Blog Archives

Resources for Married Couples

August 27, 2014
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Some resources for married Mormons or former Mormons.  Topics are relevant for unorthodox LDS couples, mixed-faith couples, and post-Mormon couples: Screencasts: Top 5 Myths and Truths about Why Committed Mormons Leave the Church http://mormonstories.org/top-5-myths-and-truths-about-why-committed-mormons-leave-the-church/ Podcasts: Navigating a Mormon Faith Transition (an overview) http://www.mormontransitions.org/2012/04/05/001-navigating-a-mormon-faith-transition/ 182-185: Navigating a Marriage When One Loses Their LDS Testimony http://mormonstories.org/182-185-navigating-a-marriage-when-one-loses-their-lds-testimony/ 143-146: Raising Children in a Non-Traditional LDS Home http://mormonstories.org/143-146-raising-children-in-a-non-traditional-lds-home/ 123-125: What to do when your husband loses his LDS testimony — Jacque Parts 1-3 http://mormonstories.org/123-125-what-to-do-when-your-husband-loses-his-lds-testimony-jacque-parts-1-3/ 157-159: How to Improve Your Marriage After One of You Loses Their Testimony http://mormonstories.org/157-159-how-to-improve-your-marriage-after-an-lds-crisis-of-faith/ 330: Raising Children in a Mixed-Faith Mormon Home…

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A Thank You to Our Workshop Scholarship Donors

August 27, 2014
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To those of you who graciously supported the scholarship recipient program for our August “Marriage and Faith Transition Workshop” — I wanted to let you know that we were able to fund (by my best count) 12 couples scholarships because of your donations.  Margi, Natasha, and I cannot thank you enough for your generosity.  Below are a few “thank you notes” to you, from some of our scholarship recipients. Participant #1: “To those who helped my wife and I attend this meeting thank you very much. My wife and I have struggled for many years with our concerns for a mixed faith…

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An update on my discussions with Stake President Bryan King (8/23/2014)

August 23, 2014
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It appears as though our discussions with stake president Bryan King have abated for the time being, so I wanted to provide a quick update (for those who keep asking). After sending me this initial letter asking that I resign my church membership or face a disciplinary council, my wife Margi and I met with President King and his first counselor for the first time on 6/29/2014 (at our request).  President King framed this original meeting as an opportunity for him to listen, and so we spent most of our time together with me sharing my beliefs, doubts, and concerns about the church, its…

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A Fascinating Look Into How the LDS Church Conducts Marketing Research Around Progressive Issues

August 13, 2014
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I received these screen shots today from a supportive listener. To me, it’s a fascinating look into how the LDS Church currently conducts marketing research (to its members) around progressive issues such as its disciplining of high-profile members, and the ordination of women.                    

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Questions for Brent Metcalfe

August 11, 2014
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I am very excited to announce that I will soon be interviewing Brent Metcalfe.  Brent is a fascinating interview for Mormon Stories for many reasons, including: He knew forger and bomber Mark Hofmann personally. He worked directly for Steven Christensen (son of Mr. Mac), one of Mark Hofmann’s victims. He went on to author/edit New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology, which examined in-depth the historicity claims of the Book of Mormon. Brent was ultimately excommunicated for editing/authoring this book. Brent has become one of the foremost scholars in understanding the Book of Abraham. Brent is generally a giant…

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488-490: Neil Ransom and Kate Kelly – After Kate’s Excommunication

July 26, 2014
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In this three-part series we interview Neil Ransom (Kate Kelly’s husband, and Ph.D. candidate in anthropology) and we speak with Kate about her excommunication and the aftermath. Some of the fascinating tidbits we explore: Neil’s early years growing up in Africa How Neil’s mission, along with his attending BYU-Idaho, actually turned him into a progressive Mormon How Kate and Neil met (their love story), and what Neil loves most about Kate What Neil is researching for his Ph.D. (hint….it’s super cool) Has Neil experienced a faith crisis? Who “wears the pants” in Kate/Neil’s marriage…also what are the traits of a “real man” according…

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487: An Outsider’s View of Joseph Smith — Alex Beam’s “American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church”

July 15, 2014
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AlexBeam

In this episode we interview Alex Beam: author of “American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church.” Alex provides an extremely insightful and compelling “outsider’s view” of Joseph Smith’s final years in Nauvoo, along with his murder and legacy.

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483-486: Christine Jeppsen Clark, Daughter of General Authority Malcolm Jeppsen

July 7, 2014
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Christine Jeppsen Clark is a mother of six, a former Mormon Tabernacle Choir member, a Ph.D. graduate student focusing on dementia, and a dear personal friend.  She is also the daughter of the late Elder Malcolm S. Jeppsen — former LDS General Authority, personal physician and best friend to Elder Boyd K. Packer, and a GA who was directly involved in the excommunication of Avraham Gileadi (one of the September Six).  In this multi-part episode with Christine we discuss: What it was like to grow up in the 1950s and 1960s in Salt Lake City as a very orthodox, devout member…

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Are you guilty of “speaking ill of the Lord’s anointed”?

June 27, 2014
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A few years ago, Elder Dallin H. Oaks was quoted as saying: “It’s wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true.” I have worked very hard in my work with Mormon Stories to not criticize LDS church leaders.  That said, I believe that it is generally unhealthy for organizations to shield themselves from constructive, well-intended criticism.  I, myself, am extremely sensitive to criticism — so I am not necessarily a model in this regard…but I still believe that constructive criticism is very healthy….and I actively seek it from people who I do not believe wish me harm.…

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Are there any quotes from LDS Church leaders which either support or inspire you?

June 27, 2014
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“I admire men and women who have developed the questing spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas as stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent–if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression… This free exchange of ideas is not to be deplored as long as men and women remain humble and teachable. Neither fear of consequence or any kind of coercion should ever be used to secure uniformity…

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Do you desire to be a martyr?

June 27, 2014
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 No.  This experience has been simply awful for me and for my family.  I would not wish this experience on anyone.

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Why did you go to the media with your story?

June 27, 2014
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In the letter I received from my stake president (Dr. Bryan King), he wrote the following: “You should also be aware that if you choose to have your name removed from Church records, I feel it is important to make an appropriate announcement to the adults in the stake that you have chosen this option.” We also knew that a stake-level disciplinary council would involve at least 15 men, and could not reliably be kept confidential.  After discussing this situation with my wife, we decided that this situation was not going to allow us to leave the church quietly and discreetly (if that were…

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Do you have any regrets?

June 27, 2014
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Yes.  I regret the extent to which my wife, kids, and extended family have suffered (at times) as a result of my work with Mormon Stories. I also wish I had more time to read and prepare for my podcast interviews (over the years). Fortunately, my Ph.D. is almost finished.  

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Are you in any way involved with the “Strangers in Zion” web site?

June 27, 2014
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No, am not involved in the Strangers in Zion web site.  I am friends with Micah Nickolaisen (one of its founders), and Micah did call me before initiating this project to get my opinion.  I told Micah that I did not want to use my current situation to encourage people to do anything that would not be in their best interest.  Consequently, I do not desire to encourage anyone to either stay in or leave the church.  Instead, I want people to do what is best for them.  I will admit that I believe that people requesting disciplinary councils may lead to greater awareness, dialogue, and ultimately…

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If you are asked to take down Mormon Stories as a condition for your continued membership, will you comply?

June 27, 2014
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No.  I am open to feedback from church leaders regarding tone and accuracy of information, but I believe very strongly that our inability as Mormons to openly discuss difficult issues is our biggest problem/weakness as a people.  Consequently, I do not plan on self-censorship, but will listen to feedback from church leadership with an open mind.

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Do you want people to resign from the church, or to request disciplinary action, in support of you and Kate Kelly?

June 27, 2014
By

No.  I want people to do whatever is best for them in their lives.

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What will you do if you are excommunicated?

June 27, 2014
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My current plan is to complete my Ph.D. in clinical/counseling psychology, and to spend the next 30 years helping people who struggle with the conflict between religion and mental health.  I plan to continue Mormon Stories Podcast (as long as I am financially able to do so), and I hope to create/lead more projects in the coming years to help people navigate the nexus of religion and mental health.

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Are you worried that publishing your beliefs/doubts/concerns will lead to your excommunication?

June 27, 2014
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On the contrary.  I am sincerely interested in finding out if the LDS Church wants people like me to remain in the church. Consequently, I want all of my/our cards to be on the table during this process, and I am hopeful that my stake president will be open, honest, and explicit about why he takes whatever action he takes against me (if action is to be taken).  If the church is willing to accept me as I am, I will stay.  If the church takes formal action to excommunicate me, I will leave.  It’s that simple.

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Do you believe that this action against you has been orchestrated from above?

June 27, 2014
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Yes and no.  I am certain that local church leadership (including my former Elder’s Quorum President and a close friend of his) have complained numerous times about me to my bishop, and that there are genuine concerns on the local level regarding my activity with Mormon Stories, along with my advocacy for LGBT rights, same-sex marriage, and Ordain Women.  That said, I have also been informed of training activities led by Elder L. Whitney Clayton that have been conducted in my stake, Kate Kelly’s stake, Denver Snuffer’s stake, and elsewhere — wherein local church leaders have possibly influenced the decision to initiate…

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Is it true that you had never met or spoken with your stake president prior to receive your letter announcing a pending disciplinary council?

June 27, 2014
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Yes.  This was very odd for all of us to receive a letter from my stake president (whom I had never met) that basically said, “I invite you to resign from the church, otherwise we will be initiating a disciplinary council.” However, in his defense, it is my understanding now that my stake president (Dr. Bryan King) interpreted the letter we wrote to our bishop as suggesting that I did not want him to reach out to me.  I take him at his word. I will say that our clear intent in sending the above email was to tell the bishop and other ward members…

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Did you ask to be excommunicated?

June 27, 2014
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Not at all.  In the ten years we have lived here in Logan I have been investigated on at least three different occasions for concerns surrounding my online activities, research, and advocacy.  In the past my wife and I have participated in these investigations voluntarily, and in good faith — always to be vindicated in the end.  In one instance, my Elder’s quorum president/home teacher was secretly assigned by our bishop to investigate my internet activities, and to report this information to the bishop while simultaneously serving as our home teacher.  This investigatory activity continued for months before I was finally informed of the assignment (on…

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Are you trying to lead people out of the church?

June 27, 2014
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My original motivation for creating Mormon Stories was to help people stay within the church after a crisis of faith.  In addition, I have personally initiated several projects with the same goal, including StayLDS.com, MormonMatters.org, and AThoughtfulFaith.org — and I continue to support these projects.  I have been told by literally thousands of people over the years that these projects have been instrumental in helping them stay active members of the church.  In several Mormon Stories episodes I have also consistently interviewed people with the explicit intent of helping people stay in the church.  Over the years, however, I have learned that for…

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Do you believe that excommunication will affect your status with God?

June 27, 2014
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No.

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Do you see yourself as a victim?

June 27, 2014
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Not at all.  I acknowledge the LDS Church’s parochial right to decide who should and should not remain a member.  If the church excommunicates me, I do not plan on appealing that decision.   I do believe that by excommunicating people like me, the church will perhaps unintentionally: 1) send the message to progressive Mormons and doubters that they are also not wanted in the church, and 2) communicate that the church is weakening/fearful/provincial/insular, undermining its recent attempts to portray itself to be a modern and diverse institution (e.g., “I’m a Mormon” campaign).  I honestly believe that the church has damaged, and…

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Why do you value your membership?

June 27, 2014
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Up until experiencing my crisis of faith, I have loved nearly every aspect of my Mormon life.  I believe that I have benefited tremendously from my LDS upbringing, and I wholeheartedly affirm that the LDS Church can inspire people to live incredibly happy, healthy, productive, meaningful lives.  I believe that my Mormon identity is “in my bones,” and I do not believe that my Mormon identity can be taken off and discarded at the end of the day like a dirty shirt.  As a psychologist, I know that religious identity does not work this way for many (perhaps most). In addition,…

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Do you want to be excommunicated?

June 27, 2014
By

No.  I value my membership in this church, even though I am clearly unorthodox and unorthoprax at this point in time.  My genuine desire is that this investigation go away, and that I can be left alone to participate (as I choose), and to continue helping Mormons and former Mormons in any way that I am able.  That said, I believe that the inability to open discuss difficult issues with the LDS church is the biggest problem facing Mormons today — and I am willing to face a disciplinary council if the church gives me the choice of either self-censoring, or losing my…

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What aspects of LDS Church teachings/doctrine do you still believe in, vs. not?

June 27, 2014
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I do, of course, have my own perspectives on various church doctrines/teachings.  I will list a few here. God.   I still consider myself to be a believer in “the divine” or “God” — although I prefer to retain a great deal of humility when attempting to assign a specific form, beliefs, or behavior to God.  I believe that all of us are only guessing when we speak about the divine.  While I often question or even doubt the existence of God, it does appear to me as though our creation has some sort of driving force or power, and I…

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Have you taught false doctrine?

June 27, 2014
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My overall approach for Mormon Stories has been to interview interesting people, allowing them to tell their stories.  While I certainly have expressed doubts and/or concerns about various historical or doctrinal matters over the years, it has never been my intent to teach conflicting or competing LDS doctrine: only to explore the issues.

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Do you desire to amass followers?

June 27, 2014
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Mormon Stories does not market, advertise, or proselytize — other than through posts that I make to my personal Facebook pages, and to various podcast-specific Facebook pages.  Mormon Stories is an opt-in podcast that people can choose to listen to, or not.  It is a resource intended for those who are curious about, or struggling with difficult Mormon issues.  While I have received generous support from many listeners, the podcast has been free to download from the beginning, while consuming literally thousands of hours of preparation, interviewing, editing, and technical maintenance. In the end, I am eager for struggling Mormons to become aware…

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Why do you believe that you are being considered for disciplinary action?

June 27, 2014
By

 I believe that I am being considered for disciplinary action because of: 1) the popularity of Mormon Stories podcast, 2) my support for LGBT rights within Mormonism, and for the legalization of same-sex marriage, 3) my support for Ordain Women, and 4) I believe that both local and high-level church leaders are blaming Mormon Stories for the fact that some people inevitably leave the church. Unfortunately, I believe that these well-intended leaders are ignoring the facts that: 1) thousands of people have affirmed that Mormon Stories and its associated projects have helped them to STAY in the church, and 2)…

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