February 2020 marks the 5 year anniversary of my excommunication from the Mormon church.
In a desire to protect myself against the possibility of slander or misinformation from the church or its apologists (as was experienced by former church members such as Fawn Brodie, Simon Southerton, and Kate Kelly during their disciplinary councils), I recorded all of the interviews I had with my bishops (James Stephenson and Brian Hunt) and stake presidents (Mark Jensen and Bryan King) leading up to my disciplinary council/excommunication. A somewhat comprehensive account of the events leading up to my excommunication can be found here. This includes a PDF of my correspondence with my stake president, Bryan King.
As I have been opposed to Mormon Disciplinary Councils from my childhood on, it was always my intention to publish these interviews as a matter of public record – but I decided to hold off on publishing them for several years.
In light of the recent changes made to the Mormon church’s disciplinary council process, and on the 5th anniversary of my excommunication, I am publishing them now.
The interviews I am publishing are the following:
- These first two interviews provide background for the final 4 interviews.
- 2012-05-01 – Bishop James Stephenson: I was not sure why Bishop Stephenson wanted to interview me at the time. I was fearful that it was to convene a disciplinary council. It turned out to be an assessment of my worthiness to baptize my son, Winston.
- Note: I removed the first 20 minutes of this interview because it was all “small talk.” The remaining interviews should be 100%
- 2012-05-23 – Stake President Mark Jensen and Bishop Stephenson: At the time of the interview President Jensen was questioning my faithfulness, and attempting to determine if I was worthy to baptize my son, Winston. The result of this meeting was for me to meet with President Jensen regularly over the next several months to help me resolve my doubts and concerns about the church. To be honest – President Jensen was super kind/patient/compassionate with me. He ultimately judged me worthy to baptize Winston, which I did. I recorded several additional interviews, but did not feel like they added much of importance to the discussion.
- The 4 interviews leading up to my excommunication:
- 2014-01-26 – Bishop Brian Hunt: Bishop Hunt called me in to his office to express concern about my support for Progressive Mormonism and Ordain Women. He then notified me that he would be initiating an investigation into my membership.
- 2014-06-29 – Stake President Bryan King Meeting #1
- 2014-08-07 – Stake President Bryan King Meeting #2. A full transcript of this meeting is available on the New York TImes website.
- 2015-01-14 – Stake President Bryan King Meeting #3
- I did not record my disciplinary council, at the request of Margi.
A few reflections/thoughts about my church membership and excommunication:
- My sincere anticipation is that few, if any, will care to listen to these interviews. I am guessing that this is “old news” for pretty much everyone. I will be perfectly happy if no one notices, or cares about these recordings.
- I acknowledge up front that I made these recordings without the consent of the other participants. This was/is a legal act in the state Utah, and because these meetings were held to evaluate my “worthiness” and because I felt as though my church membership was at stake, I believe(d) that I had the right to record them.
- I do not share these recordings because I feel as though they make me look heroic, or because I want to make the church or the respective bishops or stake presidents look bad. Listening to some of these interviews has been quite unpleasant for me. Honestly, it feels like a train wreck for all involved.
- I want to acknowledge that I take full responsibility for putting these leaders and the church in a difficult decision. I could have resigned to make the process easier for everyone, and I chose not to. At the time, I felt as though I was fighting for a worthy cause – to help the Mormon church change, and to shine a spotlight on the Disciplinary Council process, which I consider(ed) to be barbaric and medieval.
- I believe that Bishops Stephenson and Hunt and Stake Presidents Jensen and King were doing the best they could, under very difficult circumstances. I have feelings of love, compassion, and gratitude for all of these men, and I wish them and their families well. I believe that we all were “victims” of a flawed system.
- I strongly request to all listeners that they not speak or act in ANY way that disparages any of these men.
- Ultimately, I feel like I understand why the church felt like they needed to excommunicate me, and I am at peace with their decision.
- Even five years after my excommunication, I am sincerely grateful for my life as a Mormon.
- I am grateful to see in 2020 that the Mormon church is reconsidering and changing its policies and approaches regarding “disciplinary councils.” To be direct – one of my primary motivations for recording these interviews, and for attending/spotlighting the disciplinary councils of several individuals (Kate Kelly, Marisa and Carson Calderwood, Denver Snuffer, Rock Waterman, Jeremy Runnells, Elizabeth Grimshaw, Clay Christensen, Sam Young, Bill Reel, Cody/Leah Young, Gina Colvin, Dusty Johns, Amy and Jake Malouf, Jared Lusk, and Stephen Bloor) has been to encourage the church to change its policies. I am so grateful to see that finally happening, and I want to personally thank everyone who has sacrificed to make this possible.
Part 1 – Bishop James Stephenson (5/1/2012)
Part 2 – President Mark Jensen (5/23/2012)
Part 3 – Bishop Brian Hunt (1/26/2014)
Part 4 – President Bryan King (6/29/2014)
Part 5 – President Bryan King (8/7/2014)
Part 6 – President Bryan King (1/14/2015)