Ruthie Robertson ignited a nationwide firestorm when she revealed she was fired as an adjunct professor at BYU-Idaho for an LGBTQ-supportive Facebook post on her private page.  During these episodes of Mormon Stories, we delve deep into Ruthie’s Mormon background and her motivations in publishing her post, as well as her opinions about the decision to terminate her employment.  John and Ruthie also discuss the possible “chilling effect” this event could have on students and professors at BYU-Idaho who wish to support their LGBTQ friends and family.

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  1. Doubting Thomas July 22, 2017 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Once again, John get’s the interview people want to hear the most!

    Congratulations to Ruthie for caring more about her integrity than she does about a job. Jobs come and go–integrity does not. I know this issue involves her opinion on LGBT issues, but it’s really about her right to free speech!

    I would like to plug an interview John did with Mark Juergensmeyer (Episode 579). I’ll never forget what Professor Juergensmeyer said about a university setting: “Universities are by nature institutions that are open to free inquiry and encourage it.”

    Ruthie, I believe you dodged a bullet. Leaving BYU Idaho sooner rather than later will pay dividends in your teaching future.

  2. John oreilly July 22, 2017 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    This young woman has my total respect . She puts the challenge to other professors to gain the courage to protest some of the issues in their rediculious policies in the byu . A scripture comes to mind , ” it is easier for a lgtb man to pass through the eye of a needle then to Enter the kingdom of BYU :(

  3. Loal Vance July 23, 2017 at 12:17 am - Reply

    Ruthie openly attacked the Church, organized religion as a whole, and virtually all doctrinal beliefs relative to moral laws that she finds inconvenient and wants changed. The truth is Ruthie was not voicing support for her LGBT friends, or community (which would NOT have gotten her fired); rather she used her official position to garner attention and amplify her efforts to bring criticism to the Church. It is a lie to suggest otherwise.

    Consider this observation by Elder Ballard:

    Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce. Like Nehor and Korihor in the Book of Mormon, they rely on sophistry to deceive and entice others to their views. They “set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion” (2 Ne. 26:29). (October 1999 General Conference)

  4. Getting better every day July 23, 2017 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    Well, Local Vancesays, this young lady did something unusual–she stood up for Christian truth. She didn’t just follow the party line. All churches in all religions need to have more people like Ruthie. There is way too much hatred of minorities in this country of ours, whether it be LGBT or Native Americans, or Blacks, or Muslims, or Latinos. Isn’t Jesus supposed to have said that we should love our neighbor as ourselves?

    Homosexuality in humans is no more a sin than homosexual tendencies in the several hundred species in the animal kingdom. I wonder if God will punish mallard ducks and killer whales? Homosexuality is simply part of the process of evolution. It is not a choice any more than someone chooses to be Black. And why would a gay person choose a way of life that would bring him hatred, bigotry, persecution, beatings, and killings? And as for the Bible talking of such things, there is no original Bible in existence, so how can we even know what that book said, regardless of whether one can prove or disprove the existence of a deity, who supposedly inspired its writings.

    Thank you, Ruthie, for being one of those brave ones. Many years ago, I resigned a public school teaching position because I refused to teach all elementary students at the same level regardless of learning abilities. I’m still glad I did. And you will remember your stance on LGBT for the rest of your life. And you will be proud knowing that you did the right thing!

  5. VFan July 23, 2017 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    “Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce” the tricky part here is that the Mormon prophets have never published a revelation on LGBT. The Mormon leadership has published the proclamation to the world, The Family, but as we have seen they can be recanted. Anyone remember the 1845 proclamation the declared the native Americans in north and south Americas as the remnant of the tribes of Israel? Well, that proclamation didn’t stand the test of time. Remember, proclamations are not canonized.

    Someday in the future the Church will evolve its views on LGBT and their defense for the change will be that there was never a revelation on it, just like what happened with blacks and the priesthood (de ja vue is in the making). A key point for anyone condemning Ruthie.

    • Stands4Truth July 24, 2017 at 1:11 am - Reply

      Church leaders have repeatedly taught that The Proclamation IS official doctrine (i.e., canonized). Hopes that it will simply fade away and that the Church will “evolve” are misplaced.

      Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve put it this way;
      “That marvelous document [the Proclamation] brings together the scriptural direction that we have received that has guided the lives of God’s children from the time of Adam and Eve and will continue to guide us until the final winding-up scene.”

      There really is no ambiguity here. President Boyd K. Packer, in an October 2000 General Conference talk, was crystal clear about every aspect of this topic [1]. Additionally, the Church’s position on this subject, which has been sustained and taught by virtually every First Presidency and Q12 many times over, removes virtually all doubt that Church leadership has spoken definitively about this. Saying there is “no revelation” on the LGBT issue is simply untrue.

      The bottom line is this; the Church is not going to change. There will never be a transgender Prophet, lesbian Stake President, or gay Temple President. Ever. The laws of chastity are eternal.

      [1] “Ye Are the Temple of God”, Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2000

      • Bill July 24, 2017 at 4:47 pm - Reply

        Yet they still lack the courage to stand at the pulpit in GC and say “Thus sayeth the LORD.” Why are they afraid to prophesy? We will NEVER see another D&C section canonized because of that cowardice. I am old enough to remember apostles stand at the pulpit of GC and say that the PH ban for blacks was gospel doctrine straight from the mouth of GOD and we see how that turned out!

        • Stands4Truth July 25, 2017 at 10:44 am - Reply

          So, all the Prophets and Apostles would have to do is say those four ‘magic’ words – “thus sayeth the Lord” – and you would suddenly agree with everything they have been teaching for generations? Unlikely. I suspect if God Himself were to appear personally to you and endorse everything they have said, you would tell Him He got it all wrong. (I’d like to see how that conversation went actually…)

          Point is, doesn’t matter what they say, you won’t believe them.

          • Bill July 25, 2017 at 2:23 pm

            Or course I wouldn’t believe them because God is a manmade construct that doesn’t exist! I am only commenting on the fact that THEY are afraid to say it! They claim to speak for God but when it comes right down to it the are afraid to really speak for God. Again, I heard apostles (i.e. God) say that the PH ban was doctrine only to have the church say “Just kidding…” not very many years later! Polygamy, blood-atonement, Adam-God, communitarian living, Blacks as less valiant are all examples of God speaking only to be contradicted by later spokesmen for that same God!

      • VFan July 26, 2017 at 10:59 am - Reply

        Anyone who takes the position that proclamations are canonized are immediately faced with the obviously false assertions included in the 1845 release:

        ‘We also bear testimony that the “Indians” (so called) of North and South America are a remnant of the tribes of Israel; as is now made manifest by the discovery and revelation of their ancient oracles and records.

        And that they are about to be fathered, civilized, and made one nation in this glorious land. They will also come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and of the fulness of the gospel; and they will embrace it, and become a righteous branch of the house of Israel.’

        Mormon apologists who use the limited geography theory as a defense point to the fact that proclamations are not canonized. They are not part of the standard works and they can rewritten or discontinued at any time.

        Equally, none of the of the leader’s comments on LGBT have been canonized, which is essential to be scripture.

      • Art Vandelay July 26, 2017 at 1:13 pm - Reply

        “The laws of chastity are eternal.”

        Lol. You do know that Joseph Smith started schtupping his 16-yr old live-in nanny about a year after the so called Church was organized right? Likely without even a sham sealing and at least 5 years before it dawned on him to have a “restoration of all dispensations” vision.

        Brigham Young had an adulterous affair with a married woman while serving a mission in the NE. She abandoned something like her 4 oldest kids and her divorce case/settlement with her legal and lawfully married husband was argued in front of the Supreme Court of MA. The entire time up to the divorce, she and Brigham were living in sin. Even after the divorce was finalized, they’re being together was against the laws of the land and no marriage license was ever issued since Polygamy was illegal. So they weren’t being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates and weren’t obeying, honoring or sustaining the law.

        Well read Mormons that know their history also know better than to lecture ANYONE about moral superiority. Give me a break. You’re embarrassing yourself.

        • Tonto July 29, 2017 at 6:13 pm - Reply

          Wow, well said.

          • inquisitor August 28, 2017 at 4:46 pm

            Do you have any references for Brigham’s affair? I’ve tried google but I haven’t had any luck.

  6. Tonto July 25, 2017 at 10:28 am - Reply


    Let John know if you are interested in a place to stay for free and a potential work opportunity while you pursue your masters degree.

  7. scotty July 26, 2017 at 8:04 am - Reply

    Ruthie, I enjoyed listening to your interview. You are brave and courageous for what you did. The LDS Church sends a very confusing and mixed message concerning LGBT members. However, your Facebook post was not just pro LGBT it was also very critical of the Church. Even though it was on your personal Facebook page, it was very naive to think nothing would happen regarding your employment. You are dealing with a University that displays cult-like control over it’s students and faculty. Personally, I believe you are much better off not working in such a controlling and restrictive environment. The LDS Church’s top leaders are only getting more oppressive in their policies and treatment of LGBT members and same sex marriage. Personally, I doubt we will ever see a softening of their stance in our lifetime. I wish you the best and best of luck in your future endeavors!

  8. Mormon X July 26, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

    I was hoping that Ruthie would be interviewed after hearing about this on Facebook. It’s ridiculous how this young lady was treated by her employer and the Church. The Church doesn’t like courageous, educated, free thinking independent female members. Yet, for some reason, they can put up with the Tattooed Mormon! I don’t get it.

    There seems to be a movement by the Church to exhort its influence in other institutions. Here in Arizona, the LDS home developer, Ira Fulton, gave a large donation to Arizona State University. With this donation, he donned some influence with this university by getting the College of Education building named after his wife, who only taught one year. There is also the engineering building named after him even though he never graduated from ASU. Mormon money talks in this state.
    However, what was compelling about his influence was that he found an article in the State Press offensive and called ASU President Michael Crow. Here’s an article about this situation:

    Another situation occurred when a superintendent of one East Valley school district mentioned to her staff during a meeting that members of the Gilbert School Board (the majority of board members are LDS) were contacting members of this districts school board. I don’t recall the details, but the subject of the contacts seemed to be “why don’t you try to be more like us?”

    By firing Ruthie, the Church is sending a message to us that you dare not stand against this corporate giant.

  9. Bill July 26, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    As someone who mentally checked out from the church during his mission and only gained the courage to fully cut the ties after becoming aware of the huge disparity that existed between what was truly right and just, and the standard that god’s mouthpieces were setting, I can tell you that those who truly speak for god will LEAD the world into righteousness, not follow it after society changes. Love and acceptance of others, regardless of trivialities such as race, sexuality, gender, etc is godly and to fight against it is clearly choosing to ignore truth.

    I like how she didn’t find anything really surprising about her temple experience, it must have really tamed down dramatically in the last 25 years.

    I’ve stated it before, but a church truly led by god will not follow society into righteousness, it will lead. Love and acceptance of everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, etc is the path of truth, to fight against that demonstrates which side you’re on.

    “Agree 100% with the church’s policies . . . . .” one of the things I was always amazed about in the church was that as you truly got to know and talk with those who held high positions, they always had some way of justifying to themselves and others for believing the more bizarre ideologies . . . . and when those doctrines eventually changed they had no problem at all with the ‘new revelations’. The institutional cultivation of cognitive dissonance creates two types of church members, those who are incapable of having their own opinions because the church provides all, or sociopaths who are capable of presenting and justifying specific behaviors as required by a given situation.

    It’s pretty apparent from Ruthie’s demonstrated critical thinking skills that excommunication or resignation is in her future.

    • RW July 27, 2017 at 12:03 pm - Reply

      I will only suggest that “Love and acceptance of everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, etc is the path of truth” might not be as true or as possible as you assume. It may even be impossible for any institution with a limited number of seats to value both “Diversity” and “Inclusion”. Diversity in the presence of scarcity is inherently exclusive. What you are really disagreeing with and fighting over is who will be excluded, and, perhaps more importantly, who gets to decide who will be excluded. The talk of staying in the church in order to change it is precisely that argument.

  10. Matt July 27, 2017 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    I am also a former BYUI online instructor. The level of oversight by BYUI on instructors is very high,
    BYUI prepares all or most of the cirriculum and online BYUI “instructors” are more mentor than teacher. BYUI also requires a weekly a “sprituality” assessment and requires you to meet monthly with other instructors in a kind of in-service meeting at night with scriptures etc. I was also very aware of the BYUI policies and I knew very well I was a contractor (gone for any reason if I got out of line), not an employee. In light of how the system operates and how the “gone for any reason” policy pushes some instructors to be super TBM, I don’t think Ruthie should have been surprised when she was outed.

    I did not criticize the church on publicy, but I did make note of many discrepancies between LDS theology and science (Noah, Adam and Eve, Age of Earth, Evolution etc.) because I taught a general science class. For example, I noted the incompatibility between the idea of no death before the fall and the fossil record and the fact that there was no Noah’s flood etc.. In many cases, I would present the science and BYUI also provided GA written articles (required reading) that directly questioned the science – a very weird combo.

    BYUI has a very large religious bias. So high, that in my opinion, they should not be accredited as a real university. This is also why many universities will not accept BYUI credits from transfer students.
    There are many smart, capable people at BYUI, but in my opinion BYUI pushes religion at the expense of facts and truth. In terms of science they even try and confuse students by saying “here are the science facts, but we don’t know everything and someday (i.e., when we die) we will find the real truth.” Finding out “when you die” is like saying science is wrong and the bible is right, and is a totally disingenuous, bogus approach to science. HUGE BIAS.

    I knew I would not be able to get a new temple recommend so I had planned to quietly resign my teaching position. However, just before I was about to resign at the end of the semester, I got a call from BYUI admin saying they had contacted my bishop and he had outed me. My bishop did not do the courtesy of telling me he had outed me and I would be losing my job. It wasn’t a big deal because I was resigning anyway, but I thought it was very passive aggressive on the part of my bishop and BYUI, I also know some of the students had complained when I said there was no flood, man evolved etc., and that is why BYUI had called.

    Last thing, just to give an idea of what BYUI is like:
    An HR admin person sent me an email and signed it as shown below (not real name):

    Bob Smith
    BYUI 2nd Ward Elders Quorum President

  11. Jacqueline July 28, 2017 at 12:15 am - Reply


    Not only are you lovely, you are so self-contained! I have no doubt that you are going to go far.

    I have a cousin who was gay and lost his battle to AIDS in 1989. I was his
    only friend and support, the only one by his side when he breathed his last. He fought hard for LGTBQ rights and for access to further AIDS research and treatments. He would be so happy to know that people like Ruthie Robertson and John Dehlin are championing the cause. Ruthie, you are definitely on the right side of history, much like Rosa Parks, I do believe.

    Best wishes on your future plans!

  12. howarthe August 12, 2017 at 2:27 am - Reply

    “When I was a young officer in 1979, I toured what was known as “The Killing Fields” in Cambodia. This is the area where the Khmer Rouge killed off nearly a quarter of the Cambodian population, something like 1.9 million people in just a few years. My guide told me that they started by rounding up all of the teachers. They wanted to extinguish free thought, and the spark of questioning and dissent. Because, to a Totalitarian dictator, an open and inquisitive mind is more dangerous even than a Marine with a rifle.”
    –General James Mattis

  13. All is Lost November 6, 2018 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    Thank you for speaking and sharing your views openly. I am in the process of trying to decide to be baptized again as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am presently excommunicated by my own request.

    It has been so very difficult for me to rejoin. I left church membership due to feeling constrained and controlled in what I feeI.

    Sunday I was in a ward Priesthood class. A man present spoke on how Church members rightly side with President Donald Trump and conservative U.S. Republican values. I assumed someone among the 45 adult men present would offer a rebuttal or even a personal clarification to the man’s argument.

    No one said anything.

    I do feel there is a powerful force in the Church forbidding anyone speaking outside the box, a bit like living in a totalitarian regime. It does make me reluctant to go into the waters to be baptized again.

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