Flawed, but Trying

June 3, 2014
By

I’m going to say a few things that are completely obvious, but I want to say them anyway.

Many, many people have been very kind to me recently, showering me with descriptors such as “hero” and “saint.”  Others have been not-so-nice, accusing me of deliberately contriving and manipulating the past and present situations for various motives (e.g., attention, money, career, narcissism).  As I imagine that both types of descriptions will continue into the next few weeks (months/years) — I would like to be “on the record” as stating two things.lost-sheep[3]

First…the obvious.  I am a flawed individual who is simply trying to do what he feels is right, under somewhat difficult circumstances.  I believe in my heart that my work with Mormon Stories originated from a genuine, sincere crisis of faith that I experienced beginning on my mission, but worsening significantly after being called as a seminary teacher while working for Microsoft in the early 2000s. During this time, I began to discover many very troubling facts about Joseph Smith (e.g., his use of folk magic, his financial malfeasance, his polygamy and polyandry, his dishonesty, his illegalities, his maligning of others, significant troubles with the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham).  I tried for years to work through the disillusionment, depression, and despair that I experienced during that time (family, friends, and ward members were of little help) — and was shocked at how few resources there were in 2001 to help people navigate an LDS crisis of faith.

It was from this foundation that MormonStories.org, StayLDS.com, MormonMatters.org, WhyMormonsQuestion.org, MormonMentalHealth.orgAThoughtfulFaith.orgldshomosexuality.com, GayMormonStories.org, CirclingTheWagons.org, MormonsForMarriageEquality.org, NoMoreStrangers.org, and other such projects would grow.  I saw many Mormons struggling….I was struggling myself….and wanted to provide help.  In all of these efforts, I have been inspired (ironically) by what I learned at church.

“How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” — Matthew 18: 12-14

Over the past nine years I have made many mistakes (some benign, a few rather serious), but I am trying every day to learn from my mistakes.  If someone is looking for a hero or a savior, they will obviously not find one in me.  As Sir Charles Barkley once famously said, “I am not a role model.”  That said, I believe in my heart that my intent has always been to be as truthful as I could be with my listeners, and to genuinely help struggling Mormons find joy/peace/happiness in their Mormon-related experiences — whether in or out of church participation. Some seem to want to paint me as either a saint or as Satan — and I embrace neither descriptor.charles-barkley-not-a-role-model

Second, I would like to highlight what I believe to be the (obvious) differences between myself and LDS church leaders.

  1. I do not claim to be a direct or special representative of God or Jesus.
  2. I do not want anyone to believe in my words, or to follow my example.  I believe very strongly that every individual should follow her/his own conscience.
  3. Instead of desiring some specific final outcome for people (e.g., staying or leaving the church), I am mostly trying to: a) openly educate LDS church members about their own history and culture, often through interviewing experts (e.g., Bushman, Givens), and b) create spaces within Mormon culture for the open discussion of difficult topics (e.g., doubt, disbelief, social issues) — since many find that the typical LDS Sunday experience, or Mormon culture in general, are not safe or comfortable places to discuss such things.  I observe that until very recently, the LDS Church has tried very hard to discourage and even suppress the open discussion of difficult issues within the church context…and I believe that this has caused harm.  As I’ve said many times recently, I believe that the biggest problem within the LDS Church today is our inability to openly discuss difficult issues,without fear of punishment.
  4. Finally, I do not expect anyone to believe anything I say or write.  I do not seek admiration, obedience, or discipleship.  Instead, I encourage listeners to do all of the learning, reading, and studying that they can — from all of the “best books/blogs/podcasts” — and to come to whatever conclusions they see fit in their own lives.  In the end, I do not desire any specific conclusions or destination for my listeners — other than their own health, happiness, and authenticity.

mormon-sacrament-meeting-church-services

In the coming weeks, I imagine that people will continue to both laud and demonize me (from both sides of the ideological spectrum).  I understand that this comes with the territory, but I want to be very explicit about where I stand.

1) I am flawed, and I both openly and freely admit this.

2) In spite of my mistakes and weaknesses, I have always tried my best to be honest and to help Mormons in need.

3) I am willing to be punished, if necessary, as I stand with others to support the right of struggling LDS Church members to discuss their struggles openly, without the fear of punishment from church leadership.  If am to be excommunicated for this (and I honestly have no idea what else I could be excommunicated for), I guess I will consider such action to be a tragic sacrament.

But still, my greatest hopes are that the church will show itself to be strong and confident enough to withstand the open discussion of difficult topics, and that they will simply leave me and my family (and Kate Kelly) alone.

108 Responses to Flawed, but Trying

  1. Kevin
    June 19, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Hugs to you, brother, and much good cheer. In listening or watching every episode of Mormon Stories I’ve never felt anything other than your genuine interest in the spiritual well-being of your fellow travelers. You strike me as the second type of disciple described by B.H. Roberts over a hundred hears ago: “It [Mormonism] calls for thoughtful disciples who will not be content with merely repeating some of its truths, but will develop its truths; and enlarge it by that development.” Whether in or out of the religion of your heritage, I believe you will continue to make the world a better place.

    • jane Brown
      June 23, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      I am not a Mormon, and as a matter of fact, I am not a lover of religion in general. I am however, a lover of people like you who are sincere, and honest about your convictions, and I sense your devotion to doing the best you can with your religion, and with the people struggling in it. I respect you.

  2. Diane
    June 19, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    John,
    Thank you so much for what you are doing. Your courage inspires me. Stay strong and keep fighting for what you believe in.
    Diane

  3. Pat
    June 19, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    I certainly want to thank you for all you have done so far and sincerely hope that you will continue with your courageous activity. It is good that we can see in you many of the struggles that we have gone through. Those who denounce you would denounce truth.

  4. Jennifer
    June 19, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    John,

    I would like to have some discussion through email if you would please consider it. In the meantime, I hope your wife and children know that you have many friends, even here in Utah, regardless of the outcome. There is a quote that I feel is quite fitting for what we are feeling at this time.

    Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.
    —Andre Gide

    I feel that many of us in the helping professions have been natural helpers our entire lives. The advocacy, understanding, and unconditional acceptance of others you are providing through your podcasts are helping others live healthy lives while allowing religion to play a role in their lives. It is helping others see that there is a way to live without losing everything when they have a crisis of faith.

    Thank you!

    Jennifer

  5. layla
    June 19, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Thank you for doing all you’ve done and continue to do. You’ve provided a place of education, differing views, openness and aid when we’ve needed it most. We were true believing Mormons until about a year ago, when solely using logic and what we knew of church history, logic hit us straight in the face that things didn’t match up quite right (specifically about current prophets vs past prophets). It wasn’t until Februrary, though, that we learned a lot more from research – the CES Letter, plus a lot more since then.

    It has been shocking, devastating, and lonely. You, and other sites along these lines, do something that people desperately need. A place to belong and to know others understand. A place where discussion is allowed and truths and perspectives and shared. I think what you do is desperately needed, and whether you’re a sinner or a saint or somewhere in between, it really doesn’t matter. Your work speaks for itself.

    From my family to yours…thank you for standing up for what you know is right. We stand by you and with you.

    • Samuel
      June 20, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      Well said Layla…. It has been devestating for my family as well but not in the way TBM’s would think. I am hurt that so much was intentionally kept from me. I have tried to abide to regulations and adhere to principals founded in what appears to be blatant lies. I am still open but without forums like John’s- I feel there would be no chance to reconcile my differences with those that I once considered family!

  6. Derek
    June 19, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Thank you for your work. As someone very sincere and well intentioned I have been on a similar path to yours. I understand your struggles, your sacrifices and your desire to just know what is truth and what is not. I think you have a great heart and great courage.
    I wanted to say thank you and offer my support. It’s good to know I’m not alone on my journey.

    Derek

    • June 21, 2014 at 11:11 am

      Derek, Claire, Keith, Bill and others are sincere truthseekers met at activities like mormon History Association or Sunstone. There was no weekly learning off truth like a Mormon stories podcast today, you would have to travel far and wait a year for more information. We may all disagreed what the truth is but at least they’re being talked about my john and his guests. my son contacted John right after his mission about some doubts he was having and John help him come to terms with the very disturbing experiences that happened during his mission.

      Thanks John.

  7. Matt
    June 19, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    John,

    You have more friends (and fans) than you will ever know. Most of us remain quiet and appreciative, while silently cheering for you. (We have been taught by the church to be quiet from age 0, and it is recently re-emphasizing this.)

    I have lost all belief in the teachings of the church and also in god, mostly because of the lack of integrity and credibility of the church’s leaders at the helm. However, when I found your podcast a few years ago, I must admit that you are the main reason that I have not formally submitted my membership resignation to the church. You remind me weekly that there are good people in the church that are trying to make the world a better place that loves and accepts all.

    Your family is lucky to have you, and we are lucky that they are sharing you with us.

    Matt

  8. Stormin
    June 19, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Any Mormon that does what he “believes is right” (based on his relationship to God/inspiration) especially in spite of challenges by TBMs, exmos, and church leadership (almost everyone) —– I still consider a Mormon Hero/Mormon Don Quinote! I will be the first to admit I would never be able to do what you have done given the church problems you seem to totally understand —– we are different individuals and have slightly different paths (which is ok). I believe that you do what you do from the foundation of your Love for your fellowmen. I really admire that.

    The only thing I am dismayed about is your concern about the existence of God/higher power. I believe you got that from being a “burnt out Mormon” finding the truth about Mormonism and the false god that JS brought into the world. I ‘believe’ there is a God/higher power that is real and fortunately not related to any specific religion, with its accompanying bondage, that I know of. I have had a number of contacts from the ‘other side’ and numerous spiritual experiences associated with prayer (not related to religion) that have been significant to me to indicate life goes on and we are definitely NOT ALONE here to wander aimlessly. I hope to have more as I progress in my experimentation and study. Unfortunately few are truth seekers because most people in the world (Budists, Christians, Islam, Hindi, atheists, etc.) based on their upbringing believe they were fortunately born and raised in the correct belief —– so sad!

    I suggest you get a psychic medium (a Mormon or exmo if possible or at least one in Utah —- there are some but not sure if they have ties to Mormons) on your podcast to talk about their insights of the after life and God from what they have learned or studied. I have no recommendations yet as I have not gone to any — I have had some success on my own and still want to pursue my individual experimentation, that is progress, first.

  9. Melanie
    June 19, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks for that John. I get it, and those who don’t have never wrestled with the dark night of the soul. It is comforting to know fellow travelers who trudge these same paths and who forge on in spite of the criticism/judgement of others.

  10. Jeanmarie Todd
    June 19, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Well done, John. Well done.

  11. Mike Nelson
    June 19, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    John,
    Just so you know, I don’t want to follow you, and I hold you to a very low standard – much lower than church authorities.
    I hope your local leaders leave you alone, too!
    Keep up the good work. I appreciate it.

    This is tangential, but I really think much of this hullabaloo would go away if we could only imagine and live the will of our Heavenly Mother.

  12. Maria
    June 19, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Amen and thank you. Your work, your courage, and your struggles have done so much for so many. Even the haters are just one paradigm shift away from being supporters.

  13. Jeff
    June 20, 2014 at 12:42 am

    The power of great nurturers at work – watersheds, turning-points, culture at the starting-gate. It’s a heart-warming privilege to be close enough to feel the impact and influence of your work. Gotta love “The Church of Jesus Christ of Starting-Line Saints”

  14. Rose
    June 20, 2014 at 1:04 am

    I had a dream once that I was in a crowd of people in the after life and there were large groups of people listening to a handful of “great” people. In the dream Elder Holland was standing in the back of a crowd. No one was listening to him. I never forgot that dream. I have no idea why I dreamed about Elder Holland specifically. I served with his very close friend and AP partner on my mission— Elder Poll and many of my relatives met him personally but I never knew him myself. What I did see of him I loved for many years. I used to love his talks and he used to be my favorite apostle which may be why I dreamed about him.

    Anyway, the dream made me realize that the world is so big and there are so many people that have lived lives full of courage and love that we never hear about and may never know about in this life. I think everyone has a life story to tell and some people that seem like the surest leaders in this life— 12 lds apostles— may not stand out in the next life. If the next life holds people to the standard of true charity to measure greatness we may all be in for some serious surprises. It is not that I am saying Elder Holland or the other apostles do not love. I do feel he loves people like himself or people striving to follow in a similar way but like Jesus Christ implied— that is not actually charity. It is not charity to love your friends; it is charity to love your enemies (aka people that disagree with you and see the world differently). I really think the next life’s standard of greatness will be about charity and not so much about blind, rigid, intolerant obedience… or blind, rigid, intolerant obedience cloaked in charity.

  15. Paul Belfiglio
    June 20, 2014 at 1:13 am

    This is a well drafted ‘manifesto’ or declaration.

    I have always thought that you are a conflicted man and justifiably so. For the life of me I can’t understand how any believing LDS member who has come to a knowledge of the ‘other’, i.e., true, unedited, officially hidden and obfuscated history of the LDS church, could not be!

    Years ago, John, when you were deciding what to do with Mormon Stories (turn it over to someone else, etc.) I spoke with you and later on sent an email suggesting that you *do* let Mormon Stories “go gently into that good night” rather than what Dylan Thomas would have suggested in that you “Do *not* go gently into that good night” and to “Rage, rage against the dying light.”

    In many ways I am glad you did not take my suggested route because so much more information, which I would classify as ‘vital’, came forth. But on the other hand if you had just let things go (i.e., not going public any longer with your investigations and findings), I have to wonder if you would have ended up being more at peace, and less ‘conflicted’ (happier) today.

    In a conversation with someone the other day about what is happening to you, we wondered if it is best to stay and ‘fight’, i.e., try to bring about changes in the church that you feel are vitally needed (and then possibly pay a high price for all of your efforts and good intentions), or to just throw in the towel and leave. In other words, going, or not going “gently into that good night.” He said that was a good question and perhaps a difficult one to answer. Maybe the answer aligns with what kind of personality or make-up a person is. I am not totally sure. What I am sure about, though, is that after years and years of a lot of unhealthy conflict and inner turmoil as well as unacceptable amounts of social and spiritual abuse, I decided to just leave, and I have been immensely happier ever since. I am more at peace and attuned now with Christianity and concepts of ‘God’ than I ever was as a practicing (whatever that means) ‘Mormon’.

    Nevertheless, please know that I am grateful for the sacrifices that you and your family have made for the cause of *truth*, and I have even shown that I am grateful by having sent along some donations in the past. Hence, all of your ‘work’ has had ‘worth’ (and I always pay for what I get when I know that I am getting what I pay for—so I suppose I should donate even more!).

    Anyway, a poem that I wrote, or rather what the muse gave to me to work on, has helped me in some ways so maybe it will help you, as well, because no matter what ends up happening for all of us with regard to these ‘issues’ I think to a certain extent, or according to a certain reality, we all have to eventually ‘Let It Go’ — or at least some things:

    Let it go,
    Let what’s gone or ought’a go, go;
    There’s better to come what you’ve come to outgrow.

    Just know what’s important, though—
    What is what isn’t, to reap not sow;
    Then detach, relax, enjoy the show;
    Hot air will always blow:
    “Hey, bro,
    It’s this way; you ought’a know!”
    “Hey, bro,
    You gotta keep the status quo!”

    No.

    Command your own vessel whether its sail, drift, motor or row;
    Chart your own course throughout life’s ebb and flow;
    Treasure your own cargo in the soul’s hold below.

    So,

    Let it go,
    Let what’s gone or ought’a go, go;
    There’s better, always better to come what you’ve come to outgrow.

    .

  16. Mary Vogwell
    June 20, 2014 at 2:38 am

    John, I read you post with interest. You have done more to reconnect me with my own Mormon heritage and to see hope for a Mormon community that understands both why people leave and why people stay and to respect both positions equally, than pretty much anyone I know.

    I appreciate your candor and honesty and your willingness to be authentic to your own self and conscience. A long term view will one day see both you and Kate Kelly vindicated. It will take a good few years but the day will come. Of that I am certain.

  17. robin
    June 20, 2014 at 3:32 am

    John,

    I just wish those in leadership charged with “judging” you take the time to read the many, many, many stories of how you have kept people from leaving the church. I am one. I found your podcasts in my darkest hour…and there you were, and your great guests. The best part was I didn’t feel coerced, I have never felt an agenda, I felt like FINALLY I was given answers so I could make an informed decision. And, despite, all the troublesome facts, I have chosen to accept a degree of cognitive dissonance and stay the course…BECAUSE of you. Your “Why I Stay” talk should be laminated, I refer to it so much.
    You are not a prophet, you are not a devil, but you are one that shines the light of truth and justice on our world. You are needed. You are friend to the “friendless” in the church and surely more of shepherd to the “one” than current church leadership.

  18. Charlie
    June 20, 2014 at 3:38 am

    Ok then let’s accept that Joseph was all you say here, and said before elsewhere, dishonest illegalities folk magic etc, does that mean for you that he wasn’t a prophet? Or is that shooting the messanger but not the message?
    If you conclude he wasn’t a prophet because of his flaws then the church can point to you and say: see, he doesn’t accept Smith as a prophet and through his activism and publication of Smiths flaws he is actively leading other members away from the church , hence apostasy is proved
    If you are only shotting the messanger then the church would ask you to stop because it will damage the faith of others who judge Smith the way republicans judge opponents (discrediting opponents to silence their message) but because you wouldn’t stop even after instructed by local leadership to do so you’d also meet the conditions for appostacy there.
    Either way your stuffed and that’s why I think your best option is to not go to a council because it is emotionally draining when they ex you. Talk to the stake pres before in private sure, that’s different and ok. But a disciplinary council will hurt you for years.
    Oh, I forgot , they then have your activism against the church over gay and transgender issues so there is no way you’ll avoid excommunication . The pres may chicken out now after all the press coverage but then they will surely try again latter on causing more emotional drain for you and the family. So just let them get it over with asap and move on.

  19. Josh
    June 20, 2014 at 4:37 am

    Your honesty and unabashed vulnerability are some of your greatest strengths John. Thank you for allowing us to come along with you as you have tried to navigate the winding and sometimes rough waters of the spiritual life. Please know that your work MATTERS and has changed my life and many of those I know for the better. I wish you much success and more importantly peace, no matter what the future holds.

  20. June 20, 2014 at 5:07 am

    I think the term hero isn’t meant in a mythical perfection kind of sense, more in a take-one-for-the-team courageous one.

  21. Paul M.
    June 20, 2014 at 6:15 am

    John, thanks for being a help and support to me as I have struggled with my own faith crisis these past 2+ years. As someone living in Katy, TX, who served a mission in Guatemala, and hails from Seattle WE HAVE A LOT IN COMMON.

    I stand with you brother in your struggles and wish you and your family all the best!!!

  22. June 20, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Like!

  23. Brooke R.
    June 20, 2014 at 6:55 am

    John –
    It takes a lot of strength to write this post. I suspect it wasn’t easy to write. I certainly don’t think you are a saint, rather I admire your ability and willingness to do the right thing, even in the face of such challenges. The people I admire the most, the people I look to, are those who did what they did because it was right, and just, not because it was going to get them fame or admiration from anyone. They are the ones who were willing to be flawed publicly.

    I have on my wall here at work a post card with Malcom X on it – I seem to remember you and I talking about it once, it was the same post card I had up in COSL, and then in my graduate student office. It has a quote of his “We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” I see you patiently holding a public flame for those who are in the same space you are around Mormonism. You are a light in the darkness. You do it not for fame or admiration, you do it because, I think, you have been called to do so by something bigger than you and I.

    I have always admired your energy to do all that you do. I’ve always admired those who are willing to take public risks like you do. No, you certainly aren’t a saint, but you are what people like me need – a reminder that we’re not a lone in crises of faith (or other crises of thought). You are that traveling story teller that moves from virtual town to virtual town telling the people of the news of the day, creating community across distance and time.

    Anyhow, I’m rambling. Just watching you from a far since 2006 I love what you have done with your own crises of faith. In all your flaws and being human (you know, God loves us BECAUSE we are human, because we are flawed and fallible) you are still in my prayers. I pray for nothing but peace for you and your beloveds. By the way, there is a pretty good fellow down at First Presby of Logan – the senior pastor there – Paul Heins. Sometime you two should go for coffee/ juice – I think you’d appreciate his perspective on things, and I’m quite he would appreciate yours – tell him I sent you.

    :)

  24. Bob
    June 20, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Putting up a video of Charles Barkley was not a very good example. Aside from the fact that you don’t strike me as a good basketball player, Barkley and many current athletes have such sordid lives, with no character, few people would really want them as role models.

    I think it was Emerson who said, “What you are shouts so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”

    I know in previous generations, kids had people to look up to.

    In the yesteryears it was the athlete. such as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig who recognized their importance to the kids. They’d stop and sign autographs.

    Or the statesman/ politician. The President Roosevelts and Winston Churchills who stood up in the midst of darkness and led the way.

    Or the military heroes, the Jimmy Doolittles. George Pattons and Gene Autry’s of the world. They showed their courage and honour in the face of great odds including the risk of personal injury.

    In modern times we’ve looked to the likes of Nelsen Mandella and even relatively unknown people such as Terry Fox.

    While you may not want the added pressure or responsibility of being a role model, know that your courage and integrity to stand up to an out of control organization, in some respects you and Jeremy are the voice of thousands of people who have been traumatized because of their naïve faith and trust in an organization they thought or were led to believe was of God.

    If you don’t want people to hold you in such high esteem, or as a model, then stop doing what you’re doing. Stop being courageous. Give in to the demands of the bullies.

  25. Carolyn Higdon
    June 20, 2014 at 7:22 am

    I am a convert to LDS. I have had many questions regarding church doctrine and few answers within the church. I agree that we should honestly be able to discuss our concerns without fear of retribution. To be fair I believe more of LDS doctrine than other religions. I am against organized religion and do not go to any church, I am constantly chastised for my personal belief system however, I believe more of LDS teaching than any other church. Thanks for taking a stand.

  26. Mindy Gonzalez
    June 20, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Really great thoughts, John. While I’ve never met you in person, this matches with my thoughts and views of you and your work from my hours listening to podcasts and the Facebook interactions I have had with you. I am grateful for your tireless efforts in this area. I hope you will feel peace (as much as possible) and feel buoyed up by the love that myself and so many feel for you.

  27. square peg
    June 20, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Please don’t listen to those who are criticizing you. Stand tall! You are a strong and courageous individual. All of us are flawed, even those who seem to know everything and seem to feel the need to constantly point out where you went wrong. It has been so good through my own faith crisis to have a place to go to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. I’m sorry for what you are going through for having provided that for those of us who felt alone and didn’t know where to turn. This life is not black and white. The gospel is not black and white. Truth itself is not black and white, for each person bases truth on such a vast array of facts and feelings. My heart-felt thanks to you for trying so hard to do what you felt was right. I think we all will choose different paths in our quest for truth. I wish we could all be more supportive of people even when their truth threatens what we perceive as truth. We are all human and it is so easy to let our emotions rule. May God help all of us in this life experience which is very complicated and full of struggles.

  28. Brad
    June 20, 2014 at 8:05 am

    We are all flawed in some way. You are less flawed than most and your moral conscience is shaping up quite nicely. Your path for truth for me is enlightening in a world that that thinks in noncritical norms.
    “To thine own self be true”
    Thanks so much for your sacrifice for a greater good.

    The church leaders need to be honest and truthful in a way that shows us they trust god. They are the ones that need to be called out to answer for their misdirection, omissions, lies and bigotry. They have lied for so long that they can’t live honestly and certainly they lack the ability to confess and come to repentance.
    It would be comforting if at least one of them had the moral integrity to stand before the members and god and tell the truth.

  29. Lindsey Gardner
    June 20, 2014 at 8:18 am

    As always, thank you for sharing your thoughts, experiences and feelings. Your podcasts have helped me through my faith crisis. I watched your Ted talk yesterday. Beautiful. Thanks for opening my eyes to the seriousness of glbt inequalities in the church.
    So in a nutshell…I’m sending a sincere thank you for sharing!!

  30. Ryan
    June 20, 2014 at 8:20 am

    John, you gave a voice to a large, but largely silent group of people in the church. Anything they do to or say about you, falls on all of us. I hope we’ll all have the courage to stand up and speak out because, as you point out, these are real concerns and the negative impacts are real for all of us.

    I have never felt so alone as I have as a member of the church struggling with my faith crisis. What you did wing Mormon Stories (and others like you) was give me hope that everything would be ok. Thank you for that.

    Ryan

  31. Cathe Day
    June 20, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Thank you John. We are all doing the best that we can. We are learning and growing. There should be no set standard on what our path looks like as we do learn and grow. Especially when in faith crisis. As you say, Mormonism isn’t something you can just wash off. I wish you and your family all the best.

  32. Ron Hada
    June 20, 2014 at 8:54 am

    John,

    Yesterday while watching Fox News I heard a quote from Gov Huckabee, that ironically was about traditional marriage, that I will paraphrase. Basically he said, “I am not AGAINST same-sex marriage, I am just FOR traditional marriage.” Using this same logic, it seems correct to assert that many/most of your advocates are NOT AGAINST the LDS Church, they are just FOR a more open dialogue and support what you are doing and have done so well. Like you, I am still an active member, but I acknowledge that I have many questions and concerns, that arose in much the same manner as you have expressed regarding your own faith journey. Thank you again for your courageous and articulate efforts. I am reminded of the October 2001 General Conference talk by Elder Ballard called the “Doctrine of Inclusion”. It is one of my all-time favorites. He suggested we remove the terms “non-member” and “non-Mormon” from our vocabulary. He too wanted to be known for what he is FOR, not what he is AGAINST.
    I hope your local leaders (as well as Kate Kelly’s) can appreciate the new an exciting times we live in where information is so available and insuppressible. I hope we can all appreciate each others differences and still exist within a larger tent called Mormonism. Thank you for your great articulation and courageous expressions of these difficult issues. Like you, I am not AGAINST the LDS Church, but rather I am FOR this open dialogue so we can all find our way and place as Mormons in a crazy world.

    • Paul Belfiglio
      June 20, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      @ Ron Hada

      “Like you, I am not AGAINST the LDS Church, but rather I am FOR this open dialogue so we can all find our way and place as Mormons in a crazy world.”

      Like!

      I have thought this way for a very long time as well. But to be sure a lot of LDS authorities (and regular members), both local and general, are at odds with each other over this ‘novel’ concept.

      You mentioned Elder Ballard. But take, for example, Ballard and Bednar; here’s one ‘B&B’ that I suspect may have difficulty catering to the same type of clientele on this issue.

  33. Joe
    June 20, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Your stories and podcast have helped me greatly. Thank you! Your site gave me a place to turn when my family and friends refused to try and understand what I was and continue to through.

    The LDS church continues to prove that it cannot change from within, the current leadership proclaims truth but fail to teach it. External pressure has effected large changes in the church, so if you remain a member or not, your site can be a positive force for change.

    In my experience I would not call it a crisis of faith. For me it was more the realization that I had been lied to and manipulated. I am sure in you research you have studied Steven Hassan’s work and can see the parallels to the LDS church.

  34. chuck
    June 20, 2014 at 9:47 am

    John, you may not consider yourself a hero, but I couldn’t come up with a better term if I tried! Bravo for your amazing honesty and courage. I salute you! No matter what the future hold’s. I remain a respecter of you and your good work. All the best.

  35. Troy
    June 20, 2014 at 10:04 am

    John,

    Your four differences and three stances, articulates so profoundly my own sentiments. I doubt I am alone in my feelings, and believe the numbers, like me, are in the tens of thousands within the Church.

    The church hierarchy knows this, and if they allow for the freedom of thought, free exchange of ideas, and agency by its’ members to decide for themselves about unsanitized history and doctrine;the consequences would be of epic proportion.

    I just want to say THANK YOU for your work. The good you are doing cannot be quantified, but it gives hope and strength to the tens of thousands of us, that are caught in a paradox of “faith crisis’s” and the complexities of ‘now’ mixed belief families.

    The Church leadership chooses to only ‘name call’ and toss people like me away that try to coexist. That has been my experience.

    Quoting You:

    “I tried for years to work through the disillusionment, depression, and despair that I experienced during that time (family, friends, and ward members were of little help)— and was shocked at how few resources there were in 2001 to help people navigate an LDS crisis of faith.”

    You have been a major contributor, bridging this gap. The Church still has made no sincere effort to help individuals and families navigate this real issue—they only act to silent the honest who do not think like them.

    The irony is how critical “true believing Mormons” are of governments like North Korea, yet they subject themselves to the same type of control, in the Church, found under the leadership of Kin Jong Un.

  36. Chris
    June 20, 2014 at 10:43 am

    John, thank you. You are doing a good service to people. I am happy that you will continue no matter what the outcome is.

  37. June 20, 2014 at 10:48 am

    “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.” – J. Reuben Clark (Prominent leader and apostle within the LDS Church. b. 1871 d. 1961)

  38. snj
    June 20, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Keep up the courage! In love up your podcasts in good part because you are genuine, sincere, and speak from your good kind heart.

  39. Holly
    June 20, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    I have listened to all the podcasts several times. I have not posted much here. While the “church” has always been a very harsh environment for me, I attributed it to men, rather than God.

    My daughter was bisexual. She took her own life about 10 years ago. On one particularly difficult night, I wrote about the anger I felt toward the culture of the church. And, I wrote about my sincere desire to know about eternal life, in order to be with her again. Within minutes, I received an “I’m sorry” back from you. I meant everything to me. You were actually “listening.”

    I have been worried for you lately. I knew that they would not allow you to continue speaking up for those of us that couldn’t speak up for ourselves. I just wanted to write and let you know that “I’m sorry” for the pain you and yours are going through right now.

    You are not above me or below me (hero or saint). You are human. Thank God!

  40. Doug
    June 20, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you John, I have particularly enjoyed your podcast with Sandra Tanner, and also Jeremy Runnells. Sometimes I wonder whether the church understands that each and every time the leaders choose to wield the sword of excommunication, they weaken the membership overall, as it certainly begs the question, ‘Is the doctrine of our church so fragile that it cannot withstand even a modicum of scrutiny?’.

  41. Will K.
    June 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Reading this, I understand why you REALLY are a “saint.” Proud of you, John. Believe me, as someone who went through what you describe back in the late 70’s, I can appreciate so much what you have contributed to the LDS community . . by just being honest. Love to you and your family!

  42. yvonne
    June 20, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I keep trying to remember to send money for your work with these podcasts. I think you are quite fair, giving both sides, and even the middle, the opportunity to present. I hope you, Sandra Tanner, MormonThink, etc (all the biggies in giving us the truth concerning Mormonism) have a plan for someone else to take over your/their work when you no on feel like carrying it on. Future seekers deserve/will need it.

    I, too, wish the “leaders” would be open, truthful, and let the chips fall where they may. Actually, they should be worried about their own interview with the Lord, their own place in His kingdom, if they don’t.

  43. Rob
    June 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    John – I am not trying to be mean, but, I don’t think you get it. You ARE a role model. It doesn’t matter if you don’t WANT to be a role model. A role model doesn’t require an acknowledgement from the person, and denying it doesn’t make it go away (i.e. Charles Barkley). You influence thousands of people through public means, therefore, it just doesn’t matter, you are one, and that’s why the church leadership is going after you. History will hold you to those higher standards regardless of different “requirements” from your followers.

    So, I’m going to ask you a serious question. If you truly “do not seek admiration, obedience, or discipleship”, could you just remove all of your websites, your podcasts, your posts, and everything you’ve created on the internet? (Turning it over to someone else wouldn’t work, because YOU would still get the credit.) Could you shut down everything and start over? If you would not/could not do that, then you are lying to yourself and it is about YOU. About YOU being admired and obtaining disciples. That’s called pride.

    IF that is true, and you do seek admiration and discipleship through your work, then that’s the difference between YOU and the “leaders” of the LDS Church. It’s not about THEM personally. They just point to Jesus Christ and THEIR interpretation of what HE taught. They point the way to a higher way of life. You can disagree with their interpretation, that’s fine, but you have crossed the line by creating your own version of discipleship. You have set yourself up as a “savior” leading people to follow their own conscious. That is not in harmony with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and therefore have created cause for removal from it.

    I do pray you will find peace with whatever comes your way.

    • Austin
      June 20, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      That is the most ridiculous argument. Following that logic, the fruit of all labor becomes nothing more than shellfish pride, regardless of the need it is filling, or the help it is providing others.

      Would you likewise argue that a scientist that cures cancer is being prideful by making it public and available, just because he might get some recognition for it? Is Joseph Smith, who is often seen as “worshipped” by non-Mormons, prideful because he went public with the fruit of his labor’s?

      John is clearly helping people and filling a significant need (a need created by the church, by the way), and to take all of that down, and allow people to continue to struggle when he could do something to help, would be the most sellfish thing he could do.

      • Rob
        June 21, 2014 at 10:19 am

        First, don’t use a logical error of using a specific example to support absolutes (aka – hasty generalization). Second, curing cancer is just a bad comparison (drugs do not create a cult following). Third, Joseph Smith was prideful (even unto boasting) – so non-Mormons can, and rightfully so, call him out on it.

        And lastly, that’s my point. John must be held to the same standard he criticizes because he created a “new gospel”. He is a role model (whether he wants to be or not) and has become a “savior” to others preaching the conscience is the ultimate authority. Has it helped people? Sure, yes, it has. But, it is not compatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and many believe that his work harms more people than it helps.

    • Stormin
      June 21, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      Please note 99% of the world’s population and growing, TOTALLY disagree with your proclamation/understanding of the “Gospel of Jesus Christ”. Sometimes Prideful Mormons, Christians, Muslems, etc. get the idea they really know what that means. Lucky you and 90% of the world (Buddists, Mormons, Christians, atheists other isms) KNOW you were lucky enough to be born and raised in the ONLY true religion/non religion. If you only knew how precious TRUTH really is you and 90+% of the world’s population would be more seekers than declarers of your false truths!

    • Ruth Zeeck
      June 23, 2014 at 10:31 am

      Rob, what you fail to realize is that John’s websites and podcasts are not about him. They are about me. Me and thousands of people like me who have nowhere else to turn with our questions, our pain, our journey. If John removed every single trace of himself from the internet, I have a strong belief – a testimony, if you will – that he would be just fine. In fact, it would probably be a great relief to him and his family. The real question is where would people like me be without these forums, which provide a place of refuge for us. You remind me of the Church at large and the GAs in particular: you don’t or won’t understand our questions yet you think you have the answers for us in the same tired rhetoric we’ve heard hour entire lives.

      • Rob
        June 23, 2014 at 11:18 pm

        Ruth- Please understand I am not unsympathetic to your situation and thousands of others like you. But, do you realize how cult like your post sounds like to me? (Along with many other similar comments here). I’m not questioning John’s heart, and I know he has helped many people like you. But that is exactly what I was referring to: that it appears John has become another “saviour”, bringing “peace” through following a different “gospel” (your own conscience).

        There is only one Lord and Savior who can truly heal us. “And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.” Jesus wants followers. He receives them with love and heals them that are in need. He doesn’t need competition.

        I am Mormon only insofar as I am first a Christian, and the LDS Church is the ONLY religion I have found where I am able to practice it. Having said that, I don’t care who, what, or one wiff about Joseph Smith and the problems with the history of the church (and I’m aware of all the problems). All I know is that Joseph got it right – as it is the closet match to the early Apostolic Church and teachings of the Apostles. I don’t know how Joseph did it, and I don’t care – I follow Jesus Christ, not Joseph Smith, nor John Dehlin.

  44. ChrisWir
    June 20, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    A quote from Hugh B. Brown, Counselor in the LDS Presidency (under David O. McKay):
    “I admire men and women who have developed a questing spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas as steppingstones 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 of thought in the church. People should express their problems and opinions and be unafraid to think without fear of ill consequences. [….] We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it.”

  45. Drew E
    June 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    We are all imperfect, but your love for others, honesty and humility have made you a hero to me.

  46. Jay
    June 20, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    You are trying to help those that have been exposed to the lesser known history. It is shocking when one discovers it. There is no place to go within the church.

  47. June 20, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I only stumbled upon you 3 months ago. Your site was an aided in my transition out, though it has been extremely difficult. Yea, you helped in the process. But Christ did it all…he gets the credit :)

  48. maddy
    June 20, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Thanks John–for creating a safe place to learn, to grow, to process, to feel we are not alone in this journey. My many questions arose long before I ever found your website and never once have I felt you were trying to advocate a position. Off the top of my head some of my favorite podcasts were the Bushmans, Gregory Prince and many, many more personal journeys–especially those from our LGBT brothers and sisters.

    I, too, believe in holding those in leadership capacities, claiming to adhere to a high moral standard, and those who stand in judgement of others, to a higher standard, a higher standard of humility, honesty, love and compassion.

    (I wonder if your interviews with Sandra Tanner ignited some smoldering fires within the church leadership?)

    My hope for you is that, no matter what happens, you and your family can feel love and peace–don’t let them take that from you. My hope is you will continue this work, but if not, just know you’ve helped many of us through a difficult time when we needed it.

  49. Deborah Aronson
    June 20, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    This started as a spiritual quest and you are questing. A quest for your truth is a process and after all the parched searching, asking, listening, your quest continues. 40 years ago I walked away because of the insanity; it was a different time. Oh, how rich my life has been and how I have matured spiritually. I hope you will be set free, free to heal, to search, to pray, to grieve, to heal. Your journey continues. It might be about us, about truth, about any number of things, but it is and always has been YOUR spiritual journey. Blessings as you go…..

  50. Joel
    June 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Dear John,

    I respect what you are doing in your effort to have an open and honest discussion about Mormonism and the Mormon church. However, I would be very surprised if they “leave you alone” to have this discussion. You are exposing a powerful and corrupt institution, with many vested interests. They want sheep, not intellectual enquiry.

  51. June 20, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    John as a Gentile your love of Humanity eclipses any given Tribe.
    You are a “little c” catholic, the “fair and balanced” of all isms –– a Universalist Mensch –– that should not divorce you from your favored sect as the persistence of doubt carries on.
    http://www.scari.org/anonymous_magazine.html
    Please take away from this experiment a sense of accomplishment; you have turned the heads of many thousands, folks who would be bereft of direction without your Mormon Stories inquiry.
    You can see and feel the children of a lesser god have found some light in the fog and mist of magic realism.

    Your interfaith pluralism aimed at unity among diverse religions and referring to a worldwide “religious unity” by the advocacy for a greater sense of shared spirituality is precisely what Mormons are trying to wriggle toward –– belatedly. Perhaps it’s too late to reconfigure “The Most Correct” of all believers to a more grounded form of faith in humanity.

    Thanks for giving me some hope for the Mormons. I know the planet can’t suffer more groups who claim the highest ground for their God at the expense of all others. With the assistance of a skeptic just look at what the Muslims have done for their faith with Jihad (struggle).
    Google image search: struggles with god

  52. Sergio
    June 20, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    As a Roman Catholic, I totally support your mission. Here’s how I see it, we were all created in God’s image. That includes our minds and train of thought. We’ve grown more and more smarter throughout the years, and its made our way of life. Part of out minds growing is seeking answers to the really tough questions. Your “leaders” should not discourage you but embrace you and help you in your mission.

    • Daniel
      June 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      John, I too am a Roman Catholic who listens to your podcast regularly. Your message is a universal one and I always feel you are trying to live the love of Jesus Christ. My prayers are with you and with all my LDS friends at this time.

  53. Claudette
    June 20, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    John, you are my friend. You always tell me the truth, you share your thoughts with me, you are ever generous. You have held my hand through my hard times, and you live your life openly and honestly. I wish I could do the same for you, but I can’t, so I try to be a good friend to others who are experiencing their own serious problems. Again, thank you.

  54. June 21, 2014 at 1:59 am

    Hello John! I am so happy for you for finding out what really matters in life and implementing it without delay. I am proud of you for your endurance and perseverance. I find true peace and happiness through my Gospel beliefs and being an active LDS member. We are prosylting missionaries (full time) in Ogden, Utah and see firsthand the amazing changes the tenets of the LDS Gospel bring about in peoples lives. Spiritual things are discerned spiritually. God bless you and your family always. Love, Kitty (sheila and dr bruce hunter)

    Alma 37:43-46 “for it is easy to give heed to the words of Christ… which will point to you a straight course to eternal life, as is was for our fathers to give heed to this compass. for so it was with them…the way is prepared, if you will look you will live forever.

  55. Nate
    June 21, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Here’s what you’ve got. Authenticity and dignity. Nobody can take that from you. Thank you for your work.

  56. Ray
    June 21, 2014 at 9:58 am

    John,
    I am also very grateful for the perseverance and persistence you have demonstrated in this process you have been so dedicated to. It is a process and you have been a catalyst for the most pure intentions of the awaking that is needed. You’re courage and devotion to this eventuality has been incredible and admirable! Bravo to you!
    One insight I realized recently in all the conversations going on here at Mormon Stories and Mormon Think, is the William Law saga. This is a man who stood up to Joseph Smith’s ego and refused to follow the interests of the dark side of JS. The point is for those willing to be critical thinkers, is that when you realize that in one season William Law was the ideal candidate for the calling of and subsequent ordination to be a counselor in the First Presidency of the True Church of Jesus Christ restored.
    Then a few seasons later he is suddenly the major contributor to, supposedly, the Expositor newspaper in Nauvoo, calling out Joseph Smith’s ego for being a fallen Prophet! Any clear thinking human being can see that something happened to this man that Joseph Smith through inspiration called to be his closest confidant, and then suddenly became the catalyst for the eventual demise of Joseph and Hyrum.
    The polyandry circumstances involved in this relationship and other scenarios involving former Gov. Boggs of Missouri would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for any of us! The whole notion of having the capable discernment one day, that leads to your own death another day? All members of the Mormon Corporation of the church of Latter Day Saints need to ponder on this one instance to break free from the Blindness!

  57. Dave
    June 21, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I heard your recent talk at a recent Sunstone Symposium, about not necessarily having to leave the Church. I admire your research, blog, interviews, etc. I spend 40 years as a member. I still have a membership and one day I will send my resignation to the Church. I concluded that if the foundations of the Church are false, I find no reason to keep supporting that corporation and bureaucracy. I cannot understand why you still want to keep your membership when you question so much the Church. I have not been that smart to conclude that you can help members better by trying to keep your membership, which I really doubt you will. It may be easier for me to maintain this attitude, since I have no pioneer ascendance, not born a Utahn, but still grew up as a Mormon and the only thought that stays in my mind is that Church stole my life and my decisions, because I decided my life based on lies. I appreciate your comments and also comments from other people to teach me better. Thanks.

  58. Juhani
    June 21, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Love and truth is the only way, keep on this great work you are doing.

  59. Trevor Hughes
    June 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I went through the agonizing process of studying real church history and then resigning from the church 50 years ago (when I was about your age). I truly admire you for what you have been doing. I guess my advise to you is don’t fear becoming an exmorm. My life became much better after I left. I agree with you that over time the church will have to mature to the point were they stop trying to shame people for what they truly believe; but that will be too late for you and I.

  60. Penny Meadows
    June 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Dear Dehlin Family,

    I wanted to send you a recipe that I hope you can use for any time(s) of celebration(s).

    Penny’s Peanut Butter Squares

    1 cup Peanut Butter (crunchy or smooth)
    1 cup Butter or Margarine (butter works best–gives firmer base for treat)
    1 lb. (pound / 4 cups) Powdered Sugar.
    1 pkg. Graham Crackers (using individual pkg. inside box)
    or
    1 cup Rice Krispies
    1 12-16 oz. pkg. Milk Chocolate Chips (any flavor, like White or Dark
    Chocolate if desired instead of Milk)
    1 jar Decorative Sprinkles (optional)

    Melt butter / margarine and peanut butter in microwave (about 30 sec). Sift Powdered
    Sugar and add. Crumb either Graham Crackers or Rice Krispies and add. The Graham
    Crackers / Rice Krispies are the binder. Mix all of these ingredients together and press
    in a prepared (greased) cookie sheet. It usually takes approx. 11/2 recipes to fill cookie
    sheet. Melt Chocolate chips and spread over top. If desired sprinkle colored sprinkles
    over top. Let set and cut. May refrigerate or freeze. A fun option would be to spread
    White Chocolate on one side, Milk / Dark Chocolate on the other. Using a spatula, mix
    2 Chocolates together to create a Marble affect. There’s NOT a calorie in this treat.

    I hope you enjoy this treat. I wish I could offer more–this and my prayers that the right things
    and the desires of your heart(s) happen.
    Thanx for all you’ve done for me. If you ever come to the University of Utah hospital, come to
    surgery and say “Hello”.

    Penny Meadows

  61. Lucie
    June 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I just listened to the interview with Doug Fabrizio and really loved what you responded to the caller who asked you why you are still in the church in spite of your doubts. I am no longer an “active member” for many reasons (one being that I do not want to have children and that doesn’t sit well with the idea of “replenish the earth” as you can imagine), but am still very hurt by this whole mess. I wish you (and everyone else who is going through this Inquisition) the best.

  62. TJ
    June 21, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    John, contrary to those who call for silence and censorship, you will always have applause from the hearts and minds of those who know better.

    As I watched your episode “Why I Stay” I was moved by your sincerity and I felt the anguish.

    I think you have no choice but to try and enlighten the establishment, when so many of our neighbors, co-workers, family, friends, loved ones etc… completely defer their thinking to it.

    You did not create these problems. And the people that you help did not create these problems.

    I see you as far less faulty than many self proclaimed authoritarians in this part of the woods.

  63. Gary
    June 21, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    John, I was already out of the church before I discovered your podcasts. Still, they were a great comfort to me and opened my eyes to many previously unknown aspects of the church and it’s history. I’ve admired your honesty all along the line and fully appreciate how your attitude has evolved over the years with respect to church participation (whose attitude doesn’t evolve?). Yours is not the only Mormon-themed podcast I’ve listened to, but it was the first and it made a great impression. You have always placed integrity at the top of your priority list, and I appreciate that you continue to do so under the pressure of ecclesiastical threats. Keep up the good work.

  64. Lilli
    June 22, 2014 at 12:14 am

    John,

    You have a righteous desire to want the Church to openly discuss these difficult topics and even to own the mistakes and falsehoods they have done and taught since Brigham Young started his church. But such desires will probably never be honored, for the Church is sadly like the Zoramites, far too prideful to ever think they are wrong, let alone admit it and discuss it and try to repent. The Church and it’s leaders are past feeling.

    Thus they cast out the humble seeker of truth, for the Church isn’t and has never been about truth, but about power, prestige & gain. One of the reasons for that is because the LDS Church is not the same church that Joseph or Christ started, it is only one of the many breakoffs from Joseph’s church after he died. The LDS church is really just Brigham Young’s Church, never has been Christ’s, he would not have anything to do with such a corrupt corporation. But he will help individual members awake and find the truth, his Gospel, which is not taught or followed by the Church.

    The LDS Church is no more God’s or Joseph’s Church then the RLDS is or FLDS or Catholics are, etc.

    The Church doesn’t want to talk about the man or actions behind the curtain of history, it just wants you to believe in and obey the ‘great and powerful Prophet’, nevermind that he doesn’t follow Christ or even the scriptures they profess to be founded on (BOM), for LDS Prophets will just have some new revelations that trumps even Christ. That is just how prideful the church of Brigham Young is and always has been.

    Though you may not know it yet, the Church would be doing you a be favor if they cast you out, for only then may you start to see things you didn’t see before and not want to support Brigham’s Church & Corporation anymore, but instead turn and follow Christ, which no one needs a church to do.

    There has been no true church since the days of Christ and his apostles, even before the Apostles died the true church was already going into apostasy with the members and local leaders adding or changing or ignoring doctrines. Even Joseph Smith didn’t restore a true church (the Gospel in it’s fullness was never lost, it’s all in the New Testament), but Joseph did create a better church then most churches have, assuming he told the truth and didn’t live polygamy. If he lied and really did live polygamy then he just is another scoundrel like Brigham Young that easily leads people astray to do evil, and we should have nothing to do with such men or their churches.

    For again, no one needs a church in order to follow Christ and be like him and gain eternal life. Everyone can just follow Christ on their own in their own homes with family & friends, like they did in the days of Christ.

  65. coco
    June 22, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I was 16yearsold when I was baptized without my parents permission. I stayed in the church for 15 years. Sealed in the temple and held many positions in the church. I was excommunicated when I was 30. I thought I would not be able to bear the hurt and shame. and now over 30 years later I’m so happy I never went back. The leaders thought that I would be rebaptized. So thankful I did not do that. I can totally understand the strong pull the culture has on you. It did on me and I wasn’t born in the church and none of birth family were members. Nor did I live in a Mormon community. I’ve wanted for along time to tell my story. Maybe someday I will. I remember when I found your web site about ayear ago. I was so excited that someone would be brave enough to ask the hard questions. I still find it fascinating that a religion has been built on the Joseph Smith story and have such an appearance of success. I can’t help but find humor in this crazy world we live in. I know none of this seems funny to you right now and it may never. But I do hope you and your family will find peace and a lightness of spirit that for me came when I got OUT.

  66. David Waters
    June 22, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Thank you John,
    I wish there was something I could say to make this dark time disappear, but sadly I can’t. When you are born and raised under a religious framework such as LDS.INC, when the bubble of truth bursts, the landing is difficult. I was born and raised in the church and spent 40 years active. I’ve held a number of callings and knew no other way.
    When I learned the truth that the church was founded on a complete fabrication I was devastated, shocked, and really pissed off. I was angry that the organization that seemed to judge my actions and categorize my worthiness was founded in a collection of untruths and legends by a man whose personal life was shockingly similar to Warren Jeff’s’. I have always been able to admit my flaws and sins, but sadly the church and it’s leadership cannot.
    It was through your website, and several others, that I learned I was not alone. I went from being angry to informed. I have corresponded with Jeremy Runnels and found him to be a kind, genuine, and sincere individual. My issue is not the members. They help raise me and were truly salt of the earth, but sadly, the organization they swear their allegiance to is less concerned with the individual than the collective. My inactive brother and sister torture themselves for their inactivity and “unfaithfulness” all the while LDS.INC is keeps pounding their dogma to the masses and reaping financial rewards. They have the audacity to criticize evangelists for asking for money while telling members tithing will prevent them from “burning as stubble.”
    The point is…you have helped me more than the organization ever has. You’ve listened to our pain and tried to act. You have heard our cries and instead dismissing us as worthless sinners you’ve attempted to help. For that, I thank you.
    I am happily married and even attend a church. I’m here in Dallas and couldn’t be happier. The Church I thought I couldn’t live without was actually the thing that weighted me down the most. Be of good cheer my brother…you have friends.
    Dave

    • Samuel
      June 22, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      Thank you David for sharing…

  67. Daniel Graham
    June 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    John,

    You provided a light in the darkness. Your work with mormonstories let me know that I wasn’t alone. It helped me give myself permission to share my own story with my close friends and family members.

    I can’t thank you enough.

    Daniel

  68. Lilli
    June 22, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Amen Dave. Great post. I too found the Church was the thing in my life that was weighing me down the most, taking advantage of me and my sacred tithes (mean’t for the poor, not to line the pockets of rich leaders) and leading me and my family astray and teaching us things opposite to Christ’s teachings.

  69. June 22, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    John, I follow mormonstories and it has been a great support, and continues to be so, as I struggle with my own gospel issues. What is not a criticism, but does confuse me, is bearing in mind your beliefs/non beliefs that you have disclosed, why is it important to you to retain your membership???

  70. ChrisWir
    June 23, 2014 at 12:44 am

    So, a temporary “Yeeeah!” for the delay of Kate Kelly’s verdict?!

    • ChrisWir
      June 23, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      And now we mourn with Kate Kelly.

  71. Troy
    June 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Observation: Losing your membership will make your podcast “unsafe” to listen to for many newly disaffected and questioning members.

    Although my ship has sailed, I have many friends and family in this questioning category that listen to your podcasts. Please continue to be respectful of them and the church that they care so much about. The church still works for millions of members. Being negative towards the church will turn them off from what you are trying to do. This is similar to those of us who know that our families are dysfunctional, but we won’t stand for people making fun of them! Please just present the facts in journalistic style. Your listeners are smart enough to make their own decisions. You will lose your effectiveness if you espouse an ex-Mormon viewpoint and mentality. The ex-Mormon, the-church-is-crazy space is already full anyway. However, please, please continue to ask the hard questions that might be uncomfortable to your interviewees no matter what side they come down on. We need those questions answered! Happiness in this life, as well as our status in the eternities depend on getting all the information to make good choices.

    Love you John. You are making a difference.

  72. Elizabeth
    June 23, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    I just want to tell you how brave I think you are to follow your own course, the one you feel to be true. We have too much dishonesty already in this world. May you find peace and God bless!

  73. Thomas
    June 23, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    John,

    Thank you for your honesty. It is hard to find the truth when one is told not to question authority or research the past. To quote the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life”–“I just had to look/ Having read the book.” What I discovered made me decide to become a moral person rather than a religious person. I haven’t attended church for 47 years and was eventually excommunicated in the early ’80s. The Internet has allowed me to discover that this small-town Utah boy was never really alone in his thinking. Your podcasts have confirm that. I wish you peace and understanding.

  74. JT
    June 23, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Dear John,

    I cannot recall how or when I first heard or came upon your podcasts, but it has been a couple years now. I’ve found them educational, interesting, poignant, inspiring and also sad.

    I have never met you and do not know you, but you came across as a thoughtful, intelligent, likeable, and calm person on the podcasts. I imagine you have a lot of good qualities as an individual, husband, father and friend.

    Since hearing about your impending disciplinary court date in the news (I live outside your state), I have been following things a little more closely. I recently visited the Mormon Stories website and read your recent missive, “Flawed, but Trying.” I think that title can pretty much represent the journey of most of mankind.

    I wanted to write and share with you how what you wrote in that missive struck me as an outsider. When you reiterate in depth about your faith crisis on your mission (I went to the link) and a subsequent crisis later on, it seems to me that you have never been able to move on from those (and perhaps other) episodes of disillusionment with your faith and church. It appears that a lot of former leaders in your church have let you down (Joseph Smith, in particular, and your mission president to name a few). Twenty-five plus years is a long time to still feel that way.

    My question for you is, “What feelings did you experience then and what feelings do you experience now when you think about it?” These must be very painful thoughts and feelings for you to still be dealing with all this. From your expose on the flaws of these leaders, they appeared to personally hurt you or at least your sense of morality. It is almost like they took something away from you that you were never able to get back. What was it? What is missing that you haven’t been able to reclaim?

    You know John what is going on here is really about what is going on inside of you (seeing that you will soon hold a PhD in psychology, I think you realize this). It is evident that there are a lot of other people (from some of the podcasts) who share some similar issues and perhaps even circumstances as you do. It is very clear that what is happening here is very personal to you on many levels. Is there anything that would make it better? What would that look like?

    It doesn’t seem that you can reasonably expect your church to change at this point in time. Perhaps it will in the future, but then again perhaps it won’t. And it doesn’t look like this situation has gotten any better. So, why not just take a break from all of this? Why not just put this all on hold and focus on other things? Or perhaps resigning from your church is the answer?

    In my opinion, it is always better to take responsibility for where we are at and take action rather than be acted upon such as your upcoming church disciplinary court. I was a little surprised to read that your hope is “that they will simply leave me and my family alone.” This comment sounds like you are feeling like a victim. Why not take responsibility for who you are and where you are at with all of this?

    It might be the healthiest alternative for your family. Why continue to replay your personal podcast of disillusionment over and over, thus causing yourself to feel as you did those twenty-five years ago? The world and you and those you know will continue on. “Choosing” excommunication might be just what you really need right now.

    Sincerest best wishes to you and your lovely family. Please explain to them that what is going on here isn’t about what is happening outside of you, but rather what is happening inside of you. They will understand that if they haven’t all ready. But, it will help them to remain unencumbered as much as possible by all of this, so they can move forward into their futures as your move forward into yours.

    Yours sincerely,
    JT

  75. Michael
    June 24, 2014 at 3:04 am

    John,

    I have always appreciated your work online bringing to attention people’s pain for those who struggle with the problems of Mormonism. I was about 30 years old when my faith crisis began (around 1999) and I felt very little was available online for members like me. It was some ten years later I found “why members leave the church” on YouTube.com and discovered your work helping members come to term with their faith crises. I want to thank you John for your pioneering work in aiding me and others like me who struggle fitting in the Mormon church before or after a crisis of faith.

    Your Mormon Stories podcasts have also been excellent in helping me to understand the pain others have gone through in their faith struggles.

    If their is any sin you are guilty of, it is for having compassion for those who are suffering within the church who feel they have no where else to go. You listen, you act, and help bring people together to help in the healing that is so much needed.

    Sincerely,

    Michael Francis

  76. Jarom Lamoeaux
    June 24, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Thanks John-

    I appreciate your work on scrupulosity. Years of pain led me to the same conclusions you had in your peer reviewed paper. I wish I would have met you sooner, however, I applaud that you are providing tools to free people from pain.

  77. Sherry
    June 24, 2014 at 11:46 am

    John, in light of Kate’s excommunication, my concerns for you have doubled. I’m sending you many blessings of love and peace. You have spoken many truths that have blessed my life. You are loved and supported by many and whatever the outcome for you Sunday, my admiration for your efforts will not waver.

  78. C. Rider
    June 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Oh John, I wish you hadn’t thrown Kate Kelly in at the end. You have integrity, Kate is manipulative and dishonest. Some people want to support you and wish you didn’t make this refer to both of you. Apples and oranges!

    • Maddy
      June 25, 2014 at 5:59 am

      C.Rider
      I fear you are right. Apples and oranges. I recently discovered a 2010 podcast here John did with Kate Kelly (#147)–on a totally different subject. Clearly activism runs through her veins, not that that is bad, but I am troubled by what appears to be misrepresentation on Kelly’s part as to what has been going on for the past several months between her and her local leaders.

      • C. Rider
        June 25, 2014 at 1:04 pm

        Wow thanks for the link! I’m sharing that

  79. Damon
    June 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I woke up thinking about the first amendment to the constitution and how it protects us from governing bodies restricting our freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble and the freedom to petition the government. How pitifully ironic it is that a church protected by the first part of the amendment can so casually disregard the rest of the amendment it depends on for its existence.

  80. Clara
    June 24, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Dear John:

    I can’t express how much I have enjoyed your podcasts over the years, since I had my faith crisis. You have done so much excellent work and have helped so many people.

    If excommunicated, this will not affect your ability to keep helping, keep podcasting, keep reaching out to others who find out that their beloved church isn’t all it has claimed.

    The church’s goal is to stop you and silence you. Please don’t be silenced! What difference does it make anyway? You are a Mormon, you always be a Mormon, no matter what a piece of paper says. It doesn’t matter what the Corporation says. Keep on keepin’ on!

    Much love and thanks!

  81. Mariangel Wilkinson
    June 24, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Before I say anything else, I would like to make it clear where MY belief is. Personally, I know that Christ lives. I have personally felt his nearness in my life. I believe the Book of Mormon to be true, I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet and that Thomas Monson is a living prophet today. I also know that we are ALL human, even the prophets, old and new. One only has to look to the Bible to see that! Need I name a few? David, Jonah, Thomas (as in doubting), Peter, Paul, and on and on. We are all learning. And growing. And changing. And yes, sometimes questioning.

    However, I have learned in the church if you don’t like the way the wind is blowing, just stick around, it will change. Do the Great principles change? No. Does leadership and opinions? yes. The commandments will never change. Thou shalt not commit adultery will never change. The law of tithing will not change. The need for baptism, or temple ordinances or the sacrament or staying faithful. Does the way we cut our hair or wear our clothes or what time we go to church (or what day for that matter) or who the current Bishop is in your ward or what ward you are in, can and do those things change? Absolutely. I once had a Bishop tell my husband and me that if we drank Coke we couldn’t hold a temple recommend. My husband- who’s favorite beverage was Coke, said “I guess I don’t drink Coke anymore!” Interestingly, there was a letter some short time after that, that went out to the church that said, basically, one was not to be denied a temple recommend if they drank caffeinated beverages. Only what was specified, ie, coffee, tea, tobacco and alcohol. Now I am not saying we should drink coke or anything else that we know isn’t good for us. Just that the Bishop was stepping out of bounds and it eventually got fixed.

    I can name other instances in my 66 years of similar things. But the point is, I made a promise to sustain the leadership, unless they ask me to do something that I know is a sin – though I have never had that happen. There have been changes that were a hard pill for me to swallow, or callings I thought someone had lost their marbles. (“sustain, sustain”) But I have been told such and such, that I knew was not right. Most of the time I ignore it and eventually it gets fixed, sooner or later. I will give you another example. A stake leadership, who did not want us to stand for the singing of the National Anthem. I was the ward music director. (So we didn’t sing the National Anthem for awhile while I waited for change!) Well, that got my hackles up though. I had a discussion with the powers that be in the ward and stake and got.. nowhere. So I called the Presiding Bishop’s office and politely told them what had happened and pointed out that if we believe is sustaining the law of the land, we ought to stand when that is sung. A few months later, another letter.

    But in reality these were not things that there was a real question about, just one or 2 people’s opinion that was off. The point is, I followed the person in leadership, waiting (sometimes not as patiently) for things to correct. How do I sustain my faith in the face of people who don’t do what they should or teach false doctrine or want my boys to cut their hair shorter? I remember they are as human as I and they are still learning. But the thing I NEVER did, was try to convince others in the church that what was going on was wrong and we needed to take a stand. NEVER! Don’t you think the Lord knows what is going on in his church at any given time!? He occasionally lets us thrash around awhile (which in the eternal perspective can be a moment and quite a long time to us), but ultimately he won’t let things get too far out of hand with his chosen people.

    By the way, not to debate it, but on the matter of women holding the priesthood, I don’t see many men asking to become pregnant and birth a child after 9 months! Let the men have the priesthood. I’ll take motherhood any day.

    Life is about learning and making mistakes and learning to overcome the mistakes. And Prophets, Joseph Smith and any others, are no exception. But we have promised to sustain, in the meantime. God will not forsake us, ever. So get off your pity parties and stand up straight and go forward with FAITH. Understanding will come, eventually. And if you really don’t believe the tenets of the church, go find one you do believe. Then live and be true to what you choose and profess to believe. But please, don’t mess with what I choose to believe, namely the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    • Jesse Farias
      June 26, 2014 at 7:16 am

      What I gleaned from your self righteous words is that over the years you have become a blind follower. In my estimation what good is a testimony if it keeps you from taking a stand against what is wrong? I could never be such a lemming and for this reason I left the LDS church. No regrets whatsoever.

    • Maddy
      June 26, 2014 at 10:57 pm

      You make some good points, but others i disagree with, like equating pregnancy, labor and delivery with holding the preisthood. Do we learn in the temple that women giving birth is the equivalent to men holding the preisthood? Think about it.

      There are many women who never have the experience of giving birth, and for most women it is only a very small part of our lives. The birth process doesn’t make one a mother. Raising, loving and caring for children make mothers and fathers. I would love my children the same whether I gave birth to them or not. And if men had to give birth, no doubt there would be far fewer children or unplanned pregnancies. Birthing children is not the equivalent of priesthood authority.

  82. Jesse Farias
    June 25, 2014 at 9:36 am

    John,

    As a former mormon who knows the crisis of faith you sought to help I want to thank you for the manner in which you continue to use your time, talent, and resources to help others. Regardless of the outcome my prayer is that you will continue to seek out opportunities to impact lives for good. I believe God has equipped and gifted you with the wisdom and compassion needed to encourage and inspire others who are going through difficult times. Your work is not done. There is more for you experience and achieve. Throughout this process may God remind you that “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.”

    Blessings to you & your family,

    Jesse

  83. J Wheeler
    June 25, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    God bless you & your family John,
    I actually believe by excommunicating you, they will be contributing to the increased speed of the exodus. If someone as open minded, willing to tackle difficult topics, and willing to stay IN the church, despite their doubts, possible guilt at times, and stress of constantly looking over your shoulder is on their hit list… All I can say is buckle up all those remaining LDS, because you that are left are going to be cleaning the chapels on your own to save money, but mowing the temple grounds, and cleaning the temples will be next on your service lists. Oh yeah, mission costs will probably be in the $600 – $700 a month range as more and more TITHE payers leave or are excommunicated… Sounds fantastic!

  84. Snj
    June 27, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Thank you for all your podcasts on mormon stories. I love the thoughtful way you approach hard issues as a seeker of truth and honesty. I appreciate that your podcasts do not feel contentious nor is there bickering opinions back and forth during your interviews. It’s truly a wonderful gift you have given to mormons who have serious knawing questions. and want to learn more but don’t necessarily want to read through anti mormon material on other websites. I am amazed by your courage. Keep up the good work.

  85. David
    June 27, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    John,

    Good luck this Sunday. I’d like to think that your disciplinary hearing will be about love and acceptance. It’s up to god to punish, It’s our job to love and forgive. Punishing is easy, loving those around you who are not like you, that’s difficult sometimes!

    The reason I still attend and bring my family to church is that I want to think that I’m wanted and valued in my ward. I guess we’ll find out this Sunday. Your podcasts are the reason I still go to church.

  86. Emerio
    June 27, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Hi John, just want to kindly ask you that, no matter what happens thiss upcoming Saunday, please continue mormon stories. Please don’t stop. The good your podcast and blog articles do are beyond measure.
    We appreciate you and your work very much.

  87. Salvador
    June 28, 2014 at 8:27 am

    John,

    You do realize by now that the fix is in and that the very thing you are being excommunicated for (public discussion of doubts and crises of faith) is the same thing which the church cannot tolerate. It weakens them, therefore, you will be made an example in an attempt to dissuade others. But the others will come, wave after wave, because truth cannot be held back. A karmic debt is owed here and the Universe will mete justice. Have courage and please continue your good work of spreading truth and gracefully accept your fate. God bless!

  88. Mark J
    June 29, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    John, I am an active member of the LDS church. I have two kids currently serving as full-time missionaries. I, like so many others, am appreciative of your sincere efforts to provide a forum for discussion and debate where nothing is off limits. For me personally, this as been invaluable as I’ve wanted to understand our history and beliefs for what they are – good or bad, wrong or right. I also feel you’ve provided a balanced approach that is neither overly pro-mormon nor anti-mormon. Instead your programs have been conscientious of issues and concerns of members, while always being respectful. And in the end, your programs have been about personal truth. I might be one of many, or one of few (I’m not sure), but I’ve had my testimony and beliefs ultimately strengthened. I hope the leaders of the church see that you are a catalyst for good, if nothing else.

  89. MaineGeezer
    June 30, 2014 at 5:32 am

    A few thoughts:

    I’ll start off with a quote from Mark Twain:

    “The ease with which I know another man’s religion to be folly makes me suspect that my own may be also.”

    My general belief is that all religions have some element of The Truth, but no religion has all of it. Nobody has The Answer. People see a bit of The Truth and are so awed by it they think they have got It. Somebody else sees another bit and think they have It. Both are true — as far as they go — but they are in fact only the merest hints of the total grandeur.

    I find the general portrayal of God to be pathetically limited. God is the universe, billions of light-years in extent, yet most of the time God is shown as a petty tyrant.

    Those individuals who set themselves up as Authorities are 1) incredibly conceited and 2) mostly incorrect. (John, I do not count you among that number.)

    All that is why I’m a Unitarian Universalist, which relies on teachings from all the world’s religions and doesn’t claim to have The Answer. It helps you to find YOUR answer, which may be different from mine.

    I’m not sure what any of that has to do with you, John, except I totally support your right to question.

  90. Kam
    July 7, 2014 at 1:51 am

    you know, for being a group of people who support open discussion and thought expression, Mariangel sure did get labeled as a mindless lemming pretty quickly.

  91. Greg
    July 7, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    John-
    I have only found some of the many resources made available through your tireless efforts as of late. It is abundantly clear that you love your fellow man and want to help them with their sincere quest to find and know “The Truth”. I for one thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity that I have had to communicate with and learn from my many brothers and sisters in the faith in a safe and non-judgemental environment. I look forward to our continuing association as we try to lift ourselves and each other up in our eternal pursuit of the “fullness of truth”.
    I hope more than anything that you feel the love and support that has been expressed in these posted messages for the great service you have rendered to your fellow man. Fear not what man may do. I know that a loving God would never condemn you if he knows your heart. Thank you again my friend- for you truly are my friend.

  92. Michael
    July 15, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    “Ye shall know the truth shall set you free.” Thank the Lord there are people like you who seek truth and live it at all costs. You will be set free from bondage of LDS leader’s chains. They chain themselves and their brain washed members by not teaching, “the whole truth and only the truth so help them God.” By hiding ‘non-faith” promoting facts about the church the leaders are accessories to fraud, especially when they punish members who publish the truth in it’s entirety. I am a member since I was seventeen. I’m much older now. I served a mission for the church. I was always taught to tell the truth both at home and by the church. The thing that bothers me the most is that the Church itself lies by deception and omission. If God is truth then the complete truth of all things would be spoken by his prophet and his church. Therein lies the problem. By hiding and even in some cases denying the existence of provable facts the Church positions itself to be on the side of the father of lies, the great deceiver, Satin. I would love nothing better than that the church was exactly what it says it is, the Church of Jesus Christ. The Savior NEVER hid the truth. He actually taught his disciples that a candle should not be hid under a basket, but placed high on a hill. I wish the church would do that with it’s true, complete history. Any true history that is not “faith promoting” is still truth and should be taught. The only thing that the church might fear in teaching it’s true history is that people might know the truth. What a shame, because truth makes us free! I choose to be free.

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