397-399: John Dehlin and Faith Reconstruction

In this three-part interview conducted by Sarah Collett of A Thoughtful Faith podcast we discuss:

  • My ups, downs, and ups with the church
  • The story behind the “Why Mormons Question” survey, including my interactions with a few church leaders
  • A discussion of the Daniel Peterson/Neil A. Maxwell institute incident last year
  • The reasons behind the discontinuation of the Mormon Stories conferences and communities
  • Interactions w/ my bishop and stake president over the past year
  • How and why I’ve returned to full activity in the church

Big thanks to Sarah and Micah for all of their hard work.


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  1. Hi John:

    I am very appreciative for your interview. As always, thank you for your time.

    With regards to Part 1, call me disappointed.

    (1) Where regards to the NYC/GA interview… I am disappointed that this never happened. I am also disappointed that you didn’t post any follow interview up with just the GA himself. Maybe circumstance didn’t allow. Regardless, this is disappointing.

    Regarding what you heard about this meeting: Shocked. The Church leadership is disappointed that involved, WEALTHY tithe payers are leaving The Church?

    (2) Regarding your FIRST visit with the Apostle, you failed to ask the most relevant questions? Of course The LDS Church wants everyone to remain “in the tent”… even if they are half way out. Call me antagonistic, but I interpret this to mean “Yes John, we want the tithing dollars”. Come on… where are the good follow up questions? I have included a few questions that I wish you would have asked.

    Q1 ● “How do you expect someone to remain in the tent when they cannot fully participate? What I mean by that is there are lots of NOMish members who cannot attend the temple simply because their integrity won’t let them say that they believe in God… or in the Prophetic calling of TSM. But many of these people live a very ethical and moralistic life style. In fact, many of these people are probably more ‘worthy’ than many of the sociopaths that get recommends. But The Church excludes these members because of their integrity.”

    Q2 ● As a follow up to Q1, why can’t The LDS Church take a more open/accepting approach to literal non-believers (similar to that of the CoC)?

    Q3 ● When will The Church come clean about heavenly visits? We all know that you don’t have them.

    Q4 ● When will The Church finally release financial statements. Shouldn’t the general membership know that you have been VERY well compensated for your service?

    Q5 ● When will The LDS Church finally fix Sunday services. Come on… 19th Century Protestant Reform services are boring. And The LDS Church/culture has made them worse. Can we fix this? As a personal experience, my WARD didn’t even have a Christmas service on the Sunday before Christmas. Instead, we had [boring] farewell.

    And you could have gone on and on and on. Disappointing!


    Years ago emailed you to say that you had become too antagonistic towards The Church. Now me thinks that the Strengthening Church Members Committee found some dirt on you. Is The Church blackmailing you? ;-)


    John, you are my voice. I think The LDS Church is a crap organization. I feel like I have been betrayed/lied to. I think The Church does a lot of harm (more harm then good). And my newly found disbelief makes it so I can no longer defend The Church. But I cannot voice my disappointment and sadness. They would just mail my letter back to my local authority. In short, outside of individuals such as yourself, I have not voice.


    Around 1:02-1:03 you said, “No one cared.” Are you referring to the meeting between the GA and the ‘Big Wigs’? Or are you saying that no one cared about the findings (after your released them early)? If it is the former, how disappointing! But SADLY, this is how I already perceived things to be. :-(

    1. John, interesting podcast. I had three comments but they were too long. Here are three short ones.
      1) I’m sorry the podcast exacted such a high personal price from you. I wish you happiness with your reconstructed faith. I mean that, in spite of the next two comments.
      2) Make no mistake, your stake president did not leave the 99 and go after the 1 any more than mine did. He left the 99 and went after the 40,000. It looks like he was quite well rewarded for his gargantuan effort. The founder of MormonStories reconstructed his faith before 40,000 doubters. Not bad at all. No other individual would get so much attention, John. I think it’s hard to deny that. He may be a good and sincere man – but sincerity means absolutely nothing. Ultimately, they brought you back by preventing you from baptizing your son. That is, after all, their modus operandi. Keep the damn doubters from baptizing their children or witnessing their daughter’s marriage. It’s your story and I am not qualified to criticize you. I didn’t even have the courage to share my story. I do wish, though, that all of us could ignore the church’s most hypocritical characteristic and remain comfortable with our doubts regardless of the church practice of bullying.
      3) If I kick a Muslim while he is facing East and praying, that is disrespectful. If I discuss why the Muslims face East while praying, that is not disrespectful, even if I comment that I think praying towards the East is without efficacy. You allowed the church to define what it means to respect other’s beliefs. Their definition is poppycock! Silence is not respect. Talking openly about the realities of the temple is more respectful than the vague and misleading summaries the church provides in the temple preparation classes.

  2. John,

    Thank you for this podcast … but I think you are wrong in one respect … the ring has not been thrown into Mordor yet. The ring is only half way through the story.

    I wish you the best in everything. You deserve happiness as all of us do. I wish you a boring life ;-)


  3. John,
    You have lost a huge chunk of your supporters. They feel hurt and betrayed. You were their voice and their hope for change, but all of that is gone. Your yo-yoing is very strange and bizarre behavior. Take a stand and stick to it!

    1. Michelle,

      I’m really sorry that you and others feel hurt and betrayed. I am only doing the best I can to live my life in a way that’s best for my family and for myself. I don’t know what else to say….other than that I’m sorry for your pain, and that I’m doing the best I can.


      1. I think that this is more or less how some of our general authorities feel. They don’t know quite what to do, they are in the spotlight, everyone wants them to tell them what they want to hear at the right time, and no matter what you say or do you will never please everyone. The bottom line is that John has to do what is best for himself and his family. That is part of what John’s message has been for so long. He is saying don’t follow me. Follow your own heart and connection with God. John, you never need to apologize for anything, even if it means making someone upset or mad. Your journey is your own journey as just because we (listeners) have decided to go along with the ride doesn’t mean we own you or your decisions. I don’t want anyone owning mine. Stand tall!


          1. I really appreciate all you’ve done. As someone whose opinions and plans about the church change on the hour I can appreciate the position you are in and applaud that at least you have the integrity to be honest and do it publicly. You’ll never lose my support. whether you stay in the church forever or leave for good, all any of us can do is what feels right at the time. I’ve learned to never say never and totally support the fact that there is no right or wrong path, it’s just what feels right to any particular person.

      2. John, I am so happy that you did this interview. I can not even begin to understand the disappointment expressed above. Know that many, many people do appreciate your voice & your desire to hang in there and try and make things better for everyone! Bless you!

      3. It reminds me of what Emerson said:

        “Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

    2. You put it much more nicely than I did, Michelle, but that is kind of how I felt. I wonder where my comments went from late last night early this morning? I can’t see mine or Randall’s. Katrina says she can see mine but I can’t. I wonder if I am blocked because I was not so happy about Part three. Hope it all turns out OK for both John D and the rest of us. This is NOT an easy journey. At least John has the support of his wife when he is IN and when he is OUT. EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN that Marg. I AM happy for them that they are on the same page.

    3. Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

      To me, his so-called yo-yoing is further evidence of authenticity. Life issues move all of us along an unscripted continuum and John’s sentiments move to the forces and emotions on him. If he were ALWAYS positive and upbeat, I may become suspicious; John’s comments to Sarah are his honest reply to honest questions.

    4. Oh please! Michelle and anyone else who gives John grief – He IS taking a stand, or you wouldn’t be upset. Thank goodness people are allowed to grow, learn and yes, even change.

      John,I appreciate all you have done, and your podcast have been a part of my information diet as I dealt with my own faith issues. I commend you for your intent and for finding a harbor in the tempest.

    5. John,
      I wish you well and respect your decision. I really appreciate all you’ve done. But this pod cast is making me really sad and stirring up all kinds of emotions. I am not angry, I just feel sad….

    6. John:
      Thanks for your work. You are inspiring. To me, the yo-yoing you have been accused of is evidence ofa thoughtful, examined, and nuanced life.
      I hope you have found peace. You deserve it.


  4. John,

    I wish you well and respect your decision. Having said that, I wonder if a notation will appear on your membership record all of your days. Perhaps it doesn’t matter though, you can help so many more via professional consultation and outreach.


  5. One could reasonably guess that you met with Elder Holland who might have expressed a desire to avoid a Copernican or Galilein moment. Elder Nelson’s recent comments about the very topics Copernicus and Galileo addressed – cosmology – make it extraordinarily difficult for the scientifically literate to take any of the message seriously.

    The tent flap is open, we’re listening carefully, but as long as general authorities continue to make pronouncements that patently contradict observed phenomena the church will continue to lose the best and the brightest.

  6. Can someone provide me a synopsis? I ran out of time to hear the update after I listened to the first third of the cast….but I would love to know where John stands right now. Thanks!

  7. I’m guessing Part 2 & 3 aren’t up yet but part 1 has been very, very interesting. Thank you for sharing John and thank you for carrying the ring. I have vascillated back and forth with my position on the Church but I have always been grateful to come hear to find sympathetic voices and helpful insights regardless of where I was at. Thanks!

  8. Hey John,

    I want to finish listening but I can’t get #2 or #3 to play or download. I have tried on my iPhone, a Mac and a PC. I have tried several different browsers etc. Not sure if there are any technical issues going on as it seems that some have listened to it in full.

  9. I want to recommend this podcast to the whole world but are hoping that you can clear up the technical difficulties that some of us are having. I tried it on three different devices at two locations and it stops frequently.

    But, John, there are no words to express my respect and admiration for you and the tone you set, the principles you set forth and the respectful and measured way in which you discuss these ideas. This is masterful.

  10. John, I’m only through the first part. Up front, I am glad you have done this interview. Many of us “watch” what you do and say — not so much to “follow your example,” but as our version of entertainment. Call it a religious soap opera — not meant as an insult, just that many of us are beyond believing in superstition and enjoy observing fantasy stories like anybody else!

    Much of how you described your journey falls directly into the narrative we grew up with in the church and can be attributed to and explained by many of the concepts James Nagel described in his interview with you last year. I was disappointed that you even gave credence to those saying you had “lost the Spirit” as you were in your disaffection phase. Isn’t that simple self-preservation psychology allowing one to continue in their contradictory belief? You might be amazed at how many people I’ve had brief conversations with since leaving the church who say “you look healthy and happy,” only to change their tune when they learn I’ve resigned from Mormonism. Simple confirmation bias, and I would think you would at least acknowledge that possibility…as your staying “in” keeps peace in your personal life, but may keep you from being open to new information.

    The other disappointment I have is your labeling your doubting as “prideful arrogance.” Again, doesn’t that fall directly into what the church would call it even if it is the truth? I’m sure Galileo and Copernicus were labeled the same by the “church” for their insistence in science.

    I will give you props for continuing to walk the “middle-way” tightrope. Have you ever considered politics? (lol). Most of us don’t have the patience to appease both sides for as long as you have…and I still think you are doing a lot of good by that position. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts after finishing the rest of the interview. I do thank you again for your honesty and disclosure.

    1. Rick,

      Thanks so much for writing! A few quick responses:

      1) As you know, I use many religious terms somewhat metaphorically now. When I say “lost the spirit” I don’t necessarily mean that the Holy Ghost personage literally departed from my soul/being. I use the term a bit more culturally….in that I felt like over time I was becoming less spiritual, less enlightened, less kind, less loving, a worse husband/father, less patient, etc. And I hope I made it super clear in the interview that I do not at all equate leaving the church with joy/happiness for all. I was only sharing my experience. I completely believe that some people are more happy/joyful/moral once they leave. It’s a completely personal experience.

      2) I totally still believe in confirmation bias….but I don’t feel like I’m struggling with contradictory beliefs. I feel like I’ve been able to harmonize my beliefs and thoughts as of late…vs. abandon them. I totally admit that I could be blinded/biased though….

      3) When I talk about “prideful arrogance” I don’t mean to say that people who doubt/question are prideful or arrogant…only that this particular path that I took….led me down a road to the point where I felt like I became prideful and arrogant…and very negative. And that this spilled over everywhere in my personal life. At home. At school. With extended family and friendships. I got to a very dark place emotionally and spiritually….that’s all I’m trying to say. I’m not trying to speak for, or judge anyone else.

      1. Thanks for YOUR thoughtful response, John. I’ll respond briefly by saying that in MY EXPERIENCE — and that is all I can really speak confidently to — while “struggling” with my faith, I appeared to members similarly to how you described your demeanor. I even believed it all for a minute. Had “the spirit” left me? Was I angry? Did my oppositional approach to so many things mormon “prove” that I was untrustworthy and spiritless? Since my behaviors were also unbecoming of a good mormon, it fit the narrative perfectly for them.

        And the way the culture pits “us” versus “them,” I was admittedly in an unhappy place. My life had been turned upside down and I had no idea what to do the next day.

        My point is that that process is completely normal and common to us doubters (of course you know that). Call it Kubler-Ross mourning stages, anxiety and uncertainty from losing so much, or simple anger from the fear of the unknown…I’ve seen it time and time again.

        None of this has anything to do with truth or historical facts…and I get frustrated when anybody seemingly attaches emotion to facts, and I sensed a bit of that in part one.

        Admittedly I am rushing to judgment here, as my part two is taking about 3 hours to download! More discussion to follow I’m sure…thanks again for your willingness to dialogue!

        It fir

        1. Hi John…finished all three last night. Very interesting. A few more thoughts:

          * Nobody knows how this story ends — you included. Keep connected to THIS support system, as it may be there for you in some certain-to-be cog-dis times.

          * The best thing you’ve done here is prioritize your family. I’ve been surprised at how full your plate has been, and you need your personal life back to have any sort of peace through all this. This is a good move for that.

          * I think (and I could be wrong here, and that’s okay) you are convincing yourself that the church is okay in many ways that deeper down you know it is not. I think you may come to realize that the devil on your shoulder is actually the church rather than the opposite way you’ve been seeing it. Yes, there are great, loving people in the church — as there are in every culture. The church HAS great people. That doesn’t make the church great. Unless YOU can help bring integrity to the church and effect change in real morality — equal rights, honesty in history, REAL self-help guidelines rather than artificial commandments that conflict with reality, and true personal empowerment rather than a pay/pray/obey paradigm — you will have frustration at every meeting you attend and hear false teachings and stories. That will take its toll. Talk to us when that happens. Some of us have been there and can help.

          Many have said you’ve hit your bottom. IMO it’s been soft. We are here for you when it becomes a problem for you. WE love you, my friend. Remember that!

          1. Rick,

            Love you brother. And I totally agree that none of us are done w/ our respective journeys…and that I very well may find myself right back in the post-Mormon world when all is said and done (heck…I could still get excommunicated…who knows??!?!?!).

            Thanks for allowing me my journey, and for making me feel welcome if I ever need to return. I hope you feel the same sentiments from me.

            Again, love you, brother.


  11. Hey Everyone — I think that download demand has exceeded server resources. I’m working on a workaround…but it may take some time because I’m away from home. I’ll get it worked out by end of day. So sorry for the delay. :(

    1. Phew! I thot my new service provider was dropping the ball. Anxiously awaiting the last half to see your path is similar to mine…

  12. Wow! That apostle must have promised JD a spot in the ranks or something! What a complete 180. So it’s all true and right and good now? All the research and fault finding and problems are okay now because an apostle had a special meeting with John? Wow! The rest of us get to be disfellowshipped or shunned or whatever because we don’t have the right connections, something I thought really bothered John? And how can one possibly pretend to believe it all again? Weird it’s just weird

      1. Did the reply to this post get deleted? I saw it briefly appear with the statement that “you had struck a deal … ” etc … etc … Not understanding the power struggles that happen within the church I would not be surprised either way … although the GA must have been coming with a particularly weak hand as your compromise was to basically say that what the church teaches as true is most likely not but you will have faith and hope that it is. It would be a fair compromise if the church were willing to take some step towards us that have become uncorrelated (love that word :-) ) … lol I think a good first step would be to make D Michael Quinn an apostle! But, short of that, its not clear to me what the rest of us gain by a “change of heart.”

      2. Clearly she didn’t. I got nearly all 3 episodes in today, although I had to keep pausing and allowing it to buffer. Only about 16 minutes left of the 3rd. Thank you John for doing the interviews. As I have been struggling with my faith and everything, I appreciate your honesty and how you are making it work for you! I can easily see that I could go to that dark and negative place, and I am trying hard to make it work and not go there, for cultural, social, and family reasons. Thanks for your honesty!

      3. John, You really got the good cop, bad cop treatment from Church, didn’t you? It is amazing that you fell for it. I took part in the survey trusting that you would do what you said you would do with the information. And through the podcast I learned the following things:
        you had the opportunity to serve the truth and set others free, but you chose the easier path to serve the benevolent church instead. The church effectively bought the survey data from you and subsequently kept it from the public eye, never to be seen again as they have with so many facts. I am very disappointed and actually angry at you! I had hoped that this project would have amounted to something other than more church propaganda.

  13. I was going to just email you, but I want others to see my positive comment. :-) I still haven’t been able to finish the third section but figured I’d comment now anyway. John, I have so much respect for you. You have been a friend to so many, including me. I appreciate all the work and sacrifices you have made. That said, I am SO SO SO happy for you that you are focusing on your family and your own well-being. I think this step back has been a long time coming.

    I will admit that I am somewhat surprised that a return to full activity is where your spiritual path has taken you, but I am thrilled that you are feeling at peace. Obviously, for many of us we find that peace and emotional/spiritual well-being outside of the church. But the GOOD that you speak of can be found in or out. It is heartening to hear that you are finding it within. And a good reminder for those of us who no longer participate, that it can be good for some to remain engaged.

    I really loved that you talked about intellectual vs. emotional/spiritual because that is something that I experienced on my path as well. I spent a good year in purely intellectual pursuit as I explored the issues with the church. Then I had an experience that brought the emotion into it. For me, being more in touch with my emotional reactions led me to stop going. For me that was the right decision. I am happy to hear that you have found the path that is working for you. Much love to you!

  14. Great interview, John. I really felt that you were being pretty candid throughout the whole interview (as you always are), though I do have one fear on how this interview will, potentially, be received by others in the grand scheme of your work/legacy–especially by leaders of the Church who deal with faith crises/historical issues with members:

    You mentioned that, after meeting with your Stake President for sometime, you felt the need to confess your sins to him (and did confess them). This sounds like a gradual process that occurred as you gained more trust and love with him. Also during this time, you began to regrow spiritually and emotionally, stopped your activism to some degree, and returned to full activity within the Church.

    On the outside looking in, I could see many leaders of the Church (including GAs that you have met with during your journey) say that, obviously, John’s issues with the Church (e.g., historicity, truth claims, etc.) really never were issues at all, but simply a cover for his own admitted pride and sinfulness. John must’ve been involved in adultery of some kind, pornography, masturbation, etc., and only by humbling and confessing his sins to a priesthood leader was he allowed to again feel the spirit and regain a testimony. To me, this just further reinforces the falsehood that faith crises are ultimately explained by sin. I, personally, really hate that to be the closing chapter in all of this. Maybe I’m reading too much into this (and I don’t mean to offend), but that’s kind of how I see this interview being received by many.


  15. John, I imagine that for some of your listeners, this may feel a bit like being on a long, hard journey with a dear friend, and suddenly your friend hops off the train and you are still making that journey…now just more alone than you were. The thing about friendship though that I am realizing lately is that we know we are TRUE friends with someone when we are close enough to see more than just the things we enjoy and admire about them, but we see them and love them completely and we make a conscious choice to accept all of them…even the parts that don’t serve our own needs. We also know friendships are deep and true when our desire for our friend’s happiness outweighs our desire for them to act in a way that fulfills our personal needs. Along the lines of Life of Pi (just read it last night), perhaps we are all telling different stories or are on different “boats” (the ones that bring each of us the most peace), yet earnest hearts are all rowing in the same direction. Love and support, and overwhelming GRATITUDE to you John for the way that your efforts in Mormon Stories have blessed my own life this past year. You are exceptional.

  16. John,

    I am concerned … It seems you have deleted a post in which the author claims that you struck a deal with Holland. Perhaps the post was too strident although in reading it it seems fine but a little confrontational … rather it seems that it was deleted to prevent a discussion of this possibility. I have a copy of the original post and I am not sure what to do with it? It seems that it is something that should at least be addressed … not something that should be hidden.

    in response to Danielle:

    Wow! That apostle must have promised JD a spot in the ranks or something! What a complete 180. So it’s all true and right and good now? All the research and fault finding and problems are okay now because an apostle had a special meeting with John? Wow! The rest of us get to be […]

    That apostle was Jeffery Holland and yes, most believe some deal was struck. Elder Holland “killed” the hit piece that Gregory L. Smith had just written on Dehlin. He was going to publish it but Holland stopped it. That happened at exactly the same time John announced he was miraculously doing a 180 and returning to the church. He’s lost the respect and trust of everyone I know who once believed in him. Now so many are discussing his betrayal and we know the truth behind it.

    I understand that this post as well might get moderated … would be nice to have your response.

          1. That is good to hear. The part that I am seeing deleted is this:

            “That apostle was Jeffery Holland and yes, most believe some deal was struck. Elder Holland “killed” the hit piece that Gregory L. Smith had just written on Dehlin. He was going to publish it but Holland stopped it. That happened at exactly the same time John announced he was miraculously doing a 180 and returning to the church. He’s lost the respect and trust of everyone I know who once believed in him. Now so many are discussing his betrayal and we know the truth behind it.”

            Sorry, I didn’t quote it earlier. I copied it from an email that I received because I am following this thread.

      1. John,

        Thank you for your response. And for your podcast. That is all I needed to hear and is enough for me. Could you address the deleted post? Perhaps it was deleted by the author (if that is even possible?) I doubt very much that you would enter into a deal of this nature as your podcast is not exactly positive for the church in my view. I cannot see what the church would gain from such subterfuge.

          1. John,

            My apologies. It is true that such a post could be viewed as mean-spirited. I appreciate the atmosphere of dialogue on this site and it is the reason I keep coming back.

            I am happy to play the internet troll, or golum (as the case may require) because I believe in what you are trying to do.

            Thank you for modeling a graceful, dignified, truthful interaction with Mormonism.

    1. Oh the conspiracies. What’s so hard about taking John at his word? He has been honest throughout his experience. The signs were there. I saw his facebook posts a year ago asking for someone to post something that would make him happy. He was obviously not at peace during that time. He found that being moderately active in the church brought harmony to his family, and to his personal “spritual” schism. He is a firmly agnostic Mormon. I know where he’s coming from emotionally. The exmormon forums are pretty intense and antagonistic. They are full of pain and anger. While I fully empathize with that pain and anger, it’s hard to stay in that emotional state for long. He’s needs healing time for his family, so give him a break.

    2. Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

      Sam, you’re killing me with your theories. John is not anyone’s puppet. If you feel that John betrayed you (during his “complete 180”), reassess why you look to John to be your spokesman. John is on a journey; he’s let us all listen in. If pleased, then great. If not, that’s fine too.

      1. SIM,
        I would like to reply to your “spokesman” comment…
        You are fully correct that people should not have looked to John as a spokesperson.

        However, John was a strong voice for those that did not fit in the church “mold” – one way or another. John made it OK to be a Fowler stage-5, to not believe that it is the “one and only true church, to be in limbo. People listened to him because HE COULD RELATE to the pain and suffering people felt in THEIR journeys. He became an advocate for many of us, his listeners.

        We do not have podcasts with thousands of faithful listeners, we do not have such connections or possibilities to influence. But that was OK, because we had John. He was on our side! He saw us and he listened to us!

        John, kindly, let us journey with him. But, in some ways, HE also journeyed with US!

        His podcast has been a sanity check for many of us – a bridge between HEART (stay in the church to not stir up trouble) and BRAIN (shout the historical facts from the mountaintop). Now that bridge is gone. Many of us are ready to fly (do not need to choose between Heart OR Brain), but some of us are not…

        It is not John’s fault if people became dependent! But, without the balanced “voice of reason” – that John always represented – that SANE MIDDLE GROUND is gone.
        Some people, who can yet not fly, will now find themselves drift towards the church while others may drift towards intellectualism. [I mean “drift” in an involuntary movement, caused by external pressures.]

        People got comfortable about John to represent them and to stand up for them. And EVEN if he was “just a voice on a podcast” it was still something that people needed. John DID become an unintentional spokesperson! It was never intended and it is tragic (and to some even mockable) that it came to this, but the fact is that he did.

        The frustration and anger many people let out, towards John, on this blog is due to pain and grief. They feel that they have lost a friend, someone that was standing up for them. They feel abandoned and they are in shock over his decision to go back to church. I think it is the loss of middle ground that hurts, not the church-stance per se.

        I dare to say that, ALL of us who post here have one thing in common; WE ALL LOVE JOHN! That is WHY we care (even if it may be a selfish love for some of us).

        1. Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

          Chris, thanks for your long reply; I better understand your position. Like many, I am on the same continuum, somewhere left of TBM; and trying to fix/rebuild/replace my foundation while maintaining the full structure of my life atop it.

          I close with 3 points:

          1.) John’s space and journey may continue to be in flux. At the moment, he’s trending right toward TBM but I/we must give him latitude to move again; he may again be on the continuum near you.

          2.) No matter where John is, he has given emotional aid to others on the faith continuum; and I am sad if you feel it has been at the expense of others who are somewhat more distance on that continuum. Over the months, John and I have been at different spots on the continuum yet I was still refreshed by his podcasts because of the journey, not the absolute or instantaneous spot in which we each stood. Please take heart in that.

          3.) If I can distill a most-valued drop from all of John’s podcasts, it is this: regardless of where a person lands, either in or out of the Church, and I/you/we/they have taken this similar journey, they remain my friend.

          Chris, I don’t know you from, well, from Adam, but I love you for sharing journey with me; and I am with you even when we stand apart on the continuum. My journey continues.

        2. Amen to that!

          While I’ve not had a chance to listen to the podcast yet, I have been reading the comments here. I have to admit (selfishly, I suppose) that I am a bit disappointed that John has chosen to make the turn around in his faith journey. I also agree that he had become the face of our plight. Someone actually out there listening and validating. Nevertheless, I’m not going to throw him under the bus as yet. That just wouldn’t be fair to him, as he has been a great influence on me, especially because of his integrity. Having said that, if I find that there’s a significant change to the tone of the podcasts towards a more apologetic approach, then it would no longer serve my purposes, which would ultimately be disappointing. I have come to look forward to listening to the podcasts because of John’s honest approach to the Mormon issues and our disaffection and faith crisis. I listen to them not just because of John, but because of the content of them and the way he addressed the many issues of Mormonism. Even if John chooses to leave Mormon Stories behind, which I would totally support if he feels that this is right for him and his family, I would hope that his replacement would have a similar approach to what we have become accustomed to. Again, if this is not the case, then I see no point in continuing my support, emotionally or financially.

          However, I do love John and all I have gained from his knowledge and empathy. He is my hero. I wish him nothing but the best life has to offer him and support his decision what ere it may be.

          1. Amen to your post Bonita!

            Even with John gone, there is still a “need” for Mormon Stories – an objective and neutral take on LDS faith crisis (far from any apologetic approach).

  17. Many thanks John, I have benefited from your quest in so many ways. I’ve always appreciated the honesty and differing opinions.



  18. Hi John,

    I have been a regular subscriber to your (MM and MS) podcasts for more than two years now, and I have enjoyed listening to practically every podcast of Mormon Stories and Mormon Matters. You really have done a terrific job with the podcasts, and I hope you will carry on with the great work.

    I have been an LDS member for a little over two years now. I was born and raised in India, by the way, and I am the only member in my family! More than two years ago, when I had just begun to show a genuine interest in the Church, among other things such as going to church every Sunday, reading scripture and participating in church activities, I scoured the Internet for opinions, reviews or any material that provided a balanced view/opinion of the Church and its history. I found many voices, both favorable and critical/cynical, and I listened to them all. But, your voice stood apart from the rest and it sounded much more balanced and mature, and very soon I began gravitating toward the MS and MM podcasts. I found in them a lively discussion of everything related to Mormonism. And, throughout, your honesty and openness have always appealed to my own approach toward Mormonism. I daresay your voice played a significant role in my path toward becoming a member of the Church. Of course, there were other bigger factors that played their roles, but yours was important too. So, thanks!

    I am a very active member, and despite my differences with most members from my ward, some political, others cultural, I simply love and cherish their friendship and fellowship! I have walked on many different spiritual paths before – Hindu and Buddhist – and I have learned quite a few things from them all, but for some reason Mormonism has always stood out. I don’t mean to diminish the significance and value that other spiritual paths may offer to non-members, of course. But, just going to church every Sunday and serving all my callings to the best of my ability has provided me with a robust and vigorous spiritual development that I couldn’t find or see in other paths. And, I commend you on your journey, thus far, with all its ups and downs!

    Whether you remain active in church or prefer to be inactive, your voice will always help many people in navigating the waters of faith with a balanced approach and attitude. There is much that we can learn through Mormonism in this life, and I hope you will learn deeper and as much as you can, just as I hope the same for myself.

    Once again, a heartfelt thank-you for all that you have done!

  19. One of the things that has always struck me with Mormon Stories interviews is how long they are. To understand the person being interviewed and the fullness of the story, you have to spend a very long time listening. And the time I have devoted to listening to people’s stories has been such a gift because I’ve realised how much of our humanity we lose when we are inundated with sound bite culture that tries to sum up a person’s life or position in a short time. I feel that it has been a great privilege to listen to your long story over the years and the interviews and the podcasts and see how your views shift and evolve. I know some people want you to have a moment of enlightenment and stand fast in that one position for all of eternity, but the truth of our humanity is probably more that we doubt and question and shift our positions in our life journeys. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your humanity with us.

    1. YES! I love this comment…thank you for taking the TIME to listen and to tell us the whole, rich, complex story. Thanks to John and to the participants for sharing. I learn from each of you!

  20. I am saddened by most of these comments. After all of the countless hours and work that John has put in for those of us that have struggled in faith; and how do some respond-with anger and deceit. Don’t you undrstand that John is on a faith journey that is filled with bumps and obstacles just like we are? I am happy for you John that you are finding your way throughout the ups and downs of our religion. I will continue to follow your journey in hopes that I can continue to navigate through my prsonal maze of mormonism. So happy for you and your family!

    1. I find it interesting that you are saddened by MOST of these comments. There have been maybe 4 of us who have breathed that we were disappointed or felt betrayed. MOST of the comments have been very affirming of John and what he has done. I love John, Mormon Stories, the groups he caused to be created etc etc etc. but I was disappointed. I get disappointed every day by lots and lots of people who I love and care about. I do not keep that a secret nor do I try to dwell on it. I think that MOST of the comments here have been very generous and have been supportive of John in everything he has done, even in his honesty that may have disappointed us and even made us mad. So sad that you came away only seeing the few of us who have made negative comments. Much like we have done in expressing our negative reaction to the few things that hit us wrong. I was only disappointed in Part 3. Anyway, hope you read the rest of the comments that are so positive, affirming, generous, loving, hopeful, inspiring etc.

  21. John, Thanks for doing this very interesting and insightful interview. You really do get it from both sides, don’t you? Your too far in for some and too far out for others. :-) It’s quite a balancing act. Ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you and your family. Only you can be the judge of that. Good luck to you and thank you for all you have done to bring together some amazing people in the MS groups and some of the best podcasts out there. Keep up the good work; fight the good fight.

  22. Hello John. I’ve been listening many of your interviews over the last year from here, Japan. All I can say is that you have done a lot of members a huge favor through your work. I’ve learned a lot from the interviews I listened to and I must say that in many cases, those interviews really prepared me for my current calling – I’m serving as a bishop. I’ve met some members, good members, including former bishops, who are strugling with many of the issues you dealt with. Some have totally lost faith in the church but are choosing to remain ‘active’ for the sake of their family. So, again big thanks to you John.

  23. Thumbs up from me John. Stoked to hear you’ve reached stage 5. I think Don Bradley tells a similar story to yours. I think one has to build a relationship with God to find a way back. There are technical problems with the broadcast though; cannot download audio and live buffering is painfully slow.

  24. A great podcast, John! I think I went through the five stages just listening. Your weakness and your strength is, like many of us I think, your sensitivity and thoughtfulness. And putting it all out there for the masses is a courageous endeavor. I have benefitted greatly from Mormon Stories and because it has been a journey of seven years now for me trying to keep my family together while I deconstructed everything I taught them and I am still tiptoeing down this path, I hope selfishly that Mormon Stories will still be there when I need something to help me calm down and know I’m not going crazy.
    And here’s what I want that General Authority to do. Get up in conference and tell the members and the other Authorities to stop hurting and judging those who stop believing or can’t believe it in the first place and just love them no matter what they believe. And find a way to let them be in their children’s weddings and no more talks about their weakness, ever !!!! Thanks John for a very thoughtful telling of where you are and where you’ve been. Good Luck!
    And one thought about what you said about the sad directions some people go when they lose their faith. I really believe we have to have more podcasts and more discussion about the good in people who may not believe or have a religion. Man is not naturally an enemy to God. Some of the least religious nations on earth (Scandinavia for example) have the lowest crime rates, the lowest rates of corruption, the highest rates of care for the elderly, etc. Most people just want to be good parents, they don’t steal or commit crimes and they want love and to be looked up to. I think the churches teachings about the natural man are demeaning and a tactic to encourage dependence on the organization. And I believe most people who struggle with the church’s truthfulness continue to be good decent and honorable people. Maybe the best and the brightest as the GA said. And the church has no right to tell our families otherwise!

    1. Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

      Hi Robert, your last paragraph struck cord with me. As a child, I was often confused by adult/teacher/parental use of the words: nature, natural, or natural man being enemy to God. In a church discussion, it was expressed what NOT TO BE; yet, in a dating discussion, it was expressed what TO BE as in “take her out, treat her kindly, and just be natural.”

      I don’t want to sound naive; I understand that words have different, -often subtly different-, meanings based on context. When clarity is critically important, it is not good enough to be understood; we need to do all possible to prevent being misunderstood. This is magnified when dealing with teens, at least this one.

      As word meanings migrate over time, I find comfort in reading newer editions/translation of the Bible to promote better understanding; and I feel that the Book Of Mormon may be better understood with a similar refresh. The “natural man” term may have been clear to readers in 1830s but is confusing to many in 2013. Our goal should be to promote understanding, not word allegiance.

  25. Well done again John. So sorry to see the negatives – but as part of the nature of the beast and having ‘put yourself out there’ you have to expect it – still unfortunate. Of course you know those who seek to tear down your faith are probably still mourning the loss or cracks in their own. Although I am still in the throes of my own battles – and can feel plenty of anger at God and everything and everyone else – I celebrate those who find faith, love and truth (and do justly and love mercy). To those who are beating on John – Please friends – let us be kind – be thoughtful and truly loving to each other. Even if you can’t reconcile yourselves to all the ‘mormon training and instruction’ of previous times in your lives – please don’t cast away the teachings of respect, temperance, virtue and charity.

    In spite of all the damnable mind bending conundrums of Christianity and Mormonism specifically – but its ability to inspire and create actual bone level deep empathy and goodwill among men who practice it *fully* and earnestly is nearly unparalleled. Its a reality that I’ve experienced personally and that ties me up inside to try and reconcile – to this day. John’s experience is evidence. Heart and mind = happiness.

  26. Technically all good now. Thanks. I travelled a similar road to you john and sent several letters to the GA’s over the years with my concerns. I’ve not been a big fan of MS over the last couple of years becaudse it put me in a dark place with its intense dichotomy of views. I delved, instead, into the world of NDE’s and have come out with a similar philosophy to yours. There is something bigger than Mormonism out there, above the politics of formal religion. I’m doing my best with the Church to help people find that; and like you, having a ball doing it. Thanks for fighting for the rights of GLTB’s. Since listening to MS I ‘ve had two of my children come out. MS helped me understand and connect to them. All the best. BTW, I beleive Joseph Smith was one of the most loving men that ever walked this earth, despite his weaknesses.

  27. Just starting the podcast and you said “parallel process” which made me smile because you are clearly a therapist now :)

  28. Dear John,
    I am pleased that you have found a place for your faith in Mormonism and think that faith is a deeply personal thing. In reality I think that all religions are dishonest in different ways. Add to that, that we all live in our own form of reality. Our own reality is our own story. We have to do the best we can with our narrative and live our ‘own truth’. I respect every ones decision.

    Taking a utility approach, Mormonism is very useful to some people. Mormonism is an American faith and I think in lots of ways fits better with American culture. The church I feel will see much more descent in Europe. In reality, if you are going to make the compromise of validity versus utility, with your faith it is easier to be in a faith tradition that fits with your culture.

    We left the church over a year ago due to historical claims but primarily because the LDS church made us miserable. It is the first time in our lives we have felt peace and our immediate family has never experience such joy and happiness having the freedom to decide what we believe. “To act and not be acted upon.” The children have really reacted well to not having tenets dictated to them. I think what is wrong from ‘our perspective’ is the ‘indoctrination’ that occurs in Mormonism. God is in our home, we still pray with the children but base everything on the teachings of Jesus Christ. We have invited our children to find their own faith and are giving them opportunity to experience different things.

    We have paid an enormous price for leaving the church, we are estranged from one set of parents and have limited contact with the other. Both fathers are former stake presidents and our family cannot accept our decision. Most LDS friends also have nothing to do with us either. However, that is all of their choices. We have each other and feel a loving God in our lives ‘who, what, he, she, it, is.’ It is the price we have paid for peace and we feel we own our own thoughts now.

    Thank you for all your work. It has helped us on our journey. We are really pleased that you have found a new place for you to stop and survey the new ground. God bless you in all that you do. With very best wishes, Karen

  29. Disappointing, and I agree with Rick, the wording is troublesome “lost the Sprirt” and “prideful arrogance”, and you can justify those comments on this thread John, but doesn’t change the innuendo in the podcast. Seriously undermines all those who have found the Spirit elsewhere. And I’m willing to bet anyone here my tithing money that there’s a talk in this April’s general conference about that very topic warning us about the Internet and using John’s story of his triumphant return as an example. (Without using any names because as demonstrated in the podcast by John, that’s how the believers do it, keep it all secretive)! And I wonder if there is some prideful arrogance motivating John’s return. He’s had a personal meeting with an Aposlte, and now is in the club and we’ll see where that gets him down the road.

    1. Danielle – You absolutely have no idea what you’re talking about. I am about as far out of “the club” as is human possible without being excommunicated. The brethren won’t even answer my emails. I am not allowed to baptize my son or even pray/talk in church. You are so, so wrong.

      But I don’t take it personally (your erroneous assumptions, that is). What I hear behind what you’re saying is that you’re really in pain. And from what I know about you personally, I know that the church has interacted with your families in ways that have resulted in real harm. I get it. Believe me. Because I’ve lived it too.

      Another area you are completely wrong about me is to interpret my comments about “losing the spirit” and “prideful arrogance” as directed towards people who leave the church. I was talking about me. I imagine that the church is likely full of pridefully arrogant people who are “missing the spirit.” And if you know anything about me (which you don’t seem to indicate) you’ll know that I’m a massive champion of all the goodness that exists outside of Mormonism. I personally know thousands of amazing non-Mormons. Probably more than you. And I think that I was very clear in the podcast that I do not equate leaving the church with evil things. At all. Only for me, in my situation, staying was the right thing (at least for now).

      I feel badly that somehow your experience has gotten so enmeshed with my own…such that you can’t make clear distinctions between your own issues, my personal issues, and my positions. I’m sure this is partly my fault, but you may want to look inside yourself as well to see what fault may lie with you.

      Again…I’ll chalk it up to your pain….which….again…if anyone can empathize with….I think that I can…since I’ve been through very painful church-related things myself.

      Sincere warm regards and best wishes to you. I hope you can find peace…and I will bless your path independent of its relationship to the church. Believe me. I believe very strongly that goodness is independent of church affiliation, but that for some, church affiliation can help nurture goodness. That is all I’m saying.

      1. Okay John. I haven’t really been following Mormon Stories for quite some time other than this podcast, so not sure why you think my experience is “enmeshed” in yours. I’m sure with a stake president like yours you’ll have a recommend in no time and be able to baptize your son and pray. I realize that your story is yours, I am not even close to the same place as you, nor was I ever. My point was just that plenty of people have the spirit without the Church and the way you said it was troubling and the Church likes to manipulate things to their advantage

        1. Danielle — I am a totally flawed human, and I am 110% certain that I could have “messaged” things better. But in no way was I trying to infer that either: 1) leaving Mormonism means that you will become bad or evil, OR 2) that only Mormons are good people.

          I was trying to communicate what happened to me, on my journey. That was all I was trying to communicate.

          Of course people outside the church have “the spirit” (whatever that is). I’ve been saying that publicly for 8 years now, and that is still very much a core value/belief for me. I will never stop believing this. Ever. Nor did I mean to infer this w/ the interview.

          So forgive me if I didn’t communicate as effectively as I could. That said, I believe that if you had been really listening, you would have heard me say the same thing you just did. I think I was pretty clear to say that leaving the church does not equate with evil, and I think we all know that there are plenty of lame/evil people who remain in the church….because that’s the human condition.

        2. Danielle- Perhaps, if you have not followed MS for quite some time, you should go back and revisit many of the episodes over the last few years. As someone who has followed the podcast from the beginning, I can say that for me, John’s integrity has never been in question. Listening to this interview put all of those ‘angry’ interviews, as well as the more recent ‘hopeful’ ones into perspective.
          In 100 years many of the things we accept as true in 2012 will seem laughable. And we’ll all be dead. If John has found goodness and peace in his short time on earth, who are we to criticize the means thereby?

    2. “The rest of us get to be disfellowshipped or shunned or whatever because we don’t have the right connections, something I thought really bothered John? And how can one possibly pretend to believe it all again? Weird it’s just weird”

      Danielle, “Shunned”? Really? Have you been to a council for your beliefs or non-beliefs?
      “Pretend to believe it all again?” Who are you to judge that?

      You’d bet your tithing money?- Mockery.

      “The club”… You truly have little idea of what you say…
      just saying…

  30. This was one of the most important interviews I’ve heard in a long time. Thank you Sarah and John. Your understanding of John being in deconstruction freefall, Sarah, was a priceless bridge to understanding what he was experiencing. You both inspire me. You’re modeling a thoughtful faith along with teaching us about it. Along with the other Mormon Stories podcast offshoots A Thoughtful Faith will gladly receive my time and attention.

    What a delight, John, that you’ve chosen to follow your spiritual inclinations instead of the reasoned path to priestcraft and self destruction. We are, after all, spiritual beings having a mortal experience and we sometimes lose our way despite our best intentions. I believe you’re making a difference. Because of Mormon Stories I found myself deeply disagreeing recently with Ralph Hancock’s self-confident critique of Mormon feminists, LGBQ members and intellectuals. It was so 1939 or 1990. The savior’s story and Mormon Stories has always been about us finding our way together in all our variety as best we can, not shoving those who are different to the side. Because of Mormon Stories I can say I genuinely love my gay brother and his companion. I’m more inclined to respect other human beings and even love them thanks in part to your example. I see the Master reflected in what you’re doing.

    It is remarkable that everything in mortality, even the gospel of Jesus Christ, is messy and organic. We’re blessed with fallible leaders and burdened by our own weaknesses. Your inclination to destroy Mormon Stories in the event that you would have been excommunicated made me ache. What a burden you’ve born for us! An even greater burden has been born by your remarkable companion, Margi. Please share our gratitude with her. I count it an honor to have met you, Dan Wotherspoon, Joanna Brooks and Maxine Hanks at the Boise Mormon Stories Conference. I would like to meet Margi someday as well. The thought of you re-investing your heart back into your family is cause for celebration. It is holy, powerful and joyful.

  31. Listening to part 3 I came to feel like if a person I care for very much, who has been struggling to overcome a drug-addiction for several years, was just found relapsing – with the excuse that “it feels good”. I was of the understanding (listening to him during these years) that the rationality was too obvious. I am sad that the pushers now gets his money.
    Mostly I am truly concerned for the people who, looking up to him and encouraged to be their genuine self (while also struggling with addiction), now may fall back into the mental harm of their old habits.

    1. Chris,

      As all metaphors, the drug one works, but also breaks down.

      What you and I both have to accept, I believe, is that the church truly blesses some people’s lives, and truly damages others. And…that leaving the church is really good for some people, and really bad for others.

      I can concede both, and I believe that wise/healthy/objective people will agree with this (just my opinion).

      You are talking from your experience…which I consider to be completely valid. But please don’t make the mistake of assuming that your experience is “the truth” or “what’s best” for all. That’s just near-sighted.

      1. John,
        My apologies if I came on to strong.
        I feel that I, now, better expressed my thoughts in a reply to “Steve In Millcreek”…

        I wish you all the best, and I am happy for the time you will spend with your family.

  32. I am listening to the rest of the podcast now. I do feel I understand you more now John. I just wish so strongly that you hadn’t posted on online forums about the drug usage, the presence of alcohol and also the immorality you found at the Mormon Stories conferences. Then add that it was rare that these happened. Why did you even mention that? Of course the strong members of the church have grabbed right on to that and are using it to say things like, “we warn people not to leave as it leads to sinning”, or the worst, “we knew people only leave so they can live a sinful life”. I’m sure you met many more good, moral people at these conferences than immoral sinners! Am I correct? I know so many where I live who traveled to your conferences and who feel so extremely hurt that you’d do this to us. I hope you understand what I’m saying. I do wish you happiness and hope you and your family find peace.

    1. Michelle,

      I totally understand your concerns. I am a totally flawed and imperfect messenger, and I’m just doing the best that I can to tell the story that I experienced.

      But I have seen a heavy dose of what I consider to be very reckless behavior in the post-Mormon world. In at least 4 or 5 cities I saw it close up. Adultery. Open marriages. Drug use. Divorce. I’m only being honest. You maybe didn’t see it, and I am not at all trying to say that these things were common w/ most conference and community participants. But they were common/frequent enough to scare the crap out of me.

      And to be clear — I don’t sit in judgment over people who engage in these things. I honestly believe that everyone needs to live their life the way they feel called, and that sometimes, in some crazy way, these types of things may work for some people. I don’t judge them.

      In addition, I absolutely believe that just like some people’s lives are deeply blessed by church affiliation, I know for an almost certainty that some people absolutely must leave the church to become healthy. It is totally a bi-directional, very personal decision…and that “happiness” and “wellness” exists in both directions.

      But I do believe that morality (whatever it is) matters. I do believe that integrity matters. I do believe that families matter. I believe that marriages matter. That parenthood matters. That mental health matters. That adults should be responsible. I believe that anger can decay the soul if you sit in it too long. Most importantly, I believe that if I’m going to be influential in taking someone’s religion away from them, I better also be willing/able to provide a dang good replacement for what these people have lost.

      And so all I’m saying is….I saw enough pain, misery, divorce, sadness, anger to last a lifetime. Close up. And I saw enough doubt, confusion, fear, “immorality” to give me pause…to ask myself, “Are people really better off by what you’re doing?” — and I couldn’t answer yes. In the end, it felt spiritually and emotionally wrong for me to keep those things up. Not to mention the fact that it all almost destroyed MY family…which it truly did.

      So I’m not at all saying that all or even most ex-Mormons are immoral people. And I absolutely believe that the majority of good, ethical, moral people in the world are non-Mormon (just by sheer numbers). What I am saying is that in spite of all the good we did w/ the conferences and communities, at the end of the day I saw enough sadness, anger, immorality, pain and darkness that I did not feel good about continuing on with it. I don’t deny you of your experience, but please don’t deny me of mine.

      I’ll end with this. If you know of someone, or a group of people, that are capable of creating a secular organization that blesses peoples’ lives more than Mormonism, I heartily and sincerely encourage you (and others) to build that organization. I might even donate to it. I believe that the world desperately needs an organization (or multiple organizations) to replace religion for those who are no longer affiliated (See Alain De Botton’s Atheism 2.0 for what I mean here). I so totally encourage you and others to go build that organization. Heck…I might even join it someday. All I’m saying is that I tried to create something like that, and was not successful…and instead, worry that I may have done more damage than good. But by all means…please pick up the torch/baton, carry it forward, and prove me wrong. If you can create such an organization, I will be one of your biggest fans. And I mean this sincerely.

      1. John (and Michelle)…I’ve been out for about 15 years, and I have observed this A LOT! However, I ask you to look at it from a different angle — why is it happening?

        I posit that it is not so much that the conferences create an environment that encourages these behaviors, but that what the people are healing from — in this case and many others, it is a restrictive, unhealthy culture that they are leaving, IMO — has created an expanded, pent up psyche that feels the need to let go and deflate for a time. Some call it a pendulum that swings an equal amount the other way for a while. Hopefully, and most of the time, it comes back to center and nobody is hurt seriously. But sometimes people DO get hurt…and my question is, whose fault is it really? Should you the meeting organizer feel responsible for adults’ behaviors? Wouldn’t these sorts of things happen in other settings anyway?

        My point is, I don’t think YOU have as much power over people to make them do “bad” things as you might assume. That is their own doing, probably as a result of a lifetime of living outside of integrity and needing a release to get back to center.

        Another point that is hard to hear is that the pain they go through is a part of their healing. Hopefully without serious consequences, but painful enough for them to learn important life lessons. I did it. Addiction, divorce, bankruptcy, excommunication, criminal conviction, lost medical license for a time. Hurt like hell. But I’m better for it today.

        1. Rick – I totally get that I’m not fully responsible (or even predominately responsible…or maybe even responsible at all) for other people’s decisions.

          But now that I’ve been in a place of a tiny bit of influence, I do believe that I have had at least a little bit of influence on at least a few people (and it has humbled me to the core from what I’ve seen).

          So I will accept your point, but ask you to consider mine — which is that sometimes people really can be influenced for good or for evil by others…and if I’m going to ever have influence again, I need to “wield” it from a more centered place of wisdom/love/kindess/patience/humility (dare I say Christlike attributes) — and less from a place of anger, frustration, hurt, pride, and in some cases righteous indignation (which at times has probably seeped into my work over the past 8 years more than I was aware).

          1. Yes John, it’s always best to come from a place of love, and only you know where that is for you. And I don’t doubt in the least your influence on others. I’ve been amazed at the number of people you have following your work. It was/is needed in Mormon culture. And again, I absolutely see the need for you to pull back and focus on personal/family health. I applaud you for taking such a positive step.

            As one that has been outside religion for a long time, I’ve had time to observe the (sorry for the negative term here) indoctrination techniques inherent in the culture. Most don’t recognize them while in it. Terms like “sin, wickedness, the spirit, righteousness, humility, prideful arrogance, etc.” all paint a divisive picture of good and bad according to one’s view of life, usually handed down from the traditions of fathers immersed in dogmatic religions. It creates painful emotions that trap people in a faith that discourages open and explorative learning.

            There is also a dramatic codependency in religious cultures that masquerade as love. “Help your neighbor” often leads to unhealthy control and life-meddling that keeps one from personal growth and creativity that could lead one away from the cultural status quo — dangerous to homogeneity.

            In secular humanism, we have a simple life compass: each lives life to the fullest without hurting others. This principle encourages true and healthy morality. I believe a component of real love is that each person is responsible for their own happiness, and helping others is a natural desire, as long as it is welcomed by the receiving party. The path to this place is often painful, but seems to be common. Unfortunately.

            I continue to be optimistic that religions will evolve to this paradigm. Love requires it, and the goodness in each of us will ensure that it happens. YOU are a powerful tool in this process, wherever you go. Thanks for your diligence always!

        2. I think you are hitting on something important!!!

          Where I as a convert come from you can have a (one) cold beer on a warm day, because it is a great thirst clencher, or a (one) glass of wine with weekend-dinner, in a calm family setting.
          In comparison, when I came to Utah people I met drank to get plastered! Taste and finesse did not exist. You drank until you puked and lost your memory! Wasn’t that the purpose of alcohol?

          Some of my Utah-LDS friends seems to believe that if they do not obey the church, to the teeth, they would end up in the gutter. I have tried to, but I can not, relate to that mindset.

          I think many people (in Utah, born into the church,) “misbehave” when they leave the church due to their Utah-LDS cultural references. What they know is a culture of black or white, all or nothing, you are in or out, with us or against us.
          Many people who, in one way or another, fall into the vast grey-zone do not fit into any extreme. Confusion is born! (Which is strange, thinking about a Bell-curve of normal distribution.)

          99% is not good enough, so Utahns consumed the most antidepressants in the nation. And if you have fallen THAT far why not fall further(?), so Utahns had the highest porn subscription rate in the nation. This is not the church’s fault. It is the fault of individuals without “normal” [Bell-curved] points of reference.

          It’s easy to be viewed as an apostasy just by quoting Brigham Young in 2013… It’s a fine line to walk.

      2. Excellent response, John. I’ve still not been able to listen but I get what you’re saying here. And it helps a whole lot. Thanks.

        1. Seasickyetstilldocked – My answer would be “the human condition.” I completely reject the notion that the church (broadly speaking) is the one true source of pain and suffering in humanity. Does it contribute to pain and sadness? Yes. But it also can help to alleviate pain and sadness — for literally billions of people.

          It’s my view that religion is more cure than disease, in spite of its weaknesses.

          My comment to secularists is…if you hate religion…create something better that provides as much or more than religion does for mankind. If someone can figure out that recipe, they will truly be rich…and I’ll be their biggest fan. But take it from me. It’s really, really hard to organize secularists into anything meaningful. In my view, the man (or woman) who figures this formula out deserves 33 wives (or husbands). I say this in jest…but only slightly.

          But to me, this is the great adventure of the 21st century. See Alain de Botton’s “Atheism 2.0” for more of what I mean.


          Until humanity can figure something better out, I’m committed to working (at least partly) within religious structures to achieve advancements in human enlightenment.

          1. Seasickyetstilldocked

            John- you said, “I completely reject the notion that the church (broadly speaking) is the one true source of pain and suffering in humanity.” As you know, I was not broadly speaking of religion but instead speaking of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The LDS Church does not put people first. This organization unapologetically inculcates into their members that they are the one true church on the face of the planet with exclusive authority to act in the name of God. This church demands that their members sustain a man as a honest to goodness prophet, seer and revelator.

            This church requires their members to then specifically live a life narrative that they have meticulously laid out under the full weight of self appointed authority from God. There are no avenues for members to question the specific narrative or the authority from which it is directed and those members that do question or doubt are subjected to the kind of pain, misery, divorce, sadness and anger that you have spent years trying to mitigate. Our gay brothers and sisters are killing themselves while the LDS Church create websites and plays words games that protect their interests first. Is there no balm in Gilead? Surely, the Savior of the world would not behave in such a Machiavellian manner.

            Religion may very well not be an enemy of society but certainly the LDS Church is an enemy to religion. One needs to only look at the human detritus left in its wake.

        2. Seasickyetstilldocked

          Oh, I forgot rule number 1. It is always the members fault. My bad. Wow, Phillip, you give great advice. I will use “stupid people making selfish choices” the next time I talk to lds members who:

          have a wife who wants to leave them because they don’t believe the BofM is true
          have a gay child who has been kicked out of the house
          have a son who wants to go to MIT right out of high school instead of serving a mission

          The list is endless. The church is directly responsible for creating massive life crisis out of otherwise normal life experiences and changes. The church is also responsible for making these problems particularly unsolvable because members testimonies are tied to the one true church paradigm and everything that goes with it. Spouses and families end up working against each other instead of for each other when the church narrative is violated in any way.

          1. You just hit the quintessential core of it all, the REASON why we were willing to participate in “building a community for Mormons like [us]”!

          2. Seasickyetstilldocked

            And you are all heroes for building such a community. Your community puts people first and church second while the church puts the church first and people second. This is the tension and it is worth the fight. You can’t blame John for getting tired after all these years. Maybe after a few years of going to parties where grown adults are playing Phase 10 and Settlers of Catan while drinking root beer floats will recharge his batteries a little. I can’t decide which is more unsettling, adults getting together and smoking pot or adults getting together and playing Phase 10.

            John is a good guy. There is much about him that I personally did not trust but I always believed him when he said he just wanted to alleviate pain in people lives. The whole point of how the LDS Church runs is to create pain in the lives of those who do not obey. This is how religions like the Church protect themselves and survive. The Ralph Hancock interview is all you really need to get a good feel for what I am talking about.

          3. “Maybe after a few years of going to parties where grown adults are playing Phase 10 and Settlers of Catan while drinking root beer floats will recharge his batteries a little. I can’t decide which is more unsettling, adults getting together and smoking pot or adults getting together and playing Phase 10.”

            Too many comments to read them all, but I am so glad that I scrolled down to the bottom and caught this gem. Haven’t laughed that hard in a while. Thanks, seasick!

          4. Seasick…

            You are correct. Please do use my reasoning. In the cases you mentioned the LDS members you refer to would fit the description of the “silly people”. This whole idea of us vs. them is so counterproductive to me. We are all flawed and capable of being mean spirited and selfish.

            I did not say disaffected members were any more inclined to be selfish and stupid than active members. I just feel the anger and resentment that seems to be carried for so long by so many is a shame. I am glad John has found a place of peace – I would be just as glad for him if it was not within the LDS faith, but I DO NOT judge him because it is.

          5. Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

            I see your point, Seasickyetstilldocked. As active LDS, I wish other LDS would not abandon spouse or child when their life model of perfection is disrupted in the ways your cited. If the Church set the stage for that outcome, the Church should work to counter it.

      3. John, you say you weren’t successful, and maybe you weren’t in that the communities didn’t become a complete replacement for all the church does. But you were successful in so many ways. Because of Mormon Stories, I had a support structure in place before I even totally hit my “crisis” points. I had already connected with people online and in real life who were going through it and could understand me. Because of Mormon Stories, I have made some of the dearest friends of my entire life. Truly. My life is richer, more fun-filled, and more authentic. I have a group of female friends that are more like a real Relief Society than I ever experienced in church. My kids have friends. I have amazing book group discussions and uplifting lunch get togethers. Our SLC group has been relatively drama free and it has facilitated not only friendships but also amazing service to our community. I am so amazed by what the members of our group do for the homeless population especially here in SLC. It is inspiring. So while sure there are may be many post-mormons who go a little crazy in reaction to leaving the church, and I know you had to put out a lot of fires in some of the groups, I don’t want you to see this effort as a failure. It was not. Not for me. And not for thousands of others either. I hope you don’t let the bit of bad that occurred overshadow all the immense good.

      4. John,

        “Wife swapping. Open marriages. Drug use. Adultery. Divorce. Sadness. Anger” Those are things that bishops deal with routinely with “faithful members.” It saddens me that you took the illicit behavior of a few as a reflection of the work you were doing. The aftermath of Mormonism is the aftermath of Mormonism and with or without you those same behaviors will continue. The difference is that all of the positive work you did in those communities will be lost. You have successfully thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

    2. Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

      Michelle, I did not attend your city’s MS Conference, so I have no direct info, but I accept your explanation, above. If any drug use occurred, it was probably by 1%. One of the logical fallacies is “Guilt By Association”; it is unfair to assassinate the character of The Many based on the behavior of The One, even if that one (or that few) is/are member(s) of the group.

      Forgive John if he misspoke. During a long conversation, all of us periodically advance hearsay as factual or speak out of line. Perhaps post-op will edit more tightly next time; but then, give room for post-op to error too.

      Michelle, cheers to you and yours.

  33. John,

    I’ve been a closet listener to Mormon Stories since 2007. However, I’ve always been on the believing side of the spectrum, and (perhaps wrongly) have never had the grit or drive, you could say, to engage in online debate. But, though I run the risk of being one of those “thanking John Dehlin”, I nonetheless owe you (though I ache to hear that so much of this came at a great personal cost to you and your family) a sincere “thank you” for the work that you have done. Though I’ve thoroughly enjoyed most podcasts, there have been a couple in particular that have deeply affected my life, marriage and overall perspective. Thank you and thank you again.

    And John, it was wonderful to hear your your powerful and moving story, and to listen to your uncanny degree of openness and transparency. I admire that you (with the help of your wife, stake president and God (however you want to define Him)) pulled yourself out of your deconstructive free-fall and landed yourself on a better course for your own life and the life of your family.

    I like how you talked about having to make a choice at some point on our faith journey; not spending forever in the purgatory of indecision. But marking out a course, in some direction, and following it. I too, probably in a different way, have spent years in a state of intellectual angst, wondering what path to choose and often getting more angry and frustrated in the process. That has subsided some in recent months, and though not at ease with a great deal in church culture and practice, I think that I, too, have made my decision to cast my lot with the Saints and give it my best.

    John, best of wishes again to you, whatever the future brings. If you do continue Mormon Stories, I’ve got to say that I love the number of thoughtful believers that you’ve brought on the show, and would love to see that continue (though I guess that is what “A Thoughtful Faith” is supposed to be doing now!) Either way, I look forward to seeing what happens in the future.

    Michael Taylor

  34. I haven’t finished all of Sarah’s interview with you, but I felt compelled to write you a quick note to let you know how much I admire your bravery through this journey. You have (inadvertently) emulated a mythos within Mormonism: the struggle, death, and resurrection. This mythos I think is best illustrated with the Old Testament story of Jacob wrestling with the angel. They wrestled through an entire night and into early morning. I like this image for two reasons: A) I think it perfectly embodies the process of the faith crisis and the “dark night of the soul,” and B) There was light which followed that darkness and conflict. Jacob’s world became illuminated once again. When day broke, the angel submitted to Jacob. He gave him a new name: Israel. This name is significant, as it means “he who contends with God.” It also has the dual meaning, “he who perseveres with God.”

    We often talk about Israel as a destination or a people. But perhaps it is more than that. Perhaps Israel is a conflict. A journey through that dark night, and the emergence (or resurrection) from it. In ancient Egyptian religion, you have passed through the twelve trials of the underworld and have emerged with the morning son (“Rah”) which sustains life.

    1. THAT is awesome.

      John, I hope you thought so too. Remember that you are on your own journey and resist the rush to judgment, even on your own efforts and work.

      The work of Mormon Stories is to provide people, faithful, struggling, doubting, questioning, hurt, confused etc. a forum where they can speak and be accepted without worry of judgment or condemnation.

      In my opinion you have provided that. The power of Story is crucial and stories need to be told. If all you do is provide a place where stories can be told in an atmosphere of love and tolerance, then you have done something truly remarkable. Please keep up the story!

  35. I just finished listening to Part 3. I am feeling extremely uplifted. I am energized by your beautiful desire to be more invested in your family and in yourself. You do not owe it to any of us to be our crutch. You have helped so many, but essentially it is up to each and every individual to make some decisions based on their unique needs and pick ourselves up and do what will allow the most healing and peace. I believe that simplifying is often a rewarding thing that far too many ignore. I felt a tremendous amount of wisdom reflected in your words. I think your heart,mind and spirit are in a good place. May all of us succeed in finding the peace and joy that comes to each person differently, but is so much worth the pursuit. I feel more committed now to let go of the anger that is threatening to swallow me up and move on.

  36. John,

    I’ve been a closet listener as well, more prone to talking things out at home and not in a public forum, but I have always been so grateful for those who are willing to speak their stories out loud. I recently listened to a podcast with Brene Brown on vulnerability, and wow, you and your family, have opened yourselves up to the unknown in so many ways. What a heavy weight when you become a voice for people who all have their own journeys. I think, even with your struggles and maybe because of them, that your compassion and desire to really hear and accept people has always shone through and been a great example. I’m very happy that you feel more peace lately and are letting go of the pressure to be everything for everyone.

    For me, listening to Mormon Stories and Mormon matters has helped me become a more tolerant, loving person, and I am very grateful for that. Thank you! You and Margi will continue to have a beautiful capacity to help nurture love in your future work.

  37. John
    I’m busy and don’t have time to keep checking all the threads etc. As I said on my response, I haven’t been involved much for the past few months in any of the podcasts, blogs, etc. And your experience is not at all relevant or “emmeshed” in mine in any way. I still attend church, have a recommend, etc. My husband and I have said all along that what you did with the podcast and conferences and research were always about you. Clearly you were looking for answers/support, etc. and found a place to get that while navigating. My concern is really for all those people who followed your podcasts, lost testimony, family members, destroyed marriages, lost friends and don’t get to meet with Apostles to have their questions answered satisfactorily. Or don’t have a support system like you have. My Stake President would excommunicate me if I talked to him the way you talked to yours. (and others have had that happen) You have carved out a unique place for yourself where you’re allowed to say and think what you want and are protected because of your connections and/or status. And good for you, you’ve invested a lot of time creating that space! :)
    My other concern is the way the Church manipulates these stories. I completely get that what you said about “losing the spirit” on this recent podcast series is “your story”, and we are all independent of you. I get it, the Church won’t ever get it. They will continue to use stories like yours to manipulate their efforts, and the comments about “losing the Spirit” are exactly what fits into their picture of everyone who leaves/questions. I know that’s not true and you do too, but they will never see it that way and I felt the comment undermined everyone who has found a happier place and plenty of the spirit in other places. And the Church will use that picture to discredit any of the problems or inconsistency with the history to say you (or people like you, without the spirit), are flawed, not the history is flawed.
    I’m glad you’re happy now

  38. Wow, thank you so much John for sharing your story with us. I have been a long time listener– your podcasts have helped me feel normal through my stages of faith crisis and I’ve always had a deep yearning to end up where you are now and where Dan Wotherspoon is… I think I’m getting there :) Thank you for your interviews with your amazing guests which have opened my eyes to so many issues and helped me work through them, they helped me to grow a lot. I wish you and your family the best!

  39. “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”

    JD… I have followed you for many years now. Your journey, and your voice, have been helpful to me in my own journey. For that I say thanks.

    But, our roads seem to have diverged. So I wish you happiness on yours and bid you farewell.

  40. Hey John! I just now finished listening to all parts. First, let me say thank you and I hope you and your family are happier now.
    Could you please clarify or address what I hope is a misunderstanding that you feel your Mormon Stories groups were filled with those desiring to be immoral or sin? I’m sure you did not mean that but many (if you read online posts on the forums) seem crushed and devastated that you’ve mistakenly given that impression.
    I totally get that being out of the church community became a dark place for you and you wanted to return. But there are just as many who find being in the church to be a very dark place and that they need to disassociate. And, not to drink, do drugs or sin.
    Thanks for all you have done, John. I sincerely believe you were thinking of others and had righteous intentions through all your ups, downs, ins and outs. What a journey for you!

  41. I have listened to nearly every hour of MS. I have been moved & challenged spiritually and intellectually. I have been uplifted and gobsmacked. Sometimes listening is a bit like watching the aftermath of a gruesome accident. I have not had my family torn apart or been ostracised at Church, but can empathize with all of John’s interviewees–even apologists, who I did not expect to stomach. I am grateful to John and the others who contribute! As much as I appreciate all that John has done to make this possible–assembling the Ted Lyons, Richard Bushmans, Greg Princes, Teryl Givenses, Eldon Kartchners, Phil Barlows, Carol Lynn Pearsons, McKlays of Mormondon–I wish John could walk away. Get out of the spotlight, focus on your family, your education and career and let the mormon community fill the void. Come back in five years when your professional practice is thriving and you’ve had time to be who you are and practice what you believe away from the microscope. I have to pull myself away from your podcasts at times becasue I become so invested. They are awesome, but we all need to work out our own belief/lack of belief on our own at some point. You have been a model of integrity, curiosity and compassion to me and thousands of others. Thank you! Now, go take care of your family and yourself and sort things out with those closest to you–fewer than 150 people hopefully. Respectfully, Jonathan P

  42. John,
    Wow. I heard so much courage and integrity and strength in this interview from you. I think it is great that you are sharing this with others – especially at the risk of comments like a lot of these or loss of funding. The last part was particularly poignant to me – centering yourself and then your life on your most important relationships and integrating your intellect, emotions, and spirituality. Amen. Thank you for your honesty.

  43. John,

    THANK YOU for the work you have done! Mormon Stories has helped me sort through things as I have been going through my faith crisis and picking up the broken pieces of my faith since 2007.

    I have appreciated the insight of those who are faithful intellectuals (Bushman, Givens, Witherspoon, et al) that have discovered all the warts, understand the culture, yet chose to remain faithful and active. They found a way to wrap their head around everything so that they can be honest with themselves in their faithfulness and church activity.

    I am wondering if there are many Mormon Stories interviews of people who have decided to leave the church yet are living very happy, joyful, and peaceful lives. I would be interested to hear their journey out of the church and into their new lives. I know that the McClays were interviewed, but they were
    ex-Mormon greenies. I would like to hear from seasoned, level-headed, and kind-spirited ex-Mormons like Karen who commented (Jan. 28, 2013 11:59 p.m.).

    Although I have been sorting through things since 2007, I only recently came across Mormon Stories in 2012. I haven’t listened to all the episodes. So, I don’t know if there are many interviews of those seasoned ex-Mormons.

    Again, thank you for the work you have done on Mormon Stories. I really think that once you earn your PhD that you will definitely be able to find a therapy niche with people in all faiths going through faith crisises. Best of luck!

    1. Justin – I would be happy to share my story if it would help anyone. It has been one incredible journey, with great joy and great pain. But I can say that I have experienced peace for the first time in my life, like no other finding a way to choose gratitude over anger. All the very best in your journey, my vision is that one day the LDS church will be a safe place for me to just pop into and meet with old friends, focusing on our love for each other as human beings rather than the fact we have differing ideology. I dearly miss my community, but I have hope, the race is not finished. The Mormon people are good people, things can change and John Dehlin, I salute you for the work you have done in this area. Very best to all.

  44. Hi John,

    I’ve been a big fan of yours for many years since I discovered your first few interview podcasts. This has continued to be true through your changing faith. While you see yourself as bearer of the “Ring”, I have more often seen you as a “Seeker”. And over all of your work, I have admired your authenticity and honesty as you shared your own mental, spiritual, and emotional paradigm shifts and pendulum swings because I think that’s what all true Seekers do. (I use a capital letter on Seekers deliberately because I believe it is a calling.)

    I know the calling of Seeker has been hard on you and your family. Please know that your work (and your wife’s wisdom and patience) has been appreciated by the quiet many, like me. My years as Seeker were painful and destructive until your work taught me a better way to share how I was changing.

    I listened to all three hours of your final podcast, and was saddened by only one thing. I cried when I heard you express the desire that those who have left the Church, but cannot leave the Church behind, just move on. This may have come from my own bias, but that was honestly the first time I have heard you say something that did not *sound* sincere to me.

    The Church is such a part of our psyche, our sense of what a family is, and our personal stories that even a Seeker as fair and honest as you are could not leave it behind when faced with not being able to baptize your son. Instead, you had to again embrace it on their terms. I was not able to do that, even as I sobbed in the Temple waiting room when my children were married without me being there.

    After many years of Seeking, I can neither leave Mormonism nor find spirituality or community within the conventional Mormon Church. I am at peace that God, if She or He exists, knows that. I choose not to give up my personal history, my right to call myself Mormon, my ethnicity, or my intricate web of beliefs built on Mormonism (yet not quite authenticated by the Patriarchal authority). To do that would be to give up part of me and leave a huge empty hole. Why would that be healthy?

    Does that make me angry and prideful as judged by Church members? I have sincerely searched my soul and don’t believe that is true. I was full of both pride and anger as an active Mormon. That pride was blown away when I walked out into the world and saw it as the harsh place that it is. The anger at the Church was eventually extinguished as I replaced it with a new spiritual awakening that took years of hard work.

    I am so happy that you have found the peace you have been seeking. As for me, go back to black or white, no colors in between? How will we ever paint a more beautiful painting?

    your friend always,

    1. I love this response, Peggy. As I’ve moved away from religion altogether, and really feel no void anymore, there is still a little “mormon” in me as it was my culture in my formative years. Of course living in Utah we can never really leave it as it influences everything and everybody around me.

      But I’ve come to view “all things mormon” as an observer that probably understands it more than those that have never been in the church. I view it today as an institution I have graduated from — I enjoyed my time there and may cheer for the sports teams, but feel no compulsion to return.

  45. I think that now, after a long road, John may have finally found the “middle way”, and I’m super grateful for it. I’m so non-spiritual that I have a hard time finding resonance with John’s beliefs, but the way that he’s been able to synthesize them with his intellectual hang-ups is exactly what I’ve been missing.

    Thanks for your work John, it sounds like you’ve made the right choice for you and I think you’ve helped me see more of what the right choice (or at least the right direction) might be for me.

  46. John, can you please write in ALL CAPS every once in a while, so we can SEE HOW YOU REALLY FEEL. it is very helpful . THANK YOU

  47. John,

    I’ve only made it half way through the three podcasts. But, I want to quickly add my voice of thankfulness for your courage and fearlessness to open your personal story to so many. I wondered, as have others in these comments, about questions I would have asked to an apostle. All of the questions/issues boil down to whether God/Jesus still talks to this church? Did you receive any insight in this regard from church leaders you spoke to?

    1. Glen – I totally believe that these men sincerely believe that they are being led by God. And I also believe that they are as capable of receiving inspiration as you and I are…..and can also be as equally fallible in their interpretations.

      I guess I believe that we all see through a glass darkly….but that there is light available…and that they can often get it right, as can I…and that all of us can also get it totally wrong.

      It’s a journey/process…for them, and for us.

  48. John,
    It’s interesting to me that so many of your listeners want your journey and your conclusions to match their own. So if they have left the church than you should leave the church. And if they found their faith again than so should you. It’s as though your conclusions can only be the “correct” ones if you confirm their life choices. It’s making me reflect on how I view others choices who don’t follow my path. I could be more humble in that regard.
    Keep staying true to yourself John and your own personal experiences. In the end, personal experiences are one of the few things that we really know are true.

    1. Michael, I love this observation! I find it true of myself, and it seems that many other commentators are either irked or comforted with John’s different faith states, depending on their own biases. It’s hard being completely objective and affirming of others’ paths, especially someone like JD, with whom many of us identify, but for different reasons. You give me good thoughts to mull over…

      1. I don’t think people are frusterated that John has returned to full activity. Rather, I think people are frusterated because we feel like we have lost our voice. John is one of the few people that represented us (our voice) to the LDS Church higher-ups.

        There are some of us that no longer believe in the truth claims. We don’t feel comfortable in The Church because of our morals or personal integrety. Aggitating for change is not a bad thing, is it?

        One of our key voices was silenced.g for change is not a bad thing, is it?

        One of our key voices was silenced.als or integrety. Aggitating for change is not a bad thing, is it?

        One of our key voices was silenced.

        1. Joe – I’m not sure why you feel like I’ve been silenced. I certainly don’t feel that way. I feel free to say and do whatever I feel is best…and the current plan is to keep on doing so.

          So I guess I don’t understand why you feel like I’ve been silenced, when I don’t feel that way at all.

  49. Hi John,

    I’ve been on a faith journey also for many years. Early to mid nineties. I feel for you and the pain, the indecision, the family issues, the God issues, the Brethren issues, the Joseph issues, the Science issues, and so on. I value where you’ve come to at this point in time. I too have had to question off and on over the years whether integrity would let me remain active in the church. Over time I’ve been able to come to a place where I am comfortable with my faith and testimony, being what it is. There seems to be a special light or feeling that is difficult to describe when one chooses to have a particle/degree of faith in the restoration story and remain within the tent, even when questioning or doubting at times. Over the years I think I’ve listened to just about every one of your podcasts and have valued that resource as I’ve made what may be a similar journey. I too choose to remain active and find that I can do so with a smile on my face and a song in my heart as I choose to live the gospel as practiced in the LDS church. Best wishes to you and your family as you return to full activity in the church!

  50. John,
    I’ve been a big fan of yours for a while. The part that I had a hard time listening to was when you spoke of these meetings with anonymous GAs. It sounds like they represented themselves and the church well. Why would there be a need for secrecy unless they did or said something in appropriate? I can’t imagine that is the case, but the fact that you didn’t disclose their names, or reveal why you didn’t disclose their names, was a little unsettling.

    1. Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

      JR, consider the possibility that letting the General Authority retain anonymity could be a good thing for everyone. Give the GA some space to retain intact his life, (..his family, his community,..) while he works out details on John’s topics. (Remember: the GA’s only one man and the Church is a big ship; redirecting it is titanic.) If he feels threatened, he may understandably recoil.

      An anonymous GA may not be a decision maker but he can be an advocate and messenger to those above him. If anonymity is important to him to advocate well, let’s provide it.

      1. It bothered me for two reasons. First, I felt like the apostle deserved credit for being open, kind and loving to John and I’d like to know which apostle I should essentially like a little more than I did previously.

        Second, I just don’t think an apostle would meet with John in the JSM hoping to keep a meeting secret. I don’t think an apostle would tell someone that they can divulge what they talked about, just not whom they talked to. I don’t think an apostle would say anything that an apostle shouldn’t to someone he doesn’t even know, especially not to someone who does what John does. Why would he trust John to keep his identity a secret? But if that’s what he asked John to do, then fine but why not just state that this is why he won’t name the apostle?

        Because I don’t believe that an apostle asked John to keep his identity a secret I can only wonder why John would do so. It’s not a big deal either way, I just wish John could clarify why he won’t name him.

  51. Hmmmm, I am torn. I’m not going to lie, I hoped this would end differently. However, we are each on our own path, and to be at peace we must behave in harmony with our wiring. You seem to be on a path that certainly is the future of the church, if the church is to survive. For me, I don’t care if the church survives if it’s claims are not true. You seem to get nurturing and spiritual sustenance from your participation in the church. You seem to be invested in sustaining the framework of that nurturing. I simply went to other sources to feed me, sources that don’t require me to believe in or avert my eyes to things that are not true.

    Again, we are all wired differently, and I wish you the very best. The work you have done lives on, and will continue to help people identify and walk their path, regardless of which path you are on.

  52. John,

    I was very touched by your honesty in this interview. I sense such a weight has been lifted from your shoulders and I am so pleased to hear of the successes you have had in your home. I do feel now that the spiritual side of our lives must not be abandoned. I have also found myself returning to my spirituality and religion and my family life has been healed in many respects as a result.

    I don’t really have the words to put to my beliefs but I have encountered this spiritual energy again that seems to edify and inspire. I am comfortable using the LDS language to interpret these feelings even though I also recognize the intellectual conflicts that don’t seem like they can be resolved. There are many lessons layered within your experience. Obviously you are the primary beneficiary but your journey has helped make many things clear for me as well.

    I’m glad you know that you would make a crappy prophet. Even so I cannot help but like you man. Thank y– Damn it! Just let me say it one more time (I trust you not to get a big head). Thank you for having the heart to go on your journey. Thank you for being mindful of the suffering of others. I wish you the best dude!

  53. Thank you so much, John for all of your work with MormonStories! The podcasts were part of my spiritual journey and I don’t think that I would’ve come through as well as I did without them. It did make me feel a bit selfish to know that your dear wife and children had been the cost. Please express my appreciation to them with a hug!

    Your closing words in part 3 brought tears to my eyes – it felt as though I was being released from all the pain, confusion and sadness. It was my goodbye to the old me, the one who used to believe and then questioned everything. And hearing you vocalize “the new you” I knew that I too was ready to walk away and start my life as a new me.

    Although I have chosen to leave the Church, I respect your decision to stay and fight the good fight. It makes me feel hopeful for the future of the LDS faith to know that people such as yourself are helping to direct where it goes.

    Please don’t internalize the negative comments. Each of us has to choose the best path for ourselves. Those of us who leave need to extend respect for those who stay, just as we want the reverse.

    Best wishes to you and your family. It seems appropriate to write, “go with God” even without understanding exactly what that means. And thank you again for your work,

  54. Pursue the path that leads you to happiness my friend!

    You say the hill’s too steep to climb
    Climb it.
    You say you’d like to see me try

    You pick the place and I’ll choose the time
    And I’ll climb
    That hill in my own way.
    Just wait a while for the right day.
    And as I rise above the tree lines and the clouds
    I look down, hearing the sound of the things you’ve said today.

    Fearlessly the idiot faced the crowd
    Merciless the magistrate turns ’round

    And who’s the fool who wears the crown?
    And go down,
    In your own way
    And every day is the right day
    And as you rise above the fear-lines in his brow
    You look down, hearing the sound of the faces in the crowd.

    Remember, don’t do Mormon Stories for the money, do it only if you sincerely love doing it.

  55. John,
    Thank you so much for always allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open about your faith journey. This episode was so powerful to me, particularly because I have such a great amount of respect for you, and feel that you have been such a powerful example in my life. I feel that this is not only because of where you are currently at, but in general I feel your integrity has always been, throughout the years I have known of you, something incredible. I have always felt so much sincerity and love from you, even though I have only met you a few times, and those were like 2 minute conversations. It has to be so hard being so much in the public eye, and having people use you as a model of how to live. I remember when you did your interview with the Larsens. I had a friend come up to me and say “Have you heard that John Dehlin no longer supports people staying in the church?” (This was obviously a mischaracterization of what you had been saying and doing). He said this knowing that my membership and faith had been saved by you and your podcasts. I am one who has had an incredible life in Mormonism and absolutely loved it and it was through you (perhaps because I believe your podcasts started me on my journey) that I was able to salvage those things that I love so dearly. I did begin to recognize that your tone did change, but my appreciation for what you continued to do did not lesson. I began to disagree with you more often, but continued listening and continued to value the stories that were brought into my life. I admit that I am glad to see that your path is coming closer to where I personally am, but I want to say to those who disagree with where you are at, This is John’s journey, and just because he is not where you are anymore does not mean that he is no longer worth listening to. I have learned so much about empathy and love for those who are different from me and I feel that John can take a lot of credit, and this was during what John seems to consider his darker years.(John, I know you don’t want this type of praise, but I feel you really deserve it.) There is still so much more for us all to learn, so please stop acting so offended and just be nice. Anyways Thank you again John for everything you have done.
    P.s. I am so proud of your Stake president. I remember the fear I felt for you when he first called you in, and I am so grateful he has been so willing to try and help. This episode was so powerful to me.

  56. I often meditate on the fine line that separates vulnerability from narcissism, and hope I am doing more of the former and less of the latter. The absolute openness and vulnerability that you expressed in the interview was touching and exemplary of what appears to be a life finally lived out in the open untainted by that narcissism that can lead us to feel sometimes like victims, other times like heros and on special occasions like gods.

    Well done!

  57. John, you are entitled to be a listener in your own podcasts and make the decisions we all are entitled to make without being made to feel guilty. People who are upset with you never learned what was presented before them. Too many just made you their prophet and a substitution for Joseph Smith or President Monson. I wish you the best.

  58. Lucifer Did Nothing Wrong

    Hey John,

    You are one funny guy! Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you end up getting pretty much what you wanted from the start…a local leader to acknowledge your concerns and empathize with you instead of excommunicating you? All you had to do was start a reformed Mormon religious movement to get it!

    It occurred to me that maybe a lot of people who were following your story closely felt betrayed because they had invested time, emotion, and maybe money into your foundation thinking that you could represent them all and now you’ve said that actually this is just about your individual journey. I can see how you would need to do what you feel is right for yourself, but I can also see how they might feel betrayed and like there was some kind of bait-and-switch.

    That said, I think you’ve probably accomplished a lot more than people give you credit for! A few years ago, I’d think the default was that someone who did even half of what you’ve done would have been excommunicated for sure. Just maybe you’ve created a little more space for others who feel trapped within the Church to live according to their consciences, whether in or out of the Church. Good work!

    Two other thoughts. One is that I thought it was hilarious that you thought marijuana was so scary. Were you just trying to burnish your Mormon cred? The other is that I thought it might be fun to hear some podcasts from you on secular/humanist “religions” since they seem to have been an interest of yours. Maybe do a series on the options out there!

    Keep it up and stay true to yourself, your family, and the quest for truth and right!

  59. Funny how so many of you confused, angry, people feel betrayed by John. Get a life! So, you would look to John to justify your negative feelings about the church? Like John said, get a life! Seriously, what a waste of time. I, like almost most Mormons, have huge questions…but the fact remains, the feelings of love, community, spirituality is most important to me. Don’t worry, you can still mock others for being “sheep” while you feel intellectually superior since you are a “thinking Mormon”, as opposed to the non-thinking members!

  60. You have my support and best wishes, John. My poetic sentiments just for you:


    Like I am what I am
    So I is what I is
    And I ain’t no isser
    Nothing lesser, nothing greater
    Nothing dumber, nothing wiser
    A proportionate no thing
    In the scheme of every thing
    Like you like me
    We all come to see
    Our journey begun
    The same one
    Always the same one

  61. John,
    I cannot believe that you have allowed yourself to be manipulated in this manner by the LDS church leadership and especially with all the harm that it inflicts upon individuals and families. The numerous reasons you left full activity are the very same and current reasons you have now felt obliged to return to. Nothing regarding church doctrine or culture has changed worthy of any serious consideration. The church periodically and conveniently move the goalposts ever so slightly to accommodate their continuing current existence and the perpetuation of their prejudices.
    They obviously want someone like yourself of calibre, influence, wealth, ., etc, inside their ultra controlled LDS box than outside, where you have been giving people so much hope and necessary help to people, especially those who are suffering and some at breaking point.
    I know your family is very important to you, but it is within this fragile group that the church plays out all of its disturbing and psychological mindgames with its members.
    I wish you and your loved ones well in the future and hope that you can continue reaching out to people who desperately need a listening ear and indeed voice to relate their heartfelt and sincere concerns. I hope that this can be continued and accomplished without the constant all watching eye and control of the powerful LDS church and its fundamentalist and oft times intolerant leaders and followers.

    1. Just because you find yourself on the opposite side of the fence when it comes to being active or not doesn’t warrant criticism simply because you’re not on the same side of the fence as John. It’s just as “right” to end up on the side that John is on. Many of us have ended up after years of questioning/doubt remaining in full activity within the church while keeping a sense of integrity and “rightness”. Don’t fault us for that!

  62. John,

    I have listened to a number of your podcasts and appreciate your efforts. I made the decision a number of years ago that the church was not for me and together with my family chose to leave.

    Your decision to stay I think just confirms that people can look at much the same set of facts and even agree to a large extent on what those facts are and still act on them in very different ways. This is where the spiritual/emotional part of the equation comes in.

    In the end I think we all seek peace of mind/spirit. We want to do the right thing for ourselves and our families. It seems that after years of struggle that you may have achieved some of that peace. Your conclusion is a fifferent one than mine but I respect it and in the end I think that was a large part of what Mormon Stories is/was all about. I was able to share your podcasts with others who did not understand the path I took; not to convence them I was right but to help them understand how I ended up where I was.

    Some have expressed the fear that the church is using you, that you are now a prominant example of “the bitter Fruits Of Apostacy”. That fear may be justified just as some feared your podcasts would lead many to leave the church. however in the end I think hoesty trumps all that. I appreciate you sharing the truth of your journey even if it is uncomfortable for some.

    Best wishes.

  63. John, It’s odd to me that you would lose support on your podcast. Everything you’ve done here seems really authentic, thorough and deep. It’s an important experience to be exposed to another’s point of view, whether or not it perfectly aligns with your own. That’s valuable. I think it’s unfortunate that people would drop off as soon as they detect you are following a slightly different path than theirs. We should all be inspired by those who try to follow their own paths.

    As Bob Dylan has said, “To Live Outside The Law You Must Be Honest…”

    I’ve found nothing but honesty in your podcasts, and I think honesty, authenticity, and sincerity is the path God wants us to follow and you’ve done it.

    You’ve set a beautiful example.

  64. Maxine Hanks was re-baptized into the church after her own journey outside of Mormonism. Her story, among others, helped me when I was first made aware of uncorrelated history a year ago. Her story helped me see that my new awareness was only a beginning, not an end, to my journey. I never set out to leave or stay in the church. I wanted to be open to new truths and experiences. I wanted to be kind to the memories of joy my belief in Mormonism held for me. I wanted to be true to the feelings of pain from deceit. It’s a journey – always a journey.

    Yes there are those who would criticize you now – let them. We are all on different journey’s and who’s to say that one day, against all their well meant intentions to stay away, they themselves might also find themselves back in the fold and you will again be their support, because who else knows their pain of questioning, disbelief, and then trying to return. Or maybe they won’t, and that’s okay too.

    Eight months ago I left my Mormon world behind, I didn’t know at the time if it would be temporary or permanent, but I knew I needed a break from the pain I felt at church. I didn’t understand others who had returned after a faith crisis. How could they connect at church with everything they knew?

    I longed to return to church but I forced myself to stay away knowing it would only cause pain. Finally I was ready. I went to Sacrament – only sacrament. It happened to be testimony meeting. Of course there were moments when certain words were spoken that I cringed. But overall, being there, being among my people despite being on the other side of the world, I felt at home! I felt the Spirit! I felt the goodness of others! And my cousin felt it too as the first thing he said before we left the chapel was: I really liked the feeling here – how do I join?

    My Mormonism has changed – it had to. I still haven’t worked out what I believe and what I don’t, but I’m in no rush for that. I’m also not ready to be 100% active yet. I’m taking my journey one day at a time. This is my life, I live it, I love it!

    I’ve had both wonderful and horrible experiences growing up in the church. I’ve been in wards where I had no friends – literally. I’ve experienced the pain of gossip that extends beyond the borders of my ward and stake. I should have left the church long ago – but here’s why I don’t: it’s within these walls of Mormonism that I’ve experienced the Divine. My spiritual experiences are sacred to me – they’re mine, not the church’s nor anyone else’s. But thank God for the church that taught me that I could have my own personal relationship with God. Thank God for providing me times where I saw the best wards where Love was the glue that united us. Thank God for teaching me that the most important thing is Love. Thank God for getting me through a life of hardship and showing me the beauty instead. Thank God for helping me to dig deeper, to break through the pain, and to see and feel the beauty and love on the other side. I know my path isn’t for everyone, but to those who question why some of us stay – because there really is beauty and love beyond the initial pain.

    I’m happy for you!

  65. As an ex-mormon I am happy for John. He can live the life he chooses.

    I do not believe in the Church for legitimate reasons. But I can also see why others belong to the church, and those reasons are legitimate as well.

    The problem with so many Mormons and ex-Mormons is that they base their beliefs too much on the witness and pressure of others and not on a true gathering of evidence and reasoning.

    So people, stop bad mouthing John for making decisions that he thinks are best for him and his own.

    1. I’m an ex-Mormon. I believe some miracles defy logic and reason, therefore, in my mind logic and reason is not absolute for determining some truths.

  66. John,
    Ususally I keep thoughts and comments to myself for the most part. I have to be honest and say I have mixed feelings about this podcast. By writing you this I hope to get a couple questions answered and let this all go because it is too heavy for me to carry anymore. I have to go so I can find my own journey and not be influenced by anyone anymore. I want to state the positives and negatives both if thats ok. I hope you can answer my questions in return.
    Positive: Its your journey and you have to find the peace inside you. Family is all we really know that is tangible right now, so holding onto yours is wonderful. I remind myself of that daily. You have opened up a whole world where people with doubts can look for answers and find fellowship. What people choose to do with that is their own. I see myself in you… sometimes I feel so much guilt that it causes me depression and that is a dark place. Guilt from what specifically I don’t know other than the usual expectations. You still sound a bit unsure of where this will take you. Are you solid or hoping right now?
    Negatives: A lot say the meeting with the GA is what changed you. I don’t so much feel that. I think it took a lot to stand up and do what you did. However, when you mentioned your weekly visit with the SP it made me wonder if this is a way to have a theropy session per say. It seems he listened to you and when he had you, he started in on discussions. I can totally relate John. I feel myself pulled all the time as well. I think wherever we are at certain points in our lives it causes us to be effected by outside things. What I mean is that you did spend many years searching and struggling. Wanting that answer and peace never really came so that time became dark for you. This is also what I experience. However, you never reached out to anything else to fill the “void” of the church. How do you know you wouldn’t have found something there rather that be spirituality, music, nature, Bible etc? Doing this may have lightened the dark but you did just like me….spend all that time searching and going nowhere so its getting darker all the time. It is easy to find a light that feels right…any light when you have been in the dark so long. I am obsessed with finding out all I can and fear I am missing that one clue to make all the pieces fit. I think those that search, really search, when they take the time they need do find something that is good and is right individually. For me, I am still searching. I haven’t allowed myself to branch out because I have been engulfed in all the history, anger, and dark. I want out of that dark. I want to find where I am supposed to be. In doing this if I just run back to the church I will not ever know. I hear you say you feel right where you are. I hope for you that is true and lasts. I am glad to see that your family is entacted. Its hard I know. I just wanted to ask if you felt that you got to branch out and see what else was out there before going back. I know the dark things scared you. I only ask because I am so similar and myself saying I will go back but not because I want to or have found anything else. I havent even given myself the time yet. So, long story short…my questions:
    1) Do you feel your weekly meetings with your SP have influenced you back into the fold? He listened to what you said to draw you in and then did the missionary thing.
    2) Did you ever search for something real to replace the “church” in your life? I often wonder if you did if this would cause you to never have looked back.
    3) You say you relate to the prophet now since starting your own group and seeing the challenges that go with it. I get that, but yours was just that…a group. He is supposed to be a Prophet of God, working as His mouth piece. I would think there would be some guidance and inspiration there to help him. If it is truely God’s work sure it would be hard, but not impossible. The leader of the church’s situation I think was much different than yours. He has the help, money, resources etc. He is “supposed to have the Spirit and God” as well. So, I struggle to see where it was THAT similar.
    I’m sure I have many more questions. I hope you can take the time to answer these. Either way, I have to move on. I do think this time with your family will be healing. I pray for you and your family and pray God will bless you and us all as we take this journey.

    1. Kelly, insightful points. I too hope John has the mental/physical energy to answer these questions. Your “dark” place is all too familiar to me.

  67. John,
    The Disney movie “The Newsies” keeps popping into my head. It feels to me like you’ve taken on the role of Jack Kelly. You became the voice for so many like minded people desiring change and transparency in the church. You became the face of a movement through your work with Mormon Stories. You got the attention of the church. You had access to the “big-wigs”. Yet, just like the movie, mid-way through the fight… you walk out wearing a suit and carrying your papes. The disappointment in the faces of those you rallied has little to do with you giving up the fight for personal reasons. That would be admirable. The disappointment may stem from the perceived partnership with the orginization we’ve been protesting all along. It’s unsettling. At perhaps it leaves room for speculation as to what kind of deal they offered you behind closed doors. Those who have felt betrayed by the church… now feel betrayed by their “leader”, their voice. One can only hope this all ends just like the movie.

  68. If nothing else, I hope this increases John’s credibility with believers and thus widens the listening base of Mormon Stories among faithful Mormons. They more than anyone need exposure to many of the ideas presented in the interviews.

  69. I’ve been an avid MS listener and passive participator in the MS community for 6 or so years. John, as I’ve gotten to know you over the years through your podcast only (as much as that is possible) I have always been in wonder at your energy, drive, and time that you have committed to this project, on top of all the rest. As someone who has a somewhat over-developed sense of my personal limitations, it has always boggled my mind as to how you were pulling it off. After this interview I can see it hasn’t been without a cost. I respect you for deciding to take the course you are taking and reorienting your priorities in the way you feel is best for you and your family.

    I feel that your legacy is one of always demonstrating great empathy and fighting for individuals who need space to live in a way that is healthy for THEM. You deserve the same treatment! I have yet to read a critique of your course of action that has moved my option on this.

    Also, even though there have been cost to you and your family ,from my point of view, your work has not been for nothing and is still a great accomplished. Though it’s easy for me to say, perhaps it has been worth the sacrifice. I wonder if you still see it that way?

    Very best wishes to you and your family!

  70. John,

    I was going to send you a private email but then I just decided to go ahead and post it here. I have not yet listened to the podcast; I usually listen to them on my commute to or from work and it will take me a few more days to get through all three parts, and I wanted to go ahead and get this comment out.

    More than anything else, I would like to thank you for being willing over the years to openly share such a private, personal, and at times painful journey with such a broad audience. I’ve been a long-time Mormon Stories listener and financial supporter, and as you may recall, we’ve met a few times. I have not always agreed with you or your guests, and there have been some lines of questioning that I wished you had taken further. But I had the luxury of sitting in my car or jogging and listening to the interviews in private. You did something that hardly anyone else here was brave enough to do, which was to openly and honestly share your very genuine beliefs, doubts, triumphs, struggles, frustrations, challenges with, and gratitude for the church publicly. This must have taken an enormous toll on you and your family, and I wish I could say something more meaningful than “thank you”. I am sure that I speak for thousands of listeners when I say that I am profoundly grateful for the content you have made available and the manner in which you have shared it. The dialogue that you have helped create and share has helped thousands of people work through the issues and challenges relating to their membership in the LDS community, their decisions to leave it, and their attempts to navigate it as they worked through different paradigms.

    You’ve done amazing work and you’re a good man. Good luck with whatever path you choose to pursue; we will be fortunate if you continue to share your thoughts and experiences with us. Thank you again.

  71. Loved hearing John’s story. Most of my comments are over at A Thoughtful Faith. But I did have one question, don’t know if it has been asked yet or not. I’ll read the comments later.

    So, if you didn’t feel comfortable with putting out Phillips podcast why do you feel comfortable advertising it? It seems duplicitous. I’m not trying to say that is what your intentions are, it is just how you come off. Like you really do want us to listen to it. And, of course, I did. It was interesting. I didn’t realize the 2nd anointing was still practiced to that degree now.

    1. I didn’t advertise the Phillips interview, but tons of people have been asking about it, and Sarah prepped a question about it…so I didn’t mind talking about it. I loved the story. I love Tom. I just didn’t feel comfortable releasing it on Mormon Stories. But I’m happy to talk about it (in general terms) if/when people are interested.

  72. John,
    I posted on your fb page as well, and decided to comment here as well since I felt you might want one explanation from someone who has financially supported MS and decided to stop.
    First of all – thank you for all your hard work over the years. You have no idea how much you have helped me – both through MS and staylds. I respect you deeply, John, and my termination of financial support in no way should be construed as a change in this. You will never make everyone happy, and it isn’t your responsibility to do so. The most important thing is for you to be true to yourself. Just don’t be surprised if that puts you on a very different path from many of your supporters (such as myself). I think I actually outgrew my personal need for MS quite a while ago, but I kept donating as a way of “paying it forward” to other people who still needed your help – people like my husband.
    In part 3 of the podcast you maintain that those who cannot make Mormonism work for them should “move on” to something else. I couldn’t agree more with you, and yet it is virtually impossible to do this if your spouse stays in the church. This is the position I find myself in. Even though I formally resigned from the church years ago (and have been personally much healthier emotionally/psychologically for it), we still get contacted all the time since my husband is still a member. The Youth and Primary organizations are constantly trying to re-activate my kids because of his continued membership. It creates so much stress in our home, and is a huge wedge in our marriage. Mormon Stories Podcast was our only common ground when it came to the church, and I’ll be honest that it was my sincere hope that it would help my husband to eventually make the same journey as me out of the church. My worst nightmare is for him to stay in the church forever, since I really don’t see how our marriage will survive that. I am truly in awe of people who manage to make that work.
    Let me be clear – I know it is NOT your job to set an example for my husband to follow – even if I kind of hoped for it. Your job is to do what is best for you and your family, and I applaud and respect you for doing just that. I am saddened that it takes you on a different path from the one I am on, but more than that (and perhaps irrationally) it also causes me to lose what hope I had of ever getting my husband onto the same path as me – but again, this is NOT your responsibility, and never was.
    I think you sound happy in this podcast, and I am happy for you.
    By ending my financial support, I am “moving on” now – probably should have done it a long time ago, but like I said I was perhaps holding on for some of the wrong reasons – I can’t dictate my husband’s journey any more than any of the haters you are dealing with think that they can dictate yours.
    As I said on your fb page – I AM glad that the church has someone like you within their ranks to be a voice of moderation.
    I wish you and your family only the best. Love and peace, brother.

    1. Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

      Kate, First, thanks for sharing your feelings on this subject. I sense that you are a thoughtful person as you navigate space within your mixed-faith home. I want to comment on one item you spoke of. You said:

      “The Youth and Primary organizations are constantly trying to re-activate my kids because of [my husband’s] continued membership. It creates so much stress in our home, and is a huge wedge in our marriage.”

      Church members are reaching out in the ways they know, via Youth and Primary programs, to involve your kids; and you do not like it as you expressed. Their good intentions are amiss to you; and your expressions to them are likely marginalized or misunderstood. I see MISPLACED ENERGIES all around; and that saddens me. I am trying to find a way to break the deadlock for you; and similarly, within my own heart, mind, and experience in my community; (I’m on Utah’s Wasatch Front.)

      I wish there were a way to redirect the good intentions of Church members in your area toward an outcome that you’ll accept to create win-win; one that will respect your space, his space, your kids’ space.

      I see some of the problems that you see within the Church put chose to stay and manage within. If you please, help me understand why you feel it unworkable for your kids to attend. Is it the spoken and subliminal messaging that your kids will likely get about seminary, temple, missions, etc, that you wish you could separate from talk about good citizenship in the larger community? In other words, you cannot separate the bad and good of it so you opt for them to stay away entirely? I seek understanding.

  73. John,
    i just love you man! You have done so much for me. Thank you for creating Mormon Stories Podcasts, and thanks for the communities that you have created. I am glad that you see you are just one person. What you have created can be delegated now to others who can use it. I still find value in them.
    I have to admit that I was very surprised and confused at first by your choice, but I know what it is to make an unpopular decision. How could I possibly cast a stone at you? Your interviews gave me information and not just that comfort. They have opened my mind and gave me the courage and support I needed to leave the Church that I felt so enslaved to. For me, I feel such peace and love having left. I feel that I am able to make my own choices without checking with someone else first. I feel closer to God than ever before. Thank you my friend. I wish you the same comfort and support that you have given so many of us.

  74. I believe that John is an honest man who enlightened all of us a bit more about the whacky world of Mormonism than we ever would have been otherwise. For that he deserves great praise. But I always felt John, in all his incarnations, has been like the guy who finds God (or Marx or sobriety, etc. etc.) and now wants everyone else to follow suit. As one who has been there and done that it was all a bit amusing, if also tragic.

  75. Good on you for where you have reached John. Life is a journey and not a destination and the sooner we can understand that the sooner peace will be found. Those that have shown disrespect towards you for your decision need to respect you for that. You can’t please everybody in life and sadly from your experience and others we have seen that.

    You have helped a lot of people with pressing issues that have rocked them to their core. Your podcasts have helped them get out of these difficult times which no doubt they are grateful for.

    All the best in the future for you and your family John. Stay strong, stay humble and stay honest.


  76. The comments on here have been almost as interesting as the interview itself. Can’t say I’m surprised by all the negativity. People on both sides of the spectrum, both TBMs and ExMos, and everyone in-between seek for validation of their own opinions/interpretations. Especially from those in public light (as John is). So ExMos may have believed he was one of theirs when his podcasts were leading people to leaving the Church. TBMs may have thought he was one of theirs when he was returning to Church and claiming a loss of spirit while being away from it. NOMs may believe he is one of theirs with his progressive interpretation of Church history/doctrine. He can’t please everyone. Nor is he trying to. But the feelings of betrayal or inevitable. I am what you would call a TBM, and even I can feel some sort of validation when someone returns to the Church. E.G. I really enjoyed Don Bradley’s FAIR interview. Not nearly as much as I enjoyed Grant Palmer’s MoSt interviews. We all seem to be more biased towards those who feel or think the way we do. But I digress.

    John, thanks for directly responding to some of these comments on here to clarify issues brought up in the interview. Every Mormon has an interesting story, and I’m glad we get to hear updates on your story, no matter where it leads you.

  77. John –

    I found this podcast to be *profoundly* moving – maybe more so than ANY other mormon stories podcast. So many deep and important themes arose. This may be the first one I listen to twice. Three times I stayed in my parked car after arriving at my destination just to finish a segment. Awesome.

    One of the thoughts I especially appreciated was the insight you shared about the tricky balance of ego as one gains popularity and influence. Also you commented on how surprisingly difficult it is to organize a group of people and keep a focus on the good. Recognizing this challenge certainly helps me sympathize with some of our flawed leaders and admire them that much more. Some have probably struggled more than others with the temptation towards pride as their influence grew. Some have been more successful than other at keeping the ego at bay. I like how you seemed to share a new view and sympathy for that challenge.

    When hearing about your personal struggles and how hard this has been I was moved with a sincere feeling of love and appreciation for you. I admire you for fighting that fight.

    What you and your colleagues at mormon stories have done has had a deep and meaningful impact on my life and my relationship with faith and doubt. I’m a better person because of something you’ve done – forever changed. Think of how many others for whom the same is true. I think you efforts have either started or supported movements and positive trends that will ripple out in meaningful ways for a long time. Don’t underestimate this. Yes, you could have handled mormon stories differently, but not BETTER (IMO.) Maybe a different group would have benefited more from a different approach, but for the group I fall best fit in to – thoughtful latter day saints who want to remain both of those two things things – you’ve done something that has never been done before, something that has needed doing for a long time.

    Thank you.

  78. John,
    I respect your personal journey, and I respect you making a choice to live the journey in a way you feel is more harmonious.

    However, I questioned why you were so habitually depleted by hearing the pain of all of these people? Not because that isn’t a valid point, but because I wonder why you personally tried to take on a burden that should have been referred out to twenty or more clinicians? Indeed, I can see how you reached such a difficult impetus, but I also feel like there could have been some addressing of boundaries so that you didn’t have to reach such a place of utter depletion in the first place. Just a thought, because I won’t presume to know how you personally dealt with everyone, other than the impression given in the podcast.

    As I listened to you describe some of this I felt like we are all products of our culture, and Mormon culture often promotes us running ourselves into the dust thinking that we have to be “exceedingly valiant” in all that we do. It also promotes a huge amount of dichotomous thinking. And that too weaved itself into this podcast.

    But best of wishes to you and your family.

  79. John, thank you for your sharing your experience and current frame of mind with us. I appreciate your incredible authenticity with us too. Wishing you and your family peace and growth together!

    BTW, the last 15 minutes of the podcast were espcially poignant for me. I don’t share your current views, but I fully respect your decisions and felt your humility and honesty.

  80. Just finished the podcast; this is the first and only one I’ve listened to. A few notes:
    – I think its easy to get caught up in a community, especially an online community.
    – It is interesting that intellectualism needs to be checked at the door in order to foster your spiritual and emotional side. I don’t think intellectualism needs to be at the expense of spirituality and emotion.
    – I respect your decision to stay within the organization and try to influence it from the ‘inside’ but yet it seems naive to support the church simply as an institution when the institution doesn’t view itself that way.

    1. John Gardner, I didn’t hear him say that he had to check his intellectualism at the door. He said that he had only been looking at things through the intellectual lens which he deemed to be insufficient. He said that he had been ignoring his spiritual and emotional side. We are not intellectual beings only. I don’t imagine a fully realized God would be a purely intellectual being either. It seems to me that John Dehlin is saying that once he looked at the gospel as a more complete person (i.e. intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, experientially) then he more clearly saw the positive impact it was having in his life as well as his families. (If I am incorrect on this assumption, John Dehlin, than please correct me) Intellectualism doesn’t have to be at the expense of spirituality and emotion but rather in balance with them. Then, I believe each of us can see most clearly, how the decisions we make are affecting our lives.

  81. John,

    I remember with fondness the time years back I fell upon your video ” why we leave”. I remember feeling so relieved that others understood how I felt and what I was going thru. That singular video helped me thru a very painful time in my life. For that, I thank you. You have been on a journey my friend, and the journey is still not over. I wish you and yours peace & healing,

  82. Thank you so much for this interview and for being vulnerable enough to share your thought process and experience about having been so close to leaving your family. What you said in Part 3 beginning at 6:00 and ending at 14:47 is so POWERFUL! It rings absolutely true to my own experience. Actually, to my ex-husband’s experience, with me being the one left behind. At the time, I didn’t recognize the significance of a certain comment he made one night, but I’ve always remembered the exact moment one evening when he first said he wondered what he could have been and done in life if he hadn’t grown up in the church and gone on a mission. This comment, and the subsequent dwelling on ‘what could have been’, came after five years of anger, constant negativity and obsessing about church history. I remember it so well because it was very hurtful. It was hurtful because I knew what that really meant was that he was wondering if he would have married me. And deep deep down in my heart of hearts, I knew what that really really REALLy meant, was that he was thinking about all the sex he had missed out on, and probably what sex he was missing out on at that very moment.

    His crisis of faith began very honestly and sincerely. I truly felt for him and his struggles. Like most others here, he stumbled upon some of our church’s difficult history on FARMS and FAIR. He loved God and the church, and was doing his best to serve and be a good person. But as he began to have more and more questions and then more and more doubts, he began to approach his quest to find out whether or not the church was true, once and for all, from a purely intellectual stand point. He had decided he couldn’t trust his feelings because his feelings are what had led him to believe he had ever felt the spirit, and since he had felt the spirit about some things that didn’t seem right, he couldn’t then allow himself to make a decision about truth based on good feelings, which he felt he was probably just manufacturing himself.

    So then came the endless quest for truth with fear of being fooled by his own manufactured feelings, and then came the frustration, and then came the anger, and more anger, and more anger, and then came resentment, and more resentment, and more still, and then came the ‘what ifs’, and more ‘what ifs’, and still more, and then came the dwelling on a fantasy life he had missed out on, and some more of that, and then came the classic male midlife crisis, and then came the self destructive acting out of the male midlife crisis, and then came our divorce.

    I know some will say, as some have already said in these comments, that this just feeds into stereotype of doubters just wanting to sin, etc. From my own experience, having seen my ex-husband’s sincerity and honesty in the beginning stages of his crisis, I know that to be false. But what I know to be true now, is that years of constant anger and resentment WILL have a profoundly negative affect on a person’s mind. Literally. Studies on the neuro pathways of the brain bear this out. So when John says ‘to move on’, I feel like his message is to move on from the negativity. Move on from the anger. Move on to something that makes you happy, which doesn’t even have to be in this church. It can be whatever you want it to be, but find a way to find happiness, instead of continuing to feed the anger that will likely lead you down a sorrowful path. I think that’s his message anyway. That’s my interpretation.

    So for me, the segment I mentioned in Part 3, especially from 10:00 to 14:47, are extremely powerful!!! EXTREMELY. If anyone reading this has found him or herself dwelling on the ‘what ifs’, and if you find yourself thinking all the time about how your life would be so much better without your spouse, or that divorce really isn’t that big a deal… please please please listen to Part 3 of this interview again with a different perspective. Please get into marital therapy if you haven’t tried that yet. Please examine how many hours of the day you spend on negative thoughts and negative thought processes, and begin replacing some of that time with love and positivity. Please entertain the idea of ‘moving on’, in that moving on can be full of the possibility of joy and happiness in the family you have already created, which can happen in or out of the church. Please. Pretty please with whatever you want on top!

    Thank you again John, and cheers to your new found happiness in your marriage and family!

  83. John,
    You have played a very supportive role for thousands during their confusing times. Over the past few years I have always felt a welcomed acceptance from you regardless of where I have been on the belief spectrum. I hope your listeners offer you that same respect. Thanks for your sacrifice. I too “wish the church had 100,000 John Dehlins too.”

  84. J.D. .has always been right on the fault line between the pole of the religiouus LDS and that of their opposite, secular LDS counterparts. This balancing space whithin the LDS world is sometimes referred to, apparently, as the NOM. (Just to keep our terms straight, for this comment….)

    So, in any case, such seekers as JD, i.e., the NOMers (like unto, for example, Reform Jews or U/Uish-side of the spectrum Christians) are quite a bit more libertine on average than their polar opposite, more orthodox/traditional coreligionist counterparts. Especially the vangaurd among them.

    Nonetheless such “libertineness,” for my lack of a better turn of phrase, is not the essential component of NOMism, (Reform Judaism, the most liberal spectrums of Christianity, et al, ad infinitum). No, what IS most essential is the stuff J.D. emphasizes and ever-endeavors to exemplify. And that stuff is, without question, “religous” in nature. By defeinition. / By all logic. And, in J.D.’s case, it uses such frames of reference as “keeping the spirit,” “avoiding being intellectually arrogant,” and so on and so forth. Whatever indiosyncratic ways J.D. – and any of his NOMish counterparts – come to define any such features of Mormon beliefs and cultural byways indeed make for the full spectrum of hues within the rainbow of (Rocky Mountains – lineaged) “Mormon” exoerience.

    And, many secularists – those whose tastes run toward wanting zero actual religion within their approach toward or understanding of theiir particular (WOULD-BE “RELGIOUS”) hertiage are threatened by the very existance of NOMS and other of the most “liberal” religionists.”

  85. John, having read your reconstruction story, I am glad that you are finding happiness with your family enshrined within the Mormon ideal. This seems what you always craved and longed for in your quest for inner peace and understanding.
    You said in part of your interview that the world that one finds outside of Mormonism is, in your words, really only “a mirage”. Can’t you see with that simple short statement, you have once again become immersed in the idealistic and exalted world of Mormonism. Has your clarity of vision been so affected, that you cannot see that the church’s self proclaimed elitist stature over the rest of the human family, is in actual fact a “mirage“ of its own making, a monumental delusion being perpetuated by its leaders and thrust upon the obedient and unquestioning shoulders of its members.
    You also mentioned your excellent podcast with Tom Philips. You stated that the Temple Ordinances are sacred and that all faiths deserve that their worship practices be respected as such. You mentioned as examples, the Muslims at prayer, the Jews within their synagogues and Roman Catholicism. But there is one very important factor that differentiates between Mormon Temple worship and the others faiths that you mentioned. Other faith’s modes of worship are common knowledge and totally in the public domain for all to have knowledge of and are not secrets kept hidden from the world. That the Mormon church is so determined to keep the Temple Ceremonies such a secret from the rest of the human family, is the disturbing reality of Mormon delusion and prideful arrogance. Self proclaimed exaltation is an ideal that caused Jesus himself to censure. It is indeed depressing and quite shameful that only influential celebrities who may be deemed a threat to the Mormon world, are granted exclusive audience and able to bend the ears of the exalted Brethren towards their concerns. Families and individuals of all varieties throughout this wonderful world and universe are equally important to our heavenly Creators. One group of people do not own or have special and exclusive rights to this.

    1. Andrew – As I recall, I said that sometimes, some people leave their spouse and family for some supposed ideal (another woman, etc.), and that sometimes this supposed ideal that they sacrifice spouse of family for can end up being a mirage.

      I stand by that.

      I also said that for some people, divorce leads to more happiness. I stand by that too.

  86. John, thanks for starting Mormon Stories. And thanks for allowing yourself to be under the microscope along with the many that you have interviewed. You have truly opened my mind and heart to the incredible diversity that is the Mormon experience. I sincerely hope you find a way to continue interviewing people for the Mormon Stories podcast.

    Keep your chin up and know that you are loved.

  87. John, loved this podcast. Thought it was epic. So many people I know are talking about it.

    Throughout the whole thing I was curious if you had seen Malcolm Gladwell’s TED talk that deals with happiness and variety, because it applis so well to Mormonism. Or different types of Mormonism. It’s a short TED talk so it’s worth a gander.


    It deals with food and a revolution to how products added variety. Basically the realization that there is no “Perfect Pepsi” just “Perfect Pepsis” There is no one size fits all.

    Such it seems is the case with Mormonism as well. And I am saddened at the criticism of you by those that are out of the church, because they feel they have found their Perfect Pepsi as if that should be the Perfect Pepsi for everyone.

    The path that will provide the most happiness is different for everyone, and I hope and wish you the best as you continue to try and find it.

    *** As a fun side note, there is a flipside to this Gladwell’s TED talk in Barry Schwartz’s TED talk about The Paradox of Choice.


    He argues that increase amounts of choices can take away from happiness because we never know if we are making the right decision. I have found this to be true in myself sometimes and I go in and out of activity.

    Fun two TED talks that really got me thinking and apply very well to Mormon faith journeys. Thought I’d share them with you if you hadn’t already seen them. But in you schooling you’ve probably come across much more that this pop-psychology type stuff.

  88. I wanted to say thank you so much for all your time, energy and care in putting these podcasts together! I have never commented on any of the podcasts though I have listened to almost all of them. My first exposure to MS was during a very “dark” period of my own journey. I remember, after a friend told me about the podcasts, I lay on my bed that night listening to an episode and felt the longing to die lift, and it was as though someone was wrapping me up in a warm, loving blanket. I knew there were people out there who could understand where I was and I suddenly realized I wasn’t going crazy (interesting how much being understood and belonging matter).

    I never got really involved in the community aspect of MS because I felt that I had spent so much of my life doing and believing what I was “supposed to do,” that I needed space to really figure things out for myself. I did have a lot of people on my “team,” including a therapist, a couple of dear friends, a meditation mentor, and a couple other body/mind healers. As I was listening I thought, “no wonder he felt so drained…he was giving and giving without space to refuel and do his own healing and recovery” (not that helping others isn’t part of our own healing, but it can only be part…this is still tricky to remember somedays as I interpreted my church learning to say that if I want to recharge it is best to serve others).

    One thing that I did notice as I was listening was how often you talked about the “pride,” and being embarrassed that sometimes there were moments of prideful motivation, or maybe many moments that had some motivation of “pride” or “anger.” While I agree that getting stuck in placed of pride and anger can be emotionally draining and begin to feel quite dark, they are also part of a process, and my offering is that I accept you even in your pride. I believe pride comes from pain…always, and that if we’re stuck in pride or anger it’s because we haven’t had the healing we need yet to let it go. There’s still something there unseen or unnurtured. So, since I’m working to let go of my “black and white” training, I do belive that there were times of pride and anger, but I also believe there were motivations of love and compassion. I don’t think it needs to be an all or nothing, and hopefully time will give space for seeing more clearly all the differing motivations that existed, and compassion for them all.

    I too work in the mental health field as a licensed marriage and family therapist, and have logged some of my experiences with leaving the church on a blog, jennymorrowjourney.blogspot.com. If it ever feels helpful to read yet another person’s walk through healing and finding emotional health and spirituality after leaving the church feel free to read.

    May you find the healing and peace you seek :)

    Much love to your family

  89. Oh my heck John! I’m sorry you felt you had to go back. I mean, I totally understand the good things the church brings to the lives of members including community, structure and the like, but in the end the church in not what it claims to be, or do you really now believe that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Jospeh Smith in 1820 near his home in Palmyra? I’ve not heard that yet. I hear and I get the pragmatic aspects, including the powerful draw of the church of one’s childhood, but to me the important question is: Is the church what it claims to be? If you had been raised Baptist, would you still pine to return to the Mormon church? Is your integrity served by belonging to an organization for organizational sake when this said organization’s self proclaimed mission is not to function first and foremost as a social structure, but to serve as the only vehicle to reach one’s potential before it’s defined God? It seems to me this may not be so important to you John, rather I’ve gathered that you are a warm human being full of love and feeling, if not to a fault. You have a propensity to empathy, especially for others, which I see personally as a fault as your burden is probably unnecessarily more than it should be. I believe you see the church as a shelter in the storm of human emotional need. I get it. But in the end, the church makes specific claims about reality that are just not true to which I promise you, the Mormon church has no more idea about some higher power humanity calls God than anyone else, and one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever come upon is the freedom to not believe in this entity at all.

    With that said I would be a horse’s ass if I didn’t say thanks for the incredible perspectives that I have thrilled to on your forum. I soared with Micheal Coe, Brian Dalton, James Nagel, Grant Palmer, and the many more that I wouldn’t have space to recognize. You were fair and balanced, and I was even glad that you always let me disagree with you if I felt so inclined. I came to your forum with my Atheism firmly established, and found no influence one way or another on my belief foundations, but found the information enriching, and helped me understand my history with more insight.

    Mormon Stories is about Mormons, not about John Dehlin. Belif does not rise or fall on John, it rises and falls on the evidence. To be honest, there is more damning detrimental evidence against the Mormon church outside of it’s structure and history, than what lies within, even though that’s pretty convincing/damning as well. Maybe the best thing John has done is let people of all doubting levels, from little doubters to full blown Atheists like myself say, I’m Mormon, I’m here, and I’ll contribute where and how I can. People have never frowned upon my disbelieving boat that pulls the young men and women, my disbelieving hammer and nails, my disbelieving back that hauls furniture to my disbelieving truck. My disbelieving snow shovel that clears a path of love to my believing neighbor. John, I’ve always felt a bunch of love coming from you, along with your annoying (smiley cute face here) need to believe and have community. Not all of us have that need nor wired to want such community. Don’t sell your integrity too far down the orthodox path. Come back every once in a while and regale us with your back in standing exploits, bitching just a little about your troglodyte of a Bishop who will chastise you and your wife and her immodest yet cute green tank top when you’re next intervewed.

    1. I’m new to this site. I can relate first hand to many of the questions of faith that I see here. However, I have to ask John as well as others here, is it possible that those who surrender their faith may have acted rashly? My early impression is that Bushman, Givens, Barlow etc have a sense or proportion and context that all could learn from.

      Also, I just listend to the Palmer interview. I’ve read Broadie, Bushman, Samuel Taylor, BH Roberts, etc. All accounts of the rise and fall of Nauvoo. I have to say, it seems to me that Palmer gives the most credibility to William Law of them all.

      Four separate individuals made affidavit before a justice of the peace that they were present in secret meetings where Law led a plot to murder Joseph. Surely Palmer is not ignorant to this. To me his failure to mention this is a real issue.

      John, you didn’t seem to pull any punches with the believers you interviewed. I have to say I didn’t see the same zeal with the interviews you did with Palmer, etc. Why was that?

      1. Hey M, I’ve never heard of William Law’s plot to murder Joseph Smith. I did a quick google search and couldn’t find anything. Would you please point me to a link or reference?

        1. I read it in BH Roberts’s book The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo. I’m away now but can give you chapter and page if later if you need. I belive the chapter is titled betrayal among the brothers or something close to that.

    2. Connor Carpenter

      @ Rude Dog: I have a feeling you didn’t listen to the Podcast in full (especially Part 3). From the interview, John is now anything but professing to be now going down the “orthodox path”. When asked directly about what he thought about Joseph Smith, he didn’t profess belief in the 1st vision, but that the Restoration was valid as a group of people’s attempts to understand spirituality. John states MULTIPLE times in the interview that the Mormon church has one among many valid ideas about a higher power. You state that John returned to church for the organizational and social benefits, and while he may have advocated this view in the past, his return was clearly motivated by his spiritual and emotional needs more than anything (especially in his interviews with his stake president over the past year)

      If you want to ask John questions here, you should’ve made sure he didn’t answer them already in the podcast. Now, I would be interested to hear your opinion on the podcast once you actually listen to it.

        1. Tyrion Lannister

          John, I understood the LOTR metaphor but I wasn’t the biggest fan of it and only because I have gotten so sick of LDS people treating any Star Wars/LOTR/Star Trek/Harry Potter series as if they were inspired of God and relate so well to the gospel. I don’t want my favorite series tainted with a different genre of fiction :) It took me out a little. I know that is a lame criticism but I had to get it off my chest. You’ve done a great job with the podcast over the years, and you have helped me a lot when I first struggled with the church. Being happy is what is most important and if the church brings you happiness than it is good, and it is a good organization. I suppose I can let the LOTR metaphor slide for all the good you have done for people.

  90. John,
    I didn’t know until these 3 podcast, that you were experiencing such problems with the LDS authorities.I’m Realy sorry that you had to experience such controvercy.

    From listening to Mormon Stories over the past 2 years. i have NEVER
    thought you were disrespectfully to the LDS church.

    I was born into the LDS church and stayed A member for 50 + years
    But thru studying history,the bible, and comparing that to the bogus stories and doctorine I had been taught, i left.

    Now finding joy and peace from the grace of GOD.

    I hope you and you family find peace and love on you path.

  91. Dear John,

    Good luck on this next leg of your journey. May you find peace and renewal of you soul, and may you and your family be as close as you have ever been. I see you as arriving at the point you hoped for from the beginning: your cries were heard, you concerns were validated, you now you can be in the church with everyone knowing where you stand, and you can retain the relationships that are inextricably tied to the church. That is a noble achievement, although the road you traveled to get there was so very long, hard and tortuous. Thank you for all that you have done for those on the fringe of Mormonism. I consider the money I contributed to Mormon Stories well spent. I ask you to please consider the following: please don’t make it sound like you came back to full activity because you realized that the problem was with you and not the church. When you say things like an angel was on one shoulder and a devil was on the other, and the angel was telling you to stay in the church, and the devil was telling you to leave, then that implies that I listened to the devil, which is what my family and friends think, which you and I know is not the case. It is impossible to chose the right words all of the time, but please don’t make it sound like you were in the grip of the adversary before and now you are not.

    May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face.
    Very truly yours,

    Brian Staley

    1. Brian,

      I don’t think that I ever said that the angel told me to come back to church. That was my own decision. The angel/devil metaphor was used in relation to my battles with my own inner demons (pride, selfishness, etc.). I think I made it super clear in the interview that one can be good/noble in or out of the church.


  92. John,

    Thank you for all you’ve done! You said in the podcast that sometimes it makes you feel uncomfortable when people thank you, but I think it bears repeating that your work has been very important to many, many people. Though I can’t say its the decision I would have made, I completely respect and somewhat understand why you have chosen what you have.

    I do have one question though. You mentioned quite a few times the importance of emotion and spirituality–that you were ignoring those for too long, that you were spending too much energy intellectually and that you feel that you need to tap into your emotions and spirit etc.

    Could you clarify what you mean by that? What does it mean to you to “plug in” to one’s emotions or one’s spirituality?

    Thank you if you respond, and thank you for everything you’ve done, even if you don’t!

  93. John I wish you and your family the best. The podcasts have really helped me during my faith crisis. I hope that if you stop doing them that the current library will stay available for years to come for any who need help navigating this storm. I would never join the church if I were researching and investigating the full history. But it is so hard if one has grown up in it. There is such on hold on so many levels. It’s so hard to let it go and to make sense of why. It is hard to decide if it’s real or not. It seems like we are all in a paradox.

  94. This was a treat, John. Sometimes, the honest pursuit of truth and happiness leads one away from the LDS church. Sometimes, it leads one back. Its wonderful to hear our friend from so many years, who has led us all through an amazing (and sometimes wild) ride be so transparent.

    Thank you. Seriously. Thank you.

  95. Dear John,
    I am so happy that you have found a way to peace and more joy while still maintaining your honesty and integrity. It is also very encouraging to know that a person can have their own unique kind of “testimony”, be open and honest about it and still be wanted, loved and respected by their stake president. That’s as it should be. The Mormon church needs a lot more people like you who can help it hold on to it’s Big Beautiful Baby (the Gospel of Love) by throwing out all of it’s dark and dirty bath water. Everything has it’s opposites of light and darkness including people and organizations, no exceptions. Our job is to experience the contrast, learn, grow expand and have joy. You’ve done a great job of experiencing the contrast, learning, growing, expanding, feeling joy and sharing it all with us!

    I’m especially looking forward to the “No More Strangers” project or website you mentioned for our gay loved ones. I have a gay son who is a very bright light in my life. I feel that our gay children and youth are among the most innocent neglected members of our church, still fed with dark psychological rhetoric. If change really is possible or needed, the church’s approach or lack thereof has been very counter-productive.

    Thanks so much to you and your dear family for bring light where there has been much darkness. Sincerely, Kathleen

  96. John, I am taking a moment to share something with you. I hope you take a moment to acknowledge my efforts. Am I ‘laying a guilt trip on you’? Perhaps, but I am most confident that you truly *will enjoy* this TED presentation. The focus (for me) wasn’t about LGBT issues, but a metaphor for all our lives and journeys in life with regard to a multiplicity of ‘complicated’ issues and situations (and yours came to mind).

    – Paul

    iO Tillett Wright: Fifty shades of gay


  97. This was hard to listen to at times because of the pain and regret you felt, John, but its beautiful moments outshone those. This was a great interview, thank you for your honesty and openness!

  98. One cannot pretend to believe a myth once it has been revealed as such.
    I believe it will be a difficult thing to be in such close association with those whose eyes have not yet been opened and who still fully embrace the church narrative. One can go along to get along, thinking that through negotiating the terms of ones involvement in the church some greater good will be accomplished. Again, honesty is sacrificed for what is supposed or thought to be some greater good. It is, in my opinion, a compromise that is extremely difficult and will evaporate in time due to the internal conflict that it will create. Faith is wonderful when supported by the evidences, not lies and concealment. It does not trump honesty and never can.

  99. John and Margie,
    Thanks for sharing your life with us.
    I went to the Salt Lake Mormon Stories Conference last year to support my husband. The stories shared made such an impact on me. It seems that I have thought of one or the other almost everyday since. Hopefully by their sharing,and my trying to understand I can become a better Mormon. Thanks to all of you that were willing so share something so personal.
    And John,thanks to introducing me to people like Terel Givens and reintroducing me to Carolynn Pearson, and more. Such great and loving minds!
    John,I will miss the sound of your voice coming from my husband’s office. I wish you the best with your quieter life. Together you and Margie will go on to do new great things.
    Best of luck, and as by Catholic friend used to tell me…God Bless.

  100. Hi John,

    I’ve thought for a while that you continuing to do all those podcasts was going to lead to more pain and suffering because you just weren’t going to get the answers you were looking for. The church is what it is. I do think you realised just in time that it was destroying you and your family relationships. Perhaps you came to realise that finding religious truth is almost impossible, but at least following the Mormon version gets you back your family relationships, and has shown it has a few understanding leaders at the stake/GA levels.

    From my own perspective, it’s really hard to find a good alternative to Mormonism once it has become ingrained into your psyche. I like aspects of eastern religions, especially Buddhism, but each sect is at best an approximation of the “truth”. So it’s just this constant open-minded search and maybe that’s ok.

    Maybe you’re the smart one John. Maybe approaching Mormonism mainly from the emotional/spiritual perspective, in terms of relationships and personal growth through service, is the key to happiness, and just set to one side the discovery that the historical/doctrinal story is just a fairytale. You’ve seen that for you the institution has some value.

    I’m still in that decision process. Thanks for your perspective.


    1. Tyrion Lannister

      I think the reason it is hard for many people to find an alternative is because the church so heavily ingrains in people from 3 years old and up that it is the only true church on earth, and all others are false. When you lose faith in the only true church you don’t know what to do, and atheism seems like the only logical possibility. I think if the “one true church” position was not so heavily pushed and ingrained in people it would be easier to find other faiths or even come back some day.

  101. John

    It’s obvious from your many statements over the last several years that you know Mormonism is based upon a pack of lies which the LDS Church still actively sponsors by, among other things, sending out 50,000 or so innocent, naive missionaries to spread the lies and actively suppresses and conceals the truth about its history because the Church knows the truth will be devastating to its power and wealth. How you can justify in your own mind aiding and abetting this huge fraud baffles me. Your mental gymnastics would do a pretzel proud. Truth will inevitably suffer, which is really one of the principal legacies of Mormonism. Good luck to you as you reenter fantasyland.

    1. Connor Carpenter

      John makes it pretty clear in the podcast that he doesn’t believe objectively in a lot of the claims of the Church. I don’t see any crazy mental gymnastics in the reasoning he has put forth – he has concluded that he feels that the Church experience is spiritually and emotionally nourishing to him and to others, and that that outweighs the negative aspects of the Church.

      It’s definitely not a decision that everyone would or should make, but from what I gather, it’s the choice between allowing either his happiness and health, or the truth, to inevitably suffer. It’s not that complicated. It’s a utilitarian approach that should be respected as a rational decision.

      1. Tyrion Lannister

        Connor, I know you want to be a cheer leader for John and defend him but your comments are not helpful at all. You are not understanding this from others point of view (this is clear from your insensitive comments). A lot of people on here looked to John as an example, and an anchor. This podcast can easily give someone the feeling that John has abandoned all he said before and gone back on what he did. Now I am not saying that is what he did, but you have to realize it is very easy for that to be portrayed from these podcasts. John going back to church is the equivalent of an apostel leaving the church, it would shake a lot of people up. Stop looking at these comments from your opinion and start trying to see how these people feel and why they would post something like that, otherwise you are not being helpful.

        1. Connor Carpenter

          @ Tyrion:
          I’m sorry if you found my comments insensitive, but I really cannot figure out how you would make that conclusion. Might I add that I have been an avid listener of John’s over the past year, and also looked to him as an example (if not necessarily an anchor)? And that seeing his ability to return to the Church gave me hope that I might somehow be able to overcome my own problems with the Church, and do the same? This was a hopeful message to me. Maybe you should consider that there are many people, avid followers of John’s work, that would also find comments such as Steve’s to be unhelpful. Still, I wouldn’t recommend that Steve just keep his opinions to himself (as you suggested to me). That kind of defeats the purpose of the internet, right?

          If anyone was hurt from my comment that it seemed to me that John had some valid, personal reason to return to Church despite all the problems he encountered in the past, I apologize, but I honestly can’t understand why anyone would find that offensive at all.

  102. John, I hope you are able to enjoy some time with your family. You have had a very significant impact on my life and appreciate the time and effort you have given over the years.

    I do take issue with one of your statements though. You say to either make the church work or find something else to do. The problem for me is that what I discovered in my faith journey is that I don’t care for faith at all. I don’t crave the emotional/spiritual stuff and so I have no place to go back to in the church. And yet my wife if fully committed and so I truly am stuck in the middle unless I want to totally destroy my life. And the church will continue to treat me as defective (no going to my kids weddings, etc.) even if I do my best to fit in. So maybe if you decide to keep Mormon Stories going you can dedicate it to those of us who are being held hostage to the middle way, not just staying there to try to goad others but truly having no other good choices.

    Thanks again for your service.

    1. Eric, I can relate to this. I have 11 children and have only been to 2 of their weddings, BEFORE I answered the first 4 questions as to whether I have faith in and a testimony of … with a no and was refused a TR. There are many things that make my experience very very very hard to stay in the church and BE happy or GO and BE happy. I am NOT the head of my family, my husband is, as per the LDS teachings. I have a generous husband and he does NOT bother me into going BUT he is NOT going have the children NOT go. thus I am stuck in the middle by choice of staying married and with my kids. Not a fun place when the church shows up at the minimum twice a week but weekdays during school as well, I have two seminary students. Anyway, you are NOT alone in this Eric and I do get what you are saying you have trouble with.

      1. Thanks Gail. Yes, very similar feelings. I have always enjoyed life but I know this feeling of being stuck has affected my ability to be joyful and positive around my family. I hope we can find a solution or at least better ways to cope!

    2. Eric,

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful email. I totally understand the pain/difficulty of your position, and will continue to do everything that I can to keep helping out where I can.

      So sorry for the pain. Hang in there, brother…and let’s collaborate on a podcast series if you’d like.


      1. John I’m flattered that you would offer me a chance to collaborate. Not sure what I could contribute but I would certainly be willing to give it a shot. You have my email so feel free to contact me.

  103. Steve commented on 397-399: John Dehlin and Faith Reconstruction.
    “How you can justify in your own mind aiding and abetting this huge fraud baffles me.”

    I just finished reading a 42 page booklet entitled ‘The First Vision: The Joseph Smith Story’ written by Jim Whitefield (also found on http://www.themormondelusion.com). I’ve read a lot of books on Mormonism, being those adamantly ‘anti-Mormon’, those that are marginally so, and the apologetic ones. After reading this particular booklet, though, which posited very clear and succinct facts to support the FACTS that the Mormon church is, at the very least, not what it claims to be, I came to this conclusion:

    After an in depth study of the facts, the only way I could ever justify being an active, participating member of the Mormon church would be to set aside the ample evidences in support of the fact that it was initially based upon a fraud perpetrated by Joseph Smith (and possibly, if not even probably, others as well), and just accept the Mormon church as it is *now*, which could mean that it is a safe and congenial place to associate with the type of people I enjoy associating with, and the moralistic and other aspects of the church in which to spend time in and raise a family, is appealing.

    I might also add that while listening to, no doubt, all of the MS podcasts these past years, the impression that I got of John Dehlin on many occasions was that he presents himself as a troubled spirit, or in fact, even a ‘dark’ one. However, regardless of my impressions of JD, I think it’s pretty clear (to me, at least) that he has become exhausted slaying dragons–dragons that will continue to pupate ad infinitum, so he has decided to retire to a safe ‘cave’ and one that he feels at home and happy in.

    A long time ago when JD said that he was terminating or turning MS over to someone else to run, I wrote to him and said to ‘let it go gently into the night’. He didn’t take that advise (perhaps because he was incapable, or not ready to do that then). Anyway, just like you can’t put old heads on young shoulders, I think he now realizes that he again has come to somewhat the same juncture in his life, only this time there is more collateral damage, which is unfortunate for some people.

  104. Connor says he doesn’t see any “crazy mental gymnastics” in John’s reasoning. Let me see if I can point out some. If I understand John correctly, he thinks it is highly unlikely that there is a God, but he thinks it is just as unlikely that all of this is just randomness (evolution doesn’t teach randomness”), so he chooses to live his life as if there is a God. Fair enough. John further states that he thinks it is highly unlikely that Jesus lived and was resurrected, but that he considers Jesus to be his personal savior because of many teachings (not all) that John values and have helped him in his life. But this is just a play on words because that is not at all what Christianity means by the term “savior.” John then says that he believes Joseph Smith was a prophet despite the many lies that John acknowledges Joseph told on everything from duping people into paying him money for treasure digging (he never found anything) to the first vision to the angel Moroni to the Golden Plates to the rock in the hat translation of the Book of Mormon to the angelic restoration of the priesthoods to the angel with drawn sword who threatened Joseph with death if he did not practice polygamy to the Book of Abraham to the Kirtland Bank to the Kinderhook Plates and on and on and on. If I understand correctly, John believes that to the extent Joseph did good he was inspired by God to do so. John further states that he sees no evidence that Joseph did anything fraudulently. I call this mental gymnastics. It is beyond me how one who understands that Joseph was a serial liar whose lies all were aimed at increasing his power, position, sexual pleasure and/or wealth could have thought he was in communication with God and was just doing what God commanded. What kind of God is that? Did Joseph really believe that God told him that the Church was to build the mansion house and give Joseph and his posterity a suite of rooms on the upper floor forever and ever? You call it what you want. I call it bat crazy. I hope John can keep his integrity and sanity in the Church.