In this episode we interview Tanner Gilliland and Samantha Snyder.  Tanner was raised as an orthodox Mormon in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Samantha converted to the LDS Church in the U.K.  Both lived very orthodox LDS lives as millennials, attending BYU-Idaho as devout members, and interning for Deseret Book after graduating from BYU-I.  Samantha co-founded the web site Millennial Mormons.

As Tanner and Samantha began to question the modern LDS Church, they briefly entertained the teachings of Denver Snuffer (Tanner was actually re-baptised according to Snuffer’s teachings).  Earlier this year, both Tanner and Samantha left the LDS Church, and recently co-founded the new post-Mormon millennial blog called

As recent reports suggest that the LDS Church is losing its Millennial members at a rapid pace (see here and here), this interview begins to explore why.


  1. Amy September 28, 2015 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    The part where Tanner talks about calling his parents and telling them he can’t be a Mormon anymore……such big sobs!! Why oh why can’t everybody be like that? So much love!!

  2. Scott September 28, 2015 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    I relate a lot with what Tanner articulated (so well, I might add) about his journey–mine has just been a much slower journey. I am somewhat jealous at the speed through which he and Samantha navigated their faith crises. Their lives will be so much more fulfilling and authentic as a result of their experiences. How lucky they are to have come to their conclusions at such a young age.

    A couple of comments/questions (if Tanner or Samantha are reading this):

    – Tanner, having socialized with some of those in the Denver Snuffer camp, would you say that a lot of Snuffer’s adherents (even though I know that’s not what they’re called), are attracted to him because they follow a journey similar to yours? Meaning, have they become somewhat disillusioned by historical/doctrinal issues and are looking for answers, or are they more of a fundamentalist mindset/background (a la FLDS) to begin with?

    – Samantha, I totally related with some of the thoughts you shared about Thomas S. Monson, in relation to how one tries to find a “nuanced” view of a prophet in order to stay in the Church. I still have a temple recommend, yet I have to twist the semantics of whether Monson is a prophet, seer, and revelator. Yes, Monson has never said anything or dones anything (to my knowledge) that could be attributed to a prophet, seer, and revelator. However, will I sustain him as such? Sure, what the hell. Why not? It’s always interesting, the mental gymnastics that we play through our faith crises.

    – Tanner, I’m seven years older than you. I’m one of the borderline millenials, but what the hell does “janky” mean? :)

    • Gary in Oregon September 28, 2015 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      (adjective) inferior quality; held in low social regard; old and delapidated; refers almost exclusively to inanimate material objects, not to people
      We tried to pick up on these girls waiting for the bus, but I was driving my sister’s janky 1989 geo metro so we just got clowned instead.

      PS – When millenials have questions, google has answers.

      • Doubting Thomas September 29, 2015 at 1:08 pm - Reply

        Janky reminded me of “jinkies” which was used by Velma on Scooby Doo to denote shock or surprise.

        PS – When baby boomers have questions we still have our memory. ;)

    • Tanner September 30, 2015 at 2:43 pm - Reply

      Hi Scott,

      To answer your question–yes, I think most Snufferites followed a similar path that I did. I know a few come from a fundamentalist background, but I’d say the vast majority were mainstream latter-day saints who lost confidence in the modern LDS church, but feel bound to the Restoration because of spiritual experiences relating to the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith. I imagine it’s harder for fundamentalists to accept Snuffer’s message since Snuffer tends to portray Brigham and co. as highjackers of the Restoration.

      Here’s the Urban Dictionary definition of “janky:” (adjective) inferior quality; held in low social regard; old and dilapidated; refers almost exclusively to inanimate material objects, not to people

      e.g. We tried to pick up on these girls waiting for the bus, but I was driving my sister’s janky 1989 geo metro so we just got clowned instead.


      • Truthseeker March 4, 2018 at 9:51 pm - Reply

        The Lord warned, “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man (or woman) that trusteth in man.”

        Satan deceived you into putting your faith in men, ie Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Thomas S. Monson, etc. instead of putting your faith and trust in the Lord, who is perfect.

        Men or women, no matter how determined to do right, always fail in some respect and those who trust in them will fall with them.

        Fast and pray for strength to do what is right and stop attacking the Savior and His restored church… because life is short, and eternity is long.

        Your friend in Texas,


    • Tanner September 30, 2015 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Scott,
      I thought I had replied to your post, but now I’m not seeing it. So sorry if there is a repeat somewhere. To answer your question–I believe most Snufferites were mainstream latter-day saints who lost confidence in the modern LDS church, but felt tied to the Restoration due to spiritual experiences with the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. I do know that there are some people who come from a fundamentalist background, but I imagine it is harder for fundamentalists to accept Snuffer since he tends to portray Brigham and co. as highjackers of the Restoration.

    • Joe W November 8, 2015 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      “I have to twist the semantics of whether [the prophet] is a prophet, seer, and revelator.”

      You weren’t alone.

  3. Shawn September 28, 2015 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    I was at BYU-I during the skinny jean incident too! As a civil engineering major I was in the testing center frequently. My teachers would sometimes pull pranks on the testing center, allowing us to take random non related items with us during the tests, like twine and model toy cars.

  4. Gary in Oregon September 28, 2015 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    I had never heard of Dan Jones either … and I am b.i.c. 1950 … Argentina South mission ’69-’71 … BSEE BYU ’74.

    Just sayin’ …

  5. BW September 28, 2015 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    I admire Tanner’s desire to go full throttle when he believes, I am the same way, but I really think that he is going a little fast when it comes to not believing in an afterlife. Someone posted on Mormon Stories about a month or so ago, when a similar belief was being discussed, he suggested reading this book. Journey of Souls by Michael Newton, Ph.D.
    I just got through reading it, and it has made an afterlife so much more real than I have ever believed before. Tanner I challenge you to read this book!

    • Gary in Oregon September 28, 2015 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      BW, (and Tanner & Samantha)

      You just made my day!

      I just listened to Tanner and Samantha, and came here specifically to express my sadness after hearing Tanner say he no longer believes in an Afterlife.

      Then I saw your post about reading ‘Journey of Souls’ by Michael Newton.

      I am the dude who posted about Michael Newton’s books. I am beyond delighted that you found ‘Journey of Souls’ meaningful, BW.

      I have read all four of MN’s books. You should especially also read ‘Destiny of Souls’. It has even more accounts of Life Between Lives than ‘Journey’ and paints an even more astonishing and beautiful picture of our True Home and our Real Eternal Family aka Soul Group.

      Tanner and Samantha, now that you are free to discover Truth on your own terms, let me gift you with a Heads-Up: Fasten your seat belts! Wonderful that you are no longer AFRAID OF INFORMATION. Also be careful of throwing babies out with bathwater.

      I totally get that Richard Dawkins sounds appealing after you have been duped and controlled by Religion all your lives. Do take his advice and throw out Religion. But then, leave him behind to discover what Richard has not yet figured out.

      It is totally possible and completely doable to discover the non-physical Spiritual Reality completely disconnected from any Religion. Michael Newton was atheist years ago when one of his routine hypnosis clients spontaneously regressed to a Past Life during a session. Dr. Newton followed the client’s lead and documented a deep hypnosis, remembered experience through the death process of the client’s spirit soul rising out of the body and then traveling along the passage into the Spirit Realm. The memories of Life Between Lives recalled by the client were amazingly detailed and coherent and blew Michael Newton away. He was so impressed by that discovery that he changed the focus of his practice and eventually regressed over 7,000 people who all reported similar experiences in the Spirit Realm but with specific detail unique for each individual. These thousands of recalled memories under deep hypnosis painted a picture with astonishing clarity, as BW has reported.

      Tanner and Samantha, the Spirit Realm (our True Home) is far more amazing, compelling and awe inspiring that ANY religion has taught. Please, please accept BW’s challenge to read Michael Newton. It will give you a far greater sense of purpose, comfort and safety than what you lost when you discovered that Joseph Lied.

      If the concept of Reincarnation turns you off, I strongly challenge you to open your mind and suspend disbelief long enough to let MN’s information into your awareness. When you start to understand the REAL Plan of Eternal Progression (yes, there is one, and it IS why we are here on Earth), your Life will take on purpose and meaning you don’t think is possible at this juncture along your journey.

      Thank you both for sharing your heart wrenching stories of your courageous journey out of what you now know is a MIND CONTROL CULT. Take a deep breath, and get started on The Rest of Your Story of exciting adventure and astonishing discovery. Fasten your seat belts for a Wild and Exhilarating Ride!

      • BW September 30, 2015 at 12:52 pm - Reply

        I will definitely Read all of Michael Newton’s books, I have already contacted one of his students to be regressed. I have always believed that no way one life can prepare a soul to become a Creator, it takes many many lives. I had an experience when I visited Nauvoo back in the 80’s that I had been there before, and it was real to me at that time. Reincarnation is not new to the LDS church, read The Life Of Orson F Whitney he was a believer, and also my grandfathers 1st cousin, they had a secret society that met weekly, using code names etc. there agenda was to promote reincarnation in the church, but he had to give up what he believed, otherwise he could not become an Apostle. Thanks Gary From Oregon for turning me on to this Author!

        • Gary in Oregon September 30, 2015 at 4:53 pm - Reply


          It is my delight and pleasure to share my discovery of Michael Newton’s writings with others. This is an opportunity to express my ‘missionary zeal’ by sharing something actually worthwhile, as opposed to the BS I peddled in Argentina decades ago.

          I did a PLR past life regression and LBL life between lives regression with a MN-trained hypnotherapist. Unfortunately, I discovered I am among the small percentage of people not susceptible to hypnosis. Very disappointing for me. I really wanted to have my own experience. I hope you have better success.

          Thanks for sharing your Nauvoo deja vu. Very interesting. I have wondered if I was an abusive polygamist in a past life, based on my intense, reverse-role experiences with females in this lifetime. My life would be an ideal karmic re-education for misogynist type dudes.

          Thanks for the heads-up on Orson F. Whitney and Reincarnation. I had never heard about Mormons believing it. If you think about it, Reincarnation does not serve a Mind Control Cult. Better to convince dupes that they get only one chance to get it right.

          My great great grandfather wrote the hymn ‘O How Lovely Was the Morning’. What a great cartoon song about an imaginary event! Check out this excellently produced HeartSell version. Makes me want to contact the missionaries and get rebaptized.

          PS – Search ‘Michael Newton” on the Recovery forum for my posts by beyondashadow.

          • BW September 30, 2015 at 7:27 pm

            Gary In Oregon
            That is a very popular song in every ward I attended. My gene’s go back to early Mormonism also, my Great Great Grandfather was Newel K Whitney. I should be a good subject for regression, as I have been Hypnotized before, and took a class in Clinical Hypnosis years ago when I lived in Salt Lake City. I think I will go to this lady in Arizona, she comes across as very good, and I will be out there over the Holidays, she said it would be about 5 hours to do both, she works out of her home, and sounds like a nice comfortable environment to relax in.

          • Nobunaga73 October 1, 2015 at 12:19 am

            “If the concept of Reincarnation turns you off, I strongly challenge you to open your mind and suspend disbelief long enough to let MN’s information into your awareness. ”

            Meet the new boss
            Same as the old boss

            …. We won’t get fooled again.

            Disturbed by the Woo quotient in your post; it’s so hard to let go.

          • Gary in Oregon October 2, 2015 at 3:33 pm


            You wrote:

            “Meet the new boss Same as the old boss …. We won’t get fooled again.

            “Disturbed by the Woo quotient in your post; it’s so hard to let go.”

            Can we agree that ‘woo woo’ refers to anything nonphysical (including nonexistent)?

            Sounds like you have only one bucket in your world for things ‘woo woo’.

            Lemme suggest that you consider a second bucket and label your two buckets:

            Imaginary Woo Woo (stuff that’s invisible because it does not exist)

            Real Woo Woo (invisible stuff that exists in spite of being invisible)

            Go ahead and keep your Real Woo Woo bucket empty if that resonates for you. But don’t throw that bucket away. You might need it someday.

  6. Tim September 28, 2015 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    The best short identity for “Those who read and appreciate Denver Snuffer, and follow Jesus Christ” that I’ve heard is “Free Range Mormons.”

    • Gary in Oregon September 30, 2015 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      “Free Range Mormons”

      Love that! From TBMs to FRMs

      Then when they get tired of FRM and NOM JSBS, they can go chill out on RfM.

      • Willy October 6, 2015 at 9:10 am - Reply

        I really like the term “Independent Mormon” when practicing Mormonism independent of an organization.

  7. Patty September 28, 2015 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    John, this was an excellent podcast. Thanks to Tanner and Samantha, two brilliant young people. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed listening. I, like Samantha, joined the Mormon Church at seventeen years of age in England. Over the last two weeks of following “Zelf on the Shelf,” I have learned more about Mormonism than I did in the last fifty years. Ouch! Keep up the good work. Love, Grandma Patty.

  8. Patty September 28, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    Sorry. Spelling correction: it should be “Zelph on the Shelf.” And it is highly recommended.

  9. Jay Packard September 28, 2015 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Tanner and Samantha are still going to have to try and piece the different conflicting truths they encounter in life. Tanner idealizes Dawkins, but Dawkins has his own inconsistencies. Leaving the church is not an escape from that.

    • Jay September 28, 2015 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      I expect Tanner will continue to identify falsehoods and move towards truth. If he has the fortitude to question the religion he was brought up in and accept the fact that mormonism was built on a fabricated story, then I expect he’ll be able to deal with other falsehoods he encounters.

      • Jay Packard September 28, 2015 at 9:43 pm - Reply

        I admire Tanner’s courage to study and take him where the truth takes him. I’m doing that still from within. However, I worry Tanner is idealizing the other side as he did with Mormonism while he was Mormon. The grass may be greener on the other side, but he may find that’s only because it’s plastic.

        • Jay September 28, 2015 at 10:11 pm - Reply

          I don’t know of anyone who ever studied their way into the LDS Church. Doesn’t happen.

          People study their way out.

          • Thomas September 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

            On other boards/sites I have done a little canvassing just on this subject. Many of us who had faith crisis’ didn’t have to “study” our way out. We just found out what history and writings had been hidden and that destroyed all belief in Mormonism. Then again the other half of the people do indeed “study” their way out; they read and question for months and years. So what happened to me in just a three-day weekend is the same result and finding as those who took months to study their way out? Does that mean they were more Mormon than me? I went on my mission, went through the temple many times (pre-1990) loved the church, hymns, MoTab, Sat Warriors, etc… I did follow up on history and science afterwards; but the way I see it, it was a spiritual experience to gain my testimony, it was a spiritual experience to lose it.

          • Ryan Wimmer October 1, 2015 at 10:22 pm

            Roger Keller who I believe still teaches at BYU, unless retired, I think is an example of a guy who studied himself into Mormonism. Wrote interesting book “Reformed Christians Mormon Christians Lets Talk”

      • Rude Dog September 30, 2015 at 7:35 am - Reply

        Agreed. Especially just recently on twitter, Dawkins seems to be out of touch. He’s great at evolutionary biology, not so good at social media. However that’s what life is. I wouldn’t call it plastic as Jay Packard does because I find life both predictable and unpredictable, and human beings being human. That’s the great thing about Dawkins, is that he is human. He makes claims about the science of biology and the powerful evidence it has taken us to about evolution of life, including the evolution of bi-pedal hominids, which was one of the most profound ideas I’ve ever come across, and the death knell of my belief. I like Dawkin’s perspective, and his simplicity of presenting it. See Dawkins gets to be human because he doesn’t make any claims of infallibility. Prophets, although admittedly human, however claim communication with the divine, and present these “infallible” communications with the followers, who should apply these “infallible” principles in their lives. Now, I didn’t get all bothered when a prophet mused in the 1960’s that he thinks man would not go to the moon, or even Joseph Smith’s speculation of men living on the moon dressed as Quakers. What bothers me is when prophets fail on the big moral question that vex humanity. Questions of race, gender, historical origins, and scientific betterment of society. Prophets don’t get a pass from me, and I voted with my heart and mind to treat these men as just that, men.

        So Jay Packard, Dawkins has his own inconsistencies. Of course. But I want to live in the world where that is expected. In Mormon world, that is not expected, and suddenly up is down, and wrong is right. That world sucks.

    • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 4:03 pm - Reply

      Tanner doesn’t idolize Dawkins. Someone’s ideas resonating with you doesn’t equate to you “idolizing” them. Regardless, Dawkins doesn’t require Tanner to give him 10% of his money or exclusively wear his underwear and so on and so forth. Tanner and I are free to think for ourselves now, and we are both committed to doing so sensibly and intelligently, ever-aware of our ability to be wrong and the need for open mindedness.

      • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 4:38 pm - Reply

        Gotcha! The point is, I don’t either either of us believe anyone is without inconsistencies or flaws anymore. :)

      • Rude Dog September 30, 2015 at 7:02 pm - Reply

        Jay, you don’t have necessarily have a problem with evolution, what you have a problem with is grasping deep time. Time is what gives, what probably gave the rudimentary molecule of RNA a chance to replicate itself, and that gave rise to copies that continued to have a chance in a respective environment. Those efficient within their respective environments were able to copy themselves into the next generation, and RNA gave way to molecular DNA, that gave way to complex molecules capable of replication and after billions, with a B went on to form one of the most complex organisms, the single cell, and after billions of more years went on to one of the most profound ideas known to man, an idea that Dawkins explained simply, and profoundly. Dawkin’s book “The selfish gene” is one of the most important books if one wants to understand our origins.

        You need to grasp a hold of what evolution is, Jay, before you say something like you did. Because “from mud to a sophisticated cell” is very comprehensible. However one must understand that it is a patient process, all about random genetic re-arrangement riding a deep backdrop of quantum indeterminacy. The environment then selects those that are efficient within that particular environment. It’s rather simple, actually. Unless of course, your attention span is 6000 years ago, and a few years out when Jesus comes and explains to all how wrong we were about an old earth.

        • Rude Dog September 30, 2015 at 9:38 pm - Reply

          Jay, take all the time you need. Keep your company.

          • Ephima Morphew October 24, 2015 at 1:54 pm

            Anthropocentrism gone mad.
            The arrogance of two dudes perched by a lake explaining the meaning of life with a banana is the ability to jump into that leap of faith wrapped in their doctrinal safety net.
            I have had a postulate that simply explains both the banana and the soda can without magic.

            Like the infinate number of monkeys on typewriters there is time to factor.
            God does not play dice but loves game theory.

            the moment when haram is halal postulate:

            “Only God is God, there is no God but god, and God only knows for sure, god is everywhere, god clings to your soul like sore underwear”
            for God’s sake change your shorts

            Changing the world one
            Mormon at a time through
            religious understanding and
            Mormon Counter-Apologetics

  10. Jon September 28, 2015 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    I can relate a lot to Tannner’s story. I believed in the traditional views of Mormonism, and approached pre mission/post mission life in a simular fashion. It didn’t take long from the time I first stumbled on troubling issues in Mormonism to the time I resigned. Maybe 18 months. It really isn’t that complicated. Either it happened or it didn’t. The 1st vision never happened, there were no plates, there was no Lehi, tower of Babel, great flood, or Adam and Eve. Is there a God? I have no clue, but until he/she communicates in a more logical, clear,enlightening, and uncontradictory way; I am going to live my life on my own terms.

  11. dkorth September 28, 2015 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    I wish my wife and family could understand Tanners poem. It fits so well my experiences, unfortunately my faith crisis is demonized by them. So messed up and misunderstood.

    • Doubting Thomas September 29, 2015 at 1:33 pm - Reply

      So true. Just this month Elder Ballard, in a podcast posted right here on Mormon Stories, reiterated the position that when members leave the church they are under Satan’s influence.

      Until LDS leaders, and all true believing members, stop the false teaching and assertion that ex-members are under some kind of demonic power, AND THAT’S WHY THEY LEFT, I can never leave it alone. That’s an attack on my character and I defend myself with everything I’ve got.

      You don’t agree with me? That’s fine. Let’s discuss what I’ve learned with what you “know” and have a debate, but don’t simply say “your under Satan’s power” as a way to dismiss my information.

      This is a sure way to know a religious organization is on it’s last leg folks.

      Well done Sam and Tanner. Well done.

  12. David Fife September 29, 2015 at 1:47 am - Reply

    This was an interesting interview. I must confess that I got a little bit emotional when Tanner told of his mother’s reaction when he said that he could no longer be a Mormon.
    I agree with them that its important to be protective of people’s feeling regarding something as tender as faith in god. My wife is a TBM and she desires to remain in the church, so until that changes, I’m technically a member. I’m less than a robust member. If people ask why, I’ll tell, but if not, I remain silent.

    One thing that is a constant on this site is the high level of angst and sadness with regard to their relationship with the LDS church. It reminds me of somone who is hoping for sane behaviour from an insane dishonest partner. You cannot have a functional relationship with crazy and dishonest.

    Staying in an organization like the LDS church here in Utah is a tough decision, but like most things in life, its complicated. As for TED talks, its how I get through Sacrament meeting.

  13. Kyson September 29, 2015 at 2:43 am - Reply

    Watching this has strengthened my testimony oddly enough. I feel more confident and blessed to have had the experiences I have had with God.

    My belief in the LDS church is not a result of some one time, emotional “answer” that I got while on my knees once. Instead it is based on feeling, thoughts, impressions, and confirmations that I receive on a weekly and daily basis. Whenever I am open, I feel that I receive more than I deserve.

    My heart goes out to those who feel they aren’t getting any answer from God as they pray. I wish I had an easy answer for that. We can only go by personal experiences, but I know that I have received answers from heaven.

    I wish for the best for Sam and Tanner. You are great people :)

    I agree we shouldn’t be afraid to learn and research. I will always continue to research. Each time I do, my happiness and surety are increased.


    • Gary in Oregon September 29, 2015 at 3:54 pm - Reply


      You wrote:

      “Watching this has strengthened my testimony oddly enough.”

      “My belief in the LDS church is not a result of some one time, emotional “answer” that I got while on my knees once. Instead it is based on feeling, thoughts, impressions, and confirmations that I receive on a weekly and daily basis. Whenever I am open, I feel that I receive more than I deserve.”

      Did not Tanner describe his own testimony in very similar terms? It seems that you must have a very different standard of Truth compared with Tanner’s standard of rigor. Your standard seems to be in lock-step alignment with the standard The Brethren teach, which is FEELINGS TRUMP FACTS – ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.

      To feel like your testimony was STRENGTHENED by Tanner’s story of anguish and struggle sounds to me like an insult to the trial by fire that Tanner endured to come out into the Light on the other side … with all of the JSBS burned off … in the process of heavy pain and suffering.

      What you have done, Kyson, is to simply walk leisurely AROUND Tanner’s intensely hot fire and say, “Fire? What fire? Is there a fire around here somewhere? My testimony is stronger now. What fire?”

      Please watch this video and compare your warm and comforting feelings about the Church and the Gospel with the people you see expressing on the video. Then ask yourself, “What makes ME and MY PARTICULAR FEELINGS so damn special?” Tanner and Samamtha figured out how special THEIR feelings were.

      • Ed Goble October 2, 2015 at 1:13 am - Reply

        Get off your high horse Gary in Oregon. I remember you from the thread from John’s hit podcast on Michael Ash’s article. Do you people seriously think you are? Do you really think that you are the only ones that have had faith crises? Do you seriously think that you can sit here and tell people that those that have maintained testimony have not passed through all the so-called stages of faith that the rest of you have. My faith crisis happened when I was fourteen years old when I was faced with the anti-Mormon BS fed to me by my karate teacher, and that was 29 years ago, long before John Dehlin ever had his faith crisis or many others had. I remember shouting in dread and in agony of soul at that young age, ready to give up, yelling, “Mormonism is a bunch of Bullshit!” Only to have the Holy Ghost come back when I had calmed down in plain and simple terms tell me in a calm, soft voice, “No it’s not.” I am now in my mid 40’s. I am now a temple worker, and have a strong testimony, but I was what you all now call an Internet Mormon long before a lot of Millenials were even conceived, and I don’t have the least bit of sympathy for your whining and moaning. And yes, I have a burning testimony, and I won’t stand around idly by sitting here being told that people that have strong testimonies don’t know what it’s like to have been through that dark night of the soul and through that burning fire. Furthermore, I won’t stand idly by and be told that because we are faithful, that we are not able to use reason and be rigorous by weak willed and weak minded, lazy, stupid and impatient people who sit there and whine and moan about how they think that the Holy Ghost hasn’t answered them. Get off it and grow a pair and get down on your knees and repent and pray like Enos till you get a testimony. I have had it with your kind. I have had it with your excuses. I’ve had it with your lack of faith. That is your choice to have lack of faith. Nobody forced you. You were told in the Book of Mormon that you live in a state where you would be not given the proof and that you would have to have faith, and nothing would be proven to you until after you had faith like the Brother of Jared. I’ve just plain had it with you people in particular. I’ve had it with apostates like John Dehlin who will stand at the judgement bar being responsible for the blood of tens of thousands. I’ve had it with apologists that make excuses and make up stuff like tapirs and sleds to explain away stuff that hasn’t been found yet. I’ve had it with the lot of you people out there that refuse to have faith.

        • Rude Dog October 14, 2015 at 5:44 pm - Reply


          I’d probably refrain from using “grow a pair” and “get on your knees” in the same sentence.

          Just sayin.

        • Lori October 17, 2015 at 8:41 pm - Reply

          What’s most troubling is all your anger. In the name of our creator, that is so very puzzling.

        • skithedeep October 23, 2015 at 10:34 pm - Reply


          What makes your faith any better than another? So you have faith but in what? Why not another religion? There are millions of people that would parrot your words but in the defense of Islam or Catholicism and they would be just as sure as you are..your faith is not special and neither is anyone else’s and certainly has little to do with truth and knowledge…
          Tanner has taken the journey and found his way out, he has left the cave of the close minded who think their faith determines the truth, not many like him make such a journey and his dedication to accepting what is and not what is made up is inspiring..
          When people have faith despite overwhelming evidence that is when darkness can shroud our decisions and fanaticism and irrationality take hold, this mentality should be opposed as often as possible.

  14. bob September 29, 2015 at 7:01 am - Reply

    I was Tanner excepting I was in the Church for 40 years and was married with 8 kids. I wanted to be a “super Mormon” and volunteered for extra service including volunteering and getting an extra month on my mission.

    The brutality of having to miss your children’s weddings and being shunned by people you thought were your friends and being forced into an unwanted divorce are beyond traumatic and numbing and excruciating. The pain related to the feeling of being so duped and mislead after giving so much trust and devotion, and so much service are off the charts. All so heart breaking and enough to make you crazy.

    There will not likely ever be a time when active members will be able to “bridge” the gap because the Church members would feel that they were conversing with the enemy.

  15. Andrew September 29, 2015 at 7:51 am - Reply

    I’m a millennial living in Utah. I experienced a crisis of faith while attending BYU-Provo. I have since resigned membership in the LDS Church and am very happy to no longer be a member. I discovered the same disturbing information in church history and as Tanner said “I can no longer believe” even if I wanted too. Thank you for your bravery in telling your stories.

    • J. Crown September 29, 2015 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      Are you the same Andrew who took part in the “It gets better” campaign while a student at BYU? If so, you sir are a hero in your own right, and indeed brave for sharing your story as well. I watched that video over and over and sobbed. It was the first time in over a decade that I felt proud to be a BYU alum.

  16. churchistrue September 29, 2015 at 8:09 am - Reply

    Interesting interview. Thanks. The interview prompted me to think a lot, which led to this blog post.

  17. Michael September 29, 2015 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Can any one help did they say they believe in the Book of Mormon bible or Jesus christ

    • Andrew September 29, 2015 at 10:43 am - Reply

      Michael I gathered that they reject the origin of the LDS church completely including the Book of Mormon. Tanner was clear that he rejects belief in the bible and the afterlife. Samantha wasn’t as clear what she believe or doesn’t believe outside of the LDS church being a fraud. She did say that she thinks people should focus on this life and find fulfillment now.

    • Gary in Oregon September 29, 2015 at 3:57 pm - Reply

      Yes, I can help, Michael. Listen to the podcast again and stay AWAKE this time.

    • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 3:55 pm - Reply

      We don’t. But we love the principles of Christ, whether he’s real or not.

      • Michael October 1, 2015 at 12:53 pm - Reply

        Hi Sam

        Nice to meet you my name is Michael I am from LONDON ENGLAND I have a frew questions that may help me. Although I found the church expects a lot from me, may I just say what you profess to say I think is good because it is making us AWARE I read Tanners reading on Ballard and I can,t help but think he is mostly right. However may be you can help with my perspective on Mormon religion. Although I have problems with the church I can,t get away from my feelings that the BOM seems like Scipture to me or seems to enlighten me, gives me light, understanding, and guidance,these are good feelings. Not to mention the scriptures help me to be a better person in life. Do you get these same feeling or did you get these same feelings in the church? Thank you for your reply

        • Michael October 1, 2015 at 1:01 pm - Reply

          Hi Samatha

          Nice to meet you my name is Michael I am from LONDON ENGLAND I have a frew questions that may help me. Although I found the church expects a lot from me, may I just say what you profess to say I think is good because it is making us AWARE I read Tanners reading on Ballard and I can,t help but think he is mostly right. However may be you can help with my perspective on Mormon religion. Although I have problems with the church I can,t get away from my feelings that the BOM seems like Scipture to me or seems to enlighten me, gives me light, understanding, and guidance,these are good feelings. Not to mention the scriptures help me to be a better person in life. Do you get these same feeling or did you get these same feelings in the church? Thank you for your reply

  18. Jason September 29, 2015 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Great interview. …one point I’d like to make after listening though.

    Facts aren’t “anti-Mormon” any more than they are “pro-Mormon” Facts just are.

    • Doubting Thomas September 29, 2015 at 1:43 pm - Reply


      My refined definition of anti-Mormon is simply anti-Mormon NOW.

      The “Proclamation on the Family” that is so admired by TBM’s today would have been considered anti-Mormon in 1865. Information contained in many of the essay’s today on would have been considered anti-Mormon in 1975.

      It seems to be when you don’t have bedrock truth on your side you are always redefining doctrine and rewriting history. When this is your formula for keeping your church together what is considered “anti” will always be changing too.

      Here’s a quote from the essay on “Race and the Priesthood”

      “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else.”

      This statement, made in the presence of EVERY Mormon prophet, until June of 1978, would have been ANTI-MORMON.

  19. Noodles September 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    The single BIGGEST issue I take with this entire thing, and this is GLARING, I mean who do they think they’re kidding with this one? He was never interested in dating her even the tiniest little bit?!? HER?! Bull crap!


    I’m completely joking, but thanks to Tanner and Sam for having the courage to speak up, for better or worse. I really hope we can all be more like Tanner’s awesome parents who were so accepting of him regardless of his beliefs and opinions.

    • Gary in Oregon September 29, 2015 at 5:33 pm - Reply

      There is a somewhat obvious reason Tanner and Samantha have never dated.

      It’s possible Tanner has yet to acknowledge that reason. It’s most fortunate he has emotionally parted company with the Church. Very fortunate for him.

      I wish both of them successful and fulfilling lives. They certainly deserve it.

      • Tanner September 30, 2015 at 2:56 pm - Reply

        I can only guess you are alluding to homosexuality. Despite my love for musical theater and my natural talent for jazz hands, I am in fact straight.

        • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 3:41 pm - Reply

          It’s true. And a stone cold bummer to the gay community. No pun intended.

          • Gary in Oregon September 30, 2015 at 5:25 pm

            Tanner & Samantha,

            Thank you both for correcting my misguided suspicion. Not many of us in Tanner’s position woulda/coulda remained that platonic … so up close and personal with Samantha. NOMB, of course, but I am sure lots of us were wondering.

            Tanner, you are so much more intelligent, creative and talented than 99.9% of straight males (including yours truly), I had to wonder if you might be gay. (That is an affirmation/compliment to gays, btw. Sorry if any heteros are offended.)

            My heart goes truly out to Mormons with SSA. Two of my cousins were gay Mormons. One had 5 children and then died of Aids. The other stayed single and moved to West Hollywood.

            I am so happy for your both, now that you’re Free. Do check out my Reply to BW. There are true Pearls of Great Price out there awaiting your discovery.

  20. jpv September 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Tanner, which parts if any do you still believe or disbelieve:

    You were clearly aware of the issues at this point, what was the impetus to your current perspective?

    • Tanner September 30, 2015 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      You can very clearly see the Snuffer influence in that article (I even quoted him without giving a direct citation). At that point in my journey, I felt that Snuffer’s perspective was the key to understanding Mormonism.

      Today I believe that striving for the literal presence of God will leave a lot of people feeling worthless and disappointed. Most people’s brains will not produce hallucinations to the degree that Snuffer has received. Because they won’t be able to have the required experiences they will continue to feel more and more inferior, and turn to more and more dangerous ideologies to compensate. I know several people who used hardcore hallucinogens to produce spiritual experiences.

      Today, I do not deny the “spiritual” experiences I had, but I interpret them as the product of neurochemistry and psychology, rather than actual contact with God. Thus, my testimony of Jesus is no longer the unshakeable foundation of faith it once was.

      Today, I do not believe that faith is an effective method of learning truth. Faith starts with a conclusion and requires one to manipulate all evidence to fit within that conclusion. Now, I prefer to form my beliefs from available evidence and rational thinking.

  21. Rowan September 29, 2015 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    In the interest of living honestly and being true to your convictions, would it make sense to go back and reimburse BYU-I for the subsidized tuition you received? You know, pay back the difference between LDS and non-LDS tuition? There are people who paid in to subsidize you, and now you don’t plan to reciprocate. Seems like the courageous thing to do would be to pay back the difference, right?

    • Jason September 29, 2015 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      I would agree with you only if: A. They lost their faith and had resigned as members of the church while living as students. And B. If the church would also refund them all of the tithing paid by them in the past.

      Joking aside, why should they have to pay the difference in tuition unless they resigned as members while attending the university? It would be like having to reimburse a scholarship from the Young Progressives if you grow up and decide to change political parties. Unless the person was disingenuous at the time of the financial application, and I don’t see that situation here, it doesn’t seem dishonest.

      • Marcus October 5, 2015 at 7:22 am - Reply

        Hmm. I could use a refund of the over $100,000 that I contributed over a lifetime. . . .

    • Todd September 29, 2015 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      If the church reimburses all the tithing he’s paid, sure. I’d take that honorable transaction.

    • David Fife September 29, 2015 at 4:55 pm - Reply

      They both finished BYU trying desperately to stay in the church.

      This is a common perception of people who are having faith crises. This is not something that they want. It just happens to you. You try desperately to find a way to remain LDS and the reason you leave, is because to stay requires a level of personal dishonesty that is simply intolerable. they both tried very hard to find a way to make peace with their faith.

      Why is it that we never ask for the same level of honesty from our leaders that we demand from our lonely members? Where is the responsibility of the leaders who have systematically mischaracterized and dis-informed their membership with regard to churches history and theology?

      I have testimony issues. Should the LDS church return my tithing? Should the church refuse the money I give them every month on the grounds of moral integrity?

      • Paul M September 30, 2015 at 9:25 pm - Reply

        ^this! Perfect post, I totally agree with you.

    • churchistrue September 29, 2015 at 5:30 pm - Reply


    • Xposit September 30, 2015 at 8:34 am - Reply

      It is never easy leaving a religious tradition you have been raised up in since birth, however, it is ever so much simpler to do it prior to having children and perpetuating the fraud through them. I am forever grateful I found my way out before my first child was born.

      I’m from the generation that had to get our pornography from a dumpster and the real history of the church from a microfiche in the basement of the old library in downtown S.L.C. or through a surreptitious visit to the gates of hell disguised as Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s living room. It’s good to see that more and more young people are able to access the relevant information through the internet and make these informed decisions before getting in any deeper.

    • truthrealized September 30, 2015 at 10:07 am - Reply


      What a great idea! Personally I would be happy to do that when the LDS church and BYU refund the thousands upon thousands of dollars in tithes, offerings and donations they accepted (and expected)from my husband and me over our lifetime. Seems in the interest of integrity the church would being willing to do that. It would show that the church wasn’t really interested in my money but in my salvation.

      Unfortunatly there is no money back guarantee, just a hard won conclusion that the church is based on the teachings of a false prophet.

      Had the church been honest about it’s origins we would not have been on the wrong path all these years and probably would not have gone to BYU in the first place. But you can be assured that when we were students at BYU (and until very recently)we were TBM and full tithe payers.

      From what I can tell Tanner and Samantha were also TBM and lived the gospel until they came to the same conclusion.

    • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 3:44 pm - Reply

      Are you joking? You think after serving the church for two years and paying tithing his whole life because he was fed a whitewashed narrative and the accounts of dishonest men in history, because he happened to be born into an LDS family … That tanner should pay back his tuition? I think Tanner deserves a REIMBURSEMENT, for the malls and the opulent temples and other crap the church uses to not spend feeding the hungry.

      • cl_rand October 1, 2015 at 6:52 am - Reply

        I don’t believe Rowan was joking Samantha, I think it was a simplistic attempt at being clever, however, Rowan’s suggestion serves as a good illustration of the type of convoluted reasoning required from those who remain loyal to the church after learning the actual history of its’ founder.

  22. bob September 29, 2015 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    I’m wondering what the difference is between member and non-member tuition?

    No doubt, Samantha was “called” to participate in Church assignments for no charge not to mention all the tithing paid before and during her time at BYU Idaho.

    Given how traumatic it is to discover the faith you had based your whole life on is a fraud, and the expense of flying from England to attend an American university.

    This is only the beginning. Her marriage to another member may yet be a challenge, when for the rest of her life, all of the events with her family will be missed because she was lured to America.

    This is not unsimilar to what happened to early Saints who were enticed to come to America by the Perpetual Immigration Fund. I had always been taught that the early Church missionaries were so spiritual and that England was ready for the harvest. Little did I know that they were sold a bill of goods. They were promised a gleaming city on a hill. They were given passage to the US, then a train ride to Nauvoo, then a hand cart with which to walk across the prairies without the resources to leave.

    That seems to be a similar tactic today. Enticed into the Church with the “milk”, which becomes a blank check to your entire life.

    I still think those leaving should join an effort to file a class action suit against the Church for deliberate, intentional and criminal fraud and appeal to the Federal Government and courts to investigate the Church’s finances.

    People who are honest have nothing to hide which doesn’t include the LDS Church.

    • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      Yeah… I want reimbursement for therapy costs.

  23. Jason September 29, 2015 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Love the comment about the “Resting B Face”

    Honestly, I find it hard to see how the church can possibly address these questions. When you look at the faithful Mormons who have made it mentally and spiritually work, such as Dan Wotherspoon, Adam Miller, Terryl and Fiona Givens, Richard Bushman, Jana Reiss, etc. you see that the coalescing consensus of how to make is to become more Universalist in nature. The problem, in that regard, is that the last thing that the Church would want is to lose its appeal to singular authority and only be able to lay claim to validity through its fruits (Seed of Faith Allegory). Because claiming validity based only upon the fruits can only logically show that the church is AS valid as other religions that also produce good fruits, not MORE valid.

    The truth is that the long term threat to the church, and to religion in general, is globalization and social technology. Once people’s common social groups start to include good people who are gay, or Muslims, Hindus, or Evangelicals, and not just other Mormons, then it becomes impossible to claim that our church is the only one that people receive spiritual conversion experiences to, or that our religion generally creates better people than any other religion.

    Then, in people’s minds, the only logical answer can be that either God doesn’t exist, or that he works through all spiritual vehicles to confirm subjective spiritual truths, not objective spiritual truths about a single church.

    • David Fife September 29, 2015 at 4:46 pm - Reply

      The RLDS church decided to be honest with actual church history and as a result, about 30-40% of their members left. It just became another me-too protestant religion. Its tough to get young men to give up 2 years of their lives to go out and prosteletize for a “pretty good” church.

      The church has its back against the wall. They will lose a large percentage of their membership if they continue on as-is, but , they will lose a larger percentage if they become another “vanilla” Protestant religion. There are no good options now for the church, and I believe that the brethern know this.

      I think this is why the church has been so aggressive in investing its money. Once tithing starts to substantially decline, they will have income from other investment projects to sustain them.

      • Nadine October 2, 2015 at 11:00 pm - Reply

        I raised the question recently about how many RLDS left. I was referred to an article about it that said that about 3% left. I had previously heard 10%. I think it was nowhere near 30-40%.

        You have to balance off losses for changing (admitting the truth) against losses for refusing to change (continuing to publish a version of things that is untenable in the Internet Age). The LDS church has already “lost” nearly 2/3 of its membership if you look at estimates of how many of the fictional 15 million members are actually believing and practicing Mormons. (The DesNews published an article awhile back that said 36% of members are active. The number was excised from the article, but no before some people got screen shots.)

  24. Matt September 29, 2015 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    One thing I notice with a lot of young Mormons who leave Mormonism (I am a professor at a Church sponsored school and not a believer), is that they leave Mormonism behind with their fundamentalism and need for Truth fully intact. They quickly find a new movement, theory, or leader under which they can begin their discipleship anew. I am inclined to believe it is a combination of youth and conditioning into an absolutist, black and white cultural paradigm.

    Dawkins is a popular one for these folks, even though in my opinion he is a lazy, arrogant thinker who is no more qualified to speak on religion, philosophy, or social theory than I am to speak on evolutionary biology. I shudder at the prospect of having to live in his utopia as much as I would shudder at having to live the United Order in Zion.

    I commend Tanner and Samantha on their courage and integrity. I would caution them to realize that although they have left the faith, Mormon absolutist culture dies hard, and becoming a truly independent thinker is a lifelong journey.

    • Noodle September 29, 2015 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      You really don’t like Dawkins, huh?

    • Gary in Oregon September 29, 2015 at 10:13 pm - Reply


      I don’t envy you being a nonbelieving professor at a Church sponsored school. That’s gotta suck.

      You make a good point about exMos refocusing their absolutist, black and white paradigm of truth on some other target after leaving Mormonism. ExMos can end up as receptive, pre-ripened cult fodder.

      I mostly somewhat avoided that chuckhole myself, although I did invest too much confidence in one teacher/guru along my path.

      I do recall my own perspective fresh out of the Church 35 years ago. I watched myself embrace the new-to-me thought of I DON’T KNOW and THAT IS TOTALLY OK concept … totally foreign to the Mormon brainwash.

      It is ridiculously absurd for ANY devout Mormon to claim any shred of Humility. “My dear brothers and sisters, I HUMBLY stand before you to testify that I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that my theory of reality is God’s Truth. I KNOW I am right, and that anyone who thinks differently is simply mistaken.” So please explain the meaning of Humble in that sentence?

      See my comments above in response to BW for some thoughts on Dawkins.

      Whatever twists and turns might decorate one’s pathway out of Mormonism, it can be a wonderful adventure of discovery and awakening … where YOU get to chart your own course and decide at every turn what YOU think and feel and what makes sense to YOU … completely disconnected from the broken records dispensed by a Club of Calcified Dinosaur Spiritual Dwarfs in Salt Lake City.

      • bob September 30, 2015 at 7:36 am - Reply

        My question for a long time has been “How do people who know the history and doctrinal issues not feel any sense of cognitive dissonance about the things that I’m so concerned with?”

        Like Tanner, no amount of money could get me to lie about anything Joseph Smith did to preserve his image or reputation of the Church.

        I thought that having integrity would matter to my wife and children, and discovered that it didn’t matter. Pretending that the Church was what it claims was ok and of course, because they were all, as Jeremy Runnells described, “chapel Mormons” who know nothing beyond what the Church has taught them in Sunday School.

        In fact, anything, and I mean anything that doesn’t support the Church’s ever changing official story, they don’t want to know about it and consider it all “anti-Mormon” rather than just the facts. And because they consider any “uncomfortable feeling” what we would consider as “dissonance” which would alert us to a danger or factual inconsistency, they’ve been taught that it’s Satan and to avoid further discussion.

        The sacchariney sweet, G rated, “put all of your questions on the shelf” mentality, makes it so most members in previous generations don’t question anything the leadership shoves their way. They’re almost on auto-pilot with their ability to “find the good” in everything. When I expressed my concern about my daughter giving up her baby to adoption (my first grandchild) the response other members was, “Well at least he’s going to a good home.”

        I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told that “smarter people than you or I” have testimonies of the gospel.

        I had an ongoing conversation with a history professor at a Utah university who considered himself a “scholar” by virtue of his position and education. He knows the Church isn’t what it claims to be, but maintains his membership and plays the game because his whole family, children, brothers and sisters for generations are all in the Church and I don’t doubt that he recognizes the impact it would have on his family for him to come out questioning the Church.

        He shared a website made up of the “testimonies”

        I used to wonder how intelligent, cultured, religious people could build an Auschwitz, but they did. And for the most part, the fear of standing up and being honest and the possible repercussions on one’s personal life is just too great.

    • Tanner September 30, 2015 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Trust me, I have no special affection for Dawkins or any other such person. I merely used him as a top-of-the-head example of the beauty I find in the scientific process.

      Though I have a thirst for truth, but it is not such a frantic search these days. I am more inclined to spend time with loved ones and pursue my interests that have been neglected. Yes, the journey seems like it will be lifelong. I’m in no rush to figure it all out immediately. :)

    • Nobunaga73 October 1, 2015 at 12:31 am - Reply

      “Dawkins is a popular one for these folks, even though in my opinion he is a lazy, arrogant thinker who is no more qualified to speak on religion, philosophy, or social theory than I am to speak on evolutionary biology. I shudder at the prospect of having to live in his utopia as much as I would shudder at having to live the United Order in Zion.”

      What in Darwin’s name are you talking about? What is ‘his utopia’?

      I think you’re basing your understanding off of his detractors comments .. go to the source documents.

  25. DF September 29, 2015 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    It came across clearly that Tanner did the research and study for both of them. I have a lot of compassion for him and respect for his sincerity. He seemed to have put much more thought and effort into his decision to separate from the Church. He turned his back on God because despite Tanner’s sincere best efforts to connect with God, He was silent. That’s relatable and I understand that. What I don’t understand and what I don’t think was fully explained was why he became impatient and why he finally and completely abandon all hope and desire for an answer.

    I’m 38, I was born in the Church, served a mission, graduated from BYU and married in the temple, had kids and didn’t really get the kind of affirmative answer about the gospel, the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith that I had sought and wished I’d had until about 4 years ago. I’d had doubts about truth claims, and questions about polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, the ecclesiastical abuse of women and gays in the Church. I researched these things as well as I could and read uncorrelated church history. I still do. But I can’t deny the reality of my experience and the answer that I got that God exists, He loves us and His message is in the Book of Mormon. No matter what I read here or in some book or on Mormon Think or Zelph on the Shelf, the CES letter or wherever, the power of my experience transcends reason, logic and my own mortal understanding. Up until four years ago, from time to time, I thought very seriously about tossing it all aside because individually God’s only response to my efforts and pleas was radio silence, but I pressed on and I’m glad I waited it out. I just wish people like Tanner would hold on too.

    Samantha…maybe I read her wrong, but her efforts to seek the truth seemed lax and she appeared to be searching for an excuse to leave. She came across as very flip and seemed to arrive at her decision to leave after a lot less effort than Tanner.

    • Jason September 30, 2015 at 12:42 pm - Reply

      DF, I have been in your position, but I haven’t been able to make it work. I had a roommate in college who had a conversion experience to Islam, nearly identical to mine to Mormonism, almost word for word. I served a mission, have been in the Bishopric, but started researching conversion experiences. I knew that people of other faiths had spiritual experiences, but not that they had conversion experiences. Now, the most I can say is that God wants me to BE a Mormon, or that he was telling me the church was good. But, if people of almost all faiths have conversion experiences when asking about their truthfulness, how can my experience, and yours, logically be God telling us the ONLY true church is Mormonism?

      This is critical to the authority and logic we’ve been taught since we were children. We have always been taught that spiritual confirmation of joining the church or about Jesus Christ or the Book of Mormon means that the Church is the only tru church on the earth, and that it has the only valid priesthood authority. This no longer makes sense to me. We are forcing God into a small box that just doesn’t match the reality of conversion experiences. If God tells me Mormonism is good and valid, but Mormonism tells me that my conversion experience means that it is the only one with authority, then I live with cognitive dissonance every day, pulled between what God tells me and what the church tells me. I haven’t been able to be at peace about the church, mostly because of its exclusive truth and authority claims.

      • Gary in Oregon September 30, 2015 at 3:59 pm - Reply

        Summary of Jason’s observation:

        The exclusive TRUTH CLAIMS of the Mormon Church are PURE BS.

        … therefore …

        The Mormon Church is PURE BS.

        … so …

        If you choose to believe PURE BS, then you get what you deserve, and you deserve what you get.

        Like it? You tell yourself it works for you? Fine.

        Don’t like it? Feels like crap? Then make a different choice.

        Congrats to Tanner and Samantha for loving themselves enough to break free from Spirit Prison.

        It’s tragically absurd that Mormons fear Spirit Prison, when in reality they LIVE in a Spirit Prison 24/7 and are so brainwashed they call it The Blessings of the Gospel.

        How do you spell i-n-s-a-n-i-t-y ?

    • Matt September 30, 2015 at 1:11 pm - Reply

      I have to admit I have some issues with the position stated above. It is not up to you, or me, or anyone else to judge someone’s spiritual path in life. To insinuate that if Tanner had just stuck it out a little longer everything would have eventually made sense, is somewhat insulting.

      At the end of the day, if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t make you happy or bring the peace it promises, leave. Irrespective of truth claims, Mormonism rewards a certain personality type. For some people, living the LDS faith is misery. It just is. No one has any right to judge these people for leaving, regardless of their reason. I am extremely impatient with even the idea that there is a valid (found out the “truth”) versus an invalid (wanted to sin) reason for leaving Mormonism. Let’s face it, if someone says that they could care less about history, Mormonism was making them nuts and they just wanted to chill and have a beer every once in awhile and go skiing on Sundays, well, have at it. None of my business. These people don’t owe anyone else an explanation. Mormons have to learn to deal with the fact that living their faith does not bring happiness to everyone who tries it. They also have to learn to accept that people sometimes make decisions based on information and evidence, and it is their right to do so. End of story. Let it go.

      • DF September 30, 2015 at 6:33 pm - Reply

        I actually agree with a lot of what you’re saying. People can live as much or as little of the gospel as they want. They can leave the LDS Church or any and all religion and stop believing in God and an afterlife for any reason they choose or for no reason at all. I don’t begrudge them. I don’t judge or condemn them. I sincerely hope they find peace and happiness and I wish them well.

        But my faith, arrived at by my own experience, is such that I believe that God exists, knows me, loves me and want me to love others and to know and love Him. Because of my experience, I believe other people can and do have similar experiences. If they don’t or can’t, I have no explanation for that. I don’t look at them sideways or think it implies anything about who they are or what God thinks of them. That is ridiculous.

        And you’re right, no one owes anyone an explanation for why they leave their faith. But if you choose to put yourself out there and talk about your Mormon faith transition in a public forum, you help yourself if you’re well informed and can reasonably articulate (like Tanner did and like John Dehlin and others have done) the process or rationale that you used to make the decision to move away from TBMhood and transition to something else.

      • Liz October 1, 2015 at 11:03 pm - Reply

        Well said.

        • bob October 1, 2015 at 11:28 pm - Reply

          Truth be told, we studied our brains out and about made ourselves crazy trying to figure out how to make it work. It’s like trying to stuff the proverbial square peg in the round hole. And the “cognitive dissonance” grows to such a level, and the pain so exhausting that we frankly don’t know what else to do.

          We aren’t sure about more fasting and prayer, because we’ve done that and it doesn’t help. We feel like we’re being told to drink more Koolaid and soul search some more.

          The more we study, we can read through books written by the Church “leadership” and can tell we know more about the Church history than they do and it causes us to wonder why a Church, that we loved so much has such a checkered past? And then we wonder, why, if the Church was established by God, why the leaders would misrepresent the truth. People who have truth on their side don’t have any reason to be dishonest.

          Then to use Church practices to hurt the members, such as not allowing parents to attend the weddings of their children? I would think if the parents couldn’t go who had served their children for a quarter century every day, how in the world could any other member answer a few questions and be deemed worthy? How ridiculous is that?

          I guess it goes to show that to the level one can love something, they can show the same disrespect and dislike.

    • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      Regardless of the impression this interview may have given (due to time constraints and Tanner talking more), that is absolutely not the case.
      “Searching for an excuse to leave.”?? You don’t know me to be able to understand how shockingly false that statement is. You think I moved away from EVERYONE I knew and loved to move to America alone JUST to go to a church school to then “just want an excuse to leave”. No. I can assure you that while my journey wasn’t as long as Tanner’s, it was agonizing and all-encompassing.

      • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 4:00 pm - Reply

        Also, I can gladly provide you with a list of the hundreds of conference talks, books, and research articles I read. Not to mention the number of times I read The Book of Mormon, D&C, The Pearl of Great Price, and the Bible in the space of only a few months. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep a time log of the hours I spent desperately seeking answers in prayer.

        I tried to stay breezy in this interview for the sake of my entire non-member family who I moved 5000 miles away from for this church. Perhaps that’s something you cannot understand, but I’d hope you’d at least not limit your compassion to someone because you don’t know the whole story of the circumstances behind the toughest thing they’ve ever gone through.

        • Gary in Oregon September 30, 2015 at 6:24 pm - Reply


          I feel like I should apologize if I unfairly downplayed the trauma of your exit path vis-a-vis Tanner’s.

          My intent was to underscore that there generally is a nontrivial difference between b.i.c. Mormons and converts when it comes to the comparative depth of the brainwash/mind control. Not to also mention that family ties spanning many generations can be a significant factor.

          It sounds to me like you made a bigger personal investment in Mormonism than many/most converts in terms of time and energy spent studying and informing yourself.

          I think it’s fair to say, the bigger the incoming investment, the more difficult the outgoing disconnection trauma.

          • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 6:30 pm

            Gary, I totally understood your comment! I was responding to DW. (This comment thread is a mess, haha.) I agree with what you said. :) And I’m mostly just trying to clear things up for people who, understandably, will have got the wrong impression from this interview. :)

        • DF September 30, 2015 at 7:16 pm - Reply

          I don’t doubt that there is more to your story than came across in the podcast. But thus far, what’s in the podcast is all that’s been told publicly (or maybe it’s just all I’ve heard, idk). You had the opportunity to tell your story with as much breadth and depth as you felt was appropriate, to a pretty large audience of people who don’t know you, and it appears that you kind of fumbled it away. And so for now I stand by my earlier opinion, because to me that’s how you came across in the interview. If I’m the only person who saw it that away, then take from that what you will.

          • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 8:13 pm

            DF, feel free to check out where you can read more of my story. I did not “fumble it away” in this interview. I responded honestly to questions I was asked. John asked Tanner more of certain questions, and that’s fine by me. I took the opportunity to respond and expound wherever possible, but I wasn’t going to muscle my way into the interview more when Tanner was speaking excellently. Like I said, feel free to check out my blog, Zelph on the Shelf.
            Also, quite a lot of people read my website, Millennial Mormons, and Whatsoever Is Good, and my posts for LDS Living. Of course, not everyone listening to Mormon Stories has, but you’d be surprised how quickly 2.5 hours flies. I’m sorry my lack of interview expertise left you with an incorrect impression. I’m not used to bearing my entire soul on video for the world to see. All the best.

          • Samanth September 30, 2015 at 8:21 pm

            Also, I didn’t do this interview just to give people an entertaining story. I did it to try and raise awareness to help others. And judging by the dozens and dozens of messages I’ve received from people, converts like me and otherwise, saying how much this interview helped them, I’d say it was worthwhile. Fumbling and all. :)

          • Eve October 2, 2015 at 1:34 pm

            I did not perceive the interview that way at all. I think a large part of the focus was on Tanner’s story and Sam and Tanner’s friendship. Sam definitely didn’t get as much airtime, and I think it’s unrealistic to expect Sam to dissect every doubt she had and explain every daily step she took toward deciding to leave.

            As I talk to other former members, I’ve come to realize that the amount of time that someone takes to make a decision about the church is less important than the amount of information that person comes in contact with. I think perhaps Tanner and Samantha both would have left sooner if they had gone to Mormon Think sooner.

            I think those who leave the church share similar views of the importance of truth and have cautious but open minds.

          • bob October 2, 2015 at 2:15 pm

            Leaving or staying is not an easy choice once you’ve started to question and doubt and sitting on the fence and trying to play on both sides isn’t easy either.

            Staying causes more dissonance and concern as you watch children being indoctrinated.

            Leaving the Church has it’s problems because being without the LDS community and trying to create new friendships in a non-LDS world isn’t easy either. Members of the Church are inept and have limited social skills and life experiences to have even ordinary conversations with the rest of the world. For many they’ve never invited anyone over for dinner or thought to talk to a “non-member” without thinking about how to convert them to the Church.

            Three quarters of the world will sit around and drink coffee or have a beer and talk about life which is something totally foreign to Church members. There exchanges of ideas on many more topics.

            Leaving the Church is no easy matter and can be quite traumatic. Aside from the fear of being kicked out of the tribe there’s grieving, and for that there is really no timetable. Each person leaves at their own pace.

          • Gary in Oregon October 2, 2015 at 2:46 pm

            Thoughtfully stated, bob. I’ve been out 35 years, and I’m still socially stunted. My TBM parents were socially inept, even for TBMs, let alone ‘normal’ people.

            Human childhood/adolescence development includes age-appropriate windows of maximum growth opportunity. If an artificial Mind Control environment supplants exposure to natural society during those windows, development is not only stunted, but also contorted and disfigured. The result is screwy, abnormal TBM behaviors.

            Making up for the deficits later in life (after disconnecting from the herd pathology) becomes challenging at best, and semi-impossible at worst.

    • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      (This is the second time I’ve typed this comment because the first one didn’t go through. I apologize if it’s somehow duplicate.)

      I will gladly provide you with a list of the hundreds of conference talks, books, research articles, apologetic web pages, and other things I studied constantly for around 5 months. I didn’t make a time log of the hours I spent desperately seeking answers in prayer, or how many times I read every book of scripture in such a short time span, but I assure you it was a lot.

      I appeared “flip” in this interview for the sake of my entirely non-member family I moved 5000 miles away from for the LDS church. Perhaps you can’t understand that, but I don’t think compassion should be limited just because you don’t know the full circumstances behind someone going through the hardest thing they’ve ever gone through.

      Tanner and I led very different journeys. The common denominator is that we discovered the church isn’t true. Both of us tried as hard as we were able to try, continued believing far longer than was reasonable, and endured agony.

      • Corina November 7, 2015 at 10:14 pm - Reply

        I too converted as a teen and had very much the “same” experience you had in your youth Samantha. I too was a dreamer and trusting and easy prey. It took me a very long time to arrive at the conclusion that the LDS church is NOT true. I appreciate how you put it about the bitterness one feels when they discover they have been lied to.

        You BOTH are courageous and doing something good here. The church has harmed too many people with its desire to hide the truth. The truth can withstand scrutiny and that is why the church falls flat on its face and that is why the leadership spins things.

        I wish you both peace and happiness. Thank you!

    • Gary in Oregon September 30, 2015 at 5:54 pm - Reply

      Samantha’s convert investment in Mormonism was only a fraction of Tanner’s b.i.c. investment. It makes perfect sense that Tanner’s road to freedom was way steeper and requiring lots more time, energy, anguish and pain than Samantha’s.

      Another way to say it: Mormonism was (and is) deeply embedded in Tanner’s DNA, whereas Samantha had to more like wash it off (relatively speaking).

      Even though I left the Church 35 years ago, I still feel Mormonism inside me at the cellular level. It’s part of who I am. I grew up in Gospel Soup. Look at me? 35 years later I am spending perfectly good time and energy enjoying Tanner and Samantha interviewed by John Dehlin, and thoroughly relishing my participation in the afterglow exchange of comments and insights.

      You can take a Mormon out of the Church, but you can’t remove all of the Church from the exMormon.

      All of us are the sum total of our life experiences. I do not regret my 30 years as a TBM. If nothing else, the contrast Then vs. Now is simply delicious.

      • Samantha September 30, 2015 at 6:28 pm - Reply

        You are correct, if we’re assuming that investment = time in the church. Yes, Tanner was raised a member and had never lived without the church, and so spent considerable more time committed to it.
        However, I will still ask people to consider what “investment” means. For me, joining and being a part of the church meant straining family relationships, losing friends, changing a crap ton about how I thought, what I believed, what I ate and drank, and ultimately, meant moving to another continent alone in the pursuit of a spiritual education and a husband who shared my faith. While I may have only lived 6 years of my life in the church, compared to Tanner’s 25, I would argue that even saying that Tanner was more “invested” is wrong, as I had to sacrifice possibly a lot more than Tanner to ever be a part of it, and had to accept that I had changed EVERYTHING about my life for something that was wrong. I don’t think that’s any easier than realizing the church your parents raised you in is wrong.
        Tanner did what everyone around him both wanted and expected him to do. (And he’s awesome for being the kind of person who is always committed to what he believes is right.)
        Me being a part of the church required a lot more than simply doing what I was told. It required changing my very core, where I lived, and so on and so forth.
        Gary, I liked your comment and I know what you meant by “wash off”, but I just want to tell anyone reading that by no means was Mormonism easy to “wash off”. It’s probably not something lifelong members can understand – leaving a religion to changed your ENTIRE life to join.
        But all I’ll say is that I don’t believe my situation was any “easier” than Tanner’s, regardless of how this interview may have made things sound. We both endured a lot, and we both had totally different situations. No one’s experience is worth more or less than the others. And I CERTAINLY don’t believe I was somehow less faithful for refusing to spend another few years trying to believe something that very CLEARLY was not true. I tried as hard as I believe a sane person should.

        • bob September 30, 2015 at 10:46 pm - Reply

          I assure you, as someone who did a similar thing, joining the Church as a teenager and coming to the States, leaving my family behind, giving up friendships, my culture and changing my whole world view, going on a mission and the countless hours of service and money is mind boggling for me.

          The reason most life long members don’t comprehend this is because it’s been their life experience from birth.

          If there’s a silver lining, be glad that you’ve just started your life and not discovering this 40 years later after you’ve raised your children to believe this and are now married to believers and hate their father for being an apostate and ruining the family.

          Like Joseph Campbell spoke of, “the power of myth” is mind boggling.

        • Gary in Oregon October 2, 2015 at 3:05 pm - Reply

          Samamtha, thank you for helping me understand more deeply the significant differences between your path into and outta Mormonism vis-a-vis Tanner’s. The only thing Tanner had to do to become a Mormon was to get himself born. (Same here.) You, on the other hand, had to do a tremendous amount of life change and upset to transmogrify yourself into becoming a Mormon. I agree that it’s not fair to presume that your total time/energy/emotional/pain/suffering investment is less than Tanner’s. Thank you again for expressing yourself so clearly.

          Both of you are VERY FORTUNATE to have your families supporting/tolerating your decision: Tanner’s parents/siblings and your husband, Samantha. So glad he is out as well. (Actually, I don’t recall Tanner saying anything about his siblings’ reactions. His siblings are fortunate to see their parents modeling ‘what would Jesus do’.)

          Cudos to you both for volunteering to spend time in a fishbowl under a spotlight after taking your lives back. I am sure you are helping more people with their own life choices than you will ever know.

  26. Ryan Elwood September 30, 2015 at 1:49 am - Reply

    One pet peeve of mine is the constant claim that Joseph Smith married underage girls. The following link shows the ages of consent beginning with 1880.

    The age of consent in Illinois in 1880 was 10. The author, Stephen Robertson of the University of Sydney, says, “By 1880, the first date chosen, many western nations had established an age of consent for the first time, typically of 12 or 13 years.” The book “Marriage Laws in the United States 1887-1906” shows that Illinois age was still 14 for marriage and consent as late as 1905. Now there is debate about how common it was for girls that young to marry in “The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy,” but the point is that if it was legal there was at least some cultural acceptance of it and therefore by 19th century standards Joseph Smith did not marry underage girls. The argument that he married underage girls is purely an emotional argument based on current social structures and beliefs and not on historical fact or logic. Now the undeniable FACT that Joseph Smith did not marry underage girls may bother some people, they can kick the wall, scream, jump up and down, or run around the block in anger, but the fact is by nineteenth century standards they were not underage. But it is ok, there are plenty of good reasons to doubt Joseph Smith was a prophet.

    • J. Crown September 30, 2015 at 2:01 pm - Reply

      @ Ryan Elwood –

      Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the legality of Joseph Smith marrying young girls somehow mitigates the creepiness factor of him having done so. In the end, those marriages were still illegal – void ab initio – because he was still married to Emma. And those plural marriages were illegal wherever the Saints went – Kirtland, Missouri, Nauvoo, and Territorial Utah. I’ve heard people claim that the anti-bigamy statutes enacted after the Saints went to Utah were a form of religious persecution from the federal government. But that’s nonsense. The anti-bigamy statutes codified what was already prohibited at common law. There’s a very nice summary of this in Reynolds v. U.S., the 1878 U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Church argued they should be able to practice polygamy on religious freedom grounds because God had commanded them to do so. The Court rejected that argument. It was interesting to see in this last SCOTUS term that the Church, in the amicus brief it submitted in Obergfell, argue that marriage had always been defined between one man and one woman. How honest was it for the Church to make that argument?

      • Ryan Elwood September 30, 2015 at 4:48 pm - Reply

        J. Crown, I said nothing about the legality of polygamy, in fact, I did not address polygamy itself at all. Therefore all you did was ramble without addressing my point. I pointed out that the age of consent was much younger and therefore a 14 year old getting married was at least to some degree culturally acceptable. Joseph Smith therefore did not marry or have relations with “underage” girls because their standard of underage and consent was completely different. People need to stop inaccurately claiming Smith married underage girls.

        • Gary in Oregon September 30, 2015 at 6:05 pm - Reply

          Good point. No marriages. No underage girls.

          It was serial adultery with age-of-consent girls and women by the dozens.

          Phew! Enough with the character assassination. Now we can let JS off the hook.

          • Ryan Elwood October 1, 2015 at 12:49 am

            So you acknowledge the undeniable reality that Joseph did not get it on with underage girls according to 19th century standards. Glad I helped educate you

    • Nobunaga73 October 1, 2015 at 12:37 am - Reply

      Ryan Elwood



      Are you saying that if Joseph Smith married a 10-year-old you’d be cool with it, because it was the age of consent in Illinois?


      • Ryan Elwood October 1, 2015 at 12:47 am - Reply

        I am saying exactly what I said. That it is inaccurate to say Smith was getting it on with underage girls in accordance with 19th century standards, not a single person has challenged me on what I actually said. All responses have danced around it and tried to spin in other directions. A very common technique for those arguing from emotion.

    • JC October 5, 2015 at 9:25 am - Reply

      Nah, what bothers me is not the legality of the union but the fact that he was preying on a 14 year old. That he was having sex with Fanny in the barn while his wife was fixing dinner back at home.

      My pet peeve is that people “give Joe a break” on the grounds of legality when the guy was clearly dishonest with his wife and sought sex with young girls.

  27. Mathilde September 30, 2015 at 10:41 am - Reply

    By 19th century standards for a man Joseph Smith’s age to marry a 14 year old girl as one of many many wives, yes it was shocking enough even in those days — shocking enough that he tried to keep it secret.

    • Ryan Elwood September 30, 2015 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      Mathilde, I love fly by comments without evidence. But you also did not address the factual reality that by 19th century cultural and legal standards Smith did not marry or have relations with “underage” girls.

      • Brian Kohrman October 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm - Reply

        Your argument makes sense. Let’s drop the word “underage” and replace it with “very young”.

  28. Marlo September 30, 2015 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    I just listened and loved it, as Tanner’s story is also my story and the story of so many. I may not have clocked as many hours of study but certainly I feel that I absolutely tried my best to hold on to belief. In the end, truth trumped everything and the anxiety only stopped when I left. Life is still beautiful on the other side, and I’m sure your story can give courage to those stuck in the struggle. Thanks for sharing!

  29. David Fife September 30, 2015 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    One aspect that I have experienced since giving up on the existence of god or god’s involvement in my life, is that I am much more happy and at peace with myself and the world around me.

    Rather than think about sin management in obedience to the commandments and church standards, I find I am much more interested in living authentically, based upon an internal compass. It also forces me to be responsible personally for what I do and say, rather than to hide behind an authority figure or a holy book.

    I am still socially active in my local LDS ward, however, I never bring up the subject of religion while I’m there. Frankly, I’m not sure that many people notice. I think people are there for the sense of community. It is a rare person that likes to discuss Isaiah or the JST versus the King James versions.

    • Tanner October 1, 2015 at 10:28 am - Reply

      That has been my experience as well. I used to be so stressed out from constantly checking the temperature of my relationship with God. Every time I was down, I figured that I was doing something to displease God and needed to double my efforts. Now that I don’t worry about him, I am so much happier, and probably a better Christian since I try to good simply for good’s sake and not for a reward.

      • Gary in Oregon October 1, 2015 at 11:25 pm - Reply

        One of the Blessings of the Gospel is to never have the experience of growing up and actually being responsible for your OWN choices and behavior.

        Mormons and Christians live under the watchful eye of the Big All-Seeing Policeman in the Sky who makes all the decisions about Good and Bad, Right and Wrong, Righteousness and Wickedness.

        Being a TBM is tantamount to being a teenager living at home with a curfew imposed by parents. The parents decide what the curfew time is, and the teenager’s come-home time is judged by a curfew determined by others. The teen usually wants to stay out later, but comes home on time to avoid judgment and getting grounded (or suffers the consequences caused by the too-early curfew).

        Leaving the Church is like finally growing up and leaving your parents, and for the first time deciding for yourself what time (or IF) to return home. If you stay out all night, then you get to feel wiped out the next day. You get to experience the consequences of your OWN choices.

        I have heard people observe that some of the most compassionate and Christ-like individuals they know are …. drum roll … atheists.

        Go figure that?

        Instead of careening off the straight and narrow into the ditch of debauchery and wickedness, some atheists emulate Christ more successfully than guilt-ridden, self-flagellating dogma-philes (new word).

        • bob October 2, 2015 at 7:44 pm - Reply

          This describes my former wife completely. Raised in the Church. The baby of the family. Her whole childhood was about going to Church, ballet lessons, going on the Church activities – girl’s camp, road shows, and doing as others told her to do. She could not think at all for herself. Couldn’t cook. Couldn’t clean. Had no job skills. No critical thinking skills. She could hardly dress herself.
          She taught Sunday School classes and would never stick around to help out after any ward party. I’m doubting that she’d ever help clean a ward building. Her greatest skill was baking cookies.

          After she divorced me, she moved back to Provo to resume her life as a college co-ed. She wanted a returned missionary who would take her to the temple and take the place of her father. She was the female version of Peter Pan.

  30. Malachi October 1, 2015 at 12:02 am - Reply


    I would like to read the talk you mentioned given by Elder Holland that says “pray and ask if it’s true or you walk away”, or “put it all on the line”.

    Haven’t been able to find it. Do you remember the title or have a link?

    Thanks to both of you for sharing your story!

    • Gary in Oregon October 1, 2015 at 1:09 am - Reply

      Jeffrey likes to talk tough when it’s one-way communications with him preaching to the choir.

      He will probably never again allow a non-choir person to talk back to him on camera. Last time that happened, he called himself a non-Dodo. (Turns out he was lying.)

    • Samantha October 1, 2015 at 9:02 am - Reply

      I believe he’s talking about “Safety for the Soul’.

    • Tanner October 1, 2015 at 10:29 am - Reply

      I was referring to Elder Holland’s “Sudden death proposition” found in this talk:

      • bob October 1, 2015 at 12:20 pm - Reply

        Tom Phillips wrote extensively about this “do or die” idea here.

        Seeing the response of the hierarchy makes them look ridiculous. Clearly it’s not leadership because they’re doing more of the same…building more temples…printing more copies of the Book of Mormon (that few people read)…like Neal Maxwell described in a conference talk years, the Church is straightening the deck chairs on the Titanic”.

        It reminds me of a saying in a 12 step meeting Al-Anon I went to a couple of times to determine the affect on me from growing up with a very alcoholic father and step-mother who were both abusive.

        They said, “Take what works and leave the rest.”

        There are some good things about the Church and there are some really terrible things. From where I stand now, studying and praying, being so involved, it’s like a self-induced coma. The mental gymnastics needed to be a member is crazy.

        I think the internet, education and questioning minds are going to be the death of religion.

        What keeps this all going is the money that’s coming from all of the Church investments to keep up the pretense and image.

        I mean really, how does one look at a 35 acre visitors center complex with all of it’s high tech media presentations and “artist depictions” and not see a massive corporate advertising effort.

        I causes me to wonder what ever happened to the simple message of Christ?

  31. sharon October 1, 2015 at 6:51 am - Reply

    Bravo Tanner! Your beautiful verses were music to my ears.
    Thank You.

  32. jeannine October 1, 2015 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Tanner, how did you family do with your leaving? Samantha, how did your husband do with your leaving?

    • bob October 1, 2015 at 8:55 am - Reply

      I’ve wondered the same thing myself. If there’s a silver lining is that you’re both relatively young in your discovery and haven’t complicated the situation with marriage and children which creates all a deeper level of problems when one spouse wants to continue the indoctrination and the other is trying to make sense of the craziness.

      My wife rallied the entire ward against me and then divorced me and moved out of state, to Utah, defying our custody agreement with my children. I couldn’t believe what she was capable of this person I had been so devoted to.

      Now, to discover the depth of the fraud (and some of my children now see it) it saddens me that she broke up such a wonderful family over a myth and deprived our children of a loving father.

      It’s enough to make you crazy.

    • Samantha October 1, 2015 at 9:01 am - Reply

      My husband left too very soon after. We are very happy. :)

    • Tanner October 2, 2015 at 12:41 pm - Reply

      My family has been extremely loving and supportive. My mom has always emphasized the need for our family to be “fiercely loyal” to each other regardless of differences, so my decision has not upset my relationship with them. They don’t try to convince me and I don’t try to convince them. We are all still very close. I wish they could tell their side of the story so that other active members of the church could understand how to handle these situations.

  33. Ron Madson October 1, 2015 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Tanner and Samantha represent, imo, ironically the best of Mormonism. My roots on every line run deep in Mormonism. My father taught me that “mormonism means to follow the truth no matter where it leads us” and “if and when we find greater truth and light then as Mormons we should embrace it even if it means leaving the ‘church'”
    I greatly appreciate and admire both Samantha’s and Tanner’s openness to realize that the search never ends….like perpetual and even miraculous breakthroughs in physics there is so much more between heaven and earth than meets the eye.

    What Samantha said about the “joy of leaving” was the same as the “joy of joining the with” resonates with me. I will follow with interest their journey as I will with my own children and then grandchildren.

    As long as we have imagination and desire to search there will always be further “revelations”.

    thank you for a very enlightening podcast

  34. Kris October 1, 2015 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    What is this CES talk that is mentioned? Can someone provide a link? I’m very interested now.

    • Jason October 1, 2015 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      It is a letter from a doubter written to a CES director that was never answered. It is all pretty much all factual, but the tone can be very negative, if you are looking for something more neutral.

  35. Gabriel mouritsen October 1, 2015 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Goes to show the great extent man goes to to find God. Looking in all the wrong places. When all it it is Jesus! Love they neighbor it’s that simple.

  36. Jack October 1, 2015 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    I love it when an atheist converts to Christianity. Many have done so. Here’s a name of an amazing educator who used to be atheist to the core and received many awards from the atheist crowd for educating Christians in atheism. His name is Walter Julius Veith. Once you hear his story and read his research, your atheism will crumble to the ground. He proved from the Bible that Jesus is the Christ.

    • Ryan Elwood October 1, 2015 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      Jack I know you would really really like to believe Jesus can be proven, unfortunately there is a big wall in your way called logic based on reason and evidence. What it really comes down to is if a person is mentally tough enough to deal with death. If a person isn’t then they will use whatever mental gymnastics it takes to believe in mythology that will give them a crutch to navigate life. Those that are mentally tough to deal with the reality and permanance of death will allow logic and evidence be their guide and could never embrace Christian mythology.

      • Aaron October 4, 2015 at 4:47 pm - Reply

        You spoke about logic, have you heard of the Trivium and the Quadrivium?

  37. bob October 1, 2015 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    John and others have been using a number of terms such as “confirmation bias” and “cognitive dissonance” among others that mess up our ability to see a topic clearly. Here a chart of 20 different challenges to rational thinking.

  38. Emma October 2, 2015 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Thank you John😆 every time someone shares their story of finding the real truth about the church ….. I feel a connection with them and it clarifies in my mind The reasons I left
    I would have liked to hear more meat so to speak — more details about the specific facts they found that disturbed them And caused them to leave The podcast could have been longer if they would have spoken more about these things
    I hope you continue these type of podcasts that point out disturbing facts about the church

  39. Mark in Portland October 2, 2015 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    Bravo Tanner and Samantha! Thank you for so articulately sharing your experiences. And thank you John for hosting Mormon Stories. It fills a great need for many people. Like many others I can honestly say that I am happier and living more authentically now that I have found my way out of the LDS church. Cheers!

  40. Emma October 3, 2015 at 8:46 am - Reply

    Please give me the title of the article or video about Scientology you mentioned thank you

    • Tanner October 7, 2015 at 7:03 pm - Reply

      The documentary is called “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.” I think it’s on HBO but you might be able to find it elsewhere online.

  41. ChrisWir October 3, 2015 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Great! Thanks!
    Looking forward to another set of episodes “Loosing Mormon Internationals”…

    Three new Apostles :-)
    All three born in Utah :-(

  42. Paul October 3, 2015 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    Hey Samantha……as a Brit convert myself,living in US now ( a good few years down the road to yourself though ! ) I can validate just how incredibly hard it is to exit out of LDS teachings and culture, even without the conditioning of being a life long member.
    The comments here have been so interesting and across the board, I’ll mention a little of my own experience, which perhaps may be of value to someone.
    Baptised around age 21 after 2 years of wrestling with the teachings.
    I was in Taunton,England, where there was a branch of about 30-40 members…..even though I had questions/issues with some church history, I was “all in” for the next 6-7 years. I became the Branch President at age 23. Had a difficult marriage to a woman with 2 children from a previous marriage….after about 7 years, the difficult marriage and church issues all came to a head….yogurt hit the fan…nuff said !
    I left church, my marriage ended. Both were incredibly traumatic to go through at the same time….commiserations to you !
    For the next 22 years or so I churned it over and over almost every day, during which time I came to US…made many friends, amongst which were LDSs.
    I eventually felt compelled to come back to church,which I did. This was about 10 yrs ago. Having Re married at that point, it didn’t go down too well!…. had to do it though.
    It was a very real spiritual experience that brought me back I have to say, but I have had those kind of experiences all of my life through various sources….again though,I was “all in” just as before !
    That brings me to about 3 years ago when the same old issues surfaced. At that time I have to say that the thought of leaving the church again was simply unimaginable….I was a regular temple attender, High Priest teacher, etc.
    The issues drew me in however….I had to solve them. It was then that I found out the smorgasbord of information available on the internet since my first departure ! Oh My !
    I left no stone unturned….I went from feeling ” how could I ever leave?” to ” how could I possibly justify staying ?! ” It’s an absolutely fascinating study all the same…JS certainly had something about him ! but there are many,many like him all over the world. It seems he borrowed from multiple sources around him at the time plus his own spiritual leanings and insights, to produce the beginnings of what we know as LDS church today ( something he wouldn’t probably recognize ! ) The interesting thing to me is that I had the same ” spiritual revelation” in leaving the church after discovering the church anomalis as I did when I entered !
    The church indelibly stamps itself on birthers and converts alike…leaving it and the resulting shunning from apparenlty good people, is an enormous experience to go through.
    Don’t want to take up the entire thread here, but I will just say to those who’ve lost all belief in life beyond this world because the church didn’t turn out to be all it claimed to be…why let the church continue to sour your perspective ? I’ve been a life long meditator and spiritual seeker….leaving the church was like shedding a spiritual straight jacket for me…I feel so free having made the move !…my meditations these days are richer and deeper than ever before…what is often referred to as a ” testamony witness to the church” is actually available and present 24/7 any place, any time with no strings attached, and contrary to what members would like to think…my spirituality is more vibrant than I have ever known now that I’ve left the confines of the LDS prism.
    The church is right for those to whom the shoe fits, which included me at stages of my life, and when it no longer fits there’s so much more to discover !

  43. wcassi October 4, 2015 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    These were my favorite-ever episodes. Such thoughtful and charismatic guests.

  44. Kristen October 5, 2015 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    Thanks for articulating so well the reasons for not leaving quietly. I stopped attending 18 months ago, but haven’t told anyone except my local ward and immediate family. Something for me to think about!!!!

  45. Joy October 9, 2015 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Sam, I was wondering how your marriage has been affected by your decision, especially with it happening so soon after getting married. Is he supportive? Is he still active?

  46. JonL October 15, 2015 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    This podcast really made me hit rock bottom in terms of my testimony in anything. I honestly regret listening to it because the journey is so similar. The ironic part is Tanner says not to live in fear but that is exactly what I am feeling right now. Fear that everything I have ever believed in is false. Everything between the restoration to God’s even existence. This is not a good feeling. I feel like I just need to take a break from it all and figure out what I believe.

    • Samantha October 15, 2015 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      I’m so sorry you’re in that stage right now. Me and Tanner and MANY others know what it feels like, so we can really sympathize. :/ I promise it gets better. Let yourself grieve. I can’t explain HOW it gets so much better, but it really really does. I honestly thought I’d never find real happiness again and I was so wrong. I know everyone’s situation is different but know that there are a network of people who know what you’re going through and support you and can assure you that there is hope and happiness ahead!

    • Gary in Oregon October 15, 2015 at 9:17 pm - Reply


      The fear you are feeling is normal and natural under the circumstances. It’s human nature to feel uneasy with the new and unknown.

      Imagine that Life is a swimming pool with a shallow end and a deep end. Imagine that the edge of the pool is circled with an iron rod you can hang onto. The shallow end is for people who cannot swim where they can stand up with their head above water. The deep end is for people who have actually learned to swim on their own and not drown. The Church wants to keep its members helpless and dependent on the Church. It does not want people to learn to swim on their own, so it teaches members to always hold onto the iron rod so they will not perish in the deep water. The Church teaches that the deep water is dangerous and that Satan has dominion. Members are taught to fear the deep water.

      Some members eventually figure out that the iron rod is in reality a prison cell bar that is keeping them in a state of fear … afraid of deep water. At times, brave members develop the courage to let to of the iron rod and push off into deep water. At first, it’s really scary to have nothing to hold onto, but before too long, they start to flex their muscles and tread water and eventually learn to swim independent and free.

      Sorry for this poorly written, lame metaphor, but you get my drift.

      The true meaning of most Church teachings appears when you instead consider the opposite of the teaching. For example, members are given the Priesthood and told they are powerful. In reality, Priesthood holders have given away their personal power to The Brethren in exchange for imaginary, nonexistent, pretend ‘power’. In other words, they are MORE powerless WITH the Priesthood than without it. Likewise, members are MORE powerless WITH the Church than when they reclaim control and dominion over their own lives.

      Those who leave the Church in the rear view mirror also lose their Fear of Information instilled by The Brethren. The doors are flung wide open to a Universe of discovery and adventure, including a rich cornucopia of authentic information about the nonphysical reality having nothing to do with man made religions aka ALL religions.

      So, JonL, your fear is natural. Take your time. Take all the time you need. Explore at your own pace. Tell yourself that information is your friend, not your enemy. Eventually you will find strength in your God-given ability to chart your own course and find your own pathway. The Universe will conspire to guide you every step of the way. All you have to do is muster the courage to let go of that iron rod that’s doing nothing but hold you back in a state of perpetual fear.

      True believing members will laugh at you because you are different. You can laugh back at them because they are all the same.

      • JonL October 19, 2015 at 10:10 am - Reply

        Hello Gary,

        Thanks for taking the time to reach out. I agree with you in the sense that the church has a tendency to keep your faith immature and dependent. I, however, do not wish to lose this faith altogether and leave a community that has been a part of my life for the last 3 decades. I will admit that it has been the source of a lot of guilt and heartache, when I really stop to think about it. BUT, it, and when I say “it”, I speak more to the community more than the institution, has been the catalyst to what makes much of my character and life experience.

        All that being said, I have a new perspective, paradigm, etc. that does in fact give me power, regardless of whatever inherent power (or lack thereof) the church possesses. I feel I can receive the benefit of what the church offers without being chained to a narrow mindset.

  47. GenerationX October 16, 2015 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    Samantha and Tanner,

    Thank you for sharing your stories.

    I felt such a connection when you shared your thoughts and experiences when attending BYU Idaho. I was a professor there during the time you attended. I absolutely loved teaching at BYU Idaho; the students are some of the most incredible people that one can ever meet. I see in you two, what I saw in hundreds of my own students: Honesty, Integrity, Humility, Love and a Tenacity to stand-up for what is right.

    I began my own ‘faith transition’ in 2007, and finally broke the silence to my wife and bishop (surrendering my Temple Recommend) in 2011. I was not dismissed from BYU Idaho, they allowed me time for “rehabilitation”. The way both my bishop and the university tried to handle my situation, made me realize, that the Church does not have a clue about ‘faith transitions’ and only care for an end result that fits their narrative. To be fair, it just might be that one must experience a faith transition to understand. Both of you know that “belief” is not a switch to be turned on and off, so thinking that I could continue long term employment, would have proved disastrous results. Fortunately, I was able to find and I was offered a teaching position at another university, thus allowing me to submit my resignation to BYU-Idaho and leave on my terms in 2012.

    I am not the only professor to have left a teaching post at a Church University due ‘faith transitions’. I do not know how common it is; I know of one other professor, within my circle, which left on similar grounds.

    I wish you two the best in the years to come.

  48. Kristen Stittsworth October 17, 2015 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    I also want to thank Tanner and Samantha for sharing their stories. If more of their generation are like them, then the world is in good hands, and I wish I had been as awake and aware at their age.

  49. Ephima Morphew October 28, 2015 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    The Banana Axiom:

    The genius of our Supreme Cognitive Entity is incontrovertible, the humor of a force that can give to us the banana and the flood has chosen these two to explain the joy of the intelligently designed fruit.
    Had God elected install a zipper the fruit could have been saved for later snacks. Our loving creator is also bi-polar and can smite those who carry on with the persistence of doubt.
    The Lord Sayeth, “A banana in hand is worth two in the bush?”

  50. Gabriel von Himmel October 29, 2015 at 1:24 am - Reply

    The banana conjecture:
    The genius of our Supreme Cognitive Entity is incontrovertible, the humor of an omnipotent force that can give to us the banana and flood the earth has chosen these two proselytes to explain the joy of the intelligently designed fruit is proof of truth.
    Had God elected to install a zipper the fruit could have been saved for later snacks. Our loving creator is also bi-polar and can smite those who carry on with the persistence of doubt too.
    The Lord Sayeth in his lighter moments, “A banana in hand is worth two in the bush?”

  51. Anne November 29, 2018 at 9:10 am - Reply

    Just on the basis of what I’m seeing amongst my own brood and their contemporaries in the church, for every millenial who stops participating or leaves altogether, it seems there may be 4 more who are silently uneasy, uncertain, uncomfortable with the policies and even the doctrines, and 1-2 more who are silently completely disbelieving. It’s pretty clear to the other youth/young adults in our ward, which of them is in this category, but they all understand the price of letting on to the adults, so they go through the motions and don’t tell on each other.

    Is not as simplistic as that probably sounds. There’s also a lot of anxiety about God, blessings, judgments, and eternal family.

    It appears to me that these young people, my own “kids”, and their friends and acquaintances, are different from the young people I grew up with. For one thing, they don’t seem to have to figure out how to think openly and flexibly about gender. They seem to have come, right out of the box, with a fluid perception of gender and sexuality. It’s all rather a”no duh! “for them. The puzzle for them is more one of trying to resolve the dissonance between this fluidity that seems natural as air to them, and the weird, mental pretzels the church coughs out to them as the word of God regarding gender and sexuality. This, despite having been reared in conservative, church-informed families. It’s almost like their fluidity was pre-installed. They also seem to have a much more fluid perception of life in general, especially post – school. So many of them seem not to have the notion of some kind of life- or career-path sketched out for them by tradition or expectations. There aren’t the basic assumptions my generation held regarding work, marriage, offspring, etc. They often really struggle to figure out what their path will be, but it will definitely be of their own making!

    I don’t know if this is something others are seeing? Is it just my New England area, or is this a ‘thing’ elsewhere?

    Maybe it’s just my own perception, but it looks like the church is losing way more millenials than the statistics indicate.

  52. Anne November 29, 2018 at 9:20 am - Reply

    The assumption that post Mormons must keep revisiting their reasons for leaving, because they need to reassure themselves about those reasons, lest they realize they were wrong – this idea cuts both ways. Why do believers keep telling themselves (scriptures) each other (lessons, talks, testimonies) and the world (proselytizing), that what they’ve chosen is right? You really cannot apply that logic in one directional gain, and make full sense.

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