Twelve years ago Adam Hughes was serving as a Mormon bishop in Northern Arizona, and Marlana was a stay-at-home Mormon mother of four. Last year, Adam and Marlana were still active, believing, orthodox Mormons living in Tucson, Arizona. Only a few months ago, Adam and Marlana lost their faith in Mormonism, while their son was preparing to leave on his mission.

This is their story.

Show Notes:

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  1. Dianne Kerns November 12, 2020 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    Looking forward to this podcast. We were in the same stake for a while.

  2. Eric November 12, 2020 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for helping so many members and non-members process how indoctrination happens (works) in the Mormon Church. You are doing great works. I admire the courage it takes to share your experiences and help so many. It seems to me members rationalize the good the church does being contingent on Mormon indoctrination. Everything good about the cult can be done without the terrible falsehoods and indoctrination.

  3. Darlene Thayne November 12, 2020 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    Your offer is interesting, John, but it is very sexist including only male leaders and a woman as their wife. Why not include Relief Society ward and stake presidents? Just because the LDS Church is so patriarchal doesn’t mean that you need to follow suit!

    • John Dehlin November 12, 2020 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      That offer is open as well! Both offers are open. I should have mentioned that in the podcast. I’ve done lots of interviews with both.

    • Donna Shelby November 30, 2020 at 9:31 am - Reply

      Darlene , John’s comment isn’t being sexist. It makes sense to say Bishop /Stake President since in the Mormon church those callings hold more weight. To say that isn’t true is just crazy. The mormon church is being sexist in the callings etc. but everyone knows John is the least sexist person out there.

  4. Mary Moon November 13, 2020 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Listening to this very moving podcast, it suddenly occurred to me that the phrase “being released” from a calling is a strange choice of words. When one hears that someone is being released, that generally brings to mind being set free from a trap or prison or some other unasked-for and often painful, difficult situation. I wonder how that phrase came to be in use regarding callings.

  5. Richard November 13, 2020 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    Great statement from Adam at 2:51:24-ish – – – ” Can I investigate without a pre-concluded outcome? Where I had already determined that the church has to be true.”

    Thank you

    • Rita November 14, 2020 at 8:47 am - Reply


  6. Dr. Sam Lyman November 14, 2020 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    This was yet another great podcast. Thank you John. I am curious… Is your standing offer to interview any person that holds or has held a high level leader ship position a continuation of the virtual idolization of members of the Mormon hierarchy?

    • John Dehlin November 14, 2020 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      Sam! The offer is open to women too! I interview both!!

  7. Jose November 16, 2020 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Listening to Adam speak about his time as Bishop amongst the Navajo/ Hopi First Nation people perpetrating false “truth” about Native Americans being descendants of Israelites made me feel sick. The LDS Church has known for decades that the DNA/genetic evidence proves 100% that “Lamanites” are not genetically traced to peoples of Middle East origin. As a person of First Nations descent, it offends me to no end that this untruth is still bring perpetrated by LDS Church, and it’s missionaries to this day. Adam, have you ever thought of apologizing to the Navajo/Hopi people in the Ward/Stake you served in, and letting them know publicly that Joseph Smith lied about origin of the Lamanites and that he made it all up. Thank you Adam & Marlana for sharing your exit story with post Mormons and current active Mormons.

  8. Andrew November 17, 2020 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    How crazy is the in-grained mentality / deep psychology that someone throws up a number of times as a part of getting it out of your system.

  9. Andrew November 18, 2020 at 10:15 am - Reply

    Amazing the deep ingrained mentality / psychology of someone that throws up more than once when they see mormon related stuff.

  10. Sara November 18, 2020 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed this podcast. It took me a few sessions to get through it due to length, but something I heard just before turning it off the other day stood out to me. They were talking about prophets and how members are supposed to trust them implicitly, and how they change what’s said or what’s true over time, and the church excuses it as they were men speaking as men and so forth and members should believe what’s being said right now. This didn’t strike me as an inherently wrong or bad thing though–hasn’t science changed over the years too? We change as we learn and understand more? In the 80s eggs were bad and fat was bad so people changed their diets and the obesity epidemic ensued. In times past doctors treated patients in ways that seem cruel and barbaric now, but as we learn better, we change. I haven’t been to church in well over 20 years, so I don’t have a dog in the fight, but I don’t think people changing rhetoric over time is inherently wrong or that it proves falsehood. I find the church to be problematic for a lot of other reasons, but this one isn’t really on the list. Can someone weigh in and tell me why I’m wrong?

    • Chris November 19, 2020 at 10:50 am - Reply

      I agree that it’s common for organizations to grow with more understanding over time. This becomes an issue when the prophet claims to speak directly as if God is speaking. His words are His words. They also doctrinally believe that God is unchanging. When the church disavows the doctrine that former prophet’s spoke, they are, by their own belief, disavowing God’s word. Also, if the prophets were so wrong then, how can we know they are correct now? When are they speaking for God and when are they speaking as a man?
      The problems continue when you look at the surrounding issues for some of the policy changes. For example, changing the doctrine, that now they claim was only a theory, for Blacks and the priesthood also came at a time when BYU’s tax exempt status was threatened.
      There is also no clear acknowledgement or apologies for past doctrines that are now disavowed by current church leaders. It’s all swept under the rug or blatantly hard to fund, which is an unethical practice. “God’s elect” should be held to a higher standard.

      • Chris November 19, 2020 at 11:38 am - Reply

        Blatantly hard to “find” not fund.

    • david starr alleman December 3, 2020 at 5:40 am - Reply

      The tragedy of the decision made by JReuben Clark’s followers (known as “Clark men”) like Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B Lee, Ezra Taft Benson, Mark E Peterson and Boyd K Packer is that they never allowed liberal Mormon’s led by David O McKay(known as “McKay men”) like Stephan L Richards, Hugh B Brown,Adam S Bennion, Joseph F Merrill, Spencer W Kimball, N Eldon Tanner , David B Haight and Marion D Hanks to be respected.
      The liberals respected science but knew that it was being drawn to nihilistic existentialist dogmas.
      The conservatives feared science and refused to explore new ways to think about Mormon religious experiences. If the conservatives would have been open to pragmatic explorations along the lines of William James (one of James’ students Levi Edgar Young became a President of the First Quorum of the Seventy after earning a PhD in history from Columbia),
      then there could have been a “big tent” Mormonism.
      Now that seems impossible. The practical good compromise in over looking Joseph Smith’s failed revelations (the liberal position) was never matched by the conservatives who could have over looked the speculations and reinterpretations of the liberals as needed to keep educated members of the Church engaged.
      Liberals who do not believe in the possibility of miracles (Sterling McMurrin comes to mind) made my father Ray Starr Alleman laugh. My father’s PhD was in physics from Johns Hopkins. He was good friends with Wesley P Lloyd who’s journal documents BH Roberts’ liberal attempts at reinterpretation. My father and other active liberals were the hope of compromise as documented in Dialogue and Sunstone under the leadership of Eugene England, Leonard Arrington, Lowel Bennion, Scott Kenny, Peggy Fletcher , Daniel Rector and Elbert Peck.
      The real division came to a head in 1976 when the Clark conservatives could not stomach the scientific (historical) reinterpretations in the Allen and Leonard Story of the Latter-day Saints. Spencer W Kimball liked this improvement and never disrespected earlier histories that contained myths and fasehoods.
      Ezra Taft Benson and Mark E Peterson worked to root out the heretics (their view of liberals).

  11. E.B. November 18, 2020 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Marlana and Adam,
    Thank you for sharing your journey with such intelligence, candor, and empathy!
    Marlana, ironically (or not) I threw up after visiting Nauvoo nearly 20 years ago because I imagined the young girls Joseph Smith had taken while I was visiting the Mansion House- so I do understand the visceral reaction you’ve had…
    You’re both courageous, and I thank you for being committed to future generations having an informed decision available and not merely the glossy, sanitized, theme park presentation presented by the SLC church.

  12. Tina November 19, 2020 at 8:30 am - Reply

    Sara, when/if science changes, it admits they were wrong. The Church does not.

  13. Philip McLemore November 26, 2020 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Really enjoyed the podcast. I have one objection to the modesty discussion. First, I agree, the boy/girl double standard to protect boys by controlling girls is nuts. My wife and I used to provide the music for Stake dances in 1994 and the skirt measuring at the door drove me crazy. Girls were being sent home over an inch!! However, you don’t solve one “extreme” problem by going to the other extreme. It was communicated in the podcast that if girls choose to dress “provocatively” that’s simply the boys’ problem. Is there not a mutual responsibility here? Modesty is about respect for self and others and not controlling or provoking.

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