Every once in a while we have an epic, multi-part Mormon Stories Podcast episode about a family who experiences a faith crisis together — wherein multiple family members (including some of the children) participate in the re-telling of the story.

This is one of those episodes.

Sam and Sara Pinson were living the Mormon dream: raised in the LDS Church, married in the LDS temple, etc. Sam obtained his “dream job” working 5 years for Microsoft, and later left Microsoft to start his own business. The Pinson dream culminated in Sam and Sara moving to Ammon (Idaho Falls), Idaho, wherein Sam was called as a Mormon bishop. Everything seemed perfect – except it wasn’t.

  • Their teenage daughter, Olivia, was questioning both the church, and her sexuality.
  • Their son, Sam Jr., was suffering with Scrupulosity (religious OCD)
  • And both Sam and Sara were beginning to question their Mormon faith while Sam was serving as bishop.

Today’s episode tells the story of how a devout Mormon family in Ammon, Idaho, led by a Mormon Bishop, can end up losing their faith in Mormonism in 2020. It also includes a full recounting of how Sam began to speak openly about his struggles with the church after losing his faith – leading to threats and ultimately a disciplinary council/excommunication. And yes, Sam recorded and is now sharing here the full audio of his excommunication (Part 6).

Sam’s wife Sara, along with two of their brilliant children – Olivia and Sam Jr. – also participate in this super-thoughtful story/discussion.

You will not be disappointed in this episode. HUGE thanks to Sam Sr., Sara, Olivia, and Sam Jr. for their willingness to join us on Mormon Stories Podcast and tell their epic story.

NOTE: Sam’s essay entitled “How to not apostatize from the LDS church” – which is referenced during this interview – is included at the bottom of this blog post.


Part 1: The Pinson Family Lives the “Mormon Dream.” Sam is called as Bishop.

Part 2: Cracks Develop in the Faith of Several Pinson Family Members.

Part 3: How a Mormon Bishop and His Family Lose their Faith in Mormonism.

Part 4: Sam and Sara Speak Openly on Facebook about their Loss of Faith. Their Mormon Leaders Threaten Excommunication.

Part 5: The Pinson Family Describes Their Mormon Disciplinary Council and Excommunication.

Part 6: The Recording of the Pinson Family’s Mormon Disciplinary Council and Excommunication in Ammon, Idaho – Recorded May 31, 2020.

Part 7: Final Thoughts from the Pinson Family about their Excommunication, and about Mormonism.

Part 1: The Pinson Family Lives the “Mormon Dream.” Sam is called as Bishop.

Download MP3

Part 2: Cracks Develop in the Faith of Several Pinson Family Members.

Download MP3

Part 3: How a Mormon Bishop and His Family Lose their Faith in Mormonism.

Download MP3

Part 4: Sam and Sara Speak Openly on Facebook about their Loss of Faith. Their Mormon Leaders Threaten Excommunication.

Download MP3

Part 5: The Pinson Family Describes Their Mormon Disciplinary Council and Excommunication.

Download MP3

Part 6: The Recording of the Pinson Family’s Mormon Disciplinary Council and Excommunication in Ammon, Idaho – Recorded May 31, 2020.

Download MP3

Part 7: Final Thoughts from the Pinson Family about their Excommunication, and about Mormonism.

Download MP3

How to not apostatize from the LDS church
By Sam Pinson

I received a letter informing me that on Sunday a “membership council” (formerly, “disciplinary council”) will be held “on my behalf”. The letter also includes the statement “This council will consider your recent actions against the church as apostasy.” Sounds like a forgone conclusion. I’m invited to attend and give my response. No, thanks. I’ll give my response right here. In fact, I’ve already given it several times:
1. Faith cannot be at odds with the truth (Alma 32:21)
2. If faith is ever at odds with the truth, then it is the faith that must change, not the truth.
3. Thus, I cannot destroy faith by making true statements.

I’m no more guilty of apostasy than the current church is against the church of yesteryear. The church is built on a fraud. The core is rotten. The church has made and continues to make many positive changes, but none of that will ever make its truth claims true.

Anyway, having been charged with apostasy, I expect that I am soon to have my membership withdrawn (formerly “excommunication”) “in peace and love” in order to “help [me] in this matter”. I thought I would share some advice on how to avoid apostasy. I can be an anti-example for any who never want to find themselves in my position.

Let’s set the stage: I’m not inexperienced and unknowledgeable about the church. I followed the church’s program with complete devotion from birth. I attended Primary, YM (serving in all the Aaronic priesthood quorum presidencies), and early morning seminary (for 5 years, because my father was the teacher and I enjoyed it so much). I memorized all the Scripture Mastery scriptures. I served a full-time mission for the church in Rostov-na-Donu, Russia. I graduated from the LDS Institute of Religion and Brigham Young University (where I took additional religion classes). I married in the temple. I was ordained a high priest at the age of 23. I served in a high priest group leadership. I served as an early morning seminary teacher for 5 years in Washington state. I’ve served on the high council twice. I served as a bishop in Ammon, Idaho. I was all-in, 110%. Until I learned the truth.

Your experience and mileage may vary. What follows is based on my experience and observations. It includes criticism and is full of sarcasm.

Anti-apostasy tips
1. Stay super busy doing church work. Don’t set boundaries on what the church can take from you. Say yes to everything. This will suck away any time and energy you might otherwise devote to apostasy.

2. Don’t think critically. Don’t think deeply about the implications of, for example, the fact that the Book of Mormon treats the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel as a literal event, but the scientific evidence overwhelmingly contradicts this idea. Or, for example, the fact that Joseph Smith used spiritual manipulation to secretly marry a 14-year-old (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Mar_Kimball). Avoid being confronted with these issues, and if you ever are confronted with them repeat this mantra, “God will sort it all out in the end.” Or “I’ll understand that in the next life.”
3. If you do have concerns/questions, fake it until you make it, or talk privately with your bishop or stake president (who won’t have any satisfactory answers, because they don’t know the issues and will show a fantastic lack of curiosity about them). Whatever you do, keep your concerns to yourself. Don’t speak about them openly. Don’t criticize the church, its leaders, its teachings, or its history. If you don’t give voice to a question/concern, it’s almost like it doesn’t actually exist.

4. Remember that there are primary questions and secondary questions. You must first decide that the church is true due to warm fuzzies and then approach all the “secondary” questions. This approach lets you dismiss all disconfirming evidence and ward off doubt by repeating “I may not know everything, but I know enough.” Be sure to arrive at this conclusion before considering secondary questions such as “Why do adherents of other religious faiths, with mutually inconsistent beliefs, also all claim to have spiritual witnesses that confirm that their beliefs are true?” Dismiss that question immediately if it does pop into your head.

5. Only read “official” (whatever that means) faith-promoting church sources. This is tricky, because what used to be preached from the pulpit in general conference is no longer faith-promoting. Cling to the false idea that anyone who leaves the church suddenly becomes a compulsive liar and cannot be trusted. Believe that if the church didn’t publish it, then it can’t be trusted. Most of the current content on the church’s website is scrubbed and whitewashed enough to promote faith, but not all. For example…

6. Don’t read the gospel topic essays.
Be particularly careful to avoid these essays:
– Race and the Priesthood (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/…/race-and-the-priestho…)
– Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/…/translation-and-histo…)
– Book of Mormon and DNA Studies (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/…/book-of-mormon-and-dn…)

7. If you do read the gospel topic essays, don’t read any responses from the church’s critics (for example, the annotated essays at https://www.ldsdiscussions.com/).

8. Don’t read FairMormon.org. FairMormon is a website for LDS apologetics. It is 200% pro-LDS, but reading this will expose you to additional faith-destroying facts. You will see that the weak, illogical, and straw-grasping apologetic arguments are crazy mental gymnastics. You’ll realize that there actually aren’t adequate answers/explanations for the problems with the church’s truth claims. You’ll realize how much the church has been hiding from you. You’ll see the sharp contrast between the absurd mental gymnastics required to maintain an informed faith on the one hand versus the simplicity and consistency that emerges when you let go of the premise that the church is true. You will be at high risk of apostasy if you become conscious of this.

9. If the information confirmed by the church itself and its apologists isn’t safe, then of course, you also mustn’t read the analysis and research performed by the church’s critics.
CES Letter: https://cesletter.org/
Letter For My Wife: https://www.letterformywife.com/
LDS Discussions: https://www.ldsdiscussions.com/
MormonThink (https://www.mormonthink.com/)
Stuff You Missed In Sunday School (https://www.missedinsunday.com/)

10. If you do happen to read FairMormon.org‘s explanations about a particular faith-destroying topic, don’t read the responses from the church’s critics (https://cesletter.org/debunking-fairmormon/).

11. Avoid topics, evidence, and content that challenge your beliefs. You may notice an unsettled feeling when a core belief is challenged. Interpret this as a spiritual warning that you should avoid that evidence. Don’t interpret that feeling as simple cognitive dissonance or mental/emotional discomfort with the idea that you are wrong. Immerse yourself in topics and content that confirm your beliefs. Surround yourself with people who share your beliefs. Distance yourself from others.

12. Never entertain a critical thought. It’s not your place to “steady the ark” (a helpful gesture by Uzzah that merited instant death). If there are problems in the church or its current leaders, wait on the Lord, i.e. you need to wait for several more presidents of the church to die before someone progressive enough to make a change gets installed as president of the church. Silently tolerate fraud, lies, gaslighting, bigotry, polygamy, polyandry, racism, sexism, abuse, gay-bashing, spiritual manipulation, shunning, shaming, etc. God will sort it all out in the end. Despite the evidence to the contrary, it isn’t outside pressure that effects change in the church. Church leaders act only when God reveals to them that it is time to act, not a moment sooner.

13. Remember that you are always the problem. If something about church history or doctrine doesn’t make sense or seems immoral, you just aren’t seeing the big picture. Why would Joseph Smith marry other men’s wives and lie about it to Emma, the general membership of the church, and the world? God works in mysterious ways. His ways are not your ways. Bothered by the fact that Joseph Smith lies about his treasure digging in the official history of the church? Don’t seek to counsel the Lord. If you are unable to get your questions/concerns resolved, you must be living in sin.

14. Never try to understand disaffected members and apostates. Think of them as evil, lazy, and/or deceived. Cling to the false idea that they wanted the church to be false, that they were just looking for an excuse to leave. Never acknowledge any validity in any of their arguments/concerns. Don’t engage in discussions with them. Unfriend or block them. Don’t listen to the experiences of others who have left the church. For example, avoid https://www.mormonstories.org/. Don’t interact with people who have been harmed by the church (assuming such people exist).

15. Don’t value truth above all else. Leaving the church is not easy. Your risk of apostasy is lower if truth is less important to you than family relationships, friendships, cultural identity, or simply not making waves.

16. Fear what might happen if you did leave the church. There are real potential consequences. Divorce, damaged and lost relationships, depression, anxiety, etc. The church plays up and exploits these fears, because they may keep you in the church if you are tottering. If you leave the church, there is a good chance you and your children will become violent drugs addicts that will go around raping everything. Do you really want that for your children?

If your hope is to never apostatize, I hope these tips will be helpful.

When I am excommunicated on Sunday, it will be because I told the truth, and the truth is poison to the church. I’m very comfortable with that. I will join the ranks of some pretty amazing people:

Some great apostates:
Helmuth Hübener: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmuth_H%C3%BCbener
John Dehlin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dehlin
The September Six: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_Six
Kate Kelly: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Kelly_(feminist)
Sam Young: https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2018/09/16/mormon-church/
Jacinda Ardern: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacinda_Ardern
Hans Mattsson: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Mattsson


  1. Maggie Rayner June 9, 2020 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    I am partway through listening to the Pinson family. I’m sickened, yet again, at the deceitful slipperiness and lack of love and acceptance in the Mormon Church and the resulting harm to individuals and to their families. I was raised in an inter-generational Mormon family and left at a young age–making the ultimate choice between family and the freedom to think for myself. How fortunate for the Pinson children that their parents are with them. From the outside looking in, the lack of personal boundaries and basic human rights allowed to a member within the church are clear.
    I published a memoir (In Polygamy’s Shadow) to deal with the grief of losing my family and the life-long losses I attribute to Mormonism; my children and granddaughters’ lives have been impacted as well. Growing up, there were seven children in my family, however an eight child died at six months when my father, a respected bishop within the church, ignored my mother’s intuition and chose a priesthood blessing to heal him over seeking early medical intervention.
    I am in the process of studying how closely the dynamics of Domestic Violence (DV) and exposure to Psychopathy (P) mirror the characteristics and dynamics of the Mormon Church. The resulting spiritual, psychological, emotional, and sexual damage to victims of DV and exposure to P mirror the harm caused to members of the Mormon Church. And, just as victims of DV and exposure to P are often isolated and in denial of the ongoing harm to them, so it is with members of the Mormon Church.
    If one cares to understand why victims of DV and exposure to P stay with their abusers, one will understand why members stay in the Mormon Church despite the harm it causes them and their families. Just as “bad stuff is mixed with good stuff” in DV and exposure to P situations, I’ve heard members of the church and some who’ve left, say: “There’s so much good in the church.”

    • Sam Pinson June 10, 2020 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks for listening and sharing some of your story here!

      • Maggie Rayner June 10, 2020 at 11:58 pm - Reply

        Just finished listening to all the episodes. Thank you Sara, Sam, Olivia & Sam Jr. for sharing so generously and authentically. I appreciated what each one of you contributed and was impressed with John’s ability as an interviewer. I loved it when he addressed the Mormon Church and said, “Just stop it!.” I found Olivia and Sam Jr. to be highly evolved young people. They totally blew me away. The point that Sara and Sam made about uninformed consent –consent based on fraudulent representation–being asked to commit their lives, their family, their service, and their money to the Mormon Church without full, truthful disclosure from the church was among much they shared that I found significant. The crazy-making manipulation of the excommunication council was totally bizarre. I’m so glad Sam taped it as as a witness for what it was. All the best going forward.

        • Sara Pinson June 11, 2020 at 10:37 am - Reply

          Thank you for listening! I’m glad you found things to appreciate. I wish you the best with your own journey!

      • Paul Ebion June 14, 2020 at 2:16 pm - Reply

        Dear Sam,

        Yes, the Church is no longer a safe place for intellectuals, weather liberal or conservative. It is just a question of time before all “thinkers” lose faith in the Church and its leaders. Some join the Snufferites. Others become Evangelicals. Some become New Agers. Most become Agnostic/Atheist. I am one of those who became a New Ager (Spiritualist). That is based upon many things, one thing being a psychic woman (Lesbian) told me things nobody but I knew, detailed things. For example, what my father had for dinner the night before (fried noodles with butter). She also told me I didn’t eat any, but left: which I did, because the fried butter stank. She also told me many other things that she could not have known, very detailed facts.

        Tower of Babel: the original Hebrew does not say that all human languages diverged at the Tower of Babel. It says that at this place, the valley of Shinar “all Mankind was one and spoke one tongue”. The word “mankind” there does not mean all human beings, but “AWDOWM” (i.e. Adamites). All Adamites were one and spoke one tongue there. The Hebrew does not say that God confounded their languages in one moment or “poof”. It says that is the place where Mankind (Adamites) first divided so that now (the time that book was written) they could not understand each other’s speech. Old Hebrew was translated into Middle Hebrew, which was translated into Old Greek, then Latin, then into Middle English, and then into modern English. A lot of nuances were lost.

        God, Jesus, the Afterlife, has absolutely no “dependency” on whether or not Joseph Smith was a true or false prophet. None at all. As the Sufi Masters teach, “God” exists in us as our ruh (spirit), and Satan exists in us as our “nafs” (ego). Every minute of every waking day, we choose one or the other. If we do not follow the RUH (GOD), the default is the NAFS (Satan). Organized religion is supposed to help us choose the RUH more than the NAFS. But you and I know Latter-day Saints who have chosen the NAFS much more often than the RUH.

        Can we see God? Yogananda once said: “Do not look out into space to see God. God is too small to see, but He is there”. GOD is everywhere, but no microscope can see Him. Electron microscropes can now see atoms, but God is too small to see. He is the Universal Mind. He is the Electro-Magnetic Waves that fill all Space-Time. We can’t see Him, but He is there. He is not a separate consciousness, but ALL consciousness combined.

    • Eileen June 23, 2020 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Does anyone know the artist and version of “come come all ye saints” used here? Cant find the credit anywhere..

  2. Struggling June 10, 2020 at 12:18 am - Reply

    “Oh Say, What Is Truth! Tis the fairest gem!

    Fantastic family and fantastic podcast! Thank you Pinson family for sharing your heartfelt story and experience of leaving the Mormon corp. Thank you John and the Mormon Stories crew!

    • Sam Pinson June 10, 2020 at 4:28 pm - Reply


  3. De Anna June 10, 2020 at 4:38 am - Reply

    Sam! Tingles ran through my body when I saw your name! I watched you grow up in Granada Hills, CA. What a journey we’ve all been through! Thanks for sharing your story. (Formerly known as) Deanna Sanderson, (Aunt to Brian Schermerhorn) ❤

    • Sam Pinson June 10, 2020 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      Hi, Deanna! Thanks for your message! Yes, what a wild ride! Hope all is well for you and yours!

  4. Stephanie June 10, 2020 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Hello Pinson Family,
    I’m listening to your story and am keeping your family in my thoughts. I remember your family from the Sultan Ward. I had Sam Jr. in my CTR 5 class the second year that I taught that class. I fell away from the church for my own personal reasons.
    Stephanie Moore (formerly Stephanie Baker)

    • Sam Pinson June 10, 2020 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      Hi, Stephanie! Thanks for your words of support! We rememeber you! I hope all is well for you!

  5. Vonn June 10, 2020 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    enjoying the episode , sam jr is well spoken and has an amazing radio voice , its impressive

    • Sam Pinson June 10, 2020 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      Thanks! We’ll pass that on to him. :)

  6. Karlee Wilkes June 10, 2020 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    I didn’t get a chance to watch all of this beautiful wonderful families podcast. However I wanted to say that we lived in Ammon while bishop Pinson and his family tirelessly and with every ounce of their heart served our community and congregation. I got to k ow their daughter through young women’s. I will forever be thankful for them during a difficult time in my life. I love that they have chosen what is right for their family, there is no mold, no one way, or no one way to live a wonderful fulfilling life! I love that Sarah pointes this out and that mental wellness was paramount in this decision. Love this family!

    • Sam Pinson June 10, 2020 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      Hi, Karlee! Thanks for your kind words! We love you and your family. I hope you are all flourishing!

  7. Frank June 10, 2020 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    While I agree with several of your points – it was clear you had a bone to pick, which is fine and still was a little confused why you went through the process I would agree w/ the counsel that you wanted the church to remove you so you could say it vs. just doing it yourself which I’m not sure I understand the why for you – I personally don’t feel “wronged” by the church even though I’m not 100% a believer and fall in the camp of I believe a lot of good still comes from the church, even if it’s not 100% true, I try and take the good and process it all together, I believe I”m a better person when following basic gospel tenants love your fellow man, work hard, be nice. Was clear that the council was pretty concerned with outside perception in defending the institution. The comments on you attacking people were off base – by saying you don’t believe in God or Jesus or that the church is a fraud not sure how that’s a personal attack – people should have thicker skin. I also don’t find it helpful when people say “I had an experience that was to sacred to share” – Paul had a sacred experience he shared it, BoM prophets had sacred experiences they share, JS had sacred experiences he shared – I figure they’d share them but when people continually say XYZ experience but I can’t share – leads me to believe there was nothing to share at all (but I’m not them so not sure). Best of luck to you and your family.

    • Sam Pinson June 10, 2020 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Frank! You make some very good points. And all the best to you!

  8. George June 11, 2020 at 1:25 am - Reply

    John, thank you for this wonderful podcast.

    Can you please elaborate on how you understand the concept of mind control.

    You say “It is not a good term to use.” Why? What do you think is not good about it?
    What would be more productive terms and frameworks to contemplate and discuss this issue?

    Best wishes.


  9. Sandra Phillips June 11, 2020 at 7:34 am - Reply

    I just finished the whole thing (no ice cream cone needed, John) and it was incredible! I left the Church in 2015, when I started learning that the ABSOLUTE TRUTH I was taught from age 14, had lived by and devoted my entire life to for 37 years was a fraud. Every decision I’d ever made as an adult was influenced by my membership in the Church and my temple covenants. Leaving can be truly devastating – losing your social tribe, and sometimes family relationships too. In my family are people just like I had previously been, who live in a safe little Mormon bubble, afraid to question authority or look at anything “anti-Mormon,” and then those who know a lot of the truth, call it “nuanced” and ignore the lies (I just couldn’t get on board with that approach.) Sam, Sr., I’m with you – it’s either true or it’s not – and I don’t put up with being lied to. Pinsons, you are an adorable family! Best wishes to each of you! Know that there is so much joy, peace and calm waiting on the other side of all the deconstruction-to-reconstruction chaos. Have FUN building your new life!!!

    • Sam Pinson June 11, 2020 at 8:59 am - Reply

      Thanks, Sanrda!

      • Rabbit in the Hole June 15, 2020 at 3:39 pm - Reply

        I so admire your courage and stalwart bravery to do what you have done. I have just started down the rabbit hole and your shining your light gives me permission to shine my own and find my truth as well. I share many of your sentiments and find you and your family so brave, well spoken, and unshakeable in your quest and witness for truth. I am blown away by your kids. Wow! Just wow. What awesome leaders and amazing people they are. You should be so very proud of them and they are obviously proud of you too. Good for you for railing against the giant and standing up for truth regardless of the cost. Go Pinsons! Thank you for going through this to make this easier for me ❤️ Also, you did a phenomenal job in your disciplinary council of keeping your cool and clearly winning the arguments without completely insulting /alienating them even though you are obviously smart enough to have made them look like bigger idiots than they demonstrated themselves to be. You are a trailblazer for me. My husband was just released as bishop and I cannot tell you how much your courage means to me and how much I identify with you and Sara. Well done and I wish I could know what life is like for you after…..I’m sure it will be amazing!

        • Sam Pinson June 16, 2020 at 3:56 pm - Reply

          Thanks and good luck to you! :)

    • Sara Pinson June 11, 2020 at 10:40 am - Reply

      Thanks Sandra! I think the hidden history has been especially hard for people in our age range since we saddle the pre-internet/post-internet worlds. Wishing you the best!

  10. Mark June 11, 2020 at 9:01 am - Reply

    During your court, the stake president interrupted you over and over again. This showed that he wasn’t listening to what you had to say. He could state that he loved you, but his actions demonstrated otherwise. He was unwilling to show respect for you or your ideas. Good luck to your family going forward, and yes, move somewhere away from these people.

    • Sam Pinson June 12, 2020 at 7:48 am - Reply

      Thanks, Mark!

  11. Andrew June 11, 2020 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Big thanks to the Pinson family and John, Great podcast.

    I’m a father of 6 great kids and a super wife. She is so super supportive like Sarah is of Sam. We all grew up in the church. Still ‘active’ but it’s only a matter of time. I checked out mentally a few months ago after doing the same study as Sam.

    It’s so refreshing to hear a guy (Sam snr) who is not argumentative and has a passion for truth. What he says is true – the enemy of the church is truth. Here is a quality family that has handled a very difficult transition very well. Lucky you already had Olivia a bit ahead of you. There is no doubt many will follow in your footsteps.

    Although you were tired, your handling of the stake council was masterful, really helps me. Your thoughts and communication are very clear.
    Thanks again and all the best!!

    • Sam Pinson June 12, 2020 at 7:50 am - Reply

      Thanks, Andrew! Yes, we love our Olivia! :) Good luck navigating your own situation. You’re not alone!

  12. VFanRJ June 11, 2020 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    I would like to thank the Pinson family for making the trek down to SL Valley to tell their story for public consumption. It was powerful. I’d also like to thank John Dehlin for making this possible. My hope is that he’ll be able to continue.

    • Sam Pinson June 12, 2020 at 7:52 am - Reply

      Thanks! And, yes, thanks to John for the invitation and all his hard work!

  13. Timmy Tim June 11, 2020 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Great interview. Thanks for everything you’ve shared. What a difficult and excruciating thing to go through. I love the times when you were able to pin them down on specifics, e.g. the disagreement over context.

    I would love to have seen you pin them down on some other topics, but they weren’t particularly open to discussing specifics, deferring to generalities when convenient, or “agreeing to disagree”.

    I’m unclear on why you seemed surprised by the eventual verdict to withdraw membership at your request (rather than for apostasy)……they referred to your desire for excommunication probably two dozen times during the interview.

    • Sam Pinson June 12, 2020 at 7:58 am - Reply

      Thanks! There’s an official process for a member to withdraw his/her membership. It’s outlined in the General Handbook. That’s not what happened. I specifically told them that I would not resign/withdraw. I told them that excommunicating me was the church’s burden to bear. I did not resign. A membership council for apostasy cannot become an expedited voluntary verbal resignation. The whole thing was silly.

      • Andrew June 12, 2020 at 8:57 am - Reply

        It did seem silly. The ‘rules’ are all over the place. I really think they are just told to handle every case individually. Because you’ve been such a big contributor (and now such a threat to current members) I feel they wanted to handle you in the least damaging way possible. As John D says ‘council (?) roulette’.

        I too liked how you pinned them on context – what a cough out. It amazes me that they are not going to discuss doctrine – the very thing that is supposedly discussed every Sunday, what we base our life and afterlife on – a complete sidestep. Surely that kind of approach cannot last (a la Oaks ‘Don’t research but make sure to say Joseph was a prophet’). Surely it’s worse to try to hide truth.

        I also liked how you basically pinned the nice main speaker to his spiritual experience he was not going to discuss. That seems to be the only fallback that many have. I’ve heard people in other faiths have super spiritual experiences too, I’m on the hunt for some examples.

  14. George June 12, 2020 at 11:28 am - Reply

    A thought came to my mind on the topic you’ve discussed of “Maybe if life in LDS communities is nice, it is not important whether there is truth at the foundation of the church.”:

    If people decide that truth is not of great importance, the intellectuals who discover the falshoods will suffer. They will be subject to social tensions, pressures, and rejections. Life will be the opposite of nice to the brightest, most curious, intellectually honest individuals in the communities.

    • Sam Pinson June 16, 2020 at 12:06 pm - Reply

      Right. The church teaches that belief is a choice, but that also doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Try choosing to believe that the moon is a ball of Swiss cheese. Once you have learned the hidden truths about the church, you can’t unlearn them. People who learn the truth usually need to leave in order to be healthy. For various reasons, many are unable to leave and they do suffer.

      • Curtis Johnson June 29, 2020 at 1:27 pm - Reply

        Somehow this Daybell excitement brought me back to Mormon Stories after not visiting for a long time.

        People on both sides of this Mormon thing can be so all-or-nothing, so black-or-white, just so mean. You do have to account for those of us who know all these things that you’re talking about, but do believe. You talk so snarkily in your letter there on how to avoid leaving the church about having to assume that people who leave are bad people (something like that). Since I know all this stuff, should I assume that you believe that I’m too weak to leave, that I don’t have the guts to stand up for what I know is true?

        I, myself, am not sure how to reconcile that two very similar people can know and read all the same stuff but come to different conclusions. Some contributing reasons can be pretty obvious, but there’s still left an uncomfortable gap short of understanding completely. I get that that’s a question that confronts all of us. I don’t believe the answer is in vilifying the other side. I’m not sure why it offends you so to consider (or at least that you’re mocking the idea) that it is a choice whether to believe or not. For now I think that that’s part of the answer. We’re all on different journeys. And it is, objectively, a choice after all. I’m bothered by the crowds that vilify the other side. Like I said, I haven’t visited this site for quite awhile. Being back and listening to this, is makes me wonder if John gets tired, just worn out from the constant negativity. It must be exhausting. Maybe he does get tired but feels purposeful, so that it’s a worthy sacrifice. I don’t think the ugliness is helpful to anyone, unless the goal is to help people leave the church or to beat up people who leave the church. Your story and journey are interesting and useful, especially in understanding our friends who leave the church. I appreciate that your journey has been traumatic and that this serves as a form of therapy and that it’s helpful in another way for people who are questioning and on their way out of the church (to not feel so alone). Still, I’m not that impressed by the sarcasm or the vilification or the hilarious condescension. I suppose it’s helpful to those who are hurting. I think it’s risky for any of us on either side of this to get too excited to pat ourselves on the back or be quick to assume that we’re “right” and “brave” and “truth-loving” and all that.

        • George July 1, 2020 at 4:22 am - Reply

          Curtis, it’s nice to hear your thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

          Are you saying that you know everything that is written in the CES letter and still think that the church is true? Or have I misunderstood you?

          Please clarify.

          • Curtis Johnson July 1, 2020 at 3:07 pm

            Yes. Probably 5 times over the years for various reasons and I’ve read one of the responses as well, I’m sure there are more. Sometimes it’s hard for us to talk to each other, it’s not comfortable, and maybe it’s pointless, I don’t know. When I’ve had actual discussions about this with someone who has left he church, on both occasions for me my experience is that they’ve been surprised at this, surprised that I’ve read the CES letter. But I know I’m not the only one, like I know other actual people who have delved into this stuff but still believe in the church. Everyone has the internet. There really is an option to believe.

            I can understand that a reasonable person could learn all they can and decide the church isn’t true and/or isn’t for them. And not even in a condescending way; like I think I really can appreciate that someone can conclude the church isn’t true. In stuff online at least, I generally haven’t seen that from the other side of things – “I can accept that somebody could learn all they can and decide the church is true and/or is for them.” They think it’s preposterous and that anyone who’s read the letter or other things and remains in the church is just a fraud. In my personal relationships that hasn’t been the case, at least from the conversations we’ve had, but my guess is that those people aren’t online going over and over things so much, a little more at peace with where they’re at. Faith in general and each/most of the specific issues you might want to raise about the church in particular are not 100% one way or the other, there’s room for accepting/discounting various points and weighing some things more than others, thinking some arguments are silly and that some arguments warrant real consideration; you probably agree with me even about the CES letter, that there’s some stuff in there that is kind of silly and some that is more substantial; and if you read one of these semi-pro responses to the letter, you’d probably agree again that some of the stuff in there is kind of silly and some is more substantial.

            So yeah, I really don’t understand the vitriol and the crusading, except to the extent that I do understand on some level the anger and frustration and so on that comes when you feel you’ve been duped and lied to and conned. So on that level it makes sense to me. But in general, there are evidences for and against that could lead to a reasonable person deciding either way. And in general, I think it’s risky for any of us on either side of this to get too excited to pat ourselves on the back or be quick to assume that we’re “right” and “brave” and “truth-loving” and all that.

        • Fatfinger August 11, 2020 at 8:08 pm - Reply

          Curtis Johnson, you’ve posted the type of comment that screams for elaboration. You’ve counted yourself among those that say “I know all the issues (CES Letter, etc) but I still believe. Please share with us exactly how that is possible.

          Among these comments is this one from George – “If a sane person joins the church, he or she must be uninformed. I can not imagine anyone joining if they are fully informed, in good mental health, and not subjected to mind control.” I think George is absolutely correct. In fact, any time I hear of a current, adult, first world convert my thought is “what, you don’t know how to google?”.

          So on the point of knowing the issues, yet still believing, please expound. Clearly you can see that Sam and the rest of his family, as well as George and many others here, are in need of your superior truth finding abilities. The church makes very specific, very bold claims, many of which are very falsifiable. Such as that the Book of Mormon is historically accurate. What is your approach to believing that? Do you gaslight, like the church/apologists that say Mormonism never taught that Native Americans exist because Lamanites existed? The claim that the Lamanites were the predecessors of American Indians was made many times and in many ages, starting with J. Smith and right on through J. Holland, and only a shameless liar would suggest otherwise. In fact, once the actual truth was out, the intro to the Book of Mormon was changed. Or, do you simply lie, such as when apologists say that the curse of dark skin in the Book of Mormon doesn’t mean skin, it means countenance., no matter how many times and ways the book itself (and Mormon leaders) have so clearly and adamantly stated otherwise for generations? Again, liars. Obviously as an expert you know if I kept going the list would go on for pages. Issue after issue, problem after problem, inconsistency after inconsistency Yet you stopped by here to tell us you believe anyway.

          So what do you have up your metaphorical sleeve that the church and the apologists don’t have? Because their answers are why Sam and Sam Jr and others are here. And how quickly do you retreat to “you can’t get to truth thru facts and evidence, it comes from the spirit” like FAIRMORMON and church leadership does? Well guess what, just like I tell my believing wife, things either happened or they didn’t. There is such a thing as objective, actual truth. “Spiritual truth” is subjective, it can be anything anyone wants it to be, which is why people of all faiths can, and do, have affirming spiritual experiences that their particular religion is true.

          The most truthful statement ever made by a Mormon was when J. Reuben Clark said “If we have the truth it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed”. When truth claims are blatantly inconsistent with reality, they are simply not true. Truth is objective. Truth is what is real. If anyone can’t grasp that simple and obvious fact, they may as well believe people live on the sun.

          • David May 31, 2022 at 4:36 pm

            I, too, have read the CES letter. I have gobbled up as much as I can against the Church. After years of doing it, everything was just repeating itself often couched in slightly different ways, but the same nonetheless.

            I am doing a historiographical paper for a school assignment right now. I am reading what people were saying about the Church in the 19th and 20th centuries, and, it’s largely the same stuff now. The more I read, the more I realize the truthfulness of Joseph’s call as Prophet.

            One thing that I have learned is that you have to be careful about putting too much stock in things like the ces letter and lds apologists because both play mind-games with you … like a magician who distracts you with his right hand hoping that you don’t see what he’s doing with his left hand. Much of what is in the ces letter falls in that group, is logically fallacious, intellectually dishonest, and disingenuous.

  15. George June 12, 2020 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Sam, Sara, thank you, I found very much food for thought in your story. I appreciate your openness. My compliments on how smart and thoughtful your children are.

    You talk a lot about your Facebook activities. I found your pages and they appear to be not open to the public.

    Can I take a look at the things you’ve posted? How?

    Best wishes.


    • Andrew June 12, 2020 at 3:01 pm - Reply

      same here, would like to see what was so dangerous to the church

      • Sam Pinson June 12, 2020 at 4:47 pm - Reply

        Just truth and critical thinking. Message me.

    • Sam Pinson June 12, 2020 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      Thanks, George. Yes, they are not open to the public. Message me.

      • George June 19, 2020 at 12:20 pm - Reply

        Thank you, Sam. I did try to message you on Facebook. Maybe my message did not go through because your account is closed to the public. Or maybe there is some other reason.

        By the way, I’ve recently come across this beautiful short essay by William Clifford, a nineteenth-century English mathematician. He died young and this is one of his very few works in philosophy. It resonates deeply with matters of epistemology you guys discussed in the podcast. Sam Jr. will find a lot of food for thought there, I think. Here is a link to it:


        The author, in beautiful clear classic English prose, explains why he thinks it is always morally wrong to believe anything without evidence. He gives three reasons: the obvious one, that mistaken belief might lead to harmful actions, is only the beginning. The second reason is that poor practices of belief-formation turn us into credulous, careless believers. Here is how he says it: “No real belief, however trifling and fragmentary it may seem, is ever truly insignificant; it prepares us to receive more of its like, confirms those which resembled it before, and weakens others; and so gradually it lays a stealthy train in our inmost thoughts, which may someday explode into overt action, and leave its stamp upon our character.”. And the third reason is that we are social creatures, our knowledge is formed collectively, and believing without evidence poisons the well for the rest of society. “Our words, our phrases, our forms and processes and modes of thought’ become ‘common property”. He calls this collective knowledge “an heirloom” on which everyone’s lives depend.

  16. Kristen June 12, 2020 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Not sure where to ask this: I really like the guitar version of Come, Come Ye Saints at the end of the podcast. Can you tell me who sings it?

    • James Wright June 15, 2020 at 9:00 am - Reply

      I would aslso love to know how to hear more music from this group. Anyone know who they are?

    • John Dehlin June 15, 2020 at 9:17 am - Reply
  17. George June 13, 2020 at 12:50 am - Reply

    John, Sam, Sara,

    Something you’ve said in the end does not sit well with me.

    On the one hand, you all agree that the LDS church is a cult-like organization that practices mind control and undue influence, and does not give members an opportunity for informed consent.

    On the other hand, you said that if a child who has left the church wants to get rebaptized, a parent should not attempt to prevent it.

    Shouldn’t a parent do all he or she can to keep a child from getting into mind control and undue influence situations and organizations?

    Please share more of your thoughts and feelings on this issue. I want to understand you better.

    Thank you. Best wishes.

    • Sam Pinson June 13, 2020 at 9:00 am - Reply

      Hi, George. To clarify, I want my children to live lives that are consistent with reality. In the future, if an adult child or grandchild decides to join the church and is interested in my opinion, I would certainly share what I know. Ultimately, the decision is theirs, of course. My beliefs (non-beliefs, actually) don’t require me to think they will be damned for leaving the church. My only hope is that they are fully informed when they make the decision. I hope that answers your question: yes, I would use my influence to try to help them avoid danger, but I wouldn’t condemn them for choosing it anyway.

  18. Sam Pinson June 13, 2020 at 9:01 am - Reply

    Oops. “Leaving the church” should be “joining the church” in my comment above.

    • George June 13, 2020 at 11:19 am - Reply

      I see two problems in your position, Sam.

      You say, “My only hope is that they are fully informed when they make the decision.”. If a sane person joins the church, he or she must be uninformed. I can not imagine anyone joining if they are fully informed, in good mental health, and not subjected to mind control. Your hope appears to be unfounded. If your child is in a situation of joining the church, entertaining such hope is pure wishful thinking.

      And “In the future, if an adult child or grandchild decides to join the church and is interested in my opinion, I would certainly share what I know.” is problematic. It will never happen. If your child or grandchild in the future is about to join the church, they will be under guidance not to entertain interest in your opinion. They will not be open to a conversation with you. My two grown-up children have recently joined the church without even informing me. I found out later, third hand. They do not want to talk about it with me because they know of my skeptical worldview.

      Sadly, I have no idea what a better position would be in such a situation; what a parent can do; how to deal with it.

  19. Shelama June 13, 2020 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    It rather seems that Sam Pinson was just following wise Mormon counsel…

    • “It behooves every man who has been warned, to warn his neighbor.” – Nathan Tanner, “The Purpose of Conference,” October 1976

    • “It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.” — D&C 88:81

  20. Maggie Rayner June 13, 2020 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    I’m curious what Steven Hassan’s advice would be to the parent of an adult child re the situation and question discussed in the previous few posts.

  21. Margaret McDonald June 13, 2020 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    I appreciate that The Pinson family told their story. I enjoy John Dehlin’s interviewing style, as it gives us a chance to get to know people’s stories very well over a few hours.

    All of you Pinsons are very articulate. I agree with all of the points that you make, regarding both historical truths and social issues. I like how you call the fraud a fraud. When I first became aware of all of the inconsistencies in the stories about Joseph Smith, I had already dumped the church over polygamy. I have come to see the church as a snake oil con blown way out of proportion. I stand in disbelief how far it has gotten, and how big and powerful it has become. It hides in a mantle of respectability and tries to persuade observers that it is normal, mainstream, wholesome – it’s really just a con blown out of proportion. Good for you standing up to them. When the rubber hits the road, they have no answers, they know deep down that you are right, and they hide behind bluster and condescension. The one guy even admitted that he can’t listen to what you have to say (methinks he doesn’t have the guts to walk away, so doesn’t want to be put in that position). In the end, they took away the apostasy charge because it was their only chance to prevent you from telling people that they excommunicated you for telling the truth.

    One thing made me very angry as I listened to the recording of your hearing. I do not like for someone speaking to an individual referring to them by their name in the third person. If I’m speaking to Sam Pinson, I say “I want to know what makes Sam Pinson tick.” It sounds pompous and condescending to me. I should say “Sam, I want to understand what’s going on with you.”

    Kudos to you. You’re all brave and smart and you have each other, so it’s all going to work out great for you. I wish you all the best!

    • Sam Pinson June 14, 2020 at 7:46 am - Reply

      Thanks. Margaret!

  22. Jonathan June 13, 2020 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    Dear Pinson family, thank you so much for sharing your story. Your courage in defense of veracity is super admirable. While listening, my wife and I repeated to ourselves, ”they are just like us!” as we have so many similarities in our situations pre- and post-mormonism.

    I read the Gospel Topics Essays while serving as a branch president overseas and it demolished my trust in what I recognized as the Holy Ghost and I went down the rabbit hole from there. Asked to be released several months later, was released and never heard from my former ‘friend’ the stake president again.

    Your courage pushes me in the direction of being more vocal and even to open up and tell my story someday, and it definitely gives us hope of a well balanced, happy family life post-mormonism. Thank you!!!

    • Sam Pinson June 14, 2020 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Jonathan!

  23. Jarime June 14, 2020 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    The Stake President infuriated me many times by continually saying that you (Sam) wanted the church to excommunicate you. My issue with that statement is you didn’t ask the church to convene the disciplinary court, you didn’t schedule or require them to attend, in fact you didn’t plan or setup any of the meetings. I assume you were content just posting on social media and not taking any actions about your membership. Another issue I had was when you asked the Stake President for his proof or reason which helped him see the troubling history as faith affirming. He claimed it is personal and he wouldn’t share it. On my mission I was taught that I would have to answer for the times I didn’t share the gospel. If he really believes that you are making the biggest mistake of your life and he has the information which will help change you mind but refuses to share it with you, doesn’t that mean he is responsible for your eternal damnation. According to what I was taught in primary and Sunday school, the church and more specifically the Stake President are responsible and 100% accountable for not sharing the teachings which would have kept you from leaving the church.

    • Sam Pinson June 14, 2020 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Jarime! Yes, if there were faith-promoting answers for these problems, they would be on the home page of the church’s website. Go read the Book of Mormon more doesn’t help. :(

  24. Jose June 15, 2020 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Question for Sam Sr. After becoming fully convinced the LDS Church is a fraud, a multi billion dollar Corporation masquerading as a non profit charitable “Church”, did you ever make an effort to let those Russian “converts” you baptized, or members you befriended, know the LDS Church is a fraud? This, I believe, is how the fraud has been perpetrated for almost 20o years. New members must be brought in to keep it going?

    • Sam Pinson June 16, 2020 at 8:13 am - Reply

      This is one reason why I couldn’t be silent and quietly fade away like the church wanted me to. I had previously unwittingly dedicated my life to perpetuating the fraud. Yes, I have tried undo the damage I have done.

      • Frjg20conpckl@icloud.com July 28, 2020 at 4:22 pm - Reply

        Two thoughts: One on the theme of “stop posting” and “leave quietly” and another on “life now versus eternity”.

        As background, I do not have enough evidence to justify belief in any god, yet my life has been adversely affected by those who believe in various gods without evidence.

        On “going away quietly”, I’d add that it’s not just about calling out problems to save those within the church, the harm of irrational beliefs within any church is not bounded by the insular community of the flock. Rather, Its harms are extended through its undue influence wrought on the broader community.

        Irrational believers foist their judgments on the broader community. They make decisions for every citizen’s life by voting in elections and–adding insult to injury–every citizen is bound to subsidize these irrational beliefs through massive tax exemptions.

        So no one with truth should feel obligated to go away quietly. To quote Frederick Douglass, “Agitate!”

        On living the life one has–rather than living the burden of worrying about eternity–Olivia reveals the flaw in Pascal’s Wager (that is, the suggestion that it’s better to believe in a god for which you don’t have good evidence than to risk eternal damnation). If one has only one finite life to live (my belief at the moment given the best evidence I have), then it would be horrific to waste that life in beliefs or actions that are irrational and untrue, let alone to perpetuate beliefs that infringe on any other human’s enjoyment of that human’s one and only life.

        I thank you four for sharing your stories.

  25. AJ June 15, 2020 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Sam, your journey is exactly what I’ve been going through over the last 3-4 years. The first major crack in my shelf was when I learned in 2011 our ‘church’ (it’s actually a gargantuan real estate corporation masquerading as a religion) constructed a multi-billion dollar mall in downtown SLC with scantily clad women with champagne glasses sprawled the length of 20 story buildings in ad banners and then learning from a co-worker that Joseph Smith had 33 wives. It’s been nothing but a deep dive down the rabbit hole since and simply astounding how the men atop the ‘church’ can continue to carry on as if everything is legit while they all have to know about the essays (since they signed off on them) not to mention all the troubling aspects of ‘church’ history that show and prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that its founder was a con-man, fraud and charlatan of the highest order. Polygamy, marrying 14 year olds, polyandry, lying to Emma, scrying/treasure hunting/money-digging, scamming people, claiming he could see buried treasure underground, the dishonesty, immorality, the Kirtland banking fraud/scam, rendering hundreds of his followers destitute because of it and then running from a $1,000 fine and imprisonment, plagiarizing the B of M, creating his own scriptures from the works of others, fraudulently creating the B of A, the Kinderhook plates, creating his own made-up ancient language (reformed Egyptian), a rock in a hat to ‘translate’, seer stones, the occult, magic, the 11 witnesses seeing the plates with ‘spiritual eyes’ in their mind, Smith declaring himself ‘king of the world’ and boasting he had done more for the salvation of mankind than Christ himself, the Nauvoo Legion, Council of 50 and it goes on and on and on, all while there is a hymn called ‘Praise to the Man’. LMFBO! And worse, 10% of your gross income which is a violation of Smith’s own made-up scripture, six-figure salaries for our unpaid clergy at the top (FP & Q12) with perks out the yin yang, including a $1 million gift, their own Toyota Avalons, unlimited credit card use, $124 billion in one business account doing the work of God by hoarding obscene wealth, violating tax laws and bailing out City Creek and Beneficial Life, plans for a 500,000 person metropolis in Florida with the ‘church’ as Landlord, buying up office high rises around the world, poor living conditions for most missionaries who are out there on their own free will and dime perpetuating what they know is a fraud, owning 3% of the landmass in Florida, some of the most dishonest, unethical lawyers on the planet in Kirton and McConkie… incredible ain’t it? How those atop the ‘church’ sleep at night is beyond me??? Hat-tip to you and your family for having the courage and guts to walk away from it all. I’m still stuck with my wife being mostly a believer and TBM as well as in-laws and immediate family and haven’t figured out how to deal with it yet. I’m glad you’re free from the cult and clutches of this so-called ‘church’!

    • Sam Pinson June 16, 2020 at 8:19 am - Reply

      Some people have assured me that God can use these imperfect men to accomplish his purposes, which must include making a lot of atheists and causing the church to hemorrhage as members pour out its doors. Thanks for consolidating here a few of the problems with the truth claims of the church!

      • George June 19, 2020 at 12:37 pm - Reply

        That’s an impressive list you’ve put there, AJ.

        Smith declaring himself ‘king of the world’ and the counsel of 50 are new to me. Can you please write more about these two topics? Maybe provide links to where we can get more information?

        As for your question on how the leaders sleep at night, most probably they somehow convince themselves that it is all true.
        Here is a nice article which helps to understand what is going on in their minds:


        Sorry to hear about your situation with your wife and the family. I’m in the same twist, finding it impossible to discuss these matters calmly with my wife and grown-up kids. They refuse to look into anything critical, feel themselves to be under attack. I wish I could find a way to talk to them without triggering these reactions. It’s tough.

  26. Garth June 15, 2020 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    Sam, Sara, Olivia, and Sam Jr.,
    All I want to say is thank you for making the sacrifice to speak openly and honestly about your family’s journey. For me, your story will be added to my list of “Most Healing” episodes. Your story is such a vivid example of the “validity vs. utility” approaches to the Church. The addition of the “How-to-not-apostatize-from-the-LDS-church” recommendations is amazing. (I think it needs to be published as a pamphlet in the style of the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet.) I was so impressed how much love and respect you all had for each other. Again, thank you so very much!!!

  27. Nancy June 16, 2020 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Thank you Pinson Family. Your journey ahead will have many bright days ahead. It has bothered me for some time that the institution lets good people do their dirty business. In fact, the church benefits from good people trying to live their best life as they understand it. The institution is rotten and false at the core. This is their harm, and this is why people like the Pinsons need to speak the (not their, but THE) truth. Sadly, there will be no golf games, or steak barbecues, because the institution will not permit it. The Pinsons are now scary people which “will harm, offend, and draw people away”.
    Sam and Sara, I am glad to have you in my ex-mo world. Perhaps some day we shall meet, and I would enjoy having a conversation. Best to you and your family.

    • Sam Pinson June 16, 2020 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Nancy!

  28. lance steele June 16, 2020 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    I wanted to comment on the double standard mentioned where gay individuals are allowed to have gay thoughts but heterosexuals have to control their thoughts. And I think this is absolutely not a double standard but an lds biased misinterpretation that homosexual feelings are sinful and therefore the homosexual has license to sin. The fallacy is that people are interpreting this to mean that that gay individuals are allowed to fantasize and dream about sexual activities. And that is not what is stated in the current church literature. A gay individual is not counted as sinful for being sexually attracted to another same sexed individual — homosexual feelings/thoughts. A heterosexual is likewise not condemned for having feelings of attraction for someone of the opposite sex. This has always been the standard for heterosexuals, if you look once you are a man, if you look twice you have sinned is the little phrase I grew up with. But previously the church counseled that even having homosexual feelings is a sin. I personally have heard hatred discussed because of this specific issue. An Elders quorum teacher recently complained that he has to bridle his thoughts and gays don’t. I feel it is cruel that in one small regard homosexuals have been finally allowed to not hate themselves as sinners simply for existing as they are created and members of the wards have already started to show animosity for this one small piece of equality afforded a homosexual.

    • Sam Pinson June 16, 2020 at 4:03 pm - Reply

      Thanks for that perspective, Lance. I don’t begrudge that equality at all. For me, the problem wasn’t that I didn’t want gays to be able to think gay thoughts. It was that I felt the church was morphing in order to accommodate society. Which it does. All the time. Anyway, I think I understand your perspective. I don’t feel like that’s what I was taught in the church, but I can see how your experience might have been different than mine.

      • Lance Steele June 17, 2020 at 11:27 am - Reply

        Thanks for your reply and your your families story it was great. And this may be re-hashing what was said already but there really are few forums for this topic so I am sort of taking advantage. I feel heterosexual thoughts are encouraged at church, dating, church dances institute activities etc. are all based on identifying and encouraging heterosexual attraction. Saying you are not sinning when you have attractions is not the same thing as saying you can go ahead and be free to fantasize sexually. I have never heard it said in church that for a boy to find a woman attractive is a sin, and I feel the new stance is basically stating the same thing but for homosexuals. I think the church absolutely changes all of the time, while trying to deny it ever changed, but I do not see how this change is creating a double standard, it was mitigating one.

  29. Stacie Nyborg June 16, 2020 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for being brave and telling your story! You guys deserve a badge of honor! My husband and I are from Rexburg Idaho and will probably always live here in this Mormon bubble, but listening to your story gives me hope that we aren’t as alone in this dense lds population as I had thought. Your family did a great job. I’m so glad more people are becoming aware of the problems of the church. I have always valued honesty and the truth as well. I thought I had it. It is hurtful to find out the people who you trusted the most were the ones who deceived you. Congratulations on being free!

    • Sam Pinson June 16, 2020 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Stacie!

  30. Stacie Nyborg June 16, 2020 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    John thanks for Mormon stories!!

  31. Phil June 17, 2020 at 5:57 am - Reply

    I’m listening to the disciplinary council episode, it’s so painful listening to these kangaroo “authorities” ask one dumb question after another.

    If the National Enquirer held disciplinary councils every time someone cancelled a subscription it would sound like this episode.

  32. Jamar Eveillard June 17, 2020 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    John Dehlin,
    If it Walks Like a Dog, Barks Like a Dog, and Looks Like a Dog, it Must Be a Dog
    I feel that in episode 1322 – it will be very hepful for lots of Mormon teens if the word “masturbation” is used directly in your podcast if that is what is being implied. There is no reason to be around the bush.

  33. Scott June 18, 2020 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    Something I will never understand is why leaders and members freak out about what someone shares on social media. If it disturbs you, just stop following that person. Facebook and other social media platforms are an opt in system. If you choose to follow someone and don’t like their content, it’s not their responsibility to change their content to cater to your needs. Just unfollow them.

    Anyway, I loved your story and admire your beautiful family. Thanks for being open and honest and vulnerable for the rest of us. Much love to your entire family.

    • Sam Pinson June 18, 2020 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Scott!

  34. Scott June 18, 2020 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    Just wanted to add how disgustingly disingenuous these leaders were in the “membership council meeting.” They spent an hour and a half antagonizing Sam and accusing him of being dishonest, duplicitous, and contentious. Then they brought the family in and acted like it’s all been sunshine and cupcakes, praising the kids for their intelligence and talking about how much they love them and Sam. Nothing in that first hour and half meeting conveyed a spirit of love. It conveyed a spirit of condescension, ridicule and hostility. And at the end, they try to gaslight the entire family by claiming they actually considered not excommunicating Sam and dishonestly changed the charge by painting their decison as Sam demanding to be excommunicated. What. A. Joke.

    • Sam Pinson June 18, 2020 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      Right. The interrogation unrelated to the charge of apostasy. The false notion that they had summoned me to the meeting with a serious possibility of not excommunicating me. The disinterest in hearing my response to the charge of apostasy. The conclusion that enough information had been heard without hearing my response to the charge. The feigned interest in hearing what Sara, Olivia, and Sam Jr. had to say. The absurd claim that they were incorrect about the charge of apostasy. The dishonest claim that they were doing what I asked them to do. Nobody would believe this happened if I hadn’t recorded it.

  35. R. Mark June 18, 2020 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Wow.. at the end of this I found myself wanting more!! Amazing new insights from listening to your stories both collective and individual.

    Olivia: I found myself relating to your expressions of having the desire to be heard and validated by a church system that could never and would never give that to you. Your words are eloquent.
    Sam Jr.: The notion of how church friendships are made externally by the structure of the church in contrast to freindships being built internally and directly with others, based on mutual regard is incredibly insightful and helped me understand why most of my church friends have dissociated from me (and I from them on some level).
    Sara: listening to your experience of breaking the shackles that bound you to a contrived mold and then spreading your wings proudly – amazing.
    Sam: I too was recently in a “court of love” and found your experience riveting. For me, it was one of the most intruiging and lonely experiences of my life. Thank you for being strong and incredibly cogent in your interactions with those church leaders. As I kept hearing the SP say “you are here because I want to know Sam” it became evident to me as you continued to explain “Sam” that what he really wanted to know about Sam is what he never found: a chink in your armor. I believe he was feeling extreme cognitive dissonance with your presence as an honest, intelligent man who values truth. It was clear that it threatened his religious paradigm.
    Thanks to each of you for speaking truth without shame or reservation. If you’re ever in East Tennessee, please let us know .. you are welcome here and I could introduce you to some amazing moonshiners!! Oh and if you see John, tell him I’ll m taking him up on the ice cream offer when I’m in Utah.

    • Sam Pinson June 19, 2020 at 10:10 am - Reply

      Thanks! Let’s do it. Looking forward to enjoying my first moonshine! :)

  36. John H Emmett June 18, 2020 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    I chuckled when Sam requested no “misters” with the obvious purpose should they attempt a visit. I remain a member of record to support my wife’s commitment (doesn’t bother me to do so) We haven’t had “minsters” since they changed the assignment name. Go figure. I found the Stake President’s efforts & responses ignorant & typical. One of Delin’s best. One difference? I don’t see the need to voice my understanding & acceptance of the countless reasons individuals or families leave the faith.

  37. Grant A June 18, 2020 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Sam and family,

    Thanks for sharing your story and experience. As a former bishop and also having traveled into the rabbit hole, I can relate to all sides.

    I still attend church to give support to my very active wife. Hearing your story helps me to know I am not alone with what I have experienced.

    You have my utmost respect.

    • Sam Pinson June 21, 2020 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Grant!

  38. BRANDON June 19, 2020 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Pinson family:
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and feelings regarding your faith transition. The timing of my own transition matches yours almost exactly, although I’m a little older (48). I am completely alone in my transition however, as my wife, 4 kids, and extended relatives on both sides come from multi-generation TBM families. Needless to say, this has been the most difficult challenge of my life, but it is very comforting to see stories like yours. It brings me great peace to know that I am not alone nor crazy for choosing this path, and I hope my decision can help ‘break the chain’ of the church’s harmful influence for future family like you have done for yours. Like you, I place tremendous value on truth and doing the right thing, and I admire you all for your honesty, integrity, and willingness to share.

    • Sam Pinson June 23, 2020 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Brandon. Sorry you are isolated as you take this hard step. I hear you and stand with you.

  39. Melissa June 20, 2020 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    I am from Eastern Idaho and I know what bravery this takes. Thank you. My parents in that area are still broken hearted for me leaving with my family. Every time someone does this it brings strength to the truth. While my family may not see this, it can be like a domino effect. I haven’t really seen many stories from Eastern Idaho of someone leaving and so I thank you. I enjoyed this so much and it brought healing to my soul. Best to you and your family on this new wide open journey.

    • Sam Pinson June 23, 2020 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Melissa!

  40. Amber June 23, 2020 at 2:33 am - Reply

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing your family’s story with honesty, tenderness, humor, and grace. I went through the full spectrum of emotions as I listened to your story unfold. I laughed, I cried, I felt sick, I raged, but in the end, I came out cheering.
    My family has been out for almost 2 years and I can promise you it only gets better. There is so much to unlearn, to process, and to heal, but the tincture of time works wonders. Life has shown us that the world is not black and white, but rather full of color, mystery, and wonder. We love more deeply, connect more authentically, seek truth more fiercely, and live more fully than ever before. I imagine you will find, as we did, that your innate altruism will make your lives more fulfilling than you ever thought possible because you will be living in the present and doing good because you ARE good, rather than to avoid punishment or to seek an eternal reward. Life without a script is a sublime adventure!
    Sam, all I can say is, “Bravo!” Seriously.
    Sara, I cried along with you. I have experienced so many of the same things you shared, as a woman, as a wife, as a support to a priesthood holder, and as a mother. You have a mighty heart! You are clearly a strong, deep thinking, kind, and empathetic woman. You will make a fabulous counselor!
    We also have a bisexual child and he is now thriving as he has been able to move beyond the shame and despotism the church had placed on him for almost 20 years. Chin up, Olivia!
    A most sincere thank you to John, for continuing to shine a light on what the church fights to keep in the dark. Your work is so incredibly valuable. I am a better and wiser human for hearing these stories.

    • Sam Pinson June 23, 2020 at 5:07 pm - Reply

      Beautiful words. Thanks, Amber!

  41. cl_rand June 24, 2020 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Aha! So Sam admits that it’s possible to believe something is true and be wrong huh? I’m pretty sure that proves something to the inhabitants of Kolob but here on planet Earth?? Secrecy is a foundational component of Mormonism and absolutely necessary to maintain what’s left of the congregation. The truth IS the adversary when it comes to LD$.INC and that simple fact is beginning to glare. Great episodes! Truly enjoyed hearing the perspectives of the Pinson children. Very thoughtful kids indeed.

  42. Dan Boyle June 26, 2020 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Sam, Sara, Sam and Olivia…thank you so much for taking the time to tell your story. My wife and I listened together for all seven episodes…they were awesome. You all echoed my own thoughts on the church. Integrity matters. Truth matters. I find it so sadly ironic that the “one and only true and living church on the earth” is so afraid of the truth that it goes to such extremes ex-communicating those who dare tell the truth. Wonderful story and your bravery and integrity are extremely impressive…well done !

    • Dan Boyle June 26, 2020 at 12:54 pm - Reply

      I forgot to add : When he spoke about the stake prez and his minions in the room Sam Jr said: “The air was heavy with superficiality and insincerity”….wow, so well said.
      Sam Jr gets the quote of the day, maybe the year .

  43. Adele and Jack Livington, The Woodlands, TX June 29, 2020 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Dear Sam,

    You were a great kid in the Granada Hills Ward. Our membership in the Church has given us many wonderful, memorable returns. Nevertheless, we understand that each of us must be true to ourselves. We send our love to you and your family and wish the very best for all of you.

  44. Steven E Leininger July 12, 2020 at 11:04 am - Reply

    I am only responding to your “How not to apostatize” piece. I am a taken back by the arrogance that you accuse the Church of exhibiting. I find just the opposite in terms of the attitude towards Church history today – nothing is being held back. I find the trend to be that no questions are off limits. You may not like the responses, but people are being encouraged to ask and to seek learning by faith. Your glib self righteous comments are not new nor are they insightful.

    I will leave it at one example – your ridicule of Fair Mormon. So you think you are more informed than John Welch or Daniel Peterson, or frankly any of the scholars who present? Are they always 100% on target? Of course not. But they move the dialogue forward. They are doing the very thing that you are accusing the Church of not doing – asking difficult questions and searching for correct answers. Why are the comments sections so vital and informative? Everyone knows that comment sections, that cannot easily be responded to, are just hate filled sarcastic comments by people who want to look smarter than anyone else. Take on the real work of going toe to toe with these scholars, not just take pot shots. Publish a scholarly article that can be be replied to.

    And then the real issue to which I have not found any good responses – where do you go from here? You would need to be a fool to claim that that Book of Mormon is phony. And if the Book of Mormon is true…you know the rest of the story. But seriously, once freed of all of the so called restrictions of mormonism, what do you replace it with? What about Christ? What about the atonement? What happens when you die? Ex Mos make really bad Baptists, Catholics, or Born Agains. They generally just float around in a fog of self righteousness. Some try the eastern religions – but generally don’t last. So they tend to rely on zero doctrine and just want to love everyone thinking that all will be well, hmmmm sounds like some Book of Mormon episodes. You might as well be a Universalist or a Methodist. They have very little doctrine, no requirements, and want to be nice to everyone. They have the benefit of some socialization. Latter day Saints believe in that same spirit of love and acceptance, but have a faith that gives context to our purpose in life and the life hereafter.

    I wish you well in your journey of faith and only hopes it brings happiness and peace. Frankly it is difficult to not be as snarky in this post as you have chosen to be in your material. So please forgive me if I have crossed a line.

  45. Cal July 14, 2020 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Impressive family. Good on you for having the courage to leave. I wish you would have had the meeting with the GA and brought your son Sam Jr. with you. You could have said, “I’ll let my son talk to you on my behalf.” and I’ll bet that Sam Jr. would have had the GA questioning his beliefs after he got done with him.

    It is too bad that most Mormons don’t listen to their spirit. It is too bad that most Mormons don’t question when they experience something new and better. But, it is always easier to go back to “the boat” where others will applaud your wise decision not to learn more.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  46. Rebecca King July 14, 2020 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    Dear Pinson Family,
    What an amazing story! What a fabulous family to have the bright minds and the strong wills to each think on your own, separate from church teachings, and then all of you come to similar conclusions! Thank you more than I can say for sharing!!

    Your message gave me cause to dive deep into my own recollections of an upbringing in the church that made me feel a part of something big and wonderful back then but still left me with shockingly scant proof of any validity for the doctrine. My bishop father and my mother selected a missionary working our area as good candidate to be my mate when I was 16. They loved me and wanted me to have someone smart, attractive and worthy of their daughter. So they offered him an education, housing and a car to come back to our town and court me after his mission, with the understanding that he marry me. I had little say in the matter but believed they would only do what was right for me. I married the man straight out of high school. Even though I was an honor student and loved school there was no conversation of an education for me. I went straight to work to support my new husband. Granted, this wasn’t the normal way of finding a mate in the church in the 1960’s but it suited my parents to do so.

    My first moment of pure shock and disgust with the church came on the day I went to the Salt Lake Temple to take out my own endowments before my marriage. No one had given me any heads up about the washing and annointing ceremony. I was supremely modest and this stupid ritual left me feeling violated! Next I went into the regular temple session with my mother by my side. I find that I am being instructed on ways I must offer to shed my blood should I ever reveal these “truths” I am being told in the temple. I am given the option to leave if I did not agree. I will tell you, it took killing every survival instict I possessed to stay in that seat! I imagined how I would destroy my family if I got up and left. Every part of me screamed that I was doing something idiotic and wrong. But I stayed. Later that day I learned my new and special Celestial name. The one I should remember always so I could tell it to the spiritual beings admitting me into the kingdom of heaven after my death. I held onto it like it was a gift from God, because nothing else in that ceremony seemed heavenly. Years later I learned that every single women in the temple that day was given the same name. So much for special and Celestial!

    And surprise, surprise! My husband and I discovered we were not compatible. All we had in common was the church. Eleven years and three children later I was despondent to the point of wishing to die, lonely and doubting the worth of my entire life. I began to do things that were sure to get me excommunicated, though I didn’t think that’s what I was doing at the time. I don’t know why I never got the courage to do what your family did! I just never thought I had the option to just leave. My bad behavior was observed and my father reported it to the bishop. That bishop came to talk to me at my home. He sat on my bed next to me in a room growing darker by the minute. He never suggested nor offered to turn on the light. He told me I had to surrender my temple garments to him. It felt a bit like he was trying to seduce me! That couldn’t be true, right?! But in fact, within a month of the court he held to excommunicate me he was himself thrown out of the church for embezzling from his employer, the Stake President! His wife left him instantly and he showed up on my doorstep suggesting that since we were both disgraced perhaps we should date! Yuck, ick and puke!

    Sam, hearing the recording of your session with the ward and stake authorities just thrilled me! It took me forever to come to believe what you clearly and proudly stated to those men. The church is a fraud! Despicable things were and are being done by its former and present leaders. Jesus is definitely not the head of the church. Maybe not even a real live being ever! There is no evidence of a god nor an afterlife and we have all been duped! The truth of your words rang through me! It took me decades away from the poison message of the church to finally reach these conclusions on my own. Bravo that you got there with such economical speed! I would have been so much more at peace had I done a bit of research earlier and learned the things I have through your podcast. I wish there had been a decent way to research the falseness of the Mormon church, and indeed all religions, back in the day I began to doubt.

    Please continue to share. I’m old and my life is almost done but finding the truth at any age is a precious gift. Thank you.

  47. Walter July 14, 2020 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    The most interesting part of the interview was Sam’s desire to be excommunicated for “telling the truth.” I agree with many here that it is disgusting that the church excommunicates people for vocalizing beliefs/facts that are counter to orthodox teachings. Many experience a great deal of trauma throughout the process. But this comment made me wonder whether or not excommunication might provide a degree of closure and validation for those in situations such as Sam. While I still disagree with the practice, I would be interested in hearing how the process might help some move more quickly through the healing process (although likely not in the way the church intends).

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  48. DavidW October 23, 2020 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your comments, Pinson Family. Most interesting, but not my life’s experience. I was exposed to much of the material that shook your faith back in the 1980s. But I had received numerous spiritual witnesses that the Church was true (and have since had more of those spiritual witnesses), and it was impossible for me to deny them.

    Yes, I know this is a common response that you must receive. But you’ll need to get used to the fact that there are many people who know about the various historical claims against the Church, but are not “nuanced” in their views towards them, as you describe the mental condition under which they are apparently suffering.

    We just know the Church is Christ’s organisation on earth, that it is not perfect because people aren’t perfect, and that most of the claims against it can be answered with suitably appropriate counter-arguments. Or the answers will eventually come to light. And that applies to Blacks and the Priesthood, DNA and the Book of Mormon, and Joseph and Helen Mar Kimball. Just as Mark Hoffman’s salamander letter was eventually resolved (gosh, it was a forgery after all), so too will all of the other historical anti-LDS “facts”.

    DNA and the Book of Mormon is an interesting case in point. DNA is not the exact science that ProgMos and anti-Mos claim it to be. And the “science” in existence when Simon Southerton wrote his “groundbreaking” book, “Losing a Lost Tribe”, continues to be modified. A population of pre-Columbian Indians, whether largely decimated or fully intact around 400AD, would not necessarily have its DNA represented in modern-day populations. You see, if you look for positive responses to the “questions” you can find them.

    But my big question is, “what are you going to replace your former faith with?” Have you retreated to atheism, relative morality and other progressive tropes. Or have you, at the very least, tied yourself to a Christian denomination that does not have the historical difficulties that you claim the Church has, one which at least will provide a moral anchor in this sea of dramatic social change?

    If the former, I feel worried for you. You and your descendants will be tossed around, accepting as valid the latest social fad. Remember that what was morally unacceptable 40 years ago is now fully-fledged OK by our progressive society! And, what is PRESENTLY unacceptable will, in 40 years from now, be entirely acceptable to a future society. So, whose values are you going to endorse? Where do you get your values from? At the very least, the Brethren who lead our Church teach principles which provide security in such a fast-changing world.

    But back to my first point. It is only the Spirit that can provide a witness of the truth, not logic, not argument, not claim and counter-claim. I know it because I have had some very powerful witnesses and it’s only my own sin which causes those witnesses to dim in the memory. Thankfully, so far, they are still bright and strong.

    So, my challenge to you is to re-read the Book of Mormon and ask yourself, once again, could a man have written this book in 65-70 days. And, by the way, I am here, reading your “Mormon Story”, because I love to expose myself to alternative points of view. They enlarge, mature, clarify, confirm and even change my mind from time-to-time. So, if can do that, why couldn’t you just try to read the BIG opposing argument, the Book of Mormon itself, just one more time, and see if it changes your mind??

  49. Ryan July 24, 2022 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    I just listened to the pod cast of Sam’s excommunication hearing. In the hearing Sam was adamant about no longer being an officer in the church. Yet the podcast tittle is “The excommunication of BISHOP Sam Pinson”. If he is no longer an officer in the church don’t use an officer tittle to promote the podcast!

    • John Dehlin July 24, 2022 at 8:34 pm - Reply


      I was taught that once a bishop, always a bishop.


  50. Kelly Parker September 27, 2022 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Their kids are amazingly articulate. They and the parents made several good points! Kuddos for standing up for truth.

  51. Michelle December 27, 2022 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    Thank you Sam & Family for sharing your story. I can’t believe how antagonistic the “bishop” is in this disciplinary council meeting. What a joke! I have not been a believer since I was 14. I felt some guilt over making out with a boy and “confessed” to my paternal uncle who was the bishop at the time. During that “interview” I felt disgusted by the questions he was asking me & knew that there was no reason there needed to be a “middle man” between me & God- and I know there is no reason I should have felt guilty for normal adolescent behavior. I’m learning so much from these stories & I really appreciate all of you who are sharing and JJohn for establishing this platform.

  52. Julie May 18, 2023 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Sam Pinson, JR…. you are one of my favorite mormon stories guests! You should have your own podcast. Love listening to you today!

Leave A Comment

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