In this edition of Mormon Stories, we visit the Houston, Texas area to interview Emily and Kyle Harris as they recount their 14-year mixed faith journey in their marriage.  We cover:

  • Their backgrounds being raised in the LDS Church, leading up to their marriage while still being believers
  • How Kyle lost his faith in the Church early on in their marriage
  • The process Emily went through for 14 years as she learned to understand and accept Kyle’s lack of faith
  • What mistakes and successes Emily and Kyle experienced as they learned to navigate their mixed-faith marriage
  • What changed in Emily’s life to help them get on the same page
  • How Emily and Kyle arrived at a healthy, happy place in their marriage

Read Emily’s talk “On Worshipping How, Where, and What We May.”

Emily’s list of top 10 favorite quotes that have resonated with her during her journey:

Part 1: Emily and Kyle share their Mormon background

Part 2: Emily and Kyle share how cracks in the faith influenced their life

Part 3: Emily and Kyle share the breakthroughs they had while learning to manage a faith transition in a marriage

Part 4: Emily and Kyle share their hope for the future

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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Part 4

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  1. Garth August 2, 2018 at 11:54 am - Reply

    John, Emily and Kyle,
    About all I can say is thank you! Your stories, quotes, and healthy and unhealthy experiences were all so very healing. This podcast goes on my list of favorites. Thank you all again!

  2. Valerie August 2, 2018 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    Loved this interview! Thanks so much.

  3. beth August 2, 2018 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Thank you John Emily for another brilliant interview, for the sincerity honesty genuine kindness, warm hearted love from both of you, it has been lovely to listen, l hope there will be more stories to come.

  4. Nancy Melendez August 2, 2018 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    I’m only about half way through but so far could easily substitute my name for yours! And I just have to add that the thunder in the background lends a great “ominous” feeling to your story….like Kyle stopped wearing his garments, *rumble, rumble, rumble – hahaha!!! Nice touch. ;)

  5. Jennifer August 2, 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    So excited to listen. Emily’s mom married my dad about 15 years ago…or something like that. Growing up, her family attended Ferndale 2nd ward (WA) and my family attended Ferndale 1st ward. Kids in both families knew each other well through church activities and one of her brothers was VERY close to our family. I don’t know Emily that well, but was excited seeing she and Kyle did this podcast.
    Interestingly, my dad is in a polygamous eternal marriage with our mothers. My mom passed away the year my dad married Emily’s mom. I have always been uncomfortable with polygamy and did not realize it was still being practiced until my dad’s second marriage.

    • Emily August 3, 2018 at 10:15 am - Reply

      Hey there Jennifer! Fascinating comment. For obvious reasons I imagine that your feelings about our parents in a polygamous marriage are stronger than my feelings about our parents in a polygamous marriage. That said, I am sure grateful that our parents have each other as companions here currently. I don’t envision any afterlife that would require our moms to share your dad. Just writing that out makes me uncomfortable. One shelf (0f many) that broke for me was during California’s Prop 8 campaign. The church and so many of its members (and their money) campaigned for traditional marriage by citing the Proclamation to the Family: marriage between one man and one woman to be ordained of God. I found that super ironic because not so long ago mormons practiced and pushed for traditional marriage to be between one man and one woman + one woman + one woman + one woman + one woman . . . And although the church and its members no longer publicly campaign for polygamy, they certainly practice it. Enter our parents. Enter current apostles practicing it. And, of course, it is still current scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants. We sure come from fascinating families and a fascinating religious background. Nice to hear from you. : )

      • Gary August 4, 2018 at 2:32 pm - Reply

        Hi, Emily!

        Such a pleasure to write my thoughts to you after staying up most of the night last night drinking in yours and Kyle’s story.

        I could write you a book, but instead, I will condense it down to the Readers Digest version.

        In no particular order:

        God save the Church from the side-effects of whip-smart, highly intelligent, critically thinking, heart-centered Mormon women!
        Your adventure of discovering your true, authentic nature was poetry in motion, Emily. Stunningly beautiful to witness as you unfolded yours and Kyle’s amazing story. It was a page-turner to watch you unpeeling the layers of Restored Gospel covering the true self that The Brethren eventually failed to keep under wraps with their Plan of Eternal Stagnation.

        I wanna particularly acknowledge your pivotal insight as you left your Bishop’s office after flunking his TR interview test. You said something to the effect (my words) that YOU were excommunicating the Church for the crime of promulgating core values in serious misalignment with YOUR own true and authentic core values, Emily.

        I am an engineer whose career success depended upon successfully practicing ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS. You can’t truly fix something that’s broken unless and until you identify the core cause of the dysfunction … otherwise, you are just band-aiding, not healing.


        You nailed the root cause of why so many kind-hearted, decent, salt-of-the-earth human beings are leaving Mormonism in their rear-view mirrors. The root cause is irreconcilable differences between fundamental, core values of the MEMBER vis-a-vis the core values of The Brethren … as evidenced not only by their words, but especially by their public behaviors and how they treat MEMBERS.

        I assert the following to be a statement of fact:

        Virtually ALL of the kindness, goodness, lovingness, generosity, selflessness and authentic expression of the core teachings of Jesus Christ that exist within the Mormon Church … are alive and well … where? Where are these good and decent thoughts, feelings and behaviors found within Mormonism?

        You discovered the answer, Emily.

        The teachings and core values of Jesus are alive and well within the hearts and souls of THE MEMBERS … and most unfortunately, too few and too far between amongst the personal core values of The Brethren who not only own and control the Mormon Church, but who also are showing NO INTEREST in allowing themselves to be influenced by the heartfelt expressions of core values more and more courageous members are wearing on their sleeves for all to see.

        Well done, Emily and Kyle!

        What follows now will perhaps seem inappropriate for this blog, but I will say it anyway … in the spirit of authenticity (may the consequence follow) …

        In my experience, there is NOTHING SEXIER than to behold a female of my species who has MADE CONTACT with her true self and core essence and innate female energy, and who has self-determined that she no longer answers to any OUTSIDE AUTHORITY to make her own choices and run her own life as she sees fit! When that happens, she cannot help but BLESS EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING SHE TOUCHES.

        To summarize that Emily comes across as “powerfully attractive” is a gross understatement … and intended as a high compliment and affirmation. Compared with cartoon, make-believe Priesthood “authority,” there’s no contest when it comes to the Power of a Self-Actualized exMormon Woman. (Same applies to men, of course, but the transformation through Emily’s trajectory from “helpmeet” to Woman of Power is higher contrast and more dramatic … not to mention entertaining as well. You just plain ROCK, Emily!)

        I will just say that Kyle clearly has impeccable taste in opposite-gender companionship. Well done, Kyle! Your part in this drama was beautiful to witness as well!

        Message to everyone: One of the most beautiful and sacred things to behold in all of the Universe is … a mere mortal, human being on Planet Earth who has somewhere, somehow figured their way out from under the suffocating layers of culture-taught limitations, brainwash, mind-numbing programming, engineered disempowerment and spiritual-growth-stunting messaging … fully intended to keep us dumbed-down in service of someone else’s agenda. Prevented from discovering our own awesomeness and the truly unlimited potential that’s lying latent in our very DNA … and within our immortal soul-essence that enlivens this “meat suit” vehicle we’ve temporarily boarded for our Wild Ride on Rollercoaster Planet Earth.

        YEE HAH !!!

        The Highest and Best and Most Sacred contribution any of us can make to the Planet and to our fellow human beings is to somehow escape from entrapment inside ALL of those limiting layers of confining boxes to discover … to discover what? That singularly rare and unique gift we each brought with us … and then to BRING IT! Make it manifest! Do it! Give it! … whatever that gift may be.

        Leave that suffocating CCC (Cookie Cutter Culture) behind and BLESS THE PLANET with who you are and what you brought with you.

        Thank you, Emily and Kyle, for demonstrating how to do just that!

        Time to wind it down here …


        Note for John: I will meet you in person for the first time next weekend in Portland. I’m looking forward to the encounter. (Hopefully, neither of us will ever be the same again.)

        Miraculously enough, I became sudden close friends with Sam Young, of all people, after e-meeting him on his blog, and then facetime in Houston two times last spring 2017. Such a high honor to be his friend and to witness Sam the LionHeart in action. (Talk about discovering your unique gift … and then BRINGING IT big time! Sam’s the Man!)

  6. Garth August 2, 2018 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    After listening to this podcast, I went and read chapter 22, pages 395-411, of “The Articles of Faith” by James E. Talmage. (On the title page it reads: by James E. Talmage, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church.) Chapter 22 covers the 11th Article of Faith under the title, “Religious Liberty and Toleration.” It was a very interesting read and would probably be a “radical” talk to share from the pulpit. I believe it should be a talk that is not only delivered from the pulpit in chapels but from the pulpit in the Conference Center as well. Thank you again for this very important Mormon Story.

  7. beth August 3, 2018 at 2:37 am - Reply

    Thank you John Emily and kyle, your story is so beautifully, warmheartedly and sincerely with love put together, l hope for more stories like these, you touch the hearts of so many of us struggling and doubting and unsure as to where to go next.

  8. Elder Van Halen August 3, 2018 at 8:06 am - Reply

    Emily and Kyle, I loved this interview!! Thanks so much for your willingness to share. I have been on a long journey (similar to Kyle) where I had to keep a double life for many years in order to keep my sanity. However, my non-beliefs about the church are now out in the open, and I attend Sacrament Meetings as a non-believer, with my TBM wife. It helps to keep us in a more respectful place and is helping our marriage, which has been rocked by my journey.

    I am very grateful for the podcast community and spend many hours each week listening (and re-listening) to podcasts. Thanks John for all you do providing these very important resources to learn about the church and the journeys of others to help keep marriages in place. It is very liberating when believing and non-believing spouses can allow and celebrate independent thought instead of living under the “thoughts” the church requires its membership to adhere to.

  9. GM August 3, 2018 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Thank you Emily and Kyle. I previously thought that this was uncommon.
    After living this for almost 25 years, I finally might be starting to reach where you two are. It is still very hard. I have not lost hope.

    At the very least, according to true believers, my wife can find her eternal companion in the spirit world. So she has something to look forward to.

  10. Dot August 4, 2018 at 3:18 am - Reply

    Thank you for this hopeful and heartwarming story. There are so many ears that need to hear this, so many lives that need healing outcomes.

  11. D&C 74:1 Stay with your unbelieving Spouse God Requires it! August 4, 2018 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    John Dehlin,

    When you coach why are you not using Mormon scripture to drive your points home about mix faith marriages be blessed by God & Approval is given to STAY MARRIED . The unbelieving spouse is saved period! Why John? Are you encouraging the big D? Or rather are you allowing it to occur because you don’t arm the non beleiving spouse with a scripture they can use to save their marriage? I hope that’s not your goal I hope your sincere & if you are you will read this scripture during your coaching sessions on Mormon Stories Pod cast!
    Why not shut up all the LDS Leaders who are Recommending DIVORCE to the beleiving spouse & expose them as the ‘cause of a marriage failing. The Lord has harsh words for those who put asunder those God has brought together in the holy marriage. Why not demand Mormon Leaders follow the Lords counsel found in Mormon Scripture over the unwisdom of men.

  12. Mark August 5, 2018 at 5:46 am - Reply

    I haven’t heard the podcast yet but I’m sure it’s good. One thing that is very important: “never let a problem to be solved ….” favorite quote was originated by author Barbara Johnson, not Tom Monson. Tommy was real good at quoting others without giving credit. He even plagerized the Cheshire Cat. This is an important point given the propensity and proclivity of Mormon leaders to plagerize other peoples work .. can you say Adam Clark??

    • Emily August 6, 2018 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      I did not realize. Noted, thank you.

  13. Freddie August 5, 2018 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    I love this. My wife and I are somewhere in this exact same journey. It is so nice to know we’re not the only ones who struggle with these issues. Also, I love thunderstorms, and the whole thing is just enhanced by the occasional thunder in the background. Listening to this just fulfilled me on so many levels. Thank you!

    • D&C 74:1 August 11, 2018 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      Freddie if your the unbelieving/questioning spouse just read D&C 74:1 to your wife & stay married good Luck!

  14. Brian August 8, 2018 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Emily and Kyle Harris, I am thinking of moving down there for work. Is there a way I can get in touch with Kyle to visit about the area.

  15. Dwayne August 11, 2018 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    When I was younger, we had a wonderful bishop in almost every way. For example, he would open the doors to his home for those in need. We once had a high councilman from the stake give a talk and he mentioned that this bishop gave a higher percentage of his income to tithing than anyone else in the stake………………then glared at the rest of us. I could give countless other examples but here’s the thing; he believed that non-temple marriages were basically a wasted opportunity. This podcast may as well be considered a non-temple marriage. My sister was married to a non-member and he offered to let her and her kids move in with him until such time she could get a divorce and find a worthy priesthood holder to be sealed to. I have another sister and some members were trying to fix her up with this guy in the church whose wife was a non-member and wouldn’t come to church with him. Are these things terrible? To me they are but I think that type of reasoning is still common within the church.

  16. D&C 74:1 August 11, 2018 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    Dwayne Read D&C 74:1 & tell these members to STAY MARRIED the Mormon God Requires it & saves the unbelieving spouse!

  17. Robin Cunningham August 12, 2018 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    Hi Kyle and Emily! I live in The Woodlands and would love to meet you. I am almost through my own faith crisis and my husband is TBM but we are finally at the point we do not argue about personal beliefs. I’d love to discuss with Emily where my husband is on his journey. Loved the podcast and I bet we are neighbors. Robin

  18. Joel Wright October 10, 2018 at 9:30 am - Reply

    I just finished listening to the full interview. I was close friends with Kyle’s parents, older brother and sister growing up.
    I appreciated the interview, and found the story of Kyle and Emily very interesting. I appreciate how candid they were.
    I wish we were neighbors, and could discuss more.
    But here is what I would talk about with them if I had a chance.
    1. Consider reading or listening to “Rough Stone Rolling” – I think all sides agree this is the most comprehensive and thorough biography of Joseph Smith, placed in the context of his life and times. I would be interested in Kyle’s thoughts after reading it.
    2. Kyle is very smart. He can pretend to be a dumb jock, but he’s not. He’s very smart, and a jock.
    3. Emily is very thoughtful. And deep. Had she had a different orientation growing up, I’m sure she could have gone to law school and done very well.
    4. I agree with nearly everything both Kyle and Emily said, but I still believe, and even find joy in the Church of Jesus Christ. I understand and appreciate how the same facts and experiences can lead others down different paths.
    5. But I have three criticisms. First, I think it is leader abuse to expect anyone, from the prophet to your spouse to your kids, to be perfect. They all need the Atonement, and so do you. I completely agree that Joseph Smith wasn’t perfect. Joseph Smith would strongly agree that he wasn’t perfect. And, I would even go so far as to point out that Joseph Smith was the only prophet in the latter-days to be called home from a premature death. Why? God had preserved Joseph’s life many times through a series of miracles. But he didn’t that last time. I’m confident that Joseph had completed his mission. Have some compassion, and also understand that everyone needs checks and balances, or you can become a god unto yourself. Attorneys especially understand and appreciate this. I think it is just sort of mean to expect Joseph Smith, or your bishop, or even the current prophet, to be perfect. So, if God blesses you with the light and knowledge to see people going off course you have two choices: One, criticize them, or two, help them. In my experience, once I pitch in and help for a while, folks are much more likely to seriously consider my gentle suggestions on how we could do better, typically given in private.
    6. Second, I’m not sure that Kyle and Emily’s story proves that mixed faith marriages work. I think Kyle and Emily really like each other, and their kids, and their marriage. And I think even their “bad” marriage was still better than the average marriage that many people are enduring. They no longer have a mixed faith marriage. They are of the same faith now (non-believer). And they seemed to indicate they are the happiest that way. So, I think their story really stands for the fact that your marriage will be really hard, and likely unhappy, until you both believe the same. On that point, I completely agree.
    7. Third, they seemed to indicate their faith journeys are both over now. I think they’re likely wrong. For example, what if Kyle read “Rough Stone Rolling” and told Emily that maybe he’d been too hard on Joseph Smith, and maybe going back to Church for the sake of the kids for a year could be fun. How would Emily respond? What if the Church gave our LGBT friends full fellowship? And women? What if their kids wanted to go back now, or when they are adults?
    8. I got a chance to go to BYU as an undergrad, and learned from many thoughtful individuals who had been reading Sunstone and Dialogue for years. I also listed to John Dehlin’s podcasts, nearly every one, from about 2009 to 2015. In other words, I think I understand all the hard issues. Ironically, I agree with nearly all the critics on nearly every point, but I guess I’m more patient, or feel at peace when I pray that this is God’s place for me. I feel a lot like Eugene England does in his classic essay “Why the Church is as true as the Gospel” – because I think the Church is God’s pathway to becoming complete and whole. While my brain prefers members of the Church who are fully aware of our history, and have a strong education and worldly awareness, I don’t think such members help me become like Christ nearly as much as the sunbeams I work with every Sunday. Consider reading this essay here:

    That’s all for now. I hope this criticism isn’t offensive, it isn’t meant to be. But I don’t think anyone’s journey is improved in an echo chamber, and I am hoping/praying that Kyle and Emily find the thoughts above interesting and helpful on their journey. I’d welcome a chance to talk to either of them off line in greater depth.

    • Emily November 11, 2018 at 8:32 am - Reply

      Hi Joel.

      It was not my intent in the podcast, nor is it here, to attempt to convince anyone of the propriety of my decision to leave Mormonism. In the end, it is a judgement call. I have lived Mormonism 35+ years, I own my experience and I have determined Mormonism (albeit bursting at the seams with wonderful humans) to be untrue. I gather that your experience has led you to a belief that the Church is true; it is a judgment call.

      As was said in the podcast, my moral compass and my conscience led me out of the church. At the same time, I fully accept that others’ moral compasses can lead them to (or keep them in) the Church. No judgement here. There is not an ounce of me that hopes or wants for you to conclude what I have concluded about Mormonism. And unless your beliefs, words, or actions harm others, you won’t find me criticizing you.

      Finally, I grant that there is always the possibility that I could change my mind and (once again) believe that Mormonism is true, sure. But I think I can honestly claim that during (and let’s say more specifically over the last 10 years of) my sincere truth seeking I had never been more open to or wanted more for the Mormon church to be true. I very much tried and very much wanted for Mormonism to ring true. It failed me. I simply followed my heart when I thoughtfully and intentionally left the church, a decision that still feels the most right today.


      • Joel Wright December 13, 2018 at 2:46 pm - Reply


        Thanks for your thoughtful response.

        No need to respond further, but I was intrigued by your answers above.

        1. Veracity of Mormonism: It appears you have decided it is untrue, but are fine with me concluding it is true. Can it be both? Maybe you think it can. One of my favorite scriptures is where Pilate asks Jesus “What is truth?” (John 18:38) – unfortunately we don’t have the answer to that question. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not sure it matters. And I think trying to describe or prove spiritual truths is difficult, if not impossible, to do. So, how did I conclude it was true? I’m not sure I have. I do think it is God’s path for me, and I would go so far as to say that I also believe everyone’s path can likely be improved by taking it as well. How, my feelings. How did you conclude it was untrue? I’m guessing by your feelings as well. So, saying that something is untrue because it doesn’t work for you seems a little, well, very 1990’s Mormon. I think you want to say it has many good things, but after learning about things you consider bad, it isn’t something you want to give your time to any more. But, that leads to an even more interesting question – who decides what is good and bad? Everyone on their own? I actually think everyone does, and some people are humble (or naive) to believe that our ancestors, or other people, might have some insight on good/bad that we take on faith, or we simply give respect to until we have our own belief in it. Not easy.

        2. Deciding it wasn’t for you: Don’t think you’re so far out. When you read the New Testament, Christ brutally attacks the “church” on a regular basis, put is very patient and kind with almost everyone else. Maybe the church needs you. You certainly were contributing a lot even when you were struggling. Are you contributing more to the world outside the church? Are you at peace? Would you have done this 8 hour podcast and/or even responded to all the comments if you just didn’t care any more? I’ll be blunt. I think you’re more Mormon in 2018 than most Mormons who go every Sunday. And I think that you and Kyle could still be a tremendous force for good within the Church. But I think you’ll have to decide together, because it is too hard on your own.

        3. Marriage vs. Church: In your marriage, it appears like you are very patient, and willing to accept and deal with a number of differences. But I’m guessing you still agree with most of what is taught or required in the Church, and chose a few points that you disagree with to end your relationship. You are certainly can justify doing so. But, if you treated your marriage the same way, you likely would have also left it many years ago as well. So, realize that just like you are very patient in your marriage, to your enormous credit , and with some very positive results – other people are willing to be very patient with their church.

        That’s all. Thanks for sharing, and engaging. You’re brave.

  19. Joel Wright October 11, 2018 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Kyle – I think you would especially find these comments from Richard Bushman interesting. Bushman attended Harvard as an undergraduate, and left on a mission without a real testimony.

    “[Bushman’s] college years were filled with questions rooted in a belief there was not enough evidence to truly believe in God.

    And yet notwithstanding his doubts, Bushman lived the life one might expect of a believing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    “Later in life, after telling this story innumerable times, I confronted the fact that despite my supposed doubts, I went on a mission,” Bushman said in a recent interview. “More, I went without anguish. There was no internal debate, no thrashing about. I told my mission president I did not have a testimony, but still took the train to Nova Scotia to teach the gospel.”

    As the years went on, Bushman began to realize he was wrong to think there was a time he did not believe.

    “I have now concluded, though it is at best a surmise, that I said I did not believe because I could not explain to people like my Harvard classmates or my sophomore tutor, I.B. Cohen, why I believed,” said Bushman. “I had no words to sustain myself in educated company — which I experienced as disbelief.

    “After I learned to speak more intelligibly about my belief, my faith returned,” said Bushman. “Ever since, I have felt compelled to find words to say when an objection is raised. But underneath it all, I am a believer and probably always was.”” Source:

  20. Kyle Harris November 8, 2018 at 8:54 pm - Reply


    In response to your comments I offer the following:

    (1) I’m not sure why you assume I have not read Rough Stone Rolling. I read it in 2007 or 2008 when a friend loaned me a copy following an earnest conversation about historical issues I have with the Church. When I read the book I recall finding Bushman’s tone overly facile and apologetic, particularly when discussing Joseph’s well documented enterprise as a money digger. I’m happy that Bushman’s offering was helpful to you, but I found it wanting. I’d be happy to discuss the book (and Bushman) in detail off line if you are so inclined.

    (2) When you say “I think their story really stands for the fact that your marriage will be really hard, and likely unhappy, until you both believe the same,” I fear you missed the central tenet of our message. Emily and I were in a mixed faith marriage from the time I left the Church in the early 2000’s until she finally left in May 2015. While the ride was often turbulent and acrimonious, several years before Emily left the Church, she made the decision to love me without condition – unhitching the requirement that I must believe the same way she did (See Segment 3, around minute 5). This was game changing. Once our love for each other became mutually unconditional, from around 2010 until Emily left the Church in 2015 our marriage enjoyed more love, depth, and mutual respect than it had ever had before – with Emily believing wholeheartedly in the Church (I.e., a classic mixed-faith marriage) (See also the transcript of Emily’s February 2014 Sacrament Meeting Talk for a more robust description). The point is, if nothing else, our story is evidence that a mixed-faith marriage can work, and can lead to a rich, trusting marriage, so long as both spouses love one another without belief or activity in the Church as a pre-condition. The fact that Emily left the Church in 2015, making ours a same-faith marriage, had no material impact on our marriage at that point, as we had been successfully navigating those waters as a mixed-faith couple since 2010.

    (3) I don’t expect Joseph Smith, or current Church Leaders, to be perfect. I do, however, expect the Church and its leaders to be honest and forthright about Church history, and allow members to make educated decisions about the Church’s truth claims with all the information on the table.

    (4) You don’t know me, and you don’t know Emily, so you wouldn’t know that Emily’s central motivation for staying in the Church the last several years of her membership was to work to make the Church a better place, for all members, particularly the marginalized. Emily worked tirelessly (in public and private) to motivate, guide, and assist members of the Church to make the Church a more inclusive place to worship. It was only after years of effort that she left; so your statement that “in my experience, once I pitch in and help for a while, folks are much more likely to seriously consider my gentle suggestions on how we could do better, typically given in private” rings hollow to me.

    (5) I agree with you that my faith journey is not over, nor is Emily’s. We are all works in progress, and I look forward to learning and growing, mentally and spiritually, throughout the rest of my life.

    (6) As an aside, I find it fascinating that you appear to have written and posted your two comments about our podcast during weekday business hours (Wednesday, Oct 10 and Thursday, Oct 11) while ostensibly on the clock as a shareholder at Kirton McConkie, the Church’s law firm. Given the Church’s important status as a firm client, I wonder if you received credit from the firm when you posted your lengthy criticisms of our Mormon Stories podcast. Can you enlighten me?


    • Joel Wright December 13, 2018 at 1:12 pm - Reply


      Thanks for your comments above. Thank you for the thoughtful response.

      1. Rough Stone Rolling: I assumed you never read Rough Stone Rolling because I never heard you mention it, but you did mention reading some other sources. Given how long Rough Stone Rolling is, and the commitment required to read it, I assumed you would have mentioned it. My bad. Of course Bushman is a believer, so he casts things in the best light. But he also shares a number of facts that have made appear to make most members uncomfortable, which was a big step forward, but not so much now. The understanding of many members was, indeed, “facile” regarding the Church’s history, with too few efforts to improve on it. I think most church leaders, and even historians would agree with you in 2018. Maybe that’s too late. But, consider taking an hour to watch the current way they are teaching church history to the young adults in this world wide devotional held just a couple months ago. One of the two historians is Kate Holbrook, who graduate from Timpview with me and Ryan, so was taught very similar to you and me while growing up:

      2. Marriage should have no pre-conditions to love: Conceded. Entirely. Emily’s 2014 talk had a hard edge, and some real anger. She was not at peace. She was being pulled from both sides. She saw the good in both. She was not in a stable equilibrium. She loved you. She loved the gospel. She didn’t feel like Church was a safe space for her. It seemed like Emily agreed that with the right bishop, she might still be active. She might change her mind at some point, or one of your children could also, or you could as well. But, as the minor prophets Mumford and Sons have stated, “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” And we all only have so much life we can give. I think it was likely still hard for Emily to go to Church without you. She loved you, but she was giving her life, and thus her love, to the Church as well. Her talk eloquently expressed her frustration, especially with what was likely inadequate support from ward leadership or members.

      3. Don’t have to be perfect, but do have to be 100% honest, with hindsight: Did church leaders ever try to actively conceal the truth? I don’t’ think so, but I could be wrong. And it appears you do expect your church leaders to be perfect with regards to honesty. Well, so do I. But is anyone capable of being 100% honest, especially with the hindsight that comes with time and better understanding? I think you would agree with me, but then say you just wanted more and better honesty and transparency. Once again, I totally agree. The seer stones and the translation of the Book of Mormon are a really good example. I think the historicity of the Book of Mormon might be another challenging issue that could explode over the next 20 years. So, I think I get it – it is just too much for you at some point. While, even though it makes me frustrated, I’m willing to be more patient and forgiving (or naive?). But God has let a lot of really bad and hard things happen in the past, and appears to have no desire to stop them from happening. Figuring out right and wrong, and who we can condemn, and who we should have patience with, is really tough. I think God has only given us clear guidance on about 20% of our decisions. The rest we have to figure out with experience, wisdom, and hopefully some spiritual guidance.

      4. I don’t know you or Emily. Oh, but I do. I listened to the entire 6 (or 8?) hour interview where you got pretty much a blank slate to tell your story exactly as you wanted to tell it. And I know your parents and siblings. And I was raised in pretty much the same environment that you were raised. And I went to law school where my religious beliefs and assumptions were intellectually destroyed. And I worked at big coastal law firms where even my most basic beliefs (fidelity in marriage and attending church on Sunday) were treated with outright contempt and derision. I think Emily shared at least one instance where another ward member, I think another Obama supporter, became good friends, and they strengthened each other. I think Emily was having a very positive influence on many ward members, and enlightening them on multiple issues and perspectives. Her 2014 talk is Exhibit A. The church will miss her. We need her. Now. In 2018. But I appreciate she only has so much love (or time) to give, and has to choose where it is most effective.

      5. Still growing. Great! I am too. And that is why I found your podcast, and comments, so interesting. Especially because I agree with you on so many points. But it seemed like at the end of the interview that you and Emily seemed confident that you had arrived, and were done on your journey. But, that could be my fault.

      6. Billing to write this: Um, no. I am a shareholder at Kirton McConkie. My firm does do a lot of work for the LDS Church. I haven’t billed any time to the LDS Church, or any affiliate, in nearly 5 years, as I’ve built up my own client base. I certainly have no concerns with billing time for them. But I didn’t bill the time I responded to you above, nor am I billing now. I tried for many years to bill 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, and it made me miserable. Now I bill 6 to 8 hours a day, and take frequent breaks during the day to do stuff like this. If you can do legal work for 10 hours or more a day, more power to you.


  21. Fatfinger March 6, 2019 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Another great interview. I love what you do, John (enough to support the podcast financially), and I very much appreciate you, as well as Emily and Kyle and all the other people like them that take the time to share their stories so we can all benefit from their experience. It is working, as I, for one, benefit greatly and am addicted to these faith transition podcasts in particular.

    I never seem to be listening to the podcasts live and am always late to the party, but I’m hoping at least one of you checks back in and will see this and provide an update about the church status of Emily and Kyle’s families. Specifically, when commenting on the ugly things her sisters said to Kyle Emily said “both of these sisters are now out of the church” or something to that effect. I spent the rest of the podcast anticipating a follow up on this but there wasn’t one.

    Have your family members left the church? Did they finally just follow your lead, or did they have their own separate path(s) out? To the extent possible, please provide an update. Inquiring minds want to know!


    • Emily April 23, 2019 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      Oh goodness, each of my siblings could have their own podcast. : ) But no, no one “followed my lead.” Each of my siblings who have left the church have had different initial concerns with Mormonism but ultimately none of us any longer believe in the truth claims. 6 out of the 10 kids in my family no longer affiliate with the mormon church. I’m closest to all of my sisters. Interestingly, all 3 brothers are active, believing members. Mormonism works well for them. : )

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