John Dehlin

I am a 5th generation Mormon, primarily through the Benson and Parkinson family lines.

I was raised in Katy, TX, served a mission in Guatemala/Tempe, AZ, and attended BYU as an undergraduate.  I married my wife, Margaret Weber Dehlin, in the Washington D.C. temple, and worked for 15 years in the high tech industry, including positions at Bain & Company, Microsoft, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2009 I left my career in high tech to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical, counseling, and school psychology at Utah State University.  My clinical and research interests involve the nexus of religion and mental health.  My master’s thesis focused on developing a treatment for religion-based obsessive compulsive disorder (i.e., Scrupulosity).  My dissertation focused on the experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Mormons — with a specific focus on the prevalence, ineffectiveness, and harm of sexual orientation change efforts for LGBT Mormons and former Mormons.

I have deep love for the LDS church, for its members, and for its former members.  At present, I consider myself to be an unorthodox, unorthoprax Mormon.  I believe in many of the central, non-distinctive moral teachings within Mormonism (e.g., love, kindness, charity, forgiveness, faith, hope), but either have serious doubts about, or no longer believe many of the fundamental LDS church truth claims (e.g., anthropomorphic God, “one true church with exclusive authority,” that the current LDS church prophet receives privileged communications from God, that The Book of Mormon and The Book of Abraham are translations, polygamy, racist teachings in the Book of Mormon, that ordinances are required for salvation, proxy work for the dead).

I do not believe that anyone has any idea what God and/or the afterlife are really like (if these things, indeed, exist at all).  And so, while I respect non-judgmental forms of religious belief, I believe that believers walk by hope/faith alone (not knowledge), and that non-believers are to be respected for their courage to disbelieve.  I believe that when science and religion collide, science almost always wins and religion retreats, and that this historical fact should lead religious people to respect/embrace, and not fear/reject science and reason.

I believe that many LDS church leaders have good intentions, but I am deeply troubled by their historical and current treatment of women, racial and sexual minorities, and scientists/intellectuals (see here for Example A).  I am also troubled by their historical and current approaches to faith/doubt, sexuality, the pursuit of vast commercial interests along with financial non-disclosure, the coercion/shaming of members through the withholding of temple and priesthood privileges, and the current culture of leader worship within the LDS church.  I believe that the discouraging of criticism of LDS church leaders is possibly the single most pernicious and damaging aspect of LDS church culture — and that sunlight and candor are ultimately the best disinfectants.

I am dedicating the remaining years of my life to: 1) helping minimize the harm, and maximize the good within religious and secular cultures, and 2) helping those who are transitioning away from religious orthodoxy find joy, meaning, and fulfillment in their lives, families, and communities — whether within, or outside of a formal church structure.

I recently completed my Ph.D., and am in the process of opening up a private psychology practice focusing on: 1) religious faith transitions, 2) marital conflict due to religious differences, 3) religion-related anxiety (e.g., Scrupulosity), 4) sexual issues in a religious context (e.g., healthier and more effective approaches to sensitive issues like masturbation, sexuality, and pornography use), and 5) providing support for LGBT individuals from a religious background.  If you are in need of help in one of these areas, please feel free to contact me.  I will do what I can.

Finally, I am a happily married father to four wonderful children: Anna, Maya, Clara, and Winston.  They, along with Margi, are the most important parts of my life — and I am working every day to be a better husband and father to them.  Some days, I feel like I am actually making progress in this regard.  Will keep trying.   :)

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38 comments for “John Dehlin

  1. Guest1
    April 11, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Can really relate to your cause. It takes courage to confront the stereotypes branded around as truths. Keep up the fantastic work, especially in helping struggling Mormons be at peace with their personal views. It is my dream that someday the church will evolve and become more accepting, more open of the past.

  2. David
    July 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Hi John, I just wanted to say that I saw your video on YouTube about why people leave the church and you were spot on. I mean it was me to a tee. I left about 4 years ago when I stumbled upon all of the things you mentioned. For me it started with the stone in the hat, but I dug until I found all of what you listed and a few things more. Having felt duped, I was reluctant to join another church–like you said, will you really find a better one? But you see for me it was more important to know the truth, than find a church. so I investigated Christianity in the same way. I read Bart Eherman, I watched theologians debate atheists. I read Dawkins and Hitchens. I read the History of God, and Did Man Create God? It turns out that Christianity is plagued by the same historical problems as Mormonism, as is Judaeism, and Islam. It seems man created the monotheistic god, just as he did the polytheistic gods before him. Religion is all man made. Now there may be a god, goddess, or higher power, but these religions have no claim to authoritive truth. whatever god or power out there must prefer to remain a mystery. I’ve learned it is perfectly okay not to have all the answers, and I would rather have good answers that I’m not sure about, than fairy tales that I “know” are true.

    • Nick
      October 29, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      Thanks for your reply, David. I was touched by what you said. I am trying to gain the courage to tell my wife that I am agnostic. I can’t shake the feelings that I’ve experienced about religious topics (BofM, priesthood, etc) and I don’t know where to put these if God doesn’t or “maybe” exists. No one in my family understands what I’m going through and continue to give me arguments that stretch to reach truth, more often leading to “I know because of the Spirit,” or “the philosophies of men” or “you’re in sin” and most recently was told that I’m acting like I’m a victim by choosing not to believe all of the brethren’s words because I feel like I’ll be led astray like the Willy Handcart company.

  3. Bryan Peifer
    August 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    John, I watched your video on why people leave the church and as David said in the previous message…Spot On! I’m a convert to the church and had read the scriptures since I was 11 years of age. After about 5 years of being a member of the church I just started to grow a little edgy about the corporate feel to coming to church. I would find the attitude of recruitment to the organization a little disturbing. I spent time as a stake missionary, Seventy, ward mission leader and in the stake mission presidency and it seemed more about numbers than people. This wasn’t the Christianity that I read about and desired. Because of something you said in that video made me glad that I’ve not walked away. It’s to make it better. I’ve heard the attitude come across the pulpit at times that the church doesn’t need you, you need the church. Well, I beg to differ. I need Christ and Christ wants me.

  4. Guest2
    August 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Hi John, Also watched your videos – interview with Shawn McCraney and why people leave the church. I was born in the church. My mom’s ancestors crossed the plains, my dad was a convert. I fell in love with a non-mormon at BYU and followed him out of the country to his own in South America. Fast forward 20 years and I have been inactive ever since and explored Re-Evaluation counseling, spiritual healing, Ram Dass, Neem Karoli Baba, Siddha Yoga, reading books about the many incarnations of Jesus and the Ascended Masters. Currently have a Catholic Jungian mentor who told me leaving my church was a mistake. I agree – I miss the community. I wouldn’t want to lose what I have learned, but community is important. Thank you for the work you do, it is the process of evolution and I applaud you. You are an intellectual and spiritual super-hero!

  5. Guest2
    August 24, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Hi John, I posted the comment with same name “Guest2” on 8/11/12. Just had to come back and say that my previous comment where I stated leaving the church was a mistake, was a comment I made during a time of intense personal growth (something I am currently going through). Leaving the church was inevitable for me. The next group I got involved with and referenced was a cult (Re-Evaluation Counseling)and ironically, the founder of this group was deceptive and told lies. It helped me for a time because I needed the safety of a box. Now I am only finding highly evolved humans and reading works written about and by enlightened beings – or those close to it. I have no idea how or why I am finding these teachers because my life is very normal and full of hardships. However, I think we leave the confines of a box when all signs point to us needing a bigger box – or no box at all. This has been my progression. Dark nights of the soul will come, but as I am sure you know, it is all part of the process. I have no doubt that you are being guided every minute of every day and that you will always make the right decisions for everything you do and say. I would like to share with you the name of someone who has written the most inspiring, entralling 18 part biography I have ever read: Lopsang Rampa. All the best!

  6. Chicago OG
    September 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Mormon stories resonates with a wide spectrum of believers, those who hang on and those who have left…but I have seen a shift in the podcast that leans to a stronger “churchy” flavor. No doubt you have developed some relationships with those beyond the rank and file….I hope the church can find a middle way – I have severe doubts about that happening although I feel you are helping. My question is….why did you not post the Tom Phillips interview to the website. To me that was the quintessential interview. Wow! I speculate that it was let out the back door for a reason….thank you You’ve got me scratching my head. I served as a Bishop for 6 years and a number of other key positions in leadership….during this interview I laughed, cried and felt the rage of the issues. I had read his story on the board but that did not effect me like hearing Tom in this live interview. I’ve listened to all the mormon stories and ME podcasts (I miss John Larsen)….this interview was by FAR my favorite…it really resonated for me….and I’m not alone here.

    Thank you for all you do
    I would love to get Toms email if thank him for his contributions

  7. Ann
    October 2, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Hello –

    Just want to thank you for the interview with Bill Reel. (I question the propriety, or maybe wisdom, of so much ecclesiastical intrusion into personal sexual matters, but….) Thank you for asking questions politely, listening, clarifying, asking the follow-ups, and giving the discussion adequate time. I would love to see more like this.

  8. Mr M.
    April 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    I like the show John- but after listening to a few podcasts I notice that you sometimes lead the guests – for instance after a question you sometimes say something like “I hope you’re going to say X” or in interviews where you want the guest to answer questions in a way that mostly pleases your personal needs when it comes to social and doctrinal doubts. “Tell me you felt some kind of moral outrage in the 1960’s towards such and such situation” when your guest most likely didn’t. Just ask the questions and let the answers fly. Nonetheless I think you are a good man and have a sincere and honest heart- God Bless you.

  9. January 17, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Wow! I love the way you worded your stance. That’s my view too.

  10. Carolyn Higdon
    June 12, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I totally agree with you! I am a Convert to LDS 1976. I am a Mormon but could not accept some of it’s doctrine
    I guess you could call me an inactivate member and I converse directly to God and get my answers quickly. Again thank you

  11. Jaime Rodriguez
    June 17, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Hello John:

    I’ve been listening to you and your colleagues for a while but have never posted a comment; however, after hearing of the recent events regarding the Church’s disciplinary council I’ve decided to speak out and let you know that I support you and what you stand for. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  12. Billie Thomas
    June 23, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    A woderfully concise perspective in favor of the common sense approach. For me, the answer is to accept the great mystery.

  13. Mark
    June 27, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I applaud you for talking out about the lack of support for all in the community, not just the ones who toe the line. Every teaching I have ever heard or read about Christ was his preaching regarding unconditional love for our fellow human beings. Too bad most fundamentalist religions conveniently ignore this fact.

    Religion is not for all, only those who will mindlessly follow doctrine because they don’t have the courage to think for themselves.

    God bless you and your gallant efforts to be inclusive.

  14. June 30, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I love your take. My little bro severed his mission in Guatemala as well . He’s a TBM. He thinks I’m wrong for leaving the church. I support your Stance.
    David Love

  15. Anjala Dick
    July 1, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Thank you for standing up for all Mormons. I am a bisexual Mormon who recently came out to my branch president. My spouse (who is also Mormon) is transgender. We are both converts to the church. I was listening to NPR the other day and I heard your story. I’ve listened to your podcast and I love it. I would love to have a conversation with you sometime. Thank you, again, for being so awesome.

  16. Julienna Viegas-Haws
    July 20, 2014 at 12:29 am


    I am officially still a member of the Church who lives in Switzerland. I am going trough a crisis of faith which started about a month ago, has been very intense and I am currently leaning towards having my name removed but I’ll give it more time and thoughts (at least getting through the stages of grief). I am 37 and have been a member my whole life…

    The reason I am writing is because I tried to comment on the Fiona and Teryl Givens podcast “The God Who Weeps” but couldn’t… So here is a few thoughts I had because I pretty much thought like them prior my crisis of faith.

    I am at your disposition if you have questions. Thank you.

    Julienna Viegas-Haws

    Here is my quick review of the Fiona and Teryl Givens podcast:

    Both their thinking is obviously well constructed and there is nothing to refute, it is how they feel based on their research and experiences. I would go as far as saying that I thought almost exactly like them prior to knowing what I know now. There is very little they say (except for personal life experiences) that I haven’t heard or thought before, especially with the Enoch episode of God weeping and the “Help thou mine unbelief” narratives. (I am not being arrogant when I say this, I really had the same way of thinking and explaining the gospel).

    Although I didn’t join the Church at 19 like Fiona–I was 4 when my mother joined the Church in Belgium–I relate to Fiona because before BYU I went to Catholic private schools in Belgium growing up (the lone Mormon among them). I have been exposed to all sorts of people, cultures and religions which automatically expands your world view. I was also wowed by the beautiful spirit the missionaries carried (simply because they were good people striving to do good every minute of their lives). I worked for the Church in Belgium before my mission, I served a mission on Temple Square, met lots of general authorities before, during and after my mission–whom I still respect and admire in many ways. I had a wonderful time at BYU, almost the same story as theirs, meeting my husband in an international politics class, etc. Then lived “blissfully” ever after as a member of the Church until my current crisis of faith. Now don’t get me wrong, I may be struggling with redefining my spiritual foundation but I am not unhappy at all! I am above and beyond blessed and l live in gratitude every day of my life. It could be a luxury that I have time to have a crisis of faith because I don’t have any other major trials in my life right now…

    My conclusion after listening to this heart warming podcast is that they have almost word for word the idealistic view of the Church I used to have. Good for them if that is what they feel is right for them.

    Unfortunately, that idealistic vision of the Church they portray is too far from the reality of how the Church functions today (again I exclude their personal experiences, we all have our own).

    Let me explain from a few things they say (I took a few notes as I was listening where I mentally objected):

    Fiona says in passing about one of her discoveries that it was “like a seminary student discovering that Joseph Smith used a stone and a hat to translate” I wish she’d gone further in explaining how that was like because to me it is not something to lightly set aside as if it were nothing that the Church never really portrayed Joseph Smith like that, to me that is brushing away the deception…
    She says “one mustn’t be disappointed in learning of Joseph Smith flaws and mistakes”. Really?! I’m sorry but if I learn that the man I trusted, followed and defended was a child abuser, I can’t help but be disappointed. I may eventually forgive him but my vision of him will be altered. For me a leader is supposed to have above average standards of morality and not the other way around.
    She says “our religion is so inclusive!” Really?! Maybe in theory but I don’t see it in real life… Inclusive as far as you do everything you are told and pay your membership dues.
    She says the early saints were “universalists,” that is why they were attracted to Joseph Smith’s gospel. Maybe they were universalists, I wasn’t there to ask but my gut feelings tells me that just like today the gospel provided a way out of their misery and poverty, the church promised to fulfil their basic spiritual, social and psychological needs and maybe a roof and some food. It is the same today! Very few intellectuals join the Church. Unless you were born in the Church and became an intellectual (whether you like to be called that or not) and learned to make both work (again because your spiritual, social and psychological needs are met and constantly reinforced) they are very few intellectual converts. The majority of converts are people struggling at different levels hoping for something better out of their lives. Of course we all struggle in life but my point is that poverty whether spiritual or physical is what brings people in the Church most of the time. That is the reason why my mother joined the Church. I don’t deny that the Church saved her, probably saved me too… But I am diverging.
    When it comes to religion, Fiona says and I quote “I’m not a fan of knowledge” because it distract from the spiritual… That is a very confusing statement to me given the “glory of God is intelligence” and if you type knowledge in the scriptures search engine you can see the importance God gives to it… Maybe she meant secular knowledge but even then I would have to disagree with her statement, but I respect the fact that it is the way she feels.
    At the end of the interview Teryl G. separates history (from men) and theology (from God) asserting that basically one should focus on theology more than history. Ok, but then can’t we just have God and Jesus Christ without Joseph Smith? Because I can guarantee you that except for a few authentic Joseph Smith ideas, I can find many of the great ideas he combined in other philosophers, theologians, great thinkers and writers who came before and after him… He was just brilliant at combining it all and add his own flavor to it. Neither Teryl nor Fiona mention once the current need of a prophet in their exposé — isn’t that a major fundamental tenet of the LDS faith? If all we have to do is hang on to God and Jesus Christ then it does not require being a member of the LDS Church. I know they believe it all and sustain the prophet. However, what I see in the the book “The God Who Weeps” from what they say about it (I haven’t read it yet and may or may not read it because they are just asserting what I already understood and believed before) is an idealistic universalist representation of our Church which is beautiful but does not match the reality of our Church today.

    I could go on but I’ll stop here, just my thoughts.

  17. Jacklyn Anderson
    August 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    John, I just want to thank you for this work you are doing. I have discovered Mormon Stories just lately and I can’t stop listening because the interviews are so fascinating. Finally people have a place to speak out without feeling a mountain of guilt for thinking outside the box of standard official Mormon thought. One thing I have been looking for on your site is someone who can speak to women in my stage of life. I was a stay-at-home mom for 30 plus years while raising six children. Somehow I found time to finish my BA degree during those years but now that I would like to move on from that to further education I find myself so heavily involved in the care of my elderly father that I don’t have the time for it and I am feeling very resentful. Plus the church doesn’t seem to know what to do with women my age and I really don’t want to teach primary. I also feel there are not dynamic women role models in the church leadership for women of any age. I must add that my husband is very supportive of anything I do.
    Thanks, again for your courage!

  18. Melissa Henn
    August 22, 2014 at 1:21 am

    I am not LDS, but Presbyterian. Your candor and curiosity for the truth is refreshing. Can you say if you’ve had any disciplinary action?

  19. Dana Suorsa
    September 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Hey John,
    Possible podcast idea. I’m sure it’s one that’s been discussed.
    Revisiting the past interviewees. A where are they today. New perspectives and knowledge gained from the past years. Are they in a better place, where they planned or expected to be.

  20. Daniel Pont
    January 2, 2015 at 5:51 am

    I am a licensed MFT in Omaha NE. I am bic, served a mission to Japan in 77/78, and left the church after getting married in the temple and fathering 5 children in 8 years. I officially resigned my membership in 2006, along with 2 of my 3 sons. My oldest daughter, the only practicing Mormon of the brood, is going through her own faith crisis right now, and were growing closer than we’ve ever been.

    John, I am keenly interested in joining your team to create a supportive progressive Mormon community in the Omaha area. If possible, I want to be a part of leadership retreat you are planning for the coming months. Please respond to this post and let me know how to share my contact information and how to otherwise proceed.

  21. Rachel
    January 4, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    I appreciate your courage and honesty in sharing your journey. It’s been a big support for me. I’m trying to meet with the provo support group. There’s a link on this website, but when I click on it I’m redirected to Facebook and I keep getting a “page not found” message. Do you have the contact information for the person or people who head this group. I’d like to find out if they meet and where and when. Thanks so much! Rachel

  22. January 15, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    I was born in the church in 1947, but excommunicated myself by postcard in my twenties.

    : = ) Lance

  23. Margaret Dove
    February 1, 2015 at 7:15 am

    I recently heard your podcast on NPR. Thank you for your words. Several years ago, I converted to the LDS faith, but, overtime, become increasingly disturbed by the issuses involving historical inaccuracies, women, people of color, and GLBT concerns.
    Last year, when my 25 year old son came out as a bisexual, I stopped attending church. I couldn’t support the “love the sinner hate the sin” mentality of the teachings. At this point, I felt like an abolitionist, who was a member of the Klu Klux Klan. In addition, some church members who actively participated in the overturning of Proposition 8 in California further alienated me.
    Officially I am still a member, but I only attend service related activities. I so appreciate your braveness in coming forward on issues that need to be addressed with in this church.
    Thank you,
    Margaret Dove

  24. James
    February 8, 2015 at 9:33 am

    I am admire your courage and conviction.

  25. Liz Degn
    February 10, 2015 at 11:55 am

    John congrats for your bravery, and honesty. I left the church 25 years ago and as my new spiritual teacher councils ” just because you are excommunicated from the church doesn’t mean you are excommunicated from God!!!” That was such a healing knowledge for me.

  26. Josh
    February 10, 2015 at 1:36 pm


    It’s comforting to see someone else struggling with the same issues that i have for 12 years now. I left the church when i was deployed in 2009. As with any deployment you have a lot of time to think. I explored each sect of Christianity and how I truly felt about the subject of Mormonism. After a couple months of research, soul searching and praying I could no longer follow a religion that supports relegating women to inferior roles as well as the track record of the LDS church. I still hold many of the values that the church instilled in me but do so outside the church. Thank you for your honesty and I will continue following your website.


  27. Emma Griffin
    March 10, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Hi I wrote you earlier about encouraging you to leave a place Utah ,that is so judgmental and rejecting of you ,I know there are places like Oregon where you would be appreciated and accepted
    but now I really want you to continue your podcasts because they help me so much I haven’t seen any podcast since your excommunication podcast I hope there are some coming soon

  28. Britny
    March 11, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    I love that you encourage others to embrace science instead of distancing it from their spiritual beliefs. I left the LDS church and I almost stopped believing in God all together. The one moment in my whole life that kept me believing was a feeling of peace, love, and comfort I had when I was 16. Thinking back to that moment as an adult I realized that the church wasn’t going to prove itself to me so why have faith in it; and why was I having faith in a man made organization instead of God himself? I am grateful for the people of the church who taught me how to pray and what faith is and that I have a creator who loves me unconditionally. However I will never go back to church because of the psychological damage they have done. I will wake up some mornings feeling guilty for absolutely no reason, it almost tore my marriage apart, and it had me believing God wasn’t answering my prayers (to help save my marriage) because I wasn’t paying tithing(my husband was unemployed and we couldn’t afford food, but whenever I interviewed with the bishop he would encourage me to pay tithing and never bring up the church’s food bank….lol every week I had to go to another church for food and I once had to take a roll of toilet paper and ritz crackers from my work). Anyway, I just wanted to say that the church may have excommunicated you, and they say that your name is forgotten in heaven, but know that I don’t believe that one bit! God knows what you’re doing is helping his children understand their Father more fully. And just remember….Jesus was rejected by his own kind too.😉

  29. Nancy
    March 22, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Thanks John

  30. Kathryn
    April 25, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Hi John. Just thought I would share how much I appreciate your stories and sharing your support of the LGBT community. When I was 14 I left the church and mainly because of 2 reasons. The first being that my questions recieved many different answers until I was finally told that I didn’t need to know the answer to the questions that I had. Second, was because one of my closest friends was gay. He wa very open and was bullied and tormented by not only the students but by members of the staff at school – including the vice principal who happened to be a Mormon bishop. I felt so ashamed of my part in the mormon church. I cried and pleaded with my parents not to force me to attend church any more because I felt so wrong in doing so. They reluctantly agreed and while I tried in adult hood to go back I can never shake that feeling that it’s not right. The last time I attended an LDS church I sat and listened to 2 ladies in the choir bad mouthing another member of the choir to the point I felt I had to speak up and tell them how mortified I was as an observer of the church and left mid service despite being there with and in support of family (Missionary Farewell). That is my story – thanks again for sharing your story.

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