Richard Dutcher Explains Why He Left the LDS Church

UPDATE! – Watch our interview with Richard Dutcher (10/03/2010)

It’s no secret — I’m a huge Richard Dutcher fan. Of course I’m sad that he’s taking some time off from the LDS Church, perhaps permanently. But he’s still very Mormon. And he still will be making Mormon movies (as I define them) — just, perhaps, no longer geared towards an LDS audience specifically.

Anyway, Richard has written a follow-up to his “Parting words” essay, explaining why he left the LDS Church (Full text included below). He has posted it as a comment to my good friend Serenity Valley’s post on By Common Consent.

Please check it out, and if you feel so inclined, give Richard your love and appreciation.



Thanks so much for your beautiful essay. I was very moved by it. As you can imagine, I’ve been dropping in on various internet sites and reading the discussions. Perhaps it would be in my best interest to simply disappear without another word, but out of respect and affection for my friends and for those who have been generous in their support (including yourself), I’ve decided to address a few of the statements that have been made about me and my decision to leave the Church. I’d appreciate it if those who read this message would send it along to other internet sites. I’d like it to be read.

Also, the ghost of Thomas Marsh keeps pestering me. He’s been following me around for the past few days saying, “Don’t let them do to you what they did to me!”

What did they do to him? They turned him into a Sunday school lesson. (A note for all the literalists out there: No, Marsh’s ghost has not actually been visiting me. I’m just trying to make a point.)


Thomas Marsh was one of the leaders in the early Church. Most of us know him only as that silly man who left the Church because his wife cheated another sister out of some “milk strippings.” The matter ended up with local Church leaders who determined that Sister Marsh had, indeed, acted dishonestly. As the story goes, Thomas was so offended and angry that he left the Church and didn’t come back until he was an old man, dead broke and half-senile.

But there’s so much more to the story.

Although the “milk stripping” incident is factual, it is not the reason Thomas Marsh left the Church. He left in those chaotic days in Far West, shortly before Joseph was arrested and taken to Liberty Jail. These were the days of Sidney Rigdon’s reach for power and his “Salt Sermon.” They were the days of the Danites (Yes, Virginia, there were Danites), and the days when Oliver Cowdery left the Church. Oliver’s complex and difficult decision was made at a time when his life was being threatened by other Church leaders. It was a crazy, dangerous time and Thomas was right in the middle of it. I’m sure those old milk strippings were the last things on Thomas Marsh’s mind when he mounted up and got his family the hell out of town.

Yet this man’s complex life, and his difficult decision, has been reduced to an inaccurate Sunday school lesson in Pride. I believe this “lesson” is a slander, and a violation of a very complex human being.

Although it may be out of my hands, I do not intend for something similar to happen to me. At least not without a fight.

It’s unpleasant to acknowledge, but the LDS community has a history of character assassination. It is an ugly truth, but it is the truth. I have often joked (darkly, and among friends only) that when wandering sheep stray from the fold, Mormons don’t go looking for them. What happens is: somebody climbs up on a really tall tower, takes out a high-powered rifle, gets the poor straying soul in the cross-hairs, and then blows his wandering brain out.

When individuals leave the fold, why do we find it necessary to blacken their names? This has been the case since the earliest days. Back then, a church member or leader could be in full fellowship one day and considered a wonderful, decent, loveable human being. The next day, if that individual chose to make an exit, he was the “blackest, basest of scoundrels,” an “adulterer” and a “counterfeiter,” etc.

Today, we’re a little less melodramatic. But still, when a scholar, artist, intellectual, or even a rank and file member of the Church decides to leave, his character is instantly under attack: “I think he’s gay” or “I bet she’s having an affair” or “I’ve heard he’s a drug addict,” etc.

Just for the record: I’m not having an affair. I’m not gay. I’m not a drug addict. I’ve never tried to illegally reproduce hundred dollar bills and I haven’t killed anyone. Sadly, I can’t even claim to have beaten anyone up, not since the 9th grade anyway. (Actually, now that I think of it, I didn’t win that particular fight. A neanderthalic 12th grader beat the snot out of me.)

However, I’m far from perfect: I do like to swear sometimes (seldom in anger, mostly for fun), and I’ve recently grown fond of really expensive dark Irish beer (enjoyed in moderation, of course). On occasion I’ve even been known to swear while drinking a beer. I’ve always been good at multi-tasking.

I tried smoking cigars, but didn’t care for them. Cigarettes I hate. Coffee’s not for me, but I have found some great dark teas that I really like. There’s one in particular, Lapsang Souchong, that I highly recommend.

Also, sometimes I daydream that Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie are both madly in love with me and I have to become a polygamist so that I can keep them both and not lose Gwen (my equally gorgeous wife).

There you go. Not very juicy. Downright silly in fact. On to more serious matters.

Many have jumped to the conclusion that I left because I’m angry that LDS audiences didn’t line up for my movies. If such was the case, I would be a truly shallow human being.

First of all, LDS audiences did line up for my movies. Even my lowest-grossing film, STATES OF GRACE, made $200,000.00 at the box office. True, that’s less than 1/10 of what GOD’S ARMY grossed, but still…most independent filmmakers would kill (or, at least, maim) for a $200,000.00 theatrical gross.

Some have very pointedly claimed that if my films had been more financially successful, I wouldn’t be leaving. Believe me, it has nothing to do with money. I didn’t make GOD’S ARMY because I thought it would make me rich, and I haven’t left Mormon Cinema because I’m afraid it’s going to make me poor. If STATES OF GRACE had made 20 million dollars, I’d still have made the same choice.

Others have said that I’m angry because Mormons didn’t “get” my movies. I think the majority of those who saw them “got” them. I’ve tried not to pay too much attention to the very vocal minority who didn’t.

Some have speculated that I may have been offended by a church leader or member. That’s not the case. Church leadership has never been anything but supportive, and I’ve never lost any sleep over disapproval from individual church members. I would never let a personal offense from a fellow traveler detour me from the path.

Also, so many people out there think that I have been angry at other LDS filmmakers for dumping poor quality movies into the marketplace and ruining the reputation of Mormon Cinema.

Okay…you got me. That one’s true. But it is not the reason for my departure.

To conclude, it’s not necessary for anyone to jump to any conclusions. Please refer back to my letter and re-read the last several paragraphs. I shared my reasons. If you want me to be more specific, I’m sorry. I will not do that.

Out of respect for the feelings and beliefs of so many of my closest friends and family members, and those who have appreciated my films, I choose to leave my reasons clear, although not explicit.

Many have expressed concerns for my wife, Gwen, and our children. I’m grateful for your concern. We’re all fine, and happy. Gwen didn’t learn of my struggles and my decision in the morning paper, of course. We’ve been talking about it, and dealing with the ramifications, for over two years now. I can’t tell you how grateful I feel to have such an understanding, supportive and loving wife. I hope to be equally supportive of her and of our children as they continue to be active in the church.

Again, I’m not angry at the Church. I’m not angry at Joseph Smith. I’m not angry at Gordon B. Hinckley. I don’t have any axe to grind whatsoever.

My time as an active Latter-Day Saint has been a beautiful, wonderful, life-changing adventure. I’m not rejecting it.

The best way for me to describe my situation is to share a metaphor. Buddha once compared his teaching to a boat that helps us cross a river. But, once we get to the other side, no one would think of carrying the boat around on his shoulders. Although grateful for its service, no one would say, “Oh, this boat helped me to cross over the river, so I’m now going to carry it on my back.”

The wise traveler would, obviously, leave the boat at the side of the river and continue on the journey.

I now feel the need to–with respect and gratitude–lay down the boat and continue on.

The past few years have been very difficult for me. I’ve been trying to continue my journey toward God while carrying a boat on my back. I hope no one will take offense at this metaphor. I’m not saying that all of us have to leave the boat of Mormonism behind. Many of you will arrive Home in these boats, I’m sure. But, for some unknown reason, our mutual Father in Heaven requires that I take another route. A large part of me would rather stay in the boat. I like the boat. But, my brothers and sisters, it’s time for me to start walking.

I have not, as I’ve been accused, abandoned God or truth. I believe I am being loyal to truth and reality (as best as I can perceive it), and that I am still reaching up, in my life and in my film work, to my Father in Heaven.

I leave with love, and I promise to do my best not to take offense at those who currently have me in the cross-hairs. I’ll dodge their bullets, and continue on my way.

Richard Dutcher

P.S. I’m sure many of you are as confused by my decisions as you were before you started reading. I apologize, but these words are as much as I want to share, publicly, at this time. I hope to meet many of you, individually, in the coming years. If circumstances allow, we can sit down quietly and privately—maybe even over a dark Irish beer—and I can tell the story in more detail. Until then.

Comment by Richard Dutcher — April 18, 2007 @ 6:19 pm


  1. I see a lot of common tensions experienced by both Richard Dutcher and Neil LaBute. Both experienced personal paradox and internal battles as they exammined their passion and dedication to their art form, Mormon doctrine and Mormon culture.

  2. John, meet Richard. Richard, meet John. There, now that the introductions have been dispensed with, please kindly set up a time when you can do the podcast everyone is dying to hear!

  3. The only regret Mr. Dutcher should have is his cameo in ‘Singles Ward’- the worst made and most offensive film I have ever seen. No one was allowed to say “damn” or “hell”, but defiling some of the Church’s most sacred hymns by turning them into Green Day-esque riffs? Get real.

    No wonder Richard is so distressed about “Mormon” cinema.

  4. Sorry to jump topic here, but did any once else see the infruiating paradox in Singles Ward — the big conflict of the movie was that the comedian made jokes about Mormons in front of a non-Mormon audience (some of the same jokes the filmmakers were making to their own audience by the way) and that pissed off the self righteous wanna-babe and sent her on her mission — the resolution came when he chose not do fornicate and remembered his Mormon roots — that helped him overcome the pain so he didn’t have to joke about it anymore — he was rewarded for his new more serious, less joking attitude with some kind of church calling. Isn’t this trying to have it both ways with Mormon Humor? What is the message here — it’s okay for mormons to joke around with their own, but don’t let any non-mormons see it — to them we must set the example. I much prefered the guy’s cynical attitutde at the beginning of the movie when he was being fellowshipped at the door — that, I thought was pretty good.

    I only ever saw Dutcher’s Gods Army. I used to show it every semester to my F101: Intro to Folklore students when we discussed Mormon Folklore (in Indiana — IUPUI). Now that was always a lot of fun. They were always quite amazed by Mormon culture, yet they saw echoes of it in their own lives and backgrounds. It was an eye opening experience for all of us.

  5. Christopher King

    I don’t quite know what to make of the fact that Dutcher seems to go back and forth between talking about his leaving the Mormon film industry and his leaving the Church, as if they were interchangeable topics. It really isn’t the same thing, is it? And if it’s the same thing to him, it would be interesting to know why.

    I find this as confusing as his anger that there are Mormon-themed movies that he doesn’t like. I own DVD copies of God’s Army, States of Grace, and Brigham City, as well as Singles Ward — and I cried when I saw Legacy (all three times). Dutcher’s movies have good substance, but the chick on Singles Ward is very cute, and the white-washed story-line in Legacy is powerfully moving. Every year, I’ll sit down and watch Raging Bull, but every so often, I also like to pop in Six Days, Seven Nights. Let the market speak for itself. No need to get depressed over it.

  6. I was going to leave a supportive comment for Richard in that thread on BCC but it seems to have been locked.

    Reading Taryn’s experience caused me to buy Brigham City, God’s Army, and States of Grace. I don’t even watch dvds!

  7. Glenn,

    That’s a great insight. I also can’t stand how plainly unchristian the lead female character is in “Singles Ward.” She’s unbelievably intolerant. She always seems to have a right to be offended. Does she ever condescend in the least to return good for evil? I don’t recall.

    It’s funny how a movie can be so “mormon” and yet so unchristian.

  8. richard’s movies have each resonated deeply with me as an active mormon. i am very sad to see him go. i hope he will continue to use mormon ideas to uncover truth in his movies as he has to this point.

  9. All the Marsh families in the United States until WWII were descendants of John Marsh.

    We are gifted in having Thomas Marsh’s own accounts, given after his return, about why he left, and his anger that Kimball’s wife was believed over his.

    That gives the entire narrative more power. I do not believe he slandered himself at all.

  10. Joseph from Oliver’s POV would be interesting. I would like to see a movie about Joseph Smith told through the eyes of a dying, delusional Sidney Rigdon (like Salieri ‘s love-hate portriat of his idol-rival in “Amadeus”) — in fact at one point I even wanted to write it — where Sidney narrates his self-importnat history and ends with the crazy-eyed claim that he killed Joseph (or was responsible for it) — if we’re going to re-write history, let’s at least have a little fun with it.

  11. While it is true that some people may believe that their reasoning for leaving the Church is “complex” it always boils down to a simple fact that something to them has become more important than subjecting themselves to submission to the brethren, which is something very simple to do. One simply uses ones free agency and one makes a decision to follow the brethren. It isn’t a matter of complexity to make that decision. It doesn’t matter that there was Danites or that other people came back in deathbed repentance. It doesn’t matter a hill of beans what situation people found themselves in that they believed they were somehow forced out through complex circumstances. The fact of the matter is, they were the ones that made the decision using free agency. Nobody is ever forced out, period. They leave because their church membership isn’t the most important thing to them. Period. No “tough issue” or “controversy” forces anyone to make any decision. For Richard Dutcher, it is as simple as he has used his free agency to leave the Church, and now he seeks to justify himself in doing so by citing how others have had their characters supposedly “assasitated” by the Church. Rather, when people make bad decisions, the scriptures are full of examples of them. Laman and Lemuel. Gehazi, Cain. They are made examples of. And Thomas B. Marsh is an example of someone who used his free agency unwisely. And if Richard Dutcher now joins the list of people that use free agency unwisely, then he cannot blame that on people that may end up using him as an example of what not to do, because he can’t blame anyone else but himself for the use of his own free agency in the way he has chosen to use it. Period.

  12. Ed,

    I think you have a binary paradigm different from Dutcher and many here. The complexity comes for Dutcher and others who suddenly lose that paradigm and seek to navigate life, spiritually and the Church in its absence. Most would like it back, but it’s lost forever.

    Loss of the binary paradigm doesn’t automatically mean one leaves the Church, but it could. I’m still active in the Church, but the loss of the paradigm has been and remains truly complex.

    Part of maturity and a civilized society is the ability to understand and respect those with whom we disagree. Honest, moral people can disagree without offering plattitudes and judgments of one another. That approach builds bridges, makes friends and increases our understanding of ourselves, each other and the world.

    I suppose you can view Dutcher however you want. I would ask that you read a little more, ponder a little more and try to understand his perspective. You don’t have to agree with him, just try a little understanding and empathy.

    All the best,


  13. Ed, while I think many of the details of my disaffection with the church are indeed complex, and while I disagree with your simplistic judgemental attitude, just like a stopped clock is correct twice a day, you have a sliver of truth in your statement above. When you say, “something to them has become more important than subjecting themselves to submission to the brethren”, for me, I can say that living according to the truth is more important than following “the brethren”. When I discovered that “the brethren” lied and/or perpetuated lies about many key foundational events of the church, I chose to side with the truth. The details are complex and many, but yes, it comes down to the fact that I chose truth over blindly following liars.

  14. From one platitude to another. Let me just start out by saying that I fully recognize that everything I am about to say could be completely wrong. But, having said that…

    Tom, as much as I respect the reach for fairness and understanding that I have seen in your posts, I have to point out that I thought your statement “honest, moral people can disagree without offering platitudes and judgments of one another” was a backhanded way of calling Ed a dishonest and immoral person. And your request that he do “more” of something (something that your paradigm values but, as you suggest, his does not) seems like a judgment against Ed that he is somehow deficient in an area where he should be more enlightened. So, for as friendly a tone as you use, I still saw in it an underlying arrogance that I – as a well-meaning but horribly arrogant wannabe-relativist – recognize all too well and often have to check in my own response to things that, to me, sound unenlightened and un-Christlike. I’m saying that I am sensitive to this because I recognize my tendency to do it. Just thought I would share that perspective with you.

    And Ed, all I can really say about your comments is that they make me recognize in no uncertain terms my own horrible arrogance. I do agree with the same thing domokun agreed with. And I agree that we are responsible for our choices and agency – that no one can make us do anything we don’t choose to do (afterall, the Anti-Nephi-Lehis chose slaughter rather than take up weapons to defend themselves). But I think you are wrong in concluding that Dutcher’s explanation as to why he chose what he chose is the same as him shedding his responsibility and blaming external factors for making him do something. I think it is clear that he takes full responsibility for his choice. I also think you are wrong in calling his choice “unwise” – although I understand why you would say that and in the end you may actually be right. But I still don’t think that judgment is for us to make, and at any rate, I think it is rather premature in Dutcher’s eternal progression to make that call at this point.

    And finally, I want to point out something else that I think the scriptures are full of (fill in your own sarcastic response here): forgiveness, charity. It is easy to use Laman and Lemuel as examples of characters who represent bad/unwise decision-making. But if you believe that they were real people – real spirit children of God with a stake in eternal progression as real as yours who still exist in some form of spirituality to this day – can you honestly say with conviction that they have not been forgiven and made eligible for Celestial glory? Isn’t it possible that Christ’s atonement and his visit to the spirits in prison could have cleared the path for their temple-work to be done by proxy? Since we don’t really know, wouldn’t it be more charitable to assume the best about their ultimate “redeemability” than to just lump them into the group who chose unwisely and leave it at that – we all choose unwisely, you know. And whatever unwise choices we or they have ever made or will ever make, can they be any more egregious than the choice made by those Romans and Jews who chose to crucify Jesus? And what did He say about them as he was agonizing on the cross? I think it had something to do with forgiveness.

    So please forgive me for talking down to you from my own judgmental platitude, but I think that if more people had this Christ-like attitude, there would be a lot less suffering in the world. You speak in terms of simple and complex. Christ said his yoke is easy and his burden is light. I would assert that it was his ability to forgive that made it so.

    Of course, I could be wrong.

  15. I’m not sure I’ve ever read or heard that Thomas B. Marsh left the Church over strippings of milk. I have read and heard things like (italics mine in the following quotes):

    In the early days of the Church, the wife of Thomas B. Marsh performed a dishonest act that led to the Marshes’ apostasy and excommunication…. Brother Marsh upheld his wife’s actions, however, and the Marshes became bitter, eventually turning against the Church. They soon lost their membership over bitter feelings growing out of an act of dishonesty….


    President Thomas B. Marsh’s pride led to his eventual apostasy.


    In this dispensation, to name a few, Martin Harris, David Whitmer, and Oliver Cowdery (the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon) and Thomas B. Marsh (the first president of the Quorum of the Twelve) had this very problem. They refused to sustain the Lord’s anointed servant, and it led to their expulsion from his church.


    In a dispute over milk, Thomas B. Marsh soon let himself become offended at the Prophet Joseph.


    Thomas B. Marsh, once one of the Twelve, left the Church. His spiritual slide to apostasy started because his wife and another woman had quarreled over a little cream!


    Thomas B. Marsh joined the Church in 1830 after reading the first sixteen pages of a copy of the Book of Mormon that had just come off of E. B. Grandin’s press. He became the first President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (see D&C 31 heading, 1–13; 52:22; 56:5; 112 heading, 1–19; 118:2). He became angry with the Prophet Joseph Smith and began to persecute the Church in Missouri. He left the Church in 1838 and was excommunicated in 1839, but was rebaptized in 1857.


    What was the issue between the Prophet and Thomas Marsh? (Thomas believed that he, rather than the Prophet, had the authority and keys to take the gospel to all the world.)


    [After breifly describing the milk case making its way up to the First Presidecy:] Thomas B. Marsh declared that he would sustain the character of his wife. Soon afterward, he turned against the Church and went before a government official to declare that the Latter-day Saints were hostile toward the state of Missouri.

    You know, I can’t find one source (out of the nearly 100 I’ve looked up tonight) that says Marsh was excommunicated over the milk dispute. But nearly all sources on it (and it’s a surprisingly small percetage of sources on Marsh that even mention the whole milk thing) say it was a factor that led to his loss of confidence and belief in Joseph Smith. Hrm. That’s pretty close to what Marsh himself said: he began finding fault with Joseph and got more and more upset.

    This may be a small point, but I thought getting some facts about the Church’s actual view of Marsh worht taking up some of my time tonight. I think Dutcher is mistaken in his self-comparison to Marsh in that a) Dutcher will never end up in a Church manual lesson (he’s far less important to an understanding of Church doctrine and history than someone like Marsh), and b) Marsh made himself an object lesson, not “them”: “if you want to see the fruits of apostasy, look on me” (Marsh to apostates as reported by John Taylor, JD 5:115); “If there are any among this people who should ever apostatize and do as I have done, prepare your backs for a good whipping, if you are such as the Lord loves. But if you will take my advice, you will stand by the authorities; but if you go away and the Lord loves you as much as he did me, he will whip you back again” (JD 5:206).

  16. Oops, the blockquotes didn’t show up with the sources, so here they are in order of appearance:

    The Latter-day Saint Woman, Part B, lesson 7, “Honesty”

    Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–25, Section 112

    President Hartman Rector, Jr., April Conference, 1974

    Elder Neal A. Maxwell, April Conference 1982

    Elder Russell M. Nelson, April Conference 1989

    Doctrine and Covenants & Church History Student Study Guide, “People in the Doctrine and Covenants”

    Doctrine & Covenants and Church History Video Guide, segment 17

    Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 24

  17. Glenn,

    Your criticisms are fair. And in the spirit of open and honest discussion, I will be open myself.

    I see the binary paradigm I earlier referred to as being similar to Platos Cave. Both Ed and I see the shadows on the wall, but we understand them in different ways.

    I think it’s hard to look at another point of view once espoused personally as being equal is difficult to do. Naturally, by merely abandoning it, I have demonstrated that I believe it to be inferior to the point of view I now hold. And certainly tomorrow’s paradigm will be personally viewed as superior to the one I hold now. That’s the challenge, I suppose. It’s easy to view another perspective or opinion never personally held and sincerely equal. But it’s hard to view an abandoned well worn paradigm as equal.

  18. Very well put. But I wonder if it is universally applicable. I want to challenge one statement you made: “It’s easy to view another perspective or opinion never personally held and sincerely equal.”

    If we take our friend Ed as an example, do you think it is easy for him to view your paradigm as equal — a paradigm that perhaps he has never personally viewed? I agree that for some there is a tendancy to be more lenient to certain “others” — but I still think there is a level of judgment in selecting which “others” we grant equivalency and which “others” we feel superior towards.

    Wait a minute… was this thread supposed to be about Dutcher??? :)

  19. I loved Richard’s movies especially States of Grace where he showed a great understanding for the atonement of Christ and the need that all of us have to be forgiven. He showed real life with missionaries and I know, because my husband and I served as a couple and saw the states that missionaries get into. I loved the way that he saw that not everyone needs to be converted to Mormonism because many people out there are way more Christian in their love and attitudes than some members are.
    I too felt it necessary to leave the church last year and have been subjected to abandonment. I’m not famous so it hasn’t been in the papers and nobody knows why a member of 39 years who is now a 62 year old grandmother couldn’t just stay put. Well I couldn’t and I had not sinned or felt offended or any of those other things. I wish I hadn’t needed to rock the boat with my husband and family. Some of my children barely acknowledge that I exist now; so much for Mormons being Christian. Keith Merrill’s tirade against Richard is appalling. I feel so much love for Richard and wish that I could talk to him personally. I hope that he goes to the ex mormon conference in Oct.

  20. Me,

    I am reading the same quotes and seeing something quite different. I see the implication that Marsh’s reasons for differing with Joseph Smith were petty, be that reason milk or something else. What I do not see is a recognition that Marsh was living in increasingly frightening and unstable times, that the prophet Joseph Smith’s questionable behavior contributed to this instability, and that any sane person of conscience might have chosen to take issue with what was going on.

    I never fail to be utterly baffled by those who argue as though Joseph Smith wasn’t doing or connected with things that good people might take issue with. I should think that anyone who had an inkling of the activities of Danites, the taking of plural wives (some of them already married), the apparent character assassination of innocent people, plans for extending political hegemony, etc. might reasonably question and even become afriad of the implications of any of these things.

    We can have sympathy for Marsh and men and women like him, even if we choose not to question the actions of Joseph Smith. Why we would deny them the benefit of the doubt while extending every benefit of it to Joseph is astounding to me.

  21. One more comment. When does September Dawn begin? We are hoping that it comes up here to Canada. Then some naive thinkers might take a look at how dangerous the church became in their attitude to apostates and gentiles. If I go to hell for leaving the church, I hope that I see Brigham there so that I can tell him face to face what a tyrant he was. One thing that I always hated about the History of the Church/D&C is that everyone’s sins are out there for time and all eternity. I always felt that if my husband didn’t stand up for me the way Thomas did for his wife he would be a poor husband; and the leaders who expected of him? Who the heck did they think they were making judgments on such issues. No wonder that Thomas eventually left the church. He saw through their ‘common judge’ charade and he was in danger having his name slandered and his life threatened. I say ‘good for Thomas’. Don’t forget when is the film coming out?

  22. We just rented States of Grace at our local grocery store. What a powerful movie! I was in tears towards the end. I so appreciated the realism and reality of it and the amazing way you brought us to understanding grace in a movie. I just wanted to say thank you, Richard. This is one movie I want in my collection. We as Latter Day Saints could learn so much from this movie.

  23. Dear Richard,
    If you are reading this, I am a humble 30 year old lds toy/collectible sculptor, I like you have struggled in Los Angeles to earn a better living for me and my wife and daughter.I Know Kin Melvi from Disney Classics/Enesco all I hear about you guys from them is that your wife is a greate sculptress, and that you are an amazing guy.
    I love your work, and love your movies, I think I understand the many meanings withing them.
    I too have struggled at times with people no understanding my work within the church, or why all of the suddne I was sculpting sking tight figures/statues or action figures of say Spiderwoman, or some other sexy looking heroine.
    Anyway, I am not comparing myself to you in any way, but rather I want to tell you, I love you man.
    I wish you find happiness in whatever you do, but most of all I wish you and your family can be happy, all is not lost Richard, you are revered by SO many, I do not knwo why people make such a fuss about you leaving the Church, as long as you do not turn your back on your best friend, as long as you remember why you are here, as long as you do what he needs you to do.
    I trust you Richard, please tell your wife too look me up on the net, I could always ask her to get Kin Melvi to finally give me a project haha.
    Your brother,
    -Erick Sosa

  24. When you people chose to not side with the brethren and left because of your perception of what you think to be true, you also chose to reap the consequence of your action, which in time you will reap. The fact of the matter is, I know many things to be true that are the “tough issues.” But I know what is is the weightier matter. Following the brethren is the commandment that is the weightier matter. You who criticize me know full well that this is plainly spelled out in the scriptures. The issue at hand is one’s salvation, regardless of so called “tough issues.” And the way to hold on to the rod is clear, and everyone that knows the gospel is left without excuse. And Dutcher knows full well what he is leaving behind. Brigham Young spells it out plainly:

    “One of the first steps to apostasy is to find fault with your Bishop; and when that is done, unless repented of a second step is soon taken, and by and by the person is cut off from the Church, and that is the end of it. Will you allow yourselves to find fault with your Bishop? No; but come to me, go to the High Council, or to the President of the Stake, and ascertain whether your Bishop is doing wrong, before you find fault and suffer yourselves to speak against a presiding officer.” (Journal of Discourses 9:141).

    . . . [S]everal dissenters became so vocal in their opposition to the Prophet that they tried to wrest from him the leadership of the Church. In January 1838 Elder Young confronted these apostates in the Kirtland Temple: “I rose up, and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased, they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God, they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God and sink themselves to hell.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church-Brigham Young, 1997, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pp. 4-5).

    Henry B. Eyring said:

    It is terrible and wrong to speak of blind obedience, as is so often done to describe the behavior of a faithful Latter-day Saint. Rather than being blind when we are obedient, the only time our spiritual eyes are blinded is when we are disobedient. So it’s a matter of choice . . . Don’t believe the lie that says that when you are submissive to God you are losing your agency. On the contrary, submission is the choice to be lifted toward the light, toward freedom, and toward expansion. (Elder Henry B. Eyring, On Becoming a Disciple-Scholar, pp. 68-69.)

    I obey and follow with my *EYES WIDE OPEN*. Cut the threads that bind you to the brethren if you wish. Its your choice. I’ve made mine.

  25. BTW,

    Do you really want to start quoting the JoD at us? We could have a lot of fun with that…

  26. Ed,

    Wow, another knower on the internet claiming to know the fate of other posters. That is quite remarkable that you know so much. It must feel great knowing that you are better than other people, or at least, your fate is remarkably better than theirs. Which, when you think about, having the better eternity versus another is the supreme victory. It is the seven layer burritto when everyone else just gets a few nachos. Lucky you.

    Journal of Discourses? You are kidding with that right? Are we to take everything that is in the JOD at face value? I think you might want to find another source and not open that wormcan, cuz them worms is nasty.

  27. Ed, Christ himself taught us that we shall determine the quality of the prophets by their fruits. According to the Gospel of Matthew, it is up to the believers to determine whether the leaders are right, not the other way around.

    Paul taught us to test everything and only keep the good. Clearly that means that we ought to examine the behavior of those who claim to be prophets, seers, and revelators.

    It seems to me that the view of leaders that you are advocating is contradicting the gospels and borders on idolatry. Christ did not call us to be sheep but to be shepherds.

    People who substitute following leaders at the expense of their own moral judgement are attempting of borrowed light. That’s a precarious position to embrace for you, your loved ones, and society.

    I hope that you will recover your conscience and determine the ethical implications of your actions for yourself.

  28. Man, this Ed guy is great. He is even better than that Frank Davis guy.

    Ed, you and Frank need to get together and form your own blog where you can excoriate everyone who doesn’t measure up to your standards, and all of us benighted folk who would dare question anything the ‘Brethren’ have said.

    I promise that when you create this blog, I will visit regularly to trade barbs with you and have you call me to repentance. I am fully prepared to damn my soul further by chuckling at everything you write. But please, don’t let that stop you. I won’t be denied the cheap entertainment.

  29. Been There, Done That

    Once you start down the road to find truth, and you find truth, you can’t turn back. You may wish you had never ventured down the path, but you can’t unlearn what you have learned.

    I suspect that in the process of doing research for his planned film about the “prophet” Joseph Smith, Richard Dutcher encountered some truth. Just enough truth to make him decide to leave the church.

  30. Mayan Elephant

    Been There,

    Your words are more profound than you may realize. It reminds me of the many many many many people that arrived at a similar position while teaching Gospel Doctrine.

  31. Uh. I have no intention of starting a “blog” to give you people another forum to gripe on. That is an imaginary thing you thought up in your own mind. You can do all your griping here as you do. Have at it. I merely responded to your griping to begin with to show that there are people like me out there that honestly, thoughtfully, choose to follow, with eyes wide open. Not with blind faith, but simply doing what we are asked to do regardless of historical complexity.

    I responded to show that not everyone that gets on this site blindly believes that because there is controversy, that it automatically means that the brethren have misled us, or that somehow because the facts are complex in the history, that that means that one should leave because of ones conscience. On the other hand, I am led by conscience to respond to you, and not allow you to have a soap box where you are not responded to. You yourselves speak so much about how we should look at the complexities in the lives of the apostates and how they just had to leave because their lives are so complex. The hypocrisy in that is blatantly obvious, that you will paint the brethren with a broad stroke and not recognize the complexities in their lives as human beings also. The fact of the matter is, I was pointing out that which is not complex. The simple matter that we are called upon to submit and obey regardless, and that is the mark of one that keeps the commandments versus one who seeks to justify his disobedience by finding fault with other people, namely the brethren.

  32. Ed said, “The simple matter that we are called upon to submit and obey regardless”.

    Ed, did you watch “The Mormons” last night on PBS? Wasn’t that the same rationale that regular, faithful members used who were a part of the MMM and killed the people in the wagon train?

  33. Mr. Domokun, I saw both episodes, both last night and tonight. Is that the best that you’ve got? That you have to “reach” trying to equate home teaching, sacrament attendance, and family home evening, and primary kids singing “follow the prophet” with murder of innocent men, women and children? Get a grip.

  34. Its sad that Richard Dutcher has left the church. Having recently purchased and watched God’s Army, States of Grace and Brigham City, I was genuinely shocked to hear of his decision. I detect from Richards own statement that all is not well with him spiritually. Richard made the analogy of using the boat of Mormonism to reach the other side of the river and now believes that he no longer needs the boat. Richard can’t quite explain what this newly found higher purpose and cause is but does reveal that he now has a liking for Irish beer. We leave the church when we lose the Spirit. Ultimately there can be no other explanation.

  35. Ed,

    I loved your comments. I agree whole-heartedly.

    Glenn, you said to Ed:

    “…also think you are wrong in calling his choice “unwise” – although I understand why you would say that and in the end you may actually be right. But I still don’t think that judgment is for us to make, and at any rate, I think it is rather premature in Dutcher’s eternal progression to make that call at this point.”

    You don’t think it is our judgment to make whether leaving the church is unwise? That is at the very core of our judgment to make, and where we stand on the issue determines our valiance, and consequent choice of staying with the church or leaving it. If Richard Dutcher thought it was unwise enough to leave the church and subject himself to many disappointments that will continue to come (as it did to many other dissenters) and subject himself to damnation that comes from cutting yourself off from Priesthood Authority, then he wouldn’t do so! He obviously doesn’t think it is THAT unwise to do. The only way for him to end up in the same place as the faithful saints is to retrace his steps, and find that boat that he left by the side of the river. I would prefer to call that boat the iron rod.

    The point that I’m trying to make is that our own choices are judgments of what’s right and what’s wrong. If Richard Dutcher felt that leaving the church was unwise or WRONG, I don’t think he would do so. Neither would have Thomas Marsh. (see note at bottom) We must decide (or JUDGE) whether it is wise or unwise to leave the church. It IS our judgment to make. I worry about your faithfulness when you say such a thing.

    [note: The real issue of Thomas Marsh IS his pride. He never ‘got it.’ Even when he returned to Salt Lake, he told Brigham and the Saints that he would never leave the church again, and BY interrupts to correct him and say, ‘No Thomas, you haven’t understood. I pray every day that I will not leave the church.” You all should know, Thomas Marsh died a faithful RLDS man, not a LDS man.]

  36. Lukeair2006 and se7en, good comments. I’m of the opinion that the roots of apostasy and one’s losing the Spirit happens long before they leave the Church. It is the moment when one suffers oneself to not submit to authority, and to speak evil of the Lord’s anointed for whatever one’s pet reasons might be. My former home teaching companion is a good example. He is now the “prophet” of a Church: And seeing him transform from a good member of the rank and file into what he now is astounds me. Its always one of those things that you never think you would see first hand. Yet, it is all very simple. It doesn’t start with leaving the Church. It starts long before that, until they think that it is more important to do whatever they do, or follow whatever they follow than to retain their membership and fall in line.

    “Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them. But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves. And those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage and death— Wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house. Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them. They shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation.” (D&C 121:16-21)

  37. Ed said: “I’m of the opinion that the roots of apostasy and one’s losing the Spirit happens long before they leave the Church. It is the moment when one suffers oneself to not submit to authority, and to speak evil of the Lord’s anointed for whatever one’s pet reasons might be.”

    Ed, my good friend. Here’s a question for you: if you were a faithful Latter-day Saint at Mountain Meadows in September 1857 and you were asked by your priesthood leaders to slaughter unarmed men, women, and children, would you have submitted to their authority and kept your mouth shut? Or is an aversion to committing cold-blooded murder your “pet reason” for refusing to submit to authority and “get in line?”

  38. Ed said:
    “The simple matter that we are called upon to submit and obey regardless, and that is the mark of one that keeps the commandments versus one who seeks to justify his disobedience by finding fault with other people, namely the brethren.”

    Many folks commenting on PBS’s The Mormons have reacted negatively to a comment made by former Mormon Tal Bachman, in which he said that he was so zealous on his mission, so obedient, so devoted to following his priesthood leaders, that if his Mission President had asked him to strap on a bomb for a suicide mission, he’d have done it. That’s so over-the-top and extreme and unnecessary, folks have said, criticizing both Bachman and producer Helen Whitney for including it in the production. The crux of the criticism is that Bachman’s level of zeal is not representative of devout orthodox Mormons.

    I really can’t see any material difference between what Bachman said and the ideas Ed is advancing here, though.

  39. Thomas Marsh left the church because he was disgusted by Joseph’s secret polygamy and the Danites sacking Gallitin was the last straw. MMM killings were committed at the priesthood leaders command “Do Your Duty.” Many members do not realize that the killers were only doing their Priesthood Duty, as it was explained to them, by killing the members of the Fancher wagon train. People like se7en and Ed should read church history once in a while, before providing us with their uninformed opinions. But instead, they believe the whitewashed version of church history they are fed in seminary. It is truly unfortunate that people like Thomas Marsh and Richard Dutcher get their reputations smeared by well-meaning members of the church who are simply trying to protect their fragile testimonies, and ignoring the facts about why most members leave the church. Have any of you read John Dehlin’s reasons most people leave the church? If not, you should. Mostly it boils down to this: They get sick of being lied to. Most of these issues would disappear if the correlated church manuals did not omit buttloads of sensitive information about church history. It really is an unfortunate situation, that only the Brethren have the power to change. We will see if they take the high road and follow the example of the Frontline special by opening the door to an accurate portrayal of church history in the future.

  40. “The simple matter that we are called upon to submit and obey regardless, and that is the mark of one that keeps the commandments versus one who seeks to justify his disobedience by finding fault with other people, namely the brethren.”

    For those that agree with that statement, do you allow anywhere in your heart for the possibility that a person could disobey or refuse to submit to a church leader IN ORDER TO keep the commandments?

    If not, please review in the Book of Mormon the story of Abinadi. Note that he is doing God’s work by criticizing the priesthood leaders under King Noah and calling them to repentance. Don’t overlook the fact that King Noah’s priests were real priests who really held the true priesthood authority (as is evidenced by Alma’s authority to baptize after fleeing and reforming.) I am not equating directly the conversations on message boards with what Abinadi did, especially considering that he died for it, but that is just set as an example of how someone could be in conflict with truly ordained priesthood leaders or the institutional church itself BECAUSE they are keeping commandments, not just to justify disobedience.

    I share that only to show the folly of such empirical statements, which don’t help or inspire anyone who is genuinely struggling with what seems to come from the institutional church (past or present) and what they feel is right, in the same way they have always been taught in the church to know what is “right”. Maybe you can’t relate, empathize, or understand such a situation, but don’t let that lead you to conclude that it is not life every day for many people.

  41. The luxury of preaching absolute obedience to priesthood authority is, IMO, correlated with the degree of unlikeliness the would-be zealous will ever face a MMM situation. The more unlikely, the easier it is to fantasize in a vacuum of the neatness of a world of unflinching obedience.

    When you actually face the situation, in all your humanity, it is another matter entirely. Hopefully, knowledge of tragedies like the MMM will help guide people to compassion and forgiveness instead of fear and violence.

  42. Some interesting comments. The injunction to ‘follow the brethren’ must be tempered by the qualifier ‘but only in righteousness’. We must be guided by the Spirit of God. When I joined the church there were certain things that I knew that I must do and certain things that I knew I couldn’t do. Not because any human had told me but because the Holy Spirit had instructed me. I personally don’t believe that any President of the Church has ever given the instruction to commit mass murder, but if they did I would refuse to comply because I know that murder is wrong. And unless the Lord personally revealed that this was his will I would continue to refuse to comply. Does anyone believe that those involved in the MMM were acting under the guidance of the Spirit. I believe there were many factors involved that day but none of them spiritual. Blind obedience is as bad as open rebellion.

  43. lukeair2006-

    Good point, but then what to do with the statement that the Brethren will never lead the Church astray? It begins to sound as though they can’t err, and even if they do it is allright to follow them in their error because you will be blessed anyway. How many people think the perpetrators of the MMM will be blessed for having followed their priesthood leaders obediently?

    I rather think that God will have mercy on them, not praise them.

  44. “I personally don’t believe that any President of the Church has ever given the instruction to commit mass murder,”

    If the focus is only on the notion that the President of the Church won’t lead us astray, whether BY ordered the MMM or not would be an important question to resolve. The problem is with statements like those of Oaks (and many other high-ranking church leaders over the years) that suggest it is an act of disloyalty to the church and even an affront to God for members to criticize their “priesthood leaders” or to disobey them. It is the culture of absolute obedience to those in positions of authority that is the issue. Oaks says leaders should not be criticized. Members are taught that their Bishops are inspired and that refusing a calling from them is like refusing a calling from Jesus Himself. They are taught to hearken to the voice of the Lord’s servants (i.e., church leaders) because their voice is the same as the Lord’s voice. So, when commanded by those in authority to take a certain action that the member feels is unconscionable, should the meber follow her conscience or follow her leader? That’s the issue. Mormon doctrine teaches that the answer to the question is to follow the leader. Yes, occasionally lip service is given to the idea of “finding out for yourself” through prayer that the leader’s counsel is correct, but the assumption is always that there is only one acceptable answer for one to receive: that the leader was right.

  45. I think that clause only applies to the President of the Church as it is evident that many other Brethren have attempted to lead the church astray. It doesn’t mean that the President cant make mistakes, it means that he will never deliberately lead the church astray.

  46. From what I recall, there is also a statement to the effect that one should always follow the majority of the Brethren. Am I right on that?

  47. lukair2006,

    If you would refuse to follow such an order from a prophet, you may have been labeled a faithless non-believer in the time of Moses. If the prophet commanded such a thing, would it require some type of glorious manifestation, or perhaps a simple confirmation of the Holy Ghost?

    In Deuteronomy Chapter 7, the Lord commanded Moses to uttlerly destroy the seven nations of Canaan, which in other words is mass murder. Moses was the ‘President of the Church’ during that time, and he commanded the people to committ mass murder. I would rather go down following a prophet than not following the prophet, whether he was right or wrong, because I personally believe the President of the High Priesthood would not give such an order if it were not from God Himself (in other words, I don’t think he’d be wrong with such an order)… It’s never happened before in the history of the world, that the President of the High Priesthood has led the church astray to such a degree.

    [Do not try and throw that BY definitely ordered the MMM, for the evidence is NOT conclusive, and I do NOT believe a changing testimony of John D. Lee nor ‘Wild Bill’ Hickman that he committed other murders. Nor throw out the Adam-God doctrine, because those teachings did not lead the church astray… Look at it today.]

    I’m not saying Prophets are infallible, but I believe the Lord when he said that the President of the High Priesthood will not lead the Church astray. Do you?

    What say you in response to the mass-murder order of the Prophet Moses? I intend to believe that you would have refused, from what you have said. I do not think the Lord would have intervened on your refusal – (just as today and always) it is your choice to follow a prophet of God or not. The times are NOT different. The principle is simple and applicable throughout all eternity.

  48. 7,

    You say “the Lord said” the president will not lead the church astray (or rather will not be suffered to, if referenced correctly). The problem for us mortals is the Lord didn’t speak those words himself. Those words were spoken on two occasions by Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff. If one is in the state of questioning the validity of a prophet’s command, an assurance like that from the self same prophet is circular reasoning.

    Brigham Young:
    “The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother’s arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth.” (JD 9:289, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 137.)

    Wilford Woodruff:
    “The Latter-day Saints throughout Israel should understand that the First Presidency of the Church and the Twelve Apostles are led and guided by the inspiration of the Lord, and the Lord will not permit me, nor any other man, to lead the people astray.” (given October 25, 1891, Collected Discourses 2:281-282.)

  49. Mr. Lukair2006, again, you cannot equate murder with doing simple things we are asked to do. Get real. Doing the simple things we are asked to do is all the Lord has asked us to do. We are to follow the brethren in righteousness, and your hypothetical situation isn’t realistic. You cannot justify your own emnity towards the brethren and your own disobedience by trying to use the MMM as an excuse. A bunch of guys were told by some authorities to massacre people, and they were wrong in this thing. Period. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and you cannot try to say that because mistakes were made by LOCAL LEADERS, ergo not listening to the prophet is justified. It is you who are making the excuse. You are the one with with the “pet” here. You are picking this one incident as your “pet” excuse to try to justify disobedience in general to authority.

    Unfortunately for some people, obedience means that means not having a homosexual relationship and living celibate. For some people it means not living polygamously when their “natural man” would lead them to desire if left unbridled. For some people it means to not lie or steal. For some people it means to not come out publically against the brethren for some pet doctrine or pet issue that may well be true, but is not Mormonism 101, but rather Mormonism 1001 that you don’t teach in gospel doctrine. For others it might be keeping their mouth shut when they think it would be cool to divulge stuff that they’ve made covenants not to. Nobody has been asked to massacre people by Gordon B. Hinckley, nor will they be.

    Again, get a grip, and get real.

  50. Woops. sorry. Mistake. I directed that last comment to the wrong person. That wasn’t meant for Lukeair2006.

  51. For Nephi to kill Laban, it required an overwhelming manifestation from the Holy Ghost that left no mistaking the truth of the matter.

    Ok, lets go ahead and argue the deranged hypothetical here. Lets say, even if in some deranged non-reality in the mind of some of the people that have posted here that hypothetically we were put in some similar situation to the MMM. Certainly, the key here is that we are to follow in righteousness, and to know the truth of any matter, one is to follow the Holy Ghost. The Lord would certainly give us a similar manifestation and make perfectly clear through the Holy Ghost that we needed to follow through, and certainly that must have been the case for the followers of Moses when they wiped out the Canaanites anciently. Certainly we are to always seek out answers from the spirit on matters of importance.

    Otherwise, simple things that are the only things that most of us are going to be called on to do are no-brainers, and don’t require a special manifestation.

    But for somebody called on to be celibate on the other hand, or for somebody that is told to shut up or they will be ex-ed, then certainly in something as difficult as issues such as those, a manifestation of the spirit would probably be in order that they need to follow the prophet. Not because they wouldn’t already know through logic that it was the correct course if they were thinking straight, but because the issue is difficult so they would need an extra bit of assurance.

    I can say with confidence that those that have ended up ex-ed for reasons such as those have ended up that way because they didn’t follow the spirit. Similarly, it is likely that those that followed the Local leaders in the MMM ended up murdering people because they didn’t follow the spirit.

    Now for you people on here that simply make excuses trying to justify your disobedience and your emnity, you have no good excuses. Period.

  52. Well, I think I’ve had enough of this particular subject. I don’t see any point posting anymore on this particular thing. For those of you that are faithful, you will follow the spirit and your common sense and it will lead you to do what is right.

    For those of you that have abandoned the Church, having become prophets to yourselves, you will do what you will do, because that’s what free agency is for right? Do submit or do disobey as you please. Nothing anybody like me says will convince you anyway. My whole point here I guess is that people like me are thinking individuals and we won’t play dead. We will challenge your assertions. Though your rationalizations have lead you to think the way you do, obedience is the only course of safety and peace. Your course has no promised blessings attached to it, only curses. And for someone like me to point out that the Lord himself said so through his prophet isn’t a judgment against you claim, but is repetition of fact. Its a regurgitation of what the God of the Universe has to say on the subject. Your course is the one that is the dangerous one.

  53. Ed,

    I wish there were some sort of pill I could give to cure your irony-detection deficiency. You say the folks who committed the MMM were wrong to OBEY their priesthood leaders who they thought were inspired by the same Holy Ghost that they thought had inspired the Oaths of Vengenace they had all taken in the temple. You say they should have disobeyed their priesthood leaders. Then you say that “obedience is the only course of safety and peace.” Obedience to what? Apparently, to one’s personal subjective experience with the Holy Ghost. Then you say that you know the folks who participated in the MMM did not follow the Holy Ghost, that Nephi DID follow the Holy Ghost, and that those who refuse to obey their local priesthood leaders today are not following the Holy Ghost.

    Your position is logically internally inconsistent. On the one hand, you condemn those who would disobey their local church leaders. On the other hand, you say that those at Mountain Meadows should have disobeyed their local leaders and followed the Holy Ghost. And you somehow know what the Holy Ghost said to them. Sounds like you think you are omniscient, always able to tell who has followed the Holy Ghost and who hasn’t in any given situation. You claim to simply be regrugitating what the “God of the Universe” has said, as if you have some special insight into what God has said to and for others.

    You have arrogated to yourself an authority that I think the LDS scriptures say you do not have, Ed. In Mormonism, you have the right to receive revelation for yourself and your family and, to some extent, for the families over whom you might have stewardship. You don’t have a right to receive revelation for those who were involved in the MMM, for those who post here, for the September Six, or for anyone else. Accordingly, you are exercising unrighteous dominion and, unless you repent, are in danger of the hellfire, at least according to the Doctrine and Covenants, if you believe in that kind of thing.

  54. Ed,
    I think you are missing the point, probably because this has gotten a little personal. Its not really an issue of you exercizing unrighteous influence over others, but that you are speaking (writing) in absolute terms which are way beyond your legitimate boundaries. Terms like “certainly that must have been the case for the followers of Moses” and “I can say with confidence that those that have ended up ex-ed for reasons such as those have ended up that way because they didn’t follow the spirit.” as well as “Now for you people on here that simply make excuses trying to justify your disobedience and your emnity, you have no good excuses. Period.” If you can’t see what is wrong with those kinds of statements then that would explain why the most correct statement you have posted was “Nothing anybody like me says will convince you anyway.”

    Perhaps it would be good to spend more time in the scriptures examining the ministry of Jesus Christ rather than trying to imitate the Book of Mormon missionaries that “discerned” the sins of a town’s inhabitants and declared them in public. Or are you actually claiming to be a prophet and you “know” these things you are claiming to know about MMM participants, the September Six, and message board posters through true manifestations of the power of discernment? If that’s the case, at least let us know so we can all understand where you are coming from.

  55. Mr. Ed. (Heh):

    If you know that your style of communication (what you deem “bearing testimony”) will have no effect on the people to whom you are directing your comments, then why use that style of communication? Just wondering. Hugs and kisses and all that jazz, E.

  56. I know, through the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, that sustaining church leaders and following the counsel of inspired prophets has lead to happiness and peace and blessing in my life.

    THAT… is bearing testimony. What you have done here, Ed, is presume, condemn, and judge people without the authority to do so. If I were to see Equality in sacrament meeting and then stand at the pulpit and make your statements in the same way you have, I don’t think anyone is going to call that bearing testimony.

    When I was investigating the church (I’m a convert of 16 years), the single biggest differentiator between the LDS and all the other Christians I knew was that the LDS people testified of the positive effect of the gospel in their own lives and said nothing negative about the others. Good thing you were not one of my missionaries.

  57. By the way, I know that this kind of thread is really tiresome. My hope is we all could at least reach a point where we can shed the destructive semantics and at least understand each other. I am a fan of the Dennis Prager approach to debate. Disagreement is acceptable and even healthy, as long as we are civil and we understand each other. One can have faith, and the other doubt, and still discuss a topic without feeling threatened or under attack. One can understand the value and sacredness the other holds in the church, while the other can understand that a person can be good and still have doubts (and allow for people to work out their doubts in their own ways).

    It CAN be like that.

  58. Mayan Elephant

    I was reading along, and i read this from ed, “For those of you that have abandoned the Church, having become prophets to yourselves, you will do what you will do, because that’s what free agency is for right? Do submit or do disobey as you please.”

    Submit or disobey? Golly. Is there any wonder that the church has a marketing challenge?

    I think there is a much bigger crisis for the church than forcing people to submit and not disobey, it is convincing the world that people that stay in the church are not submissive and people that leave are not just disobedient. It is equally true and important to explain that the departed disobedients are also homosexual feminist mobsters and they will eventually grow horns. Its important that everyone knows that.

    Equality, will we grow antlers or horns? Just wondering. it would be nice to grow new antlers each year to see if we could be evil enough to grow some trophy antlers.

  59. I tried to backpedal and be somewhat conciliatory about the way this thread developed, but my post was deleted and I was not told exactly why. Now I see that Ed has been allowed to continue with his bilious rhetoric unchecked. I have to say that I am really disappointed.

  60. Trevor, yours are not the only posts that have been deleted. It appears that John has censored the posts. Censorship on Mormonstories John???? Its all the same to me. I said what needed to be said at the beginning anyway. I should have shut up after that.

  61. I am an English convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints of 25 years. I have travelled the world and am raising my children in Utah. They are teenagers and very committed to the gospel. However, they are also very intelligent and thoughtful individuals. They sat with me recently to watch the Frontline special on the Church and without any comment from me about it, my 16 year old son asked “Why did they ask non-members and excommunicated members to tell people about the Church? Why didn’t they ask members?” (This boy just finished his first year of college with a 3.89 GPA so he’s a pretty smart cookie!)

    My children have all enjoyed Richard’s movies. They are not narrow thinkers and understand that there are bad things happening in the world which can affect even Mormon missionaries. These films are a little edgy in that sense. Perhaps a little too graphic for some (especially the scene where the missionary cuts his wrists – not something my children have ever thought about and hopefully in a time of possible future despair they will not emulate).

    They have all expressed sorrow that Richard Dutcher would leave the Church after portraying himself as a missionary and even fighting another missionary (in God’s Army 1)who has apostatized after involvement with anti-Mormon literature.

    I have seen several people over the past quarter century leave the Church. Frankly, I am very interested in what causes them to turn their back on it. I have noted that there has always been either sin committed, or that they did not have a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

    This may sound simplistic. But it has been my experience when I have questioned them. Like Richard, I have had an extremely hard childhood. It caused me many mental and emotional difficulties. I am the only member in my family. I understand that Richard’s art means a lot to him. I was an artist – a painter. My art meant a lot to me. But when I was converted, I was an artistic snob and thought that many of the paintings done by church members were not of the standard of the great artists of the world. Time changed that view. The more I developed the “mighty change of heart” described in Alma 5:14, the more I saw the valuable and good in the work of Church artists.

    There is a lot of pride and snobbery in the arts, whether it be in the written word, in music etc.
    I have read with interest Richard’s reasoning. His art seems to be his life. He seems to live and breathe movies. I just want to say that to throw away Church membership over movies seems to be foolhardy at the very least. I do not know the man, but I have to suspect that either he was not truly committed to the gospel on a deep spiritual and doctrinal level, or that he has become subject to pride. This is also a sin. I have to wonder also when the breaking of the commandments came (The Word of Wisdom)- was it before or after his break with the Church? There may be other matters such as Tithing, which were not mentioned in his letter. I have seen these commandments broken over and over and then comes the justification and blame.

    Richard, if you read this: I am not asking these questions in condemnation. I understand that you think there are more complex issues on the table. But I want to let you know that God would never lead you out of His Church. You are walking away without his consent. I understand you were baptized as a child, and hopefully as a young adult you questioned until you received a testimony of your own. I do not believe you are in the “crosshairs”. My family and I are deeply saddened that you would leave the Church for any reason. It causes those of us who love the gospel great pain when someone denies the faith. I know that there are members of the Church who are not truly converted who would be critical of you. I understand, having lived in Utah for a total of 15 years that there are many here who are narrow-minded and judgmental. However, the ultimate responsibility for your spiritual life is yours. I could have left the Church a dozen times over the insensitivities and pettiness of the members. But my testimony is rooted in the doctrines of the gospel, not in the members. You say that you are not really committed to any particular faith. This sounds like a crisis of faith to me. I am sure that all Church members, myself included, have had those.

    I know this. This Church is the Church of Jesus Christ and there is no other. God is God. Truth is Truth. There is no other way to Him. Yes, I understand there are many other churches and many other good people in them. And I reiterate what President Hinckley has said, that people must bring the truth they have in their faith and it will be added to.

    A note on Mormon movies: These are purely for entertainment. Mormons have fun poking fun at themselves. Admittedly some are stupid and silly.
    But let us not take ourselves too seriously here. They are just movies. We don’t live in them. They are not real. I understand that movies are the way many people nowadays are relaxing and being entertained and escaping, but they are not real. OK if you want to make them real and tell the “truth”, go ahead. The Frontline special told the “unvarnished truth”. I guess they thought it was, but the bottom line was it had very little of the spirit in it.

    The Church is not Hollywood. It is not a specialist in movie making. The Church produces movies to help people hold to the rod and does not seek critical acclaim. They may not be superior works of art, but they do help to bring the spirit into the lives of people. I am sure that the Church is doing everything to improve the quality of Church films. After all, I no longer see some of the oldies like “Cipher in the Snow” and “Pioneers in Petticoats”. The Church knows times are changing and people want more modern productions. We have become a world that devours entertainment and the Church understands this, I am sure, and will do all it can to provide quality film. But as I said before, they are not interested in popularity, only in effectually helping us to feel the spirit.

    Someone once said that great art either told a great story, or was breathtakingly beautiful. I think that very few movies today do that. I am sure that to many of the avant garde and artistically superior that the film “The Sound of Music” is old hat. I saw this movie in a movie theater at age 11. I never tire of seeing it and have probably seen it a hundred times. I am always interested in the fact that this movie is shown rarely on TV and only on special holidays. This tells me that TV stations either have to pay a lot to get it, or that it is such a valuable film that it is shown rarely so that it does not become a has been.

    In any case, I urge you to reconsider. It may be hard to come back to the Church. I know it will be a thorny path. Repentance is. But I know this – there will be welcoming hearts and hands when you do because we love you.


  62. Deb,

    My limited experience with people who leave and with people who stay in the church: there is always sin involved.

    You are right, your analysis is simplistic – there must be some reason why there is no clear correlation between the comparatively good people who leave and comparatively bad people who stay. I don’t know what it is exactly, but because we are all sinners, I know I could not feel comfortable casting a pointed finger at anyone who leaves.

    When I served my mission, there was one fellow who never went to church: He said that people would smell his sin (he smoked). Ever since, I have tried to imagine what type of stink I generated from my own sins, which were much more serious than polluting my body. He was a great person.

    The irony was that his stake president was implicated in one of those unpleasant and bothersome circumstances that destroys the churches reputation and haunts the parents of young children. I will not point my finger based on what I perceive to be sins.

    In answer to your son’s question, who I am sure is very smart, why the documentary asked questions of those who left the church the answer is relatively straightforward. The documentary surveyed people who can give perspective on what the church means. I think that anyone who has shared the Mormon experience and will communicate it reasonably should be heard. I don’t think Tal Bachman was particularly useful, but otherwise I believe the documentary was unusually balanced and accurate.

  63. “I have noted that there has always been either sin committed, or that they did not have a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.”

    This is a blatant falsehood. Lying is a sin. Therefore, you, Deb are sinning. By your logic, I guess you are in danger of “turning your back” on the church. Better move with alacrity straight to the Bishop’s office!

  64. Mayan Elephant

    “Frankly, I am very interested in what causes them to turn their back on it. I have noted that there has always been either sin committed, or that they did not have a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.”

    Whaaaaa? So, you are interested in knowing just exactly which sin it was that caused them to leave? That sorta reminds of the classic bishop interviews:

    “So, then, what happened? And were you alone? And then, what happened? And were you dressed? And then, what happened?”

    Deb, you said: “The Frontline special told the “unvarnished truth”. I guess they thought it was, but the bottom line was it had very little of the spirit in it.”

    It also had very little sugar and spice and puppy dog tails. Spirit? It was a frontline special for hell’s sake. Do you complain that the baseball highlights on ESPN lack the ‘Spirit?’

    Weren’t Oaks, Packer, Jensen, Hinckley, Holland, Peterson and many many more folks on that show? Did they detract from the Spirits as well?

  65. Deb,
    When you say “I have noted that there has always been either sin committed, or that they did not have a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.” that is a somewhat outdated way of looking at it. In a recent conference talk, David Bednar proclaimed that via hundreds of personal visits to inactive members he found the resoundingly common reason for dissafection was that they were offended and usually for some small personal reason by individuals. Not really a sin, unless you would call being overly sensitive a sin. Sure, it might seem emotionally immature to take a personal offense and drastically alter your life over it, but that is a struggle and a weakness that deserves empathy and compassion, not chastisement.

    That said, both your reasoning and Elder Bednar’s are accepted commonly for defensive purposes. It is extremely frightening to accept the idea of someone being a good person and through their honest pursuit of the “right” path to follow, find their way *out* of the church. Mindblowing. There really are those people out there. You just don’t know them because they don’t become anti-mormon but they just go out and live their lives. The only voices you hear are those who are angry. But to acknowledge that a person could be praying and fasting and reading scripture and trying their best to seek God’s will and then decide to leave would imply that things are not as concrete as you see them now. So you are left with the dichotomy: the church is the only way to God as you think currently and if you were truly seeking God you would only get that answer, or else there is more possibility out there which then makes you wonder what else you believe that might not be quite accurate. If you entertain the latter, you end up as one of those people John talks about in his screencast on Why People Leave The Church. To avoid going through that, its just easier to classify all those people as becoming victims of their own sin or pride or whatever.

  66. Deb, I appreciate your sentiments about people leaving the church. It’s a pretty common view among Mormons but it is rarely grounded in reality.

    I know many people who have left the LDS Church. I myself have left the LDS Church because I did not want to become complicit in efforts that punish scholars for their research, which is unfortunately what has happened in more than a hundred cases.

    I do not want to support leaders who are reenacting Galileo Galilei in 2005. There are too many Mormons who do not pay attention what is being done in their name. That’s sad.

    There are a lot of people that are leaving Mormonism behind because their conscience requires them to live higher standards. I cannot tell you what a relief it is to live in a world where I no longer have to rationalize why women would be second class citizens, why God is teaching racism, and why “the prophet” requires me to fight gays. Finally, my conscience is free of that burden.

    The other aspect that made me sad was your admission that you are sacrificing your aesthetic standards because of your religion. That’s unfortunate. God is not getting in the way of exellence. And those who do, are not speaking for God.

    To claim otherwise requires a pretty unflattering view of God, which is a much greater sacrilege than anything than any scholar or artist could ever do.

  67. John 13:34

    A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

    It saddens me that when I am looking for clip art of laman and lemuel that I stumble upon site after site where brother’s and sister’s who are all in various stages of life, from the most “devout” to the most “apostate”. Why do we feel the need to defend ourselves and attack others at the same time? To all the sides of this silly conflict. Let it rest. Take the time and energy you spend writing these things and focus it on something that actually means something. I find the whole Mormon, anti-Mormon scene saddening because when the day comes where we stand before the judgment bar we will stand alone. I find the more I worry about my personal relationship with God the less I am concerned with other’s relationship to him because I know that there is not one single thing I can do to change another. All I can do is love and follow in faith the promptings I feel.

    John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

    I judge myself and have found myself lacking in charity, in faith, in spiritual awareness. How can I judge anyone here? How can any of us judge? I am even somewhat upset at myself for even posting but I thought a third perspective should be heard.


  68. Fredrick,

    If you look at the dates of the posts for when the “conflict” was happening, you will notice that over a month has gone by, so it is over with. I personally think I should have shut up after the first few posts, and I recognize that it really did no good to say anything about what I think. I got a bit carried away I think, reacting too emotionally to a lot of what was said. So I apologize about being too judgmental to people personally, as everybody has a different story.

    On the other hand, I make no apology for wanting to stand up for what I think, and making the generalized observation that being a faithful member of the Church and being obedient is indeed a rational thing, not an irrational choice, and that people do indeed make their own choices, and are never forced to make any choice by any set of “facts” they choose to adhere to.

  69. Hello!

    Mr. Dutcher, if you are reading this I want to take the opportunity to wish you the very best. I am a convert to the Church and am active, although I did leave the Church for a season. I actually know exactly what you are talking about. For me, the only difference is that in my journey, I came across more water, so I picked up the boat again.

    I love the raw genuity of your films and I think it challenges us all to not only be more authentic Mormons, but genunie Christians who are willing to get our hands dirty. It’s easy to follow Christ when we are sitting pretty in the chapel.

    I am a sincere admirer and have no doubt that God will bless you on your journey.

    ‘I have done what is mine to do. May God show you yours.’ – St. Francis of Assisi

  70. i just read in the daily herald that dutcher is screening his latest “mormon movie” at sunstone.

    i thought he said he was done with them.

    whats up? is he back?

    let me know. my email address is


  71. ya his new movie is called “falling” i guess it’s not a mormon movie but there is a screening for it august 9th at the sunstone symposium, sounds interesting!

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