No, am not involved in the Strangers in Zion web site.  I am friends with Micah Nickolaisen (one of its founders), and Micah did call me before initiating this project to get my opinion.  I told Micah that I did not want to use my current situation to encourage people to do anything that would not be in their best interest.  Consequently, I do not desire to encourage anyone to either stay in or leave the church.  Instead, I want people to do what is best for them.  I will admit that I believe that people requesting disciplinary councils may lead to greater awareness, dialogue, and ultimately greater empathy for struggling Mormons (over simply resigning their memberships) — but I do not encourage people to take any of these actions.  Again, I believe that people should make very careful decisions as to what is best for them and their families, and I am being sincere in saying that my personal desire is to retain my membership in the church, if it is possible for me to do so with integrity.


  1. Student June 27, 2014 at 11:31 am - Reply

    John, over the years, you’ve done a great job of articulating the fundamental paradox of Mormonism.Like the Frontline documentary, the South Park episode, the musical “Book of Mormon,” Rough Stone Rolling, etc., you’re grappling with the undeniable strength and beauty of the community the church founders built and the undeniable hollowness at the core of their work. It’s the theme of (I think) all the best work on the subject. It’s one of history’s best examples of the complexity of human nature. Joseph Smith was a genius at inspiring his followers and began to abuse that genius; Brigham Young was a genius who built a thriving society from nothing and also a racist and (likely) apologist for murder. Mormon scripture is a set of fictional works that provide hope and solace to millions.

    It parallels the story of the United States and its founders: Thomas Jefferson’s democratic genius AND his slaves; a golden door for the huddled masses of Europe AND the genocide of Cherokees on the Trail of Tears. They’re both real; it’s all part of the story. You have to accept the contradictions in order to get at any truth.

    I hope you’re allowed to remain what I would consider a humanist Mormon: someone who doesn’t believe the theology, but reveres the human church built around it and way that church helps its human makers. Maybe, like the characters in the musical, you’ll get to say that it doesn’t matter whether it’s true if it helps people live kinder and happier lives. I hope so.

  2. Chris June 27, 2014 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Evolve or die. I think John understands this and it is why he continues to question the Mormon Church. He is a modern day Martin Luther in my opinion. The church, like the constitution, is a living embodiment of the wants and desires of the people and its members. If the church does not change the then it will die on the vine, as younger people are typically more progressive, and older folks can be zealots. The church will be doing a huge disservice by excomming John. But perhaps it will force it to finally face these issues, much like Martin Luther did so many centuries ago.

    • Chris June 27, 2014 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      Oh yeah, the third option is of course a schism. This appears increasingly likely as time goes on.

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