I got enough requests that I went ahead and released my story on iTunes. All I’ll ask is that my more conservative listeners try to not be too harsh/judgmental at the fact that I’m sharing some of my deepest, toughest, most sensitive feelings and impressions (and only at the request of my listeners). It’s very hard for me to do this–much harder than I expected–and I would just ask for your understanding. These are my impressions and feelings at best…however crudely articulated…and in some instances are quite unorthodoxed. My prayer is that I won’t drive people away simply by being open/honest w/ some of the things I struggle with or don’t understand.

I never want to get in the way of the stories I’m trying to give a voice to, so for me, if there ever were an act of faith, this is it.

Thanks to those of you who can find it within you to be patient and understanding with me in this disclosure. I guess my motto is “Open. Honest”…so it’s time for me to walk the walk….and trust in you all to try to walk a mile or two along side me to understand.

Finally, as I mention in the podcast, I’m still open to further light and knowledge…this just represents how I’m feeling in 2006.

God Bless


  1. Derrick C May 11, 2006 at 2:40 am

    “My prayer is that I won’t drive people away simply by being open/honest w/ some of the things I struggle with or don’t understand.”

    The fact that some people could be driven away by honesty is not a good reason to not be honest. :)

    Thanks for all, John.

  2. Steven Francom May 11, 2006 at 10:57 pm


    It has been a real joy to associate with you. Having asked you most of these same questions recently in person I was excited to see you sharing them with everyone. Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have you as a neighbor. I’m sure it wasn’t something you didn’t hesitate to do for many reasons, but you have my complete support. What I like most about your testimony is that I think it comes from your heart and is not something you take lightly or just throw out there. Is an honest testimony that is filled with doubt better than a dishonest testimony filled with false conviction? But what about childlike hope, faith, and trust?

    I have also enjoyed your lessons. I have learned so much and believe that you have a gift and it is highly motivating to see you standing up for what you believe and reaching out in an effort to make a difference. It is so easy to get caught up bickering over the less important and missing out on the most important aspects of life, and that is what I think you have stressed most often and I love it. The simplicity of Christs teachings to love thy neighbor, withhold thy judgments, forgive one another’s trespasses, it is in these teachings that I know you are my brother in Christ and that is all that really matters to me.

    While hardly knowing me you have shown me the utmost respect and treated me as an insider to your inner circle of trust and fiends. I don’t take this gift lightly. I hope and pray and have faith that things will work out for the best.

  3. japanguy May 11, 2006 at 11:58 pm

    Great podcast John and thanks. I could really relate to your story and I hope that it will help others feel that they are not alone in their believes and feelings about the church. I have struggled for years with my testimony and have in the last few years finally come to grips with the fact that I don’t believe. The worst part of not believing is how other feel about you and view you, especially your family. The church(all religions do) just takes such a large part of peoples lives. I don’t take my family to church to much and most of my older children are openminded enough that I think that they realize that a lot of what the church teaches is not logical or realistic. I hope that you can find a nice balance in your life with the church. I am still bounces back and forth a bit although getting out is starting to win. Thanks again,

  4. Hellmut May 12, 2006 at 2:39 pm

    Your story reflects a lot of my own experience, John, especially how growing up in the mission field shaped your attitudes towards the LDS Church.

    The thing that ultimately matters about Christian theology is that we love our neighbors. The rest is merely an implication. If there is no God, it’s still worthwhile to love one another. If there is a loving God that will be good enough to her.

    It’s wonderful to have Mormon Stories. If I could spare my children the Mormon experience, on the other hand, I would do it in a heart beat. Thank you very much for taking responsibility and for letting us tell our stories.

  5. Gunner May 12, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks. An openly honest podcast on many issues, but the part about your faith was the best.

  6. pjj May 12, 2006 at 6:44 pm

    Hi John, Now we know everything about you, except your shoe size. :) Seriously, I really think this one is your best yet. I appreciate your honesty, candor, and passion. I hope that no one hassles you over this, since it’s obvious that you’re doing this because you care. I appreciate your ability to listen to all sides, and not demonize or attack others. I’ll be in the sometime the first ten days of August for my ice cream– Aggie ice cream, right?

  7. John Dehlin May 13, 2006 at 12:35 am

    You guys/gals are the coolest. Thanks for your kind sentiments….

    …and yes….as long as we’re in Logan, the Aggie Ice Cream is on me (for those who qualify)!!! :)

  8. Confused May 13, 2006 at 11:54 am

    I am confused–how do I listen to this podcast? Please advise.

  9. Administrator May 13, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    Click on the tab above that says “how to listen” and let me know if the instructions aren’t clear, or don’t work.

    If you can’t get it to work, let me know, and I’ll give you more detail/help.


  10. pjj May 13, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    Confused, you have to scroll down, past the questions for Grant Palmer, to Podcasts 027-029. That’s where they actually are.

  11. Dave Westwood May 13, 2006 at 4:35 pm

    A terrific series of podcasts. I’ve enjoyed hearing all of your podcasts. You’re doing a great work for the larger mormon community. I think you’re making the case that it’s all about sharing our stories and making the community safe for all kinds of mormons.

  12. Abner Doon May 13, 2006 at 10:00 pm


    Thanks for giving this interview. I learned much of what you said from our phone conversation (geez, how long has it been? a year??) but it was great to hear more detail and background to your story. I have nothing but respect for you and what you’re doing with respect to the church and your podcast. While personally I feel like my personal happiness will be maximized outside Mormonism, in a way I’ll always carry a candle for the church that supported and informed so much of my upbringing. Up until about the age of 12, I’d be hard pressed to find anything negative the church caused in my life. Ward picnics, father-son outings, primary songs, family home evening, casseroles delivered when mom was sick–there was so much to appreciate. In wistful moments, I mourn the loss of that innocence, as it were. Even if the church isn’t “True”, I received so much good at the hands of kind neighbors and ward members. I will always carry the memories of goodness and the lessons I learned, no matter where I go in life.

    Sometimes I feel angry and bitter about how the church has “turned out” for me. Perhaps some distance will help my heart grow fonder. If only the church leaders were as progressive, and if people like you and I were welcomed rather than held at a distance, I’d be a complete fool to leave. As it is, I feel like I’m too young, and things in the church are moving too slowly. There have been improvements, no doubt about it, but life’s too short. I can’t stand the throught of binding myself down to the church’s way of doing things. The issues you mentioned–parochialism, racism, treatment of women, attitudes about sexuality, authoritarianism–they weigh too heavily on me. I could have accepted the messiness of church history. I could have coped with Brigham Young and the Adam-God theory. I could have even coped with the Book of Mormon being inspired fiction. What I can’t cope with is being a stranger in my own home. I can’t live with the pressure of perfection and complete devotion to a church that is far from perfect and a heirarchy clearly not devoted to the well-being of its members. As Paul Toscano said, “The tabernacle stands, but the lights are winking out. The Church is preoccupied with exteriorities. It prizes righteousness over holiness, image over inspiration. The Church is no longer the Saints, but an increasingly judgmental, puritanical, and authoritarian corporate entity…. Mormonism, I fear is no longer a mystery. It is a machine.”

    So I’ll say goodbye to the church, but not without some regret. Perhaps someday I’ll forget why I ever cared about the church at all. Best of luck to you, John.

  13. Bonnie May 14, 2006 at 10:43 am

    I really enjoyed your podcast very much. It was wonderful to listen to somebody express so eloquently, their inner most feelings about their philosophy of life.

    You sound like a genuinely kind person, I have spent many years dealing with so many unkind remarks from Mormons about me leaving the LDS church, so your voice was one of reason, kindness, and understanding.

    I imagine that had I known somebody like you years ago, I may have stayed in the Mormon Church, but for ME, that would have been a bad thing. It was a horrible experience for me to be a Mormon. I am glad to hear that the way you look at things works for you. I believe that by expressing your feelings like you did, that you WILL help others to stay within the Mormon Church. What I do not believe, however, it that it is necessarily a good thing for everybody.

    For me, and many other like me, the LDS church has more bad than good, more dishonesty than honesty, more ill will towards others than good will, and in the end, not a good place to be.

    That you can find the good and cherish it, makes me think you and people like you will be the ones who take the LDS church into a new era. People like you can help the church grow and become a vehicle for happiness rather than one for guilt, anger, depression, and lies. I believe that if others who feel like you can be a tremendous force of change.

    I appreciate so much that you have shared your story. It was very well done. Thank you for your honesty and fresh approach towards looking at Mormonisn.

  14. Mike Kessler May 14, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    Wow, John, that just blew me away! I am truly speechless. Yes, it was a major time investement but I’m already thinking about which parts I want to listen to again. Thank you for this wonderful gift.

  15. Jon Manchester May 14, 2006 at 7:32 pm


    I have listened to many of your podcasts and have really enjoyed them. Although I am not a member of the LDS church, I have an interest in it and have a couple nephews who have served LDS missions. I particularly enjoyed your most recent segments (27 – 29) where you shared your own story. I was astounded when I listened to segment 29 last night. In very many ways the beliefs you shared are so similar to my own. It was quite an experience hearing you voice thoughts that so closely resonated with my own. This seems all the more remarkable since our religious traditions are so different. I come from a United Methodist Church backgroud and am now a Unitarian Universalist.

    Thanks for having the faith to share your story in such a public forum. Best wishes for continued success.

  16. Texasguy May 14, 2006 at 8:39 pm


    This was one of the best podcasts yet. I don’t know why you ever felt it didn’t merit being posted. It must be hard to share your beliefs in such an open way. I find what you are doing with Mormon Stories to be very courageous and honest. Thanks for this. After listening, I did remember several of the reasons that I still like going to church. Keep up the good work and honesty.

  17. Paul May 14, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    The process John describes of re-evaluating ones LDS faith after studying the non-sanitized history is fairly common. However, it is not typcially outwardly visible. LDS services and programs don’t accomodate it naturally. Hence, the person experiencing it is often left in the difficult and lonely position of sifting the LDS baby from the bath water so that the latter can be discarded.

    For many of us who have been through this sifting process, the things we discard are the notions of prophetic infallibility, exlusive authority and exclusive access to truth. The things we tend to keep are neighborly love, service and community.

    Hence, it makes total sense to me that John’s comments would resonate with a Unitarian Universalist. In fact, I think it is very common for people exiting the LDS chuch to land as Unitarians.

  18. Chris Rusch May 15, 2006 at 6:42 am

    Though I disagree with some of your beliefs, I appreciate you having the courage to tell your story. It helped me better understand where I fit in the Church. I know that I can have issues with Mormon Culture, and still be in the church that I have been a member of since my Childhood.

  19. ebb May 15, 2006 at 11:44 am

    For me, this life is about “one thing” coming to know Jesus Christ. If we fail to do that we have missed life’s purpose.

  20. John Dehlin May 15, 2006 at 11:55 am

    To everyone–thanks so much for taking the time to provide comments and feedback.  It is all very encouraging to me.

    Hey ebb….

    I sort of agree. For me, the purpose of life is to find joy in serving/loving others (which seems to have been Christ’s core message). However, since most of the world will never really have the chance to know Christ, I have to believe God’s plan includes those folks as well in ways that maybe we don’t fully understand.

    Still–if you’re saying the purpose of life is to love, and be loved–I’m with you 100%.

  21. Dave May 15, 2006 at 12:43 pm


    I’ve loved all the stories you’ve done so far. Yours is an important one to capture. By deciding to go forward, I think that you’ve “raised the bar” on the rest of us who have been “left” in the shadows of NOM-hood for too long. I loved your description of the church as a laboratory of Christianity. Those who frustrate you the most bring out your Christian charity the most. You clearly show influence of Gene England.

    Regarding your experience in Latin America, I’m eight years older than you. Unfortunately, your mission was not an isolated incident. We saw the same nonsense in Peru. The highlight of my mission was when Elder McConkie publicly called our mission president on the carpet. We were at a multi-zone conference, and he had the mission president, who was also bucking for GA-hood, stand up. He read the number of baptisms that had occurred under our president’s watch.

    You could just see the air go out of our president as Elder McConkie brought down hellfire and brimstone with his next question. “President, according to our calculations, that number of converts should account for nearly 14 stakes. President, we haven’t formed anywhere near that many stakes. President, I just have one question? Where are the stakes?”

    We called it the “where’s the beef” public PPI. Unfortunately, nothing changed.

    You seemed to allude to holding a TR. Mine has just lapsed for the first time in our married life. Largely out of my own inner struggles and reflections. I feel like I’ve at leasted justified, or out and out lied about my testimony, or at least lack of the correlated version thereof for over a decade. Yet, I still feel worthy to hold one.

    I think that more than anything, your podcast is a call for what the Japanese call “honne” in our dealings with our fellow Saints. As I relocate my family to Japan, I think I must remain a with the body of the Saints. I choose to renew my TR. But in solidarity with you, and the many others left on the fringes of Mormondom, I choose to do so re-affirming my covenants and sustainings with my left hand. I can’t think of a more appropriate symbol of my NOM-hood, other than perhaps the CTL rings that I’ve seen floating around on the web.



  22. Mike Kessler May 15, 2006 at 1:01 pm

    I wanted to echo John Manchester’s comments above about these podcasts resonating with me. In my case, I’m also not LDS, and not even a Christian. I’m Jewish, and yet I still felt very closely aligned with John’s thoughts and buoyed by them. No matter what one calls that spark in all of us, that thing that’s bigger than all of us and connects us all, that love that we have for each other and the world — knowing that others know and feel it, and hearing John say it, makes me feel so very hopeful and good all over.

  23. Robert Duncan May 15, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    I enjoyed your podcast very much and am a regular listener. Thanks for the honest and fair way you look at the issues. It’s a great help to many of us out here. And I have no doubt the number of people you help will grow considerably. I think that if it helps The TBM members get a little better perspective on why people question, that may be your greatest service because I think that one of the greatest tragedies of the church is how the ingrained close mindedness of members causes these horrible rifts in families when one has honest questions and in trying to be honest and to follow their heart they are cut off and labeled with things that break hearts and seperate loved ones maybe forever. I hope to contribute and to comunicate again sometime.
    Best wishes, Robert

  24. jordanandmeg May 15, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    I’m with you, John. The Book of Mormon says:

    “For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.”

    For me, this scripture supports the idea that one doesn’t need to be Mormon (or anything particular) to be ‘saved.’

    One of the reasons I love the LDS church is that it proclaims to be THE true church while teaching (though most people miss it) that one does not have to be a member to enjoy the blessings of God.

    It’s like the church is a hospital for the soul, and by saying that it is THE true church, it is saying that it is THE best hospital. Tall order, I know.

    I see it as a place of healing ran by well meaning but imperfect leaders. Some people will not find peace there. Others may be asked to leave depending on the adminitration. But all in all, it’s a good hospital full of sick people trying to get better. Christ taught us the medicine and is still reiterating it through modern prophets.

    If someone finds peace somewhere else, wonderful! The point of life isn’t to go to the right church, the point is to get better and then share your medicine with others.

    Most people miss this very clear doctrine because everyone gets a high off of being right. But it’s better to be good than right.

    I think that’s one of the reasons that God may keep so many doctrines vague. Truth doesn’t make people good. People have to learn goodness in other ways.

  25. ebb May 15, 2006 at 4:09 pm

    John … the light of Christ is given to all … all can know Him .. the fact that they may not know His name at this time is not the important part …

  26. Jordan May 16, 2006 at 9:25 am


    This just reminded me of why it was I liked you so much when I met you last year. This was nicely done, and well received. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Equality May 16, 2006 at 11:51 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this, John. Your efforts are appreciated by wise people from across the Mormon belief spectrum. It’s no easy thing to tread this middle path that you have embarked upon. I truly hope you are able to continue without suffering ecclesiastical harassment. I swear, if they lay a finger on you, I’m done.

  28. Equality May 16, 2006 at 2:24 pm


    You story resonates strongly with me. As you were running down your list of things you find valuable in the church, I kept thinking to myself: that’s great, I’d love to stay in such a church if they would tolerate me. The problem comes in the question you ask at the end: will the church make a place for folks like us? Or will we be driven away the way feminists, gays, and “so-called intellectuals” have been run in the last couple decades.

    I do have one follow-up question. You mentioned that you think the Book of Abraham is “inspired” but in the next breath you passionately decry the doctrine that blacks are of a cursed lineage. It seems this heinous idea comes right out of the Book of Abraham. How do you reconcile your belief that the BoA is “inspired” with your passionate rejection of a doctrine that comes right out of the BoA?

  29. John Dehlin May 16, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    “How do you reconcile your belief that the BoA is “inspired” with your passionate rejection of a doctrine that comes right out of the BoA?”

    For me, inspired simply means “contains some goodness and truth”, but can also contain greivous errors, and even harmful stuff. I guess that makes it quite a low bar when I call something “inspired”, because I consider good fiction, like John Steinbeck, to be inspired as well…along w/ all modern scripture from all the major world religions (even Islam!!!). ;)

    So I guess the term becomes quite watered down at that point….but still worthwhile for me. Truth is truth…to me…and light is light….regardless of what lamp it shines from.

    I do find truth and goodness in the Book of Abraham….as I do in the U.S. Constitution…in spite of the 3/5ths clause.

    Hopefully that makes more sense….

  30. Gone but not Forgotten May 17, 2006 at 6:49 am

    Hi John,

    I wrote you a long, detailed e-mail but didn’t know where to send it. Thank you so much for your podcast. I see more clearly where you are coming from, and thank you for sharing your story and beliefs.

    “Goodness and truth” can come from many sources, as you say, but as someone who voluntarily left the church due to (a) research that confirmed my suspicions about the church’s lack of credibility and (b) because of the sexist, racist and homophobic undertones of the church’s doctrines, I find it hard to believe that any rational, intelligent, caring person could decide to remain on the rolls or in alignment with the Church on any level.

    I feel that anyone who knows these things and continues to further the work of the church is complicit in its harm.

    I would love to hear a podcast from someone like “Carol” from the Times and Seasons blog, who wrote a post about her willingness to remain single on earth and hold out for someone else’s husband in the afterlife rather than marry a non-member here. That’s another way the church fatally harms individuals–by perpetuating the fairy tale of eternal marriage-for-all–including those who don’t marry in this life but are faithful to the church. I know many people who have wasted their lives that way.

  31. John Dehlin May 17, 2006 at 9:02 am

    Hey GBNF,

    Anyone can email me at: mormonstories@gmail.com

    Wow. I’m very sad for Carol.

    Thanks for writing….you raise good points. I understand why people leave, and don’t fault them for it. I do think that for your own good, you might consider it important for you to get to a place where you can understand why some people would decide that staying is the most moral/ethical/healthy thing to do for them. I don’t think it’s correct to say that the only moral, ethical, rational thing to do once a person discovers that the church isn’t exactly what it claims to be, or what we thought…..is to leave. If that were the case (in my opinion) we would all leave the USA, and become citizens elsewhere (and nowhere, eventually).

    Once you can see both sides….we’re on our way to building healthy bridges…

    Just my opinion…..

  32. Hellmut May 17, 2006 at 9:40 am

    John, citizenship and religious adherence are, thank heaven, essentially different. Religion is a matter of conscience. Citizenship is a matter of fate.

    It’s a lot easier to leave a religion than one’s country. Therefore an individual’s responsibility for the actions of religious organization is much greater than our responsibility for the actions of our country.

    That’s where Armand Mauss’s analogy breaks down. If it were as easy to renounce one’s citizenship as a religious organization, I can assure you that most Germans would have opted for American of Canadian citizenship in 1945. And for that matter, 400,000 German Jews would have left before they were killed. The country religion analogy is bizarre.

    By the way, if I were to accept the analogy then we might as well remain in the Clan. I don’t mean to say that the LDS Church is like the Clan but to demonstrate the absurdity of Mauss’s country-religion analogy.

    I admire Armand Mauss a lot but I do not think that he has a good handle on the moral implications of the Mormon experience.

    Be that as it may, there are a number of ways to take responsibility for our beliefs and the organizations we belong to. Some of us have chosen to leave. You have chosen to tell people’s stories, which dissociates you from the abuse. Therefore those of us who leave have no claim on you regarding the morality of your choice to remain an active Mormon.

  33. John Dehlin May 17, 2006 at 10:16 am

    Hey Hellmut!

    I’m pretty sure we’ve had this conversation before. :) Just a couple of things…

    –I believe that there are many who would say that it’s much easier to leave a country than to leave a religion. If you talk to some 6th generation mormons…I think you will find this can be true. Leaving the LDS church, for many, is close to impossible. Right now, in the USA, it’s relatively easy to leave and go elsewhere and people do it every year. In 1945 Germany, or in cold war USSR, it was close to impossible. Not today, however. Hard, yes. But harder than leaving the Mormon church? It depends on the person and family/situation, I would argue.

    –It’s true that the U.S., for example, doesn’t make truth claims quite like the LDS church. But it’s also true that the U.S. is responsible for many, many more deaths each year than the LDS church as well….so the gravity of the decisions are heavier, even if the truth claims are a bit lighter (though some would claim that Bush 43 claims just as much divine authority as GBH).

    –I understand what you’re saying by drawing on the clan as an example….but I think it’s an extreme example that isn’t quite as relevant/helpful. Maybe the clan back in the 1800s or early/mid 1950s, but not now. Each of us lives in a societal context….and can only take a certain amount of steps beyond where culture and society and family and our own abilities/dispositions allow.

    –The LDS church today is making good progress (relative to its past) on issues like blacks and gays….and I don’t think some of you give credit where credit is due.

    I agree w/ your final statement…that we should stop making absolutist statements about who is most moral (those who stay, or those who leave), and spend more time working together to make things better on both sides. I think that’s what we’re all trying to do in the end…and I admire both you and GBNF for doing your part.

  34. Kim Siever May 17, 2006 at 11:01 am


    I thoroughly enjoy your podcasts. I love hearing the wonderful stories o real people and the different methods they used to cope with many of the same problems. And it helps you are an amazing host; you really have a good command of interviewing techniques and it makes for such good conversations.

    For clarification (re: part 1), President Hunter became president of the Church in 1994.

    I am listening to the podcasts during my commute, and just started on part three this morning. I haven’t finished it yet, but I really got a kick out of your statement about a GA candidate tracking programme. That’s hilarious.

  35. John Dehlin May 17, 2006 at 11:04 am

    Thanks so much, Kim. I’m glad you enjoy. Thanks for the feedback, and taking the time to write.

  36. jordanandmeg May 17, 2006 at 11:37 am

    I think the religion/citizenship analogy is wonderful. Comparing the relative difficulty of leaving one or the other doesn’t distract from the demonstration that one can embrace an imperfect institution.

  37. Hellmut May 18, 2006 at 9:21 am

    Remember, John, that in 2000 Laura Bush replied to a question about the Confederate flag controversy something to the effect that she did not think that it would be possible to get rid of the flag because it is such a deeply entrenched part of “our” heritage.

    Clearly, the Clan or Bolshevism can lay claim to the inevitability of human imperfection to explain their crimes. It would be absurd, however, to absolve them.

    It is true that all human organizations are flawed. But some have a better record than others. Sometimes that’s just happenstance. More often, it is a consequence of institutional design. Many organizations acknowledge the role of human fallibility and provide institutions to correct itself by holding power accountable. In that sense, the LDS Church is poorly designed.

    When we actually compare our organization with other religions, we will find that the LDS Church is more authoritarian than most others. There are many churches that disclose their finances and membership statistics in detail. Most protestant churches allow their members to hold their leaders accountable in elections. Even in the Catholic Church, members are allowed to organize themselves in orders and lay groups, many of which obtain official recognition. Mormons would get excommunicated for organizing. The LDS Church is the only Christian Church to my knowledge that still excommunicates researchers. As an empirical matter, it is therefore not true that the LDS Church has the same problems as others.

    I am sure that there are plenty of fundamentalist groups that also punish scholars. But that makes my point. If we are like fundamentalists then we are fundamentalists. Whether that means that we ought to leave is another question.

    We need to be honest to ourselves and acknowledge that on a liberty-authoritarian continuum, the LDS Church is comparatively extreme. It’s not just another organization suffering from humanity’s limitations. It’s an organization that suffers from more serious problems than many others, especially when it comes to liberty, reason, and responsibility.

  38. jordanandmeg May 18, 2006 at 10:56 am

    There is nothing wrong with the LDS church professing beliefs and excommunicating people who don’t conform. That is its right as an independent organism. You can call it authoritarianism all you want. The church has every right tomake claims and stick to them. People are at liberty to disagree, but not change it. Other churches, maybe . . . but the LDS church makes stronger claims.
    This church has every right to think it is right. People, on the other hand, have every right to participate or not.

  39. Hellmut May 18, 2006 at 11:42 am

    Your discourse of rights, Jordanandmeg, is a secular one. It may or may not be fair to evaluate Mormon policies in light of secular standards. However, the LDS Church ought to meet the standards of its own theology.

    If we apply the standards of Mormon theology then people do not “have every right to participate or not” but they have an obligation to get baptized and remain members of the LDS Church. It’s a necessary condition to salvation.

    Excommunicating scholars for their research means that one is asking them to lie to preserve their membership in the Church.

    According to Mormon theology, neither liars nor non-members can be redeemed. When you excommunicate scholars then you are creating people who have no way of obtaining salvation. If they get excommunicated then the scholars will be damned. If they deny their research, which amounts to their best effort in the pursuit of truth, then they are lying. Liars are sinners and cannot live in the presence of God.

    Regardless of what the scholars do, they are damned. Rendering salvation impossible for some individuals, the practice of excommunicating scholars amounts to a denial of the atonement, a much more serious sacrilege than anything that Michael Quinn or Grant Palmer have said.

    Excommunicating scholars is a sacrilegeous and abusive practice in light of Mormon values.

  40. jordanandmeg May 18, 2006 at 11:53 am

    “According to Mormon theology, neither liars nor non-members can be redeemed. When you excommunicate scholars then you are creating people who have no way of obtaining salvation. If they get excommunicated then the scholars will be damned. If they deny their research, which amounts to their best effort in the pursuit of truth, then they are lying. Liars are sinners and cannot live in the presence of God.”

    Pefectly said. If this were true I’d agree with you 100%.

    But it’s not true. Certainly leaders have said a great many things that sometimes contradict, but the truth is mormon theology expressly teaches (though most people miss it because they love being ‘right’) that you do not need to a member of this church and you do not need to be perfect to be redeemed.

    The Book of Mormon says:
    “For behold, and also his blood batoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.”

    On top of this is the doctrine for redeeming the dead, temple sealings, and free agency.

    Agency is the big one. Basically, mormon theology boils down to this, if a person wants to be redeemed, they will be because they will take the steps required in this life or the next. And that goes for people who’ve been excommunicated.

  41. Hellmut May 18, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    Jordan, this passage of the Book of Mormon cannot apply to individuals who have been excommunicated. They know about the plan of salvation, Jesus, and the first vision. Therefore they did not act in ignorance. On the contrary, these scholars are getting excommunicated because they are knowing too much.

    As to salvation due to temple work and choices in the next life, the prophets have been very clear that this only applies to people who did not have the opportunity to become Mormons in this life.

  42. jordanandmeg May 18, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    Yes, certain leaders would agree with you.
    But I disagree, and I think other leaders (take Neil Maxwell) would agree with me.

    I think the Lord is much more forgiving than any of us know, even to those who have been excommunicated. My dad was stake president for years and is now a patriarch. He’d say the same (not that he’s some high authority, but an authority nonetheless).

    The Lord forgives us our trangressions. He will even forgive the rogue stake president that excommunicates uncautiously.

    I served a mission in France. You are right, the mission is atrophying. I ask what constitutes someone’s opportunity to become Mormon in this life? A knock on their door? Bruce McKonkie may have thought so, but I could not disagree more.

    God will judge the French as he will judge all of us, with forgiveness and mercy. We all need it, from those excommunicated to our prophet. And we’ll get it if we really want it. THAT’S the good news of the gospel.

  43. Hellmut May 18, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    I agree with you that the gospel is about mercy and forgiveness. I wish that LDS leaders would extend mercy to scholars who have only followed reason and evidence to the logical conclusion.

    If we rely on God’s compensation to make things right, Jordan, then any Church can excuse anything. It does not matter when we abuse people in this life because in the end God will compensate the victims. Nothing would be out of bounds. Anything goes.

    The upsite of such a theology is that it gives us comfort. On the downside, it empowers abuse instead of confronting it.

    The martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer taught that in our age, Christians have to live as if there were no God. His co-conspirators had asked Bonhoeffer why they needed to assassinate Adolf Hitler. If Hitler was so evil then why couldn’t they just leave it to God to kill him?

    Bonhoeffer got it right. Christians have to take responsibility for their world. That’s the difference between blind faith that faith that will make us free.

  44. jordanandmeg May 18, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    Wonderfully said. I agree that we need to take responsibility and take stands. We need to further righteousness. God leaves these things to us.

    And I also wish LDS leaders would show more forgiveness as well.

    I do not rely on God’s compensation on earth but on his judgement in the next.
    And he’s told us to forgive all men. That includes church leaders and those excommunicated, for indeed, we would not ever be able tell whether they are forgivable. Only God can. And besides, perhaps they are.

  45. Bob May 19, 2006 at 4:59 am

    I made it all the way to the end of the podcasts, and I look forward to coming to Logan someday to collect that ice cream cone!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Our viewpoints on a lot of things are similar, although my testimony of the divinity of Christ hasn’t yet been shaken to the extent yours has.

    I think you’re providing a valuable service. Yet another way of “shaking the tree”. Good luck in continuing to walk the fine line between faith and the “Exit” door.

  46. HALtheCOW May 19, 2006 at 8:49 am

    I really appreciate you sharing and loved your story.

    I made it to the end and I want to take you up on your ice-cream. I am from Texas but will be in Utah this summer.

    I cannot figure out your e-mail contact information.


    Thank You

  47. seeking truth May 19, 2006 at 11:15 am

    All I can say is thank you. THANK YOU! You are literally making the difference for my husband and I as we process through our own crisis of faith. It was amazing hear your opinions on these matters, as they reflect ours so closely. I admire your honesty and bravery. That is not overstated. I think it’s a very brave thing that you are doing. I am still not sure who I can talk to about these issues, (family, friends… who is going to freak out?) let alone publish them on the internet. I have printed out your presentation on “why people leave and what you can do about it”.

    I would love to know more how you are feeling in regard to raising your children in the church. Specifically, do you want them to serve missions? Temple marriage? I have never liked the temple and was always troubled by it. I no longer believe in it’s authority. We have 4 young children and it’s a strange time for us as I realize that our choices will affect their decisions. Right now I’m so disillusioned that I wonder why would I ever endorse a mission now that I know I don’t believe that we have the “one true church”. It’s hard though, because it’s such a part of who I am. I see value in attending church. But when will I get tired of going to church with my children each week and then spend energy disspelling them of things that they are taught there that I no longer believe. Is it better to just skip it? what to do, what to do….

    I sincerely thank you again! Keep up the excellent work.

  48. Buck Jeppson May 19, 2006 at 9:51 pm

    John, I’m so glad you agreed to do the podcast interviews with yourself. I not only have a greater insight into how you approach your Church experience, but you articulated things many of us have felt over the years.

    I especially agree with your approach to why you stay in the Church. When one’s religious heritage is deep and formative, there are myriad reasons to keep working at it. For one, the understanding of who you are deepens. I reject the idea that my faith is like an old suit that I should toss out because it doesn’t meet someone else’s view of what is fashionable–or true. We all have to work our way through it on our own terms.

    I applaud you for continuing to seek understanding and depth in your heritage. I understand completely.

  49. Randy May 20, 2006 at 8:39 am


    Like others this was one of if not my favorite podcast of yours yet (and I’ve listened to them all–and some of them more than once).

    A big question that many come up (not necessarily above) from many is why someone would stay in the church when he/she no longer feels it’s as authentic as once supposed or may be much more complex, messy, and nuanced than previously imagined. I think you do an excellent job of addressing this in your “reasons for staying” manifesto.

    But one big reason for those from the outside looking in to consider is what is the alternative? I’ve seen many (some within my own family) begin to look into some of the more difficult areas of our theology and/or church history and conclude it was false after all and leave. This is obviously anecdotal but in every case the person then seems to drift from that time forward and as the saying goes “leave the church but not be able to leave it alone.”

    What some outside the church may not realize is how profoundly the Mormon paradigm pervades one’s personal perspective when it’s a part of your heritage and upbringing. It literally feels like part of the fabric of one’s psyche and it becomes extremely difficult and painful to even question it let alone have the intellectual honesty and rigor to accept that Santa may have left the building.

    The problem with many is that when they realize the truth about Santa they lose Christmas and all the joy that used to bring and continues to bring others. This often leads to bitterness. I would think becoming a good Buddist or Unitarian Universalist or something would be a much healthier, richer, and probably more fulfilling option than nothing. But I digress.

    Some don’t feel the pull described above or perhaps not to the degree that others do and decide to leave when they encounter difficulties. I can completely understand that. But then some of these individuals look back and say, “What are you guys waiting on?” and can’t understand the John’s or Grant Palmer’s and what keeps them in the church. The challenge for some is push past levels three and four of faith and slog through the mud and grit that come after finding out about Santa to arrive at an enlightened landscape where the Spirit of Christmas is pervasive.

    John, seems to me you’ve got some mud on your boots but you may have also found the clearing.

  50. Doc May 20, 2006 at 10:32 am

    This is an amazing and remarkable podcast which I just recently discovered. I really must commend you on your efforts to keep the tone and discussion in this forum open and honest and the anger and contention toned down. I admire how you focus and demand respect for everyone’s point of view.
    I feel in many ways I’ve found a kindred spirit. I am a physician in training in neurology and have always had intellectual bent. I am also a multigenerational Idaho/Canadian mormon, now having trained many years outside of that subculture. My mission experience and frustrations mirror yours in many ways. However I served in the Ohio Cleveland mission(Kirtland) mission probably around the same time as you. However I was exposed to most of these historical issues you struggled with as a result of serving a mission in a place so steeped in church history. A also have spent 5 of the past 8 years in Missouri for medical training. Some of the things you state “most members know nothing about,” I have almost taken for granted. I know of many faithful LDS members who have had their struggle with some of these tough issues and remain faithful. You have presented some of them as well in this podcast. I currently put myself in this category. While I have searched my soul hard for answers on some of the tough, tough issues, harbored many fearful doubts, I have made a decision that with patience the answers to these questions will come in time if I just hang in there. I cannot thank you enough for your podcast on masons and blacks in the church, they were mind-blowing, powerful and frankly provided some long, long sought answers for me and certainly illuminated many facts about the origin of these troubling issues of which I had no idea. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Thank you for your courage in sharing your own story. I think we can all benefit from open discussion. Of course, like you explain, Your exact views are absolutely going to be polarizing and I certainly don’t agree with all of them, or with the direction some of your directions searching for answers have taken you. Regardless, I can tell your sincerity is very deep, your goals come from a noble place in your heart. I don’t wish to engage in debate, I am much too busy working on the beam in my eye to worry about the motes of others. The gospel as I see it, really as I have always seen it, has this at its very center. I have tried to live it as best as my imperfect frame allows. I just wanted to let you know that myself and others like me do exist in the church. We are not all of us a thoroughly disillusioned thoroughly naive. I think everybody struggles with a crisis of faith at sometime, if not many times, in their life.
    While this will rankle many of your readers, I believe it is by design. Just as background, I wanted to let you know, I had a severe, life altering bout with major depression that could well have left my life in shambles just a few years ago. I know many that read this will think of this as a problem caused by our religion, and as a result of my counseling, learning, and medical background, I know the statistics dealing with religion, anxiety and depression. However I am compelled to say it was BECAUSE of that experience that I reached a whole new level of faith. You see, I firmly believe that depression, guilt, etc are part of a “Terrestrial” understanding of the gospel. On the other side of this is something absolutely transcendant.
    When I read of others in this formus who talk about the “Focus on Christ/Increase in love” the “Church” needs to solve its problems, I feel I have to shout that it is already there to the extent that we as individuals can receive it, and I would submit that letting bitterness and disappointment fester in side us towards the church hierarchy(I know you yourself do not harbor this feeling but many of your guests do) and feeling you can counsel the church as you see fit is self congratulatory, prideful, and drives a wedge between you and the very love you profess. I believe, firmly, that this is something ALL of us must learn to do a some point in our existence if we are ever going to be happy or at peace. This comment is far too long and I apologize, I just really wanted to share my thoughts. I loved the podcast. Take care.

  51. Anne Hutchinson May 20, 2006 at 9:29 pm


    Add my name to the list of people who enjoyed your three-part podcast. The podcast answered some of my questions about what led and motivates you to produce “Mormon Stories”. I feel that these podcasts (and also your work with Sunstone Podcast/Blog) are a HUGE plus to the questioning LDS community. For me, listening to people’s stories leaves a greater/more lasting impression than reading a Sunstone article or message board entry. I could see many parallels in your story with my experience.

    Like “Seeking Truth” above, “I would love to know more how you are feeling in regard to raising your children in the church ….. do you want them to serve missions? Temple marriage?” In my own situation, I see our family heading toward a ‘train wreck’ as my older child approaches the age of 8. I have told my DH that I believe that religious commitment is for mature individuals …. especially with all the expectations that go along with growing up (particularly for boys) in today’s LDS church.

    About the ice cream, I’ll take strawberry cheescake if I ever get to Logan.

  52. Podaddict May 21, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    Hi John;
    Thank you so much for sharing your own story. My wife and I listened to it all and were astounded with how much your comments resonated with us; Mormon Stories podcast goes from strength to strength! However John, do you think that your honesty will give many blind obedience TBM’s an excuse not to listen to the podcasts now they can label you as liberal mormon? Just a thought.
    Perhaps some TBM’s need to come onto the programme and tell their own stories?

    BTW, I don’t think I’ll ever get to Logan for the ice-cream. Can you send it through the post, I’m in England :-)

  53. Mike G May 28, 2006 at 8:32 am

    Hi John,

    This was a treat for me. I was with you in Chipman Hall in the days of no kissing and dates with Mary Holland… good times! It’s so heartening to hear your idealism is undiminished through the trials of faith. Your mode of belief is not far at all from the position that I have adopted over the last several years. And I hope that you can help to create a place in the church for people like you.

    For now, my family and I have distanced ourselves more from the church, because the agonies (the “brick throwing” moments) were too much for us to bear. I didn’t feel strong enough to be a part of an institution that seemed dishonest and psychologically unhealthy for my children. Like you and your wife, we spent time debriefing church lessons with our children, and many times the teachings were harmless and sometimes productive. But more and more I felt hypocritical inside the church. I felt that I disagreed so consistently with what was taught by church leaders and by rank and file members. And the well-intentioned testimonies started to be unbearable.

    Your approach of recognizing that we ARE the church and that our attitudes and behaviors help shape the attitudes and behaviors in the church is a keen, “systems-thinking” insight. When I thought through the “Exit – Voice – Loyalty” (Albert Hirschman) options, I felt more and more strongly that the church is not a system that is open enough for my efforts to register much on the gauge. I would be fighting an uphill battle for years, and subjecting my children to deep dissonance between what they heard in church and what we taught them to value. It was a battle I think I could fight, but I ultimately felt like I could do more good for myself and for my family, and potentially even for our friends in the church by stepping away and constructing some activities that I could embrace with my heart and soul.

    The energy that comes from this liberating, “create the world anew” mindset that I adopted is very powerful, but this life is a work in progress and I am always open to better ideas and approaches.

    There is much more to say, but it’s time to work in the garden, do a quick lesson on nature and loving our neighbor, and then head to a wildlife reserve in the area.

    I would love to continue the conversation, but in the meantime I wish you and your family all the best in creating a healthy community for LDS within the system.


  54. seeking truth May 29, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    I hope that you follow up on your comment here because it really has my interest. I am interested in your point of view. We (my husband and I) are at the exact crossroads of deciding what is best for our children. Did you try other churches? I tend to think that we would just be disappointed in them. And it would be confusing to our children. I’ve been a faithful my entire life. It would seem plain strange for Sunday to not involve dressing up and formal worship. But, I find that I just am not the type of person that can go to the LDS church and have it all wash over me without making me really, really frustrated and angry and worried for my children. I think it’s inevitable that they will be at the same crossroads that I am right now. Why put them through that? It doesn’t make sense to me to take them to church every Sunday and then come home and “undo” what they have learned there. This is such a strange place to be. My kids are young though, I am glad that I’m figuring out right now instead of 10 years from now, or more.
    Mike, what words did you use to explain to your children why you don’t go to the LDS church anymore? We have four kids, age 8 and under. Did you just casually slow down and then stop going? I’d love to know others experience in this regard.

  55. pjj May 29, 2006 at 4:42 pm

    Well, I’m not MIkeG, but I can speak a bit to your situation, seekingtruth. I have two kids, ages 14 and 20. I was raised in Utah, and have always felt a bit on the outside of the church, even though I’m from an old pioneer family. I thought that we could take the best of the church and teach that to the kids, while discussing the bad stuff, such as the bigotry, at home. But there were some problems with that approach. When I was growing up in Utah, I think that people were much more accepting of people who were LDS but not gungho, whole hog types. In my family and neighborhood, at least, there were varying levels of church connection and activity and that just seemed to be ok with most everyone I knew. But that’s not been true for us. My kids have picked up quickly on the idea that our family is not really considered to be doing everything that we’re supposed to do, basically that we’re very “less vaiiant. My kids have also been turned off by the right wing politics, and the bigotry, even when I tell them that’s not really the church. I was constantly giving them the counter argument to what we’d heard at church, in the car on the way home. My 20 year old says he’s no longer a Mormon (although I don’t think he’s had his name removed.) When we had our first long talk about that a couple of years ago, he said that he could believe in the church if it was really what I had taught him– which was a lot of emphasis on loving and valuing our fellow beings, etc, but he’s says that’s not really what the church is– it’s blind obedience, and overly rigid moralistic stuff, wrapped in a deceitful cover. Our 14 year old, following the older son’s lead, also refuses to go to church now too. This has been harder for me than I had expected, since I went through many years of thinking that I was only going for the sake of my kids. My husband has basically been inactive for the last 6 years, since the church got so involved in Prop 22 in California, and has been somewhat disaffected since his mission, after some experiences very similar to John’s. So he has attended with us all these years, helped get the kids to church, but always left right after sacrament meeting for about the past five years. If I were doing it all over again, I’d save myself the frustration, I guess. The trouble is that then you’ve got to deal with family members who upset by your decision, and those troubles vary, of course, from family to family. My own parents wouldn’t have shunned us or anything, but would have been very, very disappointed. And they are very very disappointed that the kids now won’t have anything to do with church. The other problem is that deep down, I’m still most at home with Mormons, at least the right kind of Mormons– the salt of the earth kind, not the very conservative, judgemental type. But my kids don’t have that same feeling of at-homeness that I do, not having been raised in Utah, and not having ever felt a part of the in-crowd at church. Perhaps what you need to do is develop some kind of spiritual tradition for Sundays which doesn’t involve our church.

  56. Mike G May 29, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    Seeking Truth,

    Thank you for expressing interest in hearing more about my experience. This response is much more inclusive than your questions imply, but it is therapeutic for me to write this down, so my apologies for this self-indulgence. I hope you can pull out something of value.

    I’ll start by saying that in my case, staying open and honest with my wife has been critical to managing through these last two and half years. It sounds like you and your husband are relatively aligned in your beliefs, and that is a great advantage.

    During the Summer of 2003, my kids were 9, 4, and 2. The oldest (daughter) had never really had a spiritual experience in the church. She had friends in primary and didn’t complain much about attending, but the “praying for a testimony” process was never successful.

    When we were talking around the table about spiritual experiences, she blurted out “I pray, but I never feel anything…” This almost brought me to tears because it was so real and meaningful to me.

    It reminded me of being in gospel doctrine class several years before and hearing our instructor (who was also our stake patriarch and the church’s most respected historian of Joseph Smith) offer a prayer in which he told God that He is so often “silent” with us. That deafening and consistent silence was meaningful to me.

    I could not bear to have my daughter agonize over why her feelings and her personal world could not come into alignment with the church’s presentation of the world. I sensed that she was feeling guilty and ashamed that her prayers for a spiritual confirmation were going unanswered.

    This was completely unacceptable to me. I am all for children taking accountability for mistakes, and feeling remorse for people they’ve hurt, etc. But to see my daughter cry over something like not having her prayers answered was heartbreaking.

    This was not an overt trigger for me at the time, but I am sure it was wearing on me subconsciously as I began to pile up a mound of concerns about the church.

    I had the very difficult discussion with my wife about my deep concerns with foundational precepts in the Fall of 2003. We both continued our activity in the church for about two months thereafter – but by the late Fall I had asked to be released from the YM presidency and attended church very infrequently until about April 2004.

    During the time that I was not attending, my wife attended with the children frequently, but not every Sunday. To the children, my excuse for not attending at the time was usually that I had a lot of work.

    All three of the kids were usually jealous that they could not stay home with me. And my wife, who was struggling with her commitment to the church, found it more and more difficult to muster the energy to get the kids ready and out the door on Sunday mornings. (And yes, for those who are wondering, I usually did help with this enterprise…)

    We did drive one Sunday morning to the local Unitarian Universalist church, but we never actually attended a UU meeting. The approach they take to spirituality is probably the only one that I could feel comfortable with, but for now we are not attending any religious services.

    But after several months of inactivity, I began to enter a stage of activity “on my own terms.” Like John Dehlin, I determined that I could be a practicing member of the church, but teach only what I was comfortable teaching, etc. The church did not need to be totalitarian or embrace only one true way. The church could be a pluralistic institution, embracing people like me who chose to focus our efforts more on service.

    I became involved in ward service projects, and before long I met with the bishop and the stake president who called me first to be executive secretary and then ward clerk. So by Spring 2004 I was not only back at church, but I was back at church starting at 6 am every Sunday for bishopric and PEC meetings…

    My wife, meanwhile, was a bit mystified by my re-entry. Her commitment (testimony) was flagging by this time, and she was recasting her relationship to the church, and leaning more and more toward not attending at all.

    I should say that the primary impetus that kept me engaged in defining a role for myself in the church was my extended family. As the oldest of seven children with devout LDS parents and all siblings active members, I had (and continue to have) an absolutely impossible time sharing my feelings about the church with my parents or siblings. I cherish the relationship I have with them, and I know that this information will damage that relationship. This desire to keep peace with the parents was a powerful incentive to get me back to church.

    So my wife and I went about attending church religiously, checking in with the kids about their lessons, and often complaining about our own gospel doctrine and EQ/RS lessons. The kids were active in primary, and the after-church debriefs on primary lessons were usually okay. But there were some moments when I felt that particularly the middle child (son) was absorbing what he heard in church too completely. The truths he was hearing about Joseph Smith seeing God, and Nephi killing Laban… were as real as his multiplication tables.

    We did not do much to reinforce the teachings they were hearing at church. We were sporadic with FHE. We prayed at night and before meals, but did not have scripture study. When we did have FHE and other family discussions, we tried to teach our children good, positive principles. Love, forgiveness, courage, reverence for life, persistence … these were a few of the topics that we would discuss.

    By the late Fall of 2005, I was feeling anxious and frustrated again. There was pressure to go out with the missionaries, attend the temple, etc. My efforts to participate in church on my own terms were faltering. The more I participated, the more other members assumed that I would be engaged in all of the activities that comprise the church. Warding off the ward from temple attendance and missionary work became a recurrent battle. My standing in the church did not feel tenable. Yes, I was a member and I could define that membership to some extent, but in a church that is guided by priesthood leaders and with clear expectations for what membership entails, I found it too difficult to carve out a safe zone for myself and my family.

    I was still ward clerk and hadn’t had a valid temple recommend in over a year. A highly competent executive secretary had just been called to join us in bishopric meeting, and so I felt that without me the administrative work for the ward could be done. So when a discussion about members without valid recommends (with my name on the list) arose awkwardly one morning in bishopric meeting, I felt that the moment was right to stop attending. So I sent a note to the bishop explaining that I wouldn’t be attending for the near future, and that has more or less been that. I have had relatively little interaction with ward members in the last six months, but my wife has been involved in several social activities with members of the ward.

    The kids generally were not thrilled with the idea of going to church, particularly after my bout with inactivity, so the transition has not been too difficult with the kids. I don’t remember my exact words, but I explained that we would not be attending church on Sundays, but that we would not be watching TV or playing video games on Sunday mornings. We would spend some time every Sun. morning discussing character and virtues that we think are important, and figuring out ways to build our characters and live the virtues that we discuss.

    I started making a list of topics that we could discuss on Sunday mornings in lieu of church. We have not followed my list rigorously, but we often have lessons on principles and virtues that we think are important. I also make up little charts that ask the children to put the principles into practice. If they are conscientious about integrating the principle into their life, there is some kind of reward.

    Where I struggle still is in being open and honest with my parents and siblings, and in dealing with some of the really difficult questions that my children have. My youngest children have had moments when death really scares them. About a week ago, my seven year old came out of bed and wanted me to look on the computer for what happens when we die. This is a hard conversation. We looked at what different people have said – spent some time with some Near Death Experience stories; and ultimately I told him that no one really knows. What we really need to worry about is treating each other well while we are alive, and not being afraid of whatever comes next.

    And I have yet to break the news of my decision to my parents and siblings. A couple of weeks ago, my youngest sister came to visit us in NJ from the West Coast (most of my family is in California). Because she was going to be with my wife and kids while I was off at work for a day, I didn’t want them to have to break the news, so I told my sister the first evening after she arrived. It was just awful, but we managed to have a pleasant couple of days thereafter.

    With a family trip out to California planned for mid-July, our church participation is going to inevitably come up, so I am working on how best to communicate this change and still have an enjoyable family vacation…

    Seeking Truth, I wish you the best as you determine what path is best for you and your family. I would be interested to hear how things progress.


  57. CBA_Paul May 30, 2006 at 10:54 am

    Hey John,

    It was good to see you when I attended graduation. I find your view of God and the church interesting. I too have had to reconcile much of the Church’s past with my own feelings and convictions. I think I had the advantage of learning much of the “controversial” issues as a teen.

    What I think is interesting and funny is that were, from what I understand, you moved to a more “generic” (for lack of a better term) view of God…I moved to probably the “Mormon extreme” view. If it weren’t for the view of God communicated in the King Follett Discourse I may not believe in God. The view that this life is a model of the eternities is the only view that makes sense to me. That literally God is our Father who was once like us with his own Father and that we can “grow up” to be like him. I don’t find that idea mystical or mysterious. I find it logical and probable an exalting of human kind.

    On the subject of the Church and its people I think that I agree with you on many aspects. Most of my problems with people in the Church are with their “perspective” on teaching the commandments and Christian living. I think that many are lazy and misunderstand their own religion.

    Anyway, it would be good to hear back from you and I enjoy listening.

  58. seeking truth May 30, 2006 at 12:10 pm

    MikeG and pjj,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences. Both my husband and I have read it, and it has given us much to think about. It is appreciated. We lived outside of Utah for most of our marriage and moved back to Salt Lake just a few years ago. Ironically, that is when we really started questioning our faith and things have progressively fallen apart as we have learned more of the history. So here we are, in the heart of Momrmondom, surrounded by our believing families. How do I go about telling my baby sister I won’t be at her temple wedding? ouch. We are really at a loss on how to negotiate our way through this. I know that I have too much personal integrity to “fake it” and lie through a temple recommend. I just couldn’t do it. Be grateful you live some distance from your family. That makes the experience (just a little) less intense, I suppose.

    I have to say, I was sort of hoping you lived in Utah so we could get together as couples and talk about this crazy experience. The internet has been my only resource through this experience, which is better than nothing. I would like to meet someone else going through this “in person”. I guess we’ll have to take John up on his ice cream social offer in Logan! Just the other day in the SL Tribune there was a blurb in the religion section for a “recovery from mormonism” group, sponsored by the baptists. Uh, thanks, but no thanks!!

    Thanks again, and I also wish you and your family the best in your journey. MikeG, I vote that you are John’s next podcast interview. Sounds like you are in an interesting place that would be helpful for some of us to hear about.

  59. Wondering No More May 30, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    Seeking Truth,

    I highly recommend that you build a new community outside of the church. My wife and I are in Logan — another heart of Mormondom. Our story is pretty similar to the stories you are seeing related here (mormon to the bones, discovered the problems, tried to hang on for years, finally couldn’t hang on any longer, stopped all church activity, love-bombed by the ward, then moved on). At one point, when we really felt isolated, frustrated, and afraid, we took a risk and reached out to a couple here in Logan that we had never met. We had heard through the grapevine that this couple had become disassociated from the church. It was the best thing we have ever done! Since then (2 years ago), we’ve reached out to more and more families that have left the church. We’ve built up a whole new circle of friends who have become very dear to us. This is a circle of friends who have been through what we’ve been through. They value truth, and they are seekers. A circle of friends that in some sense has begun to replace our True Blue Mormon families. These friends are made up of people who are still active in the church, people that go to other churches, agnositics, and athiests. The one thing we have in common is that we can talk openly about our experiences, our beliefs, our fears — and they can do the same. I learn a lot from them and I hope that I’m there for them when I can help.

    During this process of making many new friends, I had the pleasure of meeting Grant Palmer, and John Dehlin. Also, I’ve been amazed to learn that some of my old friends from our TBM days have also made the journey out of the church. We knew each other when we were both TBMs, but here we are out of the church. When we make the connection, we have the feeling “wow, you too, huh?”.

    I have a post-mormon friend on the East Coast (introduced to me by Grant Palmer). I told him that one of the bad things about Utah is all the mormons, but that one of the good things about Utah is all the post-mormons. Post-mormons are everywhere. Start reaching out and you’re going to meet some great people.

    Wondering No More

  60. […] But on second thought, no, it doesn’t make much sense at all. This isn’t the Republican Party or the J Reuben Clark Law Society, it’s a Church, the Church for heaven’s sake—one that claims to have the sole means of salvation! Not only that, but a rather large part of one’s identity and community is defined by membership. Leaving is simply not something to be done lightly. Especially when most people’s concerns are far too minor to warrant leaving the Church. I love John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories podcasts. To repeat the phrase he mentions several times while telling his own story, “this is my Church, too.” […]

  61. CraigBa! June 6, 2006 at 2:53 am

    I just want to thank you for your heroic effort at gathering and expressing your feelings towards the Church and the journey you took getting there. Whatever nits people have picked, certainly no one can say that your ultimate decision to stay in the Church while remaining honest with yourself, your family, and your fellow members has been anything but courageous. Some may criticize the decision to be a – was it buffet? – Mormon, but I think the crafting of a syncretistic philosophy is far more morally demanding than turning yourself over to the idea of the One True Church.

    Leaving the Church is a difficult decision for anyone who was raised in it, and doing so while raising a family is particularly rough. That’s one reason why I placed so much emphasis on sorting out my feelings before I got around to marrying: I never wanted to put a marriage through that sort of challenge.

    I have often wondered at the difference betwee those who stay and those who stray. Many have similar difficulties – your list of doubts is *exactly* the same as mine – but they end up taking different paths. I think it says a lot that your first defense draws on your pioneer heritage – “Mormonism is in my bones” – and wonder how you think it would differ if you lacked that heritage?

    FYI: You’ve earned the honor of being my first podcast subscription. You now owe 4 ice cream cones instead of 3. Does it come with ice cream?

  62. Matt W June 19, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    Excellent. You’re a soul-sibling, John. Thank you for your story and honesty. It really resonated with me.

  63. Gary Smith June 21, 2006 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you for your Podcast #29. I like others have quite similiar beliefs, and I appreciate listening to others who struggle, because they often help me feel more secure. It took alot of nerve to share yourself, and you should be proud. I’ve taken the time to put my feelings “on-paper”, they are as follows:

    I believe in God who has a plan for us.

    I believe in a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother, who love us. I believe that they have eternal laws which they must follow.

    I believe in our pre and post mortal existence.

    I believe God has more love and compassion for us than we can comprehend.

    I believe that we all have immense potential, and must believe in ourselves.

    I believe that the church has had both wise men and women, who we should look to for guidance and counsel.

    I believe in the church goals of directing and strengthening our values, morals, and family relationships.

    I want to remember to be comfortable knowing that I have many questions that cannot be answered at this time.

    I believe that we have leaders who love us, and are doing their very best to tend to our care.

    I believe that I must keep my commitments and be honest.

    I believe that I must take care of myself in an unselfish manner. Then, I will have the strength and ability to care for my family and friends.

    I need to remember my priorities, and to want what I have.

    Even though the church has some flaws, I stay because the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. Here are other reasons:

    The church is my culture and heritage. It is who I am, and where I belong.

    I believe that just because a religion has a false tenet, it does not make it a false religion. Look at their fruits…

    Even with a prophet, the church is led by mortals.

    I believe in the first vision, and the translation of the book.

    It is a positive community which serves others.

    It has positive values and teachings, promoting responsibility.

    I am going to do my best to make change where I can. If I don’t promote change, who will?

    Religion is an important role in the lives of children: Faith, spirituality, morals, framework, community, etc.

    I hope I can help others who are struggling, and hope as well that they can help me.

  64. Tom Grover February 3, 2007 at 9:02 am


    Thanks for sharing that! It’s always wonderful to read others declarations of faith and WHY they believe what they believe.

    You are another example of someone who can be honest with these issues and still retain faith, which is encouraging to me.

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