Join us today on Mormon Stories as we interview both Sean and Crystal Escobar to learn about their faith journey out of Mormonism. Sean recently made national news when he revealed a recording he made as he confronted his abuser as a child, Sterling Van Wagenen—co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival and director of many LDS Church-produced films, including the films shown in LDS temples.

This portion of the interview focuses on Sean and Crystal’s faith journey and will include themes such as:

  • Their Mormon background including their experiences in the church as youth and as missionaries
  • How guilt and shame from transgressions as a youth impacted Sean’s mission and outlook on life
  • How Sean and Crystal’s difficult experiences with the repentance process affected their early marriage
  • How discovering a calling Sean had received was uninspired by his priesthood leader greatly shook his faith
  • How Crystal’s experience with Mormon Stories helped her be more empathetic towards Sean’s struggles with his faith and church leadership
  • How leaving the LDS Church has caused a new awakening in their marriage and family as they reevaluate their relationship, their parenting, and their new moral code for living

…and so much more.

In the future we plan to bring Crystal back on as we discuss her new book My Life as a Wannabe Balanced Mom and host of the Wannabe Balanced Podcast! Get a head start by reading her book found here!

Part 1 – Sean and Crystal provide their Mormon background up until and including their LDS missions:

Part 2 – Sean and Crystal talk about their early marriage, and how the guilt and shame of earlier transgressions impacted their relationship and faith:

Part 3 – Sean and Crystal describe how cracks formed in their faith:

Part 4 – Sean and Crystal describe how they have learned to navigate a new life without the Mormon Church:


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. James May 10, 2019 at 9:59 am - Reply

    There are some red flags here. Nothing to do with the abuse. But John says at some point that sexual activity as a teenager is healthy. Normal, yes – but healthy? This stunned me, especially given John is a therapist. This is very counter to mainstream opinion. At some point Sean also says that “high school” students – who are underage – is also normal and healthy. This is ILLEGAL activity. Maybe it’sa skewed thinking error as a result of the abuse. I don’t know.

    • Reagan May 10, 2019 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      It’s not illegal for teenagers to explore their sexuality with each other….No one was talking about an adult having sexual relations with a minor when they were saying that it’s normative and healthy.

      • James May 11, 2019 at 8:45 pm - Reply

        Actually it is illegal! It is illegal for an underage girl or boy to have intercourse with anybody no matter their age. And so it should be? What kind of pervert would want to legalize that!?

        • Joe May 13, 2019 at 12:11 pm - Reply

          If two teenagers have consensual sex, who is charged with the crime? Both? I have not once in my life ever heard of any teen charged with any crime unless it was rape.

  2. James May 10, 2019 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Also, where does the child abuse statistic come from? The 2017 federal study which gathered stats based on mandatory reporting from each state, has Utah listed pretty low for reports per 1000, capita. Somewhere in the bottom half, per capita. States with the highest per capita rates include Alaska, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Virginia, and DC. How can “successful” and smart people – and John is smart – fall for such confirmation bias? I feel it’s intentional, but want to give the benefit of the doubt. I think we here a lie repeated again and again until we believe it. It’s the same with the alleged suicide stats, the highest of which are in non religious states.

  3. James May 11, 2019 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    It’s becoming increasingly clear that all these sex abuse survivors have indeed been damaged, deeply, and to the core. We desperately need to raise the age of consent to 21 and prosecute all underage sexual activity with the utmost severity.

    • Sian January 26, 2020 at 10:39 am - Reply

      Raise the age of consent for sex to 21? What good would that do?

  4. chris b May 11, 2019 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Wow! Sean and Crystal you guys rock! I was so touched listening to your story. Your vulnerability, transparency and rawness of spirit. You will help and do help many with your experience. Thank you so much for sharing with us your life journey. It ceases to amaze me to continue to hear these stories from such amazing people how the church is not affected adversely by not having these amazing, beautiful people. It kinda makes me feel sorry for the church losing out on them.

  5. Joe Hegyi 3rd May 16, 2019 at 11:57 am - Reply

    I was listening to this series of podcasts earlier today and heard you speak about how despite all the good that religion and religious groups can do that it’s unfortunate that it’s undercut by the Christian view that mankind is born broken and is irreparable except by interposing the blood of Christ to make up for having offended God.

    I too grew up with this view of God and Christ and it remained my understanding of the Bible until, on my ~10 year journey of deconversion I made a last-ditch effort to find a way to remain Christian by becoming a catechumen in the Orthodox Church.

    While I have since become a humanist, I still feel that the Orthodox view of mankind and salvation would do wonders to change the culture of shame, fear, and guilt that is felt by so many Christians and might even save Christianity from this march toward fundamentalism it seems to be on as of late.

    To state it briefly, the Orthodox do not believe that mankind is irreparably broken or that they needed Christ to be a substitute sacrifice on their behalf.

    Instead, they believe that humanity’s main problem is that they are separated from God and do not inherently know how to realign their lives to be one with God.

    To the Orthodox, that is why God sent Jesus, to be an example, to demonstrate to mankind how to realign their lives with God.

    It is the Orthodox view that we should be spending our lives here on earth learning from Christ’s example and becoming one with God’s will because, unlike in the West, they do not believe in a hell like we would think of it.

    Rather, the Orthodox believe that at the end of time God will reunite all of creation with himself.

    When that happens, the more like God you are, the more pleasant eternity will be. However, if you’ve chosen not to align yourself with God’s will, then being one with him will be pure agony for you and will feel like torture.

    I’ve discovered that many times when I feel what I’ve written was perfectly clear that others see it as being difficult to follow. If that’s the case with what I’ve written above, take a look at the YouTube video linked below. It is a brief presentation by an Orthodox priest that shows the differences between the Orthodox and Protestant ideas of salvation using a couple folding chairs:

    I hope this is helpful for you in dealing with those who still have faith who are none-the-less struggling with how to keep that faith in light of the Protestant idea of salvation which seems to inflict so much shame and guilt on so many.

    • Freedom West June 9, 2019 at 1:45 pm - Reply

      Joe, the real big problem with Christianity is the Bible. There is no original, so, of course, no one knows what Jesus said, even if Jesus even existed, something that people believe because they want to, but there is no proof. And I am seeing posts on social media where all
      Christians even the Orthodox church keeps talking of persecution, which is a pretty big pill to swallow when Christianity is by far the largest religion in the world.

      John, my wife and I just finished all of this. She went through the recording. I was really impressed with this podcast but because of the feelings of members toward leaders almost being gods, it will really take a lot of work for people to wake up. It is the same with government. We have a president who goes against all good Christian principles but yet the evangelical community want to think he is ordained to his position and is like Cyrus of the Bible. And it makes no difference what you tell these people, they feel he is inspired. But the Mormons are some of his best supporters. Sean and Crystal really have my admiration.

  6. Jeremias S May 25, 2019 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    Richard Rohr (mentioned in Part 2) is NOT a “former Franciscan”. He continues to be a Catholic priest and a member of the Franciscan Order in good standing, with a worldwide following.

  7. Freedom West June 8, 2019 at 10:59 am - Reply

    James, I can’t imagine where you’ve been that you seem to think teenage sex is illegal. I went to high school than had 20 in a graduating class and I was one of maybe 5 who didn’t have sex. We had one senior who had to get married and he was married for over 50 years. The kids always talked about sex. The only saying that was prevalent with all kids was, “Be careful, sixteen’ll getcha twenty.”

    And although, later, as a Mormon with a daughter in that same school, I once got furious about her being with an older boy, and complained to the sheriff’s office and they told me it was only illegal if she had been under 16 and he over.

    This was a coastal town but I later moved to an agricultural valley filled with Latinos, Indians, and farm workers and I knew well there was lots of teenage sex going on.

    Before moving north and living in a very small cotton growing area in California, I as a child under 9, was sexually abused by a police constable. The experience was probably blocked from memory, but occasionally, growing up, my mother would mention things That experience must have had an effect on me. I later married a girl who told me years later of her bad experience.

    So far, I am into part 4 and this is a good one.

  8. Sean Escobar June 14, 2019 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    Tribute to my new brother John Dehlin. I hadn’t known who John was until a year ago. I had heard rumors about him, but those are no doubtedly promoted by active Mormons. I heard that John lived in a 4 million dollar house and was just doing it for the money. I also heard that he was a womanizer. I was troubled by these rumors, yet I was doing my best to not believe them until I knew for myself. After meeting him in person and spending extensive time with him, I am so happy to proclaim that those rumors are absolute B.S.! Not only is he a good man, he is the best! Leah assured me of such, but I had to see for myself. He and his wife Margi are so committed to one another. They remind me of newliweds at times. They definitly have a major spark. Crystal and I are crazy about them. We want to be like them when we grow up! Even though they aren’t much older than us. John and Margi are not in this for the money. How do I know? Because the money isn’t there guys! I’m a business man and I know. John was making over 200k working in the tech world.

    These guys are all heart. Please do donate to them. They deserve it! They work so hard and have done for the last 13-14 years. They are consumed with the stories and the cause. They truly care, no self interest. They don’t even like the noteriaty. They do not get off on it. Believe me, I know those types. This is a labor of love for them which was sparked by John’s Faith Crisis and his subsequent research. Well, I’ve said enough. I will close with, I love you John and Margi. You don’t know what you’ve done for my wife and I. You gave me a new lease on life in April of 2018. I’ll never forget it. I cannot repay it.

    Sean Escobar

  9. Natasha Harrington August 20, 2019 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Wow, this was so beautif, raw, a real. Thank you for sharing your story. Bringing darkness to the light!! Kudos and love to you both!

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