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  1. I am partway through listening to the Pinson family. I’m sickened, yet again, at the deceitful slipperiness and lack of love and acceptance in the Mormon Church and the resulting harm to individuals and to their families. I was raised in an inter-generational Mormon family and left at a young age–making the ultimate choice between family and the freedom to think for myself. How fortunate for the Pinson children that their parents are with them. From the outside looking in, the lack of personal boundaries and basic human rights allowed to a member within the church are clear.
    I published a memoir (In Polygamy’s Shadow) to deal with the grief of losing my family and the life-long losses I attribute to Mormonism; my children and granddaughters’ lives have been impacted as well. Growing up, there were seven children in my family, however an eight child died at six months when my father, a respected bishop within the church, ignored my mother’s intuition and chose a priesthood blessing to heal him over seeking early medical intervention.
    I am in the process of studying how closely the dynamics of Domestic Violence (DV) and exposure to Psychopathy (P) mirror the characteristics and dynamics of the Mormon Church. The resulting spiritual, psychological, emotional, and sexual damage to victims of DV and exposure to P mirror the harm caused to members of the Mormon Church. And, just as victims of DV and exposure to P are often isolated and in denial of the ongoing harm to them, so it is with members of the Mormon Church.
    If one cares to understand why victims of DV and exposure to P stay with their abusers, one will understand why members stay in the Mormon Church despite the harm it causes them and their families. Just as “bad stuff is mixed with good stuff” in DV and exposure to P situations, I’ve heard members of the church and some who’ve left, say: “There’s so much good in the church.”

      1. Just finished listening to all the episodes. Thank you Sara, Sam, Olivia & Sam Jr. for sharing so generously and authentically. I appreciated what each one of you contributed and was impressed with John’s ability as an interviewer. I loved it when he addressed the Mormon Church and said, “Just stop it!.” I found Olivia and Sam Jr. to be highly evolved young people. They totally blew me away. The point that Sara and Sam made about uninformed consent –consent based on fraudulent representation–being asked to commit their lives, their family, their service, and their money to the Mormon Church without full, truthful disclosure from the church was among much they shared that I found significant. The crazy-making manipulation of the excommunication council was totally bizarre. I’m so glad Sam taped it as as a witness for what it was. All the best going forward.

        1. Thank you for listening! I’m glad you found things to appreciate. I wish you the best with your own journey!

      2. Dear Sam,

        Yes, the Church is no longer a safe place for intellectuals, weather liberal or conservative. It is just a question of time before all “thinkers” lose faith in the Church and its leaders. Some join the Snufferites. Others become Evangelicals. Some become New Agers. Most become Agnostic/Atheist. I am one of those who became a New Ager (Spiritualist). That is based upon many things, one thing being a psychic woman (Lesbian) told me things nobody but I knew, detailed things. For example, what my father had for dinner the night before (fried noodles with butter). She also told me I didn’t eat any, but left: which I did, because the fried butter stank. She also told me many other things that she could not have known, very detailed facts.

        Tower of Babel: the original Hebrew does not say that all human languages diverged at the Tower of Babel. It says that at this place, the valley of Shinar “all Mankind was one and spoke one tongue”. The word “mankind” there does not mean all human beings, but “AWDOWM” (i.e. Adamites). All Adamites were one and spoke one tongue there. The Hebrew does not say that God confounded their languages in one moment or “poof”. It says that is the place where Mankind (Adamites) first divided so that now (the time that book was written) they could not understand each other’s speech. Old Hebrew was translated into Middle Hebrew, which was translated into Old Greek, then Latin, then into Middle English, and then into modern English. A lot of nuances were lost.

        God, Jesus, the Afterlife, has absolutely no “dependency” on whether or not Joseph Smith was a true or false prophet. None at all. As the Sufi Masters teach, “God” exists in us as our ruh (spirit), and Satan exists in us as our “nafs” (ego). Every minute of every waking day, we choose one or the other. If we do not follow the RUH (GOD), the default is the NAFS (Satan). Organized religion is supposed to help us choose the RUH more than the NAFS. But you and I know Latter-day Saints who have chosen the NAFS much more often than the RUH.

        Can we see God? Yogananda once said: “Do not look out into space to see God. God is too small to see, but He is there”. GOD is everywhere, but no microscope can see Him. Electron microscropes can now see atoms, but God is too small to see. He is the Universal Mind. He is the Electro-Magnetic Waves that fill all Space-Time. We can’t see Him, but He is there. He is not a separate consciousness, but ALL consciousness combined.

    1. Does anyone know the artist and version of “come come all ye saints” used here? Cant find the credit anywhere..

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  2. “Oh Say, What Is Truth! Tis the fairest gem!

    Fantastic family and fantastic podcast! Thank you Pinson family for sharing your heartfelt story and experience of leaving the Mormon corp. Thank you John and the Mormon Stories crew!

  3. Sam! Tingles ran through my body when I saw your name! I watched you grow up in Granada Hills, CA. What a journey we’ve all been through! Thanks for sharing your story. (Formerly known as) Deanna Sanderson, (Aunt to Brian Schermerhorn) ❤

  4. Hello Pinson Family,
    I’m listening to your story and am keeping your family in my thoughts. I remember your family from the Sultan Ward. I had Sam Jr. in my CTR 5 class the second year that I taught that class. I fell away from the church for my own personal reasons.
    Stephanie Moore (formerly Stephanie Baker)

  5. I didn’t get a chance to watch all of this beautiful wonderful families podcast. However I wanted to say that we lived in Ammon while bishop Pinson and his family tirelessly and with every ounce of their heart served our community and congregation. I got to k ow their daughter through young women’s. I will forever be thankful for them during a difficult time in my life. I love that they have chosen what is right for their family, there is no mold, no one way, or no one way to live a wonderful fulfilling life! I love that Sarah pointes this out and that mental wellness was paramount in this decision. Love this family!

  6. While I agree with several of your points – it was clear you had a bone to pick, which is fine and still was a little confused why you went through the process I would agree w/ the counsel that you wanted the church to remove you so you could say it vs. just doing it yourself which I’m not sure I understand the why for you – I personally don’t feel “wronged” by the church even though I’m not 100% a believer and fall in the camp of I believe a lot of good still comes from the church, even if it’s not 100% true, I try and take the good and process it all together, I believe I”m a better person when following basic gospel tenants love your fellow man, work hard, be nice. Was clear that the council was pretty concerned with outside perception in defending the institution. The comments on you attacking people were off base – by saying you don’t believe in God or Jesus or that the church is a fraud not sure how that’s a personal attack – people should have thicker skin. I also don’t find it helpful when people say “I had an experience that was to sacred to share” – Paul had a sacred experience he shared it, BoM prophets had sacred experiences they share, JS had sacred experiences he shared – I figure they’d share them but when people continually say XYZ experience but I can’t share – leads me to believe there was nothing to share at all (but I’m not them so not sure). Best of luck to you and your family.

  7. John, thank you for this wonderful podcast.

    Can you please elaborate on how you understand the concept of mind control.

    You say “It is not a good term to use.” Why? What do you think is not good about it?
    What would be more productive terms and frameworks to contemplate and discuss this issue?

    Best wishes.


  8. I just finished the whole thing (no ice cream cone needed, John) and it was incredible! I left the Church in 2015, when I started learning that the ABSOLUTE TRUTH I was taught from age 14, had lived by and devoted my entire life to for 37 years was a fraud. Every decision I’d ever made as an adult was influenced by my membership in the Church and my temple covenants. Leaving can be truly devastating – losing your social tribe, and sometimes family relationships too. In my family are people just like I had previously been, who live in a safe little Mormon bubble, afraid to question authority or look at anything “anti-Mormon,” and then those who know a lot of the truth, call it “nuanced” and ignore the lies (I just couldn’t get on board with that approach.) Sam, Sr., I’m with you – it’s either true or it’s not – and I don’t put up with being lied to. Pinsons, you are an adorable family! Best wishes to each of you! Know that there is so much joy, peace and calm waiting on the other side of all the deconstruction-to-reconstruction chaos. Have FUN building your new life!!!

      1. I so admire your courage and stalwart bravery to do what you have done. I have just started down the rabbit hole and your shining your light gives me permission to shine my own and find my truth as well. I share many of your sentiments and find you and your family so brave, well spoken, and unshakeable in your quest and witness for truth. I am blown away by your kids. Wow! Just wow. What awesome leaders and amazing people they are. You should be so very proud of them and they are obviously proud of you too. Good for you for railing against the giant and standing up for truth regardless of the cost. Go Pinsons! Thank you for going through this to make this easier for me ❤️ Also, you did a phenomenal job in your disciplinary council of keeping your cool and clearly winning the arguments without completely insulting /alienating them even though you are obviously smart enough to have made them look like bigger idiots than they demonstrated themselves to be. You are a trailblazer for me. My husband was just released as bishop and I cannot tell you how much your courage means to me and how much I identify with you and Sara. Well done and I wish I could know what life is like for you after…..I’m sure it will be amazing!

    1. Thanks Sandra! I think the hidden history has been especially hard for people in our age range since we saddle the pre-internet/post-internet worlds. Wishing you the best!

  9. During your court, the stake president interrupted you over and over again. This showed that he wasn’t listening to what you had to say. He could state that he loved you, but his actions demonstrated otherwise. He was unwilling to show respect for you or your ideas. Good luck to your family going forward, and yes, move somewhere away from these people.

  10. Big thanks to the Pinson family and John, Great podcast.

    I’m a father of 6 great kids and a super wife. She is so super supportive like Sarah is of Sam. We all grew up in the church. Still ‘active’ but it’s only a matter of time. I checked out mentally a few months ago after doing the same study as Sam.

    It’s so refreshing to hear a guy (Sam snr) who is not argumentative and has a passion for truth. What he says is true – the enemy of the church is truth. Here is a quality family that has handled a very difficult transition very well. Lucky you already had Olivia a bit ahead of you. There is no doubt many will follow in your footsteps.

    Although you were tired, your handling of the stake council was masterful, really helps me. Your thoughts and communication are very clear.
    Thanks again and all the best!!

  11. I would like to thank the Pinson family for making the trek down to SL Valley to tell their story for public consumption. It was powerful. I’d also like to thank John Dehlin for making this possible. My hope is that he’ll be able to continue.

  12. Great interview. Thanks for everything you’ve shared. What a difficult and excruciating thing to go through. I love the times when you were able to pin them down on specifics, e.g. the disagreement over context.

    I would love to have seen you pin them down on some other topics, but they weren’t particularly open to discussing specifics, deferring to generalities when convenient, or “agreeing to disagree”.

    I’m unclear on why you seemed surprised by the eventual verdict to withdraw membership at your request (rather than for apostasy)……they referred to your desire for excommunication probably two dozen times during the interview.

    1. Thanks! There’s an official process for a member to withdraw his/her membership. It’s outlined in the General Handbook. That’s not what happened. I specifically told them that I would not resign/withdraw. I told them that excommunicating me was the church’s burden to bear. I did not resign. A membership council for apostasy cannot become an expedited voluntary verbal resignation. The whole thing was silly.

      1. It did seem silly. The ‘rules’ are all over the place. I really think they are just told to handle every case individually. Because you’ve been such a big contributor (and now such a threat to current members) I feel they wanted to handle you in the least damaging way possible. As John D says ‘council (?) roulette’.

        I too liked how you pinned them on context – what a cough out. It amazes me that they are not going to discuss doctrine – the very thing that is supposedly discussed every Sunday, what we base our life and afterlife on – a complete sidestep. Surely that kind of approach cannot last (a la Oaks ‘Don’t research but make sure to say Joseph was a prophet’). Surely it’s worse to try to hide truth.

        I also liked how you basically pinned the nice main speaker to his spiritual experience he was not going to discuss. That seems to be the only fallback that many have. I’ve heard people in other faiths have super spiritual experiences too, I’m on the hunt for some examples.

  13. A thought came to my mind on the topic you’ve discussed of “Maybe if life in LDS communities is nice, it is not important whether there is truth at the foundation of the church.”:

    If people decide that truth is not of great importance, the intellectuals who discover the falshoods will suffer. They will be subject to social tensions, pressures, and rejections. Life will be the opposite of nice to the brightest, most curious, intellectually honest individuals in the communities.

    1. Right. The church teaches that belief is a choice, but that also doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Try choosing to believe that the moon is a ball of Swiss cheese. Once you have learned the hidden truths about the church, you can’t unlearn them. People who learn the truth usually need to leave in order to be healthy. For various reasons, many are unable to leave and they do suffer.

      1. Somehow this Daybell excitement brought me back to Mormon Stories after not visiting for a long time.

        People on both sides of this Mormon thing can be so all-or-nothing, so black-or-white, just so mean. You do have to account for those of us who know all these things that you’re talking about, but do believe. You talk so snarkily in your letter there on how to avoid leaving the church about having to assume that people who leave are bad people (something like that). Since I know all this stuff, should I assume that you believe that I’m too weak to leave, that I don’t have the guts to stand up for what I know is true?

        I, myself, am not sure how to reconcile that two very similar people can know and read all the same stuff but come to different conclusions. Some contributing reasons can be pretty obvious, but there’s still left an uncomfortable gap short of understanding completely. I get that that’s a question that confronts all of us. I don’t believe the answer is in vilifying the other side. I’m not sure why it offends you so to consider (or at least that you’re mocking the idea) that it is a choice whether to believe or not. For now I think that that’s part of the answer. We’re all on different journeys. And it is, objectively, a choice after all. I’m bothered by the crowds that vilify the other side. Like I said, I haven’t visited this site for quite awhile. Being back and listening to this, is makes me wonder if John gets tired, just worn out from the constant negativity. It must be exhausting. Maybe he does get tired but feels purposeful, so that it’s a worthy sacrifice. I don’t think the ugliness is helpful to anyone, unless the goal is to help people leave the church or to beat up people who leave the church. Your story and journey are interesting and useful, especially in understanding our friends who leave the church. I appreciate that your journey has been traumatic and that this serves as a form of therapy and that it’s helpful in another way for people who are questioning and on their way out of the church (to not feel so alone). Still, I’m not that impressed by the sarcasm or the vilification or the hilarious condescension. I suppose it’s helpful to those who are hurting. I think it’s risky for any of us on either side of this to get too excited to pat ourselves on the back or be quick to assume that we’re “right” and “brave” and “truth-loving” and all that.

        1. Curtis, it’s nice to hear your thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

          Are you saying that you know everything that is written in the CES letter and still think that the church is true? Or have I misunderstood you?

          Please clarify.

          1. Yes. Probably 5 times over the years for various reasons and I’ve read one of the responses as well, I’m sure there are more. Sometimes it’s hard for us to talk to each other, it’s not comfortable, and maybe it’s pointless, I don’t know. When I’ve had actual discussions about this with someone who has left he church, on both occasions for me my experience is that they’ve been surprised at this, surprised that I’ve read the CES letter. But I know I’m not the only one, like I know other actual people who have delved into this stuff but still believe in the church. Everyone has the internet. There really is an option to believe.

            I can understand that a reasonable person could learn all they can and decide the church isn’t true and/or isn’t for them. And not even in a condescending way; like I think I really can appreciate that someone can conclude the church isn’t true. In stuff online at least, I generally haven’t seen that from the other side of things – “I can accept that somebody could learn all they can and decide the church is true and/or is for them.” They think it’s preposterous and that anyone who’s read the letter or other things and remains in the church is just a fraud. In my personal relationships that hasn’t been the case, at least from the conversations we’ve had, but my guess is that those people aren’t online going over and over things so much, a little more at peace with where they’re at. Faith in general and each/most of the specific issues you might want to raise about the church in particular are not 100% one way or the other, there’s room for accepting/discounting various points and weighing some things more than others, thinking some arguments are silly and that some arguments warrant real consideration; you probably agree with me even about the CES letter, that there’s some stuff in there that is kind of silly and some that is more substantial; and if you read one of these semi-pro responses to the letter, you’d probably agree again that some of the stuff in there is kind of silly and some is more substantial.

            So yeah, I really don’t understand the vitriol and the crusading, except to the extent that I do understand on some level the anger and frustration and so on that comes when you feel you’ve been duped and lied to and conned. So on that level it makes sense to me. But in general, there are evidences for and against that could lead to a reasonable person deciding either way. And in general, I think it’s risky for any of us on either side of this to get too excited to pat ourselves on the back or be quick to assume that we’re “right” and “brave” and “truth-loving” and all that.

  14. Sam, Sara, thank you, I found very much food for thought in your story. I appreciate your openness. My compliments on how smart and thoughtful your children are.

    You talk a lot about your Facebook activities. I found your pages and they appear to be not open to the public.

    Can I take a look at the things you’ve posted? How?

    Best wishes.


      1. Thank you, Sam. I did try to message you on Facebook. Maybe my message did not go through because your account is closed to the public. Or maybe there is some other reason.

        By the way, I’ve recently come across this beautiful short essay by William Clifford, a nineteenth-century English mathematician. He died young and this is one of his very few works in philosophy. It resonates deeply with matters of epistemology you guys discussed in the podcast. Sam Jr. will find a lot of food for thought there, I think. Here is a link to it:


        The author, in beautiful clear classic English prose, explains why he thinks it is always morally wrong to believe anything without evidence. He gives three reasons: the obvious one, that mistaken belief might lead to harmful actions, is only the beginning. The second reason is that poor practices of belief-formation turn us into credulous, careless believers. Here is how he says it: “No real belief, however trifling and fragmentary it may seem, is ever truly insignificant; it prepares us to receive more of its like, confirms those which resembled it before, and weakens others; and so gradually it lays a stealthy train in our inmost thoughts, which may someday explode into overt action, and leave its stamp upon our character.”. And the third reason is that we are social creatures, our knowledge is formed collectively, and believing without evidence poisons the well for the rest of society. “Our words, our phrases, our forms and processes and modes of thought’ become ‘common property”. He calls this collective knowledge “an heirloom” on which everyone’s lives depend.

  15. Not sure where to ask this: I really like the guitar version of Come, Come Ye Saints at the end of the podcast. Can you tell me who sings it?

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  16. John, Sam, Sara,

    Something you’ve said in the end does not sit well with me.

    On the one hand, you all agree that the LDS church is a cult-like organization that practices mind control and undue influence, and does not give members an opportunity for informed consent.

    On the other hand, you said that if a child who has left the church wants to get rebaptized, a parent should not attempt to prevent it.

    Shouldn’t a parent do all he or she can to keep a child from getting into mind control and undue influence situations and organizations?

    Please share more of your thoughts and feelings on this issue. I want to understand you better.

    Thank you. Best wishes.

    1. Hi, George. To clarify, I want my children to live lives that are consistent with reality. In the future, if an adult child or grandchild decides to join the church and is interested in my opinion, I would certainly share what I know. Ultimately, the decision is theirs, of course. My beliefs (non-beliefs, actually) don’t require me to think they will be damned for leaving the church. My only hope is that they are fully informed when they make the decision. I hope that answers your question: yes, I would use my influence to try to help them avoid danger, but I wouldn’t condemn them for choosing it anyway.

    1. I see two problems in your position, Sam.

      You say, “My only hope is that they are fully informed when they make the decision.”. If a sane person joins the church, he or she must be uninformed. I can not imagine anyone joining if they are fully informed, in good mental health, and not subjected to mind control. Your hope appears to be unfounded. If your child is in a situation of joining the church, entertaining such hope is pure wishful thinking.

      And “In the future, if an adult child or grandchild decides to join the church and is interested in my opinion, I would certainly share what I know.” is problematic. It will never happen. If your child or grandchild in the future is about to join the church, they will be under guidance not to entertain interest in your opinion. They will not be open to a conversation with you. My two grown-up children have recently joined the church without even informing me. I found out later, third hand. They do not want to talk about it with me because they know of my skeptical worldview.

      Sadly, I have no idea what a better position would be in such a situation; what a parent can do; how to deal with it.

  17. It rather seems that Sam Pinson was just following wise Mormon counsel…

    • “It behooves every man who has been warned, to warn his neighbor.” – Nathan Tanner, “The Purpose of Conference,” October 1976

    • “It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.” — D&C 88:81

  18. I appreciate that The Pinson family told their story. I enjoy John Dehlin’s interviewing style, as it gives us a chance to get to know people’s stories very well over a few hours.

    All of you Pinsons are very articulate. I agree with all of the points that you make, regarding both historical truths and social issues. I like how you call the fraud a fraud. When I first became aware of all of the inconsistencies in the stories about Joseph Smith, I had already dumped the church over polygamy. I have come to see the church as a snake oil con blown way out of proportion. I stand in disbelief how far it has gotten, and how big and powerful it has become. It hides in a mantle of respectability and tries to persuade observers that it is normal, mainstream, wholesome – it’s really just a con blown out of proportion. Good for you standing up to them. When the rubber hits the road, they have no answers, they know deep down that you are right, and they hide behind bluster and condescension. The one guy even admitted that he can’t listen to what you have to say (methinks he doesn’t have the guts to walk away, so doesn’t want to be put in that position). In the end, they took away the apostasy charge because it was their only chance to prevent you from telling people that they excommunicated you for telling the truth.

    One thing made me very angry as I listened to the recording of your hearing. I do not like for someone speaking to an individual referring to them by their name in the third person. If I’m speaking to Sam Pinson, I say “I want to know what makes Sam Pinson tick.” It sounds pompous and condescending to me. I should say “Sam, I want to understand what’s going on with you.”

    Kudos to you. You’re all brave and smart and you have each other, so it’s all going to work out great for you. I wish you all the best!

  19. Dear Pinson family, thank you so much for sharing your story. Your courage in defense of veracity is super admirable. While listening, my wife and I repeated to ourselves, ”they are just like us!” as we have so many similarities in our situations pre- and post-mormonism.

    I read the Gospel Topics Essays while serving as a branch president overseas and it demolished my trust in what I recognized as the Holy Ghost and I went down the rabbit hole from there. Asked to be released several months later, was released and never heard from my former ‘friend’ the stake president again.

    Your courage pushes me in the direction of being more vocal and even to open up and tell my story someday, and it definitely gives us hope of a well balanced, happy family life post-mormonism. Thank you!!!

  20. The Stake President infuriated me many times by continually saying that you (Sam) wanted the church to excommunicate you. My issue with that statement is you didn’t ask the church to convene the disciplinary court, you didn’t schedule or require them to attend, in fact you didn’t plan or setup any of the meetings. I assume you were content just posting on social media and not taking any actions about your membership. Another issue I had was when you asked the Stake President for his proof or reason which helped him see the troubling history as faith affirming. He claimed it is personal and he wouldn’t share it. On my mission I was taught that I would have to answer for the times I didn’t share the gospel. If he really believes that you are making the biggest mistake of your life and he has the information which will help change you mind but refuses to share it with you, doesn’t that mean he is responsible for your eternal damnation. According to what I was taught in primary and Sunday school, the church and more specifically the Stake President are responsible and 100% accountable for not sharing the teachings which would have kept you from leaving the church.

    1. Thanks, Jarime! Yes, if there were faith-promoting answers for these problems, they would be on the home page of the church’s website. Go read the Book of Mormon more doesn’t help. 🙁

  21. Question for Sam Sr. After becoming fully convinced the LDS Church is a fraud, a multi billion dollar Corporation masquerading as a non profit charitable “Church”, did you ever make an effort to let those Russian “converts” you baptized, or members you befriended, know the LDS Church is a fraud? This, I believe, is how the fraud has been perpetrated for almost 20o years. New members must be brought in to keep it going?

    1. This is one reason why I couldn’t be silent and quietly fade away like the church wanted me to. I had previously unwittingly dedicated my life to perpetuating the fraud. Yes, I have tried undo the damage I have done.

  22. Sam, your journey is exactly what I’ve been going through over the last 3-4 years. The first major crack in my shelf was when I learned in 2011 our ‘church’ (it’s actually a gargantuan real estate corporation masquerading as a religion) constructed a multi-billion dollar mall in downtown SLC with scantily clad women with champagne glasses sprawled the length of 20 story buildings in ad banners and then learning from a co-worker that Joseph Smith had 33 wives. It’s been nothing but a deep dive down the rabbit hole since and simply astounding how the men atop the ‘church’ can continue to carry on as if everything is legit while they all have to know about the essays (since they signed off on them) not to mention all the troubling aspects of ‘church’ history that show and prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that its founder was a con-man, fraud and charlatan of the highest order. Polygamy, marrying 14 year olds, polyandry, lying to Emma, scrying/treasure hunting/money-digging, scamming people, claiming he could see buried treasure underground, the dishonesty, immorality, the Kirtland banking fraud/scam, rendering hundreds of his followers destitute because of it and then running from a $1,000 fine and imprisonment, plagiarizing the B of M, creating his own scriptures from the works of others, fraudulently creating the B of A, the Kinderhook plates, creating his own made-up ancient language (reformed Egyptian), a rock in a hat to ‘translate’, seer stones, the occult, magic, the 11 witnesses seeing the plates with ‘spiritual eyes’ in their mind, Smith declaring himself ‘king of the world’ and boasting he had done more for the salvation of mankind than Christ himself, the Nauvoo Legion, Council of 50 and it goes on and on and on, all while there is a hymn called ‘Praise to the Man’. LMFBO! And worse, 10% of your gross income which is a violation of Smith’s own made-up scripture, six-figure salaries for our unpaid clergy at the top (FP & Q12) with perks out the yin yang, including a $1 million gift, their own Toyota Avalons, unlimited credit card use, $124 billion in one business account doing the work of God by hoarding obscene wealth, violating tax laws and bailing out City Creek and Beneficial Life, plans for a 500,000 person metropolis in Florida with the ‘church’ as Landlord, buying up office high rises around the world, poor living conditions for most missionaries who are out there on their own free will and dime perpetuating what they know is a fraud, owning 3% of the landmass in Florida, some of the most dishonest, unethical lawyers on the planet in Kirton and McConkie… incredible ain’t it? How those atop the ‘church’ sleep at night is beyond me??? Hat-tip to you and your family for having the courage and guts to walk away from it all. I’m still stuck with my wife being mostly a believer and TBM as well as in-laws and immediate family and haven’t figured out how to deal with it yet. I’m glad you’re free from the cult and clutches of this so-called ‘church’!

    1. Some people have assured me that God can use these imperfect men to accomplish his purposes, which must include making a lot of atheists and causing the church to hemorrhage as members pour out its doors. Thanks for consolidating here a few of the problems with the truth claims of the church!

      1. That’s an impressive list you’ve put there, AJ.

        Smith declaring himself ‘king of the world’ and the counsel of 50 are new to me. Can you please write more about these two topics? Maybe provide links to where we can get more information?

        As for your question on how the leaders sleep at night, most probably they somehow convince themselves that it is all true.
        Here is a nice article which helps to understand what is going on in their minds:


        Sorry to hear about your situation with your wife and the family. I’m in the same twist, finding it impossible to discuss these matters calmly with my wife and grown-up kids. They refuse to look into anything critical, feel themselves to be under attack. I wish I could find a way to talk to them without triggering these reactions. It’s tough.

  23. Sam, Sara, Olivia, and Sam Jr.,
    All I want to say is thank you for making the sacrifice to speak openly and honestly about your family’s journey. For me, your story will be added to my list of “Most Healing” episodes. Your story is such a vivid example of the “validity vs. utility” approaches to the Church. The addition of the “How-to-not-apostatize-from-the-LDS-church” recommendations is amazing. (I think it needs to be published as a pamphlet in the style of the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet.) I was so impressed how much love and respect you all had for each other. Again, thank you so very much!!!

  24. Thank you Pinson Family. Your journey ahead will have many bright days ahead. It has bothered me for some time that the institution lets good people do their dirty business. In fact, the church benefits from good people trying to live their best life as they understand it. The institution is rotten and false at the core. This is their harm, and this is why people like the Pinsons need to speak the (not their, but THE) truth. Sadly, there will be no golf games, or steak barbecues, because the institution will not permit it. The Pinsons are now scary people which “will harm, offend, and draw people away”.
    Sam and Sara, I am glad to have you in my ex-mo world. Perhaps some day we shall meet, and I would enjoy having a conversation. Best to you and your family.

  25. I wanted to comment on the double standard mentioned where gay individuals are allowed to have gay thoughts but heterosexuals have to control their thoughts. And I think this is absolutely not a double standard but an lds biased misinterpretation that homosexual feelings are sinful and therefore the homosexual has license to sin. The fallacy is that people are interpreting this to mean that that gay individuals are allowed to fantasize and dream about sexual activities. And that is not what is stated in the current church literature. A gay individual is not counted as sinful for being sexually attracted to another same sexed individual — homosexual feelings/thoughts. A heterosexual is likewise not condemned for having feelings of attraction for someone of the opposite sex. This has always been the standard for heterosexuals, if you look once you are a man, if you look twice you have sinned is the little phrase I grew up with. But previously the church counseled that even having homosexual feelings is a sin. I personally have heard hatred discussed because of this specific issue. An Elders quorum teacher recently complained that he has to bridle his thoughts and gays don’t. I feel it is cruel that in one small regard homosexuals have been finally allowed to not hate themselves as sinners simply for existing as they are created and members of the wards have already started to show animosity for this one small piece of equality afforded a homosexual.

    1. Thanks for that perspective, Lance. I don’t begrudge that equality at all. For me, the problem wasn’t that I didn’t want gays to be able to think gay thoughts. It was that I felt the church was morphing in order to accommodate society. Which it does. All the time. Anyway, I think I understand your perspective. I don’t feel like that’s what I was taught in the church, but I can see how your experience might have been different than mine.

      1. Thanks for your reply and your your families story it was great. And this may be re-hashing what was said already but there really are few forums for this topic so I am sort of taking advantage. I feel heterosexual thoughts are encouraged at church, dating, church dances institute activities etc. are all based on identifying and encouraging heterosexual attraction. Saying you are not sinning when you have attractions is not the same thing as saying you can go ahead and be free to fantasize sexually. I have never heard it said in church that for a boy to find a woman attractive is a sin, and I feel the new stance is basically stating the same thing but for homosexuals. I think the church absolutely changes all of the time, while trying to deny it ever changed, but I do not see how this change is creating a double standard, it was mitigating one.

  26. Thank you so much for being brave and telling your story! You guys deserve a badge of honor! My husband and I are from Rexburg Idaho and will probably always live here in this Mormon bubble, but listening to your story gives me hope that we aren’t as alone in this dense lds population as I had thought. Your family did a great job. I’m so glad more people are becoming aware of the problems of the church. I have always valued honesty and the truth as well. I thought I had it. It is hurtful to find out the people who you trusted the most were the ones who deceived you. Congratulations on being free!

  27. I’m listening to the disciplinary council episode, it’s so painful listening to these kangaroo “authorities” ask one dumb question after another.

    If the National Enquirer held disciplinary councils every time someone cancelled a subscription it would sound like this episode.

  28. John Dehlin,
    If it Walks Like a Dog, Barks Like a Dog, and Looks Like a Dog, it Must Be a Dog
    I feel that in episode 1322 – it will be very hepful for lots of Mormon teens if the word “masturbation” is used directly in your podcast if that is what is being implied. There is no reason to be around the bush.

  29. Thanks for sharing your story!

    Something I will never understand is why leaders and members freak out about what someone shares on social media. If it disturbs you, just stop following that person. Facebook and other social media platforms are an opt in system. If you choose to follow someone and don’t like their content, it’s not their responsibility to change their content to cater to your needs. Just unfollow them.

    Anyway, I loved your story and admire your beautiful family. Thanks for being open and honest and vulnerable for the rest of us. Much love to your entire family.

  30. Just wanted to add how disgustingly disingenuous these leaders were in the “membership council meeting.” They spent an hour and a half antagonizing Sam and accusing him of being dishonest, duplicitous, and contentious. Then they brought the family in and acted like it’s all been sunshine and cupcakes, praising the kids for their intelligence and talking about how much they love them and Sam. Nothing in that first hour and half meeting conveyed a spirit of love. It conveyed a spirit of condescension, ridicule and hostility. And at the end, they try to gaslight the entire family by claiming they actually considered not excommunicating Sam and dishonestly changed the charge by painting their decison as Sam demanding to be excommunicated. What. A. Joke.

    1. Right. The interrogation unrelated to the charge of apostasy. The false notion that they had summoned me to the meeting with a serious possibility of not excommunicating me. The disinterest in hearing my response to the charge of apostasy. The conclusion that enough information had been heard without hearing my response to the charge. The feigned interest in hearing what Sara, Olivia, and Sam Jr. had to say. The absurd claim that they were incorrect about the charge of apostasy. The dishonest claim that they were doing what I asked them to do. Nobody would believe this happened if I hadn’t recorded it.

  31. Wow.. at the end of this I found myself wanting more!! Amazing new insights from listening to your stories both collective and individual.

    Olivia: I found myself relating to your expressions of having the desire to be heard and validated by a church system that could never and would never give that to you. Your words are eloquent.
    Sam Jr.: The notion of how church friendships are made externally by the structure of the church in contrast to freindships being built internally and directly with others, based on mutual regard is incredibly insightful and helped me understand why most of my church friends have dissociated from me (and I from them on some level).
    Sara: listening to your experience of breaking the shackles that bound you to a contrived mold and then spreading your wings proudly – amazing.
    Sam: I too was recently in a “court of love” and found your experience riveting. For me, it was one of the most intruiging and lonely experiences of my life. Thank you for being strong and incredibly cogent in your interactions with those church leaders. As I kept hearing the SP say “you are here because I want to know Sam” it became evident to me as you continued to explain “Sam” that what he really wanted to know about Sam is what he never found: a chink in your armor. I believe he was feeling extreme cognitive dissonance with your presence as an honest, intelligent man who values truth. It was clear that it threatened his religious paradigm.
    Thanks to each of you for speaking truth without shame or reservation. If you’re ever in East Tennessee, please let us know .. you are welcome here and I could introduce you to some amazing moonshiners!! Oh and if you see John, tell him I’ll m taking him up on the ice cream offer when I’m in Utah.

  32. I chuckled when Sam requested no “misters” with the obvious purpose should they attempt a visit. I remain a member of record to support my wife’s commitment (doesn’t bother me to do so) We haven’t had “minsters” since they changed the assignment name. Go figure. I found the Stake President’s efforts & responses ignorant & typical. One of Delin’s best. One difference? I don’t see the need to voice my understanding & acceptance of the countless reasons individuals or families leave the faith.

  33. Sam and family,

    Thanks for sharing your story and experience. As a former bishop and also having traveled into the rabbit hole, I can relate to all sides.

    I still attend church to give support to my very active wife. Hearing your story helps me to know I am not alone with what I have experienced.

    You have my utmost respect.

  34. Pinson family:
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and feelings regarding your faith transition. The timing of my own transition matches yours almost exactly, although I’m a little older (48). I am completely alone in my transition however, as my wife, 4 kids, and extended relatives on both sides come from multi-generation TBM families. Needless to say, this has been the most difficult challenge of my life, but it is very comforting to see stories like yours. It brings me great peace to know that I am not alone nor crazy for choosing this path, and I hope my decision can help ‘break the chain’ of the church’s harmful influence for future family like you have done for yours. Like you, I place tremendous value on truth and doing the right thing, and I admire you all for your honesty, integrity, and willingness to share.

  35. Sam,
    I am from Eastern Idaho and I know what bravery this takes. Thank you. My parents in that area are still broken hearted for me leaving with my family. Every time someone does this it brings strength to the truth. While my family may not see this, it can be like a domino effect. I haven’t really seen many stories from Eastern Idaho of someone leaving and so I thank you. I enjoyed this so much and it brought healing to my soul. Best to you and your family on this new wide open journey.

  36. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing your family’s story with honesty, tenderness, humor, and grace. I went through the full spectrum of emotions as I listened to your story unfold. I laughed, I cried, I felt sick, I raged, but in the end, I came out cheering.
    My family has been out for almost 2 years and I can promise you it only gets better. There is so much to unlearn, to process, and to heal, but the tincture of time works wonders. Life has shown us that the world is not black and white, but rather full of color, mystery, and wonder. We love more deeply, connect more authentically, seek truth more fiercely, and live more fully than ever before. I imagine you will find, as we did, that your innate altruism will make your lives more fulfilling than you ever thought possible because you will be living in the present and doing good because you ARE good, rather than to avoid punishment or to seek an eternal reward. Life without a script is a sublime adventure!
    Sam, all I can say is, “Bravo!” Seriously.
    Sara, I cried along with you. I have experienced so many of the same things you shared, as a woman, as a wife, as a support to a priesthood holder, and as a mother. You have a mighty heart! You are clearly a strong, deep thinking, kind, and empathetic woman. You will make a fabulous counselor!
    We also have a bisexual child and he is now thriving as he has been able to move beyond the shame and despotism the church had placed on him for almost 20 years. Chin up, Olivia!
    A most sincere thank you to John, for continuing to shine a light on what the church fights to keep in the dark. Your work is so incredibly valuable. I am a better and wiser human for hearing these stories.

  37. Aha! So Sam admits that it’s possible to believe something is true and be wrong huh? I’m pretty sure that proves something to the inhabitants of Kolob but here on planet Earth?? Secrecy is a foundational component of Mormonism and absolutely necessary to maintain what’s left of the congregation. The truth IS the adversary when it comes to LD$.INC and that simple fact is beginning to glare. Great episodes! Truly enjoyed hearing the perspectives of the Pinson children. Very thoughtful kids indeed.

  38. Sam, Sara, Sam and Olivia…thank you so much for taking the time to tell your story. My wife and I listened together for all seven episodes…they were awesome. You all echoed my own thoughts on the church. Integrity matters. Truth matters. I find it so sadly ironic that the “one and only true and living church on the earth” is so afraid of the truth that it goes to such extremes ex-communicating those who dare tell the truth. Wonderful story and your bravery and integrity are extremely impressive…well done !

    1. I forgot to add : When he spoke about the stake prez and his minions in the room Sam Jr said: “The air was heavy with superficiality and insincerity”….wow, so well said.
      Sam Jr gets the quote of the day, maybe the year .

  39. Dear Sam,

    You were a great kid in the Granada Hills Ward. Our membership in the Church has given us many wonderful, memorable returns. Nevertheless, we understand that each of us must be true to ourselves. We send our love to you and your family and wish the very best for all of you.

  40. Sam,
    I am only responding to your “How not to apostatize” piece. I am a taken back by the arrogance that you accuse the Church of exhibiting. I find just the opposite in terms of the attitude towards Church history today – nothing is being held back. I find the trend to be that no questions are off limits. You may not like the responses, but people are being encouraged to ask and to seek learning by faith. Your glib self righteous comments are not new nor are they insightful.

    I will leave it at one example – your ridicule of Fair Mormon. So you think you are more informed than John Welch or Daniel Peterson, or frankly any of the scholars who present? Are they always 100% on target? Of course not. But they move the dialogue forward. They are doing the very thing that you are accusing the Church of not doing – asking difficult questions and searching for correct answers. Why are the comments sections so vital and informative? Everyone knows that comment sections, that cannot easily be responded to, are just hate filled sarcastic comments by people who want to look smarter than anyone else. Take on the real work of going toe to toe with these scholars, not just take pot shots. Publish a scholarly article that can be be replied to.

    And then the real issue to which I have not found any good responses – where do you go from here? You would need to be a fool to claim that that Book of Mormon is phony. And if the Book of Mormon is true…you know the rest of the story. But seriously, once freed of all of the so called restrictions of mormonism, what do you replace it with? What about Christ? What about the atonement? What happens when you die? Ex Mos make really bad Baptists, Catholics, or Born Agains. They generally just float around in a fog of self righteousness. Some try the eastern religions – but generally don’t last. So they tend to rely on zero doctrine and just want to love everyone thinking that all will be well, hmmmm sounds like some Book of Mormon episodes. You might as well be a Universalist or a Methodist. They have very little doctrine, no requirements, and want to be nice to everyone. They have the benefit of some socialization. Latter day Saints believe in that same spirit of love and acceptance, but have a faith that gives context to our purpose in life and the life hereafter.

    I wish you well in your journey of faith and only hopes it brings happiness and peace. Frankly it is difficult to not be as snarky in this post as you have chosen to be in your material. So please forgive me if I have crossed a line.

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