Progressive and Post-Mormon Influencers — A Starter List

John Dehlin Blog 20 Comments

William Law

Statement of Purpose: In 2020 we are experiencing a “Mormon Renaissance” of sorts, as the LDS church (under President Russell M. Nelson) is making historic changes to accommodate long-fought-for progressive and post-Mormon concerns.  While countless individuals and organizations have displayed courage and dedication over the years to help lay the groundwork for these changes, I am unaware of any online resource that seeks to list and honor these individuals.

Consequently, I am putting together a starter list of influencers.  I am defining an influencer as a person or organization who is widely admired for achievements, courage, or noble qualities.  This list is grossly inadequate, but I am hopeful that it is better than what is out there now (which is nothing)

Seeking Feedback and Profiles:  Do you have ideas for others to add to the list?  Ideas for better categorization?  If so, please email me.  In addition to this list, it would be nice to crowd-source written profiles and photos for each of these individuals and organizations.  If you would like to do a write-up, please email me your profile at mormonstories@gmail.com with “Influencer” in the title.  I will then publish your profile as its own post, and put a link to it here.  Finally, as this list is in no way comprehensive, I would be thrilled if this list motivates others to create better lists.



Early Church Insiders Who Spoke Up Against Dishonesty or Injustice

Lucy Harris
David Whitmer
Thomas B. Marsh
William and Jane Law
Nancy Rigdon
Sarah Pratt
Emma Smith
Joseph Smith III
John D. Lee
Ann Eliza Young
Annie C. Tanner

Early External Observers Who Expressed Genuine Concerns With Mormon Practices

Eber D. Howe
Ezra Booth
Philastus Hurlbut
Pomeroy Tucker
William S. Godbe
Reed Smoot
Fanny Stenhouse
Robert Newton Baskin

LDS Church Authorities Who Encouraged Internal Improvement

J. Golden Kimball
B. H. Roberts
Hugh B. Brown
Chieko N. Okazaki
Marlin K. Jensen
Dieter Uchtdorf

LDS Historians and Organizations Promoting Honest/Accurate History
Juanita Brooks
Leonard Arrington
Reed Durham
Lester Bush
D. Michael Quinn
Richard Bushman
Valeen Tippets Avery and Linda King Newell
Richard S. Van Wagoner
Jan Shipps
B. Carmon Hardy
Will Bagley
Todd M. Compton
Greg Prince
H. Michael Marquardt
Joe Geisner
Dialogue
Sunstone
Signature Books (e.g., George Smith, Ronald Priddis, Gary Bergera, Tom Kimball)
Journal of Mormon History
Mormon Historical Association
John Whitmer Association
Benchmark Books Team (Curt Bench, Chris Bench, and Bryan Buchanan).
Open Stories Foundation
Connell O’Donovan

Instigators of LDS Intellectual Development and Social Change

Lowell Bennion
T. Edgar Lyon
Sterling McMurrin
Eugene England
Richard Poll
Mary Lythgoe Bradford
Duane Jeffries
Sam Rushforth
Thomas Rogers
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Bob Rees
Martha Bradley
Lavina Fielding Anderson
Paul Toscano
David Knowlton
J. Bonner Ritchie
Linda Adams
William Russell (Community of Christ)
Jim Falconer
Boyd Peterson
Phillip Barlow
Omar and Nancy Kader
Cindy Spencer Le Fevre
John Charles Duffy
Brian Birch
Kelli Potter
Kristine Haglund
Dan Wotherspoon
Taylor Petrey
Joanna Brooks
Denver Snuffer
Rock Waterman
Ally Isom
Gina Colvin
Lindsay Hansen Park
Mehrsa Baradaran

Mormon Feminism
Emily Sophia Tanner Richards
Esther Peterson
Maurine Whipple
Founders of Exponent II
Mormon Women’s Forum / Counterpoint
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Mary Lythgoe Bradford
Sonia Johnson
Claudia Bushman
Judith Dushku
Carol Lynn Pearson
Marie Cornwall
Chieko Okazaki
Lynne Whitesides
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Maxine Hanks
Margaret Toscano
Janice Merrill Allred
Lavina Fielding Anderson
Martha Bradley
Lorie Winder Stromberg
Cecelia Konchar Farr
Gail Houston
Nadine McCombs Hansen
Lisa Butterworth / Feminist Mormon Housewives
Zelophehad’s Daughters Blog
Joanna Brooks
Rachel Hunt Steenblik
Kate Kelly / Ordain Women
Neylan McBaine
Mehrsa Baradaran
Lindsay Hansen Park
Kim Sandberg Turner
C. Jane Kendrick

Historians, Scientists, and Writers who Brought to Light Legitimate Concerns Regarding LDS Church Truth Claims
Fawn Brodie
Jerald and Sandra Tanner
Thomas Stuart Ferguson
Brent Metcalfe
David P. Wright
Thomas Murphy
Simon Southerton
Charles Larson (By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus)
Michael Coe
Grant Palmer
Dan Vogel
Charles Harrell
MormonThink.com
Chris and Duane Johnson
Jim Whitefield (The Mormon Delusion)
Haley Wilson Lemmón
Craig Criddle & Geoff Ulyeman
Jeremy Runnells
Jonathan Streeter
Kathleen Kimball Melonakos
David Bokovoy
Dr. Shades
Mithryn from Reddit
William L. Davis
Michael Brown (Mormon Stories Truth Claims Essays)

LGBTQ Advocacy and Activism
Carol Lynn Pearson
Bob Rees
Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends
Ina Mae Murri and Stella Lopez-Armijo (San Francisco chapter of Affirmation in 1979)
Stuart Matis
David Hardy
Family Fellowship
Gary and Millie Watts
Cindy Spencer Le Fevre
William Bradshaw
Benji Schwimmer
Dunstin Lance Black
Steve and Barb Young
Laura Compton and Nadine McCombs Hansen
Mormons Building Bridges
Erika Munson
Kendall Wilcox
Bianca Morrison Dillard
Troy Williams
James Dabakis
Mama Dragons
Stephenie Sorensen Larsen and Encircle
Tyler Glenn
Dan Reynolds
Richard Ostler
Laurie Lee Hall
Josh & Lolly Weed
Tom Christofferson
Mandy and Mary Danzig
Blaire Ostler
Kimberly Anderson
Charlie Bird
John Dehlin

Proponents of Progress on Matters of Race
The “Black 14” (1969 Wyoming football team)
Lowry Nelson
Byron Marchant
Lester Bush
Genesis Group
Darius Gray
Margaret Young
Darron Smith
Newell G. Bringhurst
Gina Colvin
Joanna Brooks
Max Perty Mueller
Sistas in Zion
Sarah Newcomb (Lamanite Truth)
Fatimah Salleh
Lindsay Hansen Park

Progressive Mormon and Post-Mormon Politicians
Stewart Udall
George Romney
Bill Orton
Rocky Anderson
Jon Huntsman Jr., Mary Kaye Huntsman and Family
Stephen H. Urquhart
Jacinda Ardern
Ben McAdams

Podcasters, Youtubers  and Bloggers Who Popularized Concerns with LDS Church History, Truth Claims, Culture, and Policies
John Dehlin (Mormon Stories Podcast)
Shawn McCraney (Heart of the Matter)
Laci Green
John Larsen & Zilpha Bradshaw (Mormon Expression Podcast)
Brian Keith Dalton (Mr. Deity)
Courtney Jane Kendrick (Cjane)
Lisa Butterworth / Feminist Mormon Housewives
Dan Wotherspoon (Mormon Matters Podcast, Latter-Day Faith)
Natasha Helfer Parker (Mormon Mental Health)
Infants on Thrones
Brother Jake (Jake Frost)
Lindsay Hansen Park (Year of Polygamy Podcast)
Bill Reel (Mormon Discussion Podcast)
Zelph On The Shelf
Bryce Blankenagel (Naked Mormonism)
Gina Colvin (A Thoughtful Faith)
Radio Free Mormon
Daniel Parkinson (Gay Mormon Stories)
Kyle Ashworth (Latter-Gay Saints)
Richard Ostler (Listen, Learn, and Love)
Kattie Niu Mount and Allan Mount (Marriage on a Tightrope)
Craig Stapley
Jimmy Snow (Mr. Atheist)
Gift of the Mormon Faith Crisis Podcast (John & Margi Dehlin, Natasha Helfer Parker)
Wardless Podcast
Mary Rutt and Shelly Johnson (Latter-day Lesbian Podcast)
Mike Norton (NewNameNoah)

Journalists, Radio, Magazines

Lynn Packer
Patrick F. Bagley
Steve Benson
Rod Decker
Scott Kenney
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Robert Kirby
Elbert Peck (Sunstone)
Dan Wotherspoon
Mary Ellen Robertson
Stephen Carter
Lindsay Hansen Park
Doug Fabrizio
Jana Reiss

Modern Critics Who Brought/Bring Attention to Legitimate Concerns
Jerald and Sandra Tanner
Ed Decker (Godmakers)
Steven Hassan

Environmentalism
Ed Firmage Jr.
Terry Tempest Williams

Proponents of Changes to Harmful LDS Policies and Practices
Lavina Fielding Anderson
Sam Young
Mormon Leaks (Ryan McKnight and Ethan Dodge)
Elizabeth Smart
Ed Smart

Leaders for Finding Community After Orthodox Mormonism
Richard Packham
Bob McCue
Sue Emmett
Tal Bachman
Exmormon/Recovery From Mormon Website Founders (Eric Kettunen)
Exmormon Reddit Founders and Mods
Jeff Ricks (PostMormon.com)
John Dehlin / Mormon Stories Podcast Community
Alison Udall and Steve Holbrook/Chris Holbrook (Mormon Spectrum, Steve/Chris for UVPM)
Kim Sandberg Turner and WOCA Worldwide
John Hamer (Community of Christ Toronto)
Community of Christ
Sean Escobar and Crystal Escobar (Mormon Enlightenment)
Mandy Danzig
Lindsay Hansen Park (Sunstone)
Jeni and Clint Margin (THRIVE)

Proponents of Progressive and Post-Mormon Mental, Family, Sexual Health, and Spirituality
Natasha Helfer Parker
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife
Julie de Azevedo-Hanks
Jenny Morrow
Marty Erickson
John & Margi Dehlin
Aimee Heffernan
Christian Moore
Noah Rasheta
Thomas McConkie
Kattie Niu Mount and Allan Mount
Mormon Mental Health Association
Symmetry Solutions

Musicians, Artists Who Promoted Social Justice and Supported Struggling Mormons Through Their Art
Trevor Southey
Levi Peterson
Richard Dutcher
Mandy and Mary Danzig
Bengt Washburn
Benji Schwimmer
Matt Stone and Trey Parker (Book of Mormon Musical)
Makers of “Big Love”
Dan Reynolds and Wane Sermon (Imagine Dragons)
Mindy Gledhill
Tyler Glenn
Angela Soffe
Sarah Sample
Helen Whitney
Tyler Measom
Mette Ivie Harrison

Awareness and Support for Mormons in Faith Crisis
John Dehlin
Travis Stratford
Greg Prince
Hans & Birgitta Mattsson
Terryl & Fiona Givens
Jon Ogden
Patrick Mason
Jana Reiss
Spencer Fluhman
Thomas McConkie
David Ostler
Anthony D. Miller
Jana Spangler

Mormon Church Finances
Alan Blodgett
Mormon Leaks (Ryan McKnight and Ethan Dodge)
David and Lars Nielsen

Progressive and Post-Mormon Philanthropy
George Smith
Bruce Bastian
Holly Tholstrom Alden

Mormon Autobiographers
Martha Beck
Lyndon Lamborn
Elna Baker
Joanna Brooks
Alex Cooper
Tara Westover

Sampling of Highly Influential Mormon Faith Crisis Stories
John & Brooke McClay
Tyler Glenn
Benji Schwimmer
Hans H Mattsson and Birgitta Mattsson
Tom Phillips
Christine Jeppsen Clark
Donna Angel Showalter
Leah Lewis Young and Cody Young (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
Roger Hendrix (Part 1, Part 2)

Legal Hall of Fame
Kelly Clark (Portland)
Craig Vernon
Kay Burningham
Mark Naugle (Quitmormon)

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Unintentional Members (People who contributed to the Progressive/Post-Mormon Cause Unintentionally):
Joseph Smith
Emma Smith
Lucy Mack Smith
John C. Bennett
The Danites
Lilburn W. Boggs
Elijah Abel
Jane Manning James
Brigham Young
Wilford Woodruff
Joseph F. Smith
David O. McKay
Joseph Fielding Smith
Spencer W. Kimball
Mark E. Peterson
Ernest L. Wilkinson
Ezra Taft Benson
Bruce R. McConkie
Boyd K. Packer
Hugh Nibley
Daniel Peterson
Louis Midgley
Bill Hamblin
Dallin H. Oaks
Russell M. Nelson
David Bednar
Jeffrey R. Holland
Evergreen
A. Dean Byrd
Ty Mansfield
Mark Hofmann
Brian and Laura Hales
John Gee
John L. Sorenson
Michael Ash
Michael Otterson

LDS Church Self-Inflicted Wounds
– Joseph Smith’s Treasure Digging, Peeps Stones, and Folk Magic
– Joseph Smith’s first vision
– The Book of Mormon
– Joseph Smith’s evolving doctrine, and subsequent alterations of Book of Mormon and First Vision to get them in sync
– The Book of Abraham
– Book of Commandments / The Doctrine and Covenants
– Lectures on Faith
– Kinderhook plates
– Joseph Smith trying to sell Book of Mormon copyright
– The LDS Temple Endowment Ceremony/Joseph’s Involvement with Masonry/All the Changes over the years
– Polygamy, Polyandry, & D&C 132
– Joseph Smith’s “Council of 50” and “King of the World” anointing
– Mountain Meadows Massacre and subsequent cover-up
– The Journal of Discourses
– Brigham Young’s teachings of Blood Atonement, Adam/God Doctrine
– Church hiding its troubling history (e.g., Joseph Fielding Smith ripping First Vision account out of Joseph’s Journal and hiding it)
– Inaccurate portrayals of church history (e.g., photos showing Joseph Smith translating with plates on the table, portrayals of Joseph and Emma as monogamists)
– The LDS Black Priesthood/Temple Ban, along with its Reversal
– All male priesthood / patriarchy
– Church fighting ERA movement
– LDS correlation
– Doctrine of a dark skin curse (both of African-descent, and Native Americans via Book of Mormon)
– Church fighting Civil Rights movement
– Past super racist statements by Mormon church leaders
– LDS response to Nazi Germany, excommunication of Helmuth Hubener.
– Anti-science rhetoric (6,000 year earth, global flood, Kolob, evolution bad)
– Joseph Fielding Smith’s “Doctrines of Salvation”
– Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine
– Miracle of Forgiveness
– LDS Church’s response to the Mark Hofmann forgeries
– To Young Men Only Pamphlet (“little factories”)
– For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet (Early editions)
– The Indian Placement Program
– LDS church coverup of sexual abuse and protection of abusers at expense of victims
– Evergreen International
Re-recording of Ronald Poelman General Conference talk
– The Excommunication of: The September Six, Denver Snuffer, Kate Kelly, John Dehlin, Jeremy Runnells, Bill Reel, Sam Young, Cody and Leah Young
– The Family: A Proclamation to the World
– California Proposition 8
– City Creek Mall
– The November 2015 Policy, along with its Reversal
– Church’s promotion of conversion/reparative therapy, celibacy, and mixed-orientation marriages for LGBTQ Mormons
– LDS/LGBTQ policies that have lead to LDS/LGBTQ suicides
– Promotion of Rough Stone Rolling at Deseret Book
– The Joseph Smith Papers Project
– The LDS Gospel Topics Essays
– FAIRMormon
– BYU FARMS
– The Neil A. Maxwell Institute
– NorthStar
– Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
– LDS Church’s massive financial portfolio at Ensign Peak, and lack of financial transparency
– Various heinous General Conference Talks (e.g., Boyd K. Packer, Jeffrey Holland, Dallin H. Oaks)
– Church negative rhetoric about people who doubt/question the church
– LDS Church refusal to apologize for mistakes
Apologetic attempts to debunk the CES Letter
– Priesthood healings not working
– Patriarchal blessings not coming true
– Abusive priesthood leaders
– One-one-one “worthiness” interviews with church leaders, with excessively explicit questions around sexual behaviors
– LDS General Authorities teaching contradicting “doctrine”
– Boredom at church
– Lack of Christ-focus at church
– Insufficient donations to the poor, excessive focus on wealth/opulence
– Lack prophesy, seeing, and revelations by modern Prophets, Seers, and Revelators
– Time and expense of “Redeeming the Dead” doctrine making no sense with so much actual pain/suffering in the world
– Disciplinary councils shaming people for sexual choices and/or apostasy
– LDS General Authority dishonesty with the media (e.g., Gordon B. Hinckley denying that polygamy is doctrine, Jeffrey R. Holland denying temple blood oaths to BBC)

Comments 20

  1. Blake Ostler, I think he more than a lot of other theologian/philosophers has made a connection to process theology (intentional/or unintentional) than anybody else in Mormon thought.

    Ben Schilaty, I know what he did in Tucson and at BYU has changed so many people’s lives in being an LGBTQA+ advocate.

  2. Helen Sweany
    4:50 PM (6 minutes ago)
    to mormonstories

    I nominate Hazel Scott.

    She was once the most famous, most sought after musician in the world. She used her position to create social change. An example is this film clip of a movie she was in with MGM. The producers wanted the women to wear unflattering housecleaning type clothes. Hazel said if these ladies were greeting their partner they would be looking their best. MGM was not at all happy but Hazel one. The stereotype of women of color ended with her.

    Though she’s not mormon, Hazel’s story should not be buried into obscurity. She is truly one who did what was right and let the consequences follow.

  3. I’d like to add Chick and Mary Bradford. He was bishop of Arlington VA Ward during ERA and she was editor of Dialogue.
    Also Lester Bush.
    Annie Clark Tanner, author, “Mormon Mother.”

  4. I nominate Jim Whitfield Jim has written “the Mormon delusion” series 1-5 . This has been pivotal in some British lds folks questioning and leaving the church by “ one of our own” . It is well written and researched .

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  5. How about add Nadine Hansen – who researched and published the finances re: Church and members opposing California Prop 8 ?

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  6. I’m wondering why *Lorie Winder Stromberg* isn’t listed under influencers of feminism? She’s had a profound presence in Mormon feminism since the mid 1970s (see her participation in Sunstone Symposiums, and as being the co-founder of Ordain Women, which she continues to contribute to.

    Also *Zelophehad’s Daughters*.

    What about the *Redd Family*? Huge philanthropists to Mo & western/Utah history and culture.

    I hope Elbert Peck receives appropriate attention. He almost single handedly revved up Sunstone, expanded and oversaw all the symposiums (both SLC and other cities), all the publication details, etc., for years.

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  7. What are the three “heinous GC talks?
    I have never found ANY GC talk “heinous.”
    Whenever I have questions or doubts about anything the General Authorities teach in GC, my first response is to get on my knees and ask the Lord to help me understand why. I don’t promulgate anything. My struggle lies in MY lack of understanding , not in the church leaders or teachings.
    As I STUDY the BOM my questions become less and less.
    It is clear to me the General Authorities are loving inspired men.

  8. John your list is outstanding!
    I nominate the following

    Dale R. Broadhurst
    and

    Marvin S. Hill Author of
    “Quest for refuge: the Mormon flight from American pluralism”
    This Book was given to me by an active LDS Temple Worker who was so upset by reading it’s contents of unrefuted, documented church history; he was burning the book, page by page as he read it.

    John would Oliver Cowdrey qualify as an ‘Early Church Insider Who Spoke Up Against Dishonesty or Injustice?’

    Spectacular job John!

    Thank you for everything you and Margi do!

  9. This is an impressive list. My recommendation is Sue Emmett, founder of Ex-Mormon Foundation, who organized and presented conferences for a number of years for the kind of people you speak to. There were many very interesting and intelligent presenters over that time and the conferences were very well attended. It was a lovely social experience as well. Kudos to Sue and all those who helped her.

  10. Deborah Lakke’s memoir Secret Ceremonies, was the first book I found that detailed specifics of temple rituals. She wrote about the pressure she experienced from family and Ward “brothers and sisters” who were present, to submit to rituals she was uncomfortable with. Unfortunately, a few years after the publication of Secret Ceremonies she died, supposedly of death by suicide.

    Judy Robertson’s Out of Mormonism was another early memoir that detailed the cognitive dissonance she and her husband – who were converts – experienced during their first temple visit. This led them to examine and question Mormon doctrine which they’d previously accepted as truth.

  11. Amazing list. It’s a worthy call out.

    Not able to figure our what Reed Smoot is doing in the “Early External Observers Who Expressed Genuine Concerns With Mormon Practices.” Comments sought.

  12. Fanny Stenhouse for 1872 “Tell it All” and her husband T.B.H. Stenhouse for his 1873 “The Rocky Mountain Saints.” They did expose it all, from the inside.

  13. Great collection of information, but… I’d revise your “early external observers” list. Smoot was an apostle. Both William S. Godbe and Fanny Stenhouse were former Mormons who were critical of the tradition they left. These three don’t fit as “external” like Eber Howe. Maybe you need a category of exMormon critics for Stenhouse and Godbe. I could provide a list of early and prominent former Mormons.

  14. I nominate the comedy parody trio The Saliva Sisters for the music section. They’ve provided much-needed comic relief for many…especially culture-shocked new Utahns and church- exiting LBGT Mormons.

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