For those of you who didn’t catch, I happened to be on Good Morning America today. You can watch it here.

I have a few reactions/thoughts:

  • Doing anything w/ national media, especially on the topic of religion, is EXTREMELY scary, sensitive, complex and stressful (I know…you’re all saying “Duh!”). I barely slept last night, as you can imagine.
  • ABC was really very professional in how they handled the whole deal. They even sent a video crew out to my house in Logan!! Anyway, great people to work with (so far). :)
  • The main part I’m bummed about is that they characterized me as a person who is “sometimes critical of the church.” Truth be told, I try really hard to NOT be critical of the church or its leadership (“even if the criticism is accurate” as Elder Oaks has said), and I’m pretty sure that nothing in the interview can be taken as criticism of the church. In fact, I was defending those who still appreciate our polygamous heritage! Anyway, the last thing I need is to be seen as critical of the brethren or the church.
  • I feel a bit bummed that I’ve come down so hard on Romney now twice in national media. I’m sure he’s a great guy, and I’m also as sure that there probably isn’t a better “person” running than Romney. That said — I feel like the stakes are too high, and that if we need anything right now in the USA, it’s a president with a backbone, who can shoot straight with all of us, and TELL THE TRUTH. I really hope Romney can turn this perception issue around, and jump on the “Straight Talk Express.”
  • Finally, the thing I’m most grateful for is what they DIDN’T put on the air (of my comments). There were a few things I said that that would have been REALLY painful to see on national television, and I hope I’ve learned my lesson to tread a bit more carefully.

Anyway, my good buddy Danithew is hosting a discussion about the show over on Mormon Mentality.

Also, we just recorded our 2nd episode of Mormon Matters podcast, where we discuss both the GMA and NYTimes coverage in depth.

Please check them out, and thanks for all of your kind emails of support!!!


  1. Trevor June 19, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    You did well, John. You were even better in front of the camera than you are behind the mic.

  2. Tatiana June 19, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Yes, it looked great to me too.

  3. Jettboy June 19, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    Here is a question I have that makes this whole thing look mostly manufactured. How many Mormons are talking about this when not in front of a camera, not talking with a reporter, or not blogging? In other words, what are we hearing from those who actually go to Church, the Temple, conduct Family Home Evening, etc.?

    My guess is no one is talking about any of this. I know I haven’t heard a peep out of anyone either about Mitt Romney or any of the comments he has made. I also know my experience is just from a small group, therefore I could be wrong. If I am right, to me this means there is no such thing as “many” who are thinking much about Romney or what he has said. The PBS document was far more important than other things going on right now. No one is talking as much about these things as the usual who talk about everything.

    I am personally more angry at the Media trying to use Romney and Mormonims to make a story than whatever Romney has said. Again, I believe most Mormons would rather tell the Media to get out of their face than actually say anything one way or the other about Romney.

  4. jordanandmeg June 19, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    john, way cool.
    For some reason, I’d imagined you with a beard.

    seriously, way cool.

  5. The Backslider June 20, 2007 at 5:56 am

    Good job John. I don’t think you need to worry about a thing.

  6. Kevin June 20, 2007 at 6:56 am

    A spokesman from the Thoughtful Faith camp! Your contribution added meat to the piece. To me your few seconds in the spotlight were much more interesting and informative than many PR-type comments I’ve heard in the media explaining the Church.

    I also winced a bit when they mis-characterized you as sometimes critical of the Church. Having listened to the entire Mormon Stories library I’m of the opinion that they chose the wrong word. Your empathy for the task facing the brethren is one of my unexpected take-aways from Mormon Stories.

    I was surprised to hear Romney turn his back on our belief in the New Jerusalem and his slam against polygamy. It felt politically expedient. It reminded me of the May 21st cover story in TIME magazine, “Sure, He Looks Like a President, But What Does Mitt Romney Really Believe?” Yes, politics can be a say-anything business but as you say, we need someone with a strong, straight backbone at the top.

    We’re still too close to the unfolding events to draw any grand conclusions but it occurred to me that your creation of Mormon Stories and the intense national interest in Mormonism is an intriguing convergence. It seems to me the world benefits not only from your interesting, compelling interviews but also from the person you’ve become in the process of creating them.

  7. Wes June 20, 2007 at 11:36 am


    What a dashing young fellow you are on camera! Just joshing…. Anyway, look, I agree, one would hope that a candidate can be a straight shooter and be honest but Romney, as a TBM, by the very nature of Morminism is not that (ie: refer to the concept of “lying for the Lord”). I have repeatedly heard Romney misrepresent the views of Mormonism. I for one, would vote for Obama before Romney (as painful as that would be). Second, the quote from Oaks about not criticizing leaders even if it is accurate is a preposterous idea. It is criticism and objective analysis that keeps a leader in check and it is MUCH needed within Mormonism. I thought you did a good job and was not too critical at all.


  8. Thinker June 20, 2007 at 11:47 am


    I’ve listened to every single one of your episodes, and I have learned from and enjoyed each of them. I have a great deal of respect for and appreciation of the work that you are doing here–it is extremely valuable, interesting, and provocative.

    Now, with that in mind, let me just say that the characterization of you as one who is “sometimes critical of the church” is spot on, and no one here should take that as a negative assessment. Like doubt, criticism cuts both ways, in that it can be both constructive and destructive, and sometimes both. In my opinion, yours is clearly of the constructive and productive variety that leads to growth and understanding, and if not either of those, then it at least promotes patience and long-suffering.

    So, kudos for the work you do, and the voices you allow to speak. Keep the narratives flowing.

    P.S. The ABC interview was just fine.

  9. Jordan June 20, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Nice work, John!

  10. Mesa Mason June 21, 2007 at 12:22 am

    You did great! It is so great to see the growth of Mormon Stories to the point of being quoted in the New York Times and having you interviewed on a nationally televised news program. Kudos! You came off very positively and I think you came off as defending what many TBM’s consider to be a proud ancestry. Let’s hope you get more opportunities like this as ’08 approaches!

  11. RJ June 21, 2007 at 9:35 am

    You’re a young looking fellow and it was totally unfair of them to categorize you as critical.

    Here’s the deal though. How many active mormons are willing to talk about things in such a forthright way as yourself? Not many. That’s what makes you such a great interviewee for the media. You talk straight.

  12. Mayan Elephant June 21, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    good job dehlin.

    i suspect you will be on all the shows before romney fizzles.

  13. Mayan Elephant June 21, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    i think george stephnowalopolisisisiiahhsisis has a good handle on the mormon factor for romney. i look forward to seeing him dig into deeper as the campaigns move ahead.

  14. Lincoln June 21, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Good job John. How does it feel to be the spokesperson for Mormonism? Really I don’t think the COB could find a better person than you.

  15. HAL June 21, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Just think, we all knew John back when he was just…..

    You did great.

  16. Equality June 21, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Just one, er, criticism–why didn’t you tell us about this before the fact rather than after so we could have watched it live? BTW, good job. Maybe you should apply for that blogging gig over at On Faith by WaPo. The guy repping the church now is having trouble keeping the wolves at bay.

  17. Hellmut June 21, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    It isn’t your fault that Mitt Romney is a great salesman, John.

  18. Todd Wood June 21, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Governor Romney will be in my hometown, I.F., tomorrow night at The Riverbend Ranch with Vandersloot. (Vandersloot’s next door neighbor is a deacon in my church.)

    $250 a person for dinner.

    $1000 for a photo.

    I would like to meet Mr. Romney, but too cheap to pay the $500 for my wife and I to attend.

  19. paul f June 21, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    great work in the piece john. i have listened to many of your podcasts and really enjoy them.

    i tend to disagree about romney’s statement’s expediency. i have talked to many members of the church who wouldn’t hesitate to make the same statement that romney did. they say there are few things that would be more awful. joseph himself taught that all must be tested as abraham. you don’t have to like God’s commandments to be faithful. polygamy was extremely difficult for many of our mormon ancestors. it seems like you john, as someone who seeks to allow all to tell their story, would be open to allowing romney to voice his honest opinion on polygamy. his view of polygamy as awful is probably the more prevalent view amongst members as relates to them personally. they may not blame their progenitors, but they would NEVER take part in the practice now. look at the animosity towards fundamentalist lifestyles in utah.

    the characterization about about romney being untruthful or disingenuous in his statements is presumptuous and unfair.

    i for one believe firmly that romney will not fizzle and is the republican candidate with the best chance of beating hillary.

  20. John Dehlin June 21, 2007 at 11:54 pm


    You make good points.

  21. Anne Hutchinson June 22, 2007 at 12:23 am


    Thanks for the link. Good job !

  22. paul f June 22, 2007 at 6:20 am

    by the way john. i just listened to the podcoast with darius gray and margaret young and it brought tears. thank you for the work you are doing.

  23. Kevin June 22, 2007 at 7:37 am

    It occurred to me that GMA characterizing you as critical of the Church would be right on the mark if they’d meant it in the sense of critical thinking—which often carries a positive connotation different from that of just complaining. What you can’t convey in sound bites are the rich possibilities of critical thinking intertwined with faith.

    BTW, thanks for the link to the videos on homosexuals and the Church. I have kinfolk who are gay and these videos along with the Buckley Jepsen interviews and the Sunstone interviews on the same subject have put this on my radar. I find myself with a deep desire for tolerance and friendship to these brothers and sisters where there was only casual awareness before.

  24. paul f June 22, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    john, did your time at bain inform your current position on romney?

  25. John Dehlin June 22, 2007 at 9:16 pm


    No. It made me originally very excited about Romney. I was HUGELY pro-Romney up until 1 year ago.

    Then his reverses on everything bummed me out.

  26. Tom Grover June 22, 2007 at 10:04 pm


    Sounds like the rates in your neck of the woods is much cheaper. Mitt will be in Logan tomorrow. $1000 for lunch, $2300 for photo op. No media welcome. :-(

  27. paul f June 23, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    About Romney. I know this has been discussed on other threads, but I would like to weigh in here.

    It seems that ‘when among the romans, do as the romans’ applies here. Romney’s citizenship was in Mass. and he had a shot to make a difference as governor. His willingness to compromise on issues that he knew were bedrock, non-negotiable issues in that state is admirable to me rather than a downside. It seems that Bush’s unwillingness to see in shades of gray and to back down when necessary is what has lead to so many bull-headed decisions. I prefer a smart leader that can see shades of gray and is willing to compromise for the greater good. He is campaigning right now to placate a group of radical right-wingers who (in Utah) almost ousted Orrin Hatch for being too liberal. Jesus didn’t denounce Pilate to allow himself to live another day and do good. Mitt offered an olive branch to Massachusetts voters on a few issues that he may not have agreed on. For me, these facts paint a picture of a man who is smart enough to do the right thing at the right time. Am I off on this?

  28. Ryan June 24, 2007 at 10:03 am


    Have you considered wearing makeup more often?


  29. annegb June 25, 2007 at 8:37 am

    Jettboy has a point. Nobody in my circle has even mentioned it. Except me.

    I think “thinker” has a point. Rather than deny criticism (which is what the church seems to do very often), why not say, “yes, I criticised this particular thing. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” There’s a better way to approach it, but in truth, you criticized something. I don’t like the characterization either, John, but I think there has to be a way to interpret it that isn’t so negative.

    paul f. I hope you’re right. I haven’t been expecting a fizzle, I’ve been expecting a huge explosive gaffe.

    John, well done. I’d have been shaking so hard I couldn’t talk, let alone come out articulate and informed. You seemed entirely reasonable to me. Although I think polygamy sucked, as well. “awful” as it were.

  30. Paula June 25, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Tom– any details on the Romney lunch in Logan? I’m from Cache Valley– but haven’t lived there for 25 years, sadly enough. It boggles my mind to think of that kind of prices in Logan– do you know how successful he was at getting people out? Back when I lived there, locals used to complain about being charged a buck to ride the school buses to out of town high school football games. I realize that there’s more wealth than there used to be, but it’s still surprising to me.

  31. paul f June 26, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    annegb: romney may still implode as his father before him, but till then it is fun to see articulate common sense and good ideas in the national debates…

    about 40 people in logan, ut have given money to romney. half of them are couples who gave $4600 (max donation). there is nice site where you can see everyone who has contributed here.

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