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  1. Oh how sad! Josh, I don’t know if you’ll see this but a faith crisis is something I think virtually every Latter-Day Saint experiences at one point or another, and sometimes it happens for a while. I believe that hoping in the truthfulness of the gospel is enough, even if it’s for a long period of time. Love you brother!!!

  2. Having watch this podcast, I can only applaud the courage and grace shown by Josh….. He is a remarkable young man – poised and kind in all of his responses and generous in his acceptance of behaviors from his Mission President and family which were stunningly unacceptable. I can not comprehend their actions…. Who can imagine a parent wishing a child to come home dead – what kind of family values are these???? The Mission President needs to understand that there can be no faith without doubts – perhaps reading Thomas Merton might help for true faith can only be established through the thorough examination of all doubts. Josh should hold his head high for the tremendous dignity and integrity with which he has confronted the faith crisis during his Mission situation. Many thanks for this heartfelt interview!!!!

  3. I served in the California Roseville Mission too, 1996-1998. Had my own faith crisis but came out if it whole I was there as well.

  4. Josh – I really enjoyed this episode. Thanks for sharing your story! There was some gut-wrenching stuff in there. When you talked about your parents, and told a little about their story (had to move, etc.) it just made me pissed. I’m so sorry you have to go through that, and I’m angry that the institutional church has put them in a situation where they are trying to fund a missionary, pay tithing and make ends meet. All the while, we’re making $3M donations to cover f-ing rodeo stadiums in Salt Lake. I appreciated your perspective on the situation with your family. I’m sure it’s so difficult.

    There were a lot of other things I enjoyed, too. But, to sum it up,, the episode left me with a feeling of love and compassion. Good luck to you as you define your path for the future.

    PS: John – I really liked the format of this one. Good pace, simple production, quick release. I love a 6 hour, 3 part episode as much as the next guy, but I thought this really worked well. Keep up the great work!

  5. Josh,

    Seems like honesty isn’t always the best policy, I guess we just have to use the spirit on that one as did our father Abraham when he lied about his wife being his sister in order to avoid being killed.

    Anyways, are you familiar with this website?
    http://www.mormondiscussionpodcast.org/

    I think Bill Reel has done a pretty good job of offering a point of view that is healthy that allows one to be faithful in the church while acknowledging the difficult issues. Although that isn’t what you are interested right now, perhaps one day you’d like to return to church activity, and if you do… well having that point of view will help.

    You’ve become very wise and said a lot of things that are noteworthy and true. As you continue to grow in your personal goodness many good people will gather around you, and your family will come around too… be patient with them as they grow back to accepting you. They’ll come around… and so will the Church. Maybe check in every year or so… would be nice if they could revert that dis-honorary discharge to honorable one… you deserve it. There are members who are well aware of these issues, but I think we are only around 5% of the active membership that does.

    Hopefully you can send this link to your family, bishop, stake president, and even your mission president… God bless!!

  6. Josh,
    I first heard your story when you courageously shared it with a room full of strangers almost a year ago. I was holding back tears, admiring your integrity. I honor you now for the way that you live your witness.
    You have reminded me that the whole world is our compassion workshop.
    Safe journeys,
    Deb T.

  7. Josh – I totally know how it feels to begin a faith crisis on a mission. I went to Argentina in 2011, and my path to the faith crisis has been different, but know you are not alone!

  8. Listening to this episode this morning as I was driving into work, I swore out loud when I heard that Josh’s mission president sent him home 3 weeks before completion. I firmly believe Josh served a complete mission (he stayed as long as he was allowed) and an honorable mission (e.g., his honesty in answering his mission president’s questionnaire). Nevertheless, I still swore because his mission president knowingly and unnecessarily placed a stigma upon Josh. I was so disappointed to hear how Josh was treated by his mission president and his family after he returned. It was shocking how self-centered Josh’s parent’s comments were (e.g., complaints about the money spent on the mission, and the preference for Josh to die on his mission over losing his faith).

    On another subject, Josh recommended that actively serving missionaries not inform their leaders about their faith transition and, instead, talk to family. I would caution that telling family might result in that family contacting their leaders. I would say talk to a trusted non-leader. John can surely testify to all the psychological problems of keeping a faith transition secret, so I wouldn’t say keep it a secret until you get home. But I think one has to know who can be trusted and who can’t. I’m not confident that family can always be trusted.

  9. Dear Josh,

    I wept hearing this; your experience is grossly unfair. Shame on your mission president. He has flunked one of his biggest tests.

    I pray your parents/family can come to a better understanding and help mend the relationship. Life is too short to spend it estranged from family.

    It is all-important to be honest and honorable. Your behavior is really commendable — I salute you. I suspect that many, like me, cheer for your success.

  10. Bringing up objections before people discover them is a sales tactic. I think John refers to it as “plausible deniability”, touching the subjects about these subjects just so you can say you’ve mentioned it and then not making them a focal point. Anyone who actually studies the history knows that the articles are very limited and incomplete.

    As people open themselves up to the questions of about the Church, they’ll allow themselves to dig deeper. Whatever you Josh, DON’T listen to Sandra Tanner’s recent Sunstone talk about the purpose of Prophets.. She’s brilliant at asking questions that brings more light and knowledge related to the track record of so called “modern prophets”.

    Is there anything more ridiculous than losing your family over a myth?

  11. This came to mind when Josh mentioned integrity.

    “When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken or cease being honest.” – Anonymous

    Honesty is always the best policy. Lying for the Lord? . . . Let Him do his own dirty work. As for me and my house, we will work in the light of truth–no matter how much damage the truth causes.

  12. Josh, I hope it is some consolation that your integrity is inspiring. Integrity is the reason I recently left, and I applaud you for yours and share your pain. You’re my brother. I sent you a FB message, you’re welcome to crash at my place. (I better go tell my wife)
    Peace

  13. Massive respect for Josh. Honesty with one’s self is an absolute virtue. Growing up in an insular Mormon culture requires a very strong person to deviate from the traditional path, especially as a missionary. Truth matters. I have massive disrespect for the insecure mission president who sent Josh home three weeks early. Clearly a very myopic man . Good luck going forward Josh.

  14. Josh, this is such an important story to share; thanks for your courage. I’m a mother and grandmother, now, but long ago, in my BYU days, I wrote a missionary who was dealing with a serious faith crisis. It was an emotional rollercoaster for me, because I hoped to marry him in the temple when he came home. He completed his mission, probably because he told only a select few about his difficulties. When he came home we dated very briefly, but I had been highly indoctrinated at BYU; I was afraid to pursue my relationship with him, and he also distanced himself, foreseeing that the Church would likely be an issue between us. I dearly loved this young man. I immediately married a different returned missionary (on the rebound, I dare say)–one whose faith in the Church would never waver. I’m now haunted by the fact that the Church held so much power over my most important life choices that it determined who I felt comfortable dating and marrying. I guess your story brought me back to my own regret; I wish I could have seriously been there for this missionary after he came home. I wish I could’ve heard his pain without letting my own fear get in the way. I wish I could’ve given him a chance. I was much like the LDS girlfriend you briefly mentioned, and I regret this.

    1. His name is John Gary Weston, you can google it under California, Roseville mission.

      I feel really sorry you had to go through so much pain, Josh. It is unimaginable to me that you were sent home three weeks early from your mission. So not right.

      One of my companions went a bit crazy, left her freebie in the train station and left to go find another sister with whom she had served in the LTM. She and the other sister did no missionary work at all for two months. The mission president kept the sister out 16 months, then gave her an honorable discharge. She has wanted to go home at 14 months, he kept her there in Germany until she could be released honorably. He did not want to hurt her life moving forward. I so wish your mission president had had more understanding and compassion.

  15. I’m absolutely disgusted by the actions of the Mission President! This is a clear case of ecclesiastical abuse. It’s simply unconscionable that a church would treat one of its missionaries this way. They have tossed Josh out like trash. But as we know, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” (where have we heard this recently?) Make no mistake…you are a treasure Josh!

    I’m still a member of record, but I’m not sure I can continue having my name attached to this increasingly abusive organization.

    1. Folks calling a pox down upon the Mission President might do well to remember Josh noting that the poor man “checked around” before he issued his sentence. He probably called Salt Lake and they recommended he take such a course of fear and unrighteous dominion. The Mission President undoubtedly is a good man. It’s a pity both he and his superiors chose the way of this telestial place instead of the way of Jesus Christ.

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

      40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

      41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;” (D&C 121:39–41)

      1. Sorry Felicity, but the Nuremburg defense of the Mission President won’t fly with me. “Good men” do what is right and let the consequence follow (one of the few good things I learned from Mormonism). Bad men simply follow. This was not a Christian act by a good man. It was an immoral act by a spineless minion!

        “Morality is doing right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.”

        H.L. Mencken

        1. I agree with you, Dallin, that the Mission President could’ve done the right thing, regardless of what headquarters recommended. Therein lies a sad tale of a person who, in the process of probably serving first as a bishop and/or a stake president, learned to cede his agency to those with bigger “keys”. In his judgement of Josh, the Mission President will one day find himself judged with equal, but divine, severity. It’s a sad tale, coming and going.

          1. “divine, severity” really? if there is a God, I have no interest in worshipping one who metes out judgment of this sort. This Mission President also needs compassion. Beautiful people with sincere faith can do great harm despite their good intentions.

  16. Thank you Josh! Your perspective is so urgently needed. Great idea to form a support community also; ERMs suffer so much sometimes. Thomas McConkie, featured in recent podcasts, has a beautiful and healing perspective on the issues that you are facing.

    Before my son left on his mission (7 months ago) my husband and I did our best to prepare him about LDS and mission realities. (My husband and I both served missions in the 80’s.) We talked about polygamy, Book of Abraham, Kinderhook plates, B of M anachronisms, DNA stuff, historical fabrications, etc. We talked to him extensively about how to navigate the sometimes toxic mission “system”. We also laid out the tremendous positive things to be gained from a mission and encouraged him to go if he thought he could manage the dissonance. We asked him to stay as Christ-centered as possible and to keep his head down and don’t talk about anything controversial with anyone. I hope and pray he can come out of it with some good learning experiences and not too much damage.

    It seems like a schizophrenic approach but I will not tear my kids from their moorings any sooner than absolutely necessary. And I honestly don’t have anything better to offer them. All faith traditions and atheist/agnostic positions come with their crap and downsides too. This is uncharted territory for us and I hope my kids will forgive our mistakes and understand that we are doing the best we can with the tools we have.

    I look forward to future podcasts on this topic John! Godspeed and Happy Trails to you Josh!

    1. Yvette,

      So you are active in the church? I like your approach and insight. Very positive and even though there are differences of opinion, well shared.

      My comments in this post are hopefully a trend of learning and hopefully people bare with me. It is a process of accepting friends leaving and me not being too reactive in responses to people responses that are done in pain.

      Do you have any insight on how members can help protect their children from having whiplash to issues not openly discussed?

      Any thoughts on approach to helping existing members and family handle transitions of persons choosing to leave the church. My experience has been a bit of a shock to me. I want to be able to better respond to those that may choose to leave in the future. Be a better friend. Know when I should help them with faith vs evidence of truths.

  17. Josh,
    Thanks so much for having the courage to share your story – it will be helpful to hundreds of people who will watch it and finally understand that they are not alone.
    Although I am not LDS myself , I married into an LDS family over 30 years ago. Because of that marriage I have (literally) dozens of wonderful LDS relatives covering the spectrum from totally active and true believing to completely inactive (with their names now removed from the rolls of the church). It is very helpful that more and more LDS people are using the Internet to do their own research. That way they can take their time studying and then come to their own conclusions without pressure from family or friends.
    I have several nephews who went on LDS missions, went through faith crises, eventually left the LDS church and are now in a somewhat more comfortable place with their LDS families. I also have two nieces who were able to do research online and make their peace with leaving the LDS church. Thankfully (over time) most of the relationships with family members have improved.
    I’m so thankful that you found the Sunday Assembly group in Salt Lake City. That sounds like a great place to find community. Good luck with your journey and again – thanks so much for taking the time to share your story with us.

    1. Debbie,

      I love your approach. I think it is helpful. I don’t sense any anger and your are respectful to both sides.

      I’m a strong active member. “currently exercising faith in my beliefs”. You give a lot of hope for those members that have felt the sting of friends leaving the church and feeing their anger and pain as they leave.

  18. Dear Josh

    Heartbreaking! I know you think there are many good people in the world and I agree but there are also the uneducated and scared who can be dangerous. Your parents fall into this category. Please stay strong. I do not think this will be easy.
    Much love coming your way.

  19. I look forward to the day that you interact with your family often. Take good care of yourself! Until there is a support group, don’t forget that there are also Mama Dragons who would rescue anyone in crisis.

  20. You’re a very impressive young man, Josh. You should be proud that you had the intellect to study the other side of the Mormon faith, and the integrity to be honest about what you’ve learned in spite of the negative consequences. You will do well in life if you continue to do this. It’s an increasingly rare characteristic.

    I hope you continue to seek a relationship with the Lord. God is NOT the Church. Separate them and be led by God alone.

    Your relationship with your family will work out in time. Stay in touch with them and let them know that you love them, expecting nothing in return. Your goodness will reach them.

    Wishing you THE BEST!

    1. Thanks for your positive feedback. Even though we disagree on the truth of the church, I appreciate your sincerity and not dumping hatred. I can imagine the roller coaster one goes through.

      Any thoughts of how to help people going through the process that are still members of the church?

  21. Josh…..thanks so much for sharing your story! I’m 30+ years older than you and have been on a very slow burn faith crisis until last year when I discovered the CES Letter, Mormon Stories, and this great community of accepting people.

    I was angry and disgusted at your Mission President for sending you home from your mission three weeks before your 2-year mark. I had to rewind and reply your statement that he called it “Released in the state of Apostasy.” Really??!! What a shameful thing for him to have you call your Father to give him that kind of a phone call at the time he and your family would have been looking forward to receiving you home after serving an honorable mission. Your Mission President could have called you to a special 3-week service project or have you do paper work in the Mission Home.

    It is so important that this kind of behavior is made public so that the church can be held accountable for the sales force of 70,000 unpaid foot soldiers so that they are given the respect, recognition, and dignity for putting in their expected time (male and female). It is disgusting to hear stories of military mission presidents that rule like they are kings and the missionaries are mindless pawns in this silly effort to keep the flow of new tithe payers coming in the front door.

    It may not matter to you in the future if your path is to leave the church. However it brings up a question about how the church manages the permanent member records of missionaries that come home early. Do they keep a file that reflects your “early release in the state of apostasy?” Does that record go away like a bad credit report in a few years if you get back in line with the other TBM sheep? Or does it follow you from Ward to Ward as you find your way in life as your records follow you on your career and life journey?

    I hope you realize that there is a huge growing community of people in the world that may still claim a form of Mormonism, but who have taken the red pill and recognize it as an organization run by men who yearn for power, control, money, and strict followers. The power will shift one day. You have done a brave and wonderful thing to share your story. I hope that you can use this moment in your life to launch into bigger and better things and find the happiness and satisfaction that you deserve.

    Thanks.

  22. The advise was…”Not sending missionaries home for a faith crisis”? what?!!! Mormon dudes are out there messing with other peoples lives. Out on a mission to infect others with mormonism. Missions tear other non-mormon families apart. Where’s the “I’m so sorry” for the converted investigator dipped in this anagrammed ‘this’. If you do not believe…go home. The decibels of your leaving are up to you. I wonder how many missionaries have gone back on a reverse-mission to say “i’m so sorry” to the people they’ve infected?

    And to the families who shun…Shunning is the latter days way of honor killing, Shame to the shameless.

    safe travels

  23. Josh,
    When I tried to talk to my parents about my doubts, my father told me I needed to agree with him or get out of his house( it was after our perfect family had perfect Sunday dinner together). I am 46 and have 4 kids but it still hurt like I was a young kid. I feel your pain. I think fear makes people do and say things they will regret someday. I’m so glad you figured all this out in your 20’s because it causes so much anger when you don’t learn about the truth until you are in your 40’s and have spent enormous amounts of time and money on a belief based on half truths and lies. I served a mission in Munich Germany 25 years ago and sometimes when I think about the things I taught other people about race and the curse of a dark skin, it causes me so much pain. I’m happy that you can move forward with a much more clear view of the world. I wish you all the best!

  24. Josh,

    I just finished listening to your podcast with John and was deeply touched by your experience. Your strength and positive attitude while going through this challenging time is admirable. I believe that your parents will eventually come around and they will likely later regret distancing themselves from you. But stay positive, they’ll come around.

    But your story definitely resonates with me. I have been an active member for 48 years with a lovely wife and three wonderful children, my oldest is about your age, and I recently went through a similar faith crisis after I began questioning the church following their policy change last November towards the children of gay/lesbian children. I found this policy offensive and it acted as a catalyst for me to question the church’s history for the first time. That led me to a similar place in regards to my testimony. I shared my concerns with my wife and after a few months she was right by my side with the same concerns about church history, and this led us sitting down with our three children to share our concerns. It’s been challenging, especially since my wife’s parents are still on a mission, but we’ve been honest with our kids. It was a difficult conversation, to be sure, but we were completely honest. We will also talk my wife’s parents when they get back from the mission early next year.

    As a parent, I am with John Dehlin and not crazy that you’re hitch hiking across the country. Hey, it’s just a protective parental thing. But if you need a place to stay on your on your way back from your east coast adventure and you’re in Oklahoma, don’t hesitate to respond to this message and I’ll hook you up with w place to stay.

    1. Thanks for not bashing or using harsh wording. I think moving forward in a positive light will be better for all. I hope that your family relations can be sound and full of love. I can’t imagine the hurt and anxiety that may felt through various persons as they share in this experience with you regales of their view point. All family is affected by it. May you find a path that brings peace and light.

  25. I keep hoping that someday the Mormon church and their members will treat those with faith crisises more compassionately. But I’m convinced that is unlikely to happen because in their eyes there is no alternative. The leaders prime goal is to keep the institution together . Caring for others is secondary. And since there are no satisfactory answers to the questions in the CES letter, the only option is to silence questioners by any means necessary that is still legal. So lay members are taught that apostates left to sin or allowed themselves to be influenced by the devil, thus vilifying them. This in turn justifies horrible , uncompassionate treatment of those who question orthodoxy in any way, shape of form.

  26. I wish the Brethren in the next general conference would give a talk to parents/relatives/friends about how wrong and un-Christ like it is to disown gay/lesbian children and children with a faith crisis. Remember the prodigal son story.

  27. Josh,

    I was so moved by your story and what an amazing person you seem to be. I respect your strength, integrity and honesty!

    I could relate so much to your not really blaming your parents for their poor reaction towards you because of the church’s conditioning. I too have parents that do not “reach out”. I believe that my parents struggle with having close relationships with their children (especially the ones that don’t conform to the path that “looks good” in Mormonism), because of their orthodox Mormon views. The church has (in my opinion, at least in my family) been sort of a crutch to really doing the hard work that REAL relationships require. Growing up in my house was all about “looking the part” and all was well. They didn’t need to know me or what was going on in my life, as long as I was at church every week and didn’t do anything that would embarrass them too much. It’s my opinion that many Mormon families function this way. I’m not sure that I explained that very well, but I want you to know you are not alone in having parents who don’t make the effort to connect or reach out to you. You will definitely be a softer landing for any of your siblings, if they come to similar conclusions in the future.

    You are lucky to have made this transition early in your adulthood. Wish I had made the realization earlier in my life. Good luck to you and thank you so much for sharing your story.

    1. Josh,

      Like Andrea, growing up in my family was about looking the part, Life at home was very different from the life on show at church in Queensland Australia. As a consequence three of my siblings and I left the church (with some quite dramatic incidents) and have always believed that we left for good reasons, namely that church doctrine was based on so much fallacy. The pressure brought to bear on church members who leave, especially as young as I was, around 19, is unacceptable. I am 65 and my only brother (58) remains totally indocrinated with his wife and 8 adult children and grandchildren. I have little need for false doctrine, nor for the pretence churned out by the church in the face of ever-growing evidence of the falsehoods. My choice brought me freedom and happiness!

      Keep all your strength and courage of your convictions and be happy Josh, and stay in contact with your family. You do not have to live with the delusions of the church. Please read Richard Packham’s advice on his website.

  28. Josh, you seem like a very likable person. I am sorry that your MP was not kind in his reaction to the truth you told him- he will be dealt with in the next life if there is one. Please remember a couple of things- other than in zion (utah) no one and I mean no one cares what happened on your mission. Its only in this zealous state would anyone really put any thought into this.

    For my self I am always mystified by the Iphone- seer stone comparison and the translations of the GP from the story of my childhood (which is still the same exact story and images that they use today)- what hog wash. They have a trend of just making up crap, throwing it against the wall and see what sticks with the pack of sheep that follow without lookingup- simply pathetic.

  29. I am glad to know that this young man wised up to the fraud of Mormonism while he was young. He will recover.
    No doubt his parents are also growing. All that rejection is about them trying to hang onto their fragile “testimony” of a religion that isn’t Christian in theology and unfortunately not Christian in behavior. That having been said, there are Christians within the Mormon church environment. I was a Christian for decades while I was an active temple-going Mormon. What is telling is that my Christianity often had to be hidden to be part of the Mormon group and to hold positions. Example: I was a visiting teacher to a woman who lived alone and lived a life of “sin” in the eyes of the Relief Society . This woman allowed us to visit as long as we came “to mourn with her when she mourned and rejoice with her when good things happen” but she requested NO LESSONS, PLEASE. My companion and I prayed with her and honored her wishes. The Relief Society Prestident found out we weren’t giving a lesson and she dropped this woman from the rolls of those to be visited! I was stunned. We could be shallow and blame the RS President, but her behavior is rooted in the theology of the Mormon Church who routinely put people underneath the power of the church instead of having faith in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I should have left the Mormon Church years before I did.

  30. My heart goes out to your Mission President. As a missionary, you are officially representing the church. How can you do so if you do not believe in gospel doctrine. https://www.lds.org/bc/content/ldsorg/topics/missionary/MissionaryHandbook2006Navigate.pdf

    As difficult as it is to go home early, your mission president did the right thing. Let’s not be too hard on him being in the position he was in. That is quite the difficult thing to do. Now people are criticizing your president for only having half the story. A man that is good that dedicated three years of their life to help others.

    When we allow doubt to enter into our minds and consider questions, we must remember that we need to look at the fruits of the Gospel. What good has come of it? What has the seed that was nourished brought forth? Have your parent’s brought forth bad children or bad results in the lives they have lived? I don’t think so. So why not embrace the good and stop looking at the negative.

    If we look at the history of any type of group, we see corruption and issues. There is no perfect society or religious organization because we are human and make mistakes.

    Were you taught growing up that members of the church don’t make mistakes? What makes someone different based on the calling or position they have in an organization. Nothing, other than responsibilities. We still have our own problems.

    Rather than pursue the dark negativity of history, why not embrace the good and wholesome truths we do believe. And based on that move forward. It is great that you do service. Keep doing that, I praise you for that. I lack the natural ability to serve. The selfishness inside me wants to do my own thing.

    Why not keep an open mind? Why not consider that God doesn’t give us all truth. If we were to rely on the science and knowledge we had in the 1800s, we would still be cutting peoples legs off and nursing things with leaches, cocaine, and morphine. Why not instead stop putting our faith in man’s knowledge and instead put our faith in God and be patient for the knowledge god has.

    What is to gain about this podcast? Is it bringing you closer to God or your family? Or is it just a place to complain and commiserate in our own gloom? If we are always looking backwards, how are we going to move forward. We will end up stumbling more due to our head looking behind. Time to move on. Time to put the past in the past. Call your parents, tell them you love and miss them. Don’t do it over text. Be safe out there with the cross country travel. Don’t forget your prayers. If you feel you don’t believe, why not trying the challenge to experiment upon the word.

    Pray sincerely
    Read the scriptures
    Try to follow what you learned
    Believe, don’t allow doubt to settle in.
    Watch the fruits of your faith. Look for the evidence of God in your life and give thanks. When was the last time you looked at your blessings?

    John

    1. John,
      A little self righteous of you to think your church is the sole arbiter of ” good and wholesome truths”. Josh’s parents raised at least one good kid. The fact that they cut him off and that he was sent home when he started thinking for himself is an example of the fear, hatred, violence and malevolence baked into your religion. By the way, supposedly Ol’ Joe got all his info from god in the 1800’s. Now it can’t be relied on?
      You are far better off putting the church behind you Josh. Run away as fast as you can. I hope that your parents pull their heads out of their ass someday.

    2. UVU,

      Seriously? I could not even read your remarks without shivering. This boy has learned the TRUTH and you are placing guilt on him? I know it is difficult to be LDS and have your own doubts (yet bury them) and then see others come out and be brave about their discoveries that they cannot deny anymore. It’s hard to keep marching, face forward, when your comrades peel off and no longer want to play along with the CRAZY brainwash. “Believe, don’t allow doubt to settle in”…. oh my…. There is facts/reality and there is denial, I’m sorry you are stuck in denial and don’t like the idea of others deciding to live their lives in reality. I know it is hard, SO HARD, to face the truth and deal with the challenges but it is the right thing to do. It is not hard to discover the truth, it is hard to be honest about it. I applaud this boy for being brave.

      1. UVU, I want to second that- I cant read your crap without shivering.

        “If we are always looking backwards, how are we going to move forward. We will end up stumbling more due to our head looking behind. Time to move on. Time to put the past in the past. ” Really, 99 percent of church doctrine has been determined by what happened more than 150 years ago- but you want to discount all that (because I think you know the narrative is not truthful). What happened to the narrative of the golden plates, the first vision, the translation (with the seer stone aka I-rock) and all that? How about the history of the members that endured at the price of families and lives that could have been for naught on a giant scam?

        Just how many of your fellow church goers have decided that the history is history and lets move on– if so,you all really only have an elks club or rotary club going on sundays at the church- except for the guilt that you all throw out there to the members that cant see through the veil and no alcohol to get through it. Could the veil really be the untruthfulness of the mormon religion’s historical narrative? Is that the veil we need the handshakes and code words to get through???

        I think you know the historical narrative is not right and that you UVU are afraid of what your wife, kids, parents, bishop would say if you told them what you really thought. Good luck spending your sundays in church listening to the lessons- but please do one thing for me– ask the primary president to remove the image of JS having the GP sitting on the table next him as he “translates” them and replace it with a picture of the I-rock in a hat with no GP to be seen- Urdorf has already let that cat out of the bag on that!

        And lastly- the mission president was a dirt bag to do that- I want to know what the handbook says about the high administration changing the narrative as they see fit. Is a prophet not a prophet? Or is there some grey area there? This church is not the same church that it was when I was a teenager.

    3. John you sound like a true believer. From your remarks here is sounds like it is very hard for your to understand what people experiencing faith crisis are really going through. If only it were as simple as you state but you may lack deeper understanding in the church’s real problems and sadly even dishonesty as they attempt to continue to hide and dilute the real truth behind it’s beginning. God bless you in your own journey.

    4. Remember when a general authority of the Mormon church said recently “Doubt your doubts”?
      What we need to doubt is our certainties.
      Certainty says “The road stops here!!”

      The opposite of faith is not doubt.
      The opposite of faith is Certainty.
      God calls us to faith.
      Only man calls us to Certainly.
      Beware the intoxicating ride of Certainty. You injure a lot of people on your road.

      Doubt is nto a dirty word. Doubt is a magnificent word that calls us to open our minds and grow.

    5. UVU – yikes!
      This young man is in a lot of pain. Your response feels very cold and reads like it was pulled out of some kind of LDS church handbook. “If you feel you don’t believe, why not trying the challenge to experiment upon the word”???? Who talks like that?
      Where is the empathy?
      Where is the compassion?
      Where is the love?

    6. John,

      What a load of apologetic drivel. You express sympathy for the mission president, and by doing so fail to express any genuine emotion for a young man who has been ostracized for following his intellect and his heart.

      I too had a faith crisis while serving my mission. It happened after serving for twelve months as an obedient zone leader, and right before becoming an assistant to the president for my final six months. My faith crisis wasn’t provoked by any “anti” literature online or in print, rather it was sparked by the inconsistencies and issues within mormon scripture itself. Unlike Josh, I hid my doubts; and my mission president, a dyed in the wool, Cache Valley soon to be general authority, demonstrating his righteous link with the holy spirit, called me as one of his assistants. I played the part of a trailblazing missionary, and I made it home, unblemished. Then I left the church. In contrast to my approach, Josh’s was more genuine. But I did what I needed to do to keep the respect of my family, friends, ward, and community. And then I left the church, and all that respect was gone.

      In response to the reference of “by their fruits ye shall know them,” I would point to the tremendous amount of destruction done by the LDS church. And if you can’t see the tree that has grown from those seeds – if you can’t even acknowledge problems such as the LGBT suicide crisis, then I may as well try to reason with an orthodox scieftologist, or a jihadist. Trying to introduce logic to a person blinded by “faith” is pointless. And you, sir, are no more sure of your beliefs than billions of humans who cling to their beliefs and their faith in the same way. Logic is a beautiful thing, and just like the “fruits” of LDS, it should be tried out.

      Given the amount of controversy surrounding the LDS church, the “essays,” etc., there is no shortage of Mormons experiencing a crisis of faith. And as you demonstrated very well, there is no shortage of Mormons trying to rationalize anything and everything that comes to light.

      The Mormon hierarchy is apparently taking steps to try and reconcile their history with the changing architecture of the world we live in. Yet despite these efforts, it should be difficult for even the most fervent (or ‘by the fruits ye shall know them’) members to embrace. There are problems. And if you don’t focus on those problems, then the problems only get worse.

      Josh, I commend you for your courage to speak your mind and speak your heart to your mission president, and I wish you the best.

  31. John and Josh, thanks for the podcast. It is great that you are telling these stories. I feel like you missed something big though.

    I was a missionary who got sick with migraine headaches on my mission to Brisbane, Australia. My best friend, my 18 year old brother Danny died unexpectedly 8 months into my mission. I felt pressured to stay out and was not given the option to go home for his funeral. I ended up coming home a few weeks later anyway because of my headaches. I got a letter from my Dr. saying I was good to go back, out a month after coming home. The church gave me a new mission call and I went right back to being a missionary. I ended up serving in 4 different missions.

    As I listened to josh I could see something I’ve seen in myself. I think a lot of Josh’s family issues come from a different source than theological differences. Josh had never lived away from home. He was in many ways still a dependent child prior to serving his mission, just like I was. Parents are expected to sacrifice their sons and daughters to a mission. It’s just like they are dying. Just listen to the sobbing missionaries, or missionary’s moms, and you’ll get an idea of all the trauma involved for many. Missionary service rules are very extreme. You are given away to the mission. You are placed in unequal partnerships (companionships), which have serious effects on your self worth. Your identity is taken, many of your freedoms are taken, even your friends and family are taken by restrictions to the contact necessary to keep those relationships healthy. Then, if it goes bad, and you have to come home early, that can feel like a social death.

    Josh says he didn’t know what all was involved with a mission prior to going out. His parents could have prevented this from happening to him. Josh knows this deep down inside. I think this is a big trigger for his family problems, and much of the pain he shows in the interview.

    I am now married and very happy, but my anger and pain with my parents was suffocating until I talked to them about it, and how they were partly responsible for hurting me. I couldn’t do it on my own; it took joint counseling with my wife and I and both of my parents, to finally stand up to them. It was super difficult but so worth it. Our belief differences haven’t changed, but now that I feel they understand what they did to hurt me, I feel so much better. I’m not angry with them anymore, and that has helped us heal a lot of our broken relationship.

    I am a dad of 3 little boys that will be 18 someday. Inoculating our boys to keep them from going through what Josh went through isn’t good enough. We hope to see some major changes in the coming years requiring apologies and polygamy policy changes, similar to what Carol Lynn Pearson says in her new book (minus her desire for polyandrous sealings), as well as major changes to the missionary program. My wife and I plan to do everything in our power to help make these changes happen.

  32. John Dehlin, you continue to have such fascinating people on Mormon stories. I am so grateful to have been introduced to these podcasts as I too, have sifted through all the “real truth” about our Mormon faith. Josh, thank you for sharing your story. BE SAFE!!! Good people are not only the ones picking up hitchhikers! ;o) I am from Utah and understand the unbelievable hold the church has on the city, state and people. I have 7 children, 2 married and it took me this long to finally have the courage to face the truth about the church. Too bad families in the church cannot even begin to understand the pain that those who find out the truth really experience. My hubby started his faith crisis first and my biggest regret in our 33 wonderful married years is that I allowed him to walk it alone while I remained faithful to the church. I am so grateful we are on the same page again. Your parents sound like they have been so completely conditioned over the years of being so fully involved in this religion. It is most likely fear that compels them to respond in such a shocking way. When people believe and live so much for their eternal salvation they lose the ability to really embrace the now and live and enjoy each and every day! It was so hard to step back and there was much pain, loneliness and confusion but it really is so worth it. The feelings that replace the ones developed from the obedience and love for Mormonism have been replaced and there is so much power and ability to love in a truly unconditional way. I was so saddened to hear that your mission president labeled your faith crisis so harshly. Once again……it’s all about the fear on his part. He is only doing what he has been conditioned to do for probably many, many years. So sad. Have fun on your adventures. But as a mom to 7 I am telling you to please be careful while having fun! Hugs!

  33. Oh, and Josh,
    Please be SAFE hitchhiking, if no one can talk ya out of it. (Not even John could.) At least carry Mace or a folding pocket knife or something?! (A licensed “conceal and carry” might be best, but like me I don’t think you own one, plus then the drivers may be scared of you! 🙂 ) You’re so nice, but be not naive as to the kindnesses of others. I tend to have faith in the goodness of mankind too, but we gotta be aware as well. So may the Spirit of discernment be your guide! You know what they say–be as gentle as a lamb but as wise as a serpent. (I knew snakes were stealthy and smart, but wise?) We wanna hear of your adventures cross-country later, so please keep well, and may God (Good) provide. Bon voyage…in your journey and in life.

  34. I’d like to think that someday Josh’s father will regret telling his son that he would have preferred him to come home dead rather than with a loss of belief in the truth claims of the Mormon Church. But this is the contemptuous arrogance that comes from a superiority complex ingrained by the teachings that postulate that some special few are the “elect and chosen” of God.

  35. Listening to Josh was deeply moving. My heart goes out to him. He valued honesty, ethical Behavior, and the pursuit of Truth. I thought that was what parents were supposed to teach their children. I thought that was what religion was all about. Unfortunately that isn’t always true. The way the church treated this young man does not surprise me. The church has a long history of treating good people badly. What is unfathomable to me is how this young man’s parents are turning away from him. They were blessed to have this son. I hope the Mormon fog they are currently living in will at some point be lifted so they can see clearly what their Church is doing to their family, and I hope it happens before it’s too late. To Josh I would say this, please take care of yourself. You are an exceptional person and you are you are on the path to an exceptional life. Look at how many people your life has touched already.

  36. (Posted before my above comment)
    Josh,
    I’ve never left a comment here, but after watching your interview, your goodness made me write. (By the way, John Dehlin, great questions! and may I add–you’re a life saver with this site and your work.) Josh, you’re the real deal because you’re just (finding) yourself. You should be APPLAUDED by the Church, bowed down to, and honored, not shamed!–for your trying to be true, which is ironically (tho’ I know not a one of us is perfect) what Christ would have us be. You are a HERO. And a pioneer of sorts. Unfortunately, the first ones trod the hardest roads with the most stones. Why? They haven’t been paved yet. Like Frost, you are on the road less taken, whether it was in your Mission, the Church, or your family. But how deeply proud am I, are we, of you. And though nothing can replace your family, may you find an additional one meanwhile, of acceptance, support, and love, as you travel your road.

    THE ROAD NOT TAKEN – by Robert Frost
    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth;

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim,
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same,

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

  37. What a sad story, and how wrong for a parent to wish their child dead rather than disbelieving. If church is about families, that message is not coming through.

    1. Josh,

      Like Andrea, growing up in my family was about looking the part, Life at home was very different from the life on show at church in Queensland Australia. As a consequence three of my siblings and I left the church (with some quite dramatic incidents) and have always believed that we left for good reasons, namely that church doctrine was based on so much fallacy. The pressure brought to bear on church members who leave, especially as young as I was, around 19, is unacceptable. I am 65 and my only brother (58) remains totally indocrinated with his wife and 8 adult children and grandchildren. I have little need for false doctrine, nor for the pretence churned out by the church in the face of ever-growing evidence of the falsehoods. My choice brought me freedom and happiness!

      Keep all your strength and courage of your convictions and be happy Josh, and stay in contact with your family. You do not have to live with the delusions of the church. Please read Richard Packham’s advice on his website.

      Wishing a son dead is a sad comment about what brainwashing can achieve.

  38. Why do some in the church hold on to these cult-like behaviors? Dead rather than disbelieving? There is a thoughtless, clueless fear behind this bizarre behavior.

  39. Something I don’t see mentioned is that a member in the closed Facebook group, Mormon stories community outed this elder. That group is about 8000 people and I’m sure the administrators try to vet members, but with a group that size everyone can’t be policed. I’m sure the churches semi secret Strengthening the Members committee is watching through moles. It would behoove anyone who doesn’t want their doubts to become generally known to remember that.

    1. Good thought Anne! I just left a comment on a thoughtful faith feeling safe in the discussion but now I’m wondering if I should delete it? Too bad fear of tattle telling is for real!

  40. Josh, your story tugged at my heartstrings and I wish the very best for you in your journey. As a mom of nine, I would be proud to call you my son. I applaud your courage and honesty in speaking your truth. I left the church as a 4th gen mormon, at the age of 62, for so many reasons, mostly for being sexually abused by my mormon “righteous” X and being treated like a nobody by p-hood leaders after I spoke the truth and divorced. Three of my children left, four no longer attend or believe, two are still members. I love them each for the wonderful people that they are. I hope that your parents and family will come to see the beauty of your soul. And PLEASE be safe!!!

  41. Josh,

    Thanks for your interview. A couple of things came to mind while listening to you. I have 11 children and i do not call my children very often. I am the one who has left the church but that is not why I do not call often. it never had anything to do with it. I simply do not have the same response some people have to children leaving home. My children are very independent but they do notice that most of their roommates or companions have much more contact with their parents than they do. My children call me occasionally when they have something exciting to tell me or just to say hi. I call my mom now about every other week because she is now alone but before my step dad died I only called about every 2 to 3 months. I never felt like it was a problem. I do not miss people when they are gone. I simply feel content that they are content, happy, doing their life their way. I do contact them more often is they are having challenges and I think about them more during hard times for them. I hope for you that it is just who your parents are and not because you left the church or got sent home early. My husband rarely calls anyone, his mother, his father, his siblings, his children etc and it has nothing to do with anything. He has not animosity or upset or anything and he is not a selfish self absorbed person. He is always kind and very faithful, loyal, and hopeful. Some people just do not make phone calls or even visit for that matter. I have 5 siblings and I hear from them less than once a year but when we are together every 2 to 10 years it is like we were never apart. Non-issue.

    The other thing I wanted to say is the I totally get why you would hitchhike. I love it that you are doing it. I love it that I have picked up so many hitchhikers over the years and met some very interesting people. I have many times been picked up by strangers when my car has broken down. I love that you are seeking to meet those who assist others for no other reason than they can and they are in the right place at the right time.

  42. Josh, thanks so much for sharing your story like this.

    If there were one thing I wish I could communicate to believing church members who have loved ones going through a faith crisis, it would be this: In all likelihood, you don’t really understand what your loved one is going through. The picture the leadership puts forward about those who are disaffected- that they are lazy, that they want to sin, etc – is for the most part not only untrue, but also unkind and even borderline slanderous. Do they think your loved one doesn’t *want* the church to be true, wasn’t willing to give it every chance? But the problem is that there is evidence- solid historical and scientific evidence- that goes contrary to the church’s claims; evidence that once seen, can’t be easily ignored. The many apologists who unscientifically gloss over and explain away the evidence while breaking the basic rules of scientific inquiry, only make the problem worse.

    Your loved one in all likelihood wants desperately for the church’s claims to be true, and has gone through, or is going through, a “dark night of the soul” over his or her loss of faith. Now is not the time, of all times, to withdraw your love. Take that (hopefully) unspoken thought ‘I would rather see you dead than hear that you had lost your faith’ and hide it deep down. Never speak it. Now is the trial of your love.

    And Josh- you’re a good man. Thanks again for opening up your soul. The world is full of good people, of friends you haven’t yet met. I’m old enough to be your dad, and can say with no hesitation that I would be proud to call you my son.

    Your travel plans are crazy, man. 🙂 Be safe. I would love to hear from you again.

  43. The pain in Josh’s voice and in his silences when asked about his parents is breathtaking. These might be the saddest moments I’ve ever heard.

  44. Thank you Josh! It’s so great to hear your experience as I was sent home early as well, lost the relationship I had with my family, re-gained it after being married in the temple and then lost my family relationship again when I resigned from the church. It is so important to share your journey. If you ever make it to the bay area of California, please reach out (if Mormon Stories can forward you my email). Safe travels.

  45. Thanks for sharing your story. I guess anger would be the best way to describe my reaction, directed at your MP and the church culture. If you need a place to stay in your travels (we are in the Charlotte area) reply here and I’ll give you my email address.

  46. How is it the “I’d rather you died than lost your testimony” meme still lingers on?

    Seems to me any parent uttering such a phrase should be granted an immediate interview with Child Protective Services.

  47. Thank you for sharing your experience! You are a brave kid! I am going through a crushing faith crisis and my husband and I are not on the same page. Listening to what people go through helps me cope. Thank you.

  48. I have watched this series, all of it. I have to say, this one bothered me the most. Josh, you have the right to question and doubt and believe or choose not to believe whatever you want. But those iPads were given to missionaries for a specific purpose, and it absolutely makes my blood boil that you (and others) used it to download Minecraft/Terraria and have a Clash of Clans missionary game. UGH! Just give up gaming for 2 years, man! Is that really so hard? It frustrates me exponentially more than church money being spent towards an upscale mall in SLC, because I at least see a purpose in that. This was deceitful and lazy squandering of church money and of your valuable time, its absolutely shameful. You had an amazing opportunity of full-time service, and it seemed like by the end of your mission you were focusing on service rather than proselytizing. That’s great! Time spent instead with your face in the screen was service hours wasted!

    1. You listened to the entire interview and THAT’S what made your blood boil? Priorities: you’re getting them wrong. But why should that surprise me? Screwed up priorities are a hallmark of the church: A disciplinary council is mandatory for same-sex couples, but it is only sometimes necessary for attempted murder, spousal abuse, rape, etc.

    2. seriously psycho much? unless you have served in a Cali mission I’d suggest you go boil some more blood while bathing in it. California missions are extremely hard contacting and now that they have taken away tracting pretty much you are going to be extremely bored. missionaries are known for playing board games at the end of a sunday night. how many things do we need these poor young people to feel bad about?

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