As part of our series on meetings with Mormon General Authorities, we interview Scott Duke.  Scott met with Elder Christoffel Golden of the Seventy November 15, 2012.

In this episode, Scott recounts:

  • His LDS mission experience and the troubling historical issues he put on his “shelf”
  • His confusion about the role of personal revelation within the framework of the Mormon Church
  • How he “came out” about his faith crisis to his wife and family
  • How he landed an opportunity to meet with a General Authority of the Church as a last effort to restore faith
  • The events and impressions of the meeting with Elder Golden
  • The letter he wrote to Dieter F. Uchtdorf and the subsequent response
  • The emotional fallout and impact on his family that resulted from his non-belief

We thank Scott for sharing his emotional story as it highlights the impact a religious transition can have on the life of believers and non-believers alike.

34 Comments

  1. john May 1, 2017 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    if you love your child would you not reach out to the one most in trouble? .did not the periodical son experience this?
    Why would a loving god be a special witness to elite protected leaders and watch without intervention his loving vulnerable children fall away in painful faith crisis after they pleaded and fasted and wrenched their hears out for a witness.

  2. john May 2, 2017 at 12:00 am - Reply

    no disrespect to urkdorf but that reply to scotts letter sounds like a template with scotts name inserted

  3. Person May 2, 2017 at 4:10 am - Reply

    My experience suggests sharing sacred spiritual experiences seldom increases faith in others—believers or otherwise.

  4. beth May 2, 2017 at 4:27 am - Reply

    Thank you for a lovely interview, it was very interesting, thank you for sharing your story scott and for your sincerity and honesty and to john for all of his care and hard work to helping us all out here who are struggling, god bless you scott and your family.

  5. mary podzilni May 2, 2017 at 6:33 am - Reply

    At the U.U. church we sang this song–one of my favorites–by Shelley Jackson Denham. First line ” We laugh, we cry, we live, we die …… We need to feel there’s something here to which we can belong” Last line ” And in our search for peace, maybe we’ll finally see: even to question, truly is an answer” It has many verses which speak to your experiences. What a story you have! Wonder-filled.

  6. Kent May 2, 2017 at 6:59 am - Reply

    If I had been there meeting with this so called GA – I would have gotten up and excused myself. What a joke.

  7. Spencer May 2, 2017 at 10:50 am - Reply

    This was one of the best episodes. Scotts emotions tell the story. Thank you for sharing your story!

  8. T Austin May 2, 2017 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Cried and mourned with you as I listened to this. Sorry for your pain, but hope you feel free and know your story will help others on their way.

    There was huge beauty in your words. Onward brother. Wishing you the best. We walk with you.

  9. Joan May 2, 2017 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this interview. I honestly have not enjoyed or benefited much from the last several “GA meeting” episodes, but this one was different.

    I hope to hear more like this. Not because they will necessarily reveal the content of private meetings, but because they shine a light on huge problems, some of which ARE fixable.

  10. mormoncensorship May 2, 2017 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Thank you Scott for sharing your story.

  11. JBTinnley May 2, 2017 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    I have such a hard time understanding how a spouse can do this to their family just because the other has changed beliefs. My spouse is as TBM as they come, but he has accepted me and loved me and made it very clear that my belief — of lack thereof– would not affect our marriage. It is very hard to understand why your wife would put her children through a divorce and lose their dad because of this. Did she lose her affection for the child that also had checked out? This is so sad. I hope the church wakes up, but they never will. They are too afraid that the spouse that is leaving will pull the whole family out if they counsel to stay with the unbelieving spouse.

  12. Martine May 3, 2017 at 9:36 am - Reply

    So a 70 claims to have seen God and Christ? Quite presumptuous of him. What happened to the 12 who make no such claims? Yes, they exist. Some make vague references that are meant to leave the listener with the impression that they have a regular PPI with Jesus but there are also statements that don’t claim a different relationship with deity than the ordinary member.

    I’m not finished listening but yes, these GA visit episodes are quite revealing.

  13. Tom May 3, 2017 at 11:05 am - Reply

    That was pure tragedy. After hearing that, I guarantee I’m staying in the closet for the foreseeable future. The suffering he had to endure is too much. If I have to keep my beliefs to myself and pretend for the next fifty years, that’s what I’ll do to avoid losing my family. I hope the church eventually does come out with a statement telling spouses not to leave their nonbelieving spouses. Until then, I’m just going to play the part I signed up for when I got married. That story was just heartbreaking.

  14. Jerome May 3, 2017 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    So Jeffrey Holland said the church isn’t mature enough to counsel believers not to divorce unbelievers? It used to be. In 1Corinthians 7: 12-16, the apostle Paul tells believers not to divorce their unbelieving spouses.

    It’s time to call out the hypocrisy or scriptural ignorance of faithful Mormons who divorce their spouses because of unbelief. The Bible, a book they claim as scripture, expressly tells them not to. Elder Holland, who prides himself on his knowledge of the scriptures, and other church leaders should either confess their ignorance of that passage in the Bible or tell us what revelation they received that rescinded that part of the Bible.

  15. RLeeG May 3, 2017 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    This interview was really good. Man. Heartbreaking. Scott, I really felt your story. Thank you for sharing this story.

  16. jason May 3, 2017 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    The response from Uchdorf is clearly a form letter in my opinion.

  17. N May 3, 2017 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Not sure if it’s worse if a spouse just says they want a divorce right away or if they insist on staying married and treating you like you are a disappointment for the rest of your life.

  18. MarieB May 3, 2017 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    I am touched and moved indeed. Best of luck moving forward. Grateful my husband and family are all on the same page and out of the church.

  19. SuperS May 3, 2017 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    While I was still in the church, a friend who had left pointed out to me that the church BREAKS UP families. I puzzled over that, since our marketing spiel is PRO-family. Until I realized the church isn’t PRO-family, it is PRO-FAMILY ROLES. And only certain approved roles. In actuality, the church doesn’t care about families at all. It just cares that you perform a specific role under their thumb, or it wants to replace you with someone who will. This realization was one of my first cracks. Still amazes me that the disbelieving spouse is usually the one who says, “why does this affect our marriage?” and the believing spouse is usually the one who says, “we have to get a divorce.”

  20. Lizbet May 4, 2017 at 8:27 am - Reply

    The point from the GA about former members being a shell of their former self can be looked at a couple of different ways. On one hand, some TBMs will look upon this person with self-righteous superiority and truly see this person as a shell of what they were, even if this person is now happier. On the other hand, there have been many podcasts discussing the crushing loss some people feel when they first learn the truth about the church. If these people were to go to the GA during this period, perhaps they really do look like a shell of themselves, although the church will take no responsibility for the deception that leads to those feelings and will instead deflect the blame on the member for learning truth.

  21. Onkululeko May 4, 2017 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Thank you for this podcast, very revealing. Uchtdorf’s response is a form letter, he probably never read your letter. A secretary probably just fiddles a bit with the wording so that there are not too many identical letters out there. How disappointing.

  22. AnneW May 4, 2017 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    Heartbroken by the stake president’s shaming over masturbation. When I was 15, I confesssd to my bishop that I had masturbated and his response was that if I didn’t stop immediately, my church membership could be in jeopardy. I 100% believed I was going to be excommunicated for touching myself. It scarred me for YEARS.

  23. Joe May 4, 2017 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    Around the 53 minute mark, Scott’s friend Tyler makes a shout-out. He said, “I have studied the same stuff as Scott and come to a different conclusion.”

    John D: I think Tyler would make for a great Mormon Story interview. I would love to hear his story.

  24. Old Dog May 5, 2017 at 2:43 am - Reply

    Scott, you are a good, sincere, thoughtful, fair, loving, and intelligent man who deserves much better than you got from Golden and your wife. How amazing that one who did not know you at all, and the other who knew you best, could both dismiss you out of hand. The religious blinders which they have in common would not allow them to open their minds and hearts enough to see you or to listen to what you had to say. It is heart breaking that you have lost so much, but the good news is that you have found your genuine self, your true voice, your soul, and I thank you for sharing them with us. Perhaps those who cannot see now will someday realize how much courage and integrity it takes to do what you have done, to not to cave in to social pressure and to fears, to not to go along to get along. I wish you all the best in moving on in the big, wide, wonderful, real world out there. I have confidence that you will find a better way and real joy in life.

  25. Cindy D May 6, 2017 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    Scott, I have had similar experiences with leaders of the church and family. Its shocking to realize that everything I ever thought to be true, was a lie. The betrayal can be overwhelming. Like the Matrix, I took the red pill 2014 , the rabbit hole caused me much distress, but I would do it again. Living in happy valley I feel like an alien, but I would rather have truth & authenticity than anything else in my world. Thanks for validating my feelings through your words.

  26. Robert Bridgstock May 7, 2017 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Both sad and triumphal at the same time. I could just image this kind of meeting with a GA. The sense of dismissal derived from their authoritative arrogance, staggers me.

  27. Lilli May 7, 2017 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    It seems church leaders (and spouses who leave their unbelieiving spouse) don’t really care about or follow Christ teachings. If they did they would either change the church or follow you right out the chapel door.

  28. Yvonne May 9, 2017 at 7:56 am - Reply

    I seldom leave a comment on any of the podcasts; this one touched me so much I feel I must. Scott sounds like a wonderful man. I would say to his wife the same thing the church said to us: Where will you go to find another man such as he? Another man who will love your children as much as their own father?

    So sorry for all the pain. I feel very fortunate in that when I found out the truth at age 56, my husband listened, read, studied for himself and we both left together. But neither of us would have trashed our marriage of 35 years, our 4 children, or our 3 grandchildren for such a reason.

    Truly sad and unbelievable that the church can see, hear about this pain with the broken homes, and STILL not tell spouses to stay with otherwise good people. But even more unbelievable is that a spouse will divorce for such a reason.

  29. Kelli Jones May 9, 2017 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Oh Scott, your story hurt my heart. Thank you for being so vulnerable in sharing it. I had my faith crisis at a similar time as you and at it’s worst my husband was serving as bishop. My worst fear was that he would want a divorce. We had an otherwise happy, healthy marriage and I didn’t know if we were going to make it through. I discovered through this process something about myself, and that was that my personal integrity and freedom to own my own truth came before one of my most treasured gifts, my marriage. I hated that I might have to sacrifice my marriage for my authenticity. I also knew myself well enough to know that living as a disappointment to my spouse and having to hide my true feelings as my husband was able to freely express his, would eventually crush my spirit, build resent, and ruin the sweet emotional intimacy we shared thus destroying the marriage. Thankfully it didn’t happen. There were a few painful and tumultuous years, some of the worst in my life, but we made it. I wonder sometimes what happens to the believing spouse if they have a catalyst that shifts their belief and realize what they have given up. What pain and regret knowing they had broken up their family over this. As for you Scott, I wish you all the best and applaud your courage in sharing your story.

  30. VFanRJ May 10, 2017 at 8:37 am - Reply

    Scott shares his difficult experiences and emotions common with religion. Kudos to Scott for doing the difficult job of sharing, it was most interesting to listen to.

  31. StillConfused May 10, 2017 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Wow. Just wow. This man has a true heart of gold to go through all of this. So many boundary violations. I am sorry about the marriage not being based on love and commitment — at least to each other. Scott is welcome at my fire anytime!

  32. Cory May 11, 2017 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    In re the comment about Elder Golden probably not being related to J. Golden Kimball because the former is from South Africa, cf. the church’s long history in that country: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1973/03/the-saints-in-south-africa?lang=eng.

  33. Harry Undercarriage July 26, 2018 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Great interview. I told my wife about eight months ago that I no longer believe. It’s been such a struggle. She is digging her heels in, and things don’t seem to be getting better. I want to have her watch this episode. But she’s refusing to read, or hear anything that might affect her testimony. The church has done a great job with her. It’s scary, and heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Bdiane March 25, 2019 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    Scott, I was leaving the church about the same time as you; I had none of your trials as I was the only Mormon in my family when I converted 40 years ago. I prayed my family would join, thank goodness they never did! Otherwise they could be disowning me now.

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