In my role challenging the Mormon church to do/be better, and in supporting transitioning Mormons, I generally have two types of detractors:

1) Believing Mormons and apologists who attack me because I sometimes criticize the church.  The Church of Scientology refers to this approach of attacking critics as being “Fair Gamed.”

2) Other Ex-Mormons (often former friends) who attack me for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s personality differences. Sometimes it’s jealousy. Sometimes it’s a way for them to get cheap attention once they start slipping into irrelevance. Sometimes I have literally no clue as to why they attack me.

Anyway, occasionally but reliably over the years (and oddly usually around the holidays), a coordinated group of attackers will try to soil my reputation on the Internet with lies and misinformation. I’ve been accused of harming women and children. I’ve been accused of breaking up families. I’ve been accused of becoming wealthy off of the podcast. I’ve been accused of not being financially transparent with the podcast.

Literally NONE of these accusations are true. I’ve never harassed or abused anyone. Ever. We’re not wealthy, and in fact are still paying off debts connected to my work with the podcast. We will NEVER recoup the money we lost leaving Microsoft and MIT spending 9 years in graduate school (and we’re at peace with that). We have ALWAYS been financially transparent in the OSF. Etc. Etc.

Being “Fair Gamed” sucks, but I’ve come to accept this reality as part of the job. Critics of high demand religions are regularly smeared. Just ask Leah Remini. There’s literally no way to stop it.

I used to feel the urgency to respond publicly to the smears, but such responses are usually unwise, since my public responses then help to advertise the smears, which literally never stop. If I were to respond to every smear it would become a full time job, it would drain me of all my emotional energy, and I would never create anything meaningful. Responses also reward those who lie/smear with the attention they crave.

Sometimes this scenario makes me feel briefly discouraged and powerless, but I’m not powerless. There are at least three things I CAN do in response to constant smears:

1) I can refuse to give the misinformation oxygen or visibility on my platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, my blog).

2) I can block the smearing critics on social media, which I try to do regularly. And,

3) I can continue producing quality content that helps my listeners.

Finally, as a flawed human, I always welcome sincere criticisms, especially regarding the podcast or my YouTube channels. I sincerely love, love, love constructive feedback intended to help me be more effective at my objectives.

If someone has concerns about the non-profit, and if they are donors or sincere prospective donors, they are welcome to email me, or message our amazing board:

But if someone wants to use my platform to spread baseless misinformation or even lies about me, they are not welcome in my world. I will continue to avoid responding to the misinformation, to avoid giving the critics what they most crave: more attention. They will have to find a more constructive way to get attention. I suggest they consider finding a way to do good in the world.

If you have questions for me about anything, feel free to message me directly. I will respond when I can, but please remember, there’s no way to prove a baseless lie false. That’s why baseless lies are so effective.

In fact, that’s how many religions get their start — with baseless, yet undisprovable lies. That’s why we value evidence.

Sincere love and gratitude to you all.

John Dehlin

P.S. For a fair and thorough treatment of the “Rosebud” allegations, see here.


  1. David Taylor December 23, 2020 at 8:25 am - Reply

    I believe all publicity is good, both negative or positive. People will be drawn to investigate when they learn about you and your work. “No unhallowed hand” will stop your work. Ignore the jackasses and keep on doing your good works. You are saving lives. As I said on ex-mormon reddit, you and Jeremy have “done more…for the salvation of men in this world, than any other [men] that ever lived in it.”

    I know it is hard, but let Kwaku El and his like wash right over you. They are not serious people and their slander has no weight. His target audience will grow up and become more thoughtful and curious and you guys and your incomparable work will be there for them.

    Keep on keepin’ on.

    • J C December 23, 2020 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      I’m not ex Mormon but was engaged to be married to a Mormon years ago. Although I still feel like he was the love of my life I just couldn’t convert (and this was pre internet..and I broke off the relationship .mainly due to my parents giving me the book The Godmakers). Mormon Stories is a treasure chest of information and I’m in awe of the interviews you do and the resources you provide. Thank you John Dehlin.

    • David Dehlin January 4, 2022 at 9:57 am - Reply

      John, I totally agree with your 3 Points as described, and I totally agree with David Taylor’s intelligent response.
      Keep on keeping on, and ignore the naysayers!!!

  2. J Paul December 23, 2020 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    John, keep up the good fight! You are correct and your detractors are . . . something other than correct.

    The “dare greatly” comment is spot on (Teddy Roosevelt was in a very similar position, in many ways, as you and we are now.)

    You, and we, are not jack-ass whisperer‘s! How true that is.

    You have been in “the arena” for several years, giving all that you can muster, for the cause of truth. It is high time the rest of us (those seeking truth) to step into this arena, in order to provide support, and to become part of this valiant effort!

    Please, do not ever feel like you need to respond to these ingrates.

    Find comfort knowing that you have been blessed (by God) with the unique ability of being able to express, in no uncertain terms, the sum total with details supporting, and easy to understand language, the “running synopsis” of what is really happening to all of us. (you have a clarity of expression.)

    I feel like God has saved you for this very moment, for the purpose of leading us to truth!

    Godspeed to you and your family!

    No one, no one, has pushed the envelope in searching for the truth about Mormonism more than you and also Jeremy. Please go to bed in peaceful slumber, with full confidence, knowing that you’re in the grace of God. (There is no reason whatsoever to lose one minute of sleep about this.)

    We are all with you John!!!

    Have a very good Christmas holiday. You have earned it.

    Know that you have the love, admiration, and support, of all of the mormon story family.

    We love you, and appreciate you, more than we can say.

    J Paul

  3. Cory Jorgensen December 24, 2020 at 7:28 am - Reply

    It is sad when people have nothing better to do than to smear others. Keep up the good work!

  4. kaigh ell December 24, 2020 at 10:03 am - Reply

    I’ve read that 150 prominent personalities including J.K. Rowling and Salman Rushdie penned an open letter decrying the ‘intolerant climate’ in the West with regard to cancel culture.

    One signers was Noam Chomsky, who also has had the following to say with regard the #MeToo movement’s sometimes confusing allegation with demonstrated action: “I think it grows out of a real and serious and deep problem of social pathology. It has exposed it and brought it to attention, brought to public attention many explicit and particular cases and so on. But I think there is a danger. The danger is confusing allegation with demonstrated action. We have to be careful to ensure that allegations have to be verified before they are used to undermine individuals and their actions and their status. So as in any such effort at uncovering improper, inappropriate and sometimes criminal activities, there always has to be a background of recognition that there’s a difference between allegation and demonstration.”

    Societies approach various tension in various ways.

    Primitive societies, for example, tend greatly to segregate by gender.

    In our own society, Mike Pence is careful to never be alone with a woman, in part to shield from unverifiable allegations (say, for example, that an accuser believes she had been in a consensual, emotions-only affair with an him that was inappropriate because of his social standing and because it was in a work environment).

    Just some of my thoughts.

  5. David Witbeck December 24, 2020 at 10:07 am - Reply

    As a natural skeptic, I tend to wonder what peoples true motives are for what they do. In the case of Mormon Stories, I used to wonder if there was some kind of payoff for John Dehlin in the form of fortune, fame, or something else. Just over two years ago, my wife and I met John, at a Mormon Stories retreat. Since then, I have been very fortunate to get to know John and his wonderful wife Margi on a personal level. I have had many one on one conversations with them. I been to their home and observed how they live, and I have seen how they treat people. I have observed the weight they carry when they see people struggle. I have observed things in private that I won’t share here, that have proven to me the Dehlins integrity and who they really are. I can say, without a doubt, that John and Margi Dehlin are the real deal. They are some of the kindest, most caring people that you will ever meet. They truly live the Christ-like lives that LDS and other churches teach. Their critics, are using tactics which promote hatred and stir up contention, which I was taught are the fruits of satan, not christ.

  6. Steve December 24, 2020 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    I have listened to many a Mormon Stories podcast. Never once have I sensed any undertone of secondary gain by John. On the contrary, he has gone to great lengths to be honest in his podcasts. He gives criticism where it is warranted, not just to take cheap shots. When harm is done by an organization, and that organization doesn’t acknowledge or take responsibility for that harm, there is a moral imperative to speak out. To thus speak out is a manifesation of integrity. John sometimes expresses frustration and anger because he personally deals with carnage caused by the Church. Anger can be constructive when it motivates people to appropriately speak out against those who damage the lives of others. We should be grateful for John’s work. The rest of us should also feel that same indignation. Unfortunately, if a person believes in the Church’s truth claims, then everything else has to fit within that paradigm. Thus, in the bubble of that mindset, John is by definition one of Satan’s most effective tools, because he is in fact effective! Unfortunately, this mindset ignores or refuses to deal with realities. These include the now denounced but previously declared false doctrines on blacks and gays, and the unfathomable damage done by those. This mindset also fails to see the damage done to familial and other relationships. This often occurs as those who see the collapse of the Church’s truth claims are demonized and shunned. We need John’s work to go forward and to be seen by more and more people. John, you have our support!

  7. Robert Hodge December 26, 2020 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    Ouch John. I sometimes feel a little jealous of your success. Wish I could have done what you did. And I knew a lot about these problems long before you began to let them see the light of day. But overriding my sometimes pricks of jealousy I am just proud has hell that some has done what you have done and are doing. I was called Satan the other day for a comment I made on line that offended some TBM. But what I said was the truth as far as I understand it. So don’t think you are alone…just a heck of a lot more visible, and a heck of a lot more effective. And that makes you a prime target. After all, billions are at stake here against your comparably miniscule compensation package.

  8. Jim Blumel December 28, 2020 at 1:31 am - Reply

    John and family,
    I’ve been around in the church a long time, and left it about five years ago. You are one of my great heroes and I greatly appreciate the work you’ve done. I’m sorry that creeps are attacking you, the possibly most gentle person in the in the world, who would not knowingly harm anyone. Keep doing what you are doing.

  9. Gianni December 29, 2020 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    Honest question? Why no allow constructive critique on this site?
    You encourage transparency yet you filter all opposing views.

    • John Dehlin December 30, 2020 at 11:52 am - Reply

      I’m actually ok with constructive criticism. Just not mean-spiritedness. Or attempts to smear or provide disinformation.

  10. Robert December 29, 2020 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    The one area where you need to be a little careful John is when you accuse others who are making $300k salaries heading up non-profits as immoral and inappropriate, and yet you make over $200k yourself plus income from personal coaching. It could be seen as hypocritical?

  11. Leslie Canfield March 10, 2021 at 6:52 am - Reply

    You have critics. That’s good. It means you’re doing something right. Carry on. Thank you for being you, and the very important work you do for society.

  12. Angela O’Rullian March 10, 2021 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    I’m sorry to hear of those that try to smear your name and spread lies about you. I’m sure that’s very disheartening, but at least you have the ability to respond and defend yourself.
    I have seen you over the years you do likewise. Perhaps you could consider that as you smear the name of Joseph Smith when he doesn’t have a voice to defend himself today….just an honest to goodness thought.

    • Julianne March 11, 2021 at 7:50 am - Reply

      John has never said anything untruthful about Joseph Smith. John talks about Joseph marrying teenagers and having polygamous marriages without telling his first wife. John cites well-researched references about Joseph seeking treasure prior to his claim of finding the golden plates.
      Joseph would often threaten the women he married, saying they would not go to heaven if they refused marriage to him. Then Jo would send the husband off to proselytize for the church as to get him out of the way.
      If after all these true stories, you think old Jo is an outstanding guy, you have more problems than even John can help fix.

  13. Josh H April 19, 2021 at 8:53 am - Reply

    I don’t know John Dehlin. I don’t know Kwaku. I’m in no position to make judgements about their personal lives and I’m not willing to base my opinions of them on Internet rumors.

    Here’s what I do know: I listen to Mormon Stories. I listen to various podcasts that Kwaku has produced. And I can come to my own conclusions about the quality of these productions. Are they credible? Are they mean spirited? Are they fair?

    I have never once listened to a Mormon Stories episode in which I felt JD was being untruthful, unfair, or mean spirited. On the other hand, I’ve listened to Kwaku many times when he has abused the truth and attacked other people.

    So again, I know nothing about these guys personally. But if you believe that “you shall no them by their fruit”, then you’ll agree with me that JD and Mormon Stories provides a valuable resource and Kwaku does not. For me it’s that simple (PS: this is NOT an example of confirmation bias…when I first started listening to these two I was very neutral).

  14. Mark LeBaron April 20, 2021 at 12:58 am - Reply

    I didn’t watch the recent smear video. I saw enough of “you know who’s” deceptive apologetics video on the Book of Abraham to know what “he who shall not be named” is all about. I saw the recent interview Bill Reel and RFM did with that guy and it was obvious that he doesn’t feel the same obligation to play nice or by rules of any kind like BR, RFM, and JD do.

    I’ve listened to nearly every episode of MSP. While John obviously has his own conclusions about the historical and doctrinal claims of the LDS Mormon church at this point; and while he doesn’t always conceal those, my perception is that he actually is about helping the church make good faith, positive change from within while also coming clean about the fraud and subsequent cover-ups. I don’t get the sense that he’s about simply “tearing down the church”.

    He certainly isn’t about tearing apart families; either. I take him at his word about his intention to save families from unnecessary divorce or other estrangement in the case of mixed faith marriages.

    He’s clearly trying to help LGBTQ people; especially youth, find their way through what is a toxic environment for them. What is “what’s his name” doing, other than helping the people who pay him continue to cover up the truth out the historical and doctrinal problems?

    John is clearly not in it for the money. If he’s making a great income at this point, he ( and the whole family) has certainly earned it. It’s obvious John has worked REALLY hard since leaving Microsoft.

    If someone has a legal beef with John; that’s what courts are for; and evidence, not rumors and hearsay, is required.

    Speaking of courts, “that one guy” had better be careful he doesn’t commit slander; if he hasn’t already.

  15. J. Snow April 22, 2021 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    I have a few observations as someone who has been listening to Mormon Stories podcast off and on since 2006.

    Is John Dehlin doing this to get rich? Um…it would have been a strange plan if you consider where the journey started and where it went next—risky compared to his alternative options. Maybe this is because some folks were not blessed with my high school economics teacher, Mr. Jensen, who taught us about opportunity cost, so they get mad instead. See, John very likely comes up net negative money wise in this whole thing (“bigly”)–even if he’s making decent money now, because of opportunity cost. He could have kept his focus on working with Microsoft or some other technology company after that. He’d be busy working with the CEO making sure we were all buying Office 365, Microsoft cloud services for our businesses, searching with Bing, and playing X-Box games, while Mormonism went on re-raising the bar, issuing testimony gloves, and complaining about lazy learner apostates. Having foregone that opportunity, he’s given up something quite valuable to focus on the work of the OSF. I’m glad he can make a decent living doing this work and that he’s now being compensated in a way that is commensurate with his skills.

    That brings me to point 2. John Dehlin put in the front end leg work that created this platform when it wasn’t clear it would catch on. Consequently, nobody (man or woman) would be within their rights to swoop in and demand to be paid as much as him. This rarely works, but we’re all welcome to request this treatment–just be ready for disappointment. Staff rarely make more money than the founders of a firm, or even a non-profit, even when equally, or better qualified, than the founder. People who didn’t put the years of work in on the front end to build the content that makes the brand are pretty brash if they think they’re due equal billing with the person who created the platform they are using to reach their audience. If that’s unacceptable to someone, then parting ways is okay. John Dehlin has a unique combination of talents in technology, counseling, knowledge of Mormon history and society, and business organization that are worth keeping in the effort to provide people the informed consent they deserve when it comes to Mormonism. Others are welcome to create their own podcasts or other media and develop an audience on their own–maybe they’ll succeed and that would be great.

    Now that I’ve praised John Dehlin, let’s get to point 3. He’s not my guru–never has been, probably never will be. When he was shouting “stay LDS” from the rooftops, I had resigned and stuck by that decision as one of my best life decisions. My perspective was different, because I think I was less attached to the culture of Mormonism. Nevertheless, I like this podcast because there are interviews with interesting people who started their lives off in about the same way I did, but also ended up in a very different situation than expected. I like to see how they approach life after traditional Mormonism and find new ways to explore and enjoy their journey. However, this dude hasn’t become my replacement prophet. He just puts on an interesting podcast.

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