Below is a listing of the most common questions that I am being asked about the possible pending disciplinary council.
I don’t know if you’re a 21st century Martin Luther or a heretic, but I do listen to your podcasts religiously. Time will tell, but until then… buena suerte. Wishing you the best, John. I can’t imagine the difficulty of your situation, but keep your chin up.
Martin Luther WAS a heretic, if you were to ask the Catholic Church at the time. It just depends on from which side of the fence that you are observing.
this is just beautiful – and you have articulated so well your beliefs and experiences. My heart and thoughts and prayers are with you, and I hope the church will recognize that there is a place for you and all of the rest of us who in many ways echo your experiences and beliefs.
Quick question: Are you part of the Strangers in Zion website?
Julie – I added my response to the essay. Thanks!
Hey John, I found a grammatical error. I will quote it here, “Ultimately, I encountered so many people felt alone, and who were in desperate need of support.” (still reading, will add thoughts later)
Thanks, Adam! It should be fixed now!
And it is ward “rolls,” not “roles.” Good essay.
Beautifully done, John. Talk about a sweet transparency of your heart. I am one of the many that was able to revamp my own faith issues after hearing your Mormon Stories Podcast. It allowed me to reframe the fact that no man or church has a perfect history, but rather we can create personal goodness within imperfect institutions. In turn, my return to the Church has touched many, many people. That is a domino effect because of you. I hope that leaders weigh in carefully when they judge you, because there is a lot at stake. I stand with you and for you during this terrible, unnecessary time. I wish Christ were here because I’m sure he would see your heart. I’m sure he’d sweep up the stones too.
RE: “…no man or church has a perfect history”.
My suggestion would be that the LDS leadership modify or eliminate the phrase “The church is perfect, the people are not”, as well as the phrase “the LDS church is the one and only true church of God on the face of the earth”. Both expressions give the impression that both the church AND MEN (apostles/prophets) are “perfect” when both expressions are demonstrably not true.
I agree with all of your statements. Although I also believe that the Book Of Mormon is a work of fiction, and Joseph Smith was a brilliant fraud, I see the Church as a very positive influence in many ways. I joined the Church in 1988 for all the wrong reasons, and became inactive shortly thereafter. I gave the Church and its gospel another chance starting in 2007, but again fell away a few years later. No matter how many times I’ve studied the gospel or listened to its leader, I come to the same conclusion: It’s not factual history!
After the announcement of Ms. Kelly’s excommunication, a woman I know announced she would be leaving the Church. Until recently, this very bright and talented woman worked for the Church in a high position, but experienced the same discrimination which many women experience. In my opinion woman was not created to serve a secondary role to her husband, church leader, etc. The patriarchal system was created for one purpose, and one purpose only: control!
My best to you and Ms. Kelly. You’re both in my prayers!
“please no longer consider Margi and myself as members of the ward.”
With a statement like that, and your obvious disbelief for most of the core doctrines, I do not understand why you care to keep your membership. Why would you not resign altogether, just like your stake president asked in his most recent letter to you? (honest question)
I answer this in the essay. Keep reading.
As a former ward clerk having dealt with membership records and procedures, I also found this a little contradictory. I understood after further reading that the intention was to be removed from being contacted, but it is easy to interpret this as a request to be removed as a member.
That said, I enjoyed reading this essay and find your ability to be (mostly) objective extrememly fascinating! I believe in a free and open Internet where everyone’s opinion should be respected, as long as it is given respectfully. You’ve done very well in that area, John. I’ve never even heard of your blog/podcast previous to the excommunication of Kate Kelly (didn’t even know about her personally until this week), but it seems to be right in the lines of what I would do in a similar situation. Life is meant to be enjoyed (“Men are that they might have joy”), and your approach to helping individuals find this joy is very inspiring.
All the best to you in your future endeavors. I hope for the best with future approaches members and leaders make with you and your family. In a perfect world, everyone would attempt be a neighbor or friend first before imposing regulatory procedure in faith-based institutions. However, I believe that many (myself included) fear the outcome of being removed either psychologically or socially from beliefs that have been the foundation of our lives. I hope it all turns out for the best!
Regards from the Web
Would you stop being Jewish because you enjoyed a ham sandwich?
You’re so generous and sincere. I’m not a member, so I’m careful about sharing opinions on the details; but, I read honest, thoughtful, intelligent remarks from you. I cried the moment I heard that Kate Kelly was excommunicated. I’ll cry if it happens to you, too. Wishing you and your family all the best.
So happy to hear you are not caving to pressure from the church. Stand your ground and may God bless you and your family in all things.
That was well-written. It is hard to summarize and articulate everything, good job.
Here are some of my thoughts, I am a English teacher so most of my thoughts are more about formulating a strong message.
John this is great stuff. It will be useful for a lot of people to understand where you are coming from. I can also see it helping others who feel similarly to show friends and family why TBM’s go through a faith crisis, and the reasoning behind that faith crisis. I think this will resonate with a lot of people.
However, I think you bury your lead a bit. On Facebook you said that the purpose of this essay is to clearly state where you stand with the church. In the essay you state that you do not want to be excommunicated and that you value your membership. I encourage you to start by stating why you love the church, why your membership is valuable to you and why you want continue to be a member.
Doing so will ease people into your issues with the church. Think of it as building on common ground first.
Your mission story and subsequent faith crisis is particularly compelling. Stories grab people and help them to feel empathy. I also like that you summarized your issues with the truth claims in bullet point form, it makes it both feel more succinct and yet thorough.
Lastly, I encourage you to spend more time on what you envision your future to be. Talk about how you have and will continue to help people in faith crisis and in the LGBT community. Maybe collect a few testimonials from people that have benefitted from your work. I have a few friends that say your work saved there marriage, I know it definitely helped mine as well. You helped my wife and me to feel that we were not alone and to find a community of people that mostly love the church, but honestly have issues with it.
Anyway, just some thoughts.
If your goal is to stay in the church while being as honest and thorough as possible about your issues with its truth claims and leadership than I would encourage you to start off with a succinct statement on why you value why you
Sorry I meant to delete that last paragraph. :)
Josephs’ #3 wife, Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris, might want to be mentioned. Lucinda was widow to William Morgan,murdered, who wrote a best-seller anti-Mason book. Lucinda’s history with her husbands’ knowledge of Masonry, and then being married as a polyandrous wife to Joseph (and George Harris) may have had influence over LDS temple rituals. I’m concerned that COB already has made a decision and their only concern is what soundbites they want members to repeat without ever seeing what you wrote.
Reading this has been extremely helpful. Thank you for your openness.
If Joseph Smith were to read this I can imagine him saying something like, “Brother John, I admire a man with an open mind. The only human beings God can do a work through are those with open minds. Be at peace and continue your good works.”
John, great content. However, I would suggest dividing it into more paragraphs to make it more readable.
John, superbly done. You are on solid ground.
john – thanks for sharing….it’s amazing to be here witnessing all this. to read more about your service and dedicated purposefulness to discovering life’s truth, (even as you declare that this is each for us to decide and to chart our own lives wether they be TBM or reformed or whatever) to hear once again how much time, money and effort you’ve spent is staggering. a body of work that i say matches if not surpasses anyone’s efforts in studying, trying to understand mormonism and how we as mormon people deal with the religion, our upbringing, truthfulness, and how we choose to live this life. big props and love for you for sharing this journey…..afraid this new www printing press can’t be smashed……… fyi – always was jealous you were a faster scripture chaser than i was….
I first must say sorry I honked at you last Sunday! I did not mean to scare you (I was the guy in the black truck). I wanted to let you know that I see you arriving into a conclusion that helped me so much a few years back:
The Church and the gospel are not the same thing. In fact they are becoming opposites in many doctrinal and practical levels. I love the gospel of Christ, but when the church comes in contradiction of the gospel, I will always choose the gospel. Any attachment you have to the church is based on gospel principles. Hold on to those, those are free and will set you free, including being honest with yourself.
Wow, John. So well done. I support and believe all you’ve said. All that’s happening is a “shake down.” I am a truth seeker as well. Truth is very important to me. I have changed a lot of previous thinking into what feels like me. Many things are changing on this Mother earth and the LDS church is not exempt. Science and spirituality will be one eventually, but science and religion will never. You have the courage to withstand the responses from your choices. You are needed to help those within and without. It’s better for a few to purge than to mislead millions. You have support and I stand behind you and truth. Remember, truth is what Jesus taught. That’s what it’s about.
I think the most hurtful part of learning the truth about the Church’s history is that I feel betrayed and intentionally deceived.
Looking back on serving in callings, bearing testimony, sharing the the gospel, giving talks, calling others to serve, now all makes me feel foolish and angry. I have testified that “I know…..” Now I feel like an idiot. This is the sentiment I feel everytime I attend church. Meetings with the Bishop and Stake President does not repair this. Seeking advice from spouse, parents, siblings, often makes it worse. Perhaps you can include this: Its not just the history, its the deceit.
Bryon, You feel deceived because you were. The church began a policy/doctrine/practice called faith promotion a log time ago. Things that could hurt your faith in the church were removed and censored. This was done in hopes that your testimony would never be challenged and with the assumption that something called the internet would never be invented. Now that malignant practice has bore its fruits: the cover up is actually worse that what they were hiding.
The history exposed human flaws, ugly one too. But the covered up revealed the intent to carefully deceive, that is far worse. We are left hurting trying to piece it all together trying to figure out which parts of our testimony were solely based on faith in the church as an organization.
I feel for you as do tens of thousands of members to whom the discrepancies between faith and practice are becoming too large to overlook.
Spencer W. Kimball gave a talk many years ago as an apostle called “hidden wedges.” It was a story about an axe blade wedged into the fork of a young tree that someone forgot remove. Over many years, the tree grew up around the blade. It grew into a big beautiful tree. However, that hidden wedge did its damage and one day the tree felled over and family mourned the loss of it. That is the church right now. All the wedges have been exposed.
Great post John. You have helped me so much over the years.
Great post John and thanks for the work you have done for us all these years! Not sure if you’re looking for this type of a suggestion but where you say “given how many changes had been made to it, and given that it failed to include anything about some of the most central LDS teachings (e.g., temple marriage, temple endowments, baptism for the dead, theosis, polygamy).” I would include Priesthood in that e.g. list although maybe that’s implied with the ordinances that you mention. On the bullet point that talks about the temple, you could add ‘The Oath of Vengeance’ which I personally find as disturbing, of not more so, than the penalties. Again, this is only my personal perspective on some of the issues you mentioned.
A lot of references to Joseph Smith. Is it possible that some of these historical recordings about him are false? There were a great number of people spreading rumors and lies about him with any chance they could get, including written historical documents, even documents that are in the possession of the LDS church.
There is some new evidence regarding Native Americans having Eurasian DNA. It doesn’t answer all the questions but it shows that archaeological and scientific evidence can be wrong.
I once asked this same question. The problem is that there is a wealth of original sources (mostly friendly to Joseph Smith) confirming what John posted – literally dozens, if not hundreds, of diaries, affidavits, personal writings of Joseph, etc. Yes, it is still possible that all of the historical evidence was made up including the friendly sources. But it would be the biggest conspiracy of mankind. It’s difficult to accept, but when you look at the sum of all things, the conclusion is very straightforward. Look up “Occam’s Razor” on Google. Good luck to you…
The beginning sentences of that national geographic article you cited discredit any relevance to Book of Mormon peoples. The bones were way older than the earth is according to D&C and much older than when Lehi came over. Apples and oranges.
Yes I am well aware that the article does not coincide with the timeline of the Book of Mormon. What that article does show is that new scientific findings showed that the original DNA findings were not 100% correct for these ancient native Americans and they did find European DNA.
It goes to show that scientific claims against the Book of Mormon could also be inaccurate.
Yes, evidence often emerges to undermine previous scientific claims. The National Geo article does not meet that standard, however, and there are so many issues with the BoM as a historical document that mountains of evidence in several different areas of study would have to emerge for the book to have any legitimacy. The BoM purports to be a history from roughly 600 BC to 400 AD, if I recall correctly. This is not very long ago in historical terms, so there should be archeological evidence of the civilizations and tools described. There is none. Also, which is more likely? That ancient peoples walked across ice on the Bering Straight or that God led families from the Middle East out of the Mediterranean and to the New World in wooden submarines. Apply Occam’s Razor (per Wikipedia: “…among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”) to that scenario.
Under the “Do you desire to amass followers?” it might be helpful to explain that you do desire financial help with Mormon Stories, but that you aren’t looking for ‘followers’ in the religious sense.
I really like what you have here. I have come to many of the same conclusions and I continue to try to remain an active church member but it does become increasingly difficult when we have to hide what and how we believe. I have been and will continue to be a financial supporter and would suggest that you be up front that MS and other projects have been a way you have used to support you and your family. I freely give because I know all the work, time and heartache involved deserves my support and because you have time discussed this. Maybe you could link to your financial statement just to keep thing on the up and up.
Love you “Articles of Faith” John, nicely done!!!
Hi, John…the “here” link to go to the info about your dialogue with Elder Oaks about your mission isn’t working (for me, at least). Really interested in reading about that. BTW, nice Q&A format…and I also agree with Steve Lowther about breaking it up (logically, of course) into smaller chunks/paragraphs…dense blocks of text are hard to read, esp. online! Nice job…and my prayers are with you.
I just wanted to say thank you. Your work (specifically staylds) has kept me in the Church for almost a year and a half.
The news about you and Kate (more so you) makes me realize that I want to find my own path, and live a chosen life, rather than a life prescribed to me by this type of organization.
I am not angry at the Church, but I am saddened that it has come to this.
Thank you, John, for helping me through my struggle.
P.S. For anyone struggling right now, I would suggest looking at work done by Dr. Marlene Winel. I just stumbled upon her idea of ‘Religious Trauma Syndrome’ earlier this week thanks to Steve Bloor’s blog. It speaks volumes as to what I have been experiencing!
Best wishes to you all!
found two typos. here’s one:
“Ultimately, I fear that in my case, the LDS Church is are shooting the messenger, instead of dealing constructively with the problematic messages.”
can’t remember where the other one was.
Reading that made my day. Thank you for all you do. The Church is better because you are a part of it. Godspeed.
John, I struggle to understand some of the fundamental aspects of your argument. I don’t make this comment as a criticism, merely as a personal observation. I think the claims you make (about lies etc in church history e.g. Joseph Smith, the Restoration, Book of Mormon etc) challenge the very testimonies of prophets and apostles. In effect, I think you are challenging the legitimacy of the church, in its origin and in its continuing operations – and those leading it. And yet you talk of how much you love the church and want to remain a part. That is what I do not understand. But, in all of this, I hope and pray that the light and truth of God – which you rightfully say is not ‘owned’ or monopolized by the church – is able to influence us all. I also cannot comment on your personal experiences. God bless
Very wise John to post this side in advance of what most likely will be the questions & answers considered in your court. Since those hearings are not public and the Brethern will not provide their reasoning (exception profesional spin PR employees will make some statements to try to have these actions look justified.) I agree with all that you have stated here, much of this I learned in reading Bushman’s JS biography. I feel you are being targeted on purpose to send a message that anyone that brings these facts out into the open for candid discussion and research will pay a very high price! They have more reason to excomunicate me than you, because I did seek followers to sign my petition for Reconciliation between the LDS & LGBT communities after Prop 8 passed. I had to move on to some very very demanding family issues and just did not have time to devote to the blog and build a following for it. So John, please tell them and I’m certain LDS leadership is reading this, that to be fair, if they EX you, they better EX me next. To EX you and not me and others like me, sends a very clear message that this action is indeed unjust and personal. If they EX anyone, it should be child molesters, like the Bishop that admitted his deed done to my daughter, only once he was caught and lost his foster parent license, but instead of EXing him unlike you, he was left in as Bishop with no displinary action. (Just said to put the seriousness of their action towards you in perspective).
John, thoughts on why Kate Kelly was excommunicated for “conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church” rather than the charge of apostasy which she was originally given?
Paul: It should be noted that the phrase “conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church” is a common phrase used in disciplinary council decision letters. Apostasy is more precisely defined in Church discipline as actually practicing something contrary to Church doctrine. For example, if Kate believed that she held the priesthood and started ordaining women, that would be considered apostasy.
John, I would like to add my “amen” to what you wrote above. I am continually amazed at the same path so many of us are on. I was a true believer all my life and made every choice based on the counsel of the latter day prophets. When I could no longer explain away the many fallacies I was seeing, I allowed myself to consider that the church might not be true. There were too many things that I fundamentally did not believe– most of which you outlined above. It was devastating to slowly realize that if I were to speak about the things I was learning, or if I were to ask anyone about it, I would be shunned– as well as my family. Having resources like Mormon Stories and NOM helped me to stay intact mentally as my world literally was unraveling. Thank you for being there. I have been able to stay active in the church and hold callings because I have places of sanity to go to. I would wish you luck… But it’s sounds like you are going to be just fine!
I was impressed with your answers. You come across as sincere and wanting to follow the truth. I have done a bit of studying on all the issues you have outlined and I had from time to time wondered if it was all based on a lie. What helped me with my questions was discovering the works of Emmanuel Swedenborg who states that God uses many ways to influence his children to live honourable lives (charity, honesty, kindness etc). So now I don’t really concern myself too much if Joseph Smith made it up or not. I see the fruit of the gospel as people striving to live up to the high standards God wants so we will be prepared for the next world. Like attracts like and selfless people will create a heavenly society and selfish people will create a hellish society and all the multiple variations depending on the quality of selfless/selfishness. To me I don’t see why any fraudster would invent geneology/temple work, it just doesnt seem worth the effort. I greatly admire Joseph Smith and Brigham Young despite their faults. They were great men and we see from history God uses many types to accomplish his works. If all we had was section 76 and 121 and the happiness is the object and design of our existence quotes from Joseph Smith you would conclude he was inspired and has enriched many lives including mine. I joined church at 17 after missionaries came to north of England from USA. So thank you for giving a definitive reason for wanting to stay in the church. If you are excommunicate it will not be the end of the world. We are judged according to our intentions and actions so if they are both good then God will see this and bless you accordingly. I love the brilliance of the church Joseph Smith brought about but the corporate church and especially general conferences have bored me for along time. Anyway hope you find my feedback worth reading.
Have you considered resignation an option? By resigning, you leave on your own terms. It doesn’t carry the stigma of excommunication. You can participate more in the church, if you so choose, as a member who has resigned than excommunicated. (Scouts, choir, pray & comment in church) If you resign, there are no conditions for your return, if you decide to do so down the road. If you are excommunicated, you can be sure they will want you to shut down Mormonstories as one of the conditions to your readmittance to the church. In ten to fifteen years 9 of the current 15 apostles/first presidency will probably be dead due to old age. The church may enter a new era in openness and no longer punish those who openly question or have doubts. Just a thought.
I also agree with a Mr. Gardner’s comment on another thread that you should approach this as a deposition and not be too definite in your statements if you were planning to use this document as defense in your court should you have one.
We all know where you stand, but if you don’t want to be excommunicated, less is better than more.
Overall, well done! Glad to see you are standing your ground on keeping Mormon Stories up as it is the best Mormon podcast to date. My only addition I would personally make, feel free to ignore this.if you want, is to include in the 99 vs. 1 sheep metaphor that for many of us doubters, we feel that we are the one sheep that either gets silenced or pushed out the door as quickly as possible so as to not in anyway influence the other 99 sheep. Personally, for me, the day you doubt is the day your Church membership gets an expiration date put on it.
Quite lovely. It reminded me of my blog post last week:
If you could expound on the historical preisthood and women (Emma, etc) aND dissolution of the relief society under BY, it might make a clearer picture for women’s rights not being equal to men’s. Excellent post. Loved every word. I know so much more about you now.
(Seriously?? Baptisms by cool -off post soccer??)
John, I was with you in Tempe. As you know, the mission in Tempe was very different than Guatemala. We worked with sincere people looking for truth.
Also, all if your concerns are answered clearly at fairmormon.org. Why is that not cited?
I believe one will find the answers one wants to find.
John, I am confident you are sincere and looking for truth. I am glad you have found peace and happiness.
After hearing your recent interview on the radio I was intrigued. I checked out your blog and found, to my relief, that there are more people out there who know the “real” history of the church and want to figure out if they can stay a member. I hope that the church recognizes the need for this type of forum. It will be a great blow to me if you are excommunicated. I am so grateful for all of your work and look forward to making my way through the podcasts.
John, thanks for having the courage to share your Mormon journey. I have enjoyed many of your interviews, and I think they will be helpful for many others. I have a Mormon gay nephew that deserves a better church. Your efforts are commendable. I will forward your letter to him. The direction the church takes with you may also serve to direct him (and others). Good Luck!
I appreciate your transparency in this–it’s both considerate and very bold (but certainly not overbearing).
Your podcasts and other projects have helped me enormously through my own epistemic transition from faith to science–using that term loosely in this context.
I’m sorry your family has been subjected to so much authoritarian oversight, investigation, and intimidation. I do not believe that this is what the historical Christ would have wanted (if there was any such individual).
I hope that the outcome in this case–whatever it is–is for the wellbeing of you and your family (mental health, privacy, etc.). You seem to believe that your spirituality and spiritual health are not tied intrinsically per se to your participation in the Mormon Church specifically and I couldn’t agree more. They are in your hands whether you are permitted to stay or not. Be well.
I agree on every point. I especially identified with the God and Christ points. I tend to believe there is a God and I sincerely hope that this God would have the characteristics Jesus Christ embodies (love, charity, mercy).
I read most of what you have written here. It seems to be an very well put explanation if your journey so far as concerning the church and the evolution of your beliefs. It does come very close to just the exact way I feel even though I went through my journey much older (starting at age 61). I am different than you also in that I decided to resign my membership when I became convinced the founding principles I had been taught were of a fraudulent nature and I did not want to be associated with a church based on fraud. My leaving the church cost my marriage of 39 years which to this day is very painful to me. I see nothing written yet by you that I would consider you change but as I read it more carefully I will let you know if I do. I appreciate your efforts for so many and give you support in what you are doing. Whether or not you are exed I am sure you will continue to do your very best to be honest and helpful with all those you deal with in and out if the church. The best to you and your family.
The story about your experience in Guatemala underlines why I find it impossible to stay. Not only the part about the unethical baptisms, but even more the part about what happened when you tried to escalate the issue higher up in the church.
I believe in the Enlightenment concept that any power structure (a government, a corporation, etc) has the burden to prove why exercising their power is just. The church punished you, the whistle blower, in order to maintain its own reputation and power: classic totalitarian behavior. Now here they are threatening to excommunicate you, again to protect their power. Why do you recognize and sustain their power? How is it justified? I, like you, don’t believe they have any direct line to God. I think they are just a group of men with a mixture of good and bad qualities, and therefore have no justification to haul me before a court, to tell me how to behave, or to throw me out of Mormonism (the culture, not the institution).
I’m also a 5th generation Mormon, and I refuse to recognize the General Authority’s power to determine my Mormon identify whatsoever. It’s my heritage just as much as anybody else’s. My ancestors were brave pioneers, and I believe many of them would stand up to the current leaders given the new understandings of history and science.
Oh! The family proclamation mentions people are created male asm female, but in reality, gender is a continuum, there ARE hermaphrodites… Make and female at either end, with much variation between them.
In many ways, your path to questioning mirrors my own (and, doubtlessly, many others). Nearly all of the missionary tactics you described in your letter to Mr. Oaks also occurred in my mission–the England Manchester Mission–in 1995-97. H. Bryan Richards was my Mission President (it was widely acknowledged, however, that the missionaries behaved even more egregiously under his predecessor’s (President Clegg) leadership). Like you, my inquiries about the propriety of the practices was met with stern rebuke. Whether I would have eventually undertaken to investigate the Church’s truth claims or not, I can’t say. I like to think I would have. The fact of the matter is, though, that my mission experience forced me to confront the reality that something other than a desire for the salvation of souls lay at the core of the Church’s mission. As a result, I undertook a lengthy, even handed evaluation of the Church’s doctrine, history, and claims. Ultimately, I concluded, like you and so many others, that the Church’s claim to truth was provably false. I left the Church and have never regretted it. As I read what you have written and experienced over the past 20+ years, and the conclusions that you’ve reached, I can’t help but wonder how you can see the Church for anything other than a tremendous fraud that hurts people. Nearly all corrupt, injurious regimes do right by some people (think about the party elites in Communist Russia). Simply because some enjoy Church membership doesn’t render an otherwise unquestionably corrupt fraud worth keeping. Through your podcasts, you’ve established a fantastic pulpit from which to help people. You’ve already laid the foundation by speaking freely about the problems. I believe it is now your obligation to speak the conclusion from that pulpit–unequivocally denounce the Church and encourage people to escape it.
I appreciate your transparency here–it’s both considerate and very bold (but certainly not overbearing).
Your podcasts and other projects helped me enormously through my own epistemic transition from faith to science–using that term loosely in this context.
I hope that the outcome in this case–whatever it is–is for the wellbeing of you and your family (mental health, privacy, etc.). You seem to believe that your spirituality and spiritual health are not tied intrinsically to your participation specifically in the Mormon Church and I could not agree more. They are in your hands whether you are permitted to stay or not. Be well.
Have you considered adding this quote by President Uchtdorf at the end of your document? “…regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church.”
John, Thank you so much for your efforts, research and inspiration. A couple years ago, I was at the end of my rope, spiritually. Nothing added up in the church. I was in a literal hell: a lifetime of indoctrination, fear and guilt, yet so many questions that were without answers.
I typed these simple words into the search engine: “psychological issues caused by mormonism”. I was hoping that there was someone out there, even just one person who was suffering as I was. I did not expect the pages I found. I stayed away from pages that might suggest “anti”. Mormon Stories” was the very ticket I needed to find my center in a completely chaotic life based around the church. I was only part active though out of fear, completely believing in a church that I knew I could never live up to. Weeks turned into months of research, every “mormon story” I could find, on your blog and others. With absolute clarity, I came to the conclusion that I would never know who I was inside this church. After much thought, I resigned.
No, Your blog did NOT lead me out of the church. I own my decision. What your blog did was to open my eyes that I was not alone in my struggles. I left and all my unanswerable questions went away.
Thank you again. I do believe that there are many out there who do stay in the church and they can see the church they love with clearer eyes.
Thx again. You have my full support in these trying times.
Has anyone ever had a grown child say, “Dad, I need to forgive you for raising me in a cult.” I have and you can imagine the cognitive dissonance which comes from such a statement. It instantly propelled me from a conditional TBM, to a humbled man who would ask forgiveness. I knew the church was not a fit for my young son, yet I was more concerned with what the bishop would say if we let him follow a different alternate path. I am not alone in my actions, so others will know the heartbreak which comes from forcing your own offspring to conform to a life which could make them suicidal. Family and love first people, a church is simply the place, the parking lot, you turn into on Sundays.
I’d like to add my thanks to you for helping me through my own crisis of faith. The feedback I received from true believing family members upon sharing with them my concerns regarding the church was that I clearly wasn’t praying, reading my scriptures, attending the temple, etc., enough, and that if I would be more diligent about doing these things my doubts would be resolved. I’m sure many members of the church receive similar counsel/chastisement when seeking help from church leaders and family. The problem with this guidance, however, is that it blames the person experiencing the doubt rather than addressing the issues that are at the heart of the matter. Listening to your podcasts has helped me to realize that: 1) my concerns and issues are valid; 2) I am capable of objectively assessing the information available to me and making an informed decision regarding my future participation (or lack thereof) in the church; and 3) I am not alone in my quest for understanding and truth.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Even though you probably won’t answer and maybe not even read this, I’d still like to point out that in the item 5 above you find what your problem is with the church and the reason why you have lost the faith.
You accept critical claims against Smith as ‘fact’ when they might have only been an apostates angry rumour. Why would an enemy of Smith be kind to him? If W.Law was simply jealous why would he not blow up over what he thought happened? Why would a victorian era wife do anything to calm down her husband? We just don’t know so we can’t conclude what you conclude up in bullet point 5 of the OP. (not to mention the others)
Ultimately we weren’t there in 1800 whatever, so we need to be careful over what was written years ago by different people. Even today we have the press quoting people wrongly and out of context to mislead others or to simply bring attention to themselves and their own personal agendas.
So what I suggest we all do is study history for history’s sake but then do all the normal stuff to find out what a testimony is and where to find it ie pray, read scripture, ask questions to God not a bishop etc etc etc…
John,I honestly believe that you have a huge heart. I really think that you did start Mormon Stories to build up a community of support for all Mormons. That said, I can see where a line has been crossed. I think interviews like the Tanners were in poor taste. Regardless of what religion is being attacked (Mormonism, Judaism, Muslim… ) I think that such an intense commitment to bringing down another religion is bigoted and socially destructive. You have always been an exceptional voice of “live and let live” I hope your podcasts will promote people with your same attitude.
The Tanners were another couple who didn’t want to leave the Church. They didn’t ask to discover what they discovered. They just understand how God could change his revelations to Joseph so much between The Book of Commandments and C&C. Section 27 more than doubled in length, and added Peter, James and John who weren’t in the original revelation (cf. BOC chapter 28). You’re shooting the messenger. These people didn’t want to discover what they did. Cognitive dissonance is not pleasant.
* Typo: They just COULD NOT understand how God …
*Typo: D&C (not C&C)
Very well done. When I was first learning about the true church history I listened to your video about the real reasons why people leave the church. You certainly helped me feel less alone and more sane at a time when I was innocently bringing these concerns up to my family and they did not want to hear a thing about it. I could not understand why they would not want to know the truth. I understand more about why they reacted that way now, but it was very confusing at the time. I also could not understand why you were still a member then, but I understand now, especially after reading this.
In my eyes, you are certainly an asset to the Mormon church. You are honest, compassionate and are actually serving others in need. If the Mormon church were to excommunicate you they would be affirming their contempt for the truth and slamming the door in the face of many, many good people. You and others like you add credibility to their organization, credibility they need.
Thank you for helping me and for fearlessly standing for and doing what is right. My very best to you and yours.
Typo – “…unaware of any podcast which has interviewED…”
Appreciate everything you have done that has helped me STAY in the COJCOLDS.
As one who threw the baby out with the bath water when I exited, I have been curious to know how other people navigate through their faith challenges while remaining a member. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I wish you and your family comfort.
I read through your mission letter. Reflected what I’d heard about that time period on my mission in Chile, and quite a bit of my actual experience. It really broke down my willingness to view the missionary effort and church in general as honest and truly divine work. I met wonderful people, and am grateful for the language, but have a sour twinge with those memories. Thank you for expressing the truth and trying to make change to the extent that you did back then, and now.
Thank you for going to all the trouble, John. This has all been a Herculean effort. Really loved the quotes at the end. They are the foundation of your whole undertaking and remind me of
the closing scene in “Brave New World.”
What you write makes sense. It is maddening that those who do the real damage to lives and the “church” (errant mission presidents etc)appear to go on freely with their lives. It is disturbing and quite frightening, actually, if church leadership’s goal is to go after all the bloggers. If the Church has the “truth” then it should rise and fall on that truth without trying to close down critical voices–or it can provide a counterpoint.
I guess I don’t think you should mention Kate Kelly by name, even if you support Ordain Women or the ordination of women. This is your “hearing,” Kelly had hers. I think there is a vast difference between what your goals were and what Kelly’s were. I think it weakens your overall independence and uniqueness.
Good luck John!
I am new to Mormon Stories as I am also new to the truth about the LDS church’s history. I have been completely alone in this journey as all attempts to discuss my findings with my husband, friends and family have been disappointing to put it lightly. I have been a member my whole life up until the last year or so. I loved the church growing up! I did not have a good family relationship so, the church WAS my family. The wonderful church leaders I had as a youth showed me I was worthy of love. I mention this to illustrate how devastating the discovery of the church’s true history has been to me. Having no one to talk to made it that much worse. By pure coincidence I came across a link to your interview with Jeremy Runnells. I had tried to share his letter to the CES director with my husband and by the end of our “discussion” he had me convinced that there was no one named Jeremy Runnells! That it was a group of people trying to tear down the church. I was intrigued to see an interview with someone who didn’t exist ;)
I loved the interview and all the other interviews I have since seen on Mormon Stories. They have brought me comfort, showed me I wasn’t crazy, that LOTS of people know about the church’s real history and given me the courage to accept those truths and move on with my life. If it weren’t for you and the work you do with Mormon Stories, I don’t know where else someone in my situation would have found that.
My profound thanks to you! I wish you and your family peace at this trying time.
Thanks John, this is great
I will always consider you one of my greatest friends. Michael and I have nothing but gratitude, admiration, and respect for the sacrifices you’ve made and the genuine effort you have given in helping those struggling in the LDS church.
If you ever need ANYTHING, we are here for you no matter what. Seriously, anything. (Meals? Rides? Errands? General banter? etc.)
To Margi & the kids: It’s probably no surprise to you that your husband/dad is an amazingly thoughtful, caring, kind, and brave man. Thank you so much for letting so many others borrow him when they were hurting even though it kept him away from you sometimes. We are so grateful for your family!
Love, Light, Peace, & Blessings!
For those of you who are skeptical about John’s authenticity and candor, I’ll leave you this:
– John Dehlin’s friendship, podcasts, reading suggestions, and council SAVED my marriage.
– John Dehlin has always encouraged me to stay in the LDS church and to never give up. If it weren’t for him I would have resigned seven years ago.
If any church leader is reading these comments here, please don’t excommunicate John Dehlin. The church is so meaningful to me and so is John’s work. I’m a silent, nobody but please make space for questioners. PLEASE!!!!!
John:Supongo que todavia hablas o entiendes español:Soy un seguidor de tus articulos y admiro tu sinceridad e inteligencia para plantear tus dudas.Yo tengo una actitud muy critica acerca del uso que hace la Iglesia de los cuantiosos fondos que recibe como donaciones de diezmos a costa de las necesidaes de muchos miembros:Creo por haber servido en Guatemala sabes de que te hablo.Me gustaria saber tu opinion respecto a eso.Saludos de Argentina!
John, what is the most effective way for me to stand up in our LDS families and communities for LGBT rights, women’s rights, and honest questioning of church policy and direction? I really want my loved ones to understand these issues the way I do, but any discussion inevitably leads to a “never challenge the living prophet” ultimatum.
Thank you and good luck.
Thank you so much for your efforts. I am truly grateful for this podcast. Thank you!!
Just one thought. “begs the question” should read “prompts the question” or something similar. Unless the colloquialism has officially won out over proper usage of Begging the Question (living grammar and all).
Great Q & A! I noticed the link to AThoughtfulFaith.org is broken.
John, a great statement that very successfully, as you put it, lays all your cards on the table. Clearly the ball is in their court, to use another metaphor. Although I fear that excommunication is inevitable, I hope I am wrong and you are allowed to stay as you wish. The church is in a terrible place in its history, and given the events of the last few weeks, they’re only making it worse. Whatever happens, I will always be a supporter and a friend.
John, I’m so grateful for your example. If they let you stay in the church, then it will give me confidence to possibly return as I am and not be ashamed or quiescent or fearful of retaliation. I really hope they let you stay. If they excommunicate you, I know I’ll have to move on because there’s no way they’ll let me stay if I show my true colors, as I am to the left of you on many of these issues and have admired your patience with the church. I just want you to know how potently life changing your work has been for me and just how amazingly liberating it has been. I don’t know how to thank you.
John, beyond historical, DNA, and racist issues, do you have other ethical objections to the Book or Mormon? Common ethical objections are the blanket approval of the beheading of Laban and the exaltation of military leaders as prophets of God.
John, I carefully read every word that you wrote. I hope the leaders who make decisions concerning your case take at least as much time as I have to read your statements and consider your heart.
I resigned from the Church in 2009, on the evening of my stake disciplinary council for apostasy, which never continued to a verdict. I made a different choice, but I am happy with life. I appreciate all of your work. Stay true, brother.
This is great, John. I really feel like I know where you’re coming from now.
Hi John and family,
I, along with countless others around the world wish you well and continued happiness in the coming days and weeks.
Pease keep the Mormon Stories, Gay Mormon Stories and all the other associated webpages fully running and available to all who are in need of this help.
Please do not be coerced in any way by church leaders to take it offline or water it down in any way.
Your magnificent webpages offer a tremendous amount of hope, inspiration, important information and desperately needed assistance to so many troubled people around the world.
It is a vitally important lifeline and channel for struggling families and individuals in and out of the church.
It is a vitally important resource of human goodness that helps to elevate and inspire so many.
A healing and soothing therapy that is of great worth to so many grateful souls worldwide, indeed even life saving for some.
It is that important.
With all my heart and deep gratitude to you and your family.
Please, please continue with it John.
Thank you again,
Bravo! I have long awaited this essay.
As a fellow wolf in wool, the wrinkle-free irony is—it’s our latter day church that raises wolves as sheep. I always found you infuriatingly nice. I wanted you to growl away the bleating balance. This essay is a deep and honest howl. Thank you.
The fascinating and overarching story of mormonstories is how our sheepishly “flawed” narrator finally confronts the “violence of niceness” discovers the shepherd has been dressing him as a sheep, loses his bleat, and finds his howl.
Brother Dehlin welcome back to the pack.
LDS, Inc. is a church, collecting funds from sacrificing families, there is the assumption that monies donated would have been “invested” in plans/schemes to alleviate suffering, save lives and alleviate suffering, because this is what Jesus said and did.
. If the Mormon church leaders were truly inspired, and saw themselves as followers of Christ, they would be doing what other Christian religions are doing–alleviating suffering and promoting physical well-being as well as just delivering a spriritual message. Jesus fed people, Jesus healed people.
The LDS Church clearly HAS ANOTHER MISSION THAT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE SPIRITUAL OR PHYSICAL WELFARE OF HUMANITY. “
Thank you so much for writing this. You articulated your beliefs beautifully and your words resonated with me deeply. Thank you for all your hard work on mormon stories. With you around, I feel like I have a place in the mormon church. I hope that people like us, that have doubts will be accepted and loved for who we are. I hope and pray for the reality of “Big Tent Mormonism”.
One thing I might add to some of the things you came across as you studied and learned about mormon history- the same stone that Joseph Smith used to deceive people in treasure digging and was convicted of being a con-man in 1826, was used to translate the book of mormon. For me, this fact is very relevant. Thanks for all that you do! You are in my prayers in this difficult time.
Regarding tea & coffee. As soon as the surgeon general states that consuming tea and coffee creates a health concern, or when health insurance companies start screening for use like they currently do for tobacco, I will stop drinking them.
But just because some guy from 175 years ago, (with a 3rd grade education of that time) claimed that these were unhealthy is absurd, and should be cause enough for suspicion of his other claims as well.
And for modern “prophets” to continue to endorse this assertion is silly. These guys cant even write a prescription for aspirin. Who are they to be making medical health code rules in this day and age, I mean let’s try and be real at least a little bit.
Wow, all I can say is bless the hearts and minds of the leaders who work with you John Dehlin. I don’t mean that in a negative way, I just think they need a lot of inspiration and guidance in this situation. Here’s an analogy that came to mind… I picture a huge allegorical olive tree representing the church–like the one described in Jacob 5. It’s quite the tree; full of grafted limbs and signs of careful pruning, BUT there’s this one branch that has jutted off from all the rest. It’s now large enough and strong enough that other branches are leaning towards it. This has the gardeners scratching their heads because, well, it’s not growing the way they expected.
“Just cut it off,” some say, “if you don’t, it will strain the rest of the tree.”
But others suggest, “No, it’s fine, we’ll just keep an eye on it. This new direction might even help the tree grow bigger and stronger and yield more fruit. Isn’t that the goal?”
I don’t know what I would do. On the one hand I love the church and the gospel and am rather protective of it. On the other, I realize your voice fills a unique niche and helps a lot of people which could help the church grow in new directions. For these reasons, I hope your bishop, your stake president, and church leaders are very careful and prayerful in their decisions. Regardless of the outcome, I wish you the very best.
My doubts about Mormonism being the one true religion began back in 1967, but I have remained a nominal member of the church and my wife and I raised our six children in the church. We let them decide the path to choose. Two have remained TBMs, two have their doubts, and two have resigned their membership. While my current beliefs regarding God and Jesus differ considerably from the beliefs taught in Mormonism, I still love being around Mormons and do not condemn those who have beliefs different from my own. After all, I could be wrong. Anyway, hang in there, if you can, otherwise best of luck to you.
First, I found the essay to be very interesting and I’m glad to hear your perspective on this situation. I have a couple of questions. First–is this a collection of questions you have received from others and are wanting to answer, or is it more of a “self interview?” You say in the essay that you have been “investigated” at least 3 times in the past regarding your activities. Can you comment on exactly what these investigations entailed? My last question/comment is in regards to your stake president. You say that you take him at his word that he didn’t contact you because of the email you sent your bishop, but the tone of that paragraph is a bit dubious. In all honesty, can you say that you think the logical conclusion to be gleaned from the email is that you no longer wanted to be considered a member of the ward and did not want contact from ward members/leaders, but you were always open to contact with stake leaders? You have to admit that is pretty far-fetched. Also, I’m a little confused by how you imply that the stake president’s statement that he would let the members of the stake know if you asked to have your name removed, as the reason you took the story public. You imply that leaving the church “quietly and discreetly” was an option that you were considering, but that President King took that option away from you. Was this the case? Anyway, I have more questions, but I’ve already taken up too much of your time. I thank you for reading this.
Question: How much more like the Jehovah’s Witnesses will the institutional church become? When the first response to criticism & new information is a double-down on fundamentalism, the trend line is not good: RE Book of Mormon: BH Roberts told the Brethren a hundred years ago that there were BIG problems considering the text in any sense historical. Now here we are again, with ten times the data. Same old response? When you keep kicking the can down the road you eventually run out of road.
Again, John. I’m sending many blessings to you and your family as the time draws closer to Sunday. Stand your ground, speak your truth and blessings will flow…….
All the best to you on Sunday. You’ll be in my prayers and thoughts.
We don’t see eye to eye on everything, not by a long shot, but I’ve found much of your work interesting if not very insightful.
One note – I’m pretty sure, based on experiences in my ward, that there is no provision for “Do Not Contact,” in a formal way, at the ward level.
Individuals may know to steer clear upon request, but just wanted to point out there may be a disconnect there between what you asked and what might / could have been done. I’m not privy to Handbook 1 or a wiz at the church’s membership system, but I do know I’ve been told it’s not “formally” possible on several occasions.
Not nitpicking…not my intention at all…
I have a few questions for you. I ask them with a sincere spirit; no criticism is intended.
As a very private person myself, I am having a difficult time understanding why you are dealing with your current church situation so publicly.
Also, I am a convert to the church and made big changes in my life when I joined the church, as many people who join the church do. As such, I don’t understand your resistance to leaving the church in order to live with true integrity. I know you have explained it and I understand the cultural aspects that you talk about, but if I felt about the church like you do I cannot imagine staying. However, I am glad you stayed and hope you continue to do so.
I am not what I would call an orthodox Mormon; I do not agree with the church on everything. However, I do not think I have the right to change the church to my point of view. There are many people in the church who are more socially conservative than you are. Why do you think your opinions and views are more valid than theirs?
I am hoping for a happy outcome for you and your family. Best wishes!
John, there should be no doubt out there where you are coming from and what you currently believe about the church and it’s claims. I for one could say ditto, to your articulate description, and say that it closely mirrors my own feelings. So I guess, that depending on the out come of your pending disciplinary action, we of similar beliefs, will know if we are still accepted and wanted in the church or not? Gods speed to you and your family.
“Mormons,” it is said by the naive, “are so nice.”
“Mormons are so nice,” but a manichean theocracy uses a divining rod to navigate good and evil –– clearly not a finely tuned machine, not a well developed process. Mormon History reminds us, that, “We humans have short memories.”
Remember: MORMONS ARE BEING WATCHED, from heaven and earth.
The Latter-day Saints are a work in progress, POSTMODERN, making it up as we go along to some inexorable end. This materialization comes at the cost to many. “The Most Correct” is a legacy that has no defense as we move along in time; “Learning to let go if Joe,” time does move on.
When John Dehlin is dragged to the dock (alter) to be sacrificed by the pharisees it must be remembered, the legacy of such actions does have consequences.
If I were he, the inquisitor, I’d think it timely to “feel a burning in the belly,” shake in tremors and fall to the parquet floor and have an authentic revelation (epiphany).
It is time for a liberal interpretation of what is “Most Correct.”
The malleability of truth is still being tinkered with by Our Heavenly Father, Elohim.
Hi, John. I informally and quietly stopped going to church decades ago so as to avoid a confrontation with family members that are still devout. I often feel as though that was the coward’s way out, and I did not deal effectively with why I made that choice and what I truly believed if not Mormonism.
In contrast, you have chosen the courageous, moral and humanistic approach and you have my absolute respect and admiration. If you ever have any doubt about whether or not you are helping people and maybe pushing the church forward (kicking and screaming), just come back to the comments here. The total character of church members will drop measurably if they decide to excommunicate you.
All the best to you and your family.
I recently found out about the historical issues you cite above from other sources. As you and so many who have gone through this process know, words cannot describe the roller-coaster of emotions – but suffice it to say that my foundation was “destroyed” and later in life I find myself trying to rebuild an identity. Thankfully, my family has been mostly supportive and mostly all is well. Although I was already healing in my own way, I stumbled upon Mormon Stories and it has definitely helped me heal even faster and be confident with the obvious conclusion about the church (even though it wasn’t the conclusion that I had hoped for).
I wish you the very best of luck. I know that in my case, I’ll be watching closely to see how big the tent is in the LDS church, especially given the plea from President Uchtdorf in his talk “Come Join With Us” last October. Not that it will change any facts to make the church “true”, but to see how those of us who still identify culturally as Mormon but cannot with good faith perpetuate false or whitewashed history will be accepted by the true believers in the church. As of now, I cannot attend church because it’s too difficult to hear things being said and testified that I now know are not true. It’s a shame, because I’ve been close to many folks in my ward for nearly the past two decades… and they don’t understand me or they think that I’m “spiritually sick” (or lying).
Please do not stop doing what you are doing. I have found your interviews to be very balanced. I hope that ultimately the church reaches out to you to constructively determine how to deal with this situation that we have found ourselves in and transition it into something good without disrupting any families or friendships.
Again, I wish you (and your family) the very best! You are a man of high integrity.
John, as we are all members of the body of Christ, I think you promote a necessary and valuable skepticism for believers who already have very clear ideas about what Mormonism means and how it should be interpreted, believed, and lived. The fact that you deny most of the central tenets of Mormonism, from my perspective, means that you have thrown doubt upon the scripted mold for how we as members are supposed to interpret our relationship with the church, as well as the divine. And this, I believe, is extremely valuable. Thank you for your raw honesty, even when you do it clumsily.
Great essay and thoughts! Mormonism is proof that Utah is the worst state in the USA for FRAUD. Time to leave the box and join us Truth Seekers! Sure it is scary for awhile and you will have to dump the any thing or anyone who lies, but the thrill of exploring truth is well worth the effort. There is a God and afterlife and plenty of non-religious people have experienced and testified of that without claiming that any religion (all puts people in bondage to paying and time to some extent) is the ONLY true religion. If you want to join a social club do that but do not get God confused with a high cost social club like lds inc.! PS I am amazed that people write in with spelling/English critiques —— unless you wanted that????? I am thinking the message is more than the ‘perfectness of the message”.
all I can say, john, is this is beautiful in my opinion. im sorry that this is happening to you and that its happened to kate. while im still a member im not entirely active either and have lots of questions. and, I don’t believe that the answers will be forth coming. I look at the church as another church and not the church. so, best to you and all this looks pretty darn good to me.
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