My Excommunication Appeal

John Dehlin Disciplinary Councils, Mormon Stories 71 Comments

My excommunication appeal dated March 10, 2015 can be found at this link.  It includes an accompanying brief written in support of my appeal written by my close friends Nadine Hansen and Kate Kelly.

For the record, I appealed for the following reasons:

1) Having now experienced the excommunication process, I consider it to be more inhumane, and more medieval than I could have imagined.

2) I believe that the church violated its own rules and procedures with the process, and feel like they should be held accountable for this.

3) I feel like I want the First Presidency to either explicitly support or reject the decision, for accountability’s sake, and for closure’s sake.

Many have asked why I included Kate Kelly in my appeal letter. It is for three main reasons: 1) she is a dear friend, 2) she understands the painful and barbaric nature of excommunication better than anyone, and 3) she is a great lawyer.

Sincere thanks to all my friends and listeners for the support over the past year.  While this has been a very difficult ordeal for our family, your encouragement and support has made a world of difference.

Sincerely,
John and Margi Dehlin

Comments 71

  1. Dear John and Margi,
    Warm wishes are sent your way that your Excommunication Appeal results in a reversal of the disciplinary council that was held earlier.
    LDS Inc. needs to welcome and embrace all of it family members in a Christ-like manner…regardless of their doubts or personal positions and statements made public.
    The violence of excommunication,and the shaming and shunning of individuals, who have endured it from their faith communities, needs to be eliminated. Reversing this unfortunate action will be a positive step in that direction. Failure to do so will surely not help the LDS faith show its Christianity.

  2. I hope they’ll at least let you actually *see* the response to your appeal. As you know, Kate Kelly had hers read to her and never got to lay her eyes directly on that e-mail.

    I think *everything* about your and her disciplinary councils has been misguided if not petty but nothing is more outrageous than being so remote and cold and unreachable.

    I won’t say good luck in your appeal because it would be pointless but I do say good luck in your life and efforts going forward. That you deserve in abundance.

  3. Thank you for sharing this.

    I cannot claim that I really understand why you put up with all of this, but I still think it is your right to do so. Your arguments sound very convincing and reasonable. Let’s hope that the brethrens’ evaluation is based on reason as well.

    Oh, and what actually brought me to post this comment: having Kate and Nadine support you appeal is an awesome choice and opportunity! I have to admit I only skimmed the legalese, but it appeared to be just as profound as your own arguments, if not more so. And I wonder how many men in your situation would have chosen two women for support. 🙂

    1. It is interesting that you had Kate help you. It doesn’t appear that she has really searched the history and other aspects of the church like you have, nor has she expressed her concerns at discovering the truth. I wonder why she has not done the same search for truth as you have–and if she has why does she think it is ok? What is going on in her mind? She is a very intelligent and inquiring person–what has kept her from doing this kind of research? I would sincerely like to have an answer.

    2. hi i join Mormon in 2013 with one heart one soul in 1014 march things started changing but i said to myself this why i belong if you stay strong very strong indeed god will answer your problem not human being only the maker of even and earth close your door and ask kneel down open your heart soul to god do not leave anything behind let it go after you have finish praying Relax your and All the bad thinking wil disapear for good i had problem too with some members very very bad one and i stop going to church but meeting with missionaries then i ask myself i will not let them to step on my shoe so i will go conference in April

  4. Perhaps just a minor technical detail in that the church’s name begins with an uppercase ‘T’, i.e., The Church of …..

    Best of luck to you!

  5. With all respects, by your own words this is a foul organisation.

    Wouldn’t you be relieved, even grateful that they have already very publicly said you do not reflect their values?

    Leave, and leave their fetid patrician behind you.

    I can attest that once you remove yourself from the circus and get on with life outside of the Morg, life presents new meaning and direction, and all this drama looks like such pointless nonsense.

    You’ve already won, they’ve already lost. Your legacy remains, I can’t see what else you can gain

    1. It seems to me the only reason he’s doing this is to make sure that the church will no longer be able to hide behind the “it was a local decision” cop-out.

    2. I do not understand why you feel it is so important for Kate Kelly to have researched the history of moromonism in order to help John Dehlin prepare an appeal of the excommunication?

    3. Dear Boyd,
      Folks who are not raised in the Mormon cult do not understand how deeply embedded in you The hooks get so deeply imbedded in you that cult. I am not using the word cult in a negative way because I am not convinced that all religions are cults and have certain culture characteristics. I left Mormonism 20 years a go and I could not free myself and let it go until just this past year. I might also suggest that what ever you have been programed to believe that those hooks are deeply imbedded in you, so deep that it’s highly probable that if you tried to free yourself of some of the things that, if you are truly honest with yourself they have been programed into you; nonetheless they are man’s creation of a god that would be highly difficult to free yourself from, if you chose to free yourself from those ideals. When a religion raises a person in that religion the leaders of the religion need to be responsible and accountable for the man-made philosophies that end up ruining peoples lives. I am convinced that even your own religion has some man-made myths that do not serve the people to help them get in touch with their inner higher power. Even those who worship the man born 200 years ago and has had myths created about him and billions of people believe it.

  6. Best to you John and family. Even though I don’t know you personally, I have thought about you every day during the past few months. I feel a tinge of pain in my heart for what you have gone through and in my opinion you were treated unfairly by president king. You have done amazing work with mormon stories. I will be forever grateful to you for the fanuous podcasts and will continue to refer them to my friends who struggle to understand church issues and moreover receive little or no support from ward members and leaders regarding sensitive issues.

    1. i dont know if youre just being a troll, but unless youre perfect, you have no right to call anybody else to repentance. everybody has sins and mistakes for which to repent and to rectify. if you truly want john to come back because of christlike love, then express it in a loving way. otherwise, call yourself to repentance first, and once you cast out the beam in your eye, then worry about the fig in somebody else’s eye.

    2. Repent? John Dehlin should repent?
      For what?
      For searching for truth?
      For hosting televised discussions with thinking, introspective, intellectual people who question their own faith and teachings of the church?
      There was a time when people were burned for thinking the world was not flat. A time when “witches” were hung or burned. Aren’t we past that? Isn’t it 2015?
      The world wasn’t created 5 or 6 thousand years ago. Evolution is real.

      John Dehlin is a decent, sincere man of Faith. He should repent?

  7. The church is shooting itself in the foot and/or cutting off its nose to spite its face. After all the negative and medieval posturing, I suspect they may do away with excommunication altogether. Their actions show they operate from great fear. Ignoring dissent would be such a mature decision. Allowing it would be even better.

  8. “O, wonder!
    How many goodly creatures are there here!
    How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
    That has such people in’t!”
    ― William Shakespeare, The Tempest

    brave new world
    noun.

    1. A world or realm of radically transformed existence, especially one in which technological progress has both positive and negative results.

    2. A field, endeavor, or aspect of life that seems new and often intimidating because one is experiencing it for the first time.

    (seemed a propos)

  9. Brother Dehlin, If this is what you want to do you at least have warranted sympathy and support. Precisely because you have done much to leave the ninety-nine and go after the one and “rescue souls” (whatever form that ultimately takes for the individual, in or out of the church, according to the dictates of their own conscience).

    The institutional “church” should decide –NOW– how to confront a brave new reality: How to treat and deal with those who have legitimate concerns/questions/doubts/whatever-the-hell-they-want-to-call-it…in this month’s edition of their standard to the nations.

    What precedent of inconsistency and duplicity and caprice has been set? I have listened to 90% of these podcasts and I can say without equivocation that there are many, and I mean many, well-known if not prestigious members in good standing who hold (and have expressed herein) many of the same opinions and beliefs that you have stated and are, ostensibly, cause for your official expulsion. Not sort of the same; exactly_the_same. I don’t have to name names. Anyone who has listened knows to whom I am referring. Like you, they aren’t doing or saying these things in a corner. Will they now be similarly disciplined? Have they recanted and requested you remove those digital records? And good for them for doing it. Let them worship how, where, or what they may. The church should welcome this healthy robust mature dynamic and “investigator attitude” and “resist any kind of coercion used to secure uniformity of thought IN THE CHURCH.” (see Hugh B. Brown)

    Force their hand. Shine a light on it. Fight the good fight.

    “I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not have believed it myself.” ~ J.S. Jr.

    “If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven. What many people call sin is not sin; I do many things to break down superstition, and I will break it down.” ~ J.S. Jr.

  10. Good for you John, I think for the above reasons stated, you have every right to appeal. Good luck and best wishes for whatever you’d like to see have happen. Best to you and your family. Thank you for ALL you do.

  11. Appeal denied. But, take down your offending sites, Kowtow to us and in a year or so we will quietly reinstate you. Of course, none of the problems you have identified will be corrected or explained, but if you are faithful and pay your tithing you may yet qualify for the second anointing ..maybe…. Signed, the power tower.

    And you know, once you get that second anointing nothing we can do can ever again threaten your external exaltation… come to think of it why did you not get that before you opened your offending sites?

  12. John, you and your family deserve a far greater and more meaningful spiritual uplift in your rich lives, than the fraudulent entity that resides so imperiolistically within the confines of Temple Square.
    The Mormon culture can indeed be both endearing and bewitching in its appeal, but the brethrens serious lack in basic human kindness and Christ-like qualities, is devastating proof of the spiritual vaccum that resides within a counterfeit religion.
    Release yourselves completely from the false allure and misrepresentations of the Mormon church and culture, and let your own individual songs of freedom continue to enlighten and embolden those in the LDS world who desperately need it.

  13. Well put in your appeal ——- best wishes for your family!

    Remember whether inside or outside of Mormonism you really need to find God and get a personal relationship with Him!!!

  14. Why do you want to be a member still? Do you believe or do you not? If you are a believer in the church then you know that the General Authorities are the prophets, seers, and revelators of the church. That means they don’t change church policy or doctrine based on popular public opinion. They make/enforce policy as God reveals to them.

    You on the other hand seem to think that the church needs to change based on the way that society changes and in the process are kicking up a huge public fuss. If you were an honest seeker of truth you could discuss your questions with local leaders or higher ups in private and they could put all your questions at ease. Unfortunately, you seem to have personal opinions and thoughts on how the church should be ran however you have not been given authority to speak for the church. Opinions are great for politics but your opinion is not greater than Gods.

    1. Reply to Adam
      As an active member of the church myself, I’m grateful that I have seen many instances where the brethren have made policy changes and changes in church laws, because the people are ready or the times better suit the churchs ability to teach.
      I suggest you continue to (or as it seems more apparent to me ; began ) your own personal study of historical social changes and public events that lead apostles and past church presidents to be influenced to decide to take matters to the Lord.
      Starting with the doctrine and covenants, you should see that church presidents and apostles come to the lord with questions based on their current times, creating the relationship of revelation.

  15. Excellent document. I hope it serves the purpose you are hoping, and gives you a chance to get some validation and acknowledgement that LDS Inc. follows its own rules.

  16. John, It seems extremely unlikely that you win the appeal and your excommunication is reversed, but certainly that is within the realm of possibility. If that were to happen, what would you do? Would you and your family attempt to reintegrate into a ward? Would you actually attend meetings? Pay tithing? Hold a calling?

  17. John –

    I’m not really sure why you’ve decided to appeal the decision, unless you’re just trying to make a point and demonstrate that you’re willing to exhaust all avenues. If that’s what you’re after, go for it. Lawyer it up all you want. However, don’t expect any kind of reversal.

    Honestly, the Church has no interest whatsoever in the points of your claim and appeal. Your excommunication is not about whether they played by the rules or violated their own policies. It was a witch hunt, pure and simple, and they finally got what they wanted all along: the ability to dismiss everything you say and do, to ignore your arguments, roll their eyes at the harrowing personal stories you’ve shared with the world, and to force you to wear a scarlet letter that declares your apostasy.

    The primary reason they use excommunication is to shame the person who is going through it, and they expect you to suffer humiliation, and most importantly, to lose the respect of other members and intimidate those who dare speak truth to power. For these reasons, it is a most despicable, hate fueled, arrogant and un-Christlike act.

    I honor your sacrifice. I genuinely appreciate your long, hard road, and admire your courage and conviction. May it inspire others; indeed, may it inspire me to someday follow your path. Until that day, the Cult has me ensnared in its clutches, and I am ashamed of them, and myself for still being affiliated.

    Until then, in the immortal words of President Monson, “let’s go shopping!”

    God Bless.

    1. I could be wrong, but the way I read the appeal letter it doesn’t seem like John is really trying to have the excommunication revoked. The points he brings up might be logical and compelling to outsiders but they will actually merely serve to confirm the wisdom of the decision to the General Authorities.

      Successful appeals are full of contrition, not legal arguments as to how the proceedings were mishandled. In fact, the very act of arguing points of procedure only serves to prove how unrepentant and haughty the accused is. The truly penitent would apologize and beg forgiveness REGARDLESS of how poorly they were mistreated by local leaders.

      No, I strongly suspect that the main point of John’s appeal is to set the public record straight. He isn’t appealing because he has any expectation that the church will reverse the decision, he is appealing so the broader community understands how insane excommunications are (and John’s in particular). In short, the appeal is not intended for the church authorities, it is intended to help influence third parties like us.

      Or at least this is what I think the rationale for the appeal is.

      1. I am not a Mormon but I have followed the excommunication of these two heretics with amusement. Kate Kelly does not impress me. She demands the priesthood but condones the egregious practice of polygamy by Joseph Smith, his lying, and his infidelity to his wife. What a great feminist! She’ll be soon forgotten.

        Dehlin, on the other hand, is a more interesting character. Here’s a man who is really trying to be honest. For many years, he choose delusion over truth but his determination to be honest about the facts has finally lead him away from the Mormon church. But he’s conflicted. The appeal helps the Mormon Church more than it helps him. He comes off as angry and the Church can use that. Instead of being dragged out of the Church kicking and screaming, why not leave with a quiet conviction that you are leaving an organization founded on lies and deception?

      2. This is how I read it as well… The legalistic/logical language doesn’t strike me as an effective approach if the main goal is to keep his membership.

        It seems like the purpose of the appeal is to push the general authorities to take a public stand approving or disapproving of the local leaders’ decision. I think John sees this as a service to the church membership at large, because in the absence of a clear policy, local leaders’ actions regarding Ordain Women and public support for same-sex marriage have been inconsistent.

    2. Actually the main reason for the excommunication is to discredit the excommunicant in the eyes of the true believer. In that case no explanation is need just the announcement of excommunication. Like most “witch hunts” once the witch has been identified the outcome is certain and the righteous can go on smugly thinking that they were on the side the good.

  18. John,

    I want to thank you for all your efforts helping those who struggle with their faith. My daughter (20’s) was on her way out of the church until she found your blog. Thanks to you she continued attending sacrament meeting and serving others in a Christ-like way… until she found out you were excommunicated. Now she is confused and fearful that her own doubts will have her sitting in a room with a bunch of men in dark suits.
    Once again, the church is it’s own worst enemy. Fear and intimidation will never bring people to Christ.

  19. Yes, I agree with T. I know several people whom have felt the church was taking baby steps toward more inclusivity of people who struggle and have unorthodox opinions. Now with the excommunication of John and the manner in which Kate Kelly was excommunicated, many are feeling they can no longer identify with the church. I think members, esp. the younger generation, will continue to resign under the leaders current approach of sanctioning people who publicly doubt.

  20. This is a great document. Thank you for sharing it. I really really appreciate all the efforts you a making to try to make the church a better place. I realize this is taking a lot of time for you to write these documents, a lot of thought, and I appreciate it. If it wasn’t for your podcast (mormonstories.org), I think I would have seriously considered suicide while going through my faith crisis. It brought me so much love and understanding and empathy, and joy. It saved my life. While thinking about the struggles other members have and my own struggle with faith crisis, I think it is not unlike many of the feelings the Jews had during the Holocaust towards God (not to diminish the experience of the Jewish people- what they experienced was horrendous. I’m just saying there are similarities). Only, in our particular LDS case, the church leaders are like the Nazis, and the general membership are the Jews. Once you find out about the untruths being taught, the things being hidden, you feel like the church leaders have sold your soul for the sake of membership and maintaining institution. That’s why people in faith crisis doubt even the existence of God, the love of God. Because the church represented God to them. It’s a serious spiritual crime. The leaders need to respect our souls, and our right to the truth (after all, we give our entire selves, all our decisions, our time and hard earned money). I would much rather have a “weaker” church full of truth, rather have “weaker” leaders who can apologize fully for wrong doing. And in the end, that kind of church and that kind of leader turns out to be the strong kind. The lasting kind. ANyway, thanks John, and thanks to your family.

  21. John, you are the “best and brightest.” And unfortunately for the church, it is losing it’s “best and brightest.” You are the type of person the church should go to great effort to keep in the church.
    You know more about the doctrine, more about the problems withing the church, and could be a consultant in how the church could deal with the problems it is facing. The church is really at a turning point. The church is also facing crisis–a membership crisis. It is facing more of a crisis than its members who are having a crisis in their beliefs. Because if the “best and brightest” within the church are no longer believing the story, it seems the church should start wondering why. This is where your research would be valuable. The church should take note of your research as to why people are leaving the church and the problems within the church. The church has the idea that the church cannot change. But the history of the church, (at least, as the Mormons see it) is one of change. You see a series of major changes from the Old Testament, to the time of Jesus, to Joseph recycling his dream world background to form a new church. It is
    time for the church to recycle itself again.

    Thanks for your podcasts. Waiting for more.

      1. I totally agree, Robert, you can’t recycle lies, fraud and
        repetitive boredom.

        Thus in the recycling process, lies and fraud would drop out.
        And what would that leave?

        Not much that a reasoning person can accept.

        Left after the recycling process, I hope, would be love and creating the loving community. But the church today is so obsessed with proving Joseph Smith and the repetition of doctrine, that developing love and the loving community, the real reason and
        aim for the church (I think) is lost.

        I feel the church is so covered up, drowning, and lost in a world of repetitious words, when it should be creating positive pleasant experiences together in order to create love and the loving community.

        Thanks John, without your podcasts, we wouldn’t be having this kind of open dialogue.

      1. Thank you, got it! I think your case is strong, especially in that the High Council and Stake Presidency failed to follow procedural guidelines set forth in the Doctrine and Covenants. It will be interesting to see the outcome.

      2. Great, thanks–I can access it now. I think you have a good case, especially regarding procedure. It does indeed seem that the stake presidency and high council erred in this regard.

  22. John
    I just found your website 3 months ago. I am a paid subscriber and you are welcome to that contribution for your wonderful service. I have read, listened to and greatly appreciated the varied subject matter and authorship of so many well intentioned and studied people. Your podcasts are like a beacon and breath of fresh air to the whitewashed din and murky “correlated” teachings of the Church. What has touched my heart the most is the “shock” and realized “betrayal” so many church members have shared as a direct result of their desire simply to seek truth and understand the history of their faith. For the Church to violate the souls of its members and investigators in that most precious relationship of One with their Creator is unconscionable. There is no Church sponsored forum where the “active” LDS can engage in critical thinking, ask simple questions and explore accurate Church history. Depending on the decade in which we were exposed to the Church teachings we all have a little different version of the “Gospel.”
    John I applaud your concept with Mormon Stories. I applaud your desire to stand up for what you believe to be right and your eloquent written request for fairness, transparency and justness. Whatever the result of your appeal please realize that many people have, are and will continue to benefit from your efforts. My best to you and your family.

    1. resigned after 50years it has been like a grieving process. I hated when you said something slightly contraversial and eyes look down to their feet and there would be an awkward silence. I havent been able to pray since. I think i will be one of the ex members who become athiest, but you cant compromise your integrity. My love affair with Mormonism has ended.

  23. Best of luck John, to you and your family, as you make your way through this chapter. You’re an inspiration to me in how you’ve faced your own faith crisis and helped so many struggle through their own. Mormonism is better because of your work.

  24. I’m just going to say it, John. If people ask me why I left the church, I’d like to give credit to one of the statements of promise in the temple ceremony, “…the ability to discern between truth and error.” There you have it. I know you don’t claim to have a corner on the market of truth, but I believe you to be discerning and pointing out error and you are finding what “truth” is for your life. Best to you and your family.

  25. Hey John,

    Thanks for being willing to discuss issues over the years that most are too afraid to discuss.

    One nit-pick to the appeal letter you sent to the first presidency, however. Regarding your “right” to have half of the high counselors assigned to speak in your favor, you’re missing an important element in the basis of your claim. I would assume that, in fact, six of the high counselors were, indeed, assigned to speak in your favor. But the moments in which they are supposed to speak in your favor are not specifically during the part of your council when you are present. Normally, you first present your comments, answer questions from the presidency, high counselors, etc., then you are asked to leave the room. THEN (this is the important part), a sort of “debate” goes on, a dialogue between all present. This is when six advocate in your behalf and six advocate on behalf of the church or in the interest of the reputation of the church. Based on this, you naturally wouldn’t ever hear what the six in your behalf said on your behalf.

    Whether anyone actually did advocate for you is another question. Based on formal procedure, that certainly IS supposed to happen. Every council I’ve pariticpated on had indeed followed this process exactly as I just explained.

    At any rate, I’m just pointing out that your assumption that someone speak up in your behalf WHILE you are present is problematic since that’s not the way is really ever happens.

    Still, very best of luck to you and thank you for all of your hard work over the years.

  26. I believe the BIG 15 will affirm the “local” action and the excommunication will stand. I agree with John in that I would want that affirmation. It sets aside “this was a local matter” and codifies the entire episode into what it really was… Orchestrated by PR and legal departments with the oversight of the highest corporate church leaders.

    Affirming the excommunication says that if Tom, Hal and Dieter were the ones holding the council and the other 12 suits were sitting as the high council, they would have excommunicated John Dehlin.

    You see, the spirit cannot tell the First Presidency something different that it tells a local Stake President. (Especially when the two are coordinating with the spirit with the held of the PR and legal departments.

    Finally let me write this to John and to everyone who reads it and still believes in the God and Jesus Christ narrative. I was freed mentally and spiritually when I no longer aloud ANYONE in the Mormon church to come between me an my creator.

    I am more spiritual and less religious than ever. I KNOW that I am also MORE Christ-like than ever too.

  27. Thank you for sharing this. It’s odd to say that part of your process that is so painful for you and your family is providing comfort to me, but this appeal, it’s reasoning, quotes and points made are comforting. While I know God wants me in His church, there are times that I wonder if this church would want me if I voiced all of my doubts, questions and concerns. Your appeal answers this in the affirmative that you, and all of us, belong in this church in it’s best and highest form.
    I am a faithful member. I love God, I love Christ and I try to serve them faithfully and with the Spirit. But no one in my ward would suspect the inner turmoil and private pain I experience because of certain doctrines and history of the church. My spouse only knows a small portion of it, I have no friends that I can talk with openly about it. I have lived with it, stuffing it deep down for years and am finally allowing myself to feel my feelings and search out why certain things just do not feel right to me. While it feels healthy to do so, it is the most lonely and excruciating process I have gone through in my life. I have felt that same feeling that someone else spoke of, of being abandoned by the church to protect the 99. But I feel God’s great love for me throughout this whole process and I have faith that all of this will make me stronger and closer to Him, and it will allow me to help comfort others experiencing this similar process.
    Thank you for being part of the comforting part of my process with this and many of your podcasts. I hope that you and your family feel yourselves wrapped in the arms of our loving Father who loves you without beginning or end.

  28. Hi John,

    I did not have your email, so I thought I would comment.

    You provide many great reasons to doubt the Book of Mormon. I agree with you on your research, as I also have done a lot of research into the facts not supporting the validity of the Book of Mormon.

    With that said, I have been wondering why the fact of the timeline of Mayan civilization is not an issue with regard to the validity of the Book of Mormon. According to historians, the Mayan civilization started thousands of years before Lehi arrived with his sons, Nephi and Laman. So, how could the peoples who inhabited the “So-Called” new world be Laminites?

    Here is but one website that has the Mayan Civilization timeline:

    http://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/civil/maya/mmc09eng.shtml

    There it is: 2600 B.C. Maya civilization begins.

    Lehi and his son Laman did not arrive in the new worlds until around 600 to 650 B.C. so the Mayan people were already here in the new world, Mexico, two thousand years prior to Lehi’s arrival.

    Am I looking at this wrongly, or is this an issue?

  29. Thank you for sharing all of this John. You’ve made a big difference in my life. I’m not sure what the end result will be, but you and Mormon Stories have helped me let go of a lot of painful and dysfunctional personal beliefs. It feels strange to live without the certainty that I’m used to, but something had to give. I think that this restructuring process would have been a lot more destructive (and possibly fatal, in my anxious/depressive case) without you and Mormon Stories.

    The best to you and your family. Thank you for everything you’ve done.

    P.S. I can’t wait to read your dissertation. I read Dr. Finlayson-Fife’s and it was fantastic. I think yours will be as well. Please post if/when it is available for purchase.

  30. John
    The more I read about your thoughts and feelings about the church etc. the more I realize that I agree with you every single step of the way!!!! It is weird to me, but it is such a relief. It is like we have this intellectual and spiritual connection.(Even though I am a 65 mother of 4) It has been very lonely not to have anyone to talk with who really thinks like I do.
    It has been devastating to discover the truth. And lets face it, no one really understands–unless they have spent many years being a true believing mormon, devoted and loving and trusting the church and its people. They can’t really understand the pain and heartbreak of discovering that what you based your whole life on, all your choices and hopes and dreams — was based on lies. And then to have people despise and doubt you, thinking you have been influenced by evil–when you simply and honestly have only discovered facts—searched for truth–facts that they don’t know about– they probably would also be shocked to learn them. perhaps they would feel the same way we do.
    (I think people should look at the facts and make their own decision–not rely on other peoples interpretation of the facts)
    I have not withdrawn my membership–mainly because I don’t want the rejection of some of my family and friends.(But I am grateful to live out of the state of Utah.)
    If I had been excommunicated, I can’t imagine how horrible that would be–I would be deeply hurt– but I would not put any effort into getting back into the church–because I don’t believe it is true. I can understand how you feel, but I know that you will only find more judgement and pain if you were admitted back, because your ideas and opinions would ‘brand’ you and you wouldn’t fit in– and most people would consider you an evil influence on the church. You definitely would not be respected or appreciated. At best you would be pitied, despised and avoided. That’s just the way the church is.I can’t imagine how hard this is, but I do understand the process you’re going through of letting go of the church. I am still in it.I love your podcasts and they keep me sane.

    1. I don’t really think John is trying to have his membership re-instated. If that was his goal he would go about the appeal very differently (i.e. in private, with abject humility, accepting full “responsibility”).

      The very act of arguing the ex-communication on legal grounds (i.e. misapplied procedure, proving that his facts are true) is proof enough to Church leaders that he isn’t repentant.

      The only way John could have even the slightest chance of remaining a member is to apologize for everything he has said, take down his podcasts, and demonstrate his complete fealty to the leadership.

      I strongly suspect that John’s appeal is more of an exercise in setting the record straight for the public.

    2. Emma,

      I appreciate your comment. A couple of thoughts in response.

      It strikes me as profoundly ironic and disturbing that the same religious institution that elevates the family (to the point of eternal exaltation) routinely undermines it by its disingenuous manipulation of information about its past.

      People need to understand that this “families are forever” doctrine is just one of many superficial feel-good religious “hooks” that don’t bear the weight of careful scrutiny. Follow the logic of it – and the fallout of it – and it reveals itself as little more than a cost-beneficial strategy for perpetuating an institution.

      The appropriation family affections by institutions is neither new nor unique to Mormonism. Even for-profit corporations pull out the, “we’re all part of the Company X family” rhetoric when they want to increase profits. But Mormonism takes it to an extraordinary – and reprehensible – level by forcing the choice between consecrating your life to a “Church” and eternally severing you from your real family.

      This is not how the universe works, even if there is a god and an afterlife. So, best wishes living with your family in the intersections of a shared reality and with navigating around their delusions with sympathy and patience. I know how you feel.

  31. Hello John,

    I haven’t had a chance to post anything since the excommunication decision — for a while after that, your website was requiring people to log on in order to post, but I couldn’t figure out how to log on. Now it seems to be back to working the way it used to, so here goes…

    Back then, I wanted to say that I hoped it would be ok if I offered congratulations rather than condolences. I wanted to tell you that you were free now — you could publicly support whatever causes you believe in (Ordain Women, same sex marriage, etc), and you could do whatever you want with your podcasts, and you wouldn’t have to answer to LDS authority anymore. I thought you may need to mourn the loss for a while, but at least it was all over and you could move on…

    Then I find out you’re appealing the local decision, and effectively forcing the First Presidency to take a stand on this, and publicly as well, whether they like it or not. Major paradigm shift. So it’s not over yet…

    Now that I know you’ve decided to do this, I agree with David: “Give ’em hell, John”, and with Peglam — They’re shooting themselves in the foot public relations-wise. Doubting Thomas also reminded me of the way I felt before I resigned from the LDS church — I was tired of letting my religion interfere with my relationship with God (Whoever and Whatever That is, now that I’m no longer so certain that It’s a human male).

    I don’t suppose that you intended to make a test case of yourself when you started these podcasts, or that you expected it to come to this, at least not in the beginning. But thank you for having the courage to do what you’re doing (instead of just walking away like I did, and I freely admit to being a coward) — somebody had to do it.

    I do feel a little sorry for the First Presidency. Try as they might, I don’t think they’re going to be able to put the genie back in the bottle. It will be very interesting to see how they respond to your appeal.

    Others have speculated about what results you hope to achieve — get your membership reinstated, or force them to reveal their true colors in the public eye. Either way, it seems to me that some good will ultimately come of this one way or other, even though it may not seem that way at first. I hope that you will someday be able to look back on all this and realize that it was worth it.

    And I’m glad that you’re still producing these podcasts in the meantime — looking forward to listening to the latest one about the Community of Christ. Based on what little I already know about it, I have wondered if it could someday be an acceptable religious home for both me and my TBM husband, if he could just become convinced that Brigham Young wasn’t necessarily Joseph Smith’s rightful successor… whatever.

    Thanks again for all your good work,

    EDiL13
    (Elohim’s Daughter in Law)

  32. John-although you may be uncomfortable with this, you are my new hero. Although why you want to appeal your excommunication still puzzles me a bit. If I got a disciplinary letter I would respond with something like “go ahead make my day” if I bothered to respond at all. I’m loving life post Mormon.

    1. Nancy – The appeal is mostly about accountability. I want to make sure that the First Presidency is required to either reject or affirm the decision. That way it can never be dismissed as purely a local matter. That is the main reason for the appeal.

      1. Thanks John for the explanation. I too, never believed your excommunication was a local thing either. Nor Kate Kelly’s

  33. My Dearly beloved brother John

    While receiving therapy during a divorce crisis, I asked my therapist how she had me classified. Reluctantly she told me I had a rescuer’s complex. I am writing this to assert that, as I have considered your predicament, the symptoms reach further into the realms of psychosis than they ever have in my life before.

    I just got done dictating an audio recording on my digital recorder which I would like very much to send to you, at least so that someone on your staff could review it.

    A few years ago I was dis-fellowshiped and the bishop announced some details of my confession to him 5 days later in sacrament meeting. I felt inspired to visit with a friend who had been a member of a quorum of the 70. He sympathized with my case but after following his advice and talking to my stake president, who I consider to be a very inspired man as well as a close friend, I felt God tell me that I was receiving a great gift from my bishop and my stake president. I now treasure this communication in ways which are very hard to express in words.

    Later I moved to a different ward and the bishop there told me that I was forgiven and that I would feel the spirit a lot closer. At first I did not believe him but right after sacrament I found out that he was absolutely right. Words cannot describe how much I long for you to be able to experience the same thing even though you may be feeling as incredulous about the importance of that kind of thing as I was.

    I consider you more than capable of understanding how that last statement, tied into my rescuers complex is moving me to try to give you advice.

    Your opening comment,”Having now experienced the excommunication process…” only intensifies that desire even though you probably get 100 times more “advice” than the average bear would care to process.

    I have become sort of an addict to your videos since you were excommunicated. My testimony has taken a few bounces as I have boldly listened to all of the skeptics, but today it is very strong and I really would like to share some of my personal experiences which began when God spoke to me in a war setting and saved my life and many others.

    I read the transcript of the proceeding posted in the New York times and specifically, what I would like to do is to give you the opportunity to apply all of your psychological expertise to correspond with me a bit off line and determine the depth of my conviction that God is a God of love, based on as experience which changed my life forever in a way which goes far beyond what most people refer to as testimony (though I feel that I have experienced a good deal of that as well).

    I once had a conversation with a patriarch friend in which I shared my experience and he told me that I should share it with others.
    The spirit tells me this is the time to do that with you though I would like to do it over private email.

    On a more public note, I wish to say that I have a very close relative who joined the Church and left doubting a belief in God which he had since he was a child. I understand what you say about the 5 myths.

    The strength of my special experience affords me the freedom to explore both sides of any spiritual controversy without fear of being induced to doubt in a way which might jeopardize anything of eternal value. Furthermore, if fills me with a sense of deep pity for those who struggle with belief in God and do not enjoy the advantage of an experience which is not absolutely compelling as mine was.

    Had you not been excommunicated, I would never have become riveted to your cause the way I am now. I feel a very very profound dept of gratitude for that and so I feel that my otherwise indifference to your extreme commitment to reach out to Mormons going though a faith crisis is partly to blame (in God’s economy) for what happened to you.

    I therefore beg you to email me or have a member of your staff review what I think I have to offer.

    I perceive that while I hold Jesus as my redeemer, you still hold him as your exemplar, which is even harder. Furthermore, you seem to do this without having to be compelled in the least.

    I had an acquaintance who I admired who was excommunicated. I re-worded a hymn for him which the spirit tells me I can share with you, your staff etc.
    I do this mainly because I want to “lighten up a bit”
    I hope no one takes it too seriously:

    You’re not welcome, here this morning
    Since you gave us, such a scare.
    You’re not welcome, here this morning
    Said the tortus to the hare.
    Please don’t go beyond the brethren, when these men are, in reverse
    If you try too hard to teach us, we’l say you came to – fill your purse…

    (repeat – chorus)

    Luther, Joan and Galileo
    Spoke their minds when things were wrong
    Perhaps you’d like to joint this trio.
    In a few more weeks it’l be a throng.
    Knowledge makes our faith grow weaker.
    Truth seems nobler, when put down.
    We won’t let you, be our speaker
    The things you say might make us frown.

    This man then felt touched enough to share a bit more of his experience with me, saying that he had written a letter to an apostle which resulted in his being reinstated which would not have happened otherwise.

    In closing, all I will say is that even if you insist on shooting yourself in the foot, I will still love you with all my heart as I believe that the real enemy is the arch deceiver who works through tradition, social convenience, sophistry as well as hardness of heart which blind men from perceiving clearly the mysteries of God (Alma 42)
    This hardness and blindness is induced by highly complex situations which he orchestrates with extraordinary experience and skill in the craft of subtle deception.

    I believe with all my heart that you and I and many other valiant spirits fought together to defeat him once and we can do it again. This belief is strengthened greatly as I contemplate the quality of service you show in fighting valiantly against subtle deceptions which hamper, to a large degree, the overall effectiveness of servants of God that you and I love.

    I am quite willing to share more of what I consider to be the assets of my personal experience, but I would prefer to co-ordinate with you or your staff first via email first.

    I am so glad you want to appeal and I sincerely hope it can be done for reasons that we all can agree with, for I am convinced that we cannot win this highly sophisticated battle for the souls of men without a strong and very sincere sense of unity.

    Just as I love my priesthood leaders for being servants of Jesus, I feel to love you even more for having the unflinching courage to follow his example of love. But please remember, we are all in this together. I really am only asking for you to seek enough divine wisdom to make the bullets count.

    I also hope that the things we do on line like this, will count, in the collective, to induce casual readers to long for the kinds of things members of the Church treasure which, even though we may rightfully object to hearing vain sounding repetitions of “I know this is the only true church” still admits the possibility that it might be stated in a way which resonates with our deep feelings that this somewhat indescribable collective of things of great value cannot be found anywhere else and which, when combined with the pure love of Christ bring forth a result which is both ineffable and highly contagious…

    What else could account for the fact that the crisis of faith for Mormons should be so much more pronounced.
    Yes, many do find happiness after leaving, but for those of us who are highly analytical the risk of simply trying to let go of it all does not always seem that inviting.

    It therefore seems that the quest to attain a state of peace within a context where it seems worthwhile to contemplate the notion of a fulfillment of a long promised restoration with enough credulity to at least keep the dialogue alive, would seem to be a worthy goal.

    Though, understanding the need your church leaders may have felt to act protect those they feel responsible for. I see absolutely no need to take issue with any of the things which brought your activities to their attention. I just hope that even though we would like to believe in a world where the needs of thoughtless followers do not need to be taken into account. Many of these kinds of followers manage to do a pretty good job of parenting and loving and if local leaders find you a threat, they have a right, perhaps even an obligation to protect. This is something we can hardly expect the first presidency to take away from them, for any organisation which does not delegate authority along with responsibility is not likely to do a very good job of anything. Some day, in your career, you may be asked to give therapy to individuals pressed with these kinds of concerns. Perhaps then you will be able to understand that the true cause of the brutality you are experiencing now stems more from the followers than from the leaders.

    Having been through enough of what I imagine you must be feeling now to feel great sympathy for the burden of irony you must be bearing, I pledge to do all I can to help the assist you in what I believe to be the cause of the Source of divine wisdom and love that saved my life – to find appropriate expression in the cause you have so unflinchingly chosen to embrace.

    Very Sincerely yours
    Rick

    1. You said a lot about what you think I don’t think you’re really listening to John nor valuing or respecting what he he believes

  34. Thank you so much, John, for trying to make a place for Mormons of all beliefs and convictions in the Church. I respect and admire you and your family.

  35. “How can Mormons in good conscious sit by and let their brothers and sisters get punished for that which Joseph Smith himself declared to be something which should not be done? Another reminder from Joseph Smith, this time from the Doctrine & Covenants:

    We have learned by sad experience that it is the natureand disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. (ref)”

    The above is an excerpt of my thoughts about John’s excommunication and others’.

    https://alotlikelaman.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/response-to-whered-everybody-go-by-pure-mormonism/

  36. Emma

    I want you to know that I feel very indebted to John for his courage.
    though my mind does not agree with some of his conclusions, my heart is with him to the point that I am quite willing to listen and learn.

    I happen to be a war vet and as such I tend to be analytical when confronting things which seem to be of great import. If I tend to be long winded it may be because my experience tends to support that which comes right before that which was just sited.

    D&C 121:33 How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.

    I typed what I did about 3am because I could not sleep thinking about John.

    I meant to say Alma 12, not Alma 42

    Your comment sent me looking around a bit more and I discovered that the “acquaintance” mentioned turns out to be one of the Sep6. I was in his ward and knew him and his family a year or so before when he was still held in high esteem, having a Hugh Nibley enforcement for the book that got him in trouble because, according to him, he had the gall to suggest that BYU football enthusiasm was out of harmony with the spirit of the book of Isaiah. I got so upset when he was excommunication that I finally got out my hymnbook and did a mod to “Welcome Welcome Sabbath Morning”

    I live in Mexico and when I ride the bus an look at all the faces my heart yearns that they might have the chance to ponder the purpose of life while drinking from the pure source of I feel I inherited when I joined the Church. If it seems presumptuous for me suppose that I can put into words the things John strongly affirms he feels about his heritage then all I can say that I believe that space should be created somewhere so that this can happen and I would like to coordinate the creation of such a space with John or someone who understands him well.

    Though John observes that when some leave the Church, they do so as a result of a communication from God… I have no problem with that as I remember that when I joined, I was warned quite firmly not to buy into the social structure – even though, for some reason I always seem to get along quite well with stake patriarchs.

    I expect to have a web page soon, as I feel I have a river full of knowledge to contribute which does not quite fit in with the mainstream CES curriculum which seems to be the source of John’s distancing from the church.

    I have an uncle who was director of curriculum for a protestant seminary which trained pastors. Shortly after I became LDS he sent me a book by the Tanners and I sent him a bunch of letters in return which my non LDS mother told me were well received and read with careful interest.

    If there is anything that particularly intrigues me about John is his experience with the folks at Fair Mormon and FARMS – so I would like to make a deal. If I can find a close associate of John’s who will respect that which I am over anxious to add to the dialogue, I promise to do my very very best to not come across like any of them.

    I believe in his presentation about the “5 Myths” this lack of cordiality on their part was singled out as one of the most obvious things that could be done on the part of regular members to relieve the suffering of saints in transition.

    So I want to be very sensitive to any lack of sensitivity on my part The main problem I see is that I will be deemed as arrogant for suggesting I might have a perspective which could meaningfully supplement these commonly sought out apologist’s resources.

    While most seem to be scouring the wonderful web for ammunition to protect either ego or hurt. I think it would important to process the glut of information of information on the web in a manner which champions the “uncontaminated adult” proposed as the model for good mental heath by Thomas A Harris, author of “I’m OK, You’re Ok”- a book about “transactional analysis” from the 60s which I think might have significant implications about how we use the web.

    Is anybody “OK” with that?

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