In this episode of Mormon Stories and Mormon Transitions, John and Margi reflect back on their 13 years of experience as semi- and non-believers and provide their advice on how to successfully navigate activity in the LDS Church.  Some of the topics discussed are:

  • Advice on how to determine whether church attendance is a healthy option for you and your family
  • Living the “Law of Tithing” in a way that is meaningful to you
  • Focusing on teaching lessons about truths that resonate with you, and less on the topics that trouble you as they most likely will be covered many other times
  • How to respond to inquiries about your activity status from fellow ward members
  • Setting boundaries and expectations when given a calling
  • Protecting your children by having an open discussion after church that allows them to safely process and talk through the information
  • Building social credit in your ward to spend thoughtfully when the time arrives
  • Advice on how to ethically navigate the temple recommend interview
  • Answering the question “can you be honest and ethical in staying?”



  1. JJ June 19, 2017 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    John and Margi,
    I’m not sure how this is going to come across, but if we say that the incarceration rate of people of color vs. Caucasians is disproportionate (thereby implying that there is an injustice), then what can we say about the incarceration rate of females vs. males in America. I haven’t seen any documentaries on this issues, but following the logic presented, it would seem that there is an injustice. Here are some statistics.

  2. Ryan June 19, 2017 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    I was turned off a bit from Mormon Stories the past little while but the last four episodes have been excellent. I really enjoyed this episode and found it to be thought provoking.

    While losing faith was a process the end came just three months after getting sealed in the temple in 2003. I could not bring myself to tell my wife and continued to attend for several years without any problem really. I enjoyed the culture and community. Not until 2007 after the death of sibling did church activity begin to be intolerable to me. Even pretending to believe after such a traumatic experience was difficult. But I was at BYU and had to continue. After graduation in 2010 I went immediately inactive. I resigned membership in 2012 and divorced in 2014 (unrelated to Mormon membership).

    In 2015 I felt a strong compulsion to begin church activity, mostly due to my desire to get my autistic son (7 at the time) to be in a safe social environment hoping he could learn to socialize with children. I have enjoyed my return and feel a desire to be re-baptized. Unfortunately I still do not really believe in it and cannot answer the baptism questions honestly and still get baptized. The biggest struggle is navigating what to tell my two boys, now 9 and 5. I told them when we started going we were going to make friends and that they will be told things we do not believe, such as the need for a savior to die for sins we do not have; but I told them to just listen. That issue continues to be a struggle but this podcast has given me some ideas.

    Thanks John and Margie

  3. Marie June 20, 2017 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Mr. Dehlin, I hope that you will allow this comment to remain posted or have an episode that would allow this subject to be discussed by the victims and supporters of the church.

    I have compassion for those who choose to stay involved in the church to keep their families intact, to maintain their employment until they can find something else, or because they are emotionally not ready for the trauma that they may be facing by leaving. I, personally do not have a problem with discussions that are helpful to people that choose to stay in the church for those reasons. That being said, I would like to bring forth a perspective that should be considered when people are looking to stay involved in the church, especially for those who want to stay for social reasons.

    Many, many people are being damaged by the church, even to the point of committing suicide. Staying involved in the church is supporting the church. Supporting the church is supporting the abuse. The victims of this abusive feel a sense of being invalidated, disregarded and devalued by people who continue to support the church after they are aware that the church is so harmful.

    Quite often I hear that the church can be beneficial and does many good things. This is like a slap in the face to it‘s victims. Many plantation owners benefited from the enslavement of the African people. People throughout the American South defended the “benefits” of slavery, even when they were not slave -owners. They believed so strongly in the enslavement of another people that they rebelled against their government and fought the bloodiest war in American history. Did their strong belief in the superiority of one race over another make slavery okay? Of course not. Would you tell an African American today that slavery was a good thing because it was so beneficial to some people? Of course not.

    I would also like to point out a few other things to consider when deciding to stay active in the church. The perceived good that comes from the church is a facade. You can’t catch fish without bait. The wolf dresses in sheep’s clothing to fool it’s prey. The church is very good at taking credit for, and cloaking itself with, the good nature of it’s members. The good that comes from the members is not created or owned by the church. People in and out of religions are both moral or immoral. It is a lie that people need religion to have good morals. Empathy is the mother of good morals. Religions have adulterated morality with prejudices, bigotry, superiority, racism, sexism, ego and ridiculous reasons to judge one another.

    Although there are some real benefits that many members may enjoy from the social aspects of the church, all of the socializing and organizing that the church has their members do is designed for the church’s benefit, not the members. Keeping members doing busy work has a purpose. The more time that is devoted to the church, the less time that can be devoted to anything that would take a member away from their faithfulness to the church. Also their time is free labor. People don’t need churches to be social. They need commonality or causes and people that are good organizers.

  4. mormonx June 21, 2017 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    I am a non-believing, active, tithing-paying, temple recommend holding member. This episode touched nearly every situation that I am experiencing as I continue to remain active. Here are some brief comments about the subject matter from this episode:
    1. I stay a member because I get free access to!
    2. Family, my wife is a TBM and I haven’t told her about my faith crisis. I feel it would totally disrupt our family and cause a very awkward situation for my kids in the church.
    3. Ethical in staying active as a non-believer? Well, sounds funny coming from members who belong to a church that has questionable ethics and doctrine. I have no problem faking being a TBM.
    4. Temple recommends: I don’t get into discussions about details, I just flat out lie about sustaining our leaders and having a testimony of Joseph Smith, etc. Besides, since I no longer feel that Church leaders have any authority or power over me, I don’t feel any sense of guilt. I don’t have a choice and justify my fibbing in order to protect my family.
    5. My stake demands that we have current recommends. The mentality is that if you don’t have one, there is something going on with you. The stake presidency had no problem going off the list of questioning for a recommend interview. If one was to question it, then there’s something going on with you. I have been asked after living the Law of Chasity question: “So no pornography creeping into you life or no viewing porn on the Internet?” There is nothing that stops them from asking probing questions after the interview like when I last attended the temple.
    6. In case my kids decide to marry in the temple, then i want to be there for them.
    7. I want to attend church so I know what is being taught and told to my kids at church.

    So much for being brief, but thanks for this podcast. These episodes give me hope that there is hope that things will turn out well in the end.

  5. Ryan June 22, 2017 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Mormonx, I do not judge the decision to use deception to remain active as long as there is no double standard in judging the Mormon church for being deceptive. It was hypocritical for Jeremy Runnels to charge the Mormon church of being deceptive and then to unethically sneak a recorder to his excommunication court. Everyone has their own reasons and standards of when deception is justifiable and we all think our own reasons are better than others. There is an excellent article about religious justified deception in Mormonism some years ago.

    • MormonX June 23, 2017 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      I checked out your link and for some reason I couldn’t get the whole article. However, I read the first part of President Hinkley being interviewed and immediately I became annoyed by his answers. We grew up being taught that God was once a man, etc. Now he doesn’t know if “that’s being taught”? Anyway, if I’m a hypocrite for protecting my family by pretending to be a happy active member from a Church that is being exposed for it’s lies, deceptions, and cover-ups, then so be it. I’m would not be bothered by it. I’m not the one taking money and not telling the donors how their money is spent. I don’t think Runnels was hypocritical for exposing leaders who’s actions where contrary to a kind god they claim to follow. Maybe in the end, we are all hypocrites in one form or another. Thanks for your reply.

      • Ryan June 25, 2017 at 11:36 pm - Reply

        Sorry about link, I think you might have to subscribe to get entire thing. Like I said I do not judge you for using deception to remain active, we all have reasons to justify deception in certain cases, just as the church does. I just find it hypocritical when many, perhaps not you, complain about the church lying when they themselves engagge in deception as well. The Runnels situation sneaking the recording in an of deception while criticizing the church for being deceptive is prime example of what I mean. Tithing does not apply because donors who choose to give know there is no disclosure. But like I said I’m not critical of what you are doing for family.

  6. Jen June 23, 2017 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this amazing episode. It is exactly what I need to hear. We are in the category of working for the church and I am so grateful that there are others out there who have the same struggle. While my husband is able to just say, “I don’t think about it,” when I ask him how he deals with many of these issues, I can’t just “not think about it.” These issues consume me. I would love to hear more episodes with non-believing, but have to stay in it, members.

  7. Elizebeth June 24, 2017 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Thank you! Listening to both of you share your ideas and experiences has helped me in my journey. I hope there will be more podcasts in the future for unorthodox Mormons who have chosen to stay. We need all the support, advice, and direction the both of you can offer.

  8. Shawn June 25, 2017 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    Loved it John and Margi. I have also loved the variety and the diversity of topics in the last few months.

  9. Anon June 29, 2017 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    When you described leaving church during 2nd hour to do “marriage strengthening exercises as a couple” it made me laugh. I assume you weren’t referring to the particular activity that came to my mind, but as one who has left church during the 2nd hour to enjoy certain, um, “marriage strengthening exercises” with my wife, I can highly recommend it to any listeners who find Sunday School boring.

  10. Dawn December 7, 2022 at 9:21 am - Reply

    I am so happy to have found this topic. I’m exploring my beliefs as someone that has been a member my whole life but in the past couple of years, I feel like there have just been more red flags popping up for me. I have always been a pretty black-and-white person with right and wrong. So when things have started to not be entirely black and white within the church with so many changes throughout history that I have discovered thus far and being a member of a church that has so strongly taught honesty this has really been a struggle for me. Thank you for doing this topic because you know if I went to any leader in the church I don’t think they would be as understanding. It’s sad that I feel like I have to hide my thoughts from “strong believers” when we are also taught to have compassion towards those that may be struggling but I strongly feel like I would not get compassion. Although I will give props to my husband who has been very loving and understanding. So thank you again.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.