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  1. Mission accomplished: “Let that be a lesson to all of you, we are watching you, we will scrutinise you, we will interrogate you, we will decide your worthiness”

    1. John, in several of your interviews you choose to wear a Nike hat.
      Is this a veiled reference to you having given up on Mormonism and taken up with the CHURCH OF NIKE?
      I, personally find the worship if Nike distracting given the corruption cause in my home state of Oregon.
      I guess you can wear the hat backwards and I’d be less offended.
      Thanks for hearing me out,

      Sincerely, Gabby

  2. I am SHOCKED that this was the outcome! Although if it were me in the hot seat, I would have told him that he was affecting my testimony by being such a jerk to me. Where do they find those guys? Sheesh!

  3. I enjoyed the first part of the podcast and could empathize with their feelings about the church, their families, and their change in faith. The second part left me feeling uneasy. The Ricks seem to be calling for a change in the church that would allow members to be informed about the history of the church unfiltered (which is good), but then have the church give them space for doubts or disbelief without negative consequences (also good). My problem with that idea is that I find it hard to believe that the church would allow its members to openly talk about Joseph Smith’s wives or past with treasure hunting in an open and honest setting. I feel that the church does ask for an unquestioning faith/obedience in its leadership past and present that would be incompatible with a complete revelation of church history facts for many church members.

    Some of the facts that I have learned about church history have made it impossible for me to say that the church is “true”. I don’t understand the need to help the church maintain its membership if the basis for its teachings isn’t what it has claimed to be. The church does have an interesting cultural and historical role, but why help preserve the church’s membership when the church has tried to hide facts about its founder(s), scriptures, revelations, etc.? I didn’t make up this quote but I do love it: the good things in the church are not unique, and the unique things in the church are not good.

    1. I really agree with this. I in now way think members who don’t believe should help keep membership in the church or “change it.” If something is not true, if its beginnings are a fraud, and you believe that, you should move on to the beauty outside. It is not your job to sustain an organization based on faulty roots. I think back to the teens that had to marry these old stake presidents and such and what all was going on.

      Yes, the church may have developed some good traits and might be a positive influence in some lives, but it is hardly unique in that way. I am still amazed occasionally on just how much my outlook has changed since my days as a believing member. I used to sit back and judge the world, not interested in helping it. It’s the most wicked of times, after all, right? And it has to be to usher in the second coming, right? So let it. Hell, hope for it, right? That was my view as a member. Just help my own. Now I see a world I can affect, and want to affect. I see a world that will be around for some time, and I want it to be better than when I got here. I want my kids to make it better than when they got here.

      If you don’t believe, move on and help the world at large. Don’t waste your time on a fraudulent organization that doesn’t even want your help. And don’t use this “stay and change it” mentality because you are too scared to step away. There are a million great causes to engage your time in. Causes that do want your help and people that need it.

      1. I certainly understand the perspective of some who find inconsistencies in the Church or its history vs. how it portrays itself and because of those issues or changes to doctrinal stances or a myriad of other reasons lose faith and decide to leave the Church and its community. Yet, I take issue with those who seem to deride those who choose to stay and make dramatic statements condemning people who find value in the LDS faith, theology, community.

        Part of the reason the LDS Church is such a target for criticism is its youth. Few critics of the LDS Church apply the same elements of historical analysis and view of changes over time and scrutiny of the personal lives of the principle proponents to other Christian denominations, or religious movements, or philosophers, founders of mental health schools of theory, or scientific theories over time. The Roman Catholic church surely has had its critics but its formation was not in recent history and thus documents and histories of those events are more difficult to uncover.

        Many find value in the theology and culture of the LDS Church regardless of historicity. Let them be without condemnation. If you have to condemn, then please, state your belief system for full disclosure and apply the same scrutiny to your belief system and its history.

        I am not saying LDS Church should not be responsible for problems and issues. Just that its easy to condemn without full disclosure and use of the same deconstructive tools on your own belief systems.

        1. I think, that when you say that there are many ex Mormons that “condemn” members for staying in the face of all the facts calling attention to the fundamental truth claims of the Church, you miss the point. I for one don’t “condemn” any Mormon member for staying in the fold, but I do condemn the Mormon Church for its long standing policy to hide difficult matters from the faithful, and its all too powerful impact on the body politic of the state and nation. Do you not wonder how those right wing nut cases in Oregon found a moral and political basis for their law breaking? One Mormon scofflaw up there actually referred to himself as Captain Moroni. It is no accident that the Church is dominated by extreme right wing ideology. One just needs to review the life of Ezra Taft Benson to learn how that happened.

          In fairness, the Church called out those scofflaws to leave, but in my opinion they, as with many other difficult historical issues, are now reaping the whirlwind from a wind that they sewed.

        2. I grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist, but am no longer active. The SDA church, like the LDS church, had its origins in New York in the 19th century. Unlike the Joseph Smith, the Adventist “prophet,” Ellen White, didn’t practice plural marriage, didn’t consistently lie to her spouse, was never arrested for fraudulent behavior, didn’t seek to establish a theocracy within the United States, etc. If Mormonism comes in for greater scrutiny, and criticism, it isn’t because its history is somehow more recent than other denominations. It’s that Joseph Smith was a far, far more controversial character.

      2. Yes the judgment. I agree, after I left I realised how judgemental I was when I thought I was being true. It’s unbelievable the reality that can come out of just not believing some this you thought was true. Your world view is forever changed that it’s incomprehensible to go back.

    2.  “I don’t understand the need to help the church maintain its membership if the basis for its teachings isn’t what it has claimed to be.”

      I was pretty clear during the DC that while I am not trying to make people leave the church, I’m also supportive of people who decide to leave.

      The reality is that some people find themselves unable to leave the church, even if they lose their belief. Family, work, community, or other issues may make leaving impractical. So I do believe that church leaders and members would benefit from more training in how to handle these situations in a sensitive way.

      1. “The reality is that some people find themselves unable to leave the church, even if they lose their belief. Family, work, community, or other issues may make leaving impractical. So I do believe that church leaders and members would benefit from more training in how to handle these situations in a sensitive way.”

        I understand what you are trying to say, but for individuals who decide that they cannot leave the church, trying to pretend that they can or should keep their membership with the church no matter what statements that they make would be naive. In your situation, you were stating historical facts that people didn’t like you making. It didn’t sound as if you were making statements about the validity of the church. But for individuals who are trying to maintain their membership in the church, the church has decided that the price for that membership is not making statements about it that the church considered heretical. (Or statements that the members of their priesthood consider heretical.) You and your wife were saying that the church should be better able to deal with members who have lost their belief or faith. Maybe it will counsel the priesthood leaders to be more sensitive, but it won’t ever come to the point where doubting members are going to be able to make negative statements about the validity of the church and its authority in public settings without possible repercussions.

        1. So true, and such a shame. When Pope John Paul II died, I was living in Seattle, Washington. A local radio station interviewed a number of Catholics about what they hoped to see in the next pope. As a TBM, I was amazed at the kind of constructive but also critical dialogue Catholics were having about the past and future of their religion. In my mind, I thought what a wonderful thing it was that Mormons don’t have to think about any of that stuff; we just let God speak and we listen. My viewpoint is a lot more nuanced now; I would love for the church to get to the point where members could engage in that kind of dialogue without the Church feeling threatened and conducting a witch hunt. Unfortunately, the top-down nature of the Church makes serious dialogue impossible, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

    3. I noticed in my ward how gossip and critical people can be when other members have different view or beliefs. I feel bad hearing that its the devil or Satan that is directing them. That they are dark people. The sad thing is that these members don’t even know they are becoming like targets of mean gossip. I don’t think this family believes either, I think they go just for the social thing. (I get it)

      I also don’t believe in the church , same reasons as you. The history and how secretive the church is. And the big thing for me the people are so judgmental. Not forgiving….. Kind of sad.

      I plan on removing my records. Still working on it.

  4. “The chief function of propaganda is to convince the masses, who slowness of understanding needs to be given time in order that they may absorb information; and only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea on their mind………the slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula. The one will be rewarded by the surprising and almost incredible results that such a personal policy secures.” – Adolf Hitler from “Mein Kampf”

    Members turning other members ‘in’, ‘disciplinary counsels’, ‘information control’, ‘inability to critique leaders, ‘inability to share personal opinions freely’….this is very Nazi Germany.

  5. Excellent podcast. Just one question. What state do you live in that allows you to have the right to record the excommunication court?

  6. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Stake President. I imagine there will be many discussions with church leaders about this court because it is being made public. Something interesting to watch.

    It would also be interesting to follow the members of the high council to see if any of them go,down the rabbit hole.

    I discussed with a former high counselor friend his dissatisfaction about a church court that, in part, led him down the rabbit hole. We had this discussion at one of the Mormon Transitions Face to Face group Meet-ups.

    This type of interview helps shed light on a very controlling closed system that is the church. Keep these type of interviews coming.

  7. I admire Jake and Hannah’s desire to steer public scrutiny away from their stake leadership while desiring to help the stake grapple with the flood of new information about church history. Hannah’s parents as pot-growing hippies! I’d want to hug them for that fact alone.

    Why the Ricks were blessed with a kind, thoughtful stake president instead of one of the hanging judges in the group is an intriguing question. When this story makes its way higher up the food chain, it would be interesting to know if the stake president ends up receiving correction from more senior hanging judges.

    When a couple in our stake was ratted out for getting rebaptized in the Snuffer tradition the stake president consulted with other stake presidents and Salt Lake and was told by a senior hanging judge that excommunication was the only path forward. That was too bad because the stake president was an adult convert to Mormonism who humbly found the gospel fresh and invigorating. Denying the accused any opportunity to speak on their own behalf while condemning them to hell was probably as hard on him as it was on the couple. D&C 121 suggests that it wasn’t a good moment for his priesthood, either.

    1. Great information, Jake. Several accounts of high-profile disciplinary councils, I believe including John’s, include church leaders forbidding the accused from recording the proceedings. If that took place outside any of the 18 states and the District of Columbia covered by wiretapping statutes requiring all parties to be notified of recording, instead of attempting to enforce federal and state law, the church leaders would simply have been exercising more compulsion and dominion. Dear Jesus, the shepherds are running amok.

  8. Jake and Hannah,

    Thanks for being willing to share your story. I was surprised how much your exit story paralleled my own. BIC, RM (and had the exact same reaction to the irreverence in MTC as Jake), temple married 10 years in a great marriage, moved from a very inclusive ward with a lot of friends to a ward in the midwest that wasn’t as welcoming, etc. I found the CES letter in February of 2014, went through the loss of faith and the existential crisis that followed, and somehow have survived it all.

    I was never threatened with discipline, but did reach out directly to my Stake President and specifically asked him to make the stake a more welcoming place for unbelievers and to at least locally recognize (even if Church HQ wouldn’t) that there are massive historical problems and that it would benefit everyone to accept and be open about the historical issues and not judge or feel threatened by those who leave or reduce activity as a result of the historical issues.

    I ended up losing priesthood roulette on that one, and ultimately had my name removed when I realized there was not going to be room for doubters or for reasonable discussion of the historical issues in my stake.

    Best of luck to you both, and hope you’re able to make the best of your Stake President’s apparent openness.

  9. What is apparent to me is that the Stake President “handled” the situation in a way to keep Jake and Hannah on his side. He diffused it. Controlling the proceedings emotionally to lessen the likelihood that the Ricks would release the tape and inviting them to “assist” him using their study and trigger issues to help others. It also allows those in leadership positions to get a closer look at where Jake and Hannah really stand. Anyone who has been active in the Church knows that no Stake President can set up classes or discussions especially about whitewashed Church History that have not undergone scrutiny and approval by the Correlation Committee. Look at the ambiguous Church Essays released and how they are buried. I am surprised that the Ricks did not question this. Also the outcome only tells me that the Court is postponing the inevitable until they can be better prepared. That Bishop is not going to let it go. Sorry but I just see a smart Stake President who knows people crossing problematic no wins off his Calendar.

    1. I can see how you might come to that conclusion based on the information you have. However, having been present and interacted with him I firmly believe he was sincere. You may disagree, but your disagreement would be based on limited information. Sometimes people are trying to do their best without a hidden motive — even Mormons.

  10. I think there is one other reason that was not mentioned for why Jake Ricks’ posts were so threatening to his bishop and stake president. Alerting members to even the idea that there is more to the story is what leads members to question and leave. These little tidbits of information, I believe, are the most dangerous things for the mormon church losing members.

    This bishop and stake president are fully aware that the small amount of info Mr. Ricks mentioned in his Facebook posts could not make someone leave the church upon reading them. They know members can and will come to their own conclusions. Small bites of info like this cause members to say is, “Hmmm, I’ve never heard of that. I think I’ll look it up.” Then the member begins their journey into the facts they should have been given all along. Until a member actually researches for themselves, I think it is very difficult for the idea that the Mormon church is not true to take hold. I think many ex-mormons, myself included, have experienced the backlash that comes with just dumping the CES letter or as many facts as we can think of on a believing mormon. It is easier to dismiss everything when some else unloads it, usually angrily.

    I remember in my desperate apologies to my children saying that I did not know I was exposing them to lies, and that had I know I would never have done it. The problem was that, not only did I not know all the facts, I didn’t even know that there was more information to consider. I didn’t know that the Mormon leaders believed, as actually articulated by Packer and Oaks, that they have no responsibility to tell the whole truth. I think it is clear they lead the members to believe the exact opposite.

    So, if you want to spread the truth, just drop a little crumb and allow mormons to research and decide on their own. Packer called these “disease germs,” in an effort to scare teachers away from discussing them. In reality, he was speaking of the truth and everyone deserves to know it.

    1. I completely agree with you, Lori. This is what has happened to me. Being gay in the Church was a struggle but it was the CES letter and the way to Church treats homosexuality within the Church that caused me to look for more information. For me, its the tale the Church spins versus actual fact or historical fact that has more depth and information about certain things in the Church.

      Can’t put the genie back in the bottle, either. Not sure where I will go after this, but the thought of sitting in Church and pretending, just doesn’t sound like a beneficial thing for me.

  11. We should congratulate the church on this, that a process is in place to prevent abuse from an over-zealous bishop. Way to go Jake, Hannah, and Stake President.

    1. Or does the higher up leaders in the church agree with the approach of the bishop? The stake president may be the one that the church will deal with. Just a thought.

  12. Its disturbing that we as Christians are getting so sidetracked with issues that are so trivial in our time right now. We are turning away from God therefore not standing for anything and falling for everything. Our nation and the freedoms we enjoy are being eroded away, and all of you are being distracted and falling for it. Why are you destroying the very thing that will keep us all free in this nation? Why are you biting the hand that feeds you? Why are you trying to fix something that isn’t broken? This has nothing to do with the LDS church, but christian churches everywhere. We are a Christian nation, and should be defending Christianity, not trying to tear it down, not standing for immorality just because it is what is considered politically correct right now. I fear that the day will come when you realize you have exhausted the wrong efforts on the wrong side. When you find yourself bound down with all of your freedoms stripped away, maybe names like “Fanny Alger”, polygamy, etc, won’t mean anything. You will be dreaming of the day when this was your only problem. We need to quit creating problems where there are not problems, it will be our demise and already is.

    1. Oh Elizabeth – I have been where you are now, I understand how you can feel this way. This isn’t trivial, this isn’t about defending ‘Christianity’, nor being politically correct.

      You ask ‘Why are you biting the hand that feeds you’? If you really want an answer to this question, the link below is a good place to start.

      http://cesletter.com/Letter-to-a-CES-Director.pdf

    2. Yes, people here can get sidetracked on less important things. Yes, people should defend true Christianity. But there are plenty of important things going on here. The enlightened in the leadership of the church are encouraging councils to help us realize that we by ourselves are going to have limited inspiration, and that we by ourselves can lead to an abuse of power with devastating consequences. An abuse of authority was avoided here though a council, because Jake’s comments did seem fairly benign, which could make a big difference to Jake and Hannah and those reading this going forward. I’m glad I heard this story.

      Perhaps you are saying that Jake is not concerned about the more important things. That may be. What I would say to that is it’s hard to assess what’s important or not. So, what we need to do, is validate all truth, encourage focus on the more important things, and correct falseness. Brigham Young, in his disagreements with Orson Pratt, said he didn’t want to disfellowship him, but just correct him where he was wrong. I wish this bishop would have taken this non-lazy attitude and try to correct Jake where he is wrong, rather than the lazy approach of trying to punish.

  13. Thank you both for your courage to share your experiences. I profoundly respect that you attempted to keep a positive tone in your interactions and reporting the outcome. I applaud your Stake President for what you felt was an attempt to be open minded and to not come with a perceived outcome. Openness of the process when desired by those being called before a council is a good thing and the decision to be open is of course only theirs to make. I was interested as I was under the impression that the high counselors are supposed to be divided in half where half were to attempt to speak for the merits of the member accused and the other half were free to put forward concerns about the conduct and if this scriptural directive was followed? I am also curious about the state law that gave you the right to record the proceeding and how the Council reacted when they were notified of that right and your intent to record the proceeding as well as if they were aware that you had completed a pod cast about the hearing in advance and if they knew that the outcome and perhaps even the proceedings might become public?

    I was also moved by the appeal to make room in the Church for participants with a variety of beliefs. For numerous members the historicity, historical troubling occurrences, and issues regarding truth claims are not insurmountable barriers to participation and finding value in the Church, its culture, and many of its teachings. Having openness to concerns and discussion of variety of views on difficult issues, to me is important and should not be seen as apostasy nor censured in Church discipline. Understanding the humanity and imperfection of all of us including current and historical church and religious figures can be of value.

    I am glad your stake found room for you and asked for your assistance.

  14. Hi john, this was a very good interview, l do so enjoy listening to `others experiences in leaving the church and just talking about church historical issues though l realize just how challenging this can all be, but I still think it’s important to be able to talk and air it out, though l do feel that the leaders and authority’s of the church are not really so willing to listen to us more honestly and with more openness of joseph smith and the history of Mormonism, l too feel that there is a lot to be taken from being in a culture as Mormonism where people can live good wholesome lives and there is a lot to be said for community togetherness and wholesome living, but l also really believe that truth and honesty is of the most importance of all and l’d love to see the church being able to face it’s past and become more open, l do love these podcasts where it’s bases on church history, thanks john, your doing a great job for members or non members/ believers alike.

  15. I have the hardest time listening to people who point out historical truths, knowing in their heart of hearts that this information is going to get them in trouble and going to hurt people’s testimonies, throw dirt on the Church and it’s practicing members and then want to pull the victim card out and cry about how the Church is supposed to love everybody. Look people, that’s like a teenager getting thrown out of a house for repeatably abusing their parents, then on the way out the door crying and telling the parents that they are supposed to have love for them and support them. Grow up, post historical truths that shed an unfavorable light all you want but don’t cry and whine when the church wants to do something about it.

    1. “Grow up, post historical truths”

      Just wondering when hiding the truth became the moral thing to do, the thing we should defend and expect of the church?

      Never in the many many, many years of chuch lessons was I taught that truth can make one subject to excommunication.

      Silly me. I thought I was learning the truth. The people responsible for hurting people’s testimonies are the ones who hid the truth and who have punished others for revealing the truth.

  16. Jake,

    I really want to wish you well on the spiritual ride of your life. I had never heard of you until this podcast was listed, but enjoyed seeing your personality and the dynamic you share with your wife. My own spiritual path turned a challenging corner with the tragic, accidental loss of a child and the difficulty of being an ‘active’ LDS participant while grieving. My faith has been turned upside down through that experience, though I am not really bothered by challenging historical issues as they have been made known to me in my home, seminary, institute, and personal studies as long as I can remember.

    But, I feel some kinship to your quest to follow a non-traditional spiritual journey and I hope yours takes you to an embrace with a power greater than all of us. I do hope you continue to have a meaningful connection to your SP, though it is challenging to imagine how he might creatively nurture some of your suggestions into formal stake activities. It is good that he is willing to give that course of action some thought.

  17. Does this mean that now non-believers can remain members of the LDS Church? At least in some parts of the country?

    Isn’t this a seismic shift? Didn’t the Church just fold on its truth claims? If the leaders allow this decision to stand, haven’t they tacitly endorsed the cultural mormon? Isn’t the LDS Church waffling in the face of mounting information that demonstrates the church was founded on falsehoods?

    1. This means that “ecclesiastical roulette” is still the most important factor influencing how people at the margins of Mormonism are treated. I’d like to imagine that at some point there will be specific directives from the top leadership not to discipline people who express doubt, but I doubt it’s happened yet because someone will inevitably leak information about any such directives if/when they happen.

  18. Mormon Stories delivers another example of a caring loving family caught in the paradigm of Mormonism. After listening for 2.5 hours I found comfort in watching two loving people smile and share glances of love and support for each other. This for me was more powerful, emotional and uplifting for us as humans than any sermon I have encountered. Truth matters, love and support makes us whole and united. Thanks for sharing this experience and your journey openly and honestly. Best wishes to both of you. This world is a better place when we have families like yours to share it with.

  19. I honestly don’t think that open forums or open groups within wards/stakes would help. I still think the bishop is the key but bishops need to be trained for that specific problem, to handle it completely differently. Now , bishops or leaders who are approached by questionners/doubters respond out of fear, fear that they will leave the church, be unhappy, lose the spirit, and that they may talk to others and influence them. Instead, it’s about giving space, which means to me that bishops need to say that it’s ok to doubt, it’s ok to take time to understand, it’s ok to stay or leave, recognizing the spiritual journey of individuals, not the spiritual journey within the LDS church (because they all think this is the only spiritual journey worth something) but the broader spiritual journey, encouraging that even if they have doubts in the church and leave, they should hold on to God, however they see it, or even say that that it’s ok to doubt God. They need to explain some of the reasons why people choose to leave or people choose to stay. A thorough training on the faith development stages or other model would be great for bishops because they will come to realize that doubting is great. Now, I don’t think the church is mature enough to come to that. It’s my opinion that the mormon church is too young and too immature . As long as they hold on to the fact that this is the only true path for people to be happy and be saved (only true church), there is not going to be a lot of change.

  20. I’m in a similar situation here in England. I posted very similar stuff on facebook to Jake. The bishopric came to my house with a message from the stake president telling me to stop or I would be disciplined. I’m less active so I wasn’t bothered. But my adopted son sees his temple sealing to us as his guarantee that he will never be back in the care system. He would be very shaken and hurt if daddy was no longer sealed to him. So I acquiesced Nd quit listing links to LDS essays on my facebook. Happy to appear on your podcast any time.

  21. I am not a Mormon nor am I in any way religious. Thank you for publishing these stories John because I am absolutely disgusted that there is even such a thing as a disciplinary council, let alone the fact that these people can excommunicate anyone. What this all shows me is that there is a real control problem in the Church. For goodness sakes, they expect people to get up and give testimony in the church, that the church is true, and yet they can’t deal with their own history in truth. What a joke. Thank goodness I don’t have to put up with all that nonsense in my life.

  22. I would be interested in the list of suggestions that Hannah said they would forward to their stake president.

    Also, a point that somehow gets missed through these “counseling, disciplinary actions” etc. seems elementary: An individual’s “losing their faith” or “leaving the church” over statements made by others (whether true or not)….is up to THEM. They are the owners of their decisions. Having a more open forum for discussing questions, doubts, events might help address THEIR concerns. But the idea that someone is made responsible for the decisions of someone else is…..ridiculous.

  23. After talking to my brother-in-law, who is also a bishop, mentioned a term that seems to be used among the Church’s leadership: “Google Apostasy.” Just another way to direct the blame to other sources for members who are having a faith crisis. It’s never the Church’s fault.

    We have to remember that this Church is also a business. When a company has a disgruntled employee or a dissatisfied customer who goes public with their grievances, the company will do everything in their power to shut them up because it’s just not good for business. This Church appears to follow the same program with its own members. Sorry to hear what was done to the Ricks. It’s disgusting and un-Christ-like. It’s not about “love” or “repentance,” but about punishment, ridicule, and intimidation.

  24. I have lived in the Midwest. It is a very different church with very different leaders than those in the west. The church is not as strict. And made up of converts who are not as by the book as the organization in the West. When I lived there last year, I constantly heard “well that’s only what utah Mormons do”. “We don’t have to follow the handbook, that’s just what Utah does”. Which I actually think is great. But it’s a completely different story out here in Utah. That outcome would probably be different if the meeting was with a Utah stake president.

  25. For those still struggling with Mormonism, there’s a straightforward way out that avoids Mormon-specific unpleasantries. It worked wonders for me years ago.

    An honest, study of the Bible shows that Judaism has been right about Jesus and the NT and Christianity and it’s “Christ” for 2000 years. That makes no other claims for “Truth” in or about Judaism (although, for me, to the degree I have one, the Synagogue is now my brick-and-mortar spiritual home.)

    Honest study of the Bible shows that neither Yahweh Elohim, nor humankind created in his image (whatever that meant to the author), nor those Hebrew scriptures themselves, have any need, use or interest in bloody, human Jesus sacrifice. The Christian “Christ” is an answer to a problem that simply does not exist for either Yahweh or for his creation.

    Leaving Mormonism and all of Christianity was a liberation and a breath of fresh air –– felt anew, again, each time I’m in the synagogue, both for what it contains and what it does not.

    I’d thought I’d left Mormonism all behind until I moved back to Utah some years ago and landed in the middle of Amendment 3 and accidentally became aware of MormonStories and John Dehlin. It’s sad for me to see what the Mormon church has reduced itself to since I left decades ago, and how ridiculous and hurtful it has become.

    But the Mormon history thing, rather than being a source of pain & angst, has become a minor fascination into how Joseph Smith did it, and what were his motives. (The biggest key –– and the heavy lifting already done for Smith –– seems to be a population & culture that just believes the Bible is reliably history and the word of a god.)

    Anyway, good luck to all of you, whether you’re in, transitioning, or out. But be aware there’s a huge amount of energy freed up for simply living (and it pays an immediate 10% dividend). Some of that energy is well spent in being aware of both the good that Mormonism does plus, more importantly, how to most effectively help combat the ill that it does to it’s own people and the community.

    Shalom

    1. Oh, hey, there are OTHER Jews who hang out at Mormon Stories? I thought I was the only one.

      What denomination did you end up in? I’m curious to know more.

      1. In our LA Ex-Mormon Meetup we have a member that has come to one gathering that is former Hasidic Jewish. He is from Brooklyn and when he introduced himself to the group, he said he didn’t think he would find other former-Hasidic Jewish people to get together with. Looking on Meetup, he thought he might have things in common with Ex-Mormons. He joined our group and we had a nice time comparing experiences. He had quite a sheltered/sequestered life. He moved to LA last year. I hope he comes to more of our gatherings.

  26. Thanks Jake, Hannah and John for sharing your conversation. Your story is a very good illustration of the ‘messiness’ of both personal conviction and church-wide growth. The clear contrast of black and white we all yearn for in the church is in fact a myriad of grey hues interspersed with large patches of vagueness where it is hard to determine any consistency at all. Like many others I have a lot of problems with the ‘lottery’ of disciplinary councils, acknowledging that the men administering them are just as human as those summoned. But I also believe the messiness is okay with God, as hard as that is to comprehend. When I think of the account of Nephi and his brothers retrieving the brass plates I wonder why God didn’t just tell Nephi the solution the first time around. Why did God essentially let Nephi stuff it up twice and throw away the family fortune before finally succeeding on the third attempt? And why did Nephi have to challenge his own convictions concerning morality in the final solution? I believe the answer is because the mortal experience is messy, confusing, and daunting, and God knows it. I believe he is okay with letting us learn by trial and error. He is okay with letting us think for ourselves and exploring alternative paths, even when our thought processes are fundamentally limited by own narrow perspective of both history and eternity. And if God is cool with that, then we should be to. Sure there will be critics, but that is their journey, their messiness, not yours.

    1. John I believe your disciplinary hearing would have gone differently and your Stake President would have been more sincere if you had a recording device at the event.

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