13413029_961154687369_1018238158481698619_nIn this episode Gina Colvin, Ph.D., Dan Wotherspoon, Ph.D., and Thomas McConkie explore the path of staying active in the LDS Church as an unorthodox member.  This episode was recorded live at Studio at 50 West in Salt Lake City on June 15, 2016.

For background on our participants:



  1. Bob June 30, 2016 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Just an the outside perspective, to encourage people to continue the mental gymnastics to stay an active member is like encouraging an ostritch to keep it’s head in the sand. Having a website to encourage people to stay active is in and of itself crazy. One shouldn’t need support to be a believer in anything. When challenges arise, answers should be readily available without having to use any double speak or dodge direct questions. “To thine own heart be true”. Anything less than that is perpetuating a lie. The Church is pretty black and white and as Hinckley said, it’s either true or it isn’t. and given the behavior of the leadership and the facts in broad daylight shows that it isn’t, why not pull the arrow out and actually have some real healing.

    • Wondering Wanderer July 2, 2016 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Bravo and Amen!

    • Kevin Rose August 16, 2019 at 11:23 am - Reply

      Life is full of paradox and anomaly. In fact, one hallmark of an individual with mature faith is the ability to hold multiple dichotomies in her / his mind, heart and body.

      Think Taoism – which values yin and yang in a suspended non-duality. Think Buddhism – which values equanimity (the balance of all elements in natural reality). And Christianity – which values atonement – or at-one-ment.

      Life is not black-and-white. In fact, it’s not grey. Nor is it technicolor. It’s all of that – and the constantly evolution into ever more complexity and infinite new combinations of consciousness, intent, energy, physical manifestation, and experience.

      Growth into an ever-expanding universal / integral perspective is our individual and community destiny.

  2. Esther June 30, 2016 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Amen, Bob. Well said and thank you for saying it. In my experience, you have explained the only healthy path a Mormon can take.

  3. Tamra June 30, 2016 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Gina, So glad your brain has never exploded all over the chandeliers! Now catch an episode of Braindead and laugh at the irony of the infectious malady that happens in D.C. politics and exploding heads.

  4. Anna June 30, 2016 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this thought provoking episode. I am trying to participate in the Church on my own terms. It’s nice how not paying tithing to LDS Inc. automatically precludes me from the things I’m not interested in including leadership positions (or what are called leadership positions for women), the temple, etc.

    However, I understand the frustration expressed by the audience. There are two churches, the one we create in our own wards and the larger institutional Church. While I will use the tools the panel discussed to help my unorthodox participation, I think it must be recognized that this type of worship comes at a great cost: marginalization, fractured family relationships/marriages and isolation. It is a lonely road and one that often raises the question if we are really helping those marginalized including LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Like Thomas, I don’t know but I hope so.

    Btw, loved anonymous’ comments. So honest! But he’s shown in the video so I’m concerned he will not remain anonymous particularly if the strengthening the members committee sees this.

    • Rude Dog July 3, 2016 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      Anna thanks for your comment. Loved it. John reached out to me personally about my comment. I approved it to be included. After all these years, I’m ready to go to court. I see excommunication as a badge of honor to the free thinker.

  5. Jed June 30, 2016 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    I can’t fathom how some of the panel can buy into a philosophy or life plan when it may not be true. Are you kidding me! Whether or not the book of Mormon is true or not is not relevant is simply gaslighting yourself into a comfortable view of reality. There is objective truth. Anecdotal evidence of it “works for me” is a intellectually dishonest approach to living a genuine life. Finding characters in the book of Mormon that resonate with youre life situation is cherry picking evidence to justify cognitive dissonance. Rant over.

    • Gina Colvin June 30, 2016 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      I don’t buy anything Jed. I’m not acting out of some kind of robotic unconsciousness. I don’t think any of the panelists are. We just see the necessity to assent to a prescriptive literal religious practice as being unhelpful for our spirituality. And I don’t believe anything is objective – particularly the spiritual.

      • Jed July 1, 2016 at 7:37 am - Reply

        Gina. Well prescriptive religious dogma is exactly what Mormonism is. I don’t know how you define spirituality. Is it the feeling of something bigger than yourself or the feeling of awe in life? Because for me if you try to build social mores from feelings it leads to a world of inconsistencies. Trying to shoehorn ones view of spiritual nuance in Mormonism is impossible.

        • J.C. July 6, 2016 at 5:03 pm - Reply

          Prescriptive Religious Dogma is exactly what Mormonism is…according to the lens you are looking through and the definition in which you have chosen to define it, Jed. This is cognitive dissonance too. But it much more difficult to see when it is your own. And be careful with how you throw around expectations (you seem to expect that Gina should represent an ideal you have) because you can come off sounding just like the institution you so intrinsically loath.

          • Jed July 8, 2016 at 11:57 am

            I doubt this is cognitive dissonance. The truth claims of the church do not pass critical thinking in almost all their doctoral issues . I am not maintaing two conflicting views about their nature. Staying in an organization knowing full well it is nonsense is pure cognitive dissonance or just plain selfish.

  6. Doug July 1, 2016 at 5:44 am - Reply

    I’m deeply grateful to the entire panel: John, Dan, Gina and Tom. I appreciate your honest and reflective responses about the realities of your personal faith. I appreciate the overall theme of a peaceful process of walking together with inclusion and understanding of each other. I appreciate the notion of giving space for each person’s individual journey. I appreciate the honesty in this discussion about it being okay not to know answers to things — but to allow space for wonder and discovery on a faith journey. Especially in a world that is increasingly cynical and centered on the negative. I appreciate Dan’s comment, “I will take goodness over correctness any day”. I also appreciate each panelist’s words of kindness and love towards people who have left the faith, as well those who are struggling. I appreciate the discussion about coming to a personal peace and empowerment within our own personal journey’s. Great podcast.

  7. Jay July 1, 2016 at 5:57 am - Reply

    I wonder if the approach propounded by some on the panel can help gay kids stop killing themselves?

  8. Cody July 1, 2016 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Hi, I appreciated the discussion and the questions. It takes courage to put oneself out there on either side of this discussion.

    With that said, something I have not seen discussed much anywhere is how to handle this unorthodox situation when one has children – Primary-aged and in the youth programs of the church. The dogma of the institution permeates those programs, from the songs children sing to the content of the lessons. If you want to see the direction the LDS church is going theologically, take a look at the new Doctrinal Mastery New Testament Teacher Material here:

    That material is what our children will be indoctrinated with over the coming years. It is the latest material and even includes, as an example of modern revelation and its process, Russell Nelson’s recent claim that the November ban was a revelation (see the “Prophets and Revelation” section).

    It is all well and good to develop the nuance and “I’ll just be there” thinking this panel suggests, but what about our children in Primary, YW, and YM? How do they get the space to develop nuance when the lesson material is like that above, when the conservative, orthodox viewpoint is jammed down their throats at all turns within the church, with, as the leaders claim, God’s imprimatur? I can understand the desire to hold on if it is just you, as a critically-thinking adult, but children, with their impressionable minds, are a major part of the equation for many of us.

    I would like to see some serious discussion on how to do this from the “staying active” crowd. It’s fine for us adults to engage in this mushy fancy-talk to finesse our way through activity, but black-and-white, authority-laden messages are what our children get to hear. It won’t change, and, due to our unorthodox beliefs, we will be marginalized, preventing us from participating in the efforts to “prepare the youth” in our children and youth programs. Largely, those programs will be staffed with the company men and women.

    How do we work through this? Can we get a real discussion on this difficult topic from the “stay active” crowd?


    • Wondering Wanderer July 2, 2016 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      Excellent point and topic, Cody. I think waiting for the church and its teaching materials to change is a mistake. The music alone has an emotional hook that is hard to overcome, but it can be replaced at home with other uplifting music and literature that teaches good values. It is impossible to constantly undo what kids hear every Sunday at church, especially if you are not right there in class in the moment with them hearing what is being said and able to counter it in real time. There is so much pressure to believe, to bear testimony, to follow the Prophet, right or wrong, to take scriptures literally. I don’t see an available middle road in the church, and the kids cannot possibly feel accepted and on equal footing for very long if they have doubts and questions and liberal beliefs expressed at home. Get them out now.

  9. lily July 1, 2016 at 10:22 am - Reply

    I have gained so much from watching this podcast..Thank you! However, i have to say that this one gave me an almost physical feeling of revulsion. I guess it was a “perceived threat” of taking steps backward. I had to turn it off, then try to watch again. Once that ostrich takes her head out of the sand there is no going back, and the courage that takes is HUGE! I did not perceive courage in action here, just a lot of rhetoric to support the head in the sand. It made me feel ICKY!

    • David MacKay July 11, 2016 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      It’s offensive to refer to members of the church that have pulled their heads out the sand so to speak but want to or chose to stay active as ostriches putting their heads back in to it. I think we can all pull our head out the sand and still enjoy being members of the church, and in doing so we will create a better church for everyone.

      If everyone who pulls their heads just leaves, it makes it harder for those who still have their heads in it and become aware of the issues. Won’t you love them enough to show them a better way, even if it requires some patience and kindness on your part? Or is that to much to ask?

      Being an active member of the church does not equate to ignorance, but it’s a lifestyle we chose to engage in culturally even if we don’t believe everything to be historically true, their are traces and elements of the divine that are valuable and can be honored and cherished.

  10. Esther July 1, 2016 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    I have been walking the paths we have all been discussing, in one way or another, for 20+ years now, and have found them to actually be just one path through many highly personalized stages of transition, that, I think have to ultimately lead to personal evolution beyond organized, institutionalized Mormonism, one way or another, either through our own evolution and agency or through the decisions of local leadership. This was the only healthy path through it all for me, anyway, and after having listened to many many episodes of Mormon Stories, I think I am not alone in that.

    I too, tried my version of this stay active approach, in Idaho and Utah, before there was even the beginnings (at least that I knew of) of online community support, but could not sustain it for long. I think the realities that Anna listed might have been even harsher then, in the early and mid 90’s, in Provo and Boise, or I was just not emotionally ready to deal with that kind of feedback and rejection from a community and culture I had been raised in. Either way, it was essential for me to face that reality for myself, ask the tough questions, face the answers for what they truly are, look at all the evidence and accept it all, and do the healthy thing for me by walking away. In the ensuing years, with work on myself, seeking, and study, my life has progressively become a more and more beautiful place to be. I don’t think I could have ever had this happiness and peace within Mormonism, however I had chosen to approach it. At the time, it didn’t feel like walking away. It felt like I was being shoved out. I agree that the real SLC Mormonism is very rigid, that it was designed and meant to be that way from the very beginning, and that it always will be. I was taught that I was to conform my thoughts, beliefs, and very personality in order to be truly, exactly obedient to commandments and Mormon culture and that nothing even slightly different was acceptable to either fellow ward members or to the Brethren. I don’t see any evidence that that has changed in the church office building although, from what I gather, local wards are seemingly changing for the better in some places. I don’t think the Brethren will stand for much local change, though. I think all we can do is live each stage we’re in, however long each one personally lasts, with as much love and support for those around us as we can give.

    • Jake July 1, 2016 at 2:36 pm - Reply


      I appreciate your prospective and feel that it really aligns with where my thought process and transition is at the present time.

      I grew up outside Utah but the SLC rigid Mormonism you speak of definitely exists outside Utah. I believe this rigidness comes from the foundation of the church leaders (especially Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) which was a result of the black and white(we are right, you are wrong) Christianity of the 1800’s. The message from the beginning and has always been is “We are right and everyone else is wrong (or only partially right)”. This message has been very clearly carried forward from the foundation. I agree that this won’t change from the church office building but I don’t really think it has even changed much on the local level. People just don’t want to believe that could be wrong.

      I once heard a mormon apologist say “you can believe anything you want in the church, you just can’t teach it…” Which means just keep your thoughts to yourself and we will tell you what to believe and teach. The reality is that if are a member of the church and publicly denounce, disagree, or claim things like women already have the priesthood (bold move Gina) then you are in danger of being kicked out of the church.

      • Gina Colvin July 1, 2016 at 2:53 pm - Reply

        Giving up the fear of being kicked out of the church is the greatest liberation from spiritual tyranny and unrighteous dominion. It leaves one free to be authentic. So what if I get kicked out? It won’t make a difference to my spiritual life, my desire to be a Christian disciple nor will it make me any less Mormon. I hope I don’t because of the damage and violence discipline always does to the community but of myself I see CD as more an expression of our religious fear than something sacred.

        • Jake July 1, 2016 at 3:59 pm - Reply


          Thanks for your response. I also want to say that I really respect your perspective and strength. It’s good to see someone who will stand up and challenge things that just don’t make sense or flat-out ridiculous tradition. I feel that excommunication falls into the ridiculous tradition category.

          Question for you… do you feel excommunication is ever necessary? or even dis-fellowship for that matter?

          • Gina Colvin July 1, 2016 at 5:11 pm

            No I don’t Jake. I think the more we can hold our broken, sinful, margin dwelling, questioning, doubting people the more enlivened we will be and the more spiritually nourished we will be because we will be stuck with each other. And our only healthy response to that diversity and challenge is love and compassion. I say this as someone whose first husband was excommunicated. At the time I felt smug and vindicated. But I see now that no good came of that for him or me or the ward he used to preside over. There are situations of predation that need a heavy legal and community hand to protect. I can see the value of the church improving their systems to safe guard but even in that situation I see no value in excommunication.

          • Rude Dog July 2, 2016 at 6:44 pm

            Yeah but Gina, why don’t you lose the baggage? Don’t tell me about your permission of heritage. I’m 5th generation Mormon. Lose the baggage. Or would you better be labeled the homophobic, misnogyinistic, the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully believer?

  11. Doubting Thomas July 1, 2016 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    I have to say these people are the kind of folks I’d like to have in my Sunday School class each week–wherever that might be. This kind of dialogue is engaging and worth my time. I agree with some things that were said, and disagree with the overall perspective it takes to continue participating in a local ward when the evidence is there to prove (to me anyway), that the LDS church is not what it claims to be.

    Mr. McConkie is, as the King of Siam might say, “a puzzlement” and he sounds a lot like Adam Miller in his voice and his perspective. Whenever I hear someone like Tom or Adam Miller or the Givens speak I think “what would Elder Bednar say if he was in the audience and asked to respond to what is being taught?”

  12. Janice July 1, 2016 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    It was interesting to hear the different reasons people decide to stay/return LDS Mormon. Thank you for the honesty of the panel. Most of it sounded like personal journeys so that is not something another can give comment except “go for it” However what I did not really h ear addressed is what Mormonism professes to BE and what it means to support it in the world. ” The restored gospel of Jesus Christ.” ? The “only true Church on the face of the earth”.? That is the message. If you believe it and want to try to reform it then great. But why would you want to reform the true Church of Jesus Christ led by a prophet? If you know it is not true then it is fraud and why do you want to dedicate your life to its growth.? It deceives and manipulates people and has done so since its inception. Why one would want to focus their energy and resources to enrich such a snare is confusing It sounds like some of the panel is attributing the goodness of the human spirit to the LDS religion. Not so.

  13. Esther July 1, 2016 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    Jake and Gina, thank you both for your comments and insight. I appreciate the way this podcast and conversation has helped me to uncover and reconsider some of my own continued preconceived notions and extremes of thinking. I honor any opportunity to do that. Gina, to be able to beard the lion in it’s den, so to speak, to call it as you see it and not care if you get kicked out requires a deep courage, ethic and care of others. This is the middle way, done well, done right. You have my respect and my gratitude for that as I can see the real need for that now. Before I could only see it as supporting a manipulative and hurtful organization based on fraud, as well as keeping oneself in an emotionally untenable situation, as that was my experience. Life is complicated and so are our personal solutions to such complicated situations as being Mormon and waking up to what that really means.
    And I also have to say that your semen comment was one of the best things I’ve ever heard anyone say out loud! Well said and on the mark!

  14. Esther July 1, 2016 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    I can also honor Anna’s decision to not pay tithing while continuing church attendance, which is eventually noticeable to ward members and could possibly wake them up to realities they weren’t aware of before. One way or the other, it is a continuing statement to local church leaders about the corporate church, which I can applaude now. Another way to make a statement, although my eventual choice was to make a statement with my feet and a resignation letter!

  15. EDiL13 July 1, 2016 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Thomas, for crystallizing and reinforcing something that’s probably been floating around at the edge of my mind for several years now: If I can’t accept the fact that my TBM husband can’t accept the fact that I’m no longer a believer in everything his church teaches (and no longer a member, at least not until some of their membership policies radically change, if ever), then I’m guilty of the same kind of non-acceptance that I accuse him of. And now that my head finally gets that, I’m hoping that my heart can eventually feel it, and that my behavior can change to match. I’d be interested in any suggestions you may have.

    And thank you John, Gina, and Dan, for doing Mormon Stories, Thoughtful Faith, and Mormon Matters. I’ve listened to almost all of your podcasts ever since I discovered them several years ago, and they’ve helped me cope with what Mormonism has done to my marriage and my life, and to think about my relationship with my husband and his church in new ways. I too hope to make peace with it all, somehow someday. And it sure was fun to watch a video with all of you together in one place.

    BTW, here’s my take on the discussion about why would anyone want to stay a member of an institution once they find out that it’s doing harm, and maybe even more harm than good. I think of what people do when their home is threatened, such as by a flood or a fire, or when their city is threatened, such as by crime or war. Some will take whoever will come with them and whatever they can carry, and do their best to escape, but others will stay and fight to save their homes or their cities, and try to rebuild them and repair whatever damage has been done. Both responses are valid, and I respect both those who choose to leave and those who choose to stay.

    EDiL13 (Elohim’s Daughter in Law)

    • Jay July 1, 2016 at 8:41 pm - Reply

      “If I can’t accept the fact that my TBM husband can’t accept the fact that I’m no longer a believer in everything his church teaches, then I’m guilty of the same kind of non-acceptance that I accuse him of.”

      I agree its a profound insight.

      A subsequent question is (even if I accept their non-acceptance) how much energy do I spend with the person or institution? Is that the best use of my time? Or do I spend more of my time with people who project an energy of acceptance?

      As a life-long non-mormon, these questions have been central to my life journey. I’ve found a more fulfilling existence limiting the projection of non-acceptance. I find I’m more joyful, productive, fulfilled when I limit the non-acceptance and surround myself with supportive, positive, encouraging energy.

      • Jed July 2, 2016 at 3:14 pm - Reply

        This is false. You have evidence that makes truth claims false or true. You are victim blaming yourself. You can provide a rationale reason for decisions you make whereas a believer resides in faith.

  16. Sam Rogers July 1, 2016 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    It takes a lot to make Mormonism work once one realizes that there is more to Mormonism than what correlation provides. I am impressed by the nuanced and thoughtful perspectives that each of the panelists provide. As Dan mentioned, it takes time to be able to come to a place where you can accept the church’s flaws but still see the light it can provide.

    I spent the last year building a website that I believe will be helpful for people to evaluate the pros and cons of Mormonism. The site is: https://prosandconsofmormonism.com/

    I evaluate over 60 topics in Mormonism and try to show the good and bad of each topic, from different perspectives. It is a safe place tat does not link to anti Mormon websites. For progressive Mormons trying to make their way in Mormonism, I think this is a very valuable resource. It will be more valuable if other people also leave their perspectives, and I hope that some of you will stop by and leave yours.

  17. Min-Shaft July 1, 2016 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    I feel torn. Part of me can’t wait for the day when we stop giving air time to Dan. His line of reasoning kept me trapped in a protracted faith crisis that should have ended sooner then it did and I regret ever having listened to the likes of him, the Givens and those who have tied themselves up in so many knots and then try to convince others to do the same.

    On the other hand, maybe the point of John Dehlin continuing to bring Dan, Gina and others like thin back is there are those not like me who are trying to tie themselves up in these same kinds of knots, but when they hear Dan and Gina say the things they say these other people recognize how ridiculous they were to think like that.

    • Gina Colvin July 1, 2016 at 11:45 pm - Reply

      It’s a bit rude to call our position ridiculous. I don’t think your desire to back away is ridiculous so perhaps you could do us the same courtesy? Having said that if homogeneity and certainty is what you wish for then this isn’t the conversation for you. Dan is a fine human being who embraces complexity. For some that works and for others it doesn’t. But it’s not ridiculous.

      • Sue Anderson July 2, 2016 at 10:22 am - Reply

        Amen, Gina.

      • Min-Shaft July 2, 2016 at 11:01 am - Reply

        Gina, you misinterpret what I’m saying. Let me give you an example. Years ago, when I was going through my faith crisis I listened to a MormonStories podcast with Tom Kimball and Dan Wotherspoon. While I sided with Tom, Dan kept making statements to Tom as if he was his post-Mormon bishop along the lines of (paraphrasing from memory) “are you still seeking spiritual experiences in your daily life, are you seeking connection,” etc, etc, etc.

        As a confused and struggling person those kinds of comments worked on me and caused me to spend a number of years reading books by the Givens, listening to Dans podcast, trying to be like them or a Richard Bushman.

        That is because we post-Mormons are still used to this kind of “bishop-like” behavior and we feel guilty when talked to this way. It’s the same passive aggressive guilt tripping that works so well for the church and we experience from leaders, family members, and friends.

        As a result of thi for many years I felt like I needed to be like Dan, Bushman, etc. However, all that did was create more cognitive dissonance and protracted me getting to a healthy place and moving on with my life.

        So, what I’m trying to say is, be careful about this middle road you’re trying to propose and champion. While there may be some that need to go this route before they’re done, I think the vast majority of us do not and your ideas are dangerous.

        Dan in particular needs to change his pattern of speech. As you can tell from so many of the comments here, he actually triggers PTSD in many of us. His last interview with John last year almost sent me back into counseling as I listened again lto him guilt tripping John just like a Mornon bishop would do.

        So, maybe I’m just one angry person who feels duped by Dan, just like I was by the church. But all you middle-roaders need to hear this kind of feedback, and be carful that while you may still be stuck and tying yourselves up in knots, don’t encourage the rest of us to do the same. It’s both a symptom of what you’re saying and how you say it (especially Dan). You may be doing more harm than good.

    • Jay (the lifelong nevermo) July 2, 2016 at 10:53 am - Reply

      I see that.

      The longer Dan talks the more the air drains out of the building. Even Dan seems to list into an almost despondent, defeated, resigned state as he tries to explain his view. His body language and almost pleading to be understood tone reveals the futility of his position. He’s grasping and I agree that many people can see that realize that there is no there there. He’s holding open the exit door for many in my opinion.

      Thomas is unquestionably eloquent and insightful. I think Dehlin needs to explore Thomas’ ideas in a one on one.

    • Wondering Wanderer July 2, 2016 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      Agreed. You have a right to your opinion as to what you see as ridiculous. I don’t know how others compartmentalize, live with the dissonance, can ignore so many shelves that are so overloaded with damning evidence. Perhaps they feel forced to because of business, family, and societal connections to the church and the resulting pressures. Their struggle to hold on is perplexing and disturbing, but perhaps their views do add contrast that is instructive, just as are the ridiculous church essays.

  18. I know why I left July 2, 2016 at 3:32 am - Reply

    Flabbergasting. Completely cannot understand or identify with any of the three panelists. The person who made the most sense to me was John’s cousin. Oh, and the anonymous man.

    • Sue Anderson July 2, 2016 at 11:23 am - Reply

      I thought every participant in this discussion made sense. Each panel member and post-discussion questioner had a personal paradigm, process, life experience, and personality. Each expressed a valid point of view. I would love to see every man and woman find his/her own spiritual path and walk it without disparagement (or summary dismissal) by others. Surely we can only “be right” about our own spirituality and its practice. We cannot “be right” about someone else’s.

      Perhaps we could understand and respect others more fully by listening, hearing, and then imagining what it is like to be them. Instead of projecting our unique points of view upon those around us, maybe we could suspend our paradigms long enough to realize they have every right to hold their own……and that it is impossible for them to do otherwise. We are, each of us, products of our individual environments, intellectual capacities, temperaments, genetic inheritances, belief systems, circumstances, and so forth. We cannot and should not be measured by someone else’s personalized measuring stick and found wanting. Do others only “make sense” when their points of view align closely with our own? If we “can’t relate” to them, maybe we have some figuring out who they are and where they are coming from to do. Opening our minds and hearts in this way is possible, but I reckon it takes practice. As a discipline, it is one I hope to cultivate as the Church and its people move through the coming years. My objective is to do my best to “relate” to others, even when I can’t or don’t agree.

      • Wondering Wanderer July 2, 2016 at 5:57 pm - Reply

        Opinions can only be considered “valid” when they are well founded, sound, reasonable, rational, logical, justifiable, defensible, etc. We can defend everyone’s right to express his or her personal opinions and beliefs. We can be polite and kind by listening to others’ beliefs without challenge. We can delve into others’ personal experiences and emotions to help us understand why their ideas make sense to them. However, in a forum where there are so many who feel betrayed and deceived by incorrect, misleading, and deceptive information that has emanated from the “only true church,” it is high time for critical thinking, transparency, and frankness, and niceties are not their top priority.

        The problem with any discussion of faith is that people confuse their religion with truth. Truth is that which is in accord with reality or fact. With science, it is facts, critical analysis, a preponderance of evidence, and experimental results that can be reproduced that define truth. With religion, truth is defined by those who write the holy writ. Religious belief is perpetuated by traditions, habituation, family and peer pressure, and emotions. It is the sense of community support, the hope in an afterlife, and the emotional comfort people find in their religion that convinces them of their religion’s truth and rightness.

        We should not discuss truth and religion as if they were on the same plane. I agree that religion or spirituality is something personal and individual. That is why there are as many different types and variations of belief within human hearts, even within each religion, as there are people. Believers need to admit to themselves that all religion, including their own, is logically indefensible, that it is outside the realm of any standards of truth or validity, and that it is an individual CHOICE, embraced above and beyond all reason, because it is emotionally satisfying to them, not because it is a fountain of truth. We can eliminate intolerance, personal angst, cognitive dissonance, mental gymnastics, and any need for apologetics, when we admit that religion has little to do with reality or truth, but we seem to like it and need it anyway.

  19. p July 2, 2016 at 10:58 am - Reply

    My Mormonism, simply put, is about community, though I do find great beauty in Joseph Smith’s expansive cosmology. If you queried, individually & privately, all the members of my Midwest college-town ward, you’d probably find, for instance, that half don’t believe the Book of Mormon is historical. No big deal, actually; we still have our ward dinners & activities, we still do our genealogy, and even go to the temple, Such community cohesion and observance is a prerequisite for mental health, at least for most of us.

    The behavior of church leaders should not make people abandon the Church any more than the behavior of certain political leaders should make citizens abandon the USA. The institution does not belong to the leadership. Their prehistoric opinions of and behavior towards homosexuals, women, minorities, and their bizarre far-right political orientations do not reflect the attitudes of a large sub-set of members, nor will these opinions/behaviors prevent the Church from evolving into what it will one day become: radically inclusive, truly loving – Christian!

    • Wondering Wanderer July 2, 2016 at 2:15 pm - Reply

      “The institution does not belong to the leadership.” Actually, it does.

      • p July 2, 2016 at 3:13 pm - Reply

        As in “The Corporation of The Church of…”

        Ouch, you’re right! So much for THAT moral assertion. I repent.

        • EDiL13 July 2, 2016 at 11:02 pm - Reply

          I’ll stay out of the debate about who the institution really belongs to, but either way, I hope you won’t really “repent” for your beautiful thoughts about being part of a community, or for your lovely vision of the future. I hope you’re right about it, even if I don’t live to see it.

          But then, I could be wrong too…


          • p July 3, 2016 at 2:54 pm

            Actually, it should have been “The Corporation of the President of The Church of…”

            Got it, EDiL13 & thx, but technically Wanderer is correct. That’s a piece of information progressives & general troublemakers might want to factor in before they make their next push for reform, i.e., when Trump actually owns the building, he gets to chose the carpet.

      • Esther July 2, 2016 at 4:01 pm - Reply

        Yes! It does absolutely! I do agree.

    • Voltaire July 3, 2016 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      Investigators of the church are given a simple challenge . . . pray about the BoM to know whether it is true (meaning it is an authentic, historical, and god inspired document as Joseph Smith represented it to be). If it is true, then the church is true; if it is not true, then the church is not true. The validity of the BoM is the central, basic, fundamental, official teaching upon which the church stands or falls. If half your ward does not believe in the historicity of the BoM, and you are in the church only for the community, how can they or you feel comfortable or honest in this church membership and affiliation? Why stand as a representative of a scam and something you do not believe?

  20. Jen July 2, 2016 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Reading these comments has been really interesting to me. I feel like they mirror the conversations that are occurring in my daily life. I once considered leaving Mormonism. I am a straight ally to the LGBTQ community and am devoted to building equitable communities. My ideas don’t fit within Mormonism. In my career I work in suicide intervention and crisis counseling. When I began doing suicide intervention with youth in Idaho, I realized that leaving Mormonism was a bit more complicated because I would be leaving behind LGBTQ youth. Those youth needed a person to create safe places but they are born into Mormonism and often to conservative parents, they are in need of people willing to stay and provide safe harbor until they are old enough to exit. So I have embraced this new spiritual path in my Mormon faith community. What has been surprising is that I meet very little negativity from my ward members and I am absolutely honest with them about my intentions. Instead, I often receive cruel judgment from individuals who have chosen to leave Mormonism. I am still unpacking what is behind this.

    • Gina Colvin July 2, 2016 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Nice Jen.

  21. Lucy July 2, 2016 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    Cody’s comments above — that’s exactly the point. I understand that wards can be great communities and have been a part of that in various places in the US and abroad. I also understand that there are different roads people take, and that staying part of the community can be a valuable thing for many people. It has been my choice, for example.

    But is there ever a cost. You can’t talk away everything your children hear and do at church. Reading through or trying to teach through the Primary manuals is an eye-opener. Or reading online the Primary Sacrament Program for 2016? Or worse yet, being IN Primary as you find yourself unable to teach more and more. Read through some of the lessons. See the new song they’re learning? Called “Praise to the Man.” The children get a very, very strong and clear message. It is not nuanced. And it starts in Nursery. And the messages are even more leader-roulette as children get older and into their teens where even more church-leader energy is pointed their way. If you are active in the church, you know how much energy is poured into the youth. The strongest leaders, the most attention.

    We can have hours of podcasts where insightful points are being made. But meanwhile, it pays to be aware that if we are sending our kids to Primary and to Mutual, no matter what conclusions about the church we ourselves come to, our children are being, for lack of a better word, strongly indoctrinated and they, like so many of us, will have to work through all of that later when critical thinking skills kick in.

    I would love somewhere to have a discussion about children in a mixed home, where one spouse believes and the other doesn’t. I would love somewhere to see that while we are all talking about having a big, accepting tent the church is sharpening its message and drawing even stronger lines.

  22. Esther July 2, 2016 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Beautiful, Jen. Thank you. I work in special education in an Idaho school district. A student committed suicide at my high school last year over issues regarding his sexuality. His parents weren’t Mormon, but they were conservative and religious and he wasn’t always supported by his peers. I didn’t know him and he didn’t fall within my sphere of influence, but I have been haunted ever since as are the all the other staff members at the school. There is a need for what you have chosen to do, both professionally and personally and I thank you for that. I feel you have eloquently addressed the complexities of this conversation that I have been clumsily trying to address. Just make sure you take care of yourself too. You don’t have to stay engaged in a religious organization for any reason that takes too much out of you or that you feel might do more harm to those you’re trying to help than you can individually do good. There is a lot of power in leaving too. Ultimately, though, it’s only up to you and your authentic life.

  23. p July 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm - Reply


    If only the leadership would approach the membership in this manner, how many problems would find solutions!

    Lucy, I hear what you’re saying about indoctrination, but, in my experience as a parent, clear, strong & rational messages from parents balances everything. Particularly useful are those opportunities/examples that frequently arise that indicate that life is not quite as neatly compartmentalized as the leadership wants it to be. Gender & orientation issues come immediately to mind.

  24. Jay (the lifelong nevermo) July 3, 2016 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    But I must say, Hats off to Dan for speaking out against the church policy toward lbgt. I do admire that he acknowledges some of the problems with church doctrine and lends some support to questioning individuals.

  25. Glen July 3, 2016 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    There is one topic that seems for me to be missing. If I attend and continue to be completely honest I can not really be a full member. I can not attend the temple. I can not participate in my children’s wedding ceremonies. I would feel real weird and like a fraud to “give” my son the priesthood. I would never feel like I am really part of the group. I would have a hard time holding in comments that would likely offend someone and embarrass my wife. Would I really be treated much different than the LGBT group in the way of not really being fully accepted for who I am and what I believe?

    I do really appreciate the real love you guys all show. I only wish we could all have that type of love and acceptance no matter what a person’s situation.

    • Gina July 4, 2016 at 1:39 pm - Reply

      I’m not currently temple attending. I speak up. I’m hard to place in church callings. Yet I go and feel part of the community. It wasn’t always like that. I thought that unless I showed up in conformity I wasn’t being Mormon. Then I gave myself permission to be myself found it was fine, my contributions are welcome and I’m appreciated. But by the same token I try to make space for other peoples’ expressions of faith even if I don’t agree or feel a bit irritated by it – cause that was me once. It won’t be like that everywhere I guess but it works for me.

  26. Andrew July 4, 2016 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Bravo for another insightful and fascinating Mormon Stories episode. I applaud it simply for happening, and for defining a conversation around this idea of “Unorthodoxy”. The challenge to hegemony begins with honesty and open listening. Though I found myself vigorously agreeing or cringing from time to time, I think the diversity of the panelists is critical, as it reflects the fluid spectrum of Mormonism, a fact which the LDS Church would like to suppress. I especially appreciated Gina’s approach that Mormonism comprises the vast collective experience of Mormonism across the globe. I also feel like all panelists were wonderfully self-aware, which is in and of itself an act of rebellion within a religious culture that survives in an echo chamber.

    Alas, I still do not hear any hopeful answers for the LGBTQ+ community. While Church leaders are stuck on the “be celibate and wait until the next life” narrative, too many straight Mormon allies are doing their own handwringing and calling for patience and forbearance. I have yet to attend an LDS ward where I felt fully welcomed and fellowshipped as an out gay Mormon. As I was not willing to spend decades of my life waiting for the Church and its members to adjust their thinking and doctrine, I left. Now, long-suffering and waiting is literally killing our LGBTQ youth. As what point does it become too much? How many kids will we sacrifice before someone speaks up and says, “Stop.” It is very difficult for me to listen to two straight white males (Tom and Dan) whose unorthodoxy is nourished by a roost of privilege, while so many of us unorthodox believers have been erased simply for being. While I am grateful for these important philosophical discussions, I am not convinced we are addressing the real crisis.

  27. Eugene Kovalenko July 4, 2016 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    I believe the crisis is over when we find the courage to know and share our authentic selves. The best way I know to do this is by getting to know, understand and value our personal dreams. We need no permission from others to make this decision.

  28. Horst July 5, 2016 at 12:31 am - Reply

    I enjoyed the discussion tremendously. I believe Jesus Christ himself would have enjoyed participating. He’s also intelligent, thoughtful and friendly, willing to let each of us choose our own paths. Good strength to you all.

  29. Ryan and Carinne White July 5, 2016 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    Awesome podcast John, you are an inspiration and doing so much good. Your conversations are helping a lot of people and I wanted to say thank you. It seems a stark contrast to Elder Holland’s recent mental illness video that is creating labels instead of helping people talk. Could it be that many people that are labeling themselves as depressed or mentally ill are really just suffering from false church teachings or difficult policies without an outlet or way to talk about it? For example huge numbers of LDS missionaries returning home early due to mental health concerns / sickness.

    I appreciated the Q&A afterwards and the panel’s patience and willingness to engage the audience. I feel similar to Dr Brett Parkinson / John’s cousin, and Mr Anonymous about feeling frustrated after listening to the interview. The participants seem well meaning and motivated, but I, like those two men, want to hear more grounded certainty. It is not good enough to have to be patient for change. I am not willing to subject my children to my life’s greatest source of pain. The paradox is that it is also the greatest source of happiness for me.

    Thomas mentioned his disaffection starting at age 13 and it sounds like an age many Mormons start feeling problems. Sarah Collett, the host for A Thoughtful Faith before Gina, expressed a similar reaction at that age. She pins it to the polygamy doctrine and the extreme uneasiness that came when learning about it (Episode 82, Curtis Henderson). I’m interested in finding out if that’s what Thomas is talking about as well?

    Is it possible that polygamy was not of God, but Joseph was still a true prophet before he fell, pre-Nauvoo? (I believe the sources for pre-Nauvoo allegations for polygamy are weak, and pre-Nauvoo revelations are strong evidence of a worthy prophet). This has been the most useful tool in sifting between truth and error. We just ask ourselves, “Was it revealed before polygamy, or during?” It’s a unique paradigm that everything fits into perfectly. We believe there’s a difference between priesthood authority and power, and Joseph lost his power when he started living polygamy. But the church structure was still there and Jesus Christ has been leading others after polygamy to get back on course and regain priesthood power. (We believe Jesus Christ is leading any person or organization that is willing to live correct principles.) As Elder Uchtdorf has said the restoration is an ongoing process. That’s why my wife and I remain active LDS members.

  30. RJR July 5, 2016 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    To believe in the church is to believe that Joseph Smith truly saw God the Father and his Son. That through him the church was restored including the authority of the priesthood. That there is a living prophet today that continues to speak with God and that God is directing the Church and His truths are immutable, unchanging eternal laws. When I peaked behind the curtain and found that wasn’t true, that Joseph Smith committed acts and taught doctrine that could not have been in harmony with the God I believe in and that either God continuously changes his mind about the laws and more importantly, who are accepted children and how valuable certain of those children are, or the church leaders are just doing what they believe in without actual direction from God. If the Book of Mormon is not true, the prophet is not the single anointed leader on earth, the doctrines are not true and the brethren don’t have the direct authority from God, what’s the point in continuing to remain? It’s either true or not. And if it’s not true why stay and try and change it? Forge your own path with those who believe that all people are equal under the eyes of God and the path to God is not through those who believe the only way back to heaven is simply church attendance. The panel members claim to be Mormons, but to be Mormon you actually should believe in the Mormon religion, not the hope that the church will someday believe in yours.

    • p July 7, 2016 at 9:44 am - Reply

      “It’s either true or it’s not.”

      Your binary misses the point. No religion is “true.” That’s not a requirement for a religion/church to fulfill its psychological/social function.

    • Carinne and Ryan White July 7, 2016 at 4:50 pm - Reply


      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s easy to see you are a person of integrity. We’ve been thinking about your comments and questions. We also “peaked behind the curtain”, having always felt that polygamy is wrong and cannot be from God. What we found on the other side was shocking to say the least, and a lot darker than we thought it would be.

      We had a hard time believing in the priesthood authority of the church. How could Joseph have priesthood power and authority if he was living polygamy, what we believe to be adultery? We now think there’s a difference between priesthood power and priesthood authority. Authority has more to do with church organization. Power has more to do with how you are living your life and qualifying for God’s power. We believe the church still had priesthood authority but Joseph was lacking in priesthood power, as well as the 6 presidents that followed him that also had plural wives. That would explain why Brigham Young had so many ridiculous teachings.

      We had to ask ourselves, how can we still believe in prophets but also believe they make mistakes? This question required another. Where did we get the idea that prophets are perfect or can’t ever lead us astray? We found it has been incorrectly taught in the church for many years. One main quote is from another Polygamist prophet who was also lacking priesthood power. It was Willford Woodruff at the time of the Manifesto “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this church to lead you astray”. But his teachings also need to be questioned the same way some of Joseph and Brigham’s have been, because he was unworthy. That statement he made is simply not true. Church leaders are not God-like, infallible men. They are weak and simple, like all human beings. They can make minor as well as major mistakes.

      The church leaders have done such a good job of indoctrinating this false teaching, that even people who get angry with the church still hold this teaching at the core of their beliefs. If people are going to throw out false teachings, this should be the first.

      If you read the bible, it seems that imperfect church leaders have been getting in the way of God’s will since the beginning of time. This is not new to the modern day LDS church. God’s truths are immutable, unchanging eternal laws. But God is working with imperfect, fallible humans, and he won’t force revelation. Even prophets have agency.

      So why can’t our church leaders renounce polygamy and apologize? They are like Thomas McConkie, making excuses for their Uncles and Grandpas generations back. It’s ok to say that Bruce R McConkie was a good person, and at the same time, was completely wrong when he said we’d all live polygamy after the Second Coming.

      It’s ok to say Joseph Smith was a true prophet but fell hard when he started living polygamy. It doesn’t mean many things he taught before he fell aren’t true. Why do so many people believe someone can repent and become good but not believe someone can be good and then become bad? We think that is answered by what we said earlier.

      We believe polygamy is at the core of the LGBT children policy. It seems church leaders felt they had to be consistent and apply the same policy that they’ve had for polygamist children. Why have they had that policy for polygamist children? They are vulnerable to polygamy until they eradicate it from their own doctrine. We believe they are still making mistakes because they will continue to lack FULL priesthood power until they renounce polygamy and the church fully repents.

      Find out for yourself if most of the major past and present problems with the LDS church would exist if polygamy had never happened. Research it chronologically with polygamy unworthiness as your filter.

      Is the church true or not?

      We think D&C 1:30 is an example of why many believe the church either has to be 100% true or not true. The tricky thing with this verse is it’s very similar to Jacob 2:30 – it contains parenthetical phrases and can easily be misunderstood. Many misread this and think that the Lord was saying His one and only true church has been fully restored. If you can get around the confusing parenthetical phrases, you can see the Lord is talking about a group of people that were given his commandments / the Book of Mormon and they would have power to “lay the foundation” of his church, and inferred is a construction project that is not yet completed. Where is the scripture where Christ has said the LDS church is all done? If not completed and somewhere between foundation and finished, then there’s going to be a lot of things that are not true. We think it is better to say it’s the “truest” church but not yet the “true church”. When Jesus Christ himself is speaking at the pulpit in the Conference Center, then it will be “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” We feel it’s our privilege to participate in building the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints to become the Lord’s church. We do believe that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and his Son. And we do believe the Book of Mormon is true. The book of Mormon is a 30-60 lb golden stumbling block keeping us from leaving the church  We’ve had a spiritual witness of its truthfulness that we cannot dismiss as nonsense. We don’t feel the same for most of the book of Abraham, but that can be explained with our chronological theory mentioned previously.

      Sorry, we know this is a bit long. Maybe we should start a blog!

      • Rude Dog July 9, 2016 at 4:18 pm - Reply

        Said the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder day Saints! I love the Fruedian slip! There is a fundamental flaw in your rationale. You say you believe God and Jesus appeared to Joseph. I’m assuming you understand “why” God appeared to Joseph, you know, the part about none of the sects or churches being true? Which leads us to the great apostasy, which we’ve been taught as the priesthood being taken from the earth because of the break in particularly, priesthood authority. It sounds to me that you think the first 7 prophets including Joseph astray. The flaw is your views on priesthood authority and power. You’re forgetting the priesthood “keys” aspect. LDS.org says: “Priesthood keys are the authority Heavenly Father has given to priesthood leaders to direct the use of His priesthood on earth. Jesus Christ holds all priesthood keys. “The keys of this dispensation,” which are necessary to lead the Church, were conferred on the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 110:16). Today the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles hold those keys. Priesthood keys are also given to the Presidency of the Seventy; presidents of temples, missions, stakes, and districts; bishops; branch presidents; and quorum presidents—including Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidents.”

        You assert that Joseph lost his priesthood power but the “church” retained the authority. Other than you stating this as an opinion, where would anyone find reference to the validity of your claim? Priesthood keys according to Mormon doctrine have always rested with the individual, not the organization. If the latter were true then any agent of the organization could confer priesthood keys and offices upon any member. If your argument were valid it would seem not to notice the case that certain “individuals” did not, or continue not to be blessed with receiving this “authority”. This is especially validated by Joseph Smith, who’s hold of the keys only deepened as his authority was questioned. There were those in the early church that would have loved to have given the authority to the organization, however Joseph Smith contended that the keys and rights of the priesthood resided with the individual presidents of the offices of the priesthood, his being the ultimate office, that of prophet, seer and revelator. The church did not have the authority but the individual, based on individual worthiness, according to the founders of the religion that you seems to have sway in your heart.

        There are many machinations, mental gymnastics and hoops to jump through with your response. This church is a restorationist church, whose entire philosophy was to restore that which was lost specifically due to the broken chain of priesthood authority and keys that followed primitive church of Judea. To say that somehow that 7 prophets, seers and revelators lost their way, with the priesthood keys secretly surviving on the periphery with rogue counsellors who never had such keys conferred upon them, and who in their hearts and actions denied polygamy only to have such keys passed on via a quasi Knights Templar, and resurface with…who…Heber J Grant? It betrays everything this church is founded on.

        As an Atheist I think it’s all turtles, but at least I have a pretty good idea what this church does and does not believe and stand for, and for those that chide for the binary approach let me say this. It’s the church that has put us in the binary thinking mode. It has made one concrete truth claim after another, and to deny this is to deny reality. The three panelists and the anti “binary” thinkers live in the dualistic realm, as in the earth is round and the earth is flat. If we argue that we are accused of binary thinking. Hence our three panelists who love to live in the esoterica of flowery words and lofty platues of pink skies. Sigmund Frued said something very profound that describes our three panelists and those that are most things not Mormon, but just can’t let the title go. “In reality are only attempts at pretending to oneself or to other people that one is still firmly attached to religion, when one has long since cut oneself loose from it. Where questions of religion are concerned, people are guilty of every possible sort of dishonesty and intellectual misdemeanor. Philosophers stretch the meaning of words until they retain scarcely anything of their original sense; by calling “God” (or I’ll inject, “Mormon”) some vague abstraction which they have created for themselves, they pose as deists, as believers, before the world; they may even pride themselves on having attained a higher and purer idea of God.”

        • p July 9, 2016 at 9:06 pm - Reply

          Only someone still deeply attached writes with such fire and eloquence.

          • Rude Dog July 10, 2016 at 2:43 am

            Deeply attached for damned sure. There’s still a blacksmith shop in Nauvoo that has my family name. Spiritually? Don’t misinterptpret fire and eloquence with annoyance and dissapointment. As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri River in her decreed course as to stop my annoyance from going forth upon the land. ;)

        • Ryan and Carinne White July 11, 2016 at 3:57 pm - Reply

          Hi Rude Dog,

          Thanks so much for the feedback. We appreciate your intelligent and thoughtful reply. We quickly saw the issue with our prior comment and felt challenged to do more research.

          We looked through every scripture in D&C and the BOM having to do with Priesthood Keys and Priesthood Authority. We have come to realize Keys and Authority have some unique differences from each other. Church leaders have used Authority and Keys interchangeably, the same way “priesthood” is used interchangeably with Power or Authority. We don’t have a problem with Priesthood as a synonym for authority or power. We do have an issue with the definition of keys you mentioned from lds.org. Here’s one way Keys and Authority are different. In D&C 121:36-37 it says that unrighteousness = “Amen to the priesthood or authority of that man”. Based off these verses, Joseph and the leadership of the early church would have lost the priesthood, the authority and power, because of polygamy. Yet if you search D&C for “Keys” you will find scriptures stating that “Keys” of the kingdom have been given to Joseph Smith and the Twelve, and will never be taken away (D&C 90:3 and D&C 112:14-15). These scriptures would cause the Lord to contradict himself, unless Keys and Authority are separate things.

          You mentioned Joseph dug in his heels towards the end of his life and claimed he had the Keys, and therefore the Authority. However, at that time Joseph was living polygamy and was unworthy of priesthood power and authority. Therefore we need to question his claim that holding Keys automatically meant he had Authority.

          We stated that the church kept the authority but leaders had lost priesthood power. We also were using the word Authority interchangeably with Keys and now realize that was wrong. The church did lose its Authority.

          But what about Keys?

          We believe you can have Keys without having Power and Authority.

          Jesus Christ holds all the Priesthood Keys. And if he told Joseph he wouldn’t take them away till he comes again (D&C 112:15), he either changed his mind, or the LDS church still has the Priesthood Keys. Righteousness isn’t a prerequisite to holding Keys, or he would have made sure to state that somewhere in a revelation to Joseph like he did for Authority and Power (D&C 121). Less-than-perfect men holding offices in the church can pass on Priesthood Keys because they are not their Keys. They are borrowing them from Jesus Christ. One has to be righteous to know what to do with the keys, but we believe they were indeed passed down through generations to today.

          We believe that the Lord does not take away Keys of the kingdom, but they can be lost, as with Christ’s original church. If the essential positions that Christ created, such as the 12 apostles, don’t exist, then who is there to hold the keys? In the case of the LDS church, the succession of Keys has not been broken since Joseph Smith.

          Keys are similar to Authority where it is based on the person, like you mentioned. The difference with Keys is that they are associated with the calling / office or position too. A good example of this is a Bishop. He has a “mantle” of inspired direction that comes when he is called and leaves when he is released.

          In April 2010 General Conference, President Packer said “We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood. We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide. But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.” We believe this principle is true if the word “Keys” is used instead of “Authority”. Referencing back to D&C 121:36-37, there couldn’t be Authority out in the world at a different level than Power because Authority is taken away the same time Power would be, due to unrighteousness.

          The lds.org definition of priesthood keys is almost right. This is how we would say it: “Priesthood keys when combined with priesthood power are the authority Heavenly Father has given to priesthood leaders to direct the use of His priesthood on earth.”

          Here is how President Joseph Fielding Smith should have said it: “Keys are the right of presidency; when combined with power they give someone authority to govern and direct all of the Lord’s affairs on earth.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1972)

          Power + Keys = Authority

          • Ryan and Carinne White July 12, 2016 at 2:14 pm

            We wanted to clarify one thing from our last post where we mention the mantle of a bishop. We said there’s a position based difference between keys and authority. That’s not correct because authority is inclusive of keys. To have authority means you have keys.

      • RJR July 9, 2016 at 11:27 pm - Reply

        “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this church to lead you astray”. But his teachings also need to be questioned the same way some of Joseph and Brigham’s have been, because he was unworthy. That statement he made is simply not true. Church leaders are not God-like, infallible men. They are weak and simple, like all human beings. They can make minor as well as major mistakes.

        This is where you totally lose me and I have never heard the church say the prophets are weak and simple men prone to mistakes. They might make a mistake here and there, but on big ticket items, I think God would be crystal clear about how he wants his people to be led or what is the purpose of having a prophet? What Wilford Woodruff taught is the basic tenet of the Church today, i.e., God works through his prophets (Amos 3:5 which I taught a thousand times on my mission). First of all, of the billions of people to populate the planet, the all-knowing God chose Joseph Smith to restore his church in the great council of heaven. He is number two, second only to Christ himself. I have a hard time believing God chose someone he knew would become almost immediately apostate to his core teachings. That’s not a simple man just making a mistake. The church believes that the prophet speaks directly to God. To say JS went off the deep end with polygamy could be believable, and one might even argue that’s why God let him be killed in the Carthage jail, except that polygamy was carried on as the basic doctrine for the church for decades. I have a really hard time believing the next six prophets were counterfeit or unworthy prophets and would love to see where that theory is supported by the church today. That is simply a rationalization that is contrary to Church teachings.

        As to the comment on being “binary,” all of my life I was taught the Church was the only true church on the earth, restored by heavenly father, and I spent hours on my mission teaching that the church today was exactly like the church Christ set up. The Church does not believe its purpose is to fill a some physiological or social function. Where did you get that?! It’s purpose is “to bring to pass the eternal life and immortality of men.” This is the one and only deal and the difference between Mormons and all other churches is that there is a prophet who has the keys and who speaks directly to God. To believe the Church is mostly true and you get to pick and choose which tenets suit you, is absolutely contrary to the teachings of the church. To say that Joseph and the next six prophets spoke directly to God but just weren’t living worthy is not only contrary to Church teachings but is an enormous stretch of the imagination. For that to be true, they weren’t prophets in the true sense. It is either the true church of God or it’s just like every other Church on the planet. I don’t criticize those who go because they find some goodness in the members, the B of M or the teachings themselves, but this is the only Church where you have to be all in to be a true believer and enjoy the blessings of the temple, etc. I personally attend Sacrament sometimes still because I find some goodness. But I also have no delusions there is value in attending to try and change the church and I don’t speak out about what I don’t believe in out of respect of those that do believe or choose not question.

        I respect anyone who believes in the doctrines of the Church as much as those who don’t. The message is really beautiful if you don’t peel back the layers and in some respects it’s exceptional for the youth. I do, however, have a hard time with people who don’t believe in it but are working so hard to change its beliefs and stay in with that hope. It’s like playing football for the sole purpose of trying to get everyone to play soccer. If you want to play a different sport, just go do it.

  31. Sarah July 7, 2016 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    Honestly I would have liked to stay to help our LGBT youth but attending church was so bad for my mental health. That place is toxic! Mormonism is a cult! All the energy I spent rationalizing beliefs I knew were wrong sent me into an emotional breakdown. Mental gymnastics are hard and ultimately futile. I predict most of the panelists will leave the church eventually. It will wear them down.

  32. Sam Young July 8, 2016 at 11:29 am - Reply

    I kept looking for the meat. It felt like a lot of lofty talk with little substance. Here’s the question I would have asked: There are 4 opportunities every year to offer sustaining or opposed votes to the 1st presidency and 12 apostles. Do you vote to sustain, abstain, or oppose? If you sustain or abstain, isn’t that actually supporting the harmful policies that you want to see changed? Why do you not vote OPPOSED?

    • Eugene Kovalenko July 16, 2016 at 12:41 pm - Reply

      Sam, the LDS Church corporate ecclesiastic system is nothing if not legalistic. In that vein the mechanism of sustaining is the only legitimate legal road one can travel to its ultimate destination. Unfortunately that road seems to have many roadblocks, which have been placed their by members un-use or misuse. I used to think I could get through those roadblocks, but was rudely awakened to their reality in my second excommunication in 1992, which was followed by the ‘Sept Six” events of 1993.

      If you want to stay true to yourself, but remain active in the community, I suggest simply continue raising your hand in opposition at all the levels of opportunity you have and note the official reaction that results. If you can weather the local storms that may come from the waves you stir up, you may get attention from higher levels of ecclesiastical scrutiny, which could give your personal vessel its greatest challenge. Keep up your valiant voyage, my brother, and the sharing of your journey’s experience with the rest of us. You have an audience. BUT, it’s not for you to know its outcome. After all, so far as I know, only Jesus had control of the waves and weather when he was in the flesh long ago. Fortunately we still have him directly available to us as navigator, adviser and friend. We simply do not need any ecclesiastic intermediary!

    • Eugene Kovalenko July 16, 2016 at 1:03 pm - Reply

      Sam, the LDS Church corporate ecclesiastic system is nothing if not legalistic. In that vein the mechanism of sustaining is the only legitimate legal road one can travel to its ultimate destination. Unfortunately that road seems to have many roadblocks, which have been placed there by members un-use or misuse. I used to think I could get through those roadblocks, but was rudely awakened to their reality in my second excommunication in 1992, which was followed by the ‘Sept Six” events of 1993.

      If you want to stay true to yourself, but remain active in the community, I suggest simply continue raising your hand in opposition at all the levels of opportunity you have and note the official reaction that results. If you can weather the local storms that may come from the waves you stir up, you may get attention from higher levels of ecclesiastical scrutiny, which could give your personal vessel its greatest challenge. Keep up your valiant voyage, my brother, and the sharing of your journey’s experience with the rest of us. You have an audience. BUT, it’s not for you to know your journey’s outcome. After all, so far as I know, only Jesus had control of the waves and weather when he was in the flesh long ago. Fortunately we still have him directly available to us as navigator, adviser and friend. We simply do not need any ecclesiastic intermediary!

  33. p July 10, 2016 at 9:02 am - Reply

    Crashing on the Church for doing what Mother Nature designed her to do makes no sense. Religion will be revealed for the evolutionary adaptation it actually is. Whether those various memes are crafty enough to, themselves, adapt to a radically different era remains to be seen, but don’t underestimate them, they are incredibly durable. At this point, and downsides notwithstanding, religion would still seem useful in maintaining psychological health & social cohesion. Look for the creation of secular entities that resemble faith and can be plugged directly into existing mental structures – that, or we evolve into enlightened Bertrand Russell’s, which gets my vote.

  34. Lauren Ard July 29, 2016 at 7:52 am - Reply

    My deepest thanks to the panelists of this episode. I wish I could hug you all. Believing Mormons wonder why in the world I stay active when I don’t believe. And, as evidenced by the above comments, former Mormons also wonder why in the world I stay! That makes the world a pretty lonely place. Hearing from you guys made me feel a little less alone in the Mormon world. (I’m part of the Thoughtful Faith Facebook page, but hearing the actual voices of people in my situation is even better.)

    I’ve been a non-believer for the past three years, but still active due to the orthodoxy of my husband and extended family. Some ex-Mormons say to me, “aren’t you worried about all the damaging doctrine that the church is teaching your four children?” But, really, wouldn’t a divorce be worse for them? Staying active is important to my spouse, and staying authentic is important to me. So I attend, but I no longer hide my faith crisis or my unorthodox views. I’m grateful to be in a ward filled with eclectic people who still accept me and even let me teach lessons sometimes. I don’t think I’d be able to survive in some of the other, more traditional wards in our stake.

    The most difficult moments for me are when damaging doctrines are taught (such as LGBT-related stuff, the temple, inherent racism, or modesty rhetoric). I get really angry about it sometimes, but one benefit of staying is that I can be the dissenting voice that breaks up the “yes men” in the room. For instance, last Christmas I was out caroling with some ward members, and all six elders were carpooling in my vehicle. I asked them how everything was going and they told me that it had been difficult to find investigators recently because of the new LGBT policy. The elder I was talking to acted like it was ridiculous that anyone would be offended by the policy. I told him that I was furious about the new policy. I went into detail about my views. I feel strongly that those elders benefited greatly from hearing this opinion from a member of the Church (rather than a non-member or ex-Mormon). It’s experiences like these that keep me going and help me feel like I have a place and a purpose.

    My biggest struggle with church attendance right now, is figuring out what my “testimony” is as an agnostic member. The hardest thing about having a faith crisis is losing the comfort of knowing all the answers, knowing that life has a purpose and you’re on the right path. The state of “not knowing” has caused me a lot of distress. Dan, one comment you made was especially helpful in giving me a seed of a new testimony. You made a comment along the lines of, “I believe in a God of compassion. Whether that ‘God’ is an actual being or the collective compassion of humanity, it doesn’t matter.” That is a concept I can get behind. It brought tears to my eyes to find something, one little thing, I can start to build a testimony from. I would appreciate if anyone reading this comment knows some additional podcast episodes I can listen to, that discuss the process building an agnostic Mormon testimony, the process of finding a new spirituality. But in the meantime, I’m grateful for this podcast and the balm it’s been for my weary soul. Thank you all.

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