In this special episode of Mormon Stories, we travel to Southern California to interview 2 sisters—Laurie and Julie (along with their husbands) — about their Mormon faith crisis and transition.

This is a super fascinating story in that each grew up as faithful, orthodox Mormons and both couples were living what they considered to be the “Mormon dream” until Laurie’s husband began to have a faith crisis that he endured silently for years.  Suffering alone and feeling unable to share his doubts with anyone, he finally opened up to Laurie and they carefully navigated a mixed-faith marriage for some time.  Seeking support, Laurie and her husband reached out to Julie and her husband to share their questions and struggles and we learn how each began a faith journey they did not expect.

Important topics we cover:

  • What the Church meant to each as they were in it
  • What caused them to doubt and question
  • What was hard and difficult about the faith crisis
  • The mistakes and successes they discovered while navigating their faith crisis
  • How they shared their faith crisis with their children
  • How they “came out” about their beliefs to others, including ward members and leaders
  • How they have begun to forge a new life

This interview is a first of many this year that will highlight what John calls “The Gift of the Mormon Faith Crisis.”  More information for this 2018 initiative can be found at


Part 1: Each provide their Mormon background

Part 2: Laur’s husband is the first to have a faith crisis, which has ripple effects to the others.

Part 3: Each shares how cracks developed in their faith

Part 4: Each tackles the tough topic of sharing their faith crisis with their children

Part 5: Each discuss “coming out” about their beliefs to others

Part 6: Each discuss the hard, yet rewarding task of forging a new life


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Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6:

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  1. Jay P January 16, 2018 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    I’m loving this interview. It covers so much of what I experienced during my faith transition. Look forward to the ““The Gift of the Mormon Faith Crisis” ahead.

  2. Annonimous January 17, 2018 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    An excellent set of interviews and experiences on a number of levels.

    It seems like we have seen a number of these interviews where both members of the couple make the exit. Do you have any interviews of plans to interview couples where one person has left the faith (5 or 10+ years previously) and where the other spouse is still believing/attending. Perhaps this is a situation worth addressing.

    • Dwayne January 18, 2018 at 12:31 am - Reply

      I think that’s a great question and a needed interview. I’m sure it’s not easy to find a willing couple however.

  3. Robert January 17, 2018 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    Fantastic interview!!! what an epic journey for these two couples. I would love to see Doug’s notes. Can he share them in a form similar to “Letter to my Wife” or CES letter.

    Best wishes in their journey.

  4. CJ January 17, 2018 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    No matter what you say I’d still love a copy of Doug’s notes!! Ha ha! I tried to compile mine but I’m not astute enough! I’ve been out about a year-and-a-half. I’m still trying to figure things out. I’m now atheist but I don’t trust my instincts. Sigh. My husband still has one foot in the church but is no longer active. It is such a tough place to be in. I really appreciate your interview and I really appreciate open stories podcasts. They’ve saved me more than once in my journey.

    • Annonimous January 17, 2018 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      My document which was an effort to understand mormonism can be found here for those interested: It is not as good as either the CES letter or Letter to my Wife, but was written with a different purpose in mind. It is for those who have already figured out the church is not what it claims to be and is merely an effort to describe what happened and who believed what & when. It’s an introduction into the history and doctrinal evolution of the movement. May be useful to some. At only 150 pages, it is not as detailed as the notes appear to be, but is still well referenced and hopefully accurate.

      • VFanRJ January 20, 2018 at 1:17 pm - Reply

        A lot of very interesting nuggets. Thanks so much for posting.

      • Texas PostMo September 23, 2020 at 12:36 am - Reply

        I think this is Doug who posted anonymously. If so, thanks for these notes. I really appreciate them. Very thorough. Love the timelines.

  5. James T. Kirk January 17, 2018 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Wow. Can’t believe I made it through all of those videos, you guys are super troopers for sitting through that experience and sharing. Thanks,

    I’m super impressed that all four of you made it through together. I’m “in it to lose it” instead of “in it to win it”. My wife will likely never leave the church, and she’s told me straight up the church comes before me and if I ever leave the church she’s leaving me. The “God / Family / Church priorities” are offset for her. For her it’s “God / Church / Family”.

    So I have the ridiculous pleasure of going through the motions to preserve my marriage, keeping to myself and just trying to stomach living a less authentic life. But I’m gradually realizing that I can live a fairly authentic life in the church, even if I don’t believe all the ridiculous stories and corrupt BS. I’ve managed to make it work and put her before my distaste for the church, but it’s a sacrifice, especially come Sunday and Tithing time. But I just remind myself that it just doesn’t matter. The church has only as much power as I give it. If I can’t love my Mormon neighbors and my wife at the place they are in their lives, then the gospel means nothing to me.

    I skipped church for weeks on end, and found that I just missed being with her and didn’t enjoy feeling like I wasn’t supporting her and her belief choices. I don’t feel a need to tear the church down or even talk about it any more. It’s become a bit of a game actually… “how can I find pleasure in my day today, who can I love, and where can I find beauty & truth?” It’s everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. Opportunities to love, serve, and care are all around us, no matter the context or situations we are in, no matter your religion. I’ve gotten to the point where I can sit in church and conduct my own meetings in my mind, thinking about and pondering the meaning of life while people sob at the microphone about finding their keys and how finding their keys makes everything in the church true. Ugh.

    I’m jealous you guys have all stayed together and worked through it. But I’m grateful to be alive and in a good neighborhood with a lot of great Mormon neighbors. “Getting out” doesn’t matter to me any more, being healthy in my relationships does, and context doesn’t matter as much as content.

    That mental shift has removed all the frustration and fear for me. Suddenly I enjoy relationships more, am less judgmental of people both inside & outside of the church, and am generally more content. I don’t care about whether the church is true or not. I care about whether I am true to truth and goodness.

    I still hope and pray that Christ is the son of God and that God is real. But I never met Him, doubt any currently living people have, and have never talked to God face to face, so I merely take it on faith that he lived and lives, and try to live in a way that I can look back and be proud.

    John, I would love to hear you discuss what conscience is, how it works in members before and after leaving the church. My conscience works differently now.


    • Doug January 18, 2018 at 8:38 am - Reply

      Thx! You are navigating this very positively. You sound like an awesome person. I have often wondered what I would have done long-term had Laurie continued believing. Looking back, I realize the most damaging time to my soul and integrity was keeping the secret from her and everyone around me. So, once I told her, even though we fought for many months, I think (hope) I would have eventually shifted into a similar mode or frame of mind that you have. Being able to walk around with everyone knowing the truth, not having to lie anymore, learning how to be comfortable in my own shoes would have been much better than going around scared she or someone else was going to find out. Keep holding your head high!

      • Jim February 3, 2018 at 2:38 pm - Reply


        If you ever do decide to release your notes please let us know. My wife and I are mostly inactive now and would like a good set of organized notes on the facts. Not to convince anyone else but for our own continued education.


      • Jim February 3, 2018 at 2:51 pm - Reply

        Sorry wrong email.

  6. Nate January 17, 2018 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    Doug, Laurie, Julie and Jerry,. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I loved every minute. It was a marathon, but worth it. Do I get a metal? Your story is my story although mine is not quite done. Thankfully my wife and I were prioritized with 1. Family 2. God and 3. Church, and are still happily married. We informed our 4 kids, and Bishop, who then sent the stake president and area authority Gillenwater to our house. We are still not quite courageous enough to inform my wife’s mother and Patriarch father currently serving 2nd mission in Navoo…and we are not in a hurry to tell my three brother in law bishops. Your story is inspiring to me and my wife who are striving to live life authentically and share love and joy with those who cross our path. Big thank you to John for rounding you all up for this amazing Mormon story.

    • Doug January 18, 2018 at 8:52 am - Reply

      Thx Nate! It’s so hard and stressful deciding when and how to let believing family members know what’s going on. I feel for ya. As you heard us say, we did the best we could. I definitely recommend short and simple face to face conversations. I would go back and say even less than we did. One of the things I think we failed to mention is we had these conversations while having dinner with them at restaurants. I think it helped to do it in a public space because it probably eliminated some behavior (on both sides) that could have happened more easily in a private setting.

      • Nate January 18, 2018 at 6:23 pm - Reply

        Doug, thanks for the suggestion to disclose in person at a restaurant. That seems sensible. We don’t live near any family so it might be difficult or at least take a while. I wish we lived by you guys… would love to meet up sometime. We are in not likely. All four of you seem like very level headed cool humans. After listening to you for hours and hours I feel like we know you. If you are ever in Florida anywhere near Sarasota, we would love to have you over to our house. Free place to stay…open invitation.

    • Julie Johnson January 18, 2018 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      Thank you Nate! Yes! You deserve a metal… it’s a lot to listen to 😄 It’s so hard to break the news to family… we don’t want to hurt them or have them think less of us… I totally understand. I’m so glad to hear you and your wife left together, that’s great! Good luck with your family. Take care ❤️

    • Laurie January 19, 2018 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      I’m so happy to hear you and your wife made it through this transition together ! It is so hard telling believing family members. Good luck on your continued journey !

  7. Dot January 18, 2018 at 3:49 am - Reply

    Ever grateful for the insights John. I am seeing that my notes over the past couple of years are probably garbled and unreadable to anybody but me, and I wish I had as carefully compiled them as Doug has.

    Very important interview. Thank you to both couples for getting through this marathon. Medals everybody! 🆓 Still have to listen to the two final ones.

    Tough to leave. Tough to do it alone. Tough to reconstruct your life. I really think a church should just support, and have no other purpose, no hierarchy, and no authority.

    I reserve the right to change my mind for as long as I’ve got one. Peace.

  8. Jay January 18, 2018 at 9:23 am - Reply

    Congratulations on finding your way out of the Mormon narrative of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mormonism is not all wrong or bad, but now you have more freedom of mind to allow the “spirit of christ” to direct you towards a deeper and more genuine relationship with the true and living son of god. He is still real and genuine and loving and “the way”.

    The saddest results of many of these interviews is that when TBM’s finally face their “aha” moment…they feel nothing is real or believable anymore.

    Well, Jesus Christ is real. The evidence for Christ is real. To find and have a partnership with Christ is real and it can be found in or out of the “church of Joseph Smith”.

    You cannot fault the LDS faith for its ability to produce good human beings…we can be a little more forgiving of the means.

    It just becomes too hard to swallow that the LDS faithful think their way is the only way to be happy and to follow god when you discover the fabrications and embellishments and…

    Christ atoned for my personal sins and also for the sins of the church. It may well be that when the church and many of its apologetic do gooders are able to come clean and admit some fault, apply more forgiveness to those trying to reconcile with fault, and teach more about what we learn from many bad mistakes of the past instead of the sanitizing, whitewashing, “the church is perfect, the members aren’t” behavior….., the pallatability of the church may well be there again for many who have these “aha” moments.

    Humanity has proven over and over again that we humans are quick to forgive when we are quick to admit our faults and our errors.

    If the church could somehow be more open and honest about its mistakes, exposed and Incorporated more into its teachings along the way what can be learned from them, good people like doug, laurie, julie, jerry, john, and myself, may still be living the mormon dream…

    • theOtherJay January 18, 2018 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      Don’t get Doug started on another research project . . .

      • Laurie January 20, 2018 at 11:58 am - Reply

        Haha you know Doug so well!! He’s already done a bunch of research on that as well! Don’t get him started again!😂

  9. Julie J January 18, 2018 at 9:41 am - Reply

    Thank you everyone for your nice comments ❤️ No ones journey is easy and I appreciate those of you that have shared your story here. We need each other more than anything while navigating this difficult information, you’re not alone. Hang in there! Thanks again 😊❤️

  10. John Matern January 18, 2018 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Great interviews! I can really relate to Doug and Laurie’s transition experience. It reminded me a lot of my wife and I’s faith transition.

  11. Kerry Knight January 18, 2018 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    What’s the purpose of life if there’s no eternal exaltation? Actually, it’s the same as the purpose of an eternal exaltation! “Men are that they may have joy” still works if you’re out of the church. In fact, it works much better.

    • Doug January 25, 2018 at 11:20 pm - Reply

      Love that! Well said.

  12. Joe January 18, 2018 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    Doug: You are a lucky man. I probably handled my faith transition poorly. But my TBM EX divorced me –in very large part–because of my faith transition. The bright side is a met an amazing woman this past year, and we are building a new, fantastic life together. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Doug January 19, 2018 at 2:27 am - Reply

      Joe, thank you. I agree, I’m one lucky man for sure. Sorry to hear what you went through, but happy your life has found new happiness. Wish you the best.

  13. Ruby January 18, 2018 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    I found this to be one of the most thorough and compelling interviews on Mormon Stories. I was captivated by the telling from each person as the story/drama unfolded. The quest for real truth, the laid bare emotions, the struggle, courage, and escape from conditioned beliefs, and the journey through fears to a natural discovery of LIFE-just amazing. I so appreciated the intelligence and honesty presented here.
    And John, I loved your input to help give perspective to the common issues found throughout this odyssey, and for being such a great interviewer!

  14. Anonymous January 19, 2018 at 12:01 am - Reply

    For Doug and Laurie. What would you have done if you still lived in Kaysville? As someone who currently lives in that city, I feel like I’m the only person in Kaysville going through a faith crisis. I’d love to hear about how or if you think your story would have gone had you remained living in Kaysville.

    • Laurie January 20, 2018 at 11:52 am - Reply

      Unfortunately I don’t know how our story would have gone had we stayed in Utah. Having the luxioury to be able to move, it was easy for us to fake it to a certain extent . However I do have friends in kaysville that were very understanding when we told them about our faith crisis . I think there are so many people struggling these days that it’s not as big of a shock as it used to be. I totally understand the feeling of loneliness . It is really scary to take that first step to open up to someone about having doubts. I think doug gave some good advice as far as joining an exmo Facebook group there in Davis County. That definetly gave me comfort being able to connect with others in the area and realizing I wasn’t alone . Others in the same boat are so open and willing to support one another.💕

  15. Doug January 19, 2018 at 2:23 am - Reply

    Anonymous, those are interesting questions.

    First, let me reassure you that you’re not alone. There is a large and growing group of people all around you there in Kaysville. In fact, there are a couple groups that meet there and there was an Oasis chapter there until not to recently (which I believe is on hiatus for a little while). We had about 10 unbelieving families just in our little subdivision of 100 homes, unbeknownst to us, until we joined a number of post-Mormon Facebook groups in Davis County and found one another. They were a good source of support and friendship behind the scenes for many months until we moved.

    In terms of what would we have done if we has stayed, I think our friendships would have remained strong with some believing friends (like the ones we still have today), other friendships would have become awkward, and we would have naturally gravitated and started to become better friends with the non-believers we were finding and meeting. At the end of the day though, there is no getting around the fact that Kaysville is 85%-90% LDS. So, eventually we would have experienced and had to get used to feeling what it’s like to be a non-member living in Kaysville. I think our children would have been ok. We talked to a number of post-Mormons living there who had left the church years before we did and they said their kids’ friends were all pretty accepting.

    I can tell you one thing for sure…. I miss Snowbasin SOO much. I probably would have skied my brains out on Saturdays + Sundays (YES!) all winter long and been happy as a clam!!!

    • Doubting Thomas January 21, 2018 at 12:34 pm - Reply


      I estimate that the overwhelming majority of LDS members (the 16 million number) do not believe the core claims of Mormonism. First, worldwide monthly activity is less than 40%. Second, of those that are attending, we know from Mormon Stories that many people participate long after they no longer believe in Mormon doctrine that would define someone as a TBM.

      Finally, we all know from the social pressure involved in the Mormon culture that for many members it is easier just to stay and lie about personal beliefs than declare authentic spiritual positions. I dare estimate there are fewer than 3,000,000 Mormons in the entire world that believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Russell Nelson is a prophet, and that the LDS church is the only true church of the Christian God.

      Thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences.

    • Another Anonymous Davis County Resident April 4, 2018 at 8:42 am - Reply

      Do you know the name of the Davis County Exmormon group on Facebook? I live in Layton and would be interested in that.

      PS, this podcast was in my top 3 Mormon Stories (probably #1) I am slightly ashamed to admit I have listened to it twice. It’s like Therapy! Thanks again. Your stories were so great to hear, you all seem like such great people.

  16. Go2 January 19, 2018 at 11:39 am - Reply

    That was the best 6 hours I’ve had in a long time!! Thank you!!

    • Julie J January 19, 2018 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      Thank you!! ❤️

    • Laurie January 19, 2018 at 8:29 pm - Reply

      Thank you!

    • VFanRJ January 20, 2018 at 1:19 pm - Reply

      Such an amazing conversation that was so satisfying to sit in and listen in on.

  17. joy January 19, 2018 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    Such an amazing podcast! I listen to A LOT of these podcasts and this is in my top 5 for sure! I think certain podcasts just speak to us on a deeper level and this one really resonated with me. Maybe it’s because I’m also in my 40’s and can relate so much to the process Doug went through with information. I remember I used to say (over and over) how I just didn’t understand how educated, intelligent people could remain in the church anymore unless they “chose” to keep their head in the sand and wanted to stay for security and the bubble. As we were told, “the church STANDS OR FALLS on the TRUTH of the BoM”. It is amazing how we were told this but the church does not want us to seek the truth…how ironic. I wanted to tell people they could still have faith outside of the lds church. I wanted to shake people-intelligent friends- to wake up and realize that the church is a man made BUSINESS. I wanted to tell friends about everything that I had learned…but so many people do not want to know. They like their bubble and are content there… It’s such a complicated mess and it takes courage to stand up and stop the cycle from continuing to another generation. Other podcasts that I have LOVED are: Tom Phillips (535-539), Trevor Haugen (711-714) and Amy and Jake Malouf (657). All of these podcasts show that it’s not easy to get out but the truth is more important and love and kindness is just as strong (if not stronger) outside of the church. People can think for themselves and be more authentic with love and acceptance. Good for you Doug! I admire your courage and your kids are so lucky that you were so brave and stopped the hamster wheel now.

  18. Doug January 19, 2018 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    Joy, thank you! Very kind.

  19. Happier by the week January 19, 2018 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Long podcast but very enjoyable. I really agreed with Jerry about not stopping research and learning after finding out the truth about the Church. Since my wife and I have stopped attending, I have learned a lot about religions of the world and about the history of both the Old and New Testaments and Judaism, and science, and law, and health.

    I envy these two families in that they were prominent families in their respective wards. That would have helped us. They also were in fairly large populated areas, making it much easier to find people of like minds. And they were young, my daughter’s age.

    We found it difficult to live in a small rural area, not far from a town of 700 and one of around 1500 with two wards in the area. After being out we found that we lived in a super-fundamentalist Christian area, not very friendly to Mormons.

    And after one prominent family in our ward left the church and moved away, we know of no one to associate with who has our background in the church. We live within a mile radius of 4 super-active LDS families and that is a lot when one is a long ways from Mormon population densities, being 5 hours away from a temple and two hours from a stake center.

    Maybe sometime, John, you could interview couples aging from 60 to 80 who have children of the ages like this couple you interviewed here.

    I really needed hearing about Doug floundering in the water and family and friends on the shore afraid to help because of sharks. We have noted that so much where we live. Best friends, a bishop, stake president and a daughter ignored us as we cried for help 6 years ago. Today I e-mailed our only child, adopted from the Church, and I e-mailed her several times telling her about this interview and how I wished she would listen to it, but she is in the heart of Mormon country and seem oblivious of our journey of faith. I stressed to her what I heard on one of the interview segments, about how we had no desire to change her in any way but we just wanted to love her.

    Thanks very much for this Doug, Laurie, Jerry, and Julie. And John.

    • Jerry January 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your comments. I often look around at the people I work with, live next to, etc. and think to myself that if these people knew my true beliefs most would feel sorry for me and think there is something wrong with me. It’s hard not being part of it the popular belief systems, whether Mormon, Christian, or whatever.
      There are plenty of us out there, however. We are just a little harder to find.
      I really hope your daughter listens- and at least it helps her empathize with your journey. She can still disagree with your conclusions while understanding what you went through.
      Let us know if anything develops.

  20. beth January 20, 2018 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Thank you for a really great interview, its been so interesting listening to listen to, thank you to all of you, l hope we hear of more and more faith transitions of how others have navigated their faith journey, please keep them coming, these are so great and so interesting and would be good to hear about more thoughts and feelings on church history and the effects good and bad they have on each individuals, thanks again everyone.

    • Julie January 22, 2018 at 4:35 pm - Reply

      Thank you Beth :)

  21. VFanRJ January 20, 2018 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Jerry’s observations on confirmation bias are quite interesting.

  22. hal January 21, 2018 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Thanks so MUCH! So insightful! You rock! Helping tons of people! All the Best!

    • Julie January 22, 2018 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      Thank you :)!

  23. LowryNelsonRocks January 21, 2018 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    John you mentioned a good book to read maybe in part 2 but I can’t find it. Would you help me out? One of the best podcasts that I have listened to in a long time. Thanks for your work and for having these awesome people on. If you don’t already have one, I think you should put together a list of books that have been influential to listeners etc. thanks

    • Scott January 22, 2018 at 5:18 am - Reply

      The book that I remember being mentioned in the podcast is The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion . It is widely available and an excellent read. It was actually recommended to me by a progressive but believing member.

      • LowryNelsonRocks January 22, 2018 at 8:01 am - Reply

        Yes that was it. Thanks!

  24. Dallin January 21, 2018 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    My wife and I have been struggling with how and when to tell our kids about our disbelief. Your experience is encouraging. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jerry January 24, 2018 at 12:14 pm - Reply

      Looking back it is hard to remember how anxious we were about talking to our kids. Our conversations with our children are so open and inclusive now that I can’t image going back to how things were before.
      I will say that I think our children accepted what we had to say because we first talked about how much we loved them and how important they were to us. We explained our journey before introducing any negative information about the church. In fact, we were not planning on going into any details. They were the ones that started asking questions. Kids are amazing!

  25. Dwayne January 22, 2018 at 12:46 am - Reply

    One of the truths that we all have to submit to is that if an angry mob had not murdered Joseph in that jail in Carthage, Il. in 1844, we would probably have the answers to many of these things. The answers may not be acceptable to everyone but at least we would have his words under oath. He would have been forced to testify about polygamy, the Expositor story, and treason along with others.

    Ultimately, skeptics will often appear to be on the winning side of these arguments. After all, when you believe in nothing, it can neither be proved, disproved, or even debated.

    • Jerry January 24, 2018 at 11:02 am - Reply

      Thank you for your thoughts. I like these kinds of comments because it prevents this from turning into an echo chamber.
      I don’t think it’s fair to blame the one not believing for the subject that is unbelievable. If you come to me and say that you saw God last night and He told you that you were to marry my wife, it’s not really fair to blame me for not believing you. Yes, the subject cannot be proved or disproved entirely, but I can use my good sense to determine whether or not to believe something like that. I can’t prove with 100% certainty that Big Foot doesn’t exist, but making me the crazy one for not believing is a little bit of a stretch. There are so many things in life that cannot be 100% disproved. This is where we have to use probability, or likelihood, to make our decisions.
      Also, for me, belief, or an ability to believe, is not a virtual. Belief is a result. It is the result of investigation. To make belief a virtual can make people feel that they should do everything they can to believe in something, instead of using evidence to guide us into a belief. Making belief a virtue also encourages gullibility, which I believe to be dangerous.
      One other thing. Believers as skeptics, too. You can’t believe in Mormonism without being skeptical of Scientology, Seventh Day Adventist, Buddhists, etc. It’s a matter of being equally skeptical with all things.

  26. Caleb January 22, 2018 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Just want to say thank you to Jerry, Julie, Doug and Laurie. The whole story was fascinating and love how all of you traveled your own journey but still together if that makes sense. One of my favorite stories.

    • Julie January 22, 2018 at 4:19 pm - Reply

      Thank you!

    • Doug January 25, 2018 at 8:55 pm - Reply

      Thank you Caleb!

  27. EDiL13 January 22, 2018 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    Wow. An all day marathon. Took me several days to listen to it all, but well worth it. You know you’re an overachiever, right John? Must be the Mormon upbringing. And none of you look old enough to remember the roadshows.

    But seriously, I especially appreciated what you all said about being honest with your spouse, and I wholeheartedly agree. Maybe that’s part of the reason why my still believing husband and I have managed to stay together for 13 years and counting since I left the LDS church — we’ve been honest with each other, and he still respects my integrity even though he doesn’t agree with many of my opinions about his church, and he wishes that I would “come back.”

    To the question of, “Is it the best way to spend your time,” I answer yes, because I don’t have much of a choice, since my husband and I have so few opportunities to spend “quality time” together during the week, so I still go to church with him on Sundays. The people there are still my friends, and it’s still a good place to be part of a community of nice people who are trying to do good in the world. I’ve come to realize that I can still be a “passenger” aboard the “Good Ship ZIon” even if I never again become a member of the “crew.” (But never say “never.”) And it seems that miracles have happened recently to bring me to this conclusion. I don’t know exactly why it happened or how it happened, but I know it happened and I know it was real. (Confirmation bias? Placebo effect? Possibly…) Maybe there’s a third kind of “testimony” besides “validity” and “utility,” but I don’t have a good word for it.

    That little couplet was intriguing about, “What’s good about it is not unique, and what’s unique is not good.” I would say that not everything that’s unique is bad either — they have some beautiful theology. It’s a mixed bag, and the same thing could probably be said about all religions, and probably some more than others.

    Thank you all again for spending a whole day to do this.

    • Julie January 22, 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Everyone has their own journey and we all have to navigate it our own way. I applaud you or making it work :)

      • EDiL13 January 23, 2018 at 6:27 am - Reply


        One thing I forgot to mention — I had a bit of an “epiphany” when one of the guys posed the question of who would God appreciate more out of two people who both did all the same “right” things (“right” and “wrong” being relative terms, as far as I’m concerned), but one did them because he was told to do so by his minister, read the Bible, etc, and the other did it because he figured it out from himself, and my answer was, “BOTH of them!” My line of reasoning is that if God is really “all good” and “all knowing,” then He would love and appreciate everyone, including those who do the right things for the right reasons, those who do the right things for the wrong reasons, and maybe even those who do the wrong things for the right reasons.

        Just a stray thought…

        And BTW, I am far from being able to “make it work” all the time, but so far I’ve been able to keep trying.

        • Jerry January 24, 2018 at 9:32 am - Reply

          Great thoughts. You mentioned that church IS a valuable use of your time. I should have been more clear, that for me, it wasn’t – but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable for others. We have decided that organized religion is not for us, but we are not anti-religion, or even anti-Mormon. If church is helping you then I say go for it.
          Also, I agree with what you said about my story of the two people being judged by God. I was emphasizing the idea that we often focus too much on whom we believe in and not what we believe in. I find it hard to believe that a God would care more about whether we believe in him over how we treat one another, for example.
          Great thoughts.

  28. Palacios January 22, 2018 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    John, I listened to the entire interview with Doug, Laurie, Julie, and Jerry. Is there any way of getting in contact directly with Doug to obtain a copy of his notes that he compiled. I think it would be very interesting to see his logic and his conclusions in all his research. I will pay for a copy and shipping. Thanks

  29. Nicole January 22, 2018 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    Loved this interview! Thank you so much for this work you do.
    John, are you looking for families to interview?
    My husband and I would be interested in sharing our family’s faith crisis/transition experience… it rippled out to lots of extended family as well.

  30. Happier by the week January 22, 2018 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    I posted earlier about telling my daughter how much I enjoyed this podcast and encouraged her to listen to it. Well, she listened to #5 and so I told her she should watch all of it and the next day she wrote and said she had watched all of it. But then she wrote me a long e-mail about her not being able to get help for a child (married with 5 children) whose parents are no longer believers. She reminded me of how very hard it was when I told her. And selfishly, I guess, I thought that it was only me who was hurt by friends and family and needed emotional help. She stressed how much she loved us and always would. She was very impressed with the podcast not being aggressive or fault-finding or blaming and thought that all in the Church should see it.

    But what she apparently needs is a way for her to get what I got through my crisis. I had Mormon Stories which helped me immensely. I never realized that she had no place to go. Tonight I have spent three hours looking for podcasts and books but to no avail.

    So, John, has there ever been such a podcast on Mormon Stories? I couldn’t find one when Googling. If there is none, might it be possible to have one that could help my daughter?

  31. Anonimous January 23, 2018 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    I SO bad want to know the last name of the orthodontist! Reason being I live in the Seattle area and would love to meet them. I work for an orthodontist and have been going thur probably the longest drawn out exit out of the church of anyone I know of or have heard! I’m 57 years old and besides my husband and children no one on either side of the family knows our story or anything we’ve been through other than one sibling of mine! Everyone else just thinks we might be inactive! We don’t live near any of our family. I’m even afraid to comment on anything on Facebook in fear of someone seeing it! So we haven’t had a lot of support. Our parents are in their last years and I just don’t want them to know. As you can see I still have a lot of serious issues, so afraid my family will not be able to accept. Thank you so much John you have really helped me and this podcast has been really wonderful!

    • Julie January 23, 2018 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      HI! We would love to get together! Please send me a private message on Facebook. My name is Julie Steenbakkers Johnson. Talk to you soon!

  32. Dr.K January 23, 2018 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    I cant tell you how much this story resonated with me, just resigned but wife is still in …communicating has become difficult and at times exhausting, would love to find a therapist in the So Cal area similar to the one in the podcast. Any suggestions?

    • Laurie January 23, 2018 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      I totally understand what both you and your wife must be going through . It is so difficult. Therapy was definetly the best thing Doug and I could have done to open up communication. The therapist we used in Salt Lake will do counseling through Skype . Her name is Jenny Morrow. She was great.Wishing you the Best.

    • Doug January 25, 2018 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      Dr.Kay, couple additional comments about therapy…

      First, I was nervous to recommend counseling to Laurie. As she mentioned in our interview, she didn’t want to do it because she felt there was a stigma attached to being in therapy. So, saying I wanted to go to counseling felt like a risk to me, that all she was going to hear was I thought our marriage was broken. While she did resist at first it didn’t last long and after only a week she became excited about it. I know I can say this for her because we’ve talked about it so much, but the idea eventually gave her a sense of relief, that there was something we could do to try to improve the situation and I wanted to work on our marriage. I think so many believing spouses worry their non-believing spouse is rejecting them along with the church that they need to feel safe and know the non-believers aren’t throwing their feelings for them away. So, if you haven’t already mentioned it to your wife because you’re scared like I was, you might want to broach the subject. You might be surprised. She might be relieved and feel happy that you are wanting to work on things. That’s what ended up happening with us.

      Second, once we agreed we should get some help the next thing was to obviously find a therapist. Being that we lived in Utah at the time I knew Laurie would want to see an LDS therapist, which worried me they would be biased. I also knew that if I recommended a non-LDS therapist Laurie would be concerned about bias from her point of view. I quickly realized we would have to first go to an LDS-therapist and I would have to roll the dice and hope they would be a therapist first and Mormon second. Finding an active LDS therapist in Utah was fairly easy. In exchange for going to an active LDS therapist I simply asked that they have experience working with mixed faith couples. We simply got online and started Googling search terms that helped us find therapist in our area that met our criteria and who we could call and ask questions before selecting someone. Our first therapist worked out great. She was professional and didn’t focus on belief but on the root cause of our problems, communication. That therapist eventually took a corporate position and we stopped working with her after a couple months, but by that time Laurie, Julie and Jerry were waist-deep in all the history stuff and our communication was back to normal. Months later, when Laurie and I were on the same page about the truthfulness of the church, and we decided we needed help with the kids, was when we started working with Jenny (a former member of the church), and as Laurie said above and we mentioned in our interview she was the right therapist for that stage we were going through.

      That’s just a little more background on what our situation was like than we were able to relate in the interview. What I’m trying to show is you may need different therapists for different stages.

      With respect to your question as to where to go for a therapist in SoCal, if your wife is going to require the person be an active member of the church maybe reach out to John Dehlin and Jenny Morrow for some recommendations. If your wife would be willing to meet with a therapist who has never been a member of the church, they might have some recommendations as well, before you turn to Google. Also, as Laurie mentioned, Skype/FaceTime are nice options. Saves you travel time and lets you work with anyone, regardless of location.

      Best wishes!

  33. Mark Taylor January 23, 2018 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Glad to hear you still pray to God but do you attend any other church? Grant Palmer mentioned he favored Congregational churchs. It took a Christian people to found this nation of freedom and high moral behavior. I would like to know if you believe in supporting christian churches, and of your faith in Christ? I feel I have a divided mind somewhat like I hear Richard Bushman talk. Church Doctrine & History certainly has much that is the development of man and much that feels truly inspirational ( Book of Mormon & Pearl of Great Price Passages. Do you have any intellectual conflicts? And I suggest a study in the population crisis man faces. Lex de Azevendo mentioned in his interview the book “The Population Bomb’ which his Saturdays Warrior dismissed but I caught his half remark that maybe the book was not wrong but that the deadline had been moved up to 5 Billion more people with mass production of Nitrogen and Plant Genetics, See works of Alan Weisman.
    Join me in the ‘ites’ bubble where Christianity is defended and there is an awareness of the diminishing of the families that founded america.
    Thank You for your openness and sharing

    • Jerry January 24, 2018 at 9:00 am - Reply

      Mark, thank you for your comments and questions. What I have found is that the morals of religion probably come from the contemporary morals of man, because they have changed as society has changed. That is why in the scriptures we read both about things that seem immoral and things that seem moral to us. We ignore the things that don’t match with our current morality and focus on the things that do. So many things seem out-of-date. But if morals are constant and from God then we should never find out-of-date morals. Personally, I don’t think that the morals come from religion. I think religion takes our morals and sells them back to us.
      The benefit of religion is in its power to unite. Having a common religion helps us trust one another more and gives us reason to fight for and support one another. Saying that you believe in Christ has an instant calming effect on someone who is Christian, because to Christians is represents a common moral code. Common beliefs bond us. I suspect that you felt more comfortable with us when you learned that we continue to pray?
      In my ideal world people would see one another for the morals that we do hold to be true, and not focus on whether we believe in the same deity. Like I mentioned in the podcast, there are real world benefits, both to the individual and to society, for keeping with certain moral codes. This is what we have decided to focus on in our family – right and wrong, based on real-world consequences.
      The downside to having a religious dogma is that we may find ourselves changing our moral code from what rings true to us to what a religion wants us to believe. In my case, my feelings towards the LGBT community changed the moment I realized the church wasn’t true, from a tolerance to a true love and acceptance. I realized that my religion had been steering me away from what I now feel is moral. I was also taught that God wanted 10% of my income to go to a church, instead of giving directly to people in need. This went against my inner morals, but I followed the teachings of my religion and ignored the conflict in my heart.
      So, to answer your question – no, we do not attend a church. As a family we constantly discuss moral issues. My wife and I share what life has taught us to our children and let our children decide their own paths. It’s a much more involved, and sometimes difficult, way to parent, but we have seen so much growth in our children that I now can’t imagine giving my children to a church to teach them morals.
      So, as to population growth– In math, we usually use extremes (zero and infinity) to solve equations. I think it works here as well. The world cannot support an infinitely large human population. Therefore, there is a point between now and infinity where things will fall apart. I don’t think we know exactly when that will be, but it will happen if things keep growing like they are now. We have five children, and I can never regret having these awesome people in my life. But, I am not putting any pressure on my children to procreate. I have one daughter who claims she doesn’t want kids (that will probably change at some point) and one who says she is going to just have one. I don’t pretend to know what kind and size of families my children will have, but I am not teaching them a doctrine that tells them to have as many as possible. That is unsustainable.
      Anyway, those are my thoughts. I love these kinds of discussions. I wish I was able to have them when I was younger.

  34. beth January 24, 2018 at 3:22 am - Reply

    Hi Julie, it would be lovely to email you, l loved your interview and everyone else, it was wonderful to hear you all talk so open and free, like a breath of fresh air, l’d like to be in contact and talk to you more, if that’s ok, thanks.

    • Julie January 24, 2018 at 8:41 am - Reply

      Beth – Thank you! Please send me a personal message on Facebook to julie Steenbakkers johnson. 😊

  35. Happier by the week January 24, 2018 at 8:04 am - Reply

    Mark Taylor, actually this nation was only partly founded by a Christian people since most of our Founding Fathers were not Christians and that is probably why they established a secular nation with no mention of Jesus in the Constitution.

    And regardless if we have read the stories about Wilford Woodruff being visited in the temple by some of the early Fathers wishing baptism, these men were mainly deists rather than Christians. John Adams once wrote that the U.S. was not founded on the Christian Religion. And lastly, Thomas Jefferson wrote a book called, “The Jefferson Bible” and it will clearly show that he was not a Christian in the way most Christians think.

    After having through the transition as did Doug and Jerry, and their wives, I continued studying Christianity origins and that has just as many problems as does the history of Mormonism.

  36. Better every week January 25, 2018 at 10:56 am - Reply

    Jerry, I really enjoyed your reply to Mark!!! That is by far one of the best posts I have ever read. I keep coming back each day to read the posts on your family’s interview. I thought I had watched some remarkable video/podcasts on Mormon Stories, but none have held a candle to this one.

    • Jerry January 25, 2018 at 4:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks. It’s nice to know someone read it.

    • Doug January 25, 2018 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      Better every week,

      Imagine how fortunate it is being related to Jerry, like I am. I get to benefit from his ability to understand and explain things on such a deep level all the time. As Ferris Bueller once said, “It is so choice [a brother-in-law like Jerry], if you have the means I highly recommend picking one up.”

  37. Akeebu January 25, 2018 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Hey Laurie, Doug, Julie, Jerry! Thank you so much for your story. I enjoyed listening to it, especially because there are many parallels with my own exit story. When I got back from my mission, I roomed with a good friend who I originally met my freshman year at BYU when we ended up finding openings in the same apartment. I ended up marrying his sister and he married a Sister who I was friends with from my mission. I was in Doug’s shoes and I remember what it was like being the first in my family and social circle (or so I thought at the time) to go through a faith crisis. One day during this crisis, while browsing Reddit, I found a thread written by someone who was struggling with faith at BYU. I messaged them and let them know that I’d be happy to talk if they wanted someone to vent to. The next morning I got a text from my brother-in-law/roommate saying he recognized my reddit handle and had no idea I was also on the sub. From there we came out to our wives. My wife retrenched for a bit but then came to the same conclusions as us and his wife figured things out for herself as well. We’ve all been so much happier since! Thanks again for your example and story.

    • Julie January 25, 2018 at 3:19 pm - Reply

      Wow! That is crazy! So glad you’re all on the same page now. Thanks for the nice comments.

      • Doug January 25, 2018 at 3:56 pm - Reply

        That is crazy. Kinda reminds me of the “Pina Colada” song. 😂 Glad you all figured things out. Happy for you!

    • Jerry January 25, 2018 at 4:15 pm - Reply

      That is a cool story! So happy for you guys.

  38. Rebecca January 26, 2018 at 6:13 am - Reply

    Loved these episodes! John, in one of the later ones, you commented that we lose significant IQ points during fight or flight response. I’ve been trying to find a source for that but it is difficult. Do you have one on hand? Thanks!

  39. Laurie January 26, 2018 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Wow What a crazy story! So happy for you that you’re all on the same page.

  40. Jay Again January 26, 2018 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    Ditto to the thoughts shared by Better every Week…

  41. Jay Again January 26, 2018 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    The last several comments are entered and assembled like a chiasmus…kinda ??? Ha ha

  42. Marcelo Ribeiro January 30, 2018 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    When I saw this podcast had 6 over-one-hour episodes, it made me think, now John set a new record, this is too long! My wife took a few days to listen to them all and convinced me they were really good, so I decided to listen to them. I pretty much did it in one sitting and couldn’t stop. When it was over I was left wanting more… These episodes are now in my top 3 of all times. They made me cry (several times), they made me laugh, it was so raw, so real! I loved it!

    • Julie January 31, 2018 at 7:56 am - Reply

      Marcelo- What a nice comment, thank you! I can’t believe you watched the entire thing in one sitting!! Wow! Thanks for taking the time to listen to our story.

  43. Julie Bradford February 1, 2018 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    Jerry, Julie, Doug and Laurie,

    Thank you so much for your candor, and for the rawness in which you were able to share your emotions. I left 5 years ago, and it was by far one of the most painful experiences of my life, and yet incredibly rewarding at the same time. Although, I am past the worst of the pain, there are times that I still feel and and experience grief, as so many of my closest friends and co-workers are TBM’s, and I cannot talk to them as freely or candidly as I would like. I want you to know that I listened to all six of the Mormon stories episodes that you did with John, and that what you shared, your insights, and what you have learned since your disaffections, was so inspirational and comforting to me. You all are simply amazing human beings, and even though we’ve never met, it was wonderful to get to know all of you on Mormon Stories. ( – : All the best to you! Sincerely, Julie (Noelle) Bradford P.S. John, you knocked it out of the part on this one. Loved your questions. Hugs!

    • Laurie February 1, 2018 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks Julie for your sweet words. I think we all continue to have small moments of grief. Know you’re not alone when it comes to that. It definetly isn’t easy. 💕

  44. Melissa Comer August 7, 2018 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    I so relate to the comments towards the end about waiting for something bad to happen because we left the church. We are at the end of our faith crisis and in transition and this thought comes up often. I also appreciate the comments and shared thoughts around what do we believe in now….now that we have left the church. My husband is really struggling with this and wants to make sure we have a strong foundation, but I look at it as a new adventure and opportunity to make a new narrative.
    I really appreciate your willingness to share your journey and your struggles. You have given me hope for the future, the future post mormonism.

    • Julie August 1, 2019 at 9:05 am - Reply

      Thanks Melissa ❤️ It’s so hard to know what to believe after a faith crisis. I understand wanting some sort of foundation… loosing that is really difficult. There’s no rush, take your time. I realize now that I have the rest of my life to figure out what I believe and even then it continues to evolve and change. Best of luck in your post Mormon future , it can be great!

  45. Travis February 15, 2019 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Could I get a copy of the spreadsheet? I would love to see that.

    • Doug July 31, 2019 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      Travis, I decided a long time ago that I would only use my notes for private purposes and wouldn’t publish them broadly. I feel there are so many better resources out there (i.e. Letter to my Wife, CES Letter,, etc.). Plus, the authors of those works have already spent time defending themselves against apologetic attacks, such that their works are well-vetted and have counter-arguments prepared one can share with those taking an apologetic stance.

  46. Jared June 17, 2019 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this story. Doug, I really connected with you, thank you for sharing your story. I am where you were at right after you shared your doubts for the first time with your wife. My wife reacted identical to Laurie. I’m trying to navigate this the best I can and be patient. For now my wife doesn’t want to hear about anymore of my concerns so I’m just giving her space. It is very difficult and lonely. These Mormon stories podcasts are the only thing keeping me sane. Thank you John for all you do. Thank you Doug and everyone on this episode for being vulnerable and sharing your story. I’ve learned valuable lessons from all of you. Thanks.

    • Doug July 31, 2019 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      Thank you Jared! Patience is the key, but it can be so hard. MS was the only thing that kept me sane, so I completely understand how you feel. Reach out if y0u need to talk. We’re all on Facebook and you can message us. Be well!

  47. Jeff C September 30, 2021 at 9:41 am - Reply

    Doug, you need to drink some coffee my man! Great interview.

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