IMG_1954In this two-part episode John Dehlin is interviewed by Dan Wotherspoon (of Mormon Matters podcast) about John’s evolving perspectives on Mormonism, post-Mormonism, and about his upcoming “Mormon Transitions” project.



  1. Bob September 15, 2015 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Great conversation. When John was talking about the humble version of science (ie, the non-Dawkins, Hitchens version) it reminded me of this short clip from Chomsky:

    This touches on a lot of other topics you covered as well: Is faith useful? What are the limits of scientific inquiry?

  2. Anna September 15, 2015 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Now this is what I’d like to see in Sunday School! Thoughtful, respectful dialogue where different perspectives are valued while challenged.

  3. Chris September 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Dan’s obsession about politically correct language was a huge turn off for this interview. I can appreciate someone pointing out loaded words and language, but there are times when John is just saying things as they are, and it seems like a huge waste of time in the interview to always point out when words aren’t padded/sugar coated. And, it is also a waste of time in a podcast to always have to give all of the context, possibilities, and meanings (especially when they have already been talked about in previous episodes) whenever you are going to say or explain something. These podcasts are already pretty long, adding all of that sugar coating might make them listenable to lots of people. That Dan kept attacking John’s language over and over and over again also made his own stance seem rather insecure.

    • Steve September 16, 2015 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      This part was the final straw in the interview for me. Anyone else attempting to do what Joseph did would be called a FRAUD. The reason Joseph gets a pass is because he’s the prophet of “15 million” people.

      The more I see people in “Fowler 5” the more I realize I’m not flexible enough to do that kind of gymnastics.

      I had to turn it off in the middle of this discussion.

      • Karen J. Sutton September 16, 2015 at 9:16 pm - Reply

        I had a really hard time make it through the interview from this point too. It reminds me a bit about a few years ago when the media was trying to give equal and fair representation to anti-vaxxers in vaccination debates. Just because it’s an opposing point of view doesn’t mean that it deserves equal time/treatment. Same with teaching creation vs. evolution in school. The reality is, we can come to an educated consensus what the record actually is. The record is pretty clear – John spelled it out well. Because you have a spiritual prompting about a fraudulent document doesn’t make the document the truth – it’s still fraudulent.

        Also, I was trouble so much my Dan’s saying (seemed at times ‘bragging’) that he was a Fowler’s stage 5, got through stage 4 and now a lot of these things don’t seem like that big of a deal. Well that’s great if you’re a white, male, comfortable, educated privileged member of the church. It may actually be a pretty big deal if you are more ‘vulnerable’ in terms of education, connections, sexuality, etc. There might actually be a lot at stake. I guess you can’t understand that? John’s absolutely right that these details DO matter when you are staking your whole life’s purpose and path on the truth.

        I have a nagging feeling that Dan will someday realize this.

        John, I wanted to stand up and applaud you a few times. Keep speaking plainly. It’s very much needed.

        • PH September 22, 2015 at 10:45 am - Reply

          That was awesome and painful all at the same time. John has come so far! It has been so amazing observing him the last few years and I’m proud of him and what he is doing. The painful part was Dan’s mental gymnastics and cognitive dissonance. Wow, I believe the truth will one day hit him HARD. We will all be there for you if it happens.

      • jennifer October 29, 2015 at 12:24 pm - Reply

        Steve, I had to turn it off too about 2/3 through. As hard as this was to listen to, I feel like it was even harder for Dan and John to do this type of interview because who wants to acknowledge the positives of staying LDS when the real harm is brought up at the same time? And who wants to make a long-time friend super uncomfortable in the process? Lastly, who wants to do this all publicly? It took guts for both of them to do this interview in my opinion.

        I just couldn’t continue listening because it was too painful for me. It brought up too many experiences I have seen or had over the years that were heartbreaking. I understand loyalties to your own personal lived experience but when those loyalties trump really acknowledging other people’s very different and valid lived experiences— to keep yourself happier/ok/peaceful and just more light hearted in your own mind— I think that way of thinking and living can really belittle the pain and validity of others’ lived experiences and that is what I was really hearing from Dan in this interview.

        To me there just can’t be real peace or real happiness in belonging to something where you actively ignore valid human suffering—past and present. To be honest the church might just be too dogmatic and threatening for a person not to ignore the bad to keep oneself safety in the good zone but to me that just can’t bring a person complete peace or happiness in this life.

  4. Aaron September 15, 2015 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    FYI to be fair: Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris never made the claims John implied – they have exactly the nuanced belief that disproving God is impossible, and if new evidence comes in for a belief in God they will consider it.

  5. Jill Christensen Rawstorne September 15, 2015 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Oh my heck…oh my h__! The fast vs. slow exodus of mormonism is totally making me uncomfortable. I am in the sales profession. Some people can take YEARS to make a decision and others can make a decision on a much more accelerated rate. Not that leaving and staying in a a religion is like buying a car, but people have different ways and time schedules of making BIG decisions. Look at those that want to join the church after the first discussion! Look at the people that meet and decide to get engage in 2 weeks but others it takes years! I do also feel that when I listen to Dan, he is trying to have a tone of extra niceness and don’t hurt anyone’s feelings so people will stay. I guess that is good for some people but not for everyone that is making this decision to stay or leave. I wish the people that stay and the people that leave wouldn’t see each other as inferior. Some just can’t leave and others just can’t stay.

  6. Frank, be frank September 15, 2015 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Sorry Dan, you can talk all you want about what the church has – but what you don’t seem willing to talk about is what it does not have, i.e. ultimate truth. It is my contention that honest truth seekers would have a very difficult time trying to follow your paradigm!

  7. Lgaj September 16, 2015 at 1:24 am - Reply

    I think in the second lecture John should have used Dan Vogel’s description of Joseph Smith that he was a “Pious Fraud.”

    I just wish Joseph Smith would have just claimed the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham were revealed to him directly from God instead of having such a made up course of events surrounding them.

    The other issues John brought up are so painful to contemplate that I almost vomit when I hear them because I never would have gone on a mission or raised a family in the church if I heard the true history of Mormonism.

    Because we fit the idea family and followed the gospel of Mormonism, we actually greatly benefitted from the Church. However the fact that Mormonism is based on fraud, I feel nothing but anger that General Authorities have done everything possible to continue the myth. If it is a myth then it’s only a matter of time for it to either crash and burn or evolve into just another family oriented organization. I wish Mormonism was the later when I got married and raised 6 wonderful children. To my children that are now married, I can and do support 100% those that are active or inactive in the faith. But I fully admit that we are a perfect fit so far. When we have a child or grandchild that doesn’t fit the religion I can only see terrible harm. I hope I done live long enough to go through that pain.

  8. Marie September 16, 2015 at 8:20 am - Reply

    I have always enjoyed listening to Dan and his perspective. However, this episode made me want to scream! It seemed that Dan had nothing of substance to say at all. He could only critique the “loaded” words that John used. It would have been nice if he could have actually responded to what John was saying and really discuss the issues being presented instead of just checking John’s language over and over. It was so irritating and made Dan come across as insecure.

    • Anna September 16, 2015 at 10:36 am - Reply

      I agree. After listening to the exchange in its entirety I grew tired of the mental and verbal gymnastics Dan was going for. I agree with John, you can’t and shouldn’t nuance a grown man pressuring a 14 year old girl to marry him. Feelings can’t be our only measuring stick for morality or else we’d all be in big trouble

      • John Shaw September 16, 2015 at 4:23 pm - Reply

        Yes you can… and I guess that is the difference. It is very easy to try and be nuanced because we’re reading into what is going on (both sides). We have very limited means to understand truly what you’re defining as ‘pressure’ in 1840’s frontier america.

        • JC September 16, 2015 at 5:58 pm - Reply

          We don’t have to define it though. Helen and her family did an excellent job telling us how crappy a concept it was for them when it was suggested.

        • Steve September 16, 2015 at 8:46 pm - Reply

          By very limited means, I assume you mean journal entries of people at the time.
          If you haven’t yet, listen to the year of polygamy podcast by Lindsay Hansen Park.
          This “we don’t understand” defense has been bleated by apologists for years and doesn’t hold water with me.

  9. G- September 16, 2015 at 10:14 am - Reply

    I applaud John for ‘calling a spade a spade’. We have been groomed from very young in Mormonism to see, feel, and perceive otherwise.

    Yes, absolutely missionaries prey on ‘vulnerable’ people. As a missionary, we were taught to find those who had ‘just lost a loved one’, ‘someone going through a divorce’, ‘those who are alone’, ‘kids on college campuses’, etc. -This is calling ‘a spade a spade’. Thank you for doing so. Yes, and when this is thrown back at the church, wow, ‘the guilty taketh the truth to be hard’.

    I served a mission and this is exactly how it is! Yes, we are encouraged to ‘seek out leaders to baptize’ but those are the ones who generally have the resources/ability to research what they are being taught, and many eventually stop meeting with the missionaries. During my mission we were taught the ‘Commitment Pattern’ in the MTC (early 90’s). This was drilled into our heads. It is/was manipulative, condescending, and a great way to get someone to do what you wanted them to do. (I don’t know if this is still emphasized in the MTC.)

  10. DanB September 16, 2015 at 10:42 am - Reply

    I believe Dan Wotherspoon is a smart man. But after listening to this podcast, it is clear that he is not intellectually honest. His obsession with John’s use of “strong” words like fraud and racist just shows me that at the end of the day, Dan is nothing more than an apologist. What Joseph Smith did was clearly fraud. He deceived people in a number of ways, which resulted in money, fame, power, etc. I am disappointed in Dan W in this episode because I originally thought he was a progressive thinker… but after hearing this episode, he comes across as nothing more than another apologist.

    • Frank, be frank September 16, 2015 at 11:00 am - Reply

      DanB, I felt the same way you did about Dan W. and arrived at the same conclusions. While I do not question Dan Wotherspoons personal goodness, I do question his intellectual honesty. As I’ve said for years, the most difficult lie to overcome is the one you repeatedly tell yourself!

  11. Stephen September 16, 2015 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Listening to Dan reminds me of the scene in Indana Jones and the Last Crusade when young Indiana emerges from the cave, looks around to find all his friends have gone, and he says to himself, “Everyone’s lost but me.”

    If you work out a version of Mormonism (or any faith, for that matter) that works for you, then fantastic. But I think it’s fundamentally wrong to say that this narrow, pragmatic approach is actually the “real” Mormonism. To say the truth claims aren’t that big a deal really makes me wonder if we were raised in the same church.

    • Eric September 26, 2015 at 8:16 am - Reply

      “Everyone’s lost but me.”

      Yes. In the context of the history of religion, with its incredible proliferation of divergent theologies, such a solipsistic orientation is perhaps the strongest evidence for all of them being human inventions.
      More specifically, it indicts all claims of having the ability distinguish a “spiritual” experience from an emotional (i.e. non-rational) experience a matter self-deception born of wishful thinking.

  12. Greg September 16, 2015 at 11:32 am - Reply

    I don’t understand people like Dan Wotherspoon. He doesn’t seem to believe the Church doctrine, certainly not large parts of it, so why does he stay? Fear of losing family/friends, fear of losing his social group? Fear of course is a common theme in the Mormon church. Either the Church is true or it isn’t. If it isn’t why stay? You are then living a lie. You can’t just decide to pick and choose what in the Church you can accept and live and what you can’t. The Mormon church doesn’t work that way and has no interest in working that way. The Mormon church doesn’t teach its members to decide doctrine and beliefs (maybe on inconsequential things, certainly not the meaty stuff). It dictates those doctrines and beliefs through the leadership. To me Dan is not worthy of having a temple recommend based on his beliefs. They are against Church doctrine. Does that make him a bad person. Of course not. My question for Dan is given his beliefs why does he really care if he has a temple recommend or not? If he can’t accept it all then why bother with any of it. I think many Mormons stay simply because they are afraid and don’t know what else to do. They don’t truly believe it all and would willingly leave if it didn’t take away family, friends, social network. They simply don’t know what else to do with their lives, their time etc… because the Mormon church culture pervades every aspect of the their life. Suddenly without it what do you do? It reminds me of my dog. Sometimes I wait to put her leash on when I’m in the driveway. When I do that she always stops at the threshold of the front door and looks at me and waits for the leash to be put on. She can’t take that step to the big outside world without following the process she has been taught. You can tell she is just thinking “Wait, this isn’t right. I’m supposed to have my leash on. What do I do without my leash? This is scary. Can I really go outside without my leash on? She can’t think for herself. Many Mormons are the same way. Sheep.

    • Brandon September 16, 2015 at 11:38 pm - Reply

      I guess I have reservations at saying “if it isn’t true, then leave.”
      Most churches make some type of truth claim, most not the extent of Mormonisms One True tag line. I guess I can look at the LDS faith and see a church (a fairly controlling one), but a

      church nonetheless that people subscribe to and find some type of meaning for their relationship with it.
      Overall, I liked the stark language- but there are flaws to what John said, where he states some history as fact- when there is some gray in the facts. It is no better than others that use the same gray and point it another direction. I heard less of John saying “I believe,” and more of “the Church, Joseph etc. did….”

      • Greg September 17, 2015 at 10:01 am - Reply

        I guess I don’t understand people who will admit they don’t believe the Church is “true” (i.e., the Book of Mormon is not historical, Book of Abraham is not a literal translation, don’t agree with the Church’s position on homosexuality, the prophets aren’t really prophets) but then want to stay in it, want the Church to change to conform to their belief system. If the Church did that it wouldn’t be the Mormon Church anymore. It would turn into something different. So, they don’t really believe in the Mormon Church so why go? You believe in something different.

    • Eric September 26, 2015 at 8:42 am - Reply

      “You can’t just decide to pick and choose what in the Church you can accept and live and what you can’t.”

      I think doing this is quite common. For example, consider all the Catholics who ignore the Pope’s explicit teachings about contraception, etc. People are always taking what they need and leaving (or avoiding, or denying) the rest.

      But that’s not say this does not produce inner-conflict, the sort that smart people tamp down with sophisticated metaphor-laden language that promotes the parts they want to preserve by gilting them with anecdotal assertions of spiritual profundity that elude any semblance of reasonable substantiation.

      And when the inner-conflict gets too great, for a critical mass from which there arises a few socially (or materially) ambitious advocates, the world gets a new religion. I read somewhere that there are about 30,000 Christian denominations.

  13. steve September 16, 2015 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    I’m afraid Dan’s tactics reminded me of those used by global warming deniers in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The same tactics the tobacco companies used for a few decades defending cigarettes.

    I’ll take the Church leadership for their word – either it is true or it isn’t. Let your feet act accordingly.

    • KC September 27, 2015 at 10:17 am - Reply

      Im a global warming Skeptic not a denier. My faith crises taught me whenever someone preaches their ideology is the only correct way, I get skeptical.

  14. Janet September 16, 2015 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    This was an interesting conversation, but Dan sounded very defensive and didn’t seem able to acknowledge the reality of Mormonism. He wants it to be something that it is not. I enjoyed John’s honesty and candor. I feel his sincerity when he says take the path that is best for you. He is just expressing his experience. He should be able to be candid about that and shouldn’t have to play word games.

  15. Dave September 16, 2015 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    I’m with John on this one. I don’t think there is much room for ‘nuance’. Joseph Smith was clearly fraudulently disposed throughout his life, from the time he was brought to court in 1826 on charges of being a conman, to his translation of the Book of Mormon, to the Book of Abraham, kinder hook plates, polygamy, Greek Psalter, Temple Freeemasonry. The list goes on and on. He was a total fraud, deceiving us all. Any nuance that may occur exists in the mind of the believer, rather than available facts.
    Racism is absolutely present within the church. We simply cannot dismiss this by simply saying ‘everyone was like that’. No hey we’re not. That’s an insult to those who fought for equal rights back then. But even if they were, you kind of expect better from the ‘one true church’. Whose church is it anyway? Is it the church of Jesus Christ? Does he lead this church? Does he control the policies and outcomes of his divine corporation? Well if that is the case, he would not allow such vile policies to prosper despite the shortcomings of church leaders.

  16. G- September 16, 2015 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    Listened again-

    Dan, you defend the fact that we don’t need to disclose history of the church to new members or those investigating…

    John argues we need to…

    Dan, says ‘can’t we just share the good things’…basically the ‘warm fuzzies’ and leave it at that?!?!?!?!?!!?

    Dan- this is not a ‘warm fuzzy’ church! Once lured in by that mentality, one doesn’t have a choice but to go down the slippery slope of ‘orthodoxy’ if one want’s to remain ‘righteous’ and in good standing.

    Would what John is advocating for have made a difference in my life? Yes! Only now I am finding all this out! Damn the mentality of hiding life- changing knowledge from people.

    If you want to participate fully in this religion and not be shunned, you need to be a ‘temple-card-carrying club member’.

    Knowing what you are signing up for ahead of time is only morally and ethically right for everyone!

    Dan – shame on you!

    • Scott September 16, 2015 at 4:17 pm - Reply


    • Chris September 16, 2015 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      Hear, Hear!

    • JC September 16, 2015 at 6:04 pm - Reply

      +1. I would have never joined the church had I known the history of the church. I would have never married a TBM and I would not be in the daily struggle I’m in now.

      No, Dan. Holding information is NEVER a good idea. How would you like it if I sold you a car that has a busted transmission but I didn’t tell you about it? I just focused on how comfy it is to drive and how ice-cold the A/C is? would you be cool when it breaks down on you and it leaves you stranded on the side of the road? would you keep driving it because the rest of your family drives the same brand of unreliable car?

    • Greg September 17, 2015 at 10:06 am - Reply

      “If you want to participate fully in this religion and not be shunned, you need to be a ‘temple-card-carrying club member’.

      And this is why Dan’s position on staying in is not possible. The Church isn’t asking for opinion or independent thought. They want strict obedience or else there are consequences and in the Church culture those consequences are patently obvious to everyone else. The Mormon Church is not a half in half out Church. You are either all in or shamed, shunned. That is the truth. How would Dan W get a temple recommend? In my opinion only by lying in the interview. That’s all you need to know.

  17. Jenni4jlss September 16, 2015 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    I hear that Dan has studied religions, and I get that he and John were approaching the question of whether Mormonism can be relevant in an individual’s life from different points of view. Since Johns background is in Psychology and counseling – it’s clear to me why they saw things so differently. What confused me is that Dan seems to pick and choose the pieces of Mormonism that he wants to live, and it “costs” him so little. Since he admittedly doesn’t pay tithing, and doesn’t really care to attend the temple – it’s easy for him to remain detached from the implications of whether this whole thing is worth it, if it’s not true. It doesn’t sit right with me, since John is looking at the religion and what it is truly costing individuals to live Mormonism the way the leaders of the church expect. Dan came off as flippant and almost cynical when John was talking. The whole interview was a bit painful to listen to.

  18. DaveG September 16, 2015 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    John Dehlin: “To the young gay Mormon who’s commiting suicide, whether or not the Church really is what is claims to be [sic] matters. To the woman who’s thinking about deserting her husband and taking the kids because he’s lost his faith, whether or not the Church is really true actually matters”

    I wonder if Dan has much personal experience with the very real damage that has been done by the Church leadership’s very (un)nuanced rhetoric. Has his family been torn apart by it? Has he lost loved one’s to it? I wonder if he’d value his “spiritual experiences” quite so much if he had.

    There is a high price to be paid for allowing people like Dan to keep Mormonism around as their little spiritual play thing. It’s not a non-dualistic eastern contemplative tradition like the Tao Te Ching. Rather, its a hard-core, all-or-nothing, take-no-prisoners, fundamentalist religion that can’t be played around with like that.

    General Conference is coming up in a few weeks. Should we expect that the GAs are going to be careful in their use of “declarative” language? Or should we expect them to be not quite so “nuanced”?

  19. Dennis September 16, 2015 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    I see quite a disconnect between Dan’s encouragement for a thoughtful, drawn-out approach to leaving the church and his disregard for the same approach when getting in. He specifically said that he doesn’t see the need for full disclosure before baptism but that can come with growth and study after a transformative spiritual conversion. I don’t get why he doesn’t allow for such a transformative de-conversion.

    One other comment. My mission experience was the same as others here who have noted that “prey” is actually an accurate description in that we were instructed specifically to target folks at vulnerable periods in their lives. While lip service was paid to finding “priesthood holders,” that sort of man was very unlikely to submit to the high pressure, quick-to-baptize tactics that we were taught to use. Those were the methods we were instructed to use to the exclusion of a more thoughtful drawn out approach that actually might have worked on potential priesthood holders.

    • Karen J. Sutton September 17, 2015 at 10:37 am - Reply

      good point about the timing issue. Hadn’t thought about that.

      Also, the ‘take time to investigate before you join’ is not at all a radical proposition. John cited the Jehovah’s Witness example. Also, as someone who’s been thinking about converting to Reform Judaism, I can tell you it’s virtually impossible (or so it seems ;) to convert to Judaism. You need to take at least a year attending temple, take some courses about judaism and learn about anti-semitism in particular . . . No because they don’t want you but they want to make sure you really know what you’re getting into. I consider that a responsible this for a self-respecting religion/church to do. That is, unless, they want to hurry up to meet some other goal (e.g. numbers, ‘saints on earth’, or $)

  20. Gregory Gossett September 17, 2015 at 1:49 am - Reply

    What a great podcast.

    Two intellectual heavyweights having a great discussion from different perspectives and both making great cases. In my opinion it was a draw and the listeners were the winners.

    This could be one of my favorite Mormon Stories ever!

  21. J Jones September 17, 2015 at 10:17 am - Reply

    Frustrating podcast.

    John, you’re patient. Is Dan Wotherspoon typical of the “best and brightest” who have decided to stay in the church? I haven’t been for a while, but it seems you can’t think rationally and stay LDS.

  22. Karen J. Sutton September 17, 2015 at 10:33 am - Reply

    I also found it frustrating when the discussion turned to ‘you don’t have to share everything at church on Sunday’ and ‘what happened to private beliefs’. You know, that’s a GOOD question! I would love for the church to have more boundaries in this regard. Oh wait, were you laying the responsibility on the church-goers? (sarcasm). It’s a bit of a double standard to expect people to be quite about their beliefs, etc. when the bishops wants to interview you about your beliefs and private life and/or you have the ward counsel checking on your facebook posts, or activity/inactivity. So maddenning. I can’t imagine the mentail gymnastics Dan must have to use to be comfortable with his staying in the church . . .

  23. Ramsfan September 17, 2015 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Love Dan and John but in this exchange Dan seems very arrogant and defensive and after all the times John asked him to acknowledge that there is another way besides his, he just would not do it. Comes across as his way is the best way and those who don’t do the work he has done or explored what he has, is somehow missing the boat. Dan, there are many other legitimate ways to look at all the historical issues and emotional/spritual experiences that do not make them less thoughtful or less patient.

    • Min-Shaft September 19, 2015 at 6:45 am - Reply

      Amen Ramsfam! I made this comment in another post after Dehlin interviewed Dan and say it again here…

      All I can think about listening to Dan now is how sad I am for him and others like him that are unable to let go. What a waste of mental energy, time and effort trying to make staying work.

      Knowing the facts and overthinking things is like a battered spouse making excuses for staying with someone that’s hurting them. Dan’s a victim of intellectual and spiritual abuse and he’s simply making excuses for the abuser because he won’t walk away.

      I remember a time many years ago listening to Dan and feeling guilty as I heard him on various podcasts pushing people to keep seeking spiritual experiences and feeling like I needed to do the same. His opinions influenced me for awhile and delayed my letting go and getting to the healthy place I needed to be.

      The fact is, spiritual experiences are not necessary to be happy and I think it’s time we stop lending ear to Dan’s opinions. They’re starting to feel like an ineffective form of reparative therapy.

      I long for the day when Dehlin’s “Mormon Transistions” website had enough content that people go directly there after they’ve spent time sorting thru things on Mormon Storirs, Mormon Expressions, etc., and stop going to Mormon Matters and wasting their time.

      • E. September 26, 2015 at 9:48 am - Reply

        “… starting to feel like an ineffective form of reparative therapy.”

        Great analogy!

    • Jamie September 23, 2015 at 5:00 pm - Reply

      ^^^This^^^ + Dan’s need to be right is greater than his need of Mormonism.

  24. Jacob September 17, 2015 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    I was a little turned off by Dan’s argument for softer language. Racism, sexism, fraud, etc., all have pretty simple definitions. What other words should be used to describe discrimination based on race or sex? How about for deception to secure gain?

    If Dan were to argue that these words, although accurate, may turn off a certain segment of listeners that would otherwise benefit from the overall message, I could agree. But it seemed like he was questioning the validity of these words as they were applied.

  25. C September 17, 2015 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    It seems to me that Dan is taking the approach of a lawyer to find ‘truth’.

    I think of myself as a juror. I am presented with, or seek out, evidence which I try to weigh and evaluate to the best of my abilities. Upon weighing the evidence I come to a tentative/provisional conclusion (I either tentatively reject or accept the premise). I keep in mind that I could always be wrong about how I have weighed or interpreted the evidence and it is a must that I maintain an attitude and willingness to revise my beliefs. In a case there is simply not enough evidence, I take a skeptical stance and say, “I don’t know, I don’t have sufficient evidence to warrant belief at this time”.

    Dan, and the larger body of apologists (for any belief system), seem to approach it like a lawyer where they look at the evidence and then they try to make the best case they can for a particular side.

    For an advocate for a particular position, it seems that it is less about objective truth than it is about nuancing a position/belief/idea to the point where it *becomes* true.

    This is why I like science. It is preferable that a scientific concept is no more nuanced than it need to be. When science says, “The earth is X amount of years old, and here is how we know it” they literally mean it. There is no need for nuance of the word ‘years’, the method is an objective, testable, repeatable method. Now if the idea of an old earth clashes with your view of reality, I think it is possible for a person to nuance their beliefs (either their objective/scientific beliefs, or their spiritual beliefs) in such a way that they can come to a new, more ‘nuanced’, truth. Cognitive Dissonance Theory gives us some insight into how people do this process (through changing cognitions or emphasizing/de-emphasizing certain cognitions to bring oneself back into consonance).

  26. GPAH September 17, 2015 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Sad to say this is the first Mormon Matters podcast I turned off!!! Have learned so much from past podcasts. Will keep trying….hope there is a course correction!!

  27. Dewayne Korth September 17, 2015 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    I am officially a John Dehlin fan! You are now freely unleashed. I’m so glad you were ex’d. You really understand and have argued so well the way in which I feel. My bishop this last week pointed out what Dan was trying to: People who leave the church choose to ignore the spirit. My opinion is people who stay turn their minds off to the facts and call them things like nuance. You gained a subscriber today. If I ever run into you I will be thanking you for lifting the darkness.

  28. Dewayne Korth September 17, 2015 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Dan tried to figure out where you are coming from. What is “really” your motive to believing Joseph was a fraud? I ask Dan, who professes he is in a higher stage, why his membership and defense of the church is so important? Doesn’t seem so evolved. I think that someone in the church who is connecting directly with the divine has no interest in defending his transcendent sources so vehemently. I don’t think they give so much credit to the source as they do the experience. In the words of Edie Brickell “Religion is a smile on a dog”
    I’m not sure how Edie fits into this but I think a transcendent person has literally transcended above the defending of ones path or the labels.

  29. Frank, be frank September 17, 2015 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    What if it was someone other than Joseph Smith doing these terrible things, correctly called wrong by John, would you still make the same excuses/allowences?

  30. Bob September 18, 2015 at 10:41 am - Reply

    I respect where Dan is coming from, but I feel he is overly susceptible to the argument-to-moderation logical fallacy — it’s always, “Well the truth is somewhere in the middle!” Well, sometimes it is, but for others it’s not. The debate about whether Joseph Smith was a fraud is a good example of this. Yes, Smith was a complex human being (as are all humans!) but you can show that he deliberately deceived people. Telling somebody that they need to submit to him or else be destroyed by an angel with a sword seems like a pretty good example of this. Arguing that he really believed there was an angel with a sword is ludicrous. By your definition, nobody could every be called a fraud because there’s a possibility they really believe it!

    Dan’s characterization of John’s use of the word “fraud” as being extreme language is troubling. I would agree that it’s extreme if you’re talking about whether it will offend TBMs. In that sense, yes, it is extreme. But if you’re talking about the spectrum of valid opinions of people informed on the matter, it’s really a very moderate position. There’s a lot of evidence to back it up. Chastising people for voicing opinions that might offend somebody is dangerous.

  31. PeachCitygal September 18, 2015 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    John’s impassioned and truthful descriptions of Joseph Smith as being just wrong nailed it for me. Try as you may, Dan, it is what it is, and you are stuck in an impossible to squirm-from place.

    It was fraud. And we, and our parents, our grandparents, were fed it. But my children: not gonna happen.

  32. Randal September 18, 2015 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    I agree with Bob. Dan seems quite biased that “his” way is the best way. John like all of us is probably biased but seem significantly more open to other options beside the option espoused by Dan.

  33. Emma September 19, 2015 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Although I totally agree with John’s conclusions about the church I think it might be good to use the words I believe ……. I believe The church is a fraud etc.
    Perhaps that shows respect for other people’s beliefs
    But thank you john for being clear and bold about what you feel is true and how you live your life inaccordance to those convictions . again I totally agree

    Dan is not clear about what he believes is true —–how that affects him emotionally — and how and why he still remains active in the church
    I think there is a cognitive dissonance in people who believe the church is not true yet remain active and committed
    In a sense I feel it is lying to oneself and others. you cannot be totally honest with others and your congregation about your concerns
    And the members of the ward are not true friends because they would reject you because of your beliefs
    I wonder if Dan will eventually choose to let go of a church he does not believe in I hope he can at least be honest about the real reasons he claims to follow mormonism
    From my own experience I would say it is devastating to l be rejected by ffamily and friends and even Mormon acquaintances

  34. Xposit September 21, 2015 at 6:07 am - Reply

    Wow! This 4 part discussion should be required listening for every single Mormon youth prior to their decision on whether or not to serve a mission. While Mr. Wotherspoon is by no means alone he provides the single best documentation I have yet to encounter of the intellectual contortions one must practice should one choose to ignore the obvious and decide to override that small still voice inside that’s asking, “WTF?” Wow!

  35. JANICE September 21, 2015 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Wow! Great discussion. Dan wants the church to be what it is not. He would rather pretend. But where is the INTEGRITY? John calls a spade a spade and wishes it were different. Don’t we all when our spiritual innocence was violated by conscious deception in the name of God and we have to pick up the pieces of our lives and the damage done. Just shows how far reaching the web. Facts are if Joseph Smith were alive today he would most likely be in jail and removed from society for his illegal sexual, political and financial exploits and violations. If Brigham Young were alive today he also would be in jail as well for the same and more. Probably most of other apostles perhaps on the same or lesser crimes. What would our opinion of them be and their power over our lives? There would never have been been a space of time for generations of people to grow up in partial isolation and pass down distorted and damaging dogma. Or would there? Maybe Dan would still want to support their work? On the other hand those leaving would still have to find ways to live with their conscience and values. Would the task seem so difficult? Really it is simple. It is about integrity. Put fuel on the fire you want to burn brighter.

  36. Sparky September 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Dan is big on getting to the later stages of faith, which is great if you can manage it, I suppose. But there’s no denying that following the teachings of the church will keep you in stage 2 (literal belief) or stage 3 (institutional/authority belief) for life. All the conference talks, the Ensign articles, church manuals, etc. are all about stage 2 and 3 at best. The church is not interested in spiritual independence, and reaching that level requires conflict with the institution. Dan talks about living Mormonism on your own terms, but the church does not allow for that.

  37. WishIhadn'tlistened September 21, 2015 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Dan comes across as a condescending holier than thou jerk in this interview. Dan just because you giggle when you says stuff like “do you have a skeptical mind when it comes to something in print?” or “do you want to keep that voice in the podcast because I don’t think it’s going to serve you well” doesn’t make it any less condescending. Dan’s attitude in this podcast is very similar to many entitled “priesthood holders” I’ve come across in the LDS church, they know everything and you are dumb if you don’t agree with them unconditionally.

    • Sue September 21, 2015 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      Agreed, and I loved “that voice” he used! Wasn’t there some dude in Book of Mormon who got confirmation from God but then went around berating everyone he tried to convert for not just taking things on faith? John owes this never-mo a steak dinner but I feel recompensed enough by getting to hear him this bold and blunt. John, anyone would be lucky to have you as a therapist, and don’t feel funny about the fact people know you beforehand, one of the hardest things to do is find a temperament-compatible therapist so maybe that can shortcut the process a bit.

  38. Chris September 23, 2015 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Did I just listen to “a few good men?” “You want the truth!??…….”
    Nicely done, I love you both.

  39. Eric September 26, 2015 at 10:00 am - Reply

    Let’s carefully consider whose “inspired” bits we might be defending for a few precious nuggets of “sacred” text spark our deep “spiritual”dives. It’s a guy who said the following to his wife and an institution that canonized it.

    D&C 132: 54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.

  40. jay September 26, 2015 at 10:30 pm - Reply


    Everything felt “light” and “divine” for the followers of Jim Jones and the Heavens Gate crew.

  41. Kc September 27, 2015 at 10:36 am - Reply

    I respect Dan’s approach to staying LDS. I don’t think its practical for most and dosent represent todays mormonism but if I’ve learned anything from my experience of the church telling me for 40yrs that only one path is correct, its to allow people the right to pursue their own path regardless of how correct or incorrect it appears.

  42. bob September 28, 2015 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    I had a few thoughts on this podcast. I’ve met Dan and you John. I’ve been listening to these podcast for a numbers of years.

    I’m wondering if this is the first interview you’ve had John with Dan as an “ex-Mormon”?

    I get that Dan wants you to stay John, or to participate because he’s uncomfortable with your new status as an ex-LDS person. I’m still of the opinion, that after all these years in the Church, having served a mission, living in Utah…officially a member or not, we’ve had such a long and deep commitment to the Church, we’ll always have it’s influence in our lives.

    John…given that you’ve only been out of the Church (sort of) for a short while, I’m not sure how you’re going to be able to give much advice on what to do, for troubled transitioning ex-members. Clearly what has kept you from losing your marbles and really breaking your heart, is you were able to take your kids and wife with you, out of the Church. Further, you have a huge support group that you’re able to draw emotional support from and you’ve likely maintained your income with all this support.

    I was glad to hear you acknowledge the dancing through temple recommend questions/ worthiness questions trying to couch your responses to sound honest That in itself is troubling. I wanted to be honest and I hated having to avoid direct answers to make it seem I was a believer.

    I ended up missing 3 of my children’s weddings (so far) and our family ended up giving up our first grandson to adoption because I “went along” with my wife’s choice. The bishop told my daughter that it was “part of the repentance process” to place the child for adoption, and I was excluded from that conversation completely (so much for Priesthood authority in my own home).

    What you’ll find though John, is that sitting in a Sacrament meeting and seeing parents whispering a testimony into the ears of their young children or sitting in a Sunday School class and has the teacher say that the Nauvoo Expositor was produced by enemies of the Church such as William and Jane Law (who if you know about Church history know they were telling the truth) it’ll be hard to keep your mouth shut which by sharing any truth will only “take the spirit” out of the meeting and cause nasty looks.

    Because of my wife divorcing me, (for my questioning the Church)now it’s just too hard sitting in a sacrament meeting and seeing other families together. This whole experience has been a mind numbing disaster so I wish you well with your workshop helping people transition. Be sure to cover such topics as PTSD.

  43. Ryan September 29, 2015 at 8:40 am - Reply

    I have no idea what church Dan is trying to portray in this interview, but it is not the Mormon Church I recognize. This feels like a weird form of soft apologetics and is not based in the reality of how most Mormons would describe their religion or spiritual life.

  44. Katie Pratt September 29, 2015 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    John is such a kind and thoughtful person. I respect him a lot and while we differ in our faiths, we’ve had similar journeys. His gentleness puts me at ease.

    • Katie (same girl) :) September 29, 2015 at 12:11 pm - Reply

      Dan’s assertions are a bit poppycock! He’s using straw man arguments and misrepresenting John. John, you are a patient man.

  45. Ephima Morphew September 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    John”s Gestalt:
    John has captured the persistence of doubt and wrestled it to the ground. His doubt is my doubt and remains the doubt of inquiring minds, as it is said, “Those who believe absurdities will commit atrocities. For John the pursuit of enlightenment is the path humanity has tracked since the fall –– a myth that echoes for the guilt we all share as members of the Anthropocentricene.
    For John Dehlin the persistence of doubt is his burden as it is for us all. Thanks John for your forthright insight; you are far more than the sum of your parts. Gird your loins for the impending Anthropocentricene.

    Pax to you John

  46. Stephen October 1, 2015 at 9:19 am - Reply

    Interesting discussion, mainly because I expected more support of Dan’s position, and more criticism for John’s antagonism. John drove me crazy in this interview, constantly cutting off Dan and then launching into long comments while Dan let him have his say. Hey John, STOP CUTTING OFF DAN. Drove me nuts.

    • Ephima Morphew October 1, 2015 at 10:47 am - Reply

      Working Title:
      Dan Wotherspoon Interviews John Dehlin About His Evolving Perspectives on Mormonism
      Stephen, you are driven nuts by your misunderstanding of who was interviewing whom.
      Dan was fielding questions and John was responding but Dan was not playing fair and “things llike that.”

      • Stephen October 1, 2015 at 12:57 pm - Reply

        Give me a break. Cutting people off and talking over them is bad form, regardless of “who was interviewing whom.”

        • Ephima Morphew October 1, 2015 at 7:15 pm - Reply

          “Cutting people off and talking over them is bad form,”
          When the interviewee has to endure Wotherspoon’s run-on sentences that include no questions but repeated phrases like, STUFF LIKE THAT, and THINGS LIKE THAT, and SOMETHING LIKE THAT, John was compelled to enjoin as Wotherspoon would carry on ad-nauseum with more THINGS LIKE THAT.
          So, bad form or no the interview with john had to come to an end regardless of the number of THINGS LIKE THAT.
          Dan could hone is skills and your complaint would not be registered.
          Sorry, I’m not a good apologist.


  47. Christopher Allman October 3, 2015 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    It seems like Dan Wotherspoon LOVES being a new order, stage five mormon. That it is SO fun and rich and satisfying for him. He loves the deep family connections, he loves the mental gymnastics required, all of it. Mormonism seems like it may be the absolute ideal community for Dan Wotherspoon to be a stage 5 fowler within.

    And since people tend to see other people through the lens of their own selves, it seems he thinks other people will be just as satisfied and fulfilled living as a fowler5 mormon.
    But I just don’t think it is true! I don’t think it is true for MOST people.
    I stopped believing in the church when I was 21, was a N.o.m. with the same worldview Dan Wotherspoon describes. It was fine. In a lot of ways good. It was probably the most spiritual time for me, I was able to get all the benefits, but without the belief, none of the guilt or sense of duty/obligation. I would just go, observe and have spiritual feelings. It was great.
    But you know what is better? Waaaaaaay better? not going at all! On a near daily basis i have moments of intense gratitude that I’m no longer Mormon.
    Mormonism just is not my style. It is Dan’s Style. He is lucky in that way, it has taken more searching for me, but I think ive come to replace the role the church once had in my life.

  48. Christopher Allman October 3, 2015 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    THis episode could have been titled: Dan and John debate religion. John, taking the more secular stance, slaughtered Dan, because the Secular stance always always destroys the more religious one.

  49. Christopher Allman October 3, 2015 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    John, Lived Experience? You’ve been around too much feminism!

  50. jennifer October 29, 2015 at 11:29 am - Reply

    This interview made me so emotional. I recognize that staying LDS can be the best thing for many many people. I just wish that more people who choose to stay active in the church, and choose to see it in a positive way, could really, deeply and truly recognize that Mormonism can be detrimental to a population of exceptionally good people that are balanced and optimistic but who can’t get past the painful history, psychological damage, suicides, divorces and personal damage it causes.

  51. Paul November 1, 2015 at 9:53 am - Reply

    What I liked most about this conversation was the respect each showed for the other’s view. I feel like John was much more direct and clear about his acknowledgement of Dan’s approach being just as legitimate and potentially effective as his own. I feel like Dan never made it clear that he felt like John’s approach was AS valid. I’m still curious where he actually stands on that. I read the following quote years ago and refer to it often,
    From a book entitled “Oneness”;
    The freedom to worship as you choose is your God-given birthright. There is no one who knows better than you do, the devotional path that is the most gratifying for you. Resist the inclination to allow the enthusiasm of your heart to be dampened by the fears of others who may be threatened by your newfound sense of spiritual direction. Know that their path is their own choice. And if family members have chosen to carry on with a particular religious tradition, that is their right. Yet, it is not one that they have the right to impose upon you. You are not obligated to participate in rituals simply because that is the heritage of your family in this lifetime. Participate if it gives you pleasure to do so, and you will have exercised the highest choice. Likewise, resist the temptation to attempt to convert family members and friends to your newfound spiritual direction, if openness is not demonstrated. Your path is your own. And it is no more your right to try to convince another being of your personal truth than it is for them to do so. Allow others the freedom you would want to enjoy, and you will have demonstrated the very thing you would most wish to share with others.

  52. Larry Ballard September 16, 2019 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    You are a very patient man John. Your language is accurate and reflective of what is. Truth can be found even if it apophatically one discovers what is NOT true. I see you as one who would just as soon be refuted if what you were manifesting was not true. I see no pride of lack of digging deep into the issues. This was a very personally attacking interview from my perspective. Public figure or not, each of us has the right to our path and manifesting our current understanding of what is or what is not. Nobody should take what any public figure states without taking the personal responsibility to do their own research and evaluation. Your interviewer had a specific agenda to identify that you had an “ulterior” and seemingly nefarious agenda. But of course you do. Your agenda is to reflect the vision of where your walk has taken you. That is the Natural Law right of all people. My personal research and perspective is that you have been balanced in your 10 year plus walk to research out the religious issues at front and center. Your interviewer, from my perspective, has a convoluted syllogistic pattern of reasoning that you showed a great deal of patience with. This issue of “Spirit” being the driving source of “Truth” is very problematic in my personal world view. One must be able to identify that their “spiritual experiences” could be something other than something valid enough to rest truth on that foundation alone. Joseph Smith in the Toronto revelation indicated that revelation can come from one of three sources…..God…Man or Satan. So revelation is a sketchy issue. In 1 John 4:1 it is stated, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” So we must ‘prove all things and hold fast to that which is good.’ Otherwise we run the risk of fading in to a moral relativistic stance that can use nuance to avoid the unwanted realities that you are manifesting based on what I sense as a sincere and comprehensive evaluation based on an objective and open eclectic approach. I love what you manifested in this interview. U Dun Gud. BTW I have listened to all of your interviews and deserve a steak dinner for sure. But, I an satisfied with what I have been fed on the podcasts which will suffice.

  53. Si4n November 21, 2019 at 4:05 am - Reply

    This is the side of John I’ve been desperate to see 😂
    I think Dan is incredibly blind to the reality. I’ve heard Ward mission Leaders suggesting the elders hang out in cemetery’s and approach sad and grieving people because they might be receptive to their message. If that’s not prying on the vulnerable I don’t know what is? There are lots of great young missionaries out there but even the best of them are still desperate to get ‘numbers’ baptised.

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