Today we interview Mike Brown. Mike is interesting and important to Mormon Stories Podcast for a number of reasons.

1) Mike has a compelling story of how Mormon Truth Claims deeply affected his relationship to the church.

2) Mike has studied Mormon Truth Claims more than most Mormons I know, and has authored 31 essays exploring Mormon Truth Claims, which have been posted to the Mormon Stories Podcast website. Finally,

3) Mike was one of the original supporters of the Mormon Stories Podcast billboard campaign, which has been responsible for helping thousands of Mormons find support during their faith crisis.

Today Mike will share with us his story, and then we will go deep into his explorations and discoveries regarding Mormon Truth Claims.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:



Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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Part 4

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  1. Mark LeBaron November 14, 2019 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    As always, great episode series! Putting together a TRUE timeline is something I’ve wanted to do for several years, as it has been sorely needed. I’m excited to check out the essays.

    I’d like to add to your list of giants from who’s work I’ve benefited during my own faith transition: Kathleen Kimball Melonakos, Lee B Baker, AntiCitizenX/Dr Nagal, Brother Jake. (Recognizing, of course, that they also built on the work of others).

    See you at Thrive.

  2. Wyle November 15, 2019 at 1:41 am - Reply

    Mike and John you are both amazing! Mike, I cannot believe how much I’ve learned about things I already knew because of how you described things. I am having trouble finding Mike’s essays unless those are the very ones on the Truth Claims page. As great as Mike’s message was, it was unfortunate that he kept yepping John every couple seconds and cutting John off while he was trying to speak. John is not only humorous, but says powerful, healing messages that brings the scattered parts together in concise and powerful ways. He is validating and paves a solid path for clear understanding. Also, breaking up who’s talking is an important aspect of holding the attention of an audience. Anyway, you’re still awesome Mike, and John thanks for all you do! These issues ought to be discussed

    • Weber November 15, 2019 at 10:31 am - Reply


      Excellent summary of the issues. I see you are mostly through the “turning over every rock” phase. I went through that phase a few years ago. You mentioned that you have a long history of Mormon ancestry on both sides. Would you happen to be related to Capt James Brown of the Mormon Battalion on your fathers side.


  3. Bill Ramsey November 15, 2019 at 7:24 am - Reply

    The comparison comes quick Having recently listened to Greg prince if you compare the man who invented basketball to Michael Jordan. Or even a sixth man on a city league team you begin to see that for all of us who are fourth and fifth generation Mormons this game of basketball if you will is absolutely all we know it’s so very in trenched that finding the truth is like discovering golf for those of us who can’t physically play basketball Anymore We still want to talk the talk we want to show that great capability but it’s impossible for the church the 65 billion dollar organization to relate to the sixth man on the city league team who really loves the game who lost his home in the economic crash of 08 because his bishop would only pay rent for struggling ward members Joseph invented Mormonism Brigham young took people to a place where escape from that environment at least the first few years and for 99 percent of the women Meant certain death and now we have mitt and harry fighting over who is the most righteous abortion proponent if the church would have spent their gains in the stock market for the year 2015 in Porto Rico after the hurricane can you imagine how many converts they could have gained. If they would just disban the word of wisdom and go back to what it was originally designed for (back to the inventor of basketball) I believe the church would be twice as big as it is now but truth is very hard to hide and inspiration was long ago replaced with invention The x files Montra was always( the truth is out there ) yep it is we will all know it when the Q 15 starts to bring hats with rocks to the podium in conference. Remember that for the first few years of basketball it was against the rules to jump when you shot well these are just a few of the ramblings that went on in my mind during this interview ( that’s why it’s not punctuated) The churches infatuation with power and money and the brotheren and the Co opting of the individual s spiritually( Bruce r Mconkie Vs George L Pace ) The truth crisis is the biggest problem the church has but the excess of money is giving it ( I mean the church) It’s biggest challenge because greed And arrogance has always destroyed its makers The humble saints who sacrificed everything they are the ones I cling to these days. This is the faith I hope to have in my possession when I die there is power in it we just have to claim it back for ourselves. Thanks again John and mike it’s nice to have a good game of horse to come to grips with age and realize just how much I loved basketball back when it was the only thing that mattered in my life

  4. Teancum November 15, 2019 at 8:29 am - Reply

    Dear Mike Brown,

    I find it hard to believe that you tossed aside your testimony because church history is more messy, as you put it, than you ever dreamed. Lehi’s journey out of Jerusalem to the land of promise was messy too, but Lehi, Sariah, Nephi, Sam, Jacob, and unnamed others were able to deal with the challenges they encountered. Throughout the Book of Mormon we see messiness as part of their history, why should ours be different?

    Yes, Bushman is right. The church will need to change their narrative–and they are. As I see it the narrative we grew up with was developed in an era when the prevailing idea was to push the messy things to the back ground and highlight the best. Do you remember how the news portrayed the Kennedy administration in the 1960’s? In that era the news created the image that the Kennedy’s a created something akin to King Authur’s Camelot. They suppressed Kennedy’s womanizing and in its place presented the image of a happy family in the White House.

    So how should we look at those who created the narrative we grew up with? Were they deceiving or protecting us? There is a difference. I think we can label what they did as paternalistic.

    Take a moment and look around you. Those who really understand Joseph Smith and church history are not abandoning their faith and leaving the church in droves. Why is Bushman and many other like him still faithful? How many of the BYU religion faculty have come to Mormon Stories to relate their faith crisis? How many General Authorities have stepped forward to let the world know that the church is false?

    I’m afraid one day you are going to realize you’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water.

    I urge you to turn to fasting an prayer and reevaluate your decision to be numbered with those who are leaving the church established by Heavenly Father through the prophet Joseph Smith.

    I wish you the best.

    • Anonymous November 16, 2019 at 6:24 am - Reply

      Nobody tosses aside this life’s work without deep contemplation can you imagine how tough it was for willford woodruff to undo polygamy or spencer kimball to undo the priesthood ban or our current heart surgeon to tackle the mice bailing off the boat at this present time. TIME is the key this church and it’s ever changing doctrines reside in TIME we worship an eternal perfect unchanging God. Now if you wish to defend time go ahead do all the mental gymnastics you wish but think for a moment as you judge these children of an eternal God just what it takes to pack up a lifetime of experience and breath in breath out and move on ( thank you Jimmy Buffett) for the greatest conference talk never given to those of us who have finally seen the light (tea and come) change the way you spell your title and catch up a bit to those who are putting this crap in their rear view mirrors. Like the traffic cop at the scene of a fender bender Move on there’s nothing to see here and your analects are just criticism of the drivers who landed in the same place at the same time In other words your defense of the faith is turning into criticism of those you are trying so hard to save Pray about it bring these things up with your Hevenly father tell him you will be a great god in the eternity s because you defended the prophet Joseph with everything you had then wait I promise you the stupor of thought will be immediate and you will know for yourself that what these humble servants are saying is the truth (Agrippa you already know ) You are like the dog barking at the procession. Just be nice and consider how tough it is to pack up and leave your safe space that really isn’t that safe

    • Michael November 16, 2019 at 11:14 am - Reply

      Why do you think very few byu faculty or general authorities have come forward? I’m sure you can think of some reasons. People have little interest in truth when it competes with livelihood and social standing.
      I mean did you even listen to this podcast? If you want to stay fine, enjoy your expensive social club. But it’s clear the bathwater is filthy and the baby is just a toy doll pieced together with Elmer’s glue and some fading paint.

    • Michael November 16, 2019 at 11:18 am - Reply

      Why do you think very few byu faculty or general authorities have come forward? I’m sure you can think of some reasons. People have little interest in truth when it competes with livelihood and social standing.
      I mean did you even listen to this podcast? If you want to stay fine, enjoy your expensive social club. But it’s clear the bathwater is filthy and the baby is just a toy doll pieced together with Elmer’s glue and some fading paint.

    • Amateur Skeptic November 18, 2019 at 3:58 pm - Reply

      It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
      -Upton Sinclair

    • RLeeG November 20, 2019 at 3:10 pm - Reply

      Teancum, have you considered that perhaps the Mormon church might not be true and others can come to that ultimate conclusion while you remain with your conclusion? If I were to tell you that I think you have made a big mistake not being Catholic and I fear you have made decisions that will greatly impact your eternal salvation negatively, would that have any impact on you? I would assume not, because you see no reason, no evidence, no good argument for it being true or useful to you. You wouldn’t make such a massive decision to join Catholicism just because someone told you they knew it was true.

      It is fine that you believe, but it is not the more reasonable conclusion to hold against the evidences existing against Joseph Smith and the church. You are going to have to be content with being one of about 0.07% of the word population that can believe in this one particular church and it’s claims from the 1800’s that don’t stand up to the test of time or the arguments against it.

    • Dave C. November 21, 2019 at 12:03 pm - Reply


      I’ve found many believing members think there are only four reasons someone would leave the church:

      – They were offended
      – They want to sin
      – They are lazy
      – They are deceived

      What these members fail to comprehend is one can leave because they find out it’s not true.

      • Teancum November 22, 2019 at 9:43 am - Reply

        Dave C.,

        Many, if not most believing members think as you stated above. Why? I think the answer is that they haven’t had contact with very many members who have left the church. Those who do have contact with members who have left, and sincerely explore their reasons for leaving, come away with better understanding. I’ve been seeking understanding for a long time and have learned a host of reasons why members lose faith.

        Those who think they have found out the church is not true, as you pointed out above, leave based on Mormonism’s messy church history. I wish them the best. I also believe that most of them will come back at some point in this life or the next when additional understanding comes to them.

        This kind of discussion needs to be balanced by pointing out there are members who know about the messiness in church history but don’t leave. Why? I believe the answer to this question is multifaceted and is beyond the scope of a few paragraphs written on MS discussion board.

        If the messiness in church history was so over whelming against the truth claims of Mormonism you would see a steady exodus of church members in the Church Education System and in the hierarchy of the church. How many CES church members and General Authorities have left the church because of the challenging aspects of church history? For CES the answer is very, very few. To my knowledge no GA’s have left (however, I think we will see it happen). Why is this so? Because they know things that keep them faithful. I believe they have had manifestations of the Spirit in ways that others haven’t.

        Why do I stay? Because of the manifestations of the Spirit. Am I troubled by church history? Yes, but I have been given numerous manifestations of the Spirit that makes it impossible for me to leave, including one experience behind the veil.

    • cl_rand November 22, 2019 at 10:05 am - Reply

      So I’m guessing we can mark TEANCUM down as one of the many who simply don’t want to know that the church isn’t what it claims to be. There’s an old adage that says something about leading a horse to water which seems to be perfectly crafted for the many like teancum. One piece of advice I might offer to the fabulous folks who don’t want to know is, if you really don’t want to know, you had better stop looking. I wish you the best.

  5. Emily November 15, 2019 at 9:15 am - Reply

    Thank you for this podcast. I recently learned of the Church essays and started my own research into Church history. I’m in my 40’s and have been shocked/sickened/sad/angry, yes, angry by what I’ve found.

    The Churches foundation has too many cracks; it is built on sand. From Joseph Smith and into Brigham Young (where I am at in my studies) these men and some of their closest followers performed deplorable acts under the term “prophecy .” Yes, it may be in our history; however, I strongly feel that the Church needs to disavow Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s actions/prophecies in order for some conscience members to stay faithful.

    For those who can reconcile Church history, that is awesome and I am happy for them. For those of us who can’t, my heart breaks with them. These are very personal choices for each, and to demean or judge someone for staying or leaving is in essence not Christ like behavior.

    • Debi November 15, 2019 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your comment. “These are very personal choices for each, and to demean or judge someone for staying or leaving is in essence not Christ like behavior.” I agree.

  6. EDiL13 November 15, 2019 at 10:52 am - Reply

    Halfway through this series of interviews and looking forward to the rest of it…

    Mike’s description of how the witnesses “saw” the golden plates reminds me of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” except that the one person who admitted that he couldn’t see it failed to shatter the illusion. A credit to Joseph Smith’s charisma, perhaps?

    EDiL13 (Elohim’s Daughter in Law)

    • Jose November 15, 2019 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      Michael, did you ever go back to Venezuela to let your investigators know, or contact them by any means, that what you taught them was not true? Does truth only matter to people who live in USA? Those who find out the truth have a moral responsibility to tell those they misled know the whole truth. Would you agree?

  7. PulpJunkie November 15, 2019 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    I would like to hear more about William Clayton and his Church History journals, etc.

  8. Miguel November 15, 2019 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Wow…I’ve been going through my own faith transition and this was fascinating and heartbreaking. I’m a young scholar (MA History) and I understand the value of evidence, context, etc., and this information is overwhelming against the Church’s truth claims. One has to learn that to try and reconcile between the evidence/history with the faith/belief, something has to move…and it ends up that one’s faith/belief has to start shifting until a reconciliation can work with the evidence. While that shift will be different for everyone, it may often mean that that faith/belief in the Church’s truth claims is no longer possible.

    Question … Is there anyway that Mr. Brown can make available his original, unedited essays, research? I know that the Truth Claims section is an edited version. I think it would be great to have his original research and essay available to those that want access to those.


  9. Debi November 15, 2019 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Thank you! I found your information, Examining Mormon Truth Claims, weeks ago. I was delighted to find the Chronology of Mormon History. I enjoyed the joke at the bottom and I stamped a little smiley face on a printed copy. I look forward to reading all of the information.

    My thanks to all those who helped with this project. I love how the information is presented on the web page!

  10. R. A. November 17, 2019 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    You use the expression that Joseph Smith ‘went to bed with’ and ‘had sex with’ Fanny Algier. Is there new information on this? My understanding is that all we know is he had a relationship (marriage, sealing, romantic) with her.
    In so many ways you’re very careful to present things accurately, and I’ve learned to depend on that.

  11. Ray November 17, 2019 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Great interview and thank you for the essays and chronology. Maybe I missed it but did you add the church claiming the kinderhook plates as authentic when they were first rediscovered, then having to publish the correction later that they were indeed fake?

  12. Mike November 20, 2019 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Hi – great stuff. Where can I find a copy of the slides that Mike Brown prepared?

  13. Janie Hamai November 21, 2019 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Great podcast! Thanks so much for sharing your story! It really helps me cope in my mixed faith marriage. Side note I was watching a show on Prime not sure how real all of the stories are that are told, but one episode talked about how in the 1830s it was very fashionable to own mummies. It was what all the wealthy people wanted. It was a fun curiosity. It was covered in newspapers as well. It just struck me how this could have influence Joseph Smith. It is so sad he duped so many people. Poor people who trusted him. I also trusted the Mormon church. I feel it is important to trust people with the truth. Thanks so much!!!

  14. Cory Jorgensen November 29, 2019 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Great interview. I just heard you say Michael Coe passed away. His interview was in my opinion one of the best on Mormon Stories. R.I.P.

  15. Bubba November 29, 2019 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    How can I contact mike? He has such great restraint. I know his frustration. I feel the same as him. But I dont have the intellect and self control he does. I’d like to know how to contact him. He sees black and white. And that’s how it should be with God. I can’t bend anymore to justify accepting non truth! The church destroyed me! I have a story! But I can’t compile. Starts with a traumatic tbi on an lds mission. Roll over accident. And it covered up. Several injured. Church tells me they can’t find record of my mission. As I ask for medical reports. They financially broke my parents as they were left to pay for my medical Bill’s. I need someone like mike to talk to. He gets to the point. I need his advice.

  16. Emma December 27, 2019 at 9:00 am - Reply

    Fantastic One if the most valuable and important podcasts about the desire to find truth— the search for truth — the Devastating answers found, and the painful decision to guide ones choices by the truth found …….. this is perhaps the most important podcast about the process a tbm goes thru and the specific truth that is found

    He gives us information and courage to face the truth

  17. Emma December 27, 2019 at 9:28 am - Reply

    You have done so much to bring the truth to light. But I’m confused and disappointed in your constant clarification that you think the church is good.

    Please be honest with us and yourself. Don’t worry about pleasing or offending TBM’s You know more than anyone what this cult is. Where it came from and how it hurts controls and manipulates. To say that it is good is saying that the cult is good

    Please have the courage to be an example to us all —that you can call the kettle black. To say it as it is!!!! no matter how people choose to react. Even if they reject you . Why do you insist the church is good! I really don’t understand?

    I agree that there are good people in the cult— but it is a cult from its very core— it was established upon lies of JS who only wanted sex power and money. There was nothing good in what JS said or did That is the religion. That is what it is based on. That is the core of the religion. The Mormon cult would have to be a totally different religion to be good.

    Why are you saying it is good? So that TBM’s will not be offended? I’m confused and disappointed You have been a warrior for truth . Please admit and declare the truth of what the cult TScc really is . Please don’t say it is good

  18. UTsmall town girl January 4, 2020 at 5:37 am - Reply

    Thank you for putting this together in this manner, I LOVED IT!
    I left the flock over the summer after hearing one too many talks about husbands who “don’t love their family” because they won’t take them to the temple. After that I allowed myself to investigate the church I had loved since childhood.
    We celebrated our 21st Anniversary in the fall and it was so nice to not have an ache in my heart for what everyone else has and holds over us (Temple sealing). I had spent many of the other 20 years feeling shame and yes at times suicidal over my youthful decision to marry someone who’d grown up outside the church-I’m so glad I did! I no longer ruminate every decision I made as a young woman. The hurt the church caused me, I’m still trying to recover from.
    Some days I do want to shout what I learned from the roof top, (mostly the simple fact about the rock in the hat) but I wouldn’t have listened myself a few years ago, the programming and fictional stories we learn about Joseph were ingrained in me so strongly. To unravel Jospeh from how I was taught of God and Saviour was too great, knowing about the true story gave me strength to walk away from years of pain.

    Recently my 10 year old told me she wants to go back to church-and my son who’s nearly 16- I can, without guilt tell them I won’t be going and taking them there. I haven’t been able to tell them the things I’ve discovered beyond saying that it’s believed that if I live faithful to the church and their dad never accepted I could be separated from their dad, in heaven and given to another man-what an absolute sick thing straight out of a Warren Jeff nightmare!

    Things I love about leaving:
    Not guilting my children over “normal behavior” and calling it sin, freedom to truly respect my spouse and not view him as holding us back from blessings, being able to see all people as equally valuable humans and not thinking of myself as special because I was born into the “covenant”.

  19. Dale January 8, 2020 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    I was very disappointed in this interview and was hoping for something new to the criticism of the LDS truth claims. Those who have vigorously explored more than just the Church Essays have heard all this stuff before. The guest just came off snarky and flipped and just didn’t seem credible with what I expect an actual scholar would. Serious Mormon history buffs are yawning. John you could’ve and have discussed almost every point this guest did in your previous podcasts. But, it is Mormon Stories and here is another one to give testimony to fit the narrative you espouse.

    It just feels like another rehash of Runnels, Tanners etc.. Reminds me of Brody with the same insinuating tone. Then the mocking and applying presentism…..big turn off!!

    “Things are basically the same in 1830 as today?” Really? Not an intelligent argument. Just compare the 90’s to 2020. A whole new world of how we see the world and act. These kind of statements are ridiculous!!

    I am hoping for some real smoking gun. Nothing different than hasn’t been said before. Just the usual mocking and snickering sarcastic tone from both John and his guest which doesn’t convince serious searchers.

    I am hoping for some new scholarship to just put the origin and explanation of Mormonism in the grave. I really would like an excuse to not go to church, enjoy legal substances, play on Sunday and never feel godly shame again. So far this guy didn’t help me in my quest. I’m bummed. Keep trying John!

    In conclusion …..I’m sure Mr. Brown will get his 15 minutes of attention and fame. I don’t think Metcalf, Quinn and others need to worry. But, after four 1 plus hour segments this is all we get? The same old narratives? Yes, the narrative has to change on both ends if we are going to get to the bottom of all of this. Unfortunately, this time wasn’t it unfortunately.

  20. Anonymous February 4, 2020 at 12:35 pm - Reply


    I thought I heard you say in effect on the podcast that Joseph Smith didn’t really care too much for the saints health or what not when they purchased Nauvoo. This really made me angry because I have an ancestor who passed away there at age 40 most likely from malaria . Do you have a reference for what you said?


  21. Laurice Williamson June 12, 2020 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Thank you! This is exactly what I needed. After trying to come to terms with my own questions regarding church doctrine and exploring the reasons most of my children have left (in an attempt to feel BETTER about the church) I kept uncovering more and more and more evidence that it is founded on lies, and perversions. It’s been a really rough couple of months re-evaluating my entire world view. I’m 49 years old, and that many years of thought manipulation, because I wanted to be good, obedient, valiant, moral, safe….is kind of soul shattering. It’s like I’m picking up pieces of my true self from underneath a pile of rubbish disguised as “the only truth” and trying to figure out who I am and what my purpose is all over again. I’m glad my kids got out before they built a life around it. It’s hard to not feel guilty about not completely abandoning it 9 years ago when I first started to really doubt. All of that being said, despite the mind turmoil, I feel a big weight lifted. I don’t have to find excuses for all of the contradictions, and things that just felt WRONG anymore! The timeline has helped validate the fact that it’s not ME that’s wrong, it’s the church. So again, thank you.

    • Teancum July 21, 2020 at 7:15 am - Reply


      I suggest you turn to fasting and prayer before you abandon faith. Get your answers from Heavenly Father. I did, and you can too. It takes time and effort, but the results are worth it.

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