Join me today as I sit down with a living legend, Rod Decker, who has gained great prominence in Utah over the past 50 years as a journalist, columnist, and reporter for KUTV Channel 2 news. An observer of Utah politics from an early age, Decker has a truly unique perspective on Utah culture, faith, and politics, and I could not be more honored to have him as a guest on Mormon Stories Podcast.

Rod Decker’s most recent publication, “Utah Politics: The Elephant in the Room” can be purchased here.

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  1. John Lillie May 8, 2021 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    I just bought your new book and will probably totally read it over the weekend.
    Thanks for being you
    John Lillie

  2. Elle May 9, 2021 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    This was a fascinating interview! I hope I’m as sharp when I reach the age of 80.
    As a pro-choice person, I was especially interested in the role of the abortion issue in Utah politics, and how it shaped party affiliation. This was all news to me.
    I look forward to reading Mr. Decker’s new book.
    Another great interview, John!

  3. Marlbey May 10, 2021 at 7:28 am - Reply

    What a character. I enjoyed hearing his stories. A few observations/ feedback:
    1. John: how have you not heard of Dave Brubeck? Listen to Time Out ASAP. Take Five is one of the biggest jazz songs of all time. (I love the Beatles as much as you do but it’s past time for you to branch out into other genres.)

    2. John: I’ve noticed in a few interviews lately that you have your own expected narrative, and you try to get your interviewee to retell their story to fit that narrative. We lawyers call it leading the witness. There’s a fine line between active listening and (incorrectly) reframing the interviewee’s experience to fit your expected outcome. I noticed it particularly with your Sandra Tanner interview recently and then again in this one. Rod Decker’s father was a “Jack Mormon” and no matter how many times you asked, Decker declined to recharacterize his father as an intellectual dissident who left the church over its truth claims. When you find the interviewee disagreeing with you repeatedly about your interpretation of his life experiences, it’s time to drop your theory and move on.

    3. Rod Decker’s “I’m not bitter nor should you be” apologetics at the end missed one key component. The gist of Decker’s position is that people should be left to believe whatever they want to, and if it doesn’t work for you, you shrug and leave but don’t get worked up that it’s not true (for you). Agree 100%. But Decker overlooks the fact that the Church leadership has known for more than 100 years about various truth claim issues (papyri, multiple versions of the 1st vision, anachronisms in the BOM, etc) AND HID THOSE FACTS. Decker offers nuanced explanation that would permit someone to know about these things and remain a believer, and that’s fine as far as it goes for those who want to remain believers, including the church leadership. But note: the church does NOT permit such nuance… they hid the facts and instead retold, and indeed insisted, on a narrative they knew was false. WORSE, they instructed their membership NOT to read anything but approved sources that scrubbed out contradicting facts. And they excommunicated people who presented an accurate historical narrative.

    Example: I grew up in the 70s-80s having been taught that Joseph Smith had one wife (Emma) and that Fawn Brodie was an evil excommunicant publishing anti-Mormon lies about Joseph Smith. I most most certainly was not presented any kind of nuanced narrative that Decker presents, that “Joseph Smith was married to 30 women, some of whom were teenagers and some of whom were already married but times were different then, and also there’s some reason to believe these marriages were not sexual in nature.” So, that’s why people are bitter. Because not only did the Church hide contrary facts, but they also instructed their faithful never to read counter narratives, and excommunicated people for telling the truth, all while demanding extraordinary sacrifices of the members. I don’t know anyone who’s bitter simply because they stopped believing.

    • Jose May 10, 2021 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      Well said Marlbey. I have felt the same regarding Item #2, and you express your feedback very clearly. Hopefully John can incorporate your feedback to improve his interviewing skills. I’ve been a listener since Podcast #33.

    • Phil May 11, 2021 at 11:41 am - Reply

      Mr. Decker mentioned Bertrand Russell was influential on him, but of course Russell didn’t need to mention any of that item 3 stuff.
      I’d be interested to know which world religious tradition hasn’t hid a boatload of facts?

    • Mike May 12, 2021 at 5:11 pm - Reply

      I could not agree more! Especially on item 2. I have yelled “Objection! Leading the witness” about a dozen times between this and the last 3-4 podcasts I’ve listened too.

      That said, It was nice to hear Rod Decker in the long form.

  4. Phil May 11, 2021 at 4:27 am - Reply

    Mr. Decker graduated from the University of Utah.

    Not many U grads have appeared on the podcast.

    Why is that?

  5. Mike May 27, 2021 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    Interesting interview, I always like how direct Rod Decker was with his questions. Very confusing that he, as a reporter, would continue to make terrible arguments to try to defend a church position or the character of Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was a Utah politician and had all the things proved about him that Joseph Smith did; marrying teenagers, marrying women who are already married, several court documents against him for swindling, etc. I really don’t believe he would sit there as a reporter and say, “well this Utah senator is likely a pretty good guy. We can’t be certain that all of these things are provable, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt”. Seems very hypocritical to me.

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