Join us now on Mormon Stories Podcast as we interview Jared, Gwen, and Madison Lusk. This episode is a continuation in our series highlight former Mormon bishops and their families who have experienced a faith crisis. Jared is set to be excommunicated on June 30th, 2019 for apostasy.

The Lusks live in Farmington, New Mexico. Jared and Gwen were raised as devout Mormons, married in the Jordan River temple, had 6 children, and established a successful dental practice in Farmington, NM. Jared and Gwen devoted their lives to the Mormon church for 45+ years, including Jared serving as bishop from 2008-2013, and Gwen serving in multiple callings.

Jared’s faith crisis was triggered in 2015 when he began reading the LDS Gospel Topics Essays. Jared and Gwen experienced a mixed faith marriage for a few years. In April of 2018, while being released from a stake calling, Jared shared with his stake president and one of the counselors details regarding his faith crisis. The stake president immediately took Jared’s temple recommend away, and then released Gwen from her calling and took her temple recommend away a few weeks later. Madison (18) resigned from the church in April, 2019.

After Jared began expressing public support for Sam Young and the Protect LDS Children movement, along with expressing public feelings about the church’s truth claims, Jared was summoned to a disciplinary council. Jared faces excommunication on June 30th, 2019 at 6pm at the Farmington, NM stake center.

This is their story.

The result of the disciplinary council and our follow-up interview with the Lusks may be found here:

1143: The Lusk Family Disciplinary Council Verdict: Disfellowshipment for Unrepentant Apostasy?

Part 1 – Mormon Background:

Part 2 – Calling as Bishop:

Part 3 – Cracks in the Faith:

Part 4 – Impact on Family Dynamics:

Part 5 – Church Community Reaction:

Part 6 – Facing Discipline:

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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Part 4

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Part 5

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Part 6

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  1. Tom Lewis June 25, 2019 at 9:53 am - Reply

    Not everyone wants to spend so muc of their day listening to many details. Why can you not make these shorter and more to the point?

    • J.Briggs June 25, 2019 at 10:21 am - Reply

      I appreciate the details as the personal story is what makes it interesting. I have taken to listening to the podcasts on 2x speed. It doesn’t take long to get used to the speed, both Youtube and VLC player adjust the tone/pitch so it sounds the same just faster.

      • Debi October 19, 2019 at 11:31 pm - Reply

        Thank you for that tip on the speed. Darn, I did not read your tip till I was done listening. I was also thinking that the podcasts needed to be more concise without leaving anybody out or cutting them off. I realize this is a hard thing to accomplish. I think it is good that they are organized from background until present day and that the kids are included. I may have to decide what parts to listen to because the podcasts are very time consuming. I will try it on a faster speed.

        I am speaking about the podcasts in general. People’s feelings are important. In a therapy session those feelings might be extended a bit longer. In an interview, when the person has expressed their feelings, and they are asked again how they feel, they will politely tell you again, maybe using different words. Most of us got it the first time. For those that didn’t, they can move the slider back and listen again. I keep expecting someone to say, I told you already how I felt or feel about that. They are always polite and will repeat themselves as many times as you ask them with rare exception. Seems to me that I may have heard a few comments like, “I think that they have heard enough about that.” or “we have covered that.”

        I worry that the long interviews may be hard on the people being interviewed sometimes.
        It is very late and I am tired so I hope this makes sense. I do agree that this interview could be more concise.

        I LOVE HAVING MORMON STORIES IN MY LIFE for reasons I won’t mention here.

    • Wondering Wanderer June 25, 2019 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      The written introduction gives a short, to the point, summary. Or does that take too long to read?

    • Jim June 26, 2019 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      Really?? I think the details are important

    • Donny Helvey June 27, 2019 at 10:05 am - Reply

      No don’t shorten it. Let them go and talk. It is healing to them and me. I love the longer ones!

    • Cory Jorgensen July 7, 2019 at 10:02 am - Reply

      I do.

    • Joseph ESmit July 15, 2019 at 1:46 am - Reply

      I guess you can do a podcast, then you could make them as long or as short as you wanted to. I’m sure that you’re right when you say “not everyone”, but until it is hosted by Tom Lewis I guess you’ll just have to deal with it big guy…….Nothing blows my mind more than entitlement, like “hey I want to listen to YOUR podcast, but can you cater them to ME please” lol.

  2. Garth June 26, 2019 at 10:23 am - Reply

    I totally agree with Wondering Wanderer! If you want the short version, read the summary and be done. If you want to get to know these people and actually feel a connection and feel that you’re not alone, let them tell their story with all the details. It takes time to develop relationship. Thank you, Mormon Stories and guests for giving those of us that need community a real community!

  3. CK Rogers June 26, 2019 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    I also agree. It’s nice to get to know their story.

  4. Janeen thompson June 27, 2019 at 12:09 am - Reply

    I love seeing people find truth and act upon it with integrity. Thanks, John, for providing access to such wonderful people. All the best to the Lusk family.

  5. Donny Helvey June 27, 2019 at 10:03 am - Reply

    That was so awesome and so validating for me!! Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  6. Donny Helvey June 27, 2019 at 10:06 am - Reply

    That was so awesome and so validating for me!! Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  7. Maggie Rayner June 27, 2019 at 10:28 am - Reply

    I appreciate the Lusk family sharing their story. Thank you to each of them. It is heartening to hear them confirm the freedom of thought they now experience.

    If they are excommunicated, I would dearly love them to ask for a refund from the Mormon Church for all the money and service they have paid for their “ticket into Mormon heaven” which the Church will have cancelled. I have never heard of anyone who has been excommunicated asking for a refund. If those who have had their ticket into Mormon heaven cancelled by excommunication were to ask for refunds of what they’ve paid toward that ticket, what do you think the impact on excommunications might be?

    • David Porter July 2, 2019 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      I got my education from BYU at a highly subsidized rate thanks to the bulk of tithing go towards funding the church university system. That’s how I get over the lifetime tithe I paid up until a few years after college. I get the last laugh because none of my real earnings potential has since gone to the church, which is exactly what they hoped and why so much goes to higher ed. They realize what a return on investment it is to help create more income earners and future tithing streams. Luckily I’m the one who got my investment return from them instead. Found out the truth before my career really got going. Thanks BYU and LDS leadership! You made a bad investment on me!

      • Old disgruntled home teacher November 29, 2019 at 8:05 pm - Reply

        My kids were not good enough students to get into BYU so they packed up to the University of Idaho. One of the biggest party schools in the country they did very well there one went on to Washington state and earned his doctorate in vet med they were excellent missionaries. And they married faithful and very religious spouses in the temple of course. At the same time I had close friends with high callings in the church who were able to get their children in no questions asked. And paid nearly in full those are the kids listening and watching these podcasts. BYU today is a breeding ground for doubters it is in fact the very best place to send your kids if you want them to come home questioning. No place is safe anymore with this john DeLin character running around kinda like that William law guy you know that infernal lier we were taught to hate growing up BYU is a great place to learn to apologize and study business and law and elementary education of course but don’t go there to learn ethics it is a few years away on that subject

  8. Anonymous June 27, 2019 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much. I am in the exact same situation with my mixed faith children after reading the Church Essays and the CES letter. I learned a lot from all of you and loved John’s 1 minute counsel on backing away quietly being okay too.

    • Kay July 1, 2019 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      Can you send me a link to this essay and CES letter. TIA

  9. Bill June 28, 2019 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    Mark Twain said be good and you will be lonesome be lonesome and you will be free jimmy buffet took it a bit further and made it into a song live a lie and you will live to regret it that’s what living is to me remember When a prophet quotes a prophet you can count on it to be the gospel truth Joseph Smith was not the person most of us think God is love God is inclusive and very soon the church will stop excommunicating people The answer to truth is more truth lashing out on the part of leadership is what brought about the death of Jesus Christ and yet it was he who provoked the entire ordeal and he did it with a well thought out or an eternal plan if you will living this lie is not good for those of us born into this faith we long for ownership we long for relevance and most of all we wish we didn’t know what we have learned but we know it and the message needs to be moved forward to every person reading this pray the the lord s. Prayer pray for his hope his guidance and his direction he is the good shepherd he will find you you will find hope and trust and you will see that excommunication is and will be a curse to the church bye and bye

  10. Cheryl Gonzales June 28, 2019 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    I just found you and will be praying for you all.I lived in FMN all my life until moving to TX. My real estate office was at 503 N. Auburn. It’s so exciting to see you learning the truth.It is an answer to prayer

  11. Old Dog June 28, 2019 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    I turned down a call to be Stake Primary President, and I thought I could see smoke coming out of the Stake President’s ears. After that he either turned away or glared at me whenever we crossed paths. I quit going to interviews to renew my temple recommend after that. I had three different chronic medical conditions for years and they were worsening. It was a struggle 24/7 jto just cope with daily living and raise three children. I knew that man was not only not inspired but didnt do his homework either and didnt have a heart. He did not accept my explanation that I could not possibly handle the job, which included organizing and running a weeklong Cubscout daycamp for hundreds of boys in the area which was coming up in a few weeks. My husband was a bishop and I know that often callings are made out of desperation rather than inspiration.

  12. Cheryl Gonzales June 29, 2019 at 6:06 am - Reply

    I just found you and will be praying for you all.I lived in FMN all my life until moving to TX. My real estate office was at 503 N. Auburn. It’s so exciting to see you learning the truth.It is an answer to prayer. Hope all goes well at the excommunication hearing. It is really a chance to tell them of the true Jesus, the one by whom are things were made. John:1. KJV Authorized

  13. Travis June 29, 2019 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. Gwen – when you said you are so sad because you felt you had a personal relationship with God and you Savior, it just broke my heart. Me and my wife and 3 children have a very similar story to yours and we can relate in so many ways. This is my personal witness after going through my own faith transition over the last 10 years, and I hope you can turn toward God and your Savior for the peace, love and relationship your soul is desiring and know that your family can turn towards Cod. Just because the Mormon doctrine and church is wrong, it doesn’t mean that God does not exist. There is so much peace and happiness and unconditional love outside of Mormonism as you continue that relationship with God. Our family would be love to share with your family how our journey away from Mormonism allowed us to develop a profound and amazing relationship with Christ that is far beyond anything we ever imagined when we were Mormon. Jared – I love hunting, the outdoors and the mountains. Let’s go hunting and talk. I mean this sincerely. With Love.

  14. Dan Boyle June 30, 2019 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for taking time to do this interview. It takes bravery to put yourselves out there. And you guys are brave and smart. Jared’s comment about the freedom to think for one’s self and live authentically and the amazing way it makes you feel deserves its own podcast. The “brethren” in SLC have a proven track record of being dead wrong on almost every important social issue, yet mormonism insists on conformity with them. Jared nailed it, life is amazing outside…
    I just realized I am typing this while you are enduring your court of “love”. They are taking their last shot at humiliating you for speaking the truth. Shame on them. You have integrity they can only dream of.
    Thanks again for a great podcast and for sharing your journey, “I desire all to recieve it…” 😎

  15. Emma July 1, 2019 at 7:59 am - Reply

    Thank you so much the three of you for being so open and sharing your journey to finding truth about the church….having the courage to leave. it’s really good to see people who were happy and strong and faithful that found the truth about the church….were able to leave It shows you can be a good person and a happy person without the church. your thoughts about being free and being able to make your own choices is the Key to seeing the cult as it is Although you never use the word cult….(probably bec it would offend your family and friends )

    But all of us were in a cult which is actually very scary. we were so unaware of it The cornerstone of the cult is manipulation and control. The fear shame and guilt is what you leave behind when you leave the cult. no one should have to live that way .

    This is the biggest message I would like to get out to the tbms in the church— that they are living in the cult which is causing them to be blind to the reality around them. It teaches them obedience above everything else . It takes away their freedom to think for themselves

    This religion was based on the lies of Joseph Smith which people need to know .

    Good luck to you. It is devastating to see the truth but freeing at the same time. 💕

    Excommunication is brutal. But by going thru this you may touch some hearts of leaders and TBM’s when they see how this church is nothing like Christ. It never was his church.

    It will be sad to be rejected by those you thought were your friends— and sad to realize they were never really your friends

  16. Karen Owens July 1, 2019 at 9:14 am - Reply

    I have commented in the past I have another comment that has always puzzled me why why why do you ex Mormons think when they leave the church they have to drink, have to smoke, have to get tattoos, have to act so ungodly! A lot of Christians that have never been mormon don’t drink don’t smoke don’t get tattoos….etc. that’s always puzzled me as to why they think all non-Mormons are drinkers and smokers and coffee drinkers get real Mormons dang!

  17. GrantJ July 1, 2019 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Thank you for a thoughtful touching interview and for sharing your experience. I have listened to the entire group twice. The most wonderful thing to me is that Jared’s accent. It sounded just like my father’s who passed away many years ago. My Dad grew up on a ranch in Grand County. Thank you for giving me hours and hours of hearing the voice of my Dad once again.

  18. Laurie July 1, 2019 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    What a beautiful and inspiring family and interview! It had me laughing, it had me crying. I enjoyed every minute! Keep the long interviews coming! I love hearing all the details and can relate every step of the way. Thank you, Lusk family, for sharing your wonderful story!

  19. Garth July 2, 2019 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    Jared, Gwen, & Madison,
    Thank you so much!!! This podcast has brought up almost every one of the serious issues that I have struggled with on my journey. Jared, I too have been a bishop and your words certainly resonated with me. Gwen, my wife is firm in her testimony of the Church and so it was good to be reminded of healthy ways for me to respond. And Madison, what a wonderful example of being so wise and thoughtful while in your youth! Again, thank you all! It brought a lot of peace to this 65 year old guy in Alaska.

  20. Fatfinger July 6, 2019 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Jared and Gwen,

    Regarding your believing children, this is the way I always think of that issue:

    Your children are Mormon because you were Mormon. They believe because you were taught to believe; that’s how you were raised and that’s how you raised them. If they listened to you about Mormonism then, why won’t they listen to you about Mormonism now? You’re still you. And they got their Mormonism from you. So why not listen to you now that you have greater light and knowledge? I never understand believing kids of apostate parents not wanting to learn what their parents have learned.

    Besides, it’s literally only chance that they were raised Mormon. How does being raised in a religion make that religion true? They could have been raised Muslim or Catholic or Baptist. Would that have made that religion true, because that’s the one they were raised in? How sure would they have been that the Watchtower Society is of God if they were raised Jehovah’s Witness? Non believing JW parents (and Catholic, and Protestant, etc., etc.) deal with that too. Kids, you’re no more special than are those others….you may as well accept that sooner rather than later.

    Children, your parents taught you what they taught you because that’s the best information they had at the time. If you could learn from them before, you can learn from them now. Get over yourselves and deal with the reality that is staring you in the face.

    • cl_rand July 7, 2019 at 9:25 am - Reply

      Hey Fat Finger,
      The essence of what you say is certainly true but some of the Lusk children are married to believing members and have presumably made vows to raise children within the faith. Once the church has gotten members to the temple to make those “sacred” vows with a partner it is infinitely more difficult and complicated to back your way out. Having children under those conditions further complicates the matter. It’s rather easy to imagine that in the interest of keeping a happy partnership together or, of even more consequence, keeping a family together one might be reluctant to learn anything that could upset the balance. It is, of course, by design and it is one of the many insidious methods ld$ inc. employs to retain membership. That being said, it is a trait of all humanity that most of us will choose to reside in some form of blissful ignorance when the alternative is certain death.

  21. cl_rand July 7, 2019 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Congratulaitons to the Lusk family for coming through that harrowing labyrinth that leads out of Mormonism mostly in tact. So many families never find their way out togother which, I believe, is exactly what the organization is hoping for. Truth be told these types of family crises have been taking place ever since the earliest days and more than a few families have been torn apart. My mother picked up our whole family and left my father in 1963 on advice of her Bishop because my father had lost his faith. That kind of advice coming from Mormon leadership was commonplace back in the 50’s and 60’s although I’m sure the ld$ Inc. will lie and deny about that too. Needless to say it changed all of our lives permanently, and not for the better.

    It took me two weeks to listen to the entire podcast and a number of things were said that sparked thoughts or memories of my own experiences in leaving the church 45 years ago. Concerning the so called, “plan of salvation”, I was reminded of the “Family’s Are Forever” bumper sticker and the missing caveat. It should read “Family’s Are Forever” *provided all the proper paperwork has been completed and turned in. Of course that would represent full disclosure and we all know that has never been the modus operandi of Mormondom.

    During the final few minutes when John asked what the meaning of our existance is if we don’t have the certainty Mormonism provides and Mr. Lusk stated that he didn’t know but that he was okay with not knowing I was reminded of something my father wrote down in his journal nearly 60 years ago. It reads, “Education, a wise man said, is the process whereby we go from cock-sure ignorance to thoughtful uncertainty.” Leaving Mormonism is a lot like that. Thanks to John and the Lusk’s for another thought provoking podcast.

    • Paul August 13, 2020 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      It is very disheartening to hear about the advice and action your mother took from the bishop way back when. I believe it though, on the website missedinsunday there is a 1940’s handbook that says something similar about temple recommends. It all fits in very well with the JS BrigY philosophy that the women would ‘naturally’ want a priesthood holder with more authority (power). So BrigY would collect these women and boost his Godability.

      Where were you in 1963?


  22. Paul July 11, 2019 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    Huge bucket of courage to the Lusks, to replace what it takes to come out like they have. Thanks, very informative. It’s super to see them together as a couple. What a great way they support each other, different personalities and all.

    Amazing that this happens to a super active family. With no disrespect to Jared, it shows how superficial the role of a bishop / ‘father of the ward’ is, indeed how shallow the whole mormon doctrine is. There must be hundreds if not a thousand of people who are on the edge of taking the same course as the Lusks, but don’t for a few reasons, even when truth is presented a) it’s easier to stay in the comfort of bubble/culture b) related, don’t want to lose their ‘friends’ c) the fear of disfellowship/ex. d) the awkwardness of relationships with family members. All of this is of course a world away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    If there is one thing I could say to Jared and Gwen – don’t give up continuing to develop a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Even with all the recent emphasis, He doesn’t play much of a role in ld$ inc.

  23. Cory Jorgensen July 17, 2019 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Not all the way through, but interesting and important story.

    My in-laws lived in Farmington for a long time, the McPheeters. In fact, I know they had a bishop who was a dentist, but Lusk doesn’t ring a bell. Any chance you know them?

  24. George Armstrong Custer July 27, 2019 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    143 years ago today – on the date of this podcast, June 25th (but in 1876) – my great great uncle took 265 men and rode them into battle against 5,000 Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors to the total annihilation of him and his men.

    I think this family is up against similar odds…but…..this time… victory.

  25. Crystal January 30, 2020 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    From part 2 both of my younger siblings were on that treck. They were so sad to come home! They wanted to stay so bad. I don’t think they got to do anything after probably because we’re from a different stake. The pics i got sent of them before and after were ridiculous!

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