1656: Becoming a Faithful Scholar – Patrick Mason Pt 1


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LDS Scholar, author & apologist, Patrick Mason, shares his (brief) Mormon Story, including his childhood & teenage years before serving a Mission in Seattle, Washington. Patrick studies history at BYU, then Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution at Notre Dame. Patrick explains how became nuanced and how he navigates difficult issues with the Mormon Church. He currently holds the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University.


1657: A Scholarly Defense of Faithful Mormonism – Patrick Mason Pt 2

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Join us today for part 2 of our interview with faithful Mormon scholar Dr. Patrick Mason. In part 2 John and Margi discuss with Patrick his approach to thoughtful, faithful Mormonism as a scholar of Mormon Studies.

Patrick Q. Mason holds the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at USU. He has written or edited several books, including Proclaim Peace: The Restoration’s Answer to an Age of Conflict (Maxwell Institute and Deseret Book, 2021); Mormonism and Violence: The Battles of Zion (Cambridge University Press, 2019); What Is Mormonism? A Student’s Introduction (Routledge, 2017); Out of Obscurity: Mormonism since 1945, co-edited with John Turner (Oxford University Press, 2016); Directions for Mormon Studies in the Twenty-First Century (University of Utah Press, 2016); and The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South (Oxford University Press, 2011). He was a Fulbright Scholar in Romania in 2015 and is a past president of the Mormon History Association. Professor Mason is frequently consulted by the national and international media on stories related to Mormon culture and history. He teaches courses on Mormonism, American religious history, and religion, violence, and peacebuilding.


1658: Tough Questions for John Dehlin – Patrick Mason Pt 3

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Patrick Mason returns to flip the script and put John under scrutiny!



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  1. James September 14, 2022 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    Absolutely AMAZING episode!! I stopped listening to Mormon stories because I was getting exhausted of all the angry ex Mormons who were complaining and acting like helpless victims. Patrick you are an honest, pure, intelligent, dynamic interesting person. People like you are the future of the LDS church leadership in my opinion. Please have more guest like Patrick on John. This reminds me of the best days of Mormon stories 10 years ago. A believer who knows all the facts, isn’t angry, lives a full healthy life, who has compassion and love for humanity. Thanks again. My favorite episode yet!

    • Timothy September 16, 2022 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      I agree that Patrick Mason is a good person to have a guest, but please don’t dismiss other peoples pain as “angry exMormons acting like helpless victims” their are people who are hurt because of some of the churches policies.

  2. Kelly Parker September 14, 2022 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    I love this interview. It was so nice to have your wife involved, it added much. Patrick is unusual in a good way. I don’t understand how is still a believer with all he knows, even though he tried to explain it. However, I am okay with that. I think it is important to not demean someone because of their beliefs. You shared some important thoughts about the service you are providing. Many thanks!

  3. Bill McClymonds September 14, 2022 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    I want to preface this comment by first thanking Patrick for being willing to be interviewed. In case he reads this comment, he should know that I am commenting from the perspective of a mainstream Christian. He should also know that I have communicated extensively with those both in and out of the Church and have a sincere Christian love for all the current and former Latter-day Saints with whom I have communicated.

    I would also like to express my sympathy to John and Margi for what they have endured as a result of the excommunication process and the aftermath of that process. It was obvious their journey since the excommunication process has not been an easy road. Even though I have not had those same experiences, I could feel their pain as they related a small part of their journey in part 3.

    In the hope that Patrick will read this comment, I would like to explain why most mainstream Christians I know do not consider those in the Latter-day Saint Church to be true Christians. John and Patrick discussed the word cult during the interview. To me, the word cult simply means a religion that promotes itself as Christian but does not hold to essential mainstream Christian beliefs.

    One of those essential mainstream beliefs is that God is so far above mortal man that we cannot even begin to comprehend his glory, majesty and power. The recent James Web Space Telescope has given us a small glimpse of that power, majesty and glory though the revelation of what has been created. Mainstream Christians believe God is responsible for the entirety of creation. God is also responsible for one of the most complex creations we know about in the universe . . . the physical brain and immaterial mind of a woman . . . and I mean this sentence with all sincerity. It is based on my limited knowledge of neuroscience.

    Patrick, on the other hand, briefly referenced the King Follett Discourse in at least one part of the podcast. During that sermon message, Joseph Smith explained that men could become gods themselves. If I understand Latter-day Saint Church teachings correctly, men in the Church aspire to become gods themselves through eternal progression in the celestial kingdom. It is my assumption that Patrick is a person who expects to become a god himself at some time in the future. If my assumption is correct, most mainstream Christians would consider that belief to be blasphemy. It is one primary reason mainstream Christians consider the Latter-day Saint faith to be a cult. That particular belief is not even close to essential mainstream Christian beliefs.

    Another point I would like to address is a question for Patrick. It is based on what Jesus said to the rich young ruler. He told the man to sell all he had and give it to the poor. As a result, Jesus said the man would have treasure in heaven. My question is the following. Could you, as a faithful Latter-day Saint, spend your whole life and fortune serving the poor and expect to enter the celestial kingdom? In other words, can you enter the celestial kingdom by doing nothing but good while here on the Earth if you do not pay your full tithe? Written another way, do you have to buy your way into the celestial kingdom?

    Depending on Patrick’s answers to the questions in the preceding paragraph, I think finances might be another area where Latter-day Saints and mainstream Christians could have significant differences. Patrick and John already discussed the hoarding of billions by the Latter-day Saint Church. I am in agreement with Patrick that those funds could be used more wisely.

    I’ll conclude by writing that I like Patrick. I thought it took a lot of courage to be a guest on the Mormon Stories Podcast. I respect him for that decision. My words are intended to explain some very basic reasons why mainstream Christians have difficulty with Latter-day Saint beliefs. I hope these words will be helpful in explaining some of the differences in our beliefs.

    • Timmy Tim September 16, 2022 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      Bill, give it a rest. You are barking up the wrong tree. Did you hear anything Patrick said about dogma/fundamentalism being a construct? Did nothing he said “land” with you?

  4. Trisha September 14, 2022 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    I am truly grateful for this conversation, for John’s work here at Mormon Stories and for Patricks’s courage to build this bridge and lead with example for change and goodness in this church that I love. There are so many starving, waiting, wanting this. Thank you for your efforts and work that is so valuable and needed now.

  5. Sharon Wood September 15, 2022 at 2:04 am - Reply

    thanks, John, for having Patrick on this was an amazing podcast

  6. Michael Mitchell September 15, 2022 at 7:43 am - Reply

    Long time podcast listener, going back to at least 2010. Mormon stories remains the core scripture of my post-mormon transition and journey. I listened to all three episodes and they resonate with me. Mormonism was good for me – but there is no getting around the harm it causes to its members, whether it be LGBTQ, sexual shame that starts young, the culture of obedience, and the fact that the LDS faith creates one basic script for people’s lives (birth – baptism – mission – marriage and education – church service – another mission – death / while paying 10% of your income the whole way through life).

    If Patrick Mason had been my Bishop and people like him sat with me in Sunday School, I don’t think that my wife and our 5 children would have left the Church. We would still be there in the pew. I have watched as the church began to bleed members out and it has become exponential. The Church needs to learn from Patrick. Progressive Mormons, and dare I say intelligent church history educated Mormons, cannot sit through meetings where the core lessons give false narratives and where truth is suppressed by other members as dangerous. My wife and I literally sat through meetings where Ezra Taft Benson motivated right-winged politics were spouted and fully accepted each week, where exmormons were verbally scoffed-at, and where LDS fabled history was celebrated and true history viewed as dangerous. This is a problem for the church. But, IMHO, the church is trying to hold onto the wrong people. The future of a vibrant LDS church should be members like Patrick Mason. The Church makes a severe error by choosing to hold onto those aging members who believe the old and false church history story, who shun LGBTQ people, etc. They are driving out so many people younger than Gen X (we are Gen X) and this is evident from trends and numbers.

    Thank you John and Margie (especially Margie who was the wisest person in this podcast) for this podcast. Patrick Mason taught you-all and me lessons there and hopefully Patrick grasped the true good intentions of many exmormons including John and Margie.

  7. Michael Boyter September 15, 2022 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    Patrick, thank you for coming onto Mormon Stories. These episodes vaulted my respect for and understanding of you greatly.

  8. Bill Jones September 15, 2022 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    So many mental gymnastics are required to maintain belief in ANY religious tradition. This interview could be exhibit A, B and C. The most straight-forward answer is “It’s all BS.” Plain and simple. I find much more peace in my life as an atheist than I ever did during my 50 years as a believer. All apologetics end up being a “My god is better than your god” discussion. I just can’t buy into any of that and my life is better because of that outlook.

  9. Mark Lee September 16, 2022 at 9:53 am - Reply

    I like to listen to people, like Patrick, to further understand the frame work of belief I’d have to build for myself to come back as an active participant in the Church (my wife is still all in). The gospel Patrick presents juxtapose with the church I grew up with is unrecognizable to me. Could I come back as a nuanced member? Based upon this interview the chasm, at this point, is just too deep. I’m wondering at this point if people, like Patrick, compartmentalize difficult questions and say things like…Pt 2- 2:33:46 Patrick “…I don’t like any of it…” (you don’t like any of it but it’s part of the equation). For other people, like myself, the math becomes exponential when difficult questions compound upon one another. I’m happy for Patrick, not sure that all of his words would be embraced by the Leadership of the Church or could be taught to the 6+- million active members of the Church without a mass exodus, most members are oblivious to most of what is presented in this podcast.

    Patrick seems to be a nice person and I’m glad he had the courage to come on and stand his ground, respect!

  10. Timmy Tim September 16, 2022 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Patrick, thank you for this gift!

    Margi and John, thank you for this gift!

    Fantastic conversation and example of respectful dialogue. And some tough questions were asked and answered by all. Bravo!

  11. Another View September 16, 2022 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    Mr. Mason is very smart and well spoken. While he believes in the religion, I am disappointed in his ability to explain or defend the key problems we struggle with. I was hoping for a better defense of the religion.

    I simply can not see how he believes it other than he felt prompted in prayer. But man, there are so many holes in the Mormon boat that I am amazed it is still floating. I try to be respectful of my former religion, but frankly, it is a tough sale in todays well researched world.

  12. GARY CLARK September 17, 2022 at 7:15 am - Reply

    It is refreshing to witness intelligent, thoughtful humans with differing belief systems hold civil and mutually respectful discourse.

    Here is my summary assessment of Patrick: He holds impressively Christ-like, personal core values and has demonstrated uncommon courage to express and defend his core values in many instances where he detected collisions with facts of Church History including the behaviors of Joseph Smith and Church leadership down to the present day.

    Patrick has made a personal DECISION to embrace the Church … regardless of his acknowledgment of a truckload of factual evidence suggesting … suggesting what? Suggesting that Joseph Smith and The Brethren today DO NOT SHARE Patrick’s personal core values aligned with Jesus’ message of Truth and Love.

    People do not leave the Church because they could not live up to its standards. They leave because the Church does not even come close to living up to their own personal standards and core values.

    Patrick’s unexpected, spontaneous tears demonstrated the authenticity of his personal alignment with Jesus. The chronic self-interest behaviors of The Brethren clearly signal to the world they are NOT aligned with Jesus. Eventually, Patrick’s gracious generosity and benefit-of-the-doubt will wear thin … as The Brethren continue to seriously harm the members they claim to love.

    At the end of the day, Patrick’s stunning core values of Truth and Love will endure … as the Church slowly self-destructs harvesting the toxic fruits of serving itself instead of serving the wonderful human beings who falsely believe themselves to be members of a Church bearing any meaningful alignment with Jesus Christ.

  13. Bill McClymonds September 17, 2022 at 8:34 am - Reply

    I noticed a comment by someone going by the name of Timmy Tim that was addressed to my original comment. Thanks for the comment, Timmy Tim. I appreciate the suggestion, but I did listen to the podcasts and I stand by what I originally wrote. The comment didn’t help you, but I hope it might help Patrick or someone else to understand why mainstream Christians have difficulty with Latter-day Saint beliefs. The comment was written in the hope that we can find a way to bridge those gaps . . . not widen them.

    I have no idea where you are coming from in your life journey, so I don’t want to misjudge your comment. What I do know is that there is a lot of pain and anger on both sides of this whole issue. If you, Timmy Tim, are one of the people who has experienced that type of pain and or anger, I am truly sorry you had that experience.

    Whatever your life experience has been in the past, I wish you all the best in the future.


  14. GARY CLARK September 17, 2022 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    One more comment:

    John expressed his frustration asking the question WHY has not someone with Patrick’s command of Mormon history written an exhaustive and complete faith-promoting ANSWER to the long list of “CES Letter” truth claim defects and egregiously harmful behaviors by The Brethren resulting in serious abuse of marginalized members and stunting of the real spiritual growth and maturation of all members.

    The reason this ANSWER BOOK has never been written is dirt simple.

    Joseph Smith was a gifted, talented, opportunistic con-artist and a total fraud. The Mormon Church was built on a foundation of lie upon lie … decept upon decept. Other than pimping out Jesus as its camouflage cover story, the Church is a clear and obvious example of “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

    Patrick’s candid (and frankly surprising, if not astonishing) acknowledgment of the multitudinous “sins” of Joseph Smith and Church leadership … up to and including today … is a factually accurate and fairly complete damning indictment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Patrick’s conscious CHOICE to refuse to reach the obvious Occam’s Razor conclusion based on a preponderance of the evidence is perhaps only possible because he personally does not feel used or abused by The Brethren. And yet, he seems to possess visible empathy and compassion for marginalized members who have suffered greatly.

    Patrick is consciously preventing/blocking some critical dots from connecting in his psyche. I see his choice to remain “faithful” as a nontrivial contribution to the awakening of countless members whose lives will be immeasurably improved when their shelves mercifully come crashing down.

    The fact that Patrick is published/sold by Deseret Book will cloak his writing and make it accessible to curious, faithful members. I don’t know how clearly he called out the sins of Joseph Smith and The Brethren in his books, but his perspective encouraging Christ-like changes in the Mormon Church is pointing in the right direction.

    I appreciate Patrick’s focus on the real teachings of Jesus. I have no doubt that the real Jesus approves.

  15. Anonymous September 17, 2022 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    The largest donation ever given by or to a Utah organization was announced earlier this month: 1.6 billion dollars to the Federalist Society. A few weeks later Yvon Chouinard donated an entire company worth about 3 billion dollars. And after weeks of deservedly brutal public relations stories, the church announced with great fanfare its largest one time donation ever: 32 million dollars.

    I for one am grateful that someone as thoughtful, eloquent and reasoned as Professor Mason chronicles history. Who better to document the church’s inevitable decline to irrelevancy?

  16. Adam September 19, 2022 at 9:56 am - Reply

    What a great interview. Thank you Patrick, Margi and John for engaging in such a respectful conversation around these issues. We need more of this!

    I sometimes wonder if people like Patrick and Richard Bushman would have different answers to certain questions around truth claims, if they other answers were equally respected and allowed by “the church”. I have a couple friends like Patrick, and its so hard for me to really understand how they do it. Like it has been said many times, the “mormonism” they describe and believe in is COMPLETELY different to the mormonism I lived in for 35+ years. Its an entirely different religion. I think some people are just more able to live in that space than others are. Its almost like a personality trait….

    I thoroughly enjoyed the interview though! Patrick thank you very much for doing this! And thank you John and Margi for asking such great questions and explaining yourselves so well!

  17. lyle webb September 19, 2022 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    I liked it. Thank you to all of you.

  18. Sandra Galati September 19, 2022 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    Wow, I did not expect to like Patrick Mason. These were really, really good podcasts. Everybody came to the table and put it out there in a respectful way.

  19. Wadingthrujello September 19, 2022 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this episode. Patrick, thank you for seeking to engage in authentic dialog with these questions. Thank you for asking John tough questions and appreciate John and Margi’s authentic answers. The church needs this.

  20. Alan September 20, 2022 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    I am a post Mormon who has very much enjoyed these podcasts, but I must call out one thing: In the interview with Patrick Mason you poked at a Mormon leader who called Martin Luther King a communist. He was a communist–and he did receive funding from the communist party. This was well documented by the FBI.

    That does not make all the things he taught or said wrong, and I believe that we should judge people by the content of their character and not the color of skin.

    But the church was also not wrong to call him a communist, and as such, it should not be held against the leaders of the church if they say it.

  21. Robert Hodge September 20, 2022 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    I think we need to avoid ah hominem attacks. This is all about discussing issues personal, but the real issues are less personal and more out in the open ether. The real issue that must be evaluated goes to the Church’s Truth claims. And in this interview those things seem deliberately ignored. That may be to benefit of some, but as for me I am way beyond trying to find common cause with the Church and with the active membership. Too much water under the dam on so many levels past and present.

  22. David Laird Castleton September 20, 2022 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    John and Patrick, Thanks for a great uncontentious conversation from such different point of views. The almost audible words given to Anthony Miller: “The purpose of this life is to live with gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the lives of others.” rings loud and true again for me in this episode. I am so very grateful everytime I hear people like you two willing to be honest and face the problems of the LDS.
    But in the last year that I have listened, There is much that I have not heard. With Patrick; a good intelligent Mormon; I really expected to hear something more. But the conversation remained rather focused on the problems. (Don’t get me wrong; the problems are very real and very serious). But is there value added to a life spent inside such an organization? Here I should point out that I was pushed and pulled kicking and screaming out of the LDS church. I come from mostly Mormon pioneer stock: all my great grandparents were Mormons. Though outside now, I look upon the LDS church rather fondly as my Alma Mater. So back to the question: is it worthwhile to remain in the LDS church? What does it offer? Other than the problems. From Patrick I hoped he would enlarge upon the following:
    Much of the doctrine is positive and uplifting and found in very few other places: We are taught we can receive personal revelation. (unfortunately, mine led me away). We can eventually become Gods. Families can be forever. The Holy Spirit (I know for myself how very wonderfully real He is.) can visit inside our hearts and guide us.
    Despite the problems the Book of Mormon, D&C, and Pearl of Great Price have; the ideas are challenging and with few exceptions lead to a relationship with God. We are all to live as brothers and sisters. In any given ward the members get to know each other much better than in any of the Christian congregations which I now attend. I have listened to John and Mike from Mormon Discussions point out the problems. To a large extent, they are right. But a larger picture is being ignored.
    My ancestors weren’t all fooled and conned into joining this Church. My father wasn’t inclined to serve a mission until in the navy he read the BOM and prayed. The answer he received sent him on a whole different trajectory. Bottom line question: People are praying and asking. And some are truly being led by God to join the LDS Church. (But I was pulled out. ) So what is going on?
    I wondered and asked. I was reminded of a 20-year-old Buddhist I met. I also met his devout Mormon father. He told me that as his son was preparing to go on a mission; he studied religions and felt led to join the Buddhist religion. I watched as the father struggled with the fact that his beloved son would never go on an LDS mission. Watched as the great divide between them grew. And along with it grew their love. The words; “Love grows the most where the differences are the greatest.” passed into my mind.

  23. James September 26, 2022 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    I rarely leave comments but I had to on this podcast. I just loved it! I loved hearing people with completely opposite points of view be able to have a respectful, meaningful conversation with each other without attacking the other’s point of view. With so much polarization in the world today we need these kind of conversations more than ever. Kudos to Patrick Mason for having the courage to come on Mormon Stories. He has earned my respect and admiration. Kudos to John & Margi for the respectful way they handled the interview and then let Patrick ask them the difficult questions. Someone once said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” I would add to that it is the mark of a mature mind to be able to listen to another’s point of view without the need to feel defensive about your own point of view.

  24. Bonne September 29, 2022 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    This conversation reminds me why I never missed a Mormon Stories podcast for many years. For the past three years I have preferred other podcasts, but I check in occasionally to see the guest list. Thank you for this interview, plus I loved the addition of Margie’s viewpoint and questions.

  25. Cathy Haderlie December 22, 2022 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this podcast. I think it is the best one yet. Patrick is a loving Mormon that I wouldn’t mind having for a neighbor. I am an Ex-Mormon that had a faith crisis at 31 after being born and raised in the Church. The hurt and harm done to our family just because we decided to worship God different is still so painful and still divides our family from my husband’s family. They set the rules or boundaries of how we are to behave around their family while nothing about their behaviors needed to change because they are right and we are wrong has lead us to no contact or very little contact with each other and it has been over 33 years since we left the Church. Patrick gave me hope that maybe there is a way to coexist respectfully. Not sure how to even start the conversation. Hope Patrick agrees to come back and I pray that no backlash comes to him or his family because he was gracious, brave and honest to do so. God bless Patrick, John and Margie.

  26. Jeannie June 28, 2023 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    During the Q and A section of your interview with Patrick Mason, I was surprised by your response to his question as to whether or not you have encouraged people to leave the church. Perhaps you have never used the words “leave the church“, but it would seem incredible to me and perhaps others that you would suggest that you have not had an expansive influence in this regard. For many members who are struggling, in some cases, you are the first compassionate point of contact to their troubles. You mentioned that you are just trying to help people who are suffering, but you can only hear the stories of one person. You cannot know the stories of trauma surrounding someone with clear perspective unless you hear them all. How is it that you feel it necessary to absorb these stories of pain without underlying context or surrounding parties? I am astounded that you seem to greatly underestimate your influence for exits from the church.

    Enjoyed the interview with Patrick Mason.

  27. Julie Fleming August 15, 2023 at 11:47 am - Reply

    I’ve listened to over a hundred episodes by now, and this was truly one of the most touching episodes of all I have listened to (and there are so many touching episodes). I have been on both sides and have compassion for both sides. I feel the paradox of two things being true that are also opposing was so keenly expressed in this episode. I’m deeply touched. Thank you to Patrick Mason as well as the Dehlin’s.

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