My reaction to yesterday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol (January 6, 2021).

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  1. Jay January 7, 2021 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    You go off on a pretty bold rant at about 16 min describing your reaction to watching hours of trump speeches. What you described is probably the most obviously true and accurate description I’ve ever ever heard of anything. Yet millions upon millions would disagree. Even some very very bright people. We are now full twilight zone mode.

    • VFanRJ January 12, 2021 at 9:42 am - Reply

      “Even some very very bright people” yep, this reality puzzled me for a very long time, but I suggest that Dehlin’s Spiral Dynamics Mormon Stories goes a long way to explaining this phenomenon.

  2. susan marchant January 7, 2021 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    The horrific and dangerous assault that occurred on the capitol of America certainly stands out and shouts loudly to what is possible and can take place when narrowness, selfishness, and untruthfulness gain power and take control. I share that I for one have been frightened to the core by behaviors and policies present in today’s America. I agree completely that speaking up, both with words and example, is what can conquer and defeat Silence which makes it grow and succeed. Thank you for your words on Trumpism.

  3. Phil January 7, 2021 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Don’t forget Jeff Flake…

    From wikipedia

    Flake is known as a vocal critic of Republican President Donald Trump.[52][53][54] Trump was “furious” that Flake called on him to withdraw from the presidential race after the emergence of the Access Hollywood tape.[55] In August, 2017, Flake published his book Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle, which expanded on his criticisms of Donald Trump.[56][57] As of December 2018, according to FiveThirtyEight, Flake had voted with Trump’s position on legislative issues 84% of the time.[58]

    In October 2017, upon announcing that he would not seek re-election in 2018, Flake delivered a speech on the Senate floor where he denounced the Trump Administration.[30] Flake’s speech, which was described by McKay Coppins as a “thundering indictment of his party, his president, and his country’s political culture,” was called “the most important speech of 2017” by Chris Cillizza.[31][59]

    In May 2018, Flake said that Trump had “debased” the presidency, that he had a “seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division,” and that he possessed “only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works.”[60] Flake vowed to hold up some of Trump’s judicial nominees for lower courts positions until he obtained a non-binding vote in the Senate expressing opposition to Trump’s tariffs.[61] However, as of October 10, 2018, Flake had voted in line with Trump’s position 84% of the time during 2017 and 2018.[62] He was one of two Republicans to vote against the confirmation of Trump’s nominee to be CIA Director, Gina Haspel.[63] Flake also refused to push Trump to take a firmer stance on Russia.[64][61][65] In November 2018, Flake announced that he would once again vote to hold up Trump’s nominees to the judiciary until the Senate voted on a bill to protect the independence of Robert Mueller’s FBI investigation.[66][67] Flake was one of two Republicans to oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal judiciary; his opposition was crucial to the derailing of Trump’s nominee.[68]

    On August 24, 2020, Flake officially endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE) for president.[69]

    • zeke January 11, 2021 at 7:18 am - Reply

      Excellent point, sen. jeff flake refused to go along with trumpism from day one and was willing to pay the huge price that went along with speaking out. AND, he continues to speak out — any chance of getting him on mormon stories?

  4. Robert Hodge January 8, 2021 at 5:54 am - Reply

    Disclosure. I am a democrat. On the political spectrum I lean left. I am ex Mormon. I think you would benefit from reading the following books. Perhaps you already have. “Ezra Taft Benson and the making of the Mormon Right”: Matthew Harris and “It was all a Lie, How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump”; Stewart Stevens.
    As to the latter volume, Stewart Steven was a long time highly placed Republican operative running many Republican campaigns including 5 presidential campaigns including Romney’s.

    More disclosure. In 2016 about the time that Trump announced his run, I warned everyone I could about the danger of this man. For example, I sat in a barbershop in
    Cedar City and announced to those present that ” I will be very amused to watch the “righteous in Zion” vote for a complete hedonist.” I also commented on line that it would be a serious mistake for Mormons to vote for Trump and suggested that if they could not vote for Clinton then they should vote for a third party candidate. From direct experience with church members, I knew there was a longstanding hatred of Clinton based upon right wing attacks on her character. John, I sat in a sacrement leader an heard a speaker tell jokes about her book “It takes a Village” to the delight of the congregation.

    How did Mormons get to the extreme right” Look to the Utah history of the John Birch Society and Ezra Taft Benson and the use of church accoutrements to instill extreme right wing ideas into the thinking of the membership.

    • SueC February 16, 2021 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      I’m a bit late to this party and Australian. I didn’t like Hillary Trump either but it’s funny that character assassination worked in that case – since Trump’s character is orders of magnitude worse. Like us and the UK, you guys have basically got a political duopoly that’s mostly corrupt on both sides, and a form of party politics that rewards loyalty to the party over and above justice and the good of the community. A US friend of mine said, “Left wing, right wing, same vulture.” But, in Australia it’s getting meaningless to say that since both major parties keep veering to the right and choosing cheap populism based on propaganda and lies so that they can a) hold on to whatever power they have, and b) further their entrenched relationship with the “big end of town” who holds, in Australia, a vastly disproportionate amount of the wealth, while the working/middle classes get more and more impoverished. Welcome to neoliberalism, and “democracy”…

      The countries that have proportional representation instead of “winner-takes-all” seem to be doing better than those with political duopolies. Personally I think that taking part in suitable grass roots movements for justice, equality, environment etc is more valuable than voting these days (though I still vote). Good luck to you, to us, to humankind and to the biosphere… Nice to read the discussion here.

  5. Robert Hodge January 8, 2021 at 6:13 am - Reply

    As a teaser John, consider this quote from Stewart Steven’s book I referenced in an earlier post .

    “Donald Trump has served a useful purpose by exposing the deep flaws of a major American political party. Like a heavy truck driven over a bridge on the edge of collapse, Trump has made it impossible to ignore the long-developing fault lines and failures of the Republican Party. A party routed in decency and values does not embrace the vicious hate that Donald Trump peddles as patriotism. But the
    Republican Party did and does. This moment should signal a day of reckoning for the party and all who claim it as a political identity. Will it. I am not hopeful. Better than most, I know the seductive lure of believing what you prefer to believe and ignoring the obvious truth.”

  6. Tina January 8, 2021 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Amen to everything you said, John!

  7. James January 8, 2021 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Hallelujah!!! John Dahlin unchained. I love it. He speaks the truth and speaks it boldly. “Amen.” “Word.” “True Dat.” Praise truth and democracy. I will vote for Mitt Romney for President in 2024 if you will be his Vice President. Now is the time to speak the truth and that you did Mr. Dahlin. Thank you.

  8. James January 8, 2021 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Could please post that list of favorite songs? Thanks.

  9. Keith Blonquist January 8, 2021 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    I agree with your assessment of Mitt Romney. When he ran for the senate in Utah I did not vote for him. However, I have been thoroughly pleased with his job in the senate, and will absolutely vote for him if he runs again. One of the biggest reasons why is this: When any issue comes before the senate, its already a foregone conclusion which way roughly 97 of the 100 senators are going to vote. For most senate seats, we don’t even need to send actual breathing human beings to Washington DC, we could just send crash test dummies with Rs or Ds stamped on their foreheads. Literally, when voting for some senators, you voting for R or D. Period. Mitt Romney is one of the few exceptions. People actually ask the question, “Which way is Romney going to vote on this issue?” when certain issues come up (for example, whether to impeach Donald Trump). Imagine if we had 100 senators, instead of just a few, who were like that, who actually voted with their brain, and hear, and conscience. Instead we have a bunch of shills that simply tow the party line. Okay, end rant, full stop.

    By the way, I listened to the whole thing (including the singing) and I want to claim my ice cream cone.

  10. Robert January 8, 2021 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this contribution to understanding Trumpism. I will be sharing it with my family.

  11. E. Woo January 9, 2021 at 10:08 am - Reply

    Everything you said (and sang) is right on the mark. I can’t believe the Mormons who trespassed onto the capitol (I’m ok with peaceful marches) were singing the same primary songs I was. And yet we took such different messages from them. It’s probably all the lessons about obedience that cancelled those wonderful songs out. And yes, Romney hit it out of the park, and you did too. And you remembered the W word!

  12. Charles January 9, 2021 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    John – long-time listener, first time poster. I want to say how disgusted I am with Mormon leadership in response to the Capitol riot. Their only response to date, that I am aware of, is from a spokesman referring us to a speech by Dallin Oaks on accepting election results. Ridiculous!

    For centuries Mormon leaders have proclaimed, and then allowed members to harbor, the White Horse prophecy and similar “last days” notions that the Constitution would “hang by a thread” and then the Mormon’s would save it. In recent years, Mormon leaders have observed their membership radicalize to the alt-right, become the highest per capita supporters of alt-right movements (including Trumpism), and openly anticipate and prepare for violence and the last days. In shorts, Mormons have prepared for the Capitol riot for generations.

    I ask myself, have Mormon leaders done anything to quell those notions, disavow those teachings much like many other inconvenient teachings they have abandoned, and actually lead the membership away from such danger? No. So what is a leader who does not lead? Certainly not a “leader.” But maybe Mormon leadership waits for God to speak. Perhaps in 5 years the world will have a lawyer drafted, peer reviewed, thoroughly revised, and Quorum authorized Proclamation on the matter.

    Please know that Mormons have played a significant role in the events leading to the Capital riot, as well as the events of that infamous day. And in case you have not seen the images, one of the prominent banners at the Capitol riot is a quote from the Book of Mormon. So never forget that when the Constitution ACTUALLY hung by a thread, Mormons were there…not to save the Constitution, but to cut the last string. “Oh say what is truth?” That is TRUTH.

  13. Doug January 10, 2021 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Wholeheartedly agree, John. Trump is disgraceful, with undeniably fascist tendencies. He would love nothing more than to be the dictator of the U.S., and quite frankly the world. He came to be president on a fluke, not because he had anything genuine to offer. He’s nothing but a con man. There’s nothing genuine about him, except that he’s a genuine malignant narcissist. He claimed he would go to Washington to drain the swamp, but instead he created a dangerously toxic sewer.

  14. cl_rand January 11, 2021 at 10:48 am - Reply

    I must admit John that your oft expressed desire to remain politically neutral for the sake of your Trump supporting audience has left me wondering if you had become the perfect example of what the philosopher Edmund Burke warned against when he said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” With this podcast you have shown that you were noticing all the same things I was about the dangers of what Trump has had on offer all this time and why it is so insidious within cultures that teach secrecy, silence and conspiracy as founding doctrinal principles. Thank you so much for planting that flag and speaking up.

    Somehow we have got to foster a culture that demands accusation be backed up with solid evidence. A culture that prizes actual fact above rumor and innuendo. A culture that elects leaders who champion truth and justice rather than folks who lend vague credence to popular conspiracies as a stratagem for holding on to power. I thought you hit the nail smack dab on the head with today’s podcast. If I were to offer you any advice at all it might be this. Although I enjoyed every one of the arias you performed for us on this podcast, I might suggest that you keep your day job. But, by all means, keep working those songs into the podcast going forward. They’re great!

    • SueC February 16, 2021 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      Excellent comment, thank you! :-)

  15. Jose January 12, 2021 at 9:45 am - Reply

    The parallels between Mormonism, Evangelicalism, and Trumpism were what really caught my attention. There is, as we all believe, good virtue in all of us, and that goodness should guide us to stay away from radical extremism of any kind. What ever happened to the common good? Do we still believe that all men (and women) were created equal? What ever happened to love your neighbor? Hopefully, the extremism on display, which the world witnessed on January 6, 2021, will jolt our collective conscience and get us back on the path towards the common good for all humanity.

  16. Stan January 13, 2021 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    It is worrying to see such devotion to an authority figure. I also think it’s dangerous. I have family from Venezuela. I served my mission in Central/Eastern Europe and have seen firsthand some of the aftermath of the rise and fall of Communism, Fascism, and National Socialism (Nazism). They’re all scary. These systems ultimately resulted in the deaths of many millions.

    Now on the other hand I’d like to ask a question to you John. Do you think Antifa is a good representation of what an anti fascist movement should look like?
    Antifa and their inciting violence is worrisome to me. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and the shift of other government leaders toward socialism is also worrisome to me.

    What this country needs is a middle way. Unfortunately our government, both sides, are guilty of dividing the country. I’m pointing fingers at both sides, both parties.

    • John Dehlin January 13, 2021 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      Stan – Antifa is largely a conspiracy theory conjured by the right to deflect
      accountability. Even lead Republicans are denouncing baseless Antifa theories now.

      I regret to tell you that you have fallen prey to false propaganda. Which is something we should try to avoid after already falling prey to Mormonism. That’s my view anyway.

      I of course agree that both parties have work to improve. But to put them on the same level (to me) is a false equivalency.

      • Stan January 13, 2021 at 11:05 pm - Reply

        I’m a little confused as to what you mean. Are you saying that the Antifascist movement in the U.S. is a conspiracy theory? The question in my previous post is not referring to the recent conspiracy theory regarding the riot at the capital.

        False equivalency fallacy? Both major political parties have skeletons in their respective closets. Much like the church does. We would be naive to think otherwise. I suppose the degree to which each party is responsible varies. But I do think that it’s possible to point out two guilty parties in a matter and it not be a false equivalency argument.

      • Bill Bown February 11, 2021 at 5:34 pm - Reply

        John, to believe that those who stormed inside the capitol on Jan 6 typify those who support Trump demonstrates unbelievable ignorance as does furnishing a quote from Rep. Kevin McCarthy as to the make up of the mob.

        What did he know one or two days removed? What really did anyone know? These things demand deep and thorough investigation rather than knee-jerk emotional reaction.

        And your assertion that Antifa is a “theory” ? Good grief guy, was the CHAZ in Seattle a figment of the imagination? And have you checked out Portland Oregon lately? Those are real fires destroying real businesses, etc. those are actual federal government buildings under actual constant assault… not by Trump supporters.

        What about the many cities around the country that literally burned all last summer? Were those riots comprised of Trump supporters? Do you condemn those instigators? I might have missed it but I don’t think there was a podcast with the summer 2020 riots as the subject was there?

        98 percent of Trump supporters find the rioters actions appalling. And further, it’s not about Trump. It’s about attempting to keep this republic as it was originally intended.

        The framers clearly were opposed to Socialism, communism, fascism, etc. the folks who support Trump see in him the best chance to keep alive their respective idea of America. Nothing more, nothing less. They don’t see him as any diety.

        John Sullivan had a prominent role at the capitol that day. If you’re not aware of who he is google him. Spoiler alert: he’s no Trumpite. As the weeks go by there is verifiable evidence that there were many “leftists” involved that day at the capitol.

        There was also a BLM demo organized at the capitol that day at 11 am by Mr. Sullivan. He was filmed extensively in a MAGA hat inside the capitol. He was just feet from Ashli Babbit as she was shot and killed by a capitol police officer.

        Don’t reveal yourself as just another partisan. Stick to the “making Mormonism better “ deal. We don’t need more partisans in positions of great influence.

        Here I thought I’d found a home. I’ve lost much due to my faith transition. I don’t know where to go or where to turn. I found refuge at Mormon Stories for a time but now realize at its core it may merely be another bastion for Neo-marxists and post-modernist leftists and others who might want to check out “The Gulag Archipeligo” by Solzhenitsyn. For anyone with a brain it lays utter waste to any post modernist utopian ideals.

        I hope you do understand that you likely have conservative followers, probably a great number. I think it foolish to alienate them. Here’s a final truth tidbit: Both major political parties are rife with corruption, totally absorbed in it. To assert one is more lofty than the other is again demonstrating considerable ignorance, and pure partisinship. You’re better than that and so is Mormon Storirs.

        • VFanRJ May 8, 2021 at 3:17 pm - Reply

          Bill, as time goes by your assertion seems to be less and less true. More and more Republicans rationalize the January 6th insurrection. The majority of Republicans believe the big lie about the election being stolen from them. Here in Utah, Governor Cox and Senator Romney are learning that the Republican base will go after anyone who challenges Trump attack on our democracy.

  17. Boyd W Ricks January 13, 2021 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    The songs you sang have a great message, John. We did learn some good songs in Primary. Thanks for using positive “We Need” goals and good music in your presentation.

  18. Paul January 14, 2021 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Loved this! Concise, clear and well-reasoned. I was saying these things since around the day that Darned-old Trump proclaimed in the Republican convention that he alone could fix it, and people started drinking the kool-aid.
    The one point that you didn’t make is how the church, during nearly every conference, have talks that include the theme that the world is getting worse and worse, and we’re getting ready for Jesus to come, cause it’s so bad now. This, in spite of the fact that the world today is safer than perhaps any point in history. This leads populists to feed on this narrative and make their case that they are the savior to all these terrible, wicked things. When you are convinced your world is going to hell, you are looking for a strong charismatic leader to save you. “Terrible people are flooding our borders with rapists and murderers!” “Your job is going to China!” “Your tax dollars are going to foreign governments and organizations like NATO, who aren’t paying their bills!’ “New immigrants with a different religion are coming in the country to plot takeover! (this should be a huge problem for LDS members who’s heritage is being immigrants with a different religion”
    What I find ironic, though, is that the church now does not have a strong charismatic leader (at least in my eyes), and they are totally silent (I mean, God is totally silent) about a 100 year pandemic and political unrest unlike we’ve probably not seen since the civil war.
    I get that the church’s lawyers don’t want the brethren speaking too much politically, as that would hurt their non-profit status, but dammit!, maybe God should talk to his prophet and have him at least emphatically, tell members that we are law abiding citizens and this country is not going to hell if a democrat is placed in one branch of government. Members are so quick to talk about the modern prophet that gives us direction in our lives. So let’s actually see some! All we get is the brethren telling us to read our scriptures and have faith. Look on the church website and see if you can see anything that looks like any concrete, actionable direction.
    Enough ranting. I am just saddened, but not surprised by the events of these past few months and glad to hear you speak about this.

  19. Glenda January 16, 2021 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Thanks John for speaking up about this. I could not agree with you more I am afraid that many people have been radicalized by Trump and the right wing media. I don’t know how we are going to bring them back to truth and reason. Anytime I try to talk truth to my Republican friends, they don’t want to hear it. Main stream media has been reporting truths about Trump for years but Trump branded them Fake News so they won’t believe anything they say. People are listening to Fox News and other alt right media pushing their lies and conspiracy theories. And then there Facebook and Twitter. I am really worried about where this country is headed. Trump is not going to go away. He’s now calling it their movement and he of course is the leader. I am praying that Trump be held accountable for his actions. I am praying that Biden can bring some calm and reason. Again Thank you for using you pulpit to speak out.

  20. Cory Jorgensen February 5, 2021 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Thank you, John! I have criticized you (in this forum) in the past for pandering to Trump supporters. I know it took bravery for you to say this, since it will probably cost you listeners, but it needed to be said.

    Nice singing, too!

  21. SueC February 16, 2021 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Hi John, I’m catching up with some of your podcasts again and was very interested in your response to the Insurrection, which shocked us in Australia, though our politics is barely any better – with the notable exception of how the pandemic was handled here – after half our country burnt down late in 2019 because our right-wing PM refused to listen to the fire management experts who were predicting a catastrophe and trying unsuccessfully to get an audience with him for two years – he didn’t want to acknowledge climate change, so their pleas for urgent help fell on deaf ears.

    Australian were shocked and angry after that summer, and when the pandemic hit shortly afterwards, our PM actually couldn’t afford to ignore experts again, so the epidemiologists basically got to run our pandemic response here, leading to great results – a lot of us are saying that if it hadn’t been for the 2019 megafires, we’d now be as SARS-CoV-2-infested as the US and the UK, whose patterns we normally mimic… Good luck to you and your fellow citizens bringing this under control (not easy in your country; we’re wondering where the community spirit is, and the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good, when we see is what we call “freedumb” protests in the US, and so much rampant egocentric individualism…if people try stunts like that here, the majority will tell them to pull their head in, or emigrate to America…)

    Thanks for your analysis, which is interesting and relevant to more than Mormonism and more than Trumpism – it’s really applicable to anywhere there’s groupthink, which we can find in religious and political organisations, but even soccer clubs etc – not to mention that the basic patterns of dysfunctional organisations and dysfunctional families show so much similarity (and one is a breeding ground for the other, although we could have a chicken-or-egg argument here…)

    I’m enjoying the fact that in your podcasts you’re methodical and logical, as well as emotionally involved – that you bring your head and your heart to any debate. It was compassion and critical thinking that led you out of accepting the groupthink you’ve been raised in, and it’s for those qualities I continue to enjoy listening to what you have to say, which due to the podcast format I can do when I’m staking tomatoes and such!

    I’m not Mormon , but have often listened to your podcast this past decade. I was a Christian mystic (no particular brand) from age 14 to my late 30s (probably in counter-response to growing up in an abusive family) and then had a good think about faith crises, after being diagnosed with complex PTSD in my early 40s. I’d seen what the brain could do, in order to protect itself from not feeling loved – and started to see how the mystical experiences that resulted in my having a faith for most of my adult life could have been a product of my own neurochemistry, in a similar way as a mushroom trip. Like all of you who gave up a belief in a higher loving being and an eternity of learning and love, I had to grieve, and your podcasts were very helpful for me during this time, both intellectually and emotionally. I still find them really interesting and tune in at intervals, for the less intricately Mormon topics. Thanks for your efforts in making this podcast.

    One good thing (and not the only one) about a faith crisis: Differentiate yourself from the ground up from your cultural/religious group and/or your family of origin or other influential group, and you’ll look differently at ANY form of groupthink ever after.

    Best wishes to you and all listeners, and best of luck for your country emerging, hopefully, from the shadows of fascism it’s lately flirted with. My grandmother lived through Hitler and cried about it to me when I was a teenager with questions. I saw Trump like that from the beginning. And as I could never bear to call him his official title, he was always the Resident Rump to me. I couldn’t believe such a disrespectful, hurtful, corrupt, lying oik had been elected to what’s supposed to be the highest office in the world. He wasn’t worthy of that office, or of the official title. And you’ll have to forgive me, because I like wordplay and humour is one of my survival mechanisms…

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