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  1. What a great interview. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I could relate to so many things that you said Peter. I find myself firmly in the NOM camp, and also, many times, I feel dishonest with myself in my relationship with the church (I am no longer a literal believer, though I do attend). Overall are you glad you decided to stand up in this way? Or I guess what I am asking is do you feel more at peace now with all that has happened since you wrote the letter? I greatly admire you for expressing your feelings and being honest with yourself. Maybe you could also expound on how you think history will view the church’s stance on homosexuality. I personally feel history will view the church’s stance on homosexuality, gay marriage, etc as on of the dark episodes. Mostly a time where the doctrine was influenced by culture and bias instead of the divine. I could go on, but any response you have would be appreciated.
    Thanks John D again for bringing this back. I believe you do a lot of good for a lot of people. Thanks again.

  2. Sorry – Posted the question after only listening to part two – You may already answer the questions in the subsequent episodes. Any expounding would be great. Also, the music so far has been outstanding.

  3. A wonderful interview. So nice to hear an in depth conversation with such articulate sincere people. Well done John, Mary and Peter! I think this podcast ranks right next to John’s “Why people leave.” Podcast in terms of being so enlightening about what we go through in our lives and relationships when we come to a crisis of faith. I hope to hear more from the Danzig’s in the future. Like John, I think they both have a real gift for communicating the things that matter so much, and a gift of bringing comfort and understanding. It was especially nice to hear the positive things that are on the other side of that crisis that they and so many of us have gone through. There truly is good everywhere and people are not naturally wicked. I loved Mary’s comments about how she has become so much more open to all the great things in the world that Mormonism’s narrow focus keeps us from seeing sometimes. I don’t remember her exact words but I will be listening to this again for sure. Congratulations all.

  4. Peter and Mary, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. John, thank you for facilitating. I love Mormon Stories and I am so glad it is back.

    I did have a couple questions for Peter and I am not sure if you would be able to answer it here, but I was wondering how/when you lost your testimony of Jesus Christ? In the podcast you spoke of no longer having a “literal belief”. Would you mind exponding on that? Was this in reference to “the Church” or did it include Jesus Christ? Was there an event or was it just a progression? Did your loss of testimony in Jesus Christ coincide with your departure from the Church or was it a different process altogether?

    Thanks again for your willingness to share your journey with us.

  5. Great interview. Thanks to the Danzigs for sharing with us.

    Just a note for John, I myself am troubled by the treatment of homosexuality and homosexuals in the Church and consider it to be as worthy of consideration as any other issue. I’m more of a traditional believer than a NOM, but I agree with Peter when he says that we’re largely uninformed about the issue, and I wish more people understood the heart-wrenching stories of homosexuals in the Church.

  6. Great interview!

    Homosexuality needs definetely more attention in the church.
    It just breaks my heart to think what these people have to go through.

    I dont understand how many people in and outside the church still has a very naive look on homosexuality by stating that these people chose to be homosexuals. Why would someone choose to be homosexual knowing all the trouble that it brings? Thinking about homosexuals for example in Iran where they face death penalty for homosexuality. Why would you ever just choose to be homosexual if you know that you can be executed for that?

    We need to accept people and show true love to everybody.

  7. Thank you Peter, Mary and John for this interview.

    I was very moved by your sincerity and humility. Sadly, I’ve for many years been a very prejudiced member, but no more. Your story (and other like it) have made me turn completely on my view of homosexuals. I’m still an active member (albeit with many issues), I will try to be an influence for less prejudice, more tolerance and love hence forth.

    Peter and Mary, I admire your courage, strength and morals. Keep up the good works, you are a source of inspiration for me!

  8. John,
    I enjoyed the interview with the Danzigs but as the conversation progressed I found myself being less and less sympathetic of them as they continually justified their ill-conceived decisions.
    Mr. Danzig stated in his Tribune letter-to-the-editor, that he “was troubled that my church requested I violate my own conscience to write in support of an amendment I feel is contrary to the constitution and to the gospel of Christ.”
    My interpretation of the LDS letter was quite the opposite. The church never stated which side to support but to merely write an opinion, pro or con, which I did.
    As a Mormon, sympathetic to gay rights, I say Peter, one can better influence change in the church than out.

  9. John — Thanks for bringing this back. I just love it.

    Peter and Mary — Thank you for the beautiful music and for sharing your story. As someone who grew up in the church (and still attends in his best impression of the John Dehlin mold) I used to be very afraid and judgmental when it came to “ex-mormons” or “apostates” or whatever. I’m sure you know what I mean. But with podcasts like these, we can hear real people — good people — kind people — sincere people — happy people — and maybe, hopefully, start to shed that fear. Instead of relying on gross overblown steroetypes of horrible people leaving the church, we can hear genuine honest people and start to empathize. I feel a lot better about that. Keep going John — keep stripping away all that unneccessary fear that leads to the anger and the hurt and all the unpleasantness. Thanks again Mary and Peter for sharing your talents and experiences and I wish you all the best.

  10. One final note, it’s really sad when you resort to insults on the Primary…that’s just pathetic (With a church staffed by volunteers, it’s up to each of us to make it better. An assault on a church program is an assault on oneself…Mary weren’t you a counselor?).
    This is typically of malcontents who play the role of martyrs; they just can’t leave the church alone…..no matter what. Richard Bushman said it best of this group, “All these people working out their problems with the church, ….chewing away at some issue that troubles them… it just tires me out,”. Thank you Richard, it tires us all out.

    John, I’m worried that you’re straying from your recent promise to diversify your interviews. Let’s look for the potential in Mormonism, its highs and lows, not the brooding minutia of member’s insignificant paradoxical hang-ups. When the spirit withdraws everything is impossible.

  11. John,

    When you censor legitimate responses to podcasts, it devalues the worth of this site. You complain about the church limiting first ammendment rights; well look in the mirror.

  12. John made a great point about homosexuality in the church not being a top issue for many of the more progressive LDS. If you gave me a list of favorite topics to discuss it would be polygamy/Patriarchy, blacks and the Priesthood, and Mormon changing doctrine.

    I voted against Prop 8 but felt very uncomfortable supporting gay marriage in the open. Peter and Mary have inspired me to get more openly involved with the political side of this issue, and to speak up when I hear someone repeating myths and bigoted remarks about homosexuals. Their words really resonated with me.

    Thank you Peter and Mary. 🙂
    Best podcast I’ve heard yet.

  13. I also want to add that it was great to hear of Peter and Mary’s experiences in other churches.
    Having only attended the LDS services my entire life, it’s a little scary to think of another church. I’m a “NOM” now, but it’s still easy to think the LDS church has the best programs for kids and service opportunities when that’s all I know.
    It gives me hope that if something happened and I was forced to resign, that I can find wonderful programs for my children in other faiths.

    I had gone inactive for a short time, and know what Peter and Mary are saying about feeling free to serve. I gave more of myself and money to causes I was passionate about having been free of the church’s demands during that time. I was also free from the micromanaging that exists whenever the church conducts a service project. It was a great feeling to choose how and where I would share my talents.

  14. John M.

    You asked about my testimony of Jesus. I spoke of no longer having a “literal belief.” By this I meant that I no longer believed in Mormonism as a “factual” system. I still found great meaning in many of the teachings, and indeed, I often laugh as I think it is my deeply ingrained, very Mormon beliefs that led me to take the stance I have.

    So, to answer your question, once I could no longer believe in the “facts” of the Mormon religion, I also did not believe in a factual “death and resurrection” of Jesus, nor did I believe in his role as a specific redeemer for all mankind. This has not diminished my admiration for him as a spiritual teacher. I deeply value the image of Jesus sacrifice as a symbol for atonement. However, I believe atonement is process we all participate in, every time we willingly sacrifice our comfort because of our love for or compassion for another. When we willingly live our lives, or are willing to give them up, rather than do violence to others, when we “mourn with those who mourn,” “bear one another’s burdens” and “lift up the hands that hang down” I believe we participate in the work of atonement. I believe the work of healing belongs to all of us, not just to one individual. In this sense, I still deeply value the covenants I made to practice these values.

    I have become wary of any system that teaches of a perfected being, or elevates one person above another. In this way I am wary of Jesus as divine. However, (Probably another of my very Mormon beliefs) I believe in the inherent divinity within each of us. If each of us is a “Child of God” (however we may construe that) then each of us carries the name of god within us and can act in the name of god. Thus I am mistrustful of systems that elevate one person (a priesthood holder for instance) over another.

    Also, my study of Judaism helped me see Jesus as a Jewish mystic. So, my love of what he taught fits very well within the Jewish paradigm as the teachings were Jewish to begin with.

  15. Dear Living and Learning,

    I am not sure how we insulted the primary… I don’t think that was ever our intent so if you would like to point it out to me, I would like to look at what I said and reevaluate it. My intention has never been to be insulting, although sometimes I have been direct about what I think. I’d love to correspond more with you if you like and very much appreciate your feedback. Mary and I have tried hard to be very respectful of the church in our activism and our discussions. I have spent most of my life serving faithfully in the LDS church, but I don’t deny I have deep issues with the church. Experiencing the devastating effects of ecclesiastical abuse on my father and family as a child left me with some pretty severe trust and anxiety issues. Hearing story after story of mistreatment (generally unintentional) of vulnerable individuals by their priesthood leaders also had a deep and lasting impact as well.

    Ultimately I determined I could not make significant enough change from inside of the church. The price for my continued involvement was silence about the abuse I had witnessed. I have many dear friends and family who continue to work to change the church by participating in it. I did not feel I personally could do so honestly unless I was free to voice my concerns so I left and have continued to work for change from the outside. I deeply value those who stay and work for change, and hope you will continue to have a positive impact in your own realm of influence.

    Your sentiments about the church’s request for us to write our senators echo the statement the LDS church released in response to the story about us in the tribune as well as advice towards the end of my discipline from my Bishop. For the first months of discipline none of the leaders I talked with ever questioned my assumption that the LDS church intended to ask me to write in support (rather than merely voicing my opinion) of the federal marriage amendment. I personally think that request (worded the way it was) was somewhat ambiguous but clearly implied that we were to write in support. Reasonable people seem to come to different conclusions on this particular issue. I think in light of the LDS campaign to support Proposition 8, the evidence somewhat vindicates my interpretation of the request but I can understand how you think differently.

  16. To all…

    Thank you so much for listening. Our greatest hope is that members of the LDS church who understand this issue begin educating others about it. I think there is a lot more space inside the LDS church for individual conscience on this issue than there was 2-3 years ago. I have many friends who are still members who have been hard at work advocating, and educating within the confines of the LDS church who face no discipline. That is perhaps one positive effect of Proposition 8. I am hoping those who still have a stake in the institution of the LDS church will continue to work on this issue. I want to get back to what I think I do best, making music. So, when I read comments such as those made by Porter Rockwell and Flor, I am thrilled.


    Thanks for talking about your fear of finding another church. It does feel a little scary and a little foreign at first, but most of the churches I have explored have vibrant programs for their children and are generally more thoughtful about integrating the children in their congregation into worship. What I particularly love about the congregations we worship in is that there is still a sense of calling, but individuals are free to volunteer where they feel most successful and capable. Individuals are free to see a need and fill it or to have unique ideas about how to serve that they are able to bring to the table, and most importantly, inspiration about how to serve lies with the individual, not the authority. It is very empowering. I don’t know if it is a model that would fit everyone, but it is a model that fits for us quite well.

    On the flip side, I have noticed that many congregations value their former Mormon congregants because they tend to be more likely to volunteer. I think former Mormons are used to working hard at religion and are more likely to view themselves as responsible for co-creating a worship experience and less likely to view themselves as spectators at church. This attitude, along with the creation of strong community ties are one of the great strengths of the LDS church.

  17. Pingback: “Hi, my name is Mary Danzig and I’m an Ex Mormon.”

  18. DearLivingAndLearning:
    As a long time still active primary worker on both Stake and ward levels I can assure you that the Primary Program is very lacking in meeting the needs of the children. Many lessons are written either way above or way below the level of the children in the age group; After 70 minutes of Sac. Mtg, the sharing time for the children is long and boring and out of line with all educational guidelines for effective programs for young children. Primary time is way to long and is probably one of the reason we are hemorrhaging youth as we begin losing them by 11 years old. Most children are asking when can we go home long before the 3 hour marathon block is over. They go home hungry, tired, often bored and that’s what the remember about church during the week.

  19. At about 4:15 Mary talks about not wanting to be in a church where the leaders act so contrary to the idea that we love everyone.

    I have always thought the church protected itself from the scripture, “By their fruits ye shall know them,” by saying, “The church is perfect, but the people are not.” This kind of double bind is confusing, until one realizes that eventually there is too much evidence from the behavior of leaders that their “fruit” is not too good.

    Jesus doesnt excommunicate people.

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