363-364: Bishop Bill Reel on Being a Mormon Bishop, a Critique of Mormon Stories, and Resolving Faith Struggles

July 19, 2012
By

Bill Reel is currently serving as Bishop of the Sandusky ward of the Cleveland Ohio Stake. In this interview we begin by discussing Bishop Reel’s conversion to the church AFTER reading Fawn Brodie’s “No Man Knows my History”, and his avid pursuit of Mormon apologetics after his baptism. We also discuss in depth his calling as bishop – including his job to counsel youth and women on sexual matters, masturbation, and homosexuality. Since Bishop Reel is a listener of the podcast, we discuss his perception and frustration of an increasing trend towards negativity on Mormon Stories. We also discuss the future direction of Mormon Stories, and Bishop Reel offers his advice for members in doubt.

Tags: , , , , ,

148 Responses to 363-364: Bishop Bill Reel on Being a Mormon Bishop, a Critique of Mormon Stories, and Resolving Faith Struggles

  1. CanuckAussie
    July 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    I had to quit when Bill starting defending the form of pedophila-light that goes on in interviews by pretending that going further than he does is a rare thing. It also sickened me that he knows that the guilt he inflicts is damaging but he continues to do so, even knowing that it is not doctrinal and not in the handbook. To inflict that guilt with no reason is inexcusable. To make them have journals etc to deal with those issues is just plain wrong wrong wrong.

    He should also read the words of Spencer Kimball that said that M will not keep anyone out of the Celestrial kingdom.

  2. Dennis Strack
    July 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Really? In Miracle of Forgiveness, he said that masturbation would keep you from the celestial kingdom. If you can, please refer to me where President said the opposite.

    • CanuckAussie
      July 21, 2012 at 10:36 am

      It was in a book of short quotes and talks by Kimball, not in the Miracle of Forgiveness. I have been searching to find the book and the quote again.

      • Schecta
        July 27, 2012 at 1:31 am

        I think Hell will freeze over before you find that quote…

    • Adam
      August 11, 2012 at 7:14 am

      Sorry, but you got the title of the book wrong: “It’s a Miracle if you are Forgiven.” It’s still in print I believe.

  3. Noel
    July 21, 2012 at 1:26 am

    The Bishop mentioned the finding of a stone with the ten commandments written on it. There is a discussion about this on http://www.unmuseum.org/decalog.htm

  4. BillReel
    July 21, 2012 at 5:38 am

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Lunas_Decalogue_Stone

    The stone you sent the site on is not the one I am speaking of, here is the one I mention.

    • David Udy
      July 21, 2012 at 11:14 am

      It’s about as easy to believe that the markings on that stone are pre columbian as it is to believe that the Book of Mormon is. I guess I’ll have to pray about it.

    • Joe S
      July 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      *******Okay Bill, I will bite.********

      I am going to respond to a few of you “replies”. My comments will appear inline throughout the comment section. Although my comments my appear confrontational (hopefully not too much so), please know that I ask my questions with complete sincerity.

      I want to believe. I just cannot find a case that is compeling enough for belief.

      Anyway, let’s get started.

      Regarding the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone, this stone has been dismissed as a fraud by most archeologists (I have read quite a bit on the stone). Even the WIKI article you pointed us two indicates that most scholars have dismissed the stone. They believe it is a recent effort carved be someone in the early 20th centuray.

      I find it very difficult, based upon the journals that I have read, to believe this stone is anything more than a flattering forgery.

      How do you come to the conclussion that it isn’t a fake?

  5. Jacob Brown
    July 21, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I think Bishop Reel is about as compassionate and understanding regarding homosexuality as one can be while still remaining loyal to the current institutionally-approved interpretation of God’s opinion on the subject. I am so grateful that John took the time to explain how homosexuality is different than alcoholism. His explanation brought me to tears.

    I completely disagree with Bishop Reel on homosexual behavior. I believe it is essentially a-moral, not immoral. The morality of sexuality is not rooted in who you love, it is how you treat those that you love.

    I hope the Church is able to transcend this narrow (in the sense that it is from a heterosexual-only perspective) vision of human sexuality just as Jesus taught the Pharisees to see and feel beyond the Jewish laws and customs they never questioned.

    Over my lifetime, I belive the Church has become too focused on institutional loyalty and unquestioning obedience. This is not a faith I can embrace. But I still love my Mormon family, and I admire the integrity and determination of people like Bishop Reel.

    • BillReel
      July 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      Thank you for your comments. I realized during the interview and especially while re-listening last night that my use of the word struggle or challenge isn’t fitting and am grateful John pointed that out.

      I was searching for a better way to describe the conflict between feeling or believing a certain way (same sex attraction) while still striving to maintain membership or faith in a church that currently stands firmly against said feeling/belief. Obviously this issue is way more impactful then most others, this internal journey applies to many other issues as well.

      I like many others am searching for more understanding of issues such as this. While I wasn’t aware John was going to bring this topic up (or the youth issues either), I am glad he did as it allows for some dialogue to see the world through the eyes of others and for each of us to grow.

      Thanks Again

  6. Paula
    July 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Bishop Reel,
    I just want to thank you for your willingness to participate in this forum. I think your answers were compassionate and genuine. Interviews like yours keep Mormon Stories a helpful and relevant place for me to come as I try to figure out a relationship with God that I let the church broker for way too long. In my personal experience, I have not been the recipient of pastoral care from a Bishop with your skill level in dealing with the more difficult aspects of Mormonism…your ward community is lucky to have you. Although I can’t agree with all of your perspectives, I don’t doubt your love and devotion to those you serve. Thanks again!

    • BillReel
      July 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm

      Thank you for your kind remarks

  7. Tate_T
    July 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    After hearing Bill talk about ‘being flexible’ and ‘how much we don’t know’, I was really expecting another double standard where he would end with the typical ‘all knowing/truth’ testimony. First time I’ve ever heard a bishop say ‘I hope/believe the church is true’. Do you think he made this statement during his bishop interview? Regardless, you have to respect Bill if this was a sincere statement by Bill, and this is his position going forward.

    • BillReel
      July 23, 2012 at 9:04 am

      I want to be clear here. About a year ago or so I began to ponder on how we as latter-day saints bear testimony. While I see nothing wrong with members saying they know things from the spirit, I personally recognized I at times went from thinking I knew something to not being sure. For me I felt to personally be more honest to myself, have made an effort to only say “Know” to things I am 100% sure of. Please don’t misunderstand my “hope/believe” statement. While perhaps not a 100% certainty, I have a firm testimony that “the Book of Mormon” is historical and that the Church I take membership in is where God would have me be, it just isn’t absolute knowledge. I personally feel by separating the “knows” from the “hopes” and “believes” that one will take more seriously my testimony about the things I know absolutely.

      • Tate_T
        July 26, 2012 at 9:41 pm

        II agree with only saying ‘Know’ when you’re 100% sure, which requires adequate supporting evidence/proof. God, religion, prophets, etc cannot be proven or disproven and therefore claiming to ‘Know’ is deceitful and wrong. I would encourage to continue using other terms like believe, hope, think, faith, trust, etc for all theories that cannot be proven or disproven. Members of any religion saying they ‘know things from the spirit’ is also really subjective. There are millions of religious people having spiritual experiences and they obviously aren’t coming to the same conclusions. I’m ok with that because if there is a god who created everything in this world, it’s obvious he/she is a god of diversity. It is also very obvious that the human neurological system is capable of all types of ‘feelings’, to the point that you (or someone else) can basically convince yourself to believe in just about anything. You could spend your whole life playing the mind games trying to discern ‘feelings’.

  8. Bak Irish
    July 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    I enjoyed this interview with Bishop Reel. I am a believer… in science and honest truth seeking. I choose to be active in my Mormon culture because I have been immersed in it for the last fifty years and activity is by far the easier path to take at this point in my life. I live a good LDS life as a Middle Way Mormon, but I do not believe that the Mormon Church is the “one and only true Church.”

    This podcast was an attempt to highlight a faithful “believer’s” approach to Mormonism and to bring more positivism back to Mormon Stories. I think John did a very good job conducting the interview and I think Bishop Reel was honest and straightforward in his answers. However, it is ironic that this podcast did more to strengthen my testimony in my “middle way” Mormonism than many of the “negative” podcasts.

    I thought the quick run through of Mormon issues with Bishop Reel giving the “apologetic” approach was fascinating. For me, it bolstered my belief that apologists do not have valid arguments to defend the major issues facing the Church.

    It is striking the forgiveness apologists will give Joseph Smith when it comes to him lying to the members of the Church in Nauvoo about polygamy. But if an “apostate” is found lying, even years removed from the pertinent event, apologists will throw out every word ever spoken by that person and conveniently brand him “untrustworthy” and an “unreliable” source.

    Bishop Reel’s claim that the Church trains its leaders well to handle the issues that may arise was very troubling. Maybe I misunderstood what he was saying, but that has not been my experience through the years. Whenever I hear comments like, “I don’t know. I would have to see what the manual says about that, John.” I get nervous. Let’s please direct ward members to professionals when it is appropriate, and, since we will err, let’s err on the side of involving professionals.

    Bishop Reel mentioned the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone as an example of Hebrew existing in ancient America. The Bat Creek Stone is another piece that falls into this category. Google either and you will have plenty of reading. Modern scholars question the validity of both of these stones based on various arguments. As far as I am aware, there are zero examples of “undisputed” pre-Columbian Hebraic writing examples in the New World. This is a fascinating area of research and I would invite all to investigate for themselves.

    Thanks John for another great podcast. I too appreciate a balance between “pro” and “anti” rhetoric.

    • BillReel
      July 23, 2012 at 9:38 am

      The trouble with Apoligetics when one is confronted with a list of issues is that is always harder
      to defend a position then to attack it. For example The united States in it’s effort to thwart
      future terroist attacks has to be perfect, meanwhile the terrorist only have to be succesful
      once.

      While 95% of critical challenges to the Book of Mormon are hogwash I absolutely see 5% of those
      challenges as valid. That doesn’t mean I do not see valid answers as well. I wish we could
      have gone longer in the interview as I had a appointment and had a cut off time, I think there
      is a lot more to talk about.

      I do believe that if one were permitted to turn the tables per se, and force critics to defend
      the evidences of the church, it would be just as difficult to do

      For example and know there are dozens more

      1.) Chiasmus namely in Chapter 36 of Alma. While many things can be said here, it appears obvious
      that this chiasmus in this particular chapter is intentional, planned out, complex, and I simply
      can’t accept it is of Joseph’s doing or any other individual in the 1830’s. While simple
      Chiasisms can be coincidence or part of a smaller languge tool (nursery rhymes) Alma 36 is way
      beyond that in my eyes.

      2.) Nahom/nehem – a coincidence of the greatest magnitude.

      3.) I see the 11 witnesses as strong evidence. Several of them frustrated and angry at having
      been excommunicated or leaving the church on their own had perfect opportunity to expose the
      fraud. Yet while a few small challenges to their testimonies exist, the smoking gun is no where
      to be found when it should have been there. Imagine how often these men were asked about their
      testimonies, about what they saw, yet their testimonies still stand (spiritual eye or not).

      3.) I see Joseph’s thinking all Indians were Lamanites and the Hill where the plates being buried
      being wrongly thought of as the Hill Cumorah as small evidences and not challenges. I would expect
      one zipping through anothers writings to mix up some facts and statements. But if Joseph’s own
      mind, I would expect him to know his own story better then he did.

      4.) Joseph used the Book of Mormon very little in his preaching and discussions. If I had invented
      that, I would have held it up to the world to see, and would have used it at every chance. Who doesn’t
      want to be recognized for their inventions and masterpieces

      5.) In regards to the Book of Abraham – like many other faithful I see way too much factual info tied
      into the Book of Abraham that comes from ancient documents discovered only after Joseph Smith’s time
      http://www.lds.org/ensign/1992/07/research-and-perspectives-abraham-in-ancient-egyptian-texts
      http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=40&chapid=161
      http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/boa.shtml

      While how we got it exactly is unclear and some of the sorrounding details seem problematic in some ways
      It seems in the actual text to have many levels of authenticity.

      While this work by it’s nature will never have the proof critics demand, it also can’t be explained as
      easy as critics wish to either. Again at the end of the day it comes down to faith.
      I do think there is evidence and in some cases, very strong evidence that something else is going on here,
      where as the flying Spaghetti Monster has no evidence at all and so the comparison seems lacking in my mind.

      In regards to the lying, many of us want to saying accross the board lying is wrong, in every instance… not true.
      If a gunman broke into your home and before he finds you you et your children to hide under a bed. And then at
      gunpoint he asks if there is anyone else in the home? What is your answer?

      That is why it isn’t cut and dry. Joseph’s conflict of protecting the Saints and Church is much as
      strong to him as you and the gunman and your children. Unless one is prepared to say the Father
      should be honest to the gunman, one must admit that lying is not always evil and bad. I also want
      to admit each situation must be judged on it’s own and thought out considering all the details.

      In regards to the training, Again I feel well trained in knowing what I am to try and handle by
      the spirit and what needs to be handled by professionals. None of us can remeber everything.
      Consulting the handbook is not a weakness, no more then consulting the scriptures is.

      • Bak Irish
        July 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm

        Wow, that was an amazing response that I was not expecting. I am sorry if my post was overly negative. I read it again and it probably was. I am sorry. I live in the belly of the beast and sometimes I have so much of what I perceive as “propaganda” being thrown at me by family, ward members, and friends that I relish an opportunity to give a kick back here and there. Anyway, that is no excuse but it at least may give you perspective about where I am coming from.

        Yes, I am very aware of the issues you brought up in your reply and I appreciate the choice one may make to believe. I agree that there is no way to “prove” anything. Critical expression and apologetics could be considered “a tale told by [mostly honest people], full of sound and fury, signifying [that the tie breaker is one's decision to allow for the divine or not].”

        Thirty years ago I allowed the divine. I don’t anymore. My opinion is that when weighing the evidence there is just too much against the Church. Couple that with a dearth of spiritual experiences or confirmations and it really adds up to frustration. But given that my entire life revolves around Mormonism and I have family and many good friends in the Church, I grin and bear it.

        I do not want to get into a “back and forth” on the issues you brought up. There is already ample information available on the Internet already. I guess I would just say that I stand by what I wrote in my post. I believe the general ideas I was expressing are valid. My only wish is that I would have lightened it up a bit.

        My son served a mission in the Columbus, OH mission returning just last May. We made the trip back after he came home to visit the places he served and we had a great time. Also, Darwin Sorensen and his wife Lee Ann are currently the mission president in the Cleveland, OH mission. Lee Ann is my cousin. We made many friends out there, met many wonderful people, and wish you all the best.

        • BillReel
          July 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm

          Sorry, I wasn’t trying to come off harsh if it sounded that way. Wanted to get across that there are things critics can’t easily explain away as well

          I just feel like critics make it (the church’s possibility at being true) seem so far fetched, and that in turn it makes guys like Teryl Givens, Richard Bushman, and others seems silly and living in Fairy Tale land.

          I absolutely understand how critics see the church. I have felt that at times. I see how challenging some aspects are. But I also see the other side and how beautiful, inspiring, and spiritual it is as well. I feel like many apoligists are unable to grasp how the critic sees the church and how the critic fails to comprehend how a believer can ever know all the information and still believe.

          I think we have to grasp that intelligent, well intentioned, honest, well informed people fall on both sides of this dichotomy and there is at its core enough room for both belief and disbelief without someone being ignorant, uninformed, or doing mental gymnastics on both sides. Too many people on both sides want to discredit the other with hyperbole and ridicule.

          Not saying at all you did that but wanted to provide an answer to your comments by showing there are other ways to see things and that one must understand the trouble of defending a position to help explain why it appears as it does.

          I wish you well. I know President Sorenson well. He is a great man. I wish I knew his wife as well. They are great Missionaries. I think they just left for home. Tell them I said Hi.

          • Probitas
            July 23, 2012 at 10:20 pm

            Bill – What is more probable that your explanations are the truth or JS made it up?

      • Joe S
        July 26, 2012 at 10:55 pm

        *******Second Group of Questions********

        CHIASMUS

        I too use to lean on chiasmus as a “proof” of the BoM. But I have found far too many problems with this argument. First, chiasmus is simply a pattern of poetic writing that exists everywhere in literature. Shakespeare used chiasmus. Numerous other authors used this style of poetry (especially during the early 19th century). And chiasmus is present all throughout the Bible (with which the Smith family was well acquainted).

        But the most damning evidence is that we know that a book was published during the early 19th century that specifically mentions chiasmus (Introduction To the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, published in a U.S. edition in 1825). And we know from old newspapers (The Wayne Sentinel, on April 6, 13, and 20, 1825) that this book was being sold at the local hardware/grocer in Palmyra. It is hard to make an argument that Joe S was a dumb hick that was ignorant to this “special form of poetry”.

        NAHOM/NEHEM

        Even a blind dog finds a bone occassionally. But in all seriousness, from a linguistic perspective, apologists are grasping at straws. And if we are going to grasp at straws, what about the fact that linguists have not found one native american tribe that speeks a language that decends from Hebrew or Egyptian. Not ONE???

        ELEVEN WITNESSES

        I don’t find the testimonies too compelling anymore. When a person talks about seeing the plates with their “Spiritual Eyes”… well, that just makes me think that they were deluding themselves.

        A more sinister thought makes we wonder… could they have been threatened Boggs style?

        REMAINDER OF POINTS

        You seem to be pulling at straws…
        Occam’s razor!

        *******Now lets flip this a bit.*******

        1) How do you get past the fact that 20 plus percent of the BoM is copied directly from the KJV of the Bible that the Smith family had in their posession (same edition errors)?

        2) How do you dismiss the Second Isaiah stuff?

        3) Anochronysms?

        4) How do you dismiss the fact that Lucy Smith’s history reports the “Tree of Life Story, et. Al.” as Smith family stories that Joseph Smith Sr shared with the Smith children from a young age?

        5) You cannot harmonize the JS first vision stories. Because it is clear that JS, Jr’s narative changes as his theology changed. I could conceed harmonizing these if we had ONE 1820 or early 1830’s account of GtF and JC both appearing to JS. This is a HUGE event. But the narrative doesn’t exist.

        I could go on and on… but why? The problems are so overwhelming–IMHO–that an honest person cannot get past them. But let’s move on to the BIG QUESTION…

        6) Why don’t the Twelve or the First Presidency ever see God or JC?

        • KT
          August 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm

          Joe S. said:

          CHIASMUS

          I too use to lean on chiasmus as a “proof” of the BoM. But I have found far too many problems with this argument. First, chiasmus is simply a pattern of poetic writing that exists everywhere in literature. Shakespeare used chiasmus. Numerous other authors used this style of poetry (especially during the early 19th century). And chiasmus is present all throughout the Bible (with which the Smith family was well acquainted).

          But the most damning evidence is that we know that a book was published during the early 19th century that specifically mentions chiasmus (Introduction To the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, published in a U.S. edition in 1825). And we know from old newspapers (The Wayne Sentinel, on April 6, 13, and 20, 1825) that this book was being sold at the local hardware/grocer in Palmyra. It is hard to make an argument that Joe S was a dumb hick that was ignorant to this “special form of poetry”.

          ————

          As Bill mentioned, the chiamus in Alma is developed way beyond short little Dr. Suess rhymes or chiasmus in the D&C, etc. The bigger question in my mind, however, is why would J.S. go to all the effort of putting a complex chiastic form writing in the BofM? Who was he trying to impress? He purportedly puts easy to find and almost silly anachronisms and non-sensical words within the text that stick out like a sore thumb and then takes a great deal of time and effort to create complex chiasmus that nobody is going to be looking for? Doesn’t make sense. I think Jack Welch was the first one to catch J.S.’s “chiastic creations”. I suppose J.S. could have been looking ahead into the 20th century and wrote chiastic structures into the BofM to act as an evidence 150 years after the fact.

  9. Stone
    July 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    John and Bishop Reel,
    Thank you both for this podcast. I thought that this was very well done. One of my favorites for sure. As President Hinckley used to admonish: We can disagree without being disagreeable and I thought you both struck that balance very well.

    Bishop Reel,
    Thank you for having the courage to attempt to answer the very difficult questions that you were asked. Your answers didn’t completely satisfy me, but I truly appreciated your candor and sincerity. It sounds like the members in your ward have a leader that is willing to listen and understand. I’ve been around many Bishops that have not been so willing to listen or understand any of these issues so in that sense your ward is very lucky.

    Questions for you: As you continue to get Bishop training from the Stake level on up, are some of these issues beginning to become part of your ongoing training? In other words, do you sense that these type of issues (historical, sexuality, etc.) are really grabbing the attention of local leaders?

    I have a very close relative in a bishopric and I’m pretty sure if I shared with him what I now know I would absolutely blow his mind. Do you get the sense that you are part of the rare few that have really studied out these issues? How would you suggest they roll some of these issues out to those local leaders that have no clue about these issues?

    It seems to me that the more I learn about all of this stuff that my level of compassion and love for those different from me go up tenfold. I often think that if our local leaders/members REALLY knew just how imperfect Joseph was they would be a lot more compassionate to those that don’t quite fit the TBM mold.

    John,
    I loved this dialogue. Keep up the great work!

    Thanks,
    Jay

    • BillReel
      July 23, 2012 at 10:59 am

      There has been discussion on how to handle faith crisis. Though I am giving a talk in my ward next Sunday. It is a difficult bridge to cross. Neat Story, I too once felt that the church intentionally withheld info from me in order to keep me from finding things out. I had a testimony but was struggling with this concept.

      Then I was called to a member’s home where her daughter confronted me with a bunch of anti material. After answering all her questions, she asked me why she wasn’t told this stuff? And that I needed to see that all members of my ward were told this stuff.

      Something neat happened. I realized that I was represented on both sides of this conversation. Bishop Reel was speaking to Brother Reel. I was answering my own concern. What was the answer?

      I asked her… where would you like me to cover this? In a fireside that only 15 members come to? Should I set aside the resurrection and the Doctrine of Christ and discuss the challenges to the Book of Abraham, Polyandry, Anachronisms??? That just doesn’t make sense. I don’t think the Church has a responsibility to discuss the critic’s viewpoint. I think their responsibility is to teach the gospel as they see it. As I explained this it hit me that here was my real heartfelt answer and realized that while it seemed like a fair question… to me anyway, it really wasn’t

      I knew all the issues in my first year in the church (except polyandry) even before baptism. On some level the learning of opposing viewpoints is up to the individual to seek out and are available to every member who wishes to invest time in reading and research. The church is trying to make more info available as some stuff has only come to light in the last 20-40 years. But they in no way have to explain the critics viewpoint in order to be honest. That is an individual responsibility. That said I look forward to more mention of seer stones, info in the other first vision accounts, ect.. which the church is becoming more prevalent.

      In regards to who knows the issues and who doesn’t…. it is a people problem in that whether in the church or not… who studies extra stuff, who reads informative books, who spends time gaining more knowledge? Very few people. Most people do not want to be bothered by studying things until a problem is at their doorstep (like a person who researches a disease of a sick family member on the internet). I think in the church and in the world at large, very few of us want to take the time to learn. How many Christians read their scriptures and actually think deeply on those things therein? Very few.

      • BillReel
        July 23, 2012 at 11:00 am

        it should have read “there has NOT been discussion on faith crisis”

  10. commonguy
    July 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    John Dehlin refered to some research done recently on gay issues. Where can I find the results of this research survey?

  11. Porter Rockwell
    July 23, 2012 at 2:04 am

    First and foremost I want to thank you Bishop Reel for coming on. I think this discussion between faithful members (especially in leadership positions) and disaffected is so important!

    You seem very genuine, and like you’ve put a lot of thought (and continue to put thought) into your positions. I like some of your answers/thoughts, while some others for me seems like you’re working very hard to fit that square peg into the round hole. Ultimately I come to different conclusions than you do, but I applaud your desire to work through the issues, and your willingness to engage in constructive discussion.

    You mentioned your willingness to change in light of new, undisputed evidence. I wonder if you have ‘meta’ thought about the human condition, and human psychological processes in depth? For me, some of the scientific knowledge that is available, on how people build belief, justify their positions, are affected by biases are very compelling. And I see very many of the scientifically ‘proven’ methods of building belief/feeding biases are strongly at work in the church. This field was a complete eye opener for me – so much that it made me question every testimony building activity in the church…

    I would really encourage you to study this field, and see how you make sense of the scientific knowledge in light of your faith. We seek after all truth…

    A good introduction is this MS podcast:

    http://mormonstories.org/339-342-the-psychology-of-religion-with-dr-james-nagel/

    All the best, and thanx again for coming on!

    • BillReel
      July 23, 2012 at 11:10 am

      while some others for me seems like you’re working very hard to fit that square peg into the round hole.

      Thank you for your thoughts and kind words. In regards to some frameworks being a difficult pill to swallow, I agree. We don’t know everything, an unfortuantely, not everything can be understood completely. So while I hope for more information to better understand certain issues, I also see my current explantions as satisfactory enough to view things until more information surfaces. In otherwords, there are weaknesses in the argument but there are also strengths and combined with deep personal spiritual experiences, I am left as a believer. As a believer I realize there are weaknesses in the LDS side of the debate, but see that as no reason to definitively throw out the baby with the bath water when a lack of evidence or information is not the same as proof or evidence that it is not true.

  12. Kevin
    July 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Another far-ranging, thought-provoking interview, John. Thank you for your frank, friendly views, Bishop Reel. Good strength to you both.

    I agree that there isn’t a shred of compelling evidence for placing the Book of Mormon story in Mesoamerica. It’s a pity so many testimonies including yours gasp for breath from a belief system that is so interesting yet offers so little. I would challenge you to consider interviewing Rod Meldrum and Wayne May who believe Joseph Smith when he said the Book of Mormon took place in the Ohio River Valley in what is now the United States. In a letter to his wife, Emma, Joseph Smith wrote from the Zion’s Camp march that they were, “wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionaly the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity.” He refers to the geographic area in Illinois as “the plains of the Nephites.” He reports that the mounds belonged to the people of the Book of Mormon, and, further, that these discoveries were proof of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

    Where a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon leaves the thoughtful student full of doubts there are rich and deep correlations between the Book of Mormon story and the Hopewell culture and its predecessor culture, the Adena culture of the central United States. Tens of thousands of folks, myself included, have found an increased devotion to the Book of Mormon, to Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in learning about the evidence pointing to the Book of Mormon taking place here in America. Yes, Meldrum and May write books, go on lecture tours and attend conferences. So do many of your best interviewees, including those from the Mesoamerican camp. No, you don’t hear Meldrum’s and May’s ideas taught in the CES curriculum. But like you’ve been saying for a long time and the recent survey of why folks leave the Church emphasizes, the dearth of evidence for a historical Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica is helping to push folks out the door.

    You have such an open mind, John. You’ve bent over backwards to tell both sides of the story for all sorts of gospel-related issues and beliefs. Think of the potential good you could do exposing your listeners to a context for the Book of Mormon that actually strengthens testimonies and increases belief.

  13. Mike
    July 23, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Coming from the perspective of a member who believes in the historicity of the Book of Mormon and in the restoration through the prophet Joseph Smith I want to thank John, and especially Bishop Bill Reel for this podcast.

    I especially enjoyed Bill’s open approach to gospel problems where he states clearly the answers he has found helpful, while leaving open the possibility of other answers. His approach creates an environment that encourages thinking and leaves room for new discovery. Thank you both very much.

    • BillReel
      July 23, 2012 at 11:11 am

      Thank You.

  14. BillReel
    July 23, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Hey John,

    Maybe at some point you could do an episode where roles are switched. A very informed apoligist could throw out all the “evidence” of the restored gospel and you or another informed individual could answer to the evidences and allow listeners to see how difficult it is to defend the opposite position form the opposite angle. I think it would be beneficial to both sides. It would be interesting to see just how many coincidences there were where Joseph got lucky and hit the nail on the head.

    • July 23, 2012 at 11:18 am

      Bill – I’d be happy to do that. I think it’d be fun. Great idea.

    • Joe S
      July 26, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      Please. This would be amazing!!!

    • Maragocho
      August 8, 2012 at 12:36 am

      I have had these same thoughts, and second this motion to reverse the roles. The internet is flooded with those going through faith crisis making it appear that the only informed individuals are those end up losing faith. I’ve read Brody, Bushman, and hours of anti and apologetics, yet for me, the arguments and coincidences are clearly in favor of the Restoration and the miracles surrounding those events. This interview was great and I applaud John in his efforts to turn things to the positive, but at the present time Mormon Stories remains on the offensive in attacking believers while neglecting the compelling arguments that the Church is what it says it is and Joseph was who he said he was.

  15. Mike
    July 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    In the interview John asked something like “If you put 100 scientists in a room to determine the truthfulness of the Book of mormon, how many would conclude that the Book of Mormon is Authentic?” I think the biggest problem science has with the BOM is the supernatural means by which we obtained it. This problem is insurmountable by the scientific method and so requires a strictly science minded person to come up with an alternate theory as to its origins.

    I think an interesting question along those same lines would be: If a document (perhaps of less religious significant than the BOM) was found through conventional means that seemed to be authentic and seemed to date to the correct time period, but that presented the same supposed anachronisms that the Book of Mormon does, would it still be unanimously rejected as fraud, or would a higher percentage of scientists be more willing to explore ways to reconcile the text with what we find in archeological digs?

    Archeologists, as I understand it, accept the fact that we can learn much more about a civilization by reading their descriptions about society than by finding physical artifacts. Are the Book of Mormon anachronisms though so daunting, that even if the source document looked authentic in all other ways, it would still be rejected by all in the scientific community?

    In short, if it wasn’t for the supernatural means by which the BOM was obtained would there be at least some in the general scientific community making the same types of attempts that FARMS and other believers are making to reconcile the data? I think that there might be.

  16. David R
    July 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    The question I wished John had asked him: “Since you don’t claim to have an unconditional testimony, what would be a deal breaker for you?”

    I honestly can’t imagine Bill Reel losing his faith over anything because he seems unwilling to countenance the weight of the combined evidence. As he focuses on a problem he seems to be simultaneously imagining that no other problems exist.

    It’s like he is a doctor that pronouncing his patient healthy because the wounds on his right foot are not too concerning, meanwhile the patient is dying of other wounds on the other parts of his body.

    I can’t imagine a more perfect deal breaker than the DNA evidence and yet it doesn’t seem to even bother him. An intellectually honest person would admit it bothered him. The Book of Abraham is another. If that never caused him to struggle and shook him to his foundations, then he has insulated himself from the truth and has an unconditional testimony.

    He urges people to not be hasty in casting off the church in light of evidence. Sounds reasonable to a degree, but it also sounds like he asking people to wait until the shock wears off and the evidence can be properly explained away and ignored.

    • Turkey Vulture
      July 24, 2012 at 8:12 am

      His response is the same as just about every nice Mormon educated on these troubling issues – “just put it on the shelf and have faith…in due time the truth of the matter will reveal itself.” That dog don’t hunt for me my friend. I choose my integrity over “faith” – my children will not be subjected to the massive amount of cog dis for the sake of tenuous explanations in the face of a mountain of contrary evidence.

      • Zachary Thornton
        July 26, 2012 at 7:50 pm

        Turkey Vulture

        Interesting response, your statement “my children will not be subjected” As many faithful and believing parents have found, you may not control what your children will be subjected to, they may chose to have faith. Agency is wonderful thing for us to “subjected to”. Good look with that subjected to approach.

        • Turkey Vulture
          July 27, 2012 at 8:29 am

          Don’t really follow you here Zachary…we don’t live in Utah (most of their friends won’t be LDS growing up is what I mean) and my kids are very young…So chances are they won’t have to deal with the mess that my wife and I had to deal with when faced with all the let’s say NOT so faith promoting aspects of Mormon history. I will teach them honesty and integrity above all else then they can choose the path to follow as adults but we will not teach them things that, as parents, we can’t square in our own minds as truth…simple as that.

  17. Randy Colclough
    July 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    I don’t think Joseph lied about Polygamy, or do I think he was Polyandrous…..Joseph was sealed to women for the next life only. These women were married to their Husbands for this life only. Polyandry would require that two men would be married to one women at the same time. The situation does not fit the definition of Polyandry. Despite dubious testimonies that Joseph was sleeping with these women, that fact that there was no offspring makes these claims suspicious.
    Steel was used in Old Testament times, just go to the Bible index, so Nephi having a steel bow is not suprizing.As for horses, just google it.
    As well the Aztecs wrote in ancient Phonecian, which is ancient Hebrew.
    Critics claim there is no evidence archeologically for The Book of Mormon, but when we present evidence and there is lots, they say it is not proof…..well if it wan’t true there would be no evidence.

    • Bak Irish
      July 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      Randy, I am very interested in your information about the Aztecs writing in Ancient Phonecian. I have been looking for such evidence for a long time. Could you please provide me with a specific reference so I can study it for myself? Thanks.

      • Randy Colclough
        July 27, 2012 at 10:53 pm

        You can google it there is quite a bit of info on it…..

  18. JD
    July 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Wow!! This has got to be a psychological gold mine for John. Bill’s spiritual conversion parallels that of some of the Jones town converts. They were introduced to the “gospel” by someone they cared about, only to have an amazing spiritual experience once they were investigating. No doubt from Bill’s unquestioning devotion that, had he been exposed to this group before Mormonism he would not only have passed out the kool-aid, but he would also have drank it without hesitation. If you ever doubted the type of psychological manipulation that Orwell described was possible, this podcast is living proof of it.

  19. Dani
    July 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Thanks Bill Reel, I really appreciate your honesty and I appreciate your active LDS viewpoint. I also love how he send questions right back at John, it made for an interesting conversation.

    I have a soft spot in my heart for John Dehlin because I think that he has a huge heart and he helps so many people. That said, I do think he has become much less objective this past year and he seems to push more of an agenda.

    I agree with John that “respectful dialogue” is paramount. It is key to creating a sense of community and keeping Mormon Stories a “safe place.”

  20. ozpoof
    July 24, 2012 at 2:52 am

    How anyone can read the history of Joseph Smith that the LDS church excommunicated the author for, THEN join knowing the religion he is joining lies about the history he has read, is beyond me.

    I can’t take much of what this man says seriously.

    • Maragocho
      August 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      Fawn Brody while taking the approach that Joseph had good intentions but was a fraud still openly attempted to discredit the Prophet. Whether her explanations were accurate or not (having read her book believe some of her explanations for the miracles of the Restoration to be extremely far fetched and sometimes plain ridiculous) her being excommunicated is very understandable and justified I believe. If Joseph was a Prophet then I would expect nothing less than excommunication for Brody’s book. Her book is very historically accurate, its her misleading explanations of the events that called for excommunication. Obviously you haven’t read No Man Knows My History with any detail. The Church has not lied about Joseph’s history. Is everything openly taught? No, but that is changing and does not change whether he was a prophet or not. Many with this view have taken offense that not everything about the Prophet is taught in sunday school. Its time to cease to be offended by the humans that have recorded Church history and move forward with the information we have, none of which change the argument that Joseph was indeed who he said he was.

  21. Rae
    July 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Loved this podcast and the MANY I’ve been listening to. I can feel John’s sincerity in trying to develop a well-balanced atmosphere that allows for open/honest/controversial dialogue.
    I agree with Bishop Reel in detecting that same sense of negativity developing slowly over time and am happy to see that it has been put on notice. On my own faith journey as well, I am too often disheartened by what I see as misleading bias coming from BOTH ‘sides’ of the aisle. I view it most often as completely unintentional but nonetheless following the old adage “what you focus on grows”. I hope the focus remains broad and inviting for all types of listeners. I appreciate the awareness demonstrated and hope that everything can move in a direction of always attempting (however hard and imperfect it may be) to sort through the complexities fairly!
    John: you are a GOOD man and I commend you for your efforts. You have given me hours and hours of thoughtful introspection while listening to these stories and thinking through these matters.

    Thanks to you both! I’ll keep listening!

  22. John
    July 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I was generally unimpressed with this podcast. Maybe I am too far down the path of disillusionment but it seems listening to the attempted explanations of historical problems just made me like the institutonal church less. Totally unsatisfying explanations. I much more enjoyed Richard Bushman as some focus was on the good that our relationships in and with the church do. I attend, I serve as the HPGL, am not a literal believer but focus on the good. However I cannot support the “Party Line”.

  23. Allie Harris
    July 25, 2012 at 2:56 am

    Bishop Reel,
    Thank you for being open and taking on the hard issues. My husband was a bishop too.
    Have you or John picked up on Elder Christofferson’s last conference talk concerning revelation? It was the first time I ever heard a conference address that openly discussed that not all things spoken by a prophet necessarily constitute doctrine, and that “the Church will know by the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the body of the members, whether the brethren in voicing their views are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost”;and in due time that knowledge will be made manifest.”. I stood up and took notice of this, because it seemed to me an open admission that policy and even doctrine may prove false over time, and that the body of the Church through the Holy Ghost is in position to affect doctrine. I don’t know how this may affect the issue of homosexuality and church membership, but perhaps we are reaching a critical moment when the Brethren may become more open about the fallicies of the past and, perhaps, more prepared to deal with compassion some of the present day concerns.

    • July 25, 2012 at 9:49 am

      I am well aware of what Elder Christofferson said in Conference and I too was glad to see it occur. Where I differ is that I find these statements made throughout LDS history by leaders. If one looks you will find this is not an anomoly. While the church teaches obedience and a leader or two has implied blind obedience, I do not think blind obedience has been taught as doctrine. One example of Christofferson’s idea elsewhere is

      “I admire men and women who have developed the questing spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas as stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent – if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression. . . This free exchange of ideas is not to be deplored as long as men and women remain humble and teachable. Neither fear of consequence or any kind of coercion should ever be used to secure uniformity 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 the freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it.” (Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, ed. Edwin B. Firmage (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1988), 137-39; Hugh B. Brown, “An Eternal Quest—Freedom of the Mind,” a speech delivered at Brigham Young University, 13 May 1969, in Speeches of the Year (Provo, UT): Brigham Young University Press, 1969); rpt. In Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 17 (Spring 1984): 77-83)

      I think Doctrine is Doctrine and Policy is Policy and opinion is opinion and they each are different but these are very difficult to separate and somewhat intentionally as Joseph taught that the Church was not to have creeds and a spelled out theology as he saw that as limiting to God and future revelation.

      • Allie
        July 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

        Theoretically and idealistically that sounds good. (and I’m not surprised that your quote came from the open minded Hugh B. Brown.). But In the everyday ward/stake experience working with bishops and stake presidencies and the general membership of the church, one has to be very careful about dissent. It doesn’t go over very well especially in small town, Mormon culture. People (especially women) who speak up in gospel doctrine or take a realistic view of Church history with all its warts and wonderful moments may be held as suspect of something less than submissive and supportive of the local priesthood leadership. If you take a contrary view from the stake president on policies or politics or whatever, you will most likely be held in some sort of contempt. Hopefully, this is not so common in most Wards, although my experience shows that it is typical in small, isolated Mormon towns in the West. Our son while doing his residency, attended Centerville ward, just south of Dayton. Worshipping there with his ward was always a delightful experience; so hopefully your neck of the woods has more of the healthy, open outlook……….. But, frankly, it seems to me that even Joseph Smith was all over the map with the concept of being open. The last part of Section 132 is pretty unyielding and dogmatic in its condemnation of Emma Smith for not accepting plural wives. Thanks for your response. Without this open dialog and the forum of Mormon Stories, it would be difficult to remain faithful.

        • Tom
          July 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm

          I agree with Allie. Leaders such as Elder Christofferson and others can say anything they want in conference; however, the fact is that dissent and asking tough questions is not encouraged in the church. Anyone who says otherwise is out of touch with reality or has never questioned any doctrine seriously.

          I have found friends that challenge local leaders and certain policies but not doctrine.

          The church is in a tough spot… Years of claiming to be the only true church cannot be walked back now or ever. I am sure that current general authorities wish they could go back in time and stop previous general authorities from trying to be prophets, seers and capable of revelation. The things they said in attempting to be relavent are costing the church today.

          • Randy Colclough
            July 27, 2012 at 10:59 pm

            Fact is opinion is opinion, and revelation is revelation….understanding which is which is key.

        • Sharon
          August 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

          I agree wholeheartedly with you Allie. My bishop actually drove me out of church attendance for two years because I questioned the way the Church had handled an extremely sensitive matter in my family. As it turns out, I was correct. The matter was completely misunderstood. The person involved turned out to be mentally ill and should have been treated by a psychiatrist instead of being tried in a Church court. When I complained I was told that these were just men who had no training in mental health and I should not expect them to know any better.
          If that is the case, why are they acting as judges in Israel?
          And if they have done wrong, why won’t they fix what they have done? When I do wrong, I move heaven and earth to try to repair the damage. These men seem to believe they can just walk away with an excuse as to why they are not accountable for their words or actions. I really wish the members were given the same ability to call a bishop or stake president or general authority into a Church court where they would have to answer for their actions. I think we would see a number of them excommunicated for unChristlike conduct, pride and failure to repent. I find it amazing every time another story appears in a Church publication about the Church receiving an apology from Missouri or Illinois about the way the Church was treated there but we never, EVER see a story about a Church leader apologizing for the way members have been treated. I guess repentance is for others.

          • Nick Day
            August 20, 2012 at 5:51 am

            I believe that pride is single most important issue that the Church faces. Pride is warned against in the scriptures no less than 200 times, yet it is still prevalent in the church.

            “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.” -Proverbs 29:23

  24. Joni
    July 25, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience and responding to John’s questions without becoming defensive. I am non-believing, yet actively attending the Mormon church and hold a non-testimony bearing calling. I am not having a faith crisis or “struggling” with my testimony. I know what I believe and how I feel. My husband is a former bishop who sounds similar to you in some ways i.e. leaders aren’t perfect, what we think the “church” believes is not always actually doctrine, etc. He has an unshaken testimony and refuses to discuss any issues I have with the church.

    When you advise those who are questioning to talk with someone, I must say, that is what I am looking for in listening to MS podcasts. I thought my husband and I would be able to negotiate a parallel path approach to spirituality, but it is difficult. I am wondering, Bp Reel, do you think it is possible for two people of mixed faith perspectives to make a marriage work? What would you say to a couple who came to you with marriage issues when one of them has changed his/her belief away from the Mormon faith?

    • July 25, 2012 at 9:57 am

      When I ask those who have a faith crisis to talk to someone I am suggesting that if one wants to believe then one must find satisfactory answers. Sometimes those satisfactory answers don’t respond directly to the question. Ex: Once I recieved an answer that helped me see that faith was required and yet didn’t answer my question at the time at all but allowed me to move forward, then a direct answer to my question came about a month later. I absolutely believe there is more then enough room in the history for one to have faith. John, if you don’t mind I would love to include my email here billreel@bex.net if anyone wants to chat. But this is extended only to those who want to find room for belief in the LDS church as I do not want to get into a debate.

      I absolutely think that while a mixed marriage may have it’s own challenges, I certainly think they can work as there are multiple mixed faith marriages in my own ward and feel most of them are doing very well.

  25. Tom
    July 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I would be interested to know when Bishop Reel is contacted by his Stake President and what the feedback is from the brethren who he reports to in the church.

    • July 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      I think he did a great job and his SP and the brethren he reports to will be pleased.

  26. Chris
    July 26, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I ultimately lost my testimony of the Book of Mormon as a literal historical book not because of the DNA challenges, anachronisms, KJ bible quotes, dark skin curse, but because when the truthfulness of book of mormon was the one truth claim I was holding on to I prayed over and over again to know if Lehi, Nephi were real men in time and space. I prayed to know if they really crossed the ocean to settle in the Americas and create a civilization that lasted 1000 yrs. I prayed to know, did Christ visit the Americas and call 12 apostles? Did captain Moroni really exist and raise the title of liberty? When I prayed this way to know if the Book of Mormon was true and accurate, there was absolutely nothing. No warm feelings just a stupor of thought. I wanted it to be true more than anything as I did not want to disbelieve in something I held so dear for 35 yrs. I prayed many times over a period of months but with the same result, there was no feeling, thought, inspiration, or anything that confirmed it was true in that it historically occurred and these people ever existed.

    While I recognize and even have a testimony of the truisms in the book of mormon, considering all the evidence both temporal and spiritual as a record of a civilization that really existed I believe it fails. Although its not historical, the Book of Mormon can still inspire, motivate, and help one to feel close to the divine.

    • Randy Colclough
      July 27, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      Perhaps your insight that the Book of Mormon can make you feel closer to the divine, is the answer to your prayer, that you just didn’t realize…..answers to prayers, don’t always come the way we expect.

  27. calabiyao
    July 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    I believe in praying to know if a book is true, – I also like the way Grant Hardy really sifts through the book of mormon to analyze the literature more deeply for literature’s sake. When I look at the theories on how the book may have been written like Jocker’s et al. Stanford University word-print publication in 2008, it still does not answer the many questions of authorship. Even with the daughter of the string theory genius (Edward Witten) working on the statistics (in the Jockers paper) – it still is not as convincing when considering the rich doctrinal expositions. If you look at it through the magical view, automatic trance writing – etc, it is still really hard to accept scientifically. I really love the Lord of the Rings and Les Miserables as literature as well, but the book of mormon to be written in such complete secrecy by a team of writers is really hard to accept.

  28. calabiyao
    July 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I am really impressed that Bishop Reel was able to survive the gauntlet of questions pulled off the shelf and thrown in his face by Dr. Dehlin. Dehlin launches his super list of problems but does not ask the harder questions which Bishop Reel deals with every day with his local congregation when applying LDS christianity to the weight of deeper relevant problems like, Why are my parents getting a divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why, in this economy, can’t I get the good job I need to support my family? How can I encourage my son with clinical depression to become something better and greater than he views himself right now? Christianity begins in a hopeful, visionary place, a humble yet powerful man healing the blind, the leprous, and those who may have had mental illness of some kind – an empty tomb for faith to enter. I feel like Dehlin although respecting Bishop Reel still asks as a scribe, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” In other words, “this guys faith or (self-transcendent elevation) does not light a candle to science” when it is really science which needs more funds to solve blindness, death (senescence), and depression. The reality is that we cannot produce more funds to reproduce through science the ‘Jesus miracles’ until we free people from their need to be a warlike, hateful people.

  29. July 26, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    After listening to this man justify asking young people creepy sexual questions and then equate homosexuality with drug addiction, I’m done. This is pure dreck.

    The only positive thing I’m coming away with is a confirmation that I’ve done the right thing by leaving such an organization. Thank goodness my children will never have to endure this nonsense.

  30. Joe S
    July 26, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    *******Final Thoughts*******

    Bill: I want to thank you for this interview. Again, I want to believe. Short of believing, I would be okay just participating. The problem–as I see it–it that TCJCLDS doesn’t let non-believers FULLY participate. And as long as this “policy of exclusion” exists, the LDS Church will always have critics (I try not to be too big of one). :-S

    Their lies the rub.

    My testimony is that TCJCLDS tries to do some good in the world. I believe that some people can sometimes find peace in participating. I think the BoM is a (sometimes) inspiring book. I think the community is usually mostly good. However, I also believe it is a Christian religion made up by a man.

    And although the CJCLDS does some good, it also does harm. The “Policy towards African Americans” was horrible. The treatment of women has been deplorable (at times… even now). The treatment towards our GLBT brothers and sisters is harmful. The “Temple Traditions and Policies” are divisive (ironically to families). The CJCLDS has become so Old Testament in its administration… that Christ-like behavior is sometimes difficult to see. Finally, LDS Services are sooooooo boring (most of the time).

    Can we reconcile?

    • BillReel
      July 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Can we reconcile?

      Please take this in the softest spirit but the Church stands for things. There are always going to be some that say change this, do that, stop with this. Whether your a church, the rotary, or a city council, there are always going to be problems and naysayers. Within the church, some of the problems are not real and are simply perceived. Other Problems are real and will correct themselves with future revelation and inspiration and may seem hard in the present. Others are real problems that will always arise when human beings are permitted to carry out responsibility.

      If as a Church our goal is be totally inclusive in every direction, we would be a universalist faith. I don’t want that. The Church has to stand for things and there will always be some who see a problem with those things. I feel horrible about those who are affected adversely by any influence and I only wish each to feel God’s Grace and mercy and love.

      I hope all of us including the Church and it’s leaders are improving and progressing and getting closer to the one whom we are to emulate. I also look forward to the great many things yet to be revealed in the church. while I hope we each are pushing and praying for improvement on how we individually and as a institution treat others and give each human being the respect and dignity they deserve, I stop short of deciding what revelation God should give the church and demand they occur, and demand they occur right now.

      Last of all – I don’t speak for the church as some have mentioned or implied here. Like the rest of Mormon Stories, I am sharing my experience and hope it is beneficial to some.

  31. ozpoof
    July 27, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Like Heather above, I will do everything to ensure children in my extended family never have to feel like playing with themselves makes them evil and sinful. They will not grow up to believe grown men can ask personal, sexual questions of them then mandate what they can or can’t do with their own bodies. That’s sick and should not be allowed to hide behind so-called freedom of religion.

    Another thing, I hope the COJCOLDS maintains their stance against homosexual people. I want as many gay people as possible to realize the church is uninspired and absolutely clueless when it comes to social issues and human sexuality. I don’t want gay couples accepted at church, even though I’m gay. I want people like me to be free.

    The best thing for gay LDS is to get out, as soon as they can without damaging their own chance for success. Gay at BYU? I say stay in the closet until you have your degree. DO NOT tell your Bishop. They can’t be trusted. They have a very skewed concept of morality. Lying is fine if the church benefits.

    Mr Reel, You mentioned a few times instances where the “official”, faith promoting history differs from the truth. That’s called lying. ExMormons hate lies. We love the truth. I’m afraid people in the church who want to keep up the facade of false (faith promoting) history and demonstrably false “sacred” texts, consider any truth objectionable if it shines light of LDS Inc’s lies. Truth that shows that the LDS leadership have systematically deceived members and the world is not “negative”. Truth is truth. It can only be considered negative by people who wish to suppress it.

    What do you suggest we do Mr Reel? Perpetuate lies? Ignore scientific facts and support the ludicrous assertions of apologists as they grasp at any straw? You know the “Lamanites” were always considered to be Semitic by the church. Now they claim they always said there were already people in the Americas. Read the BoM. The land was empty. Mormons are changing their everlasting gospel to explain away DNA evidence. They changed the BoM introduction to reflect DNA evidence that shows Lamanites (Native Americans) have zero Semitic blood. Now the church and apologists have decided Lamanite DNA is so diluted that it can’t be detected anywhere. So their skin colour curse is as strong as ever, but their DNA has disappeared? Ridiculous.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Mormons have a very low opinion of their God. An all knowing and all powerful God chooses a man with suspect sexual and moral history to “translate” an Egyptian document that God knows will one day be translated by scholars who will prove Joseph Smith did not actually translate anything. God then decides that those of his children who believe the facts and ignore the known liar, are the baddies (apostates); those who ignore facts and believe a man who was mixed up in confidence tricks and fraud to gain money from his youth, are the goodies. I don’t know what type of father you are Mr Reel, but I should hope you never train your children in the same way your Mormon God trains his children – He condemns the rational and logical while rewarding not only those with blind faith, but people like you who choose to believe known lies and obfuscate facts you don’t like by calling them too negative for your liking.

    You know what’s negative? Suppression of truth and rationality by people who threaten everlasting negative consequences for those who dare to tell the truth.

  32. Mike
    July 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    There’s a lot of pain in the posts above. I’m sorry to hear that. There seems to be a lot of concern about youth confessing sexual sins to Bishops and about the teaching that masturbation is a sin. I can see how for a nonbeliever, the entire process would seem not only pointless, but also destructive. However, assuming we all highly value our relationship with God, those who believe in the restoration will usually experience it very differently I think than those who doubt the inspiriation behind much of what the church teaches.

    I can only speak authoritatively about my own experience but with all honesty, the times growing up where I understood that I needed to go confess sins to my Bishop, were the times when I truely felt closest to God. They were terrifying, and painful, but the whole experience proved to be incredibly empowering. Nothing makes the atonement more of a reality then suffering the anguish of a guilty soul, and then repenting before the Lord with humility ready to do anything he asks of you no matter how scary it might be, and then coming out purified before the Lord. I hope all of my kids get to experience it on some level (hopefully only with minor sins that don’t hurt anyone else like masturbation) From personal experience, it is well worth the temporary pain and embarrassment.

    That being said, I kind of like some aspects of the catholic version of confession where it is an expected practice for everyone, not just those struggling with sexual stuff or major sins.

    • ozpoof
      July 28, 2012 at 3:08 am

      Tell me, where in any scripture is masturbation ever mentioned as a sin?

      • Mike
        August 1, 2012 at 3:48 pm

        I don’t know of any scriptures that directly describe, or name the act of masturbation which of course leaves some room for interpretation. However, I think that Matt 5:28 clearly defines a sin that will usually accompany it.

        If you are serious about considering the scriptural evidence, for starters I would suggest carefully contemplating Matt 5:28, Galations 5:16, 1 Thess 4:3-5, 1 Peter 2:11, 1 Cor 6:19-20, and D&C 125:45 and then asking yourself if you honestly feel like masturbation is something that the scriptures seem to approve of. In light of no scriptural evidence in support of it, and with the numerous passages that seem to condemn it (albeit not by name) I think it is safe to say that it is a sin. If you are convinced that it isn’t a sin, my guess is that the standard works weren’t your primary source material when looking into the question. I’m not saying that they necessarily need to be. But for a believing LDS they will hold a lot of weight.

        If you know of scriptures in support of the practice that I ought to consider please share them.

    • christopher allman
      July 29, 2012 at 8:41 pm

      When I was a teenager also felt much closer to God after having confessed to masturbation. But eventually I realized it was my own self disconnecting me from feeling the presence of God because I had so much shame over what I had done. In my 20’s, while still a believer, I came to terms with masturbation and no longer felt it was wrong. That time may have been the closest I ever felt to God because I no longer had the guilt of masturbation, the guilt of wanting to or the stress and pressure from not allowing myself to when it felt needed.

      • Mike
        August 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm

        I don’t doubt that you have found peace this way. Guilt only tears us up when we thoroughly believe that our actions are wrong. Because of this guilt and shame can be overcome of course in two ways:

        1. Actions can be changed to match beliefs

        2. Beliefs can be changed to match actions

        In most cases, it is easier to change ones actions than it is to truly alter ones beliefs and convictions about right and wrong. In the case of particularly difficult commandments however, it can for some become easier to change their beliefs. (this by the way is one of the reasons that I think faith is considered to be such an important moral choice)

        From my deeply rooted understanding of God’s will, masturbation is wrong and therefore I wouldn’t be able to find peace following the path that you did. But for those who truly change their beliefs, they will have peace just the same it seems.

      • Mike
        August 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm

        Mormon stories sees the very real and very devastating problems caused by guilt and shame and I hear them saying “This is dangerous! Let’s consider changing your beliefs, we’ll help you find some reasons that might make that possible in order to really relieve the pain.”

        The Church sees the same problem and I hear them saying “This is dangerous! Let’s work on changing your actions. Through Jesus Christ and the support of friends and sometimes professionals, you can do it.”

        Both methods can work for most people. If the Bible and the BOM are scams, whichever method is easiest for the individual is probably the healthiest one to take. If the Book of Mormon and the Bible are what they claim to be, the Mormon Stories way can be potentially destructive (although, if it saves someone from suicide or from a mental breakdown, and still allows them to hold onto some hope and faith, I would consider it a good thing)

  33. DH
    July 27, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Why is it that men seem to be able to quickly justify polygamy as biblical but polyandry as disturbing to them. To women, polygamy is just the other side of polyandry. And the issue most women I talk with are still disturbed about is that women could not then and cannot now protect their own marriages by saying no. As section 132 of the D&C makes clear, their vote does not count. I have heard many married women express how concerned they are that a husband might remarry and have a second wife sealed to him if they die first. Even today they feel personally threatened by this issue. I feel it poisons the culture of Mormonism over 100 years after the practice was stopped because in the eternal sense it was never stopped. And I feel it is very good for the men to have to deal with the issues raised by polyandry because it introduces the same threat level into their feelings of security regarding their marital covenants and the exclusivity of their union.

  34. Tom
    July 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Question for Bishop Reel: You mention that bishops are taught that they are not qualified to treat mental illness through their counseling. What happens when they do try to treat it and mess up the lives and families of those they counsel? What recourse do those members and their families have? I have personally experienced this in my own family, watching a marriage disintegrate as the bishop gave what turned out to be devastating counsel that led directly to the divorce of the couple. I have watched it in the lives of friends who were excommunicated for sexual sin and were later diagnosed as bipolar or borderline. Even now with the best medical care and drugs available, they are still subject to wild mood swings and extremely distorted judgements and thoughts that make them believe they need to marry virtual strangers or need to have sexual relations with the woman next to them on the plane because she expects it. And yes, the bishops are still calling church courts to deal with their behavior.
    So my question is, what is the official church position on dealing with the mentally ill and how are the bishops taught to recognize it?

    • BillReel
      July 28, 2012 at 9:59 am

      I can only say in my own experience that I have been well advised by my stake presidency and elsewhere that I am to lean on the spirit to counsel those who come to see me. When it is felt by me to be beyond what I can assist with I am able to recommend them to an agency that provides professional help including but limited to LDS family services.

      I can not speak to your experiences as I am not privy to that situation though my heart go out to any situation that ends in divorce or any other difficult experience.

      • Rude Dog
        July 31, 2012 at 8:21 am

        You say “lean on the spirit” like it’s an assumed truth that a Deity can communicate through biological human sensories resulting not only in comprehending the will of this Deity, but being guided by this celestial counseling above the frays of modern psychology that although terribly imperfect, was bought by millions of hours of sweat and tears to get to this imperfect state where actual relief of human suffering can be witnessed By using this assumption Bishop Reel delves into territories of such extreme personal-ness that only the religious would arrogantly feel qualified to be.

        If God has the ability to communicate with humanity and humanity has the ability to perceive this communication through senory input, then isn’t the height of solipsism to beieve that this ability to perceive such lofty communiques has been limited just to a few chosen few, and all the other billions of the religious be it originators, leaders, or humble followeres who’ve striven this road of sincere quest just didn’t quite have enough ability or sincerity? And that Bishop Reel has not only tapped into the rich vein of direct communication with a member of the Godhead who speaks for the Deity Himself, but has the ability to interpret such communication so precisely that he can guide individuals down roads of psychological safety?

        I know this forum assumes communication through the spirit. I can’t help but feel that most have not given this concept a moments reflection. One should rationally conclude that if we as a humanity could perceive our sensories the communications of a Deity, and interpret this communication applicable to our behaviour, we’d see a lot less of the wildly varied human expressions of this behavior and God belief, expressions and beliefs that are as varied as there are societies and cultures. What we have now would fit the belief that the “whisperings of the Spirit” come from somewhere deep in our biological brain, and that Bishop Reel is counseling from the amygdala, which although as wonderful as I’m sure he is, is totally unqualified to sit alone in a room listening to the intenesly personal issues of fellow human beings, and giving advice and definition regarding healthy resolutions.

        John, it was toned in your “psychology of religion” podcast. When does trying to present a fair representation of both sides of an issue circumvent to quest and respect for truth?

        • KT
          August 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm

          Rude Dog:

          When does trying to present a fair representation of both sides of an issue circumvent to quest and respect for truth?

          Huh? Not sure exactly what you’re saying here. It sounds like you’re saying that “truth” is explicitly one thing and not the other and that you know the difference? It seems to me as though fair and balanced interviews/reporting on MS’s ought to present “truths” as independently experienced perceptions of reality represented by various individuals. You’re not trying to exclude Bishop Reel’s perceptions/experiences as poppycock are you? If so, that’s awfully audacious of you, don’t you think?

      • Bob L.
        August 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm

        What is the policy of the Church with regard to correcting the past mistakes of priesthood leaders who misjudged the mentally ill? Do these people need to be rebaptized or is their excommunication (or disfellowshipment) just negated some way on the official records of the Church? I actually have three friends this applies to so need to know.
        Also, when you say you were well advised, does that include some specific training so that you will be able to recognize the symptoms of mental illness? Are bishops given training manuals to read or videos to watch? Until I actually studied mental illness, I had no idea that some of the symptoms we call sin are actually standard behavior for people suffering from these disorders.

        • BillReel
          August 20, 2012 at 9:46 am

          When I say trained, I mean that I feel well advised on what I am to try and handle through the spirit and what is above my paygrade and needs professional help. In regards to how we fix mistakes….. that would seem case by case though this is not an area I have experience and so I will withold from commenting.

          In regards to spotting Mental Illness, I have informally spoke to several professionals in that field to better grasp the signs and best routes to assist but no, there has been no formal church training. With a lay clergy that would seem difficult though perhaps when someone is called as a Bishop or Stake President they could mandat a 2 day workshop and some type of followup over time.

  35. Sundance
    July 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Would those 100 scientist be required to accept everything that anyone said about the book of mormon, including Joseph Smith, or would they be free to treat the book of mormon as a translation by 19 year man that lived in late 1800s?

    The other problem is that those 100 scientist would also need to be experts in the BOM at least from a textual perspective, if that could be done the numbers would change. Of course if any of them converted to Mormonism they would be disqualified from participation in the experiment and would have to be quickly replaced.

    I’m not naive or foolish enough to believe that even then they would all agree, but I do think there would be some.

  36. Tom
    July 28, 2012 at 1:25 am

    July 25th 9:57 a.m.
    Last date and time Bishop Reel posted a comment.

    I imagine Bill’s Stake President was contacted by an Area Authority regarding his participation in the podcast and his subsequent comments here.

    Bishop’s aren’t called to speak for the church. They have specific duties and pontificating on church policies and doctrine are not in the handbook.

    Bishop Reel needs a little more training…

    He’s done. He’ll be the new building cleaning coordinator before you know it.

    • Tom
      July 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      I stand corrected… he’s back!

      • KT
        August 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm

        We all get a bit Orwellian at times. Rush Limbaugh does it. Glen Beck does it. Ex-mormons and disgruntled mormons do it. It’s a common human trait to look at the “other” as being worthy of suspicion or fear. My guess, however, is that Bishop Reel will not be visited any time soon by the Strengthening the Church Committee. I really don’t think he’s crossed any line that would require sitting a seat at a church discipline council. Far from it. I think that if an Area Authority took the time to look at and listen to this podcast and its comment section (and those by Bishop Reel), there would be little, if any, concern.

        • Doubting Thomas
          September 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm

          TBM do it to KT.

          No suggestion was made that there would be a DC, only that the Bishop’s SP would be contacting him.

          DT

  37. Jonathan Maltz
    July 28, 2012 at 9:31 am

    The post here I most relate to is Joe S ‘Final Thoughts’. The comment I least relate to is belongs to ‘Ozpoof’ where he says he hopes the church maintains its position toward gays. I certainly don’t. I wish to join the Australian Support Community, but while Ozpoof continues to display his current avatar on that site, I cannot feel comfortable in so doing. I thought (perhaps wrongly) that the purpose of the Mormon Stories Support Community was to be very different to that of the well-known ‘Ex-Mormon’ site. I hope and trust this is so, and that Ozpoof will accept that his attitude toward the church and Mormons as people,is not in keeping with the spirit of this particular ‘Support Community’ enterprise.

    • ozpoof
      August 6, 2012 at 4:09 am

      Jonathan,

      I was given the position by default as I was the only person from Australia who had joined the community at the time. I did not ask for the position.

      Please feel free to ask the leadership of MS communities to assume the role as Australian facilitator. You have no reason now to not join the group, in fact I will be willing to leave if my opinions and beliefs are far too unacceptable for you.

      That avatar is my Facebook avatar. It’s a picture of how someone reacted after Proposition 8 removed the civil rights of gay people in California, thanks to the relentless campaign of lies and paranoia spewed on the people of that state by the Mormon church. I doubt the person who put that sign up meant it as an attack on every Mormon person, however, the leadership of the church would not have acted as they did – illegally funneling and hiding money related to the California campaign and paying for inaccurate advertising and propping up front groups – if the membership were more vocal and took a stand to support equality. The church membership sustains the leaders, and in doing so have supported anti-Black, anti-women and anti-gay attacks on civil rights in the US and more broadly. Perhaps then it is appropriate to spread the blame for past wrongs among all Mormons.

      Mormon Stories communities provide a safe place for all types of people. I am not going to change my avatar, or my opinion. Again, feel free to assume the role of community facilitator.

  38. christopher allman
    July 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I agree with Bishop Reel in saying that it is unfair to expect God to come down and reveal to us little minutia… however, that is exactly what Mormonism teaches God has done. Many of Joseph Smith’s revelation deal with minutia, the minutia of Heaven the minutia of Space, the Minutia of early America…and we love it! That is much of what makes Mormonism so interesting. But the really big things, the ones where we would expect God to go out of his way to mention, he has been significantly more reserved. Issues like race and gender. Ideas that have literally brought an entire segment of the into bondage or treated them as less than human. Those are the big issues! (While God did not think that was worth revealing, it was apparently important for him that we know the precise location of the Garden of Eden, intricate details of ancient American warfare and the name of Zelph, the white Lamanite.) The issues I mentioned strike me as especially appropriate for revelation since these issues were against the cultural norm, yet at that time society clearly was able to accept such ideas since some individuals were already drawing those conclusions on their own.

    Apologists like to respond that Prophets can only work with their culture tools, but we have many examples otherwise! Polygamy was certainly not something culturally accepted and God felt strongly enough about that to send a messenger with a sword.
    Prophets themselves clearly teach otherwise. Raising themselves up as beacons on a hill, able to see and teach values that society might find offensive but God higher law says otherwise, to the point where they may even be killed.

    It is by no means unreasonable to expect a prophet in early 1800’s America to teach progressive views on race/gender/sexuality. Why? Because another prophet was teaching racial and gender equality at almost the same time as Joseph Smith except in the Middle East, an area far more hostile to such ideas. The Prophet’s name was Baha’ullah, founder of the Baha’i faith ( I briefly became a Baha’i after I left Mormonism, but since became disillusioned. They teach things like eternal progression and eternal marriage. I think many Mormons would like it in a similar way as I.)

    My point is, Bishop Reel is correct, we need to expect God and his prophets to focus on the big things, not minutia such as earrings, malls or being on the wrong side of history when it comes to Gay rights. Prophets should push us forward and upward when it comes to morality, not try and hold us back as secular culture eventually forces us to adapt then later claim it was revelation from our God.

  39. christopher allman
    July 29, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I appreciate John bringing up the idea of what 100 scientists would think of the BOM. I think an important thing to consider when thinking science’s (as a whole) approach to the Book of Mormon is that it isn’t as if the scientific community has been so thoroughly biased against the Book of Mormon that none of them have ever given it serious consideration. In Joseph Smith’s time, if you asked a scientist where the Indians came from, a popular answer would have been something very similar to what Joseph Smith would say. The Mormon answer WAS the scientific answer, that is where Joseph Smith got his ideas from, his culture and the scientific though that was popular at the time.

    Since Joseph’s was the default belief, that means it had to be overturned and ideas don’t get overturned without good reason.
    Science has considered the Mormon position, to the point they once believed it, however they just concluded it was false long ago.

  40. Jason
    July 30, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    This podcast highlights the absolutely critical effect a prior spiritual experience has on one’s assessment of the evidence both for and against the Church. We saw this at play in two themes from Bishop Reel: first, until he knows all the facts about a seemingly difficult historical issue, Bishop Reel would suspend judgment. Second, the evidence in favor and against the Church is 50/50 and one could go either way. One would not make these statements without a prior spiritual conviction. For the first statement, in fact, Bishop Reel has not suspended judgment because he has chosen to stay in the Church after discovering faith-demoting evidence. It’s a judgment that’s difficult to recognize because attending and believing are part of Bishop Reel’s baseline assumtions which are predicated on a spiritual experience, but it is nonetheless a judgment.

    As for the second statement, one would not believe the evidence is 50/50 without some prior commitment to viewing the evidence a certain way. As a thought experiment, if you were to take a group of spiritual, but non-denominational Christian (i.e., they believe in a paradigm in which God’s true church could miraculously be restored), they would not, after careful study, view the evidence as 50/50 in favor or against. I’m quite confident that they would find the evidence weighs quite favorably against the Church’s truth claims. Just look at your own wards. When was the last time you’ve seen an individual join the Church because of the evidence? If the evidence truly were 50/50, one would except that a good portion of neutral-third parties would join the Church based on the evidence.

    • KT
      August 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      Jason: This podcast highlights the absolutely critical effect a prior spiritual experience has on one’s assessment of the evidence both for and against the Church.

      ——————

      I think that you’re right. I suppose, however, that we ought to define exactly what a “spiritual experience” is. Can we do that? I think what I’m hearing you say is that any kind of experience (not directly attributable to perception through the five senses) which plays and affective role in our perception/understanding of the world and our place in it ought to be automatically rejected? Or at the least, not be used in an evidential capacity for explanatory reasons as to how one came to a realization or determination of truth? Even if on a provisional basis? I think that rejecting what Bishop Reel has to say based on the simple fact that he claims to have had spiritual experiences is a rejection based upon incomplete information on your part. He seems to have information that he has entered into his equation for finding/discerning truth that you’ve invalidated as being irrelevant at the outset.

  41. Rude Dog
    July 31, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Yes, I too often wondered as a missionary that served in Northern Europe, a place that was often hostile towards our message, if they listened at all, why it was that I, a representative of the restored gospel, a set apart servant and missionary of Christ in a hostile land couldn’t receive a definitive answer to the implored question of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I prayed and prayed, waiting with “real intent”, and still the answer never came. I began to use other people’s excuses of “do you fee closer to the Lord?” or “does it feel right, does it seem true?” I had to grab that and then justify a testimony even though I had not receive one inkling of “burning” or an unquestionable witness.

    You make a good point about DNA, dark skin, anachronisms and archeology. Really, the best point is that I put the Book of Mormon to the test as directly stipulated, I asked with real intent and faith in Jesus Christ, and I received nothing.

    • Rude Dog
      July 31, 2012 at 8:40 am

      Sorry, that last post was a reply to Chris on July 26th, 2012 at 8:50 am.

    • Randy Colclough
      August 1, 2012 at 10:05 am

      One day you may realize that you did receive an answer, but not the way you expected. Boyd K Packer had the same experience as you, his answer came later with diligence.

      • jj
        August 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

        That is actually one of my biggest “challenges” with the church; it just feels like something isn’t right if the only time you get your answer is if you are completely submerged into “the program” (doing/reading/thinking/acting all the ways they tell you to, and for a long time). Seems like you should be able to get the answer on neutral ground, no?

        If i immersed myself in Scientology, or even yoga, took it to the extreme, etc., and then asked “is this good?”, seems like the natural inclination would be yes it’s good, given what you’ve poured in. Probably a very different answer had you taken a cliff notes version of its claims/beliefs/obligations etc. and asked.

        Seems like the mind is pretty powerful in swaying in these types of instances.

  42. David Kitchen
    August 1, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Bishop Reel,

    What a pleasant surprise to see you here. I had no idea of your interest in the Mormon Stories podcasts. I will certainly give these two episodes a listen (beginning tonight on the drive to storehouse training) and follow up with you. I’ve been a listener for years.

    Your friend,
    Bishop Kitchen
    Lorain Ward, Cleveland Ohio Stake

    • billreel@bex.net
      August 1, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Hope you enjoy it David. Thanks
      Bishop Reel

  43. August 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    So in the discussion about putting one hundred scientists in a room and asking them to determine if the BOM is historical or not, Bishop Bro. Reed used the word “men” to describe these scientists. Why would all these scientists be men? This is why I’m no longer active; regardless of whether the BOM is historical or Joseph Smith was inspired, the modern church is sexist, homophobic and racist in it’s doctrine and I do not believe that God is a part of that, even if it was inspired to begin with.

    That may seem like a small thing, but the words we choose to use to describe others show our biases, and it seems that Bro. Reed shares the bias of many male members of the church towards women. If we say men to describe scientists instead of people or women, we are making assumptions about the intelligence, capacity and place of women.

    • Randy Colclough
      August 2, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Defy gravity ….when you accept the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Spirit changes you, you can see things through Gods eyes, and know that the church is none of the things you say, and you will see how it lines up with Gods word, hopefully you will receive this gift one day, and release the bitterness that fills you….

      • DefyGravity
        August 2, 2012 at 9:55 pm

        And how did that adress anything? The Spirit has confirmed to me that the church is not a good place for me and that God is not behind much of what the church says or does. So maybe one day you will be shown by the Spirit that the church is damaging to many, including the women this man doesn’t think are capable of being scientists.

        • Randy Colclough
          August 2, 2012 at 11:28 pm

          The spirit has confirmed to you to go against the word of God?

          • Randy Colclough
            August 2, 2012 at 11:39 pm

            What spirit exactly is it that tells you that Gay marriage is alright, shouldn’t what the spirit says line up with the word of God?

          • DefyGravity
            August 2, 2012 at 11:51 pm

            What’s the point of revelation if it can’t provide new info? The church wouldn’t exist if Joseph Smith had said “Oh, what God said to me conflicts with what I’ve been told God has said, so God must be wrong.”

          • Randy Colclough
            August 3, 2012 at 10:05 am

            So God was wrong, and Hollywood and the media are right?

          • August 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm

            What does the media have to do with anything? I’m talking about my relationship with God and what God has told me. Read what I’m writing instead of thinking you know what I’m saying.

          • Randy Colclough
            August 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm

            God destroyed whole cities in the Bible for homosexuality, do you think he changes, because the media tries to make it politically popular.

          • DefyGravity
            August 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm

            What does that have to do with how the church treats women, which was my primary point?

          • Randy Colclough
            August 3, 2012 at 9:21 pm

            I have never met a women that has a problem with how they are treated. Women are revered, and as far as the Priesthood goes this is the same as when Jesus walked the Earth.

          • August 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm

            You’ve met me. And if you bother to do any kind of research into what many LDS women are saying, you’d realize that your statement is false. I doubt you haven’t met any women who share my opinion, you just choose to ignore them because they don’t fit into your world view.

    • Nick Day
      August 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      It frustrates me when someone can take one word out of an almost 3 hour interview, and twist it to try to make a point. Why he chose the word “men” over something more sex neutral could be due to the FACT that men dominate the science fields. Women only account for 30% of all doctorate degrees in science, so maybe he was just reflecting a sad fact in our society. Maybe it could be due to him simply using the word men as a gender neutral term. Perhaps, it was a overt sexist statement. In any case, the interview did not focus on his beliefs on a woman’s place in the church, and any attempt to assume his position from just one word is just grasping at straws.

      • August 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm

        Men is not gender neutral; it is male.

    • Jessica Bischoff
      August 18, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      DefyGravity: I noticed that too-assuming the scientists would all be men-and it bugged me, but I doubt he did it intentionally. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Besides, sexist assumptions aren’t unique to Mormonism by any means.

  44. Jon
    August 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

    As a new visitor to this site I really appreciated the civility and dialogue between John and Bishop Reel. I feel like my understanding has grown by listening to their discussion. I think John has made some gigantic assumptions in his survey though. His suggestion that counseling those with feelings of homosexuality may lead to depression and suicide is unsubstantiated. I would suggest that it’s not the counseling, but a combination of other circumstances in their life causing their problems. Perhaps a greater understanding of what causes homosexuality in the first place would help us understand their struggle better. I don’t have all the answers. I do have many friends and relatives who are now gay, who were not always. Most were abused by someone else and I believe that lead to the struggles they currently face with their sexuality. Maybe some are born with homosexual feelings, but in the end the scriptures are clear. No unclean thing can enter the kingdom of God. John made a good point about the difficulty of someone remaining celibate and putting off their natural human desire for love and affection in their life. I would point out that there are a lot of straight members of the church do the same thing because they never find the “right person” to marry. Look at Sherry Due. We all come to earth to learn and grow and face different trials and challenges. Some may find relief through counseling and Priesthood blessings and some may be called to live a life of celibacy, but those of us who know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ must not rationalize any sin, especially those of a sexual nature. President Ezra Taft Benson taught “The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.” He also taught in the same talk “If we love God, do His will, and fear his Judgement more than men’s, we will have self-esteem.”

  45. Jonathan Maltz
    August 5, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Although off-topic, my post above in which I was critical of Ozpoof’s supposed Mormon Stories Support Community Australia avatar, was in error. It appears that I mistook someone else’s avatar for his. My unreserved apologies go to him.

  46. jj
    August 7, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Just finished the full interview. Enjoyed it very much. While it seemed the Bishop was “stretching” quite a bit to make it all fit (i.e. “it leaves room for the possibility of believing this, so I’ll believe), I believe the church would be very well served to have more people like him serving as bishops. It has not been my experience to have such an educated and “enlightened” bishop running the show. Just the fact that he’s open to the possibility of errors/shortcomings/mis-understandings, means a lot to me in the sense that it’s quite a step.

    At the end of the day, I still have quite a time trying to reconcile how there can be so much uncertainty, so much “it leaves room for possibility/belief” for the one & only true church that receives direct revelation from God. Seems like if it was that important to follow the one true path, God would have made it a little more clear. That’s not to say Mormonism can’t be inspired or great, it just requires that the brethren, and perhaps more importantly, “mid-level mgt”, backs of the hard line stance of this is ALL direct from God, and instead goes with “we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve been given”.

    Thanks again.

    • Nick Day
      August 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      The same uncertainty that plagues the church today is the same uncertainty that plagued the ancient church. Today we have people turning away from the church because those of African decent couldn’t hold the preisthood till ’78. The ancient church had people turning away from the church because Gentiles were fully accepted into the church without needing circumcision. Today we have people leaving the church because of trivialities in the Book of Mormon. The ancient church had people leaving the church because of trivialities between the different accounts of Jesus’ life. Today we have people getting their feeling hurt by the human errors of those in leadership positions. The ancient church had members complaining about widows not receiving food, when it was the apostle’s responsibility to ensure the needy had what they needed. It’s the same problems, just a different year.

      • Maragocho
        August 9, 2012 at 10:00 pm

        Fantastic insight Nick. While I understand and recognize the “challenges” some individuals have(and that I have had at times in my life also), I have found also that most of them stem from being offended by human error.

  47. Helena
    August 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I just wanted to ask why polyandry would be worse than polygamy? Polyandry was incorrectly defined in the podcast as meaning men marrying women already married to other men. Its strict definition is when a woman has more than one husband, the same way that polygamy is defined by a man having more than one wife. Why would one be worse than the other? Both are equally horrible to me.

    And how can polygamy not bother some people? Have you read about the women involved? I’ve cried my eyes out for these women, and you just conveniently go with “it was in the old testament” as an excuse! What if the old testament wasn’t correctly translated? Did that thought ever strike you?

    I also reacted on the part when Bill says he always wanted to be a bishop, and that he thinks everyone should try being the bishop for 6 months to understand how hard it is. Well, only 50% of the members can ever get to try that, and however much i wanted to be a bishop when i grew up, i always knew that the closest i would ever get is being the bishop’s wife…

    John, your input on the homosexuals and the terrible situation they face brought me to tears. I find that to be à whole separate podcast to be done!!! This information needs to come forward!

    Lastly, i noticed that your discussion on masturbation only seemed to include young men. For your information, young women masturbate too. do you find it appropriate for a 33-year old man to ask a 17-year old young woman about her masturbation habits? Is it ever done? Or does it not matter that women masturbate since they don’t get to pass the sacrament anyway?

    I do think that Bill seems like a supernice guy and i’m sure you do lots of good. But i think you need to ask youtself if the answers you provided really make it in the long run.

    • Nick Day
      August 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      From a scriptural standpoint, the difference between polygamy and polyandry is that polygamy was allowed several times in ancient times, and polyandry was never allowed or condoned in ancient times. In fact, polyandry is seen as adultery, and was punishable by death. A few places where polygamy is addressed in the Bible are: Exodus 21:10; Deuteronomy 17:17; Deuteronomy 21:15–17; Deuteronomy 25:5–10. It is not our place to judge the morality of the practice of such things. We can’t pass judgment on a world that was so much different from our own. The ancient practice of polygamy had more to to with the practical needs of the tribe as a whole rather than wants of the individual. When the selfish desires of the individual were exposed, prophets were quick to chastise. The restored church’s practice of polygamy is much more difficult to justify. While the practice was somewhat limited, it seems to have served little practical purpose. Like the ancient church, there were rules that were to be followed for those that engaged in a polygamous relationship. I have some ideas why polygamy was practiced, but they are essentially only educated guesses as to the will of God. As for the horribleness of both, I find it much less horrible than the sexual promiscuity that is happening in much of the world today. One only has to watch a few daytime talk shows to see how people have given up on any sense of sexual boundaries. Instead of having stable family units, both men and women are engaging in one time sexual encounters outside the bounds of marriage that lead to feelings of inadequacy and depression. The children of such relationships have a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality. It is hypocritical of us to judge the polygamy of the restored church when our culture is much more damaging to our young men and women than polygamy ever was.

      • Helena
        August 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm

        Are you calling the polygamous family that for example brigham Young created “a stable family unit”? He had fifty wives that he didn’t look after and just as many children that hardly knew their father. We can’t know if polyandry happened before, we can only know it is not included in the bible. The BoM states that polygamy is only to be allowed to raise up seed. Why then are there no offspring from JS? Did he practice it incorrectly? And what is your take on polyandry then? One if JS’s mistakes?

        • Nick Day
          August 11, 2012 at 6:23 am

          Brigham Young’s polygamous family was not the ideal family unit. I’ll give you that. However, it was much better than what is becoming our current societal norms. It is apparent that you have never worked with those affected by the degrading social structure in the world. You haven’t looked into a child’s eyes and seen the hurt because they don’t know who their father is, and their mom has to work so much that they rarely see her. You haven’t seen the distress on a mother’s face because she is working three jobs just to keep food on the table. Even worse is when drugs and alcohol are brought into the equation. The standard of living then goes from bad to worse. Comparing this type of life to a polygamous family where the kids don’t have to wonder how they are going to get their most basic need met is not a comparison at all. I have seen this first hand, and I hate it.

          As far as the polyandry of Joseph Smith, it is hard to say. The historical evidence of possible polyandry is there, however the justification of it isn’t. I think that the justification of it is what most people are looking for, and since it’s not there, people jump to their own conclusions. Since there were no children, I would leave room for the possible misinterpretation of Joesph’s intentions, or Joseph’s misinterpretation of how polygamy was to be implemented. However, all possibilities are on the table. Historically, we may never know for sure.

          • Helena
            August 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm

            You seem to draw a lot of conclusions about me and my experience of the world that surprice me and are entirely wrong. What do you know about me that makes you come with these statements? Not believing in mormonism does not make me want to sleep with every person i meet or don’t want to spend time with my children.

            And believe me, i have seen the very people you mention both where i live and abroad, through my work as a doctor, and in my opinion, the mormon church is not the answer that will solve their problems.

            Like many many mormons you seem to see the rest of the world like worse than hell, and don’t realize that moral, kind, loving and caring people with great values exist. I would like to go even further. Without people outside the church, lds would look more like the flds today. Thanks to people from outside questioning some practices, they were changed. If this hadn’t happened, you would probably have seven wives yourself by now!

          • Nick Day
            August 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm

            You seem to be able to draw quite a few conclusions yourself. I’m not a bubble Mormon. I have lived most of my life outside the church. The degradation of society that I have seen is from both inside and outside the church. I was simply trying to point out the old saying that “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. Our culture is much more destructive to people than the culture of the early Utah LDS church.

            I’m sure that your not going to take my word for it. As a doctor, I’m sure that concrete facts are what you base your world view on. To help you see what I see, I have included some statistics that should trouble you.

            49% of male high school students have had sex
            48% of female high school students have had sex
            49% of college students have had a one night stand.
            74% of women have had casual sex, i.e., no serious relationship, “no strings attached”.
            80% of women who have had causal sex regret it.
            41% of people admit cheating on their significant other.
            68% of people admit being cheated on by their significant other.
            1 in 3 men take off their wedding rings when they go out without their wives.
            64% of couples preserve their marriage after an affair.
            78% of couples who remain married despite an affair, describe the marriage as unhappy or empty.
            61% of divorcing couples from a first marriage for each have children under the age of 18
            1,075,000 children under the age of 18 had their parents divorce.
            40% of children are being raised without their fathers.
            Children in repeat divorces earned lower grades and their peers rated them as less pleasant to be around.
            Teenagers in single-parent families and in blended families are three times more likely to need psychological help within a given year.
            Following divorce, children are fifty percent more likely to develop health problems than two parent families.
            A child in a female-headed home is 10 times more likely to be beaten or murdered.
            70% of long-term prison inmates grew up in broken homes.
            Children of divorce are four times more likely to report problems with peers and friends than children whose parents have kept their marriages intact.
            Children of divorce, particularly boys, tend to be more aggressive toward others than those children whose parents did not divorce.
            People who come from broken homes are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide than those who do not come from broken homes.
            Children of divorce are roughly two times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers.

  48. Helena
    August 10, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Oh, and i hope the comment “happy wife, happy life” was nothing but empty words, because i can hardly think of anything more discriminating towards the role as a wife in a relationship. As if the only thing we want is to have a man say what we want to hear and buy what we want to wear. Such undermining of women’s capacity is dreadful.

    • Nick Day
      August 10, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      You know, your right! Why should men strive to make their spouse happy? It’s just degrading.

      • Helena
        August 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm

        The sarcasm is not appreciated. If you don’t understand why i wrote that comment, you are probably not aware of the problems that patriarchy causes in church, and we are not able to discuss this topic.

        • Nick Day
          August 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm

          The phrase your attacking is not a phrase that is exclusive to the church. In fact, it is more widely used outside the church. I attacked your comment because you assumed a position based upon a sexist viewpoint. You made the assumption that men think that women are shallow materialistic people. Wanting to make your spouse happy is not sexist, nor does it have anything to do with the church. If you wanted to make a comment about the problems that patriarchy causes in church, then you should have done it, instead of attacking a man for wanting his spouse to be happy.

          • Helena
            August 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

            Attacking a man? Are you kidding? You need to relax. I was saying that i hoped those were empty words. Often, in and outside the church, people say things that they don’t actually mean. It is often a way of speech that goes way back. For example “struggle with honosexuality”. Same thing.

  49. Adam
    August 11, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Bishop Reel truly does seem to be the “thinnest kid at fat-camp”, and doing the best he can, but the real, over-ridding issue is that any church (and its founders/leaders) that demands Perfect Obedience had better be Beyond Reproach. Otherwise, it will degenerate into a stratified/privileged obedience club where the only people really doing everything they are supposed-to are the ones at the bottom. This is ironically what most find so distasteful about Free-Masonry, of which Mormonism has so often been accused of having ties with.

    How is it that the Marriotts, who have served in so many high-level church callings have not been taken to task for basing their empire on each hotel in the 80’s/90’s having a perfect replica of the Cheers bar in it, or that now they are one of the largest sellers of pornography in America? Mitt Romney who has become Uber-Rich by destroying the ‘sanctity of contracts’ whenever they protected workers – how can anyone signing his Temple Recommend, really believe that he is honest in his dealings with his fellow man? I guess the church is learning that dirty tithe money spends just as well as the clean.

    • Nick Day
      August 11, 2012 at 9:30 am

      You start you post with a “fat camp” insult and then expect to be taken seriously? Perhaps its not too late for your mom and dad to teach you how to have civil discussions with people you don’t agree with.

      • Adam
        August 11, 2012 at 9:49 am

        Nick, This is a relatively common metaphor these days when referring to the best example of a compromised group. Bishop Reel does not appear to be overweight in his photo, so to use this as an excuse to be outraged is somewhat lame.

        • Nick Day
          August 11, 2012 at 10:30 am

          I understood the metaphor, and it’s still an insult, no matter how “common” it is. Being that insults are the minds way of marginalizing a person or idea, your comment was intended to make the LDS position inferior, while at the same time promoting your position as superior. I found your comment to be divisive and contrary to the spirit of this blog. I’m all for a lively civil discussion, however I’m not afraid to call people out when they need it. BTW, just because Jon Stewart said it doesn’t make it common.

    • billreel
      August 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      I don’t think he is calling me fat despite the double chin in the picture above. He is saying even though I seem to be doing very well in the church, I am still a believer in the church and that still makes me a problem. I might be the nicest problem in the room but still a problem that needs addressed. I don’t feel the church expects perfect obedience, though I do think that many of the members have adopted that approach. Bruce R McConkie, a very fundamental mormon in his own right said
      “Salvation is not in works—not even in those revealed of God—but in Christ and his atonement.”

      http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=597

      • Adam
        August 12, 2012 at 5:01 pm

        Thanks Bishop Reel for gleaning the actual meaning of my reply and not looking for any excuse (ala Fox News) to cut down my opinion. For what it is worth, I think you are EXACTLY where the Lord would have you be as a force for good in the Church. I don’t think that church is bad/mis-founded and such as much as I believe the Book of Mormon when it says that the olive branches go wild and not even the Master can stop it from happening.

        “…Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
        Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
        The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
        The ceremony of innocence is drowned…”
        – William Butler Yeats

      • Nick Day
        August 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm

        Bill- Thanks for rising above the fray. I found a very important lesson in this for me. While I was offended by the wording of Adam’s post, I need to focus on the issues behind the spirit of what was being said. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the road in the fog.

        Adam- I’m sorry for not addressing the issues that you wanted to discuss. I have the bad tendency to charge when I see red. I’d blame it on too many years in the military, but that doesn’t excuse me for misrepresenting the Church. I hope that you’ll accept my apology.

        • Adam
          August 13, 2012 at 5:28 am

          Nick: that was very gracious.

          I have been recently reading a book (free to download from this site: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/ ) called “The Authoritarians” that explores the limbic (natural man) connection to conservative/reactionary thinking, and how these are things to root out from our minds.

          Here is a quote, for example, that seriously calls into question the LDS people’s modern zest for war and national defense:

          “We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching”

          – Spencer W. Kimball

  50. Nelson Chung
    August 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Bishop,
    What do you think about scientific treatment for same-gender attraction?

    • August 14, 2012 at 8:27 am

      I think it is two separate issues. I wouldn’t treat same sex attraction as you imply. I don’t see the attraction as the issue and am perfectly happy assuming that in a majority people with SSA that it is not a choice and is a natural tendency though perhaps in some cases influenced by life experiences such as abuse or neglect. I do not want to try to change things from that angle as I agree with John, it is destructive. 2nd – I would rather handle this issue from a behavior standpoint which I believe is the current approach of the church. We each have natural tendencies. some good, some bad. This life is about coming to terms with and putting off the Natural Man, discovering which behaviors are healthy and bring us peace and joy; and which ones are unhealthy and destructive. If one decides in their individual circumstance that SSA “behavior” is appropriate then one is free to live that lifestyle and I wish them all the happiness in the world. If one decides for himself that SSA “behavior” is undesirable then one has power to progress and improve in putting off the natural man. The problem is that the Church has a current policy/doctrine. Until that changes and perhaps it never does, one must reconcile the issue with the church’s stance. My next statement only applies to those in the Church who have a testimony of both the Church and it’s stance…. Me personally – If one has SSA tendencies and one tries their whole life to overcome the natural man, and continually struggles to do so but makes a continual effort to try again and again…. Then I do not see them being left out of the Celestial kingdom because of it. Helamen 3:35, Moroni 10: 32-33 this life is not about Righteousness or wickedness, it is about progression to become less like we are naturally and more like the Savior.

    • BillReel
      August 15, 2012 at 9:52 am

      Tried to answer this but my answer was removed it seems???? not sure what that is about.

      • August 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm

        Sorry. It was stuck in the comments cue. It should be there now.

        • August 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm

          no biggie John, I assumed something odd as the comment wasn’t confrontational, I don’t think… hope not

  51. Kurt
    September 3, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    I am new to this site and have listened to only a few podcasts and I realize my comments on this particular podcast may be late in game (or after the game’s over).

    I enjoyed this dialog to a great extent, but was bothered by what seemed to me–and from my brief perusing of the comments, it may only be me–that the dialog was hijacked midway through for John to make his points about the issue of homosexuality. It is obvious John has strong feelings and likely many great ideas about this topic, but if you look at the interview from a holistic process, you can see that it shifted when he initially began to ask meaningful and poignant questions about the topic into a “let me tell you what I think, Bishop Bill.” That kind of spoiled the interview for me because I thought it was about an interview with a current Mormon Bishop. I certainly think John’s ideas are worthy of a separate podcast, perhaps where someone interviews him about his research. I just think that it came across as out of place here.

    (As an aside, if you do such a podcast, please be sure to explain the sampling methods used in this research because they are critical in interpreting what your data might mean.)

  52. Michael R.
    November 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

    In regard to book of mormon and book of abraham – does the substance of what is in these two books of scripture enlarge faith or diminish it ?

    regarding evolution and age of the earth: doesn’t book of abraham refer to “we will take of these materials and make an earth whereon these may dwell”.

Support

Monthly Subscription

One-Time Donation

Subscribe

Subscribe to podcast

RSS Feed

  • Podcast Feed

Facebook Support Group


Mormon Stories on Facebook