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  1. Whenever I watch something that is considered an apologetic view all I can think is why? Why is there any explanation necessary? If this is “God”we are talking about why wasn’t his gospel set up the right way to begin with. It wouldn’t matter what the “times”are or who he is “revealing” himself to, he God would have said racism is wrong, sexism is wrong, sex with children is wrong! And so many other things!He would have seen the future, God knows all thing s right. He wouldn’t have cared what man cared about or thought. If a God were communicating with his children he would do the greater good from the beginning so that his present chosen leadership wouldn’t have to apologize for the past leadership. And so that thousands or millions of souls wouldn’t be lost in the process! Just saying!!!

  2. Lisa, you have just said wonderfully that which I have been mulling over in my head for years. Every time I hear some one say, “Give Joseph a break,” “Brigham was just a man of his times,” “Our leaders are just trying to get things right.” and other excuses why the church is in the mess it’s in, I, too, wonder where was god in all this? I nearly died as the result of a breakdown some 60 years ago on my mission. There was no one there to help me, and I, not knowing at that time what had happened to me, was too ashamed to tell anyone how I was feeling for fear of what my missionary peers and mission president might think of me. Years later, when trying to explain to my wife how much I felt let down by the leader called to protect and care for me, she responded, but, Honey, you know they were only men and had no idea what was wrong with you or how to help you if they did. She was right, but I had been taught that they were men of inspiration with the power of discernment. In fact, as I am writing, I am remembering a question put to me by the visiting AP,s, asking me if I believed that our mission president was inspired. By that time, I no longer knew if he was, but I lied and said, “Yes.” Today, I feel no ill will to those who couldn’t know about or understand the excruciating pain and agony I was experiencing. As far as I know, I had done nothing in god’s eyes to be punished so severely, so I wasn’t suffering from much guilt for something that deserved repentance or discipline, but my mental anguish was such that I needed serious help, including hospitalization and a great deal of rest and recuperation, probably at home in the states. But I have since come to know that my mission and church leaders are only human beings, not inspired, not prophets, not seer , not revelators. Oh my, how I wish that they had been. I was so seriously ill from my breakdown experience that I still suffer from PTSD and its repercussions today. Thanks Lisa. I am going to save your words because they express better that I can how I feel about prophets and otherwise supposedly inspired church leaders.

    You friend,

    Barry Richins

  3. Based on the stake admin’s “feel[ing]better to send it privately to individuals rather than on their stake FB page as previously announced, I’ll venture that this kind of presentation, be it by Patrick Mason or someone else, is not going to be repeated.

  4. If we don’t need Joseph Smith to be “perfect,” don’t we need him to be “worthy” for the same reasons church leaders want the membership to be worthy?

    Occasionally church leaders will say they are leaving some issues in God’s hands to sort out. Why not leave issues about LGBTQ married couples in God’s hands so LGBTQ married couples can fully participate in all church activities?

  5. If “it’s wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true” then it’s also wrong to criticize members and non-members of the church, even if the criticism is true. Or, do different rules apply to different classes of people, and are the brethren exempt? If the Holy Ghost will never reveal anything critical of a church leader then how can the Holy Ghost ever reveal anything critical of a church member to church leaders if God’s laws are consistent, just, unwavering, and eternal? To me, pointing out where leaders err is part of sustaining a church leader, especially when church leaders council members where they are going wrong. If general church leaders expect members to allow the “mistakes of men” then general church leaders should do the same with all other members. When leaders of the church err, it’s not the members of the church that point it out that causes impairment of the leader’s influence and usefulness, rather it’s the church leader that causes his own impairment, especially when the leaders fail to make wrong things right. Honest mistakes are simply just that, except when any member refuses to correct them, including leaders, which then become willful unrepentant mistakes. Claiming to be accountable to only God sets up church leaders to be beyond reproach and accountability to the membership, which isn’t healthy. An organization needs to be humble where it’s okay to criticize things that are wrong and to talk about it, change it, and make a better place for the future.

  6. No one asking church leaders to be perfect. But it is reasonable to ask church leaders to have a proven track record that demonstrates that they are both reliable and trustworthy. Unfortunately, they are not reliable nor trustworthy, which has been shown again and again. For example, given Joseph botched the Book of Abraham facsimile translations by “the gift and power of God”, then I don’t have any need nor use for that gift and power. I’ll look elsewhere, thanks!

    Also, I think it’s telling that nuanced believers’ testimonies vary greatly from standard orthodox testimonies. You don’t find a lot of church being true, nor the Book of Mormon being true, nor Jesus rising on the third day.

    1. This. Patrick’s testimony was basically that the church is good and he believes in Jesus. Not exactly Holland’s over or under the book of mormon. These rescue firesides always turn out to be a cluster *** for the church because they lose control of the conversation.
      No surprise they are suppressing the recording. And about Mason’ voiced problem about Joseph Smith’s faults. Really? You wish he would have been more honest about polygamy?? That’s what bothers you??? You know, I wish the prophet of the restoration didn’t marry a 14 year old, or boink his teenage maid, or marry living men’s wives, or….. but yeah, honesty was a failing of Joseph’s in more ways than one Patrick, that is certain.

  7. My journey through Mormonism is a lifetime. It was my framework and my foundation. I learned and I grew . Many of us have done just that. And in doing all that was asked of us , missions, tithing, Sunday’s, friends, our very lives , as told in the temple ceremony for the building up of the kingdom of god here on earth. All these things I have done , and what lack I yet ? My bishop gave me Patrick’s book after he and the e q p in our ward barged into my home one ministering night and basically told me that I was the problem and that it was a test that I needed to endure in order to become perfected . Again I ask what lack I yet? What mr mason is missing is the church puts such a high price on us as members being honest true chaste benevolent. Exactness in our belief is our life trajectory and our pattern, it is the leadership that not only asks this of us but demands it . And we tolerate it we bow down we worship at the alters of dominance and ambiguity. Because we have no other reference point . Mr Phillips suing the office of the president in England over his lifetime of abuse and mental trauma brought on by his experiences and the church’s reluctance to excommunicate him has been the separation point for me . We need our community we need our relationships and our families mr madsen in Sweden,Has had more experience in the church by far than mr mason and yet I ask again the savior s becon call what lack I yet? We lack the truth. And to some it is not important obviously it is not important to apostle oaks who has spent his lifetime making a mockery of his education and his stature as an attorney, by showing that the truth is irrelevant as long as you pay with your life and all of its nuances, you too can share in the endless possibilities that the modern church has to offer . Like the rich man of the New Testament ,mr mason ,my current bishop and many others turn away sorrowful but a few , and a then a many , will come follow the savior. David Bockovoy nearly took my faith. His interview s with John and r f m are way more shocking to me and my tiny little bit of hope . And I love the man for his bravery and courage, as do I for madsen and Phillips. We really don’t know what happens after we die . But in the guilded streets of the celestial kingdom do you really want brother Joseph making advances on your wife and daughters? Or do you want the honorable dallin oaks sending you letters as to why your trash can ended up in the street on the day of trash collection. I scream at the top of my lungs go on a mission mr oaks . Do the things the rest of us had to do in order to qualify for these apologists idiotic explanations. I have a beautiful oak tree in my yard when daylight comes I will be near it planting the book by mr mason , given to me by my priesthood leadership as a token of the love they have for me as I go through this terrible test maybe it will provide some nutrients to the oak that will outlive me , or possibly it will kill it because of the type of ink it was printed on. I doubt it . But it will do what it does . Planted was in fact a fine name for a book chock full of ideas on how to ignore reality. Where is my shovel? .

  8. It is sort of funny… watching the ‘decaffeinated’ version I thought, “Wow. John is nailing this.” I didn’t realize there was an angry, disrespectful rant version he had taken down. I didn’t watch the ‘caffeinated’ version but I’m sure I would have been turned off by it. I donated in support of this version. I believe this earnest, thoughtful approach is going to be the most effective way to communicate true information about the church. I think displaying calm sincerity is the most likely way to have a positive, meaningful impact on those affected by the church. I support you. I know it is a hard and vulnerable role you fill as a vocal advocate for truth on social media. IMO, ranting is not passion. It is unchecked emotion. People can be passionate without being ugly. That is just my take… Others will disagree.

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  9. He does a good job recognizing issue but then he goes back to all the old tropes. The worst one being “well I know all these things and a lot of others know this and our faith is stronger than ever.” Your willful denial of logic and truth does not compel me to follow you, Patrick.

    1. Well said. For some reason it bothers me when “apologists” say things like “Iknow all the problems and my faith is stronger than ever” without addressing the problems in any kind of detail. Like I said in my other comment in this thread, they don’t really want to talk about the problems. Talks like this are about reassuring members without having to go into the details. This happened with my ex while I was leaving the Church and she refused to see what was clearly in front of her face and focused instead on reading books like Planted. So frustrating.

  10. I left the church in 2002. At that time, the internet was in its infancy and the traditional church historical narrative was still predominant. It took countless hours of research and reading to to gain a more open and honest understanding of the church truth claims.

    I well remember the pain and mental cognitive dissonance I felt in first learning that so many of the so called anti-mormon lies had in fact been truths all along. That it had actually been the church that had facilitated the deception and not its enemies. This was a very difficult and painful conclusion to both accept and come to. How could an organization that presented itself as the one true church of Jesus Christ on the earth in actuality be the one caught telling the lies and half truths? Why would this church that I loved and had dedicated my life to be motivated to manufacture a completely fictional narrative built on half truths and out right lies? I concluded that they were motivated just like any other lair is…they wanted to deceive me.

    Knowing what has taken place since 2002 is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The church seems to be imploding under the weight of its lies before our very eyes. Truth does have a way of cutting its own path. The century long whitewashed faith promoting church narrative has come back to bite the church in its collective arse.

  11. Can we get the original recording of the fireside? I feel like it’s as far non-Mormon as my mom is willing to listen to hahaha and that even your kind and thoughtful comments will put her hackles up. Thanks in advance!

  12. I have listened to hundreds of Mormon Stories episodes over the years, and this is one my favorites. It covers such a broad range of topics and perspectives in a kind and respectful way. I am grateful for John and Patrick sharing their life experiences and knowledge. Even though their views are different, they both are helping people in unique ways. After experiencing a faith crisis 14 years ago and remaining in the church all these years, Mormon Stories has provided an outlet for my sanity. When I needed to feel justified in my frustration and anger and not feel alone, this was a place for me. When I needed to view things differently, reevaluate, or reconstruct my faith, this was a place for me. Ultimately, my views have changed dramatically over the years, and from my experience I know that it may never be possible for people with a literal faith, a deconstructed faith, and a reconstructed faith to fully understand each other. However, we can be patient and kind with each other as we go through these experiences. The biggest obstacle to overcome is the environment of fear to express ourselves, and ultimately we all can learn a lot from Patrick and John on being vulnerable enough to express thoughts and emotions publicly for the benefit of others. I will always be grateful for John and the many people who have shared their struggles and have been vulnerable enough to share them here. Thank you!

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  13. In addition to the idea of JS being perfect deflecting from the real issue of sexual predation, I think it’s important to also examine why we are asked to honor these men even in their imperfection but to dishonor those like Lavina Fielding Anderson (whose “imperfections” seem pale in comparison to JS or King David). Why is imperfection overlooked in some and excoriated in others? Why is sexual predation and dishonesty dismissed as human fallibility in JS while Lavina’s truth telling is called apostate? If we are going to use the idea that the imperfections of those who are most influential in the Church can be dismissed as mortal flaws, then it needs to be a unilaterally applied principle–to prophets, scholars, members, nonmembers, men, women, cisgender, lgbtqia alike. If the imperfections of JS are forgivable, then being in pain from harm caused by those in power and speaking up about said pain is also forgivable. If we cannot openly acknowledge and collectively process the pain that stems from various abuses by the leadership–from JS down to contemporary local bishops–then the Church can’t really stand by its claim that it disavows abuse of any kind. Trust comes when we can speak against abuse without sanction. Also, I think the question, “How do we regain trust when it has been broken?” presupposes that the responsibility for restored trust rests on us. Trust is earned it isn’t given. We don’t give our trust to the Church. The Church earns our trust, and we regain trust when it has been restored through trustworthy behavior such as consistent and enduring honesty, openness, transparency, and unilateral inclusion and equality. Trust cannot exist without these pillars. And love, without these pillars, is lackluster. Love without inclusion–what even is that?

    1. I love this comment! This is exactly what I was thinking at the end of the episode, but you have stated it more eloquently than I could. This line of apologetic thinking is what helped me to move from scared, doubting, but still active member to full ex-mormon. I figured if Joseph Smith gets a pass for sexual predation, I’ll get a pass for drinking coffee, not wearing garments, and giving my money to actual charities! Ha!

  14. Thanks so much for your commentary John. I especially connected with what you said about that the church was not only behind the curve on racism, civil rights, LGBT rights, sexism, etc. they openly fought against these things (even though they’re supposed to be politically neutral?). Again your commentary is great where you said “what value does a prophet have if they are not ahead of the world on social, political, and other human rights issues?” If they receive special revelation for the church (and the world) then they should support these issues long before society gets on board. Thanks again John.

  15. Wanted to point out something that, at least to my knowledge, you wouldn’t have heard said at an event like this even a couple years ago. At 2:41:45, Mr. Mason declares:

    “We learn that we’re not in a relationship with a perfect thing, a perfect institution, but we are in a relationship as part of a community that is striving to follow Christ.”

    For me, this was a big “whoa” moment given how many times we’ve been told “the Church is perfect, but its members aren’t”. Pretty sure this would not go down well with the leadership.

    1. Waiting for a Patrick Mason style general conference talk. I expect I’ll be waiting for a long long looooong time. Now that would cause people’s head to explode. It’s one thing to have stake rescues on the down low, quite another to admit this stuff in general conference, as Elder Uchtdorf was instructed.

  16. I appreciate you not being belligerent and ranting. It’s not helpful to those of us who are struggling with coming to terms with all the deception of the church leaders, but who still miss church and the relationships we had there.

  17. I have another out to add to Patrick Mason’s list–burned out.

    I’ve noticed this in my own experience, and that of others I’ve talked to. I felt like I was running very fast on the Mormon treadmill, but not getting anywhere. The church just seemed to want more time, money, effort, obedience, etc. But I wasn’t feeling like I was drawing any closer to God or becoming a better person as a result. I was just guilty, anxious, and stressed out. The Mormon dream and the reality of my life were not syncing up at the time I began to seriously question the LDS Church’s truth claims. It took a bit of reflection, but I realized this emotional frustration opened my mind to the possibility that it could be untrue. Then I saw something about polyandry, the rock in the hat, and the Book of Abraham–it was off to the races…er…library from there.

    I agree with Harold Huff’s comment about Joseph Smith and “perfection” but want to expound a bit. First, we were taught with the exception of Jesus no man has done more for the salvation of mankind than Joseph Smith. Other prophets have taught we would meet Mr. Smith alongside God and Jesus at the judgement bar. But by the church’s own standard he would not even be worthy to bless or pass the sacrament, bless an infant, or maybe even pray in church. But this is all just passed of as making “mistakes.” Personally, whether he measures up to Mormon “worthiness” standards isn’t that important. Where his character is relevant is trustworthiness, and whether Joseph Smith’s is a life worthy of honor, respect, and emulation. Given the amount of time, money, and emotional labor demanded by the LDS Church I would hope that it would be affording such honor as it gives Joseph Smith to someone we could at least consider a decent person. Alas, someone engaged in brining forward scriptures under false pretenses, abusing his position as a spiritual leader to gain sexual favors and marriages, engaging in counterfeiting and bank fraud, the secretive violence of the Danites, burning the Nauvoo Expositor, and running parallel secret shadow governments for the church and city of Nauvoo (Council of 50 etc), and general self-aggrandizement leads me to think he’s not particularly worth my time to honor or seek to emulate in any way. With a list like that, I’m just not going to organize my life around the guy’s teachings anymore.

  18. Even though I would not have been offended by a more “ranty” episode, I think your point comes across better to all audiences when you are more balanced. Keep up the good work!

  19. Good podcast John, thank you. I appreciate Patrick’s candor and openness. But I think he’s missing a point about the current transparency. For people like me who were taught A for decades and then read B in the church sources, the shock and betrayal is the crux of the issue. I care more about not being able to trust the church than about the underlying historic issues, and won’t trust the church again unless the organization earns it back from me (unlikely).

    But he overly simplifies how it will be for people who are taught the issues young. My kids were told by a seminary teacher that JS married a 14 year old. So they won’t be shocked later to find out the actual true information. However, they will make their own assessment of the validity of JS, BY and ultimately the organization based upon those facts. And while lying or hiding the facts is terrible, the factual information is bad enough on its own. Leaving people to judge things based upon the merits of the facts is not going to be good for the church, there’s a reason these facts were hidden in the first place – because they are crazy crazy.

  20. While I’m sure Patrick is a great guy what he does frustrates me. I feel that what is presented in talks like this is somewhat dishonest, if not largely dishonest. While I understand why they don’t get into the nitty gritty of Church historical problems, because he doesn’t and others don’t it doesn’t present the entire story to the audience. It’s the new story line “Hey, no one is perfect, the Church isn’t perfect, the leaders aren’t perfect (no discussion of specifics)….but you should and can continue to believe because of x, y and z.” Frustrating because I assume many Mormons hear these kinds of talks and just dismiss the issues. I think all members deserve to know the depth of the truth claim problems. Patrick Mason isn’t going to do that.

  21. Thanks for a good podcast jon, I feel the same way as you jon that the church needs to face up to its wrong doings from the very beginning, essentially be cleansed and ask forgiveness for hurting so many people for so many wrong doings to its members, I add that truth is truth, you can’t escape the truth, the kids church included. It is what it is built upon untruth blended with some goodness, but that doesn’t make it truth.

  22. Another category that I want added and addressed is : Spiritual Abuse.

    Patrick needs to admit all these problems stem from the top decision makers. The Q15 need to stop blaming members for a culture that they and their predecessors created. It is time for new leadership…….but since it will not happen…..Ballard we are finding true happiness and peace by getting off your boat.

    I started recognizing the problems of the church on the Mission, with an abusive MP (literally like Hitler) and such. Then dealing with multiple “bad” Bishops and SP’s for 25+ years. I did not want my kids to participate in 5:30 AM seminary, and spoke up. I was ignored and then shunned within my Stake.

    I finally woke up and no longer apologized for the church, and ultimately realized I do not want to continue the legacy (although my kids are still in). Yes, many church leaders are like David Koresh, Jim Jones………The church has covered up for MANY of them………those of us that are victims of their spiritual rape, deserve an apology and see that the church makes real change in this category.

    This happens due to the nepotism in the church and the upper leaders recommending their friends for the callings. I have lived in East/Central time zones and actually have had worst leadership then when living in the Jello belt……but theese leaders are transplants from the West who are closed minded, worship Bednar, and honor obedience over love.
    God is NOT involved in LDS membership callings !!!. Any honest observer or member knows that LDS leadership is only a game. Those who won leadership roulette, consider yourselves lucky to have not been spiritually abused.

  23. John…any way we can get the original fireside audio available for download for those who’d like to share it without any commentary? Several of us have requested it. Thnx!

  24. A recent article describing the new revelation of sexual abuse by the late Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias, titled, “Don’t Diminish Ravi Zacharias’s Abuse With ‘We’re All Sinners,’ published in Christianity Today, really resonated with me when Patrick Mason was talking about Joseph not being “perfect.” It was discovered that Zacharias was secretly preying on young massage therapists all over the world for decades. There is a difference between a person who makes bad moral decisions vs. someone who is a sexual predator. Smith falls in the second category. No one will be quoting Zacharias ever again and his ministry is closing up shop for good. This seems the natural and appropriate response for those who once revered him in any way. And yet, we are supposed to overlook Smith’s predatory behavior as someone who was imperfect like the rest of us, when we should be throwing out his books and closing up shop. It’s nonsensical and infuriating.

    I’ve learned since leaving the church that faith is hard and trust is nearly impossible. There are charlatans everywhere and no religion is excluded. Even in my struggles, I agree with Patrick’s message of loving people and following Christ. However, in Mormonism, as John said so well, that is not what the leaders are saying. Just showing Christlike love to everyone and making people feel needed is a great idea, but it ultimately leads people to tithing settlement, Bishop’s interviews, lessons about temple worthiness, and revering Joseph Smith, the man who’s “Confused with Jehovah,” as we used to sing it.

  25. John. the credibility of the Church’s truth claims past and present rest ultimately on the credibility of Joseph Smith. In law there is a latin phrase that comes to mind. “Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.” for those who have forgotten their latin, it means false in one thing false in everything. You point out in your discussion that Smith lied about his polygamy. (see “History of the Church” vol 6 page 411, BH Roberts The doctrine of eternal marriage being central to it’s theology, one can rationally apply the latin phrase to project his error to the whole of his teachings. This concept is often included in jury instruction to assist jurors in determining the credibility of witnesses.

  26. That was probably the single greatest talk ever given in a church meeting. Honestly.

    I think it is wildly naïve for anyone to expect Patrick Mason, who is a believing member, to get up and give a talk the way an exmormon would or would want. If every time a member like Mason goes in the right direction, exmormons just get mad at them for not hitting all the exmormon talking points and top 10 complaints, people like Mason may feel better just retreating to the TBM old standard views. He will end up being ostracized from the church for being about as open as a still believing member could possibly be, but then still bashed by exmormons for not being exmormon in his views basically, which he isn’t.

    I applaud Patrick Mason. If the views he shared were actually shared by the church, it would be such a better place and on its way to huge improvement in all areas. As an exmormon that really despises the church as a whole, I recognize I was a member for a long time and sat in those pews trying my best. It is shortsighted to now criticize and beat down all those that are doing what I was doing only several years back. I am so grateful too those kind exmormon friends I had that did not insult, mock, or attempt to break my faith back then. They simply took the fork in the road a little ahead of me and walked it as good examples, and now many of us that have taken it can be okay with those that don’t or are still making their way there.

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