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  1. I was never that interested in the whole stages of faith theory but it was nice to get updates on both of you, thanks for sharing your spiritual journeys with us!!!
    Tom: Square pegs don’t fit in round holes and the Mormon church needs to fix this!! In today’s diverse world, members and leaders need to learn to be more accepting and less judgmental. Uninformed Mormons (Elder Bednar) will say you were offended and will be blind to the real legitimate issues at hand. Until my faith crisis over a year ago, I was always that round peg that fit perfectly (echo!). Not so much anymore…
    Dan: I wish more members could get to the place where you are at, it would make staying in the church much easier!
    I wanted to ask the two of your for advice. Over a year ago my faith crisis started. It is something I went through alone, and my wife doesn’t understand.
    I go to church weekly, and even though I don’t believe like I used to believe, am OK going. I don’t share my issues with anyone at church. I believe there is much good in the church, but do not believe its truth claims. While I attend church I stopped paying tithing this year. I stopped due to the church’s lack of financial transparency, low dollars that go to humanitarian aid, and no longer believing God requires it or that it does towards His purposes. I also find going to the temple pointless, and a waste of time. I just don’t believe God cares if I know the Masonic tokens, signs, and penalties. I can think of a million better things to do.
    My wife has had no faith crisis. She doesn’t understand my issues and worst of all doesn’t want to know them. I bring up things when she asks or the occasion presents itself, but she thinks my issues are just lies, of Satan, and that our marriage and success depends on the church. She is mad at me for reading unofficial church approved literature. She feels an obligation to our extended Mormon families and friends to stay LDS. She points to others out of the church we know as evidence there is no life beyond the church.
    Any advice for how I can reconcile these differences? My wife is becoming impatient with me and I don’t know how I can bridge the gap that exists between us. Tom and John, how did you guys get to the point where you were comfortable going to the temple, knowing what you know?

    1. Welcome to reality! I haven’t believed in the church in over 10 years but my wife still does. There was a lot of friction in the beginning but she has finally accepted my position as permanent. I am now Christian and found good counsel within Christianity that has helped our marriage. Good luck. Remember that God is accepted on faith and is not a pure science! Look into good psychology about yourself and your wife it will but things into perspective.

      1. Wow, 10 years! I am open to any and all religious beliefs at this point. I still have a slight lean towards Christianity. I think we can all believe in the teachings of Jesus, even if he never existed or if who he really was has been exaggerated over time. I told my wife I wanted to try going to a non denominational Bible following church, but she wasn’t interested…

        1. -Paul M.

          Leaving the religiosity of Mormonism and finding my own peace within Christianity was the best thing I ever did. The majority of Christian churches aren’t going to force you to think like them but to personally decide what is truth and what isn’t. I find most Christianity to be more true than Mormonism with some actual facts about Jesus. Also most Christians understand that their institutions are based on faith. Mormons act like their church is scientifically proven. I have noticed myself more self reliant and at peace as a Christian versus my entire life in the church. There is a church for everyone under the umbrella of Christianity!

    2. Paul M. :”Any advice for how I can reconcile these differences?”

      Maybe try counseling. Maybe get your spouse to pick a non-Mormon therapist that she likes and trusts so that it isn’t hostile ground for her. Explain the dilemma as best you can to the therapist in front of her and let the therapist repeat it back to your spouse.

      I found that on occasion, the walls were up between my spouse and I and no matter what I said, she couldn’t hear me. But if the therapist said the same thing, she COULD hear (and apparently this went both ways).

      Taking my spouse to Sunstone was really a big deal. She got to meet the people I had been talking about and learned that they were really nice people. My spouse fell in love with Lavina Fielding Anderson and Margret Toscano. This made things easier.

      In my mind, spouses are dangerous territory. If she can’t see what you see, you can’t force it. All you can do is say, “I want to be with you.” “My disaffection with the LDS faith has nothing to do with you.”

      The fact is, you can’t control what she does, what she thinks, or how she will react. All you can do is try and express yourself well. Try and avoid anger. Explain to her that what you are experiencing isn’t about her. Express what you are willing to live with and what you are not, and then begin to prepare to live without her if she can’t meet your bottom line. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

      Sorry, this is awful stuff.

      1. Thanks for the advice Tom. I don’t live in Utah, so finding a non Mormon therapist will not be hard. Best wishes!

      2. I second the advice about couple’s counseling for anyone whose marriage is under serious stress over faith issues. My wife and I had mixed results with two marriage and family counselors and then spectacular experiences with our third one–someone we have chosen to go back two every so often for tune-ups (reminders). The beautiful thing this counselor did was diffuse the intensity of the stresses by demonstrating how all the faith matters we were struggling with were not really about faith so much as power dynamics, attempts to shape the other person into the mold we want them to be, etc. She unfolded how all of this was working so skillfully that no one felt picked on or more to blame; she helped us feel like normal human beings in a pretty typical relationship (simply with faith as one of our triggers whereas it would be another combination of factors with other couples, etc.). Talking with an insightful listener: priceless (in this case about $100 per hour, but money well spent as now some fifteen years after our first rounds with her we’re still going strong).

        1. Thanks Dan, what you said makes a lot of sense. Any suggestions on how to find the right marriage counselor so we don’t have to go through three of them!

          Also, how did you get to the point where you wanted to go to the temple again? I just don’t see how I will ever get there. While I wanted the temple to be something amazing and special, outside the day I married my wife, it just never was. It wasn’t until I had my faith crisis, learned about the true origins of the temple, that it all made sense and I understood why I didn’t like going…

          1. We found ours through friends’ recommendations. I really don’t know any other way to increase the odds of finding a good match. And if it does not work out well with the first one you try, it’s quite acceptable (and therapists agree, I think!) to make that first visit a last visit and find someone more compatible with your hoped for approach or someone that you simply connect with better. These things don’t work if we don’t trust the therapists’ mind and heart and openness and genuine concern for us. Best of luck!

            On temple, I’m a freak in that I LOVE ritual and really value its ways of helping us get out of our own way and enter into liminal space (threshold, outside normal space and time) where we can be taught in ways that bypass all the normal mental filters (monkey mind stuff) that are going so strong in our day-to-day lives. So temple was quite wonderful for me as ritual space–roominess for play with archetypal wisdom and situations that might inform my daily walk. I know others don’t experience it this way, at least not as easily as I did. I do think preparation is a big key, including understanding theories about ritual. In them, we can see the sense they make (method to their madness).

            As far as “true origins of the temple” goes, I imagine you’ve heard enough from me to know that human processes and their involvement in stuff doesn’t throw me any more. It certainly did at one time, so know that I empathize. My hope is that you’ll just keep open to the possibilities that things will look differently to you down the road.

            I don’t want to say more, but if you want a chance to better get what I mean when I talk about ritual structures and what it’s designed to do, I hope you’ll listen to this podcast we did at Mormon Matters. Rich with theory as well as personal experience.

            http://mormonmatters.org/2011/07/05/40%E2%80%9341-ritual-within-mormonism/

            Talk again, maybe privately.

    3. Paul,
      Your description is exactly why I chose the name square peg to post comments with. That is how it feels every day now as I try to figure out how to make myself fit what my family wants and needs. I cannot make myself want to go back to the temple now-it seems pointless. But my son is getting sealed in August and my husband and family will all be there…but not me. I am distraught to say the least feeling like an outsider in my own family, but I also don’t feel like I should lie just to be able to go. That also causes severe distress. My husband also does not understand or want to understand why I would allow myself to be deceived into believing what I now do. I know it’s a ridiculously hard thing to navigate.Good luck to you, to me, to all of us who struggle to figure out how to feel comfortable where we now find ourselves.

      1. Thanks Square Peg! It is amazing how things look when your eyes are opened. I just can’t go back to being ignorant knowing what I know now.

      2. This is what I’m facing now too. My son is getting married in August and I will be outside the temple waiting. I decided being honest with myself and others about what I’m thinking and believe is more important in the long run than pretending so I can be in the sealing. I don’t want to live in a way that requires me to pretend or fake things…. I’m trying to live my life with integrity and make the best choices I know how just like others and I have to hope that they will respect that.

        1. Alison,
          How is your family responding to your decision? Are they being respectful? I am feeling so much pressure and extreme emotional turmoil because of my decision. I still feel it is what I need to do and I will not change what I’ve decided-I can’t in good conscience. However, I find it incredibly hard to cope with family members acting like you are some kind of idiot who hasn’t thought through this at all and telling you you will regret this the rest of your life.

          1. Alison & Square Peg:

            I admire you both for taking a stand for what you believe in and not just being dishonest with yourselves and others to get inside the temple. Not an easy road you are traveling…

    4. There is a church for everyone under the umbrella of Christianity. I have found much more peace and happiness and self reliance as a Christian then I ever did as a Mormon. Most Christians understand our faith is simply that faith. Mormons act like what they believe is good science and try and force it on everyone. Good luck with whatever you decide!

      1. I didn’t necessarily find evangelical Christianity to be the rosy bed others portray on this. I would only want to be involved with a church that takes the Bible seriously (but not necessarily literally), and all those churches are founded on the mirage of biblical inerrancy. I don’t think you can prove basic Christian doctrines like the Trinity from the Bible, yet these things are considered indisputable because of the early church councils that decided them. So what is actually inerrant? The councils and not the Bible. I had a pastor of a church we had been fully committed to for two years tell me I wasn’t a Christian because I didn’t believe the Trinity could be proved from the Bible. I found that to be a general, though not universal, sentiment. It made me realize I was too LDS to ever fit as a Protestant. Most take the same faith-based simple-minded view of the scriptures we often do as LDS and rely on their pastors far more than we trust our own leaders. I just haven’t found the depth, and we have been through three different Protestant churches now.

          1. I fear you would be greatly disappointed. 🙂 My personal faith is so pieced together it doesn’t even make sense to me sometimes. I just try really hard to follow the Spirit and be authentic, and just hope I haven’t messed this whole thing up completely.

        1. I think you are expecting too much from religion. For more absolute truth check out a science museum. Churches are for people looking for an extended family that believe in higher morals than what the world teaches. I share Einstein’s view of God. The view that there is something bigger at work (Einstein’s view)represents the Father and His Son gives us a divine model to follow in a more human way.

          “and all those churches are founded on the mirage of biblical inerrancy.”

          “All those churches”…? a little extreme. SOME churches are founded on the mirage of biblical inerancy.

          Again I think you are expecting too much from a religion. Your looking for truth and reason in the wrong places. 🙂

          I am a progressive Christian and I have dozens of progressive Christian friends who think like me. Go easy on the fundamental Christian they are clinging to a hope that has carried them through lifes trials.

          Good luck in your search I hope you find what your looking for whether its LDS or something else. May the peace of Christ Jesus be in your heart always!

        2. Bob,

          Coming from someone who grew up in an evangelical Christian church I can say any pastor that would tell you that does not know much about early church history. The hypostatic union was not something that was emphasised (or understood) at all in the early years of Christianity, and it is certainly not something that was a litmus test for being a disciple of Christ. The church I attened would have taught something similar (dogmatic Southern Baptist church), but I have gained quite a bit of insight through podcast like Dan’s, John’s, Mormon Expression, Mormon Expositor etc. and through a great deal of research on my own. I don’t believe much of the fundamentalism that I use to believe, but still find a peace that comes from the life of Christ. If we all try to walk (and treat others) as he did, our theological knowledge of the nature of God is (I think) unimportant.

          1. His name is Elliott Grudem, and his father is Wayne Grudem, who published a mammoth book on systematic theology. Wayne was also the general editor of the Crossway ESV Study Bible, which I believe to be a very respected work. The two of them published a book on theology together. What brought the subject up is that Tim Keller said this in “The Reason for God” (that if you don’t agree with the doctrinal councils of the first 400 years of the Christian church that you are not a Christian) and I was looking for his opinion on this. He agreed with Keller. In case I misunderstood I brought it up again and he agreed with his earlier statement. If I don’t believe the Trinity can be proved by the Bible, these councils clarify what the bible says, so if I don’t believe the councils, I don’t believe the Bible, which means I don’t believe God’s word, therefore I am not a Christian.

          2. Millions of Christians would agree with you Bob. All the details about the nature of God are non-essential and un-knowable. The focus of any good Christian should be to understand Christ and implement His teachings. Period. Everything else is fun to talk about and research but otherwise non-essential doctrine of salvation.

  2. Dan, Tom, and even David:

    How do you guys continue to participate with any denomination? The LDS/Mormon Church pretty much blew it for me.

    Best Regards (w/ Your Journey),

    Joe

    1. Try a mega church. You can be more casual about your faith until you can form a better idea of what you believe. I feel church attendance helps better my life and marriage. Also here are my earlier comments…

      David
      May 29, 2013 at 9:38 am
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      I think you are expecting too much from religion. For more absolute truth check out a science museum. Churches are for people looking for an extended family that believe in higher morals than what the world teaches. I share Einstein’s view of God. The view that there is something bigger at work (Einstein’s view)represents the Father and His Son gives us a divine model to follow in a more human way.

      “and all those churches are founded on the mirage of biblical inerrancy.”

      “All those churches”…? a little extreme. SOME churches are founded on the mirage of biblical inerancy.

      Again I think you are expecting too much from a religion. Your looking for truth and reason in the wrong places.

      I am a progressive Christian and I have dozens of progressive Christian friends who think like me. Go easy on the fundamental Christian they are clinging to a hope that has carried them through lifes trials.

      Good luck in your search I hope you find what your looking for whether its LDS or something else. May the peace of Christ Jesus be in your heart always!

  3. Great podcast! Loved the touching story Tom shared. Tugged at my heart to hear his tenderness coming through…John, Thanks for pulling Dan out to bless the lives of so many. I am grateful!

  4. I’m only about 50 minutes into part 1, but I’m shocked at what I’ve just heard. So far we’ve had 45 minutes of how Bishops and neighbors have no business being fathers to your children. They shouldn’t have the fatherly advice talks and they should completely respect the family unit (of which I totally agree) and then I hear that there’s this great sex ed class through the unitarian church? What?!? I couldn’t imagine a conversation which deserves more respect and deference than sex-ed with our children. NO ONE has any business talking to our children about sexual health except for parents. And the point is proven by making balloons out of condoms. Why not commit adultery and be addicted to porn when condoms are nothing but a circus attraction.

      1. Ben, I’m sorry you feel this way. My spouse and I signed up our children for the program and were briefed beforehand about the contents of the lessons. Page and I often waited around the church during those hours waiting for the class to let out. I’m of the thought that kids get their morality from their parents but their education from schools and classes. In this case, OWL is a sex-ed program that many liberal religious communities use to help educate their children, taught by a collection of adults who were trained to present the structured course. Here is a wiki link for the program:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Whole_Lives

        So far, my anecdotal experience has been very positive. The kids that my children associate who also attended the OWL program seem to be more open with their parents about sex and tend to talk from an informed stance about why they want to delay this experience. The lessons empower the kids to choose for themselves, to say no, and to respect others bodies and feelings. Knowledge is power.

        1. I agree knowledge is power. Is there something in the OWL course that you and your wife were ignorant about? Perhaps you had no self worth, sexual health, responsibilty, or sense of justice and inclusivity (the 4 core principles taught according to the wiki link)? After listening to your podcast, I’d be surprised if you were ignorant on any of these topics, to the point of being unprepared to teach your children these principles. Your “knowledge is power” comment makes it sound like that knowledge is limited when parents teach children.

          Given that we home-school our children, I suppose I disagree about where kids learn. I’m of the belief that parents teach their children, yet I agree that knowledge is power. If parents chose schools, programs, classes, churches, whatever, to facilitate that learning, that’s their decision. My surprise was just surrounding some tame Bishop interview with your son, but happily throwing your children into a sex-ed class.

          Perhaps that’s another ‘point of reference’ value that we see differently. I view the church as being there to facilitate what my wife and I teach in our home. The church helps in the arena, so we participate. If the church didn’t help our family, it would have no value. Sounds like you wanted/expected a lot more out of your church, or that it ceased to be effective in helping your family. Sorry about that. Families need all the help they can get.

  5. Ben, I think diffusing all the uncomfortable nervous energy around sexuality can be a good thing.

    Tom, your story was heart breaking, and I’m so sorry. I’ve taken the approach of just not ever sharing things with leadership. I think some prob see this as cowardice, but for me it’s a cost/benefit analysis I have to make. By choosing to not share, I keep my marriage and relationships intact. But I didn’t face what you did. I’m wondering if you ever considered just retreating to being the ‘quiet’ member and not voicing anything?

    John-mad props. Your efforts are so appreciated. I’ve listened for years and hope you stay with it. It matters, it helps, it’s good.

    Dan-ditto. Thanks dudes!

    1. a dude,

      I believe that (conscious or not) it comes down to a cost/benefit analysis for almost everyone. And I believe that is a good thing. We call it survival and/or happiness. 🙂

    2. a dude: “I’m wondering if you ever considered just retreating to being the ‘quiet’ member and not voicing anything?”

      Yeah, it is something I’ve considered and I think it is a good question. What would you consider to be the advantages of being quiet? What are the benefits to myself and my family of just being a spectator member?

      1. Advantage to my being quiet is preserving my marriage. My wife is not, NOT ready to explore her Mormonism in any kind of way outside the traditional. If I push her, she’ll push back, and I could potentially lose her and my children. I am fully aware of the downside to this, especially my kids someday potentially struggling the same way. Thanks again for being willing to share.

        1. a dude,

          Well said. I think we have walked similar paths. It takes everyone a fair bit to sort out their faith crisis in relation to spouses, especially in Mormonism where the idea of eternal families is so central to one’s beliefs. A spouse could interpret your doubts as not wanting to be with her forever rather than an attempt at personal honesty. There is very little support and no instruction manuel for these sorts of things. It is the most important tipping point in our lives and we are on our own to figure it out.

          I remember at a critical time in my marriage when I told my spouse that I didn’t want to be right anymore, I just wanted her. At another important moment, I remember finding the courage to stand up for myself and say, “Here is my bottom-line. I must have this for us to be married,” and I tried to brace myself for the outcome.

          About this time, I remember sitting in a therapists waiting room as my spouse was talking to our councilor and the woman sitting across from me began to notice that the man in front of her was in the process of unraveling as a human. She began talking and shared with me that she had divorced after 35 years of marriage. With a compassionate voice she promised that there is life after divorce, even a good life. I have come to view my Mormonism similarly to my marriage. For a time I was willing to bury my doubts just to have Mormonism in my life. At a critical place and time, desperately I needed my Mormonism to meet me at my bottom-line. To wrap it’s arms around my family and say, we don’t need to be right, we just need you. My spouse chose to meet my bottom-line. The church didn’t. I kept the spouse and divorced the church.

          Maybe there will be a time when you can have both your doubts and your marriage.

          The Kimball’s are sending good vibes your way.

  6. Have only listened to Tom’s part so far. But this is the reason I will never ever talk to bishop about anything. Its a crap shoot with ecclesiastical leaders. I would never discuss any hint of unbelief with them or anything in my personal life for that matter. Way to much risk involved. Im sorry for Tom’s experience, it sounds horrible and very traumatic. Why put yourself and family through it? After couple of years of non belief in church truth claims Ive found its best for my family to go to church, say whats needed to maintain good standing, come and go as I please, leave a meeting when I cant take the non-sense anymore, contribute and serve where appropriate, participate in the good things church has to offer and try to mitigate and defend against the bad stuff. Its a balancing act with consequences for either way you go. Leave the church and there are ramifications, stay and you have a whole set of mental gymnastics and inoculation for your kids to deal with. Its a trade off

    It requires grinning and bearing it sometimes but hearing about Tom’s experience, I know I made the right decision for me and my family.

    1. Yep,

      Have you considered that by doing this balancing act, your kids may have to do the same? As your children become adults, having adult conversations with their father about Mormonism, that like you, they will have to learn, in a way, to be duplicitous with their own leaders (and maybe spouses) in order to also keep the peace?

      Hell of a legacy eh?

      1. Tom – FWIW, I believe that there is a way to stay without being duplicitous. That said, I do not believe that everyone should stay, nor that everyone who wants to stay will be able to make it work. It’s totally a personal, individualistic endeavor….but there is a wide variety of options….many of them not involving duplicity.

        1. John,

          I appreciate the distinction, but I was simply responding to KC when he said: “I’ve found its best for my family to go to church, say whats needed to maintain good standing.”

          I don’t believe that everyone with a temple recommend is duplicitous. Just those like KC and myself who honestly can’t say YES to all the temple questions at face value, and who come out of those meetings with recommend in hand.

          Is that fair?

          1. I agree that if you are at the point that you don’t believe the fundamental truth claims of the church that are in the temple recommend questions but just want to keep the peace…. you are setting yourself for a lot of emotional distress. Living like that takes it toll on your mental and physical health and will still impact your relationships in a negative way. As a parent I feel sharing my insights, thoughts, perspectives are important with my kids and if I hide them I’m doing them a disservice in the long run.

    2. I have to agree with you KC. A bishop is “church broke,” and usually has no idea the extent of the issues out there. Maybe they have heard of blood atonement, Adam/God, or polygamy, but sharing doesn’t help. My wife made me go to our bishop. He is a nice guy, but when I started telling him my issues with the Book of Abraham, he cut me off, told me he felt a “dark spirit,” and didn’t even let me finish. His great advice??? Read the BOM and pray! Well, every time I read the BOM, I see all the issues with the book. It really isn’t anything all that special.

      Maybe that “dark spirit” was just how anyone would feel when they find out some really bad news? If my bishop went to the doctor and they told him he had 3 months to live, how would he FEEL? That dark and terrible feeling would not make the bad news any less true…

  7. Tom,

    I probably just missed it, but what was it exactl that you said “no” to in that meeting to the Bishop that was unacceptable to him ad led to the exit? You have caused me to wonder if when we get a new Bishop (within the next six months, probably), if my life with the Church will change. For now, it is a smile and get along without further discussion policy (we had one discussiona nd I think he heard enough when I introduced polyandry). Perhaps a new Bishop will want to force the issue. If so, have at it. We’ll see how that goes.

    1. I didn’t share some specifics for my own reasons. I’m expecting that some of my former ward members and extended family may stumble onto this thread. I’m trying to protect some feelings. But in essence, he wanted to interview members of my family alone, and he wanted my spouse and I to have special meetings with him until, in his mind, he felt we were worthy to hold temple recommends. Until he reached that conclusion, we as a married couple would not be allowed to further participate in the church in any fashion. This would have included taking the sacrament, answering questions in class, and praying in church.

      I told him no, and that my answer was not negotiable. I saw the exercise of interviews as stressful and futile. My wife and I would never share his skewed vision of Mormonism or the cosmos. To give some context, once I was able to get his councilors involved, they generally agreed with my decision. In the wake of this, unspecified people asked to be released from their callings, not wanting their names associated with the Bishops actions in our case. I know of several families in my former ward, in reaction to our situation, who have since also chosen not to allow family members to have private interviews with this bishop. In my conversations with neighbors, I understand this has been met with mixed results.

      1. Sad to say this is totally dependent on who your bishop is. My leaders have been great and very supportive. No witch hunts. I gave up my TR voluntarily and have always been fully open about my “issues”. I even joined another church for awhile, and they expressed regret, but no courts or Spanish Inquisition. Not sure why it has to be this way. i.e. I get great leaders and others, not so much.

      2. Just beginning to listen to the pod cast, I’m in the middle of a mess with my bishop-felt like I was doing the responsible thing as a steward in my calling – let my faith struggles out of the bag and naively allowed myself to be badgered and interrogated about my testimony in a one on one interview that lasted at least an hour and half. That won’t be happening again.

        What a great tool you have here! Thank you!

        I’ve since heard about other crazy stories like a bishop who started using lie detectors in temple recommend interviews and was promptly handled by the higher-ups…

  8. Have only listened to the first two segments so far, but find it quite interesting how different the two attitudes are. I suspect Dan will likely never find serious differences with his church leadership, and I’m surprised it took Tom that long to find his. His previous Bishop must have been a saint. To take differences with a Bishop who is concerned with an atheist, who prays to heavenly mother, and who is only using the church to be a positive influence on his kids, seems a little immature. That a Bishop would seek to try and establish a tiny bit of traditional faith doesn’t come as a huge shock, plus we have no idea how Tom’s actions were affecting the ward or individual members.

    We only have Tom’s side of the story, and will never hear from the Bishop, so it’s easy to pile on the Bishop and hold him up as the villain. Can’t say he’s blameless, but in listening to the interview, it doesn’t sound like Tom is that flexible or easy to work with, so blame likely runs both ways. Tom’s quick to critique others for not saying sorry, or failing to see everything from his point of view, but he seems unable to do the same.

    I understand we only have a tiny window into his life, but we have an even tinier window into the life of church leadership, who are often dealing with plenty of things we have no idea about, in addition to their jobs and their families. Easy to be critical and cast lots of contempt on them when we’ve never been in their shoes or see the whole picture.

    I appreciate the willingness of both to let us look into their lives. I’ve listened to the first interview (from 7 years ago), and found it very interesting. Didn’t say thanks at the time, so I will now. Thanks for sharing, and I hope things work out for you. Look forward to the last segment.

    1. Ray,

      “To take differences with a Bishop who is concerned with an atheist, who prays to heavenly mother, and who is only using the church to be a positive influence on his kids, seems a little immature.”

      In context, the bishop didn’t take difference with me over my doubts my religious practices, my Elder’s Quorum lessons, my scouting, or my 20 inch ponytail. When my spouse decided that she wanted to speak with him about a concern, he took difference with me for not allowing him to have lone access to my wife. Up until that moment, I had full permission to act as any worthy member, as my spouse and I had been interviewed by him some months earlier to get permission to ordain my youngest son. The bishop asked me, with what I felt at the time was sincerity, to meet with my spouse alone. I responded with similar sincerity that my instincts suggested otherwise and as the father of my family that he respect my decision that he no meet with my family members without my presence. It seemed that it was after this decision that things became punitive directed at me.

      Yes, this is my version of the story. I’m very sure he would have his own. I’m sure he would tell a tale about counseling a troubled family and how he just wanted to advise the wife without the negative influences of her bright but angry husband. The problem with that is this didn’t happen in a vacuum. It happened in front of several people. My spouse, the bishop’s councilors who I knew as close friends, and who mad the initial recommendation to visit the bishop. There were ward clerks, councilors, a Stake President, and so forth. I remember my spouse and I proposing a compromise with the bishop that the Relief Society President sit in rather than myself. This was refused. I honestly felt like we were bending over backwards to find a creative resolution without compromising my concern. I also expressed my concerns in real time with friends like Dan. My guts told me he was up to no good. I’m convinced this was true, and after watching a neighbor’s divorce which was directly related to the bishop’s private counseling sessions with the wife. Not that my spouse is week minded or anything, I’m just convinced that my gut feelings about the man were right, verified later by my own observation, and I am confident that I made the correct decision.

      The trouble continues in the neighborhood four years later. I continue to receive ongoing reports from broad sources about ongoing behavior problems and member’s exiting or refraining from activity. I’ve visited with a handful of members of my former Elder’s quorum over the past few months, oddly in the Fresh Market produce department or along the street in my neighborhood. Some of whom include a few men who were fairly close what was happening to me and others at the time. Thinking about it, I don’t believe any of them allow the bishop to meet individually with their family members. But since he doesn’t have leverage on them (they are not doubters) he doesn’t seem to have abused all of them the way he could me.

      I hope that clarifies things somewhat.

      To me this is an institutional problem rather than a lone wolf. Reports were sent up the line about behavior problems. He remains the bishop, so I’m assuming they were never addressed in any meaningful way. I know my situation wasn’t.

      As to having to deal with me. No, I don’t suppose I would be the easiest guy to negotiate with. Ask Dan.

      1. Many Bishops in the church are arrogant, wreckless, and do not belong as a personal counselor. Construction contractors and dentists are not fit to provide helpful life counsel. My experiences with bishops have been extremely hurtful since about 12 years old to 30 yrs old. Nothings free in life except bad advice. 🙂

        1. Dvid, the vast majority of Bishops in the church are decent, humble, kind, honest, loving and good men, though many times the church has to pick the best of a weak bunch. As far as careers go, one of the best Bishops I ever had was a dentist (later a stake president and area authority), and I’m a construction contractor (I’m not a Bishop, but I think I give helpful counsel to my family).

          Sorry for your bad luck with church leaders. I think maybe sometimes we expect too much from them. I don’t know that I’ve ever gone to them for “life counsel,” that’s something I’ve tried to work out myself. Bishops aren’t counselors or psychiatrists or social workers, though I’m sure some try because they so much want to help.

          As far as bad advice being free, sometimes yes, sometimes no.

          1. I didn’t go to my bishop for advice he confronted me for not giving enough to the ward. When I told him I had some concerns about the history of the church that I was working through he expressed his concern that I was then headed to a life of sin. He believed I would become a womanizer (I’m happily married for 13 yrs) drunk, cussing miserable soul. Again I didn’t go to him he confronted me. It felt like an attack and I felt he didn’t want me in the ward so I granted his wishes and I serve faithfully in my Christian church along with my wife and my kids love it there and yes we teach obedience unlike the common myth continually preached in Mormon churches that Christians are not taught obedience.

      2. Tom, seems the Bishop was pretty flexible and anxious to work with you. I guess I’ve been real lucky in my church life, but I’ve never had a Church leader who I would refuse to let sit down and interview with a family member in private. Some different personalities for sure, but no one who I didn’t think was sincerely trying to do their best.

        While there are definitely some church leaders who aren’t ideal, I think, for the vast majority of cases, church leadership is tremendous. If we judge any organization or group by the bottom ten or twenty percent, we’ll never find anything worthy of our time and resources, including our own families.

        As far as being intolerant, I think all of us should be to a certain extent. Part of life is gaining the wisdom to know what things we should accept, and what things we should discriminate against. Can’t blanket statement say we should accept and tolerate everything, though we should be free and open with forgiveness.

        Just my thoughts. Thanks for your reply, and good luck finding continued happiness in the future.

        1. I guess I’m not a good communicator. How did you infer from my post that my bishop I was flexible. He was about as flexible as an ice cube.

          You are very lucky not to ever had a predictor for a bishop. God help your family when you do. Do you think you will have the intuition to know? Or the courage to say “no?” Thoughts? What will you say to your daughters when thay express as adults that you were absent when they were being abused?

          1. Tom, the “flexible” assumption came from your saying that the Bishop allowed you to fully participate in the ward, teaching, praying, baptizing, etc., even though to you it is all just make believe. I would expect many Bishops would not to allow that.

            As far as Bishop’s tendencies (I assume you meant to type predator), I think Bishoprics is one of the least likely places a person would find a predator. Imperfection, plenty, abusive predator, low odds. I don’t know I’ll have the intuition to know, but I don’t want to live my life suspecting everyone.

            If that has been your experience I’m very sorry for that. Hopefully you can avoid those situations in the future, though I don’t think Mormon Bishops are going to be the only place you find those threats.

          2. Interesting reaction you are having to me. Any chance you have seen theae studies?

            http://www.baylor.edu/clergysexualmisconduct/

            And

            http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/96036.pdf

            One in 33 women in America who attend church have had sexual advances by their clergy. You say Mormon bishops are the least likely place to find a preditor. That would seem to defy the statistics. I will grant you that out of the 150 women in our ward. That statistically, we could be among the five who were abused is really bad luck.

            Can i ask you a personal question? The study did talk about the abusors blaiming the victims. Any chance you know someone who does that?

          3. Tom, not sure what you’re implying with the question at the end, but no, I not familiar with any abusers who blame the victims, and I’d even be willing to let you talk to my family members one on one, to interrogate them to see if I’m an abuser.

            A person could ask you if you know anyone who won’t let their family members have a private conversation with a counselor because they’re afraid of what might be divulged, but I have no reason to think or believe that is your case. I just think you’re an highly paranoid individual.

            I glanced at the studies you linked, and while interesting, I don’t think it’s as big an issue in the LDS church, where leaders are chosen based essentially on past, faithful performance, not self selected. I think the Catholics had such bad luck, because men who were abusers could self select a career that put them in proximity with potential victims. Also, in most other faiths the leaders will be there for decades, able to cover their tracks, so to speak. In the LDS church the system is much more difficult to perpetuate crimes like that.

          4. I have known several bishops that have been removed from their positions for misconduct but the church would have you believe that your church is far superior by hiding whats going on like they always have. Also to say the LDS church is good because look at what happened in the Catholic Church is ludicrous. RELIGION is not the solution it is the problem so to compare your religion to another is just silly. I’m not saying people should give up on church but realize that religion is the problem and the people need to hold church leaders accountable more often then the leaders need to correct the members. Hold onto your faith in God and values not your church!

          5. Ray,

            I’ve been puzzling over your posts for a few days now. I have to admit that you really got under my skin. Not because of what you wrote, but because I thought you might actually hear what I wrote if I said it one more time in a more clear way.

            It reminded me of when My daughter was having a serious conflict this last year with a girl in her circle of friends. My daughter was explaining to her why the boys in the group were not inviting the girls to play video games one night. Thinking she was being witty, my daughter simply stated “sometimes it is just ‘bros before hos.'”

            She thought that using vulger slang as humor and that it would also explain that sometimes the boys just need to be with the boys. She expected this young girl to get what she was saying. The young girl’s father came to my house to tell me that my daughter had called his daughter a slut. He ws very upset. He wanted to tell me this man-to-man and for me to punish my daughter. It took me quite a while to make sense of what was going on. My daughter was very embarrassed and intimidated by the father who followed up by tracking down my 5 foot 4 daughter at school and yelling at her. He is probably 6 foot 4.

            I had to ask him to not talk to my daughter anymore and to just let the girls sort it out themselves.

            The whole thing eventually blew over and in time the young girl continued to come to our home when the gang of kids came over.

            I learned from talking to her that she doesn’t get jokes. She is a literalist. If I were to say. “I had to eat crow.” She would think I actually ate a bird. When my daughter used the street slang. She really did think my daughter was calling her a whore.

            Knowing this. It was easy to forgive her and her dad.

            I don’t get what is going on with you on this thread? You really think bad stuff of me. I like to think I’m a fairly decent guy. Not perfect. I am head strong. But I also like to think I’m tolerant and flexible. I fail at this a lot, but I want to believe that people have good intentions, until I know they don’t. At that point, I’m a pit bull (this is a metaphor, I’m not really a dog).

            I don’t know what your issue are or why you behave the way you do on this thread or why you can’t hear what I’m putting out there? Why you say you are not an abuser and then in the same breath abuse? But if nobody else is telling you? It is weird behavior you exhibit on these threads. If you can’t understand what I’m expressing, or you are unable to self reflect on this. Maybe you should go someplace else till you can

            You should probably not come someplace like this untill you have the skills to view others as flawed people who have good intentions, and that if you don’t understand something, it is probably because you don’t have all the facts. In my case, though ive triied to explain, myself, I’m just not gong to share all the facts of my issue with you, so the simple truth is that anything you continue to say including your last post, will continue to be insulting rather than meaningful. I stopped listening to you and don’t think anything you have to say is thoughtful or of value because you don’t seem to be able to hear what others are saying or understand why your posts are insulting.

            Good luck in your journey.

          6. -Tom. You are an excellent communicator and I appreciate your comments! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Its nice to know I wasn’t the only victim of abuse. God bless you brother and keep sharing your story. I believe your inspiration may help others back away from suicide and depression knowing there is life after Mormonism. Thanks again!

          7. Tom, probably best. I think we’re both struggling to be understood within the constraints of this forum. There was no intent to give offense, hopefully you can forgive my inabilities.

            I appreciate your willingness to put your story out there, gave me lots of things to think about. Good luck to you as well.

          8. David, I guess I’m not being clear, but I don’t want to write longer posts than I already do. Did not mean to infer the LDS church is superior, just that our system of choosing leadership would have a lower likelihood of having predators, because people don’t choose a career path of Bishop. It is something they are asked to do, at great sacrifice to themselves.

  9. It would be interesting to hear the other side of the story in the Tom Kimball saga. It seems very unfair to only get one side of the issue. I’ve always found that when one person feels like all the fault lays with the other guy (as Tom seems to feel), that there is usually a lack of accepting responsibility from the principal player. It is so easy to give the church a bad rap when only one side is presented.

  10. I agree with something John said early in the interview about people trading one set of prophets for another set when they leave or become disenchanted with religion or the church.
    The way I usually hear it is in the form of ripping conservatives, glen beck, tea party, fox news, Limbaugh as if these organizations are responsible for the problems in the Church. Tom mentioned the tea party a couple of times insinuating his bishop was a tea partier (not sure tea party was much of anything 4 yrs ago when Tom had his encounter with said Bishop) and this contributed to his awful treatment. Not sure what the tea party who is about smaller government, lower taxes, and less government spending has to do with the bishop being a jerk. But then there was the bit about laying water boarding at the feet of Romney and Mormon leaders because they did not condemn it.

    Anyway I don’t want to make a big deal of it but after hearing conservatives and their organizations being slighted time after time on many Mormon themed podcast I figured I would pipe up. I’m a small govt fiscal conservative, Limbaugh listener, rarely miss Bill O’Reiley,love pocasts like Mormon stories, Mormon matters, think church leadership has much to repent of and have nothing against LGBT. Tom said he loves diversity, so do I. Tom wants the church to be more accepting, tolerant, open, diverse, honest, so do I. I have many of the same hopes for the Church as my liberal friends so lets knock off blaming and stereotyping conservatives for the problems in the church. Liberals need us open minded conservatives if you really want to see change in the church.

    1. chris,

      I hear you, but it doesn’t make much sense. You say you want diversity and yet you seem to honor those who don’t. I find liberals to be more open to diverse viewpoints. My bishop was rigid and inflexible and ultraconservative. We even had anti-Obama leaflets on our door addressed from the bishops family.

      You want to come here and talk about Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox News and O’Reiley, and in the same breath say you want an excepting, tolerant, open, divers, and honest church?

      I don’t believe I called my bishop a jerk. He may well be a jerk, I think he is dangerous. You said I love diversity, in fact, I honor diversity, I don’t honor hate, prejudice, exclusion, human torture, or discrimination. All of which I associate with those you seem to honor.

      I have no idea what to say to you. I hope our struggles were at least entertaining.

      1. Tom, just curious. Have you ever listened to more than media selected highlights of the conservatives you disdain? I’m a big fan of Limbaugh and Beck, and I sincerely think they are pretty decent individuals, and much more tolerant than ultra liberals like Ed Schultz, Al Franken, or Chris Matthews.

        Do they bloviate at times? Yes, as do all radio hosts. But I think if you listened to their shows (for more than a day or two) and thought about what they said, you wouldn’t find them as offensive as you expect. And unlike Obama, they don’t use the IRS to illegally harangue people they disagree with.

        1. I would like to think so. I use to volunteer at the freeman institute as a kid. My sister was Cleon Skousens secratary. Dr. Skousen introduced me to Eldrege Cleaver who would stay at my sisters home when he came to town. As a former federal police officer I was introduced to the NRA and was a member until I returned to America after my second overseas tour. I read G. Gordon Liddy’s autobiography. It was the best book I read while deployed to the Middle East with the U N inspection teams going to Iraq. I met Liddy afterwards and got him to sign my book at the Virginia radio station WAVA. You wer born by then, right? I changed my politics after George W. came into office. I had not ever really considered the underlying problems associated with the emerging conservatism until we got the unvarnished Bush version. Obama is the first liberal I’ve voted for.

  11. Did anyone see the article in Deseret news ‘Former model leaves the runway for her faith’. What’s intriguing is that this LDS “Christian” model is photogrhaped with a cross around her neck. A little subtle PR to help the church look “Christian” you think? For a church that is supposed to be led by a prophet, they sure do allot of following.

    1. They have decided it would be good to look Christian as long as its not too Christian. I am very curious as to what the LDS church will look like in 5 or 10 years and who will stay and who will leave. The rapid and constant evolution of the church was a definite turn off for me.

      1. Dvid. I’m glad I’m not a church leader. Most people at Mormon Stories bash the church for being inflexible and unwilling to change. Now it is guilty of rapid and constant evolution. Seems like it is in a no-win situation with a certain portion of the population.

    2. Jay, I know it’s good fun to bash the church at every opportunity, but I can’t find any confirmation that Kylie Bissutti is LDS and faking people out with a crucifix. I think she is a Christian. I had read the article and never got the impression she was LDS, but can’t find a denomination for her anywhere.

      Maybe the DesNews is just reporting an inspiring story, without any “subtle PR to make the church look good.” It’s possible.

        1. I don’t think its fun to bash the LDS church. As an ex-Mormon and current Christian I don’t want to bash it or even joke about it. I usually don’t want to admit I was ever a member. I don’t think there is anything funny about Mormonism. It stole my soul and confidence from a young age with its ways and took me years to heal from the scars. I don’t think there is anything funny about it but I pray for its members and want no harm to come on them.

  12. I understand your hurt Tom. I am from a multi-generational family. Served a mission and married in the temple. I agree with you that the church is not a safe place for my family and we have left as well. The priesthood leadership in my experiences acted in a very abusive fashion on several occasions. I like you saw my faith as trust and that trust is definitely long gone. I agree that the church is a machine. More corporate/business nature than a church. I also felt not only chased out but kicked out for having a few small doubts. I don’t want my kids to know the hurt that I have or have to go through what we have gone through. Best wishes to you!

  13. Also the Christian hymns are more appealing then the LDS hymns to me now although not at first. Now the LDS hymns seem lacking…just my two cents.

    1. Yeah, I’m sure it depends on what we are raised with. I spent my youth picking through the LDS hymns and learning all the harmonies. A few of the traditional Mormon hymns such as “We thank thee oh God for a Prophet” and High on a Mountain Top” are actually written by my grandfathers. The UU hymns at first were just so alien to me, but now after three years, I do have four of five new favorites.

  14. You totally nailed it Tom. The LDS church demands perfection the way the adversary did in the pre-existence. I also see it as problematic and a cause of suicide and depression.

    1. David, the LDS church you attended is way different than mine. In mine it teaches things like love, forgiveness, redemption, the atonement, charity, the fall, weakness, sin, striving, and so on. Thankfully I’ve never been in a congregation that demanded perfection. That ward must not have had many members.

      1. Ray G does your church teach the truth about Joseph such as he drank alcohol, married other mens wives, used a pep stone, and claimed to find Zelph the white laminite in missouri. I am not trying to bring these things up to be confrontational. The point I am trying to make is how can you accept the teachings of anyone about anything (love, forgiveness, redemption etc) a sincere if these things are encased in misrepresentations. David is able to find the things you speak of outside of Mormonism it seems, and he does not have to weed through the fallacies to get there.

        1. Jay, the issues you bring up, while legitimate, have absolutely nothing to do with the core principles of the gospel, so why would they teach them, and how is not teaching them a misrepresentation? I think the church recognizes that those are challenging areas, and bringing it up will distract from what it is trying to do. Besides, it has a hard enough time finding decent teachers who can teach the basics, let alone tasking them with introducing the subjects you mentioned.

          I’m gospel doctrine teacher in my ward, and used to teach young men, and I try hard to touch on those subjects to the extent they can be appropriately addressed. The information is out there, but people are generally too lazy to take the time to research, then get mad when someone shows it to them.

          My guess is if we knew the history of the founders of most faiths, few of us would be willing to attend church. Aaron very publicly built a false idol, Moses killed a man, Abraham was a polygamist, Lot got his daughters pregnant while he was drunk, Jacob ripped off Esau, yet not one throws out the bible after the book of Genesis or gives up on God. The standard the LDS church is held to is not one most churches would survive.

          My initial comment was to the statement that the LDS church demands perfection like satan did. I think most reasonable people would find that statement to be offensive and without merit. As to depression and suicide, that happens in all churches and all cultures. Whenever an ideal or standard is identified, there is the risk people will become frustrated when they fail to achieve it, but I think it is better to have a standard for people to strive for than to not have one.

          1. If the church was honest about such things in the first place you would not have to look them up. Were it not for the internet these things would still be hidden by leadership. You know that as well as I do and you are only deceiving yourself to claim otherwise. You also know as well as I do that the church still encourages people not to look up these things. The difference in Moses, Abraham, Aaron and the like is that you did not have church leaders make a conscious effort to conceal such things. They always have been out in the open. The problem with Mormonism is they are still being dishonest. Apart from still publishing art that shows Joseph translating the golden plates instead of using a peep stone in a hat, you have people like Dalen Oaks standing up in conference and saying bear your testimony whether you have one or not. That is encouraging people to lie!! I cannot for the life of me understand how a loving Father could let his children hear such things and not be outraged. How can you stand to teach your children such things? I’m certainly happy to dialogue with you more, but I get the feeling it will do us little good to go back and forth. I can tell from your post you feel that whatever the church does or has done is fine by you. I somehow get the feeling that if solid evidence was found that Joseph Smith molested children you would still somehow see him as a prophet of God. True blue Jehovah’s Witnesses have the same mentality toward their leadership as TBM’s. Whatever the organization does is okay. Let me ask you these final questions and I would like for you to be honest. Is there anything this church could do that would make you walk away? Lastly, if you could know beyond a “shadow of a doubt” that it wasn’t true would you want to know it?

          2. I forgot one thing. Nothing shows their lack of integrity anymore than sending out missionaries who tell the churches version of the “first vision” even though they know this vision is distinclty different than Joseph’s account and has morphed over time. There is no way around this it is a blatant lie. To tell investigators this as truth while knowing it is a lie is wrong. Regardless of how you spin it.

          3. I finally understood after so many years struggling in the church and finally walking away that many never believed the churches version of events and that is why they have no problem staying. To those of us who actually believed the churches version we feel extremely stupid, gullible and taken advantage of. I must have looked like such a goof to my LDS friends in High School and on my mission. I feel totally cheated and laughed at realizing so many never really believed it in the first place. It just feels like an evil lie and now I’m the one labeled evil for exposing the truth so many already knew. At first I thought others would want to know the truth as I discovered. Turns out they knew all along and I was the dummy. Being a righteous Mormon involves continuing the cover up. Took me years to grasp the shallow rotten concept of deception.

          4. All accounts of Joseph Smith’s first vision are correct. Each provides further details of that vision just as the Four Gospels provide further details of Christ’s ministry on earth. In the Bible there are two different versions of Paul’s first vision. The official version of Joseph Smith’s first vision appears in the Pearl of Great Price and covers the highlights of all versions of Joseph Smith’s first vision. Nothing is wrong with that approach or the Bible’s multi-faceted approach to Christ’s ministry and Paul’s first vision.
            So here is how David’s comments can be paraphrased to explain why so many of us stay true and faithful to the church despite the objections of critics and others whose hearts have grown cold: I understand why most believe the church’s version of events and that is why they have no problem staying. To those of us who truly believe the church’s version, we feel extremely blessed and favored of the Lord. We must look like such faithful followers of Jesus Christ to our LDS and non-LDS friends in High School and on our missions. We feel totally fortunate and envied, realizing that so many others also have believed it for years. It just feels like absolute truth and that we are standard bearers of the true gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are labeled servants of God for presenting the true gospel of Jesus Christ to so many who haven’t known it in its fullness. From the first we thought others would want to know the truth as we discovered it. Turns out many knew all along in their heart of hearts that it was true. Being a righteous Mormon Christian involves continuing the commission by Jesus Christ himself to take his gospel to the whole world, bringing people the joy and happiness of becoming closer to Christ. It sometimes takes years to combat the counter attacks by the adversary and his gullible, taken advantage of assistants in order to help others grasp the eternal joys of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

          5. Jay, I don’t know any people or organizations who lead with their worst foot. Assuming you’re married, I’m guessing your first date didn’t start with a list of all the girls you dated or things you did wrong as a youth. Does that mean you lack integrity? Not at all. The goal of the church is to present things in as palatable manner as possible, so they can teach the doctrine that has eternal significance, like a woman that wears make-up.

            I don’t think everything the church has done is fine, but just because people mess up, doesn’t mean I throw everything out. Joseph’s polygamy is one of the things in church history that I really struggle with, but I know that the great majority of people who were actually there still sustained him. Are there ways to interpret things that make it look horrible? Yes. Are there ways to interpret things that make it something I can stomach and accept? Yes. All history gets interpreted, I guess all of us chose the version we like the best.

            In response to your question if I would/could walk away? I would say yes. I really, deeply assessed my faith a few years back and almost lost it. Took a while to restore it, and it has changed from what it was during high school and mission and such, but I think it is more robust and sturdy now. If the church told me to murder, or rejected Christ, or became Muslim, or brought out the first ten drafts of the Book of Mormon written by someone else, yes, those would be things that would likely destroy my faith.

            The question I have for people trying to pull me from Mormonism is, what are you offering in its place? I already believe in God, Jesus, the Bible, I try and live a christian life, I give service, donate to charity, try really hard to be a good father and husband, I enjoy the people I worship with, I’ve been blessed with great leaders, and on and on. I know of no church or faith that could add to those things, though I firmly believe that there are lots of other great churches that do good things. The problem I have with other christian faiths are items like the trinity, and their concept of hell, no work for the dead, and doctrine that is too democratic (small “d” democratic). If we can vote on what God is/says, then to me that is just a social club. Theology is important to me, and I like LDS theology for the most part.

  15. To quantify the Mormon to Christian experience I feel it is an upgrade once I really understood the central mission of Christianity and for me it also feels like I am doing the right thing.

  16. Tom,
    Thank you for your story. What you went through is heartbreaking. Thank you for your candor and courage.

    My parents divorced in my mid teens and my father and mother lived in different states. I submitted papers for the mission through my mother’s ward when I turned 19 after living with my father during my late teens.

    A counselor in the bishopric sat down with my mother and me to “plan the farewell.” He said casually during this meeting that “of course your father won’t be allowed to speak.” I asked “why is that?” He didn’t elaborate but said that is what he was told. I told him that if my father was not allowed to speak, I would be more comfortable if I spoke alone with no family members on the stand or speaking. I suggested to have high councilor give a talk after me.

    My father I knew had struggled in the past to pay child support but as of that time he was up to date. To my knowledge (and we have a very open family) there was no other infractions that my have triggered the gospel police to exclude him.

    I worked nights as a janitor. I received a phone call one night at about 10:30 pm. It was the stk president. He said he heard that I didn’t want to have a farewell if my father was excluded. He was livid and started yelling at me. When I, as I recall, calmly but firmly stood my ground he said “don’t you raise your voice with me!” He said he wanted to talk with me that night. I told him I was at work. “what time do you get off?” I told him “1:30 am.” He invited me either to his home or his stk office….my choice. “I’ll meet you at your office.” I told him.

    I met with him that night…which it hindsight is totally outrageous.

    I sat down with him and asked the stk pres if he spoke with my father or my father’s stake president within the last year. He didn’t. He told me “as long as I am stake president, your father will never speak in this stake.” Awesome stuff. I stood my ground. I told him that I accepted his viewpoint but that I would then just rather not have a “farewell” (like they used to be decades ago) because of the emotional pain of having my family on the stand with the exclusion of my father in the audience. The stk president told me he didn’t think I was ready to go on a mission because of my insubordination. I asked “why because I don’t want to go through an emotionally traumatic event surrounding a mission farewell?” I respectfully didn’t budge.

    I ended up speaking with a high councilman and went on the mission. They local leaders were jerks (actually abusive and I think/hope they realize it) and I haven’t completely let that all go but I have had times when I felt I did.

    I think it meant a lot to my dad that I stood up for him. I am very glad I did and don’t regret it one bit. I hope your son has an epiphany and extends himself to you.

    BTW, my father is now deceased and the stk president is a general authority. Best wishes to him.

    And best wishes to you and your family Tom.

    1. You are an amazing son. Something like that would have meant everything to me. I’m sure I would not have had that sort of maturity at 19.

      I mentioned this elsewhere, but the head of one of the college Mormon Studies programs wrote letters to my stake president and bishop. I felt that they were really sticking their neck out on behalf of my family.

  17. Another interesting timing bit…

    It was shortly after this (not saying my experience was the catalyst) that the Church did away with the big mission farewells. Good choice.

  18. Great podcast! I really resonate with what Tom said about the emptiness of LDS church meetings —— there is little or nothing to come back to! I have been a Born Again Christian for a few months now and have gone back to a few meetings where my kids/grandkids were on program or a general authority was speaking. I enjoyed my kids/grandkids parts (musical) because they are my kids/grandkids, but the talks were worthless and so negative and I felt a terrible spirit during the GAs talk (again very negative) —– like I need to get out of this place now! I use to read/listen to conference talks but they are totally worthless and very negative compared to the Word of God taught by the preachers/teachers I listen to DAILY (not just weekly)! The messages of the Bible are so much more positive than the negative in LDS meetings —– we need to do this and that better, we are not living this principle or doing that action. The message of the Bible is —– we are imperfect and cannot live the “rules/laws of the old Testament” that is why Jesus came and fulfilled the Law and gave us the Laws of Believe in God and LOVE. We must be saved by Grace because we all sin —- no matter how hard we try or rationalize our actions! After being “saved by Grace and accepting Jesus Christ” we then do good works —— not to justify our salvation but to sanctify ourselves by truly serve others without the “need to serve others” but out of LOVE!
    I pray more LDS and Tom really find a personnel ‘relationship’ with Jesus Christ and not look to a religion or social group to make him feel spiritual! He said “Come unto ME” not to a prophet, bishop, religion, etc.!
    Your ideas about group things for exmos like dating websites, maybe monthly social/eating activities to get together with “like minded people” is not a bad idea but the thing we agree on is only the LDS church is false or has problems not necessarily spiritual beliefs!

    1. With all due respect, the LDS faith emphasizes obedience issues far more than protestant christianity, but to say that teachings of GA’s at general conference are totally worthless and negative is not honest. There may be some that fit that bill but not all country music sucks and not all LDS sermons are bad compared to evangelical christian sermons. Furthermore, not all LDS have a religious viewpoint of the Church comes before Christ. When people find Christ after the leave Mormonism, good on them, but some people find him in the LDS world just fine. Having said that, it sounds like your journey is one you are happy with.

  19. This podcast resonated with me on so many levels. I just recently “came out” to a limited degree in January. I was executive secretary and my wife was and currently is still Relief Society President. I was as far in as anyone could be. I am a direct descendant of Parley P Pratt. I came out to my wife first and it was really rough at first and we still have our patches. Our oldest son is on mission (and has NO idea) and my next son is preparing to go on a mission. My second son read a note to my wife he wasn’t supposed to and found out. It rocked his world for a bit but I haven’t shared everything with him so I think he will still go on a mission. My Bishop is a good friend of mine and I home teach him. I was his right hand man and acted as a third counselor to him. This all came to a head when I called to be on the High Council and refused the calling. I declined to elaborate on the reason because my wife and I were still working through things but obviously, the Bishop knew. When my wife and I finally met with the Bishop to tell him, he cried, and I cried (because my friend was sad). The mistake I made is telling him I didn’t believe in an embodied God and did not believe in the Atonement in the traditional sense. He then had a conversation with the Stake President and they decided I needed to be released. I was ok with that much. BUT…the Stake President announced to the entire high council that I was being released and the reason why. He then stated gruffly they would be talking about it further in Stake PEC. That is what really chapped my ass. My own son on a mission doesn’t even know and know 15 strangers (and presumably their spouses know). I have been preached against in Stake Conference (indirectly) in both the adult session and general session. One of the Stake Pres counselors related a story of an “unbelieving” spouse and could only ask himself “What were they doing or NOT doing to lose the Spirit?” I almost stood up and yelled “How about reading the scriptures 2 hours a day, praying for extended periods of time, fasting 2-3 times a month, and attending the Temple weekly!” See, in the church we are encouraged to seek further light and knowledge…as long as it doesn’t contradict the traditional literal narrative. They can’t even fathom that there is MORE out there. Despite some of the negative experiences I have had, I choose to stay for now and the only reason is because for the most part I love the people I associate with, including my good friend, the Bishop. I can see if that were not the case, like Tom, I probably wouldn’t or do the bare minimum to support my family who are all true believers. My parents and siblings don’t know yet but I am writing a long letter to inform them and give them some context. Each revelation to someone new seems to bring a speedbump for me an my wife but we always seem to get through it. In an odd way, it has brought us closer than it ever has. We have our moments (discussing Tithing paying, and when/if I will remove my garments, etc) but I think we will be ok for the long haul. Thanks Tom and Dan for sharing.

    1. Good luck to you Scott T. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like some heavy stuff. These stories are ones that should be shared.

        1. Tom, if you or anyone else could recommend a good local support group/community (I live in Northern Utah County- in fact my kids go to AF High Tom…), it would be much appreciated. I’m not looking for another church or anything but it can be a lonely road sometimes and it would be nice to associate every now and then with someone who has “been there, done that.”

          I wanted to make one other comment about when I was preached against in Stake Conference. I was angered initially and I could see my wife looking at me out of the corner of her eye as I was shaking my head. The amazing thing is the anger dissipated quicker than normal and a great peace settled over me. It was almost a “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do” type moment. It was a sign to me that I could bear this trial, and any future trials, and be there to support my wife. She didn’t ask for this. I “changed the game” on her so to speak. The least I can do for her is to give a little on my end.

          I mean I get it. The leaders are trying to protect the flock. However, if they could only see that I have been where they are at, but they have not been where I am at.

          I can just imagine now, my son will return home from a mission and report to the High Council, all of whom know about me, and my son has no clue. What will be going through their heads? How will my son react when I tell him?

          One thing that pained me was sitting down with my second son, who is preparing for a mission, and feeling the sense of loss that he had. I was his spiritual rock, someone he could rely on, and he no longer feels that. That was a tough one for me. Maybe someday he will feel differently when he knows all the details. Maybe he will find the truth out for himself. I’m in no hurry to pull the rug out from under him. Maybe one day he will say “Thank you Dad for standing by your convictions,it must have been a lonely road.” But maybe that will never happen. It will still be ok.

          Anyways, there is a LOT more to the story but I just appreciated the contrasting views expressed in this podcast because I could identify with them both.

          1. Shot me a note on Facebook. I have a few ideas but I’m on the road for a few days and only have access to my smartphone. There is a Mormons in transition support group on south salt lake tune by Bill Dobbs. You will have to google it. A rainbow of people attend that group and it is a good place to vent. Or you and I could start an A F transitioning Mormons support group? 🙂

            Isn’t AF is a terrific place to raise kids? We love the people, the schools, and who doesn’t love the sticky shoe cinemas!

          2. Scott, thanks for sharing a piece of your journey! I am in a similar position. I am active to keep the peace with my wife. I don’t mind going, I just see things very differently now. I like what you said regarding your church leaders. You know where they stand and understand their positions, but they have no clue what you are going through. I have a 16 year old daughter and struggle with what to tell her. Right now she knows I have changed, but doesn’t know why. She will study the BOM next year in seminary, and there are some basic things I want to discuss with her (such as how the book was “translated”) but am not sure how far to go. I know it will cause stress and tension in my marriage. Best wishes to you.

          3. It gets better with time. I have not believed for 10 years and at first it was very difficult with my wife but over the years it has gotten better. Just remember patience and love even if she doesn’t seem to show it back at times.

        2. Tom, I loved hearing your story. You sound as though your were someone who was being true to self over the demands of a very flawed organization. It was inspiring to hear your story, and you make me want to be a more vocal about my doubts after having listend to it. All the best to you and your family.

          1. Paul,
            Hang in there and know you are not alone. I thought I was at first, until Mormon Stories and others venues helped me realize there are MANY of us out there. I just connected with Tom and Dan on Facebook. I looked at one exchange on Dan’s wall about the meaning of the Atonement. There were a few comments from a true, literal believer,but then from 3 or 4 other non literal believers, including Dan. I was that literal believer once, so I could identify there, but the comments by these others individuals, including Dan were SO REFRESHING!! Finally others who think and believe as I do! I felt that sense of community I had been missing lately. I was reading it in the middle of Fast and Testimony meeting. The contrast was quite stark, yet in a way comical to be honest. Literal, believing, testimonies on the one hand about the Atonement and then the real stuff. What is the Atonement pointing us to? Is it something outside of ourselves? Not in my opinion. AT-ONE-MENT with ourselves and others, that’s how I look at it. Glad to see I’m not alone in that opinion.

            My younger kids still don’t know, so like you Paul, I am navigating this one step at a time. My 18 year old who is preparing for a mission knows I have some general issues but not too much detail. I think he would have a hard time if he knew I didn’t believe the BOM/JS stories are literal. But he is old enough that he can ask me those questions when he is ready. He has asked me some questions but not that one. When I sat down with him (my wife was present also), I asked him “Did you have any doubts before you found out I had some?” He said no, so then I told him “Don’t worry what I believe or don’t believe, if you feel in your heart that a mission is right for you, then do it. I had a great experience on my mission and I don’t regret it for a minute. But if you don’t think you can teach what they want to teach then don’t go.” From that point on, it has been more of a status quo thing. We just don’t talk about it much. It may be different in the future with my other three younger kids but I will just take it a day at a time. I know it sounds a bit “New agey” but I am trying to just live in the moment and not worry too much about what has happened or will happen. It can eat me alive to do so.

            For instance,there are future milestones/events that are coming my way that used to eat at me if I thought about them too much. Will they let me ordain my son a Priest this fall? Will they let me ordain my other son a Deacon in the Spring of next year? What will others think when I am not allowed to ordain my sons or be in the circle? Will I be allowed to stand in when my next missionary gets set apart? If my kids get married in the temple, will they be ok with Dad sitting outside in the waiting room?

            I don’t know what will happen. But I just know it will be ok. There is a little bit of that leader roulette talked about in the podcast. But I can guarantee you, if I’m not allowed in these circles, I will have a little sermon prepared for those who are there and will hopefully I will present it in a loving, and respectful manner And it may go something like this “Do you know why I am not allowed in this circle today Son? It is not because I personally am not worthy, it is because others have deemed it so. True Priesthood power and authority comes not from Father, Mother, Bishop, or any other ecclesiastical leader, it comes from God himself, within each and every one of us. We are all born with it. Male, female, black, white, bond, free. It is our birthright, and sometimes we sell it for a mess of pottage. What you have been given today is the authority to participate in and carry out certain ordinances in the church, nothing else. No one outside of you can give or take away what is not theirs to give or take away. They may not allow me to be in the circle today but that in no way diminishes the power and authority I have within myself. Please remember this if you ever face a similar situation in your life. No one stands in the way of your direct access to God. Do not rejoice or be boastful in something you are given by men. Never fear or feel sad for something taken away from you by men either. And regardless of what other men do or don’t do, regardless of what they deem you are worthy to have or not have, love them as I have loved you. If I had one message I could give to you today as your Father, it would be the same message God has given to me directly. ‘You cannot fail me.'”

          2. Scott T, you said: “I don’t know what will happen. But I just know it will be ok. There is a little bit of that leader roulette talked about in the podcast. But I can guarantee you, if I’m not allowed in these circles, I will have a little sermon prepared for those who are there and will hopefully I will present it in a loving, and respectful manner.”

            I hope you will include in your little sermon scriptures from the Bible stressing the importance of priesthood authority from God through the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, e.g. “No man taken this honor unto himself except he that is called of God as was Aaron.” Moses laid his hands on Aaron to confer the priesthood upon him. Also people were re baptized according to the Bible when it became obvious they had been baptized by persons who did not have God’s true priesthood authority to baptize. (Those who were re-baptized had not even heard that there was such a thing as the Holy Ghost.)

            I also hope you will include in your sermon the fact that there are persuasive counterarguments to all objections, questions, issues, and problems that critics of the Church raise just as there are persuasive counterarguments to all objections, questions, issues, and problems that critics raise about Jesus and the Bible.
            Please tell your children that some of the disciples of Jesus who walked and talked with him eventually left him and went their own way, so we have to expect there will be some people today who also will stop following the Church that Jesus established while he lived on earth. Some members of his Church today will eventually stop attending his Church.

            Some would eventually stop following Jesus himself today if they walked and talked with him in person every day like some people walked and talked with Jesus before they became offended and left his Church in the days when Jesus lived on the earth. Some will stop following Christ’s living apostles and prophets today like so many stopped following the original apostles whom Jesus called and set apart to lead his Church on earth after he ascended to Heaven. People stop following prophets when they disagree strongly with the words and/or actions of those prophets even though Jesus allowed them to make some mistakes once in a while.

            Then how about finishing with: “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord even if his chosen servants to whom he has given his priesthood authority make mistakes or say or do something we don’t approve of==or if his chosen servants don’t say or don’t do what we think they should say or do as soon as we think they should.”

          3. David E Richardson,
            This is a perfect example of literal vs non-literal belief. I would just caution you to be careful if you have only experience on one side that coin. I “castigated” someone in a very similar situation, just like you are trying to do to me. I never imagined in a million years I would agree with him two years later, and I sent him a long apology.

            In answer to your questions/diatribes, whenever you put man between you and God, it can get very messy. So why not go direct? Where is true Priesthood found? ‘The Kingdom of God is within you.’ You may want to look up what the Fullness of the Priesthood means. What is true Power in the Priesthood? Does it come from man with an ordination, or is the ordination just a mere invitation to go directly to God and get it yourself? What does the endowment point to? Where is Power in the Priesthood mentioned in the endowment? Why is it mentioned there? Maybe it’s best to use some scriptural examples for illustration. To me the scriptures are beneficial when they point to the real thing. Look at these specific examples where there is no intermediary when Power in the Priesthood is conferred. Now, the temptation would be to take all of these scriptures and stories literally, and that is ok. I choose instead to look at what they are pointing to. To not obsess myself with the symbol but what is represented by the symbol.

            “The apparent discrepancy between the Franklin D. Richards and Martha Coray reports on this point may be reconciled in light of the Prophet’s distinction between a man’s ordination to the priesthood and his possessing power in the priesthood. Priesthood ordination does not, by itself, assure a man that God will ratify all his acts as a priesthood bearer. Perhaps Abraham received the “anointing and sealing” (the priesthood ordination of king and priest) under the hands of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-24 and JST Genesis 14:25-40), but the “election sure”—the absolute assurance of power in the priesthood—came directly from God only after Abraham indicated his willingness to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14). (Words of Joseph Smith footnote)”

            D&C 76:20- “And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness.” (Joseph and Sidney- 16 February 1832).

            JST Genesis 14:
            26 Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.
            27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
            28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
            29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
            30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;

            **Note the phrasing- “..which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
            And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice”

            Helaman 10:
            6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.

            7 Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.

            **How did this power come? Was there any intermediary there?

            D&C 93:16-18
            16 And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;
            17 And he received all bpower, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.
            18 And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the afulness of the record of John.

            I am not a huge Denver Snuffer fan but he got it right with these quotes:

            “Priesthood power is clearly something different than an ordination. But it is clear the only thing an ordination accomplishes is to invite the one ordained to then connect to heaven. It is from heaven alone that priesthood power is obtained.”

            “Power comes from heaven alone. Therefore, no person who has priesthood conferred upon them has any power prior to having it ratified by heaven. The conferral is only an invitation for a man to go obtain power from heaven, not actual power itself. It confers an office within the church, but an office in the church is not synonymous with the power of heaven.”

            “Most of the ordinances of the church are not the real thing. They are types, symbols of the real thing. They are official invitations, authorized by Christ… Any person who has priesthood conferred upon him will need to go into God’s presence, and receive it through the veil for power in their priesthood.”

            “Gentiles always crave authority to preside over one another. Gentile authority in the church is not equal to power in the priesthood. … The power of heaven cannot be controlled by men. It comes from heaven or it does not come at all. There has never been an institution entrusted with the power of heaven. … The power of the priesthood comes only one way … men do not have any right to either confer it, or prevent it from being conferred.” (also see Pres Packers talk on power vs authority of the Priesthood).

            “Joseph Smith taught that all Old Testament prophets who obtained higher priesthood during the dispensation of Moses, did so by receiving it directly from God. In the Book of Mormon we learn there is a ‘holy order’ which is ‘without beginning of days’ which some obtained ‘from the foundation of the world’ and brought here. The higher priesthood does not come from man or men, is without father or mother, and is only given one way: by the voice of God to the individual.”

            Just some food for thought FWIW. Just stay open to all possibilities, that would be my advice…

    2. Right there with you Scott. Life is a crazy ride/journey. Way to be honest! I applaud you. Letting church leadership into our marriages/lives is tough stuff.

  20. Tom,
    Your story struck a cord with me. There are so many layers within the church hierarchy one would think there would be a remedy to errant/damaging leaders. But it seems, more common than not in secular and religious organizations, leadership either a) turns a blind eye or b) protects its own. (I wonder if this happens more in organizations with male-dominated leadership). There is little a member can do if the two local layers of leadership lack judgement. The church (maybe most organized religion?)is infused with authoritarians and authoritarian followers which perpetuates rigidity, ignorance, and stone-walling. I know of a bishop (years ago) who actually accompanied the wife to divorce proceedings and then called the bishop of the ex-husband to tell him not to give the ex a temple recommend (even though he was temple worthy). Many other examples. I’m glad you’ve had good friends that stuck with you. One thing I find curious–you continue to pray yet refer to yourself as atheist? Thanks for sharing your story.

    I appreciate the thoughts and experiences shared by both Dan and Tom. I find it very helpful to learn more as I’ve spent the last few years navigating through uncertainty. My husband and I are most definitely the only square pegs in round holes in our local area. It is tough.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if LDS members could attend any ward they wanted to–like other denominations?

    Thanks John, for the valuable work you do.

    1. I don’t believe the women would be any better. I have been berated by women as well as men in the church. They are just as bad if not worse in some situations.

  21. My favorite spiritual journey theme song is “HELP ME FIND IT, by the Sidewalk Prophets (no they are not Mormon!). The chorus says:

    “If there’s a road I should walk
    Help me find it
    If I need to be still
    Give me peace for the moment
    Whatever Your will
    Whatever Your will
    Can you help me find it
    Can you help me find it.”

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CsjZ94K7UQs

  22. It is tempting to suggest that people who suggest support groups for dissident and disaffected LDS are like people who could suggest support groups for those who get hung up on the thorns of the rose bush, the moles of the face, and the baby’s bathwater rather than focusing on the beauties of the rose, the beauties of the face, and the beauties of the baby.

  23. Tom & Dan–I appreciate your bravery and compassion in sharing your personal stories, in all their beauty and sorrow. Listening strengthened my resolve to “stay engaged in the struggle” toward wisdom and understanding and light, and toward true friendship to all those I meet along the path, whether in or out of the church. Wishing the best to both of you.

  24. I really enjoyed this. Thanks for a great podcast. I want to be part of this dream ward with all 3 of you. 🙂

  25. @ RayG
    You seem like a really good person (I mean that with all sincerity), and if you can live with the duplicity I am happy for you. What do we (those of us outside the church) have to offer outside of Mormonism? What about truth? Nephites, Laminites, Jaredites – seriously? I could not in good conscious tell my kids such things were true, regardless of how friendly the people might be. I guess I’m just a stickler for truth though. To each his own.

    @ Issac N.
    To say the various versions of the first vision all agree is to resort to the type of Daniel C. Peterson apologetics that no one believes without checking your brain at the door. It’s that type of apologetic response (spin) that has caused allot of people to leave. If that is your intention please keep up the good work.

    1. Jay, if you can live with the duplicity of claiming to know the truth while rejecting the truths of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, then I am sorry for you. What do you (those outside of the church) have to offer outside of Mormonism? What about negative spins and interpretations of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Church history, and Joseph Smith? I could not in good conscience tell anyone that those negative spins and interpretations might be true, regardless of how friendly the dissidents and other critics who subscribe to them might be. I guess I’m just a stickler for truth. To each his own–to choose whom they will serve—the negative, faith destroying interpretations of Bible scriptures, church history, and Joseph Smith or the positive, faith promoting interpretations.

      I did not say that the various versions of the first vision all agree. I said that the various versions report certain aspects of the first vision that other versions do not. If you can’t live with that possibility, then I am also sorry for you for that. To ignore positive possibilities of that type is to check one’s brain at the door. It is because some disciples became offended (e.g. becoming critical and making negative assumptions and interpretations) that caused some of those disciples of Christ to leave his church even while he lived on the earth. If some left his church while he walked and talked with them, we have to expect that some of Christ’s disciples will leave his church today when Christ is not physically present to perform miracles and try to talk the offended dissidents out of their errors (e.g. helping them understand that all prophets are not all perfect but he still expects us to pay positive attention to their teachings, that God might bind in heaven what they have bound on earth and might seal in heaven what they have sealed on earth, etc.) If it is your intention to destroy people’s faith and lead them carefully away from Christ and his chosen apostles and prophets, please consider repenting before you have their “blood on your hands” per the prophet Ezekiel.

        1. Although I would have preferred a comparison of the last sentence of my previous comment to Jonathan Edwards or a Southern Baptist preacher rather than a Jehovah’s Witness, I must admit that Jehovah’s Witnesses have some truth, as all churches do. The true and living church of Jesus Christ embraces all truth from all sources, especially, as somebody already pointed out on this website, that which is virtuous, lovely, and of good report and praiseworthy.

          By the way, have you noticed that the Jehovah’s Witnesses should not feel obligated to proselytize Mormons? Jehovah’s Witnesses testify of Jehovah whom they claim is God the Father, not Jesus Christ. However, both the Father and the Son evidently share the name “Jehovah.” This assertion is supported by Section 109 of the D&C (the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple). Joseph Smith is addressing God the Father as we LDS do in all our prayers: “And now we ask thee, Holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of thy bosom….” (Verse 4). Thus Joseph Smith is praying to God the Father and not Jesus Christ. Yet in verses 34 and 42, Joseph Smith calls the person he is praying to “Jehovah.”

          Jesus Christ is called the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and that particular Jehovah (Jesus Christ) is referred to in verse 68. It is common for a son to be named after his father. Other names and titles which the Father and the Son share are “Lord” (see several verses in the same section), God, Father, and Adam.

  26. Dan, thank you for your story. This was a great piece. I loved the different perspectives.

  27. It’s been 26 years since I gently, but noticeably, began moving away from Mormonism and 5 years since I formally resigned. I’ve managed to remain in the good graces of my faithful wife of 29 years and our three faithful grown children. While this carries its own issues, it serves here as minimum context for the following pair of encounters at my son’s recent marriage in the Washington DC temple. Perhaps these add to Tom’s experiences.

    Encounter 1.

    As the marriage attendees drifted into the lobby from behind the security desk, a diminutive elderly gentleman walked up to me, took my right hand and, with saccharine effusiveness, congratulated me for doing such a fine job raising such a fine son. I held my silent smile through his protracted grip and words and just said, “thank you” when he was through. He turned out to be a former counselor in our hometown stake presidency and now, as a temple worker, had just performed my son’s sealing ordinance.

    Encounter 2.

    Minutes later, standing near the big gold side door next to my frail 90-year old father, waiting for our turn to pose for cameras, a current counselor in our hometown stake presidency headed our way. But this one’s eyes, and then hands and sweet words, were locked onto my father. There the three of us stood, at least five yards from anyone else, and this stake holder never acknowledged my existence. Again, I held a silent smile until he turned and walked away.

    Tom’s suggestion that the church has a negative affect on some of its leaders reminded me of these encounters and the extremes they can encompass. What is it about religion that can as easily turn some people into a blissfully sweet simpletons as obnoxious tribal pricks?

    But perhaps the better question is: What is it about some people that they can leverage religion to support such divergent personal dispositions?

    I no longer have any excuse for being a prick or simple-minded – which means I either have to look for some or grow out of both. Standing there with a silent smile – even if somewhat forced – seemed the wisest course of action at the time. But such moments also add up – 29 years and running – which, as I said above, carries its own issues.

    1. JT,
      Thanks for your insights and wisdom. I hope to gain that over the years. Right now I’m still struggling not to react defensively all the time. I need to practice the “silent smile” you suggest. I have much to learn still on how to navigate through the varying reactions and behaviors of others. I too have wondered why there is such a large range to the types of responses and attitudes reflected in people who all claim to believe the same things.

      1. Square Peg…..it is because we are unique, if you believe our spirits come from God as our father and we each have our own ways of reacting and behaving, and using our agency. If you do not believe than it is nature, DNA, environment and conditioning, you chose.

  28. This whole issue of inadequate local leadership and making room for nontraditional beleivers needs to be fixed soon, I think it needs as much airtime as the soon to come discussion of the historical issues.

    It also seems to be contrary to Jeff holands comments about us being a big tent church and also his comments on the BBC documentary about not shunning.

    Tom did you ever consider taking the example of your treatment by the new bishop higher up the line e.g.to GA level? The GAs should come down like a ton of bricks onto this sort of bad behaviour

    1. How would one go about doing that? I feel like I’m a fairly sophisticated person and I have no idea about how to go about doing such a thing. The Bishop’s councilor and I sent it to the Stake level with absolutely no results. Like I said in the podcast. The institution is broken, there is no real accessible system for redress.

      1. Hi Tom

        If you think of the church like a business, any issues you have you just escalate up the levels of management, till you get the answer you want. So no joy from Bishop and SP, go to area presidency, no joy there, 1st quorom of 70, etc…

        I know the challenge will be getting names and contact details but should be possible. I expect there are plenty of readers / listeners of this podcast who will have contacts in the church hierarchy.

        Keep records of all interactions, and be persistent.

        The more people report this sort of bad management, the more the top levels will listen. I do believe the old addage ‘poop rolls downhill’!

        ** I encourage all others who have had bad experiences with local leadership to do the same **

        Tom, your story made me cry and angry at the same time….

  29. Well, wiki has a list of the authorities, I think I found my guy. I googled him and found no official contact info listed anywhere. I found a law office that might employ him.

    This seems really intimidating.

  30. This was beautiful. Thank you. And Dan, I aspire to someday be in your place where comments and policies no longer wound me. Any advice on getting to that point? Women’s issues are especially difficult for me.

    1. HOW TO COPE WHEN COMMENTS AND POLICIES CAUSE WOUNDED FEELINGS: Liz said, “Dan, I aspire to someday be in your place where comments and policies no longer wound me. Any advice on getting to that point? Women’s issues are especially difficult for me.” Advice to consider:

      (1) Give the benefit of the doubt.

      (2) Look for silver linings in the storm clouds.

      (3) Consider that the advantages in the long run might outweigh the disadvantages in the short run.

      (4) Try to view a hurtful comment or policy as a thorn on the stem of a rose or as a hurtful comment or action of a beloved family member or as a hurtful comment or action of a famous person you admire, for example, one of the famous composers of classical music.

      (5) Try to feel as calm as you are when a comments or a policy hurts as bad as when Jesus compared the Samaritan woman to a dog or when Jesus told Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” (Of course these statements can be explained in a positive way/ Looking for a positive way to explain hurtful comments and policies is always a good approach.)

      (7) Try to be as patient and long suffering as faithful women were in Bible times who, according to Paul, were to keep their heads covered and not speak in the churches.

      (8) Consider the words of Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner (1996): “My commitment is an affirmation of my fidelity to the religious practice of my parents and theirs… I refuse to be the last in a line going back very far in my memory and that of my people. I know that this answer is in no way satisfactory, or perhaps not even valid. But it is the only one.”

  31. Tom,
    I’m curious, why did the new bishop not allow you to pray in church and to teach, usually that does not happen for no reason. Unless you explain the story more fully and complete your story is one sided and suspicious.
    The Lords kingdom is not a place where we individually set our terms of membership, but all must ascribe to the Lord’s standard. I enjoyed your story, but you came off as the victim, and everyone else came off as the big bad wolf.

  32. I feel the need to share my humble opinion. So many times as humans we tend to look backward in attempting to solve the here and now or the future. As Christians and members of the Church of Jesus Christ we presently have all tools necessary to move forward, to be not offended, etc.

    As members of the Church specifically, and naysayers, ALL have access to the truth – IF we approach it with an open heart and an open mind. We have a loving Savior, Who is the supreme Judge of all mankind, and Who will right any and ALL wrongs, so we need not concern ourselves with what and who is wrong. Our need is to focus on that which is right.

    For members, or those who were or will be members, we don’t need to know the history, for we cannot change history, we can make history by doing our very best. What we do need to know from history is – was there an apostasy, was there a need for a restoration, are there modern Prophets who receive revelation to guide the affairs of Christ’s Church on this earth, is the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price inspired doctrine just as that contained in the Bible, and did Christ establish His Gospel on both of the greater continents? If these things are a reality and truth, then the Church of Jesus Christ is true. Nothing else matters than how we live up to the covenants we have made. ♥

    1. Cheri,

      Would you kindly consider the words of Jesus. In Mark 2:27-28 Jesus taught that the man came before the Sabbath. Not the other way around. Evil men place things sacred before the actual souls of men (and women). To say that nothing matters than how we live up to the covenants is pure pharisee. The only thing that matters is our soul. Covenants (two way promises) rejects grace, it rejects forgiveness and it is condescending weapon Mormons use on people they look down on.

      Cheri, If your intent was to elucidate, it went nowhere. If your attempt was an awkward attempt to send peace. It is welcome. Thank you.

      Good luck on your journey.

      Tom

  33. Wow, it is painful to listen to John’s hope in this old interview that the church is on a new trajectory. Freaking painful!

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