164-167: Richard Packham and How the LDS Church Creates Unnecessary Enemies

(Note: Segment 3 of this interview has been removed from the podcast feed — out of respect for the family members involved, and due to legal and other concerns).

In this 4-part series, we interview Richard Packham — co-founder of the Ex-Mormon foundation. Throughout the interview and via Richard’s own personal story, we explore 3 ways in which the LDS Church creates unnecessary enemies:

  1. Episode 1: By not being honest about its own history (e.g. teaching accurate history)
  2. Episode 2: By breaking up families (when one no longer believes)
  3. Episode 3: By harming the loved ones of those who have left the church
  4. Episode 4: To conclude, Richard discusses the benefits of religious belief and the LDS church, the mission of the ExMormon foundation, and bears a final testimony regarding the joy/happiness he has experienced since leaving the church.

NOTE: The purpose of this interview is NOT to encourage people to stay or leave the LDS church. It is simply to:

  1. Seek to understand and to validate the path of those who have felt compelled to leave the church, and
  2. Explore ways in which the church can seek to no longer create unnecessary enemies.

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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Part 4

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  1. John (or anyone else), if you could track down that Arrington (?) piece that you mentioned in the opening minutes of the podcast, I’d be appreciative.

  2. Get a life seriously please. What a joke. So you dont believe in the church that is your horrible choice. But instead you go around and try to corrupt other people. Hillarious what a joke this is

  3. @Matt Fox, did you listen to the podcast? The intent is to understand why someone like Packham would leave the church so that we can understand their feelings, actions, and motives. Many listeners of Mormon Stories are active LDS.

  4. John,

    Man. My thoughts and heart are all over the place after listening to this podcast. Fantastic job. Richards exit, his sisters story…WOW…good work John, and thanks to Richard.

  5. Haven’t listened yet, but Richard is my uncle. Great guy. Looking forward to hearing Richard’s story.

    Thanks John (and Uncle Richard!)

  6. Awesome! Great job John! Richard is a good honest man like all of those who leave he merely tried to mix some reality and truth into the Mormon mythological salad. For the guy above who says its all stupid and lies grow a brain to go with that warm fuzzy feeling buddy. Someday you might experience a desire to know truth vs. the silly stories dished out on Sunday, when that day comes you will appreciate the work John does and Richard. Grow the courage to know truth.


  7. Marshall Bond

    John – what an excellent way to frame this interview. This will be constructive for mormons and exmormons of all strains of belief.

  8. Packham lays his finger on what I see as the church’s greatest weakness: it actively conditions people to make their morality dependent on a false equation between mythology and history. In metaphorical terms, it creates a cliff and then pushes people off. Some people are resilient and contrive to take good from the church without being taken by its false equation; others are not. For the latter, the church poses a grave moral danger: it conditions them to build their morality on a lie, exposing them to the danger of losing their minds (not to mention their souls) if/when they discover the lie.

    Joseph Smith warned that the truth will cut its own way, and I think he was right. The church must face the truth some day and own up to it; the longer that day of reckoning is put off, the worse for the church (from my perspective). I wish we could just get it out there, “exorcise our demons”, and get on with building useful, ethical lives. Essentially, the church has to decide whether the power it takes from the lie is worth the price in human pain and suffering that the lie creates. If it is, then by its own standard (see the writings of Hugh Nibley, not to mention the Standard Works) the church is Satan’s corporation. I really, really hope that it isn’t, but I am enough of a cynic to think that it probably is. I am really afraid that the church cares more about “going on as we are” than any real ethical progress in the lives of individual members. The latter can improve on their own if they want, and the church will take the credit, but if their improvement requires an adjustment in the “doctrine,” they had better not hope to hear about it in church. This makes me sad.

  9. “Essentially, the church has to decide whether the power it takes from the lie is worth the price in human pain and suffering that the lie creates.”

    That decision had already been taken years before Mormonism had its second Prophet.

  10. Great interview! John, you really pressure people to defend their answers to the tough questions. I sometimes feel glad I’m not the one being interviewed! But I get the impression that you do it for the benefit of listeners who have similar struggles. And, to his credit, Richard faced all of your questions head-on. Thanks to both of you.

  11. Joseph makes the point. We must swear and affirm truths we have learned are not truths to remain. What decent human does that? The moral question or problem of course is whether you should lie to yourself, your family, or go along with a lie and set that example for others to follow. There is a fuzziness I really do not think those in Happy Valley or who buzz around BYU see like most of humanity for some reason. It seems its the place where righteous minds alter what most value systems hold as precious. Pyramid scheme heaven on earth is Happy Valley and its the result of this same mind set where relationships and feelings, righteousness and self-assured blindness are allowed to crowd out standing for truth and being honest. If we aspire to become like those in our history that were great, then we should follow their example, and I’m certain most of the great men and women of this world would not go along to get along in a lie regardless of how hard it is to say BS and walk away. I think they would recognize their responsibility. Who knows maybe they would just continue and quietly be part of a lie because it was better from a social and psychological perspective, but I really doubt it and that is why I chose to stand for something and walked away. This whole approach of “well that is your life path crap” is really to much outside of Utah county, sorry it just really is not compatible with honor. As a parent do you not have a responsibility to teach your child truth and keep them safe. As a responsible member of society do you not have more responsibility to others. How do these things get so fuzzy around Orem and Provo?

  12. Richard Packham was just a name on a website. Thank you Richard for telling your engaging and fascinating story.

  13. Eric Comstock

    thanks for the interview. Did Richard say in the interview that he has never resigned from the church? I thought I heard that but was not sure.

  14. Terry Anderson

    hi John. I appreciate the great work you are doing with these interviews. i think most informed LDS are aware of all the reasons Richard gave for leaving the Church; yet we don’t. Maybe it’s because we are better informed today than he was back in the late 50’s, let’s call it inoculated. I have a different paradigm to Richard. He says that if a prophet sets something up under inspiration, then if it “fails”, it is a sign that it was “man made”. This leaves out the major determinant in life, “agency”. My understanding is that God leaves us to cook our own stews. Prophets may use hyperbole to get us motivated, but in the end, God is bound not to interfere. I believe there are adequate explanations (supporting the divine mission of the Church) for all the points Richard raises, but if you expect prophets to be perfect, let alone the people around them, then you will never find a satisfactory church. My reading of both the Old and New Testaments is that they contain a liteny of failures, yet life went on. I think Richard lacks the ability or perhaps the desire, to contextualise history. The John Taylor incident is easy to explain. There is good polygamy and there is bad polygamy. He would have been answering critics of the latter and possibly given their disposition, regarded it as a waste of time explaining the former. Adam-God! It’s all about how you define god or God and how you superimpose time (Adam was a god in embryo etc.). Richard needs to study more of Brigham’s statements on the matter and put it in context.

    Having said this, I can relate to Richard. There are areas of Church history (and it’s not even hidden) that puzzle me and I use strategies to get around it. You have to work within the appropriate paradigm.

  15. I have very mixed feelings about this podcast. It’s interesting how difficult it is to recognize your old TBM thought patterns and try to keep them in check especially because these typical conditioned reactions have been hurtful to me as I have gone through my own crisis of faith but they still pop into my head nonetheless. I promise I am trying to understand.

    I totally understand how most TBM’s would respond to this podcast. They would say Richard did not really love his wife as much as he loved the idea of freedom to party with his friends. This was selfish on his part.

    Loose sex and alcohol binging are not wise actions. They are exciting but they are risky and not fulfilling in the long run. No therapist or wise sage is ever going to tell someone that they are going to find true abiding happiness from these indulgent activities. I’m sure the sexual revolution was awesome but a tremendous amount of suffering came out of that movement (for instance fatherless children with baggage and mushy drug brains).

    I think Richard came across as very insensitive by expecting his spouse to just excitedly jump on board with every spontaneous idea he had. Didn’t he care at all about her feedback? He felt no hesitation about ripping the foundation of her life right out from underneath her with no prior notice? He admitted this was not the wisest way to do it in retrospect but I still didn’t get the idea that he really liked her that much. His behavior was very disrespectful. She may have seemed like a drag but sometimes people like that help keep their spouses feet on the ground. What was Richard providing as an alternative to removing this element of order from her life? Can anybody blame her for being nervous about her future?

    I am currently in a difficult situation with my own spouse as well and to me it seems that the love of your life should be worth some major compromises. How do you know it was really the right answer to be so unbudging about remaining a member of the church? Why did he not rather try to find a place as an honest doubter within the church rather than risk the stability of his marriage? That really sounds like pride to me (I know I’ll get flak for this).

    I always accuse the church of obsessing about being right over trying to provide real happiness and honestly it seems like Richard was guilty of the same thing. He cared more about the fact that he knew he was right rather than the concerns of his wife who obviously wanted to maintain stability. I’m glad he eventually found what he wanted but I struggle to sympathize entirely with his situation.

  16. Thanks John, another great interview!

    The (story about Richard’s sister) really got me thinking. My own Grand Father commited suicide, so this really stirred up some feelings. At the end I had to ask myself, are we as LDS too hard on ourselves, each other, non members? Is our desire to become better, a measuring stick of judgement, on ourselves, and those around us?

    I remember years ago hearing a Dr in the mental health profession saying something to the effect of “Mormons and mormon communities have a high rate of mental illeness”, I could be wrong (John you might want to correct that one), but I’m pretty sure he said something to that effect. What I’m asking is does our culture as LDS create mental health issues?

    Anyway great interview John, always good food for thought.

  17. Chris, I think it was evident that Richard admitted that he had made serious mistakes after he lost his faith in terms of dealing with his former wife. I don’t think he was trying to say that he did everything perfectly. Also, in terms of the sexual revolution, almost every college-age guy who leaves home and goes off to school experiences his own little sexual revolution within a college or similar setting. Again, probably a rite of passage that goes with that age, but who cares as long as one acts responsibly? I think the main point I took from this podcast was that there’s a valid path of happiness for those outside of Mormonism and that perhaps the church membership could be a little more accomodating and understanding to those who can’t make Mormonism work for them. If there’s one thing to change about the church, it’s how they will steamroll over anyone at anytime to protect itself, leaving broken people in its wake. It need not be that way.

  18. Paul Belfiglio

    I will repeat what I wrote to Mr. Packham a while back, which was essentially: “You will have your day in the sun and then eventually fade away into oblivion, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will continue to grow and flourish.”

    Changes in the official Church will occur just as they already have. Things change because the memes of ensuing generations are not static, but evolve and change (for the better or the worse). To be sure, though, the LDS church is now monolithic and will continue on just as the Catholic church and Muslim religion has and will in spite of the “lies” and even debaucheries that have occurred within those belief systems even by their own sacrosanct leaders.

    Religion is, has been, and always will be as necessary as water and food for many, many people, and the “water” and “food” currently offered by the LDS church is both quite potable and delicious to many without the need to change wells or recipes to any great degree. And I am of the opinion that the current leadership is quite aware of this fact and smug in their current mind-set because of this reassurance. Although I am sure that they are also dismayed about the “problems” and constantly looking for ways to smooth out the wrinkles and rectify wrong-doings as best and as prudently as possible.

    Also, I feel that for many LDSs, what is wrong and has been so in the church is regarded as a “family matter.” Hence, to many, whatever skeletons there may be in the various LDS church’s closets must not be disclosed or revealed, but rather kept “secret” because that is what any loyal family member would do to protect the good name of the family (and family member) — just as my old martial arts sensei advocated quite adamantly, “Loyalty above all!” And those who didn’t agree with that tenet or couldn’t abide by it were disenfranchised in various ways by the core group. Same thing with the church. Both those who identify with it as ardent members and the leaders who govern it see the church as a good thing — as their “family,” and perhaps even the most important thing in their lives regardless of its flaws and the mistakes it has made. In other words, wouldn’t YOU lie, if need be, to protect the reputation, etc of one of your family members, especially that of a spouse? In fact, if a spouse discovers something unsavory about the other spouse’s life before the marriage, but the current marriage is a good one why make an issue; what’s past is past and gone. Move on. “Loyalty above all!”

    To be sure, it’s Mr. Packham’s prerogative to leave the church, but to continue to disparage it or expose its flaws is like what some ex-spouses do in regards to their former marriage partners, which is simply wrong to do. It didn’t work out for him; it wasn’t his “cup of tea (or Postum!)” so move on. You don’t create a web site promulgating facts and so-called “warnings” about a former spouse, so don’t do it about your former church. The church (like many former spouses) is not “evil” as some people like to insinuate. It’s just another religion either man-made or instituted by God (you decide), run by weak and flawed human beings necessitating thick skins, a lot of the time, and an understanding and forgiving heart for certain other instances. Suffice to simply make people aware of this notion only (as if a reasonably intelligent person can’t figure that out for him or herself anyway) and leave the rest alone, striving to make what is currently good in the church, better.

    Mr. Packham can certainly justifiably and honorably have a web site promoting his life style without having to denigrate someone else’s religion, which for them is something very sacred. To do otherwise, that is “evil.”

  19. I am listening to the third podcast.
    On my mission I had two senior companions. One of them grew up in Utah and explained to me what it was like to be born a girl back then. This was a very good explanation for her behavior in the field. She was always blaming herself for the slightest stupid thing in the companionship. The most stricking example I remember is when one day we were at a door to visit with an investigator and nobody was home. So we decided to leave a note and we looked for a pen and a piece of paper. We both had forgotten to take somehting to write a note but she kept on saying how stupid she was to have forgotten to take a pen. She was “stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”.
    It was the same everyday for everything.
    I did not have a very high self esteem back then but I had found someone who had a worse one.
    We went back home and I told her we needed a companionship inventory right away.
    We sat on the couch and I asked her if she thought God would send 11 children to a stupid woman.
    She smiled and said “no”.
    I don’t believe it changed deeply how she treated herself but I hope she understood that it mattered to me that she would think she was stupid for forgetting A PEN!

  20. Paul, the problem with your analogy is that this ex-wife is the one who wants to seduce every man in town without telling them her real story. As a former LDS missionary, I can bear witness to the fact that the church is less than forthcoming about the “product” it offers: if it were a nutritional supplement instead of salvation, we might even get in trouble for dishonest marketing practices. Richard Packham is the equivalent of the Surgeon General’s warning on the church’s deceptive pack of bliss (that might make you happy or crazy, depending on your personal situation: for him and others, it didn’t and doesn’t work so well). At the end of the day, I think Packham does the church a service by giving those who don’t really want to be in it the information they need to make an informed choice, information that the church (for some reason) does not want them to have.

  21. Paul, I’m not sure you listened to the podcast, as you don’t seem to understand the purpose behind Richard Packham’s involvement in the ex-Mormon community. If you listen to it, it will probably be clearer to you. For example, you seem to view Richard as setting himself up to be the Church’s nemesis or something, as if the inevitable fact that a multi-billion dollar corporation will outlast a single human critic is somehow a crushing defeat for Richard Packham. “Fade away into oblivion”? You yourself will also fade away into oblivion while the evil that you fight against (if you do indeed fight against evil) will continue to flourish around the world.

    “Loyalty above all” is a particularly dangerous maxim. I cannot fathom why you hold it up as a good thing. Loyalty is a virtue, but it must be tempered with other virtues. “Loyalty above all” works out pretty well for the survival of organizations (like the Mafia, for example, or maybe the Gadianton robbers, if you believe in that story), but if the organization is abusive and degrading, what good comes from being loyal to it? If people inside the organization are being emotionally abused, controlled, and lied to, why are these same people expected to hold to some trite “loyalty above all” platitude as if that was going to save them in the end?

    Do you think that just because someone holds their particular organization to be sacred means that it should be above criticism?

  22. Christopher King

    Richard, John, thank you for this terrific podcast. Forthright, open, compassionate. I love the man.

  23. George Windes

    I had to listen to these podcasts in the middle of the night, over several days. It was a worthwhile sacrifice. As a history buff, Richard’s involvement in the ex-Mormon community was a great story to hear. He is a pioneer, in the finest of ways. Folks need heros to give direction, to show us the way, to teach by example. Richard does just that. I see myself in several of his performances, as he found his footing, spoke with great diction to the assembled hordes, as they stumbled down the Mountain.

  24. Just to answer a specific question as to my resignation:

    I became completely inactive in the late 1950s. I did not get around to altering my official status until about 1967, when I realized I was still on the membership records. At that time the only method for terminating membership was excommunication. I requested excommunication, which was done in absentia.

  25. My name is David . I am writing this on behalf of myself and my brothers, Chris and Greg. We were alerted to our Uncle Richard’s podcast thru his brother, our Uncle Michael. The third segment talks about very sensitive issues concerning our mother and father. While we would typically not dignify such things with a response, we are compelled to do so because of the serious accusations made to sully the image of our parents, and more particularly malign the reputation of our father. We could not let this stand. This podcast is too full of half-truths, innuendos, and outright falsehoods too numerous to refute one by one, and they should not be so dignified. There are two specific issues, however, that Richard has spoken of that we felt had to be confronted. Many of the posts we see written on this website praise Richard for his courage and his love, etc. Those people need to hear the truth. Richard is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts. And since other members of our family are listening to this, they especially deserve to hear the truth from someone who has first-hand knowledge. It is for them mostly that we write this.
    First, we as a family and especially our father never made a secret of the circumstances surrounding the death of our mother. Nor was it a matter of public consumption. We chose, as any family would, to keep our grief private, primarily to protect our mother and avoid needless gossip (such as the hurtful speculation of the interviewer and his wife—a person our mother befriended through the book club). In other words, it was and continues to be nobody’s business. Mom had great sorrows, trials, and fought a great many demons throughout her life. They were not the fault of our dad, the Church, our grandparents, or anyone else, and for Richard to lay guilt at any one person’s feet is naïve and unfair. Our mom had many of the same issues we all have—and she freely acknowledged this in her journals and in her many discussions with our dad and the three of us. Had it not been for the support of Dad and her testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we might have lost her long before we did. Many of her troubles also came from the pain she felt trying to keep her family together after the death of our grandparents. She was always reaching out the hand of love to her siblings and especially to Richard and having that hand slapped away. The circumstances surrounding our mother’s death were to be kept private for her sake and were not in any way meant to shield our father or the Church in some sinister cover-up as Richard has implied.
    Secondly, Richard spoke of a direct causal link –the straw on the camel’s back– that basically accuses our dad of pushing our mother to suicide. This is insulting at its core and nothing could be further from the truth. Richard paints our mom as some repressed Mormon woman under the thumb of an authoritarian Priesthood-holding dictator who kept her from excelling or reaching her dreams, and as a result became a closet alcoholic. This is patently false. Anyone who knew our mother would know that there was nothing she wouldn’t or couldn’t do once she set her mind to it. No one in our acquaintance was brighter, more well-read, or more accomplished than Mom. Mom set very high standards for herself. This sadly, was also a great source of her pain. Dad gave our mother every opportunity to excel in the arts, the theater and in the Church whenever she wanted to—including work in the temple. But Dad also realized that there was only so much she was capable of doing because of her problems. Dad also tried on many occasions to help Mom through her difficulties through rehab and counseling. This went on for over ten years. We know. We were there. We’ve seen first-hand the pain and the anguish. Were mistakes made? Sadly, yes. But did they cause our mom to take her own life? Absolutely not, and to so imply is simplistic and hurtful.
    It would be extremely presumptuous of me or anyone for that matter to make public comment about the relationship between Richard and his family without firsthand knowledge, especially in a forum like this. It’s a pity that one who was never there for Mom during her trials, and indeed was the source of many of them – could not be as courteous.
    Richard also spoke in some detail as to the last days of our mom’s life leading up to that fateful last day. Funny, we don’t remember seeing him there at the hospital, so he must be getting this all third-hand. And his source for all of this—my sister Kathryn– is dubious at best. She too has her own anti-LDS, anti-Ted axe to grind. Our mom reached out to her as well, and this was for the most part was rejected. The relationship between her and our parents was strained at best.
    We believe enough has been spoken about this. Suffice it to say that Richard Packham does not speak with authority or understanding, and certainly has no license to comment on anything relating to our mother and father, and those listening to this podcast should be so informed. To those who have listened to Richard’s interview, we would like to close with two things that are absolutely true. First, Mom and Dad were devoted to each other in ways no one will ever be able to appreciate. That much Richard got right. It was a classic love affair that lasted for 53 years. Dad loved her with all of his heart and she returned that love with equal devotion. Second, our mother was a true Disciple of Jesus Christ. She was devoted to the Church and to the Gospel. Her knowledge, understanding and faith in the Atonement were an inspiration to all who knew her. It was no small source of pain that so many whom she loved chose to turn their backs on that. It is therefore wrong to use our mother as an example of The Church needlessly making enemies. Mom was not one of those. If Richard knew our mother at all, he would’ve known that. But Mom would also be the first to forgive him.
    Richard has made a whole career out of “assisting people out of the Church” – a spiritual Dr. Kevorkian if you will – and as such he has an obvious agenda to whatever he says. He will take every opportunity to tweak the nose of the Church and disparage the Gospel. He is a classic example of those who, “leave the Church, but can’t leave it alone.” Things he says therefore should be taken with huge doses of salt. By contrast, Mom would always reach out to others with problems in and out of the Church and testify of the healing power of the Atonement, because of her deep empathy for those who suffer. Our mother tried her whole life to emulate the Savior. Richard never did.
    Richard, you think you speak with great intellectual insight and understanding and many of these listeners will be so impressed. No decent human being would use the tragedy of another –especially a beloved sister, as a vehicle to promote his agenda. It’s a pity you were never there for our mother during her trials. All you have done here is hurt a family that is still reeling from the loss a wonderful wife, mother, and friend.

    David, Chris, Greg

  26. David, Chris, and Greg,

    On the one hand, I’m very, very sad that this interview has caused you sorrow/pain. I never knew your mother…but my wife tells me that she was an amazing woman. Amazing. What an incredible loss…and my heart goes out to all of you. Sincerely. I also never guessed that anyone on the believing side of your family would listen to this podcast. It’s so “under the radar” — I just never imagined that ya’ll would find it. I’m sorry that you have.

    As difficult as it may be….I do feel like Richard deserves the right to tell his side of his story…even if it’s one-sided (which I believe he tried to acknowledge). It was his sister after all. From my experience with those who have chosen to leave the LDS church (and I have met hundreds and hundreds of people who have) — so many have been treated in such an unchristlike way by their believing family and friends…..I feel like this chasm needs to be brought out into the open. I remain an active member — for what it’s worth. I love the church…but I’m tired of the church breaking up families…and until we talk about these issues openly…they will continue to fester and divide families…which I cannot tolerate without trying to do something to bridge the divide in any meager way that I can.

    I guess the best that I can do is offer you all the same opportunity — which would be to come on the podcast, and share your own thoughts/feelings/experience/truth. I don’t expect that you will be interested, but if you are, I just want you to know that the offer is open. I mean this sincerely. I’d love to have your take/view on the story. I have no interest in part-truths.

    Please know that I’m very, very saddened for your pain/discomfort. It sincerely was not our intent. But the question I have is….how can we address/avoid substance abuse and suicide if we sweep it under the rug? In my experience, the only way to help prevent sorrow is to get it out in the open…discuss it…analyse it….and try to learn from it. I did not intend for this to come at your family’s expense….but my hope/prayer is that in some small way, someone else’s addiction or suicide might be prevented from this story. That is my hope.

    Our house was full of tears last year…if that’s any consolation at all. That said….I, personally, am also sickened by the gulf that far too often opens up between believers and non-believers within Mormonism when one decides to leave the faith (over usually VERY understandable reasons…if you’re willing to listen/understand why)…and I plan on doing all I can to bridge that gap…as imperfect of a messenger as I am. For me…part of the real tragedy of this whole situation would be the apparent estrangement of Richard and Kathryn from the others in your family — just for no longer being able to believe in the truth claims of the church. Disbelievers do not deserve to be slandered or vilified any more than believers do. If you gentlemen claim to truly follow the savior — I challenge you to try harder to understand Richard and Kathryn…vs. judge and vilify them. Everyone has a story. Everyone has their own reasons and motives. Everyone (including your father) does the best they can. Everyone deserves to be understood…and to be given the benefit of the doubt…and a listening ear.

    I hope ya’ll will give me the chance to let you tell your side of the story. If we can get both halves of the story…I bet we can arrive at close to the full truth. And maybe others will be blessed as a result.

    Sincere blessings (and apologies) to you and your family for the discomfort. Please let me know how I can make it right.

    John Dehlin

  27. I like Terry’s and Paul’s response. OOOH aaah Packham found some statement or fact that means the church is wrong. Brigham could say racist remarks or teach adam-god. that does not make it church doctrine. It does not make it scripture. The core is still true and will always be. Most do not understand what is scripture and what is not. I think most TBM will think that anything in the Ensign or spoken in conference or in the Journal of Discources is doctrine and therefore if any of these have something incorrect then the whole ship sinks. That is a crock and what obviously what this guy thinks. It is not a healthy paradigm and leaves one ready for attacks like these from Packham. The world does not really need a website to share every incorrect statement. So he is happy outside the church. good for him.

  28. I really appreciate this interview. I am one who has left the church in my heart. AND I appreciate David, Chris, and Greg’s letter here. Every story has two or more sides. It is great to hear your side as well. I do feel that your saying that Richard has NEVER tried to emulate the Savior is about as unlikely as anything Richard said. It is lines like that that discredit your statements. I am soooooo sorry that your mother died AND that she died in the way she did. I am so sorry that Richards existence has offended you in sooooo many ways so many times throughout your life from your perspective. Perhaps it would be better if you did not listen to the things he says. I did not lose respect for your mother or your father through listening to this podcast. I did feel that I related to your mother in some respects. I also related to your father in the tell the way that Richard did whether truth or fiction. Each of our perspectives is merely our own view of the world. Two people can be in the same room and see very very different things and come to very very different conclusions about what happened and what they are going to do about it.

    I hope that those seeking assistance as they leave Mormonism are assisted by what Richard offers. I hope that for (the family Richard’s sister) that they feel better now to have shared their view. I hope that the forgiveness taught by the church and the blessing of the atonement offered by Christ in whom they believe will give them the peace they need when other humans do things that occur to them as evil and intended to hurt them.

  29. The fact that every man claiming to be a prophet is an imperfect man is not up for question- it is a fact. Every REAL Prophet is also imperfect- another fact. How do you then be “wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove” when determining if someone is a prophet? You can only examine their character, their works, make a decision and pray about it. And sometimes you don’t have to pray about it at all because it is so readily apparent.

    To say that you “just have to have faith” about their calling once you uncover disconcerting facts that have been purposefully withheld is dangerous. You are allowed to keep your wits about you and make decisions based on previously withheld information- in fact I believe God expects us to do that. How would you ever leave David Koresh’s group or any other false prophet after once being “converted”? If you continue to lean on an experience once new information comes out which potentially casts a shadow on that experience- you really should take some time to study it out.

    We all know most of the facts about what Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught and did early on in the LDS church. We each get to make a decision about what that means. To easily dismiss doctrines taught by earlier prophets as “their opinion”- when the members at that time held it as God’s revelation is irresponsible and disrespectful in my opinion. People were willing to die for those prophets and their revelations that we now dismiss as opinion. It also weakens the words of current prophets because the next prophet can just say that “that was just his opinion”. How much time has to pass before we dismiss a prophets teachings that are now misunderstood or that have become politically incorrect? God is the same today, yesterday and forever.

    I believe that there is only one faith that saves us. It is not faith in a church, an ordinance, or any man. Faith in Christ saves us alone. It is the only faith that justifies us each day before a perfect God. Faith in everything else is up for debate and where we choose to worship God is far less important than ANY religion would make us to believe.

  30. My heart is just aching for this wonderful, talented woman.

    The most damaging doctrine taught in the LDS church both in the past and currently is the doctrine/gospel of “personal worthiness” IMO. All the historical stuff pales in comparison. Certain personality types are completely unaffected by this teaching and constant emphasis- and others are in utter turmoil because of it. I believe it is the cause of most of the suffering and mental illness in the LDS community and will continue to do my part to put an end to it. It is like looking for the Great Wall of China in Brazil. Their is NO SUCH THING as personal worthiness!! Worthiness is only obtained vicariously and comes only through sincere brokenness and faith in Christ. Any other doctrine is false, damaging and heretical.

    I know many will disagree me on this issue and I believe you are unknowingly perpetuating a doctrine that harms many, many people. I do not believe that the LDS church leadership knows or believes that this doctrine is the cause of so much pain. They believe the opposite- that by becoming more “worthy” you will gain greater peace and more of the spirit. In fact you have to be “worthy” of the spirit to enjoy any of it’s fruits. It sounds very logical. But it is fraught with problems- it puts the cart before the horse and makes the “yoke” unbearable and the “burden” massive. It breaks my heart that the LDS leadership cannot “see” what a HUGE problem this causes for many of their membership.

    I think many people are fine with this doctrine (being taught as part of the Good News) because it follows in step with many other aspects of life. The harder you work in your job, the more money you make. The harder you work at anything- the better you become. The corporate climate teaches a “doctrine” of deserving what you EARN! It all seems to make sense. The Good News is different. It requires more than hard work and good works. It requires your HEART at the onset. It requires brokenness not pride in achievement. It is counter-intuitive and not “earnable” through a series of tasks. How do you make someone obtain brokenness? You can’t- it’s personal.

    But you can lead people towards the water and EMPHASIZE how to obtain a daily measure of (here comes the forbidden word) Grace. What good is a Savior if He doesn’t perfect us daily- when we could die any day? What good is the at-one-ment if we don’t have FULL CONFIDENCE that it makes us ONE with God every day- despite our failings?

    Any religion that teaches that we are worthy “someday” even if our hearts are broken and spirits contrite is NOT the gospel of Christ. It is heresy similar to the doctrine of the Pharisees of old. And they couldn’t see it either.

    It breaks my heart that people suffer unnecessary pain when “peace” is standing right next to them. I hope the leadership in the LDS church will have “eyes to see and ears to hear” and eradicate this man-made gospel of “personal worthiness” and remove this saying from their speech entirely.

  31. John Dehlin, what you and my “uncle” Richard are doing is jumping to conclusions about my father and mother to satisfy your own perspectives on the church. Richard and my sister Kathryn seperated themselves from the family by their choice. They have chosen to limit their contact with the family. Richard knows so little about my parents and their lives that during the podcast he guesses as to how many children they have. The correct number is 4, Richard. As regards to my mother’s addiction and suicide that was never “swept under the rug” as you say. Her addiction was known to those who LOVED her. It is despicable that Richard would use my mother’s death to promote himself to the anti-mormon community and to slander my father in the process.

  32. Very good sessions :) Always enjoy hearing things and info about Richard. Never new about his sister , and how sad and tragic for her family espcially the children. I hope you are comforted with your beliefs of where she is, etc.

    With that said, there are things parents never discuss with children, that are known by other adult family members and that are kept quiet or talked about not in front of children, even your adult children. I have learned this the hard way and from personal experiences in my own family. I am not saying you are wrong, by all accounts your reality is yours and yours alone. But that doesn’t change another persons reality of the situation.

    May (the family) find comfort and peace.

    Thanks for having Richard on John
    An Ex-mo

  33. I have known Ted and Jane Ann Hunter for several years and have spent many evenings eating and playing Scrabble with them. I can honestly say that Ted and Jane Ann had and continue to have a wonderful relationship. Their lives were full and they loved to share their experiences with us. Those of you who knew Jane Ann knew what a powerful spirit she has and could stand up to any one, anytime anywhere. That includes Ted and her three big football playing boys. I know I wouldn’t mess with her either. On the other hand, she could also show compassion and love to anyone, anytime and anywhere. If you knew Jane Ann you received a hug and a lip-stick laden kiss on the check every time you met and departed. She was not shy in expressing her thoughts and emotions in her own unique, often entertaining way.
    Jane Ann was Ted’s love and he continues to talk about her with tears in his eyes. He invited several of us to his home, shortly after the funeral and explained how Jane Ann died. There was no secrecy to the events that happened, but it is something that no loving family would want to broadcast to the world either. It was apparent that after Jane Ann had hip surgery and she wasn’t recovering well, that she was not herself. The medication she was on took away her vibrant spirit. Jane Ann was one who lived life to the fullest and did things her way. It was hard to see her stuck on a couch waiting for her hip to get better. It never did and she had to go back in for surgery and do it all again. This would be difficult for any of us, but for someone so full of life and for one who loved to be on the stage of life, this was more than she could take. From my point of view, the real tragedy steams from being on pain medications for so long that eventually Jane Ann was not always herself.
    Jane Ann and Ted had a wonderful marriage and we loved hanging out with them and learning from them. Obviously neither of them is perfect and they have their little quirks like the rest of us. I would say that together their lives created a glass that was frequently flowing over the top and many of us have benefited greatly because of the Ted and Jane Ann Hunter team.

  34. I am glad that the rest of the family got to have their say. That seems only fair and I think John’s offer to let them come on is a good one. I hope they accept it. With that said, and certainly not wanting to pile on them in their grief, I wonder if they appreciate the irony of coming here and saying “as respects our mother there is only one true perspective” or accusing John (who I think is neutral here) of reaching a conclusion that satisfied his beliefs about the church. Irony alert.

  35. David, Chris and Greg,
    Thanks for sharing your comments about Aunt Janie. She was an amazing woman and I loved her with all my heart. She was such an inspiration and I always loved hanging out with her, Ted and all of your family. And you are right, she was an amazing disciple of Jesus Christ. As I listened to the podcast I was brought to tears remembering the good times around the piano (I remember her singing ‘Ave Maria’ one Christmas before I ruined it with my irreverent ‘Here Come the Bells!’) and the love she and your dad had for each other. They truly did love each other, and I don’t think that was made clear enough in the podcast, just as Grandpa came off as a controlling, cold father. I second everything you said about your mom. She was an amazing woman and example to all of us. I miss her.
    Your cousin Drew

  36. Greg,

    I didn’t mean to imply that you guys swept anything under the rug. I was trying to speak generally — about the importance of being open about things….and trying (collectively) to learn from the hard times by hearing each other’s stories. I’m very sorry for the misunderstanding. I don’t know any of you, and certainly have no idea who you told what to after the funeral. All I know is that my wife attended the funeral, and felt very close to your mother — but knew nothing about any of this until weeks or months after the fact…and all through Richard’s Internet post…which was very sad and strange for us to learn 3rd-hand, especially given the closeness of the book club.

    Again…I’m terribly sorry that this podcast has caused your family grief. That was never the intent. The intent was for us to talk about something that could in some small way help others.

    Two things I will add are:

    1) Again, I very much welcome you all to come on the podcast and tell your side of the story. Just sharing your stories about how you have found strength/comfort/meaning after your mother’s death could be healing for so many people. Who knows….maybe you could help prevent something similar in another LDS family at some point, or provide comfort to others in a similar situation.

    2) I have to say that the way you all talk about Richard and Kathryn strikes me as not much better than how you are accusing Richard/Kathryn of talking about your family.

    In spite of my status as a happily active member, I have met with enough ex-Mormons to know that somehow the LDS Church…in all its wonderful splender…can sometimes split families in two. Somehow the church can create wonderfully Christlike people, and then sometimes lead them to behave in the most unChristlike of ways when it comes to family members or friends who no longer believe or act in the “right” way. These people are often judged, misjudged, ostracized and slandered by their believing/”faithful” relatives.

    And I’m sorry to say that this conversation has only further proven the point I was trying to make.

    I encourage all of you who claim to believe in and follow Christ to take His main message seriously — and to sincerely and earnestly reach out to Richard and Kathryn to love them, and to genuinely seek to understand why the have done and said the things they have over the years. And please consider taking some time to understand whether or not you have participated in any of the judging/ostracization/slander/villifying — or whether you have (like your mother apparently did) extended the warm hand of fellowship and unconditional love to them, even as Ex-Mormons.

    And Richard/Kathryn…if you are listening…I hope you have attempted the same thing with your believing relatives. I know that your own set of morality/values is identical in this regard.

    Nothing makes me more sad than when the church divides people…and leads people to hate. My prayer is that someday….these wounds/chasms can be bridged between you all. For me, that’s what Christ was all about. Now THAT would be fantastic podcast interview: “The reconciliation of the Packham/Hunter family through following the teachings of Christ/Humanism: How believers and non-believers can get along.”

    Again…please know how truly sorry I am for the pain/grief/discomfort. If you guys want to speak privately, I’m happy talk more. Just let me know.

  37. Hunter Family,

    Would it help if I re-edited the episode to take out the Hunter name and Ted’s name? It would still say Jane Anne — but I imagine that the number of people who would know Richard and Jane Anne and who listen to my podcast are really, really small (if existant).

    Let me know. I’d be willing to do that to help protect your anonymity. I still feel badly about this. Let me know if there’s anything else I could do to make the family feel better without denying Richard his own story/voice.


  38. Paul Belfiglio

    Last year, at the marriage of my son and now daughter-in-law, I witnessed something that made me realize that there are other ways (positive ways) of viewing a situation that I previously had strong (negative) feelings about. In brief, it was in regards to my daughter-in-law’s mother who flew to Hawaii to attend her daughter’s wedding, but who could not enter the temple because she is a non-member. She did come to the temple, though, and came into the entrance foyer, and then we all went and sat in the small foyer waiting room. When the ceremony was to begin and those with recommends (everyone except her) could proceed past the ‘desk,’ the desk attendant asked her to wait outside, as a result of which, in a very dignified and congenial manner, she complied. However, all of us became immediately dismayed about this and given the small size of this temple and the fact that we were the only ones there for a marriage ceremony (and I think there was only one other couple there, that I could see once inside, doing regular ordinance work) we asked the attendant if she could at least remain inside the temple seated in the foyer waiting room. He thought for a moment and then said that he didn’t think he could allow that as there were very few people staffing the temple and that he may not be able to remain at the desk all the time (???!!!). He then went and got a folding chair from somewhere and placed it outside the temple right next to the front door. My first impression was that it looked to be as if he was bring a dish of water to a dog outside of a “NO DOGS ALLOWED” establishment on a hot day out of some sort of act of charity. Needless to say, my daughter-in-law’s mother did not sit in the chair (who would?!) to appear as if a complete misfit, but went somewhere else to wait until everyone came out of the temple (for family photos). The reason why I am giving an account of this is to illustrate something that I would have otherwise thought to be so poignant, but in fact didn’t have to be thought of that way. My daughter-in-law’s mother did not manifest any thoughts of having been offended whatsoever. Obviously she knew the “rules” before attending and was quite okay with it and took it all in stride with real class, understanding, and dignity, even though I was dismayed about the “chair” gesture (and I wasn’t the only one) and the attendant’s unwillingness to be accommodating under the circumstances.

    This incidence is a good analogue for the way I have learned to increasingly think along the lines that the church, meaning its policies and doctrines doesn’t offend unless you want to think that they do. If I were to attend a Muslim mosque (although I never have) and was asked to do or wear something or whatever or not even allowed in, why should that offend me? I’m on their turf; it’s their religion, their customs and rules, their culture. But I suppose I could decide to be offended and have all kinds of uncomplimentary thoughts if I wanted to think that way (especially if my son or daughter was getting married there). So, even as a member of the LDS church, if I had the proverbial nickel for every time someone said something cruel or insensitive, even slanderous, my pockets would be jingling with coins by now. And how did I react a lot of times because of these behaviors and acts perpetrated by other people? Sometimes indignant, sometime very hurt, even shattered, I would admit, in spirit and mind. But was it the church that did this to me? No, it was *some* people in the church who made the choice to act in such a way and say the things they did. If the “church” did have any involvement in these unfortunate circumstances it was for the purpose to teach me how to properly act and think as Christ would have me do so when people are not charitable in His church.

    When it is stated, “…the church divides people…and leads people to hate.” Is the LDS “church” is being referenced?! The LDS “church” that I have always belonged to has never taught or led me to hate and has never divided me from my family, even under one particular very trying familial circumstance, UNLESS I wanted to think that it did and cast blame on the church. The gospel net catches all sorts of people: everyone from true Christ-like persons all the way down the line to the lowest of low-life, and without respecter of rank or calling. In the end, though, people make their own decisions about staying or leaving the church (or invoke or provoke others to either stay or leave) for a multiplicity of reasons, but IF they really LOVED the church — loved the Lord’s church the way He loves it, they’d stay notwithstanding all of the not-so-good people, or rather, not-so-bad people who make not-so-good choices in what they say or do. And to blame so-called “divisive doctrines and policies” is not germane to leaving the church. Perhaps some people (leaders especially) are of the opinion that the doctrines and policies are for those who want to maintain pristine memberships in the church, but regardless of those who can or those who can’t manage that task, everyone is at liberty to deal with these doctrines and policies and the people who endorse and institute them, in their own PRIVATE way. The church allows every person to think as they want, as President Kimball or President Hinkley said one time, but you you are not to openly disparage the church just because you think you have the right answers and solutions to something you think needs to be changed or corrected. There are correct ways and means to voice opinions to the leadership and they do listen and consider them. I’ve heard President Monson say that. But you have to let them handle it in the way they feel to because that’s their calling. The church is a kingdom not a democracy (just like a lot of “private” corporate entities are), and if that’s not what you want, then you can leave. And if some people cast you in a bad light for doing so, it’s those people (leaders or anyone else) who do and not the “church” — not the Savior. If your conscience allows you to leave the church, or put another way, if your spirit allows you to leave the church in good conscience, then that should be all that matters and where it all ends — you move on to something else more to your liking, but without trying to “trash the place” as you leave, or try doing so after you have left.

    About one out of every two marriages end in divorce today. Why? Do you really think that fifty percent of the people who at one time decided to get married made the wrong choice in choosing a mate? If not, then why did they (one or the other or both of them) not endure in the marriage and make it work? Was it the “marriage,” i.e., the institution of marriage with all of its “rules” and expectations, or was it the people who just gave up and decided, for whatever reason, to leave and with many of those blaming the other spouse for their decision to leave the marriage. And this is not too different from why a lot of people leave the LDS church, or any church, for that matter. They can’t hack the rigors and “rules” and sometimes even doctrines of an institutional church, especially a lay ministry one, and so they look for reasons to leave. But if they really LOVED the church they’d realize and come to understand what it means in that “for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”

    Having individuals like Richard Packham whine out their pathetic stories about leaving the “big, bad church” is trite and pedestrian at best and disingenuous at worst. And this is not an attack on you the person, Mr. Packham, but rather your motives, which I find suspect.

    And you know what’s so ironic about this diatribe of mine? I am not all that “in the box” active in the church, but I have learned to take responsibility for my own ways of reacting to the deleterious behaviorism, mandates, policies or the like of “Latter-day Saints,” “Latter-day Ain’ts” or “Latter-day Complaints” instead of looking for appeasements to mitigate my responsibilities and the challenges of learning to write, “kindness in marble, injuries in the dust,” and especially when it comes to the church the Jesus loves and gave His life for.

  39. George Windes


    “We asked the attendant if she could at least remain inside the temple seated in the foyer waiting room. He thought for a moment and then said that he didn’t think he could allow that as there were very few people staffing the temple and that he may not be able to remain at the desk all the time (???!!!). He then went and got a folding chair..”

    Did any of the wedding party choose to go and stand with that brave mother? What would the Savior has us do?

    “When it comes to the church the Jesus loves and gave His life for.”

    We are the church, each and every one of us. We are called Christians. And Jesus loves us all.

  40. I enjoyed this interview. I, too, have gone through visiting many churches and religions when I left the mormon church. It was a difficult time but it felt good to have abandoned the lds belief for awhile. Now I am back and I am finding that I need to work on Richards first recommendation to develop self esteem. I am trying but worthiness is strongly emphasized around reaching milestones like baptism, acquiring the priesthood (if you are a man), taking the sacrament worthily every week, receiving a temple recommend, receiving the endowment, and maintaining that recommend. And if you have not had kids then that is another slam (which I feel alot being motherless). I wish there could be more that describes worthiness as who you are (go beyond that who you are is a child of god) rather than on what you do. Worthiness is a tough issue in the church when you are told that you are worthy but then are told worthiness is equal to accomplishing many important milestones in the plan of salvation. If you do not accomplish these milestones then you are not worthy. How does that inspire repeat attendance at church. (New computer and I canèt figure out my punctuation yet, including question marks!).

    I feel for the brothers who previously posted. I can only wish them healing. I agree with John about opening it up for discussion. I wonder if someone has saved their own life or anothers because of what has been shared in the interview and on the posts.

  41. This is John Dehlin.

    I have been doing a lot of thinking, and I realize now that I should never have released the 3rd segment of this interview as it was recorded. I should not have mentioned the names of the parties involved at the beginning of the segment, and I should not have allowed the names to be included in the final release.

    I know it probably won’t be very helpful at this point, but I want to openly apologize to the family for allowing this to happen. It was a terrible oversight on my part. You have been through enough pain. It was thoughtless of me to add to it.

    I am removing the 3rd segment of this interview — out of respect for the family, and the incredible pain that this has caused to them.

    Just for the record, I want to reiterate my motives for interviewing Richard. Every week I am contacted by 3-5 new LDS Church members who are at risk of losing their spouse, children, and extended family support due to their loss of faith in the LDS Church. As I’ve conversed with these people — I am deeply saddened by the division that religion can sometimes cause in the lives of these families. Almost without exception — these people that I have spoken with (over 1,000 to date) do not lose their testimony because of weakness, “being offended”, or because of a desire to sin. In almost every case, these people are returned missionaries….married in the temple…former Elder’s Quorum Presidents…Relief Society Presidents…Bishopric Members….Stake High Counselors….etc. If anything, they were/are guilty of caring too much about the church….vs. too little.

    From these people that I have spoken with — they lose their testimony for one simple reason: the church ceases be a constructive force for them in their lives. Most of them feel either lied to, or irreparably damaged by the church in some way — and leaving the church is the only way that they are able to find a semblance of peace in their lives.

    I, personally, have been through such a struggle myself — though I remain active in the church for a number of reasons. That said — I remain deeply saddened by the increasing number of fathers and mothers who are coming to me, in tears, out of fear of losing the love and respect of their spouse, children, and extend family over what is for them a matter of integrity/conscience.

    After deciding to address this topic via an interview — I reached out on the Internet to find someone who could talk openly about this dilemma — and Richard Packham quickly volunteered. Having lost his first wife and children to this exact situation described above (at least from his perspective) — and having spoken to even more people than I have in a similar situation as founder of the Exmormon Foundation — I couldn’t think of a better spokesman for this particular cause.

    Richard — I want to apologize to you as well. I never should have allowed specific names to get mentioned on the podcast. That was not necessary to make the points we were trying to make. While you are absolutely entitled to tell your part of the story — I could have saved all of us some grief/inconvenience by discouraging you from naming names.

    Sometimes I still have the naive feeling that truth trumps all — but in reality, occasionally truth without compassion simply results in cruelty (though I do not mean to imply in any way that you had cruel intentions). I do not believe that you did/do.

    I conducted this interview with the intent of exploring ways in which we ALL could learn to PREVENT such familial division in the future — and it’s clear now to me that in trying to serve this larger objective, I have helped to further divide this particular family….which was neither necessary, nor kind. I clearly could have found a better way to achieve this objective — and again…I apologize to all of the families involved.

    Again….please forgive this oversight on my part. I was trying to help…but I clearly handled it very, very

    John Dehlin

  42. Jim and Karen Blair

    Our name is Jim and Karen Blair and we feel that it is important to respond to this podcast as friends of Ted and Jane Ann Hunter. We have known Ted and Jane Ann for over 5 years and we continue to be good friends with Ted. We were in the hospital with Ted when Jane Ann passed away and know about their lives together during these last years. We were so pleased to read the comments by David, Chris, and Greg because they so aptly demonstrate the support they have given to their parents during the time we have known them. We certainly agree with them, for if you knew Jane Ann you would know she was anything but a repressed wife! Jane Ann was a talented, thoughtful, intelligent, caring, compassionate, and articulate woman. She made others feel important, and cared for them in unique ways. Ted has always been insightful, considerate, creative, and very witty. The two of them made a great couple and never gave the sense to anyone they knew that there was any doubt that they loved each other and loved being together. Her death was a tragedy for all who were involved and we know how much Ted cared for her during her time of illness. There was no secret about her death, or the tragedies that surrounded it. To blame her religion or her husband as a cause of anything related to her death is a complete misrepresentation of the facts and it is inappropriate for anyone, especially someone who was not there and did not know what happened to suggest!

    We love both Ted and Jane Ann and have nothing but the highest regard for their relationship together as a married couple. We have met their children and many of their grandchildren and know the love and concern they have for Ted and Jane Ann and how upset they would be by the misrepresentations in the podcast!

  43. I recently listened to your interview with Richard Packham. I’m not sure he was talking about the same JAH and TH that I have known, as a neighbor and friend, for the last 7 years. I know them as a loving couple who were dedicated to each other and loved each other with all their heart. After the trajedy, that took JA’s life, their house became a shrine to her memory. They both had strong personalities and JA was not one who could be cowed into doing something contrary to what she wanted to do. I don’t find T to be abusive in any way and before and after her death he spoke of her with love and tenderness. Even though it was not published far and wide he confided to his close neighbors and friends the circumstances surrounding her passing. It seems to me that the interview was done in such a way and at such a time to try to destroy some return to normalcy in T’s life.

  44. This is John Dehlin.

    At Ted’s request, I have re-opened the comments to allow a few more people who knew Jane Anne and Ted well to respond to the podcast.

    My original hope was to remove Jane Anne and Ted’s name, as well as the Hunter name, completely from this blog altogether — so as to prevent further associations between them and Richard Packham (at least on this site), and to prevent the Google search engine from pickup up these associations for posterity’s sake — but I understand Ted’s wishes to have his side of the story told.

    Please keep all comments compassionate and constructive. Thanks.

  45. For John Delhin: it is a bit disingenuous to remove the 3rd segment of the interview, but to allow comments on same to remain.

    Paul Belfiglio writes of Richard Packham:

    “You will have your day in the sun and then eventually fade away into oblivion, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will continue to grow and flourish.”

    I’m going to be extraordinarily kind here Paul, and simply label that as a childish, borish, and inane use of verbiage to reinforce your own faith.

    If one’s faith can’t stand on its own two feet without demeaning one’s intelligence, then it is not faith at all that is being exhibited.

  46. JB Arsenault,

    I would like to remove them — but I am trying to walk the tightrope of honoring the wishes of both Mr. Hunter and Mr. Packham. It is not very fun. I assure you.

    At the end of the day, it is the Hunter family who have expressed the desire to keep these comments online.

  47. I listened to the podcast and enjoyed it quite a bit. Personally I thought that the things said would be helpful for explaining to believers the issues many who leave have.

    I since have become aware of the dust up over Richard’s remarks about Jane Ann’s death and while I feel for the family, I can’t understand why they think that Richard is not entitled to express his own views of the events. He was speaking of the death of his sister and has every right to do so. He admitted himself a number of times that his views were his own and perhaps colored by his own bias.

    Obviously the Hunter’s view of the events are different. I can understand the need they feel to keep their grief private— however everyone deals with things different. They do not own every opinion regarding Jan Ann’s death. Richard is family too and has something to say even if it doesn’t fit in to their faithful LDS world view.

    So why can’t they just post their objections to the comments made in the podcast rather than trying to censor them. Only in an open discussion can any of the issues in split families be resolved. And ironically, the hubbub resulting from this podcast only illustrates the serious gulf left to bridge between believers and those who have left.

    All that said, I realize that this is John’s podcast and he has the final say in what gets aired. I also realize that I don’t have all the info he has from the family. I wouldn’t want John’s job.

    I do hope however that those who seemed to categorically reject Richard’s comments will at least consider what he said and see that his statements genuinely reflect how he feels (or at least they seem to). I know as LDS we are trained to defend and be loyal first— but I would suggest that something can be learned by opening yourself up, if only a little, to ideas that oppose those you currently hold.

  48. Thank you, John and Richard for the interview! It is unfortunate that names of individuals not interviewed were included, but John, I feel that you have handled the fallout as well as anyone could. May peace be with the friends and family of the departed.

    I hope that the discussion of this interview can now move on to the other important points that were raised. I mean we all (Mormons and ex-Mormons all along the continuum) should have some common ground. We all want to ease suffering and prevent avoidable pain. It is helpful to reflect on how we might be contributing to the problem. We might find that we can love better. People are important, family and friends are important, no matter what they believe. Their feelings matter. Our feelings matter. We can’t end all suffering. And sometimes we inflict pain on ourselves by what we believe. But, some interpersonal pain involving Mormonism is unnecessary and avoidable. The first step is to stop and ask, “Is it me? Am I, through my words and actions, and misguided zealotry, hurting my family, my friends, my neighbor?”

  49. The gulf between mormons and ex-mormons will always exist as long as the LDS church claims that they are the “only true and living church” on the face of the earth. It is that simple. Some mormons are able to put aside this LDS church statement and truly be tolerant and accepting of other faiths as a viable way to God- but many will always feel that they are being disloyal to God and “His” church by doing so.
    This chasm will always be there in my opinion because the LDS church will never back off this “one and only” belief because the entire church is based on it.

  50. Paul Belfiglio, clearly you ignorant about why people leave the church. I am sick and tired of people like you who refuse to listen to and try to understand the reasons people express for why they left, and instead, like so many Mormons like you, you ignore what’s said and default to the convenient excuse that, “They can’t hack the rigors and ‘rules’ and sometimes even doctrines of an institutional church, especially a lay ministry one, and so they look for reasons to leave.” Delude yourself and think whatever you want, but I want no part of your delusion. I left the church because I found that the Church’s moral and ethical standard is lower than my own. Given that, I can’t think of any reason why I should be part of an organization like that. Can you?

  51. I empathize for the families on this board. Our family also suffered a terrible loss, in hindsight half of the family thinks that Church contributed and exaserbated the problem. You would get very different accounts from different members of the family and I dont think we can agree to disagree. For the most part if any exmos speak the fragile relationship that is left will be severed. I am sorry for your pain, the loss and the drama. It is pain I wish on no one. If it was any consolation this podcast and the comments have helped me see that I am not alone. Differing beliefs and a suicide = a family completed divided. Perhaps there is no hope but at least I am not alone and not crazy for just giving up and making peace with my life minus some family.

  52. John, I feel for you in the middle of this situation.
    I listened to all 4 parts of the podcast (before part 3 was removed) and as I listened I wondered if Richard’s extended family might be upset by episode 3 – evidently they were. Suicide is a very sensitive subject and, for what it’s worth, I didn’t feel that Ted and his family came out of Richard’s account badly. It was clear to me that Richard was speaking from his own particular perspective, I believe he said as much himself. As an adult and an individual with some understanding of the effects of my brother’s (attempted) suicide on my family, it is clear to me that there are always 2 sides to every story and that interpretation of events can differ tremendously between family members. I am sure that most listeners to your interview can appreciate this and do not judge any of the family members involved because they recognise that people who weren’t there are in no position to make judgements.
    Love and thoughts to Ted and his family following the loss of their wife/mother and also to Richard following the death of his sister.

  53. I must respond to some incorrect implications (and some outright false statements) in some of the comments.

    For those who knew my sister and her family, and who say that they knew them as a devoted and loving couple, and that he treated her with devotion and admiration and support, I can testify that indeed that was the impression that anyone who knew them would have. He loved and admired her deeply. But I can also testify to the reality behind the public image. And that is based on many conversations that I and my wife had with my sister, often by telephone, that no one else can know of. Of course her husband never knew about them, nor her children. She would call only when he could not overhear the conversation. When I would call her, the conversations were extremely brief if he could overhear. We heard about the reality behind the facade, and the reasons for her depression, alcoholism and desire to escape.

    It is based on things she said in those private conversations that are the basis for my statements about her feelings of being smothered, dominated, depressed, and unworthy. As with many families, outward appearances are not always an accurate indication of what goes on behind the scenes.

    I find it quite telling that in all the comments condemning me for discussing what I felt to be contributing factors to her decades-long depression, alcoholism, suicide attempts, and final leave-taking, no one else has even ventured to offer any explanation for why a seemingly happy, loved, devout and devoted Mormon woman would be suffering such things for so long, ending in her final successful attempt to escape from whatever was tormenting her. No one has ventured to deal with that crucial question, except in the most superficial way.

    In being willing to talk in the interview about my sister, I was not seeking to cast stones, to besmirch her memory, to dredge up useless and painful memories, or to cause embarrassment or discomfort to her immediate family, but to place the tragedy into a larger picture and in some way produce some benefit for others. Because she was (and is) not the only Mormon woman in that life-threatening situation. When I first told her story publicly on an Internet discussion board which I frequent, immediately after learning about her death, I received several hundred messages of condolences, even from people I did not know. I also was thanked privately by several Mormon women who had read the story and who told me that it was a “wake-up call” for them. They could recognize themselves and their situations in what I had described. And, because of how it ended for my sister, they realized that they must do something to change their own situation, to avoid her fate.

    I am told that psychiatrists in Utah see the situation so often in Mormon women that it has a clinical name: the “Mother in Zion Syndrome.”

    In that small way, I felt that some good had been salvaged, making her death not a total loss. And I believe that was John’s motives in asking me to talk about her.

    It is unfortunate that her husband and sons are distressed by my telling what I know about my sister. They are clearly unaware of the relationship that she and I had. They do not exclusively “own” her life, or her death. ALL of us who loved and knew her suffered a loss. They lost a wife, a mother. I lost my dear sister, and my grief is as real and as valid as theirs. And I have as much right to tell my story as do they. I choose, however, not to coat the truth with pleasant deceptions and write a “faith-promoting” version.

    Two minor corrections of statements made by one of her sons:

    He said that his sister and I had “chosen to distance themselves from the family.” Nothing could be further from the truth, either with respect to me or to my niece. Yes, we left the Mormon church. But it is only in the minds of the Mormons that leaving the church is equal to leaving the family. It is rather some of the Mormon family members who have chosen to exclude us, to isolate us, for no other reason than our no longer believing. My niece has begged and pleaded with her father and her brothers to accept her on an equal footing, but they cannot seem to find it in their Christian hearts to love an apostate.

    And I was accused of being so ignorant of their family that I did not know how many children there were. Yes, I misspoke and said “five” when the actual number is “four.” It was a slip of the tongue, made when I wasn’t really thinking about her children. I do know them, I know their names, the order of their birth, and the names of their spouses. I would be willing to bet that my critic would be unable to say instantly how many children I have, let alone name them and name their spouses. It’s the problem of the extended Mormon family – not easy to keep at the tip of one’s tongue how many kids there are in all the big families. So I can be completely discounted for a slip of the tongue. I probably know more about his mother’s secret thoughts (the crucial issue) than he does.

  54. I am going to turn comments off now (for the 2nd time).

    And I am going to end with a plea for both sides to allow me to delete all comments….and minimize the extent to which people’s names are used on the Internet in ways that they don’t feel good about…and to let this family rift begin to heal where possible. There’s still time to keep this story, and this battle, from spreading.

    Again, I am very, very sorry that this interview — which was made with the hope of bringing families together — has actually increased the chasm in yours. This was never the intent. I still don’t know how to make it right.

  55. This was a very good interview. I love the fact that this Interview made me realize that the word of God Is always the source. Follow God and his son Jesus Christ. I mean God Is the creator of marriage. And the fact that he gives us free will to serve him or not. And to see how man can determine so much even when God’s word is the source always. I chose to follow Christ and if they teach that God chose parents to parents their kids. Then don’t later change that fact after a divorce takes place. That parent is still that parent.
    All I need is God and His son Christ Jesus. The one who did rise in three days. That was enough for me!!

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