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  1. Awesome interview – one of the best ever on mormon stories- cant wait to hear the rest- thank you both.

  2. Thanks for this interview. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ll postpone any other comments, but Randy Bott was my Seminary teacher (Sky View High School, 1983), and he had a similar influence on me.

  3. Hello John,

    I want to thank you for all the work that you do with your Mormon Stories Podcast. This was a great series of interviews with Marc. I used to be the YSA bishop of Marc’s brother. It suddenly dawned on me! Also, one of my daughter’s knew Marc when she attended BYU. My entire family has left the church. Two of my four daughters have been out for years. My wife, two other daughters and myself have left the church this past year! We are so happy to he out. Listening to Marc struck such a cord with me. I wish you and Marc all the best and thank you for sharing your stories. Press on!!

  4. I haven’t listened to a Mormon stories Podcast for awhile. When this one came up, I felt compelled to listen. As a convert who grew up in Utah and converted at 17 myself and experienced a lot of those same feelings he experienced, this really resonated with me. I deeply understand how he lost himself in Mormonism the way he did because I did too. I lost so many wonderful traits trying to catch up, trying to be the Mormon I thought I was supposed to be. My peers having been born in the covenant, were ahead of me. They were viewed differently than I was in the Mormon Gods eyes. I wanted nothing more than to be seen as they were seen. I wanted to be rid of that dirty feeling I had of being a rebel spirit in the pre existence. I was going to prove myself! Marc did the same thing. My heart goes out to him, his wife, his mom and their story in its entirety. I whole heartedly empathize. It’s been 5 years since I asked to be released from teaching gospel principles to converts and investigators and so much healing has come since then. Introspection, time, compassion for yourself and others, brings about healing. But for now, let yourself feel it. All of it.

  5. Such a phenomenal interview, Marc and John! I joined at 14, and all I ever wanted was a happy, eternal family. Feeling like I had to constantly prove my faith and hustle for my self-worth, and forever feeling inadequate and unworthy, was a cycle that eventually led to suicidal ideation in my early 50s. So much of this interview resonated with me! Being out from under the oppression of a patriarchy-pushing, joy-squashing husband of 33 years (he was my second-to-last bishop, by the way) and this religion, that once was so dear to me, has been healing and brought more peace in the past five years than the 37 years as a Mormon before that!

  6. Loved this interview, part 3 was so validating and on fire. Thanks for all the work you do, John! And, thank you, Marc, for going through all the emotions; the giddiness, the hurt, the anger, the longing, determination. Even though the individual experience can be different, the emotion can be the same.

  7. Marc:
    1. The shot your wife had was the Rh immune globulin. When a woman’s blood type is Rh negative, a fetus with Rh positive blood can trigger the mother’s antibodies. The antibodies, once triggered, can cause the mother’s body to fight against the blood cells of the fetus in a subsequent pregnancy as if the fetus’ blood were an invading disease, which reaction will weaken or even kill the baby. The shot represses the mother’s antibodies so they don’t react to the Rh in the fetus blood. (The shot is not necessary if the mother is Rh positive, which most women are.)

    2. You still seem perplexed that your efforts to keep kids active were not appreciated by your peers and superiors in CES. The McConkie type Mormons that you encountered in the CES SAY they are concerned with youth leaving in droves, but in fact, they are not. These personality types THRIVE on being the “select few.” They LIKE that their religion is the only true church, and that within that true church, only a fraction are permitted to go to the temple, and of that fraction only an infinitesimal amount have their second anointing. They WANT purity. They prefer to purge the fence sitters, not find ways to expand to include the fence sitters. Trust me, I know so many of these McConkie type Mormons (indeed was raised by them) and their attitude is 100% “if you don’t literally believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, that all humans and animals died in the flood save on the Ark, that all native Americans are descendent of Lehi, that Abraham wrote in his own hand on papyri, and if you have any problem whatsoever with polygamy or blacks not having the priesthood until 1978, that BYU should not expel women who were raped while drunk, or think gay people should be permitted to marry, then get the hell out of the church and go find a church that you do agree with, you prideful person who has been led astray by the teachings of man.”

  8. I appreciate & confirm Marc’s critique of the church 99.99%. The exception? I understood him to say “every harmful consequence in my life came because I was Mormon. Infertility, miscarriage, cancer”, etc. Respectfully, Mormonism has no responsibility for these normal life experiences. Next to Jack Nichalson’s “ you can’t handle the truth”, Forrest Gump had the quintessential line when he stepped in the mud puddle on his cross country run – “stuff happens” (he actually used a more descriptive word). Life’s “stuff”happens Mormon or not. Even I do not blame my life’s harmful consequences on my albeit minimal association with the LDS faith.

  9. Thank you for such an open and honest discussion Marc. I admire your courage and spirit. I was touched by your story and I mourned with you. Your testimony here is more “true” to my experience of membership than the healing forgiveness I’ve heard about at GC over 30 years. Like you I love my Mormon Friends and family but I can no longer continue in activity for many of the same reasons you elaborate. Chief of these is the emotional friction we experience between our Faith that God is love and our Doctrine that teaches that our worth is conditional and fluid. It is in this “paradox of Mormon orthodoxy” that we “lose” ourselves to the hamster wheel of feeling that we can never measure up or do enough even as we are giving our all. Our innermost desires to be good and share love and healing become tools used against us to bind us to a self-effacing dependency on the authority of the brethren. You are right in calling it abuse.
    Not all members experience it this way or as viscerally as we do but heaven knows there are enough of us to question the divine calling of the brethren. It seems that we are either unavoidable collateral damage in the forging of the “truly elect” or it really is all about placing the interests of the Institution above the interests of those it proclaims to serve.

    On the subject of informed consent, I’m curious to know if you ever knew or felt you were signing up to represent the first presidency to the youth as a seminary teacher, or if you felt you were signing up to represent Jesus Christ as you did when you were a missionary. When I taught Seminary or Sunday school as a calling I never once felt like I was representing the first presidency. Did the pay make it different? An aspect of church culture that is so detrimental and manipulative is how we refer to the Church and the gospel as synonymous.

    John, thank you for your work.

  10. Just really enjoyed this whole thing. Thank you, Marc and John. – Mormonism is a religion of divine justice from start to finish. If the pinnacle of the Book of Mormon is Jesus ‘ visit to the “ancient inhabitants” of the Americas, it’s a vision of terror. The sermon on the mount stuff takes second place to Jesus using all of the natural elements to kill scores and scores of people. What can we say? I guess, as he later explains, they had it comin. And if you’re an orthodox Mormon, you have to agree with William Money (sp?) in Unforgiven: “we all got it comin, kid.” This can never change without Mormonism losing its raison d’etre.

  11. I’m with Kim…. ex-mo or secular youth conference!! Yes!

    Incredible story! Mark, thank you for sharing your deeply personal, emotional journey publicly. Your students were so lucky to have a safe place to ask their tough questions. Best of luck to you and your family…. that is where your greatest achievements will be.

    As always John, great job!

  12. I know exactly what Marc is talking about regarding shame surrounding “sins” before joining the church and being baptized. I struggled with this for years as a convert as well. Theoretically, the church teaches that baptism erases all of it, but the culture and mindset that can be summarized in “The Miracle of Forgiveness” completely contradicts all of that. Sure, that concept is not explicitly stated, but how can I mentally and emotionally move on from having had premarital sex before being baptized if the loss of chastity is so “far-reaching” that “once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained”? The concepts of ‘complete cleanliness after baptism’ and ‘virtue that can never be regained’ are completely contradictory.

  13. I just finished the second segment. I am a progressive member who has taught RS for the last several years, and haven’t yet come up against any problems. I don’t know if I get a pass because I’m a convert? Because my mother-in-law is gay and married to her partner so of course I would support gay marriage? Because I’m a woman and only teaching other women, so it’s not really being heard that much? I also have never really felt like my “progressive beliefs” were anything all that rare until I moved to Utah 5 years ago. By and large, the church I experienced for most of the 20 years after I was baptized was much more like the church that the Givens talk about. So I would argue it’s not a definite fully in or fully out of the church, that there is space for progressives, however I have stopped attending since Natasha’s excommunication, so it’s not a very strong argument. Though I still have my calling, even though I did inform that I wouldn’t be coming except to teach.

  14. Great interview! I appreciate you both, Marc and John.

    I want to comment on the brief FAIRMORMON discussion in the interview, because I can bear testimony of the truthfulness of what was said. I was a firm believer until I happened on FAIRMORMON. Long before the CES Letter or Letter for my Wife existed, the “big list” of outrages and absurdities put forward by FAIRMORMON as valid responses to issues (some of which I didn’t previously even know existed), single handedly ended up destroying every shred of testimony I ever had. And that includes any spiritual confirmation I ever may have thought I experienced, because when you discover you have been so thoroughly and so sickeningly lied to and willfully deceived, there is nowhere for a testimony to go but out the door. You have no choice but to reconsider everything in the light of all relevant information, including the indoctrination you received.

    How anyone can expect that such behavior should be met with faith and acceptance is beyond my comprehension, and that’s when it’s coming from anyone, let alone those claiming to be “God’s true messengers”!! To believe in Mormon god you have to believe in a god of lies, and I’m pretty sure I was always taught Satan was the father of all lies.

  15. Marc,

    I was a student of Russell Bullock at Provo High in the mid-80s and I have few things to tell you that may be affirming to your experience.

    Bullock was an excellent and enthusiastic teacher who always came prepared to teach. He sincerely cared about his students and was open and truthful with us. I loved his classes until the Mark Hoffman debacle. At the time the church was eager to normalize the Salamander letter within our high school seminary. Beautiful brochures and laminated paper portfolio kits were handed out to us. Although the Apostles declared the discovery of the letter historical and inspired of God, most students had no idea what it meant.

    When the Salamander Letter and Hoffman were discovered to be frauds, it was impossible for The Church to walk back it’s endorsements and embarrassments. When Bullock came to class, he stood at the lectern for minutes unable to utter a single word. His usual energy, preparedness and enthusiasm were absent. He knew better than all of us the apostles had been lied to and their reputations as a divine source of truth closest to God had been delivered a clean blow. The situation had entirely debunked their authority and discernment claims.

    Instead of helping us to follow our inner light and voices, Bullock chose blur what had happened. He retreated with an authoritative quote about how if the church membership follows the church leadership into mistakes, the membership is guiltless and the responsibility for the error stays with the leadership. It was a damnable lesson, especially for Bullock whom I loved and trusted. He basically tossed our faith in him as an honest mentor aside to endorse The Church’s leadership. Whether this was to protect his job or avoid controversy, I don’t know. What I do know is that he knew everything about what The Church and Apostles had said about the Salamander was a lie started by Hoffman.

    Marc, I appreciated your story because you chose truth for your students. You choose to love them for who they are, not what others wanted them to become. Your story is the story of the Good Samaritan. You’re going to be an incredibly intuitive and effective therapist people will seek out. It may not be baseball, but you are going to be coaching people to living fulfilling happy lives. All the best to you!

  16. Marc,
    So sorry for what you went through. I want you to know that there is room on the pew for you the way you are. As a fellow NCRM we need you the way you are in the church. I have not experienced everything you have but 60% of it. The gospel is true but the culture is jacked. Stay to help the culture. I have been a bishop, HC, being a nuanced member and still in the church because I live it in a healthy way to me. Not all of us can live it the same “traditional” way and that is fine. God bless whatever path you take and may you find the peace you seek and deserve. Thanks for sharing!

  17. One of the very best interviews ever!! Nice job to you both. You can’t help but really like Marc. What a pure heart and a pure love for the youth. I felt like you asked and said so many things to Marc to help his healing take another step forward. It is too bad there were so many big bumps in his path. I’m happy for him to move ahead unleashed. You have no idea how helpful these interviews and your hard work have helped so many of us over the years.

  18. Part of the power of Marc’s story is that his life demonstrates that regardless of how well intentioned the Q15 are, their man made religion can be quite damaging. As Marc said that for many, if not most, Mormonism is a net loss. My hope is that more and more people will be able to determine whether or not Mormonism is a fit for them before serving a mission or getting married.

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