Share this Episode

Comments 21

  1. I’m only about a third of the way through the first part, but the part about how growing up as a youth in the Church being something really special and something that non-LDS family life might not have. I disagree with that somewhat.

    When I was 9 years old, my parents and I moved from Buttonwillow, California to an island in Washington. My mother occasionally attended a Protestant church there. My dad had been a part of a large family who’s parents were fundamentalist Baptists and when each child reached 18, they would rarely return to Church. But I look back at my lengthy family history, that I later wrote, and think I had an interesting life. I raised rabbits which were found wild in our county in the millions. I raised banties. I learned to row a boat and catch ling cod, one weighing 56 pounds. My parents and I would take out rowboat to a bay at low tide and using a pitchfork or two and would scoop up big crabs and take them home to cook. I shot rabbits and my mom and I would clean and I would skin them for dinner. We dug clams on the sandy beaches. We were often given salmon because my dad was a good fish smoker and we would get half and we ate and canned a lot of salmon. My friends and I would pick wild blackberries and salmon berries, and apples and pears from abandoned orchards, and eat them or else take them to my mom for pie. We explored caves and abandoned buildings, and made bowl from clay we found on small island. When I was 12 my much older brother asked me to christen his newly boat before it was launched. And when I became 17, my parents let me go north to Alaska to begin one of seven partial summers having amazing adventures and earning enough money for college. At the age of 12 my dad helped me shoot my first deer. But island life with two older but adventuresome parents was something I am so proud to have had.

    My parents were in their 40’s when they had me, but I knew my family loved me. I was never spanked but I knew the limits. My dad, though an atheist, read the Bible quite a bit and always told me that the Bible was the greatest book of fiction ever written. He would talk about how to stump Bible thumpers and religious folk by asking two questions. After I was married, going to college and at my first jobs, I would ask those questions wherever I went. After an interesting encounter with the missionaries, I asked those questions and the Mormons were the only ones who could answer them. It shocked me an so my wife and I became LDS for the next 40 years.

    1. Freedom West,

      I am so interested in what those two questions were AND how the missionaries answered them?

      Thanks!

      1. Taylor, the questions:
        A good woman is walking down the street in a big city. She has done good all her life, always helping people, but she doesn’t know whether there is a god or not. A criminal follows her and then attacks her. He rapes and kills her. Awaiting his execution, he says he accepts Jesus as his savior and Lord. Which one goes to heaven and which one goes to hell? I asked this in Christian bookstores, Campus Crusade For Christ meetings, Baptist and Presbyterian churches, Seventh Day Adventist churches. Missionaries said, “She will be judged on her faith and works, and the intent of her heart. Those other church leaders would sort of gulped and said that the man would to Heaven and the woman to hell.

        The other question: What about all the people who have lived in the past and now who lived in places where they have never heard of Jesus, but yet the Bible says that a man must be born of the water and the spirit…? Will they go to heaven or hell? Missionaries talked about temple work for the dead. So we were taught all the lessons, by the missionaries who rode to our home each day on the school bus, and on the trip of 37 miles to the stake center, to be baptized, I was stopped by the state cops because my vehicle matched that of a deer poacher in the area. Took a while to explain even though I was dressed in a suit. But that would be just one of many things that would happen before baptisms.

  2. Well, John, I became a teacher, but I thought being a member of the Lord’ true church meant that I never lied so when I signed a contract, that to me was a promise that I would work. My first year as an elementary teacher in a migrant area, there was a 63-teacher strike in my district and I was the only one who refused to strike. I made a promise. What else could I do? “Do what is right, let the consequence follow.” And, boy, did they follow! There were a couple other LDS teachers and they did strike and that bothered me some. I taught three years there as what is called a federal programs teacher. But my parents were in their 80’s and I wanted to be with them in their later years so I resigned and move to that island area and did any work I could find. I finally tried to get back into teaching but quickly found I had been blacklisted by the union where I had taught before. Now, I always thought that I was the best teacher I had ever seen. I had amazing results with Mexican kids who spent part of their days in asparagus fields, but I was no longer able to get a teaching job, anywhere, and my career that I loved was cut short. I called the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction and he emphasized with me, but that small cloud over my past made possible district jobs a thing of the past. So after my parents both died and I did menial work, we prayed and moved to the state where I had converted, and among other amazing experiences that I would later write in my then 500 pages of personal history, we ended up in an area with a stake president just like Scott’s, who held ward priesthood meetings that I will never forget.

    So thank you, Scott, for writing about your stake president. I was never made a leader of anything in my area after I gave a talk and referenced a book that had been recommended by an apostle in a 1970 general conference, and then got called into the bishop’s office for a reprimand. And I don’t take reprimands well. Never being called to anything but primary teacher and 11-year old scout helper was a bit of a surprise because when I had been called as an elder’s quorum president in a branch, which meant that I presided over, elders, high priests, and seventies, the stake high counselor told me, “Brother, you will be in church leadership for the rest of your life. But, Scott, it definitely sound like you also had a president who fit the scripture: “It is the nature and disposition of almost all men…..”

  3. Sorry if I comment too much. I guess you can just delete such rambling. This story and Scott, who’s honesty and integrity seem to mirror mine is kind of hard to ge through. I can remember one year sitting with my wife in a room with a group of sisters when a phone call was taken, telling us that a special meeting in the State of Washington would be held in a town some 60 miles from where we were. And the phone call came from, I guess, at least, an area authority. The issue was regarding the passage of The Equal Rights Amendment. All the sisters there wanted to go and I asked if I could go and I did go, which was very unusual. I remember that of the 4,500 women (All the Christian churches in the area were notified.) who attended all but a couple hundred were LDS. This was apparently women at the state level wanting a quick meeting to get this ratified in the state. But the church was so powerful and with such a mass communication network, that its passage was easily defeated in the state. So I can see what Scott is talking about. But at this time in my life, I was a great admirer of Ezra Taft Benson and therefore a very active member of the John Birch Society and pro-Church as well as anti-equal rights for women. What an idiot I was! But I lived in a very active and patriotic area and our stake president even had me show an ETB film in a big ward priesthood meeting with the stake president there. Thanks, Scott, for reminding me of being a small part in a church-sponsored national movement. I only wish I would have “seen the light” at an early age like you did and were able through it all to keep your family.

  4. I find it ironic that the emotions that are so clearly natural and tender, the ones that practicing members attribute to being “the Spirit”, are still felt and emoted when you are no longer “worthy” of it’s influence…
    The realization that our thoughts have so much influence on our feeling was the back before p of my faith Crisis. I had lived my life feeling led and guided by the Holy Ghost 💯. I felt confident in every aspect of my life by receiving conformation of the spirit.
    when I made the study of the brain/mind my focus, my world was rocked!
    I’m still rocking, back and forth, trying to sooth my shattered reality. It’s tough. The hardest part is not knowing what I believe. I based everything in what the Lord wanted and commanded me and my family to do, that was the why to everything. Currently we are blowing in the wind. I don’t know what to tell my children to do because I don’t know what the hell to do. Other than love and accept people I have no rubric or way of measuring or directing myself or my family.
    I am holding to the belief that this is part of the process, feel my feelings, work through the discomfort.
    I hope to find comfort and peace in the unknown and uncertain. I don’t know that I can believe anything abstract again and as an artist/creative that feels foreign and utterly devastating…
    Hoping for better days ahead.

    1. Jen, You will find it gets better but bad times keep peeking through. My wife and I stopped attending over 7 years ago. It’s hard to completely break away from the culture even if you have few or no friends. We have quite a few members in our area, but since it is small in population, the nearest therapy for faith transitions would probably be in Seattle and that is 10 hours of driving. But, as the Purves family expressed so much, keeping the family with you is the most important thing you can do. We only had one child but right after we disclosed to her our decision, she gradually became more distant until 6 months ago when she and her family cut off all contact, blocking our phone call attempts and e-mail. We assume it is because of the church, but we sent a couple Mormon Stories podcasts to help her understand why we no longer believed. On Mother’s Day my son-in-law called my wife but not a word from our daughter.

      I listen to maybe 40% of the Mormon Stories and want to highly recommend them to anyone at any stage of this journey. Since we have almost no contact with anyone—-Mormons don’t want to talk about our problems and non-members, especially Christians, of which there are many in small rural areas, simply tell me that Satan blinded us to the truth when we were in his church. Just keep listening to Mormon Stories!

      Eventually I came to consider myself an agnostic which means that I don’t think it is possible for mankind to know one way or the other whether there is a god. And studying world religions, I find that other religions believe their god (or gods) tells them their faith is true either by revelation, or holy book or just culture. And if it makes them happy to believe in one or many deities, that’s fine with me, but transitioning out of Mormonism, I learned how to really research and I found in other faiths the fallacies I found in Mormonism.

  5. Thank you for this wonderful podcast. My wife and I are struggling through our own faith crisis and these types of episodes are vital to us. I have listened to so many MS podcasts the last few months I sometimes hear John in my head narrating my life. It’s amazing to me how universal the experience is for devout TBMs who come across the Church’s troubling history and then realize the deceitful coverup. We feel so angered and betrayed, but (like Scott) mostly heartbroken. We are still trying to find our way in this mess, so I appreciate the vulnerability displayed by all of you, especially in the last episode answering the “Questions of the Soul”. This is the most difficult part in our faith transition. I’m coming to terms with the fact that there may not be answers.

    I wish your family the best and again grateful for your willingness to share your story.

  6. I love this family! Such good vibes! Thanks for sharing your time and experiences. It helps me a ton. Husband still true blue morm. Eight children 3 in the rest out. I love them all.

  7. I am on the second section, and was so sad to hear the story about your dad and his beard! It infuriated me!
    My wonderful faithful home teacher from years ago was also in the stake, and they made him shave his beard, and he had had a cleft lip and palate repaired! So he could no longer soften his scar!!!! I asked him if he preferred his beard , and he said he did. When I expressed my disgust that he would be forced, he just shrugged.
    That kind of unbending arrogance and bullying is SO pathetic!!!

  8. Hello John,

    I’m glad you did this podcast. Thank you. May blessings and joy be upon the Purves family. The LGBTQ members of the LDS Church (as well as throughout the world entire) and their families and friends need to continue be heard and voiced – loudly. These precious sisters and brothers in God’s family have been mistreated, minimized, and ignored for so, so long, and I weep with joy that rectification has, at last, begun to unfold.

    Yet I think a large demographic continues to be overlooked: disabled members, born so or who’ve become such.

    These are they who go through tortuous hours just to get dressed, living dependently on the mercy of others for many of the things most take for granted. These are they who have not been published or won awards or been financially successful or have some following or spotlight in the media. There are exceptions, certainly, but few.

    The eternally single is another group. That demographic has had past spotlights, though. Still, there seems to be a consistently specific profile for those whom you give the spotlight to, John, and I think it would be good to broaden it to others who’re often overlooked who also have a great deal to teach us.

    I say all of this as a matter of personal opinion through the medium of feedback. Thank you very, very much for all you and your colleagues do. It is truly a marvelous work. God bless and be with you, the Purves, and everyone. Love love.

    Aaron W. Johnson

  9. Thank you so much for being so vulnerable and sharing so many tender moments as I have listened I reflected on so very many similar feelings, wanting nothing more than the church I grew up in, sacrificed for and loved, to be true yet now being able to see the hurt and devistation it caused not only myself but so many wonderful people. My heart is full, I have many sweet memories with this truly incredible family, I hope they know how much I love and admire them! Scott’s description of the two Stake Presidents brought back so many emotions to me, their contrasting personalities, I have no respect for the first one and was serving as a counselor to the second one when he was a bishop and could not say enough good about the genuine, kind man that he is. I feel so much as Scott expressed, I was truly devastated when I realized that the church is not true, when the church is the focal point of your life for so many years it is a horrible transition. I am so very proud of your kids and amazed at how they have grown!

  10. I listened to all four episodes and found them fascinating. I’m always looking for the “trigger” that first causes these TBM families to crack their faith and start taking their “shelf items” down to give them fresh, hard looks. The minute they’re willing to take those shelf items down, that’s the beginning of the end it seems. So it’s all about the triggers that prompt them to take them down.

    This is the second TBM family you’ve had on recently whose trigger seems to be “calling burn-out”. (The Youngs being the other notable one.) This is a trigger that I formerly discounted, but now I’m beginning to realize it must be much more significant than I thought. I can see some signs of it in my own still-faithful family and it appears that with the shortening of Church services, abandonment of home teaching, etc., that the Church is also cognizant of the phenomenon. If Calling Burn-out is so prevalent and it is causing many families to take down their shelf items and re-examine them, then it is potentially the greatest single threat to the Church at present.

    If Calling Burn-out causes members to say “what am I getting out of this deal?”, then they look at their shelf items in a new light, it’s Katie bar the chapel doors. They’ll leave in droves as they realize they give far more than they get.

  11. I am so impressed by this family. First because they’re Giants fans! and second because everyone of them is so thoughtful and wise. And Maddy, JD Goates is my cousin’s son and I’ve been proud of the good that he has done and glad you got to know him. It’s been wonderful to hear your family’s journey and how you’ve all handled it in such a seemingly healthy way. The love you have for each other is very evident and I dont have any doubt that you will all go on to lead happy and productive lives. When you are not constrained by a predetermined path, the sky is the limit. Go Giants!

  12. I listened to this episode with interest. I have gone through my own faith transition and have been out of the church for 6+ years now. I related to much of what Scott said but also contrasted it with my own experiences growing up as a woman in the church. Scott’s feelings and frustrations are absolutely valid. It’s incredibly frustrating to work hard and sacrifice so much and to be given so little appreciation in return. However, I think it is also helpful to recognize that Scott was/is in a position of privilege and many members of the church who are not able-bodied white men (women, people of color, people with disabilities, single people, LGBTQ+) face many of these frustrations, but compounded. For example,

    1. I loved the leadership opportunities I had in the church. I enjoyed being a YW leader and mentoring the younger girls. However, these types of leadership opportunities are extremely rare for women and were infrequent for me. To really grow in my desire to lead and mentor others, I had to look for opportunities in my professional career.
    2. Scott talks about his hope to be a Bishop/Stake President/Mission President and the frustration and disappointment that came with those dreams being squashed by an authoritarian Stake President . Many people in the church can not even hope for such opportunities, because they will never have them despite how righteous they are.
    3. Scott calls the Stake High Council a bishop’s graveyard. I think he is trying to express his disappointment at being demoted from the upwardly mobile leadership track he was on. I was a bit taken aback by this comment, because of how often I have wished that women could serve on Stake Councils so that they had the opportunity to serve on the Stake level, have some influence on Stake level decisions, and have a voice in disciplinary counsels.
    4. Many many women in the church have the experience of being micromanaged, talked down to, or ignored in a similar way to how Scott was treated by his Stake President. However, I think leaders are much more likely to treat women they preside over this way than men.

    None of this is to attack Scott or diminish his real experiences. My hope is to add an additional perspective into how the frustrations that Scott felt are shared by many members who are dismissed outright from leadership opportunities or a voice in decision making in the church simply because they don’t fit the mold of what a leader in the church should be.

  13. Thank you, Scott, for those kind words of praise about me. And believe me, you’re forgiven for the “wish I’d said” at my hearing. I’m kicking myself for not being more forceful and Abinadi-like when I knew that was a kangaroo court with a pre-determined outcome.

    I was grateful for that four hour pizza fest you and I had together. If there’s anything I miss about Sacramento, it’s that we were located in an area where readers could drop by and meet now and then. Now that we’ve moved to the Great White North (Sandpoint, Idaho), we’re out of the way.

    Nice interview. It was good to be able to watch and lay eyes on your family.

    Rock

  14. Rock, at least you don’t have lots of Mormons around you. As one leaves Boise and heads on north on 95, Mormonism thins out. I’m about 3 counties south of you, six if I stay on main highways. Your essay on the prophet who talked about the Founding Fathers asking to have their temple work done for them, and how that story changed so much over the years, was one of the stories that helped on my faith journey. Thanks for the good info I got on “Pure Mormonism”. Having made my decision I rarely go there or to the Snuffer site anymore. But, after several years I still check out “Mormon Stories” often.

  15. 8 topics from John Dehlin and my responses to them for me. I really enjoyed listening to the Purvis family today as made the beds, did the dishes, fixed something to eat! And sitting here at my computer and thinking about how I feel about these things after being out of the lds church for 7 years!

    1. morality – if you are a moral person – you ARE a moral person – in the church or out of the church!

    2. spirituality – I am a spiritual person, but not a “religious” person – I still have “feelings” of doing good that comes to me and I still act on those feelings sometimes and sometimes I don’t; just like when I was a TBM. In a world as big as ours, there are many ways of receiving our spirituality – whether from God, or Jesus, or a higher power or even Karma! I do believe there is something more.

    3. what is the purpose of life if not the TBM viewpoints? I go back to what Jesus said – to love one another; to be kind, to not purposely hurt others, to have joy, to be content – and if there isn’t a Jesus, I would still want to live this way!

    4. friends and community – When I first resigned – I really missed my ward! I even visited from time to time. I also joined a non-denominational church – made friends with the lady’s bible study group and that helped a lot. But I still miss my Mormon friends. As the years have gone by, it has been much easier – I guess it just takes time! I do like not having to “saving” others and just enjoy being in the here and now – what if this is all we have? What if there is no life after death – I would hate that I used all my time trying to get me and all my family and friends there and we don’t have a “there!” I have a hope for life after death – but I can no longer say “I KNOW” about it.

    5. family – I want to spend as much time with my family and friends right now – just in case there isn’t a life of being together after death. Since I was a convert to the lds church, I didn’t lose any family over leaving; but I’ve seen the opposite happen.

    6. service – there are tons of ways to serve – just start paying attention to your community. There are also real “Missions” you can serve with organizations that go overseas and dig wells, build homes, teach children, go on a medical mission in the USA or overseas. And most communities need volunteers in lots of different areas. You don’t have to feel guilty if you don’t want to serve in this time of your life – do it when you want to!

    7.tithing/giving – I love giving my tithing to people or organizations that I really want to help!

    8. death – see #4

  16. I loved John’s comment about tithing. I also still pay tithing. It is just in a different way that I have in the past. I find a need and help. My son does this too. So, I didn’t get a 10% raise as people say. I just put it where it is needed not to a multi billion dollar corporation. This includes Mormon stories. This is a much needed podcast, that has helped so many. Thank you
    Also, congrats to being able to relax! Enjoy! LOL Love it!

  17. I am very concerned about what the gay daughter did to her girlfriend while at BYU. Apparently the gay daughter felt the need to confess/repent to her Bishop. Because she repented, her treatment/punishment was milder than others had received in similar situations. But what about the girl with whom she was “committing the sin” (description?)??? The daughter states she did tell the Bishop the name of the other girl. I would like to know how the other girl was treated/punished, the girl who did not come forward and “confess” on her own. I’m pretty sure it was much more harsh than what Miss Purves received. I am dismayed at the glib ability to simply dismiss the other young gay woman and throw her to the wolves. I’m sure by outing her girlfriend she saved some of her own skin, but it speaks very poorly for the daughter who outed her girlfriend. Turn yourself in to the Gestapo first and throw your friends to the wolves = “my needs come first and I have no consideration or care for any repercussions to you”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.