I get asked several times weekly via email, “John — how in the world do you remain active in the LDS Church after all you know? How do you keep from going insane? How do your raise your children, etc?”

I have finally written out a very rough 1st draft of our approach.

I would love to share it with those of you who sincerely self-identify as one of the following:

  • Seriously struggling to remain active in the LDS Church, and currently considering leaving
  • Have gone inactive or have left completely, but would seriously consider returning, if you could just figure out a way

If I already know you well (and your situation), just email me and I’ll provide a link.

If I do not know you, I will need you to write me enough about your story so that I can ensure that you indeed qualify given the conditions above. Again, just email me, or (if you don’t mind sharing) post your story here.

If you do not qualify under the conditions above, please act on your honor, and do not request this link. I would never, under any circumstances, desire to discourage people from leading a literalistic, strictly obedient LDS life if that is their smallest inclination. This essay is only for those who would otherwise abdandon the church altogether.


John Dehlin


  1. Lincoln April 11, 2007 at 8:05 am

    John, I will have to get a copy of your essay. I am finding it increasingly difficult to maintain any semblance of honesty and integrity, while maintaining an active participation in a teaching position within the church. The correlated material is deceptive to such a high degree, that I am finding it difficult to maintain a good positive approach to my church calling. I am perplexed at how people are able to do this long term, without engaging various mental gymnastics which have the practical effect of fooling themselves. I see the good in the church. I also see the church as an institution that is primarily concerned about its survival, and secondarily concerned with the well-being of its membership. Public relations seems to be occupying much of its energy at this point, rather than promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope to be able to learn something from your paper that does not contemplate using self-deception or mental manipulation to remain a member in good standing. Thanks for taking the time, and expending the energy on such a project.

  2. Steve April 11, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Humm, before officially leaving the LDS Church some 17 years ago, I became socially ‘disafficted’. This social condition was a powerful mechanism which facilitated my extinction in the LDS ward. Primarily it worked by taking me out of the care of other men who were once provided general life psycho/social support. It is a basic human need to have such support. If one does not get it from the quorm, they just might go and get it somewhere else. I had some serious doctrinal issues as an active LDS member, yet those in my quorm became frustrated with me and began to made a mockery of my difficulty– which lead to the ‘disaffection’. They became frustrated, as I was a high functioning Church member in my family, Ward, Stake, Temple, and in the community. Although I use the term ‘mockery’ there was more to it than that. Due to my questions, I lost my social power by damage done within the priesthood quorm, which spilled over into my Stake callings. My social power essentially was fueled from kudos, and encouragement within the Ward PH quorm, when I confided my issues to those I thought close to me in the quorm, the jig was up, and I became a fallen creature. The social effect was far more than just being ‘offended’ and having feelings hurt– This was all about being rejected and forced into social isolation. Churches are very social organizations, and the ‘disaffection’ was so extreme that within a social organization it was a kind of death sentence pronounced upon me. By isolation and social starvation indeed I died to the LDS system, rotted into dust, blew away, never to mingle among them again.

  3. Ricercar April 11, 2007 at 9:52 am


    Wow! Your story is pretty powerful and strangely familiar. I had always been given to feel that I have some important support role within the church. I have known much about the church, doctrine, et cetera; however, I usually kept my mouth shut. This silence allowed me to be present in church and add to the experience of others despite my deep misgivings about the doctrine and the history of the church.

    Recently I began a deep effort to put these problems behind me. I assumed that part of the healing would include some type of dialogue – I was wrong. I have expressed my feelings to people within the church and have only ended up with alienating the majority of the ward (I have become a hiss and a by-word in Zion). More importantly I have caused my wife to become deeply depressed about my relationship with the church, even though she knew generally that I had major problems before, the specifics has really bothered her.

    I am a social outsider. It pains me that maintaining contact with my old mission friends will has been hard enough with only social activity in the church, they are thousands of miles away physically, religiously and now socially too. The social stigma threatens to become a wedge in my marriage.

    The good the church does has been significantly dimmed in my eyes.

  4. ungewiss April 11, 2007 at 10:48 am

    I’ve been struggling to make heads and tails of the baffling quirks in our religion for quite some time, John. I don’t know that my story is particularly interesting or compelling, but if you’re looking for some indication that I am in your target market, so to speak, I invite you to spend about 5 minutes on my blog.

    I recently reviewed some of my writings over the past year or so, and when I took a step back I realized my wife’s fears are well justified–my body may still be sitting on the fence, but my mind and heart have already jumped off. If your essay might give me the wiggle room I need to stay in the game, I would really appreciate that link.

  5. Jared E. April 11, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Hi John,

    I’ve all but abandoned my belief in the ‘one true church’ claim, but continue to attend because my wife chooses to still believe (we are both supportive of the other.) Recently I told the bishop of my views just so that he wouldn’t go handing me a calling that he would otherwise withhold if he knew my position.
    I’d enjoy reading your paper, to try to gain some insight into how to function in a ward where it is openly known you no longer believe.

  6. depaul April 11, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    John Dehlin

    You don’t know me and my story is unimpressive. After years of kicking against the pricks I have come to the conclusion that what the LDS church is currently doing by way of religious direction is inspired of God. We are typically given what we ask for. For the Church we have asked for milk and not meat and God has accommidated us.

    I no longer seek nourishment, whether spiritual, social or intellectual from the church. I study my scriptures, and attend the temple. All we need for spiritual growth is at our fingertips. I have more peace now that I don’t obsess over what I think the Church should be doing or in what direction it should be headed.

    Temple worship is a strength and probably the only thing that has kept my marriage together. My wife’s spiritual diet is heavy on the milk and light on the cream but that’s OK. I now know that we will all progress according to our own timetables and not according to what any one man says.

    If you’d like to share your link I’d like that. Maybe we could all get together for a potluck dinner sometime.


  7. Tatiana April 11, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    I guess I’m just very very blessed with faith, after all the years I spent as an atheist. I can see such a huge difference in my life, in how I think and feel, in the things I am able to do now that I never could do before, and in the sound of God’s voice in my heart. There’s no room for doubt there. It’s like night and day. The things that upset other people and cause them to lose their faith and testimony seem so minor to me, beside the difference between the hell in which I was living and the heaven I inhabit now. Whether Eden was in Missouri or not? What can that possibly matter? People are imperfect. People make mistakes. People have wrongheaded ideas, even if they have the best of intentions. Apostles are people, and so are prophets. Everything’s not neat and pat, and you have to work at understanding what is truth, goodness, right, and what is God’s will. It takes a lot of living to really know these things. Nietzsche was like super brilliant but he was so innocent of life, he got everything wrong. How can we expect General Authorities to get everything right? They do their best.

    I have a faith that has its eyes wide open, that knows the darkness in humans’ hearts and minds, and accepts that. I have a faith that is simple and innocent and naive like a small child who throws her arms around your neck and trusts totally. I would like to read the essay, though I am not in its target group, but I don’t stay in the church despite unbelief, I stay in because it’s true. God speaks to us. He showed me this church, and pointed me here. What else do I need to know?

    I don’t know why I’ve written this. (laughs) It doesn’t strike me as likely to be helpful to anyone. Maybe I just hope I can give my faith as a gift to someone, maybe just one person, that it can be contagious. It makes me sad to see people trouble and unhappy, and possibly losing something that to me is precious beyond price.

    Each person’s path is their own, of course. That is sacred. I wish all of you the best on yours.

  8. Silky April 11, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Thanks Tatiana. I really like what you said and I agree with you.

  9. Mayan Elephant April 12, 2007 at 9:29 am


    To say the Church is true is really saying nothing at all. It is nothing more than a cliche.

    If there is something you like about the church, shout it out. If there are things you have faith in, shout that out too.

    But in terms of being true, how is the church any more true than Major League Baseball?

  10. Clay April 12, 2007 at 9:50 am

    I appreciate your post and respect the love and eloquence therein, however I want to comment on a particular aspect of it.

    You said : “I guess I’m just very very blessed with faith, […] There’s no room for doubt there.”

    I see faith as a choice you make on wether or not to believe something you can’t prove. In our church we throw around words like “know” and “beyond a shadow of a doubt”, but unless God Himself has appeared to you it is just self-affirmation to say those things. It is a very hard thing to accept uncertainty, and it is also uncomfortable (especially with our LDS conditioning) to allow the presence of doubt to be a healthy and positive thing. Yet to the point, I believe a healthy faith does indeed have room for doubt.

    With the presence of doubt, faith becomes an active exercise and that choice to believe stays valid and relevant in spite of your own changes and growth. Faith only grows when it is the response to doubt. If there is no room for doubt, then faith has become stagnant and eventually even superficial. Until you advance beyond this life and the things you now have to have faith to believe become temporal facts before your eyes, doubt does in fact exist and faith is the action against doubt, not the condition of lacking it. The condition of lacking doubt is having knowledge.

  11. Equality April 12, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Clay’s comment got me thinking…if God appeared to you, how would you know it was really God?

  12. Ricercar April 12, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Further to Equality’s point: If one saw God, would God’s presence be the result of a physical object stimulating the nerves in the eyes or would it be an influence directly applied to a certain portion of the brain? Is one more certain than the other?

    Life is uncertainty – we are always vunerable to mis-understanding or mis-interpreting what we experience. I think this is the biggest challenge to the ‘T’rueness of the church: we are all people struggling to build a proper understanding – authority and priesthood are largely counterproductive to me insofar as figuring out faith.

    Bob Dylan:

    “Well the king preacher looked so baffled when I asked him why he dressed with 20 pounds of headlights stapled to his chest. He cursed me when I proved to him – I said “not even you can hide, you see you are just like me, I hope you are satisfied!”

  13. Nate April 12, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Hi John and others,

    I avoid the phrase, “I know ___ is true,” which, as others have pointed out, is little more than self-affirmation. I think most people don’t know what they mean when they say it. My way around it is to say, “I believe that there is truth in ___.” For example, I believe there is truth in the Book of Mormon,” rather than, “I know the Book of Mormon is true.”
    That being said, my desire to maintain appearances at church is waning. We went to an Easter service at a Congregational church, and it was a breath of fresh air. Family pressures keep me going right now, but I’m starting to feel like that’s only going to last for so long. Church attendance is more about frustration now than it is about inspiration and nourishment. I’d like to read your essay, John.

  14. Nacho April 12, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    John, I would like to read your essay. I think we have a lot in common in our beliefs and feelings. I wouldn’t say that I disbelieve in anything that the Church teaches, but there are several things that many would consider to be fundamental doctrines of the Church, that I don’t believe in.

    There are certain beliefs/practices that I have always struggled with and I came to the conclusion about a year ago that I couldn’t maintain a belief in those doctrines and still remain active in the Church. I decided instead to remain active but to do so on my own terms. I decided that I would define my Mormonism, not President Hinckley or other leaders in the Church. I was up front with my spouse and my bishop about those things that I would and would not do.

    Unfortunately, there are things within the Temple Recommend interview (those going to certain beliefs, not neccessarily practices) that I don’t think I can honestly answer that I have a strong belief in. And because the Temple Recommend is a litmus test for membership in the faith, I struggle with where I belong.

    In a practical way, I struggle to listen to General Conference, read the teachings of the Prophets, or even read the Ensign, because I feel that Church leadership has been dishonest with us and me over the years. I feel like when I am asked if I am Mormon, I of course say yes, but also feel like I need to attach an asterik because I lack a belief in so many of the things that go on or are taught within the Church.

  15. Left Field April 12, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    “how is the church any more true than Major League Baseball?”

    No Selig or Steinbrenner?

  16. Equality April 13, 2007 at 8:30 am

    But with Bednar and Packer, who needs Selig and Steinbrenner?

    And, hey, didn’t there used to be a General Authority who had played professional baseball? He used to regale us with the best stories about his younger years and we would all feel the spirit testifying to the truth of his words. What was that guy’s name and whatever happened to him? I think he also was a World War II hero, if I recall correctly.

  17. Tatiana April 14, 2007 at 10:07 am

    I wasn’t trying to argue anyone out of their position with my post. =) As I said, I don’t know why I posted that. It was just something I felt deeply and wanted to say.

    The end of the story of Adam and Eve hasn’t been told yet. The ending brings them back to the garden, millions of years later, after aeons of toil and tears, pure again because everything else has been burned away. No fig leaves now, they have a deep sexual connection and billions of descendants, but no shame. They feel pain, but after all the life they’ve seen, pain has become indistinguishible from joy. They’ve come full circle back to their childhood place. The serpent’s gift, millennia before, bore good fruit. Filled with wonder and remembrance, they see and understand.

    Laughing, they dash through the familiar groves, looking for God, running to embrace him as they once did, “Father, we’re home!” But he’s not there. Instead they find a man and woman, just opening their eyes, newly formed, innocent as day, naked without shame, who look at them and say “Father”, “Mother”. They turn to each other and realize they appear as glorified beings to these new ones. Tears wet their faces. “Children,” they say “enjoy anything you want here in this garden, but please don’t eat the fruit of that one tree.”

  18. Melonade April 15, 2007 at 10:07 am


    Your comments struck a chord with me. You said you used to be an athiest and it made me think of a young Japanese woman we taught on my mission. Once she joined the church she became an excellent missionary. I’m glad that you have faith in the Church. I am a long way from that and the distance continues to grow as I gain more knowledge.

    You Adam and Eve story is a great and also touching. If you created that yourself I commend you. My wife’s issue with your story would be that if Adam came back to the garden aeons later he would not come with only Eve, but also the many other exalted women he had been sealed to over the course of eternity. How many other women would he have a “deep sexual connection” with? Plural marriage and all the church leaders teachings that have gone with it over the last 150 years is my wife’s stumbling block. Mine is that the Church is full of great and even uplifting stories, but if they’re not true they’re just that…stories.

  19. Frank Davis April 16, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    I beg to differ that knowing through faith is just affirmation. From some of the statements above, there was once a feeling of belief but through various doubts the faith wore off. That was not a spiritual conviction. Peter, having witnessed Jesus perform numerous miracles, still lacked the moral resolve to acknowledge a testimony when accused of being with the Savior and denying him three times. Only after being taught of the resurrected Jesus did Peter become the strong and valiant spiritual prophet we know him to be. On the other hand, Abinadi di not witness Jesus or any miracles, but had a testimony of faith resulting in knowledge. So much so that he was willing to die for it. One cannot deny a spiritual confirmation of truth, therefore those who leave have either lost the spirit or never had a true spiritual conversion in the first place.

  20. Mayan Elephant April 16, 2007 at 9:08 pm


    interesting. i am not sure if you are insulting those that have left the church or the mormon god that abandoned them. as far as i know, you have not met peter or abinidi, so those references are faith-based on your part. are you infering that your faith is more valiant than anothers? i am unsure what point you are trying to make here.

    is your last sentence a blanket judgment of other people? they never had the spirit, according to you. can you clarify whether that is an insult to those people or to your god, for witholding from them? or, is it simply a stereotype and a judgment without basis or merit?

  21. Trevor April 16, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Half a year ago, my wife and I quit attending our local ward. This decision came after a lifetime of trying to make things work. Some time in my teenage years I became fascinated with LDS doctrine. This fascination, plus some profound personal experiences motivated me to serve a mission. I still highly value my missionary experience, as I do many of the things I experienced in the LDS Church.

    Still, there was plenty I could not reconcile with my understanding of reason, ethics, and morality, and those things, coupled with my own sense that I did not belong socially, made it a relatively easy step to discontinue activity. That my spouse was in the same place at the same time was the clincher.

    My time as a member of the LDS Church will always be an important part of who I am. In my own way, I still consider myself Mormon. I hope that my life will continue to embody many of the values I learned through my participation in the LDS Church and through my heritage. At some point, however, continuing activity became more harmful than helpful. Our path diverged from that of the LDS Church, and I am satisfied both that our reasons were very sound and also that we are, at least for now, where we need to be.

    To stay or to leave is a very personal decision. Whatever is healthiest for the individual and for the family is, in my opinion, the way to go. I would recommend much prayer, reflection, and discussion before settling on any path. Remember that spirituality and personal growth may continue inside or out. Don’t be afraid to try out something new, because almost without exception the return journey will remain open should you change your mind.

  22. Tatiana April 17, 2007 at 6:12 am

    Thanks for the kind response. Acutely aware that I’m a stranger here, I hesitate always to speak. I agree with Frank Davis that spiritual confirmation is the key. With it, human failings are just that, the frailties of people who therefore need our support and love and kindness. Without it, the whole enterprise becomes mired in errors and ugliness and ultimately untenable.

    Everyone’s path is different, and what helps one person may harm another, but what helps me is to put more emphasis on my relationship to God through prayer, meditation, and reading, and less on human interactions in my ward, until I feel renewed and ready to try again. I know that it matters, and this is my stumbling block that I have to learn to get over. But I don’t force my heart to do what it won’t. Hearts when manhandled tend to wither. What works for me is to tithe, give to the PEF and Humanitarian Aid, read scriptures and the Ensign, and go to church when I feel an urge to go. I don’t hold a calling right now. I have to immerse myself in the ideal church to feed my spirit, and then emerge into the real church when I feel able to feed others.

    As for polygamy, I believe that things are fair in heaven. I don’t understand how celestial marriage works, but maybe we have infinite time, so that there is plenty of time to focus on each spouse. And what I know for sure is that everything in heaven is fair. There are no gender injustices. So if there is polygyny then I believe there must also be polyandry. We haven’t been told everything yet, not by a long way. We only know part of the story, and even what we do know is almost more than we can take. Everything in John’s essay is wise and good.

    If we all hold our own progress up until the saints are perfected, we may stall and lose our path altogether. There’s no need to let the imperfections of other members of the church, even prophets, get in the way of our own exaltation. We’re our own pilots. We ultimately each must find our own path. Setting aside things that do one harm, just leaving them on the shelf to be examined later, and embracing the things that exalt one, that bring joy and transcendance, is part of following the spirit. Only you are the judge of that for your own heart, whether it be an R-rated movie or a particular doctrine of the church.

    May Heavenly Father bless you and fill you with light and joy, no matter what path you choose.

  23. Equality April 17, 2007 at 8:44 am

    The problem with Frank’s position is that it serves only to confirm his preconceived bias. His position can never be refuted by evidence, logic, experience, observation, or anything for that matter. Under Frank’s view of things, anyone who agrees with him “has the Spirit.” If they stop agreeing with him, they “never had the Spirit” or “have lost the spirit.” He’s right because he knows he is right and anyone who disagrees with him is wrong. How does he know they are wrong? Well, they disagree with him, of course. He’s got the Truth with a capital T straight from “the Spirit” so anyone who disagrees with him is contending against “the Spirit.” It’s really quite a neat trick that makes it absolutely impossible to ever have a rational discussion with him on the subject of religious testimony and the interpretation and meaning thereof.

  24. Frank Davis April 17, 2007 at 9:00 am

    Hmm… interesting responses to my post. One assumes I must be insulting either God or people, but does not know which. The other assumes I want people to agree with me. That is where the narrow scope will take you. The Church is either true, or not true. You either believe in the Church, or not. If you think it is a nice place with nice people, but have problems with the doctrine, then why bother being a member? I do not believe it is a menu church, where you can pick some of the doctrine to suport but reject others. Being independent is ok for voting, I suppose, where you choose qualities of various candidates to support. But you cannot ethically do that in a Church claiming to have the complete truth. If you believed it was true at one point, what changed your belief? If it was science, and science changes yet again to a position that actually supports the Church’s doctrine, would you hop back on the bandwagon?

  25. Clay April 17, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    You said “If you believed it was true at one point, what changed your belief? If it was science, and science changes yet again to a position that actually supports the Church’s doctrine, would you hop back on the bandwagon?”

    What if the Church changed (yet again) to a position that supports science, or relieves political pressure? What if you believed in a whole picture of a church where doctrine is established directly from God through prophets who the Lord will not allow to lead the church astray, which in some cases actually taught things that later prophets do not support as doctrine? President Hinckley said polygamy is “not doctrinal”, yet Brigham Young taught it as a requirement for exhaltation. Both men are prophets thus neither should be able to lead us astray.

    Similarly, Pres. Hinckley said “I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?” Also in a recent TV interview, Pres. Hinckley said “we don’t know the reason” when asked why the priesthood was withheld from blacks. Brigham Young and many other apostles gave reasons, as well as what you could reasonably construe as racial slurs in talks documented in books sold in church bookstores and commonly referred to in correlated teaching materials. Would one or the other of these men be leading the church astray? How can they differ so and still be leading the church in the right direction?

    At the very least, don’t issues like this make it somewhat understandable that a reasonable person who truly wants to know the truth and seeks to do the right thing could become confused and hurt? Consider also that said person may have previously received the witness of the Spirit that both Brigham Young AND Gordon B. Hinckley are prophets lead directly by God. At this point it certainly must be reasonable to see that a person could come to be less than confident in that witness of the Spirit.

    Its not about being convinced by external information that something is better than the church, it is discovering that the sum of information you prayed about and evaluated when you made your committment is not at all the whole story. Thus, you have to start over and figure it out again.

  26. Trevor April 17, 2007 at 6:28 pm


    Everyone treats the church like a menu because human limitations render them incapable of actually meeting every expectation or believing everything spoken.

    There is no way that the LDS Church has the complete truth. For one thing, there is no need to progress where everything is already in place. Since it is the case that the LDS Church has actually shed doctrine since its founding, it must either have lost something important or improved in some way. This means that it is possible it will continue to change, and therefore it is very unlikely to be perfect as it is.

    You also treat the changing of one’s mind as some kind of vice. I assume you do not include the changes that lead to conversion to the LDS Church. The flexibility to change is one of science’s best strengths, and yet you write as though it were some kind of shortcoming. You are doing a great job of deepening my conviction that leaving the LDS Church was a good move.

  27. Mayan Elephant April 17, 2007 at 11:32 pm


    You asked: “If you think it is a nice place with nice people, but have problems with the doctrine, then why bother being a member? ”

    Because for some people it is family. And it is their right to participate without your sort of crapola judgments.

    The reality is that insistance by others for complete compliance makes it an unkind place and unwelcome place for most people, including most mormons.

  28. Frank Davis April 18, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Well, Trevor, your statement “There is no way that the LDS Church has the complete truth” leaves us diametrically opposed. You have chosen to leave, best of luck to you. I disagree wholeheartedly with your assessment that the Church has shed doctrine, etc. That sounds like the common refrain from those who leave due to personal issues. Everyone has the right to change their mind. However, changing your core beliefs is not the same thing as changing your mind. My concern is having a member who does not believe fully in the tenets of the gospel (notice I said believe, not comply, as we are all going to fall short)continuing to attend and accepting a teaching calling and espousing their faulty doctrine to the students. Mayan Elephant, whom I believe is wanting to kind of ride the fence and participate without having to believe everything, feels you should be able to believe only partially in the Church yet be considered a full member of the Church without judgement. Do you pick and choose which callings you will accept? No one said you don’t have the right to participate, but I do not believe the Lord wants lukewarm members. Do you?

  29. Mayan Elephant April 18, 2007 at 6:30 pm


    I probably owe an explanation to you that I have no intention of being lukewarm.

    I intend to be true to myself and my family. Admittedly, that is as impossible as being completely obedient to the church and reading every day, going to the temple, home teaching, storing food, not cussing, blah blah blah. But, I am trying.

    With regards to the church, I intend to swim in cold water with a wetsuit. Though, I still have a sliver of hope that the church would welcome my family members that choose to participate, without forcing them to sit in judgment of others, including sitting in judgment of their own family.

    I have given up hope that mormonism could be a common community for me and my extended family, despite our shared heritage and many decades of shared experiences. That is a sad loss, but one I accept as a step in moving forward.

    You are correct that I think members should not have to believe everything and be able to do so without judgment. Just as I accept one can believe something, perhaps faulter in living up to those beliefs, and yet live without YOUR judgment.

    Yes indeed, one can pick and choose what callings to accept. It is a volunteer organisation that claims to offer agency. I wholly support such agency being extended to all, even primary teachers.

    Your granting to others of a right to participate is meaningless. They have they right. What is meaningful, is that you cannot revoke that right from them, regardless of their motivations or inner beliefs. And more, you do not speak for a Lord, you speak for Frank. Thanks for qualifying your remark regarding participation as your own belief. Though, I would challenge that it is as meaningful as my belief that the Red Sox will win the pennant.

    You said, “I disagree wholeheartedly with your assessment that the Church has shed doctrine, etc. ”

    That is beyond the pale. It is so untrue as to be comical. What about the priesthood ban, for starters? What about the Law of Vengeance? This is not the thread for all the changes, but it is important to point out your error.

    Frank, I applaud change. I recently read a thread where some non-practicing mormons were raging about recent talks by Oaks and Faust regarding divorce. It bugged me to the core that people were critical that the words contradicted previous comments by authorities. Now, know that i [am frustrated with Elder] Oaks more than almost any human on this planet. I [am severely frustrated with him]. But, in terms of the church and change, I applaud that he addressed a meaningful topic and was willing to contradict, albeit minutely, previous counsel. Change is what is needed. And more, an allowance for change among the members, individually and collectively, is needed.

    To see you call out individuals for having changed is so backwards to me it is haunting. It is a core motivation for me to leave the church. Not that I think all the members are like you, but, that I don’t see any leadership noble enough to counter your tone and position. That is harmful to my kids and to the community. Enough so, that I will forsake decades of investment to change myself and the path that we, as a family, hope to forge.

  30. Johnny Quest April 19, 2007 at 8:01 am

    Wow Frank, I am astonished at you comfort in casting judgement. I have commented a number of times on this site (and site related to it) needless to say that no one could really be entirely familiar with my issues with the church. What surprises me is that you seem very comfortable in writing off the serious concerns of one person as “the common refrain of those who leave due to personal issues.”

    I have found that on this website, as well as John’s personal blog that it is personal issues that are more likely to keep people in the church than otherwise. It is personal relationships with really good and decent people within the church that creates this dilemma: A disbelief in details that are not really important for salvation (as found in our own thoughts and prayers), will more often then not result in our friends and families’ assumption that we have committed horrible sins or are somehow dangerous people.

    It surprises me that you don’t see changes in the doctrine. There are many people who see these changes and yet remain very comfortable with the church. I find that I can not remain comfortable mostly for reasons related to people like you Frank: like your site concerning “Mormon Politics” it is not really concerned with Mormon politics, but rather you particular assumption that politics that do not agree with your own (like the Mormon Harry Reid) is not Mormon. Likewise, your approach to religion seems to be the same – if you don’t agree with it, it can be cast aside, condemned without charity or civility.

    I wonder who you invite to come onto Christ?

  31. Equality April 19, 2007 at 8:28 am

    “but I do not believe the Lord wants lukewarm members. Do you?”

    Frank, I believe the Lord would want his disciples to be filled with love, compassion, mercy, understanding, acceptance, long-suffering, patience, kindness, and empathy. I will let the good readers of Mormon Stories who have visited your web site (just click on Frank’s signature in his posts) and read your comments here determine for themselves whether you exemplify such characteristics.

  32. Trevor April 19, 2007 at 9:47 am


    I would love to introduce you to the world outside of your head, but you evidently have no interest in grappling with it. Instead it seems you are satisfied to remain ignorant and judge the world around you and the people in it from your own assumptions, presuppositions, and prejudices. A dialogue can only take place when people are willing to actually listen to and respect each other in their differences. What you have shown so far in your words is evidence of an unwillingness to participate in any dialogue. With that, I bid you adieu.

  33. Frank Davis April 20, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    How interesting. I invite all to come to Christ; however I do not invite people to partially come unto Christ until they have a question, get offended, or find it too difficult. And, once you have gone through the temple, your “volunteer” status of serving in the Church is over. Those who have gone through and made covenants know of which I speak.

    As for criticizing espousing beliefs on mormonpolitics.com, how is that different from this blog? It is a forum to express beliefs. I am accused of having biases and prejudices, yet your comments regarding my beliefs seem to be rather pious in themselves. In other words, this blog is ok, others are not? Would you like to reconsider your fallacious claim of me being judgemental? Probably not. And please, let’s not trot out the well worn and totally discredited anti tripe and tell me my disbelief in them is laughable. That is what detracts from, as you say, “the dialogue.”

  34. Mayan Elephant April 20, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    From Frank: “And, once you have gone through the temple, your “volunteer” status of serving in the Church is over.”

    This, again, is just not true. Some people in the church, including Frank, would like for people to think it, however, it is just not true.

    The suggestion that by entering the temple one forfeits their agency to choose their activities and level of engagement is quite harmful. Especially when one considers that one enters the temple, and commits to many things, without any prior knowledge or preparation, whatsoever.

    John, is not looking to host a debate on that topic and I respect that.

  35. Equality April 20, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    “until they have a question, get offended, or find it too difficult. ”

    Frank, with this comment you reveal that you really really do not get it. Have you looked at John’s Why People Leave the Church presentation? Have you sepnt any time at all here or talking to disaffected members of the Church? Reducing it all to having a question, getting offended, or finding things too difficult is an insult to our intelligence. It may be the tripe you’ve been fed unceasingly by the [LDS Church leaders] but it’s not even close to being true. Members of the church continue to operate under the false notion that people become disaffected because of being offended or being unable or unwilling to live the commandments (for example, a favorite response from Joseph Fielding McConkie when confronted with a difficult question posed by a doubting member is to ask the questioner “which commandments did you not want to keep”). Frank, as long as you suffer from this basic misconception, you and the LDS Church will continue to fail miserably to stem the tide of those who are leaving or win back to the “fold” those who have already left.

  36. Clay April 20, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    In the days Jesus walked on Earth, the pharisees had the incredible opportunity to follow Him but did not because His teachings of equality, humility, fellowship, understanding, and outreach to the troubled disrupted the system of power and entitlement they had built up. They themselves had committed fully to the religion and they despised those who would not. The sadducees wanted Him to literally destroy their enemies and liberate them from rule. In both cases they ignored the great gift of God because they did not allow for love and compassion on those who did not fit within their prescribed definition of worthy or committed.

    As an example, Jesus is only known to have become angry on one occasion. This was with the moneychangers who were making a profit off of those who had come to be enriched and worship God. (side note: anyone see a parallel to a certain retail chain?) He was never vitriolic or harsh with the prostitutes, thieves, adulterers, or other sinners. Even some of his apostles would judge people (the blind man) or question what they could not understand (Thomas) or want to lash out at detractors (Peter), yet Jesus was always patient and understanding about these things.

    Just some food for thought. Jesus is a pretty good example to follow no matter what you believe.

  37. PookyBear April 20, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Gee, doesn’t sound like Equality is offended at all! So if you’re not offended, don’t have questions, and don’t find it too difficult, you must have become disaffected because everything was just too darned perfect.

  38. Trevor April 20, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    That’s right PookyBear, because Christ came to save the sinners, not all those folks who are “just too darned perfect.”

  39. Trevor April 20, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    By the way, Equality, I find it sadly humorous that our orthodox friends are placing us in their crosshairs exactly as Dutcher said.

  40. Ryan April 21, 2007 at 6:52 am

    Trevor–don’t hold it against them. You cannot acknowledge the apostate as “equal” without undoing your own internal belief structure.

    Great presentations about this at the ExMo conference, btw (as well as http://www.ted.com–look for Ramachandra and Richard Dawkins).

    As you know, when you were in the system, it didn’t matter what evidence you or I saw–we believed anyway.

    They aren’t attacking you (not directly)–they are protecting their beliefs…which makes the perhaps the impossibility of connecting the two groups, as John so nobly has tried to do for so long, even more vivid.

  41. Equality April 21, 2007 at 10:36 am


    Actually, no, I am not offended. And there is no list of sins I have secretly been longing to commit that would explain my disaffection. My disaffectiion from the church relates to the disconnect i see between the values espoused by Christ and the values espoused by the modern church. You can read more about why I am disaffected at my blog, Equality Time. I have said repeatedly that it was not because of any personal offense at anything anyone in my ward has said or done, which is generally what is meant when people talk about members going inactive for being offended.

    The Thomas B. Marsh story is a perfect example. It is easier for TBMs to process the idea that Marsh left the church because of taking offense over something petty, thereby losing years of joy and peace that woyuld have ben his had he only remained a loyal and obedient follower of his leaders. The truth is he had very good reaasons for leaving the church. And the story of the milk strippings was fabricated out of thin air years later. (Incidentally, the fact that the church continues to peddle the story knowing it is not true ought to raise some red flags for you. President Hinckley has to know the real story, yet he has told the false correlated version more than once in General Conference).

    But if members acknowledge that Marsh left for legitimate reasons, it could call into queston the whole “President of the Church will never lead you astray” meme that is, unfortunately, the bedrock of modern Mormonism.

  42. Trevor April 21, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Aside from the Marsh story, another favorite of mine is the “Lucy Harris was a shrew” narrative. How dare a young wife challenge her husband when he wants to “sell the farm” to give thousands of dollars to a guy who claims he can find treasure with a stone in his hat?!?! Surely none of us would be so unreasonable as Lucy!

    I once taught a Sunday School lesson in which I tried to show that according to the D&C revelations, the Lord was angry with Martin for, among other things, adultery. I recall that the first response to this information was “yeah, but he was married to a shrew!” Sigh.

    Once again, it is so much easier to believe what we are told than the evidence. Lucy stands as another example of the unfairly vilified dissenters (members or nonmembers) from Smith & co.

  43. Ryan April 21, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    And John–for me, the question would be “why” to stay in the Church after being disaffected.

    I looked up “disaffected”: discontented as toward authority

    Comes from “affected”:
    2. Emotionally stirred or moved.

    Wow. That is an excellent word to use. I disavow any authority over myself that is illegitimate.

    Please tell me why I should remain in a group where a few old men make rules for me to follow, assuming I am a thinking individual.

  44. Trevor April 21, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    I have an answer for your question. You by all means do not have to, and personally I did not. I approach the entire issue from a different perspective: what can I take from my Mormon heritage and experience now that I have rejected LDS Church authority in my personal life?

    There is something about the Mormon experience that transcends all of the nonsense that occured from the time of its founding right up to the present–the idealism, faith, and convictions of those people who found and still find something about the Mormon message compelling.

    I look at Joseph Smith as a brilliant man who proposed certain interpretations of issues of concern in the Christian community of his day. While LDS people selectively look upon his mythos as authoritative, I would advocate a broader view. Look to the Zeitgeist and ideals that inspired some of these Mormon visions, and find a position that seems worthwhile to you. In this way, you may actually build on your heritage rather than utterly reject it.

    My ‘Mormonism’ is comprised mainly by my hope that individuals and societies can progress and make the world a better place, and my efforts to make this come about. Sure, it’s broad, but it works for me and I think it is something my LDS ancestors also valued.

  45. Clay April 23, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Here is my “why”:

    Because the course I travel is not purely a matter of what I want for myself. I am no longer an individual person floating in space. My wife and children are part of me, and to an extent our extended family as well. Just leaving would be disruptive and emotionally painful to them.

    Because any course I could take to contribute to my community and any framework I could adopt to connect with God is prone to problems. The LDS church may have some unique kinds of problems, but these problems really exist because human beings have all kinds of character and judgment issues and the larger the number of them grouped together the greater the chance those ugly things come out. Frankly, its quite remarkable how limited the issues are considering the size of the population.

    Because ultimately, if I now feel that my judgment failed me on some faith-promoting things that are not accurate, the underlying moral is that MY judgment shouldn’t be trusted enough to make a shift in the opposite direction. There is no evidence to say all the things I believed vigorously before are not true. Its just not plain and simple, or beyond doubt. It is now about learning how to live with the balance of faith and doubt.

  46. Mayan Elephant April 23, 2007 at 11:03 am

    “Because ultimately, if I now feel that my judgment failed me on some faith-promoting things that are not accurate, the underlying moral is that MY judgment shouldn’t be trusted enough to make a shift in the opposite direction. ”

    Wow Clay. That is harsh. I am not saying you should leave the church or abandon everything you learned or gained from the church. However, it is unreasonable to assume that what you believed or learned at one point in your life, if proven false or if it is no longer beneficial, invalidates your agency, current values, or wisdom. That is a bit too extreme and fatalistic.

    I do think that we are constantly learning and increasing in wisdom and experience. T’would be a shame to ignore all that for something that felt right and valuable decades ago.

  47. Clay April 23, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    I think you are over-reading what I wrote. I didn’t mean to suggest that I think I’ve lost all agency, values or wisdom. My point is about absolute thinking, one way or the other. At one point I did not allow for the possibility that the church was not all that it claims to be, or any of a list of other issues. I thought that I had heard it all and exercized judgment on it and that I had a final decision. Especially when we throw in “the witness of the spirit” and you find that you can no longer justify certain doctrines (priesthood exclusions for example) and now you feel the exact opposite from that witness of the spirit. If you are honestly seeking truth, why would God not continue giving the witness in spite of cultural opposition?

    From experiences like those, I feel that its not really wise to assume that I have the “truth” or final answer to many things. I allow for bad to exist right alongside good, and even the possibility that there actually are some things that seem off to me now because I have not learned some key perspective on it yet.

  48. Frank Davis April 23, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    I see quite a bit of pseudo intellectual justification for affirming some posters disaffection with the Church. Going back to Thomas B. Marsh with evidence-less suppositions why he left, claiming the Church espouses the “milk strippings” story, etc. etc., is just (in my mind) a screen. To say that you are a Mormon, yet believe Joseph Smith was just “a brilliant man who proposed certain interpretations of issues of concern in the Christian community of his day” and denying his role as prophet is disengenuous. Many want to be so intellectual that the foundations of the Church are too simple and dogmatic for them, it’s the nuances of the Church that need to be addressed. The Church is a true Church run by mortal people with frailties and weaknesses. Would you doubt Christ if you saw His right hand man Peter deny that he was part of the entourage? To say my points “just aren’t true” is weak discourse; make an argument with fact or reasoning.

  49. Trevor April 23, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    Ahhh, Frank. You marvelous man. I can see that you are drawing me out. I have a few points to make about your post, and I thank you for writing it.

    First, you are the one who added the word ‘just.’ I would not say that Joseph was ‘just a brilliant man who….” Nor did I say that. I actually do think he was a prophet, but my understanding of that term and yours are probably quite different.

    I think that plenty of evidence has been offered regarding the “milk strippings” tradition. It is a well known fact, especially thanks to research on polygamy in Nauvoo, that Joseph Smith engineered smear campaigns against women who turned him down. Joseph was wont to discredit his enemies through very colorful invective. We tend to take his invective at face value because we are not in touch with the bombastic rhetoric of his world.

    Whenever someone leaves the Church people almost immediately start speculating about what sin they committed to get them there. For you this seems to be perfectly rational, I would guess, because you may think that sin is the only reason people leave (in its myriad forms). For those of us whose thinking isn’t as straighforward (to put it nicely), there are other possibilities that do not have the implication of wrongdoing attached.

    From where I sit, we might say that sin has something to do with everything, because, as you point out, we are all mortal people. So, in the end, sin as an explanation for leaving the Church is really meaningless. It is only useful in drawing attention to others’ shortcomings to explain away their human complexities.

    Does sin have anything to do with my not being at Church? Sure. But sin also has something to do with your being there. The only difference is that I am not there and you are, and somehow that you are there absolves you from the stain of being absent in the eyes of people like yourself. In reality, there is little difference between us when it comes to sin.

    If my problem with the Church were that it is too simple and dogmatic, things would be much simpler. Instead, my problem is much more comprehensive. My problem has to do with a lack of secure historical foundations for the events described in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. My problem has to do with the continual doctoring of history and texts at the very foundation and development of the LDS Church from its infancy. You find it simple, I would guess, to have faith based on your assumption that there is a ‘there’ in all of this. The Spirit, so you believe, confirms that ‘there’ exists.

    As a professionally trained philologist and historian who has studied Greco-Roman literature and history, and whose hobby has been Mormon history for some years now, what I see is a bunch of people (faithful Mormons) being very certain about things they have no sound evidentiary basis to be certain about. I do not deride your right to exercise faith in anything you desire, but I do think your facile dismissal of a myriad difficult issues as pseudo-intellectuality and “excuses” is little more than evidence of your own ignorance and prejudice disguised as pseudo-righteous indignation.

  50. Frank Davis April 24, 2007 at 12:45 pm


    If you are, as you claim, professionally trained philologist and historian, your claim that “It is a well known fact, especially thanks to research on polygamy in Nauvoo, that Joseph Smith engineered smear campaigns against women who turned him down” makes me wonder where you were trained and if it is too late to get your money back. You see, just like the global warming alarmists, you seem to think that by claiming “everyone knows it is true” without providing facts will assuage the naive. Your statement is not factual and is simply the unsubstantiated claim of church enemies. I think the phrase “strains at a gnat and swallows a camel” was written for people like you. You don’t believe the Book of Mormon foundation, or any of the revelation given through the Church. Fine. Go be a Catholic, or a Lutheran, or an atheist. But do not denigrate my beliefs as “ignorant” when in reality, you don’t know what you believe about the Church. Being a student of Mormon History is not a result of simple reading Fawn Brodie.

  51. Equality April 24, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Is Frank Davis for real? If I were a TBM or Mormon apologist, I think I would be wondering if some “anti” didn’t invent this Frank Davis feloow as a caricature of an overzealous poster child of Mormon orthodoxy.

  52. Trevor April 24, 2007 at 2:07 pm


    Wow. When you have demonstrated the ability to read and comprehend basic English text, we can have a discussion. Until then, I won’t take your criticism of my education very seriously.

  53. Frank Davis April 24, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Well, Trevor and “Equality,” your rejoinders are the usual personal denigration which occurs when you have no intelligent reply. Sort of like the adult version of “neener neener” with the same level of intelligence. Of course I read and comprehend basic English text; enough so that you claimed I “drew you out” with a previous post. But now I am apparently illiterate. Your evasion of discussion by claiming I’m not up to your erudite level to have one is a cop out. Therefore, I will leave you with this: I am comfortable with my belief in the Church and the truthfulness of its doctrine. You are not, and swirl various anti-fabrications and fallacies to justify your unbelief. I support your right to not believe just as I believe in my right to believe. I hope you come to some sort of peace over your angst about the Church.

  54. Equality April 24, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Frank Davis,

    I was really serious in my question. Are you for real or are you some RfMer pretending to be a Mormon zealot?

    P.S. I dig the “scare quotes” around “Equality.” Nice touch. I know John does not like threads to descend into personal banter among the participants, so I’ll stop with this comment. I do hope he keeps these comments up, though, because I think that Frank’s remarks are a perfect illustration of the type of response Dutcher was apprehending in writing his comment at BCC.

  55. Trevor April 24, 2007 at 3:45 pm


    It is fair to say that you are consistently misreading and distorting what I write, enough to make me question your ability to comprehend it accurately. At the very least you are blinded by your assumptions regarding what I know, what I have read, and what I intend to communicate. Whatever the reasons behind your misinterpretation or mischaracterization of what I write, my conclusions that you have it wrong stand.

    I said you “drew me out,” and now you conclude that this in an endorsement of your skills. Your assumption is further evidence that you actually lack the requisite acumen to carry on the discussion. If you re-read my reply carefully, one of the first items I commented regarded your misrepresentation of what I wrote. Already, we are on shaky ground here. Now you claim I am being inconsistent in criticizing your reading skills. Actually, I am simply getting tired of correcting you.

    Now that I have gone to the trouble of correcting you on that point, I will address the most obvious error (of the many others) in your tirade about my education and denigration of your beliefs. I challenge you to point out where I called your beliefs ‘ignorant.’ In fact, I said that your indignation was ‘evidence’ of your ignorance concerning the many difficulties with LDS representations of Mormon history and doctrine.

    I can’t let this last one go. You claim that I said you are not up to my “erudite level.” I did not bring up my training as a means of personally intimidating you. You, rather, used it as a means of insulting me, which makes me think you are rather sensitive about the issue of education, for whatever reason. Yes, I did proceed to criticize your reading skills, but your mangling of my words made that fair game.

    If you are so comfortable with your belief in the LDS Church, then why are you so strident about the positions of others? This makes me think that you are perhaps not so comfortable. Methinks you protest too much. I am not yet comfortable with my unbelief in the LDS Church, because I grew up with it, believed it true for many years, served it faithfully, and wanted dearly for it to be what people claimed about it. I think I am on the right track as I question it, but I am not here to brag that I have everything absolutely worked out.

  56. Frank Davis April 24, 2007 at 8:12 pm


    I think you just like to see yourself in print. Your words are fallacious; you deny calling me ignorant, but claim you merely said that my indignation was ‘evidence’ of my ignorance concerning the many difficulties with LDS representations of Mormon history and doctrine.” The pharisees would be proud. The only indignation I see is yours with your belief system in the Church.

    You don’t know what to believe, yet you challenge my beliefs. It is apparent we disagree, so future debate over your verbage is pointlesss. As I have said earlier, I hope you reach some peace over your angst, but rest assured I am very comfortable in my beliefs, regardless of your assumptions about my faith being a sign I am uncomfortable with my faith (again, your circular logic). I am very educated, and have no need to try and prove it debating endlessly over trivial myths about the early Church. So I bid you and this forum adieu, and wish you the best.

    Frank Davis.

  57. Trevor April 24, 2007 at 9:08 pm


    There are so many leaps in what you have written that it is difficult to know where to begin, but I will try.

    1) A specific claim that you could be ignorant about a particular set of things is definitely not the same as a blanket claim that you are ignorant. I did not make that statement, try as you may to make it seem that way.

    2) I have no idea what you are talking about when you refer to my indigation with my belief system in the Church. Does that even mean anything?

    3) Please point out where I challenge your beliefs. All I know about them, from what you have stated in this thread, is that you are very, very certain about them. Maybe I implicitly challenge them by being different from you?

    4) I wonder how comfortable you are with your faith not because you claim to be very certain about it, but because you are picking fights left and right as though scoring imaginary victories vindicates your much vaunted certainty.

    5) Trivial myths about the early Church? Please do not tell us you are a historian. I pray you are not.

    6) I am glad you spent a lot of time in school. Feel free to spend more time there. I am in favor of education.

  58. Mayan Elephant April 24, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    i just want to say, regarding this conversation: “[It] has prompted me to consider making a video revealing the family tree connection and bloodline between an altrunian baboon and the writer of the above letter. It’s good to know that the overall gullibility of most antis remains virtually unchanged.”

    OK. Now that is a crack-up, eh? What a hoot. The author is a descendent of a baboon? comedy gold right there. So many assumptions and insults all layered into one paragraph. That Frank is a regular comedian. I dont know how he comes up with that sort of stuff.

  59. John Dehlin April 24, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    ok. Time’s up!

    I hate it when it gets too personal.

    Let’s try again on another thread.

    As a former Microsoftie….time to hit Ctrl – Alt – Delete

Comments are closed.