12233222_10153252360531593_1963455529_nLaura Roper Andreasen is the granddaughter of LDS Apostle M. Russell Ballard.  Recently Laura resigned her membership in the LDS Church after struggling unsuccessfully for decades to find happiness and health as an active, believing Latter-day Saint (e.g., serving an LDS mission, marrying in the temple, having children).  In this vulnerable, thoughtful, respectful, and heartfelt two-part interview, Laura discusses the following:

  • The deep love and respect she has for her parents, grandparents, and Mormon heritage.
  • Her struggles as a child, teenager, and adult with:
    • What she experienced to be a culture of perfectionism and shame in the LDS church.
    • A family and church culture of avoiding emotional vulnerability and the open discussion of difficult topics.
    • The added difficulty/burden/pressure of being a direct descendant of Hyrum Smith and the grandchild of an LDS Apostle (within LDS culture).
  • Her struggle with low self worth, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation for multiple decades.
  • Her complex relationship with Grandpa Ballard, who (from her perspective) struggled to balance his role as an apostle with his role as grandfather.
  • Her perspective on what it is like to be an LDS Apostle, answering many questions from Mormon Stories listeners.
  • Her reasons for leaving the LDS Church after being unable to find joy within it.

To read from Laura’s blog, click here.

Part 1 (Laura’s Story):

Part 2 (Q&A):

Part 1:

Part 2:


  1. Phonin' It In From Kolob November 18, 2015 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Ballard-Wade was one of the most prominent dealerships in the Salt Lake Valley when I was kid, though I can’t remember which manufacturer they were affiliated with. They had ads in the newspaper and on the radio every day. It was a big deal, not just a used car lot.

  2. Xposit November 18, 2015 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Is it possible to download this episode? I don’t see the usual link, am I missing something?

  3. Kevin November 18, 2015 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    Back in 2006 while I was serving in what used to be the Ogden Utah Mission I was serving in the North Salt Lake Stake and we baptized Elder Ballard’s granddaughter’s boyfriend. He ended up coming to the baptism although I think the teenage couple broke up soon after with the boyfriend going in-active. The daughters dad was the Stake President who later became a mission president. I’d have to pull out a journal to remember the daughters last name. I don’t think this was Laura’s sister however. I’d be curious to know.

    • Laura Andreasen November 18, 2015 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      That’d be a cousin. :)

      • Kevin November 19, 2015 at 2:39 pm - Reply

        I figured it was. I’m assuming Roper is your maiden name? If so for some reason, Roper stuck out to me and President Roper (North salt lake stake president) rung a bell. I’ll have to see if I can remember your uncle’s last name. Obviously it isn’t Roper though.

  4. Ozzie November 18, 2015 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Just brilliant I know you think you have some problems but I think you are one of the most honest and wonderful persons around.
    I agree with you that in the next life if we find we got some stuff wrong God will love us anyways and help us to find and eternal happiness.
    If we are happy for this life and the eternities what more can we ask

  5. Josh Kim November 18, 2015 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    She’s also a fourth-great-granddaughter of Hyrum Smith through her descent from Elder Ballard. So she comes from a very Mormon-church-affiliated family.

  6. Lipstick-Free November 18, 2015 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Laura, thank you for your courage in publicly sharing your faith transition. I have to say my heart broke when you talked about going to your grandpa Elder Ballard for counsel when you were going through your divorce, and his advice was to lose weight. My hope and prayer is that future “Prophet, Seers, and Revelators” and “Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ” will be capable of dispensing dating and marriage advice to women that runs deeper than the suggestion to wear lipstick or lose weight.

  7. Deven November 18, 2015 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Good to hear again what makes mormon stories great, Authentic personal stories with little to no slander involved. Thanks!

    • Xposit November 19, 2015 at 8:08 am - Reply

      Because so many Mormon stories involve slander? Really Deven?

      • Deven November 19, 2015 at 2:43 pm - Reply

        All I am saying is that this episode was amazing! and mainly because of Lauras willingness to be honest and without guile as they say.

      • Deven November 19, 2015 at 2:45 pm - Reply

        All I am saying is that this episode was amazing! Mainly because of Lauras willingness to be honest and without guile as they say. Its meant to be a complement to Laura.

  8. Andrew November 18, 2015 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    I appreciate the Mormon Stories Podcast but this interview made me uncomfortable in the sense that it seemed John was milking the interviewee’s relationship to an apostle to gain juicey or revealing insights when instead I feel she and we would have been better served to focus only on her personal experience in the Church.

    • Me November 19, 2015 at 10:49 pm - Reply

      Well said!!!

    • Helen November 20, 2015 at 12:57 pm - Reply

      I disagree. He wasn’t milking the interview at all. In each Mormon Stories interview he asks about the person’s family, background details, opinions, and testimonies. He did just that in this one. It just so happens that she has a “famous” family member. He was asking questions his viewers submitted.

      • Tami Morgan November 20, 2015 at 4:22 pm - Reply

        Well said Helen!

    • Lisa December 9, 2015 at 6:32 am - Reply

      Yep, I fully agree, made me uncomfortable. I really enjoyed hearing Laura’s personal story. In the future I would love to see an interview like this that avoided so much speculation, since it’s really neither here nor there. A little opinion is good, but this was a lot.

  9. Paul beach November 18, 2015 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your insight Laura, best wishes to your grandmother she sounds like mine, (awesome),.
    I wish one of the apostles would sit down and let John ask all the questions so many people have, it would take a few hours but would cut through all the speculation. Thanks John,

  10. April November 18, 2015 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your courage and charity for giving this interview. Listening to you, I was able to see the same struggles I faced in the church: trying to be happy and not succeeding. I know it was a huge risk for you to share your story, but please know that I found a lot of healing listening to you.

  11. Curtis Henderson November 18, 2015 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Laura, for speaking out and being your true “authentic self.” Your inclusive message of love for all is very vital.
    I hope your voice is carefully heard. Thanks for the courage to pursue influencing the Mormon culture towards improved participatory principles, transparency, open communication, and revelation.
    Best wishes; and keep up the great work.
    Curtis H

  12. Jim November 18, 2015 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    So, this perfectionism argument/excuse is used a lot against the church, but… 1.) That is a Christian thing, not just a Mormon thing. (matt. 5:48), so it is unfair to always lay that on Mormonism. 2.) Obviously depression and self-esteem are real issues, but I think that this is a popular/modern way to scapegoat and blame something external for personal failures and guilt. 3.) There shouldn’t be anything wrong with asking people (as the gospel does) to have lofty goals, high standards, follow Christ, etc. After all, he WAS perfect and is SUPPOSED to be our example.

    • PBJ November 19, 2015 at 6:40 am - Reply

      Actually, you are wrong. Matthew 5:48 is not used to command perfection in all of Christianity. Those of us who who have studied the New Testament in its original language (Koine Greek) know that verse contains a future tense verb, not a command. It is God’s promise of wholeness/completeness/perfection for humanity.

    • jayman November 19, 2015 at 8:25 am - Reply

      Jim, the while the perfectionism problem IS a Christian thing, Mormonism takes it to a whole new level. A whole, new level. Christianity teaches that we turn ourselves over to God, we are therefore justified, and then the Holy Spirit begins the work of sanctification. Mormonism teaches that we turn ourselves over to God, we are only then partially justified, and we begin the process of sanctification by obedience to the laws and additional ordinances (beyond Baptism) of the Gospel. And if we want eternal life, we need to be married. This is not Christianity.

    • Jay November 19, 2015 at 4:57 pm - Reply


      I hear the “lofty goals, high standards” refrain from mormons. However, as a non-mormon, I always found mormon standards to be low – no offense intended. Why low? To simply do as your told, to follow authority, to follow the prophet – well, that seems like the easy way out. I could never bring myself to wave the white flag of surrender and turn my mind over to an institution. Never.

      The road of a person with high standards, in my opinion, begins with introspection and pursuing that wherever it may take you. It’s a personal journey. It’s hard. It’s lonely at times. It’s true self-reliance.

    • Michelle November 20, 2015 at 2:28 am - Reply

      Jim. Is this seriously your response to this interview? She shared beautifully her spirit, her struggles, her weaknesses, and her faith. She shared her beautiful soul. Why would you listen to all of this and just focus on what you can disagree with? Why seek to find fault? 100% guarantee that Jesus Christ loves this woman. We can try to be like Him and share our love for her too. Do you have any idea how difficult and terrifying it is to make yourself this vulnerable? She needs to be met with support and love, not plain criticism. Remember the part about the lack of empathy? Let’s try to listen and do better.

      Laura, thank you for this interview. Thank you for reaching out and sharing with us. I was moved and inspired.

    • Tami Morgan November 20, 2015 at 4:06 pm - Reply

      Really Jim?? You sound like a real jerk!

      Thank you Laura for your courage and finding your voice. What an example and wonderful woman to look up to. Good luck and best wishes on your journey whatever that may be!

  13. Dave November 18, 2015 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    John – Sometimes I don’t feel like you are eve listening during the interview, you seem kinda “tuned out” which is kinda disrespectful to the person you have invited to be a guest on this program. I wasn’t even half way throughout her first part and I counted several instances where you either : ask the same question again, or you end up repeating what she just said not once, but in some instances twice. I mean really John, how hard would it be to follow along and stay focused? I was starting to wonder if you were ever going to get to the questions people had submitted. I would think by now you would have the interviewing process down, I have seen you do better interviews. Just an observation, I thank you for your work.

  14. wadingthroughjello November 18, 2015 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    Laura, I really appreciate your honesty. I also really liked what you said when John asked what your response would be to people saying that you or others might leave the church over being offended. What I heard you say was that you wouldn’t leave the church over being offended, but that if people do, who are we to say that’s wrong? I’ve never actually thought of that before, but that’s a really good point. I feel like sometimes people in the church can be so judgy. Thanks so much for having the courage to share your story! I really appreciated listening.

  15. Vanessa November 18, 2015 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    Laura, you are a beautiful brave soul! Thank you for sharing your story. It is comforting to hear someone who has some similar experiences. You have helped more than you know.

  16. TRG November 18, 2015 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    I think what Elder Ballard’s granddaughter did here is unconscionable. She took intimate, family information and made it public. Even if my family member were a public figure who I disagreed with, I could never imagine taking intimate information from a member of my family and then making it public, criticizing the family member’s character flaws and weaknesses. Public figures are certainly fair game to public criticism. But this is not run of the mill criticism, it is a betrayal of the closest confidence. Who wants to live in a world where we cannot confide our true selves and deepest insecurities with our family members? Where we have to wonder if the people we rely on in our most difficult moments will turn on us?

    • Celeste November 18, 2015 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      In her loving honesty Laura may simply be ahead of her time. In this toxic, bitter world we call mortality it takes real guts to say what she said about her family, both good and bad. If you’ve ever read accounts of Near Death Experiences, however, you quickly notice that everyone communicates by thought and there is no such thing as lying and deception because everyone can read everyone else’s thoughts.

    • Shane November 18, 2015 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      So basically…”Something something sacred not secret.” Got it.

      You do realize that everyone in the future will have extraordinarily detailed accounts of these things anyways, right? Especially with consideration to the emphasis the LDS church puts on journaling, any stories of this sort will be found and archived on the internet available for any and every person with a desire to view it. Regardless, I don’t understand why you, as someone completely unrelated, are so offended.

    • Tracy November 19, 2015 at 12:11 am - Reply

      Mr. Ballard made a public statement about women wearing lipstick which he chose to say at a recent talk. He’s showing his own colors.
      This sister has EVERY RIGHT to tell her story. I am proud of her. She is kind, honest, sincere and intelligent and not spiteful.
      It seems to me, as usual, you are confusing truth with ‘hateful words’. Don’t hate on the sister for speaking her truth. I think you are worried this woman’s courage and strength WILL encourage other sisters to leave this ‘church’. I certainly hope this is true. This church has duped people to the point potential lawsuits have been pondered.

    • Elder Van Halen November 19, 2015 at 9:18 am - Reply

      I disagree TRG! Laura has taken great personal risk to share some intimate thoughts and feelings about her life. The comments about her grandfather and her family appeared to be honest feedback about the family and the culture of a very Mormon family with a history back to Hyrum Smith. We live in an age where podcasts, YouTube, Facebook, and other social media bring way too much information to the surface. But the good thing is we have better and more immediate access to information. In the church’s case this information has been hidden under years of PR, spin and plain vanilla messaging that doesn’t tell the whole story. As Paul Harvey used to say, our whole Mormon community is now learning about “The Rest Of The Story.”

      Laura…..thank you and great job sharing your Mormon story. My hope for you is that you can develop your outside armor to deflect the emotional stones and arrows that have influenced you and broken you down over the years. Don’t let the bastards get you down! I wish you the best in your marriage, in raising your children, and finding happiness in your life on your own personal journey.

    • kbm November 19, 2015 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      Hi, TRG — I don’t believe she said anything people don’t generally already know. It was mostly about personalities, and I think people generally get impressions of those in a number of ways. There were some difficult questions asked, but most of the time, she didn’t have any information or share secrets on doctrine or sacred practices. I thought she was quite respectful, and she didn’t necessarily have to be. I think that really speaks to her loving character.

    • Sarah November 19, 2015 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      Every hear of a preemptory strike? This woman was going to catch hell from her tribe whether or not she did this interview. At least by doing this she has a fighting chance of keeping it together and hopefully reducing the amount of abuse and shaming she’ll get. She’s getting out if front of this story. Very smart, powerful. Sad it has to be so, but what she’s doing is so big, so significant that I think she did the necessary thing. All in all, I thought she was very measured and loving. The stuff about her grand-mother was moving.
      I do think more relatives of higher -ups will speak out now and not be authentic.

    • Mikey November 25, 2015 at 7:08 pm - Reply

      Laura, I wanted to reach out and just give you a big hug. Thanks for sharing your story.

      I was taught and also taught to others as a missionary and local leader (4 bishoprics, EQP 2X, WML 2X) that “True happiness can only come from being an active member of the church.” I can say with 100% certainly for me this is absolutely not true, in fact quite the opposite.

      TRG you fit right into the “cultish” behavior the church expects. They are grateful for you and those like you. I am just glad that people like you are becoming more of a carnival rarity.

    • Melanie December 7, 2015 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      I don’t think she went far enough. Was what she revealed damaging to the church? It depends. The truly faithful would never listen to such a podcast, and those of us who would, it only supports what we already knew or suspected to be the case; nepotism within the church, denial of abuse, silence, manipulation, disconnect with reality, etc. Hearing that an apostle’s grand daughter is not buying everything as well is super satisfying to me, and gives me hope that, if enough of their own family members speak up, maybe the leaders of the church will someday own to the damage they do and that a Mormon culture adjustment is badly needed to keep the church on course and value added to the lives of the members. I love the church (mostly) at the ward level, but above that, it becomes a joke riddled with hypocrisy. Who am I kidding? We are all guilty of hypocrisy and apolstles are no exception. As much as they hold themselves up as examples of Christ, they have as much need as anyone for repentance.

      I guess, like Elder Ballard, there are still plenty of men uncomfortable with a woman speaking too much. I can relate with much of what Laura has been through; mental illness, suicidal feelings, self destructive behavior, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I own my imperfections and realize it gives wisdom, and like Laura said, it makes it nearly impossible to look down on anyone else or judge when one has sunk low themselves. These attributes add courage to a person. When you are busy keeping up a “perfect” image, you have too much to lose and won’t put yourself out there for others, be vulnerable, share what you know for their benefit for fear of how you look. Perfection is its own prison. It is one of the worst forms of pride. When you are mentally ill, you don’t care what others think. It’s really the most liberating thing there is. My husband wants me to get “fixed”. I say I’m perfect just the way I am, and Laura, so are you. Good girl. Own your bravado and let it fuel your courage. What is mental illness anyway? Loved the podcast. Thank you for doing it.

    • Jean January 1, 2021 at 8:18 am - Reply

      I agree. She is unaware of her Grandfathers real life.

  17. CD November 18, 2015 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    Laura mentioned a few times that mental illness is quite common in her family of Hyrum Smith descendants. Anecdotally, I’ve read that Joseph’s descendants also have higher than average incidents of mental illness. Has there ever been a study or something on the Smith posterity, and could it possibly shed some light on the mental state of the church’s founding family?

    • Martaan November 19, 2015 at 12:27 am - Reply

      The Joseph Smith decendents that I know personally are all completely screwed up. Many of them have committed adultry and some have been charged with sexual crimes. But they believe that they receive a greater amount for trials from the devil because of their blood line. One of the decendents who gave a prayer at the conference center at Joseph Smith’s 200th birthday celebration has actually spent time in federal prison the last few years for defrauding investors. I would never let my children around any of Joseph Smith’s decendents who are in the church. The church has for the most part ignored their bad behavior and has done nothing to safeguard anyone from their predatory tendencies.

      • ameliafyoung November 19, 2015 at 3:44 pm - Reply

        Laura mentioned there is a lot of “crazy” in the family. I have also read the Smith family, back to Joseph and most likely before, had mental illness. Joseph’s last son, David Hyrum Smith, spend the last 27 years of his life in a mental institution. George Albert Smith, 8th pres of church, his grandfather was a Joseph Smith cousin, had mental health issues that were incapacitating at periods thro out his life.

        Joseph Fielding Smith, presiding patriarch for 4 years, was homosexual (not a mental illness). With homosexuality having a genetic basis, there is a good chance that a grandchild or great grandchild will come out as gay sometime.

        It would actually be nice to have all this acknowledged as a part of their genetic background. Perhaps it would help to take away the stigma that is associated with mental illness. As she said, proper diagnosis and treatment, including medication, can help those suffering.

  18. VINCE November 18, 2015 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    Great discussion, thanks for sharing. I think two open questions are: Grandpa was a car salesman who made money from “investments”. Also dad got a job at a charity funded organization where his dad was at a director level?

    No problem sharing personal things this is life the good and bad.

  19. Celeste November 18, 2015 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    Thank you, John, for providing us a connection to a truly extraordinary human being. Surely God has a work for such an one. Several times you voiced appreciation for Laura that I felt but had yet to articulate. She likes to say, “Check back with me in a couple of months. I could change my mind.” If there is an interest and opportunity, consider following up with at least another interview.

    The angels were with you in this interview, Laura. Your deep and abiding commitment to love and kindness is the one message brought back over and over by folks who have experienced Near Death Experiences. It is the defining characteristic of our heavenly parents and Jesus Christ. I had the singular feeling during this interview of wanting to call you my sister—not in the near-meaningless way we use the word as a title at church but as a term of endearment.

    At one point you spoke of searching for simplicity in the gospel. D&C 10:67-69 came to mind wherein the Lord defines his doctrine and his church as those who come unto him and are baptized. That seems pretty simple to me and comes from someone who loved us all enough to bet the bank on us. In some less-open societies, speaking truth—even loving truth—to power will win you a free trip to prison or worse. Here it will just earn you the self-righteous outrage of those who believe your grandpa and his associates are somehow infallible, somehow different from the rest of us. I admire your determination to be kind to the haters. So taught our Lord.

  20. Carma November 18, 2015 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    Wow, wish I had been as open and wise when I was 32. You are terrific, Laura, without guile, smart and funny. Thank you. 💞

  21. Dave R November 19, 2015 at 1:22 am - Reply

    Laura, thank you for sharing your story. You are a very beautiful and loving person. Hearing your story has helped me immensely. I relate with many of the feelings and challenges you have experienced. Your husband is lucky to have you.

  22. Anon November 19, 2015 at 1:43 am - Reply

    There appears to be a very strong genetic component in the Smith family line for mental illness. Page ten of the attached article traces anonymous male descendants of Joseph Smith. Footnote at the bottom describes incidences of schizophrenia, manic depression, and suicide.


  23. Kim November 19, 2015 at 2:47 am - Reply

    Thank you Laura for your courage, strength and honesty in sharing your story. I particularly related to your struggle with anxiety and depression as it is something I struggled with for over 9 years before taking medication and then taking control of my life. Your journey is inspiring.

  24. Lisa November 19, 2015 at 5:54 am - Reply

    Thank you Laura and what a warm and gracious women you are. You are the type of person I would love to be surrounded by. I have no physical community of support like they do in places like Utah etc so I rely on Facebook and podcasts a lot. I’m living in Brisbane, Australia and need to find likeminded people as its been quite an isolating experience going through the faith issues alone, although I’m past the worst thank goodness. Thank you John also. Cheers, Lisa xx

    • Suz November 25, 2015 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      I thought the same thing and I am also Down Under. May you should come down here and the three of us can hang out and have blunt conversations. I really laughed at that comment from your mission 😀

  25. Josh Kim November 19, 2015 at 6:25 am - Reply

    Laura I want to thank you for sharing your story with us. You’re so honest and brave. I wish you and your family well.

  26. Steve Peterson November 19, 2015 at 8:51 am - Reply

    Interesting interview! The Church expects near perfection of its members and the members expect near perfection of the church.
    Neither expectation is realistic. The church provides the membership incredible support and members are incredible at supporting the church, but both are disappointed with the impossible expectations.
    With this in mind:

    Even the best grandparent is not perfect. Heaven forbid that Grandpa is an Apostle.

    I have not been active for 30 years. My active grandpa was not perfect, but he was incredible and the most perfect man I ever knew.
    My ward had flaws, but it was an incredible place to grow up.
    My brother, who was never active, had mental issues and eventually died an early death because of his “word of wisdom problems and mental issues”. His death wasn’t because he was not active, but because he had personal challenges.

    Active people see the inactive Mormon’s problems coming from their lack of activity. Former Mormons assume all of their problems are from having been Mormon.

    Perhaps we all have problems: Active, inactive or resigned members, we all have challenges. it is a shame that we can’t just take the best of the church and live our lives happily.

  27. Mark November 19, 2015 at 9:39 am - Reply


    As an old redneck ex-mormon you really touched my heart. You could have been a number of my nieces who are trying to find themselves growing up in Utah County and having to be something they will never be. You are a beautiful person and don’t let anyone ever tell you different. I resigned over 20 years ago and I can tell you there is life after “the church.” And as John said “Sundays are good” and instead of resting on a day of the week, you can rest in Him, and He will take you as you are, and not what men want you to be.

  28. Ann November 19, 2015 at 9:54 am - Reply

    The core to this young woman’s sorrow is the denial of the trauma that took away the wonder, and innocence of a nine year old child through being sexually abused. That single incident alone changed this young ladies view of life forever! That violation wounded her very soul, and it is so tragic that her family response was one of mocking and disbelief. They should be ashamed of such a response. The fact that she could forgive, go forward and talk to all of us about it was courageous and commendable. Now saying this and taking into consideration her genetic weakness to mental illness, a failed marriage ect, and her body image suggestions from her Grandpa that were so hard for her to hear, I see that the tangle of her concept of God is connected to these issues that scarred her life. My prayer is that she would find a relationship with Jesus Christ outside the dictates of religion. Thank you for this pod cast.

  29. Celeste November 19, 2015 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Anyone resonating to this interview might also enjoy a long, thoughtful piece in The New Yorker about a former key member of the Westboro Baptist Church, Megan Phelps-Roper, who experienced a crisis of faith and left the hate mongering sect she had grown up in. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/23/conversion-via-twitter-westboro-baptist-church-megan-phelps-roper

  30. Mark November 19, 2015 at 11:14 am - Reply

    I have a feeling some people will write Laura off for some obvious missteps in Mormon culture (committing adultery, unable to live up to the standards, etc.), but the part that really resonates with me his her ability to recognize the church didn’t make her happy and that’s why she resigned. Her resignation has little to do with the truth claims. Her admission that she would still claim Thomas Monson to be a prophet really caught John off guard. She left simply because the church wasn’t making her happy.

    I ask nearly every member one simple question and that is “if the church isn’t making someone happy, would you encourage that person to leave?” I have yet to have any active member respond with a “yes”. I’ve even asked Mormon counselors this question and not a one has said “yes”. It’s really baffling that medical professionals can’t give good advice to some people that just need to step away from the church because the church is unhealthy for that person simply because of their internal belief on how that will affect that individuals eternal salvation.

    When the members of the church get to a point that what works for them doesn’t necessarily work for everyone and they stop projecting that belief on others, we will make huge progress in the mental wellbeing of the culture by allowing some that are truly unhappy to just step away and leave regardless of the need to dissect the truth claims.

    Laura is a prime example of letting someone go simply because she wasn’t happy, not because of anything else.

  31. Lisa November 19, 2015 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    This comment confuses me to say the least. I found her very warm and genuine so I guess it’s interesting how ones perspective can be at opposite ends of the pendulum.

  32. Doubting Thomas November 19, 2015 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Wow I could not agree less with your comment.

    Laura answered every question posed to her about Elder Ballard and offered additional interesting insight. The interview was HER Mormon Story and the context of her experience lays the foundation for the interview. There was more than enough information about Ballard.

    Insincere? Shallow?

    Not sure what you were listening to, but I heard someone who was courageous, sincere and who has DEPTH to her personality and life experience.

    For some common ground, I too enjoyed the interview with the Zelph on the Shelf founders, but their grandfathers were not members of the Quorum of the Twelve. The Elder Ballard connection made for good advertising, but Laura’s story and who she is made her the more interesting aspect of the interview.

    • Ephima Morphew November 20, 2015 at 7:32 pm - Reply

      Well, secret not sacred, Mormons love to confuse these terms. I appreciate john’s gentile probing and Lara’s forthright responses,
      I heard no hedging or obfuscation in her open voluntary narrative.
      I thoroughly enjoyed the give and take of the interview; more like a conversation than inquiry. That comes from Dr. John’s credentials, credentials that no Mormon Prophet has attained.
      Thank you Mormon Stories for a great podcast, If mormons would reveal rather than conceal Mormon Stories would not need to be.
      Great program, Ephima

  33. Marcus November 19, 2015 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your courage and sharing your experience. There is much ahead of you in your studies — good luck in that effort as more things in the history and doctrine come to light for you. You wonder if what you have said matters/ — It matters. You have already helped in a very gentle and kind way. Thank you.

  34. Sleepless in Seattle November 19, 2015 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    you are a brave and beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing your story. It will help so many, within the confines of the LDS church, who are struggling to find happiness and live as their authentic selves. Wishing you and your family all the best as your journey of healing and happiness continues.

  35. Zoe November 19, 2015 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    I too felt that the interview was more geared towards getting insider gossip on the Twelve Apostles. When asking about different experiences, the interviewer seemed to be leading/pushing towards the negative side of Church experiences. Lots of assumption rather than fact.
    On saying that Laura seems a pleasant person and was warm and honest. I hope she finds the happiness she seeks.

    • Sara November 20, 2015 at 7:21 am - Reply

      Sorry you felt that way, but I thought this was a great podcast with an excellent approach in order to learn more about the man behind the mantle of Apostleship and to understand how the people who preceded Laura affected her upbringing and emotional plight.

      There is dirty laundry everywhere, whether outside or inside the Church. If we are true to ourselves, it is important to accept this fact and own up to truths that may be hurtful to some, but truths, nevertheless.

  36. Janice November 19, 2015 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed listening to your story and admire your courage. Interesting how much fear, shame and judgement there is for members who simply want to ask a question or understand and speak freely about the truth of their religion and experiences. Unfortunately the Curch is not a safe place for healthy spiritual growth. Historically they have rewritten history, hid the truth and demanded extreme control over members lives “in the name of God.” There can only be shocking disbelief and violation when truth facts surface. I wish you the best and hope that your family responds to this podcast with compassion and love.

  37. Cat November 19, 2015 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Very brave, Laura! I wonder at your decision to approach John with suggestions for an interview. I wonder what process you went through and how you came to the decision to do it. I get the impression that you are still very unsure about yourself, what you believe, what you want and how you want to go about your life. Perhaps taking this very brave and decisive act of sharing your story, you will gain more confidence in your journey through life. How would you qualify your story as something that could help other people? I wondered about that, how you yourself saw it? I saw it as a heroic act in opening a door for others who may be uncertain as you seem to be and telling them that it is okay to feel that way, that it’s part of a journey to really get to know oneself in an authentic way. If we are really truthful with ourselves, we all feel uncertain a lot of the time and it’s part of our struggle to grow…but hard to feel that way. I thought John gave you some excellent validation and encouragement…I’m sure he could identify with your uncertainty and the journey you appear to be on. Also, it seems he’s becoming a very good therapist! I found your ability to show your vulnerability one of the most encouraging and mature acts anyone can do. I think you are very articulate and explain yourself well and admired your wishes to protect other’s privacy as much as possible and still be able to tell your story. Thank you so much and may you find the happiness and peace you are looking for and deserve.

  38. J November 19, 2015 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Love first. That says it all. Thank you Laura.

  39. kbm November 19, 2015 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Laura — thank you for sharing your story! I really appreciate the thoughtful, open, and loving manner in which you spoke of your experiences. I was a little nervous about this topic (granddaughter of an apostle) because (not knowing you) it could have been peppered with hateful remarks and resentment, but you are kind, forgiving and really down-to-earth. I also could not find joy in the church, but didn’t know why. I thought I was crazy for feeling that way — especially with love/happiness/family being such core values in the church. It felt really great when I just stopped going and putting myself through it each week, but it wasn’t until I started to study that I found peace and even greater happiness in my life. For me, a good part of the problem was the constant pressure for perfection, and feeling inferior simply because I was a woman. Long story short, once I keyed into the patriarchy and much of the history of the church, I realized my feelings were completely valid, and that was a great relief. Again, thank you for sharing your story — you are brave, and helped a whole lot of people today!!

  40. J. Reuben Clerk November 19, 2015 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    Laura’s personal story and perspectives on their own were well worth the listen, even if Elder Ballard had never been mentioned. This episode far exceeded my expectations.

  41. Deborah Aronson November 19, 2015 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Laura! You are so brave! Yes! I was born in 1950 and when I had the courage to leave the Church in 1973, after a completed mission, I knew there was an overpowering “no talk” rule and we were just a regular family. Do we understand how insane it is that we are to be clones of an ideal? People, this is crazy.

    To this day our family reunions are phony on many levels because even in 2015 people are afraid to speak their own truth. You did it! Against all odds you told your story. Not an approved one, but a real story of a lovely woman on her way in life.

    I look forward to the rest of your story, as I do so many of the young people who come on MS. Free at last. Free at last. Bless you Laura.

  42. Tyler Kimball November 19, 2015 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    while I can appreciate Laura’s perspective and her experience, when she takes that and says there is a huge issue in the culture of the church and “not being able to be still” or not being able to be at peace – i don’t necessarily agree. I grew up in Utah, am also in a “prominent” family in the church, with expectations linked to it. But her experience is very much in how her own family related their place in the church with how they should act and what kind of image they had to keep. In my family, my father was also stake president, and I was told I that I needed to be an example… however, I never felt like when I made a mistake, that I was carrying the family reputation on my shoulders so to speak. I never felt like I was just supposed to be someone that was not myself, or hide something, or not talk about problems. My mother was very open to us discussing differences of opinion at the dinner table, of discussing how we felt about things. She encouraged open discussion, investigation, and searching things out in our heart and mind. She didn’t paint a rosy picture of church leaders as infallible, but very much as human’s with weaknesses, that could still accomplish great things despite them. I feel very badly for her, and no doubt the church was very much intertwined in her family life. However, the expectations and feeling like she wasn’t good enough – i’m not sure if that came from the church so much as it did from her family and how they saw their relationship with the church. Of course I’m not her and despite similarities and I’m also a male so that even will change the perspective. But just as I listened and what I was able to capture, i’m not sure the church really ruined her life, but that her family disregarded her experiences and opinions, it seems, because they were more focused on keeping up appearances IN the church, then on helping her. The experience with the abuse would be devastating to anyone, but the church didn’t cause that or dictate her families reaction to it. They may have reacted to her the way they did because of their own perception of their place in the church they appear to have the tendency to hush hush things that are uncomfortable to deal with, like mental illness and sexual abuse in the family, and that my be true that there are many who feel like they just have to keep up appearances. I am sorry for the pain of anyone who feels that way. IT is terrible and one of the worst things to not be able to be true to what you believe. Because her families inabilities to help her, take her perspective seriously, and listen to her seem to be so intertwined with their relationship to the church and keeping up appearances, it would be easy to put that off on the church and say it ruined your life. But I’m not sure that’s the case because the most painful experiences related seem to be more about experiences with family members and how they chose to deal with the uncomfortable realities and perhaps they made some of those choices based on the families place in the church. I hope that makes sense. Maybe i’m completely in left field. that is just my observation. Laura, you seem to have been through a lot of difficulty. All my best for continued healing and peace. I’m sorry your family didn’t have more open discussion and communication. I can relate to that need. It is also how I deal with problems and difficulty is by talking through it, and it would have been terrible for me if I did not have the mother I have who allowed that and acted as a sounding board, often repeating back to me what I said and asking me questions that allowed me to define my experiences and also questions that helped me see those experiences through many different angles so that I could better learn to chose how i would react to them. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Jeffrey November 21, 2015 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      It sounds like you had a wonderful environment to grow up in and have varying opinions honored and respected. That is a huge gift that many in the church haven’t had. It seems like one’s perception of God and of the church in many cases is a reflection of the extent to which one’s freedom to question was honored and even encouraged growing up. For the sake of the church and its upcoming generations, I hope that differing opinions and questions can be met without resistance and fear.

      • Tyler Kimball December 13, 2015 at 6:37 pm - Reply

        How can our beliefs be determined real if they aren’t confirmed through the crucible of doubt? My mother encouraged us to question, but also taught us how to get our own answers – by study AND faith, an open heart AND mind. The formula is simple, but the journey can be difficult. Hoping we all draw closer to the fountain of all truth, whether in our out of the church.

  43. Paul M November 19, 2015 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    Laura, Thank you for your openness and honesty. Your interview reminded me of a song I think you will like, please check it out. It is called “If We’re Honest” by Francesca Battistelli. You can find it on YouTube. Give it a listen and let me know what you think!!! Best wishes to you in your journey.

  44. Shane November 20, 2015 at 6:55 am - Reply


    I just want to give you a huge hug. Thank you for being so brave and honest.

  45. Al November 20, 2015 at 8:05 am - Reply

    Laura, you are a class act, keep smiling!

  46. Milt Haws November 20, 2015 at 10:59 am - Reply

    I loved this episode and agree that it may rank in one of the top 5. I was very moved. I related to a lot of what she said. Laura really under estimates her intelligence, and sincerity. I wish her well in her discovery.

  47. Erin November 20, 2015 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Thank you to Laura for sharing her story. Listening to her I can hear myself a few years ago. I was feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the church, but was programmed such that I was worried it might be true. I also found it to be very stifling thing for me and my personality and for many years I really didn’t know myself at all.
    For me it has taken a couple of years of immersing myself in church history, reddit/podcasts (ie things that dare to break through the high sense of decorum we are trained to have about the church), other religions, people’s experiences, etc, to undo that programming. I am finally at a place where I can comfortably say this church (like every other church) is just some humans’ attempt to know god/understand existence. I have no fear of it being “true” and that has made me free. I hope for Laura that she will get there one day too.

  48. Mo November 20, 2015 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Laura, I LOVE YOU!
    I love your honesty, I am totally with you, I commend honesty, I wish more people could be more honest about the hard things, I wish I could be more honest, but that fear of rejection and shame is real. You and I have an extremely similar story…like eerily similar. Almost the entire podcast I was nodding along like, “yes, exactly!!! She totally gets it,” I just wanted you to know that I am proud of you for being so brave and honest, it’s refreshing and it makes me have a little more hope. I’m excited to read your blog.

  49. tropical animal November 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Laura, love you, love your openness, honesty. Thanks for being real. Thanks for being who you are, rather than seeing you, hearing you, feeling you through a fake filter, a burku. Delightful and refreshing. Thank you for allowing us to see and feel the real you.

    You are more meaninful than a dozen church conferences–talks which never take us beyond a fake verbal reality of religious correctness, still leaving us disconnected and living in a fake world. As you said, trying to CONTROL us to make us all fit a one-pattern-for-all, imposed upon us from the outside, rather than letting us be WHO and WHAT WE ARE . . .

    The church hierarchy defines us controls us, externally, from the outside, according to their needs and purposes, rather than by what we actually are.

    Yes, you would make a better prophet than any of the old men we have had, who are always stuck in the past. You are sensitive, loving and real. I appreciate that you are breaking free, becoming your own self, and at the same time, you still love your family. They are lucky to have you.

  50. A. R. Vapor November 20, 2015 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    This woman was one of the most incredible people John has interviewed! I feel like she and I had much in common, including the fact that we were both sexually abused at about the same age and that we’ve both struggled with depression. I hope someday to be in a place where I don’t feel the constant need to criticize the church, though I do feel that this need stems out of the love I have for its people–I just need to show that love more positively, as she does. Anyway, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed listening to her story.

  51. Gnosis November 20, 2015 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    I have to say I was very moved and inspired by Laura. She’s very humble, unassuming, open, honest, vulnerable, slow to judge or condemn, quick to forgive, patient, and open-minded. The concept of grace isn’t big in the Mormon church and I think that’s why I was so moved by her interview, because she’s a living personification of what Christian grace looks like. She didn’t bring this up in her interview, but I get the sense that she’s experienced a profound spiritual transformation that involved her deeply internalizing the concept of grace. Grace was the subtle theme and message behind most of her answers to John’s questions throughout the interview, all the way down to how she has processed her decision to resign, explaining her belief that regardless of whether the LDS church is true or not, she believes she’ll be accepted and included in Heaven.

  52. MrMarkHudson November 20, 2015 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    I’m really bothered by her fear that because she has the courage to speak out that her father might decide to shun her in some way. That seems so opposite of the pro family message that comes from the LDS Church. It doesn’t feel like an action that is inspired by Christ. Perhaps that’s the point. Maybe it isn’t.

  53. Chamaigne Montana November 20, 2015 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Awesome interview! Thanks.

  54. G- November 20, 2015 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    Loved the honesty!

    R-E-F-R-E-S-H-I-N-G in Mormon culture to hear women share their truth – for it gets so tiring being fed the same wet piece of toast all the time.

    Thank you for your imperfections – this I can relate to!

  55. Anon November 20, 2015 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    For we see whither it has brought us . . . the insisting on perfection in one part of our nature and not in all; the singling out of the moral side and obedience and action for such intent regard; making strictness of the moral conscience so far the principal thing, and putting off for hereafter and for another world the care of being complete at all points, the full and harmonious development of our humanity.

    Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (1869)

  56. Gary November 21, 2015 at 12:04 am - Reply

    Dear Laura,

    Thank you for finding the deep courage to be the first member of your extended ‘royal’ family to stand up tall and speak your very own, authentic truth to the world about who YOU are and what YOUR personal, natural, core values are all about.

    It’s pretty clear that you grossly underestimate the amazing value of the gift you have given to your fellow human beings, and particularly to the thousands of others who were born Mormon and have discovered that the Church is fundamentally foreign to their God given nature to love and accept people instead of judging them for the ‘crime’ of being human.

    I, like John, felt simply blown away, Laura, by the depth of your spiritual maturity and high degree of mental and emotional health. The LDS Church would benefit beyond measure if instead of marginalizing and rejecting wonderful beings like you, they would recognize and discover the natural and true leaders in their midst and hand you a microphone instead of trying to silence your voice and shut you up.

    Your grandfather and most of your extended family will condemn you for what you just did, Laura. But let me offer you some protective wisdom that you can put in your Tool Belt right now. It is this:

    NEVER accept any negative or hurtful incoming messaging at face value. Before you let any of it touch your heart or affect your soul, pause for a brief moment and consider the source of the message. Calibrate the content based on your assessment of the core values and perspective of the sender. In most cases, and in your case in particular, Laura, if you are the recipient of unkind or even cruel judgments intended to hurt or shame you, the source will be people who see you committing the unthinkable Mormon treason of simply speaking the truth amidst the deep ocean of lies, deceptions and mind control you were born into. With this context, you can gift yourself with the power to invert or flip any ostensibly hurtful communication into what is in reality a deep compliment of your personal character and courage.

    And ye shall know the Truth, and claiming and speaking your Truth shall not only set you Free, but also royally piss off your family.

    The path you have bravely chosen will probably get very bumpy before it smooths out, but take heart that you have made a powerfully courageous choice for yourself, Laura. And everyone who hears your story will be blessed and uplifted by what they see in you. If not now, then surely later on … eventually.

    You are giving permission to thousands of others who, like you, are round pegs forever uncomfortable trying to make peace living in the square hole of Mormonism. You have set yourself free and are boldly leading the way for others to learn from your example and draw courage from your courage.

    Thank you deeply and sincerely for what you have done, Laura, and what you will do in the future by simply being you. You deserve to feel very proud of who you are and what you are all about.

    And thank you too, John, for providing a venue for Laura’s gift to reach those who sorely need the leadership and example Laura has given us.

  57. A Happy Hubby November 21, 2015 at 7:03 am - Reply

    Laura – I appreciate your honesty and courage as I know you are going to get some huge pushback from your family for doing this. I am sure some of it was to help you separate from them, but I think in a normal family anybody could expect some anger over airing the family’s dirty laundry. But when I step back, this laundry is not soiled. Your grandpa is a bit sexists and a bit on the emotionally distant side. If I came out and said that about my grandfather, it wouldn’t be any big deal. You never said your grandfather was unfaithful or anything of great significance. The only reason any of this is a big deal is that the church as such extreme leader worship that even these “normal” issues make a wave. If we didn’t have such a leadership worship mentality, your interview might have been even positive. Kind of a “yeah, he is a man with some minor flaws – no biggie, nothing to raise an eyebrow, next subject…”

    I do feel for some of the pain you expressed and I do admire you for being so brave. Best of luck moving forward in your life.

  58. Mike November 21, 2015 at 9:52 am - Reply

    In relation to how the highest authorities are compensated. Wouldn’t they all have the same amount of wealth because of the law of consecration? I had a local leader that spoke to me briefly about his consecration of his home and wealth, he later went on to receive an appointment as a temple president. We think it’s about who you know but what if it’s more about who you pay to receive these appointments? I never hear any talk about this on the internet and am not very familiar with the details. Wouldn’t the apostles give all they have to the church basically in exchange for a lifetime appointment/compensation package? Or in otherwords, wouldn’t they have to consecrate their wealth? And how would it work if they were to leave the church?

    We hear that our leaders are not paid. So, am I to understand that at the onset of their appointment they get a lump sum, like John mentioned (a million dollars), then basically get continually reimbursed for their expenses afterwards? Starting out with a million dollars could lead to any amount of money reimbursed over a years period. Here’s a link to the Law of consecration:


    I feel that Laura kinda side-stepped the question about her grandpas wealth. It shouldn’t be very hard to say “he lives in a $1M home”, or “he has servants”, or some other glimpse into how costly his lifestyle is, knowing how much it cots her to live the way she lives. Looking at the picture above, it doesn’t look like they live lavishly, or that they wear expensive clothes (more that Laura could have mentioned-clothing). I get the impression that Elder Ballard is one of the TBM’s and chooses not to spend alot of money, though I’m sure he could. This confuses me a little, I would think that these guys would want homes as stately as the temple’s and buildings they build today. There’s a site that shows some of their homes and many are not fancy:


    So who is living the law of consecration and what are the perks and implications of it? That would make a good podcast.

  59. Meredith November 21, 2015 at 11:36 am - Reply

    My sister included an email from “grandpa Ballard” to my dad when we were discussing this issue as a family. I wonder if it’s the email Laura mentions. I wonder if it’s making rounds or if my sister just got it somehow.

  60. beth November 21, 2015 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    These were two beautiful podcasts, l really appreciated your story laura and would love to know you better, it’s such a breath of fresh air to hear and watch someone as yourself with such a high profile family in the church to be so open and honest and yet never nasty or unkind to anyone, l do hope really hope this will encourage far more truths and and feelings to be shared with everyone and that all of us can have open minds and loving hearts, l love to hear about the past history of the church and hope leaders and members non members alike will begin to share more freely and without any fear of rejection. Thank you for caring about others laura, to be so willing to talk, open up, l hope we hear more from you and that your own journey brings you the freedom you need from your own pains, it’s so necessary to be completely honest and open about the past in the church and in life, thank you laura, with love.

  61. Jeffrey November 21, 2015 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    As I listened to your story Laura, what came to mind is that you are someone who is living in a way that reflects the image of God we are created in. The way you have claimed your divinity, freedom and authenticity has turned your brokenness into compassion. I left the church in February of this year and after almost 40 years of a TBM life, I’m daily pursuing to know my authentic identity (which is a much healthier journey now that I’m outside of the Mormon mental mindset). Your story strengthened me in that journey. Thank-you for your brokenness, your authenticity and your courage. I believe that your life is an example of what Jesus meant when he said “let your light so shine”. Thank-you!

  62. Tami Morgan November 21, 2015 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    You are awesome Laura. I have been contimplating your words in the last few days. Thank you much in sharing. You are doing the right thing in being yourself. You are my mentor and I am 64 years old!!! Love you girlie!

  63. Xposit November 22, 2015 at 7:03 am - Reply

    Laura, your Mormon story typifies oh so many Mormon stories but most folks never find the courage to speak up and, as you well know, not speaking up is also oh so Mormon. Thanks for giving voice to what too many simply can’t.

  64. Herbert Berkowitz November 22, 2015 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    John: I hope you find some context in which to have her on again. She is one of the most engaging guests you have very had and her sincerity and honesty are manifest. The problem is that she does’t see herself as anyone special or as someone with anything to say when in fact she is extra special and has a great deal to say about the world of the LDS Church. She is simply lovely in every way.

  65. Holly November 23, 2015 at 4:54 am - Reply

    Thank you Laura and John for this podcast.
    As Laura described herself during the interview, although our life journeys are different, I felt a kinship to her as I too am sensitive, a “feeling” person, am overcoming my low self worth, and am in the process of leaving the church.
    I guess I am just gratefull to know that I’m not alone in this. I too feel like life has changed from black and white to color and that when I made the decision that it was ok to change my beliefs, I felt like a butterfly flying out of a box into a new beautiful world, finally free.
    So, thank you Laura for your strength and for honestly telling your story.
    Thank you John for mormon stories. Over this last year I have tried to listen to as many of your podcasts as I could because I felt welcome here, I learned the truth about the church, I gained strength in myself and new beliefs. You’re a great interviewer. And please take this in the stride, a better/more understanding interviewer/person since you received your doctorate. : )
    Please keep the podcasts coming, they are a lifeline to folks like me. No pressure, right ; )
    And Laura, here’s to us, two amazing women (although there are most likely many like us), living life in color, letting our new light shine, cheers!

  66. Charlie November 23, 2015 at 9:23 am - Reply

    I can really identify with this girl. I know what it’s like to feel like an outsider in the stuckup culture that is mormonUtahnites culture.

    But I can’t help but think it’s a shame that she had to go through a disciplinary council and now has resigned. But I guess that even ex-missionaries, married in the temple, and apostle’s grandkids end up getting disciplined too, for whatever reason.

    But it is also interesting to see how many questions are diverted to ‘what does Elder Ballard think’ or ‘what did elder Ballard do’. It seems to me that John Dehlin wants to makes sure that we don’t miss out on any mistakes that Elder Ballard may have made.

    Something I didn’t agree with was Laura’s quasi excuse for why she fell by saying “my husband was very abusive” ..etc ..so that’s why she committed adultery. It’s an insult to all who have been abused or mistreated but never accepted cheating on their spouse (ie didn’t break any marriage covenants). That little comment really set my blood boiling. And by the way, if E Ballard ever took a peek at her membership record he’d see the report from the disciplinary council plus all the letters, plus what tithing they pay, plus comments, plus much more info…he is a GA after all so he has access to everything, except 1st Prez minutes

    • A Happy Hubby December 17, 2015 at 2:43 pm - Reply


      I think that John was passing along questions that others had suggested and I can see many people being more interested in her Grandfather than her. Human nature.

      And you are correct that being abused does not give you a total get out of jail free card for any behavior/action, but I do think that it can be a real contributing factor that can make some poor choices quite easy to make. I have not walked a mile in those shoes, so I am going to refrain from casting any stones.

  67. Asclepius November 23, 2015 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much Laura for the interview. I’ve had to go through a disciplinary council also and had my membership taken away. I am slowly going away from my previous mindset that everything is black or white; however, my wife still thinks that way very much. People don’t realize the struggles that individuals can have. Mine were compounded by cultural differences with my wife which affected the way intimacy was viewed. Add to that three children with special needs and having a mother in law living with the family and things got very complicated. I would voice my concerns and yet to this day my wife says that she had no idea that I was unhappy. I’m struggling with my testimony also since being excommunicated. Little things get to me now that I never had to face before like how members treat non members or excommunicated members. I’ve noticed the ward clerk will not even call me brother anymore. Apparently we are only brothers or sisters to each other if we remain on the church list.

    • Gary November 23, 2015 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      Within the TBM community, it’s clearly an optional, personal choice whether or not to practice the Golden Rule by treating and appreciating others as you yourself would like to be treated and appreciated if the roles were reversed. The Brethren aren’t even close to practicing the Golden Rule in their leadership roles. Fortunately, there are quite a few active Mormons who ignore the examples displayed by The Brethren and do seem to have a clue about “What would Jesus do?” The Brethren would be well-advised to strap on some actual Humility and learn a thing or two about Christian behavior from the members … and especially from the women of the Church … like Laura (used to be) for example.

  68. snj November 24, 2015 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story. Thank you john for the fabulous work you do with Mormon Stories. I am amazed by how much you have done for Mormons who are struggling. Thank you.

  69. Mormon NoMoore November 25, 2015 at 9:59 am - Reply

    This interview was almost like you were interviewing me! Even down to attending the same high school in the same time frame.

    I think I’m a little more “out of the church” than Laura is at this moment, but she said something that is the EXACT thing I have thought and told many people. Laura said something a long the lines “I was raised to believe in a very terrifying and scary god….it has taken me years and years to come to my personal belief that that is not my god.”

    I have mentioned this many times to my wife when we have discussions, and she brings up the “we were sealed in the temple and now we wont be together for eternity” I just say pretty much this exact thing “Put away EVERYTHING the church teaches you, what do YOU really think god will do? Will he separate families because one didn’t go to church, pay tithing, etc etc? I dont believe he will”

    Laura also goes on to say “I just want people to find happiness wherever. If it’s in the church, then find it in the church, if it’s outside of the church then find it outside of the church.” This is me to the T. In the end this life is for us to enjoy, if the joy comes from attending 3 hours of church every day, attending the temple, paying 10% tithe, then so be it, if it’s not, then find that thing that makes you happy.

  70. Tumba November 28, 2015 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    A testimony or a non testimony is found in the bearing of it?

  71. Danny Fyffe December 4, 2015 at 1:36 am - Reply

    I love you Laura, what a sweetheart! I love you, too, John-good job both of you!

  72. Troy December 5, 2015 at 8:22 am - Reply


    I hope your grandpa realizes what an incredible person you are! I always enjoy hearing the human side of people that society or organizations raise up to be something more than human. Your words have helped me reconcile some harsh feeling related to your grandpa. I have never meet him, and I am sure he does have a genuine pleasant authentic personality—unfortunately I only get to see and hear his, sometime subtle, shaming and unempathetic dogma from the pulpit. I sometime question if he realizes that those members, below him, are real people, with real problem, with real concerns, with real emotions?

    If I could share with your grandpa my experience in the church, I would do so with this metaphor:

    I have spent my life on the ship that the captain, crew and passengers all call the “Good Ship Zion”. I worked hard to maintain the ship. I sacrificed my aspirations, I never took shore leave, I always ran to the captain when called, alienating my family. I gave 10% of my income back to the captain to help maintain the ship. Then one day I am in the lower hull of the ship and notice it taking on water. When I confronted members of the crew with this knowledge, I was scolded, I was told that it is not water and not to say anything to the other passengers and crew. It is wet, it is salty and I know it is water. I am told that if I believe it is not water, and express to other people that it is not water, I can know that it is not water. When I cannot deny that it is water, the captain and crew label me a doubter and an enemy of “Ship Zion”.

    I want to stay on “Ship Zion” and make an effort to fix the hull, but the captain and crew make clear threats and I am forced into hiding. I now feel compelled to leave “Ship Zion”, but I do not want to without my family. I am unable to remain hidden and I am forced to the end of the ship’s plank. With the captain and crew between me and my family, wielding their power, my choices are limited. From the plank I look down and clearly embossed on the bow of the ship is the word “TITANTIC”. I stand paralyzed on the plank—do I jump and save myself or do I fight the captain and crew in hopes of saving my family?

    • A Happy Hubby December 7, 2015 at 7:19 am - Reply

      Troy – what an excellent “old ship zion” metaphor! Others feel the same.

  73. Cory December 5, 2015 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Great interview! I had always been under the impression that Hyrum was a polygamist. I have not done any extensive research, but can point you toward this Wikipedia article. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Latter_Day_Saint_practitioners_of_plural_marriage

    Also, I attended USU in the mid-90s and had a class with a granddaughter of Elder Ballard’s. I can’t remember her name, but she had blond hair. I don’t know if that would narrow it down for you enough to say which of your cousins (or sisters?) she was. Great interview again.

  74. Scott December 9, 2015 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Laura, I’m just another anonymous transitioning Mormon and I don’t know what else to say besides sincere thanks for being willing to do this interview. I’m sure the social and familial tension created by it will be massive. “Keep the faith,” so to speak, and know that your interview and courage makes a difference.

  75. Cindy S. January 3, 2016 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    This may be my favorite post. I usually don’t add comments. I relate to what Laura Roper Andreasen has said. I understand somewhat she been through..

    I’ve been with the church off and on since I was 5 years old, I’m now 38. I have always felt like I can never fit in with the church culture. But I keep coming back and trying. I am divorced and have one child. I believe the church is built best for married straight couples with families . I feel like I can never fit in with the church. As I have gotten older I have realized that its not important that I don’t fit when these clicks. I suffered a real deep depression last year. I lost a friendship of 10 years, which feels like a death. I don’t think I will ever get over it. But that friendship really did open my eyes. Maybe it was meant to end. It helped me do some soul searching and how evil and mean people can be to each other. I am now doing better than ever, because I have learned to not care what others think of me. I have accepted my self, I have accepted that the Mormon church is not true to me. Its not just the people in the church that I don’t like.

    But the truth is I just don’t believe in it like I did as a teenager. The church makes God sound like a not a very loving God. I use to be afraid…..I don’t know if this makes any sense.

    I am also trying to have my records removed from the church. I am starting over with my new job and trying to make new friends. Its all new, different and kinda exciting. One thing about my self and that I do like about my self. Is that I am forgiving and open minded and have all kinds of friends. Thank You for this post and this website. I feel like I am not the only one that has struggled with LDS church.

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