I’m a seminary graduate, BYU graduate, returned missionary, current EQ president and some of my best friends are CES employees….but holy cow, as I listen to the McLay’s heartbreaking story I’m floored at the gaping difference between their beliefs and my own. The church they grew up with is the same one I did. But how we process the teachings, the culture, the doctrine is worlds apart.My hope is that their story and the fine work of Mormon Stories will help close that gap somehow, that we can break down the correlation, stop the bleeding. It seems inevitable–a rough stone rolling. That’s why I choose to remain in the church because the truths it does teach, the truths Christ taught, are worth struggling for. Unfortunately, there are casualties along the way…but we can learn from them. And they won’t be casualties forever.And as a total aside, a fleeting thought, I’m reminded how important FHE is….how we are taught NOT TO DEPEND ON THE CHURCH TO TEACH THE GOSPEL TO OUR CHILDREN. Get uncorrelated kids!

    • Distracted
      January 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      I used paragraphs when writing the above comments. Don’t know where they went….sorry.

  80. Anonymous
    January 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Good interview John.  Good luck to the McLays – appreciated the part about always being Mormon. 

  81. Joe Geisner
    January 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    In part 3 at about the 29 – 30 minute mark, Brooke McLay makes a simple
    and yet beautiful comment. She says, “When we say we are going to be
    honest … to me there’s one way to be honest. You mean what you say.”

    One
    of my greatest disappointments in both Smith and Mormon apologist is
    the lack on their part in following the basic rule of honesty. Smith
    was unable to tell the truth about his multiple wives and apologist are
    unable to tell the truth about most everything Mormon.

    Both
    Brooke and John are amazing people for their approach to this crisis of
    faith. I am curious if Lou Midgley or Dan Peterson have come out
    publicly praising Brooke and John for the way they have handled their
    crisis of faith? Both apologist’s biggest gripe with Grant Palmer was
    their claim that Grant should have left his employment with CES. Have
    these two apologists gone on record for their support of the McLays?

  82. Anonymous
    January 15, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Loved your interview.  I spent the better part of the day watching it today and was very touched by your honesty and the courage you have exhibited in following your heart in spite of all of the possible ramifications, many of which you must have known would be negative and difficult. 

    I left the church almost one year ago.  I received my official letter from the church last March, letting me know that I was officially off the records.  I hangs in a frame on the wall, the frame that used to hold my degree from BYU.  I can certainly identify with much of the pain you have experienced, and which likely continues to be a big part of your life.  You are discovering what it means to be on “the Hero’s Journey”.  It is often a long, difficult, and lonely path. 

    I too have suffered much of loneliness, depression, and anguish.  I found myself cut off from nearly everyone I knew, literally, as I went out into the “lone and dreary world” to find my own way without the social network I had been accustomed to.  Though I wasn’t employed by the church as John was, I had taught at the MTC for the 4 years I was at BYU, was also a young High Councilman and a branch president prior to my big AHA moment, and when I left, rather suddenly, I knew not one soul outside of the Mormon church.  I quickly found out how lonely a place the world could really be.  In one month, I lost my wife and children, my leadership position in the church, my family of origin, and pretty much everyone I knew.

    That was several years ago.  At that time, I didn’t really know for certain that the church wasn’t real, and a couple of years later, I “repented” and went back to the church.  I made a serious effort to believe and to find my way in the church for the next 6 years.  That is one of the biggest regrets of my life.  If only I had been more studious and been able to discover, as I have now, that the church is without a doubt based on lies and deceit, I would never have gone back. 

    Thanks to the powers that be, I am now out for good, and have never felt more free, nor more certain that I am on the right path for my life. 

    I wish you both all the best as you go forward.  Please remember that your courage is awesome and has enabled you to free yourselves from the chains of deceit by which you were imprisoned.  That courage will see you through the difficult days ahead, but the rewards of living an authentic life will be worth it. 

    Thank you so much for being willing to share so much of yourselves with the rest of us.  It is SO important that we come together in this and other ways to support each other on the road to truth. 

    Greg
    Reno, NV

  83. January 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    This interview was like meeting a version of myself: I once had a vague dream of working for CES, a dream that died quickly (and relatively painlessly) when I attended Institute (and saw the difference between college classes and church classes: even with a great teacher, church classes were pablum, milk with scarcely a hint of meat).  Still, if things had gone differently, I might have found myself in a trap like the one that claimed the McLays.  I admire their courage in coming forward.  I admire their ability to avoid bitterness (more than I can do much of the time).   I wish them well.  I wish I had something more to offer than wishes.

    The hardest part of all this, it seems to me, is what Brooke laid a finger on when she referred to herself as “Mormon-plus.”  Many of us are still very Mormon.  We were fanatics (jerks even); we did everything by the book; we wanted to be the most faithful; and, at least partially as a result of that, we became outcasts.  We learned too much.  We trusted too much.  We invested too much.  And now, some of us have to lose everything, our whole lives, because we respond humanly to our Mormon-ness.  My Mormon faith caused me to lose faith in the LDS church.  I didn’t stop being a Mormon.  I didn’t give up on morality.  I certainly didn’t lose my integrity.  What did I lose?  My respect for men who demand that I either tell lies or shut up in their church (which I used to think of as mine, too, back in the day).  My ability to relate naturally to friends and family still comfortably TBM.  A job opportunity I really wanted, and would be perfectly qualified for (if I did not have to swear complete allegiance to the COB: I don’t mind paying tithing, even, but forfeiting the right to tell the truth as I see it is something I cannot do).  My sense of community: I am more paranoid these days; I find it hard to trust people, people who may just be using me the same way the church did.  For me, it really is a case of Stockholm syndrome, with everything that implies–the grief, the love, the loss, the impossibility of a happy resolution (since hurting the church hurts me, even as I acknowledge that the church has done a lot of really bad, hurtful things, things for which it deserves to be hurt).

    To the McLays: Thank you for sharing.  Many of us know at least a little of what you are going through, and we feel for you.  Your story helps us heal.  We appreciate your coming forward to share it, even though that is not easy. 

  84. January 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    The system accidentally loaded my comment twice, so this edit was undertaken to remove a double-post. One post from me on this giant thread is plenty.

  85. Anonymous
    January 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    I’m halfway through the third segment (finished the first two).  What an interesting story.  I listen to the audio while I work out, so I can’t take notes.  But I made a mental note to comment on one thing that really stood out in my mind.

    When one resigns from the Church (I have) inevitably someone from the church will start lecturing about “covenants,” and try to lay a “guilt trip” about breaking covenants.  I seem to recall something along those lines during the interview with the McLays.  My point is this — the church has always taught (and it is true) that a *covenant* is not the same as a promise.  A promise can be either one or two sided, but a *covenant* always cuts both ways.

    Remember the scripture “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”  (or something along those lines — I don’t have my scriptures with me right now, so that’s a possibly garbled rendition from memory).

    Anyway, nobody is under *covenant* to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unless the Church has kept it’s part of that covenant. 

    Furthermore, it is clear that an implied (if not outright) part of the Church’s covenant is that the Church teaches the *truth.*  Thus, to the extent that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fails to teach the truth, facilitates untruths, or blithely allows its resources to be used to disseminate falsehoods, then the *Church* has broken the covenant, and the member is no longer bound.

    That was certainly the case with me.  The Church indoctrinated me (largely through the seminary program, I might add) with falsehoods, half-truths, omissions of relevant facts, and outright fabrications.  When I learned about those acts of dishonesty it constituted a severing of the covenant the Church had made with me  — *they* broke their covenant with *me,* and so I was (am, and ever will be) *not* bound by any covenant with them.

    Anyway, that’s my $0.02.  Both of the McLay’s inspire me.  Thanks for sharing your story.

    Duwayne Anderson
    https://profiles.google.com/DuwayneAnderson/about

  86. Paulajlds
    January 17, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Wow.  Thank you so much for this honest interview full of raw emotion.  This story is so similar to what my family has been through since leaving the church in June of 2009.  I wish we lived near John and Brook and could spend time together discussing our experiences.  It’s nice to read/hear these kinds of things online…but I would treasure having friends that truly understand what me and my husband feel.  If you’re ever in NC…..   🙂

  87. Major Bidamon
    January 17, 2012 at 8:46 am

    It hit me the other day that CES is the Mormon version of a youth ministry / paid clergy.  With that in mind, I think John should check out the “Clergy Project” run by Minister-turned-Atheist, Dan Barker.  It’s a support group for ministers leaving their faiths.  
    http://clergyproject.org/

  88. CarminaB
    January 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    My husband was involved in a lawsuit and our Bishop felt he shouldn’t take or bless the sacrament, never prayed in public etc.  Three years later,the lawsuit ended and my husband was not guilty of fraud (lawsuit involving another member).  So, my husband was found innocent but during that time, just in case,  he couldn’t participate.  Bull crap, God knew the truth all along, at least in his eyes we were not judged that way.  This incident “really” changed the way I feel about LDS leadership.  A lot of it seems the “letter of the law”, and “appearences”.  

  89. Mcq1111
    January 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    THANK YOU. Johns journey is so close to mine. I listened to episode 314 four times. Rough Stone rolling- This American Life – Radio Lab – TED. Leaning and thinking is dangerous for the church. But has been good for me. Thank you again for your story. Live that 100 watt life!

  90. Mcq1111
    January 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    John have you tried The University of Phonix.? If you have a Masters degree they will give you a job.

  91. Frenchiebabe
    January 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    I want to thank you John, Brooke, and John for these 5 hours of captivating video.  I experienced a little of what you did as I was an opt teacher, was an EFY counselor 3 years, and with some of my disillusionment with the way LGBTQ people are treated in the church, some of the Church History that didn’t make the cutting room floor, and some of the hard social pressure that often does more harm than good.  I wept for your pain, your situation with employment and finances, and your rejection by all who you thought to be your friends.  I want to thank you for your decades of service to our youth, to the LDS Church, and the sacrifices you made because of your conviction.  I hope and pray that your conviction will bring you goodness, as I believe you deserve goodness and so much more. Thanks for sharing your story.  It was inspiring to me. 
     
    You are my kind of people.

    • Frenchiebabe
      January 18, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      Crap, ‘puter problems. sorry.

  92. Frenchiebabe
    January 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I want to thank you John, Brooke, and John for these 5 hours of captivating video.  I experienced a little of what you did as I was an opt teacher, was an EFY counselor 3 years, and with some of my disillusionment with the way LGBTQ people are treated in the church, some of the Church History that didn’t make the cutting room floor, and some of the hard social pressure that often does more harm than good.  I wept for your pain, your situation with employment and finances, and your rejection by all who you thought to be your friends.  I want to thank you for your decades of service to our youth, to the LDS Church, and the sacrifices you made because of your conviction.  I hope and pray that your conviction will bring you goodness, as I believe you deserve goodness and so much more. Thanks for sharing your story.  It was inspiring to me. 
     
    You are my kind of people.

  93. Frenchiebabe
    January 17, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I want to thank you John, Brooke, and John for these 5 hours of captivating video.  I experienced a little of what you did as I was an opt teacher, was an EFY counselor 3 years, and with some of my disillusionment with the way LGBTQ people are treated in the church, some of the Church History that didn’t make the cutting room floor, and some of the hard social pressure that often does more harm than good.  I wept for your pain, your situation with employment and finances, and your rejection by all who you thought to be your friends.  I want to thank you for your decades of service to our youth, to the LDS Church, and the sacrifices you made because of your conviction.  I hope and pray that your conviction will bring you goodness, as I believe you deserve goodness and so much more. Thanks for sharing your story.  It was inspiring to me. 
     
    You are my kind of people.

  94. Wayne
    January 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I want to thank the McLays for sharing their story. After 4 hours you are beginning to feel like familiar and loved friends. Best of luck to you on your journey from a fellow traveler.

  95. 1st Period Music Specialist
    January 18, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Now I know why you spent so much time in your office during Seminary class time, so that we spent most of my last year in Seminary just watching videos for everything but the Devotional. I appreciate everything you did teach me (and my siblings) up until that year. And now I know that the most important message you ever left with us was to learn by the Spirit and not just from a teacher. Regardless of how cool, likeable, and entertaining he may be. 

    Wishing you and your precious family the best, 

    1st Period Music Specialist 

    • Smithgirl
      January 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

      Dear 1st Period Music Specialist,

      I agree. I believe I do have an eternal spirit enclosed by my mortal body. Heavenly Father gave me eyes, ears, and a brain to seek truth in this life, but my eyes, ears, and brain are fallible. My spirit is the immortal part of myself–the part that will never die or fail me. When the Holy Ghost speaks to my spirit, it is the most pure form of knowledge I can receive. 

      I have felt communication from the Holy Ghost, separate from emotion. Call it my conscience–that deep something inside of me that knows right from wrong. If I’m honest with myself, I just know, deep down inside, that there is a loving God. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the path of happiness, and though leaders are human, the restored church contains the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity.

      You were lucky to know the McLays. They are such a cute couple. I have grown and learned a lot from listening to them about how to be a better Christian. How destructive are the chains of despair and pride when our minds are closed and arrogant, when we cling to a religion of fear instead of the gospel of love.

  96. January 18, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    I love the McLays and am enjoying hearing their story, but I thought it was really, really bad form to ask someone to pretend to bear their testimony. I was horrified in fact. 

    If someone leaves the church for reasons of integrity, why would they want to bear a pretend testimony? I found that request really puzzling, off-putting, offensive, and I completely understood why the husband was uncomfortable and wouldn’t go along. Bravo to him. Was a little alarmed that the wife had no problem with that. I couldn’t say those words anymore. I still respect how significant a testimony is to believing members, and I just can’t see who is served by asking someone to essentially play-act like that. Gave me the creeps. SO unlike Mormon Stories.

    Also, What is EFY? Wasn’t explained in the first episode, at least. I’ve been out for a few years now, I don’t remember this from my decades in the church!

    • 1st Period Music Specialist
      January 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      EFY is “Especially for Youth” which is a program that runs at various college campuses (mainly LDS schools) during the summer months every year. It’s a week long “retreat” of sorts for youth ages 14-18. Brother/Mr. McLay was a Director (i.e. main speaker) at many of these. I attended twice myself, it’s a really fun program that combines spiritual/doctrinal messages with team-building games and activities. 

      By the way, I agree with your feelings about the “testimony” bearing. There are many adjectives one could use to describe that segment, but the most obvious one for me was “smarmy.” It really put a damper on the rest of their story and message.

  97. -----
    January 20, 2012 at 1:13 am

    I am glad that I came across this blog. I’m going to warn you, I have had it with John Delihn and all his followers and all others who are like him. I am going to speak very candidly to you. No matter what you think, I really do not mean any disrespect to anyone by what I am about to say. I am an active mormon, and I know without any doubt that the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints contains the fullness of the truth of the gospel. I am so sick of trying to be polite to “dissafected” members of the church, and straight up anti-mormons. Here is the freaking truth: ANYONE can find out if the book of mormon is true! ANYONE, ANYONE, ANYONE!!! I served a mission, I know. The problem is, most people are unwilling to humble themselves to humbly and prayerfully read and pray about the truth of the book of mormon. IF YOU DON’T KNOW THAT THE BOOK OF MORMON IS TRUE, THEN IT’S BECAUSE DEEP DOWN, YOU EITHER DON’T WANT TO KNOW THAT IT’S TRUE, OR YOU ARE TOO DAMN PROUD TO DO WHAT IT TAKES TO FIND OUT. To all of you anti-mormons, are you freaking kidding? Do you think that by bashing against the mormon church you are being Christian? That’s about the least Christian thing you can do is bash and attack someone else’s faith just because you don’t agree with it! And yes Dehlin, that’s exactly what your doing, no matter how inconspicuous you are trying to be, WE AREN’T STUPID! 
    If you can honestly tell me that you have prayed about the book of mormon and you still don’t feel it’s true, let me ask you a question: would you be willing to keep all of the commandments of God given to us through our modern day prophet? I’m guessing the answer is a resounding NO! That’s what I like to call a lack of sincerity. Do you think the Lord is going to reaveal something to you when you and him both know that you wouldn’t change anyway? Do you think that the most loving being in the universe would want to condemn you to living a higher standard by revealing that truth to you? No, he wouldn’t. There is an incredible irony going on here. 
    Now, I’m going to give it to you straight. I have studied the scriptures and done my research. You think times are bad now? Think again. The Lord DOES NOT appreciate when his children are fence sitters! He wants you to take a freaking side and stick with it, of course he wants you on his side, but he DOES NOT want you sitting on the fence. Most of these “john dehlin” people are going to be in for one hell of a surprise as we get closer to the second coming. All of you fence sitters that listen to all of John’s podcasts and feel all warm and fuzzy that there are thousands of other’s out there that have decided that they don’t want to keep the commandments and have made the decision to leave the church, all of you are in for a big surprise. The time will come when the Lord won’t have any fence sitters. Events WILL happen in the future that will probably have you scrambling to the devils side of the battle field. Your lack of obedience and faith in keeping his commandments will eventually throw the scales for you, and you will be history to the Lord’s side of the battle field, and your butt imprint marks on the fence that you have been sitting in for so long will disappear. 
    So make up your freaking mind already! Are you going to continue to be fooled by the one person who wants you to be just as miserable as he is going to be for the rest of eternity? Or are you going to show some faith and try living the commandments so you can gain a witness? It is only after the trial of your faith that you can gain a witness, in other words, you need to do a little bit of work before the Lord is going to meet you halfway and show you the truth.
    Now, many of you reading this are angry with me. Rightfully so, the guilty take the truth to be hard. All I have to say to you is, get off the damn fence and PICK. A. SIDE. Stop waisting your time.

    • January 20, 2012 at 7:22 am

      Ridiculous.  I served a mission, too.  I “knew” everything was true, until it wasn’t (when the promises didn’t pan out, the blessings didn’t come, and I discovered that church service was actually hurting me).  Why should this mean that I have to fight against friends and family for whom the gospel actually does work?  Personally, I don’t like football or basketball, even though some people get tremendous enjoyment from both (including health benefits).  Should I force others not to play, merely because I don’t want to (and get good things from it)?  Should I have to play, because others want to?  Should people heap all kinds of public and private shame on me for opting out, for trying to understand what it is about me that cannot handle the field or the court?  Of course not.

      The God that I served as a believing Mormon had better things to do than waste his time playing at Coriantumr and Shiz with Satan.  As a disaffected Mormon today, I’m not sitting on any fence.  I’m living my life, to the best of my ability, with as much integrity as I can muster.  I don’t think everyone should do things the way I do.  I’m not interested in bringing down the church (though I admit some of the tactics it has used to manipulate me are off-putting).  As I see it, the church and I are like a pair of estranged lovers.  She cheated on me, but I am not going to sue her for everything she owns.  I wish her well.  But I cannot pretend (1) that nothing happened, (2) that I don’t care, or (3) that I don’t need to talk about it with other people.

      • January 20, 2012 at 7:25 am

        I meant to say, “Should I have to play, because others want to (and get good things from it, good things that I don’t get)?”

    • Major Bidamon
      January 20, 2012 at 9:29 am

      I guess all the 18 year old seminary graduates found this website.  Welcome all ye modern day Zoramites.  How’s the view up on your Rameumptom?

    • Anonymous
      January 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      Wow. It’s a good thing you don’t drink coffee.

      God bless you, my friend.

    • Swede
      January 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      You are truely a good example of christ. It must feel good to judge all of us. Take some time and read the bible about that topic 🙂
      Did you even listen/watch about there story?
      And please, skip the whole fence sitting thing – it’s so joseph fielding smith ( cain – curse – war in heaven)

    • Smithgirl
      January 21, 2012 at 8:02 am

      Dear ——,
      Are you kidding me? You say you’re tired of “being polite” to those who disagree with you? If that’s true, you don’t even understand your own religion. Jesus said love your enemies, pray for them, do good to them. Gather in the lost sheep. Feed my lambs. I am a believer, but to those who struggle with faith I say a wonderful feast is laid out for you. Come partake of the food that is delicious to you. Bask in the light and love of Jesus.

      Forgive me for saying this, but —–, if you want to keep score, people like you cause more members to leave the church than John Dehlin ever could.

    • New2podcasts
      January 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      Dear —– !

      You made me laugh and thanks for the humor. Many folks may have made up their minds and have chosen sides a long time ago. The problem is that the black and white bondaries you describe are not divided by a fence. And that so called fence is not filled with lounge chairs either. If there is any truth the the claims of a gospel it is based on Love which is in every person inherent from birth. Love is in every society and is the connective force of the universe.  As far as faith goes D&C 112:24-26 says the kingdom is corrupt and must be cleansed even before the world gets cleansed. Truth is that people are true to themselves and no longer sustain and support the unrighteous dominion of the corporation for in so they recognize the filth they would continue to enable. It is like saying yes I bathe in the murderous blood of those killed at mountain meadows and it is fine with me. Not! It is like saying, oh well you need my wife more than I do, go ahead and have your way with her in marriage and I will be happy serving a mission in cheerful servitude. Not! It is like saying God says there is to be no oral sex even between husband and wife over the pulpit and then later quietly say it is between the spouses to decide what they do as long as they agree. Not! The God I believe in is consistent and always a joy to be around and Not wishy washy. Etc, etc, etc, …  

      If you need a side to choose I recommend that you PICK the INSIDE. Be true to yourself.

    • Billy
      January 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      ———– GO FUCK YOURSELF

      • Guest
        February 28, 2012 at 9:48 pm

        Wow.  Really?  Bet that took you half the night to come up with.

    • Lumanwalters
      January 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      “And yes Dehlin, that’s exactly what your doing, no matter how inconspicuous you are trying to be, WE AREN’T STUPID! ”
      You spelled “you’re” wrong sport. You may have spelled inconspicuous wrong too but I’m too stupid to know if you did or not. My name is luman. I’m one of the third host. The ones that rode the tails of the star falling down to earth. Listen. You got us all wrong man. We don’t want you to be “miserable” like us. We really aren’t miserable. When you think about it happiness and misery are both just dispositions anyways. We get up, we drink our postum we get gas, go to work, go home, eat dinner and maybe get a redbox with the wife. That’s it. We just want to be able to relate is all. Might as well while we are sharing this rock. 

    • wow
      April 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      This post is very sad and a good example of some of the negative aspects of the LDS church. Ironic that you are telling others they are not being Christian.

  98. Michael Johnson
    January 20, 2012 at 9:17 am

    McLays, you’ll find your feet soon.

    I have learnt since deprogramming from Mormon-think, that bad things do not happen to you because you are bad people. They just happen.

    John, have you visited the recruitment officers at the companies you would like to work for? If they see you and talk to you, it may help.

    Take care.

  99. January 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Such beautiful people. Thanks so much for this, to everyone involved!

  100. schism
    January 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I just finished the first three parts and I am completely terrified in hearing your account.  I am a non-believer, for the most part, and hearing the reactions to your resignations scares the hell out of me.  For me, I don’t know if the hostage situation I am in presently going through the motions of church activity is worse than the disruptive, negativity suffered in leaving formally/informally.  I am honestly quite rattled and feel a lot of despair for the situation.  I can’t imagine enduring what you have.   

  101. Guest
    January 28, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Do we need six hours of this?  I’m listening to this while I work.  One hour into it.  The first hour could have easily been summarized in five minutes.

  102. January 29, 2012 at 10:49 am

    What an amazing interview. 

    Two thoughts: 

    1) @johndehlin:disqus , you went on for a while about how leaders might be “distancing themselves” from certain core ideas such as polygamy or apotheiosis. I think we need to factor in another key ingredient, public relations. PR was Hinckley’s bread and butter, and his disavowals and minimizations felt to me like PR spin rather than a statement of what he or Mormons truly believe. The best source for what official Church position is would seem to be best found in the teaching curriculum written for insiders. 

    2) I do think that members could handle the fully truth, though presentation would be CRITICAL. I think a three-part approach would be effective: 

    1. In the standard curriculum theology and principles are emphasized, but the more complicated picture is hinted at.  For example, “In these chapters Nephi quotes Isaiah. Some scholars believe that this part of Isaiah was written during the Babylonian Exile. We are going to be focusing right now on how these chapters prepare us to live in difficult times..” Or, “There are several differing accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. In the account we are reading, what do we learn about the nature of God?”. 

    2. We teach a realistic framework that prepares everyone for the complexity. We teach that leaders and the Church are NOT perfect, as John McLay emphasized. We teach the relationship between agency and revelation, how God works with us in the human experience. We teach that the Church is still moving forward and progressing. 

    3. The Church can be responsive, not necessarily proactive, so that everyone gets exactly what they want and are ready for. The Church should use specialists to create material that can be given to those with the full range of questions. That way those who pick up on the hints in #1 will get what they want, while others who don’t care about the details can continue on their merry way. But because of #2, EVERYONE has the framework to handle any complexity that comes their way. Win win approach.

  103. Info
    January 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Dear John and Brooke-

    My heart goes out to you.

    I left the correlated church a few decades ago after serving in a bishopric and high council and much of what you have said and are going through resonates with me.

    I appreciate your personal integrity.

    I feel your pain.

    Having said that… let me just say that in my opinion you guys are just beginning your real journey of learning (hopefully).

    You guys have gone about 150 feet down a rabbit hole that is about 1,000 feet long.

    You seem to feel like you have discovered the “truth” about church history and the truth about “doctrine”.

    Now you are trying to figure out how to move beyond a religion that you consider to be technically false, even though there are some good teachings and cultural things associated with it.

     I would suggest that you have only learned just enough to be even more dangerous to yourselves than you were when you were blindly following the brethren.

    You seem to believe the “all or nothing scenario” that either the modern correlated church is true OR the foundational events of the LDS restoration movement are all false, including the doctrines and events related in sections 20, 42, 76 and 110.

    The reason your religious world view has crumbled around you is because you were converted to the “story of Joseph Smith” and you based your faith around “prophet worship” and “human priesthood authority”  and an “institution” INSTEAD of becoming converted to and basing your beliefs around JESUS CHRIST and the ATONEMENT and the New Testament “gospel of Jesus Christ” and the restored “gospel of Jesus Christ”.

    You are currently emulating “zeal without knowledge”.

    I challenge you to get back to basics.

    Forget about all of the people pointing fingers at you in the large and spacious building and search out the iron rod. Then hang on to it with all your might as it leads you to the love of God.

    Forget everything you have been spoon fed about history and doctrine by the church AND by those who have rejected the gospel and then simply get back into the WORD OF GOD.

    Quit letting other people do your research for you. Find out for yourselves through your own personal study what really did happen between 1829-1834 pertaining to the history and doctrine of the restoration movement.

    Accept the challenge provided in D&C 1:37-38  it can get you further down the rabbit hole to where you need to get.

    And if you ever really want to get into a deep discussion on doctrinal and history.. let me know.

    OneWhoIsWatching

    • Briancswan
      January 31, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      Stop blaming the person…and take responsibility for the History and teachings! It has NOTHING to do will Jesus and the atonement…stop deflecting!

  104. Anonymous
    February 1, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Been
    following all the podcasts for some time (am a financial supporter) but I amazed
    at why so many people get hung up on history and the perceived inconsistence in
    it.  The only thing that matters is whether
    the priesthood was restored or not.  And
    since it was, who cares about the fallibility of mankind and mankind’s
    application of the principles.  After all
    we are a work in progress and so is the church. 
    Certainly no reason to leave the church over it. (I view the history
    like the movie “Vantage Point”).  There
    are bound to be differences in opinions and perceived perspectives so I will
    wait, stay in the church, and talk to Bro. Joseph and get the real low down on
    what happened. So if at that point it is false, well the journey was
    fulfilling, and will let the Lord take if from that point. In the mean time, I
    too will be  “bored” at some to the talks
    in sacrament meeting, but realizing the “talks” are not why we attend that
    meeting, and I will “endure”.

    • Anonymous
      February 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      He He, I love your post – if only it were really that simple.

      You are right about the restoration of the Priesthood, problem is, men like them never restored anything – exept their bank balances! By all means, have a good chat to Bro Joseph, if you can catch him.

      I wish you well in your journey in the Church and your ‘enduring’ through it all – try not to nod off in Sacrament meeting though – sweet dreams.

      • grc1942
        February 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm

        Guess
        you were there, thanks for your enlightenment. And it is that simple!  Why make it complicated. Every learning, etc.

        • Anonymous
          February 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm

          I guess neither of us were there – but the many people that documented their daily lives in their journals certainly were! And yes, I hear you say, there are good and bad accounts of life in the early church. I think we have to weigh it all up and read between the lines and reach our our own conclusions about the historic truth of the LDS church. For me, it is not a favourable conclusion.

          Joseph Smith was not a nice man, neither was Brigham Young – end of story.

    • hollah
      February 4, 2012 at 8:51 am

       I don’t think it is as much an issue of fallibility as it is credibility.
      I can accept that people who have done great things in our history have made mistakes, even done things I don’t respect. I think about finding out the Benjamin Franklin actually visited a prostitute or two in his day rather shocking in comparison with the stories that I was brought up with about him, but I chalk that up to human fallibility and I can appreciate the many things he did do that benefit me today.  Thank God for public libraries!
      It is quite different to learn,among many things, that Joseph Smith more than likely made up the entire “Pearl of Great Price”.  If he could make that up and evidence does seem to point to that, then more than likely he could make up a couple of other things as well, namely the “Restoration”  and the “Only true church on the face of the earth” claim.
      It is different when a church that claims to be Gods pure source of light keeps you in the dark about sooooooo many things.  That doesn’t seem very credible.

  105. Be still
    February 2, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I just loved you guys!  I haven’t as yet heard anyone that I have related to as much as you all.  Thank you for your courage.  Can we start a church together?  That is a church I would love to go to 🙂
    I wanted to share something with you that helped me so much as I was trying to find my own voice in the midst of a million other voices around me.  My experience in the church was  that I had to listen to someone else more than myself.  That I could never really trust myself because I could be so easily deceived.  The book that helped me find my own voice was called ” Loving What Is” by Byron Katie.  It helped me get out of my head and into my heart.  It helped me see my own thoughts and opinions for the first time.  It helped me find myself, and that has been the greatest gift that has ever come my way.  It was such a relief!
    I wanted to share it with you because it along with Mormon Stories gave me sense of community as I was leaving the church.  I found out that that community was between me and God and nothing or no one else.
    Sending so much love your way.
    Jess

  106. Wascallywobert
    February 4, 2012 at 1:11 am

    While it is your prerogative to explain your own story I find that Mitt Romney is tagged on this article is despicable. Why do you seek to smear the Church and his campaign if, as you claimed in the first episode, you aren’t here to destroy faith? You have your right to tell your story, but be honorable in doing it. 

    • Major Bidamon
      February 4, 2012 at 6:52 am

      I don’t see the tag but my question to you is … How is “faith” tied to the Romney campaign? Your subconscious association of “the Church” with “the Mitt” speaks volumes.

  107. Wascallywobert
    February 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

    While it is your prerogative to explain your own story I find that Mitt Romney is tagged on this article is despicable. Why do you seek to smear the Church and his campaign if, as you claimed in the first episode, you aren’t here to destroy faith? You have your right to tell your story, but be honorable in doing it.

  108. Gerrit K
    February 4, 2012 at 11:23 am

    I stayed up until 3:30am listening to your story.  Soo compelling.  I wept multiple times and just want to say how inspiring your story is and how much admiration I have for you both.  I am 42 years old, married to a tbm wife and 4 kids.  I have put many things on the shelf over the years but the shelf broke from the weight when I stumbled onto the Dr. Coe talk just over a month ago.  Thank you for sharing your story with such openness and honesty.

  109. Jillmchristensen
    February 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    John and Brooke,  My husband and I have been in your shoes.   Only, we got excommunicated.  We had a three hour disciplinary counsel and discussed every inconsistancy in the church, blood temple oaths, blacks and priesthood, Joseph Smiths secret polygamy, polyandry, Adam God theory, men living on the moon, on and on and on.  In the end, we were told, ” Obey the brethren”  Even though not one member of the counsel could dispute the historical evidence.  We must shut up and obey the brethren.  My husband had served as a counselor to the very Stake Pres. who had to ex him.  Don’t worry.  Things get much better.  A great book is  ” Conversations With God” by Neil Donald Walsch   A great and magnificent book to help you in your transition.

    Our lives are free and full leaving Mormonism behind is the best thing we have ever done!

    • February 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      Jill,
      I’d love to know your story.  It would be  good to see  you on Mormon Stories someday.
      Best Wishes and God Bless,
      Jonah

  110. Charity
    February 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I appreciated the authentic and courageous way in which the McLays shared their experience, and want to wish them and their family well as they begin anew.  As a mother of a fairly large family, now grown, and friend/teacher of many young people throughout the years I just wanted to share my observation and opinion that in spite of its imperfections and room for improvement, the CES has done far more good than harm to young people.  New discoveries by some folks does not change what has been there all along, for good or ill.

  111. February 14, 2012 at 9:13 am

    An absolutely amazing, and inspirational story. So glad to be able to learn of John and Brooke. Thanks for your shining examples and your integrity! May your journey ahead be filled with love and happiness.

  112. rg
    February 17, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Wow! listening to this interview was refreshing because I realized I am not alone. I have struggled with my membership in the church for a few years now, but I really don’t have anyone that I can share my feelings with. I am amazed at the similarities I can identify with when listening to John’s story. As I continue to live a lie in order to please all the people in my life that are more important than anything else, I can’t help but wonder how long I can keep doing it. Interviews like this are very helpful to me.
    Thanks,

  113. Cindy Reid
    February 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Listening to your story gave me new strength in my journey as a post mornon.  Thank you for your honesty and integrity. 
    John – have you thought about being a high school teacher (you can start right away as a substitute teacher) or writing a book about your experience…you’d be great at both!

  114. Jake
    February 24, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Wow, what a pair of egos on those two. They spend so much time in the podcast going on about how important they were in the church, how well regarded they were, how special they thought they were. John even said he thought that leaving CES but staying a member would harm the church. I’m sorry, but the decisions of one seminary teacher in Colorado have no effect on the church as a whole. Oh, you were in the bishopric? Who cares?! All of this adoration you think you had is all in your own minds. Even if a few local people thought well of you, outside of your tiny sphere of influence no one even knows your name – just like everyone else in the world. Get over yourselves.

    Also, you keep going on about feeling like you were trapped in a box, but never seem to grasp that it was a box of your own making. You blame the church for it, but refuse to take responsibility for your own learning. I’m glad that you are now seeing a larger view of the world, but there are plenty of people in and out of the church that have even wider views than you. You don’t actually need to leave the church to leave the box, you just need to realize that the walls around you are your own creation, and choose to break them down.

    • Mitch
      February 29, 2012 at 11:37 am

      Couldn’t have said it better, Jake.  I’m not a mormon, but it’s easy to see that these two have issues that go much deeper than just religious dissatisfaction-it’s just easier to blame a church, I guess.  Hope they find what they’re looking for although, my gut feeling is they just miss the attention they were so fond of.   Guess this is a perfect remedy for that, huh?    

  115. February 27, 2012 at 9:19 am

    I was privileged to meet John and Brooke the other day and they were kind and wonderful. If you have a chance, I encourage you to take it.

  116. Guest
    February 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    I went to high school with Brooke and to listen to her now is like listening to a stranger.  This is not the same bubbly, sweet, fun, self-assured Brooke I used to know.  This Brooke is confused, easily persuaded, unsure, and misguided.  Her description of her life with John while still living within the LDS faith would sound terrible to anyone the way she has described it.  Being a mother myself, I can’t understand why she feels the need to stay out until midnight with her friends (gay or not) or have male friends.  Is her relationships with her children, family, and husband just not fulfilling enough?  I’m not suggesting that she give up friends, but I don’t know of many husbands, mormon or otherwise, who would be super thrilled about the prospect of a bunch of male friends hanging out with their wives, and vice versa.  Suddenly she leaves the church and has this sensational discovery that everyone is important.  What?  The church is HUGE on building the self-esteem, talents, and capabilities of it’s members.  She questions the very foundation of her beliefs and yet has no problem bearing her “testimony”.  Seriously?  If you want people to believe you’re sincere and even go so far as to say that-then what’s with the fake testimony? 
    All I see are two people who apparently weren’t even “important” enough to each other- so how could they ever feel important enough in the eyes of the members of  the church?  It’s easy to turn away from anything when you’re not invested in it.  So people weren’t singing your praises daily and you figured out that parenting means staying in with the kids instead of staying out all night, putting their needs above your own, making sure they know they’re loved and “important” and learning that not everything can be about you anymore.  So you got your feelings hurt by other members in the church-here’s the real truth: The church is perfect, the people are not.  Doesn’t matter what religion you belong to-people are and always will be imperfect.  Suck it up and come back to the church.  I have a feeling that you will.  The Brooke I knew would totally agree with this. 

    • Margie
      February 28, 2012 at 11:45 pm

      My carefree, cute, bubbly, fun high school self thinks your jeal!

    • Mrobins
      February 28, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      I agree with you. You posted one of the few comments that actually makes sense. Everybody else praises what they did, but I don’t either. They left the church, period. No excuse for that. Good post.

    • February 29, 2012 at 1:29 am

      I don’t know either Brooke or John, but I understand them. I don’t think highschool-friend-of-Brooke understands her, or has any desire to understand her. Once you realize that the church *isn’t* perfect as highschool-friend-of-Brooke states it is, everything changes. I have no doubt that Brooke was once self-assured, but as she will probably agree, she was self-assured in a falsehood. Being able and willing to admit that you believed a falsehood and then moving on is probably one of the toughest and bravest things anyone can do. 

    • February 29, 2012 at 8:52 am

      My experience corroborates that described by Brooke. No longer identifying as a Mormon, takes willingness to step into a scary, unknown world. This transition can be difficult but for those of integrity, sometimes becomes a natural expression of intent to be sincere. Sometimes a person changes. Sometimes this change is seen as negative by those who have not changed. Often people respond to change as though the person who changed should remain in an earlier state. So much for growth.

      Highschool-friend-of-Brooke may remain good friends with Brooke. Brooke is still a wonderful person and now has the added benefit of having experienced a profound change. Just because Brooke may have changed might mean she has grown or learned.  I am lucky to have family who acknowledge this type of change and continue to express love. To me, love speaks.

  117. Anonymous
    February 29, 2012 at 11:11 am

    John, Brooke – All the best to you.  Not sure what you job status is, but I was in a similar situation.  It will get better.  

    I asked my wife to consider leaving Mormonism – I was 37 years old at the time.  FOR ME, Mormonism was destructive.

    Bottom line:  Wive was unwilling to do so, and 2 years later she filed for divorce. Just 2 months prior to her divorce action I lost my aerospace job.  I was unemployed. 

    She had to divorce me as she believed that I had lost my job due to my heresy, the Lord was cursing me.  She also received encouragement from her active Mormon family.  That’s just what Mormons do.  

    BTW, Gordon B Hinckley provided a way for Mormons to know when church enemies (and heretics) are punished by the Lord.  See his spring 1994 conference address. The Mormon God will ensure that misery is injected into every element of life. 

    But, it’s a good thing that I didn’t believe this. 

    Things were bad!

    After a total of 18 months, I found a part time job teaching at the local college, and networking helped me to land more and better positions.  

    At the same time, I invested surplus income, and at 57 I retired and am  living off capital gains.

    I took risks, some bad, very bad, but the majority paid off.  

    The Mormon God still loves you , despite what GBH said, and he loves Mormons too.

    You WILL be successful in your future endeavors.

    • Anonymous
      February 29, 2012 at 11:16 am

      A beautiful and a hopeful email. Thanks so much, Eastbourne.

      John

      • Marc Conner
        October 26, 2012 at 11:53 am

        John & Brooke,

        As one who also recently left the church over similar issues, I feel your pain. I am a physician in Colorado Springs and would love to meet you. Let me know if that would work.

        All the best…

  118. reformer1
    March 5, 2012 at 4:03 am

    Just finished the McLay interview for the second time (it is such a profoundly
    important and extensive piece I think it needs to be gone over more than once,
    maybe many times).  Congratulations to all parties involved in this
    landmark production.
     
    As a convert, never having had exposure to CES, I didn’t realize there was such a
    dichotomy between them and the more progressive aspects of the Church (such as
    they are).  Church leaders would do well to look long and hard at the
    suggestions they made to address  the problems.

    1) Elitism; this “one true church” concept is offensive to our neighbor churches
    and must be erradicated.
    2)  Outward apperances are over emphasized.
    3)  The stigmas need to be actively addressed and done away with (we don’t
    all have to go on missions, or seminary etc.).
    4)  Need to trust our youth with the truth for God sakes!
    5)  Admit the church is not perfect, please.
    6)  And can we please promote critical thinking and allow for doubt
    and our own intellectual investigations!

    Thank you again McLays’ and John Dehlin.
    .

  119. reformer1
    March 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I’m sorry, the “spirit” simply constrains me to make another entry here.
    Am I missing something?  Because of its particular timing this John and
    Brook McLay interview ranks as one of the most important events in history. 
    That’s what I just said.  Read it again.  Why have the comments stopped coming,
    and why are they missing the significance of it?

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints simply can not afford to
    have have a person (John, along with his wife) this entrenched  in a vital,
    simply vital Church program (CES), this dedicated (at one time) to his calling,
    this intelligent and gifted and sincere and forthright, running around on a major
    social media outlet like Mormon Stories disillusioned with the Church, and for
    perfectly elucidated reasons.

    This interview, along with all the other hits the Church is taking (John Dehlin’s
    archives, Ex Mormon.org etc) will force the hand of this great and powerful
    organization.  They will be forced into major reforms, not a doubt in my mind.

    But here’s what is even more significant.  I believe the LDS Church probably
    is the church authorized to oversee the latter day gathering of the 12 Tribes.
    Hell, they’re practically the only church that even knows there are 12 Tribes of Israel
    commissioned to convert the great masses of gentiles before the second coming.
    So what John Dehlin has miraculously (yes it is a miracle but I don’t think he
    realizes it yet) managed to do is set up a mechanism powerful enough to
    infuse the structure of the restoration (the current LDS Church) with the
    proper spirit of the restoration.  I believe this has probably been missing
    since the very beginning when Joseph Smith went a bit koo koo with his
    power trip (somewhat understandable given the incredible responsibilities
    and insights he was privy to).  And I don’t think it necessarily transferred
    all that well through Brigham Young and polygamy.

    This is really wild folks.  John Dehlin has managed to capture the perfect spirit
    the Lord was looking for.  He will be an historic figure and Mormon Stories
    groups will blossom around the world with their incredible spirit of love.
    Then at those testimony meetings truely the angels of heaven will be rejoicing
    amongst us.

    I’m all in with Mormon Stories.  Thanks John.  

    • Anonymous
      March 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      I appreciate your enthusiasm, reformer. However, I don’t see any sign that major reforms are coming or even possible. I hope you’re right, though.  

      • reformer1
        March 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm

        Thanks very much for your comment Joseph P. 

         My advice is just keep following Mormon Stories.  It wouldn’t
        surprise me if very soon it is made  an unofficial Church website for
        those struggling with their testimonies.  After all John Dehlin 
        (and myself) has admittedly struggled with his testimony yet he
        desires to retain his ties to the LDS Church (as do I).

        By the way,  anyone out there in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Let’s
        have a Mormon Stories get together and testimony (whatever that
        may be) meeting.

      • reformer1
        March 7, 2012 at 11:03 am

        I would like to amend my first reply to you Joseph P.

        First of all let me say it’s a great morning to be a Mormon Stories fan,
        and have that great advocate of truth, openness, and freedom of
        expression in our corner.

        After thinking about my statement that the LDS Church would fully
        embrace Mormon Stories, I now think that was overly optimistic.  I think
        MS is a bit too critical of the Church (and rightly so) for this to occur.
        However some Bishops are already referring their members to MS for
        specific issues.

        I don’t think its unrealistic to hope that sometime in the near future some
        high ranking LDS officials might come calling on John Dehlin, or the
        McLays’, or some other guest from Mormon Stories and ask them to be
        consultants on some of the sticky issues of today facing their Church (like
        the “brain drain” (the exodus of intellectuals from the Church), or updating
        the CES curriculum).

        Maybe John can get one of these high ranking officials on Mormon
        Stories and hit him with those oh-so-subtle but penatrating questions that
        only he can ask, perhaps shedding some light on what’s really going on up
        there in the ivory tower.

        Again I praise you and anyone else who has put some time in on
        Mormon Stories.

        • Anonymous
          March 7, 2012 at 11:53 am

          Bishops are referring people to MS? More info, please. that’s encouraging.

  120. Mamartin96
    March 13, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    This is to Brooke:  I’m sorry anyone in the Church ever gave you the idea that you must be associating only with other LDS people.  I have been a devoted Latter-day Saint for 45 years and have been having my gay friends over to the house for dinner and going to dinner at their homes for 35 years.  We disagree about some things, but I disagree with every one I know about one thing or another.  And yes, I did have to insist that I really did not want to view one man’s nude vacation pictures.  I have Catholic friends who serve wine when I am there for Thanksgiving but they buy Martinelli’s for me.  Where in the world did you get the idea that you could not be associating with non-Mormons socially?  Who gave you the idea your world needed to be so narrow?  Of course you do not want to return to such a small box.  But whatever gave you the idea you had to live in it in the first place?  I was never taught such nonsense at Church.
    And John:  It was an institute teacher I had many years ago who taught our comparitive Christian religion class who made sure he taught us that he wanted us to understand what people believed so that we would know why they practiced the way they did.  He always told us that if we believed what the Catholics believed about unbaptized infants dying we could understand why nuns in Catholic hospitals were taught to baptize in the womb if it looked like the baby was going to die during birth.  And he made sure we knew that he did not want to criticize and compare but to teach us to understand.  What did the Church do with such a radical LDS teacher?  He was called to serve as a Seventy.
    Maybe things have become too rigid in CES.  I am a generation older than the two of you and have spent 40 years reading Church history.  Yes, there are some disturbing stories if you believe the Church leaders did not make mistakes.  I believe they did make mistakes.  I believe they are subject to human error just like the rest of us.  When I examine my own life in middle age I find that I made some terrible mistakes when I was younger and misunderstood the meaning of some of the doctrines or decided to emphasize justice over mercy.  But I have also seen equally terrible mistakes when in middle age I decided to emphasize mercy over justice, leaving people believing that their horrific sins did no damage in my life and they should just walk away pretending all is well.  I believe we are all here on a learning adventure and that we agreed to suffer at each others hands, knowing that God was not going to intervene very often to stop the pain.  What could be more important than the sealing ordinances.  But God let Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor all teach and practice the idea that Church members should be sealed to prophets instead of their own fathers and mothers and only corrected the error when Wilford Woodruff was pondering it.  We teach the doctrine that God has many great and important things yet to teach us, but we refuse to consider the implications of that  — that things we are being taught today could be wrong or incomplete and that is why they will be changed in the future.

    • Anonymous
      March 14, 2012 at 8:09 am

      Hi – you seem to be an unusual member of the Church! It’s interesting to note that you stand by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, despite their koo koo episodes as you put it. I grew up in an LDS household with the Journals of Discourse and many other church history books on the shelf, and my father was an avid reader of true church history. He knew it all, and accepted it, and testified that Joseph Smith was a true prophet to his dying day.

      For me, I never took the church seriously enough – I think that’s why I later left. It was only after my Dad passed away that I decided to have a last, once and for all look at what he so firmly believed in. What I found astounded me, I knew about the teachings of Brigham Young, but had never really delved into it all in great detail – I already thought that I knew alot! When I questioned my mother about the Book of Abraham, she didn’t even know that the papyri had been found in 1966 – I often wonder if my Dad knew that.

      I like many others have come to the conclusion that any God would never in a million years work with such people as Joseph Smith or Brigham Young – they were not nice people deep down! Now I can see why I could never accept the church to the degree that is needed to live it’s teachings to the full, it’s just not true, and is a product of frontier America in the 1800’s – Christianity on steroids!!

      • reformer1
        March 15, 2012 at 8:01 am

        This is reformer1.  I think you were referring to me since you referenced
        my “koo koo” comment.  The Lord uses all kinds of people.  The great
        Apostle Paul was not so nice before his conversion.

        By-the-way, I differentiate between Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
        I think Mormons make a big mistake lumping those two together.  I think
        the Church is still recovering from Br. Brigham’s reign.

        I think I understand your lack of confidence in this LDS Church.  They’ve
        made lots of mistakes.  But if you look carefully at the other churches
        around, well it’s not a pretty picture.  Amazingly, the Mormons are the ones
        teaching more of what the Bible actually says.

        Look, if you’ve found a better, more insightful group please tell me about
        it.  I’m not at all beholden to the Mormons.  But don’t bother telling me
        about one of those typical neighborhood Protestant churches that teach
        pure jibberish and call it Christianity.

        Anyway I’d be curious about the path you’ve found.  All the best. 

        • Anonymous
          March 15, 2012 at 10:54 am

          Thanks Reformer1, I found your comments interesting – I gather you aren’t a big fan of Bro Brigham! My issues with the origins of Mormonism go very deep, right back to Sidney Rigdon really – if you undertake a study of his life, he played a major role in making the church what it is today, and was, in the 1830’s. For me, the LDS church’s deafening silence on anything to do with Sydney Rigdon is very significant – I think he is the founding father of the movement.Where does this leave me you ask, probably one of the 40% of exe’s that don’t believe in anything anymore. So many ex mormons give up totally on the religion thing, after being let down so badly by broken promises.The church is such a great social organisation, with wonderful people that I feel very comfortable being around. I wish it would reform, and tell the whole truth – then I might return. I wish you well in your chosen paths.

      • Anonymous
        March 15, 2012 at 10:49 am

        Please see reply below, reformer1

    • GiveCreditWhereDue
      July 16, 2012 at 2:14 am

      Thankyou MaMartin. I was thinking the very same things as I listened. I never heard of the rule we couldn’t associate with gays, or anyone for that matter. I think maybe some families/wards/stakes are more letter of the law types than others. Choosing friends carefully is a natural law I think. If someones character radiates goodness, it doesn’t matter who they are.

      And I agree again. Who said the doctrine of continuing revelation only included adding upon? What an inconvenient mistake to make. Revelation clearly also corrects errors of the past. If not, what is the restoration. Church leaders of all sects, which include good, good persons have made mistakes, such that it led to apostasy.

      Even as a young person growing up in the church, I somehow concluded that some things I was hearing were questionable. I lived my life as close to the church as anyone could in spite of those questions. Little by little later life I began discovering I was right in reserving my faith. And I was no-one special but perhaps blessed to have heard those whisperings. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t taken very long for me to come to terms with the church history mess. I had allowed for it all along it seems.

      It really does come down to having a forgiving heart and following what is good and right and just standing without the aid of the church scaffolding. I canot find anywhere else in the world where I can worship my God any better than in the LDS church. It will simply be a bonus if I come to find later in life that the church history mess wasn’t such a mess after all, just different vantage points.

  121. reformer1
    March 16, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Thanks for all your comments westernchampion.  Very interesting and revealing.  I’m
    glad you found this remarkable web site.  I think it says a whole lot about anyone who
    appreciates the work John Dehlin is doing here.  I think he and Mormon Stories (and
    the other ex-Mormon sites) are going to shake this organization to the core.

    It is time for those 12 or 15 or however many there are up in that ivory tower to pray
    real hard for a revelation from God that is actually relevant to the crises of credibility
    they are facing.  Stop this nonsense of pretending all is well in Zion.  You’re all in
    serious denial if you think so.  It’s time for real talk, like what’s going on on Mormon
    Stories.  And for God’s sake, stop persecuting the intellectuals and scholars who are
    uncovering these truths.  Repent of it!  What are you people thinking up there?? 
    Overturn any excommunications based on intellectual disagreements alone.  Can we
    have open and honest discourse please!

    They’re going to have to act soon.  Otherwise a whole generation, like you, will
    reject these fakers.   But I still think they’ll see the light and come up with some
    dramatic action this year to regain our trust.  It had better be sooner rather than later.
     

    • reformer1
      March 16, 2012 at 10:31 am

      One other thing I want to say.  God and Jesus are real and communicate
      with us through the Holy Spirit, irrespective of the LDS Church.  They will
      always respond to sincere prayer and a pure and charitable heart.  There are
      other decent churches out there where that magical Holy Spirit is strong.
      One must remember, the children need Christian peers for healthy growth.
      And adults also need frequent reminders of the wisdom that is in the Bible.

      • classof91
        April 20, 2012 at 6:53 pm

        I think you are right…God and Jesus do communicate with people of all faiths through the Holy Spirit. It seems kind of ridiculous to think they would only answer the prayers of LDS people!

  122. tjluck
    March 31, 2012 at 4:36 am

    Thank you for this blog.  I have been feeling this way for years and I am trying to find a way out without destroying my family and losing friends.

    • classof 91
      April 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      Hang in there…there are many who are going through the same thing and will love and be understanding of you if you do make that choice!

  123. Daddask8
    April 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    One of the saddest things I”ve seen or heard. To watch a wonderful family who I credit with helping my son thru a tough time in his life turn their back on what I can say at one point I know they believed…they are a wonderful family and while we wish them the best I have to ask why if the job was so mundane didn’t he quit, go back to school and get a different job? Why didn’t he continue to take classes? The LDS Church doesn’t force CES workers to stay in their position for life….things happen, people change…it’s sad for them and for all those who attended his great classes but a nice wake up call to all of us to examine our testimonies to see if we are just going thru the motions and only believe because of certain people or if we truly have a testimony of our own. None of these reasons for leaving the church are new or have been hidden…perhaps growing up LDS in the “missions field” exposes us to more and perhaps families need to take more action to address questions when children are younger but all in all there is nothing new in any of this. A dear family has made the choice at least for now to try something else…and they will find in the long run their lives will be no more fulfilling than before. Oh maybe for a time things will seem free and light but the true joy will evade them till the underlying issues are resolved. Still we admire what we remember of them as we have moved away and pray for their happiness…

  124. reformer1
    April 12, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment Daddask.  I think you’re missing the big picture
    however.  This is not a sad situatuion at all for the McClays.  They are awsome, inspiring,
    courageous.  Pioneers.  They have had the guts to throw caution to the wind and follow
    their hearts as well as the truth.  Amazing blessings will come out of their great adventure.
    Oh it won’t be easy.  Trailblazing seldom is.  Perhaps you’re just a little too comfortable
    going with the flow, letting others do the thinking for you.

    Look, I’m still a semi- active Mormon, a convert of 20 years.  There are some wonderful
    things about the Church.  But a reasonably open minded person cannot deny Church
    leaders have engaged in a pattern of deception, intimidation, censorship, and general
    whitewashing of the historical roots of the Church.  And then they have absolulely
    brainwashed and browbeaten their youth into accepting this indoctrination without
    daring to question it. This is abuse my friend, and Church leaders must be held
    accountable for it.  They’ve excommunicated people for publicly expressing valid
    doubts about accepted Church doctrine.  These people need to be reinstated
    immediately.

    And if  Church leaders would take some of their own advise about reaching out to “fallen
    away” members and “apostates” it might help.  Why don’t they actually address some
    of the issues that concern the thousands in this state of faith, instead of hiding behind their
    crumbling false pius facade.  And address them at General Conference.  What, they’re
    too important to get down and dirty and be real with us for once.  And can they quit
    putting all the blame for their “fallen” state on these souls alone.  That is plain denial.  
    How about admitting  Church shortcomings like “stonewalling” and not being forthcoming
    about inaccuracies on important issues may have contributed to their loss of faith in your
    so called inspired leadership.

    The Church desperately needs to adopt a policy of allowing complete open
    discussion on all the issues at hand.  They need only to look to John Dehlin’s
    Mormon Stories and Open Stories Foundation as an example of such a policy in
    action.  It is incredibly powerful and transformative.

    P.S.  The San Jose, CA area, and SF Bay Area need to represent in this great reform
    movement.  I know we have the population and energy and vision to do it.

  125. classof91
    April 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I graduated from high school with John McLay. He was then and is now one of the kindest, most sincere and best people I have ever known. I will continue to feel this way whether he is a church member or not. I have watched this interview twice and I am astonished at the difficulty of the journey he has been on. Church members may not want to admit this, but most of us have been conditioned to be very judgemental of those who leave or have a crisis of faith. Many of us would not have the courage to give up the only career, life, and religion we have ever known to do something we feel to be right, and I admire and respect the strength and integrity of John and his wife. To those of you in the church (of which I am also a member) who would criticize John: Please be kind. Please be understanding. Please show the love of Christ that you have been taught to live in this church. Please open your minds and hearts to the struggles of others. I realize this can be hard to do when you have been taught to believe there is only one true way. But we should wrap our arms around and continue to love John and those like him who make the choice to leave, just as we did when he was a member. John, I think you are incredible person and know you will find your place in the world and continue to shine a bright light on those around you. Much love, An Old Friend

    • johndehlin
      April 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Beautiful. Thanks, classof91.

      • classof 91
        April 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm

        You’re welcome! This website is wonderful…thanks so much for what you are doing. It is much needed!

      • Mardi
        September 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm

        Classof91,
        Your loving comments brought me to tears. Love, kindness, and compassion is the only reaction I could possibly imagine for this lovely couple experiencing such pain and heartache. You are a true example of an “old friend.”

  126. Chase
    May 6, 2012 at 2:05 am

    I went to EFY with Bro. McClay as my Session Director three times. He was a spiritual GIANT. This guy touched everyone of us. I left that week on a spiritual high and this guy helped me build my testimony three summers in a row. This is the last person I would think that would leave the church. The fact that he is now an ex-Mormon completely blows my mind. I almost don’t believe. Seriously , mind is blown.  

    • May 7, 2012 at 9:07 am

      I love John and Brooke. Although I never met them in connection with EFY, they have made a significant choice motivated by their intent to maintain personal integrity. Best wishes, Chase.

      Having someone we look up to seem different than our mental image can be difficult, but the individual we knew who was deeply committed to honesty and truth remains so. Although they have scrupulously avoided details which might lead to conclusions they have drawn, this information is easily found.

    • Jon
      October 25, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      I also went to an EFY with the McLays in 2005. It was a pivotal moment for me. I then read the whole Book of Mormon and received an answer that it is true. That was the beginning for me really, once I knew that it is true. My testimony has only grown since then. I just got home from my mission and it was sad to see Brooke online, that she is divorced and to connect all the dots. They are both great human beings. I pray for them as they go their separate ways. This reminds me of Lehi’s dream.

  127. LDS JD (Cliche')
    May 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I am about half way through video number 2 right now. Brooke has just shared her experience about having “to think about it” when her foodie colleague revealed to her that he was gay.

    The McLays’ story, to me, appears to be what happens when cultural Mormons realize that “cultural Mormonism” is not true. In many ways, I do not blame them for feeling let down by this realization. The Church, too often, tends to preach “cultural Mormonism” to the detriment of true, doctrinal Mormonism. One recent example that comes to mind is the “Testimony Glove”–where we remember what we’re supposed to say in our testimony because there are five components to it like the fingers on a glove. *rolls eyes*

    Ironically, I found this site because I was online to look in to how to become a Seminary teacher. But I might have too many issues with the way that CES does things to ever be able to fit their mold of what a Seminary teacher should be. For example, my testimony of Joseph Smith was strengthened tremendously when I read “Rough Stone Rolling.” When I told this to my neighbor, who is a full-time Seminary teacher, he said that RSR is apostate literature. Interesting that it is controversial within CES. It looks like I need to postpone my application for Seminary teacher until after the Church is more open about the times that Joseph did not follow the Spirit (e.g., the Kinderhook plates).

  128. May 21, 2012 at 5:54 am

    It makes me so sad how ignorant Brooke sounds. She makes it sound like Mormon’s hate Gay people, or people who drink. She even made the comment that she suddenly felt like she had a spiritual connection with her Gay friend, but she wasn’t supposed to because he was Gay.

    I was inactive for 8 years of my life and decided to come back. I believe in evolution, I support Gay marriage, and I genuinely love people just as they are (which is another comment she made that she work up and just loved everyone). So it makes me sad that she was so ignorant while she was Mormon that she couldn’t see the beauty of people around her. That she lived in her confined 4 wall box as she put it. What a sad life.

    I love the great things about being Mormon along with all my beliefs and love for all of God’s children. Yes, people are born Gay and God loves them just as much as he loves me even if they aren’t Mormon. Sad that she made it sound like we are all like her….

    • Craig
      May 21, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      Jill, I’m not sure if this was your intent, but your post sounds like a clear case of “blame the victim.” I’m glad that you haven’t felt the pressure to conform in the ways that Brooke did, but it almost sounds like you’re denying that pressure exists, denying that the church has teachings that can make gays and liberals and intellectuals and cafeteria Mormons feel marginalized.

      So, yes, it is sad that she felt like she had to think that way. But don’t blame that on her. Blame that on the institution that taught her to think that way. I wish more Mormons were like you in their outlook towards those who are different. If you’ve never experienced any pushback from the church for thinking the way you do, I hope you never do have to experience it. But if that is the case, you are in the lucky minority among liberal Mormons, even now.

      • May 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm

        Craig, I can definitely understand why someone would feel that it is the institution that made Brooke feel the way she does. I believe, like most important things we learn in our lives, those lessons are taught in the home and not necessarily in the institution. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the church that act the way they expect the church to have them act. It isn’t the way the church intended for the lesson to come across.

        We believe the commandments just as much as any other Christian religion, and the 2nd great commandment is that we love one another, so I guess that is why it was hard for me to listen to Brooke say that she was judgmental because that’s a fundamental lesson that should have been taught in the home and not in the church. I can’t remember once where the church said to judge others, in fact they teach the exact opposite. So for Brooke to blame the way she felt on the church is wrong.

        I know I am in the minority when it comes to my actions and beliefs, but I know that this is how my Savior would have me act, and I am a part of his church. The church in itself is the most perfect on the earth, but the people who run it are imperfect people.

        You need to act how you feel our Savior would act, and Brooke wasn’t doing that and she blamed her actions on the church which I think is wrong. That is the point I was trying to get across. Not that Brooke is bad or anything, just that she shouldn’t blame her ignorance on the church because she isn’t the church, she’s Brooke. Own your stuff.

  129. Nicole
    June 7, 2012 at 9:37 am

    You both have spoken my heart! Thank you for the courage to share your story, it helps gives me strength to have my own courage.

  130. Ezra
    August 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Does anyone find it weird that he frames his transition/rebelliousness in terms of things like listening to NPR????

  131. Anom
    September 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I would have asked the Apostle directly about my doctrinal concerns. I wish that these two would have been more direct w/ him. Not many of us with the same story have that opportunity… Otherwise, thanks for sharing and good luck 🙂

  132. Jessica
    October 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I just want to say, in the end, and I think this is what the McLay’s were saying, is that Jesus Christ is all that matters and what did He teach, that He is the way back to God, and what is He, pure love. Love and compassion for others is what matters. Love for our families, love for neighbors and love for those that in our eyes are fallen. He loved the adulterous woman that came to him in pain seeking relief. I know through my own experiences with pain, that to feel His love and peace is what helps us change and become more like Him, more than anything else. Charity (the pure love of Christ) is what matters.
    We don’t or shouldn’t worship our churches or our prophets or leaders or this doctrine or that doctrine or our own ideas. If something is leading us away from being full of God’s love for ourself and others, it’s not what I feel God wants for us. He wants us to be like Him and He is full of pure, everlasting love and goodness. Hate, bitterness, pride and anger all destroy the Love of God in our hearts.
    So, I believe as long as we are seeking to be full of that love, we are headed in the right direction, even if it looks as though we’re taking different paths. I totally believe the McLay’s are just desiring to live closer to God not further away, and I completely commend them. It does take courage to do what they’re doing.
    As for me, their story has only increased my testimony in the love of God and made me realize that that is what my core is and that is what fills me with meaning and purpose in this, sometimes, very painful life.

  133. Michael R
    October 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    i really enjoyed this podcast of John and Brooke McLay’s story.

    I was bowled over by John’s genuine goodness and I really understand why he couldn’t stay with the church. He felt betrayed.

    When I think about the reality of how polyandry and polygamy was practiced I just wondered what happened ! it really is a huge disconnect with having 33 wives and marrying women who are already married and then bringing forth the D&C, Peart of Great Price, and the Book of Mormon. To me it just boggles the mind !

    The church almost was decimated by the practice of polygamy and it took a leader to finally get it that it was going to kill the church unless the practice was stopped. There was no appearance of Deity to say “Stop the practice !” but one man’s coming to terms that polygamy was hurting the church and it was going to end the church is what ending the practice and preserved the church.

    John McLay if you are reading this – wow, you have guts. You said a lot that made a lot of sense of why you made the decision to leave. I have had my own faith crisis unrelated to church history.

    I hope things work out for you and Brooke. I hope you guys find suitable employment. I understand the hurt and the pain and why coming back isn’t do-able.

    Sincerely,

    Michael R.

  134. Michael R
    October 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    2nd last paragraph should read: “is what ended the practice and preserved the church.”

  135. Samuel
    October 27, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Such as shame to see the majority of the Mormon faithful come here and post about how the church is true and not address the concerns Brother McLay went through. It felt watching the interview for the second time now that his wife is on some shaky ground. I totally felt Johns sincerity shine through (though to be fair he did say something about his ability to connect) however she really stuck me as a bit of a nut job. And I’m failing to conjure another more appropriate word but what I mean by it is I didn’t feel she was grounded emotionally and mentally the same way he was. I felt like she was much less mature than him, that he’s been pushed to do things for the sake of his marriage, and that he is more interested in satisfying her than really pushing for the give and take she insinuated was unknown to her because of his Mormon influenced patriarchal responsibilities.
    Moving past that I myself am an ailing Mormon searching for my own balm in Gilead. I struggle with reconciling the history I’ve been taught with the much more complicated picture. His description of watching the movie of Joseph Smith and feeling Emma’s pain was very touching. I really struggled not only with history but also with deeper theological issues that pervade in Mormonism and Christianity as a whole. Some I’ve had amazing spiritual experiences that were much more than simple feelings, but nothing so concrete that I can adequately shelf all the rest of these haunting details. I really do identify with a quote I heard around Mormon Stories that perhaps the internet will be for Mormonism what the printing press was for the reformation. Certainly transparency in the church is nowhere near the level of my expectations. I want to see the minutes from the council of fifty. I want to understand how the church went from having crazy experiences to having prophets that don’t make prophesies, seers that are not seeing, and revelators that are not revealing. Let’s have the people God used to endow with power and authority to answer the questions that are seemingly falling on deaf ears these days. I listened to an apostle answer a question one time from a child who asked why people are born in different countries quote Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality to the effect that the clouds of glory we come to the earth trailing was a result of our righteousness in the pre-existence. Unexplained, that answer is unacceptable to me. That doctrine does not taste good, and I cannot hear it.
    Apologies for those who didn’t know they would read this comment and end up with a sad little man groping for a pedestal from which to pour out my heart. This is really troubling.

  136. Seeker
    October 30, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I just was introduced to the Mormon Stories site and the Mclays this past weekend. I am totally in awe of John’s and Brooke’s bravery. I would not be able to compromise either. There is truly a tightrope that members are asked to walk. The shunning and accusations can be brutal. And if a questioning member’s life has been very sheltered or very compliant……… questioning can get you called in to set you straight. Bless all the seekers. Bles both john and Brooke.

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