637: The Mama Dragons and the Mama Dragon Story Project

13221169_956825632829_2928891029997176398_oThe Mama Dragons group consists of almost 1,000 Mormon, post-Mormon, and now never-Mormon women who are dedicated to:

  1. Loving their LGBT children.
  2. Preventing LGBT youth suicide.
  3. Supporting parents of LGBT children to better love and support their children.
  4. Rescuing rejected LGBT children from homelessness and abuse.
  5. Attending funerals of deceased LGBT youth in support of the surviving families.

The Mama Dragon Story Project collects portraits and autobiographical essays from mothers with LGBT children.

This episode was recorded on May 18th, 2016 in Salt Lake City at Club/Cafe at 50 West.  Participants include Kimberly Anderson, Deb Glenn, Brooke Caldwell, Jody Hansen England, Wendy Williams Montgomery, and Julie Packer.

Important links:

 

636: Rape in Mormon Culture

IMG_2574In this episode Dr. John Dehlin and Lindsay Hansen Park (Feminist Mormon Housewives, Sunstone, Year of Polygamy, Color of Heaven) host a panel discussion about rape within Mormon culture.  The panel features Aubri Parameter, an assault survivor, Kathryn Jones-Porter, a victim’s advocate in Salt Lake County, and Donna Kelly, who has worked as a prosecutor for the last twenty-four years, devoting much of her time to working with victims of sex crimes.

 

 

 

 

Jamesthemormon – An Update

JamesTheMormon
May 16, 2016 (Update)
Friends – I just got off the phone with James Curran (aka Jamesthemormon) and wanted to give an update.
The abbreviated version of the conversation is as follows:
  • It should be acknowledged that James showed class and respect for my/our concerns (outlined below, from the original post) by cancelling his planned event in Provo last Sunday.  Kudos to James for doing this.
  • James acknowledged to me that there was a huge gap in understanding between what his intentions were with the event vs. what many people interpreted to be his intentions.  He was definitely willing to accept his share of the responsibility for this misunderstanding.
  • James made it very clear to me that when he watched Tyler Glenn’s video Trash, the predominant reaction that he felt when watching the video was one of EMPATHY for the pain/suffering that Tyler (and other LGBT Mormons) experience within the LDS church.  In other words, Tyler’s video helped James to feel increased compassion for the plight of LGBT Mormons in light of the November, 2015 policy change.
  • Consequently, James stated that his primary intent when creating the “Treasure” video was to communicate the message to the world (not just Mormons) that we all need to treat each other with more kindness/love/respect.
  • James wanted to make it very clear that he was NOT responding to Tyler’s video with any sense of criticism, negativity, or opposition.  Only with love, compassion, and empathy for Tyler’s (and LGBT) pain/suffering.  He even went so far as to say that if he were LDS and LGBT, he probably would likely leave the church as well (which I thought was really cool of him to acknowledge…to me..that showed some important empathy).

In addition:

  • I thanked James for having the class to directly reach out to me.
  • I apologized to James for not reaching out to him first before publishing my blog post.
  • I agreed to write this clarification.

I am super glad that James and I talked this through. I sincerely wish both Tyler Glenn and Jamesthemormon all the love and success in the world, and hope that believing Mormons everywhere will adopt the compassion/empathy for LGBT Mormons (and doubting Mormons, and ex-Mormons, and Mormons of color, and Mormon feminists) that James says he is trying to model here.

Tons of love.

John Dehlin

======================================
May 15, 2016 (Original Post)
TL;DR — Seeking the help of Mormons and Post-Mormons who are feminist, people of color, LGBT, and/or doubting/skeptical/disbelieving (along with their allies) to send KIND messages to Jamesthemormon and his followers — that James’ recent, opportunistic attempts to misrepresent and attack Tyler Glenn’s Trash video amount to gaslighting (invalidating the pain of others).
 
Full Version: A promising young Mormon rapper named Jamesthemormon is making what many feel is an unfortunate move. Instead of actually *listening* to the genuine pain behind Tyler Glenn‘s experience as a gay/doubting Mormon (as expressed in his video Trash and in his Mormon Stories interview), Jamesthemormon appears to be using Tyler’s video as a way to start a culture war, and to gaslight (invalidate) the painful experiences of LGBT, feminist, and intellectual Mormons — along with Mormon people of color.   
As of yesterday Jamesthemormon is promoting a genuinely tone-deaf song called “Treasure,” along with an in-person movement, wherein he:
  1. Explicitly promotes the factually incorrect and absolutely ridiculous and invalidating notion that the LDS Church is “not some racist or homophobic organization…” and
  2. Completely misses/avoids/misrepresents the main points of Tyler Glenn’s Trash video — i.e., that LGBT, intellectual, and feminist Mormons, along with may Mormon people of color feel devalued or “thrown out” like “trash” by the LDS church for being who they are — and instead chooses to promote a very-sweet-but-completely-tone-deaf-and-invalidating-point which is that all of God’s children are a “treasure” in God’s eyes.  Again — a very sweet notion, that is completely irrelevant to Tyler’s core message.

To many, this move by Jamesthemormon feels like an attempt to:

  1. Take advantage of Tyler’s risk/vulnerability/pain in an opportunistic way to promote his budding career,
  2. Rally a culture war amongst believing Mormons against Tyler Glenn and his supporters, and
  3. Most importantly, since Jamesthemormon COMPLETELY misses Tyler’s main point, his song/movement feel like an attempt to gaslight Tyler and his supporters in a way that feels both invalidating and hurtful.

James is calling on Utah Mormons (along with all surrounding LDS wards and stakes) to support his song, and to show up today (Sunday May 15th, 4pm to 8pm) at Provo City Center temple to show their opposition to Tyler’s song/message.

What I think would be awesome would be if LGBT, feminist, and doubting/post-Mormons, along with Mormon people of color who do not agree that the LDS church is “not some racist or homophobic organization…”….and who object to the way that Jamesthemormon is opportunistically gaslighting Tyler Glenn and his supporters….would find a way to lovingly and kindly communicate the following messages to Jamesthemormon:

  1. Please stop gaslighting us.
  2. Please stop opportunistically using other people’s sincere/genuine pain as a way to advance your own career by instigating a culture war .

Opposition can come in many forms, including:

  1. Showing up at Jamesthemormon’s event today with signs that express kind and thoughtful disappointment with his actions.
  2. Kindly expressing public disappointment in Jamesthemormon’s actions (without directly supporting his video).
  3. Using social media to lovingly and kindly educate Jamesthemormon and his followers as to why these actions are invalidating and hurtful.

Please do whatever you can to help educate Jamesthemormon and his followers in kind ways that what they are doing feels invalidating and hurtful to those who are in pain.

635: Mormons Respond to Tyler Glenn’s Controversial “Trash” Music Video

TGJosephSmithIn this episode five Mormons (Dr. Jana Riess, Samy GalvezDr. Kristy MoneyDerrick Clements, and Samantha Louise Shelley) discuss, explore, and interpret Tyler Glenn’s new and controversial music video entitled “Trash.”

Trash Lyrics.

 

 

Trash Video:

634: Clay Christensen Threatened with Excommunication for his Podcast Interview

ClayChristensenIn December, 2015 Mormon Stories Podcast interviewed Clay Christensen and his brother-in-law Matt Elggren about Matt’s loss of LDS faith in 2003, and Clay’s subsequent loss of faith in October, 2015 after 50 years active LDS membership, and after 7 years as a high-level LDS Church employee.

In April, 2016 Clay was contacted by his stake president and invited to a disciplinary council to be excommunicated for apostasy.  The reason given for the disciplinary council was Clay’s Mormon Stories Podcast.  This is Clay’s update since his December, 2015 interview.

 

 

 

631-633: Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees

TylerGlennTyler Glenn is best known as the lead singer of the multi-platinum alternative pop band Neon Trees.

Tyler was raised LDS/Mormon in Temecula, California.  After discovering a love for music in high school and serving an LDS mission, Tyler moved to Provo, UT with his buddy Chris to form Neon Trees (named after the trees on the In and Out signs).  Neon Trees signed with Mercury Records in 2009 and went on to release three successful alternative pop albums: Habits (2010), Picture Show (2012), and Pop Psychology (2014).

Tyler knew he was gay as a child, but struggled as a teen and adult to reconcile his sexuality with his LDS faith.  These struggles took Tyler to some sad/dark places, which were only exacerbated by his fame as a pop star.  At age 27 (around the release of Picture Show), Tyler seriously contemplated ending his life.

In spite of these struggles, Tyler remained a full and literal believer in the LDS Church.  In 2014 Tyler decided that being a closeted gay man was contributing to his suicidality.  Consequently, he came out as gay to his family, band, friends — and to the world in Rolling Stone magazine — prior to the release of Pop Psychology in 2014.  From this point forward it was Tyler’s full intent to find and marry a gay man, and to raise children in the LDS church as a gay married Mormon.

Then, in November of 2015, the LDS church released its new policy branding same-sex married Mormons as automatic apostates, and prohibiting children of same-sex married couples from being baptized into the church.  This policy change sent Tyler into a faith tailspin, ultimately shattering his life plans as a believing, gay Mormon.

In this three part interview, we explore:

  • Part 1: Tyler’s early years as a young Mormon struggling with his sexuality.
  • Part 2: Tyler’s ascent (along with Neon Trees) into stardom…and the sadness/despair that followed.
  • Part 3: Tyler’s faith crisis instigated by the LDS policy change, along with his current beliefs/views regarding the LDS Church.

Part 1 Video: Tyler’s Early Years

Part 2 Video: Struggling with Fame and Authenticity

Part 3 Video: Tyler’s Faith Crisis

Register Now for the next Mormon Transitions Retreat: July 15-17, 2016

MormonTransitionsThe date of our next Mormon Transitions retreat is July 15-17, 2016 in Park City, Utah. Last retreat was rated 4.9 out of 5.0. Many said it changed their lives in a meaningful way.  Info about the retreat:
Note:  We plan to have two track for this retreat: a track for first-time retreat attendees, and a track for return retreat attendees!!!
Topics: 
  • Healing and growth during and after a Mormon transition
  • Communicating with believing loved ones
  • Positive mental health
  • Healthy marriage or single life
  • Better sex/healthier sexuality
  • Secular spirituality
  • Raising healthy children after a Mormon transition
  • Building community after a Mormon transition

Schedule: Event will begin at 6pm on Friday, July 15th and will end at 6pm on Sunday, July 17th.

Lodging: Lodging is not included in this event, although discounted resort lodging will likely be available.

Scholarships/Discounts: A limited number of scholarships/discounts to attend this retreat will be provided once a base number of registrants have registered.  If you are interested in receiving a scholarship to attend this event, please email mormontransitions@gmail.com and briefly explain: 1) what you hope to gain from attending this retreat, and 2) whatever you are comfortable sharing about your need for a scholarship.  If you are interested in contributing/donating a tax deductible scholarship to help fund another individual or couple attend this event, please email mormontransitions@gmail.com.

Registration Info:  Space is limited.  We expect this event to sell out soon.

Please send all questions to: mormontransitions@gmail.com.

Register for Retreat


Mormon Transitions July 2016 Retreat Registration




Donate to fund a scholarship (tax-deductible)




630: Black Mormon Lives Matter

IMG_1632John Dehlin and Lindsay Hansen Park interview Mica McGriggs, Samy Galvez, and Tinesha Zandamela about race relations in the Mormon church, and their experiences growing up as people of color in a predominately white church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

629: Mormons and Colonization with Edyka Chilome

EdykaChilomeIn this special episode of Mormon Stories podcast Lindsay Hansen Park (Sunstone, Year of Polygamy, Color of Heaven) interviews Edyka Chilome about Mormons and Colonization.

Edyka’s bio:

Edyka Chilomé, born Erica Granados – De La Rosa, is a queer woman of color writer, artist, social justice educator, and spiritual activist. She is the daughter of Salvadorian and Mexican spiritual, intellectual, and community leaders. Her many years of experience passionately walking and building with women, young people, and communities of color in the U.S. and Latin America have deeply informed her fusion of art, scholarship, and what she defines as her spiritual {art}ivism. Edyka has published numerous articles, essays, and poems including a collection of poetry that explores queer mestizaje in the diaspora entitled She Speaks | Poetry, praised by the founder of Democracy Now en Español as “…a must read for those yearning to discover new ways to open up to deep personal and global transformation.” She has been invited to share her spoken word poetry and speak on social justice issues around the country including The Texas Democratic Convention, TEDx, National Public Radio, and the Huffington Post. Edyka currently serves on the steering committee for Human Rights Dallas and is an instructor for Free Minds Dallas at El Centro College, host of the presidential award winning initiative The National Clemente Course for the Humanities.

627-628: Black Athletes at BYU with Darron Smith, Ph.D.

RaceBYUSportsWhen Race, Religion, and Sport Collide tells the story of Brandon Davies’ dismissal from Brigham Young University’s NCAA playoff basketball team to illustrate the thorny intersection of religion, race, and sport at BYU and beyond. Author Darron T. Smith analyzes the athletes dismissed through BYU’s honor code violations and suggests that they are disproportionately African American, which has troubling implications. He ties these dismissals to the complicated history of negative views towards African Americans in the LDS faith. These honor code dismissals elucidate the challenges facing black athletes at predominantly white institutions. Weaving together the history of the black athlete in America and the experience of blackness in Mormon theology, When Race, Religion, and Sport Collide offers a timely and powerful analysis of the challenges facing African American athletes in the NCAA today.

Dr. Darron T. Smith is a frequent political and cultural commentator on various issues of U.S. based issues of race, racism, and discrimination in forums ranging from Religion Dispatches, The New York Times and Chicago Tribune op-ed to ESPN’s Outside the Lines. His research spans a wide myriad of topics on race including healthcare disparities, Religious studies, Race & Sports, and Race, Adoption and the Black Family. His current research focuses on health care workforce discrimination involving African American physicians and physician assistants. He is the co-author of White Parents, Black Children: Experiencing Transracial Adoption and co-editor of Black and Mormon. His current book, When Race & Religion Collide: Black Athletics at BYU and Beyond was released in 2015.

Part 1:

Part 2:

625-626: Surviving Reparative Therapy with Alex Cooper, “Saving Alex” Author

crop-alexThis is a recording of my interview with Alex Cooper recorded on March 16, 2016 at Velour in Provo, Utah.  Alex Cooper, along with Dr. Joanna Brooks, are the co-authors of the new book Saving Alex.  Alex was accompanied in this interview by her attorney, Paul Burke.  We were also honored to have Tyler Glenn (Neon Trees) perform three musical numbers for us on this special night.

Audio/video from this interview can be found below.

A description of the book follows:

When Alex Cooper was fifteen years old, life was pretty ordinary in her sleepy suburban town and nice Mormon family. At church and at home, Alex was taught that God had a plan for everyone. But something was gnawing at her that made her feel different. These feelings exploded when she met Yvette, a girl who made Alex feel alive in a new way, and with whom Alex would quickly fall in love.

Alex knew she was holding a secret that could shatter her family, her church community, and her life. Yet when this secret couldn’t be hidden any longer, she told her parents that she was gay, and the nightmare began. She was driven from her home in Southern California to Utah, where, against her will, her parents handed her over to fellow Mormons who promised to save Alex from her homosexuality.

For eight harrowing months, Alex was held captive in an unlicensed “residential treatment program” modeled on the many “therapeutic” boot camps scattered across Utah. Alex was physically and verbally abused, and many days she was forced to stand facing a wall wearing a heavy backpack full of rocks. Her captors used faith to punish and terrorize her. With the help of a dedicated legal team in Salt Lake City, Alex eventually escaped and made legal history in Utah by winning the right to live under the law’s protection as an openly gay teenager.

Alex is not alone; the headlines continue to splash stories about gay conversion therapy and rehabilitation centers that promise to “save” teenagers from their sexuality. Saving Alex is a courageous memoir that tells Alex’s story in the hopes that it will bring awareness and justice to this important issue. A bold, inspiring story of one girl’s fight for freedom, acceptance, and truth.

Part 1 – Alex Fights to Survive Reparative Therapy:

Part 2: Alex’s Legal Battle to Gain her Indedpendence

Tyler Glenn (Neon Trees) singing “Rehab” and “Animal”:

624: Kate Kelly on Life After Excommunication, Safe Sex, and Women’s Reproductive Rights

IMG_1268In this Mormon Stories Live! episode recorded at Club/Cafe at 50 West on March 9, 2016, I interviewed Kate Kelly about the following:

  • Life since her excommunication, including her divorce from Neil Ransom and her new relationship with Jack Waters.
  • Thoughts on the Ordain Women movement — past, present and future.
  • Kate’s new position with Planned Parenthood, which includes advocating for:
    • The basic role/function of Planned Parenthood
    • Women’s Reproductive Rights (e.g., abortion)
    • Contraception and safe sex

 

623: Elizabeth Grimshaw – Facing LDS Excommunication for being Same-Sex Married

11391502_1001222329896613_6557403950580000251_nElizabeth Grimshaw was raised Mormon. She knew she was lesbian as a teenager, but spent her early years (teens and 20s) attempting to date men and to marry a man. In her early 30s, after many failed attempts to be “straight,” she came out as a lesbian, stopped attending the LDS church, and began dating women. Elizabeth found a committed partner 10 years ago, and married her partner 8 years ago. They are currently happily raising a daughter in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Even though Elizabeth has not attended an LDS congregation since her early 30s, she was recently approached by her LDS bishop (whom she’d never met) in her driveway, and told that: 1) she needed to pray to God about whether or not to leave her wife and child, and that 2) if she wouldn’t divorce her wife and child, that she would face excommunication from the LDS church.

This is Elizabeth’s story.

Please consider: 1) sending Elizabeth’s bishop an email (through Elizabeth) to stop this action, and/or 2) reaching out to both church leadership and/or news media to help Elizabeth’s story be told. Elizabeth’s only goal is to be left alone.

To send a message to Elizabeth’s LDS bishop, or to contact her with media requests, please email her here.

622: Exploring Utah Medical Marijuana Legislation – The Patient Perspective

BZ-020415-Medical-Marijuana-Hearings-09-5In this episode recorded February 17, 2016 we discuss the recent Utah Medical Marijuana legislation from the patient perspective.  This is a sobering, heartfelt, and extremely compelling panel.

We also briefly discuss the medical/scientific justifications for medical marijuana, and LDS Church participation in attempting to defeat this legislation.

Panel participants include: Enedina Stanger, Dallas Sainsbury, Aaron Campbell, Brian Stoll, Dr. Legrande Belnap, and activist David Kirkham

Huge thanks to DJ Schanz and Christine Stenquist for organizing this panel, and to Club/Cafe and 50 West for providing the venue and audio/visual services.

621: Jeremy Runnells, author of “Letter to a CES Director, Threatened with Excommunication (Press Conference)

12694958_931710828099_2021201784767699419_oOn February 8, 2016, Jeremy Runnells (previously interviewed on Mormon Stories) received notice from his stake president, Mark Ivins, that he would face excommunication (an LDS disciplinary council) on February 14, 2016 for publishing his “Letter to a CES Director.”

Jeremy’s original press release, announcing this decision, can be found here.

CES Letter” represents Jeremy’s sincere attempts obtain answers to several questions/doubts he has had over the years regarding LDS church truth claims.  Some of the topics dealt with in CES Letter include Joseph Smith’s multiple and conflicting accounts of the first vision, Joseph Smith’s polygamy (including to 14/15 year olds) and polyandry (marrying other men’s wives), Book of Mormon historicity, Book of Abraham historicity, etc.

This press conference was held in support of Jeremy, detailing various problems with President Mark Ivins’ handling of the process.  The press conference was live-streamed with over 6,000 people viewing.

The morning after this press conference, Jeremy’s disciplinary council was inexplicably postponed until late March, 2016 by Mark Ivins.

This press conference was held at the Club/Cafe at 50 West in downtown Salt Lake City.

620: Pathways to Health and Healing for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Mormons – A Study of 1612 LGBT Mormons

LGBT-SSA-MBBThis episode is a re-broadcast of the Mormons Building Bridges Community Conversation featuring Dr. Bill Bradshaw and Dr. John Parkinson Dehlin as they summarized the major findings from their 2011 survey of LGBTQ Latter-day Saints.   The discussion was recorded on February 3, 2016.

Background: An on-line survey was conducted in the fall of 2011, under the auspices of Utah State University, which yielded 1,612 participants – LGBTQ Latter-day Saints (current and former members of the Church). Responses to the large number questions produced a wealth of data regarding such topics as sexual identity development, religious identity development, interventions engaged in for the purpose of coping with or changing one’s sexual orientation, mental health outcomes, and religiosity and religious trajectories. Seven published papers reporting this work have now appeared in prominent academic journals, with others in preparation.

The PDF used for this presentation can be downloaded here.

 

 

BONUS: Dallin H. Oaks Addresses the Mormon LGBT Suicide Epidemic

232c9ede-86d9-41de-b95a-3eb202963db1-large16x9_GayRightsMormonChu2Curt

Note: If you or anyone you love is at risk for suicide, please refer to these valuable tips on preventing LGBT suicide.

Speaker: Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

TitleThe Free Exercise of Religion in Our Time

Date: February 9 2016

Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Description: Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. Yet in many seen and unseen ways its validity is challenged at the margins every day. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will speak about the importance of maintaining and protecting religious liberty in the international sphere. After his remarks he will field questions in an audience Q&A.

Source: This presentation was recorded by Andrew Evans in accordance with District of Columbia law.

Note: As the final question of the evening, Andrew Evans asked Elder Oaks the following question:

Andrew’s Question: “Less than a year ago, right here in Washington, DC, my friend killed himself. He was Mormon and gay. You’ve gone on record that, ‘the Church does not give apologies’. Does religious freedom absolve you from responsibility in the gay Mormon suicide crisis?”

Elder Oaks’ Response: “I think that’s a question that will be answered on judgment day. I can’t answer that beyond what has already been said. I know that those tragic events happen. And it’s not unique simply to the question of sexual preference. There are other cases where people have taken their own lives and blamed a church–my church–or a government, or somebody else for their taking their own lives, and I think those things have to be judged by a higher authority than exists on this earth, and I am ready to be accountable to that authority, but I think part of what my responsibility extends to, is trying to teach people to be loving, and civil and sensitive to one another so that people will not feel driven, whatever the policy disagreements, whatever the rules of the church, or the practices of a church, or any other organization, if they are administered with kindness, at the highest level or at the level of the congregation or the ward, they won’t drive people to take those extreme measures; that’s part of my responsibility to teach that. And beyond that, I will be accountable to higher authority for that. That’s the way I look on that. Nobody is sadder about a case like that than I am. Maybe that’s a good note to end on.”

BONUS: Elder Dallin H. Oaks on Religious Freedom (and Mormon LGBT Suicide)

20130110_WEECAREGROUNGBREAKSpeaker: Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

TitleThe Free Exercise of Religion in Our Time

Date: February 9 2016

Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Description: Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. Yet in many seen and unseen ways its validity is challenged at the margins every day. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will speak about the importance of maintaining and protecting religious liberty in the international sphere. After his remarks he will field questions in an audience Q&A.

Source: This presentation was recorded by Andrew Evans in accordance with District of Columbia law.

Note: As the final question of the evening, Andrew Evans asked Elder Oaks the following question:

Andrew’s Question: “Less than a year ago, right here in Washington, DC, my friend killed himself. He was Mormon and gay. You’ve gone on record that, ‘the Church does not give apologies’. Does religious freedom absolve you from responsibility in the gay Mormon suicide crisis?”

Elder Oaks’ Response: “I think that’s a question that will be answered on judgment day. I can’t answer that beyond what has already been said. I know that those tragic events happen. And it’s not unique simply to the question of sexual preference. There are other cases where people have taken their own lives and blamed a church–my church–or a government, or somebody else for their taking their own lives, and I think those things have to be judged by a higher authority than exists on this earth, and I am ready to be accountable to that authority, but I think part of what my responsibility extends to, is trying to teach people to be loving, and civil and sensitive to one another so that people will not feel driven, whatever the policy disagreements, whatever the rules of the church, or the practices of a church, or any other organization, if they are administered with kindness, at the highest level or at the level of the congregation or the ward, they won’t drive people to take those extreme measures; that’s part of my responsibility to teach that. And beyond that, I will be accountable to higher authority for that. That’s the way I look on that. Nobody is sadder about a case like that than I am. Maybe that’s a good note to end on.”

618-619: Matt Long, Sex Crimes Prosecutor, Discusses LDS Church Child Abuse Policies and the Recent News Release

12596121_10201190869410032_595292777_nOn February 1, 2016 the LDS Church re-released a media statement originally released in 2013 entitled “Effectiveness of Church Approach to Preventing Child Abuse.”  In this press release (authored by Kirton & McConkie partner and LDS 1st Quorum of the 70 member Elder Von G. Keetch) the LDS Church claimed that “no religious organization has done more” to prevent child abuse, and touted their child abuse approach as “the gold standard” amongst all churches.

Immediately the Mormon Internet exploded with the stories of past and present victims of LDS-related sexual abuse, expressing sadness, frustration, feelings of invalidation, sickness, and (at times) horror over the church’s statement/claims.  For a few examples, see here, here, and here.

In this two-part episode of Mormon Stories Podcast we interview Matt Long — a criminal defense and victim’s rights attorney who has considerable experience prosecuting (and defending) perpetrators of child abuse in Arizona — many of which were within the LDS church system.  Over three hours Matt discusses:

  1. The methods of child abusers (including within the LDS context),
  2. Matt’s experience prosecuting (and defending) child/sex abusers in Arizona (many of whom are/were LDS),
  3. His interactions with LDS law firm Kirton | McConkie, and
  4. His reactions to the LDS Church’s recent media release wherein it claims that “no religious organization has done more” to prevent child abuse, and touts its child abuse approach as “the gold standard” amongst all churches.

More on Matt: Matt uses the skills he developed as a sex crimes prosecutor to protect victims’ rights and represent victims in lawsuits against offenders and institutions, such as fraternities, schools, businesses, or churches, that allowed abuse to occur. When he’s not arguing in court, Matt argues with the other infants on the infants on thrones podcast at infantsonthrones.com.  You can reach Matt at 480-833-1113 or e-mail his paralegal at kristin@azlegal.com with any questions about victim representation.

Stories about Child/Sexual Abuse in the LDS Church

Today the LDS Church re-revon-keetch-first-quorum-seventy_largeleased a news release entitled “Effectiveness of Church Approach to Preventing Child Abuse.”  We say re-release because apparently this press release was issued previously (hat tip Emily W. Jensen).

In this news release the LDS Church claims to be the “gold standard” for dealing with child abuse.

Sources indicate that Elder Von G. Keetch (sustained in the 1st Quorum of the Q70 last year) is likely the primary author of this press release.  Linked here is an article penned by Von Keetch claiming that “The LDS Church has long had a highly effective approach for preventing and responding to abuse. In fact, no religious organization has done more. Although no one system is perfect and no single program will work with every organization, the LDS Church’s approach is the gold standard.”  (hat tip to Scott Holley).

To help gather more accurate information about this story, Mormon Stories we would like to invite readers/listeners to do four things:

  1. Please share links to any news media articles you can find on LDS child and/or sex abuse in the comments below.  We would like to keep a running list of them in this post.  A few have been included below for starters.
  2. Please share in the comments section below any experiences you have had with the LDS church’s handling of child and/or sex abuse.  You are free to share anonymously.  You do not need to use your real name and/or email address in your comments.
  3. Please email me at johndehlin@gmail.com if you are willing/able to come on Mormon Stories podcast to discuss your experiences with abuse in the LDS church.  We are willing to interview you without using your real name if you would like.
  4. Please feel free to share below any concerns or disagreements you have with the LDS church’s recent news release.  We would like to include your analysis in our upcoming podcasts related to this story.

We look forward to collaborating with you on this very story.

News Stories Involving the LDS Church and Child/Sexual Abuse

Also a blog dedicated to LDS Mormon Sexual Child Abuse.

616-617: Thirteen Years of Silence – Matt Elggren and Clay Christensen’s Story of Family, Faith, Doubt, and Hope

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

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

This changed in October of 2015 when Matt’s brother-in-law, Clay Christensen, began a 6-week slide into total disbelief after 51 years of devout membership, which included 7 years as a high-level LDS Church employee.  (For a link to the “Lost Book of Abraham” video mentioned by Clay, that was the impetus to his loss of faith, click here: https://youtu.be/hcyzkd_m6KE)

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

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

Part 1: Matt’s Story

Part 2: Clay’s Story

BONUS: Bundy Militia Member Explains the Mormon/Spiritual Origins of the Oregon Occupation

static1.squarespaceOn Home of the Brave podcast, Peabody Award winning producer Scott Carrier interviews Brand Thornton, a believing LDC church member and a member of the Bundy militia.  In this interview Thornton explains the Mormon/religious/spiritual justifications for the occupation.  Brand says, “Absolutely, God told us to do this,” and quotes from the Doctrine and Covenants in his justifications.

614-615: Reviewing 2015 with Lindsay Hansen Park, Dr. Gina Colvin, Sean Carter, and Dr. Kristy Money

MS2015YearInReviewAs parts 3 and 4 in our series reviewing the events of Mormonism in 2015, we assemble another all-star panel including Lindsay Hansen Park, Dr. Gina Colvin, Dr. Kristy Money, and Sean Carter. Some of the topics discussed included:

  • The state of the Mormon Internet (blogs, podcast, social media)
  • Social group formations in progressive and post-Mormonism
  • The state of Mormon Feminism
  • The impact of disciplinary councils and excommunication on modern Mormonism (hint: it isn’t good)
  • The state of Progressive Mormonism
  • Issues of race and multi-culturalism within modern Mormon culture (LDS and post-Mormon)
  • The state of Mormon Studies
  • Retrenchment/leadership crisis/corporatism in the modern LDS Church

We hope you enjoy it!!!!

612-613: Reviewing 2015 with J. Nelson Seawright, John Hamer, Jamie Hanis-Handy, and Marisa Calderwood

1447580574711In this episode we assemble an all-star panel to discuss the events of Mormonism in 2015.  Panelists include Dr. J. Nelson Seawright, John Hamer, Jamie Hanis-Handy, and Marisa Calderwood.

Topics discussed include:

  • The impact of Kate Kelly’s excommunication on Mormon feminism and the events of 2015.
  • The increase of excommunications for apostasy, including those of John Dehlin, Rock Waterman, and Marisa and Carson Calderwood.
  • CFyX5d1VAAIvaHGNewsroom_President PackerThe death of three LDS apostles, including Boyd K. Packer.
  • The release of the LDS Gospel Topics essays, and their impact on LDS activity/inactivity/apostasy
  • The November 2015 LDS policy change naming same-sex married individuals as mandatory apostates, and preventing their children from membership in the church.
  • President Russell M. Nelson’s recent talk, naming the 11/2015 LGBT policy changes as revelation.
  • The status of Mormon apologetics.
  • The status of progressive Mormonism.

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609-611: Mormon Stories Europe Launches with Claudia Fox Reppen

Original Title: From Canada to Norway: A multicultural journey through Mormonism, Islam, and the European perspective, with Claudia Fox Reppen.

In this first installment of Mormon Stories Europe, Henning Müller of Mormon Stories Germany interviews Canadian-born Claudia Fox Reppen about her multi-ethnic heritage, emigration to Norway, and Mormon faith transition.

Claudia and Henning examine the following topics in this three-part series:

  • Claudia’s upbringing and how Claudia’s family became members of the LDS Church.
  • How Claudia, growing up as a young “tom-boy,” was affected by Mormonism’s teachings on gender roles, and how it contributed to her struggles with anxiety and depression.
  • Claudia’s opening the “Pandora’s Box” of uncorrelated Mormon History, the question of homosexuality, and American Mormon politics.Claudia2-300x225
  • Claudia’s positive and negative experiences working with asylum seekers in Norway.
  • The cultural similarities between Muslims and Mormons and the stark similarities in rhetoric employed by conservative LDS leaders and radical Islamists with regards to the role of women.
  • Why the European Mormon perspective is unique and important, our hopes for attracting more European voices and establishing a bridge of discourse between a European and North American audience. scriptures

Join the discussion and follow Mormon Stories Europe on Facebook here!

607-608: Jake and Hannah Ricks – The Disciplinary Council With No Disciplinary Action

12316089_10153214571156301_6011089776984266231_nIn December of 2015 Jake Ricks was informed that he would be facing an LDS disciplinary council for apostasy, based on a series of benign Facebook posts he made during the previous year.  On January 3rd, 2016 the disciplinary council was held (with Jake and his wife, Hannah, in attendance), and the decision of “no action” was determined by his stake president.  This is Jake and Hannah’s Story.

 

Part 1: Jake and Hannah’s LDS background, and the events leading up to Jake’s disciplinary council for apostasy held on January 3rd, 2016.

Part 2: Jake and Hannah Discuss the Outcome of Jake’s January 3rd, 2016 LDS Disciplinary Council for apostasy.

 

606: Mormonism and the Culture of Fraud with Attorney Mark Pugsley

Ponzi-scheme-1In this episode we interview Utah attorney Mark Pugsley.  Mark is a commercial litigator at Ray Quinney & Nebeker, is the founder of the web site UtahSecuritiesFraud.com, and has handled civil disputes, investment fraud cases, securities arbitrations, whistleblower cases and regulatory investigations for over twenty years.

In this episode, Mark discusses the culture of financial fraud (e.g., ponzi schemes) within Utah Mormonism.

For those interested, a list of past Mormon-related cases will be assembled here.  Please feel free to share links to other stories in the comments below.

Partial List of Known Utah/Mormon-Related Fraud Cases

  • Indicted: Kurk Branham Barton (with support of BYU QB/coach Ty Detmer).  Scam: Ponzi scheme.  Article Date: 8/17/2011.  Amount allegedly defrauded: >$50 million.
  • Indicted: Robert and Martin Hooker.  Scam: Montana Gold Mine.  Article Date: 1/30/2998.  Amount allegedly defrauded: >$2 million.
  • Indicted: Shane Baldwin.  Scam: Distressed debt secured by “property.”  Article Date: 6/1/2015.  Amount allegedly defrauded: >$14 million.
  • Indicted: Curtis DeYoung.  Scam: Misappropriated pension funds.  Article Date: 2/26/2015.  Amount allegedly defrauded: >$24 million.
  • Indicted: Robert Hollaway.  Scam: Ponzi scheme based on computer software.  Article Date: 8/7/2014.  Amount allegedly defrauded: >$25 million.
  • Indicted: Rick Koerber.  Scam: Ponzi scheme based on alleged real estate holdings.  Article Date: 8/25/2014.  Amount allegedly defrauded: >$100 million.
  • More to come….

Your Support for Mormon Stories and the OSF in 2016 and Beyond

DehlinFamilyChristmas2015Dear Listeners and Friends,

TLDR; If any of you have benefited from, or value the work I’ve been doing over the past year/10 years with Mormon Stories, Mormon Transitions, and the Open Stories Foundation, please consider making a recurring donation today at http://mormonstories.org (by choosing the monthly subscription amount that works best for you at the top right of the mormonstories.org web page).  All donations are tax deductible, and the financial support is what allows me to do what I do — day in, and day out.

—————– The longer version – My 2015 end-of-year report ———————

As many of you know, I have made the decision to dedicate the rest of my life to the following objectives:

  1. Promoting broad awareness about the difficult facts and challenges surrounding Mormon history, culture, doctrine, theology, corporatism, etc.
  2. Helping individuals, couples, and families heal from the harm that they sometimes experience within Mormonism.
  3. Nurturing individual, familial, and cultural growth (i.e., positive mental health) within progressive and post-Mormons.
  4. Helping to build face-to-face communities across the globe to support transitioning and post-Mormons.

Throughout 2015 I have worked very hard (with the generous support of others) in the following ways:

  1. We have released over 100 hours of Mormon Stories Podcast content – and it has possibly been my most prolific year to date.  Monthly downloads are at an all-time high with literally millions of MP3 downloads each year.  Some of the podcast highlights from this year include: Clark Johnsen (Book of Mormon Musical original cast member), John Hamer (on Community of Christ), the coverage of the Carson and Marisa Calderwood Excommunications, the Rock Waterman excommunicationa farewell salute to John Larsen, the long-awaited release of the Tom Phillips/2nd Anointing interview, reporting on the Boise Rescue and Julie Rowe phenomenons, celebrating Lindsay Hansen Park’s Year of Polygamy, Losing Mormon Millennials, interviewing the children/grandchildren of high level LDS leaders including Eric Reeves and Laura Roper Andreasen, world-class sociologist Mark Jurgensmeyer, Steve Veazey, Prophet-President of Community of Christ, our episode on Gay Conversation Therapy with Michael Ferguson and J. Seth Anderson, analyzing several of the LDS church essays including the DNA/Book of Mormon and Mother in Heaven essays, and our series with LDS singer/songwriter Mindy Gledhill.
  2. We have launched the Mormon Transitions blog and podcast, which is seeking to provide practical support to Mormons in religious transition and to post-Mormons.
  3. I have completed my Ph.D. in Clinical/Counseling psychology – focusing on the nexus of mental health and religion.
  4. We have published 8 scientific, peer reviewed journal articles on the LGBT Mormon experience (from my dissertation data), with concrete results that speak directly to damaging LDS policies and practices around LGBT reparative therapy, mixed-orientation marriages, and celibacy.
  5. I/we have provided early and ongoing support and encouragement to the amazing Mormon Spectrum project (Alison Udall, Steve Holbrook, etc.), to help support the creation and growth of face-to-face communities all over the globe.
  6. As part of the Open Stories Foundation, we continue to support the good work of Dan Wotherspoon at Mormon Matters, Gina Colvin at A Thoughtful Faith, Natasha Parker at Mormon Mental Health, Brent Metcalfe at Mormon Studies Podcast, as well as the good people at StayLDS.com.

In 2016 and beyond, we plan on the following:

  • Enhancing the governance and structure of the Open Stories Foundation.
  • Continuing with many more ground-breaking Mormon Stories podcast interviews.
  • Enhancing our offerings at Mormon Transitions blog and podcast.
  • And many more exciting announcements to come!

If any of you have benefited from, or value the work I’ve been doing over the past year/10 years with Mormon Stories, Mormon Transitions, and the Open Stories Foundation, please consider a recurring donation today at http://mormonstories.org (by choosing the monthly subscription amount that works best for you at the top right of the mormonstories.org web page).  All donations are tax deductible, and the financial support is what allows me to do what I do — day in, and day out.

Margi and I (along with our children) thank you, so very sincerely, for your support over the years.  I believe that together we have made a very significant positive contribution to both the LDS Church and progressive/post-Mormonism.  In addition, your financial support has allowed me to successfully complete my Ph.D., provide health insurance to my family, and has literally put food on our table over the past 6-9 years.

Most importantly, I believe that what we can/will do together in the future will eclipse what we have done so far….with your continued support.

Tons of love, and cheers to a very bright progressive and post-Mormon future!

John and Margi Dehlin

P.S.  In line with our history of full financial transparency, see here for end-of-year financial reporting of the Open Stories Foundation.  For those who want to know, my total OSF compensation after taxes, health insurance, etc. was around $75,000.  I anticipate that 2016 will be similar.

605: An Analysis of the “Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women” Essay

CU050216-002sIn this episode Jamie Hanis Handy assembles an amazing panel (Natasha Helfer Parker, Dr. Kristy Money, and Dr. Gina Colvin) to discuss the recent LDS church essay entitled: “Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women.”

604: The Oasis Network of Secular Communities – A Possible Home for Unorthodox and Post-Mormons

As progressive and post-Mormons continue to leave the LDS church in increasing numbers, many former LDS church members miss the sense of community that they once enjoyed as active Mormons.

Oasis is a network of secular communities that meet weekly (on Sundays), organized according to the following values:
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1) People are more important than beliefs.
2) Reality is known through reason.
3) Meaning comes from making a difference
4) Human hands solve human problems.
5) Be accepting and be accepted.

Currently the Oasis Network has two thriving communities:

Houston Oasis: http://houstonoasis.org
Kansas City Oasis: http://KCoasis.org

Also, a new Oasis community is under development in Boston: http://bostonoasis.org.

In this episode we interview the two founders of Oasis: Mike Aus of Oasis Houston, and Helen Stringer of Oasis Kansas City.

601-603: A Look at LDS Church Employment with Daniel and AnnaMarie Miller

Daniel Miller10885365_10152899889525547_1606470302247914760_n worked for the LDS Church for two years as a Program Manager in the Publishing Services Department. During this time he oversaw all media production for seminary and institute (CES portfolio, broadcasts).  In this three-part series, Daniel and his wife AnnaMarie discuss his early years as a church member in Idaho and as a missionary in Japan, his time as an LDS Church employee, and the factors that led him and his family away from LDS Church activity.

Note: To access Daniel’s original Reddit post, see here.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3: