MattClay-IMG_3516In 2003, Matt Elggren and I met while working at Microsoft.  Together, along with others, we discovered troubling things about LDS Church history.

For most of the past thirteen years, Matt has not attended church and has more or less quietly supported his believing wife and children. For fear of losing his family, Matt chose silence….as did his extended family. It was basically thirteen years of “don’t ask don’t tell” with no hope of resolution for Matt.

This changed in October of 2015 when Matt’s brother-in-law, Clay Christensen, began a 6-week slide into total disbelief after 51 years of devout membership, which included 7 years as a high-level LDS Church employee.  (For a link to the “Lost Book of Abraham” video mentioned by Clay, that was the impetus to his loss of faith, click here:

After losing his faith, Clay didn’t choose silence.

This is Matt and Clay’s story of family, faith, doubt, and hope.

Part 1: Matt’s Story

Part 2: Clay’s Story


Part 1:

Part 2:


  1. Ward January 22, 2016 at 9:50 am - Reply

    I work with Clay. He is one of those people who is always optimistic, pleasant, and smiling. Thanks for your story, it helped me a lot.

    • Clay January 22, 2016 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      Hi Ward, that is very nice of you. I’m glad you liked it and I really hope it helps you and others. That is what makes it worth it.

      • Neil January 30, 2016 at 1:50 am - Reply

        In 1977 I learned about Book of Abraham translation issues, on my mission to Australia, from an evangelical Christian. Then in 1979 I learned more from a presentation at the Salt Lake City Public library where the correct Egyptian translation was explained. I also read about it in 1980 in the Utah State LDS Institute, in a Sunstone magazine which they carried in their library. When the internet came out I learned even more.
        I recommend you read Authoring the Old Testament by David Bokovoy. Chapter 8 explains Higher Criticism and the Book of Abraham. I explained to my son, when he asked about the strange astronomy in the Book of Abraham, that it was inspired pseudepigraphon. It is in this way that I think the Book of Abraham is “true.”
        I think we can make the Church more true for our children in the future by adopting more correct views of scripture, history and the physical universe.

    • Joanne January 23, 2016 at 10:39 am - Reply

      Just because you were fooled by false prophets beginning with the founder of the ‘church’, don’t give up on GOD! Joseph Smith did some really bad, evil deeds in ‘the name of the Lord’, the worst of these being convincing Mormons that the Bible can’t be trusted. Open your Bible and read it like a child. Start with the Book of John. Don’t let your children continue this lie and then their children and on and on. There is such hope in Jesus — and I don’t mean the Mormon Jesus . . . I mean the Biblical Jesus.

      • Clay January 23, 2016 at 12:57 pm - Reply

        Hi Joanne,
        I agree, I am going to give real Christianity a try. At the very least I will become more Christlike and that is better than trying to follow Joseph Smith for sure. Thank you!

      • Kay February 4, 2016 at 12:04 pm - Reply

        I think sexually manipulating young girls and setting up things that led to the modern polygamous groups is much more of a problem than some people not believing in mythical beings, but you know. To each their own.

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 12:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Ward, that is nice of you. I was surprised to see anyone watched right after it posted! Glad you liked it.

  2. Cherie January 22, 2016 at 10:15 am - Reply

    I’ve known Clay since high school. It is so nice to see that he is still the same refreshing person now as he was then.

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      Hi Cherie,
      That is so nice of you. Good memories from high school. I am glad to see some classmates are discovering the truth. Thank you for watching and your nice comments. I hope they help you and your loved ones.

      • Cherie January 24, 2016 at 9:27 pm - Reply

        Hi Clay, I’ve been struggling with what to do about all of this for a few months. I’ve known some of it for years but more keeps coming, just like peeling the onion. I can’t be a part of something so dishonest. We finally told the kids that are still living at home and they took it well. We have started going to Christian churches in the area looking for one because I, like you, believe there is much more truth in Christianity in general and much that I would want to keep in the philosophy of Christianity. The Bible may not be perfect in a literal sense but is much more verifiable in general. And yes, your podcast helps. Because part of me hurts. I’ve been angry, really angry at the Church for about a year and a half. I keep thinking that someone is going to come out and apologize for all the lies and half truths but it never happens. So watching someone as nice as you obviously struggling with similar feelings helps me to feel like I’m not alone.

  3. wpme January 22, 2016 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Interesting episode. I do have to say though that Clay still seems very Fowler Stage 3 to me (at 53:15, Part 2):

    “Things are binary… It’s either yes or no.”

    • Clay January 22, 2016 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      Hi wpme,

      I won’t disagree about the Fowler Stage 3, I’m totally open about where I am at. However, I relate to the Universalizing Faith stage. I think it is beautiful. “Few people reach this stage. Those who do live their lives to the full in service of others without any real worries or doubts.”

      I will also admit to the binary view. If you break down the history of the church to its atomic parts you get yes or no. Did the plates exist? Is the Book of Abraham real? Is polyandry, polygamy and marriage to 14 year old girls a commandment from God? When you do that it is only logical to conclude that the Church isn’t true.

      Thanks for your comment,

      • Kirsten February 5, 2016 at 4:30 pm - Reply

        Dear Clay,
        You have completely turned my world upside down…and I thank you! I have been a member all my life and had to step away after the recent change in the bishop’s handbook labeled my son an apostate. Just like you, I had never heard of most of the information in the CES letter. I started to investigate after listening to your podcast.
        The temple worthiness questions are completely binary. I am expected to be 100% obedient to enter the doors of the temple and be in good standing, so why wouldn’t we expect the same from the church that claims to be the only true church on the face of the planet? My decision to leave was confirmed thanks to you. I sincerely appreciate your willingness to share your journey. It has directly impacted my life.

        • Clay February 6, 2016 at 12:04 am - Reply

          Hi Kirsten,
          I am so glad to hear that our podcast helped you. That is why we did it. We all need to be there to help one another leave the church. It is really a cult and leaving is very tough. I am very happy for you. Thank you for sharing your story and good luck to you and yours.

    • Jonathan Clark Felt January 23, 2016 at 7:53 pm - Reply

      I was also struck by the “binary” comment especially since progressive thinkers will normally not accept such declarations of “black and white” when it comes to things which resonate generally there (at the Left that is). John D. was doing a good bit of chortling and seemed happy with Clay’s simplistic evangelism of the new truth about Joseph Smith. Tick tock one more month has passed since the euphoric high fiving interview. Has everything come up roses as Clay projected or is there more nuance now in his approach to God and Jesus. Has he merely accepted the research of others without inquiring of God himself? Has Clay read the Bible with the same critical eye as he did with the Book of Abraham? Is his God still binary even down to atomic particles? I hope not. Clay is charismatic. No question. I want him to do as he said we all should do. I want him to “research the dubious,” because something just doesn’t add up here. Is it possible to be as brilliant as Clay and yet be so credulous and naive about both positions? I admire all three men for their courage, but I also must disagree with their conclusions. Did I mention I love you guys? Did I say thank you to John for his commitment over the years? I love you guys and I thank you John.

      • Clay January 24, 2016 at 9:03 am - Reply

        Hi Jonathan,

        It has been over a month and I have continued to study. I have been amazed at the sheer volume of shocking information. Literally every day, every book I pick up has something that would have or should have at least been a huge shelf item.

        I am very happy that my wife and children are together with me in this but it hasn’t all come up roses. I had a very cordial yet disheartening meeting with my Bishop and Stake President. They asked what I had found out and I told them much more than what is in this podcast, but only about 10% of what I have found. Brenda and I talked for an hour and a half, after which they bore their testimony. It was very nice of them to want to hear my story. I appreciate that they wanted to help me with my faith crisis just as I wanted to help my friends with theirs, until I found out the real truth. I naively hoped that when they heard this information they would want to find out more.

        I hoped that my Mom, Sister, and Brother would be more willing to look at the information. I don’t understand their reaction at all. I had a great conversation with another Brother-in-Law who has known all of this for all of his adult life (not Matt). He is the classic progressive thinker and definitely has a nuanced approach but I don’t understand his reaction either.

        I get that there can be nuance but I am not backing away from my binary approach. I believe nuance starts after you have examined the facts. Is polyandry and polygamy creepy and wrong? Is the Book of Mormon derivative of View of the Hebrews, Late War…, First Book of Napoleon, and the Bible? Has the Book of Mormon been changed thousands of times as Joseph’s view of God evolved? As DNA evidence piled up, did they change the intro to the Book of Mormon to say that the Lamanites are no longer the “principal ancestors”, they are “among the ancestors”? Do the nine different accounts of the first vision cast serious doubt on the whole thing? When you have examined all of the evidence could the church be true?

        Please tell me what doesn’t add up? Tell me more about how you disagree with my conclusions? I admit to the simplistic approach and even though your comments are a bit condescending I don’t take offense. I worry I sound condescending to Mormons because it is all so obviously false. I also love a good discussion and I don’t mind being the case study. I wish I could go back to my high school debate days (resolved: Joseph Smith was a false prophet and the Book of Mormon is a hoax).

        I feel the love in your comments and I return the love. Thank you for noticing “research the dubious”. I was hoping someone would notice that one. I thank you for taking the time to watch our podcast and post your comments. I hope we can continue the discussion.

        • Wayne Perry January 25, 2016 at 1:01 pm - Reply

          I appreciate everyone’s thoughts, here. I get the need to recognize and accept nuance, but I also get that there is still a place for some binary perspective. At some point, we have to accept that the church is what it says it is or it’s not. That’s binary, right? What we do, or feel, or think about that is the place for nuance. Even if JS genuinely believed he saw God and Christ and acted accordingly, he either really did or did not. Clay, you might enjoy some of Daniel Wotherspoon’s podcasts over on Mormon Matters. I am usually frustrated by his work, but I value it (and support it) because it keeps me from succumbing to all of it being so easy, and he provokes me to think. By the way, this was a fantastic interview. I’m so glad to have heard your story.

        • David January 25, 2016 at 6:57 pm - Reply

          Technology and animals



          Although there is no DNA , archeological, linguistic and cultural evidence found in meso America. DNA, archeological, linguistic, artifacts, and cultural evidence for the Book of Mormon is found in North America. See links below

          Native American ties to Hebrews

          Jaredites and a Caucasian race of Indian

          Sources cited

          • Clay January 25, 2016 at 10:49 pm

            Hi David, Wayne,
            Let’s say for sake of discussion that I agree that the Native American’s were descended from the Hebrews. That only means that Ethan Smith got it right in View of the Hebrews five years before Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery came out with the Book of Mormon. Then we could take a look at the Kinderhook plates and the over-reach con of the Book of Abraham. So much evidence that he was a false prophet. It really adds up fast when you are willing to consider all of it. Then it become an easy question, could it be true in spite of the mountain of evidence? I wish it could have been.

          • David January 26, 2016 at 4:29 pm


            There is a lot more to it than dna. The Book of Mormon gives specific timelines that matches Native American civilization that started and ended in the same time period as the Book of Mormon Nephite population. This civilization had metal breast plates and head plates, metal tools and jewelry. They also had woven clothes and clothes their fortifications are as described in the Book of Mormon.
            Historians from 16th century to the 19th century and from different countries have noticed Hebrew culture and language ties to Native Americans to also include Native American having endowment like ceremonies. Also the dna found in Native Americans in not a Jewish/Hebrew dna marker its a Israeli dna marker. Which also corresponds to the bible since the Tribe of Manasseh fell away from Hebrew worship when they were conquered by the Assyrians.

            If you used a lack of dna or archaeological evidence as reasoning to leave the church that was a bad idea.

          • Clay January 26, 2016 at 7:41 pm

            Hi David,
            DNA evidence is on the list for sure becuase I don’t believe those DNA results you mentioned. However, DNA is so unnecessary to a proof that the Book of Mormon is a hoax and Joseph Smith is a false prophet that we can go ahead and agree to disagree. There is such an overwhelming amount of evidence the proves the Book of Abraham is a hoax, the Kinderhook plates were a trap and Joseph feel right into it, claiming he could read them. Polygamy, polyandry, lying and money digging, Masonic temple revelations, oh there is just a treasure trove of evidence. I ask you to please look at all of it.

          • Joe January 27, 2016 at 10:54 am

            Spin, spin, spin.

            David: Bad scholarship is bad scholarship. I could only read two of your posted articles (DNA and anachronisms) before I wanted to rip my hair out. The spin is as bad as the essay on DNA. “Just because we don’t have any proof… that doesn’t mean it’s not true.” Uhg.

          • David January 27, 2016 at 12:46 pm


            You can’t spin away artifacts such as metal breast plates, head plates, woven cloth, and fortifications made by a North American civilization that is the same time period as mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Their dna traces back to the Druze of Isreal and the middle east. Haplogroup x highest concentrations are in North American Indians and Israeli Druze you can’t spin that.
            You may want to spin the evidence and artifacts but I would call that mental gymnastics.

            “Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian peoples with ties to the Middle East and Europe”

            “In that case, as it has been proposed, haplogroup X was brought to America by the eastward migration of an ancestral white population, of which no trace has so far been found in the mtDNA gene pool of modern Siberian/eastern Asian population” (The Presence of Mitochondrial Haplogroup X in Altaians from South Siberia Am. J. Hum. Genet. 69:237–241, 2001)

            On the basis of genetic analysis of some serum and red-cell protein polymorphisms, Szathmary and Reed and Szathmary et al. were able to reveal the presence of “Caucasian” alleles in the southeastern Ojibwa (Native American Tribe) and to give an estimate of Caucasian admixture of ~30%; however, more recent data on other autosomal locus polymorphisms indicate that the genetic admixture may be as great as 50%.
            (mtDNA and Y Chromosome-Specific Polymorphisms in Modern Ojibwa: Implications about the Origin of Their Gene Pool)


            Technology and animals

            Native American ties to Hebrews

            Based on dna evidence alone it becomes quite obvious that the technology of the mound builders to include metal working making of woven cloth and fortifications came from the Old World

            “Phylogenetic analysis and coalescence estimates for American Indian and European haplogroup X mtDNAs exclude the possibility that the occurrence of haplogroup X in American Indians is due to recent European admixture.” (The Presence of Mitochondrial haplogroup X in Altaians from South Siberia Am. J. Hum. Genet. 69:237–241, 2001)

          • David January 27, 2016 at 1:04 pm


            I don’t know what you were reading but the research article specifically states that Native Americans share a middle eastern/Caucasian dna also found in Israel. In fact the largest concentration of this dna is found in Israel and in Native Americans. Also you cant spin away actual artifacts of metal breast plates, head plate, woven clothing, and fortifications all made by a civilization that matches the the timeline given in the Book of Mormon.

            “Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian peoples with ties to the Middle East and Europe”


            “On the basis of genetic analysis of some serum and red-cell protein polymorphisms, Szathmary and Reed and Szathmary et al. were able to reveal the presence of “Caucasian” alleles in the southeastern Ojibwa (Native American Tribe) and to give an estimate of Caucasian admixture of ~30%; however, more recent data on other autosomal locus polymorphisms indicate that the genetic admixture may be as great as 50%.”
            (mtDNA and Y Chromosome-Specific Polymorphisms in Modern Ojibwa: Implications about the Origin of Their Gene Pool)

            “Phylogenetic analysis and coalescence estimates for American Indian and European haplogroup X mtDNAs exclude the possibility that the occurrence of haplogroup X in American Indians is due to recent European admixture.” (The Presence of Mitochondrial haplogroup X in Altaians from South Siberia Am. J. Hum. Genet. 69:237–241, 2001)

            “In that case, as it has been proposed, haplogroup X was brought to America by the eastward migration of an ancestral white population, of which no trace has so far been found in the mtDNA gene pool of modern Siberian/eastern Asian population” (The Presence of Mitochondrial Haplogroup X in Altaians from South Siberia Am. J. Hum. Genet. 69:237–241, 2001)

            Technology and animals

            Native American ties to Hebrews

          • RLeeG January 29, 2016 at 12:54 pm

            it feels strange to read posts like David’s now because I was once like David. I found some old ones on the internet, long ones, where I wrote up the greatest evidences I had to defend mormonism. I thought they were great. Go ahead and prove me wrong, I thought. I am right. Look at this great scholarship I am referencing and discussing and studying.

            Now I read those old posts and cringe in embarrassment. I realize now that those I was arguing with passionately were probably thinking, “Wow. Look at this guy. Hey guys, come read this guy’s crazy posts!” Cause when I go back and read them, that is what I am thinking. It’s almost like it must have been someone else. That couldn’t have been me.

            David, your posts and references are not convincing. They are full of straw man arguments that attempt to completely deflect the focus away from why the BOM is not supported by any serious archeologists outside the LDS community. Not only that, but Clay has already explained that behind these, are a thousand other obstacles you have to pole vault and gymnastics your way around to make the church true. I did it. I deconstructed. Reconstructed. The nuanced constructs of faith I created would impress anyone. Then one day, I zoomed out and looked at what I had built and was like, WHAT!??!! Craziness. Sheer craziness. What I had built wasn’t even mormonism any longer. It was just insanity. Dave, I am here to tell you that you have lost your mind. It’s okay. It happens to the best of us. Let it go man. It’s okay. Things will be alright if you just accept reality. You’ll feel better. You really will.

          • Joe January 29, 2016 at 4:14 pm


            It’s useless to debate this. As RLeeG suggests, you are placing crap spin on crap arguments… to try to support a crap position. I get it. I wanted to believe once too.

            But let’s talk about just two issues. First, haplogroup X. Dude… the genetic makeup of this DNA has been traced back to Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and the Norther borders of the Middle East circa BCE 30,000. From there, we see this DNA spreading out around the world, with a small band of it coming to America.

            David: This is DNA that is traced back to a source 30,000 years ago. Geez. Last time I checked, Lehi came to America around 600 BC. And even if we try to create some kind of relationship between this DNA and the Brother of Jared, the timeline is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off.

            The spin on haplogroup X is crap.

            Next let’s talk anachronisms.

            If someone came to you with the following story, what would your reaction be?

            Two years ago I was visited by an American prophet, Samuel. He appeared to me, and he has been alive since Christ’s mortal ministry (he is one of the three Nephites). Christ commanded him to live among the Colonists during the American Revolution. He claims he is even one of the framers of the Constitution, and he says he signed it… though he claims he used his name from that period of time (which he refused to share with me).

            Samuel also shared several experiences that he had with George Washington… experiences where he helped Washington and the Colonists win the God-inspired Revolutionary War.

            He told me of this one time when he was in Maryland asleep in his home. An angel woke him and commanded him to help General Washington. You see, a storm in the Atlantic had altered the course of a huge wave of British troops. So General Washington needed to be taken from Washington, DC to Boston.

            Because of the urgency, Samual was ordered to leave at that moment. He rushed to the White House in his Hummer. He woke General Washington from his sleep, and they then high-tailed it to Boston. Unfortunately, they were running a bit behind. So Samuel let Washington use his iPhone to call the troops in Boston to make pre-battle plans. Due to the grace of God, they made it just in time for Washington to lead troops in a decisive battle.

            Oh, and Samuel mentioned that as they arrived at the site of the battle, *he felt inspired* to let General Washington use his body armor and Glock 9 mm. He said Washington was hit by pellets several times, but the body armor protected him. That is also part of the reason we have stories about George Washington being bullet-proof.

            The story I just shared is full of anachronisms. There was no **Washington DC** or **White House** at the time of the American Revolution. There were no **Hummers** or **iPhones**. **Phones** hadn’t been invited. There was not **body armor**… at least not the type described in this story. And **Glock 9 mm pistols** wouldn’t be invented for a couple centuries. In short, while *possibly* inspiring, this story is clearly a work of fiction.

            Same holds true with the Book of Mormon. It is littered with anachronisms. **Sheep**, **cattle**, **horses**, **elephants**, **steel**, **chariots**, **olives**, etc., etc… none of these items existed in pre-Colombian America. But let me just touch on one of these anachronisms: **SHEEP**.

            *Domesticated* sheep didn’t exist in America until the Spanish/Columbus brought them. Specifically, Christopher Columbus brought sheep to America during his second journey. And they didn’t even make the mainland, but rather these domesticated sheep were left on a Caribbean island to serve as a future food and wool source.

            With this the case, let’s talk Alma. What was Ammon tending to for King Lamoni? What was he supposedly killing the bandits to defend. Sure… it is a cool story with Ammon using his sling to kill (David style) and sword to maim… cutting off arms to defend? Lamoni was so impressed, he converts. A few weeks later Lamoni invites Ammon to join him at a party his dad (the big king) is throwing. And they travel to the destination in chariots pulled by horses. **The problem:** There were no sheep in America. Archaeologists are also certain that their were not steel swords, horses, or chariots. In short, the story of Ammon is littered with anachronisms.

            Let’s talk 3 Nephi. What was Jesus talking about when he spoke of *lost sheep* or being the *good Shepard*? These references would make no sense to someone in America. What about the warning to beware of wolves in *sheeps* clothing. Oh… domesticated pigs also didn’t exist in America. So the Third Nephi reference to “beware of throwing your pearls before swine” also would make no sense.

            Nephite Timothy: George, WTF is a sheep?
            Lamanite George: I have no clue??? Just keep smiling… just keep smiling.

            Had Christ visited American, he wouldn’t have referenced sheep (or horses, pigs, chariots, etc. etc.). He would have had to change his sermons. He couldn’t reference some cultural mainstay from a completely different part of the world. Instead, Christ’s would have needed to change his sermons using cultural references that would make sense to someone living in the Americas. And in doing so, we would have received a completely modified, new, and refreshing take on the Sermon on the Mount, etc.

            We don’t get this, however. Why? Because Joseph Smith, Jr was simple copying the Bible and referencing items that would make sense to someone living in 19th century New York.

            You can try to spin things however you want. The LDS apologists try to use the excuse that the Ammon story refers to “flocks,” not sheep. So Ammon is herding birds? Or they try to point out that wild mountain goats lived in the Rockies (animals that have never, ever been domesticated). But these excuses/spin are silly. It’s like trying to say that your mountain lion is the best house cat ever. It’s just silly. Silly spin.

      • Rude Dog January 26, 2016 at 2:29 pm - Reply

        Jonathan, listen, I don’t know about you, but I actually went to Sunday School. I served a mission, I taught the principles of the restored church through Joseph Smith. There is a reason we send the missionaries, to fulfill one of the three major missions of the church, or proclaiming the Gospel. Why do we do that? Because we take John 3:5 seriously: “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” We take it so seriously that we teach there had to be a restoration of the only authority that could perform these saving ordinances. So let me ask you this; Who is binary in their thinking? We individuals who take the founding and sacred texts of our faith seriously, or the texts of the church who not only claims one can only reach heaven by participating in the saving ordinances performed not only in this life, but feverishly goes about providing these ordinances by proxy for those long dead but may have opportunity to participate in the so called next sphere in said binary process? I think instead of accusing one of binary thinking, you ought reaquaint yourself with your own theology. I took it seriously, it’s pretty clear cut. You can placate yourself all you want with “they’ll get it in the next life”, but the truth is, even to you, that everyone must enter through the gate that is Mormon narrow, and few be that will enter in the straight gate. Sounds pretty exclusive, if not “binary” to me.

        • Big Mike January 29, 2016 at 1:58 pm - Reply

          Hi David, your research is outdated. Haplogroup X has been found in siberia and in washington state. Additionally, the Druze people you allude to confirm the notion that haplogroup X was prominent 30k years ago in the Near east and expanded throughout the world, thus landing in the new world long before any nephites would have arrived. It’s also important to note that the Druze represent an refugium population wherein they were protected from importation of the genes that they maintained from 1017 AD (that’s when the druze religion was established). Additionally, if the Lehites did land in the new world and constructed cities large enough to feed armies of 100k soldiers than we would have seen genetic outcomes more consistent with middle eastern markers throughout south america, especially since this occurred in 400 AD just a mere 1600 years ago and not nearly enough time for prevalent genetic markers to decrease in frequency to the levels they now do exist. Instead, the Haplogroup X we do have in the northeastern region of america reflects that of a migration that occurred 20K years ago and was moderately isolated from the rest of the continent. Instead of newer studies confirming your claims, they seem to discredit it, unfortunately. Good luck in your continued research.

          Also, don’ fall into the same trap that Joseph and His contemporaries (Ethan Smith, Solomon Spaulding) did when they saw the artifacts left by the Iroquois people that seemed to hint at a jewish beginning. Instead, at closer examination, we find that these are native americans with their own developments that represent convergent evolution, not from common ancestors however. We also see similar developments, water canals, tools, etc in the phoenix area among other native tribes, and they do not contain any semblance of ME DNA.

      • Joe January 27, 2016 at 9:37 pm - Reply

        Hello Jonathan,
        Quick question, could you explain what you mean when you ask “Has Clay read the Bible with the same critical eye as he did with the book of Abraham?
        I often get this excuse from orthodox mormons, and I dont quite understand the logic. Are you implying that the Bible is as unprovable and illogical as the origin story of the Book of Abraham? Are you saying that to believe in Christ via the bible is just as foolish as believing in the Book of Abraham?

  4. lemuel January 22, 2016 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    So this is not the Clay Christensen at Harvard business school, just FYI.

    • Clay January 22, 2016 at 4:33 pm - Reply

      No, that would be Clayton Christensen. Not the same person.

  5. Phoebe January 22, 2016 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    Thank you!!! I needed to hear these two stories. I can relate to both of them so much. I totally understand Clay. I found out about the church history all really quickly and stopped believing it was true within months. It all just unraveled. I am all about truth. Just tell me the truth and let me deal with it how I wish. I wish I could just shout to everyone “I know it’s not true!! None of it!!” But I quickly learned most people don’t want to hear it, or they think they already know (they don’t) or just want to pretend that it doesn’t matter, and some people just plain don’t care.
    I also feel I connected with Matt. My husband wants to be Mormon and chooses to stay in the church knowing a lot of the stuff. He wants our kids to be raised in the church. All family on both sides are TBM! To keep the peace I have been going along with it. I have only done it for a couple years now, not 13 years like Matt. I feel like I can’t tell my kids (all 12 and under) because they love the church and I can’t break their hearts or testimonies. So I am conflicted because I want to be honest and truthful but I don’t want to hurt other people or their beliefs. I am going against every part of me to pretend that I believe any of it, and it is killing me. But when I speak up I can see it tearing apart my marriage. It hurts my husband so much to think we have different ideas of our future. We love each other so much and talk about everything. We are each other’s best friend. The church is the source of most of our problems and it hurts both of us to talk about how we feel, knowing the other person sees it so different.
    So again, thanks for doing Mormon Stories, You have no idea how many times you kept me going when I have felt lost and alone and sometimes hopeless. People sharing their lives has helped me go on with mine. and I don’t say that lightly. Thanks!!

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 1:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Pheobe,
      It is hard when you think the way that we do. You expect others to want to know the truth or at least be willing to seek it out. You are not alone. Hang in there. I am glad this helped you. Helping others is what it is all about.

    • Matt January 23, 2016 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Phoebe! It’s all worth it. It sounds like you have an amazing family. Those kids need you way more than they need the church. And I know it can be virtually impossible to realize this when the church demands that mixed-faith spouses split their loyalties in its favor. But let’s just keep reminding each other that parents like us have been raising good kids long before there was a church and will continue long after. I know, easier said than done. :)

  6. Scott January 22, 2016 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    I don’t know either of these two, but I wanted to tell Clay that there are many ex Mormons that live in South Jordan. He’s welcome at my home anytime. Inspirational stories… both of you.

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 1:05 pm - Reply

      Hi Scott/neighbor,
      Glad you enjoyed the stories. You are welcome in my home too. Warning, tomorrow we are all Patriots fans at my house. :)

      • Scott January 23, 2016 at 10:34 pm - Reply

        I was asking my sister in law about you. She’s a highly active member, and also lives in SJ so I figured maybe she would know you. Turns out, she’s in your stake and also works with you. Small world! I didn’t mention what the podcast was about, just in case. ;)

        • Clay January 24, 2016 at 9:15 am - Reply

          Hi Scott,
          I was worried about your sister-in-law seeing me getting a coffee instead of a Coke Zero in the break room. I guess I don’t have to worry about that now. You can tell her what it is all about. Please let her know, and I think this is evident in the podcast, that I have nothing but love for members of the church. I love them and I would still attend if it was just about the members.

  7. Steve January 22, 2016 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    I love when Clay says about the Book of Abraham: “I always just assumed the translation was correct or else someone would have told me!” You and me both, brother. I was embarrassed to find this out too, almost exactly a year ago.

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 1:09 pm - Reply

      Hi Steve,
      It really is embarrassing but that just highlights how hard the church is working to keep us from finding out the truth. Scary really. I hope knowing that there is at least one more person like you helped.

    • St. Ralph January 24, 2016 at 12:38 am - Reply

      I grew up in a Jack Mormon immediate family in Salt Lake. Some of our extended family were TBMs, but that didn’t seem to matter to anyone, them OR us; everybody got along fine. Decades after we moved from Salt Lake and were no longer even visited by the “home teachers,” I still thought of myself as a Mormon even though I didn’t believe a word of it. But, after I got out into the workplace, I would encounter colleagues (mostly evangelicals) who, not knowing I was a Mormon, would try to tell me about all of the bat crazy things that Mormons did and/or believed. I would come back at these people, often to the point of yelling them down, telling them they were full of because I grew up in Salt Lake in a Mormon family and if any of that stuff was true, I would have at least heard about it.

      Well, I never bothered to actually check anything out for myself until Mitt decided to run for president. When I did a bit of Googling and ran into people like Dan Vogel, Richard Bushman and the Tanners and podcasts like Mormon Stories, Mormon Expression and, eventually, Infants on Thrones, I was floored. The deceitful anti-Mormons were right. Or righter than I was, anyway. The point is that, even though I was an inactive Jack Mormon who hadn’t been to church in over thirty years, I was still living in the Mormon bubble I grew up in. I still assumed that I knew what Mormonism was all about, that if something were true about Mormonism I certainly would have at least heard about it.

      This bubble is a fascinating and pervasive phenomena. You can’t see it until you’re at least part way out of it. If you won’t step outside, you’ll never know any different. I always wonder, “If I didn’t know that—and didn’t know I didn’t know it—what else don’t I know?” There are a few people I’d like to apologize to, if I could ever find them, for yelling them down when it turns out they were mostly right.

  8. Joe January 22, 2016 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Clay: It is so interesting to hear your take. It brings back a lot of emotions. I remember when I was at the same place you are at now. Hopeful exuberance that something might still be true. Grasping for something. I hope that your spouse and you discover a unified path moving forward. Because for many of us, this discover destroys our marriages and families. Best of luck to you and yours, Joe
    PS–The anger comes and goes in cycles.

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Hi Joe,
      I have been very thankful for my sweet wife throughout all of this. We have been together every step of the way. Those first few days after we read the CESletter we were in shock and we wanted to believe in the church. It was very helpful to have a spouse who was eagerly researching everything with me. We have learned a ton together. Thanks for your comments.

      • Lisa January 23, 2016 at 11:07 pm - Reply

        That struck me too, hearing your story, you had each other during that unraveling. Someone you utterly trust to be horrified with. Hard stuff to hear and put together all the deception. You two were so brave to go there. It takes courage and you can’t undo what you know. Thanks for sharing this story. Prayers for you, peace be with you.

  9. Booker Preston January 22, 2016 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    I’m also a Hillcrest grad “69”
    I was very interested in your story. I hope this will bring some healing to your family.
    Booker Preston

  10. Tim January 22, 2016 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    This interview is a beautiful case study in the psychology of belief. I found Clay’s black-and-white thinking and its consequences very interesting even though I have a more nuanced perspective myself. It’s wonderful to see how Matt and Clay have found a new bond, but it’s equally sad to hear about the conflicts between them and other family members (especially the TBM brother). I still puzzle myself why Mormons systematically refuse to discuss issues of doubt and reasons for disbelief and inactivity openly. They seem to think that “friendshipping” is an effective persuasion tool, where in reality it has a creepy fakeness about it. The name-calling by the TBM brother is even more creepy and suggests a great insecurity on his part. We discuss things rationally and respectfully in other aspects of life; why not with religion? I guess it illustrates how foundational our religious perspectives is to our lives and how much we want to see our personal and family identity maintained. That Clay could change so quickly is really remarkable. I really enjoyed hearing about it. I can almost hear the FAIR people gasping over it. :-)

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Tim,

      I have been very self-conscious of the case study aspect of this whole thing. I’ve been trying to figure out what I was thinking all those years. All the missed clues. The conversations with my father-in-law who left the church long before I met my wife even. And it is so weird how we never really talk about religion and doubt openly.

      I never did have the chance to go to lunch with my friend who left they church last year but I thought about it many times over the months. I wondered what I could say to him to help him come back. I didn’t spend any time worrying that he would convince me the church wasn’t true. I am just glad I found out and thankful that things turned out the way they did. I hope the FAIR people are gasping, they should be. They should also be embarrassed at their own tortured logic and unwillingness to see truth.

      Thanks for your comments!

  11. Dan January 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Hey Matt and Clay. Thanks so much for sharing your stories and experiences. It’s a painful walk. But knowing the full story of the church’s history is in many ways a rebirth and an awakening. So many amazing things to discover in the new world we find ourselves in. I especially have cherished the gift of giving myself permission to be open to considering all ideas, positions, theories, science, etc, uninhibited by Mormon doctrine and dogma. Freethought is a beautiful gift to give to yourself. We get to decide what is right/true/real for us…no one else does.

    I’m in a situation similar to Matt’s. My wife and daughters are still in and believing. It’s very difficult to not be able to be myself and share my full perspective on life. I hope for a day when I’m able to give that to my daughters. Your story gives me hope.

    Clay, as someone else in the comments has said, the anger (and I’ll add pain) comes and goes. You may be totally through your anger phase, but that would be the fastest I’ve ever seen someone go through it. Just be prepared for more as this new reality and its implications spread through your life. Luckily you have family support. You’ll do fine.

    Again, thanks guys! This was a great episode for me. Matt and Clay, you guys rock!!!

    • Clay January 25, 2016 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Dan,
      I really do feel like I’m done with the anger phase. I have just decided I don’t have time for it anymore. It was pretty intense but research helped and I think reaching out to others to help them get through this is really making me feel less angry. Thank you for your comments and I hope for the best for you and your family.

      • Eric February 10, 2016 at 2:20 pm - Reply

        Clay, I don’t mean this in a condescending way at all, even if it is going to sound that way. Please leave the door open for more anger phases. It’s good that you’re in a centered, calm, place. But please don’t be surprised when something happens and the white-hot flame rears its ugly head again. It’s happened to me on and off for 20 years.

  12. Lois January 22, 2016 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Thank you, John Dehlin, Matt Elggren and Clay Christensen.

    Clay, you are a breath of fresh air. Your words are to the point, you speak honestly, brilliantly and intelligently; you have done your research, and I really, really admire you! I can relate to your story to a great degree. Thank you!

  13. Teresa January 22, 2016 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    What terrific interviews! I have never watched a Mormon Stories poscast before. I was so touched by Matt’s story, and so delighted by Clay’s. I grew up a deeply devoted child and youth in the Mormon Church and served a mission to New England. In the years after my mission I became involved in Sunstone (back in the days of the “September Six” and Daniel Rector, in 1993). It was Mike Quinn’s work that taught me the truth of church history and led to my leaving the church in my 30s. Like Clay, I LOVED growing up in the church — and still love that I grew up in it. Clay, being a lover of history, I wonder if you have read Quinn’s two “Mormon Hierarchy” volumes, and his “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View”? Also, have you read “Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith” by Robert D. Anderson?

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 1:41 pm - Reply

      Hi Teresa,
      Thanks for your comments. Glad you found our Mormon Story. I have only started reading Quinn’s Early Mormonism. I’m less than three months into this journey so Quinn’s other books are on my reading list. I’ll add the Anderson book too. Thanks for the recommendations!

      • Teresa January 23, 2016 at 2:09 pm - Reply

        Hi Clay,
        I think I was so delighted by your story because I share your love for the experiences of Christ we had in the church. I could feel the love of Christ in you and your story. I awakened out of Mormonism in the 90’s. When I left, I felt sure Christ would always be the bedrock of my life. I wish I knew then what I know now. When I later applied my newfound critical thinking skills to the origins of Christianity, I eventually lost Christ, too. I spent a lot of years in what I can only describe as cosmic loneliness. But in recent years I feel I have begun to get Christ back, in a new way. And now, in retrospect, I didn’t have to lose Christ for all those years. Now I think there is a possible way forward from where you are right now that doesn’t have to entail losing it all. I can picture it, but it doesn’t yet exist in the world in any kind of organizational form. But I believe it could.

    • Teresa January 24, 2016 at 10:21 am - Reply

      For you, Clay and Matt, a Robert Kirby Column:

      • Clay January 24, 2016 at 10:12 pm - Reply

        Hi Teresa,

        Thank you for your comments and the link. I like the Kirby article. I pushed the button when I started researching. It is true, you can know with certainty the truthfulness of the church. Unfortunately for all of us, you find out that Mormonism is 100% false. You really can know that for sure if you are willing to research.

  14. Lane January 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much to both of you. This same thing happened to me about a year ago, when my son was on his mission. It has taken me much longer than six weeks to come to terms with this. We have told our children, except our recently returned missionary, we don’t think he is ready yet. My husband went to church with us for about twelve years not believing until I figured it out. He has been a great help to me. The social ramifications are crazy! I still need to tell my friends. I told my bishop, who knows nothing of church history, he told me feelings are the only way we receive truth from above. I told him I would never have received those feelings if I had known the truth of how they came about. The amount of lies (many by omission) is incredible. I wish you both all the best and thank you for sharing!

  15. Teresa January 22, 2016 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    P.S. I have thought many times, Clay, about what you have to say about wanting to keep all the good thing from Mormonism. I have thought many times about an alternate church structure that could possibly do that.

    • jonathanM January 28, 2016 at 12:42 am - Reply

      I have often thought perhaps a Progressive Mormonism roughly parallellling Progressive Judaism might fill the void, but I’m less sure now. Most, if not all, Reform Jews do not believe Judaism came from anyone but man. But then, they have the advantage that, unlike Mormonism, there is no reason to suppose the origins of their faith and culture came from a liar.

  16. HeavyMetal27 January 22, 2016 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Both of your stories profoundly resonated with me. Matt, I’m in the same situation you are with respect to being able to have anything resembling a conversation with my wife about the issues. She keeps telling me she knows I’ll come around. My kids know daddy doesn’t believe but they are younger than yours. Mom tells them one thing, Dad tells them something else. My daughter turns 8 this March so that’s going to open up the scars again. Tough situation. I love my wife but we’ve been in a stalemate for 8 years now, both of us silently suffering. She feels a great deal of loss and so do I. I appreciate how you shared that you “respect your wife’s sense of loss”. Not easy.

    Clay, my “de-conversion” was about 3 weeks as well. Once I had the facts in front of me and took that leap of faith to research, it was pretty clear to me that I had been deceived (or deceived myself) for many years. I too was a very strong member of the church, rule-abiding missionary, ward clerk etc. etc. etc. Petty much a poster child of the demographics John uncovered with his survey.

    Clay, I hope the road for you is easier than it’s been for Matt and me. I don’t mean to sound condescending at all, but I would strongly suggest you follow your brother-in-law’s example and start talking to a good therapist (that is if John’s too busy). The grieving process for me is still going on, not like it once was, but I wish I would have started talked to a good professional earlier. Luckily it sounds like your family is close to being on the same page, unlike mine and Matt’s. My point is that the stages of grieving don’t seem to happen in a vacuum, I still feel anger, loss, denial etc. in waves, thinking at points I’m done being angry and then it creeps in again for a time.

    Good luck to both you brothers and your loved ones.

    John, you’re a hero (and your family) – I know you get uncomfortable hearing that, but you’re worthy of it sir. Thanks for all you do!

    • Clay January 24, 2016 at 10:42 am - Reply

      Hi HeavyMetal27,
      So far the road has been great with my wife and kids but my extended family isn’t responding as I would have hoped. The truth is a tough thing for people to accept or even willingly listen to. I don’t feel like I need a counselor because I have such a wise wife and we are talking constantly. This podcast has been very therapeutic for me. Thank you for your comments and advice.

  17. Jarom January 22, 2016 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your stories Clay and Matt. Please know that as you go forward, your stories have touched me and helped me to know that I am not alone. I learned of church difficulties 4 years ago and continued to try to believe for 2 years. We are all so different. Our brains process information and make meaning in such unique ways. Your story of leaving after 6 weeks viewed side by side with mine of leaving after 2 years, stands as a testament to the incomprehensible diversity that occurs when 1 trillion neurons each synapse with thousands of adjacent neurons to produce combinations of humans greater than the number of stars in the universe. I really don’t like references to Fowler’s Stages of Faith in light of this fact. My inner voice, informed by rationality serves as my companion and friend in my new found journey. Wishing you courage and curiosity as you square your shoulders to your new path. I’ve donated to Mormon Stories before, but this episode compelled me to make a monthly recurring donation. I need the service provided by the Mormon Stories Foundation and John Dehlin and I challenge all who are nourished by these episodes to do the same.

  18. Sharon Jagger January 22, 2016 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Just listened to Clays’ story . It is so familiar to our story. Glad that people are finding their way out after researching and finding the real truth . It’s not easy to walk away but life is so much more rewarding and free .

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Sharon, “rewarding and free”, yes that describes this whole experience for me. Thanks for watching.

  19. Janna Taylor January 22, 2016 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Matt’s account in the Part I is one of the most moving and heartbreaking personal accounts thus far to be shared on Mormon Stories. He gave me a lot to think about regarding legacy and the power and cost of being oneself. Much, much love coming your way, Matt.

  20. Chuckie January 22, 2016 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    I stayed Christian, too, and learning the differences between Mormonism and Christianity was quite shocking. Really, really appreciated these two podcasts! I left 13 years ago after 49 years of Mormonism. I wrote a detailed letter in 2005 to my niece to explain my reasons for leaving – she would not even read it and I ended up alienating myself from my immediate family because of it. Fortunately, we now get along better, but they still don’t like to hear about my leaving due to doctrinal issues with Mormonism. I still experience PTSD from leaving the church of my childhood, but I am teaching children “Who is Jesus?” next Sunday at the FCC church – the church we attend (though we are not members) – so I guess I’m still trying to make a point to someone. My family and others have no interest in my many reasons for leaving the Mormon church. Had to laugh about the tithing check comment – when we left I asked for my $20,000 tithing back. No, I didn’t get my money back and they would not even address the issue. I know you are new to leaving and I will pray for you because it is NOT easy.

  21. Cameron January 22, 2016 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Clay, we are related, because Merlin is my great uncle and his brother Dale is my grandpa. I just wanted to thank you for having the courage to share your story, especially when things are so fresh and you’re so new to learning what you are, I think this is an important snapshot in time that has been captured here and appreciate you and Matt and John sharing with us.

    Can I provide one piece of advice, and not that I know much, I’m about 3 years into my faith journey. I would recommend reading James Fowler’s stages of faith. I think the church has unfortunately set people up for very black and white thinking like you spoke about, and I think that you’ll find your journey has just begun, and it’s not a journey of proving anything is true or false when it comes to religion, it is a journey of searching for goodness and perspective. It will take time and not be easy, I always recommend that people take things slowly, don’t make any quick decisions, but I also realize that everyone should do what feels right to them.

    If you have a minute listen to these two songs from the play Into the Woods “No one is alone” and the finale “Children will listen”. Or better yet, watch the new movie. It’s a great metaphor about life and myth and people will be on either side of issues, good and bad, and we aren’t alone, but we need to be careful the stories that we tell will have an influence on others for good or for I’ll. I believe that even if there isn’t a God as perceived by Mormonism, there are good and true things in and outside religion even if they aren’t historical or literal, but they ring true to my experience, and give me meaning in life. And I’m not talking about the church. Anyway, best of luck to you both!

    • Clay January 22, 2016 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      Hi cousin Cameron,

      I don’t think it is courage as much as a strong desire to help other people going through this. And I do feel like I owe it to all those family and church leaders who had such a positive influence on my life, to say that I respect them, I thank them for what they did for me and also to say it is time to step back and look at the history of the church for what it is. It is time to separate ourselves from the bad things and hold on to the good. For me, that means never going back to church. It means letting people know that Joseph Smith was no prophet and the Book of Mormon is not true.

      Thank you for the advice and the song recommendations!

      • Cameron January 23, 2016 at 9:01 am - Reply

        Cousin Clay (I like the sound of that),

        I so much admire your zeal, it is such a Mormon trait. You come across so genuine and sound like I much better Mormon than I was. I was always scared to share my testimony to non-members, outside of my mission I only have a handful of experiences where I got up the courage to be that vulnerable.

        I recently read Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly”. She explains that the thing that can hurt relationships the most is not a large event of distrust like infidelity or betrayal, but the most destructive thing is disengagement. When people stop caring and investing in a relationship, that is the killer behavior.

        I was thinking about this as I’m currently taking a sabbatical from active church attendance. If I completely disengage from these relationships in every way, then I can destroy the relationships that I value. Of course this goes both ways, and the other person can do the same from their end, but I’m trying to stay engaged even though my active Sunday attendance isn’t there. I only mention this because you said how much you love the people of the church, and I do too. Trying to find ways to stay engaged without burning bridges and alienating myself from those that I care about has been, and will continue to be one of my top goals and priorities. I wish you continued success. If you ever need to talk, let me know and I’ll look you up on Facebook or something. Take care.

        • Clay January 26, 2016 at 7:11 pm - Reply

          Hi Cousin Cameron,
          Please friend my wife Brenda on Facebook. We need to stick together and help each other and the rest of the family.

  22. Sonia January 22, 2016 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    The best interview ever! Congratulations to you all!

  23. Frank, be frank January 22, 2016 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    Absolutely one of the best two podcasts ever – so representative of the quandary of so many in the church. Thank you to all involved!

  24. jay January 22, 2016 at 10:25 pm - Reply


    Wise, thoughtful, insightful man.

    And hey, that smile you flashed a few times . . . ! That’s one of those once in ten years smiles :) I see some joy there. Glad you have a companion covering your flank.

    thank you.

  25. Robert January 22, 2016 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Really enjoyed this interview! Just goes to show that the people of the LDS church really are the best part. Who can doubt after watching that both of these men are kind, devoted fathers?

    I particularly enjoyed the part where you discussed our heritage as Mormons, for those of us who have pioneer ancestry. I’ve noticed that my extended family members who are still active seem to claim that heritage as belonging to them, and that I’ve given up my claim to it by not believing. I’m sure that more than one of my pioneer ancestors would reject the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon if they were alive today and had access to the evidence against it. I do not give up my heritage… the Mormon experience is ongoing and evolving. Those of us who have noticed the overwhelming evidence against the BoM and react to it are only adding to the story of Mormonism. This is the next chapter.

    Lastly, I need to take issue with those who complain about Clay’s black & white thinking. Yes, Mormons think too much in black & white. But certain statements lend themselves more to being 100% true than others. Some statements are binary, while others are not. Either Moroni appeared to JS or he didn’t. Not much middle ground. On the other hand, the statement “The church is mostly good” is such a vague, amorphous statement (since “the church” is a large, complex entity that has existed over many years, plus the word “good” depends on which value system you’re applying) that it can never be deemed 100% true of false. It seems to me Clay is wise enough to apply the binary true/false thinking in the right areas, while avoiding it in other areas. I’m tired of saying things like “There is very little evidence for the literalness of the BoM, and lots of evidence against it” only to have somebody say “that’s the same black and white thinking you learned as a Mormon!”. Sorry, facts are facts.

    • Laura January 24, 2016 at 11:54 am - Reply

      I too see many of the historical claims as black and white. I do not see that type of thinking as less evolved, but an honest and matter-of-fact way of thinking. It may also be a function of personality. Not everything in life has a gray area. In my opinion, thinking that everything has nuance is too much an apologist’s way of thinking. I like the more direct approach as a way to sift information.

  26. M January 22, 2016 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    I am barely climbing out from true faith resignation, because I have had a hard time accepting that the *horrible world* that Mormonism painted for me my whole life is not true. It’s like realizing that I’ve been in a bomb shelter – begging and demeaned – when the door was open the whole time.

  27. Michael T January 23, 2016 at 1:15 am - Reply

    This episode shot right up to the top of my favorites list. I really enjoyed this podcast. Matt and Clay, thank you. I didn’t want to the podcast to end. I wish you both the very best.

  28. Cross January 23, 2016 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Poor Clay thinks he is through the anger phase … oh my

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 12:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Cross,
      I agree, I may not be 100% done with the anger phase but this helps and all the nice comments help. Thinking that the podcast may help others is also keeping less angry. :)

      • Cross January 23, 2016 at 2:15 pm - Reply


        You and I are alike, I’m a 120% in or all the way out type of personality (software engineer). I spent the first seven years of inactivity mostly silent. For a lot of the same situation/reasons that Matt seems to have also done. The following six years I was much more vocal around my dear wife (and still TBM) of 35 years . In the last three years I’ve been much more vocal with my adult children about them and my grandchildren. Like you stated, I’m too late having indoctrinated my own children, but actively encourage my children that they need to pay the price and stop the cycle here and now.

        The family struggles you two highlighted, whom only those having experience with can understand, was so right on and painful with empathy for me to hear. This was a great service you have provided for others here.

        I chuckled at your six week getting through the phases only because of after 15 years, I still get angry. Your interview brings back the anger, I suppose at myself for this inherited worldview that I had my part in inflicting on them. Especially knowing they are all in similar situations to Matt and his wife/family, facing huge odds and costs of being like you and I, wanting only to put an end to the madness of this sick cycle on indoctrination on our grandchildren.

        It sounds like you are lucky in that your adult children our out before marriage/children lock them into another round.

        Matt, I was super impressed with your statements with your ending thoughts right on point.

        Thanks to both of you.

    • Chuckie January 25, 2016 at 11:33 am - Reply

      Yep, just can’t seem to get over the anger phase of the grief and it has been 13 years now.

  29. cross January 23, 2016 at 2:38 am - Reply

    wow, matt …. thank you.

  30. Utahhiker801 January 23, 2016 at 6:11 am - Reply

    I think these interviews have encouraged me to be more open with my family about my emotional/spiritual status with the church. Thank you.

  31. Andrew January 23, 2016 at 6:14 am - Reply

    wow, just wow…

  32. Bill January 23, 2016 at 6:43 am - Reply

    Great interview! It is just a matter of time before Clay realizes that ALL religion is bogus, not just LDS. The peace that has brought to my life is fantastic. 50 years of justifying the unjustifiable is over. Jump in, the water is fine!

  33. wry c January 23, 2016 at 7:12 am - Reply

    Well done, both of you. All the love and hugs.

  34. Jordan January 23, 2016 at 8:52 am - Reply

    Thank you all for that. My wife and I watched the podcast together and really felt connected with both Matt and Clay.

    You made me think of something I never would have otherwise. For me growing up in the church I always had a shelf. I don’t have any famous mormon ancestors so the stories I heard were always me looking in from the outside. I can see that it must have been crazy to be on the inside (for both of you). The stories about polygamy weren’t just stories for you, they were your stories about how you came to exist. I had never really considered what that would be like. I appreciated Matt’s respect for the ancestors who weren’t the great mormon royalty figures.

    Overall this has made me want to be more open about my beliefs. Clay has made me realize that there are those select few mormons out there that wouldn’t react badly to the truth, but would embrace it. Those few make it worth telling the ones we care about why we choose not to ne a part of the church.

    Once again, thanks for the podcast :)

  35. Sterling January 23, 2016 at 8:54 am - Reply

    Matt and Clay

    I listened to this last night and I can’t stop thinking about this interview. It is such a dichotic stretch in experience. I totally get Matt, and Clay’s experience is mind blowing unreal to me, yet it is.

    I really get Matt’s Story; internally my story has a very similar theme. Matt talked briefly of the ‘lie’ needed for the greater good. This ‘lie’ I so completely get, it is so completely human because the truth to me is that family is certainly more important then the individual (we died without social ties). Mormon society, my family especially, takes such hold of this truth and creates a lie out of it.

    Making a long story really short, I philosophically became atheistic minded as an 18 year old, yet my family, especially my very emotionally abusive father required everyone in the family to be Mormon for ‘the greater good’. On my mission, which I should not have gone on, I was absolutely required by my family and the mission leaders to sacrifice myself for them. The choice for me at the time was a suicide death of an open atheist or the creation of a Mormon avatar outside with the death of my true beliefs inside for the greater good of the society. As a 19 year old emotionally abused child, I chose Mormon avatar over physical death, I chose the ‘lie’ required by every social tie I had. At very important moments in my life, such as my marriage to my wife, I briefly exposed this ‘lie’, knowing the extreme prices paid for it. Was I leaving a breadcrumb trail for the innocent intentionally?

    “Selfishness is not living your life as you wish. It is asking others to live their lives as you wish.” —Oscar Wilde

    It is also true that I have been the victim of extreme selfishness of others in my life.

    I believe that I get Matt, I really get his silence for years, I really get some of his pain. He services a ‘lie’ for the greater good of his wife, children and family. I get that and I get unremembered ancestors with their unheard silence.

    Yet, juxtaposed, people like Clay are a total enigma to me, both in the church and when they leave. Are the lights in his sole really all on the outside? Is he really that trusting? He really accepted his son not going on a mission and was respectful to him as a person and did not require a Mormon avatar? I get this on a persona level, but it is just so foreign to my experiences on an internal level. So many comments seem to resonate with Clay yet I don’t resonate much at all. Yet I strangely get it. This type of experience is tough for me to hear.

    Maybe I am just to use to seeing the dark underside of Mormonism for so long. Lies for truth have such a great price; What does one do?

    A year ago I was still masked, I mostly still am, the price of my mask was very high indeed. Yet, this year I have a brother in-law on my wife’s side who come out and identifies as an atheist. This same year I have a sister and a brother who have both distanced themselves from the Mormon church due in root to my father’s emotional abuse and part in truth clams of the church. Like Matt, suddenly I can actually talk to a few people. It overwhelms me; what do I do with my lies? What do I do with my Mormon avatar mask?

    John, thank you for allowing voices to be heard. Clay and Matt, thank you for the stories. I do not take them lightly, I take them as pure truth. Thank you.

  36. Coffee Drinker January 23, 2016 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Thank you, Matt and Clay, for this fantastic podcast. I haven’t attended in nearly four years now and in about a week I went from being a true believer, though with a rising number of concerns that began piling up on my shelf, to non-believer. The hardest thing I’ve had to deal with all this time was members who said that they loved me but would never allow me to tell my story of doubts. As a convert of 43 years, having served two stake missions, been an Elder’s Quorum President, a seventy, and a member who attended the temple nearly 5 hours away,a lot, plus having been a Church employee, I could sure understand what Clay went through.

    And Clay, after I found the flaws in Mormonism, I kept researching and I, at that time, knew that Jesus was the divine Son of God. But as I read and researched using the same methods I had used on Mormonism, I began finding flaws in the way Christians used the New Testament. I then became a Messianic for a short time, but then I found more flaws in the New Testament so I began studying the Torah in the Old Testament. And I could never have imagined that the god of that book was so cruel. I then realized that I as a Mormon was just like nearly all of the world’s Christians–I had never really read the Bible. And the place names you say are discoverable, the more you research, the more flaws you will find in that thinking also. My journey discovering the flaws in Christianity took several months. I began watching Christian–atheist (Many were former Christian evangelists.) debates on Youtube. I continue to study but now I believe that the flaws in mainstream Christianity are no different than in Mormonism. Over the centuries, man has learned a lot of good ways to control his fellow beings!

    For the first time, I am finally able to understand why I only have my non-TBM wife to talk to when it comes to church things. Thank you so much for closing the door to another room filled with questions. And thank you, John, for having such great people on Mormon Stories. I check this site each morning. Mormon Stories has been my favorite site since , as a TBM, I watched the Brooke and I believe, John, McClay interview. That really affected me as I called my TBM daughter and told her to watch for doubters and always hold tight to the iron rod.

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Coffee Drinker,

      Thank you for your comments. Your history is very interesting and I understand the path to disbelief goes in some directions I haven’t explored yet. I am comfortable right now. I am out of a cult. I believe in Christ, his example, being Christlike is something that will bless everyone that I interact with and that is what is important at the heart of it.

  37. Mary Podzilni January 23, 2016 at 10:09 am - Reply

    Matt and Clay

    It comforts me that you have each other and that John and John’s friends are ready to support you, too.

    Matt, during the end of your section while giving a truth-filled testimony you asked the question,”Isn’t that enough?” Your thoughtful question reminded me of what Annie Dillard wrote: (paraphrasing) Why are we here? “To abet creation and witness to it. To notice all the beautiful faces and diverse natures so that creation doesn’t have to play to an empty house.” There is a lot of “religion” in her statement and it also is enough.

    Clay, God bless you. You are very unique.


    • Matt January 23, 2016 at 3:30 pm - Reply

      Beautiful thought. Similarly, Carl Sagan:

      “We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself.”

      • Mary Podzilni January 24, 2016 at 5:53 am - Reply

        Yes, yes, yes. And to think (!) we are made of “star stuff”. Keep on truckin, Matt.

  38. Robert M Hodge January 23, 2016 at 11:01 am - Reply

    It was interesting to see the Juxtaposition of one who had discovered problems with the Church’s truth claims years ago against the intense passion of one who has just recently figured it out. Intentional or not, John did a good job bringing out that contrast with his usual incise questioning.

    As I watched and listened, I kept thinking that Clay might yet still find other problems to consider, like for example the Mormon propensity to “lie for the Lord”, and the reputed blood thirsty attitude towards Governor Lillburn Boggs and his promise that Boggs would not survive more than a year. Then there is the dealings he had with William Law and his wife, Sara Pratt, and his published lie about his personal practice of polygamy and polyandry and the accordant D&C published denial. Clay, given your interest in history, finish No Man Knows My History, then go on to a hundred other sources including interview with Law, Grant Palmer’s “An Insiders View of Mormon Origins”, Marquardt and Walters “Inventing Mormonism” any of Michael Quinn’s books, David Witmer’s “An Address to all Believers in Christ” and many other books just a worth as these. You you might also consider the Tanner Books.

    My course to discovery was quite different because most of it happened before the internet and therefore my deconversion happened over a period of years. I first read “No Man Knows My History” in the late 60’s and subsequently the apologist response “No Ma’am that’s not history” Shortly thereafter. But that set me on the path to do my own research, but no matter what I found, my reaction was it’s not the Church’s problem, there must be something wrong with me. And, I suspect for many of us that it what keeps us in line and in the Church in spite of what we have learned. I am 71 years old but I just left the Church only about 5 months ago. At that time I was pretty well past the anger phase.

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 8:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Robert,

      You are right about finding other problems to consider! That was week six. It has been a month since then and I have found out new things every day. I have read a lot, I have those books and others. The reading list is long. It is amazing to me how there is a mountain of evidence. I’ve been over to UTLM, purchased a bunch of their books and visited with Sandra Tanner and Bill McKeever.

      The church is demonstrably false! Faith is not required, you can know for sure that is is all a con. It just takes research.

      I am ashamed for Hugh Nibley, I read “No Ma’am that’s not History” and it is just pure Mormon apology. But I totally understand your situation, if things hadn’t come together the way they did for me I could easily see myself reading that years ago and being thankful for it. This really is a cult situation and it is a miracle any of us figure it out. I am glad you are out. Thanks for your comments.

      • Robert M Hodge January 24, 2016 at 4:58 am - Reply

        Clay, Mr. Obvious says….Hugh Nibley knows where his bread is buttered.

        • Sterling January 25, 2016 at 1:57 pm - Reply

          Robert, great observation…

          “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

  39. Dave Harris January 23, 2016 at 11:35 am - Reply

    First, this was a fantastic podcast. Both Matt’s and Clay’s stories resonate with me in different ways and I respect and thank them.

    Second, the podcast highlights an experience that virtually all post-mormons experience: the silence and unwillingness of our loved ones to talk with us about Mormonism. While usually not as harsh as a complete shunning, the experience feels like a targeted, emotional shunning and creates awkward and damaged relationships that never seem to recover. It hurts. This is why many post-mormons view the church as an institution that, ironically, destroys and tears family relationships apart.

    Here is my podcast dream that I wish John Dehlin, amazing as he is, could fulfill (and if he already has and I’m unaware, please point me to that episode):

    1) Form a panel of true believing mormons who:
    1a) have loved ones that have left the church
    1b) don’t want to hear about why they left the church
    1c) don’t want to research troubling topics about the church (even from LDS sources like the essays)
    1d) therefore are suffering from damaged relationships with those loved ones
    2) Discuss with this panel their experiences and try to understand the “why” of their behavior.

    This is probably an impossible dream. But imagine how enlightening it could be to both “sides.” We can conjecture all day long on why the other side does what it does, but until people actually verbalize their feelings, conjecture is just that…guessing and imagining what the other side feels.

    Thank you again, Matt and Clay, for sharing your stories!

    • St. Ralph January 23, 2016 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Are they going to be tied to their chairs and alternately gagged and ungagged as you “discuss” it with them? The folks you describe would never show up for the dialog you describe. Not in a million years or for a million dollars (well, maybe for a million dollars, but they’d pay full a tithe on their earnings).

      • jay January 23, 2016 at 4:54 pm - Reply

        John might have to resort to some “man in the street” interviews around Salt Lake City.

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      Hi Dave,

      That would be a fascinating podcast. I’ll mention it to some of the people in my family who fit the description. I doubt they, or any Mormon would want to support John Dehlin. I admit that I would not have wanted to do anything to support him just three months ago. However, I would love to hear how they would respond in an interview setting. I know my family thinks my mind is poisoned. I would like to know how they describe their own unwillingness to question?

      I’m glad you enjoyed our podcast. Thank you for your comments.

      • Kalen January 26, 2016 at 2:19 pm - Reply


        What finally helped my wife understand where I was coming from, was to stop talking history, and stop trying to point out issues. I simply gave her some scriptures, and asked her to read them. I simply said, “Do you find anything interesting in these scriptures?” After she read them, she saw some of the problems, and asked me what I saw in some of the others. These were some of the scriptures that lead me to what I believe is truth. I prayed for years, to know if the BOM was true. I never got “an answer”. At some point, and I don’t remember when, I began to pray to understand truth. Without an agenda. After praying in that way I found: JSH 1:10, 18 Mosiah 15:1-5 Ether 2:23 Doc & Cov 132:34 Gen 16:2,5. If a person can read in JSH 10 that Joseph had “often” wondered if all the churches may be wrong, and then in 18 that “at this time it had never entered into his heart that all were wrong”, and not have pause then my hat’s off to them. Again if they can read the Mosiah explanation of how God the Father and Jesus Christ are one, and not find issue trying to reconcile that with the current doctrine of the church. If you can read about “dashing” windows into pieces over 3,000 years before the first glass window, and finally read Joseph saying that God commanded Abraham to take Hagar in 132, and then read in the Old Testament that Sarai told Abraham to do it, and even repented and said it was wrong of her to do so, and that the Lord’s judgments should be on her for that error. If a person can read all of those and not come away unsettled enough to at least look at history, then perhaps it is not their path. But hopefully if you simply give that list of scriptures to those of your family who believe you are poisoned, hopefully they can see the problems from the scriptures, so you don’t have to introduce anything that can be seen as ati-Mormon. Maybe if they can use the scriptures to discover for themselves even a desire to question, (irony intended). They will be more open to discussion. Also, as to your interest in Geography and names in the BOM, I live in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania it is about 100 miles south of the priesthood restoration site.

        • Clay January 28, 2016 at 8:58 pm - Reply

          Hi Kalen,

          This is so true. How is the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon anti-mormon? But if they read it alongside the current version they might realize something is amiss. If they wonder why it says Jesus was to be born in Jerusalem or even why there is so much plagiarized of the 1769 version of the King James Bible. Maybe they might wonder how it contains “the fullness of the gospel” when so much is missing. Or the real story of King Benjamin…. I’ll let you hear that from Grant Palmer himself. It is absolutely Book of Abraham style shocking:

          Grant Palmer – “My Ah-Ha Moments While Researching …

          Thanks for your comments, best wishes to you and your wife

  40. Debbie January 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Great interviews! Clay, I understand your not having a “shelf” and not being aware of any of the problems with church history. I was exactly the same way. I went out 18 months ago, I was 56 years old. I would have died for the church, that’s how strong my testimony was. If you think your situation of not knowing any of the issues is embarrassing, I even have a BA in history, so don’t feel bad. I was happily a member of the church and believed it hook, line,and sinker. I had no shelf, and no desire to leave, but once I began to see the issues, truth took me and my husband out, and fast. It was heart wrenching. One day I actually collapsed as I was going up the stairs of our home and sobbed, as I saw our whole life and everything we had worked for and believe in disappear.

    Thanks for your honest interview it is helpful to others.

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 7:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Debbie,
      It is so nice to hear that there are other “no-shelf” Mormons out there. BA in History, that is kind of funny. However, I actually think our lives make sense. I’ve been thinking about the fact that we weren’t researching issues all the time. Why would someone be part of a church where you spend all your time doubting and researching? That is why I always thought it was odd that so much time in General Conference was devoted to telling us not to Google and to Doubt our Doubts. What is harder to believe, are the stories of people who find out issues and then refuse to dig deeper. Once you hear about something like the Book of Abraham hoax and then you close your mind to it, that is what you should be embarrassed about. We were good Mormons and now we can be good exmormons. :) I hope this helps people find out the truth!

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Debbie,

      I’m glad to know there are other people who were “no-shelf” Mormons out there. The BA in History is kind of funny but really not surprising. If you think about it, why would we have been members of the church and then constantly researching and doubting? Most importantly, the church is actively discouraging members from researching. They are hiding evidence and vilifying and excommunicating good people (John is the best example of that). We would have been pretty rebellious to be researching “Anti-Mormon” stuff and questioning.

      The sickening thing is that there is no such thing as “Anti-Mormon”. There is only inconvenient truth. I’m glad we found out and I hope we can help others.

  41. Deb January 23, 2016 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    I have listened to almost all of the MS podcasts over the years, but in many ways, these two episodes may be among the most important because they illustrate the systemic dysfunctions that the church infuses into generations; they show what happens to people and families when truth is discovered and suppressed, and they show that healing is possible by living with integrity.

    Listening to Matt, I ached for the long pain he endured. His love for his family above all else–and the sacrifice he has made for his family–is as real as the pain he has long carried. I wish for him all possible healing and peace. My respect for him is profound.

    Listening to Clay, who is six weeks out, I hear the clarity of truth and his willingness to testify of the truth he has discovered.

    John, thanks for showing people that it is possible–and necessary–to have the conversations.

    Thanks for speaking so eloquently and honestly. Here’s to the end of the lies and healing of hearts and families. You have motivated me to speak out.

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      Hi Deb,
      Thank you for your insight on this. We really hoped to help people in ways we didn’t yet understand. We knew that by testifying to the truth we have found, we had the potential to inspire. Good luck in your speaking out, not everyone likes to hear it but you find friends a long the way that need your help.

  42. KR January 23, 2016 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Thanks for such a great interview. I loved both of your perspectives and could relate to both in many ways. Best wishes to both of you. Life is a crazy journey, isn’t it?

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 6:51 pm - Reply

      Hi KR,
      Glad you enjoyed it. It really is a crazy journey, glad we have the support of people like John Dehlin and everyone here.

  43. Marci January 23, 2016 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    I appreciate this conversation so much. I have left and my husband still believes somewhat and it is a discussion that we can’t have. He gets angry and defensive and it just isn’t worth it. Going through this journey, mostly on my own, has been the hardest thing I have ever done. Having him by my side would have made it all so much easier. I totally feel for you Matt. So many of the things talked about are his arguments for the church. Clay, good for you!! Good for your wife!! Way to be open minded and willing to learn. I sent my husband the link to this. You two said everything I want to say to him and can’t. I hope he will listen to it. Clay, you have street cred so maybe he will listen to your arguments. :) Thank you!!

    • Clay January 23, 2016 at 6:46 pm - Reply

      I sure hope your husband will listen to this. It is a very uncomfortable thing to find out. It really is shocking to find out you have been part of a 200 year con. It is so incredible and it goes against so much that you have held dear. I hope that if the facts don’t change his mind at least perhaps our experience will help him realize that family relationships are more important that the church. Good luck.

  44. Steve Peterson January 23, 2016 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    While at BYU, I took several religion classes and came to the conclussion that Joseph Smith must not have seen the “First Vision”. but that the followers probably sincerely believed. The belief often resulted in good deeds.

    As I have studied the history of the bible, it seems clear that new testament writings were written long after Christ died and that they were not written by the original 12 apostles.

    Did Moses actually exist. if he did, his story was written down 300 years after his death. It is more likely that his story was created to explain why the weak Jewish state was superior to the powerful Egyptian state.

    If Joseph Smith did not have the first vision, the Bible was written by men who did not even know Christ and Moses was a myth, does that mean that religion is pointless? Perhaps not, Perhaps religion represents our way to encourage each other to live better lives.

    In any case, the Mormon myths are no less important and faith promoting than Biblical myths and Jewish myths. If the stories encourage human kind to treat each other with more love and concern, then why do we care if the story is myth rather than history.

    • Elle January 24, 2016 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      It’s fine to use stories to teach helpful principles to live by – as long as people realize they are stories or myths.

      The LDS Church insists its myths are literally true, and that eternal salvation is dependent on following them. This allows the institution to coerce people into tithing 10% of their income whether they can afford it or not, banish friends and relatives from weddings if they don’t practice those myths, derail educational plans of young people and require them to proselytize the myths, encourage couples to have more children than they can afford, assign time consuming (often make-work) roles that take members away from their loved ones, dictate dress and personal habits of members, etc.

      Moreover, the church can be secretive about its finances, never revealing how tithing money is spent or giving members a say in its financial affairs. Myths (labeled by the church as “eternal truths”) give the church cover for all of these practices.

      Myths can be enriching and inspiring in our lives, or they can be controlling and destructive. Once we sort myth from truth, we are empowered to decide what role (if any) we want myths and stories to play in our lives.

    • Deb January 24, 2016 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      Well said Elle!

      Good argument Steve except I have yet to meet a mormon who believes the BOM is myth! I was raised being taught we were the “One True Church” and that Joseph Smith was a prophet not a story teller. I agree that religions can help people strive to be better but unfortunately my experience with TBM’s has been one of being judged and excluded like Elle listed.

      This podcast gave me hope that TBMs in my family may someday examine or discuss the reasons people choose to leave their “One True Church” and I may not be relegated to the silent black sheep of the family!

    • Joanne January 25, 2016 at 7:16 am - Reply

      Steve, you may not believe in the truths of the Bible as I do, but at least when I did the research while coming out of Mormonism in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s (yes it took me that long), I found lots of evidences of the places and people of Biblical times and none for Mormon history. I thought when I showed these evidences and the lack of evidence for people and places in the Book of Mormon to my husband, that he would be amazed and appalled but he got angry and very defensive and we could not and still can’t talk about it. He gives a lot of money to that church every month without even knowing or caring where it’s going. I give to my church every month, but each quarter there is a report to the congregation in the bulletin to show what comes in and what goes out and what it is used for. And there is a yearly budget presented to the membership for a vote.

      In so many ways the Mormon church divides families and alienates Christians who come out of Mormonism and put their faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. For some reason that really makes the leadership nervous . . .NO! You must do more!! Your salvation depends on it, they say. Hmmmm, I think the leadership of the church is getting very nervous about all the faithful leaving and the money they take with them.

      • Mary Podzilni January 25, 2016 at 7:38 am - Reply

        Dear Steve, Deb, Elle and Joanne

        I remember Joseph Campbell (author of THE POWER OF MYTH) saying that “Myths never happened, they are happening all the time”. They are powerful stories that are metaphors and “point”. It seems that many of the stories that are told by Mormon leaders are “fibs”. Sorry TBM’s.

        • Sterling January 25, 2016 at 4:10 pm - Reply

          Mary and others

          I love reading and listening to Joseph Campbell! That guy is great for advice and insights at the crossroads of meaning within life as a human. I say myth happens, deal with it.

          We are in a strange place in humanity, our myths, morality and culture are very incongruent with our technology, science and our absolute world domination as a species. Our myths and culture have give me false ideas about our relationship to the natural world and other people within this world (up to flat out lies masquerading as myths, or ‘fibs’). I believe we are missing important issues within Mormonism, many religions in general, and within secularism as well.

          I will defend Steven a bit, with the point being Humans live myths, so get use to it. We live to tell stories, we live to convey our knowledge to both ourselves and others by myth and culture. One myth in secularism is that ‘myth is not truth’. Too which I say, as long as we spend hours of time dreaming at night, and as long as we tell comic and tragic stories of heros, villains, and victims, as long as humanity has lovers and enemies, we will live the myths within us and in our culture. Hell, ‘Mormon Stories’ is a very myth creation machine, created by the very terror that many TBMs have within themselves, about me, about you. We do not want to be the villains that our culture and myth requires of us. We all come here to self create a new mythology that we need to survive with ourselves and others around us. Why else come here?

          For me, Mormonism is the left had of God. It is the trickster God which is so serious of his craft that he believes his own lies. This Mormonism trickster tells all that he is the right had of God so strongly that it created all of us here, and the TBMs as well. This trickster is still the one whacking me in the head with my own folly and the folly of my ancestors. I continuously seek ‘Truth’ by a mythological Mormon standard, in the chaos of the cosmos; its a paradox. There is no ‘Truth’ by Mormon standards; I don’t believe that kind of truth even exists, yet most days I still look for it. Where’s my blanket! I exist and I was born, based on dreams of the Mormon mythology within my parents. Without the Mormon mythology I literally would not exists. There is no pre-heaven ‘intelligence’ being that is ‘me’ to put into any other body. I am not an artifact, pieces placed together, I was not created that way. I belong to my parents for really real, more really then they even get. Yet, this same Mormon mythology that had a very big part in creating me physically, and mentally, pulls me apart. And the joke is on me!

          That’s the power of myth. If you care these links seem relevant to me:
          The School of life on Religion:
          Terrence McKenna on culture operating systems:

          • Eric ("JT") January 28, 2016 at 8:36 am


            Your comment lighted up my own recent thoughts. Thank you. I just downloaded your video links – Terence Mckenna is new to me.

            I know full well that myths saturate the true stories I tell, particularly of myself – no matter how many documented facts populate them. And it often feels like the stories laden with the most facts miss more of the truth of who I am.

            On my blog (thanks for your interest), “Seven hundred and twenty one taps” hews close to the facts, with anonymity preserving more truth – let’s call it honesty – than otherwise. The two audio pieces, Walter’s Journal and JT’s Choosing Well (or Digging for Treasure), are fiction, but both are more honest accounts of how I experience (or have experienced) the world – but they are as much self-creative, I understand that. Recording them made them more real for me.

            Please let me share three passages from recent readings that helped move me toward a similar perspective as you describe … all copied from posts on my blog.

            “Humans are creatures of Neverland. Neverland is our evolutionary niche, our special habitat. We are attracted to Neverland because, on the whole, it is good for us. It nourishes our imaginations; it reinforces our moral behavior; it gives us safe worlds to practice inside. Story is the glue of human social life – defining groups and holding them together. We live in Neverland because we can’t not live in Neverland. Neverland is our nature. We are the storytelling animal.”

            From, The Storytelling Animal, How Stories Make Us Human, by Jonathan Gottschall.

            “I have been asked to explain things to you. To explain how you — we — find ourselves in the position we are now … We should perhaps begin by going back to the nineteenth century… Franklin found himself back in an easy rhythm … He felt his audience begin to relax. The circumstances were unusual, but they were being told a story, and they were offering themselves to the story-teller in a manner of audiences down the ages, wanting to see how things turned out, wanting to have the world explained to them.”

            From, A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes

            “[Fiction (Myth)] wants to tell all stories, in all their contrariness, contradiction, and irresolvability; at the same time it wants to tell the one true story, the one that smelts and refines and resolves all the other stories. The novelist is both bloody back-row cynic and lyric poet, drawing on Wittgenstein’s austere insistence—speak only of that which you can truly know—and Stendhal’s larky shamelessness.”

            From Julian Barnes’s memoir, Nothing to Be Frightened Of

          • Sterling January 29, 2016 at 3:30 pm

            JT—Thanks for the quotes; They are spot on. —Sterling

          • Rico February 4, 2016 at 9:50 am

            If the concept of myths and Neverland are true then…

            The very things I am reading from both of you are nothing but the products of myths and Neverland. Why then should I believe anything the both of you say if all is nothing but myths?

            The statement “Nothing is true” has to be true to be believable. But if it is, then it just contradicted itself.

            What exactly do you hope to get by believing in self-refuting ideas?

            Haven’t you had enough of these in Mormonism?

          • Sterling February 23, 2016 at 2:19 pm


            I respect your perspective. I am glad that I checked back. It gives me a chance to write my crappy ideas down so tomorrow they might be a little less crappy!

            I would respond with ” Is myth true?” with “Is love true?” These are both human psychological things, they are true in the sense we experience them in our psyche and the psyche of others. I am really struggling with others belief “the church is true” within others in my family right now; that’s why I am here trying to learn how to deal with me, dealing with them. These things like ‘myths’ and ‘love’ and other ideas help us survive and thrive with each other (as a general rule). I would say “My love binds me to my child so I take care of the child; is love true?” or “The myth of Mormonism helps me cope with the death of my mother since I believe I will see her again when I die; is myth true? (does this make you wince?)” In these cases I would say ‘yes, that is true’ because they are subjective experiences. They are a result of human language, and I would conjecture human language is a result of biology.

            If I go off a bit more on this line of thinking i can say “Is water true?” What does that even mean? Yes, I have in fact experienced water as well in my psyche, just like love. A plankton in the ocean experiences water as well, but it does not experience the symbols w-a-t-e-r or H-2-O. Yes water exists, but what does ‘true water’ mean? ‘True water’ means nothing to me, the word ‘water’ defines a physical thing, the truth of that idea is redundant. In my mind saying ‘water is true’ is a language game, an idea game, a what does truth even mean? ‘Truth’ is just an idea game we humans play.

            ‘Nothing is true’ to me is similar to the puzzle of ‘the liar’s paradox’; to word plays such as “This statement is false”. They are fun (or frustrating) language games, your just messing with the rules of grammar and definitions of words; it is trying to tickle ideas which have more to do with mathematical logic. If you want ‘truth’ in all its truthiness, I find stuff like the Dirac equation much more appealing. At least this type of stuff is defined pretty clearly, the symbols represent physical worldly ideas such as space, time and energy, and it has predictive powers in nature. Yet even stuff like the Dirac equation is not strictly ‘true’ ; it has its limits in predictive power. It predicted the existence of anti-matter (which was later confirmed by experiments) but it did not have the power to predict the existence of gravity waves (which have just been experimentally verified this year!).

            The Dirac equation is ‘true’ because it predicted the physical reality of antimatter. Being 100% materialist in ideals, Mormonism is not true because it does not do much to predict physical reality.

            So Mormonism is true in that it helps me cope with the reality of my dead mother, who I loved, but it is not true in that it does not predict reality in the same way physics equations do.

            In my mind, Mormon thought has severely f’ed up the word ‘truth’. It is why I wince at stuff like ” the church (Mormonism) is true!” The culture has turned their myth to have a parallel with ideas somewhat like “Water is true” which I think is weird.

            So, ‘what is truth?’. I give up, “This statement is false”. I do not particularly like words that come out of peoples mouths. I will look to the natural word and see what she has to tell me, I like her so much better.

            Time to shut my pie hole.

          • Helen H Gordon March 8, 2016 at 12:40 am

            Beautifully said. There can be no one true church, unless all the other churches are false.
            It would be nonsense to say “All churches except mine are false.”
            On the other hand, we can say sensibly that some members of some churches are misguided.
            But we cannot say others are misguided unless we are willing to look at the beam in our
            own eye while deploring the mote in the others’ eyes.
            H. H. Gordon

    • Xposit January 25, 2016 at 7:34 am - Reply

      First of all Steven Peterson, there are plenty of good solid reasons to treat each other with love and respect that don’t require any help whatsoever from myth and magic. Second, what on earth is the point of seeking after truth if in the end it doesn’t matter what the truth is? Finally, how does labeling folks who love, accept and support their fellow human beings within the LGBT community as “servants of Satan” encourage anyone “to be kind and treat each other with more love and concern”?

  45. Diana Blum January 23, 2016 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    I listen religiously to your podcasts even though I am not Mormon. I’m, in fact, Jewish. My husband had an an Orthodox moment and we found ourselves living in an eruv (a boundary that delineates an Orthodox community). I never joined my husband in his Orthodox belief, but I certainly tried to maintain an Orthodox home for him. It was tough! Now that my husband has ceased belief in Orthodox Judaism, I’m obsessed with religious exit stories. I try to listen closely to your guests. This story in particular sounds like many exit stories I’ve heard in the Orthodox Jewish world. It’s amazing how universal the exit stories are. Your story, though, was particularly touching. Be well.

  46. Truth C. Kerr January 23, 2016 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your courage to share with all of us. I have been keeping quiet about my doubts for more than 30 years. I would like to recommend a book for Clay to read. Don’t read it until you feel you can handle another great awakening. Daniel Dennett wrote a book called “Breaking the Spell.” This book will open your eyes in ways that you never imagined possible. Give it a try — if you dare. I think you do. Once you start, you won’t be able to put it down.

  47. LindaE January 23, 2016 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    This may be one of the most authentic interviews on Mormon Stories so far. Incredibly helpful in understanding my own feelings and actions. Thank you so much for your honesty and down-to-earth way of tackling some of the thorniest parts of an LDS faith transition.

  48. Lisa January 23, 2016 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    This is my favorite pod cast of Mormon Stories. FYI all of Fawn Brodie’s books are fantastic biographies, she was a master researcher. No Man Know’s My History is a good one to re-read, it is so much to take in. After you get over the horror, in a year or two re-read it. Think of what that book did to her life in the church. Talk about courage.

  49. Dani January 23, 2016 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    Thanks for heartfelt interviews Matt and Clay. I enjoyed every bit of it and this podcast is now an instant favorite hands down. If you are both willing, I would love to hear a follow-up interview in 6 months or a year. Clay, you made me smile. I don’t know if you were trying to be funny, but you are a natural comedian. I would love to hear you talk anytime. Thanks again.

    • Clay January 24, 2016 at 10:58 am - Reply

      Hi Dani,
      Watching the podcast I noticed how many times John cracked up. I was totally clueless about the truth of the church and I am aware that my straight man personality comes off funny. I enjoy making people laugh but in this case I didn’t do it on purpose. This situation is so absurd that it really does lend itself to humor. Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. Heaven knows we have shed many tears too. I am glad you like the podcast. I hope it can help people, judging from the comments it seems like we have helped some already. Thank you for your comments.

  50. beth January 24, 2016 at 9:16 am - Reply

    Hi Jon, matt and clay, this was a really lovely interesting and informative interview, thank you all so much, l got a lot out of this podcast and it was great to hear such heartfelt honestly and care, l am so glad that you have decided to speak out about your feelings and doubts matt and clay, you and clay seem like such nice and honest people, l do hope that we hear more people come out and be more open and honest about their feelings on the churches truth claims and we get to hear peoples truths, l love your honesty, both of you, matt and clay, thank you both and jon.

  51. Utah born January 24, 2016 at 9:20 am - Reply

    This is the story of the Mormon member exodus. Many of us live in Matt’s shoes, sometimes the joy is increadable and at times the pain is unbearable. The mistakes we made are haunting yet we trudge on committed to our spouses and family with a hope that they will one day have an awakening moment.

    Matt, you are truly a man like unto the mystical Job, your family is your God and they test your ability to endure. Your strength is noteworthy and uncommon. You have transcended from an unknown man to to a man that spoke to the world from your heart. You will never walk this life alone again. You strengthen my resolve to endure this insanity with honor and dignity. Well done, it is truly an honor to hear your story.

    • Sterling January 25, 2016 at 4:26 pm - Reply


  52. Janice January 24, 2016 at 9:51 am - Reply

    Matt & Clay
    Loved, loved, loved your stories. Authentic and beautifully expressed.
    Matt your courage to share your vulnerability is commendable. Have you ever considered that in your quiet strength you have been holding a light for others? Clay being one. I find it curious that you feel you must be silenced to keep the peace and family bond while your wife and children continue to “do their thing.” I think that is putting unfair demands on you, Are you not part of the family as well? You may also find that it would be a relief to your children to understand from their Father what he believes and why. They may be curious and want to understand more or they may not but they are adults. Hopefully your wife with the backing of the Church is not holding you emotionally hostage. If so that is not healthy. It does not seem you need to apologize for discovering facts. I hope that doing this podcast is a start to ease that self imposed pressure and to open the door to honest communication as it seems it is perhaps your first opportunity to speak freely and be yourself without apology.

    Clay you just made me smile in your enthusiasm for your new found discoveries. You express yourself articulately and with passion. You are fortunate to be taking this journey with a spouse who is also not in fear of learning the truth. Since it rocks ones world it is a powerful gift you offer one another. It is a shocking thing to discover that for generations men you trusted have made conscious decisions to exploit innocent hearts and minds deceiving and lying while they take people’s life work and resources. Not only that but “in the name of God!” no less. It is easy to relate to your anger. Violation on such a deep level deserves an angry response. It sounds like you have learned many things to bring you to your current conclusions. I suspect that with time you will find many more deceptions and how their subtleties and rippling effects have infiltrated and impacted your entire life and those you love. It is truly a web we of deceit and how to unravel it is a very personal experience.

    My best to you both in your quest for truth, new directions in life and your love for your families. I think you have found a deepening friendship.
    And of course John….wonderful interview as always. Thank you

  53. Wandaful to you January 24, 2016 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    I’m glad I stuck through and watched both parts. I liked hearing both stories, but resonate more closely with Clay’s.

    For years I have struggled to understand why someone who believes the religion is false would hide it from his family and ward, pretend to believe, and live a lie. This recording has helped me to see another viewpoint.

    At the same time, I hope that the impressionable children of those who choose to stay are not self-loathing, hypercritical, judgmental, or any of the other qualities the church indoctrinates its youth to be. I hope there are no gay suicidal kids of secretly unbelieving members–kids who are trying desperately to accept the church’s homophobic messages because they think this is what their parents believe.

    I’m out now, but if I ever found out that while I was a child or teen my parents didn’t really believe in Mormonism but acted as though they did, allowing me to soak up those harmful messages, I would never speak to them again.

  54. Jill Rawstorne January 24, 2016 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    I’m listening to this twice! Matt said something about our past relatives that really hit home. When he was talking about the legacy of the family members that weren’t the TRUE believers being forgotten, it made me think of my grandparents. Both sets lived in Payson, Utah. My mom’s family would drink coffee, ice tea and I know my grandfather had the ocassional cigarette. They were my FAVORITE GRANDPARENTS! I could have moved in with them. My dad’s parents were the super active grandparents that were temple workers etc, I hated going to their house because we had to sit quietly and could only watch KBYU! Yikes! I also don’t understand why none of my family members or friends have asked me why I left the church 20 years ago. It did make me sad for awhile and I thought they didn’t care about me. I’ve come to realize that they don’t really care. They are happy in their lives and I’m glad for that. Luckily I have a sibling who is my support system. This sibling (I want to keep this person anonymous) has read tons of church history and we can call each other back and forth about things. It’s great that Matt has Clay to finally have someone to talk to. Good luck guys. It’s really difficult to undo years of church sponsored teachings. I worry about my kids and grandkids but I know it’s their journey and I can’t do it for them.

  55. Mark A January 24, 2016 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    I appreciated the discussion on why people remain silent about doubts. Years ago I told my wife and children that I don’t believe in the Church, but that’s as far as I have dared take it. I wish things were different, but I need to face reality. Some people don’t want to know why I don’t believe.

  56. Diana Kay January 24, 2016 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Clay! This is Diana from HHS. I was bff’s with Marty and Karen….remember we were called “the family” – anyways what a treat to receive the link to this podcast from my good friend Chad who has been my friend since we were 15. We both left the church as well at different times but he has been a huge support for me. It’s soooo important to have a good group of friends who understand how daunting it can be to leave behind a whole belief system and essentially a “village” of people as well.

    My ex-husband, and two grown children are now not members and we are truly supportive of each other. We are more genuinely loving and caring now with each other as well but it was a bit of a journey getting to that place. I’d love to tell my story someday and help others to make informed and brave choices regarding their beliefs. Best to you!!

    Your personality is still so wonderful, and just as I remember!! I truly wish you every happiness and success in your life and in your journey out of mormonism.

    • Clay January 24, 2016 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Diana,
      So great to hear from you and those are fun memories of HHS days. I’m glad to know there are more of our classmates who have found out. Thank you for your comments and I well wishes. I wish you continued happiness and good luck in your journey too.

  57. Mike January 24, 2016 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Hi Guys,

    I really enjoyed this podcast, and found my own story and journey the past few years to be somewhat of a mix of both Matt and Clays journey. Thanks for all your time, efforts, courage, and work here Clay, Matt, and John.

    My thought process and brain seems to work just as Clay describes, pretty black and white. Something is either true or its not. Either the Lamanites, Nephites, and Jaredites existed, or they did not. Either JS saw God the Father and Jesus Christ or he did not. I’ve always loved Ruben J Clark’s quote on investigation of the truth, that the CES letter quotes as well.

    It’s been such a struggle trying to discuss these topics with the TBM wife and family. A few months back I was having a detailed discussion regarding the credibility of the BOM and/or any credible evidences supporting it as a legitimate text. For me, this is just one of many problematic issues that speak to the untruth of the church.

    One of my family members responded with the below comments. A couple in my family are somewhat well read on many of the problematic issues within Mormonism. They claim, just as Apologists do, that there is a lot of good credible evidence Archeologically, Anthropologically, and Linguistically for the BOM. I beg to differ of course.

    Here are the questions I proposed to my family:

    What credible evidence have you been able to find that corroborates the BOM as a legitimate ancient txt? What credible evidence have you been able to find that corroborates that the Nephites/Lamanites actually existed? Any credible evidence Linguistically, Archeologically, Anthropologically? I haven’t been able to find any documented credible facts that confirm or point to the existence of any, peoples, nations, languages, places, or ethnicities in the New World/pre-Columbian Era that are described in the BOM. Evidence that at some point before Columbus, the New World was home to some people, who were derived from the Middle East, as the BOM states. Any pieces of evidence (not rooted in religious faith) for the existence of such Ethnicities, nations, cultures or languages in the New World. There is a ton of evidence for other peoples, nations, languages that existed during the proclaimed times of the Nephites and Lamanites that are well documented.

    Here’s their response, stating that their is plenty of credible evidence and recommending a few books:

    “Plenty of Credible evicence exists. All of it is arguable, just like the non-credible evidence. But if you are really looking, I’d recommend starting here :
    – Richard Lloyd Anderson’s Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses
    – Opening the Heavens by Jack Welch (mostly source material)
    – Remembering Joseph by Martin McConkie
    – Grant Hardy’s Understanding the Book of Mormon
    – Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon (show ties between the Book of Mormon and the Middle East and Meso-America)
    – Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. ”

    Obviously all these sited Books/Evidences are coming from LDS sources, with all authors being LDS, many with BYU education, for which would have very high confirmation biases. I’m curious if Clay, Matt, and John (I’m sure John is very familiar with these authors and possibly some of the books) or anyone else reading this thread, have read any of these particular books and can speak to the credibility of any of the Authors and content of books themselves. I suspect many Historians, Archaeologists, and those in the modern scientific community, would simply write them off and not consider them as legitimate scholarly works.

    Thanks Guys

    • Clay January 25, 2016 at 11:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Mike,
      Although I haven’t read the books in your list of “credible evidence”. I wouldn’t simply write them off either. I don’t like it when people do that to any book. I will say that I’ve read a lot of books from Mormon sources over the years. Being Mormon doesn’t mean they aren’t credible. I believe that Fawn Brodie started out life as a Mormon. As far as those books are concerned I will put them on the long-list of books I am interested in. Right now, I am more interested in books about the history of the church. I have books about polygamy that are on my short-list right now. The bottom line is that I believe there is ample evidence to prove that Joseph Smith was no prophet, but I will continue to study. Thanks again for your comments. Good luck with your journey.

      • Mike January 26, 2016 at 10:34 am - Reply

        Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment Clay. My TBM family are the ones that back the “credible evidence” claims on those books mentioned. I’ve read quite a bit of work from some of those authors, some are FAIR apologists, and have a hard time with their train of thought and work as a whole. I need to read them in depth still myself as they are on my to-do list, and agree that nothing should be written off until we’ve been able to research it for ourselves. I’m about half way through Fawn Brodie currently as well. Completely agree with you also that there is an abundance of evidence against JS outside of some of these Archeological, Anthropological, and linguistical evidences. For me, and for you as well it sounds, the sum of all the parts don’t equal the whole. Not only proving that JS wasn’t a prophet, but that the church is definitely not what it has always claimed it to be, and what I gained my testimony of. There are so many problematic issues for me, CES letter is a great summary of many of all the issues of course, that it all just doesn’t add up to be what the church has always claimed to be; the one and only true church on the face of the earth and sole gateway to the Eternity in the Celestial Kingdom with our families. Couldn’t agree more with John’s blog post here on how I’d like to live my life now: Although Part of me, like maybe 5 – 10% of me, has it in the back of my head that I could be wrong about some of my conclusions regarding all the problematic issues and truth claims of the church, therefore I keep studying, researching, and reading up on new information that comes along. :-)

        • Clay January 26, 2016 at 1:35 pm - Reply

          Hi Mike,
          Just this morning I was reading this excellent article that explains where Moroni and Cumorah factor in Joseph’s worldview. With all this inteteresting history it is hard want to pick up an apologist volume when they are just so light on detail. Check this out:

          Joseph Smith, Captain Kidd, Cumorah And Moroni

          • St. Ralph January 26, 2016 at 3:45 pm

            Yes, I too have tried to read apologetics here and there in an altruistic attempt to “hear both sides.” I can never get very far before I am bored to death and half asleep. I had attributed this to some evil anti-Mormon bias on my part, but what you say about them being light on detail is very true. They can’t dig very deep or they’ll strike Truth and then what? Like a contractor trenching in an urban area, they have to be very careful where they dig.

      • Mike January 26, 2016 at 10:41 am - Reply

        I still need to go read through this Mormon Band Wagon work regarding this “North American Nephite Model as well, this is a new one for me to hear. Sounds like a stretch, but won’t write off anything until I’ve done the research:

        Maybe John, Simon Southerton, or anyone else can do a blog or podcast discussion on it?

  58. Kris January 24, 2016 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Outstanding! Every bit resonated with me. My story is so very much like Matt’s. So wonderful to know there are others. Thank you!!!

  59. Plastraa January 24, 2016 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story Matt and Clay!

    When you were talking about the church driving families apart it really struck a chord with me. Three of my sisters and I left the church officially this November and we have had to make a conscious decision we weren’t going to let the church take our parents from us! There is that wedge of obedience or apostasy and that is ALL. It was touch and go for a while.

    Sadly our solution is to just stuff down our feelings and move on not talking about it, but we’ve all made that decision so we can continue to have a relationship with parents who are indoctrinated and are blind to anything but ‘follow the prophet’.

    It feels painful to know they think they’ve lost us in heaven, and for us to see them accept things that they would deem immoral in any other situation. And yet I don’t want them to have a crisis of faith because I know how hard it is to get from point A to point B. It would destroy my dad if he started seeing the cracks. And even though I’m sitting outside now I don’t want that pain for him. It’s so hard, and using the phrase ‘cult like’ is very appropriate. I’m not sure we will ever be the same again in our family.

    I hope peace and joy for you both in your lives!

    • Clay January 27, 2016 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Plastraa,
      I just re-read your comments. Your story is like ours and so many others. Families are hurting and it really doesn’t have to be this way. Forget the differences about religion. Family should be the most important thing. I hope you and your family find peace too.

  60. AnnieB January 24, 2016 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Happy about the love fest going on here, but I’m troubled by the way everyone seems to be laughing off the fact that Matt’s wife isn’t ready to engage in this conversation, and that she doesn’t even know he’s doing the interview. It feels mean. This will all have a big effect on her marriage and her family–please explain how you are respecting her and her privacy.

    • Clay January 24, 2016 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      It might have come across as a love fest but you didn’t see the suffering Matt has been going through. We essentially shunned him and he withdrew from much of the family life while still being super supportive of our family gatherings. Neither of us told my sister before the interview but we talked to her after. There are a lot of mean things that happen when half of your family is in a cult. When you leave the cult the response is usually mean. We all feel like we betrayed each other. We could tell lots of stories about people not respecting others privacy. This podcast is about helping other people. We did it because we could not remain silent. There are too many people suffering all over the church. We have all shed many tears and 13 years of silence is enough. It is time to tell the truth.

      • Marlo January 27, 2016 at 1:39 pm - Reply

        This is so true. I am grateful to those with the courage to speak out. We need to hope that our families see that if we can’t be our true selves, our relationships are less.

  61. Nancy January 25, 2016 at 12:39 am - Reply

    Matt I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing. Over a decade ago my daughter left the church and I didn’t get it. I made it all about me (where did I go wrong in teaching her) when she tried to talk about, it I shut her down. I finally left last year along with my husband. My daughter told me that she has finally stopped feeling guilty about leaving. Your story gave me a window into some of her feelings. The culture of silence in the Mormon church is one of its most toxic features. I hope finally speaking out will finally help you to heal.

    • Joy January 25, 2016 at 11:57 am - Reply

      Nancy my heart breaks for your family and the years lost. I am a daughter in this situation (36 yrs old). I still go to church (sacrament) for now, mostly to somehow appease my mother that all is not lost. When I told her I didn’t believe anymore she had a really hard time and feels that I am lost in the eternities. I’m sure she questions where she went wrong, everything you said. I’m happy for her being a member because it makes her happy but I hope that someday she will get over being hard on herself for my decision to not believe.

  62. Sam Watson January 25, 2016 at 7:13 am - Reply

    As a nevermo who is married to a lifelong member, it is nice to hear an episode where themes that arise in an interfaith marriage are touched upon. You guys (and John, of course) are very inspiring and easy to listen to. Your respective stories fascinated, encouraged, and touched me.

    It is nice to hear how others approach “witnessing” of truth to our Mormon friends and family, as this is a daily focus of mine.
    Great interview.

    • Matt January 25, 2016 at 10:43 am - Reply

      Thank you, Sam!

      I think the human endeavor of seeking truth about this life and our experience in it has been set back repeatedly by those times and places where we staunchly believe we have received the one and only truth from divinity. When we’ve become heavily invested in that “truth” to the point that it becomes too painful to entertain doubt. Many of our ancestors were truth seekers (Mormon or otherwise) and some eventually settled on the comfort of Mormonism’s many prescribed “truths” because, intermingled within, were many nuggets of real truth.

      With the unquestioned acceptance of our ancestors (or even our own) holiday on the search for truth, I think we entered a spiritual dark age where vigor for the process of resolving truth, no matter how it upsets our preconceptions, has left us.

      But not entirely. I think we feel it from time-to-time and I feel it today. I’m excited to join you and Clay and anyone who feels the same call to witness for truth wherever it is found and without excessive concern for the loss of things that once appeared true to our limited view. I feel this is our true intellectual heritage as human beings. We are knights and truth is our questing beast. May we never fully catch it. :)

  63. Coffee Drinker January 25, 2016 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Your statement of finding lots of evidence of places and people of Biblical times is no different from my TBM neighbor who reads Mormon authored books continually and says the same things. If you read one side you will usually get one opinion. If Clay continues his research objectively, he will also come to this conclusion. When I stopped being a TBM, I still “knew” that Jesus was the Savior of the world. I researched standard Christian sites and did indeed find that there were place names and people’s names found in the Old World. I even went to online sites that showed the outlines of the Ark on Mt Ararat and the chariot wheels found at the bottom of the Red Sea.

    But then I began studying both sides of these issues and found that there was a lot of conflicting evidence out there. And that bottom line kept coming up–“Follow the money trail.” A good example of this was an article in National Geographic Magazine on the reality of King David. Was he a king and one of God’s favorites or was he just a simple shepherd.? Two archaeologists were quoted regarding their research. One researcher, working for the Israeli government had been given a $10,000 grand by the Worldwide Church of God. The other, I think his name was Finklestein or something like that was an independent Israeli archaeologist. The evidence found had two completely different conclusions given to it. The first said David was who he said in the Bible and the latter said he was not. Now the Israeli government is deep into the tourist industry and a lot of their GDP comes from people visiting the Holy Lands (and learning about King David.). Could there be a conflict of interest here? Would people keep coming to King David sites if it was discovered that he was not who the Bible said he was? I found a lot of conflicts as I studied these issues.

    As I am currently re-reading “No Man Knows My History”, I can more clearly see how Joseph used the many stories (And they are definitely only stories.) to make the Book of Mormon fit better into the minds of Bible-thumping Christians.

    So, Joanne, and Clay, if you want to use the same methods to research the mainstream Christian movement as you did Mormonism, and really continue to use unbiased research you will find what John found in his survey that more than 60% of non-Mormons become either atheistic or agnostic.

    Both of you need to watch atheist-Christian debates on U-tube with Christians such as William Lane Craig and atheists such as Sam Harris and past Christians such as Bart Ehrman. There is a world of information out there for those who which to find the truth. And lastly I would recommend watching “The Big Questions”, by the BBC on U-tube. The British discuss religion way more that do Americans. On this show the audiences will be made up of Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, and many of the 38,000 different Christian sects of the world.

    Good luck with your searching. It is rewarding, but do it with your spouse. I did.

    • Joanne January 25, 2016 at 4:38 pm - Reply

      I have always known God existed! I just couldn’t find Him in Mormonism. So thanks for your suggestion to do a more thorough investigation, but I will put my hope and faith in my Savoir, Jesus Christ, who is GOD among us. I will pray for you though🙏

  64. Elder Van Halen January 25, 2016 at 10:29 am - Reply

    John, Matt, and Clay…

    Thank you so much for one of my new favorite Mormon Stories episodes. Matt, I can relate to your quiet suppression of opinions and “issues” to avoid rocking the boat or losing your family over the realization of the truth of the deception. I have been suppressing things on my shelf ever since I went through the temple in 1980 with my wonderful parents just a few weeks before my mission. In my mind I have left the church, but I still attend Sacrament Meeting to keep the peace in my family. I re-read the Gospel Topics Essays last night about “Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” It continues to amaze me how fluffy and wonderful the writings explain difficult topics, and conveniently leave out predatorial practices that the early adopters (Church Leaders) of plural marriage went about to gather their women. Or that polyandry was practiced and is not mentioned at all in any of the Essays that I have reviewed.

    My wife on the other hand continues to double down on her naïve faith of the “restored gospel” of Jesus Christ, and figures that anything that Joseph Smith did in error was just a natural man getting it wrong, while getting everything else right about the first vision and the translation of the Book of Mormon. She will not listen to the entire dialogue about the Book of Abraham, Kinderhook Plates, Polyandry and marriages that were coerced with young teenagers with promises of exaltation, etc. She feels that any open discussion about these matters is contrary to faith. So she stands firm with doubting her doubts, and never doubting her faith. Well done President Uchtdorf!

    I feel a sense of community out here and can tell from the many comments that there are growing numbers of people that are coming out of the Matrix! I only discovered John Dehlin and Mormon Stories and the community of other blog sites in the last six months. It has been the most awesome discovery and I continue to devour all the good books and podcasts that are like taking the red pill…

    “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” ―Morpheus, to Neo. The term red pill refers to a human that is aware of the true nature of the Matrix.

    Thanks again for a great interview and great insight. God Bless!

    • Ryan January 30, 2016 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      God speed Elder Van Halen. I took the red pill as well, and followed the rabbit hole. I do have to say that the Plural Marriage in Kirkland and Nauvoo essay does mention polyandry. That was the essay that made my shelf crumble. So in fairness to the church, as awful as that essay is, they do admit to the polyandry, but they never use the word.

  65. J January 25, 2016 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Clay, Matt, and John,

    Thanks for a phenomenal podcast. I was so deeply moved by these stories that I listened a second time. My soul felt such comfort. Where do I access the CES letter that was referenced? Clay, do you have the link for the Abraham video?

    Speaking the truth helps raise your consciousness. Thank you!!

  66. Aron January 25, 2016 at 10:47 am - Reply

    Thank you Matt and Clay for allowing yourselves to be vulnerable. What came up for me was the word “make-believe” and the extraordinary lengths that the church hierarchy engages in to keep the faithful in the dark. Best wishes for you both and your families.

  67. Mark January 25, 2016 at 10:51 am - Reply

    I would love for you to interview Matts wife, it’s only fair to get her perspective, maybe Dan Witherspoon can do it, that way she isn’t association with the evil JD ;-)

  68. J January 25, 2016 at 10:58 am - Reply

    Matt & Clay,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences! The past month has been a nightmare of feelings for me as I uncover the truth regarding the Joseph Smith!!! Living in a TBM family, it’s terrible to feel that I can’t share what I am learning with my family. I am grateful for your willingness to share your powerful experiences. I hope someday we can cross paths! For me, this has been the most inspirational podcast I’ve watched on Mormon stories!

    Best Wishes

  69. Debbie January 25, 2016 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Thank you Matt, Clay and John,
    Your vulnerability – paired with large doses of love and a side of humor – is very courageous, inspiring and moving.
    I am fascinated by Mormon Stories because I grew up in mostly moderate “mainline denominations”(Disciples of Christ, Presbyterian, etc.) and then married an ex-Mormon boy.
    Marrying into a hugely blended extended family (atheists, agnostics, jack Mormons, very active Mormons, “born-again” Christians, Buddhists, new-age followers, etc.) here in Utah I am now blessed with over one hundred family connections.
    It seems as though access to the Internet is causing very large numbers of people to re-think their beliefs and then go through the grieving process of pain, sadness, confusion and personal growth that comes with “deconstruction” on one side and a sort of “reconstruction” on the other. Then – just when you feel like you have it all sorted out – another wave can hit again!
    My current “theology” is to focus on LOVE and have patience with myself and others as we navigate this new world.
    Again – thanks so much for the courage it takes to share your journey with all of us!
    Sending love your way!

    • Clay January 27, 2016 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      Hi Debbie,

      Thank you for your comments. You certainly have an interesting life and family and and you have the perfect theology for happiness – love. The stories of religion-inspired family strife are painful. I hope sharing and being there for each other in this forum and in person will help.

      You mentioned the fact that access to the internet is causing large numbers of people to re-think their beliefs. I don’t disagree with the idea but tonight I have been thinking – what actually causes people to re-think their beliefs? I have wondered about the sequence of events that led me to be willing to read the I have wondered why I was ever willing to consider that any of the church could be true after I watched “The Lost Book of Abraham” documentary. How can so many of my family be unwilling to even consider the evidence? They won’t even look at it. Why didn’t I have a more curious reaction to trusted friends who left the church? It is all so amazing to me.

      I appreciate your love, I am sending some back to you and to everyone who is struggling with the faith and family relationships.

  70. Scott January 25, 2016 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    BRAVO!…to both of you. Agree with so many others that this is one of the top episodes I’ve ever listened to! Going to try to get my TBM family to listen to this in an effort to build bridges. This is too sincere and accessible for believers not to try and get some to listen to it.

    Big thanks to you both for your courage to speak up!

  71. Jeff of the Westerlies January 25, 2016 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    I get you Matt. I so get you. That is what I am living for–to do whatever I still can to help my children succeed. Everything else is gone at this point.

  72. Tason Hill January 25, 2016 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Great Podcast! Thank Matt and Clay for being to honest i hope i can get to that point, you gave me hope

  73. Jared Cook January 25, 2016 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    Matt, Clay, and John, thank you for this interview! I cried several times throughout as I related to many of your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. I’ve known the Church is not everything it claims for almost five years, but have been mostly silent about it, except to my wife, who still believes wholeheartedly. I still attend church each week with her and our three young girls to try to be supportive of her. Though I recently came out as disbelieving to my family and a few friends, I’m heartbroken that hardly anyone wants to know the details of why. Most are satisfied with their view that I became confused or deceived after reading a bunch of “anti-Mormon” stuff. It pains me that I can’t share my views without being labeled a “bitter apostate” while they proclaim their “truths” so vigorously. So I feel for you, and I thank you for your courage in sharing your stories!

  74. Jessica January 25, 2016 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    It breaks my heart that the people in the LDS church put such a stigma on those that leave. I myself have been on a journey out of the church and feel there are certain people I could never be able to speak to about my disbeliefs. I want to be open and feel free to speak. Yet there is this fear of loosing a friendship or relationship with a family member. Why does it need to be that way? My heart goes out to Matt and I hope you and your family can find a way to communicate openly and lovingly. Thank you to both of you for sharing your heart felt stories.

  75. K January 25, 2016 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    Possibly my favorite episode of Mormon Stories. My own experience is similar to Matt’s where my wife still attends and serves in the church – although she no longer believes that Joseph was a prophet – and where my non-attendance is a problem for her. It has been almost 10 years since I discovered the truth after coming across the old FAIR discussion boards. However I have only stopped attending in the last 2 years.

    In a very TBM family, it has only happened in the past year that other family have begun to voice their doubts, including my brother who has come to his conclusions much the same way as Clay.

    Church leaders keep trying the old “nothing to see here..” line, but where I live there are many, many defections; compared to my childhood when there were none.

    Thank you all for sharing.

  76. Shelley Koch January 25, 2016 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Clay, I think we are relatives! My family are the Christensens from Redmond too! My grandfather was Don Christensen, and my mom also has a cousin named Merlin Hafen. I am in my 30s now, my husband and I found out that Joseph Smith’s stories weren’t true about a decade ago. Out of twenty eight Christensen cousins, I am the only one who has left, and nobody has asked me why. I related so much to your all-in, no-shelf mindset. We were probably raised with a very similar family dynamic. My grandmother is still living and my mom and her sisters, and all my cousins have a very loving, supportive connection. I count myself lucky to have my Christensen family. Still, Mormonism is such an extreme part of my Christensen family culture; it permeates everything. I can see that it would be very hard to live in Utah with so much interaction with such a devoutly religious family. I adore my family and I wouldn’t change them for the world, but it would be hard to be around Mormonspeak all the time. I am so thankful your wife and kids are in agreement with you; what a blessing!

    • Clay January 27, 2016 at 7:25 am - Reply

      Hi Shelley,
      Please friend Brenda on FaceBook. I don’t have one but we would love to connect with family. I love aunt Lora Dee and uncle Don Lee is one of my heroes. I miss him and I am sad to think about what all the extended family, that we love so much, will think of us for leaving. We have to stand together and just testify of the truth and hope they love us enough to investigate for themselves or at least keep loving us.

  77. Kathy January 25, 2016 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    Thank you Matt and Clay for sharing your journey. Matt, I too left the church almost 13 years ago, I am still married to a TBM, I am raising my children in the church even though I do not attend, and I live in the Renton North Stake, now the Bellevue South Stake.
    It is so nice to hear someone who is also balancing the need for authentic living with respecting the origins of the family. I do this balancing for my family. People like to ask me about the tension between myself and my husband and I never know what to say. Yes, its sad that I can’t be completely open with him, but we have built such a great family and life together, we are pretty good partners, so for now its worth it, he is worth it and my family is worth it.
    I am so happy you found a relative who you can now see you. How great is it that Clay apologized for not seeing you sooner. That takes a really good person.

  78. Nanu January 25, 2016 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Thank you Matt and Clay. This podcast really helped me today. I just spent a weekend with some family members and got into a discussion with a sister who I thought was somewhat nuanced in her belief. That conversation did nothing to bring us closer to understanding one another and I came home feeling sad and distanced from her. She felt like I was being “hateful” and angry and I felt like I was being very careful not to come across that way. Most hurtful is her comment,”I choose light over darkness” crap. I don’t feel dark. I know I am assessed differently as a person and it hurts. If Joseph Smith is celestial material (not that I believe there is such a “kingdom”), then we are all saved AND if those are the individuals that will reside there for the eternities, I don’t desire to be there anyway. No, I did not share those last few sentences with my sister. Thank you John for your work.

  79. JT January 25, 2016 at 8:55 pm - Reply


    Thank you for sharing you experiences and thoughts. Thank you Clay as well.

    I’ve been keeping my mouth mostly shut for 30 years.

    I slipped up twice …the last time about 10 years ago.

    Both were provoked by the disgust I felt after reading either Dan Vogel or D. Michael Quinn (in secret at work).

    But the distress I saw in my wife’s innocent eyes shut me down in mid-sentence. I retreated into apologies and reassurances. I then realized my own shame was at the root of it – in part for being a gullible convert at 19. And how could I ignore that my wife had been graciously accepting my atheism for 20 years?

    You all spoke of the wall of silence. I’m not sure what to make of the silence that attended my apostasy, starting with my politely declining a calling in 1987 to the resignation letter I sent to the ward bishop in 2010. Perhaps the ward leaders feared confronting my reasons. If so, that fear evidently trumped their Christ-like concern for our family’s eternal status. Was Christ taking notice?

    My family’s silence – my wife’s, our children’s, my brothers’ and now diseased parents – may have been tinged with such fear. But time has shown it to be more an expression of their greater love for me than for the Church. Our mutual silence keeps the Church from coming between us. And they’ve done the better job of it. It may be different for extended family members on the fringe of my life – but they don’t matter. I think love fills many of these silences.

    I’m no longer tempted to vent. And though I wonder how much Mormon muck my family knows, and how they can keep singing, “all is well,” it’s not for me to ask. When she goes to church a couple of times a week, I read, take walks, or listen to a podcast. Soon we’re back in our home together.

    I’m not sure I would have benefited from knowing an ex-Mormon back in 1986, either to affirm my doubts or deliver the bad news for me – though I’ve certainly felt isolated, especially during those early years of contemplating my break from the church. I’ve only talked to two ex-Mormons in my life. The first about 6 years ago. That consisted of a handshake, a joke, and an eye-roll lasting about a minute. The other was a Skype conversation with a podcaster who reached out in response to some posts. Oh, and I once received a cell-phone call from John Larsen to tell me I won his essay contest. There was a lot of road noise in the background.

    Matt, if you’re interested in what another tight-lipped ex-Mormon wrote instead of disturbing his family, I kept an anonymous blog for a couple of years: jturn*nm*rm*nism.w*press.c*m (the * = o)

    Thanks again and best wishes to you and Clay, and your families.


    • Matt January 26, 2016 at 12:30 am - Reply

      I’m reading through your index right now. Couldn’t resist after reading your comment here. I thought, “what a fascinating way he has with words,” and that thought about love filling the silence — it started filling a void in my own thinking. Thank you and I hope we get a chance to converse further.


      • JT January 29, 2016 at 3:35 pm - Reply

        I hope so too. I’d be honored.

        Eric (“JT”)

    • Sterling January 27, 2016 at 6:14 pm - Reply


      I had to fix it —jturn*nm*rm*nism.w*rdpress.c*m—

      I have been reading several of your posts. I can relate; I even was in graduate school in engineering in New England as well (20 years later). Like you I relate to the work of Spinoza (

      I wish you the best.

  80. Matt January 25, 2016 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    I want to tell you all, thank you so much for your comments. Reading your stories, the thoughts you’re sharing, the encouragement, the increased hope and sense of affinity and community, your concerns for my and Clay’s families — it’s all just beautiful. I’m so happy to be traveling companions with you all.

    Thank you so much, friends.

  81. Jason January 25, 2016 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    I loved this episode it really spoke to me. Very powerful story thank you so much for sharing.

  82. Teresa January 26, 2016 at 6:41 am - Reply

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” ~ Mark Twain

    • St. Ralph January 26, 2016 at 10:43 am - Reply

      Boy, ain’t that the truth!

      • Gabriel von Himmel January 26, 2016 at 12:09 pm - Reply

        Mark Twain:
        Samuel Clemens has since been posthumously baptized successfully and is now in Mormon Heaven along with many of his favorite detractors –– they joke a lot about the meaning of life posthumously.

        Great interviews John, great testimonies Matt and Clay.


  83. Truth Realized January 26, 2016 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Clay and Matt,

    Really enjoyed your stories. Both my husband and I left the church just a few months ago and I am still working some issues. Most of our extended family members still do not know about us but since we are not a close-knit family or live close by it has not come up. Someday it will – not really looking forward to it. As evidenced by your experience it does not always go as one would hope or expect.

    I especially enjoyed hearing Clay’s story. It just goes to show how much influence an organization can have over one’s thinking and how it can control what information one has access to and is willing to look at. I wonder now why I did not see the cultish aspects of the church sooner.

    My husband was more like Clay, in that he absolutely knew the church was true. I believed it was but things like missionary work, and the constant push to do family history research never really sat well with me. The one seemed too much like sales and I just never developed a love for the other.

    I feel for Matt, it seems he has been and still is unfairly judged. At least now he and Clay can support each other.

    Hopefully some day their family members will be wiling to open their eyes to the possibility that the LDS church is not what it has been made out to be. My husband now says that at best the church is no better than any other church and at worst the brethren knowingly deceive the members. I am skeptical enough to believe the latter.

    All the best to you both.

  84. Brandon January 26, 2016 at 8:20 am - Reply

    Gentlemen, thank you for sharing your narrative.

    I have decided that the LDS Church isn’t what it portrays itself to be. But, I have been looking at other churches, many have the same issues (history, baggage, abuse, or very literal belief). I now see all churches in a similar light, but I also keep in mind that the LDS Church is much more controlling than many others.

    I know you have touched on this, but Clay, do you think that you could attend the LDS Church with the premise that it is just a church? Could you ride the middle way?

    If not, where are you thinking of moving on to? What is the next steps for you?



    • Clay January 26, 2016 at 8:45 am - Reply

      Hi Brandon,
      I have attended other churches as a Mormon and I have been to Sacrament meeting since I discovered the truth. I doubt I would ever go again. I am sorry to say that I can not attend the LDS church and pretend that it is “just a church”. It is a cult, I know that is tough to hear. But my wife and I looked up the definition of a cult to help explain it to our son after our exmormon daughter told him it is a cult, as he was preparing for a mission. We were taken by surprise as we realized the definition fits perfectly, but our answer to him then was, “it looks like a cult and it would be if it wasn’t true”. We have since learned the truth and I take that seriously. It is like voting, I can not attend a church that claims to be the one true church and appear to support it in any way. I now understand why Matt would never attend “just to be supportive”. I respected him then but I understand that so much more now. I am thankful that he always stood for what he knows to be true.

  85. Kristalyn Jenkins January 26, 2016 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Oh my… It is so incredibly refreshing to hear someone (Clay) day so clearly and undeniably that there is no shade of gray; that once he discovered and uncovered the truth, it was black and white for him, that the church is absolutely not true. And to also hear someone confirm my feelings of a sense of moral obligation to set the record straight for everyone I taught on my mission, every family member or friend in the church. I feel a responsibility to ‘proclaim to the ends of the earth’ about the REAL, GENUINE truth that Joseph Smith was a creep, a pervert, a liar, a cheater and the absolute antithesis of a prophet of God. Clay’s comments and story have made me reasses my own life and relationships, and I have such a strong desire to share the truth with my loved ones… I guess just as we’re taught in the MTC, only those that are prepared will receive the truth. That just doesn’t seem to satisfy me, though: this is too important to just sit and wait for people to come to me…

  86. Kris January 26, 2016 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    Can I have the link for the video on The book of Abraham? Maybe I missed it somewhere, but I’m really curious to watch it. Thanks!

    • Clay January 26, 2016 at 7:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Kris,

      It is The Lost Book of Abraham

      Pick up the DVD at Utah Lighthouse Mimistries and you’ll get to meet Sandra Tanner!

      • Kris February 1, 2016 at 10:09 am - Reply

        Thank you so much!

  87. Tami January 26, 2016 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    I’m very curious if anyone in your family watched this episode.

    • Clay January 26, 2016 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      Hi Tami,
      I know that I have found distant cousins and that is nice. TBMs that are digging in don’t watch this kind of thing and if they do, they don’t want to discuss the content.

  88. Still Faithful January 26, 2016 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    I have read all your comments and am somewhat amazed by the sheer volume. I am 14 months post my own faith transition but I chose a different outcome. My only request to you and all who read this is to please take the time to read Givens “Crucible of Doubt”. Read it slowly and mark it up. I’m not saying that alone kept me in this faith but it did open my mind up to a broader perspective from which to handle difficult questions. Givens’ Crucible should be required reading for every Bishop and Stake President.

    In general, I don’t like your binary approach. If there is a God then I guarantee you that our ability to approach and understand his ways are in no way binary. I challenge you to find a place for your faith in non-LDS Christianity. Read Bart Ehrman. There are as many questions about non-LDS Christianity as there are about the LDS story. Read Adam Miller.

    There are a whole set of ‘facts’ or ‘data points’ or ‘evidences’ that you can craft whatever story you want to believe in. I am as equally puzzled by ‘negative’ facts as I am ‘positive’ ones. Have you read Grant Hardy’s Understanding the BOM? The literary analysis on the different writers is just as compelling to me (in opposite) as Late War analysis was. What you do with the ‘facts’ becomes your faith and we all are free to choose. “Where else will you go” John 6:68. Look I’m just saying that I’m fine with confusion and not knowing everything. I absolutely feel the spirit when I read the BOM. It is undeniable and it is my unique gift.

    I believe your faith and belief will take you to a different place than you are now if you let it. It may not be inside the LDS church but I just challenge you to take longer and read more of the authors above instead of just Jeremy Runnells.

    -Still Faithful

    • Mitchell January 27, 2016 at 7:07 am - Reply

      I understand what’s at stake when the prospect of losing faith is losing the Spirit. As Clay mentioned, he has felt the Spirt during his inquiry. I felt and still do feel the Spirit. People of other religions feel the Spirit. Aaron Bundy felt the Spirit and became “Captain Moroni” in an illegal and treasonous coup. Religious extremist groups feel the Spirit when they board a bus wearing a suicide-vest. The Spirit cannot be the be-all-end-all to our inquiry.

      I’ll roughly quote something I heard the other day, “How can a church who asks me ‘Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow man?’, during a temple interview lie right to my face?!” I think This is inquiry is more important than physical evidence of the Book of Mormon.

      Life is an inquiry. Live it!

      Love to you all.

    • Clay January 27, 2016 at 7:16 am - Reply

      Hi Still Faithful,
      You have challenged me to find a place for my faith in non-LDS Christianity and condescendingly implied that I only read Jeremy Runnells. You mention reading all of my comments and challenge me to read several apologists. I am not opposed to reading anything but I try to read factual information. I challenge you to watch the podcast. You will see that I am a Christian. You will see that the was only the beginning for me. The mountains of confirming evidence come from multiple sources including journals, newspapers, and court documents. Some of the most shocking facts come from LDS sources. I don’t believe that Joseph Smith was surrounded by liars. I think he was the liar and the extent of his crimes can be understood with some investigation.

      • Still Faithful January 27, 2016 at 10:29 am - Reply

        We all walk our own road. ‘Factual information’ exists on both sides of the divide. Just read Givens Crucible of Doubt with an open mind. There are more ways to knowing truth. I am so very grateful for the transition in my faith. I’m much more authentic and humble and acknowledge that I don’t know everything. Yes, there are many things I don’t know or understand. Did Joseph make mistakes? Probably. Nevertheless, the doctrine ‘tastes sweet’ to me and I can get past just about anything else. Bushman Rough Stone Rolling has been out 10 years and is a very good read. I just think your anger and arrogance should shift to seeking and trying to really understand God. It is a big mysterious world with no clear cut answers. You seem to have found clear cut answers and jump to conclusions based on ‘facts’ that I don’t think are facts at all. Apologetic defenses exist for all the points you bring up. How you formulate your beliefs from ‘the facts’ will determine who you ultimately become. I am just asking you to open your mind a bit more and as the anger eases, go on a true search for truth, where ever it may lead you. Prophets never were perfect people. It is man’s form of ‘idol worshop’ to put them on a much higher pedestal than they deserve. Have you read JS’s first journal in the JS Papers. Have you seen the grammatical errors and mis-formed sentences. Do you really think he could have made up the BOM several years prior? You completely dismiss the witnesses where for me they are one of the strongest ‘facts’ I use. Read David Whitmer’s biography and how he testified until his last breath the record was true, even when he couldn’t stand Joseph. Read how Oliver was attacked for his beliefs in a political race while an apostate and never denied it. Could all of those people have been complicit and duped? Possibly but you have to make that inference just like you make an inference on DNA. But forget all the back and forth of my points versus yours. I just ask you to open your mind in your new search, read Givens Crucible thoughtfully, and continue your search for truth in a relative comparison sort of way. My biggest fault with the church is the ‘culture of certainty’ which I believe is destructive. In reality there is very little we know for sure and much faith is required. As the song in the BOM Theatrical Play states “I guess that is what God was going for”… Good luck to you brother

        • J January 27, 2016 at 11:05 am - Reply

          You are free to believe what you want, but what doesn’t make sense is that there is only one true church on this earth. I don’t believe God is so exclusive that only baptized “faithful” members can enter the celestial kingdom. I run the other direction when someone says there is ONLY ONE WAY.

    • Coffee Drinker January 27, 2016 at 2:06 pm - Reply

      Still Faithful,

      Before you give Clay advice on reading apologists, whether they be LDS or mainstream Christian, perhaps you should take your own advice and read both sides of the Christian and Biblical issues. One of the main reasons why Mormons stay uneducated on historical issues is because they only read the LDS side of issues. This is no different than what mainstream Christians do.

      So if you want Clay to be objective, then advise him to read and watch the debates and talks of Richard Carrier (Columbia University professor of ancient Biblical history) or Sam Harris (neuroscientist and Bible scholar) or Lawrence Krauss (physicist) or Richard Dawkins (Author of “The God Delusion”, a genetical biologist) or Dan Barker (former evangelist) or David Silverman (President of American Atheists). And if you tell him to read Bart Ehrman, tell him to watch all of Bart’s debates and talks, the ones where he talks about Jesus in the Bible. And tell him to Google “Murder in the Bible” or “Failed Prophecies in the Bible”. This should give him lots of Biblical references that should shock him as it did me.

      Clay, I am advising you to read both sides and then make your decisions.

      • RLeeG January 29, 2016 at 12:58 pm - Reply

        Honestly, I am not sure Clay needs anyone’s advice. It sounds like he is doing just fine. We are all just wandering around in our own journey here, trying to figure out what we are doing on this giant rock, circling a giant ball of fire, amidst unending empty black space. It’s pretty crazy stuff. Clay sounds like he is working pretty hard to figure out what’s going on, just like we all are.

      • Rico February 3, 2016 at 2:54 am - Reply

        Former Christian pastor, Dan Barker specializes in making music. He is no theologian. He sued a diner in North Carolina for giving discounts to patrons who would offer a prayer before meals. That’s right. Prayer in restaurant is an offense to Barker.

        Here, former NJ Judge, Andrew Napolitano, analyzes the kind of fascist mentality Barker must have to sue:

        Jon Stewart’s Daily Show lambasts Barker as a D*ck

        Many popular atheists sound formidable in the atheistic ideas they promote, until they are put on the spot with an equally formidable critic who can dissect their ideas. There are several debates out there in youtube where William Lane Craig shows why atheism is not as reasonable as it appears. Carrier is exposed as someone who distorts his source texts to make them appear as saying the very opposite of what they do say. Harris, as a trained philosopher, could not logically show how Science is able to tell us how things “ought to be”. Lawrence Krauss can convince his believers that a Universe can be created out of nothing… by first adding a little something. In short, once their pretentions are stripped off, they all look pretty thin.

        This is all why Richard Dawkins will never ever debate William Craig.


        The Book of Abraham documentary mentioned by Clay but could not recall might be….

        “The Lost Book of Abraham”

        William Lane Craig’s debates with famous atheists are archived in his website at

    • Deb January 28, 2016 at 9:00 am - Reply

      Still Faithful,

      The binary is imposed by the institution, not by Clay: either it’s true or it’s not.

      • St. Ralph January 28, 2016 at 9:25 am - Reply

        It becomes binary whether we want it to or not. I like the old analogy of making a batch of rice pudding and putting 98 raisins and two rat turds in it. What do you mean you don’t want ANY rat turds? It’s 98% pure! What if we only leave one rat turd in? Surely 99% pure is pure enough for anyone. No, it’s not. It’s really not. If it’s got any rat turds in it or has ever had any rat turds in it, it’s not good enough. You can, of course, also try to fool people as to the content of your rice pudding, but if they find out the truth, they’re going to be really, really pissed and the situation is going to turn explosively binary. Why must we, nay, how can we, live with any “rat turds” in our religion?

        • Still Faithful January 29, 2016 at 1:52 pm - Reply

          St. Ralph, by binary I meant what Clay said in the interview that an inference from a ‘fact’ (eg., the witness said he used spiritual eyes) to make a binary statement affecting a whole set of religious beliefs.

          Deb – yes, I believe the institution does have a binary theme to it – that culture of certainty that I find so harmful. Moroni 10:5 promises a binary outcome but Alma 32 talks about a good feeling, slowly improving bias, etc. I think it is a little of both. The culture of the church will change as time goes on….

          For me, 14 months after getting a little rocked…. some days I feel like I can say I know the church is true and some days I feel like I can say I believe the church is true and some days I just hope the church is true. And that’s okay. “I believe lord, help thou my unbelief” …. in my darkest times after reading Dawkins God Delusion and many other atheist beliefs, it was my relationship with God that brought me back. I craved and wanted to believe in God. I desire it. And the restored gospel gives me a much clearer framework of following that belief than anything I’ve found. As Joseph said the gospel tastes sweet to me.

          All I’m saying is you have to read Given’s Crucible. I’m not saying this to bring you back to the fold or anything. Even if you don’t stay in the LDS faith, you will still greatly benefit from understanding Terryl Givens’ approach to faith, scripture, the cannon, prophets, belief as risk, etc. It is simply some of the most beautiful writing I have ever seen outside of holy scripture.

          • Rude Dog February 1, 2016 at 6:43 am

            I’ve read Crucible of Doubt, and Letters to a Young Mormon by Miller. I’ve read the “new apologetics”. I’m not convinced. I find the Givens and Miller and others employ very gaurded speech, flowery platitutes that mirror the Mormon church in being a mile wide, an inch deep. The Givens defend the Limited Geography concept of the BOM, a catalyst theory of the Book of Abraham, and defend Joseph’s polygamy if nothing else, a learning environment for an imperfect man becoming prophet. No thanks Still Faithful. Hitchens speaks with ten times the profundity and depth off the cuff and inebriated than the Givens’ do in a book devolved over a year.

  89. Beth January 27, 2016 at 4:19 am - Reply

    This was a fantastic interview. Than! You matt and clay. Keep fighting for the truth and it will prevail. Thank you all for such an uploting and inspiring interview. I hope we all will feel able to speak our minds without fear of being rebuked.thank you Jon for all your hard work and effore.

  90. Mace January 27, 2016 at 7:54 am - Reply

    Loved this interview. I think the biggest tragedy once you learn the truth is the fact that so many people give up God and Jesus. Simply because the disorientation of their beliefs have been shaken. Everyone lied how can anything be true. Not having a belief and losing it altogether is the worst. I’m the only one in my family who still believes in Christ. My siblings just can’t do it. They were lied to and want to embrace reality rather than the Unknown.

    • Mitchell January 27, 2016 at 8:11 am - Reply

      If you give the same inquiry to Christianity as you do to Mormonism, you can come to the same conclusion.

      • Clay January 27, 2016 at 5:24 pm - Reply

        Hi Mitchell,
        I understand what you are saying, for breakfast I watched Christopher Hitchens speak to Google. I am still seeking truth yet I am comfortable calling myself a Christian because I believe in Christ’s teachings and way of life. I am way way more Christian now than I was as a Mormon. My exact Chritianity is a discussion for another day. For now the urgency is to expose the truth of the history of the Mormonchurch, to expose the cult aspects, to say to all the good people who are like I was three months ago, there is some information you need to know…

        • Nanu January 27, 2016 at 6:55 pm - Reply

          I admire you’re wanting to inform those that don’t know but you’ll have to talk fast to all those you want to inform (if they will listen)… because they will likely excommunicate you and then even fewer will listen. All they have to say to themselves is that anything you say is wrong because you are an apostate and the church excommunicated you. Sadly, that’s how it seems to work.

          • Clay January 27, 2016 at 8:12 pm

            Hi Nanu,
            It is about helping each other get through this. I am not worried about excommunication because I believe there has been a policy decision to cut back on excommunications. Excommunications don’t seem Christlike and they just call attention. I don’t think they want people watching our podcast. They are PR savy enough to just let this slip away. I would resign first anyway.

          • Nanu January 27, 2016 at 11:27 pm

            I believe you will and have helped many people. I hope you are right about excommunications. Thank you for doing the podcast and being open about how this process is for you. It’s this honesty that helps ease the loneliness and validates the experience of all this.

      • Mace January 27, 2016 at 10:58 pm - Reply

        In a sense but Jesus said his church is made of no walls but many hands….. Something like that anyway. That tells me the church of Jesus Christ resides in us all. We don’t need a physical temple or chapel. It’s all us, but no church will tell you that, they tell you that you need them but you don’t.

        • Mitchell January 28, 2016 at 8:13 am - Reply

          I’m not trying to belittle anyone’s faith and desire for that faith. It’s this desire for answers that spawns so much inquiry and after my inquiry, I found just as much dubiousness in the production of the Bible. Beyond the fact vs fact inquiry of Biblical places, peoples and events, I just can no longer support the belief in Creationism and a 6,000 year-old world.

  91. Alan January 27, 2016 at 8:41 am - Reply

    Matt, Clay (and John) – I just finished listening to all 18 hours of the podcast (okay, maybe not quite that long!), and I wanted it to go on longer. It’s so refreshing to hear people who are attempting to be honest and genuine thinking through our complex existence, rather than just defending a rigid ideology. I really appreciated your openness and vulnerability here. What I wouldn’t give to be able to have this kind of conversation with friends or family on a regular basis.

    Aside: I may have overlapped with Matt and John at MS (I left in 2000), and almost certainly knew some people there that you knew. (One you briefly mentioned in the podcast.)

    Best wishes to Clay and Matt in your personal journeys; your families are really, really fortunate to be tied to you, whether they know it or not.

  92. John January 27, 2016 at 8:42 am - Reply

    I didn’t read everything but the little I read was harsh about Clay. It’s only been 6 weeks since he found out the truth. I think you all should give him a break. I think he’s very courageous to do this. I was a wreck after 6 weeks. I think he’s right in saying It’s either true or false. It’s very dichotomous. And then within each side, there are some shades of grey. If you think it’s true, maybe there are some things that are false. If you think it’s false, maybe there are some things that are true. We even teach in the church that all the other churches (who are false according to the LDS church) have parts of truth. So let’s apply it to the LDS church. If it’s false, just like the other churches, maybe some principles are true. Personally, I don’t respect the church and don’t respect mormonism at all, but I respect the members, I go to church every week to support my wife and I think she deserves that respect. Plus, I love seeing a couple good friends there. As Matt or Clay said: the people makes it great. That said, when I think about it, I wish I would be out for good (resignation or excommunication) because the policies, doctrines and revelations are in my opinion unethical, sometimes immoral and hurt people. I have absolutely no respect for that, especially since the new policy. Sometimes I feel very unauthentic by going every Sunday and it’s hard. I don’t respect the policy makers, although I have no doubt they are good people who are trying the best they can to obey god. When you really sincerely think you’re the prophet of God, you can do anything. I just wish my prophet would build hospitals, homeless shelters, and was concerned about social change, but they are not about that. It’s very clear. The mission of the church is not about that, it’s about building the kingdom of God (read the LDS church), not helping the poor. If anything, the church is taking from the poor, which the rich that we all are in the US can never understand.

  93. Ken January 27, 2016 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Clay and Matt,

    I really enjoyed this episode.

    Matt, I hope you get vindicated with your family. 15 years of silence is a long time even for the sake of family. I’m kind of following your route too. I wish something earth shattering would come to light to convince my uber-TBM inlaws that the Church isn’t true.

    Clay, I worked at the Church the same time you did. I remember your name and face but we never worked together. I was a contractor in Content and Media and had a hotel cube on the 20th floor of the COB (2 days/week) and worked at Riverton the other days. I didn’t lose testimony until after I left Church employment, but I did think certain things were strange, especially the extensive scripting and editing process of General Conference talks which includes editing (pulpit changes) after the talk was delivered (I didn’t actually know about Ron Poelman’s 1984 talk until after leaving). It was very interesting that an old Church co-worker was the catalyst to your research. I’d be curious to know what % of former Church employees actually leave the Church. I actually met one on a recent project I was on with my current company. We had some good stories to tell during our business travel :)

    • Clay January 27, 2016 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Ken,
      I am adding Ron Poelman’s talk to the “list of shocking things I learned about the church today”. Thanks for sharing.

  94. Bret January 27, 2016 at 10:35 am - Reply

    What a fantastic, heartfelt story for all in involved. Clay mentioned he asked why no one told him earlier about the false claims. Well, I am letting you in on a secret that few ever find out – religion is ALL man-made. If you apply the same scrutiny and critical thinking skills to ALL religion, you will eventually be either an agnostic/atheist or a gnostic/atheist (see In any case, it is scary but leaves the unbeliever appreciating the one life we know we have. All the best in your relationships.

    • Rude Dog February 1, 2016 at 6:24 am - Reply

      Good point Bret. I’m as Atheist as they come however I’m open to the concept of God. I’m pretty sure that all the concepts, forms, and definitions of Gods that have been put before us as humankind do not exist, nor any personal being concerned with my day to day. As Hitch so eloquently prosed: “Is it the case that at one time, in one place, one God created man in his own express image? Or the opposite, that at many times, in many places, man created many Gods in his own cultural and express image?”

      In our era of modern technology our ability to communicate with each other is unprecedented. If a God exists and has an important message to get to his children following a road to salvation there has to be a better way of disseminating the Gospel. In other words, my remark to God would be: “Hey God, if you want to talk to me, share with me your divine plan, well, here I am. Don’t reveal yourself and your plan to somebody else in a cave, an attic, a grove, this somebody who’s usually charismatic, who tells me what you want from me even down to what I eat and do in the bedroom, facial hair white shirts and two earrings, who themselves grant personal sexual license with their adherents, and wants quite a large sum of my money to access your message and plan. Here I am, just talk to me. I check my emails in the evening.

  95. Eliza January 27, 2016 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    My heart was hurting throughout this whole podcast. I relate to so much of it. My faith crisis started 6 months ago, and reading the CES letter 3 months ago was like whoaaaaaaa. Clay, I kept wishing while I was listening that I could just have your black and white thinking and be done with this ‘dark night’ in 6 weeks. I’m ready to move on from Mormonism but my TBM husband is holding strong and wants to raise our 3 young kids in it. I’ve shared a lot with him in hopes that he will join me and we can leave together. But my worst fear is that our marriage will be similar to Matt’s. While I’m sure Matt has a lot of happiness in his life, I cried with him several times as he shared his heartache. I do not want that life. I do not want my children to be taught by other adults that I’m a sinner or ‘less than’ because I don’t go to church or maybe one day will have (my first!) cup of coffee. Thank you so much for doing this. Peace and love to all of you.

  96. Marlo January 27, 2016 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Thank you! Your stories are both so real to me. Matt, my heart goes out to you. Your story helped me reflect on the church’s impact on my relationship with my own less faithful but wonderful dad growing up, and on what could have been for my husband had things not changed. I relate so much with Clay in my own experience with suddenly discovering that The Truth was not true, one year ago. That discovery, though it was very painful at first, has been a wonderful gift to my husband, children and I. Sadly there is that silence, now, with family and friends who are still faithful, but the future is so bright. All the best to you both – so happy you have each other!

  97. douglas January 27, 2016 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    Your story was inspiring to all of us who have learned the issues and haven’t had the courage to speak up about our thoughts. Thanks for sharing your story, it feels so familiar and is almost exactly the same experience many of us have lived.

  98. Joy January 27, 2016 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Matt and Clay,

    Thank you very much for your stories. Matt I hope you are able to have some honest conversations with your family, especially your kids and can rebuild stronger relationships with them. Clay I’m glad you’re wife and kids are in the same place as you, that probably makes it easier.

    I am 36 and live in Thatcher, AZ, a small mormon community. I gave up my temple recommend 3 1/2 months ago. I felt like I couldn’t pretend, that I had to be authentic with myself regardless of outcome. I told my Bishop why I didn’t believe (first vision, book of abraham, book of mormon sources, etc). He didn’t know any of those things either, he wasn’t even aware of the Church essays. I sent him the Church essay on the accounts and met with him later as well as an Institute teacher who tried to explain it all away. But I don’t buy into the explanations anymore. I can’t explain it all away.

    Everything is my town is church-related. It’s hard to escape. I know once I become public with my feelings that we will lose friendships. I worry most about how it will affect my kids relationships with their friends and so I keep going to church for them. My oldest is 12 and I struggle to know when to have the conversation about all of this with him. I go back and forth between saying they can keep going and then decide for themselves someday or not going at all. I worry that if they continue going they will be faced with the same difficult decisions and confusion that I have gone through when it all crashed down for me. I don’t want that for them. I have told my parents of my unbelief and the first they say is please let the kids continue to go until they can decide for themselves. But it seems off to me to continue to allow my kids to participate in something that I know is false, no matter how good it may be.

    Thank you again. It’s always comforting to know there are others out there who know what I know now and are going through this same journey.

    • Clay January 27, 2016 at 8:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Joy,
      Having young children makes this so hard for you. I know how sad it is to see your children loose their faith. I have seen it from both sides. With my daughter it was the pure anguish of knowing there would be an empty seat at the table. With my son it was the sadness of telling him and then seeing the belief disapear. The loss of innocence is very sad to watch. This might not come as a surprise, but my unsolicted advice is to be up front with your kids in an age-appropriate way. You don’t want your children to have their faith crisis as young adults! Help them build their moral foundation outside of the cult-like practices of mormonism. Please watch John Dehlin’s talk to the Unitarian Church on 2 Aug 2015 published by Don Walton. I hope for all the best for you and your family.

      • Joy January 27, 2016 at 9:15 pm - Reply


        Thanks, I’ll have to check out that talk. My kids are 7, 9, 9, and 12. Most of them think church is boring anyways, but it’s more of a family thing, Church is expected of us. I understand what their anguish would be because I thought that way once . I just have to find the right way to break it to our kids and our family. Thanks for your advice and good luck in your continued journey!

  99. Haley January 27, 2016 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Clay and Matt,

    I deeply appreciated your comment. As a BYU student who has been suffering through the painful part of a faith transition for about six months now I found myself nodding my head at a lot of what you both said. I felt bad for Matt who has been forced to be silent… as a BYU student I often feel the same way.. just wearing a mask for everyone, all the time. I also deeply identified with Clay and recall the phase where I wanted everyone to know what I had learned. So thank you for such a wonderful, deeply thoughtful podcast.


  100. Joanne January 27, 2016 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Look around you. The miracle of a newborn baby, a daffodil, a bluebird, a mountain, a sunset, the ocean? That’s GOD, not Joseph Smith. Oh to think people sing praise to the man! All my songs are sung to the glory of GOD.

    • Coffee Drinker January 27, 2016 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      I’ll bet that the followers of other religions also look around and they see miracles and to them that proves that their god exists. And their songs are probably sung to their god. On the other hand, I also see daffodils and mountains, a sunset and the ocean and I feel so blessed to be a part of this planet and universe and I do not believe in any god, whether it be Allah or Jesus or Yahweh or Zeuss or Apollo. Does it matter what anyone believes? The history of this world shows us that millions have been killed in the name of religion and God. Let us just follow what Christians call “The Golden Rule”, even if they did not invent it. Let us simply work for the betterment of mankind, regardless of what we either believe or don’t believe.

      Matt and Clay are on a faith journey and if they are like most of us, it will probably never end, but along the way we will all meet a lot of good people, like John Dehlin who has certainly helped me.

  101. Chad January 27, 2016 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    I’ve heard the term ‘gullible’ referenced in some comments and in the presentation.

    Perhaps vulnerability may be a more appropriate term. Vulnerabilities are what get exploited by the confidence men. Fears of death, fears of the unknown. loneliness, greed, or lack of knowledge all are vulnerabilities con-men hone in on for exploitation and defrauding.

    Even well practiced virtues such as humility, meekness, and love for your family & friends can morph to a vulnerability for exploitation.

    Pretty scary..

    • JT January 27, 2016 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      Good point. Thanks.

      I am also reminded of the related idea of persuasion tactics. The science of persuasion, led by the psychologist Robert Cialdini) uncovers some of these lunerabilities … a nice summary video here:

      Cialdini’s entire book, “Influence, the Science of Persuasion” is great. It is available for downloading on-line (at least an earlier edition). Just google the title and “pdf”

  102. crew January 27, 2016 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    You guys are hero’s. I’ve been a non believer for 20 years. One year after my marriage I came across Fawn Brodie’s No man knows my history and that’s when the internet came alive. After doing lots of research I quickly knew the Church was false. I tried to talk to my wife about it but she would just shut me down. I’ve always been viewed by my family as the lost soul a maybe someday I’ll be touched by the spirit and return to the fold. This interview gives me hope that someday things will be different. Good job.

  103. GM January 27, 2016 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Matt and Clay. Thank you so much for sharing your stories. Matt your pain is felt and I pray for a strengthened family relationship. Clay I found the speed of your transition so dramatic but thoughtful and I pray you find peace in your family relationships. I have a question about your Joseph Smith relationship. I am currently studying polygamy and find the sessions off spring with Joseph inconsistent with some things I have studied. I further question the validity on the sessions web site evidence as Brian Hales research. We have found Brian to be inaccurate with a family member story, and when we probed him for his sources he could not produce them. Is there DNA evidence for JS and Session having offspring anywhere? I hope you don’t see this as an attack on your family tree, by no means is it. Addionally, this is a shelf issue for me, I just want to make sure I am doing my best effort to reconcile truth.

    • Clay January 27, 2016 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      Hi GM,
      The family has given DNA and they are waiting on the results. You can read the historical accounts in most of the books on the subject. Curiously, the church essay is silent on this one and the other polyandry wives. The family resemblence between Joseph and Josephine is striking.

      • Jay January 27, 2016 at 9:27 pm - Reply


        This is fascinating – the family has given DNA and they are waiting on the results.

        What are the potential results? Could it establish that Smith had children with a wife other than Emma?

        Again, thanks to you and Matt for a superb interview.

        • Clay January 27, 2016 at 10:25 pm - Reply

          Hi Jay,
          Yes, Joseph had a daughter named Josephine Lyon Fisher with his polyandrous wife Sylvia Sessions. There are so many good and interesting books on the topic I won’t make a recommendation. Your question reminds me of me just three months ago, you will be shocked as you look into this topic and others. Good luck in your journey.

          • Jay January 29, 2016 at 2:45 pm

            That is mind blowing.

            I hope you’ll be back talking to John if and when the DNA results come back. I might be missing something, but it seems that would be a huge story.

            I love you’re encouraging words to everyone!

    • darkshadow January 28, 2016 at 9:22 am - Reply

      There is DNA testing that is being done by an open source project called “The Mormon Genome Project”
      Check it out.

    • Clay February 5, 2016 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      Hi GM,

      I don’t take your comments as an attack and I’m not going to try to convince you that Josephine is Joseph’s daughter with Sylvia. The DNA study is not complete. However, her close descendant’s family resemblance to Joseph Smith, the fact that Sylvia was married (polyandry) to Joseph, and that she told Josephine on her death bed are enough for me. As you mentioned, it is a shelf item for you. I say go ahead and leave it on the shelf. There is so much other proof that Joseph Smith was a false prophet that you should be able to reconcile truth and confidently know that the church is not true without this bit of evidence.

      My question, why wouldn’t it be true? Apologists will try to “question the validity” but why? Why shouldn’t there be offspring when raising seed was part of the justification? Like most of the extremely troubling issues in church history, the truth is just simply that Joseph Smith was never a prophet. Once you are willing to entertain that possibility, things start to make a lot more sense.

  104. Coffee Drinker January 28, 2016 at 9:14 am - Reply

    I only commented once on Mormon Stories and only a couple of times on an ex-Mo site since stopping my attending 3 years and 9 months ago. But this segment with the amazing stories of Matt and Clay is by far the best of any faith journey I have found in that time. And the over 200 comments! I have commented more on this than I have on all other faith transition sites combined!

    John, I sure hope you have more Stories like these with men of such integrity as Matt and Clay. You have been a light in the wilderness for I would suppose thousands. I truly wish to thank Clay and Matt, and especially you John Dehlin. Don’t ever stop doing Mormon Stories!

  105. Paul M January 28, 2016 at 10:23 am - Reply

    Hey guys, thank you for sharing your stories! My personal experiences ring true with both of you. Matt: I had my faith crisis at age 40 (over 4 years ago) and my wife is not interested in the issues and perfectly happy to be Mormon. I know how lonely a road that can be. I have only told one Mormon friend about it. My wife was upset with me over a year ago and “outed” me to our 18 year old daughter. Best thing that could have happened!!! My daughter and I have had the talks I wish my wife would have with me. Daughter took my side…

    Clay: I stumbled across the same BOA video you did and it triggered my faith crisis too! I spent two months down the rabbit hole learning all that the church never told me all those years. I spent a period of time doubting or wondering if there was a God or not. I too believe in Christ now and he is my focus. I understand (and never judge) why someone who leaves Mormonism becomes atheist or agnostic but the teaches of Jesus work for me. I focus on love, mercy, and especially grace. These things bring joy to my life, and if I die, and this is the end I didn’t lose anything from it.

    Clay, I have a more nuanced view of the Bible now and I don’t take things literally. I doubt there was a global flood, Tower of Babel, age of life on earth. All these things I go with science. I choose to focus on the messages behind those narratives rather than if they really happened.

    Matt and Clay, I wish you both much happiness in your journeys!!!

  106. Fellow Philly Saint January 28, 2016 at 12:29 pm - Reply


    I am also related to Josephine Lyon Fisher through the Fisher line. Years ago (25+), I also brought up the idea to my high school seminary teacher that I was a descendant of the prophet Joseph Smith. That idea was not warmly embraced, and I have been embarrassed to ever bring it up again. In fact, when most of my family provided DNA samples to be tested years ago, I did not participate. I’m sorry, now, that I didn’t support the effort to find out for sure.

    I just went and watched the video on the BOA you talked about. Here is my take-away: whether the BOA or Sylvia Sessions or a hundred other things, we are SO AFRAID to admit one single flaw in Joseph Smith that has anything to do with doctrine. Oh sure, most will admit “he wasn’t perfect” but if you try to get someone to say what he wasn’t perfect in, there is either an awkward pause or something like “he was perhaps too playful” or “he wrestled too much”. We so need him to be perfect. It’s ok if other prophets got some doctrine wrong, but not Joseph. We need everything to be inspired, otherwise there are a lot of questions that need answering.

    Thanks for your story. I’ve found a way at present to make the church work for me but I admire someone who can just call a spade a spade. My best to you.

    • Clay January 28, 2016 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      Hi Fellow Philly Saint,

      That is a very good point. I was one of those people who would have readily admitted that the Prophet Joseph Smith wasn’t perfect. I would have been hard pressed to give a decent answer, I probably would have said “too playful”. That is so laughable once you find out the truth. Thanks for your comments, good luck to you.

  107. Anna January 28, 2016 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Thank you both for your stories. Clay your story especially resonated with me. It was almost a carbon copy of what I am going through now. Except I am in my mid twenties, and I have not even been home from my mission a year, yet I came across all of this information just like you, studied hours every day, and the transition of my mindset was very quick as was yours. I have yet to tell my family and friends because of fear of hurting them and what they will think of me. I hope the time will come soon where I can share hi
    this with them in love with no fear.

    Thanks for taking the time to share this experience in such a clear and eloquent way. I hope only good things come your way.

  108. Anna January 28, 2016 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Thank you both for your stories. Clay your story especially resonated with me. It was almost a carbon copy of what I am going through now. Except I am in my mid twenties, and I have not even been home from my mission a year, yet I came across all of this information just like you, studied hours every day, and the transition of my mindset was very quick as was yours. I have yet to tell my family and friends because of fear of hurting them and what they will think of me. I hope the time will come soon where I can share this with them in love with no fear.

    Thanks for taking the time to share this experience in such a clear and eloquent way. I hope only good things come your way.

    • Clay January 28, 2016 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      Hi Anna,
      I am thinking about your situation and I am happy for you that you found out and I am optimistic for you that you “have yet to tell family and friends”. You are wise to go slow. I naively thought that I found out something that would be so shocking that every single person would want to know. I might have inadvertently set back the truth discovery process for some of my family and friends because I pushed it on them too quickly. I honestly thought they would be like me. Thank you for your comments. I hope it all goes well for you, good luck.

  109. Andi January 28, 2016 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    I’ve listened to many really great MS podcasts but this one is my favorite so far. Thank you both so much for being so open and honest about the paths you’ve chosen to take. I’m a convert and my eyes were opened to the truth when I was teaching seminary about five years ago. Church history, a great way to start those questions flowing! It turns out that my husband learned many of these truths a few years before I did (and his declining church attendance reflected that) but was wise enough to let me discover them on my own. He never pressured me to join the church (close to 30 years ago) and he’s not pressuring me to leave it either. I’m grateful for both. I feel like I’m living a lie when I attend church, though. More often than not, I leave feeling drained. A few close church friends know where I stand but the vast majority don’t. I never thought of myself as an actress but this is making one out of me. I go “church shopping” once or twice a month and the minute I find one that fits our needs (Christian, family centered, service and community oriented), we’ll be making the change. The problem is that it hasn’t happened yet and it’s getting harder all the time to pretend. We live in New England so we’re fortunate that the pressures and challenges of leaving the church while living in an LDS community don’t exist for us. I’m just very thankful for the wonderful relationships that we’ve made with so many LDS friends and the bonds that I hope and pray will remain when the time comes to move on. Thank you again for your strength to come forward and share your stories. Know that it has helped!

  110. Clay January 28, 2016 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    Hi Andi,
    That is a great story and you are a good example. It is really scary to have people that you love find out you left the church. People in our ward and people I work with have found out and they have been very nice about it. I let some of my friends know that “I’ve decided that it is OK to drink coffee and iced tea”. I got a weird look at first and then a confused smile and the conversation moved on. That is nice because you don’t want to have to put on an act but you don’t want to have a debate either. I wish everyone could just be themselves, live true to their convictions, and get along. I am glad that you have your husband have that and I am always glad to hear that this podcast helped someone. Good luck to you and your family.

  111. Cindy Conlin January 28, 2016 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Clay, I appreciate your integrity and desire to help others. Listening to the podcast brought back happy memories of working with you at the church. I left the church in July 2014 because of the way it treats women (about a month after I left Church employment) and only learned about the historical issues after I’d left. Sending positive energy and solidarity to you as you work through your transition!

    • Clay January 29, 2016 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      Hi Cindy,
      It is so nice to hear from you. It still seems odd to say it, but I am so happy that you left the church. I have realized even more over the last month how seldom people are willing to look at the issues, let alone accept the truth. I hope that our story has brought hope to you for your friends and family who are still cult-bound. Knowing that you are free has encouraged me for sure. Good luck in your ongoing journey.

  112. Tristan January 29, 2016 at 4:34 am - Reply

    Thank you for this podcast. I realized the Church wasn’t true before Christmas and am going through my grieving process. This podcast absolutely helps. Thank you for reaching out and helping others. Its a true testament of your character.

  113. JC January 29, 2016 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Such a great interview. Very few interviews on Mormon Stories capture the raw feelings all those who have stopped believing go through as well as this one. Clay, thank you for your authenticity and resolute personality. I, like you had a similar journey except my wife was not only not onboard with me but she went full blast mormon after I told her I didn’t believe anymore. I assume because someone told her that by being more obedient and more mormon, I would eventually go back to church. Sadly, and on the eve of our divorce, that was not the case. The pain is real and the impact to our lives significant.

    Like you said, we would be better off getting our Christian fix anywhere else and avoid the risk that one of our kids will go through a disaffection or worse, a divorce. I don’t wish it upon anyone else.

    Thanks again.

  114. RLeeG January 29, 2016 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    John, this episode was awesome. This is what I love about mormon stories right here. I am not big on panels and PHD’s talking about their views. This is genuine and real to me. These are good people with a great story, and an incredible discussion about their experience. Thank you so much to John for what you do, and to Matt and Clay for sharing. Incredible stuff.

  115. square peg January 29, 2016 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    Wow!!!!!!!! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed both of these interviews. I too am in a marriage like Matt with a believing spouse and have felt the anger of having to be suppressed within my home with my husband and my still believing son, as well as with my TBM’s extended family on both sides. It has been excruciating!

    I am completely in awe at how quickly Clay went from believing to non-believing. I can only daydream about loved ones having such quick realizations. I am so jealous that your wife is with you on this journey. It is so incredibly difficult to be married to someone who sees you as mislead and misguided. I have had several of my kids walk away from the church and I know that my husband and extended family and friends see me as the reason “they went astray”. It is painful beyond belief. My grieving process has been extensive. I have vacillated between anger and grief for over 4 years now. Probably because I have so much shame and guilt being surrounded by still believing members who see me as weak and deceived because of my choice to leave the church. It makes it hard to heal when people you love so much see you that way. That being said, I respect your honesty and wish that others could have a personality that would allow them to admit to the truth despite the consequences.

    I’m very impressed with both Matt and Clay and can’t thank both of you enough for sharing your stories with all of us who are also going through things like this with our families. This is a real problem that affects real members of the church and is causing pain and divide within families. It is not “all well in Zion” as many want to believe it is. We need to be willing to talk about it instead of burying it. Nothing good is coming by pretending these things aren’t happening.

    Thank you both! I wish you both the best with your lives and your families.

  116. BLS January 30, 2016 at 12:55 am - Reply

    I cannot thank you both (and John) enough for this podcast/video interview. I have written this comment probably 5 different times because I don’t know how to explain how I am feeling about this (without writing a novel). My husband and I are experiencing the same things at almost the same time line. There were many events in our lives that lead us to where we are at now with the church (my family leaving in high school, his mission experiences, my experiences, being an LGBT advocate, marrying in the temple, and others). It is such an incredible paradigm shift in our lives. It is very confusing, frustrating, and freeing all at the same time. My husbands family still does not know that we no longer believe in the church because we never talk about it. It would be so awkward to bring up with them. They are TBM through and through. We know they would be so hurt and we do not want to be the cause of their hurt. We have been avoiding the topic as much as possible. We just aren’t ready yet. But thank you Clay and Matt for sharing your stories. It was amazing to see that my husband and I are not alone. Thank you so much! That is a courageous thing to do.

    (Also, I agree it is very black and white. There is a reason so many people who leave the church become atheists. I cannot help but wonder if that is because growing up we are taught that “it either happened or it didn’t”, it’s all or nothing. So when you learn that you no longer believe in the church, where do you go? What are you supposed to think? Believe? I do not judge anyone for feeling this way. This black and white thinking is ingrained in so many people who grew up in the church.)

  117. Anna January 30, 2016 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    Really beautiful episode. Such an interesting contrast between Clay’s ability to be open and go forward with his immediate family intact and Matt’s situation which required a great deal of silence. Thank you both for being so honest and open and making many people feel like they are not alone.

  118. Ryan January 30, 2016 at 9:37 pm - Reply


    We live here in South Jordan as well. My shelf came crashing down just over a year ago when I ready the Plural Marriage in Kirkland and Nauvoo essay. Since then I, like you have spent a great deal of time studying these issues. Part of me wishes there was a good argument on the other side, I simply have not yet found any. I like to think that I usually can see both sides of most issues. I understand arguments between republicans and democrats, pro-life vs pro choice, gun control, Apple vs a PC. I just can’t understand with all the evidence we have how one can argue for Joseph Smith. If you’re willing my wife and I would love to take you guys to lunch one day. Thanks so much for a great pod cast.

    • Clay January 31, 2016 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Ryan,
      Glad you like the podcast and thank you for the comments. My wife and I would love to go to lunch sometime. If you send your contact info to John he can forward to me. It is always nice to get together to discuss our experiences. Looking forward to it.

  119. Janice January 31, 2016 at 11:23 am - Reply

    If you have never read what constitutes a Cult and have 10 minutes read this link. It is not against any particular group just educating people on the methods used by Cult organizations.

    I have no affiliation with the group cited but being a generational LDS (no longer active) I find that to Clay’s comment about the Church being a cult (which I can honestly say took me a long time to SEE) fits every category. No wonder people have such a time with the unraveling.

    We are controlled at every turn. Be it asking a question, financial transparency, financial demands with eternal consequences, negative labels if out of “line”, making secret oaths, consecrating ALL to the Church, (not to God), hiding and rewriting historical facts, putting huge demands on peoples time via callings and activities, definitely blurring the line between one’s ability or right to have a personal relationship with God or spiritual study with different conclusions, who speaks for God, controlling information and community bonds and as in Matt’s experience, holding unbelieving members hostage with their family relationships. This is serious stuff!!!! It is not the family members as people for the most part but rather the soup we have simmered in throughout our Church affiliation.

    Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.

    1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
    2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
    3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
    4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
    5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
    6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
    7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
    8. Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
    9. The group/leader is always right.
    10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

    • Clay January 31, 2016 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      Hi Janice,
      I was nervous when I saw the word “cult”, I was worried you were going to take me to task for using cult to describe the church. I feel strongly that it is a cult. Thank you very much for your detailed and excellent comments. I am glad they are attached here and part of the discussion. Until people realize that the church is a cult it will be very difficult to improve the dialogue between practicing mormons and exmormons, especially when the divide involves family members. Thank you again.

  120. RK January 31, 2016 at 11:43 am - Reply

    What a phenomenal podcast! Matt and Clay are helping so many by being their honest and authentic selves. I’m a never Mormon who has lived in Utah for 30 plus years and am surrounded by Mormonism: Ex-Mormon spouse with adult children from prior marriages, a brother who is a bishop, etc. One part in particular that I could really resonate with was how Matt used to be more engaged with the family. I too have become so unengaged at family gatherings over the years. Perhaps they are for different reasons, but one I believe to be the same is that it is hard when you know information that the other doesn’t know and yet you have to keep it to yourself. I agree that suppressing yourself is not healthy, but I don’t see a healthy alternative. Perhaps some can relate to the following. There are four things that are never discussed at our extended family gatherings: religion, politics, LGBT issues, and usually current events because those usually tie into the first three somehow. That leaves traveling, business, and investing as often discussed topics. Unfortunately, due to my immediate family’s circumstances, we can’t partake much in those conversations. Is my extended family welcoming and inclusive…yes. But not without some condescending, righteous, and forward comments that are somehow said in a “loving” way. I just really related to this part of the conversation, and totally understood the trapped feeling leading to unhappiness. I would love to hear another podcast done on the point of view John mentioned of why it’s hard not to be the fun and engaging person one once was living in this culture. One other aspect that rung so true is how widespread it is for inactive or ex-Mormons never to be asked any questions pertaining to why they left. My husband was never asked anything as well over all the decades. I do think the silence and lack of concern and questions speaks volumes and can make someone withdraw and lead them to not be who they once were and to be angry and distant. My heart goes out to both of you, and I am so sorry Matt that you are going through this so alone. Stay strong and thank you for helping so many!!

    • Clay January 31, 2016 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      Hi RK,
      We are so glad you enjoyed the podcast. It is very satisfying to think that we have helped people struggling with all these issues. I wanted to reply to everyone’s comments with a personal note but there are so many. Let me just say thank you to everyone for your support and know that we are sending you our love and continued support. And another thanks to John Dehlin for all he does to support the community of people impacted by mormonism.

      • RK February 1, 2016 at 12:45 pm - Reply

        Couldn’t agree more… A HUGE THANK YOU to John Dehlin!!!

  121. Glen January 31, 2016 at 1:20 pm - Reply


    I grew up in Redmond! I am about a year younger than you. I too would most likely be considered quite binary. I also came across the same documentary about the Book of Abraham. I remember at that time just knowing that the Book of Abraham was a hoax and that Joseph had lied to us all. It was a very strange revelation, feeling I had been so naive, scared about what my family may think, how to handle it, yet there was also this very peaceful feeling of relief. I felt like an entire new enlightenment had occurred, so many things that were just too confusing all of the sudden made sense.

    After my discovery I talked with my wife. It is interesting how people tend to handle information that makes us uncomfortable. The fact that we have been so lied to for me is quite frustrating and aggravating. I think; how is it that all of these people continue to knowingly support a lie. Referring to authorities of the Church who have known this for most of my entire life. How is that even slightly Christ like in any way, shape, or form. Therefore, I am like you, I can not support it or follow it. My wife’s response, no church is perfect, she does not want to look into it any farther. My dads response, he wants to find and show me where I have become mislead and therefore he must believe I have lost my way. This is the most difficult part of learning new truths and having the personality to follow the truth. For me, it is the frustration of what people believe and think of us and when they go looking it is not to know the truth but only to back up the beliefs they already have, after all they already “know the truth.” Often they only look at information supported by the church, or in a way they want it to be. Similar to one person hearing something in general conference and the other person never herd that at all, like all of the people leaving the church, we hear what is on our mind. This frustration; two separate paradigms trying to make scene of each other just does not work unless both are willing to truly be humble enough to believe we may be wrong, one willing side just goes no where, and that is where the great frustration for me occurs.

    I have spent a lot of time thinking about this because it is not only found in religious beliefs but also in other aspects of our lives. In my profession I try to be ethical and follow the information and knowledge I have and was taught through over eight years of post high school education. But all to often what I have to say is not what other people want to hear. The monetary costs and consequences from their paradigm seems to prevent them from exploring farther. So they do not want to explore the ethics or the science behind the information presented. If they did they would quite possible come to new knowledge and understanding that would not only help them but the entire industry. They can not see that because of the immediate costs that hit them like a ton of bricks, and seldom have I seen any one truly investigate father. Greater rewards are possible for those who humble themselves and are OK with being wrong, then willing to go against what they have been taught their entire lives.

    The sad part of this is that standing up to the truth and ethics can also create real isolation, loneliness, loss of connection, loss of business, financial hard ships, stress, heart ache. It has been the most difficult thing in my life, the costs can and have been great. It is scary to go there and with real good reason.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  122. RK January 31, 2016 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    What a phenomenal podcast! Matt and Clay are helping so many by being their honest and authentic selves. I’m a never Mormon who has lived in Utah for 30 plus years and am surrounded by Mormonism: Ex-Mormon spouse with adult children from prior marriages, a brother who is a bishop, etc. One part in particular that I could really resonate with was how Matt used to be more engaged with the family. I too have become so unengaged at family gatherings over the years. Perhaps they are for different reasons, but one I believe to be the same is that it is hard when you know information that the other doesn’t know and yet you have to keep it to yourself. I agree that suppressing yourself is not healthy, but I don’t see a healthy alternative. Perhaps some can relate to the following. There are four things that are never discussed at our extended family gatherings: religion, politics, LGBT issues, and usually current events because those usually tie into the first three somehow. That leaves traveling, business, and investing as often discussed topics. Unfortunately, due to my immediate family’s circumstances, we can’t partake much in those conversations. Is my extended family welcoming and inclusive…yes. But not without some condescending, righteous, and forward comments that are somehow said in a “loving” way. I just really related to this part of the conversation, and totally understood the trapped feeling leading to unhappiness. I would love to hear another podcast done on the point of view John mentioned of why it’s hard not to be the fun and engaging person one once was living in this culture. One other aspect that rung so true is how widespread it is for inactive or ex-Mormons never to be asked any questions pertaining to why they left. My husband was never asked anything as well over all the decades. I do think the silence and lack of concern and questions speaks volumes and can make someone withdraw and lead them to not be who they once were and to be angry and distant. My heart goes out to both of you, and I am so sorry Matt that you were going through this so alone for so long. Stay strong and thank you both for helping so many!!

  123. Celestine January 31, 2016 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    It is a shame that many lives have been hijacked by scams. It does take courage to leave the circle that you have been connected with. Friends will remain friends. Acquaintance will also remain the same. You owe no one an explanation when you leave if that is what is prolonging your departure. For converts it maybe a little easier as you have had an identity outside of mormonism.. You have to re-invent yourself and create a community of your own.

  124. skierdude January 31, 2016 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Clay’s comment about the 200 year deception ending with me was and still is perhaps one of the main reason my wife and I left the Church and took our kids with. I felt a great responsibility to not continue the trend forward into my posterity “just because”. If you think about it, were actually potentially doing the church a great service. If for some reason our children decide to become TBM someday, they will be much better members than people like myself that were force-fed the gospel.

    • Clay January 31, 2016 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Hi skierdude,
      I am glad to know another person committed to ending the 200 year deception. My wife and I were talking about that last night. It will be tough for us, a bit difficult for our young adult kids, but hopefully it will be approaching “normal” for our grand kids. Good luck to you and your family. Hopefully future generations will love you and respect you for your pioneering spirit.

  125. Scott C January 31, 2016 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Clay and Matt,
    Very good, honest podcast. Toward the end of Part 2, John D. mentions that people he knows have continued in their journey of investigation (Bible, Christ, etc.) and have ended being agnostic or atheistic. I left the LDS Church intellectually as a senior at BYU (and left in terms of formal membership over a decade ago), but I also continued quite aggressively with my larger investigation through the years: the Bible, historical Jesus, science, philosophy and religion generally.

    And it is actually because of this ongoing investigation that I have maintained a very satisfying faith based on reason, science and spirituality. I have friends who have left the LDS church who also have found fulfillment in other Christian faith traditions or as independent/free-lance theists.

    As the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, argued so convincingly over two hundred years ago, we are unable to know the truth with a capital “T.” We know our own personal mental experience, but we don’t know what kind of knowledge lies beyond this experience. In the arena of science, we know if a scientific theory is “successful” or not—by it being testable and repeatable—but we don’t know if it contains ultimate “Truth.” No matter what assumptions we make, our most basic assumptions about the universe (whether the universe and life are intentional or not), are ultimately based on faith.

    Without judging other points of view, I’ve read much over the years and I recommend: “There is a God” by Anthony Flew (former leading atheistic philosopher); “Infinite Potential” by Lothar Schafer;” Biocentrism” by Robert Lanza;” Nature’s Destiny” by Michael Denton; “Jesus” by Marcus Borg; and “The Varieties of Religious Experience” by William James. I fall into the camp of Jane Goodall’s quote: “Since I cannot believe that this was the result of chance, I have to admit to anti-chance. And so I must believe in a guiding power in the Universe—in other words I must believe in God.”

    Thank you for sharing your stories and best wishes,
    Scott C.

  126. beth February 1, 2016 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Hi matt and Clay, it would be lovely to hear more from you both in the future and to see where life takes you both, how jesus works in your life, please come back for more interviews and tell us more of your story, you’re both so uplifting and inspiring to me and all jon dehlins listeners, god bless you both matt and clay, loved listening to you both.

  127. Clay February 1, 2016 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Hi ABM,
    Knowing 100% means you can know for certain that Joseph Smith was a con-man. He was a money digger and a story teller. You can know that he was a sexual predator and pedophile. You can know that he created the temple ordinances based on Masonry. You can know for certain that View of the Hebrews came out five years before the Book of Mormon. You can know for sure that there is ZERO archaeological evidence of the huge battle that was supposed to have taken place at the hill Cumorah. You can know where Joseph picked up the names Moroni and Cumorah. You can know for sure that the Book of Abraham is a funerary text, you can even see it in his notes that the translation is false and you can’t excuse it away because he documented it so well. You can also know that Joseph Smith ordered the Nauvoo Expositor destroyed because they exposed him. You can know that he shot three people and two of them died at the gunfight at Carthage.

    I could go on but let me say that I am not offering to prove it to anyone. I am telling you that you can know for yourself. You can know for yourself if you are wiling to do the research. You can even pray about it as I have done. I have felt the confirming spirit that Joseph Smith is a false prophet and the Book of Mormon the Book of Abraham are complete hoaxes, except where they are copied from the 1769 version of the King James Bible. Yes, you can know for sure if you are willing to research.

    • St. Ralph February 1, 2016 at 11:07 pm - Reply

      And one thing I run into quite a bit is that people think that if there is any chance, say 0.08% chance, that something is true, then you can’t say that it’s categorically false and, True and False being mutually exclusive Boolean states, if something’s not false, it has to be true. Math and logic don’t work that way. If there’s an 80% chance that something’s true, then there’s only a 20% chance that the opposite is true and those aren’t bettin’ odds.

    • J.T. February 10, 2016 at 9:45 am - Reply

      I wish you the best as you go through all this. My own story is pretty similar to Matt’s. I understand completely where you guys are coming from. History is a mess. Mormon history is a bigger mess. I think “knowing” that a particular historical claim is “true” is always tricky and should be approached with caution.

      “You can know that he was a sexual predator and pedophile.” I would reconsider the use of the word “pedophile” in describing Smith. I’ll appeal to the authority of Lindsay Hansen Park who had some great comments about this on the Year of Polygamy podcast, discouraging the use of the word. Personally, I’m one of those guys who believes polygamy did not originate with Smith. I think the history is pretty obvious that polygamy originated with Brigham et al and the stories about the young girls are fiction. Regardless, in describing those stories, pedophile is probably not the right word to choose.

      “You can know that he shot three people and two of them died at the gunfight at Carthage.” Again, history is a mess. I think LDS people at the time believed this because it was reported by Taylor or Richards. But today it is pretty obvious he did not kill anyone. I distrust Willard Richards and John Taylor so much that I question their entire accounts of what happened at Carthage. Did he fire into the mob, as they reported? Who knows. I sure can’t find any details about the three men who were allegedly injured. I can find names and some inconsistent descriptions of the alleged injuries. But I can find nothing about those 3 guys before that day in Carthage, and nothing about them after that day. Who were they? What happened to them? It seems pretty unclear to me.

      Thanks for the podcast. Best wishes.

  128. Grace February 1, 2016 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Dear Matt and Clay,
    Thank you for going on mormon stories and sharing your experiences. My husband and I left the church less than a year ago and our friends and family have been unwilling to listen to history, doctorine or even why we left. My husband is the second sibling in his family to leave in a years time and the family relationship is greatly changed. We want to talk about what we’ve been going through and learned but no one wants to. Have you found any way to reach or foster dialogue with your Mormon family and friends? Any advise?

    • Clay February 2, 2016 at 3:50 am - Reply

      Hi Grace,
      The most bizarre thing about the cult-like grip that the church has on members is their unwillingness to look at hard evidence and lack of interest in pursuing knowledge even when confronted with obvious lies like the Book of Abraham. I know because I have been on both sides. I still can’t believe I went two weeks after watching the Book of Abraham documentary. I feel your frustration, I am sorry because all I can tell you that it is a tremendously difficult thing to help people out of a cult and it is heart breaking to watch. I am glad we have the community of exmormons to support each other and I sincerly hope that this podcast has helped you and can someday help more of your loved ones.

  129. Fraidy Cat February 2, 2016 at 12:40 am - Reply

    Wow! This was so great! I can relate so much both of these guys!

    Your boldness has inspired my wife and I to cut through the awkward silence that exists between us and both our parents and also my wife’s siblings.

    In a sense, my story has been very similar to Matt’s and my wife’s is closer to Clay’s. Once the lightbulb finally switched on for my wife, things really started moving for our family. We have learned ever more more of the things we never were taught in Sunday school growing up in Cache Valley since we first decided we were no longer members.

    Matt, I’m here to tell you that it can happen. I was patient and non-pressuring with my wife for 12 years before she finally realized that neither JS, the Church, nor the Book of Mormon are what they say they are. Because she did it for herself and not for me or for the marriage, I’m so proud of her and so respectful of her decision! …and we, too, were completely clueless to the whole “bloggernacle” thing. Also, I too, felt compelled to stop by Lighthouse and meet and hug Sandra Tanner.

    Two years out, now, life is good! We spend our Sunday’s together hiking and visiting friends or our kids. All of our kids and their spouses are out of Mormonism. Our gay son has come out of his shell of depression! We have NOT become alcoholics, nor drug addicts! We’ve both gotten raises at our jobs and business is good. We haven’t gotten divorced and, in fact, our marriage is better than ever!

    Last thing: Clay, your “testimony” that JS was not a prophet of God is pretty much word for word a copy of what I told my kids. Also your story about discovering the island of Comorah wither a city called “Moroni” was hilarious. I’m thinking of leading off with that when I talk with my parents!

    Hope we get to meet you guys in person someday.

    • Clay February 2, 2016 at 3:40 am - Reply

      Hi Fraidy Cat,
      Thank you for sharing your story. I am so happy for you and your family. It is great that you can now laugh at the absurdity. I wish you good luck talking to your parents and I hope you get to tell me about it in person some day.

  130. Celestine February 2, 2016 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Hi All,

    I knew that something was not right about the church when I attended the temple for the first time in 1988. All the signs of how your life can be taken and Lucifer ordering me to put on your aprons and in the closing scenes with threat of being in his power turned me off completely. I did not see or feel the presence of love and that was it for me. It was Evil running the show. I wonder how many felt the way I did or was able to ignore the signs. Did you then fake a grand experience ?? They say the very Elite will be duped. Have mercy on the Brethren for the consequences they have to face in the hereafter for the lies and deception and fear they instilled on their followers. Life is hard enough and to have it it hijacked is a tragedy that cannot be excused.

    • Jill February 2, 2016 at 7:57 am - Reply

      Hi Celestine! I had the same feelings when I went for the first time in 1981. I would get a headache and hate going. I went to my stake president and explained to him how I was feeling. He basically got mad at me and told me “you are just lucky to have a worthy priesthood holder husband to take you to the temple!” In those days, women couldn’t go to the temple unless they were getting married or going on a mission! He didn’t offer any books to read or empathy. That added a big crack to my leaving the church 20 years later!

      • Celestine February 2, 2016 at 9:31 am - Reply

        Thank you, I hope John could do an expose on the proceedings in the Temple. I guess if you are a regular attendee it confirms to them that they totally own you. What is meant to be a high point turned out to be just the opposite. This is how cults operate to trap and enslave people. I feel sad that supposedly bright, smart, intelligent people can be duped into thinking that this is how God operates.

    • Truth Realized February 2, 2016 at 12:12 pm - Reply

      I had similar feelings when I was married at the grand old age of 18 and went through the temple for the first time. The problem is everyone is there to support you, many having traveled long distances and furthermore your friends and family seem at least to be completely comfortable with the temple ceremony. I now see it as peer pressure and manipulation not especially on the members part, but carefully orchestrated by the church.

      Just for example, I have never seen anyone stand up and walk out at the point in the temple ceremony when you are given the opportunity to refuse to go through with your endowment. Funny how you are asked to commit before you even know what it is you are committing to. Normally one would demand to have a clear understanding of what they were getting into before agreeing to it but in the LDS church members accept it as normal, after all the prophet “cannot lead us astray”.

      At that time my conclusion was that there was nothing that I had not already heard (about commitment, obedience etc) it was simply presented in a different way (a decidedly weird and uncomfortable way). I spent the next few decades wondering when I was going to have my ah ha moment and thinking myself unworthy, unprepared and completely lacking.

      This is what the church does to you – it makes you doubt yourself. I feel like I am finally coming into my own and have a lot of catching up to do. Many areas of my life are lacking and I feel that because I was always taught to conform I did not learn who I am and worse that who I am is unacceptable to God.

      For now at least count me as one of the “dones.” I am done with organized religion, maybe it won’t always be that way but having been deceived by the “one true” church I am in no hurry to get into a rebound relationship. I do not have all the answers but 100% know that the LDS church is not what it purports to be.

      I have asked myself many times why I could not see it sooner, for me it was only after the church came out with the essays that I felt free to examine the facts. Clearly if what I had been taught at church, in seminary etc. was not the (whole) truth, it was time for me to look at other sources, more reliable sources without the spin. Thankfully I can now bear testimony of my gratitude for the essays, they set me free.

      • Joanne February 2, 2016 at 4:24 pm - Reply

        DearTruth Realized, I was brought up in the church, but really my brothers and I were sent off to church without our parents,(“Jack Mormons” but with very deep ties to that ‘religion’), who stayed home and read the Sunday paper and had their coffee. We were orphans in the faith. But I enjoyed the people and the music so even though my brothers drifted away, I stayed involved in summer Road Shows which I loved and singing in a choir and socializing with my friends. Until I had a boyfriend in high school who was an Episcopalian (very rare in SLC), I had never experienced another church service. It was Christmas Eve candlelight service and it was beautiful! That was the beginning of my journey out of Mormonism. Today I am so in love with Jesus . . . because I KNOW him. My husband who was not practicing Mormonism, went back to the “church” after our children were grown and gone and I was studying the Bible. He is so gung ho Mormonism that he cannot see the very deep flaws and inconsistencies in that “religion”. I pray for him daily as well as our children who were brought up without a knowledge of the Bible or the amazing life and death and resurrection of Jesus. And what you say happened to me also . . . I did not know the true history of the Mormon church until after I left it. I am so sad for Mormons who often delude themselves that even though the history of the Mormon church is proven to be full of bull___, they like the ‘goodness’ of many of the people. Now i know it is ‘goodness’ grounded in working their way to heaven and often times not true love for Jesus and for all flawed humans.

        Why do I keep looking at this site? I earnestly pray for all those who leave Mormonism and live a Godless life. Joseph Smith started this nightmare that is Mormonism. It has to stop with this generation.

        • Coffee Drinker February 5, 2016 at 6:51 pm - Reply

          It seems to me that if a person believed in Jesus and the Bible, Mormonism should make all the sense in the world, as should Islam. I haven’t been able to find any more proof of either Allah, Jesus, or the Book of Mormon, except by apologists in one of those three faiths. I think it just matters which social group you would rather be with.

          • Joanne February 12, 2016 at 6:52 am

            Mormonism would ‘make sense’ as a form of Christianity if Mormons would just stick to the BOM. Much of it is copied from the Bible. The problem is the other Mormon “scriptures” that conflict with the BOM and end up holding the members hostage to bizarre rules and rituals. Mormon leaders, let these people go! Free them from the bondage of Mormonism!

            Sorry coffee drinker, that you haven’t found any proof of Jesus. Where on God’s good earth have you been looking?

          • Coffee Drinker February 12, 2016 at 8:50 am

            Trying to tell a mainstream Christian that Jesus or the Bible are fraudulent ideas is just like me trying to tell a TBM that Joseph is a fraud and the BoM is made up. First they won’t believe me and when I mention where I got my proof and encourage them to read it, their answer always seems to be that Satan is out there trying to thwart the work of God. For about a year I e-mailed back and forth on this Jesus-Bible issue and kept getting the same reaction: Mormonism (Satan’s church) had poisoned me to the true work of the Lord.

            First off, there were no historians living at the time of Jesus who wrote about him. And don’t say “Josephus” until you read the recent linguistic proofs as to who did or did not write his reference to Jesus. I read a lot of the origin of the Bible, I watched all of the online episodes of “The Big Questions”, BBC, I listened to Bart Ehrman, former minister, Dan Barker, former minister and evangelist, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion”. I read and studied “The Brownstone Translation of the New Testament”, using a transcript earlier than the one where the KJV came from. I read from a large book on the Gnostics all about Jesus which is way different from KJV. I read about why there was no “J” in either the Greek or the Hebrew manuscripts so where did that name come from? I read about why Paul differed so from the Apostles and how important those differences were to the development of either a political or a religious movement. I read a book called “Did Jesus Exist”, by D.M. Murdock.

            I found from reading National Geographic, that David was not a king or great leader. Remember that Jesus supposedly quoted from the Bible, but the Bible is just a book of stories. The Great Flood was in other much earlier religions and the Chinese and Egyptians even missed it in their histories.

            And when people say that Jesus was loving, they would have to mean that the God of the OT is also since they believe in the Trinity, and when people tell me that they read and study the bible I KNOW that they have not read their holy book, because it is filled with slavery, rape, murder, mass genocides, all commanded by God. And Jesus even supposedly said in the NT, “Slaves, obey your masters!”

            So Jesus may or may not have existed but if he did he was only a teacher and a rabbi. He taught the Law or so he said. Even many of our Founding Fathers thought him to be a teacher but not divine. Jefferson believed him a great teacher and even wrote “The Jefferson Bible”, omitting the virgin birth, miracles and resurrection. When Thomas Paine wrote “Age of Reason”, he denied the existence of Jesus. And George Washington, Ben Franklin, James Monroe, James Madison, and Lincoln were not Christians. And if the OT truly did prophecy of Jesus, why are the Jews not Christians.

            I have studied a lot more on this, but so far I am not sure of the existence of Jesus and have found no proof of any gods. Reading gives one an understanding as to why each religion thinks that his or her god is the right one. Let them believe what they may. The lack of understanding of things in the world is why religions arise. PEW Research has just recently shown that Christianity grows rapidly but only in countries of low income and education. It is dropping in the U.S. and the “nones” or non-affiliated has now risen to 23.5% of the population.

            I continue to study.

          • Joanne February 13, 2016 at 12:53 am

            In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not. John 1:1-5. Love that I love Holy God. I’ll pray for you, coffee drinker. God can do miraculous things!

          • Coffee Drinker February 13, 2016 at 8:49 am

            Thanks for praying for me. I will pray for you also. It may take a while because if I pray to one god, I should pray to them all so none will be left out. I can pray to Dyonesius, Yahweh, Elohim, Zeuss, The Flying Teapot, YHWH, Allah, The Flying Spaghetti Monster,Jesus, Buddha.

            I assume you are a Christian, so does that mean you follow the Old Testament in one of many versions or do you follow the Old Testament? Did your god change from a wicked god in the OT to a more loving one in the NT? Do you think your god was correct when he said, in Lev. 20:13, that homosexuals should be killed? Or in Lev. 20:10 when he said that adulterers should be killed? Or in Ex 31:14 where all Sabbath breakers should be killed? And if you follow the Bible, do you think your god really meant what he said when he said that man shall keep his feasts forever? And why do only Messianics and a few Seventh-Day Adventists keep them? And if we deem Hiitler, Mao, and Stalin to be mass murderers, is god not also a mass murderer when he does the same thing?

            If you are not inclined to research the many places I mentioned then you are no different from true believing Mormons. You read what you want in order to support your conclusions. I found it especially enlightening to watch “The Big Questions” discussions from Great Britain where I learned that there were so many different kinds of Christians that make up the over 38,000 Christian sects in the world. I also found that the Muslims believe in Jesus so maybe they are also Christians. And, that over a billion Christians believe in evolution and that the earth is much more than 10,000 years old, something about which evangelicals and other fundamentalists disagree strongly. And many of this number believe that the stories in the Bible are just stories. So how do you know that your version of Christ, the Bible, and the history of the world is the correct one, especially when many of those believers say that they have prayed and a holy spirit has told them they they possess the truth? Which Christian has the truth? Only your version of Christianity? Maybe you need to study more and with an open mind. And don’t criticize Mormon belief when you belief is based no more on truth than theirs is.

          • Joanne February 13, 2016 at 12:22 pm

            You sound really angry coffee drinker. Sorry if you are, and if you are like many (ex)Mormons who have discovered they have been deceived, I can understand. I was there once too. I always knew there was a God though. I see Him everywhere. He is in charge, not you . . . or me. I know and have read some of what you mention. Bart Erhman teaches just down the street from my house at UNC, Chapel Hill. As a matter of fact my former pastor has had many lively debates with him and always came away unscathed and stronger in his faith. You might want to try some books by writers who found Christ in some cases while trying to prove he didn’t exist. I love CS Lewis, Mere Christainity which I have enjoyed rereading through the years. Evidence Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell is great as in The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel who was an atheist. So I’ll continue to pray for you as I did last night. Best to you.

          • Coffee Drinker February 13, 2016 at 2:26 pm

            I am not angry., maybe a bit amused as to how naive people can be, but not angry. You probably believe that you know your faith to be true because your god through his spirit has told you it is true. And a Muslim has probably had the spirit of Allah tell him that his faith is true. I have talked to a friend, a Jehovah’s Witness, who says she knows her faith is true because Jehovah God has told her through the bible. I once attended a quarterly fast and testimony meeting at a Seventh-Day
            Adventist church, and an impromptu member of the congregation arose and stated that he knew his faith was true because god’s holy spirit had told him so. And of course, Mormons know that their faith is true because they have received the witness of the Holy Ghost. And Jews probably know their is correct from reading both the written and oral word. So is everybody correct or is everybody wrong but you?

            And as for me wanting to worship a deity that I can’t believe for sure exists or at least is not divine, makes no more sense that for me to worship the flying spaghetti monster. My only complaint of religion is that throughout history, they seem to have used death and destruction to force others to believe as they do. It may seem right to you but it doesn’t to me.

            When I ask you questions from the bible, you don’t answer them so in that way you are like TBM’s who won’t answer my questions about the BoM. If both books are deemed to be true by their followers then why should searching out such truths hurt them or their books? I was a Christian first, then a Mormon, and now I am probably what John Dehlin is.

          • Coffee Drinker February 14, 2016 at 11:16 pm

            If you make an extraordinary statement such as Jesus exists and is divine, it is not my responsibility to prove you wrong but it is your responsibility to prove yourself correct, to me. And extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. You have shown me no evidence since a book is not scientific evidence and anecdotal “evidence” is not real evidence.

            Now I cannot prove the non-existence of god, but I am not required to. And by you telling me that you will pray for me may make you feel better, but it makes no difference whatever to me because I do not believe in the existence of the deity that you believe in. So be content with your deity and allow the rest of the religious world to be content with theirs, and let me be content not believing in any deity.

          • Michael T February 12, 2016 at 2:30 pm


            “Sorry coffee drinker, that you haven’t found any proof of Jesus. Where on God’s good earth have you been looking?”

            May I ask where you looked for evidences for Jesus and what you found? I don’t mean to derail this conversation, but
            your response to coffee drinker is more than a little frustrating.

    • Janice February 6, 2016 at 8:22 am - Reply

      I just have to weigh in on this. I empathize with your experience. When I first attended the temple it was on my wedding day in 1968. To this day I vividly remember the smell and the humid warm air when I went through the washing and anointing in the open shields. (What? No one mentioned I would be stripping down and going through this ritual) One women assisting noticed I was a bride and said with a big smile” How wonderful! Aren’t you excited to be marrying your priesthood holder so he can take you to the Celestial Kingdom and you can live for eternity with all your sister wives? ” I was shocked! So this was the fruit of what I had been taught? Prepare for the temple. Keep yourself worthy so you can attend the temple. Temple the most holy place on earth. That was the mantra preached to me all my life. And this was it? It sent me emotionally into a real down spiral because the message was this is God’s most sacred holy place and this is what God wants for you. Oh no!!!

      It was my worst nightmare come true and on my wedding day no less. I wanted to throw up, Then when sitting in the chapel and being asked if I wanted to leave. YES I did. But how? All the family and friends who were there. All the sweet smiles and encouraging looks thrown my way. All my fiance’s relatives who had flown into town for the wedding. I guess I just don’t understand. I have to stay in the process and have courage. Right? However over and over I felt violated in what I was being asked to do. In those days a woman covenanted with her husband and he covenanted with God. Ugh! It got worse not better. By the time for my wedding ceremony I kept passing out. Literally, I could not even stand up I had such anxiety. I had an awful headache and my heart was beating really fast. I thought “What is this crazy stuff I am being asked to do with my life and all I am and dedicating it to the Church; not to God?

      I tired, I really did for another 20 years and then I was just done! I did not have access to all the historical research available today…just my gut which kept telling me it was wrong! But the mental anguish, the pain, the endless round of no where to ask a question, the shaming if I did and the endless maw of demands on ones life resources. But here is the tragic part. For a woman I had many responsible callings even teaching Gospel Doctrine. No one would have ever known!!! THE SILENCE!

      Now with 20 years of disassociation I can see this trusting, naive young women who was groomed to be compliant and even in the most difficult situations STAY QUIET. There is no question in my mind that Joseph Smith used the Masonic ritual he learned to set up his temple ceremony. It allowed a secretive method, shroud in sacred jargon, to have complete access to member’s money and labor. Also a perfect way to keep secret with the penalty of death his obsessive sexual appetite and polygamous/polyandrous men’s club. It is interesting to read the original temple ceremonies where people bathed completely naked in tubs of water!! An interesting book written as an historical research document is “The Mysteries of Godliness-A History of Mormon Temple Worship” by David john Buerger, Apparently what I experienced was much less than my predecessors. Wow Talk about survivors. Our ancestors were made of tough stuff.

      • Celestine February 7, 2016 at 6:33 am - Reply

        Thank you for sharing your experience. What you have articulated so well here is worthy of wider publication. Nowhere have I seen women so dis empowered while been led to believe that they are in a safe place and this is the order of God’s people.

        God Blesses

      • Clay February 7, 2016 at 12:43 pm - Reply

        Hi Janice,
        My heart is aching for you and all women in this church. Thank you for sharing your story here with ours. I will always remember it and share it with people who don’t understand the bad that the church does. This is why we have to share the history of the church and provide a safe place to turn for people still stuck. I am sad you suffered for so long, but happy you are out and you are one more person committed to ending the 200 years of deception.

  131. JASH February 2, 2016 at 9:54 am - Reply

    John – You did a wonderful job providing balancing questions to Matt and Clay….Excellent!! Anyone who sees you as biased is not watching what I have watched.

    Matt – The struggle through with you have gone and its cost to you emotionally – is so visible. I applaud the integrity with which you have handled the entire ordeal – Your family is so fortunate that you have been so sensitive to their needs and positions.

    Clay – I am in awe that you were able to make this difficult transition in so rapid a timeframe. It is testament to your intellect and desire for truth that you were willing to explore the challenging issues and read all of the related materials. The way that you supported your children as they journeyed through difficult times is most impressive. Although you are early in your process of leaving the church, may it all go smoothly for you. Thankfully, you have the support of Matt – and that should make it easier.

    Although I have never been LDS, I am married to a man, BIC, raised in Utah, and from pioneer roots. His trauma as he explored the realities of the church has been a big part of our lives. We have been shunned by his family, excluded from family events and considered outsiders despite all of the efforts that we have made in an attempt to be tolerant and supportive of them. A podcast like this one, shines a light that our struggle is not unique.

    My best wishes to all of you as you continue your journey out of the church. John… your work is outstanding!!!!!

  132. JT February 2, 2016 at 9:58 am - Reply

    “Have mercy on the Brethren for the consequences they have to face in the hereafter for the lies and deception and fear they instilled on their followers.”


    I suspect the Brethren are mostly, if not entirely, captured in the “one [delusional] eternal round” of Mormonism. I have a hard time laying blame at their feet, though I admit to wishing I could.

    Count me as one who also found the temple endowment ritual disturbing. I trace my loss of faith to it. Taking orders form Lucifer slipped past me. I was struck more by having to mime my own throat-slashing and disembowelment.

    But then, I suspect I was unconsciously primed to latch on to those nasty bits, as well as influenced by lurking mundane dissatisfactions with Mormonism. What I mean is that I can imagine being natured and nurtured toward an accepting disposition, such as being more inclined toward group-attachment, testifying in public, or even hymn-singing.

    I suspect that having been trapped in this Mormon whirlpool since birth, the Brethren are simply too far from its edge to conceptualize an alternative universe. But then, that puts them in the company of most devout Christians who ignore, avoid, or filter out the ludicrous and nasty bits of their Christian history and scripture. That’s what makes Clay a puzzle for me – as Sterling so eloquently expressed above. “I stand all amazed.”

    Given this, I continue to wonder at how the most aware, intelligent, and sensitive souls battle for their faith. How bold they are to manipulate their received theologies to cohere to their modern personal sensibilities. I suppose this too is an act of self-preservation, an expression of the need to affirm one’s core goodness, and to secure a sense of control, purpose, and hopefulness in life in community with loved ones, including in a life to come. The most wondrous part, at least to me, is that they are not more self-conscious of the hubris they express in this project of creating a personal god in their own image – especially when it entails so deliberate an act of filtering or rationalizing those nasty bits. The most gracious thing I can say, at least to those progressive theists, is, “your personal god-projections constitute a marked improvement.”

    Having said this, my apostasy from Mormonism was equally an act of self-preservation, of securing a sense of control, and hopefulness what remained of my finite life. And I am also certain that I still look past nasty bits of my remaining cultural heritage as far as it serves my needs. Perhaps we apostates remain in more or less the same boat as still-believing Mormons. Though I will stick to the claim that the less counts as progress, I remain sympathetic to those who don’t.

  133. Cory February 3, 2016 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    “Brigham Young will be forgotten to history?” No time soon I would bet.

    • Clay February 3, 2016 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      Hi Cory,

      I don’t remember saying that but it is interesting you should point it out. I know that he will live on as the pioneer-founder of Utah but if the church has anything to say about it the memory of Adam-God, Blood Atonement, Mountain Meadows, all the racism and misogyny/polygamy and of course Journal of Discourses will be suppressed to the point that his contemporaries wouldn’t recognize him.

      In another sense, Brigham Young should be forgotten as humanity moves beyond the cult of mormonism. We can hope.

    • Matt February 3, 2016 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      In Egypt’s sandy silence, all alone,
      Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
      The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
      “I am great OZYMANDIAS,” saith the stone,
      “The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
      “The wonders of my hand.”— The City’s gone,—
      Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
      The site of this forgotten Babylon.

  134. David MacKay February 3, 2016 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Hi Clay & Matt,

    Have you considered also listening to Bill Reel’s podcast?
    I like how he explains stages of faith and faith transitions.

    The Church may not be true in the way it was explained to us, but it can be true in different ways… but I respect your call and your decision on how to progress in your faith journey.

    • Clay February 4, 2016 at 7:57 am - Reply

      Hi David,
      I had not heard of Bill Reel until you asked this question. I just read his story and I am a bit curious how someone can read all the history of the church and go through a faith crisis, as he describes, but decide to stay in the church. I can understand why someone wouldn’t want to leave even after finding out that it is founded on falsehoods because there are so many good people and it really tears apart families when you leave. However, I can’t stand with an organization that has so much in its history and current policies that I find repulsive. At the core, the church is false. It is a cult and it hurts people. I have no intention of supporting it in any way. I will listen to his podcast someday. Right now I am enjoying Mormon Stories and the podcasts that teach history. I am a big fan of Grant Palmer.

      • Debbie February 5, 2016 at 9:37 am - Reply

        Clay, you and your wife’s thinking is similar to my husband and mine. Integrity took us out, when we learned the truth. We felt that although staying would have been easier, if we stay, we helped perpetuate the lie, and we didn’t want to do that. The most powerful thing you said in your excellent podcast, was the 200 years of deception stops with me. Btw, Grant Palmer’s Mormon Stories interview is one if my favorites. I can remember vividly where I was and what I was doing as I listened to it. A person can never look at that time period in Mormon history through rose colored glasses again after listening to Grant Palmer.

  135. Rico February 4, 2016 at 1:38 am - Reply

    Coffee Drinker,

    Does it matter what anyone believes? Apparently it does… to you.

    For why all this talk of “not believing in any god” if it is not a belief itself? Surely, you are not just babbling incoherent sentences, but letting others know something that means deeply to you in a very significant way.

    Why would you invite others to follow the “Golden Rule” or “work for the betterment of mankind” if you yourself do not believe in the worth of following the Golden Rule or improving mankind? Surely, you’re not just babbling incoherent sentences. You also want others to believe as you do.

    In other words, you are an evangelist of some gospel that gave your life meaning.

    But what makes the Golden Rule or improving mankind’s lot worth believing? Who assigns worth to it? All the animals and plants in the world, and you can include the earth’s earthquakes, lightnings, tornadoes, etc… NOTHING in all of nature believes in the Golden Rule. Wolves attack sheep. Lions hunt down goats. Sharks eat smaller fishes. “Nature is red in tooth and claw…”

    If the standard in nature is to show no belief in a Golden Rule, then Man is abnormal for believing such “unnatural” things.

    When you die, all the bacteria, fungi, and other organisms will devour your flesh and digest all of you. None of the noble thoughts and deeds you experienced will survive. Even the people who remember your Golden Rule will encounter the same fate. Everyone who knew you will be eaten by microbes and forget you.

    So why believe in a Golden Rule?

    Why? And what for?

    • Coffee Drinker February 4, 2016 at 9:37 am - Reply

      Basically humans have needed a form of the Golden Rule, which did not begin with Christianity but is found in all religions as well as non-religions, in order for humans not to have killed each other thousands of years ago causing the extinction of the human race.

      And yes it does matter to me what others believe. If they are one of the exclusive religions such as those based on the Bible, I would be upset if they came to kill me because I did not believe in their precepts. The bickering we currently have in the presidential race has a lot of basis in religion. We keep hearing of candidates who are looking for the evangelical vote and many misguided citizens of this country think we are living in a Christian country and should follow Bible laws. And those laws affect me and my family.

      And some animals do follow a form of the Golden Rule–monkeys for example. There are many animal specie who are family oriented.

      A few years ago I believed in a god, but gradually I saw the importance of reading both sides to each question and using my reasoning mind. I may be an atheist mostly but I cannot prove that a god or gods do not exist. They may, but that does not make me a theist. To me their existence is very improbable. I have not read of any proof that a god exists. I also cannot prove the non-existence of the flying spaghetti monster, but I think its existence to be highly improbable.

      Yes, I do believe that the continued existence of man depends on how he treats his fellow man. It will be of no concern to me after I die since I will have no conscience, but while I am still in this mortal sphere, I will try to treat my neighbor as I would like him to treat me. And if enough of us follow that maybe mankind will not completely destroy the human race.

      • Rico February 4, 2016 at 10:39 pm - Reply

        Coffee Drinker,

        If you believe in the idea that…

        “humans need some Golden Rule so that they don’t annihilate each other to extinction”

        have you ever wondered where that idea comes from? It preceded Christianity and seems to be universal among humans. But why should it be worth believing?

        If there is anything more universal, widespread, and true on this planet, it is death and extinction. You see death everywhere. When you grind coffee first thing in the morning, you know that those dark beans have been roasted to death. If you live in Utah, you know that there are many extinct dinosaurs beneath its soil.

        Honestly, I have not seen a monkey who follows the Golden Rule. They all follow a Banana Rule…

        Have you read “JT” and his confessed theft of cash and jewelry? That is exactly how a monkey behaves in a Banana Republic.

        Now who says that is not worth believing?

        With all the brutal fact of death and extinction going around us, why should anyone care about Matt’s heroic silence against Mormonism and Clay’s awakening from that cult?

        Why do we care about these guys and their beliefs?

        Aren’t we humans abnormal for believing in beliefs?

        • Celestine February 5, 2016 at 7:25 am - Reply

          “Once a belief or expectation is found, especially one that resolves uncomfortable uncertainty, it biases the observer to notice new information that confirms the belief, and to discount evidence to the contrary. This self-perpetuating mechanism consolidates the original error and builds up an overconfidence in which the arguments of opponents are seen as too fragmentary to undo the adopted belief.” ( Dont know who wrote this)

          “We all do no end of feeling, and we mistake it for thinking.”

          “Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.”

          A man is accepted into a church for what he believes–and turned out for what he knows.

          Mark Twain

          “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been so credulous.”

          “You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe.”

          ‘If we are absolutely sure that our beliefs are right, and those of others are wrong; that we are motivated by good, and others by evil; that the King of the Universe speaks directly to us, and not to adherents of very different faiths; that it is wicked to challenge conventional doctrines or to ask searching questions; that our main job is to believe and obey — then the witch mania will recur in its infinite variations down to the time of the last man. ‘ Sagan

    • JT February 4, 2016 at 12:19 pm - Reply

      Awesome comment Rico, so true!

      Since I chose to stop believing in God a three years ago, it took only a few months for that pesky still small voice to shut up and free me up for some guiltless fun and profit in the here and now. Seize the the freaking day!

      I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how it would work out at first. But I had faith in the truth about how all that morality crap works – or, rather, stops working – just like you say. So I put it a test …

      First, I stole $20 from my former best friend’s wallet. Hey, that was his problem for leaving it out. Then I stole a $5000 Rolex right from under the nose of a jeweler friend. Amazingly easy with that Christmas crowd. It seemed he wasn’t aware I left the church – leaving me unattended like that. Made me want to go back for a while!

      On the drive home that afternoon I got stuck behind some stupid old biddy driving way too slow … “Hey, get out of the way you worthless piece of half-rotten meat!” To think I used to spend so much time helping those types – home teaching, driving them to the doctors, and all that meaningless crap.

      It felt so good to pull up real close to her and lean on the horn, though I got a little twinge when she swerved off the road and hit that tree. But what the hell, we all got to die some time, right? And she wasn’t about to do me any favors soon. Perhaps I even helped a fellow atheist get a Christmas bonus from her will! Wait, I don’t give a crap about atheists!

      With the idea of half-rotten meat in my head, I started wondering about what old lady might taste like. What the hell … If given the chance, I’d give it try. You only live once. Right there I scolded myself for leaving a perfectly good opportunity wrapped around that tree, but I had faith that another would present itself.

      And indeed, by the following June I had that perfect opportunity – rather, I made it happen. I won’t mention my methods because I might have to resort to them to stay alive in the upcoming Apocalypse.

      Well, indeed, it was a little tough, but not all that bad. A baby would definitely be more tender, just like veal! When I was Mormon, I had no problem shelling out $40 bucks to eat a baby cow that had been separated from its mother from birth and force-fed in a 2 x 3 foot stall for its short meaningless life. To think I used to shell out hard-earned cash to eat factory-farmed baby cows, even when I believed God was watching!

      Oh, and getting back to the Apocalypse. No not the one where Jesus finally shows up. I’m talking about the of brought on by those secret atheist combinations dismantling society.
      I’ll be good and ready. I’m stocking up on my year’s supply of food, guns, and ammo. It’s not as if I didn’t learn something useful as a Mormon.

  136. JC February 4, 2016 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    Hi John or Clay,

    Would you please provide the link to the book of Abraham documentary that was mentioned in the podcast? I believe John said he would post it on the description of the episode. I looked on youtube but got several hits and I’m interested in the one Clay talks about.


  137. Cliff February 4, 2016 at 1:18 pm - Reply


    There are so many parallels between your evolution of faith and mine. I too felt that I had a special mission in a career to fulfill and ended up not being able to achieve it. It was one of the most devastating experiences of my life. The aloneness and sense of loss and spiritual confusion was almost unbearable. Your story resonates very deeply with me.

    About 16 years ago I read Emma Smith: Mormon Enigma. This book changed my life. The authors did an excellent and well documented job of revealing of how Joseph Smith practised polygamy. My quest for the truth in earnest about the real history church and its doctrines started when I finished that book. It is absolutely clear to me that the LDS Church is not true.

    For most of the past sixteen years I kept my beliefs to myself with the exception of a few close friends and family members. My wife and sons know my position but I have been guarded about telling the bishop. I have daughters that will be getting married in the temple someday so I maintain this charade. Maintaining this charade has taken tremendous toll on my spirit, something you have experienced also.

    Thank you for having the courage to share your story.

    • Matt February 4, 2016 at 6:42 pm - Reply

      And thank you for this, Cliff.

      Similar to the internet notion that information is free and considers censorship damage so routes around it — I think the human search for truth is free and considers censorship/deception/etc damage and routes around it. So here we are. :)

  138. Still In February 4, 2016 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    I haven’t listened to Mormon Stories for a long time, but I did take a couple hours to listen to your story. I hope you will consider a couple things.

    1) No hurries. From your own admission, you had very little knowledge of LDS history or the standard anti-Mormon attacks on church history, practices, or doctrine before last October. Then after watching one video and reading half of the most concentrated attacks on the church (The CES Letter) you decided in a matter of days that the Church wasn’t true. You are now drinking from a fire-hose. Please consider that many of us have known everything you are learning now, but have taken a lot of time to look at these things, and perhaps have come to other conclusions. Your engineering and computer background, and perhaps your own personality, predispose you to seeing things in a binary way. That’s not the only way to see things. So I hope you will consider that there may be more going on than you think. History is messy. Most historians will tell you that there are no historic facts as you seem to describe them, only evidences and arguments. You were very quick to jump to the conclusion that the Church “isn’t true” when you were exposed to a lot of things that you hadn’t considered before. Don’t be hasty. You haven’t even scratched the surface. let alone had time to consider alternatives to the new narratives that you are absorbing. There are alternative views and evidences and arguments to consider on a lot of things that you are just beginning to explore.

    2) Examine everyone’s motives. You will find a lot of support for exiting the Church here on Mormon Stories. Less for taking a different approach. I’m sorry if you don’t feel like you have anyone to talk about these things with outside of the critical or ex-Mormon crowd. I hope you will be open to dialog with others from a more believing view. Not everyone who dismisses the CES letter arguments is ignorant. Many of us have wrestled or continue to wrestle with those issues without making the same conclusions. Maybe your ancestors weren’t dupes. Maybe the people that are encouraging you to agree with their anti-LDS conclusions have ulterior motives as well. Everyone has an angle. Remember #1 above. It can take a lot of time to see what is going on behind the scenes.

    3) Remember the 13th Article of Faith. I’m sorry the world isn’t the way you thought it was before last October. I am dismayed that so many people seem to have very ill-informed views on church history and doctrine. But that doesn’t mean everything you thought was wrong. Perhaps much of it was very oversimplified. There is much that is virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy. If you haven’t studied dialectics, perhaps its a good time to remember #1 above and let some of the things you are learning enter into a dialectic with what you once thought you knew, but to look for the good, the eternal, the true. Prove all things, hold fast that which is good. If you find things that are troubling, play with them, ponder them, explore them from lots of different angles. Perhaps there is more there than you might initially think.

    I know you aren’t hip on Joseph Smith right now. But read his actual words as much as what others said about him. One of my favorites from him is the concept that “The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart!” I hope that will resonate with you. As well his thoughts that “… Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, is truth. … The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.”

    Good luck and my heart goes out to you and your family. You’ve been ripped from a world you once thought you knew. It’s a rude awakening. I hope you will consider what I’m saying here, and that you can find a safe place to consider all these new things you are being exposed to without feeling that you have to immediately be part of someone else’s grand narrative about what is or isn’t the truth about LDS history and doctrines or the nature of truth. In other words, now that you’ve bitten the apple, I hope you will eat the whole thing. But take your time and don’t choke. A little truth is a dangerous thing. There’s a lot more out there once you get started!

    • Mitchell February 5, 2016 at 11:21 am - Reply

      “Your engineering and computer background, and perhaps your own personality, predispose you to seeing things in a binary way. That’s not the only way to see things.” Binary is the ONLY way to see things according to the Church. “In truth, the idea that all churches are the same is the doctrine of the anti-Christ, illustrated by the Book of Mormon account of Korihor.” – Dallin H. Oaks:

      “I am dismayed that so many people seem to have very ill-informed views on church history and doctrine.” Dismayed? This is the facade the Church has put on their history. The graves of 13 of Brigham Young’s polygamous wives that used to be in Brigham Young’s gravesite near Temple Square have been removed when the gravesite was “remolded” into a memorial.

      “The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men…” And all we suggest is that you do the same.

    • Coffee Drinker February 5, 2016 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      I stopped attending nearly 4 years ago, and I only recently skimmed the CES Letter and I never did watch the Book of Abraham Documentary. But there is so much out there that absolutely showed me the fraud in the Church. There was Mormon Think, “No Man Knows My History”, which I am currently re-reading, the articles on City Creek and the extensive land holdings in Florida, the interview with Tom Phillips, “Passing The Heavenly Gift”, by Snuffer, the many historical articles on “Pure Mormonism”, by Rock Waterman, as well as the recent blogs on racism of the Mauri on “Kiw”, and the discrepancies and verses describing murder, slavery, rape, in the Bible and the history of the Christian Church. I was super active for most of my life,
      but once I overcame my fear of reading anything that was not by a general authority or BYU professor, I learned fraud in just about anything related to religion.

      So I congratulate Matt and Clay for going on their journey for truth, because “that which can be destroyed by truth, should be.” With the number of comments on this podcast, I can see that these two good men have helped a lot of good people consider making some important decisions. What a great contribution you have made, John!

    • Clay February 5, 2016 at 11:42 pm - Reply

      Hi Still In,

      I appreciate your thoughtful comments and I thank you for sharing them. The podcast was recorded six weeks ago. Now I am three months into finding out the truth. I have considered “that many of us have known everything you are learning now, but have taken a lot of time to look at these things, and perhaps have come to other conclusions.” I am very familiar with this cognitive dissonance, members of my own family have told me that they “know all the issues”.

      I admitted that I was very naive about church history three months ago. I am no scholar, but I am very well read now. Everything is making more sense. I am still coming to grips with being in the cult for over 50 years. I am still shocked by all the facts I continue to find out. Sadly, the case against Joseph Smith just gets stronger and stronger the more you look.

      I have definitely scratched the surface and what lies beneath is actually quite disgusting. I am sickened that I thought so highly of such a truly evil man. Yes, evil. I think people are afraid to call him evil but I don’t know how else to describe a person who does the things that Joseph Smith did. I am sorry to tell you, but I’ve eaten the whole apple and I am choking. The false gospel that Joseph Smith created tastes disgusting to me.

      You mention “anti-LDS”. I don’t see it as anti-LDS. I know, because I remember three months ago, that we like to feel that the persecution of the church is because it is true. I suggest you consider that we are not anti-LDS but we are anti-ignorance. I do not like the label anti-LDS because, as I mentioned in the podcast, I love my family, friends, and neighbors who are members. The members are what made the church so very true for me and my family. We had a great experience in the church. It is very painful to leave it because of the members. However, I can’t justify staying to be part of the social aspect when there is so much wrong at the heart of it.

    • Coffee Drinker March 7, 2016 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      You are absolutely correct–there’s a lot more out there once you get started! I found out the church wasn’t true 4 years ago and I only glanced at the CES Letter a month ago. I started finding truth upon really reading and studying and praying about the Book of Mormon. And I read lots of damaging truth and from official church sources, that is they were good official sources when I joined the church. One of the main deciding factors was reading about the Book of Mormon research done by B.H. Roberts. He was one of my heroes, but his opinions found in his book “Studies of the Book of Mormon” sure told it like it was.

      Now I am reading a book called “Lost Christianities”, the battles for scripture and the faiths we never knew, describing the many thousands of manuscript parts that were around and used by many between Christ and the 4th century, such as Dag Hammadi, Dead Sea Scrolls, and many archaelogical finds. I don’t need to worry any more about people trying to justify Mormonism. If a person really wants to search for truth, disregarding Packer’s statement that “sometimes truth is not very useful,” they need to keep going rather than accept something because some church leaders says it is true. Use your mind and reason. I did and I only think of the New Testament as a book of stories and the names of the gospel writers were not added to those manuscripts until hundred of years after they were written. Plus those Gospel books were not written until 70 years after Christ died, if he even lived.

      I also found no contemporary authentic historical writings about the Christ. He may have existed but I don’t know. He may have been just how Thomas Jefferson described him. And then I read the Torah and after a few more months of reading of mass genocide, rape, and plunder commanded by God, I realized the Old Testament was just like the New and similar to the B Of M, except that there is absolutely no archaelogical evidence of the Mormon Bible. National Geographic Magazine and the Smithsonian have led archaelogical digs and have found evidences of peoples who were at least living at those Biblical times, even if divine claims have not been proven, but those two outfits have found no evidence of the Book of Mormon peoples.

      So when you caution Matt to eat the whole thing and read everything before he makes a decision, maybe you should practice what you preach and do what I did–Eat the WHOLE thing, not just what Church leaders want you to read.

  139. StrugglingMormon February 5, 2016 at 8:15 am - Reply

    Thank you John for making this podcast possible. I can relate to Matt and Clay in different ways. I am a struggling Mormon who stopped attending church over a year ago so that I could take the time to study on my own to resolve the questions about the LDS Church that were piling up on my shelf. I have watched and listened to many of the Mormon Stories podcasts. I have watched all of Dan Vogel’s youtube videos. I have read the CES Letter and I have read View of the Hebrews and I have done my own research to verify that what was mentioned in the CES Letter matched up to historical data. I have also read FAIR’s response to the letter. I have done my best to read both sides of the discussion about the troubling LDS issues.
    Here is my dilemma: The evidence seems clear to me that the Book of Abraham is a fraud, that Joseph lied about his practice of polygamy and polyandry, and that he fabricated the Book of Mormon using resources that were available to him. On the other hand, I cannot deny some powerful experiences I have had in giving priesthood blessings to my family. I have felt inspired during times of prayer and in times of giving blessings. All of my children have prayed about the Book of Mormon and have felt that they have gotten a positive answer about the Book of Mormon. My wife has felt blessed by blessings I have given her during difficult times of childbirth and she has felt the guidance of the Holy Ghost as have I at different times in my life. I do not know how to reconcile these experiences within the context of the LDS Church against what I perceive as clear evidence that Joseph Smith was a false prophet.
    Has anyone else faced similar challenges?

    • Matt February 5, 2016 at 10:02 am - Reply

      Thank you, StrugglingMormon.

      I totally hear you. I can only suggest taking the same approach you’ve taken to church history and natural science and applying it to the history and science of human emotional experience and psychology and sociology. I think there are many parallels to experiences we were taught could only exist in the true faith.

      Mormonism works precisely because it attaches its authority and influence to many experiences that humanity universally treasures. Once we realize this then we can continue seeking and enjoying the heights (and depths) of human experience without the baggage of institutionalized deceit.

      My best to you and all who you love.


    • Clay February 5, 2016 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      Hi Struggling Mormon,

      I understand how you are feeling. From the podcast you might have the impression that it was easier for me to let go of the church than it was. I did have many good feelings and spiritual experiences in the church. Those spiritual experiences came because of the good people and human nature. When you pray and when you care about others you will have spiritual experiences and you will have them outside of the church. I have many, very spiritually fulfilled friends and family in other churches and no church.

      As you pointed out, Joseph is a false prophet and the books are false. I think it is important to note that in many places they are not forgery but plagiary. Joseph was very skilled at manipulation and deception and the polygamy/polyandry is just the most egregious example.

      We are almost three months into this. The more we research, from all sources, the more we know that the foundation of the church is so false and so corrupt that we cannot be part of it. We can not be part of it no matter how much we like the good feelings. Emotionally, we want it to be true so bad. We love and respect the members, we just can’t excuse the history away and justify supporting it or encouraging anyone to be part of it. I hope you will be able to reconcile your feelings with the facts. The church isn’t true, come out and start recovering. It gets better.

    • Coffee Drinker February 5, 2016 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      Struggling Mormon,
      I haven’t seen a reference anywhere on this site regarding a place that really helped me on prayer of different religions and how so many different people view God and how they believe in the power of prayer just as you do. So if you want a site that has more insight on prayer, Christianity, and many of the world’s religion, I would suggest you go to

      Over my time in the Church, I would hear about someone giving a young man a blessing, several blessings, actually. And when he died, the reason was usually given that God needed him on the other side to help God fight the War in Heaven against those creations that He created. If the person didn’t die, as when I got so many blessings on my bad back, the members would tell me and others that our lack of faith kept us from being healed.

      One of the books that gave me comfort was the biography of Pres. Kimball. He must have had faith but yet after he was called to the Apostleship, he couldn’t do his job due to the incidence of so many boils, and his throat cancer was not healed.

      There are miracles in other churches where people know that their belief must be correct because of their belief in the power of prayer. But there are just as many prayers that are not answered. And when it comes to prayers of healing, there must be a lot of that in Utah, and people are just as sick there as anyplace. I think it will help you to learn about religions of the world and especially those based in part on the Bible. Those three world religions believe without a doubt that their religion is God’s religion because they have had such wonderful spiritual experiences.

      I have had some wonderful experiences such as how I joined the Church, and how my 2-yearl old only daughter was healed through what I was sure was prayer, but now I can remember many times that prayer was not answered. And I have continued to find through experience and study that the spiritual experience of prayer is not found just in the LDS Church. I prayed about all I read on my journey until I finally felt that my “good feelings” that I was told was the Holy Ghost, were just “good feelings”. Good luck on your journey. It is not an easy one, but I feel better to have found as much truth as I have.

    • Celestine February 7, 2016 at 6:27 am - Reply

      Hi, I have wondered about the nature of Mormon priesthood claims. According to D&C 121/37 I suspect JS and others who were in cohorts to exploit people could never be worthy of God’s priesthood. Would never have had it or be able to confer on others. I recall a temple scene where Adam is calling upon God and guess who shows up ? Also I was curious of the apron that Lucifer was wearing. when asked he answered that they were symbols of the priesthood or something similar. Kinda the Apron that he asks you to put on as part of your temple clothing. Further the adversary can afflict man like he did Job and hence may also remove the affliction. My observation is where people exercise faith it brings forward positive experience that which is common among all people of faith and to those who have faith to receive it. My parents are not of the Christian faith and their prayers for healing and blessing were answered. I suspect it is all in the “intention” . It is not necessarily a confirmation that their “religion/belief” is the true one. There is “power” in good and noble intention wherever it is exercised. Our issue tends to be how empowered we feel about it. It is like all the Certificates you have on your wall. To our mind we need things like that to feel qualified/empowered etc.

      God’s priesthood I suspect could never be in operation if man is going to use it for performing misdeeds or to exercise unrighteous dominion or belief he is conferring the same on others when he really may not have in the first place. The Brethren may justify that they are what they are because “the people need them” sure after castrating them and making them impotent to thinking and reasoning.

    • Rico February 11, 2016 at 8:01 am - Reply


      As a young Mormon missionary in my twenties, I got the same questions from those who investigated the church. As Catholics who have deep devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, they believe that she had interceded for them to obtain blessings from God. Let me give you my “Mormon missionary” answer:

      When a pagan prays so that his child may be spared from harm or death, and the child is indeed spared, which God answered? Was it the pagan God or the God of the Christians? My response is that God answers prayers without regard for anyone’s religion.

      So when you gave blessings that turned out to be miraculous, it’s not because you are a Mormon. It’s because God thinks you deserve a miracle. God will do that to anyone who calls to him.

      However, as I matured in the Catholic faith, I realized that sometimes God will grant favors even to someone who does not call to him.

      In the Gospel of John, the very first “sign” that Jesus is the Logos or “Word of God” is demonstrated in the miracle of the wedding feast in Cana. The turning of the water into wine would not have transpired had the Blessed Virgin Mary not told Jesus that the young couple had run out of wine. In short, the miracle happened because of Mary’s motherly intercession, and not because the couple had explicitly asked.

      The fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary has interceded quite frequently for the last 2,000 years has finally caught the attention of the secular media. Just last year, the National Geographic magazine published a front page article with the title:

      “How the Virgin Mary became the most powerful woman in the world”

      The fact that miracles happen is all God’s grace. And if the National Geographic magazine is to be believed, it is because a powerful woman is somewhere out there interceding for us.

  140. Oh Say What Is Truth February 6, 2016 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    Matt & Clay

    My wife is a faithful follower of Mormon stories podcasts and she encouraged me to listen to your story. I don’t usually listen or watch podcasts because I prefer to read — it’s much faster for me. My wife decided to leave the church first about a year ago. She wrote me a very long email not knowing how I would react to the news that she had decided the church wasn’t true. She is a very diligent student. I knew something was up when she reread the Church history book written by Arrington that we all had in seminary. After a great deal of thought and prayer she made her decision and then a while later she wrote me her letter. That threw me into a general state of shock for a few weeks because of the depth of my feelings about the teachings of the church on families and faith. I was serving in a high profile calling and she attended church faithfully each week so as not to embarrass me at church.

    Obviously I wanted to know what caused her to change her mind concerning the church and its teachings. She pointed me to the Church essays — which I must say I was unaware of even though they had been published in 2014. That said, my calling kept me pretty busy so I put those things on the shelf for awhile. I did promise her that she was my wife and I had no intention of ever leaving because I had made a promise to her and God when we were married in the temple. After a few months I was released and I decided to search out the “facts” in the Church Essays for myself. I soon learned that while the Tanners could be characterized as anti-mormon a better description would be truth revealers. They have spent the majority of their lives seeking to unveil the truth about the foundations of mormonism. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of their conclusions, there was a great deal there to think about.

    I do not agree you are against Christ when you show that the Church and some of the things it is doing are simply not Christlike. When I, through my own personal studies discovered that the foundations of mormonism were not what I had been taught most of my life I spent many sleepless nights trying to reconcile what I had been taught was the truth with what the actual facts were. At last I came to the conclusion that I could not stand on two positions simultaneously. I had to either bury the truth I “discovered” or remove myself from the Church and it’s teachings. I could no longer sing Praise to the Man because I had been given the sweetened condensed version of Joseph, and many other Church facts, which in fact were over exaggerations at best.

    I came to the conclusion that NONE of what we had been told concerning the early days of the church could be trusted. The Church leaders for generations had covered up the truth in order to make the gospel more palatable for the members and non-members alike. I simply could no longer testify of gospel truths and could not just go to Church out of a sense duty so I asked my wife to sign a letter with me removing us from church membership.

    I had served in the church for decades in many capacities. The church does have members that are loving and Christlike. It also has members who are not. I had no beef with the members, I wasn’t offended in any way. I simply discovered that things as I had been taught from “reputable church sources” were not as they really occurred. The fact that the church has no more right to revelation than any other church because it “lied” about the restoration does make you wonder. I too am somewhat binary in my thinking because the church has always presented itself as “the only true church.” Interesting that the church leaders feel it necessary to hide the truth from its membership while smearing anyone who stands in the way.

    I gave 50+ years of my life and resources to the church If it is no different than any other church as far as authority goes, then why should I spend another minute listening to its form of gospel truth. I have not lost my faith in Christ I’ve simply decided that like both of you have that life is too short to be climbing up a ladder that’s on the wrong wall.

    I wish you both the best in your journey and I pray that you will find peace.

    • Clay February 7, 2016 at 9:58 am - Reply

      Hi Oh Say…,
      Thanks for sharing your story. It is encouraging to me and I am happy for you and your wife. We are so close in age and experience I really related. A virtual hug and well wishes to you and yours brother.

    • Frank, be frank February 7, 2016 at 11:39 am - Reply

      This parallels my own experience, up to and including [in my case] well over 50 years of church service and tens of thousands of dollars in church contributions. My hope is that more and more individuals, friends, family members, etc., can come to the realization that truth is severely lacking in church claims, positions, and proclamations – even though many of the [particularly lay] members are amongst the very finest individuals you will ever find in moral character and goodness. If the church would just drop it’s exclusivity claim [to being the one and only true church] and get on with promoting love, goodness, and real truth, you would perhaps again see me in the fold, [but not until]!

      • Oh Say What Is Truth February 11, 2016 at 9:21 pm - Reply

        Frank Be Frank

        Thanks for your kind reply. I too hope that more individuals and families in the Church come to realize that the truth is definitely lacking on many church facts and that it simply doesn’t add up. I was definitely a TBM and I was very aware of many of the arguments used by anti-mormons in the past. This is different because it actually was factual. The Book of Abraham is definitely a hoax because Joseph provided his characters and his “inspired translation.” The church admits in its Book of Abraham essay that there is no connection between Joseph’s translation of the Book of Breathings translation and the Book of Abraham. I agree that now the church has no “exclusivity” claim on receiving revelation. I will not be back despite the good things I find in the church because the brethren have lied to all of us and I cannot personally support church leaders who have no integrity and are not willing to do what’s right.

  141. Cory February 7, 2016 at 9:57 am - Reply

    It is a recognized fact, except by some of the most shrill apologists, that the Book of Abraham scrolls and facsimiles have little or nothing to do with the text of the Book of Abraham. Having admitted that, we should recognize that this BOA documentary has some problems, viz., it is produced by an organization that appears to be trying to convert non-traditional Christians such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses to mainstream Christianity. This prevents it from being unbiased. Despite this, what little I saw of it seems mainly historically accurate.

    • Clay February 7, 2016 at 10:21 am - Reply

      Hi Cory,

      Brother is that you?

      I know that the producers of the documentary have an agenda but show me what they got wrong? There is ZERO connection between the BoA text and the Book of Breathings of Horus aka the facsimilies/papyri.

      Fortunately for seekers of truth, Joseph left a trail of evidence so obvious that there is no room for doubt about the fraud. We can see the documents where Joseph places a glyph next to the “translation”. Our scriptures to this day have the facsimiles with footnotes that are completely wrong. The BoA was Joseph’s fraudulent overreach. It was his bridge to far. Lucky for us we have the Rosetta Stone and real Egyptologists. Once you accept the fraud of the BoA I hope your mind will be open to the rest of the fraud. Look at the Kinderhook plates for another one. Then move on to researching BoM.

      There is more to the BoA deception, Google Grant Palmer Aha Moments on Youtube. I think that is where he describes the source books that Joseph used to create it. One of the Books is Josephus. Check it out. Pretty compelling stuff. You may not be my brother Cory but thanks for your comments and giving me the hope that my brother is open to learning about the 200 year deception.

      • Cory February 7, 2016 at 2:01 pm - Reply

        Not your brother, I’m afraid, and also I agree with you that the BoA is in no way related to the papyri. I just wanted to raise the issue possible bias. In this case I think it manifests itself more in tone that in substance.

  142. Julie Bradford February 8, 2016 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Wonderful episode! Thank you Matt, Clay and John–definitely one of my favorite Mormon Stories. I know that 60% of post Mormon people either become agnostic or atheist, totally respect their feelings and ideas on this. That being said, I am part of the 40% who have transitioned into Christianity and I am a Christian who thinks outside the box. Clay, I don’t know of any other way to contact you, but I was wondering if you and your wife might be interested in forming a FB group of Mormons who have transitioned into Christianity. I would love to help you and your wife to do this, if you are so interested. I also live in South Jordan, Utah and left the Mormon church 2 years ago. I have learned a lot! I am a friend of John Dehlin’s and my name is Julie Bradford. Thank you all again! You three are brilliant.

  143. bandelo February 8, 2016 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    Matt and Clay, your podcast was very deeply touching and my most favorite podcast to date. Thank you for sharing your stories!

  144. Julie Bradford February 9, 2016 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Just wanted to post a reply to my previous post. After thinking about what I wrote yesterday Clay, I realized that the question I asked you about forming a FB group for people who are transitioning into Christianity was very presumptuous of me. You and your family are going enough right now, and navigating through it all takes time. Thank you again for your inspirational words, frankness and candor. All the best to you!

    • Clay February 9, 2016 at 1:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Julie,

      Please don’t worry about that. It was very nice of you. I meant to reply yesterday. I am happy to socialize but you are right, I don’t feel up to starting our own group right now.

      I was invited by a high school classmate to attend a transition group at South Mountain Community Church in Draper, UT and I think that may be helpful. We went to services there on Sunday and it was very nice. The group meets on Monday evening.

      Thank you again for your comments and for reaching out. We look forward to meeting you and your husband.

      • Julie Bradford February 13, 2016 at 4:48 pm - Reply

        Thank you Clay. I’m glad that you and your wife enjoyed the service at the SMCC in Draper. Coincidentally, I have been going to the SMCC in South Jordan for the past month. I also went through the transitions class. Maybe sometime in the not too distant future, it would be great to have a little get together with you, Brenda, and some others in the area who have decided this is the right path for them. Take care! 😀

  145. Confused February 9, 2016 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    Awesome podcast! I have never posted before but have found much help with listening to this and other podcasts. I am in the middle of a nightmare that continues to get worse. I have been a TBM my whole life and it parallels Clay’s exactly. I guess that is why I related so much. However, while I have discovered the truth about the church over the last two years, my wife will not even consider looking at or reading anything that might go contrary to what she has been taught her whole life. I still go to church each week so as to not rock the boat or to let any of our 4 children know that I don’t believe anymore.

    My parents know of my doubts because my wife told them and my dad has held two “interventions” with me to explain how Satan has deceived me, how I am going to lose my family now and in the eternities, how I am prideful and not humble, and just have to be right. His final argument was,”If your right and I’m wrong, I don’t lose anything. I’ll get to the other side and say ‘oh well’ I was wrong. No big deal. However, if I’m right and your wrong, you will have lost everything. Do you want to take that risk? That is too big of a gamble. You can’t do it!” He wants me to pray twice a day and read two chapters in the BofM for 60 days and this will show me the error of my ways. This conversation happened just last month but the last year has been a living hell.

    Nobody else knows but they soon will. My son is 18 and has started on his mission papers and could leave as early as June. I can’t imagine the shock and awe that will occur within the family when I am not there to escort him through the temple for his first time. I don’t know what to do. Do I tell my son now of my doubts? What if that derails him from going on his mission? My wife and parents would never forgive me. It could be the straw that breaks the camels back for my marriage. I don’t want that. Should I just keep playing along with the fraud so as to keep the family intact and happy? I wish my wife would listen to this podcast but it will never happen.

    • Anon February 10, 2016 at 12:52 pm - Reply

      Dear Confused,

      I can relate so much to your anguish and emotional pain. Especially as it relates to your spouse’s anger and unwillingness to listen to your side of the conversation. Telling your parents and making threats of divorce if you share your new found beliefs with your children is another thing that I have had to endure. Fortunately for me, my grown children were born very headstrong and defiant, and chose to exercise their free agency and have all left the church for a variety of reasons. I have been able to talk to my children about my “awakening” and awareness of the truth claims of the church, vs. the long list of historical and scientific data that supports that a different story exists. They have supported my faith crisis and our relationships are stronger for it.

      My marriage however is on the edge of the cliff right now. I don’t want it to end, but we are reaching an impasse that can’t be fixed unless I somehow fake a repentance and return to the rank and file temple recommend holding membership. TBM’s believe that people like us have sinned or have lost the spirit, or have offended God, and therefore we are off the rails heading for an eternity of sorrow, completely cut off from our families. It makes for the worst kinds of conversations while we try to earn a living, manage responsibilities, showing love and support to our children and grandchildren, etc. Drama is at every turn, and landmines are everywhere that spark a conversation of our wicked ways since we have been doubting our faith, instead of doubting our doubts.

      I don’t have answers for you in terms of telling your son about your new found knowledge of the church prior to his mission. I hope I can find peace and happiness someday, but until I repair my marriage, or end my marriage, there is very little peace to be found in the home. Your are not alone! I’m grateful for the community of Mormons out here that have suffered and achieved peace, or who are navigating these waters right now.

      God Bless!

      • ShakesHead February 10, 2016 at 6:38 pm - Reply

        Confused and Anon, my heart aches for you both. When I hear stories like yours it only reinforces the gratitude I feel for my wife who, when we went on that fateful bike ride one evening and I laid out the details of my disaffection, only smiled affectionately and said “Oh”. (I was actually hoping for more, but in retrospect I think she was glad I hadn’t confessed to infidelity or something of that nature.) I understand something of your families’ anger and anguish, but it’s wrong, so very wrong. Love needs understanding. If someone says ‘I love you’ but doesn’t try to understand what you’re saying, to get inside your head and heart, to walk a mile in your shoes, their love is flawed. (To be fair, we’re all only human, and we all need to learn how to love better. )

        Perhaps you could tell your families that you need them not to judge you, but to understand, and that if they’re not willing to even try to understand, that is a huge problem. If they can’t make a go at verbalizing back to you what it is you’ve been trying to tell them, ask them why they can’t, if they’re willing to understand or if their hearts are closed completely to you and to the facts.

        If at all possible, you should go through couples counseling. This problem is not going away on its own.

        It makes me angry that so many good men and women who are responsible, reliably and loving, who do right by their families in every other regard, should be treated as the spawn of Satan the moment they notice that things aren’t exactly the way they were taught in Sunday School growing up.

        • Janice February 13, 2016 at 10:17 am - Reply

          I think in all fairness to still “active” family members I am not sure it is so simple as to bring “if they love you” into the equation. They are being asked to choose between you, and in their minds, God. If they have not done their own due diligence they are coming from a place of how strong is their intestinal fortitude to defends God’s restored gospel? “Will I stand strong in the last days when even the most righteous are deceived?” This is the conditioning for any of us who have been in the system. It is fed to members from all angles and with dogged consistency. This thinking is reinforced by church members even more strongly when family members present honest and fair questions. Sort of like do not look back or you will be turned to salt. Who has not read that story but asked themselves if they would look back or not? Also anyone leaving the Church who is vocal about their findings is usually excommunicated and branded as an apostate. There is no tolerance for questions whose answers can topple the edifice.
          However I do think people who make fair and honest discoveries about the Church’s betrayal have a right for their own mental and emotional health to not be shut away and silenced especially by their own families. People will talk. People will shun. But that is all conditioning backed by the Church so they are not exposed. The church does not care about you or me as individuals. Matt shares that he felt it right to silence his heart for what he felt was best for his family and lash out his rage on internet forums. I cannot judge his decision. But I do think it wrong for people to believe that it is a requisite for them to be sacrificed to foster untruths. They would most likely not make that choice in any other area of their lives no matter the cost but rather stand forward and fiercely protect their loved ones. Not easy decisions but this is the tough stuff of life, religion, faith, growth and loving.

  146. Coffee Drinker February 13, 2016 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Can you give me proof that God exists? Don’t just use the Mormon idea of “It feels good.” Can you give me proof of the Exodus or the Great Flood or the kingship and kingdom of David? Can you give me proof that Jesus existed? Can you give me proof that Paul saw Jesus on the road to Damascus or is his proof like Joseph Smith who said he saw God? Do you agree with most of the world’s Christian scholars that only half of Paul’s letters were actually written by him? Have you studied what the Gnostics believed about Jesus?

    Or is all of your proof found in a book–the bible? Why do Christians disagree as the which books should be included in the Bible? Can you tell me why your god is true but the Muslim god is not? And when the Muslims surpass Christians in numbers in the world, will your god be replaced by Allah? Or is Allah, Buddha, and Jesus the same god? Have you watched debates online between atheists and the famous Christian debater, William Lane Craig? Do you agree with Dr. Dino, Kent Hovind who travels the country speaking on how evolution has destroyed this country?

    What is your opinion that for the first time in American history a non-Christian is running for President and he is making good gains in his effort? Should he be allowed to be president if he is not Christian?

    I hope you do better with these questions than do my TBM neighbors. They just say that they don’t want to talk about such things. Are you sure enough about your beliefs that you want to try?

    • Rico February 18, 2016 at 6:12 am - Reply

      Coffee Drinker,

      When you ask for “proof” on God’s existence, what exactly do you mean by “proof”? Too many atheists use this word, but they don’t know what it means.

      Will logical arguments be acceptable as “proof”? If you cannot accept logical arguments, then you do not know what the word “proof” means.

      One good proof for the existence of God is Science.

      Science has not always been on earth. It only appeared in Europe during the 16-17th centuries. The Catholic Church gave the world Science. Many great civilizations came before the Catholic Church appeared on earth, but NONE OF THEM produced Science as we know it. The ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, etc all had excellent engineering and technological knowledge, but they never produced Science.

      Therefore, if it were not for the Catholic Church, the world would not have had Science. And the Catholic Church came from Jesus himself, who is God.

      • Mitchell February 19, 2016 at 10:24 am - Reply

        The science that the world is flat, only 8,000 years old… And Creationism?

        • Coffee Drinker February 19, 2016 at 11:48 am - Reply

          I’m sure that you can prove that your god exists and the Muslims can prove that their god exists, and the Jews, and the Buddhists. I cannot prove god does not exist so if I follow your reasoning that would mean that all the gods exist. I have read and studied the origins of the Christian movement and I’ve studied other religions. The best source of such about many religions is religious And what is a Christian? Are Mormons Christians, JW’s? SDA’s? Catholics? What makes a Christian a Christian? What about a religion that believes in evolution or that the earth is much older than 8,000 years?

          And science isn’t something that emerged at some time any more than math is or biology.

          Maybe you should study about the origin of the Bible–which version is correct? Why are stories found in the bible found in earlier religious teachings? Why is there so many references of god telling people to kill or control women, or keep slaves? If the OT predicts the coming of the divine Christ and the Jews study the OT, why are Jews not Christians? Why is the story of the Flood so similar to the Epic of Gilgamish? Why were there no contemporaries of Jesus who wrote about him, and don’t use the now disproven statements of Josephus. I didn’t come to the conclusions I did by just talking to a minister. I studied and I studied a lot, but probably the main reason why I am an atheists because most religious people I talk to believe they are correct and everybody else is wrong. Their god is the true one because he has told them that. I am happy with how I believe and how I disbelieve. Let others worship how or what they may. I am fine with that as long as religionists don’t try to push their belief on me.

          • Rico February 20, 2016 at 11:06 pm

            Coffee Drinker,

            My assertion that “the Catholic Church gave the world Science” is easy to debunk. It is falsifiable (if you know what that term means). All you have to do is show proof that human beings have engaged in scientific research or experiments long before the Catholic Church appeared. There are several ancient civilizations to choose from, spanning thousands of years, all over the planet that you can use as proof.

            Do that and you will show me two things: 1) that you know what proof or proving an argument means, and 2) that you know what Science means.

            So far, all you’ve shown is a skill in bearing testimonies. To say that “science isn’t something that emerged at some time any more than math is or biology” is just to bear your testimony. That is all it is. And it is a false testimony.

        • Rico February 20, 2016 at 6:17 pm - Reply


          When Galileo made his scientific discoveries, he used the best telescopes currently available for his work. Those equipments were housed in astronomical observatories owned by the Catholic Church. One example is the Vatican Observatory which has been around since the 16th century.

          In 1610, Galileo was a university professor of astronomy at the University of Padua, Italy. This university was established by the Catholic Church in 1222. Three centuries before he was born, the Catholic Church had already invented the university system in the Middle Ages.

          It was the Catholic Cardinal Baronius who said, “The Holy Ghost intended to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go”. This was the principle Galileo borrowed and used against those who criticzed his scientific theories.

          Catholicism is not the same as Protestant Creationism. Catholicism has been teaching the truth for 2,000 years. Multiply the age of the US government by six times, the Catholic Church will still be older by centuries. On the other hand, Creationism was just born yesterday. To equate the two is to betray a gross ignorance.

          The Catholic Church gave the world not only Science but the Holy Bible. Protestantism gave the world nothing but distorted interpretations of the Bible. Be careful of Bible-thumping Protestants. The natural habitat of the Bible is in the Catholic Church.

      • Frank, be frank February 19, 2016 at 5:26 pm - Reply

        Is this circular reasoning – or what?! Many of us hope for the existence of God, but a statement such as yours does nothing to convince us that our doubts are unsubstantiated!

        • Joanne February 19, 2016 at 6:44 pm - Reply

          Still praying for you coffee drinker. Do you feel those prayers coming your way? You obviously need God. Well, we all do. God Bless.

          • Coffee Drinker February 19, 2016 at 11:10 pm

            Which god do I need–Dyonesius? Allah? Zeuss? Yahweh? I’ll bet I need The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Maybe I need them all, but my favorite answer is that I don’t need any mythological gods and for sure I don’t need any mythological Christian gods. But with Donald Trump attacking the Pope, maybe he will become America’s new god.

            Who feeds you all the malarky you espout?

        • Rico February 20, 2016 at 6:49 pm - Reply


          How do you know that Science is true? Because Science says Science is true?

          If so, then that is circular reasoning.

          In my case, I know that Science is true because the Catholic Church is true. It is the Catholic Church that produced Science. That is not circular reasoning.

  147. Kimber February 13, 2016 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    “It takes great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.”–Oscar Wilde
    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  148. Haika February 15, 2016 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    I just finished listening to this fascinating and heartbreaking podcast. I have one comment for Matt. I grew up with distant and stern father. I felt little warmth from him, hardly talked to him and when I had to, I remember practicing beforehand what I was going to say because I was so scared to do it. I moved out of my parent’s house in my late teens and was back only occasionally. Around that time, my father started to change. He became more open, warm and loving and he smiled a whole lot more. I noticed the changes when I returned to visit. I am not sure why they happened, maybe the natural softening of age, maybe issues with health, it is hard to say. But what I do know is that although I recognized his increased approachability, interest and warmth, I was not able to respond in kind. Our pattern of interaction had already been fixed, his changes came too late for me to be able to adjust to this “new” father. I do not entirely blame him, my inability to adapt may well have been my own failing. But you can see why I mention this to you. I hope with all my heart that if and when you are able to be more open with your children, it will not be too late and you will be able to build the closeness of relationship with them that you hope for. My very best wishes to you.

  149. Michelle February 19, 2016 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    Hi, I am so glad I stumbled on this pod cast. I have been attending a non denominational Christian church for about 8 yrs now with my husband. I was born and raised LDS, him Catholic. We really struggled early in our marriage, me more than him due to it being so important to me. We decided to find a bible based church and it has been great. I have not left the church. I am very confused. I learned more about the bible in one year at this new church than I did my whole life with the lds faith. I find that very disturbing. My husband can’t begin to understand my struggle. He doesn’t understand anything about the mormon church. I also am a descendant and have the whole “heritage” thing. It is so hard. He tries to be supportive, but he has no idea what leaving the church means.

  150. Michelle February 19, 2016 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    The 200 year deception ends with me. Wow. That really got to me. I am not raising my kids lds, but I can’t seem to find the courage to leave.

    • Clay February 20, 2016 at 12:01 am - Reply

      Hi Michelle,
      I know it is hard to leave. There are consequences to letting people know you are done with the cult. (yes it is a cult. We are no better or smarter than the FLDS or the Scientologists. We are all the same.) It gets harder as your kids get older. Kids may choose to leave or stay. Either way, dealing with the impact on all your lives is much more difficult the longet you wait. This whole thing is so traumatic and that is why there is so much anger towards the church. Please know that there are people outside the church that care about you. We wish the best for you and your family, no matter how you choose to deal with the cult-driven challenges. It impacts all our lives whether in or out. We who understand the truth have to help one another. Thank you for posting your comment. I hope there is something that we shared to help you and everyone who listens.

  151. Celestine February 20, 2016 at 7:33 am - Reply


    We have to consider that there are three aspects to us that needs to be in sync for us to be in a state of happiness. Our mind, body and soul need to come together. This best happens when you meditate to a state of calmness from where you could step aside as an “observer” and get a clear picture that can come from the soul. Decisions and choices are best made in this space. Emotions are powerful in binding us to circumstances that can be good or bad for us or for our exploration of life. Nothing is permanent. Reach out for joy.

    My 2 favourite quotes that helped me untangle.

    Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace. The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things. Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
    Nor mountain heights, where bitter joy can hear The sound of wings.
    — Amelia Earhart

    To be nobody-but-myself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.
    –e.e. cummings

    Love to all

    • Clay February 20, 2016 at 10:31 am - Reply

      Hi Celestine,

      Thank you for taking the time to share those beautiful quotes!

      And to everyone who is watching and commenting on our podcast, thank you, I hope it helps you. I wish for you all the love and peace we all deserve.

  152. Celestine February 20, 2016 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    I am sad to say that some of the conversation here is getting out of hand. It is sufficient to keep it within the framework of questioning the authenticity and claims of the LDS church and the avenues available for you now as an adult to create a community that would support you in the rest of your journey here.

    God blesses

  153. Coffee Drinker February 21, 2016 at 8:11 am - Reply

    Last Friday I had my first professional counseling session. For the past nearly 4 years I have read the stories of others’, and listened to many episodes of Mormon Stories and have felt good that as a convert not living in the heart of Mormon country, I was strong enough that this leaving would never really bother me. But the severing really is a hard thing to do. And when people in the Church like to tell me that all I need to do is just drop out and forget the Church. I like to think of my experience being a lot like someone who has been in what they thought was a good marriage for over forty years and then within a fairly short time find out that their spouse had been unfaithful all those years. Could they, then, just forget everything and move on? What about all of those memories, good or bad, that had helped make that person what he or she is today? And wouldn’t there still be some love left there even if it was changing into hate?

    I am still in the Church, on the record books, and don’t resign due to pressure from my only child and her family plus the possible loss of retirement funds, so home teachers still visit. One phoned last night and the usual talk seems to center around religion. This lady knew what the essays were, probably because I have tried a lot to tell her husband about them. But she had no idea what a Church apologist was, had never heard of “Rough Stone Rolling”, and since she and her husband had no TV and rarely used their computer, had little to no idea about either national politics or things liked the new “revelation” on LGBT’s.

    Yesterday I visited another close neighbor where I traded some of my probably-never-to-be-used food storage for a haircut. It didn’t take long before we got into a discussion on the Church. More of that exclusivity! The husband asked me if I believed in absolute truth and I replied that I didn’t. Such statements to a good Mormon seems to bring out anger and quickly. He then asked me where I was going after I died and I replied that I wasn’t going anywhere because I would be dead. So he told me that when I died I would wake up and realize I had made a mistake and then would know that Jesus was divine. I asked him why I wouldn’t wake up and see Allah or Zeuss. Anger! He then expressed a desire for me to maybe leave his home. Very upset! Now this fellow was not just any old Saint to me, because we had worked on building a Boy Scout camp on my property, had traveled to the Southwest to play music together including at firesides, and had worked to develop a many years running music festival in our community.

    These experiences, one by new friends and another by an old friend, are a couple of many reasons why severing Church ties is so difficult, and why problems keep coming up in my life. I love my property and will not move just to be able to hide, and avoid confrontations. I may have to spend quite a while in counseling so I can clear my mind of the anger and also the amazement I think of each day as to why others in the Church are so controlled that they dare not even dare to question. I know that I was once there, also, but it still doesn’t make post-Mormonism any easier.

    This episode with Matt and Clay was definitely the best I had ever come across, and reading the many comments given helped me see that I wasn’t as strong as I thought. It has helped me see that I’m no different than many former Saints and I need some assistance to completely break from the cult.

  154. DaveR February 23, 2016 at 12:54 am - Reply


    Thank you for candidly and thoughtfully sharing your perspectives.

    My wife recently put me onto the works of Brene Brown (TED talks, couple books). A number of ideas she posits appear highly relevant to some of the issues you spoke of – really interesting stuff.

    Anyhow, thanks again.

    I have good memories from time in Ludwigsburg years ago.

    – Dave Ream

    • Matt February 23, 2016 at 9:39 am - Reply

      Thanks for listening, Dave. I remember you always did that so well. Very good memories.

      I just listened to Bene’s two TED talks. Wow. So good. Ruminating.

  155. Liz February 27, 2016 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Clay, I’d recommend reading, Passing the Heavenly Gift. It is written by Denver Snuffer who is neither TBM or anti Mormon. Even if you don’t agree with him, it is a good example of, “the gray.”

  156. David Macfarlane March 1, 2016 at 11:05 am - Reply

    I have not read through every post, so I don’t know if this has been covered already. Clay, is the relation to Joseph Smith through Sylvia Lyons Session something the family just talked about or has that actually been researched? Any DNA work done? That would prove highly valuable information. Thanks.

  157. Half Lost March 4, 2016 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    I don’t know if anyone is still following this post or if I’ll get a reply but here goes.

    Over a long period of time I have learned many of the things that drove both of you out of the church. I’ve swept them under the rug, tried to focus on my own spirituality, tried to gain a testimony of things I doubted, and then returned to more questions. Not long ago my wife went on Amazon to order something and found the following books in my shopping cart: A View of the Hebrews, The First Book of Napoleon, The Late War and Studies of the Book of Mormon. A quick internet search told her I was up to no good. She feels betrayed by my questioning and probing. So, here is my issue. Isn’t finding truth supposed to make one happy or peaceful or something else nice? All I can see are people who found truth and then got disheartened, disconnected, and angry. If that is truth then I’m not sure I want to embrace it. Cognitive dissonance has its downside, yes, but keeping the peace in our house has a bigger upside. My wife will never step away from the church long enough to analyze the historical information out there. She also won’t be a very happy person if I don’t at least pretend to believe. I made a covenant to be by her side, to serve her. If my temple covenants mean nothing else to me they do mean this: I promised to be what she hopes me to be. Whether it was grounded in truth or not is irrelevant to me now. I promised her I’d be there and I don’t want to go back on my word to her. So, I don’t have integrity with my own beliefs, there I am.

    Are you really happier now that you know what you know or would you rather to have not discovered it? I don’t know if anyone could answer this question honestly, not sure I can, but it bothers me that people leave the church and are so angry and disaffected. I don’t want to be that person. How can I leave and still have joy in my heart, in my home, and in my marriage?

    I’m 99 percent positive that I will never have an experience like Matt where one of my siblings or their spouse will come away from the church. My 4 siblings and I have all served missions, temple marriages, all children on missions, the works. I’ll be completely alone in this knowledge for the rest of my life. Not much to look forward to.

    So that’s my story and I leave this out there for comment. How do you justify embracing and following truth that detracts from your life? Truth that makes you unhappy you found it. Truth that brings you more pain than joy.

    • Mitchell March 7, 2016 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      Like you, I accepted the apologies for years. I went along because I gave my word and felt I had a duty to do so. I found joy in serving and peace in communing with my Creator, so I figured I could continue to do so. It wasn’t until I was ordained a High Priest and began serving with contemporaries in the 50+ crowd that my “shelf” succumbed to all the weight it bore for decades. I feel your dilemma.

      Imagine a convert to the Church being disowned by his/her family by becoming a Mormon. As a missionary, I was personally involved with two conversions in which I, my fellow missionaries and Mission President gave promises of eternal blessings, happiness, peace, comfort and freedom if they would only follow the “Spirit” they felt and commit to baptism no matter the personal costs. Now, 35+ years later, I feel obligated to find those two dear, sweet people and apologize.

      Anyway… What is “truth?” Truth is what you want it to be. Truth does not bring more pain than joy. Will you be happier “pretending” to be Mormon, lying in your temple recommend interview, biting your tongue in Sunday School, rolling your eyes in Sacrament Meeting and wondering what the hell you’re supposed to be saying during a priesthood blessing? If so, that is your truth. If not, then you should keep searching for that truth and follow it wherever it leads you.

      Like a perspective convert, you must decide what you want out of this extremely short and priceless existence and commit to it, consequences be damned. I admired the conviction and testimony of those two converts. In their honor, I did the same thing.

      I do not want to get negative, but (which negated my intention) if your family cannot support you in your life decisions to be completely self-expressed and happy… Well, I still don’t want to go negative. Just be very content that you are not a homosexual.

      I know this is a deeply-personal and sensitive subject. I hope I expressed myself with the candor and empathy I intended.

    • Elder Van Halen March 7, 2016 at 5:35 pm - Reply

      Hello Half Lost!

      My heart goes out to you and I can totally relate to the experience you described in your own situation. My road is very similar, and is also similar to Matt’s description of staying silent in order to keep the peace in a marriage that you desperately want to maintain. My wife has known for many years that I had cognitive dissonance about the temple ceremony, and that I had lost my interest in attending 3-hours of church each Sunday because the vanilla story offered in Priesthood Meetings and Gospel Doctrine classes were causing me so many panic attacks that I couldn’t keep up the effort to stay active.

      Over the past 15 years I stopped wearing garments, stopped renewing my temple recommend, and stopped accepting callings. I have always had some fairly responsible church leadership callings, and am also a returned missionary. While these are outward signs and red flags that my wife is very disheartened over, we agreed that she wanted nothing to do with any open discussions or “new” historical findings that have come to reveal more disturbing realities about Joseph Smith’s polygamy and polyandry. She refuses to listen to any more of my concerns about the historicity of the Book of Mormon, or any of the other truth claims of the church that have been clouded by historical information that is now readily available (thank you Jeremy Runnells and the CES Letter and many other sources). In the end, we have a marriage with very thick boundaries, that doesn’t allow for a unified approach on religion. We have great love for each other and the desire to stay together for our kids and grandchildren, but there have been many threats that a divorce will occur if I actively engage my kids, neighbors, family members and ward members about my views of the doctrine of the church.

      What have I done? So far, I attend Sacrament Meeting only. I fake my way through other conversations with my wife about the church, but provide her total support in accomplishing her callings, and I help out with anyone in the ward that stands in need of service because that is a core value of my beliefs to my fellow man anyway. I have been shunned by friends that live their lives in the Mormon box, but I hope there will come a day when my wife and I can have open and ongoing conversations about historical claims of the church. In my heart, I have settled on my relationship with Jesus Christ. I have little faith in things because of this experience, but I have lots of hope in Christ. I try to live my life as a good person and as a contributing member of my community, and as a person that claims to be an unorthodox Mormon so that I can keep my marriage intact.

      It may be a bleak outlook, which dramatically lowers my quality of life. But my marriage is still worth it….so I continue on in silence. Thanks to some other friends in my life, I discovered the CES Letter and Mormon Stories in 2015. It gave me a great sense of community knowing there are so many others in my exact scenario of transition. Some can transition quickly and have the support of their spouses, while others suffer in silence for decades. Still others discover the real story behind the truth claims of the church and end up in divorce and end up losing relationships with spouses, children, and extended family members. There is no advice to correctly help you through a successful path, but the path I described works for me. I hope for change in the future, but in the meantime, I am grateful for this community to help navigate the psychology of this very challenging issue.

      Good luck to you in your journey. I hope this has helped.

    • Oh Say What Is Truth March 7, 2016 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      Half Lost

      I understand your questions. Not too long ago I was a TBM and had been for over 50 years. I could not personally bury my integrity so I left the church. My TBM wife told me she no longer believed about six months before I decided to leave the church. Like you I had made a covenant with her and God to cherish her and to support her no matter what. I knew that I had to find what made her feel the way she did. Obviously we cannot reconvert someone any more than we can convert them. It is a decision that they make themselves. We can be loving, supportive and sacrificing. My wife was concerned that I would leave her for the church — that would never happen, but she didn’t know that when she wrote me a long letter telling me how she felt about the church.

      Honestly, it is a challenge to move to a new place based on “truth” as it is revealed to you. The bottom line for me is that I am much happier not to be burdened with guilt because I’m not doing my home teaching, not doing enough missionary work, I’m not eating right, etc. We have one life to live. I could not teach others the gospel knowing what I know. I am not wired to simply take a seat, smile and listen quietly.

      You have a tough situation. I know that at the judgement God will judge your heart and your willingness to be a support to your wife, family and your fellow man. I’m pretty sure church attendance will not be on the list.

      I feel that if you try to bury the truth you will find yourself regretting it.

      I don’t justify trying to continue a system built on deceit. The truth is you probably can’t do it either and that’s what is causing you angst.

    • Matt March 7, 2016 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing this, Half Lost.

      I really like the comments others have shared with you here. For me, happiness has always been secondary and largely a side-effect of living with as much integrity as possible. Does it mean you’ll feel pain? That you may lose things that are precious to you? Very possibly. Yet I often think about a line from the movie “Shadowlands” where C.S. Lewis says, “The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.” And to me this means all happiness must pass-away and in this we can expect to feel pain to the degree that we felt happiness — and this is the deal we make when we live in such a way that brings us happiness. It’s the deal we make when we chose to live with integrity.

      Wishing you all the best and that your pain will fall-away with time to reveal new and greater heights of happiness.


    • Coffee Drinker March 7, 2016 at 6:52 pm - Reply

      If you live a lie, but make your family happy, because they believe you will all be together in the Celestial Kingdom, will Heavenly Father be pleased with you because you lied for Him? Will you and many in you same boat have to lie your way into perfection in God’s Kingdom? Is God’s plan based on truths or lies? Or is there something wrong with this picture?

      “That which can be destroyed by truth should be.”

    • Frank, be frank March 7, 2016 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      I appreciate the tremendous predicament you find yourself in, and certainly empathize with you and your decision to continue to pretend……however, that would never work for me as I am totally unable to lie to myself, nor to others, nor to pretend to believe that which I know cannot be true! I can and to a large extent do however, keep my mouth shut! While I respect your decision to honor your commitment to your wife, [and may even reluctantly agree with it] does the reverse also apply? Bottom line – each individual must cope with this terrible predicament as best they can in whatever manner works best for them. I certainly extend that understanding to you and wish you well…..but oh how I long for the day when truth finally prevails! Alac and alas I fear I shall long be gone before that day finally comes!

      • Joanne March 8, 2016 at 2:27 am - Reply

        My husband is starting to read the Gospel Topic Essays! We have been silently trudging along for the past 10 years not talking about his church while I continued to read everything I could find about Mormonism so I would be knowledgable in case we ever had a discussion. Through the past 10 years those discussions have been few and have ended badly. Now I am praying the Gospel Topic Essays will open his eyes to the lies we have been fed since we were little, innocent, trusting kids. I left the church 40 years ago. He went inactive at that time but went back with a gusto 10 years ago. For the second time in these last 10 years he (and his Bishop) have approached me with the request that I agree for him to go through the temple so he can move on up the hierarchy at his ward. Apparently the church needs my ok before he can proceed. I won’t give this horrible ritual my blessing, so I’m not sure what happens next. But he did agree to read the essays and I’m hopeful! These essays are on in case anybody is interested in the churches attempt to ‘clear up’ any ‘misunderstandings’ about their past. I love my husband and pray for him every day that his eyes will be opened to this fraud. He’s a good man and I worry about what will happen then.

        • Clay March 8, 2016 at 8:09 am - Reply

          Hi Joanne,

          I am sorry to think of what you have had to go through but I am hopeful for you.

          How much do you know about the circumstances of the temple endowment? Do you know that Jospeh “revealed” it just weeks after becoming a mason? Do you know how much he borrowed from Masonic ritual? Do you know that Masonry comes from medieval times and not Solomon’s temple? Do you know that Joseph’s dying words were the beginning of a Masonic distress call? (I think he was hoping for help from the Masons). Do you know that the Masonic lodge grew to nearly the size of all the other Masonic lodges in Illionois put together? Do you know that they changed the temple ritual to remove some of the more creepy aspects, like all the ways you would agree to be killed if you didn’t keep the secrets? Do you know that Emma was not even among the first of Joseph’s wives to be sealed to him. (I believe a big part of the temple is about enshrining polygamy/polyandry marriage and making sure the wives kept it secret, see D&C 132). Do you understsand the connection between the temple ban (also called the priesthood ban) for blacks and the fact that if they didn’t ban blacks from the temple it could lead to inter-racial marriage?

          I have an idea, tell your husband you’ll agree to his temple if you can have this discussion. Perhaps then, when he goes he will see right through to the cult-core of what the temple is.

          I really hope the best for you and your husband. Please let us know how it goes.

        • Susan March 8, 2016 at 5:44 pm - Reply

          I think it is pretty controlling to not let your husband use his agency in choosing to go to the temple. Pretty sad.

          • Joanne March 14, 2016 at 11:19 am

            Susan, you must not have read my comments correctly. I did not say he could not go through the temple. I just said I would not give my blessing and/or okay to do it. He obviously can do whatever he chooses and that’s what I told him. But so far, praise God, he has not proceeded. I am praying that he sees the light before that happens.

    • Clay March 8, 2016 at 2:01 am - Reply

      Hi Half Lost,

      Today it is 4 months since I read the CES letter and started my journey out. I have continued to learn, and the truth about the church is even more shocking and more obvious to me now than it was when we did the podcast. I am honestly happy that I know the truth. Before, I was blissfully ignorant. That isn’t really happiness, although it was comforting to think that everything was figured out. Now I have to live with the knowledge that I was in a cult for 50 years. I don’t have it all figured out but I’m living my life as best I can. I appreciate it now more than I did before.

      I am thankful that my wife insisted that I read the CES letter and that I valued our relationship enough to read it. I can’t imagine not being willing to share and investigate something that my wife was concerned about. I am still surprised at the response that I got from my Sister, Mom and Brother. They are not willing to even look at the information. My Sister says she already knows it all. My Brother is convinced I’m one of the prophesied elect that would fall away. It is really sad. I hope that your spouse will come to want to know the truth. I don’t understand people who don’t want to learn all they can. Why would you want to be in a church that you have to pretend is true?

      I hope you can live an authentic life. I hope you can be honest with your family and yourself. I think you will find that you are much happier, and you can let go of the anger much faster, when you stop living the lie. Love your family but put as much distance as you can between yourself and the cult and you will be happy.

      Good luck in your journey. I really hope this podcast helped you in some way.

    • Janice March 13, 2016 at 4:04 pm - Reply

      Half Lost
      First of all thank you for reaching out. For many of us who have been there it is a fragile place. And thank you John for providing a safe place for people to use their voice and breathe.
      I understood you to be asking about 2 different things.
      One is that you are in a situation that even your reading and freedom to think is being monitored by your wife and she does not seem to be informed. So she is reacting emotionally. Anyone in any situation who cannot make adult choices as to their growth is going to feel pressure and confusion. But we are not children anymore. If she used guilt or anger that is just because of years of careful Church indoctrination. We can see it so easily in other countries where humanity is stifled by oppressive leaders or in sects widely televised because of their oddity. Yet the Church has demanded the same control of the minds, hearts and souls of its members. Remember that commercial where the people in the city shut off their computers and walked out into the open air blinking their eyes as they reconnected with reality? It is kind of like that. You want to open the door and look at the world and your wife, at least right now, wants to hold the door shut. That is going to be painful and uncomfortable. Hopefully you will find communication without you taking all the hits.

      The other is your concern that seeking historical truth in the Church leads to detracting from one’s quality of life. Actually it does not. It leads to the break down and rebirth of a new you. A lot of things will change and that’s a good thing, There is nothing neat, tidy or without pain in giving birth. But it is hardly a negative. A person who takes back his right to expand his mind has responsibility to demand authenticity from those who wish to control his life and choices. A soul that yearns for truth should be celebrated.

      My best to you in your journey. Do not be afraid to open the door.

      • Frank, be frank March 13, 2016 at 8:50 pm - Reply

        Beautifully said Janice. An old man commends you for your wisdom.

      • Half Lost March 14, 2016 at 12:33 am - Reply


        Thank you for a thoughtful and compassionate response. I don’t have much hope for myself to live authentically at this time. I have to make choices and that isn’t a choice I can live with. I wish now that I hadn’t discovered what I have because I don’t have the courage to “do what is right, let the consequence follow.” Ironic isn’t it?

        • Janice March 14, 2016 at 9:27 pm - Reply

          Hey Half Lost
          My reply I wrote on the 11th just posted today. Did not expect that. I wrote another one on the 13th which is the first post you read. I figured the one from the 11th was lost in cyberspace. Anyway did not want to overwhelm you. Just wish you the best.

  158. Janice March 11, 2016 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Half Lost
    There is a reason that the Church has been able to “control” its members for so many years and obviously is still attempting to do that today. Do you think that if the internet did not exist and had turned a light on Church history that the Church Essays would have been written? Of course not. There would never be an attempt to tell even a bastardized version of true historical facts. The story has been made up. What we were taught has nothing to do with facts. Just what needed to be said at any given time to keep the masses in line, the money and labor flowing and deal with political confrontations. This is really the issue. Your wife has been conditioned, as has been the case with most of us, to believe a certain way and allow NO variation of the story except by men to whom she has given complete control of her choices. They use lots of fear and shaming in religious jargon to keep people from using their own minds and inner guidance. Of course the fact that what has been taught as “The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ” keeps changing even on its most basic level seems to be immaterial.
    It sounds like you are simply trying to take back some of those human God given rights to study and make your own decisions. Perhaps surprised to have hit a wall of fear and shaming in the form of your wife telling you what you can read and how you have to believe. It appears you are reaching for freedom, maturity and growth. Any organization that does not allow research and legitimate questioning and study is suspect. The very fact that you are being held hostage in the name of love from your own desire to discover facts so you can consider their meaning is a big red flag. I do not think that is what you signed up for when you married your wife. The temple ceremony without full disclosure demands complete initial and ongoing compliance as a tool of deep emotional, mental and financial control over the members. And for so many it is experienced at a tender age when they volunteer for missions or on their wedding day.
    To support and love your wife sounds like she holds all the power and demands that you be someone you are not? That you must turn off your mind and heart and not listen to how you are being guided? She has the answers but will not look at the facts. Kind of upside down thinking. Please do not interpret my words as being against your wife. I am using your situation as an example of the deep control the Church has asserted even into that most precious relationship of the love of a man and woman.
    It seems you reached out in this forum because you are in pain and this gives you a safe place. A place where you can breathe. Right? (Thank you John) We understand how fragile that trust is for those just trying to have a voice. But you cannot hold your breath for the rest of your life. Many countries do not allow their citizens access to education. It is so easy to see the glaring violation of human rights when it is not so close to home. We are blessed to live in a country where you can read whatever book you want. Many lives were given just for this privilege. I would not give it away so easily. May you find peace in your journey.

  159. Holly March 11, 2016 at 9:05 pm - Reply

    Thank you both Matt and Clay for your stories, I loved listening in. I’m in a situation like Matt. Walking on eggshells with my devout husband and kids all the while wishing I could just be open and honest with my beliefs. Two years ago I lost my testimony. Never felt so free before. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks, I really enjoyed the podcasts. You are both great men!

    • Clay March 12, 2016 at 10:50 am - Reply

      Hi Holly,
      I am so glad you liked the podcast and I am glad to hear that people are still finding it. We really wanted to help people. I am sorry to hear that your husband isn’t with you. I would just like to suggest the approach my wife took. She just said, “you have to watch this documentary, handed me her phone and stepped back”.

      That is the BoA documentary. Then, two weeks later, after she read the CES letter she approached me, almost like Eve approached Adam, and said, “you have to read this, you can’t just leave me hanging” or words to that effect. She asked so sweetly, I couldn’t even consider the typical Mormon response. I had to come to her rescue. What we both found out, and what has been confirmed through hours of study, is that the church is false and we want nothing to do with it. May all spouses put their marriage above the cult and consider the evidence. Until then, just know that you are not alone. There is peace and comfort and friendship on the outside.

  160. Half Lost March 15, 2016 at 1:01 am - Reply


    Not to worry. The message is heard and considered. My wife requested that I not to ask her to read anything, including the essays on She doesn’t want to know anything that will cause her to doubt. I’m reminded of a question posed to Ken Ham and Bill Nye, “What, if anything, would ever change your mind?” To which Ken Ham basically responded that nothing would change his mind, while Bill Nye said “Evidence.” We all have to decide where we are on that continuum. Honestly I respect both positions for different reasons. Nye is looking for evidence, Ham is ignoring it.

    I do tend to see the church as a “net good” proposition for my family’s well being. I get what Matt said about this but I personally don’t agree with that philosophy. If I can’t belong to any organization that isn’t 100% correct then I can do nothing in this world. Good for my family is good for my family whether or not it is completely factual. The church’s stance on truth need not be my own.

    Yes, I’m avoiding pain and messiness for now. Maybe this will cause more pain and messiness in the future. I’m going to try (as best I can) to live free of guilt from the impossibility of meeting every church-dictated life goal. I’m still reading the BoM every night with my family though because, frankly, I think it’s pretty amazing that Joseph could come up with all that and there are some really good teachings in it. You know, the Muslims use the Koran as proof that Mohamed was a prophet saying that no human could ever write something so wonderful. They even say “let anyone who doesn’t believe this try to write their own Koran and show that man could write it (ever hear that one before?). When you get right down to it every world religion could be viewed in the same way, having flaws, untruths, hidden pasts, lies, deception etc. Public acceptance of older stories seems to be greater. The lies and deceptions may have been 1000 years ago instead of 200 so that makes people okay with them. Now I’m rambling. Anyway, I appreciate the concern and genuine comments given here and it has helped me to crystallize what I value and believe.

  161. Cheyanne Thatcher March 16, 2018 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    Just listened to this podcast I know it’s years later. Just wondering Clay where you are now in your beliefs? My husband and I would like to know if you’ve researched further now and mainly if you still are a Christian. Would love a follow up interview.

  162. Kerrielou73 December 8, 2018 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    You don’t lose your kids just because you get divorced. You do lose the self imposed obligation to hide the truth from them.

  163. Karl December 19, 2019 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    I also would appreciate an update on you, your families and relations with the church.

    Unfortunately, I doubt that anyone involved with the podcast looks at these remarks anymore. That is unfortunate for those experiencing a faith crisis now.

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