I have the opportunity to meet with a church leader Thursday night.  I would love to gather as much information as I can from you about:

  • Your situation/thoughts/feelings with regard to the church.
  • What you feel you are needing/lacking that the church has not yet been able to provide.
  • How Mormon Stories has helped in that journey (if it has).

Also, please direct your comments (if you can) to your own situation/thoughts/feelings/needs regarding the church…vs. on compliments (or criticisms) to any one person involved in Mormon Stories, Mormon Matters, etc.

My hope is that this information will adequately convey what needs are “out there” within the church, and what we’re trying to do to support those needs.

Finally, please keep this as constructive as you can, so that it will be heard…and prove useful.

Thanks in advance.

John Dehlin

521 Comments

  1. April May 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    It means that I don’t feel so alone in not being exactly what the Church expects me to be. It gives me comfort.

    • david Verman May 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      Mormon Stories has allowed me to think freely about Mormonism and it’s history and has given me opportunity to reflect upon the nature of my faith and then decide for myself how my faith should be shaped. Mormon stories has given me a pathway that charts my own spiritual journey. I can think what I want, and believe what I want. I have learned to put away foolish and needless guilts and focus on my priorities. Mormonism for me is no longer the threat that loomed over me as a child, it is no longer an autocratic school master. I no longer believe that I will be burned alive if I don’t pay my tithing. I believe that God is full of grace and mercy, and that I can freely love God and my fellow man. Mormon Stories has given me opportunity to ask the questions I always wanted to ask but was afraid to do so, to not be afraid of the truth regardless. It has given me the courage to call upon the Church to reflect upon what the truth really is, Thank you John Dehlin and Mormon Stories. David Verman

  2. Hal May 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    John,

    After I found myself completely buried in Mormon History. After my worldview had completely unraveled. After I sought help from all of my PH leaders (to no avail). I found your work and you.

    I cannot know what would have happened had I not encountered your voice of balance. I just know how greatful I am to you. I often disagreed with your conclusions, but I always valued your opinions, ideas, and love. And I learned from you to be respectful of others and their path. Some of my friends that went through the same journey never gained that respect of others’ paths.

    I am not the same Mormon that I was in my 20s. But I am 40 now. I do not know what the future holds, but my DW is Young Womens’ President. My kids and I still attend regularly. I have served multiple stents as Gospel Doctrine Teacher since my crisis. And I have reason to believe that you and your work have clearly affected me and why my connection to the Church is still so strong. I also believe that I am more spiritual because of you influence.

    You know you are also one of my heros! Good Luck!

  3. Nathan Lisgo May 3, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Mormon Stories has been an invaluable resource for me as I have had to navigate one of the toughest faith journeys that I have ever encountered. For me, I was struggling to find adequate answers to our policy of Priesthood restriction and I stumbled upon your interview with Darius Gray and Margaret Young. I found it just at the right time, at the peak of my confusion. I did seek support from church leaders as well but found a great additional support from the Mormon Stories community.

    I have been impressed by John’s ability to set such a respectful and encouraging tone for all of his podcasts. I love the work you do, John, and hope that I can serve others in a similar selfless spirit.

    • Nathan Lisgo May 3, 2011 at 8:02 pm

      I should have mentioned that I have been brought up a member of the church. I have served a mission, I am married in the temple and have served in various ward callings. I have a current temple recommend and am happy to participate in church activity and serve where I can.

    • Nathan Lisgo May 3, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      What I feel is lacking in the church is a forum to ask questions without being made to feel that you are not applying enough faith. It isn’t the knowledge of the history that causes pain, it’s the fact that one can learn more in 10 minutes on google about church history than in 30 years of church attendance.

      The church has progressed so much over the years. I look forward to further progression together from all who fall within the Mormon tent.

  4. Knicklets May 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    When I found Mormon Stories I felt ‘normal’ for the first time in 30 years. I had kept silent except to my spouse about my not being able to make sense out of what I read in the scriptures, heard in General Conference, saw and heard in my various wards, and what I experienced within myself, my family, my world. Learning that I was not the only one who wondered and had experiences that did not match what was stated as ‘truth’ at church. I have learned much about love and acceptance and allowing others to have their experiences but acknowledging that I am not crazy. I had been seeing a psychologist off and on for years but still never getting to it as the psychologist were LDS so I felt like I could NOT tell my truth even there. Now I am as honest and open as I can be with ALL people without announcing at the top of my lungs that I see things differently. Was given courage to speak to both my Bishop and my Stake President as a result of Mormon Stories podcasts and my new connection with others who did not see things as I understood that most LDS do. I am a happier person with more integrity. My husband and 10 of my 11 children are still fully believing Mormons. I attend church every Sunday as always. I assist in any way I can in the congregation. I attend most all baby blessings, priesthood ordinations, Farewells and returns of my missionaries (4 of my 7 boys).

    Had I not found John Dehlin and Mormon Stories and in the end people in my own area, I do not know where I would be today. Perhaps I would still be in and out of psychiatric care. I will say, it is still NOT a bed of roses not being allowed to attend my own children’s weddings all because I cannot say ‘yes’ to the 4 believing questions in the Temple Recommend interview even though my behavior was just fine and in accord with that prescribed by the church. AND I live happily daily now even though those kinds of things are WRONG in my view. Gail Knickerbocker, Parma, Idaho.

  5. Seth Anderson May 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I’m a 4th generation Utah Mormon. I’m a seminary graduate and returned missionary. I officially had my name removed after Prop 8, although I will forever be a Cultural Mormon. That fact took me years to understand. I do not believe the Church is what it claims to be. I am a blissfully happy non-theist.

    Since leaving the Church I’ve been a devout student of Mormon history and doctrine than I ever was before. (Studying the Book of Mormon over a cup of coffee is one of my greatest pleasures.) Mormon Stories has helped me embrace my Mormonism, even though I am now not officially a Mormon. History matters to me, objective facts matter, open and honest discussion matter. My intelligence and understanding grow when I listen to Mormon Stories. Exploring ALL aspects of Church history and doctrine have helped me define me and my culture and more importantly have helped me understand what I can do to ease suffering in the world.

  6. Jacob Michael Smith May 3, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    The church always caused me to look at the world in black or white and at my involvement as in or out. You are either active or inactive, obedient or disobedient, a believer or an apostate. The gift that John and Mormon Stories has given to me was at least having a third way to look at the church. I can have doubts and still attend. I can disagree with some things and embrace others. People may not believe this but if I had found this podcast and others, and used them as a tool to work out my disaffection during my crisis, I probably could have saved my marriage and my church membership. Either way, I will continue to use it as a way to heal and maturely deal with my Mormon past.

  7. Bperry1069 May 3, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I have little doubt that I (and my family) would have completely left the church (and probably not quietly) if it wasn’t for you John and MormonStories. The message you give about accepting the good in the church resonates with me as opposed the church’s “all or nothing” attitude. The church is a much better place because of people like you.

  8. Swede May 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    ask why the church still whitewashes church history, and if you question this with local leaders they look at you like a “anti mormon”.
    and hello! it´s 2011!!!, time for our gay friends to have the same rights as straight members do. I´m from sweden and we let gay people marry, and guess what? sweden is still a great country the(gay) have not corrupted our land.
    the swede

    • Putingpinoy33 May 3, 2011 at 8:56 pm

      Swede,

      Sorry if I offend you, but permitting gays in the Church will never happen, at least if it is what it claims to be, the true Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, which I believe it is. If the Church were to ever compromise on this point, I would personally be out the door the same day it happened, and would know for a certainty that it was not what it claimed to be, but was all a farce, but I don’t think this will ever happen. Gays are welcomed in the Church, just so long as they are not practicing gays, as long as they don’t engage in homosexual intercourse or sex, just the same as adulterers are welcome in the Church, just so long as they don’t actually commit adultery, one cannot always control one’s thoughts and feelings, but one can control their actions toward others, and this is where the line has to be drawn. If the Church accepted homosexuals, active ones, it would also have to open the door to practicing bigamists and polygamous and even adulterers, for one sin is no different than the other. I’m thankful for our Church’s stand on homosexuals and why they should not, and cannot be members in good standing and live such a life of sinful behavior. God condemns the practice of ‘men lying with men’ and ‘women doing that which is unnatural’ and thus it shall ever be.

      • Veni Vidi Vici May 3, 2011 at 10:04 pm

        1978.

        • PaulW May 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm

          Sorry, this is not even the same kind of issue. . .he is right, it cannot happen.

          • Joe May 4, 2011 at 3:55 am

            It is identical. Read the talks and compare the two issues.

          • Mike S May 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm

            Putingpinoy33 states …just the same as adulterers are welcome in the Church, just so long as they don’t actually commit adultery…

            We say the same thing to everyone – no sex except inside marriage. But what about 2 gays who are legally married. What if they were chaste before marriage and faithful within their marriage. How would you approach that? Your logic breaks down at that point.

          • Guest2 May 5, 2011 at 8:22 am

            “about 2 gays who are legally married.” just as bad as a brother and sister marrying or a father and daughter, or a man and his dog….. its wrong, its a sin against ‘nature’ and it wont be allowed.

            Your logic only works if you allow man/dog or mother/son marriages too, ie anything goes including man/man marriages. Only then does your logic work.

          • Paul May 6, 2011 at 2:45 am

            What about a “not practicing” heterosexuals?

          • Jetjockmark May 6, 2011 at 5:03 am

            Homosexuality is actually all over nature. As showcased by: black swans, mallards, penguins, vultures, pigeons, dolphins, bison, elephants, giraffes, lions, sheep, hienas, and the list goes on.

      • Jeanmarie Todd May 3, 2011 at 11:08 pm

        You are showing zero comprehension of the facts of the issue. I recommend listening to the Mormon Stories podcast interviews with biology professor and former mission president Dr. Bill Bradshaw on homosexuality. Which he gave at BYU.

        • LDSManGuy May 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm

          I always love when people say you have “zero comprehension of the facts” simply because one does not rush to the same conclusion. A biology professor does not automatically make one an expert on homosexuality, a behavioral issue (as apposed to being black, a race).

          • Anonymous May 6, 2011 at 4:44 am

            You think being homosexual is a behavioral issue? Really?

      • Tachyon Feathertail May 4, 2011 at 2:51 am

        That god which condemns people loving each other, for whatever reason he may, will go the way of that god which demands violent sacrifice. Both of these things are an abomination to the soul.

        Go where you want to practice your abomination, but don’t get any of it on us.

      • Joe May 4, 2011 at 3:52 am

        You sound like half of the members I worked with in the Southern United States during my mission… but only the issues related to racism.

        Ironic how the parallelism between the two issues is pretty much identical (same rhetoric in conference talks, Improvement Era/Ensign, etc.).

        I hope and pray that The LDS Church moves past this atrocious hatred. It is too bad that The LDS Church is always on the wrong side of history.

      • swede May 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm

        I rescpect your thoughts, but would you feel the same if you hade a homosexual child? …don´t think so, you don´t choose to be gay.
        Do you have gay friends? I think it´s evil to say that they cant have sex, you,me all the world have sex…it´s a beautiful thing, why can´t they have if they are married?

        • Crystal May 5, 2011 at 11:22 am

          Here’s a beautiful thought: (this is from a book about a medical student and the part where he spends a month he spends on a Cherokee reservation (“Living and Dying in the Fourth Year”)) “Traditional Crow beliefs taught that a man had the spirit of a man, while a woman had the spirit of a woman. A homosexual was doubly blessed, for they had the spirit of both a man and a woman.”

      • Anonymous May 5, 2011 at 11:10 am

        First of all, aren’t the only scriptures that say homosexuality is wrong in the Bible? How do we know those aren’t the ones that were not translated correctly? Where is it in the Book of Mormon? And wouldn’t Jesus have said something if it were so wrong? And I find it offensive when people say that letting two adults, who have NATURAL attraction (sure, it’s not the norm but there are plenty of natural biological variances between people that are perfectly natural) to one another, marry each other would open the door to acceptance of adultery, bestiality and incest. They are not apples to apples. The first is an issue of disloyalty and dishonesty, the second is an issue of lack of consent and the risk of introducing more disease, and the third is an issue of lack of consent and abuse.

        Additionally, there were scriptures that supported the Church’s priesthood and higher temple ordinances ban on black people, there were prophecies declaring that they would not receive the priesthood until after the millennium, and yet that changed. Also, BY declared that it was sinful for a black and white person to marry each other, even that they should be killed for such a sin, and that has changed. The Church’s case against homosexuality has as much scriptural backing and prophesy to back it up as keeping black people in a position of servitude, even eternally (BY), so why should any one think that it is set in stone and not HOPE that the church will soon change it’s stance on the issue?

      • smarterthanyou May 6, 2011 at 5:00 am

        Putingpinoy- Name 10 things that JESUS CHRIST said condemning homosexuality.

    • Matt L May 6, 2011 at 12:09 am

      @4af22ff9c4500a0cb5ef3c557dadaed9:disqus

      I’m a returned missionary to Sweden… Sweden rocks, homosexual people included! Mormon Stories crosses borders and oceans. Cool Stuff.

  9. Rick Robison May 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    In my opinion, these support groups accomplish one main thing — to give validity and a listening ear to many who have questions they don’t feel comfortable asking in traditional church settings. If a person feels broken or unworthy for having questions or doubts about church issues, they often internalize them and become depressed and even suicidal. John’s forums give an outlet for dialogue that allows many to find answers they might not otherwise even search for.

    To me, it doesn’t matter so much if that persons remains active in the church or not, it is more about what brings them peace and happiness, whatever their decision.

  10. Jason Jackson May 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Mormonstories helped keep my marriage together, helped my wife and I understand each other. I don’t need to dress that up anymore, and I CANNOT overemphasize how important that has been.

  11. chris jones May 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I left the church, but did so with a fair about of grace and with a lot of respect for Mormonism and the wonderful things it provided to me. I’m grateful for the great social network it provided and the values it instilled. I’m grateful that I am tied to this unique and special movement in human history, even though our paths have gone different ways.

    Mormon Stories (and John specifically) provided light when I was in the dark. I realized that there were a lot of other people like me — and that I wasn’t crazy or evil for struggling with my relationship with the church, its theology, history, and principles.

    I don’t see myself coming back. Frankly I just don’t think the church will ever fit my spiritual needs — which are decidedly unorthodox and non-literal. That said, I know there are many that still want a seat at the table, and I believe MS is providing a place for those individuals to collectively push for that seat.

  12. Zelph May 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    To John’s Priesthood Leader:

    For the purposes of this statement, my name is Zelph. I am a sixth generation, born in the covenant, returned missionary, married in the temple member. And I remain a member of the LDS Church today because of Mormon Stories, in particular the episode with Richard Bushman.

    I have always loved Church History. Our heritage is full of intriguing and inspiring stories. I love the stories of my pioneer ancestors. From a young age I have always been interested in learning more about Church History. Throughout the years, however, as I studied Church History I began to come across historical information that contradicted the Church’s claimed history (all from sources you can obtain from Deseret Book). As a teenager, I did not think too much about these things. As a missionary, I shelved them entirely and focused on the work. However, while in college the inconsistencies and contradictions between the Church’s narrative and the historical record began to mount. The uncomfortable cognitive dissonance began to mount and weigh me down until one night, at a computer lab on campus, I had to admit to myself that the Church is not what it literally claims to be.

    This was a traumatic experience. My entire spiritual identity, my most intimate relationships and my moral compass was tied directly to the institutional Church. This was so traumatic, that for another couple of years I shelved the problems again, but they were always there lurking in the background.

    In about 2006 I met John Dehlin in a professional capacity. I found him to be one of the most caring, Christ-like friends I have ever known. I became aware of a podcast series he was doing called Mormon Stories. The podcast approached the difficult issues I had been struggling with in a way that was candid, honest and faith promoting. I began to see a new path. That I could find spiritual nourishment and meaning in my membership in the Church even without literal belief.

    This newfound approach to my membership was liberating. I began to grow again spiritually. I accepted the shortcomings of the Church as an institution and instead focused on the spiritual efficacy and community. I loved the community of the ward that I grew up in and many of the wards I have lived in since. And that sense of community, and of love and service is literal and real regardless of whether the Church’s claims are.

    In 2008 my testimony was challenged again. I very much disagree with what our Church did to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in California in Prop. 8. It was very difficult for me to see an institution that I love and that I know to be full of love commit such a vicious, unkind act upon innocent persons. Our campaign in California disrespected our heritage as a historically marginalized people, destabalized the institution of the family by making it less accessible and was inconsistent with Christ’s directives of love and acceptance. If you can’t tell, I feel very strongly about this. If I had not developed a new, metaphorical testimony of the Restored Gospel through Mormon Stories, I am certain that my conscience would have led me out of the Church, and that would have been a tragic loss in my life. I love being Mormon.

    But I believe in the good that is in the Church. I have a testimony of the teachings of Jesus Christ. I have a testimony of Zion- the special communities that are a part of the Restored Gospel. I have a testimony of the Spirit and of personal revelation. I have testimony of prayer. I have a testimony today, an my family remains in the Church, because after I could no longer accept literal belief I found another way through Mormon Stories to remain a believing (metaphorically) member. I will always be grateful to John Dehlin for the service the he has done for me and tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints like me.

    The value of Mormon Stories to me is that it provides information in a way that allows empiricism and faith in the Restoration to coexist. That ability to coexist is why my wife, children and I remain members. My father is still a member because of Mormon Stories as is my brother and my best friend.

    I believe that God lives. I believe that he listens to our prayers. I believe that the teachings of Jesus Christ have the ability to transform who we are. I believe that the Book of Mormon, though not a historical document, is nonetheless inspired. I believe that families and wards and friendships are Gods way of using us to shower love and support upon each other. I leave this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

    • Chamaigne May 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm

      Your testimony touches me deeply, to the point of tears. Thank you.

    • Maria Petrova May 7, 2011 at 3:13 am

      Really beautiful. Thank you.

  13. Alyssa May 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    For me personally, the most difficult thing about the LDS church is that I feel like it wants to have a parent-child relationship with me. (The institution is the parent and I am the child.) In essence, it’s an infantilizing force. Now that I’m a 30-something, I’m ready to graduate beyond “gospel principles” and wrestle with the more problematic aspects of the church as a mature adult. As an academic, I place a high value on 1) independent thought, 2) developing empathy for people who are different from you or who may disagree with you, and 3) the ability to recognize that no issue is purely black and white, that nearly every issue is more complex than you initially thought it was before you began to examine it in more depth. I believe that thoughtful, well-researched dialogue (argumentation) is usually the best means to this end. It’s a messy, uncontrollable process, but, at the end of the day, it is one which produces better people and institutions once they have gone through that crucible. Unfortunately, the correlated, authoritarian structure of the church is not conducive to producing an environment in which thoughtful dialogue can occur (or even a type of person who is capable of that kind of mindset). As such, Mormons like me and my husband are going elsewhere for our spiritual and intellectual stimulation. And that’s why I am a Mormon Stories listener (and a paying subscriber).

    • Chamaigne May 4, 2011 at 7:06 pm

      Thank you so much for articulating my point of view perfectly. The validation is deafening and cathartic.

    • GatoraidMomma May 8, 2011 at 2:05 am

      Well expressed and said, Alyssa. I hope some of the GAs will listen and consider the thoughts posted here.

  14. Buckley Jeppson May 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Mormon Stories was there when I was at my lowest. I felt local Church leaders pushing me over a cliff while I struggled to hang on to the edge, and no one would actually listen to my story without holding up the Handbook of Instructions as a shield to keep them from seeing and feeling. I was rejected by many in my family. After a half-century of activity and service to the Church, I felt tossed aside. I wondered why I bothered to try so hard to keep within the fold.

    Mormon Stories interviewed me and I began to receive a flood of support and encouragement. The encouragement was not from disaffected folks but by saints who took the time to listen to my story, felt my pain, and made the effort to understand my situation. Suddenly not feeling alone, I fought back, stayed strong, and kept my faith alive.

    The nature of my belief continues to evolve, but now–five years later–you can still see me sitting in the pews, singing the hymns, taking the sacrament, and communing with the saints. Without Mormon Stories and the community gathered around it, the picture would be quite different.

  15. Wcdrotar May 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Not everyone can just MAKE themselves believe something they have received no answer to. It’s not just about willpower- some cannot make themselves honestly do it. It’s not your fault and you’re not a freak if Moroni’s promise didn’t work, actually I think you’d be the norm just a bit more honest.

    Here’s something- allow room in the Church for people who don’t literally have a testimony but at least TRY. Allow or encourage accommodations for the many disaffected members who through no fault of their own cannot FORCE a testimony upon themselves about the Church’s literal truthfulness. Allow figurative interpretations if that’s the BEST we can do.

  16. Ezra May 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I am saddened that its most strident supporters are ostracized and those that are trying to make it like the world are embraced and built up. This is, IMO, what is leading to the dramatic decrease in activity. The faiths that are going back to their roots are the ones that are gaining in strength, the things that make us unique are what draws people to Mormonism, not what makes us the same. Why give up so much to join a Church that is said to be just like everyone else? Supporters of the doctrines of the leaders of the Church during the era of strongest persecution are being removed systematically and this is really damaging the future of Christ’s Church.

    • Tom Haws May 3, 2011 at 10:30 pm

      Ezra, you’ve touched a chord. We want to “embrace all truth”. We want to rejoice in “all that He does now reveal”. We want to experiment with truth, to swim in it, to take risks, and to get messy. We want to proclaim that we are the children of a Father/Mother who for all we know may have once been like us, and whom we may yet become. All that while tossing sexism, racism, nationalism, protectionism, individualism, and all kinds of benighted divisions and discovering together the gospel of The Gospels.

  17. Anonymous May 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    The first Mormon Stories episode I listened to was Darius Gray and Margaret Blair Young. I love hearing honest answers from faithful Mormons. In my academic research I have studied how important stewardship of the earth was to early Mormons. I think this is an area the Church has started emphasizing again, and could do even more. I think it would be great for the Church to return to its environmental roots. I also think it would be much safer for them than taking on immigration and same-sex marriage.

    Good luck with your visit!

  18. Mistermuerte May 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I left the church recently after deciding it wasn’t true, and I was on the way out before I came across Mormon Stories. The podcasts provided plenty of information that made me more confident and comfortable in leaving the church, but I think Dehlin’s desire to stick with the church has had some influence on me–such that perhaps I feel less anger about the whole “raised in a lie” thing. I’m still not staying, but that’s a positive thing you could talk with the church leader about.

    Hopin’ you don’t get excommunicated,
    Jon

  19. isobel May 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Hi John,
    My relationship with MSP came when my friend Anne sent me a link to your interview with Joanna Brooks about a year ago. I was on tour, had recently met and was falling in love with my girlfriend, and in a generally heart-wrenching place about what my new relationship would mean for my relationships with the church and my pioneer-stock family. But I knew Joanna’s voice so well–it sounded so much like what I would say about me and Mormonism. I’m lucky to have a very tight circle of close friends who supported me through my transition out of the church, and I feel very lucky to know about online communities like MSP where I can still flex my Mormon muscles and gab on and on about the tradition I know and love so well. Groups like MSP make me feel like I can actually say I’m both Mormon and gay. I’ll always be Mormon, as Joanna recently said on Mormon Matters Podcast, because my Mormon identity is not revocable. I’m proud of my Mormon heritage, even though current politics sometimes also make me feel ashamed. I love what you do, and it fills me with warm fuzzies to read all these peoples lives who were so deeply and profoundly affected by your courageous voice. Whether or not the GA listens or cares, you’ve made a big difference; Thank you, John!!

  20. Andrew M. May 3, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I stopped attending church because I my spiritual needs weren’t being met – week after week of discussions of modesty, pornography and prop 8 drove me out.

    I was heartened to hear that in the last General Conference the general authorities mostly avoided those topics. Will there be a push in the near future to move back to more spiritually uplifting services, as opposed to discussing rules/regulations?

  21. Nate May 3, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I am very grateful for Mormon Stories. Though I know it is not your intention to lead people away from the church, it was my decision to leave and hearing the experiences of others going through similar struggles gave me great comfort and strength as I did so. If I could have you pass along a message to the leadership it would be an appeal for tolerance. The church teaches (though doesn’t always practice) a tolerance for those of other faiths, but gives nothing but condemnation to those of us who cut ties. A message from the leadership about love, compassion and understanding when others “go astray” could go a long way and won’t necessarily detract from their evangelical missions.

  22. Anonymous May 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I encountered many difficult questions about church history on my mission. I came home resolved to learn the truth. Within months, I had encountered so many troubling issues that I’d never heard of in all my years of Sunday School, Seminary, and reading church materials. I was convinced that the church was not what it claimed to be.

    Over time, my position softened somewhat, though I still doubted the official church narrative, and disbelieved the historicity of the Books of Mormon and Abraham, and many other troubling issues. I then came upon Mormon Stories. John Dehlin helped me see that even if there were doctrines, teachings, and history in the church that I couldn’t embrace, the church was, on the whole, good. Even if the actual history of the church couldn’t be reconciled to it’s official narrative, there were still teachings and ideas in Mormonism that I loved, and equally important, many, many people.

    I had maintained belief in God all this time, and I turned to him, asking if I should return to activity in the church, embracing the good in it, and trying to ignore the elements that distressed me.

    The answer I got was, “come back.”

    I don’t think it was coincidence or dumb luck that I found Mormon Stories when I did.

    Since discovering John’s Mormon Stories in 2006, I’ve been married in the temple to a wonderful woman, had two beautiful children, both of whom have been born in the covenant and received blessings, and remain an active, contributing member of the church.

    It’s not an easy path for those of us who have learned that the divergence between the events as they happened and the tidy narrative the church has created is wide. Though I love my ward and my kind bishop, and have many dear friends there, I feel barely tolerated for my untraditional beliefs and approach. Though I keep the Word of Wisdom, pay tithing and offerings, home teach, and try to magnify my calling, and most importantly, love my family and God above all and try to treat others with kindness and charity, I live in constant fear and anxiety at church that someone will learn that I could never bear a traditional testimony. I worry that I will lose friendships and be ostracized for believing that the Book of Mormon teaches true principles, but was most likely not written by dozens of prophets over centuries. I worry that my belief that church leaders are good men doing their best, but not necessarily entitled to any special revelation that I could not receive will threaten my membership. I worry that disagreeing with some of the church’s temporal actions (such as it’s $3 billion mall project in Salt Lake City and Proposition 8) will cast me as a heretic or an apostate.

    I believe in a loving and kind Heavenly Father. I believe that Jesus is indeed our savior, and that we in the church pay far too little attention to Christ and his life. I love the church for the opportunity and space it provides to practice Christianity – to love with no bounds and to serve. Though I don’t believe the Book of Mormon is what the church says it is, I still love and treasure it: it introduced me to Christ.

    There are thousands upon thousands of Mormons like me, in varying stages of activity and connection to the church, who love the church and its doctrines, but also feel unwelcome and unwanted and unloved by the church and its leaders. However, we are better people because of our involvement in the church, and the church is most definitely better off with us. A disciplinary action against Brother Dehlin would send an awful message to me and those like me; dismissing someone, like Brother Dehlin, who has tirelessly sought to help those who were struggling and had no voice and no understanding ear within the church to turn would confirm my worst fears. It would say, “Your kind aren’t wanted. We can’t tolerate a diversity of opinions. We can’t tolerate love that isn’t expressed in our proscribed ways.”

    You may worry that some of John’s actions are leading people away from the church. A disciplinary action against John would have far worse consequences than anything supposed harm John has done. You would be telling thousands of Mormons that they are not wanted.

    John’s work has been a blessing to me, and through me, to my ward; his work has that sort of ripple effect. Thousands of Mormons who otherwise would have disengaged from the church continue to slog through an unwelcoming culture to try to contribute to their wards, build the kingdom, and simply be edified and loved.

  23. soulsister May 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Mormon Stories has been a place that I could go to and partake of honest, candid conversation. I have found that with each passing year of my membership in the church, the pressure to not speak honestly was tremendous. The environment in church communities has grown into one I don’t recognize much. Expressing doubt, concern is a sign of disloyalty to God, to the prophet, to the Savior. To voice one’s concern over our actions/role played in things like Prop was perceived as be an act of apostasy. I learned to mute myself. And I have seen it happen in so many other people’s lives. My question is this- does the church even want people like me? People with doubts? Or does one have to be a good soldier in order to participate…and I do mean participate, not just hold a calling, partake of the sacrament. I mean really be the person that I am-one with questions, one with desire to learn/share/ask/ without fear of being called to repentance for where I’m at/who I am.

  24. Anonymous May 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Mormon Stories, Mormon Matters, and John Dehlin have helped me to remain an active and productive member of the Church. I am a returned missionary, a BYU graduate, a husband, and a (soon to be) father who has, in the past few years, experienced an intense “crisis of faith.” While my Priesthood leaders have been understanding of my doctrinal and historical doubts, they have also been forthcoming about the fact that there really is no support for doubters, within the Church, beyond personal study. I have been instructed, many times, to put issues that do not make sense to me on the proverbial “shelf.” I am even okay with that advice and have implemented it in my life. I would rather carry a library full of “shelves” on my back than leave the Church that I love. John’s tireless efforts have helped me to lighten the load of the “shelves” that I carry. He has shown me that I am not alone, and that it is okay to have honest doubts. He has shown many that just the willingness to fight to keep a testimony shows a great deal of faith and love for the Church. John Dehlin’s Open Stories Foundation has been a force for good to many members of the Church.

    The word “doubter” has become a byword in the Church. It is often associated with words like “dissenter” and “apostate.” This has hurt me a great deal because there are many of us who are good, well-meaning, and productive members of the Church. The stigma associated with those that doubt leaves many feeling depressed and alone within the Church. For many of us, not all I am sure, our struggle with our testimonies is not related to some hidden desire to sin or fight against the Church. Many of us are simply honest and loyal members who seek after God’s truth. Perhaps most important, we are people who do not want to find support from the subjective and often anti-mormon groups that exist on the internet today. We want to find a support group with people who are like us: people who love the Church, yet need objective and constructive discussion in order to find solace and to heal from the pain that doubt brings.

  25. Jenni Brighton May 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    I am currently in a place of redefining what it means and how it looks for me to be mormon. I was raised with a very straitlaced, black and white view of the world and of mormonism. Mormon Stories has been one of several sources that has helped me realize that it’s ok to be a little unorthodox, and that even without fitting the cookie cutter of Molly Mormonism, I can still be a righteous, active, contributing member of the church.
    I think the biggest single issue has been realize that it is ok to have doubts, and it is ok to ask questions. Asking questions (including the really big ones) does NOT mean I’m on the road to apostasy. A few weeks ago I had a lengthy discussion on my facebook page about women and the priesthood. I have friends who stand on both sides of the issue, and I was enlightened by the conversation that ensued. At that time I did–and I still do–stand with the official church policy on that issue by the way. But someone in my ward reported me to my bishop over daring to have the conversation, and he called me in to ask what I had said. It makes me SO sad that people are so scared of asking questions and having discussions–as though the very act of asking a question automatically means your testimony has been shaken. In many cases–including my own–a question is just a question, just an attempt to understand something. I think that if we as a church would be more open to questions and discussions (rather than just rote lessons repeated ad nauseum) then a lot more people would be comfortable with asking questions within the context of active membership. In recent months I have gotten a LOT of messages from many directions, all telling me that questions=apostasy, and I’d better just stop asking and accept things as they are. That is such a harmful stance, because I think everyone has questions sometimes–Joseph Smith had questions!!–and if we tell someone that they can’t have questions at the same time as being faithful, then a lot of people (who can’t forget their questions), are going to conclude that they just have to walk away.

  26. ryan love May 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    if you are saying you have the chance to meet and interview a church leader then i would say it will be cancelled by thursday

  27. cameron May 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    My question that I have is it seems that revelation from the top down seems to follow curiously follow established policies and I wonder why that is. For example I highly doubt given the current Church leadership structure that a remarried man would ever be called to be a GA. I don’t think their is a policy but the Church is all about appearances so I highly doubt it would happen, but what if God wanted it to happen? Would he circumvent everything and call the guy anyways? or would he just say “too bad for that guy, foreordained and worthy but because the Church doesn’t do divorce that well he wont get it” Let us know how it goes!

  28. Almost exmormon May 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I am a mother to three and we have moved around a lot. I would like to have the freedom to leave the church, but it is a very hard thing to do. For over six months we have attempted on several occasions to “come out” to our families. We would like to be done with the church. The only value I see from church is social and we live nearly 30 minutes from most everyone in our ward so the socialization isn’t filling my needs either. I think one way the church has gone wrong is in how they say they are the “one and only true church.” My husband often keeps a piece of paper in his hand through church and puts a tick mark on one side when he hears how awesome our church is. The other side he puts tick marks for when Christ was spoken of. Often the Christ side has no markings. The Church side usually has several. I think our church needs to get some humility and confess that the history we have been telling is not the truth. Also after prop 8 my feelings about our church changed even more so. I couldn’t believe that my church got so involved in a political action. I didn’t like it, I didn’t agree with it and it makes me sad to say I am a Mormon. The church should apologize for their actions in prop 8 and they should never get involved in the politically social world. Doing so I feel harmed the church more than they may ever realize. I know lots of people who want to leave, but can’t because of fear of losing many friends and family members. I am lucky that I feel if I ever do leave I will only lose the friends and not the family members. I just know that my poor mother and mother in law will have a very hard time accepting it. They will blame themselves, pray and try to get me to come back to the fold. I will never believe the way I did 5 years ago before I started learning about the true history of our church. I can never get back to where I was. Ignorance is bliss and our church warns us into looking into things other than church approved material because they know this. I am an educated woman and I know the value of multiple sources so I couldn’t limit my study to just church approved materials. The church needs to understand where they have been wrong and own up to it and make it right.

  29. CBM May 3, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I was pointed to Mormonstories.org just over a week ago. I have been struggling in my faith for several years, but as with I often do with my feelings, I had stuffed the problems away. Having been a black and white thinker most of my life, this site has helped me see the grey. I appreciate the viewpoints, but more importantly that they are sincerely shared. I don’t have time for bitterness or rage directed at people or organizations. I just need to find my truth and move on (or not depending on what that truth is–including the needs of my family). Each video and podcast I have listened to has been respectful and level-headed. That’s important to me.

    I have also finally been able to understand that the huge amount of guilt I seem to live with on a daily basis not only comes from my parental types, but also from well-meaning, but incorrectly taught doctrine. I’m going to be changing a lot about the way that I parent and the way that I teach about the world. My views have drastically changed, some over the process of the last few years, and others almost overnight since coming to this site and doing some sincere thinking in the last few days.

    About a month ago, I was sharing with my Catholic friend the difference between Mormonism and Catholicism, as I understand it. Of course there are many details which are different, but the main difference I shared with her was the direct line of Priesthood. I told her, “we believe there was a Great Apostacy and that the Priesthood was removed from the earth for a time. It was re-established through Joseph Smith and his revelations.” It’s interesting to me now that I had that conversation with here and I will explain why.

    I attended BYU from 1990-1997. During that time I had the privilege(?) of taking both semesters of Church History from Susan Black. I loved the course at the time and loved Susan as a teacher. I felt that class helped me iron out some of my concerns with Church History. Only the problem I can see now, after investigating the history further, is that the Church History I learned from Professor Black had a bit (or more) of spin to it. All of the negative things about church leaders and church dealings have neatly been left out and only the positive or mostly positive and faith inspiring, though they may be stretches of the truth, are left in. I would have to say that this is true in Sunday meetings as well. I can definitely understand why this is. If I were trying to run a church, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time on those details either.

    The thing that disturbs me, in reference to the conversation about Catholicism above, is I would like to know how the many inappropriate things that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young et al. did in regards to Polygamy, Blacks in the Priesthood and other difficult Church History topics do not constitute the same type of apostasy that we Mormons say happened in the early church (i.e. affecting Catholics today). I am thinking that all of these goings on constitute the Second Great Apostasy, and that our church is built upon it. I would like to understand that from someone who can honestly talk about all that happened and then justify why it wasn’t an apostasy. I don’t get it.

    Right now, I’m in a place of “I don’t know” about religion and even God. Most of the “spiritual experiences” I have had are in doubt now as I think and reason about them. I have one experience that lends itself to the HOPE that there is a God, and I continue to be open to memories that may support more than that. One day I may believe or know more, but for now, I think I’m a hopeful humanist. I’m not sure what I will be doing with church attendance because I want to do what’s best for my kids and since four of the five have already been baptized, they will need the time to think and question and decide what they want to do about church. I’m having a hard time imagining myself staying at church because it is so difficult to sit through the meetings when so much of what is taught (or the way things are said) I don’t agree with. That said, I do think that many good principles are taught. My principles of “morality” will likely change very little.

    I know that I won’t be attending the temple again. It is far too sexist. I have never felt totally comfortable there. I have found that the peace I can feel in nature equals, but usually exceeds that of the peace in the temple. I do believe that humans need quiet and that is rapidly declining in the world. I applaud those who stand up for the wilderness. I also plan to learn more about Buddhism. I’d like to learn serenity and be able to teach that to my children.

    • Mark Albrecht May 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      It wasn’t a second great apostasy, because that assumes there was some direct connection with the divine that could only be had through the priesthood to actually fall away from.

      Good luck on your faith journey. Sounds like you are in much the same place as my wife, except that we stopped attending just over a year ago.

      • CBM May 5, 2011 at 12:57 am

        Mark, I’m trying to understand what you are saying here. Are you saying that you believe that JS didn’t have direct connection with the divine in the first place?

        That would have to be my new understanding as well, since I feel like I’m leaving religion in general by the wayside. I have been feeling it today though. It’s hard to pick up and walk away from 38 years of Mormon religion.

        Thanks for the Good Luck!

  30. Chris May 3, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I continue to attend church fairly regularly. I am a home teacher and have also fulfilled callings in the primary. I have served a mission and married my spouse in the temple. But I am experiencing a very hurtful sense of isolation and a lack of validation for what I truly believe to be a desire for more open, honest discussion. It is very apparent to me that my situation and the way our church has influenced members perception of people like me is inconsistent with reality and misleading. I do not feel valued even though I remain a full tithe payer.

    My most sincere request would be for the church to address the way that members should appropriately respond to other members who are experiencing challenges to their faith. Even members of my family will not even give audience to my concerns. I think it IS possible to discuss general, core issues respectfully without breaking down the faith of others, but members need permission for that. Faith concerns are viewed like an infectious disease that must be avoided. I know my family and friends love me but those who are faithful members of the church sympathize, but do it from afar in their prayers and all I get is silence (which tempts me to assume the worst from them). It causes me to build resentment towards the church which I know would not want any member to feel unloved.

    I would like the church to recognize that there is a constructive place for doubt in this world. Joseph Smith was unsatisfied with the inconsistencies between his personal scripture study and his religious options. He was skeptical, a doubter. It is built within many of us to test the metal of the traditions we are born into and this helps our society as a whole. We cannot expect our members to exercise a blind trust that would, if practiced in another part of the world, obligate someone to remain in an incorrect or destructive faith tradition. If it really is “true” than challenges should be welcome.

    Mormon stories has provided me with the open, respectful discussion that I have needed to remain in this church. It has helped me to embrace my Mormon-ness and honor my tradition. It has helped me see clearly the good along with the complicated. These forums have helped me to see my options and recognize that I am an adult who can make my own decisions.

    What our meetings are often lacking is the passion provided by those members who are really testing their beliefs and still coming to the conclusions that the restored Gospel is a blessing in their lives. We don’t want to hear about convictions used repetitively like mantras, we want to hear about REAL flawed people who are figuring out step-by-step what this life is about. It would be great if we could find a way to encourage those people who are not as far along to still stand up and testify of the beauty they have seen and why they continue to have the church be a part of their lives.

    These changes would mean the world to me and personally heal many wounds in my life. They would encourage understanding and empathy which I know are characteristics valued by the savior.

  31. LandofBountiful, UT May 3, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I think Mormon Stories has helped me appreciate the good in the Church even if it isn’t true and to enjoy the benefits or Mormon culture and practice. However I think the biggest thing the Church fails to help with is those of us in ‘mixed’ marriages-with a believing spouse and a non-believing spouse or even in mixed families. The reality is that situation REQUIRES compromise for both parties and the Church teaches it’s followers to be unyielding instead of recognizing that a non-believing spouse has the right, for example, to have a say in how children are brought up and in other aspects of a marriage or family relationship.

    Also I would say that the Church in general sets up it’s members for terrible intimacy issues within marriage. I have appreciated the Mormon stories podcasts addressing this issue but I think the Church in general basically makes it seem like caring about sex at all -even within marriage-is selfish and evil. This had led to untold misery in marriage and for many divorce since spouses either feel restricted and afraid in their intimate relationship. Spencer W. Kimball even acknowledged this was a leading cause of divorce decades ago and yet he (and subsequent leaders) did nothing to fix it and arguably did much to make the problem worse.

    • Tom Haws May 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm

      Marriage is one area where the church’s illusion of having all the truth is particularly damaging. Scolding will not create happy marriages. Lists of “should”s do not enhance marriages. Direct incorporation of the best relationship teachings of the earth together with direct and emphatic renunciation of unenlightened teachings from past LDS leaders would be merciful and loving.

  32. Garen George May 3, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    John, There are simply too many issues to address with single issues that people are going to put into a blog like this. I’m not meaning to diminish any comments written here and I was about to enter my own questions, comments, and journey.

    I think the church authority should be asked about opportunities to start a program and process to start a dialogue with us, the disaffected. In many cases, we simply want to be heard, and understood. We don’t want to be told what to do in order to solve this “problem” because they have simply not walked this journey before. I would like to have church leaders be willing to spend a month learning the pain and multiple issues that we are facing.

    It is not a simple answer than can be summarized in a 1 hour meeting between a spokesman (John) and an unknown and probably unwilling to go on record as having heard us, anonymous church leader. I’d like to see 3 GA’s show up at Sunstone, or a MS day long symposium.
    Would they be willing to listen to the conference summaries done by MormonExpression?
    Would they listen to 25-50 hours of selected MS and ME podcasts?
    Would they listen to StealthBishop’s podcast?
    Would they spend a month on NOM, or STAYLDS, or FacesEast?

    The importance of communities is there is an important untapped need felt by members of the church that is being ignored and marginalized by church leadership. A simple meeting between 2 people accomplishes very little. I want to know what they plan to do to increase awareness and understanding of ALL the issues and hear stories from ALL the people.

  33. Aaron Andrus, Eugene, OR May 3, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    There is richness in Mormon Stories and open Mormon forums that just can’t be found in LDS church meetings. I didn’t understand why, but see now that correlation has squeezed the life out of sanctioned Mormon dialogue, meetings, and interactions and I can’t tell you how bored and frustrated I felt every Sunday morning for years and years and years…

    I’m more interested in my religion now than ever before because I’ve discovered what the Church does not want it’s members to see–it’s true and facinating history, the diversity of opinion and lifestyle of its members–HUMAN NATURE (God forbid!) in the people who lead and participate in this organization.

    The one thing that I would want to express to the general leadership of the Church is that you CAN NOT guilt your membership into right living. In my opinion, and please excuse the strong sentiment, this is an evil practice that does more emotional and psychological damage to the membership than we will ever understand. A people who can’t speak and share ideas and ask questions openly without fear of retribution and even punishment is an unhealthy people, and I believe the membership of the LDS church is ill. I can’t tell you how much this saddens me because this religion is so deeply rooted in my family.

    I know the leadership would argue that it is through love that it invites it’s membership to obey, and that may be at the core of their desire, but the oversight of the invitation, in my opinion, is oppressive and un-Christ-like.

    I’ve been inactive for two years but am considering returning to full activity with my still active wife and children, but I’m only because I’m interested in the opportunity to serve and because I feel like I might be able to make a difference to others who feel like I do but hide it away.

    I think there is great value and opportunity in the LDS faith, but it’s got a lot of work to do and, frankly, I don’t know if it can overcome the obstacles.

  34. Me May 3, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    The number one thing I wish the Church would provide would be knowledge/discussion of our Mother in Heaven. I just want to know about Her. Even if there isn’t much they can tell us about Her, I would still like to be able to talk about Her at church sometimes. I would like acknowledgement of Her existence.

  35. Chris May 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I should add that I too almost lost my marriage over my faith concerns. The Mormon Stories podcasts (delivered with the respect for all views that John brings) broke down barriers of fear and misunderstanding and helped us find a way to begin discussing these issues. Our marriage is stronger now that we have been provided tools for dealing with these problems.

  36. Humanist May 3, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    First of all I was disaffected and stopped practicing years before Mormon Stories but Mormon Stories is the only place that tries to bridge believers, uncorrelated and postmos into a forum well all respectful communication and dialogue can be expressed. This was a great model for my extended family. At a family reunion there is about 75% prior active, Temple Recommend holding members who have left, we will needed to find a way to coexist. This forum has modeled that.

    Mormon Stories helped me feel not so alone, It was nice to go to a venue that didnt brand me a lazy person who wants to sin and got duped by made up stories, or just full of anger. Mormon Stories annunciated what my heart, mind and conscious was telling me to do all along. The outliers of nontraditional members need a voice and a healthy community with licensed professionals to help the individuate from the “mass one size fits all” doctrine that is harmful for them. I felt I had a place to direct my non-cookie cutter friends like those with: infertility, dont marry, get divorced, suffer from scrupulosity, masturbate, want erotica to keep the marraige alive, had sex before marriage and feel shame, didnt have sex before marriage and now hate sex, want equality, have learned church history. The outliers come to me, I used to tell them all to leave, but if they want to stay but it is killing them emotionally, I tell them that maybe they can stay and try the Mormon Stories approach (unless they are gay, then I tell them to run, RUN away!)

    My belief is “First do no harm.” The church needs to get real with all the harmful dogma that has been given and is currently being given. What the Church is still lacking is transparency, I want to know where my financial contributions are going. They are lacking in equality, start listend to the Mormon Feminist Housewives for a starters, throw them a bone and put in diaper changing tables in the men restrooms. Learn to take feedback with out playing the martyr, end the hypcrosy, The LDS Corporation ask more of the members and of BYU students than the Corporation requires of itself. Come clean on Church History, recognize and apologize for the mistakes made in the past with out apologetics. Get realistic that women in the LDS faith has the stats on divorce as the mainstream U.S. population, so the current advice put these women into poverty. Utah has the lowest number of women entering or finishing grad school, or studying STEM careers but in the end, most women have to work, so start making young womens lesson and activities about this. Make it official that masturbation for the youth is o.k. This is my wishlist for my friends still in. Dont tell gay people to not act on being gay, love is love. Find a place for academic and intellectual discussion, the Church is loosing its best and brightest leaders because we taught about honesty and integrity, so put in back into the institution, let them have temple reccomends, callings and teaching positions and use thier brains. Yes, we are all worried that you may get exed, this is reflection of the COB and shame on them, how can their be honest communication or honesty period when those who speak the truth have church courts? The mass exedous will continue unless they look at themselves instead of those they taught about honesty, integrity and how to repent and committing to living an honest life for themselves and their children because we are walking the walk, they arent.

  37. Catherine Wheelwright Ockey May 3, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I cannot fully express my appreciation and gratitute for Mormon Stories podcasts and John Dehlin. I think I would have fully left the Church by now were it not for the support I have felt in this online community and John’s wise counsel. I was born and raised in a strong LDS family in Salt Lake City and, though I have always been a questioner, it was not until about three or four years ago that I ever contemplated leaving the Church. I have had various health problems throughout my adult life, but in the past few years, my physical activity has been much curtailed. My request for some very simple accomodations at church were (quite suprisingly to me and my husband) met with negativity and sometimes outright hostility on the part of members and ward leaders. Once my husband (a member of our stake presidency) brought the matter to the attention of the stake president, some changes were made, but it has been too little, too late, and I feel very marginalized and emotionally abused as a result.
    John and the Mormon Stories podcasts and community have helped me feel a part of the Mormonism that is so much a part of me. They have helped me see the good that the Church has brought to my life and come to a comprimise in my own activity. Though I quit attending church entirely for over a year, I am now attending Sacrament Meeting in another ward in our stake with my daughter and her husband. This whole experience has made me and my husband (who is still very involved in church activity) see the very real prejudice that exists withing the LDS Church toward people with disability, especially if they are women, who have no voice in Church building policy.
    Thank you, John, for listening to all of us and being a voice for people like me.

  38. cameron May 3, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Our Stake had Elder Shayne Bowen of the 70 here on the weekend and he said that “there aren’t people who are less active or inactive, they’re just people who don’t understand the doctrine”, coming from someone who has been insulated in big church callings since 1990, stake pres. mission pres. AA70 and now GA-I just wonder if others of the Leadership hold the same views

  39. Travis May 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I’m a sixth generation Mormon who has served as a member of two bishoprics and multiple high councils. Were it not for John Dehlin and his Mormon Stories Podcast, I would have certainly left the Church years ago; which would have devastated me, destroyed my immediate family, and strained my extended-family relationships. John makes a place in Mormonism for people like me who struggle with historical facts and who are unable to have strictly literalistic views of all claims, tenets, and policies advocated by Church leaders.

    It’s my belief that to stem the exodus of young Church members and to provide a more conducive environment for new converts, the Church needs to adopt the ‘Big Tent’ philosophy advocated by John. His assertion that all members—literalistic and non-literalstic believers—exhibit compassion, respect, and support each other in our life journeys is the reason I and thousands like me stay active n the Church.

    • Maria Petrova May 7, 2011 at 3:21 am

      Very true. The Church can’t afford to stay mired in small-scale rules and rights and wrongs.

  40. BAB May 3, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    John
    This is what I would say to a general authority if I had the opportunity. This would be with a very sincere and a broken heart.

    I am really struggling with my belief in Mormonism and it makes me very sad. I grew up in the church. I love the many good people that serve one another in the church and I see the much good and kindness that is demonstrated all around the world by sacrificing members of the church. But there is a lingering question, IS IT REALLY TRUE?

    I feel like the church has left all of us out in the cold by refusing to respond to topics like the Book of Abraham, DNA issues with the Lamanites, previous “doctrines” once taught by earlier LDS prophets and apostles like the Adam God theory. I am very troubled by all of the past lies surrounding the polygamy issues and how it was denied while it was practiced in secrecy, for so long. I am troubled by the doctrine of Blood Atonement taught by the Prophet Brigham Young, and I am troubled that the church has never acknowledged their role in the Mountain Meadows massacre. Since when has the perception of the world (looking good before the world) become more important than honesty, integrity, and truth?

    I am a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. I learned the importance of honesty in my Primary and Sunday School classes as a child. I learned to stand up for what it right and true. I learned that honesty is the best policy. I am greatly saddened by the way the church attempts to withhold early church documents for fear that damaging information will be revealed. I am saddened by the church’s unwillingness to address the tough questions. I am saddened because it is as though the church has decided that those of us who study church history are expendable. It is almost an acknowledgement that these issues are not answerable in favorable terms to the church.

    I have always believed what the church taught. I served an honorable mission. I married in the temple. I have always paid a full tithe and I hold a current temple recommend. But all of these actions and beliefs were based on what the church taught me as being truths. My study of church history has been an ongoing project for many years. I am disturbed by much of the information that I read. It is not the lies of biased Anti-Mormon’s that disturb me so much as the teachings of the early “Prophets and Apostles”. If these men were truly inspired representatives of Jesus and if these men were taught by the holy ghost then why does our current doctrine differ so greatly with these teachings. Why are there so many contradictions, to believe in Mormonism is to believe that God is constantly changing, as though he cannot see the future. I think that the church needs to come clean on some of these issues. It is the church’s willingness to skirt these issues and pretend that they do not exist that causes me to lose respect for the organization that I once believed was Christ’s true church.

    Christ taught, “Know the truth and the truth will set you free”. I am not alone. There are many good people that are very troubled as they discover that the history that the church teaches is quit distinct from the history depicted in the early church published books. The information that was once considered sacred scripture because it was taught by the early “Prophets and Apostles” now seems to serve as evidence of a lack of divine guidance because many of the early doctrines do not align with some of the teachings of the new prophets and Apostles. Anyone reading this information is left to realize that God is not always directing the church. The question then arises, is God ever directing the church. I remember being taught that blacks would never hold the priesthood because they were less valiant in the pre-existence. Did the blacks suddenly go back in time and change their lives in the pre-existence, or did the church leaders just embrace a false discriminatory doctrine for many years? Does the church admit that they were wrong? Does the church acknowledge that they missed the mark? No, the issue is just swept under the carpet like an illegitimate pregnancy with the hopes that no one will notice. The next natural question is, well if the Spirit did not guide the leaders regarding the blacks, how do we know that the Spirit ever guides them? If the leaders never admit when they are wrong how can we ever trust them or respect them?

    I feel as though I am losing something very dear to me. I wish it were different and I welcome any explanation that would comfort my troubled mind.

    Sincerely
    BAB

    • Di May 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm

      YES! Also this. Those questions were exactly what lead to my leaving the church. I don’t know whether I would have stayed had they been talked about, but I think I wouldn’t feel the frustration when discussing with TBMs that I now feel. So many people equate questions with APOSTASY! BIG! SCARY! So they shut down any discussion of issues that are not correlated.

  41. Bwmwhitney May 3, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    A couple of years ago, I went through a crisis of faith. By trying to conduct some supportive research to answer the questions of a well-meaning Christian friend, I came across historical information readily available online which I was not prepared for. Information that is supported by official church publications, but is not commonly discussed or seemingly admitted to. My faith was shaken and my heart broken. I first came across a video made by John Dehlin on YouTube entitled “Why People Leave the LDS Church.” This was the first time I came across an active member of the church who admitted to the historical issues which caused me discontent, but who also saw and valued the good which the church has to offer. This was eye-opening to me. To know that you can still love and have a relationship with the church while still struggling with understanding some of the aspects which are not popularly discussed meant to me that I did not have to make the decision to leave the church due to the questions I had. Listening to his further podcasts and interviews with members of various situations, I began to see and appreciate the diversity of members. John’s Mormon Stories Podcast serves as an important reminder to me that we are all human, we are different from one another, and we all add color to the canvas of Mormonism. Today, I am happily active, raising my children in the faith, maintaining a Temple recommend, serving in the church, and seeing the good that it has to offer. Unfortunately, I also know many who have felt that the Church does not provide for their needs and is unwilling to accomodate them with their differences. My heart brakes for those who feel they have been judged, discriminated against, or lied to. Many of them are truly wonderful sons and daughters of God who wish desperately that they could feel that there is room for them at the table.

  42. HiJolly May 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I love the Church, and I’ve always had an overwhelming certainty (gut-feeling, if you will) that it is true.

    When I was baptized & confirmed I experienced the living fire of God, from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, accompanyed by the divine witness of the Holy Ghost that the Church is TRUE.

    I have rec’d the blessing of visionary dreams and the ‘still small voice’ throughout my life. And more, but as you know we are not to wear such experiences on our sleeves, to make them public.

    I have always been inquisitive and yearning for more knowledge, more understanding, more truth. I found there was reason to read more deeply into Church history than what I had learned in Sunday School, Sacrament meeting, Stake & General Conferences, Seminary, Institute and so forth. I was amazed at what I didn’t know, after experiencing all these. And so grateful that I had resources available to me to learn.

    I could tell immediately that many authors had a bone to pick, of one sort or another, with the Church. The spirit assisted me in filtering out the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’ in books, web sites, personal conversations and so forth. Some would say ‘my bias assisted me’, which I know is true to a point.

    Even so, it became clear to me due to the influence of the Holy Ghost that whereas I had looked upon the Church as a “perfect” organization, with “perfect” leadership and “perfect” policies, this was a naive and dangerous point of view that I *had* to overcome if I were to continue to progress in the Gospel and in the Spirit of Godliness.

    It came as a shock. I found that good people with good lives are still human and therefore flawed. This lack of perfection, then, impacted everything in the Church, really everything — even my own understanding of *my* worthiness, *my* faith.

    I was wrong to have viewed the Church as *perfect*, though I acknowledge that is was good for me to have had that view through my childhood and adolescence, up to a point. This view of perfection was not so much literally TRUE as it was powerfully USEFUL. And I am ever grateful for the usefulness of my testimony, all through my life, including today.

    I had heard it said by some that the Church was *not* perfect, yes. I had thought of the concept, but I could not relate to it as ‘truth’. Until the Holy Ghost pressed me and forced the issue. This was an amazingly important part of my spiritual maturation and growth. And I never would have thought of this realization as such, without the Spirit pounding it into me.

    Because of my love for God, as His love for me that I had experienced all my life, this was not a problem for me. I still love God & the Church with all my heart. I understand the issues and difficulties and flaws in people, in the Church, and in myself. I am at peace.

    I can see that John Dehlin has had a much more difficult time than I. Perhaps this is because he has not had the same experiences, or for whatever other reason which perhaps I cannot comprehend at this time. I don’t know all things.

    I do know that John’s involvement with the members of the Church that have struggled as he himself has, is a *good* thing. He does so with a good heart, with a desire to hope for that which was(is) lost to his heart. I can tell this has been a terribly painful journey for him, and my heart goes out to him as a brother.

    I have benefitted amazingly from his efforts to share non-devotional truths and experiences so many people have had, both within and without the Church. I have learned through John how to more perfectly convert my understanding of love into compassion and caring for so many who I did not know needed that love.

    I am a father of (more than 6) children, always an active member, a high-priest and currently hold a general church service mission-type calling. I am a grandfather of children who are born in the covenant (BIC).

    I do wish a few things, of the Church.

    1) Make Sacrament meeting devotional, but allow Sunday School to be either devotional (ie, no deep gospel history or topics) OR educational. Not strictly devotional only, as it is now. Member’s choice of which to attend.

    2) Modify positions of the Church to a less intensely literalistic view of scripture in the Ensign and other Church publications. Slowly, if needed.

    3) Emphasize the importance and benefit of members studying *things* outside the Church. Often. Strongly. Religious and secular.

    4) Continued progress in removing demonization of homosexual people. I love where this has been going, lately. We must continue it.

    I realize this will require more intense oversight of *someone in authority* to ensure conversations don’t go too far into a skeptical or antagonistic theme. Still — I think it HAS to happen.

    • Elderfrost May 3, 2011 at 8:27 pm

      you give yourself too much credit

      • watchyour6 May 4, 2011 at 5:50 am

        Huh? Please explain.

        • HiJolly May 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm

          “Let us be faithful and silent, brethren, and if God gives you a
          manifestation, keep it to yourselves; be watchful and prayerful,
          and you shall have a prelude of those joys that God will pour out
          on that day, (HC 2:309)”
          — Joseph Smith, Jr.

          I sometimes struggle with Joseph’s advice.

          “… it is better to point some in the right direction at the risk of deluding others,
          than settling for helping no one at all.”
          — Alan Chapman

  43. julie May 3, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    My husband and I are no longer active in the church, unfortunately. It was a very traumatic experience for us to start finding out so many discrepancies in the gospel that we were so committed to and loved deeply. He, a lifelong member, and myself, a convert of 20+years were raising three children in the church. We held callings in a RS Presidency and a Bishopric when our disaffection started. Stumbling upon John Dehlin helped us in our journey. It helped us deal with our world and foundation being shaken. Ultimately, for various reasons, we chose to leave after about two years of digesting and praying and much soul searching, but it had nothing to do with anything MS did. That most likely kept us in the church longer than we did stay.

    MS provided a safe environment in which to learn, with content that was trustworthy.

  44. JR May 3, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    As the parent of an adult child who has recently experienced what some call a “Crisis of Faith” one of the things that I have thought a lot about is that it feels like there is not a safe place within the Church to go to be able to talk about these struggles. Watching a loved one go through the stages of this brings about many concerns. After reading many of the above messages, that seems to be what I hear people expressing in their gratitude of you John, and of places like Mormon Stories, and Mormon Matters…

    I don’t know what the answer really is, Maybe a Priesthood Leadership training so that Bishops and Stake Presidents are more aware and better equipped to understand? My husband has served as a Bishop in the past, and we have talked about the idea that it would be helpful to Priesthood leaders to be taught about cog-dis, and how to in a loving way to put loving arms of support around that person who is struggling. It would be helpful if there was a place within our belief system to turn for help and understanding. My own experience in going through this was one of needing to have a place to go to talk with people who understood the nature and the pain of the struggle.

    The other thing that really stands out in my mind is an understanding that people often get to this point because of love and devotion to the Gospel, seeking knowledge, etc…rather than wanting to live a different lifestyle etc….That for me has been an eye opener. I doubt that many in the Church, leaders etc.. would understand that idea.
    Bless you!

  45. Writermama May 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    The fact that young women don’t really feel valued. My 12-year-old daughter mentioned this on Sunday after she found out that the young men are allowed to raise money because of their affiliation with the Boy Scouts and the young women (who are not buoyed by any similar affiliation) are not. I’m also concerned about the fact there seems nothing in the lesson manuals on the very pressing, relevant youth-oriented issues of our day: Why is there nothing on cyberbullying, for example? Bullying in general? Teen suicide? Eating disorders and body image?

  46. Kate Kelly May 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    My testimony of Mormon Stories is that is is good, and people on it feel the freedom to tell the truth. The truth about what they think. The truth about what they feel. The truth about what they have learned. It is refreshing.

    Liberal/radical/non-literalist/alternative Mormons feel hushed, shushed and isolated in most Mormon congregations and communities. We often are pressed with a common “take it or leave it” attitude and so when we can’t “take it” lock-stock-and-barrell we leave the church in droves.

    I think Mormon Stories goes a long way in helping people, like myself, reclaim our Mormon hertitage and realize that though we do not espouse every dogma, we are Mormon too.

    So, I’d like to say to you Brother Anon, we are Mormon too.

  47. anon May 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    MS is more than a podcast, it is a community. I didn’t understand that until I needed it and now I find comfort listening to the podcasts.

    The church as abandoned me on numerous times and I can barely support it and the hypocrisy. But then I listen to a podcast or read a post and think “OK, I’m not alone… I can do this how I want to do this.” And I stay. I may not stay in the most cookie cutter sense, but I am uplifted.

  48. Julie May 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Oh, and Mormon Stories is totally awesome, and I will donate!! MS has given me a vocabulary with which to articulate my own complex relationship to Mormonism. It was mind blowing to discover other Mormons like me; I had long thought I was the only one.

  49. ElGuapo May 3, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I see three changes that need to be considered, two of which affect me personally as an ex-Mormon. The first is the church’s previous stance on homosexuality needs some undoing, both through talking up tolerance and equality and through backing off the politics.

    The other two have to do with member–non-member relationships. The first one is temple weddings. Just sat outside another one on Friday. This policy simply does not accomplish whatever church leaders are hoping for. And it’s the only subject where I find the word “cult” unavoidable.

    Lastly, worthiness interviews. These give me the willies. I get that you want the bishop and other leaders to have a positive impact on kids. But asking minors about their bodies and sexuality, behind closed doors and without their parents present, it’s very uncomfortable for me as a parent with kids who still attend. Please say something directly to priesthood leaders about masturbation not being a subject for interviews with minors. And please make it clear to leaders that they should welcome parents who wish to sit in on these interviews. Thanks!

  50. Velska May 3, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    First of all, thanks for MormonStories. I have been trying to tell people that faith is a decision you need to take. I had come to that conclusion, and then I heard the Bushman interviews, where he more or less says it, too, and I felt like I perfectly understood what he’s talking about.

    I’m fully active, have been since I joined the Church over 30 years ago as a young adult, and I consider myself a believing Mormon (a “TBM”, if you will). I have decided to be one, and want to be one. However, there is room for moments of doubt. There wasn’t much in Rough Stone Rolling that was new to me, and my 30-year journey into history and doctrine is ongoing. Listening to others’ stories–even when I feel sad for those who discard something potentially so rich in their lives just because Joseph Smith had several wives (have they read the Bible?)–has given me a lot.

    I have been an “opponent” of literalism. I don’t think it’s constructive, because it tends to create weird situations… I think fully embracing Mormonism–and by that I mean Faith–is by no means antithetical to a scientific world view. But there is the spiritual side of me that I find hard to deny, and for that I feel LDS Church giving me more than I could see any other faith doing.

  51. Mark Albrecht May 3, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    John, I don’t have any questions. I just want whoever you talk to as well as anyone struggling to leave the church to know that eventually extended families get over the shock and that you can then get on with being happier and more fulfilled than you ever were in the church. Despite their claims to the contrary, church leaders have very few answers. For Shayne Bowen to claim “there aren’t people who are less active or inactive, they’re just people who don’t understand the doctrine,” leads me to believe the “they” who don’t understand the doctrine are those that are still in. If you understand it, you realize it simply doesn’t make sense and never will. As Tim Minchin stated, “throughout history, every mystery ever solved has turned out to be *not magic*.”

    • Velska May 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      Not trying to threadjack here, but:

      I never believed in the “magic” God, or “God of the Gaps”. I always had a personal experience of a loving God.

      So I know that planets are not propelled on their orbits by the power of God per se, but nobody has all the answers. I don’t know how the primary particles come together, or what gravity actually is, or is there actually anti-gravity, which appears to be there, but can’t be defined and I believe there are other open questions. They are not magic, just something we don’t know yet.

      In re science: if you know how the egg, sugar and flour react together in the oven in the right temperature to form a sponge cake, you (or someone else) still put the ingredients together and heated the oven. So did you bake the cake? That’s why I never believed in the God of the Gaps.

  52. BAB May 3, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    John
    I would like to comment on my experience with Mormon Stories.

    For me Mormon Stories has provided me with a community of support. I thank my Heavenly Father that I am not alone in this search for answers. I find much comfort as I realize that others are struggling with similar questions. It is a terrible thing when your entire foundation is pulled out from under you. It leaves one vulnerable and depressed. It is within this community of support that I feel safe and accepted.

    I enjoy learning about the many topics that are discussed on Mormon Stories. I enjoy the open forums where no one has to be afraid of asking questions with which we all struggle. I think that many religions really screw people up sexually and it is interesting to hear these taboo topics discussed. It is informative and educational and it brings me comfort and wisdom.

    The thing I like best about Mormon Stories are the heart felt comments that you have shared with all of us and the excellent information that comes out of the podcasts. On Mormon Stories no one is afraid to discuss the truth. I have learned the importance of being tolerant of others. I have learned to love others regardless of there beliefs. I have learned that we are all children of our Heavenly Father and that a belief in him should not separate us but should bind us together to help one another. For some reason Mormonism creates an environment of intolerance that is not conducive to asking questions. Many of us are so caught up in trying to look like good little Mormon Families, that we are afraid to reveal the huge doubts that we mask with our smiles and constant church and temple attendance. I like discussing the truth without a need for sugar coating and superstition.

    Mormon Stories is a community that is real.
    Thank you
    BAB

  53. JohnSned May 3, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I think my biggest issue is with not being honest, forthright and open about the church history, spinning is just a manipulation of a facts, that I would consider dishonest and against the core beliefs of the church.

    I think that the GAs need to realize that with no chance of communication going up the leadership chain that is a great opportunity for problems and little way of resolving it. I understand that it can be difficult to manage but there are ways of managing this.

    • Tom Haws May 3, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      communication up the leadership chain. A humbler understanding of the meaning and modes of revelation would go a long way. A prophetic people instead of a people with a prophet.

  54. jake May 3, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    my question / advice to the authority. drop the truth exclusivity claim (okay, not in question form…try this; how do you expect the church to flourish when it holds to the i’m right, PERIOD. you’re wrong if you question, you’re wrong to feel cog dis **it’s satan/your mind**, you’re wrong if you don’t agree with me). information changes everything. come clean about history. make church a community again.

    btw, i’m:

    38 yr old
    born in covenant (grew up in provo)
    mission
    married in temple
    3 adopted kids through lds family services (sealed in temple)
    full active and accepting every calling until recently…..now the downside (not true – and feel like being lied to) has offset any benefit w/ active participation.

    • Tom Haws May 3, 2011 at 9:50 pm

      Finally! A proper usage of “cog dis” in the wild. :-D

  55. Karen Burton May 3, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    I am a clinician in energy work and psychological acupressure. I draw quite a few Mormons and inactive Mormons to me who are struggling. I have struggled with how to address this in the Church and was excited to be introduced to Mormon Stories by one of my clients. My clients issues stem largely with the feeling of being unworthy, which seems to always stem from how their Church leaders ‘helped’ them through a problem they were having. I have found that in our religion we tend to be too much on the side of checklists and labeling, instead of separating the act from the person. When labeling a person ‘unworthy’ they carry that with them for the rest of their lives and feel they always have to live up to something in order to combat that. My suggestion would be that if someone comes to them, no matter what it is, find out the identifying emotion that is at the base of their behavior, not label them as unworthy because of the behavior. Loose the label and help them understand that the underlying emotion is what is the issue and what needs to be worked on. If they feel unloved, fearful, abandoned, those things can be triggers for all sorts of ‘sins’, but it labeled as a sin then they see themselves as being the bad thing. Just a suggestion, but I truly think that Church leaders need to understand this, as the lives they touch are forever labeled because of how they word something and it ends up in all sorts of problems, not just going inactive. It haunts them forever until they can see themselves as something other than ‘unworthy.’ God would never want any of His children to think of themselves this way.

  56. Elisabeth May 3, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    John Dehlin and his work through Mormon Stories have helped me remain active in the Church and to stay connected with my family. John’s compassionate and loving kindness towards those who are suffering and struggling is reflective of Alma’s words in Mosiah 18. John is willing to mourn with those who mourn and to comfort those who stand in need of comfort. John’s great love for the Mormon Church and its people is clear in both his words and his actions. I have been blessed through my association with John, and am grateful to him for the work his does to help people like me remain active in the Church.

  57. Rachel May 3, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I left the church a little over a year ago. I was very active, very believing, very willing to do anything my leaders asked to build the Kingdom of God on earth. I was stunned when I discovered another side to Mormon history and issues with the Book of Abraham that could not rationally be explained away. It broke my faith. I wasn’t sinning. I had no desire to do anything opposite to church teachings. I’d never seen a rated R movie, and I’d always held at least one, and sometimes several, callings. The information just sort of fell into my lap, and I couldn’t ignore it. I was fortunate to find an online forum of people going through the same things, which also pointed me to Mormon Stories, a place I felt I could listen to others explain their understanding of Mormonism. Mormon Stories and John Dehlin definitely helped me to stay calm during that phase, and especially to accept the church for the good it does and not be embittered by some of my experiences.

    I only state that introduction because it’s important to the things the church needs for its future, in my opinion. I likely won’t return to church, but I have lots of believing family and friends, and I’m happy that they have a place they like to worship and feel fulfilled by. But there are 3 things that I would love to see shifted in the church that shouldn’t affect the doctrine in any way, but rather will teach people to be smarter and more trusting of the church:

    1. Teach that not everyone believes in Mormonism for different reasons. It’s not because we’re offended in any way, it’s not because we have a desire to be wordly. I had a desire to use my rational brain, that God gave me, to understand the information I found. It didn’t add up. I have a brother who doesn’t attend because he didn’t fit the white-collar, RM mold. He’s a good man and happily married, but if you don’t fit the mold, you don’t clique with other members as easily, and you don’t feel a sense of belonging. You’re not going to feel warm and sweet at church in that kind of a cool situation. He hasn’t rejected truth because he’s a wimp; he just couldn’t ever believe that this kind of a church is God’s only church. Don’t even blame the members of his ward; it’s a fact that the US-version, at least, of this church is pretty homogeneous, and there’s nothing wrong with him for not being part of the mold or not believing. Please, please stop teaching that there is something wrong with people who once believed or attended and no longer do.

    2. Be open about mistakes in the past. Be open that we don’t understand all of Joseph Smith’s processes and revelations, but we can be better for studying things that inspire us. My bishop kind of freaked out when we talked to him about the Book of Abraham (after he plead with us to discuss one of our big issues). I feel bad that he was in such an unknowing situation, especially as bishop. We don’t all have to believe everything came perfectly from God to JS to like the things he taught. If we believe in the sort of prophet that is taught for JS right now, it’s easy for testimonies to fall apart when some of the history doesn’t add up. Leaders, especially, need to understand what members are hearing and reading, since telling members to only ever look at LDS.org online is a bit strong.

    3. Lighten up on the YW. I was fortunate to have a loving leader and be raised far away from Utah, but I know the lessons on virtue and testimony being all you have to offer your future spouse, and there’s a lot of damage there. For one, each woman is an individual with gifts and drive and passion, and that should be encouraged and fostered as they figure out what can make them happy in their life, as many of them may not ever marry. Also, listen to the mormon stories podcast on feminist portrayal in Mormonism to understand the damage this does sexually to these women. And third, is it so very bad to date and marry outside of the faith and live a happy, fulfilled life, rather than being lonely and growing desperate as time goes on? Marriage is not in every woman’s future, and marriage in the church for every woman is unrealistic. Women watch as their baby-carrying years pass them by, hoping for a temple companion, filled with sorrow to miss out on the opportunity to be a mother in this life.

    Thank you. Good luck, John. There’s so much more, of course, so much to be discussed, so much to be said. I hope Mormon Stories continues to thrive, so we can continue these conversations.

    • Velska May 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm

      I understand you in a way, but my question to you would be this: Why does everything have to be explained away rationally? Do we pretend to really understand the Atonement?

      We need more humility on all sides…

  58. CarlC May 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    My two biggest complaints as a TBM are:

    1. Many people leave the church because they feel they have been “lied” to by the correlated material. I’m sympathetic to the difficulty of writing manuals for a worldwide church with very disparate needs, and have no direct complaints about the manuals themselves. That probably means I’m going to get crucified on this forum . . .

    However, the culture that you can only read “correlated material” or that you can only “stick to the manual” needs to be addressed. The correlation committee should be the beginning of gospel study, not the end-all-be-all. I think addressing that culture would do a world of good to help members realize the limited use of the manuals to address everything about the church’s history, and to let them have their place (church meetings the world over), but allow for the possibility that there is much much more to be discovered and studied, and that things not directly covered in the manuals should be discovered and studied.

    I was ecstatic to read the line “if a more elaborate discussion is desired, the student should consult a more exhaustive dictionary” from the introduction to the Bible Dictionary. Why? Because it gave me carte blanche to tell others it was okay to go beyond the manual. We are commanded to seek wisdom from the best books (D&C 88:118). Can we simply acknowledge that the “best books” aren’t only the scriptures and the correlated manuals?

    2. Can we please acknowledge that questions, in and of themselves, are not bad? It is not impossible to think of a Sunday School lesson that details how many revelations in the D&C were received because Joseph Smith had questions and asked the Lord, and then later on in the lesson talk about how people who question are on the road to apostasy. Not all questions are bad.

    Both of these point to a shift I would like to see in the LDS culture. Whether the current culture surrounding these church “problems” is a result of laziness, apathy, lying, or any other options, it is not a healthy culture in many ways. My religion classes at BYU introduced me to many (most?) of the “problems” with Mormon history, and that did me a world of good instead of discovering them on my own. That kind of open to discussion and questions, yet faithful, culture is something we seem to be sorely lacking. The Mormon Stories community seems to be one such place. The church should encourage that kind of culture, and I think these two points I’ve made are ways it could easily do so.

    • Garen George May 4, 2011 at 12:49 am

      I just had to jump in and reply to the comments here. You asked for them, and I want to comment.

      Recently, I came across a book about the Life and Times of Joseph Smith. It is sold at DB and presents itself as a source of deep material and really getting to know the historical setting for Joseph. I looked up 2 subjects for an in-depth review and wanting to see how the material would be presented.
      1. Polygamy. Was VERY lightly covered. Said that JS started the practices in the early 1840’s (this is wrong) and that he did it within a small circle and that all parties were informed and consented. It then quickly (after just a few sentences) to spend about 2 pages denigrating a man who took advantage of the situation to make unwanted advances to many women. I don’t have the name with me. So.. the book does clearly talk about polygamy and it could be stated that since I read the book, that I should clearly understand all the issues surrounding it. However, (going from memory) I think that about 5 sentences in the entire book were dedicated to the practices of JS.

      2. The Expositor and the story of the destruction. This was equally light-weight and fluffy. None of the actual decisions or the direct tie-in between the destruction of the press in addition to the jailing. Also, it is always left out about what the newspaper. was writing about. It was an expose about JS approaching Law’s wife. The items printed in the Expositor were 100% true and actually really supportive of the church.

      My point is, even by reading and searching for history, if the source is biased, the story is biased.

      • CarlC May 4, 2011 at 4:10 am

        Garen, I don’t disagree on any particular point.

        I would venture to guess that book from Desert Books (which I’ve learned to avoid for precisely the kinds of things you’ve outlined) isn’t one of the “best” books. But I would probably feel comfortable saying that “Rough Stone Rolling” is. Loved loved loved reading “Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism” on my mission (from the local church library), some of Hugh Nibley (also discovered on my mission), recently “Massacre at Mountain Meadows,” “Understanding the Book of Mormon,” etc. There’s good stuff out there. It might be harder to find than it ought to be, but it is there.

      • Velska May 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm

        I think I read the same book, and noticed it was a little light…

        As far as Expositor goes: I’m not sure if William Law & Co can bee said to be reliable sources, either. There were some apostates in cahoots wanting to get the Church and its members’ property confiscated again, like in Missouri. Right along with Thomas Sharp. Who then went on to live an unremarkable life…

  59. James Allred May 3, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    John,

    For me personally, if the church could do one thing it would be this. Provide space to talk.

    Currently within the church there is no space to say anything other than what is faith promoting. If you say anything that is true but which conflicts with the church’s narative of itself, you are quickly shut down and pushed to the corner. If you persist, then action can be taken against you. Even if your only sin is to only speak the truth. I am an active, calling-holding, tithe paying member. If I continue to have to bite my tongue in every meeting, I will need to move on.

    Just this last sunday in HPG meeting the entire lesson was on following the counsel of the prophet. No problem with listening to counsel. However, there was a significant portion of the lesson emphasizing that all counsel is perfect and all prophecies will come to pass. This is actually a dangerous mindset. We are all human. We all have the right to make mistakes. Even prophets. But there was no way to even have this question without appearing heretical. It doesn’t matter the documentary history of the many, many times prophets have just been wrong.

    If the church would just ease up on the perfection of its leaders and fess up to their humanity it would go a long way in being able to have a more full church experience and focus more on our personal relationship with God and developing our individual spiritual gifts.

    • Velska May 5, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      In those kinds of HPG lesson discussion, I always remind people, that the prophets are also human and products of their own culture and upbringing, so take it to the higher authority before you do anything drastic. The higher authority being God. Works for me.

  60. Jay May 3, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Up until 5 years ago I was an extremely active, believing member of the LDS Church. I served with alacrity in whatever calling I was asked. I served an honorable mission, married in the temple, paid tithing and did everything a faithful member would do. I never dreamed I would be where I am today; disaffected from the LDS Church. This didn’t come about because of pornography, alcohol, smoking, or by any other means. It happened because I started to look into Church history. It started as a curiosity about controversial issues that were never talked about openly in the church. I had always believed anti-Mormons were just angry and unfair in their interpretation of history and now that I had drunk the milk for 30 years I was ready for the meat, so I could defend the Church. I wondered why subjects like polygamy were never talked about in church and why the only answers I ever received for its practice were things like, “there weren’t enough righteous men” or “marrying young was common back then”.

    Sadly, as I studied it further through historically accurate sources like Todd Compton’s “In sacred loneliness”, Richard Bushman’s “Rough Stone Rolling” and Familysearch.org, I discovered many disturbing aspects of polygamy and LDS history I had never been privy to. I wondered why I was never told Joseph Smith had 30+ wives or that he had married teenagers and women that were already married. I had attended Ricks and BYU, taken early morning seminary, attended all my meetings faithfully for 30 years and taken church history classes, yet never heard any of this.

    As my search widened into other areas of Mormon history my concern only grew. Why was the LDS Church not preparing its members to deal with these serious issues? I visited sites like FARMS and FAIR to try to understand from a faithful perspective, but the answers just didn’t seem to fit with what I was learning. Eventually I came to the sad conclusion I could no longer trust the Mormon Church to be honest and I stopped believing. At first I tried to go to my Bishop and SP with concerns but was told to keep working on my testimony and eventually everything would work out ok. When that didn’t happen I was ignored and forgotten. They had no answers for me. I knew that and understood why they didn’t want to deal with someone like me.

    My sadness turned to depression as I found no one, not even family or friends, that understood what I was going through. Everywhere I went people in the church reacted with anger and defensiveness just because I shared historical truths with them. Someone I thought was a good friend and who knew about my struggles suggested to my wife that I might be cheating on her.

    All I wanted was to talk about these difficult issues with someone and have them understand my pain of lost trust. Mormonstories was one place I found that filled that role. It was somewhere I could be understood, where these controversial but historically accurate topics could be discussed openly and frankly without fear of reprisal from Church leaders. I wish we had a resource like this at church or at least in Institute but we don’t. I remain grateful there was somewhere I could find an outlet.

    Today I attend every sunday with my wife and children. The Bishop is aware I don’t believe and based on comments and actions I’ve witnessed from other ward leaders I am confident he has shared this information with them. It is hard to sit through meetings where historically inaccurate information from old manuals continues to be taught to members as “truth”. I feel helpless to correct any of it since doing so would be viewed in a negative light by those around me, even when done in a positive manner.

    I’m not sure I could ever trust the LDS Church again and wonder if I had only been given the truth earlier if it would have changed anything. Would I have been able to accept it and move on faithful in the Church? I’ll never know. I now have three children in primary, two of them baptized. I plan on telling them all that I know when they are old enough to handle it. My believing wife has agreed this will be before they decide to serve missions. If they do serve missions I hope the knowledge I give them will at least allow them to understand why many people don’t believe in the Mormon faith and are happy. As for me, Mormonism will always be part of who I am. I will always define myself as Mormon and defend the Church when it is unfairly criticized, but I will also admit our major shortcomings to members and non-members alike. I hope somehow the Church can find a way to be open and honest about its history in its manuals, in sunday talks, in all media and especially in General Conference.

    • julie May 3, 2011 at 7:19 pm

      Jay – your situation of your disaffection is almost word for word what my husband and I experienced. We were trying to combat some things my convert sister-in-law was asking us, i.e. Joseph’s numerous wives. I wondered where she was getting this false information. A little bit of research, at reputable sites, showed me what she was asking was all truth. We were shocked! And it just snowballed from there. We too will defend the church if we see any misinformation, but I also don’t hesitate to share my feelings about things I no longer agree with. Part of the reason we ended up leaving after mulling things over for two years was that we had a son a year away from serving a mission. It did not feel right to send him out into the world to “preach the gospel” not armed with all the truth.
      I wish you joy and happiness as you continue on your journey and as you attend to support your family.

      • Jay May 3, 2011 at 8:02 pm

        Thank you julie. It means a lot. All I want is to be able to live with integrity.

  61. scj May 3, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    I am a 29 year old woman, a wife, a mother and a life long church member. I appreciate this site because it is a wonderful forum that explores topics and issues that I see in the church but don’t always see address in our Sunday meetings. I feel like I am not alone in searching for answers and I appreciate the added value, insight and experience of those who have spoken on the podcasts.

    I am active and a temple attender, and believe the church is the right place for me. I just know that my questions are more expansive and poignant that they were when I was younger. I would like to see more gospel questions answered with less cultural presets and more inspiration, more love and more acceptance, the way I honestly believe God to be.

  62. Johndprince May 3, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I was told about Mormon Stories by my brother who is a very faithful member of the church. He’s an elder’s quorum president in Katy, Texas. I have been struggling with my testimony for a couple of years now and have suffered in silence for the most part. I attend BYU and so there are not many people to share testimony problems with. I have never read “anti”-literature in my life and my issues came about largely because of discrepancies I perceived when reading the New Testament for the first time before my mission. My questions grew and I started to feel like I was not being given the whole story by the church. Like I had been intentionally told certain scriptures meant one thing when they seemed to very clearly have different meanings.

    I don’t consider myself a perfect person but I do feel my search for answers regarding the church has been honest and without hidden motivations. I just wanted to know the truth.

    Long story short I have been inching closer and closer to leaving the church for the last couple of years and although I attend, my heart and mind is totally disconnected from the church. I have stayed because my family are all members, and I know it will break their heart if I leave; and also because I want to be absolutely sure I am making the right decision before I give up on the church I have attended my whole life.

    I haven’t listened to a ton of the podcasts but from what I understand of John Dehlin and Mormon Stories, he is an honest man who sincerely wants to help those who went through and are still going through the same crisis of faith that he went through. I can tell you that there is a huge, huge, huge need for support of this nature in the church. I felt the only way to maintain my integrity was to leave the church. Mormon Stories is starting to change my way of thinking and show me there are different options.

    I don’t know what I’ll end up doing or what conclusions I will finally reach about the church, but I do know that there are so many people just like me who are in the church but who do not believe and don’t know what to do. They don’t want to throw it all away but feel trapped by their conscience. They feel like either it is all true or is all a lie and that there is no in between. Since exploring Mormon Stories I have started to feel like maybe there is a future for me in the church.

    – Article of Faith 13 – I feel this is something which has helped me. I hope it stays.

    Sincerely,
    John Prince
    Provo YSA 160th ward as of two days ago

  63. Heidimillerd May 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    John I went through depression and despair when I found out that the church had not been everything I thought it was. It felt similar to the way I had felt when I found out my husband had an affair. I felt betrayed and hurt. The hardest part was that I had no one I could talk to about it. My non LDS friends just did not really get it. My LDS friends did not want to talk about it and felt threatened. Finding Mormon Stories was a lifesaver to me. I found a group of people that were going through the same situation. The greatest thing was that it was not people who were hateful; it was just people who were hurt and wanted to talk. I now have friends to go to about different situations that continue to arise as I try to raise and live with the morals I was taught by the church. I wish the church would let us take from it the good and leave the bad but the message are clear, (and were said again at this past conference) either accept it all or get out and leave it alone. That is what breaks my heart the most. The black and white, evil or good theory of the church. The world is not that simple.

  64. Valerie May 3, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    MormonStories was a lifeline after the shock of finding out church history such as Joseph Smith’s polygamy and polyandry and blood atonement etc etc. MormonStories was the only place I found where I could find respectful and honest discussion of the difficult historical issues and difficult doctrines such as the priesthood ban etc. MormonStories gave me hope that I could stay active despite my newfound knowledge. It gave me comfort that I wasn’t alone. I don’t know what I would have done without MormonStories and John Dehlin.

  65. Melanny May 3, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    The most influential work by John Dehlin that has impacted me was his professional video/podcast “Why People Leave.” Because of this work, I can testify that John has helped foster greater understanding between myself and several of my loved ones who hold a more orthodox view of the church. Though they watched this video, none of the orthodox believers I know were persuaded to change their positions, but they were kinder to me during my struggle.

  66. Gina Colvin May 3, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    MS provides a safe place for dialogue. If anything it helps those with questions to negotiate a place in Mormonism which they can comfortably occupy. We seem to be (on the whole) educated, intelligent, thinking and previously faithful people now trying to find a reason to stay engaged.

    However, if there is an opportunity to ask, I just want to know if non-white feminist, left-wing, intellectuals who aren’t from the United States and don’t buy into the cultural politics of Mormonism, and are cognizant of the discrepancies and contradictions in the official ‘story’ of the church, who aren’t afraid to question, and never bare their testimony that they ‘know the church is true’, are actually wanted in the church. By Packer’s standard we aren’t. Perhaps he could clear that up.

  67. TMAC May 3, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I love the church. I am Mormon to the core. It is my language of faith. It is my heritage. These are my people. Although I don’t believe most, if not all, of the truth claims taught in the church, I am committed to living a consecrated life and to be an active participating member. Mormon Stories has been such a huge help for my wife and I. I have found a place where people understand my love for the church and my disbelief.

  68. Lietta May 3, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    How timely for us that you are requesting this information at this time. We are walking our way into the LDS Church, my husband as a returning Mormon, 6th generation pioneer heritage, himself cradle raised, return Missionary, temple recommend, raised his five children LDS, left the church (that is his story to tell if he is so inclined), and had his name removed. We met and married in his post LDS years, have been 15 years married. I am not Mormon in traditional sense, having very little knowledge of it prior to my marriage to him, however, I found his approach and life views to be refreshingly pristine. I am not ‘churched’ in the sense of being raised in one faith, but exposed to many different expressions of faith, primarily Protestant Christian, raised a military child on military bases, some overseas with exposure to non-Christian belief sets. I believe my spirituality is intact at the core, and would describe my adult journey as effort to find a religion or religious belief set that corresponded and could help define what I already possessed as an inner spiritual connection.

    Over the years of our marriage we explored together different approaches, in attending different Christian based churches, settling in this last decade on the liturgical Episcopal Church where we began instruction towards becoming licensed preachers, eventually to become ordained Priests. He adapted to the liturgical expressions, was the organist, we were on Bishop’s Committee, wrote and preached our sermons on assigned Sundays, studied, prayed and worshiped together, he taught ESL, and we fostered some shared meal events focused on ethnic commonality and differences within our immediate community. About mid-decade, we strongly felt our ministry was calling us in a different direction pulling us in an activism mode, our public speaking schedules started conflicting with the church schedule and responsibilities. In time we felt the need to make a decision as to one or the other to free us up so others in the congregation could fill our functions. We announced our decision to the church, taking a leave of absence, so to speak to follow our calling. Fast forward and we attempted to return to our church in recent years which just didn’t quite ‘take’. Missing the sharing of community and worship, we did visit a couple of local churches, again which were just not ‘taking’. I think I came to recognize that my husband didn’t need or want another church in which to experience his spiritual connection, that his spiritual identity was bound in his cultural heritage. It seemed to me, although he did not express it in these terms, that he might indeed be more comfortable with his spiritual connection as it related to his heritage — with or without the church, and I believed it was his rightful heritage irrespective of the doctrinal differences he might have with church teachings.

    I was coming to a place of recognition and decision that I might choose his church as our church home and having made that mental decision, it was a surprise to him when I acted upon it a first time casual visit to our local LDS Ward in February this year. I announced I did want to join, didn’t want to go through the process of investigator lessons with the missionaries, after all I’d had 15 years of hearing my husband’s stories, and my own strong sense of spiritual identity. The Bishop was gracious enough, yet insistent anyway that we take the lessons, and while I didn’t see the value at the time, in retrospect, I’m pleased that we did spend the time as it gave us both time to prepare. Where Mormon Stories comes into play is at this juncture.

    I already knew there was controversial elements in the Mormon history, and in the changes within the church teachings and doctrines. I already knew there were acceptable and unacceptable ways in which to behave within LDS church communities and had heard his and other’s stories of disappointment and pain when the roads they felt called to travel ran contrary to the established belief set of the LDS church community. I knew the young missionaries would be teaching me basic foundational touchstones, but would not likely go anywhere near the controversial sorts of issues. I did not want to walk into this church having learned only of the approved, and sanitized narrative, but the fullness in all it’s richness, determining for myself independently if I could live my life in harmonious accord with belief sets with which I might not fully agree. The internet has improved over time, with more access to information than was available 15 years ago when I was trying to research the belief sets at that time. With the preparation time via the requisite missionary lessons, I used the rest of the time to immerse myself in researching everything I could via internet about Mormonism, LDS, and listened to just about every Mormon Story podcast on the list, along with many other podcasts, sharing many of them with my husband. I don’t know how many hours I logged in listening and reading, but I felt very much like when I came up for air, I had just completed a comprehensive college course on the religion and culture of Mormonism.

    Essentially the Mormon Stories podcasts with the great diversity of content by respected people who have life journeys intersected in great part with Mormonism helped me gain a sense of community that has helped me to enter into the LDS church, helped my husband return to the LDS church. In returning to the church, he has experienced a reunification with his birth family, his brothers, his cousins, all of whom came up from Utah this past weekend (we live in Washington state) to witness and celebrate his return to his church and my baptism into the church. He learned, I think, that it was he they held in high regard, not so much his connection or non-connection to the church. I had early on advised my children and mother of my decision to be baptized into this church to give them any time they might want or need to adjust to the idea. None were put off in the least by it, respected my decision as right for me. I was pleased my mother and son were part of our weekend to experience first hand what is really quite difficult to explain in words. It was indeed an intense, emotional and powerful experience throughout the weekend.

    This weekend past, his two brothers performed the baptisms for him and myself, and were part of the confirmations the next day. The baptism ceremony permitted us to choose the songs we wanted, and his youngest brother who is a talented pianist played ‘Consider the Lilies’ in almost concert form, pouring his soulful expression into the music which he credits not to himself but via the Spirit. Needless to say there was not a dry eye among the families and the Ward members who chose to attend. When we were confirmed the next day in church which was a Fast and Testimony Sunday, my husband tried to give a tearful statement, wound up being unable to talk and conveyed his expression via piano piece, he too is an accomplished pianist. Both his brothers decided also to make statements and bear their testimonies. It was memorable that all three brothers were able to share one with the other in the moving experiences of this weekend. I would say that the Mormon Stories are in a large part responsible for helping me to prepare to take this step, to helping my husband to embrace his journey out of the church as necessary growth in his personal spirituality, helping him to appreciate his spirituality in the context of his Mormon story, helping him to return to his culture, his heritage, and his religion with a renewed sense of identity in himself in context to his Mormon story, which is now our story.

    I am a long ways from being a ‘convert’, a term I hear bandied about a lot in regard to newcomers, investigators, and I doubt I will get to a place where it could be said I have converted, because my own personal spirituality is what defines me, and I trust it can serve me in this religion as it has served me in other belief sets. However, if this church has accepted me given that I have laid out my beliefs as not consistent with the LDS beliefs, then I believe it may be timely for both the Church and it’s members to broaden the scope embracing that exploration is part of growth, and I’m fairly sure this church wishes for it’s members to grow in faith in the love of Jesus Christ.

    • Lietta May 3, 2011 at 11:34 pm

      Perhaps too much information. Essentially Mormon Stories podcasts aided considerably in assisting us to baptism (me) and rebaptism (him) into LDS church this past weekend. As mature people wanting to participate in a mature spirituality within the LDS church, the range of material in the podcasts helped us both in different ways towards baptism into the LDS church, my husband returning to the church, myself a newcomer to this church. I have come to know the name of John Dehlin as someone who has prepared a thoughtful venue to help people in their Mormon identity. So many people who shared their experiences in the podcasts have been immense help to me in coming to a decision that has brought me into the church and I’m not so sure I could have taken that step without the Mormon Stories podcasts.

      • Chamaigne May 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm

        Lietta,
        You are the only other person I’ve heard of who actually got baptized as a partial believer, much encouraged by the work and community of John Dehlin. My membership didn’t last, but I remain active in church social activities four nights per week. John’s work really helps me maintain a positive and forgiving attitude that allows me to live happily among my Mormons friends and family. I feel that my love and laughter contributes something to the community, and because of John’s wide definition of “Mormon” I feel that I can celebrate my Mormon cultural heritage (pioneer stock) and my love of Mormon history and theology with my friends and family who are card-carrying members. Because I choose not to be a member, and I’m honest about what I believe and what I don’t believe, I experience less than respectful responses from some people that I meet. It would be very easy to become bitter and to blame the church for creating a culture that encourages this type of behavior. Remembering John Dehlin and the community of people who resonate with his work allows me to forgive, embrace people as individual children of God, continue with my participation in Mormon activities, and communicate more effectively with my Mormon family members.

  69. Adam May 3, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    My doubts in the truth of the Mormon Church derived through everyday experience: dealings with race, history and religious claims that seemed to lay counter to the rising consciousness throughout the world. The further I distanced myself from the Mormon narrative, the deeper my understand developed of mankind’s struggle to view itself within the workings of the universe. Ancient teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, modern science, and even Mormon cosmology converged to a singularity.

    I found the Mormon narrative to be deeply unsatisfying because it did not address or even acknowledge the wisdom of other cultures, religions or growth of scientific knowledge. The concept of Mormon apologists is a perfect example of this ideology; their views that truth is static and set in the Mormon narrative, and therefore any information that challenges that narrative is false. This thought process has lost such credibility in my eyes. I feel that the Mormon leadership is surrounded by thousands of years of progress and insights, but they close their eyes and put fingers to their ears. Those that leave the church are those that simply take a look around. That is the definition of enlightenment, something every culture seeks.

    The problems of historicity in Mormon origins are a great threat to the modern Mormon narrative. I was able to navigate my emotions during my sincere study of Mormonism with the Mormon Stories interviews and the community that grew from it. I found an entire culture of Mormons that struggled with their own integrity; to allow known information to alter their perspective, regardless of whether or not that perspective would reside outside of Mormon dogma. For me, Mormon Stories was a entity that served to ween myself off of a lifetime of habitual belief. It challenged me to be honest, and I feel I have gained a much deeper appreciation for all of the religions and schools of wisdom.

    I believe the church leaders have the responsibility to address this growing chasm between the shallow teachings of the Mormon church, and the historical record. DNA, archeology, the Book of Abraham, the polygamy commandment ect…all these things challenge the Mormon narrative. There may not be a way of reconciling this without revolutionizing the Mormon Church, but there may not be a choice. The world is changing, and the human spirit has a need for the truth. If the Mormon Church will not stand up with honesty and address these things, it will be cast aside on the trail of human progress. I personally believe we have passed that mark, and it is only a matter of time before the Mormon diaspora discovers the whole scope of wisdom in the long history of human’s study of truth.

    -Adam Boone

  70. Jesse Ellis May 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I believe John Dehlin is committed to supporting a minority base within the church who have a tendency to ask critical question concerning LDS doctrine/history, policy/practice and who often struggle with aspects of acculturation within any given LDS congregation. With or without Dehlin, this minority base would continue to ask complicated questions. With that said, it is perhaps in the best interest of the Church to have a facilitator who is willing to mediate the aggressive conflicted feelings of faith crisis and give a forum to people who might otherwise feel safe to share non conventional thoughts and feelings within a typical ward congregation. Besides, given the amount of time and money many of these individuals have donated to the Church and continue to do so I believe that in a way the Church should continue to accommodate such movements to support all of it’s members.

  71. Greg May 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    I am 49. Served a mission, served in my callings, etc. Struggled with church activity beginning about 2 years ago, stopped going about a year ago, resigned about 9 mos ago.

    They can’t do anything to make the church work for me. There’s just no way I’d submit myself to that anymore.

    As for Mormon Stories, John will always be considered a good friend. His efforts to soften the blow of my disaffection probably helped save my marriage.

    For the sake of their remaining members, and perhaps marriages, friendships, and maybe even some positive PR:
    The church should actively tell people that if their spouse, sibling, friend “loses faith” or goes “apostate”, that that is normal, that it’s fine, that they should do their best to empathize, and not worry.

    I could have lost my marriage. Luckily, I’m married to someone who was willing to listen. After I resigned, our Stake Pres asked my wife about her feelings regarding our sealing, etc. She said “If we are sealed in any way, it’s really our love that binds us, not the ordinance”. I think the SP was looking for a different answer, and she shocked him. I’m glad for her answer, and wish that the SP could have re-affirmed it.

  72. Just J May 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I am a BIC, active member of the church. I am also very frustrated with the church both as a result of what it is and is not. I still maintain my faith in God and believe (well hope really) that the LDS church’s view of a lot of things that fall under the heading “gospel” are the way reality shakes out in this universe. I am also a “cafeteria mormon” at this point in my life because there are many things in the church that I do not accept as having any bearing on my ultimate place in reality or my eternal progression (a concept to which I still adhere). Many of those things have to do with the very corporate-ness of the church. All the extra meetings have made me somewhat crazy over the years and so I take very literally recent counsel about having to prioritize and not feel like I have to attend every single one. For me, family really does come first, not the corporate church. I like the church’s emphasis on family–and not in word only. I am a huge fan of the original version of Elder R. Poelman’s talk circa. 1984 and there being a difference between the organizational church and the practice of the gospel in a Christ centered life. John Dehlin’s non-black or white approach to the church is how I approach things for the most part because if the church has to be all true or all false…well, let’s just say that the end result of that analysis for me does not end particularly well for the organizational church. As regards, the church’s truthfullness (or any truth claims really), all I really know is how much I do not know. I seek knowledge as the D&C instructs, whether correlated or not. Many concepts of the LDS gospel still resonate with me. Many concepts outside the LDS gospel do as well. That said, I assure you I am not merely picking and choosing a life of least resistance. In my on-going (and possibly never-ending) search for truth, paradox is my constant companion. I used to believe the LDS church had all the answers. Now, among the small handful of things I truly know, I know it does not have them all. The church has much good in it and so I stay. It is where God put me in this life and I do not as yet think He put me here just to see if I would have the wherewithal to get out. It is largely my vehicle for service. If there comes a time, however, when cafeteria mormons like myself, and like I believe John Dehlin to be, are no longer welcome in the church, I think that will be a sad day for the church, for if forced to choose facial adherence to the entire compliment of mormonness or leave, many will most likely leave. I do not think Christ would force that choice on us even though I know there is support in the scriptures for such a divisive approach. John Dehlin is good people. I sincerely hope you are meeting with him to hear him out with thoughtful consideration. He, and we (cafeteria mormons, that is), ahve good things to offer if you are willing to listen.

    Sincerely,

    A man named J

  73. Chelsea May 3, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Two years ago I began attending the temple on a weekly basis. I never intentionally miss a week in the temple unless a scheduling conflict arises, and in those situations I attend the temple twice the following week. During these two years I have found meaning and peace that resonates deeply with me, but that doesn’t align with my traditional “mormon” upbringing. This has become quite the painful paradox! The more I compare and contrast my experiences in the temple with what I have always been taught in church, the wider the gap between MY truth/testimony and Institution becomes. I agree with the notion that if you go deep enough into any religion you can find truth (Tolle). This has certainly been my experience in going to the temple—it just so happened that I can’t seem to reconcile the truth I’ve found with the truth I’ve always been told.

    In addition to my doctrinal concerns, as a mother of four young children, three of whom are girls, I am also extremely concerned with the impact the patriarchal system of our church will have on my daughters in regard to their feelings about themselves, their potential and their worth. When I mentioned recently at dinner that a bishopric member had referred to the young mens’ president as “PRESIDENT so-n-so” and the young women’s’ president as “SISTER so-n-so”, I was shocked to hear my 12 year old daughter say that “even though girls can be a president, calling someone by the title, President is just for boys” This concerns me deeply, but culturally is only the tip of the iceberg.

    As I contemplate my experience and feelings thus far I find myself feeling very alone and very sad. My entire foundation has/is unraveling and it’s not because I have sinned or been uncommitted in my faith, but because I have delved deeper INTO my faith thru weekly temple attendance. I have desperately tried to find guidance and support within the church and have been met with suspicion, resistance, and distancing. I fear being labeled an apostate, or an unbeliever, or simply someone who is “having a hard time” and so have kept many of my unresolved feelings inside only to be experiencing greater frustration, anger and resentment toward the church and many within it. Mormon Stories has been my only real source of support. It has provided me with insight into this very natural process of growth that I am experiencing and it has given me the permission to take my time in this journey, as opposed to my first inclination that said I needed to be IN or OUT. Richard Bushman’s interview was incredibly valuable as has been the discussion of James Fowlers stages of faith. I also genuinely appreciated the interview with Jennifer Finlayson-Fife and others who have found reconciliation between the no-good parts of Mormonism and the really-good parts.

    Even though I’ve never met you John, you have become a trusted mentor. You have provided a safe, objective avenue for me to think and consider my experiences without the fear of judgement or accusation. I really appreciate the work you are doing to help us all find peace and acceptance within a culture that has so much good and so much to offer. I don’t know where my journey will take me, but I certainly feel as though you have helped my journey be a bit more tolerable and for this I am grateful.

  74. ecb May 3, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    As I watch more and more LGBTQ family and friends leave the church, I find myself wondering what we could do in the church to be really accepting of others. I’m not saying the church should change its doctrine about marriage and family. I’m just saying that if a man or woman stood up in fast and testimony meeting and said, “I struggle with same-sex attraction, but through the atonement I’m living a celibate lifestyle and have faith all will be well in the next life,” I think that in most wards that person would be ostracized by many ward members, despite that individual doing exactly as leaders have counseled. In fact, I’m a heterosexual woman, and I yet I find that as a single woman in her mid-20’s, I’m often tempted to make it clear to others in the church that I’m heterosexual so that I won’t be ostracized.

    And, let’s say someone practices a homosexual or transsexual lifestyle but still wants to attend church. Sure, I understand that they couldn’t partake of the sacrament or pay tithing or hold a calling, most likely. But outside of those things, would they be welcome at all? I doubt it.

    For me, that’s a huge concern, and I’d love to hear this leader’s perspective on it. The general membership of the church has a tendency not to accept and welcome people who are different, even if those people abide by church policies.

  75. Mike May 3, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    First of all: I’m a listener to Mormon Stories from the beginning. I’m extremely grateful to John Dehlin for the work he has done to bing important issues to bear, from his “why peole leave” presentation and other examinations of issues affecting the larger LDS community, to his fascinating inquiries into church history and doctrine, to his profiles of non-traditional, non-correlated individuals who are still part ofthe Mormon experience. I was happy to see that he was able to bring Mormon Stories back after its intial hiatus, and I have been a frequent financial (and emotional) supporter.

    As for my question, it is simply this: Is there room in the LDS church for someone who believes and is focused on Christ (as opposed to Joseph Smith, modern prophets, latter-day scriptures and the like). In other words: Can someone be an active, accepted Mormon with beliefs closer to Protestant Christianity, as one can within, for example, the Community of Christ?

  76. Hermes May 3, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I was one of those who believed very firmly in the correlated version of church history, so firmly that I looked into the historical record fully confident that my faith would be vindicated. It was not. I feel like I lied to people. (There is a specific instance that stands out in my mind from my mission: some Pentecostal preachers shared the story of the First Vision with me in an attempt to call me to repentance; their version of the Vision narrative was the earliest one, which I had never heard of and denounced as false. Now I know they were right, at least as far as facts go. That makes me feel pretty foolish, not to say betrayed by my four years in seminary and 10 years’ worth of Primary and Sunday School.)

    I also believed firmly that church doctrine was a surer guide to good, moral living than anything else out there. I believed this in spite of years of shame that came from my inability to control sexual thoughts and feelings perfectly. (I never fornicated. I did not use any kind of pornography. I did not even masturbate regularly: sometimes, something would bump me too hard and I would go off, with no manual stimulation at all. My pathological fear was stimulation enough to achieve orgasm in seconds.) I believed this in spite of the ridiculous focus on Pharisaical rules and regulations in my mission, where well-meaning leaders encouraged us to make impossible numerical goals and then browbeat us as unfaithful when we failed to meet them. (Do you really think that smiling more, saying hello to more people, and getting to bed at the same early hour every night would have made hard-bitten Spanish atheists or Catholics want to join the church? Really?) As a result of my experiences in the mission and later at BYU, I came to the conclusion that we Mormons are often fakes, largely because of the leadership, which emphasizes theory over practice all the time, “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Let me explain. As a missionary, I was told to show charity to the people I interacted with every day. I was perfectly willing and ready to do this, but church leaders got in the way, pressuring me into selling salvation (which nobody wanted) instead of open-ended service. Instead of offering the people I “served” something useful to them, I spent two years getting in their way peddling something they had no real use for. (What good is charity if no one can feel it, if its only expression is two moments of a mumbled greeting while someone slams another door in your face? Isn’t service about acknowledging other people, accepting them where they are and trying to make their lives better for them, without trying to dictate narrowly what that means?) I heard a lot of pious talk on my mission: it is a pity I didn’t have the chance to back it up with much real action (beyond a few hours of non-proselyting service here and there, which always seemed like heaven). The last straw for me was waking up halfway through graduate school (after 4 relatively happy years at BYU) and realizing that church really was not making me a better person (more loving, more competent to serve myself and my community meaningfully). This realization occurred as I finally overcame the deep feelings of shame and guilt that had blighted my life (occasionally leading me to think I would be better off killing myself) since puberty. Healing this wound in my psyche required me to confront the teachings I had grown up with (Spencer Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness was something that made a deep impression on me) and reject them utterly. This seemed like such a horrible thing to me, rejecting the testimony of the prophets and the Spirit (as I thought), but then a most amazing thing happened. I felt entirely relieved. I was whole and happy as I had not been since I was a little child. It was like all the descriptions of baptism that you hear in talks, only this was real (not just words), and it came from rejecting the Lord and his anointed witnesses. This experience convinced me that the gospel as practiced by the church is not a panacea: in my case, it was more like poison. (For what it is worth, I acknowledge that some of this was my own fault; unfortunately, however, leaders did nothing to help me help myself. On the contrary, going to them almost always made my problems worse.)

    As I look back on my experience in the church, I have to say I feel a little miffed. I feel like the church is perfectly willing to take credit for everything good I do, taking a material cut from my wages and crediting my moral success to her good teaching, but that she will accept no responsibility and offer no solace for my failures, which in her mind are all my own fault for being a wretched natural man. Then there is the matter of her own shortcomings. When I make a moral mistake, I am raked over the coals (privately and sometimes publicly humiliated). When she makes a mistake (lying flagrantly about her past, for example), nothing happens (until I learn about it: then I am raked over the coals once again for snooping and prying into what shouldn’t concern me, even though I have dedicated my whole life to it). The lack of parity in our relationship really stings. The lack of a forum where I can meet with real people and talk about my experience without being vilified really stings (though John and his friends are alleviating this hurt). At this point, I am not sure whether my relationship with the church is salvageable, even though I continue to hold down a calling, do some home-teaching, and help out with the occasional service project in the community. Sunday meetings are too painful for me, since I cannot share my real feelings about much of what is said there without being obnoxious; I cannot see myself going back to them any time soon. I do watch General Conference (minus the priesthood session, which I skip to spend quality time with my wife), cringing occasionally but also appreciating the goodness in the culture that I grew up in. I will always think of myself as being Mormon (in some fashion), even if I cannot be an active LDS. I wish the church well, even if I cannot be a (very active) member. That sounds crazy, but it is really true.

  77. A doubting Thomas May 3, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Which ever leader you are, thank you, first of all, for caring enough to listen to John. I am quite certain I am only active because of his work.

    Quickly, my background: I come from a strict LDS family in Southern California. I served in every leadership position available as a young man. As a missionary, I trained and was a DL, ZL and AP. I came home and went to BYU, where I was immediately hired as a teacher at the MTC, a job I loved and did for two years, while serving in my ward’s elder’s quorum. At the end of my BA, I married in the Temple. I then did an MA–during which I started my crisis of faith. I am currently working on my PhD. I am purposely not going to be more specific than this.

    “Your situation/thoughts/feelings with regard to the church”

    I will not bother with “my story,” lets just get to the heart of it. Historical reasons are what have destroyed my testimony. However, as disturbing as church history is, the real problem for me is that the church will not simply own up to it forthrightly. We all know the church’s version of its history is false. I don’t think (or at least I hope!) that someone maliciously fabricated the current version. Yet, as documents have come forward–such as the Abraham papyri–the church rejects this “further light and knowledge” and condemns those of us who are simply facing the facts. I want to be able to say “I don’t believe in a literal sense,” and not be told I’m a sinner. Unfortunately, we all know that if I did that, I would not only be told I’m wrong, but that I’m a sinner and maybe even face church discipline. This is why all of my friends from BYU have left the church. Yes, you unfortunately read that right–MY FRIENDS FROM BYU ALL LEFT. This is not a small group. Furthermore, we all graduated less than 5 years ago. I am the only one remaining, and I’m tenuous. It was because they learned the real history, and when they did, they were chased out for simply trying to understand. It’s a real shame, seeing as they are all in masters and PhD programs at Chicago, Harvard, Cambridge, etc … imagine the talent the church just lost. So in sum, I feel the church is not willing to have the same honesty it tells its members they must have. I don’t know if I can continue with it, but I do because of family pressure, which is a terrible thing in and of itself.

    “What you feel you are needing/lacking that the church has not yet been able to provide”

    Constant support. I know it sounds cliché, but it is true. If you are not literal believing you do not have a place in the church. It is too much pain to wonder if I am going to be allowed to keep my Temple Rec when a new bishop comes in. Does he care that I have doubts, so long as I live the life style? Some will let you by, others won’t. It’s Russian Roulette, with the ability to attend your own kid’s wedding, or baptism him/her. This needs to correlated

    That is what I feel the church could realistically do soon. Clarify that a non-literal believe is okay; that as Joseph Smith claimed “we have no creeds,” so it is today. That alone, and I would be willing to stick it out in the church indefinitely, no question. I just need to see the same integrity in my leaders that they ask of me in my personal life.

    I’d like other things. I WANT to see gays be allowed to marry. I WANT to see marriages not divide families when someone doesn’t have a temple recommend. This could be done by ONE) going to the European model where a civil ceremony is performed first; or TWO) by allowing non-members/members in poor standing to just attend (they aren’t participating in the ordinance!!! And nothing sacred/secret, other than a hand clasp which could be covered with a cloth happens!! We let them attend a baptism! Why divide families on this, then?!??!). I also WANT to know where tithing goes. But I don’t need these things to stay; but I do NEED to be allowed to have my doubts and not hide them and still be a full part of the ward.

    “How Mormon Stories has helped in that journey (if it has)”

    Why do think I’ve hung in here at all? I found John’s stuff online and thought “hey, you can be know about this stuff and be Mormon!” I’m finding this ideal is ahead of our day, and that fact is starting to push me out the door … though I’m not there yet, and not sure I’m going. But Mormonstories has at least let me entertain the idea that you can be intelligent about the church and stay in. The question for me now is–am I really welcome here?

    Thanks again for your time. May God bless you, and inspire you in your role as spiritual leader.

  78. Lindsay May 3, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    I am a woman, a wife, a returned-missionary, and a graduate student. I am twenty-nine years old, and despite my full activity in the church, I have been starving spiritually for the past eight years. The stagnation of my spiritual growth began on my mission, as I was encouraged to interpret and teach the doctrines of the church from a literal point of view. I have recently asked to be released from my calling as a RS instructor as a matter of personal integrity; I cannot teach the things I do not believe in. I love teaching and I love the women of the church, so this action is something I haven’t taken lightly. I regret that there is no safe place in the church to ask questions. Elder Uchdorf claims that we are a questioning people, and I want that to be true, but in my experience questioning can only be done in secret.

    A few years ago I sought advice from my bishop about a few of my doctrinal concerns. His advice was to read the scriptures and to pray. Those are not bad things to do, but they were things I was already doing. Most of all, they weren’t answers. As I’ve studied on my own, and discovered that there are in fact official answers to some of my questions, but they are answers that do not sit well, answers I do not like, answers that I cannot make fit into my understanding of life and its purpose. I have found the insistence that there is one universal truth to be very damaging to my testimony and my sense of self worth. When I pray over doctrine or the direction of my life, I often find answers to my queries, but those answers often contradict the prescription the church has laid out. I value a lot of what my experience in the church has given me, but I find I can’t maintain self-respect if I am not true to my own understanding.

    I am grateful for Mormon Stories. I found it only five months ago, but it has made a huge difference to me to know that there are other people who don’t want to skirt most of the issues I’m working through and who are willing to share their thoughts and insights instead of glossing over the sticky issues. I appreciate that those who participate in the MS podcasts and the MS community are willing to deal in nuance instead of black and white; it has helped me see the good in my past and present experiences during moments when I have wanted to write off the church altogether.

  79. Allen May 3, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    I’m an RM, BYU-grad, temple-married life-long member of the church. About a year ago, I decided to answer some niggling questions about some aspects of the church that I had come across growing up in the church. Some examples of things that had been bothering me were the historicity of the Book of Mormon, the fact that there are several different versions of the first vision, and the translation Book of Abraham. I have tried to get answers to these questions, but I don’t feel that the explanations found in church resources really address the questions.

    This realization quickly spiraled into the darkest months of my life. I remained active in the church for the sake of keeping the peace with my wife. This involved teaching a class of youth, and every week I felt that my integrity was being wrenched from me by saying the things that were required of me to teach the class. I would come home from church every Sunday angry and depressed, from which it took several days to recover.

    One Sunday morning, I stumbled upon the Mormon Stories podcast. I started by downloading the podcast about the Fowler stages of faith and listening to it. I literally cried as I listen to it, especially the comments of Dan Wotherspoon as he talked about his faith and how it has developed over the years. The next thing I listened to was Richard Bushman, which was equally helpful. Several of the recent podcasts have also been extremely enlightening and helpful, particularly the recent interviews with with Dr. William Bradshaw and Dan Wotherspoon.

    I can easily say that John Dehlin and those participating in Mormon Stories have made my life many times easier in the six months or so since I discovered them, and he has had a significant hand in keeping me in the church.

    As for what I feel the church doesn’t provide, I think that a better framework of support should be provided for those that aren’t willing to give up their integrity and say that they *know* that things are true, when in fact they *know* that they have significant doubts about its factuality. Hugh B. Brown said: “We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts.” If Elder Brown’s words were reflected in more policies and attitudes of the church today, many people could be spared the anguish that I went through.

  80. Bill Green May 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Dear Church Leader that is to meet with John Dehlin,

    I humbly request the following:

    Be honest about Church History.
    Acknowledge the racism of past leaders.
    Stop involving the Church in for profit enterprises. The Kingdom of God is not a corporation. Apostles are not Board Directors.
    Give more freedom to local authorities, particularly with regard to finances and youth programs
    Be more transparent with all church funds, their origins and uses.
    Re-think the purpose or even the necessity of the Correlation Department.
    Involve Bishops more in convert baptisms. Make them responsible for the baptismal interview and determining their preparation for that important step.
    Steer clear of political battles.

    And finally, humbly listen to those members who would criticize you. Not all are against you. In fact, most of us love you, the church, and its people more than you may ever know.

  81. Ben R May 3, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    In the LDS Church, there is no way for a individual to provide a critique or concern about church’s doctrine or official stance. You can see the need for such feedback by looking at all the blogs and forums online. Unless an individual is willing to face church discipline, they will never bring up their concerns to the Bishop or Stake President. So in the vacuum, they keep the ‘I am a good member’ facade a church, yet express (candidly) their critique, questions and heart to the world.
    If you look at successful organizations, they routinely provide a mechanism for feedback to the leaders about issues (often anonymous). They become a living organization. A head that listens to the senses and impressions of the body, then provides instruction that is essential for the organism to thrive in the changing environment. The model the church leadership uses is more like of a master and slave. The master provides everything, and demands exact obedience to the commands given. If the slave dares to speak out, it will be punished.
    The ‘strong leadership’ model that worked in the past is causing a cancer to form in the body of the church. Many members have left, and more have had to find other ways to re-frame their faith, to remain active. Just because there is enough convert baptism to hide the number of disaffected, doesn’t mean the policy works.

    When will the ‘common consent’ the church was founded on, really mean something?

    John, thanks for all you and this organization does.

    My church profile;
    40+ years old, born and raised active in the LDS Church.
    mission, temple marriage, faithfully attend all meetings (and fulfilling my callings).
    Current status: Inactive (4 months)

    • Confused Mormon May 4, 2011 at 12:28 am

      I agree.
      Mormon Stories has provided me a place where I can get views of current and non believers. I feel enriched from listening to the podcasts. More information is always good. John, perhaps your conversation will start to crack the bleached sepulchral in Salt Lake City.
      My question is similar.
      How can the leaders of the church claim to know Gods will, when other spiritual Saints have informed and inspired revelation that differs from the Church’s position? Isn’t there room in a church based on religion to change what was ‘Gods Law’ in ages past?

  82. Michael Waltman May 3, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    When it came time to face the facts on church history, Mormon Stories was an open forum and resource for me to truly weigh the controversy in the past in the balance. Through the podcasts, reading the books authored by the people in John’s interviews, prayer and hours of pondering I was able to put to bed many of the issues regarding Joseph Smith and early church history.

    I really truly believe that Joseph was an authentic prophet called by God. The testimony of those closest to him and the journals and memoirs of those that lived by his side, suffered and endured what he went through helped me through it. What you can’t find in church manuals helped me see him in an entirely new light.

    To those who knew him rarely was he called false, more often was the complain that he was fallen. Even his accusers couldn’t deny the visions, blessings, miracles and experiences they shared with him. Were it just Joseph having the experiences by himself and him telling us to believe it, then the accusation of charlatan and fraud would have merit but that is not the case, many witnessed and shared in his visions, they wrote it down as personal treasure of how he was able to bring a little bit of heaven down to earth for them. We get to read it and to some like me it’s a spiritual feast.

    Some think John is playing devil’s advocate and driving people from Mormonism. I think he’s doing us a service. Once you leave the innocence of church correlated history rarely do people come back unharmed and stronger in the belief and convictions. But that’s my Mormon Story.

    God Bless-

  83. Brit-Exmo May 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I stopped attending church 8 years ago, I was sad and angry at the church, saw nothing positive in the church, and my goal was to de-convert my wife so we could leave together, and was constantly looking for ways to spread doubt amongst my friends and family who still attended, Mormon Stories stopped that.

    The messages and points of view that John and his guests have shared over the years, have allowed me mellow my stance, to look for the positive, and appreciate the good in the church, whilst still being able to be true to myself and the facts of the churches origins. To the point where I am now considering returning to activity (but not ‘traditional’ belief).

    If the Mormon Stories network and philosophy was less underground and more accessible to people who question, then there would be less people leaving, and the church would benefit for those people staying. I would ask the church to seek a way to officially recognize the work that John is doing, there is a discussion worth having here.

    For the record, I am married, living in the UK, in my late 30’s, a ‘member’ since age 6, youth, seminary, mission, temple marriage, various ward leadership positions.

  84. Anonymous May 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    I would still be active today, if the church leaders had only been honest about the true history of the church. I could have forgiven anything but I cannot condone the continued lying that spews forth from the leaders, combined with their shameful treatment of those who do learn the truth and leave. I am BIC, I have pioneer ancestry on both sides (and I’m related to several GAs), I married in the temple, and I held numerous leadership positions including being a bishop and in a stake presidency. The church is not loosing the “tares”, they are loosing the very richest, most golden stalks of wheat they have because of their dishonesty and blatant cover-ups regarding church history and the past doctrines that were taught. They need to start introducing the TRUTH and they also need to stop punishing and humiliating and belittling the wonderful members of the church who have such incredible integrity that they can no longer support such a dishonest organization. Why not just admit that mistakes were made, that NONE of the past prophets were perfect (and some did downright evil things), and that doctrines were taught which we no longer believe? Many members would simply respond very positively to this refreshing honesty and to knowing that Joseph Smith was NOT perfect instead of the continual holding him up as being next to Christ and making us feel like we need to attain that perfection too. The truth is coming out whether the leaders in S.L.C. like it or not. At first, the leaders hoped they could stop the leak of truth by sticking their finger in the dike by excommunicating scholars and others who had access to the archives. Then the leaders began preaching about the evils of reading and studying yourself “right out of the church” and this kept the leak to a small trickle until the internet entered every home. But, the damn has broken wide open now and the truth is flooding forth for everyone to read and hear. There is no way they are going to stop it. Either they come clean and be honest or they will continue loosing some of the most valiant, most dedicated, and most able leaders and members in the church.

    The church meetings would also become interesting and stimulating to members again (maybe some would even start enjoying staying for Gospel Doctrine class, Relief Society and Priesthood lessons). Even in my most faithful years, I had become extremely bored with the watered down lessons and even with the talks during General Conference. Just think how exciting and thought provoking a lesson on polygamy…..Adam/God theory…..man’s potential to become God….the Quorum of the Anointed……etc…..could be!!

    Also, the church is losing generations of members every time someone (like my wife and I) leave the church. All 6 of my siblings have either left too or on their way out & so are my wife’s 3 siblings. All 4 of my children have not stayed active. Nearly every time the church loses a good member, they also lose entire families and next generations with them. Combine this with the already huge problem the church is having with retaining their young adults and the church is headed for trouble and an extremely dwindling membership.

    I have loved listening to many, many episodes of Mormon Stories and I am extremely grateful for John Dehlin and for all the many, many hours he puts in to producing these. I did not find this site until after I’d gone through the agonizing years of discovering the truth and making the decision to leave the church…..but I wish I had found this place early on in my journey as I know it would have given me great comfort along the way. Now, I don’t miss listening to every new podcast as they come out. Thank you, John!!

  85. Vikingz2000 May 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    No doubt there are a lot of situations wherein the Church leaves you, which leaves you no alternative to then leave the Church.

    The LDS church can be a wonderful religio-cultural environment, so long as your situation allows you to viably remain in its ‘box’. However, once a spanner(s) is thrown into this perfect concept container, it is not likely to work any more for your mental, emotional, spiritual, and practical utilitarian well-being.

    The LDS church is not a church for all people; it’s an exclusive organization, not inclusive. It has the propensity to become all too easily entrenched in an elitist, clique oriented mindset as reflected by the leaders and general membership. And you need not be a moral deviate, an ardent iconoclast, or ‘kook’ to be ostracized, marginalized, or even maligned to experience anything with regard to disenfranchisement or withdrawal of fellowship.

    Here’s an example, which I will illustrate in point form:

    – you are raised in the church
    – you give it all you have — money, time, emotion, devotion
    – you get married in the temple “for time and all eternity.”
    – you have several children “born in the covenant”
    – your wife divorces you for absolutely no justifiable cause other than to ‘get gain’ and to ‘be free’ (this eventually becomes irrefutable, however not until a lot of times passes in order for the truth to eventually surface).
    – she campaigns behind your back to gain sympathizers and malign your reputation to justify her cause
    – you get a surprise phone call from your SP — the very fellow you work with on the high council, and tersely and in a caustic manner he spews the indictment: “There’s a charge being laid against you!”
    – you defend yourself and prevail, at least to the extent that no ‘real’ evidence can be produced by the so-called ‘offended party,’ i.e., your soon-t0-be ex-wife
    – you are unceremoniously released from your calling, and start getting wind of the “stories” that are floating around about you
    – people who were your ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ and co-workers all-0f-a-sudden don’t seem to be very comfortable with you around them.
    – eventually not only do you become civilly divorced, but as a result of your ex-wife’s sole and unilateral petition, your temple sealing to her is canceled, AND apparently to your children as well by some ‘committee’ in SLC who is so removed from your situation and has absolutely no accurate data based upon unbiased investigations for findings of facts, it makes all reason and notions of justice stand on its head.
    – this ‘committee,’ in a letter, announces that you are no longer sealed and that you can have your children in the eternities based upon the Lord’s decision and your worthiness and theirs, and… get this… to whom they (the children) choose they want to be sealed to! Hence, I better continue to go to church and endure all the suspicion and gossip and cold shoulders AND pay my tithing (naturally… don’t forget that!), so that I will have a hope of one day to be found worthy of being sealed to my children (assuming, of course, that they choose me instead of their other parent). But pray tell, how does that happen exactly? Will it be a ‘proxy sealing’ some day? And how will anyone know who to perform this sealing for and on behalf of? And… yes, and on and on it goes.
    – you speak to temple presidency members about your situation and the only thing they can say is, “I don’t know. I have no answers for you. There is nothing in our temple handbook that addresses these types of situations. I’m sorry.”
    – you are left with the sole conclusion that you went through an enormous rigmarole (for the lack of a better term) to BECOME sealed, and all it took is a ‘committee’ whose ‘decision’ was based upon second and third source accounts and spurious facts and innuendo, with no consideration of ALL parties concerned to dissolve that most sacrosanct of ordinances and reason to really be in the “one, true, living church”.
    – you eventually end up getting married again (outside any LDS temple) to the most wonderful woman in all of God’s creation, and who all of your children adore, and have a wonderful life.
    – you both lament, though, that too bad the LDS church can’t be a place you could go back to and feel comforted by its doctrines, which would most definitely have a non-judgemental, non-eletist effect on the attitudes of many of its membership.
    – its too bad that looking for another spiritual home of like-minded, friendly, viable worshippers (not necessarily carbon copy believers of your beliefs) is such a pain and difficult after years and years of LDS socialization. But hey, live and learn. Just consider all of this an entertaining pass time until you get tired of the LDS soap opera series, and do find eventually find that other spiritual home away from home.

    And this is just one pathetic story with regard no doubt many “outside the box” problematical issues.

  86. Croydon boy May 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I was born in the church.
    Served a mission.
    Taught Spanish in the MTC after my mission
    Married in the temple.
    Have had many callings.
    I was in the Bishopric when I came across the Book of Abraham issue in my studies(2006). I was stuned! In shock for 2.5 yrs.
    In looking for the answer to this question I became aquainted with all of the rest!
    Anger, betrayed, more anger with each new bit of controversial history that I was never taught
    Hanging by a thread
    No more tithing for this church unless things change!
    None of my sons will go on missions without knowing the whole truth!
    Truth trumps all else, if Jesus is at the head of this church we have no need to hide or worry or apologize, do what is right…..

  87. Tom Haws May 3, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    THE CHURCH AND I
    Seven years ago after a time of intense struggle over the weakness of my faith heritage, I had a powerful 2003 epiphany that filled me with a global testimony “too big to be contained in the LDS Church”. I walked through a door into a new world, and I never wish to go back. But a wise Rabbi friend of mine told me, “Your tribe is your tribe.” And I agreed with him.

    So I am now 44 years old, and I am still an active LDS Mormon Boy. Fortunately, I have learned that Mormonism is big enough to hold all truth including my testimony. I have also learned as Henry Eyring (the father) said, that “in this church you are not required to believe anything that is not true.” Nor am I required to say anything that is not true. I am not required to call this the only true and living church on the face of the earth. I am not required to make apology for the beheading of Laban. I am not required to elevate 3 Nephi 12 equal to Matthew 5. I am not required to profess that my choir director or the Dalai Lama is less of a prophet, seer, and revelator than President Monson is. I am not required to declare that ours is the one true priesthood and baptism and gateway to exaltation.

    WHAT IS MISSING
    But if I am to continue growing as a loving father, son, and husband, I need more than allowance. I need spiritual strength. I need it in miraculous quantities. I need the raw strength of the highest and best truths out of the best books and from the best teachers in the world! I need to be done with lesser things. I need healing. I need Covey, Arbinger, Eckhart Tolle, Joseph Campbell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emmanuel Swedenborg, the Dalai Lama. I need the Sermon on the Mount and the Tao Te Ching every week! I need the words of the Masters. And I need reassurance that I am not insane in following them in faith.

    The LDS Church does not provide that spiritual strength. Not to me. Not to anybody. Perhaps it cannot. Often it hedges up the way, and neither enters in nor allows to enter in those who would enter in. Perhaps this cannot change quickly, or cannot change at all. The LDS Church is invested in bricks and mortar and traditions and hopes and fears and expectations and personalities. That is simply reality. It sees itself as my parent. But really it is a collectively wounded child looking upward to heaven with me for healing.

    There are perhaps good reasons why the church cannot at this time give grown-up food to grown-up Saints. There are maybe good reasons why the church has to keep teaching its “children” to poison themselves with cola rather than touch green tea, to shed innocent blood rather than appear unpatriotic, and to sue each other rather than give away their wealth (Jacob 2:19). I can accept that weakness.

    MORMON STORIES
    I hadn’t known of John until years after my 2003 epiphany. I can say unreservedly that my ability to stay positive about my continued affiliation with the LDS Church improved markedly once I connected with the StayLDS.com forums and Mormon Stories. John’s work keeps me sane and able to stay connected and feel I have a future in the LDS church. Part of that support has been the delight of local socials facilitated by John’s work.

    It has been a lonely walk. It is still lonely. I still am learning to speak again. I still feel unable to bear my testimony among the Saints. But knowing that I am not alone makes all the difference. Thanks, John, for sticking your neck out and helping me find I am not alone.

  88. Gwennaëlle May 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I have been excommunicated and it has been partly your podcast or whatever you call it that you had on youtube that helped me find my way back to the gospel.
    I am using the word gospel and not “church” on purpose.
    I heard your voice and all that you said about the teachings we grow up with in the church and what we find out later when we seek for ourself about the church and how it can be faith shattering.
    Well for me no info you gave was big news but rather things that I had forgotten. I realized that it was back somewhere in my mind and that I could not remember the excuse or answers I had been given as a child to explain all those things that were disturbing.
    I was not back yet and I did not really know if I wanted to be back. As I say to people: it is easy to join the church and it is easy to leave it. Coming back is much harder. I knew what going back would mean in my life and I liked my life the way it was. No commitment so I could follow my own path and my way to obey what I knew was good for me. All the benefit without the hard part of covenant . What? Hypocrite? No, rather scared.
    Anyway listening to your voice reminding me of the things I once knew, but without the crazy excuses I was raised with as a child, was something new I had never thought I would experiment. You gave me ALL the excuses I could look for NOT to come back but it hit something I thought I did not have: a testimony.
    This was a great lesson also for me in this way that I thought a testimony could eventually be proven scientifically or historically right. And it can’t. It is the beauty of a testimony: there is no good explanation for it in this life and I fully acknowledge that it does not hold a single second in a logical discussion. I just know for myself that “inside” rather than “outside” the church (and I am using the word “church” rather than “gospel” on purpose too) is where God wants me to be.
    I love Mormon Stories because through my excommunication and my coming back I have grown to love questions rather than answers and I love unanswered questions. As I am tying those words I understand why it is so.
    When I was excommunicated I went through a spiritual experience that goes against everything I had been taught and lead to believe about God. I share it with very few people because I know how much shocking it can be for many (one way or another) and those questions (real questions not just controversy) reassure me that what I have experienced is not just because I am crazy (I can hear you laughing) but because it is true that we are far from ready to understand everything there is to know. Actually I believe that we are getting further and further from the state of understanding more but this could be only my poor little human short vision of things.

    I need Mormon Stories because it gives me this spiritual and cognitive food I am lacking when discussing with people at church. I am not saying that I agree with everything. I am just saying that this is the only open space I have found to voice what I need to say without being considered as lunatic or having people smiling and looking down at me like “I am sooooo funny and someday I’ll see the truth like they do”. Never do they try to think that maybe it is not about reaching the place they are at right now, maybe, maybe I have been where there are and this is exactly why I have been excommunicated. Mormon Stories is my breath of fresh air.

    I also love to read from people who have left the church because what they say is often very smart but I am puzzled by what they say and how much their rhetoric is just the same as what I hear IN the church and I often wonder what is the stereotype/cliche I fall in when I think I am so different from them (members or former members) and this thought humbles me.
    I wonder if this is a question without an answer or an answer I don’t want to face because of my own pride.

  89. Andrew May 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Here’s some random thoughts and feelings about my current spiritual situation:

    I love the Plan of Salvation and want it to be true, but I am finding it harder and harder to believe because of the personalities of some leaders past and present who proclaim it to be true.

    I am a music major and am deeply involved in art, and I am finding it harder and harder to accept aesthetic-philosophical values that are in accordance with Mormon values. I find more artistic inspiration by reading Albert Camus, Nietzsche, or Hermann Hesse, or even Carl Jung, than by reading the scriptures. I feel this to be my biggest hardship, is embracing literature and philosophy that is most likely unapproved of by the church.

    I’m finding it harder and harder to accept the things that are often called little things, such as the church’s involvement in proposition 8, even down to making the girls only wear one ear piercing. I’ve heard it argued that these are small things, but the problem I have with that is that because of that, the church pretty much has a say in every aspect of a person’s life. Paying tithing, no sexual relations outside of marriage, etc. are all big things, and so because of that, the church has involvement with both the big things and the little things, from sexual activity to political conscience to how many earrings one should wear, and beyond. I’m afraid that the space for personal expression and style is slowly being enclosed, especially in terms of influencing the people to vote.

    I got back from my mission in January of this year, and I loved my mission and (most of) the missionaries that became acquainted with. However, I had to deal with some missionaries with leadership positions. Many came off as power hungry and willing to influence every aspect of a missionary’s work. I feel that this serves a microcosm of the whole church, with many in leadership positions not living the leadership guidelines in section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants. To be sure, I have known many church leaders who were great to me, and perfect examples to me. But I’m finding it hard to believe that every position is inspired.

  90. Andrew May 3, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I forgot to mention my involvement with Mormon Stories. My girlfriend introduced me to this site after my mission, and although some of the podcasts, I may not personally agree with, I find it a great resource to involve myself with other people who have questions or concerns with their spiritual life.

  91. Forzzle May 3, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I learned about the Church is grad school getting a PhD at an Ivy League school. Within three weeks of first contact with the Church, I was doing my “lit review” by reading the scriptures, reading every history book I could, listening to Mormon Stories, and reading “Blogosphere” blogs.

    I love the Church! I’m a professor at BYU. I’m in the EQP in my ward. I direct Mormon History Tours in the US now. Everything is great.

    Mormon Stories was really great because it provided a great “Cliff’s Notes” version of things that I hadn’t read yet. I find the discussions with people who are upset about their former ignorance really instructive about how we should go about teaching people and helping them define their testimony and epistemology.

    I vastly prefer the historically focused Mormon Stories episodes that are interviews with topical experts. I don’t think there’s any reasonable way to say that they are critical of the Church, because the truth cannot be. If you have a real testimony, then learning what really happened should strengthen it, in my opinion. “The Truth will cut its own way.”

    I don’t really get a lot from the other ones where people commiserate about their dislike of things in church. Nevertheless, I assume that it is great for those people, or people like, to know that everyone is struggling in similar ways. I don’t think anyone has perfect knowledge yet, so we all struggle in various ways. The Sunday meetings are really optimized for a certain kind of struggling. I think the Mormon Stories community demonstrates that other kinds of struggling are going on.

    I wouldn’t say that MS provides something the Church doesn’t, because I don’t think that the point of the Church is to teach these intriguing historical in depth. Even so, I’ve had many discussions with Institute teachers about some of this stuff and in that sense, the Church is doing just fine there.

  92. Nama May 3, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Nearly three years ago, my husband & I were married in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple. Just over one year later, my husband decided to leave the church. He had struggled with doubts for so long and simply no longer believed. And while I have stayed an active member of the church since then, it was been one of the hardest experiences of my life.

    When a ward family or community member is suffering and going through challenging times, the rest of the family is taught to gather around to provide support, but, unfortunately, this has not been my experience. The problem I have found with ward units within the church are their exclusivity. My husband left, and, immediately, I was ignored and eventually alienated by my ward members. I was not one of them, and, therefore, not worthy of their support. I did not fit in anymore, I was different, and I did not fit into the mold of what a “good” and “worthy” Mormon should be. It felt as though I was being shunned simply because of my husband’s decision.

    Because of the stress of having to practically dealing with all of this on my own, my spirituality suffered greatly. I had almost zero support, and because my beliefs about the church were already approaching unorthodoxy, I began to explore that even more. I questioned aspects of the church I never had, and even though I still believed in the core principles of the gospel, I felt myself moving further and further away from the church’s hard orthodoxy that I simply could not believe any more. My husband, still feeling interested in being “a part” of Mormonism, found Mormon Stories and introduced me. The amount of support I have found here has been tremendous and life altering. I’m not the only one. I’m not a “bad” Mormon. And my husband isn’t a bad person. I knew all of this, but had yet to receive that validation from other members of the church. How wonderful that is to finally receive! To finally feel part of a community once again! It was both refreshing and long overdue.

    If I can offer my advice on what the church needs, it is more love, acceptance, and tolerance. While these principles are taught in church, my experiences have taught me that for most members of the church, these principles are not fully followed when it comes to dealing with others who are not like themselves. The church has put itself into a bubble, one that cannot easily be penetrating from the outside, but one that you can easily be pushed out of. The members of the church need to be taught that living in a world that blind and exclusive causes harm to those who are not “privileged” to live within the bubble. We are shunned, judged, and ultimately cast aside like waste because we are not like them, and that is a devastating fact, one that easily pushes people away, further and further from the church. While I have never experienced a huge crisis of faith, I have had a major crisis of faith in the church itself. Where was that ward family everybody bears testimony of when I needed it the most?

    Mormon Stories and its community has become that family for me that I so desperately needed, and one where my husband could reside in, as well, and not be shunned. It’s a community that accepts you no matter what your experiences in the church are or where they have brought you, and that’s something everyone deserves. While my beliefs have been altered by my experiences beyond repair, I still believe and remain active, and I have the Mormon Stories community to thank for that, not the church organization. I have had my testimony both strengthened and validated over and over again while both listening to and discussing gospel topics on Mormon Stories.

    Lastly, I’ll say that I do love this church and it’s principles. I believe in the transformative power in its teachings, and while I admit that a lot of bitterness has been left in my heart from my continued experiences being an outsider, I still believe that the church is a good place to be, and that’s why I remain.

  93. Phil May 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    I’ve been a closet atheist for 4 years. No one knows of my atheism. I currently still tithe and attend to keep my marriage and family together. But my primary focus is to REMOVE ALL my family from the Church as it currently stands.

    What drove me to atheism are the doctrines of the church. They don’t make sense. The prophets and leaders don’t have answers. Things like the flood, Noah, the Tower of Babel, and how the Jaredites require those things for the BoM to be true. And they must be true within a very modern history of Man. The Book of Mormon is vastly inconsistent with what is known and provable about the Americas. It can’t be true.

    Then I discovered the real history of the Church is well. Joseph Smith was an occultist. He developed the Book of Mormon through occult means from common topics and issues of his day.

    The LDS church has lied about things the leadership is well aware of.

    If the Church came clean on all of these issues, there would be a way forward within the Church. As it is, the only way forward is out of the Church.

  94. Brian K. May 3, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    I hear so many horror stories of those who have struggled with their faith in the church. Having doubts and questions can be extremely difficult in the church, since it often feels like you are alone, and looked down on. For example I had struggles with various issues, but whenever I would attempt to find answers and help from others I felt judged. I was on a search for truth, as I still am. Mormon Stories was a type of support system for me in a time that was extremely difficult. I absolutely love the church with all of my heart, but I was not able to find help, although I was looking for it within the church. I am sure that if it weren’t for Mormon Stories, I would have had to leave the church, thinking it was the only ethical thing to do. I do not think this, and I am currently very comfortable in the church as a believer. I still have various questions, but because of the information that I have learned throughout the years, I feel that I am a much better person, as well as a much greater instrument in following our Heavenly Father. My only suggestion for the church leaders is to speak more about love, tolerance, and acceptance. I do not think it needs to change any of its doctrinal stances. I just think we as a church need to work harder, and better, to take care of all who are struggling, even if their beliefs are different than ours. There should be better systems of support for those who are struggling with their faith within the church.

  95. Kristofer Harrison May 3, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I can’t say that I have a lot of titles, accomplishments and merits to my time as a member of the church. I have tried my best to do what I was supposed to do, (magnify callings, read my scriptures, meaningful prayer, temple attendance, etc) however I still found it difficult to find comfort in the words of the prophets, and have always had a hard time trusting the feeling that most people describe as the spirit. In my efforts to strive to be a believing member in the church I found some contentment, married in the temple and attempted to find happiness in the ways promised to provide it.

    It hasn’t worked, and my marriage is paying for it. I wonder if more can be done to encourage spouses who are married to someone who is experiencing a crisis of faith, or chooses to leave the church. I am definitely not the first person to have a spouse who based the value of our marriage on the level of faith the other spouse has. Somehow it has become a general notion in the membership that loss of faith means leave your spouse. I would appreciate a clearer stance on this. I know President Monson recently encouraged people to ‘work it out’. I was grateful to hear that, but it’s a small suggestion in a world where marriages are falling apart. I would love some clarity given to members that its not appropriate to divorce leave if one spouse looses faith.

    I feel this notion of all or nothing also causes some of the bad seeds to grow and destroy what is left of the testimony of the struggling spouse. I had to learn this lesson, recognize it in my marriage and had to stop being a dissenter. I also had to realize that she feels she can’t love me as much as she loves her religion.

    I still love my wife and I am completely devoted to her. I don’t ask her to shirk her faith or devotion to the church or God. I support her fully, and I believe I am holding up my end of the bargain. However I would love for there to be room for US in our marriage, as opposed to me being the third wheel. I didn’t mean for this to turn into a sob story, but I needed to paint a picture of what it’s like for thousands of couples in the church. The problem will continue to grow before it gets better.

    Kris

    • Kristofer Harrison May 5, 2011 at 11:47 am

      I needed to add to my original post that Mormon Stories has been an invaluable resource and community to me. It has helped me realize that I’m not alone in my struggles, and that people who struggle don’t always leave. I want to be here, and I want to be a part of this religion, but recently more and more I feel very betrayed by the leaders and testimony bearers whom I had to put faith in. Mormon Stories has definitely provided an way back to the iron rod for me.

  96. AlisonL May 3, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I am a life long mormon many generations back on both sides of my family. When I was very young my dad was even a bishop. I always tried to be the perfect kid, I went to church every week, didn’t drink or do drugs and always dressesed modestly. Yet some how I just didn’t fit in. It just never felt righ. My parents divorced when I was in my teens, and it came out that my dad was gay. He seemed to be fine hiding who he really was so I never questioned how the church treated homosexuals. Then came Prop 8. I began to really think about my dad and my family situation. He spent his life trying to be someone he was not and it destroyed our family (though we never really had a chance to begin with) I got very angry that a church that claims that family is the most important thing would want to destroy any more familys. For a while I went to church and tried desperatly to feel the spirit, to relate to what was being taught, but every week I was frustrated by pat answers the and that I couldn’t speak my mind even to ask a question. When the time came to baptize my daughter I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. At 33 I was no longer sure the church was true so how could I let my 8 year old join. That was a year ago. In that time we’ve been visited twice by our bishop, but aside from running into people at the store no one has tried to reach out to us. In the middle of all this I found mormon sories, for the first time in a very long time I didn’t feel alone. I have found the support and love that was lacking in my ward. I no longer go to church and have since found many troubling things about church history. I don’t think I will ever go back but am happy to have a community who understands me and supports me no matter what I believe.

  97. Ascending the Mountain May 3, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    From Mormon Stories I’ve learned and realized that I’m free to search for Truth, no matter where it comes from. I’m free to ask the hard questions. I’m free to look outside correlated church sources for answers.

    I’m free to hold onto and cherish the things that I love about the gospel:
    – I love The Book of Mormon
    – I love My Family and our eternal perspective
    – I love my pioneer heritage
    – I love Biblical Based Temple Symbolism
    – I love our LDS Hymns
    – I love the support I receive from my LDS brothers and sisters
    – I love having opportunities to serve in the church

    I’m also free to NOT believe in all the B. S.
    – The Church’s past racists policies (I have black ancestors and I do not believe that they were cursed).
    – Polygamy (I completely reject D&C 130-132. Whatever happened to, “by the mouth of 2 or 3 witness shall every word be established?” The Bible is not a witness to polygamy. Polygamy is never COMMANDED in the Bible and never a requirement for entry into God’s presence.)
    – Hate, inequality, and exclusion of people who are different (as a child in the 80s, I was taught by my bishop that all homosexuals should be isolated and killed by the atomic bomb).
    – Inequality of women
    – That the Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly (how can the church be so blind to all the vast and good Biblical scholarship that is happening?).
    – JST & Pearl of Great Price
    – 14 Fundaments of Following the Prophet
    – An impossible and destructive way of Salvation “There is one crucial test of repentance. This is abandonment of the sin. Desire is not sufficient. In other words, it is not real repentance until one has abandoned the error of his ways and started on a new path… the saving power does not extend to him who merely wants to change his life. Trying is not sufficient (p. 163).” Additionally, “Even though forgiveness is so abundantly promised, there is no promise nor indication of forgiveness to any soul who does not totally repent. . . . We can hardly be too forceful in reminding people that they cannot sin and be forgiven and then sin again and again and expect forgiveness (Miracle of Forgivenessp. 353 & 360) & D&C 82:7.”

    To quote Thomas Monson from April’s Conference: “If you do so prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The Church is true.”

    This type of circular reasoning is false. Any Mormon offshoot can claim the same reasoning. Instead, if the Book of Mormon is true and contains “The Fulness of the Gospel”, then everything afterwards should be tested against it.

    Before Mormon Stories, life was dark. The church did not work for me. The 3 hour block was 3 hours of wrestling with my young children mingled with hymns sung at half tempo and an over simplified curriculum. I was spiritually malnourished. Mormon Stories taught me to look outside of Correlation. I looked outside of Mormonism. I found nourishment. I found Living Water. I’m no longer starved. (https://www.disciplemakingintl.org/secretchurch/)

  98. Jakob Kurtz May 3, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    To John Dehlin’s Stake President:
    Jakob Kurtz is an alias. I was raised in the Church, served a mission, and continue active in the Church to this day. My service in the Church has included leadership callings, missionary work, and young men/Scouting. I have felt the influence of the Holy Spirit in my life very intensely throughout my life. In my early thirties, I became aware of problems in our history, and of the cover-up the institutional church has engaged in. The biggest problem with cover-up is once you start, you must continue doing it. This is precisely what the Church has done. Incredibly, the Church continues to do this well into the Information Age.

    For several years, I was very isolated and alone with my newfound knowledge. I was not going to un-ring that bell. I needed some fellowship with people who understood where I was at. Thank God we have the Internet, and we can find that special kind of fellowship that our wards and stakes are ill-prepared to provide. In this community, I have found supplemental fellowship with persons like myself who are informed of the issues buried beneath the surface of Mormonism. I remain active and committed within the Church. I have been able to maintain my activity in the Church due to having a safe place to go and to receive validation, strength, and encouragement from people who are, like me, in the know. I am proud to be LDS. I make no apology, nor explanation for the past, and with the encouragement I have received, I look optimistically toward the future as an active, contributing member of the Church.

    I don’t know John Dehlin, except by his participation on the Internet. I have frequented Mormon Stories and the blogs. I have viewed his Mormon Stories podcasts, and I have read his contributions to discussion threads. I can tell you that John is not anti-Mormon, nor is he anti-Christ. His approach has constantly been to be of help to persons who are struggling with a very real, and very painful faith crisis. These sites – such as Mormon Stories – are “safe places” for us to go and be with each other, and not worry about “harming” the good (albeit uninformed) people we attend church with. Some noteable Mormon Stories podcasts that I was strengthened by were the interviews with Edward L. Kimball, Ann Wilde, Richard L. Bushman, and Carol Lynn Pearson. Some of these persons are in the Church, and some are out of it, but each contributed something special to my resolve to keep on , keeping on (or as Gordon B. Hinckley would say, “Carry on!”).

    John’s voluminous work at Mormon Stories and elsewhere should be praised for its virtue and power for good, and not become the basis for ecclesiastical indictment, and loss to his reputation within the LDS community he resides in. As a stake president, you have been entrusted with the power to judge, and you will bear an accounting in time, and in eternity, for how you used that. Inasmuch as the Savior made the atonement to heal the family Adam, please be mindful to use your stewardship in a manner consistent with the overarching aim of the Son of God: To heal; to restore; to lift up; to renew. Should you do so, you will clearly see that both you and John will be unwittingly acting in concert with that sacred mission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to bind up the broken-hearts, and to publish peace. Peace.

  99. Mike May 3, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I didn’t have time to read all the comments, but it would be nice if they could relax their hard line approach to those in the middle way and let us exist and worship/socialize as we may within the mainstream context of the Church. Remind him that many of us are still tithe payers. We would like to be able to take a metaphorical approach to some or all of the Dogma. Help him understand that it’s possible to realize spiritual benefit and benifit others at Church while taking this approach, but not if they call us out in General Conference as heretics. Not helpful.

  100. aimeeheff May 3, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Mormon Stories is the safe place for us “rainbow/living-in-the-grey” members that can’t get comfortable in the black and white rules and cultural expectations of Mormonism.
    I don’t want the anti stuff but I can’t do the sugar-coated either. I want to stay in this church! I do. I do. I think?
    Where am I supposed to go then? What am I supposed to do when I feel like there isn’t a place for me in the black and white?
    Enter: Mormon Stories.
    A safe place that allows for the diversity of membership, thought and discussion without being overly negative or angry.
    The happy balance if you will. :)

  101. Saganist May 3, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    There is little room in the LDS church for someone who is not a literal believer but still wants to be part of the community. That’s my main concern. Those voices are not going away, and Mormon Stories provides a place for people of all viewpoints to be heard.

    The constant rhetoric about keeping the commandments and following the prophet has led to a church that is much more Aaronic than Melchizedek, much more Old Testament than New. Jesus had much to condemn about the Pharisees when they lived their religion in this way. I think the church has much to offer its members and the world, but if they continue to beat this drum so loudly, their sphere of influence will only become smaller. The world is ready for someone to lead the way forward into a promising future of understanding and cooperation. Unfortunately I feel the church is so inward-facing and so concerned with minutiae that they are making themselves irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. Change is inevitable, and the only question is how the church will adapt.

  102. Vicki May 3, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    I found Mormon Stories from a friend that was helping me thru my faith crisis. I am grateful to have a community where I can talk with others who understand where I am coming from. Until I found this community I truly felt all alone. One of the biggest problem for me during this period of time in my life is that the church does not want to talk about anything. I was preparing a relief society lesson that was on the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and in the lesson from the Preach my Gospel book it clearly stated that the The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith were the Keystone of our religion and that if they were false the whole religion crumbled. I decided I wanted a strong testimony of both the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith so I studied and I studied and the findings that I found was church history that rocked my world and not a soul to talk with about my discovery because every one would stop my conversation when I brought it up. All my information came from church sources, it just took a lot of digging to find. Why does the church try to whitewash the history. I think it is time for them to be honest and practice what they preach. Why should I feel like an outcast and not wanted when all I was truly trying to do was know my religion better.

    The crazy idea that people only leave the church because they have been offended or want to sin is ludicrous. If I ever decide to leave the church it will be because I can’t continue in a religion that is dishonest with it’s members and discourages individuals from wanting to study and know their religion better.

    One other thought is if we are truly a family oriented religion why do we exclude family members from being able to attend the weddings of their children, or siblings, etc. It seems like this practice divides families rather than bringing them together. I respect their right to have a temple sealing but do not understand why they can’t have a civil wedding first and then solemnize it immediately after in the temple without any penalty. (This is already being done in other countries) This would solve so many hurt feelings and family problems.

    Keep up the great work John. I hope the meeting actually takes place. You are truly awesome in all your efforts and making a difference out there. Thank you!!!!!

  103. William May 3, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    I was born in the covenant from a family that has been in the Church for generations. I have served a mission and was married in the temple.

    I can honestly say that my problems with the Church have nothing to do with any unresolved sins or desire to sin. My problems started from questions that I have had growing up. How does the Church explain evolution of not only nature but man as seen through fossil records? Where is the evidence for the Book of Mormon peoples? Why would the entire body of Egyptologists say that the facsimiles in the Book of Abraham have nothing to do with how they have been revealed through Joseph Smith. These questions are ones that I have had since junior high and that I have never felt were resolved.

    Recently, having studied organizational ethics, organizational systems, and civilizations’ histories at the university level, I realized that I could not could no longer exclude the Church from my examinations. My search began with statements by church leaders that encouraged a blind obedience approach to Church membership. Leaders echo the thoughts that I now know resonate from the 14 Fundamentals given by Elder Benson. Since I have had this eye opening, I have tried to find out what the historical truths of the religion are. In my literature review of these issues, I have read books and papers that present opinions on both sides. For me, the positions that state what happened without trying to mentally juggle explanations make more sense and are more reasonable. I was prepare to leave the church until I found out what I truly believed.

    It was during this ‘literature review” that I found the Mormon Stories Podcast and a few online forums where there were members out there like me who have their doubts and want more church transparency. The story from these forums is the same: the doubter feels alone and isolated from those in the religion- even including family members and spouses. I have decided against leaving the church as I feel that there are good truths taught and as Richard Bushman taught, why would I leave something that has been good in my life?

    I told my wife last night that I really feel like I have had a born again experience. By questioning some of the Church’s teachings, I have come to realize that I do believe in God and cannot deny the inspiration that I have felt. I do not deny my Savior. I know that the Book of Mormon and Bible have eternal truths that were inspired by God, whether or not they are largely works of man. It is for this reason that I stay in the church. My religious experience has changed from one being focused on modern prophets and correlated Church programs to one that now realizes the true importance of Christ’s teachings and helping all of mankind, regardless of race, gender, income, or sexuality. My desire now is to lift all of those around me. I cannot deny anyone the rights and privileges that I hold dear and that are crucial to the US constitution.

    Mormon Stories has been a shining light into the cold and dreary world that is being a questioning member of the Church. As many of these comments have stated, I feel that the Church needs to accept it’s past, be transparent about it, and welcome those who are merely trying to help one another on the eternal progression. Making us feel like second-class human beings because we don’t fit into the box (and are obviously sinning) is no way to help the Church grow and strengthen.

  104. Heath May 3, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    There definitely needs to be a solution that will help families to not break up. People leaving the church will find like minded friends to interact with. But what I can’t find is a new family. Just this sunday I met with my bishop and told him I no longer believe what the church claims. I resigned as a leader in the young mens. I felt I could not continue to teach the lessons or pretend to be something I’m not.

    My parents don’t know yet. My dad is very orthodox. They told my brother he was going to hell for not serving a mission. So I’ve been trying to not imagine how they will react when they find out about me. I wish the church would start teaching it’s members to have Christlike love for those who leave the church. Which means don’t treat them like second class citizens. That way people like me might stick around for awhile.

    My wife still believes and she would like to raise our children in the church. I feel there is a lot of good taught in the church. But personally I can’t get over some doctrinal and historical issues. I know how members talk about those who doubt. Just last sunday in class the teacher used her own sister as an example of someone who had lost their faith. The whole discussion was very negative towards her sister. Nothing in this discussion felt christlike to me. Of course I have doubts so how should it make me feel?

    But wouldn’t the church want me to still come even though I no longer believe? They have a better chance of keeping my 8 children and wife in the church if I felt more welcome within the lds community. I just want to teach my children the truth. If they know the truth and they are able to gain a testimony of the gospel and want to serve a mission or get married in the temple then I will support them in that.

    But speaking of missions… young men need to feel like they have a choice. There is too much pressure brought on by parents and leaders for young men to serve missions. I cringe when our bishops have come up to my sons and have said, “Now you are going on a mission right?” I don’t think that is appropriate. Why can’t it be that you just teach the gospel to the young men and they show all the great things that can come from serving a mission and leave it at that. I served in Germany and I had a firm testimony. Yet throughout my mission I would often wonder if I would have come if I didn’t feel the pressure from my parents and church leaders. I envied the missionaries on my mission who were converts and had no pressure to go. They knew that they were there because they wanted to be there. And that is how it should be. I’ve seen several parent/child relationships hurt just over this issue alone.

    I believe there is a lot of good that comes from being mormon. However, do the church leaders recognize the hurt that the church has also caused it’s members because of such pressures? Sure the church might lose some members and some missionaries if they softened their stance and became more accepting and tolerant of those who doubt. But I think it is the best option for the church.

    I’m not talking about acknowledging racism in the church. Or denouncing polygamy. Or any of the other tough issues the church faces. I’m talking about not condemning those like me who gave 30+ years of their life to the church and then for some reason or other found they needed to go down a different path.

    There is no reason my wife and I shouldn’t continue to be happily married and raise our children within the LDS community accept for the fact that socially members like me get pushed away. We get looked down on as sinners when all I’ve done is searched for truth. In some cases the believing spouse eventually has to decide between their spouse and the church. If the church wants any chance of me ever coming back, or at least not losing my wife and children then they need to figure out away to make those who doubt still feel like they can belong within the LDS community.

  105. Anonlds May 3, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I was born in the church. My family on both sides goes back to the founding of the church. I was raised in a strong LDS family and have always had good LDS friends. I graduated from seminary, earned my Eagle, served a faithful mission, and married in the temple as a virgin. I am as Mormon as you could possibly be. I attend the church every week and have a calling. I love the church and the people in it.

    Over time my relationship with the church has evolved. I believe my testimony is as strong as it has ever been, but it also more complex and nuanced than it has ever been. There hasn’t been any single incident that has resulted in the change in my testimony. On my mission there were some missionary leaders who were truly cruel to me. This led me to have a much more nuanced view of whether callings are inspired. I now believe that leaders try to fit people into callings that work, but often they fail. They fail because the people they call have free agency and because leaders are fallible, but also because the church doesn’t train its leaders very well how to get to know those in their part of the vineyard to match them with callings that they will find meaningful. When callings don’t work out, the member is made to feel guilty. Another example of how my testimony has changed is keeping the Sabbath day holy. Never in my life have I worked harder on Sunday than on my mission. That has altered what I view as acceptable to do on the Sabbath, which doesn’t always agree with what is accepted culturally outside of the mission. There are countless more example I could cite.

    Over time these nuanced views have grown. Now I sit in Priesthood and listen to how we shouldn’t be offended over something trivial like a bit of cream and I no longer feel part of the community. I don’t believe people leave the church over being offended. I think they leave the church because it stops meeting their spiritual needs, despite Elder Oaks talk calling people who don’t feel the church meets their needs selfish. I believe the cream story is not true and has been perpetuated by well meaning people who never learned the true story regarding his concern about the burning and looting of Gallatin. For people to feel a part of a community they need to feel they share an identity with them. To a large degree I no longer feel this at a ward level. I don’t feel I have influence and don’t feel free to share these types of opinions (facts) with other church members. I think that is sad. People should be able to have an accurate view of history and still be considered a worthy and valuable member.

    My personal study has had a focus of how I can get back to feeling part of the church. That journey has been very educational and I think I understand to a large degree the different factors causing me to feel this way. At the same time I have both an analytical detached view of the situation and a sense of loneliness, perhaps loss is a better word. I am not perfect and part of my estrangement is surely from some personal weakness. Part is from my personality which tends to be on the introverted side, but feel I should be accepted for who I am. Part is from the churches policies, like correlation and centralizing power to be only at the highest possible levels of the church (we can’t even choose who pray’s at our kids baptism for Pete’s sake). Part is from a changing emphasis of certain church doctrines, like abandoning free agency and replacing it with moral agency. Part is from societal changes where we have gone from an agrarian economy with a great deal of community interdependence to a societal structure that is much more private making it difficult to find meaningful ways to serve each other (LDS aren’t the only ones with community issues, I would bet Kiwanis clubs are also having trouble keeping people engaged).

    So taken all together, I don’t really “blame” anyone. It is what it is. I love the people in my ward. I don’t fault them for not being friends with me or my family and I no longer fault myself for not being someone they like or relate to. That doesn’t change the fact that I don’t relate to them and don’t feel part of their community. I am glad they do feel part of the community. In fact, I am envious of them. Despite all my research and thought on the subject, I don’t really have any solution to solving my dilemma. Over time I find myself increasingly disagreeing with church leaders and don’t participate in church activities because it is just a reminder of how much I don’t belong. This in turn makes people in the church feel I must be in sin or must have been offended and either makes them shun me thereby making me feel like less a part or they make a special effort to invite me, which ironically is also a reminder of how much I am not one of them.

    There are a number of things that have given me comfort. The internet has been great in a number of ways. There are websites where people are free to discuss opinions. It is nice to see that other people have issues with the “obedience is the first law of heaven” mentality that seems to have taken over the church. I think you can be obedient and have honest disagreements over interpretation of scriptures, even with church leaders. I have found some articles and really old general conference talks that have been of great help. Richard Poll’s talk on Iron Rod and Liahona members has been a godsend. Seeing Packer’s talk to the correlating committee and seeing people feeling free to disagree with it has been great. Being referred to David O’ McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism and reading it has helped me understand that in the past the church has been much more accepting of members not believing every single thing or at least not with the same interpretation. Podcasts like Mormon Stories has been a part of knowing there are others in the same boat, if further removed from the church than I am. Basically the internet has become a replacement for my ward community. It isn’t perfect.

    Politically I am very conservative and the part of the internet I frequent tends to be very liberal. So even there, I am like a man without a home. But it helps to have a place where I feel some freedom to be who I am and express what I believe even if others don’t agree and don’t believe I am a sinner for not agreeing. I wish there was that ability at church, where I mostly do all the check boxes, but don’t really ever engage anymore. I role play through the home teaching visits and sit through Sunday school and priesthood without contributing and without getting much out of it. Instead I sit amazed at things like how no one understands that there wasn’t corn in Israel during Christ’s ministry as that was pre-Columbus and corn is from the Americas (don’t dare read a non King James version where you might learn that though!). Correlation has made everything bland and boring.

    I prefer a religion that is engaging, meaningful, competent, and relevant to my life, and don’t believe my church is that anymore,at least for me personally, even if it continues to be for the rest of my family. Most of my participation is done out of duty and has been for several years now. Duty alone doesn’t provide much meaning. Occasionally I can find a way to serve in a meaningful way, but not often enough. Thanks for listening.

  106. RH May 3, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I was raised in the church, served a mission, attended BYU, and married in the temple. I have always had a temple recommend, and am a local leader in the church. I have been interested in the types of issues that John discusses on MS for a long time. I have been involved in the bloggernacle for some time now. I consider myself pretty familiar with many of the issues that many people find troubling when they stumble onto them via the internet, books, or similar media. Even with a fairly high level of awareness regarding controversial issues in the church, I have benefited immensely from listening to John’s MS podcasts. They have opened dialogue between my wife and I on many issues that could have been difficult for us to talk about, and we feel that these discussions have helped us to become closer to one another and to God. The podcasts have helped me to contextualize many of the issues that I had studied. The discussions on MS have helped me to stay active and committed to the church, and have strengthened my faith in the gospel. I believe there is an incredible richness in hearing about these issues from those who were involved.

    The work that John and others have put into the podcasts have helped me in my capacity as a leader, in that I hope I am able to be more aware of the type of suffering that lies beneath the surface; the kind that people are afraid to divulge. MS podcasts have helped me to avoid many of the types of mistakes that well intentioned leaders make, by creating an awareness of perspectives I had not previously considered. My testimony has deepened, grown more mature, and become nuanced in ways that I believe make it stronger. I have become more patient, more loving, more tolerant, and I hope, more like Christ, as I have listened to the people in the podcasts tell their stories. I wish that all leaders of the church would listen to MS.

    I have many friends who are struggling with how to remain faithful and committed to the church, and I want you to know that they are good people, the kind you would love to have in your ward. But they are struggling because what that they have learned at church has not provided them with a strong foundation of real faith. I agree with what was stated earlier- I fear that disciplinary actions toward John will send a message to many good people that they are not wanted in this church. That message would break my heart. I fear that a message like that would send many of my dear friends over the edge. In the off chance that this meeting is with someone high enough to effect change in the church, I would plead with you to listen to the feedback that comes to you from the forums, blogs, and discussion groups. There seems to be an ever widening gap between what is happening at the local level, and what I am hearing from the top. I suspect that is just one of the limitations of a large bureaucracy, but I hope that feedback via safe, anonymous avenues like those found on the internet can help with that. Thank you for your dedicated service in the church, and thank you John. God Bless,
    RH

  107. Derek May 3, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I find myself in a place in which I don’t feel that the literal and conventional promises of the Church don’t seem to be fulfilled in my life. The hierarchy of the Church and the culture it creates doesn’t seem to have a place for those like me whose experience doesn’t seem to support the expectations of spiritual revelation, witnesses, or manifestations. I want to believe, I want it to be true, but have a hard time reconciling my experience with that laid out by the Church. For some time I’ve grappled with the issue, and considered (and continue to consider) leaving the Church to explore other spiritual paths to which I might be more receptive. Resources such as Mormon Stories has helped me to explore a new paradigm which might ultimately allow me to maintain a relationship with the Church despite my personal experience and its conflict with established expectations.

  108. Anonymous May 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    No doubt there are a lot of situations wherein the Church leaves you, which leaves you no alternative to then leave the Church.

    The LDS church can be a wonderful religio-cultural environment, so long as your situation allows you to viably remain in its ‘box’. However, once a spanner(s) is thrown into this perfect concept container, it is not likely to work any more for your mental, emotional, spiritual, and practical utilitarian well-being.

    The LDS church is not a church for all people; it’s an exclusive organization, not inclusive. It has the propensity to become all too easily entrenched in an elitist, clique oriented mindset as reflected by the leaders and general membership. And you need not be a moral deviate, an ardent iconoclast, or ‘kook’ to be ostracized, marginalized, or even maligned to experience anything with regard to disenfranchisement or withdrawal of fellowship.

    Here’s an example, which I will illustrate in point form:

    – you are raised in the church
    – you give it all you have — money, time, emotion, devotion
    – you get married in the temple “for time and all eternity.”
    – you have several children “born in the covenant”
    – your wife divorces you for absolutely no justifiable cause other than to ‘get gain’ and to ‘be free’ (this eventually becomes irrefutable, however not until a lot of times passes in order for the truth to eventually surface).
    – she campaigns behind your back to gain sympathizers and malign your reputation to justify her cause
    – you get a surprise phone call from your SP — the very fellow you work with on the high council, and tersely and in a caustic manner he spews the indictment: “There’s a charge being laid against you!”
    – you defend yourself and prevail, at least to the extent that no ‘real’ evidence can be produced by the so-called ‘offended party,’ i.e., your soon-t0-be ex-wife
    – you are unceremoniously released from your calling, and start getting wind of the “stories” that are floating around about you
    – people who were your ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ and co-workers all-0f-a-sudden don’t seem to be very comfortable with you around them.
    – eventually not only do you become civilly divorced, but as a result of your ex-wife’s sole and unilateral petition, your temple sealing to her is canceled, AND apparently to your children as well by some ‘committee’ in SLC who is so removed from your situation and has absolutely no accurate data based upon unbiased investigations for findings of facts, it makes all reason and notions of justice stand on its head.
    – this ‘committee,’ in a letter, announces that you are no longer sealed and that you can have your children in the eternities based upon the Lord’s decision and your worthiness and theirs, and… get this… to whom they (the children) choose they want to be sealed to! Hence, I better continue to go to church and endure all the suspicion and gossip and cold shoulders AND pay my tithing (naturally… don’t forget that!), so that I will have a hope of one day to be found worthy of being sealed to my children (assuming, of course, that they choose me instead of their other parent). But pray tell, how does that happen exactly? Will it be a ‘proxy sealing’ some day? And how will anyone know who to perform this sealing for and on behalf of? And… yes, and on and on it goes.
    – you speak to temple presidency members about your situation and the only thing they can say is, “I don’t know. I have no answers for you. There is nothing in our temple handbook that addresses these types of situations. I’m sorry.”
    – you are left with the sole conclusion that you went through an enormous rigmarole (for the lack of a better term) to BECOME sealed, and all it took is a ‘committee’ whose ‘decision’ was based upon second and third source accounts and spurious facts and innuendo, with no consideration of ALL parties concerned to dissolve that most sacrosanct of ordinances and reason to really be in the “one, true, living church”.
    – you eventually end up getting married again (outside any LDS temple) to the most wonderful woman in all of God’s creation, and who all of your children adore, and have a wonderful life.
    – you both lament, though, that too bad the LDS church can’t be a place you could go back to and feel comforted by its doctrines, which would most definitely have a non-judgemental, non-eletist effect on the attitudes of many of its membership.
    – its too bad that looking for another spiritual home of like-minded, friendly, viable worshippers (not necessarily carbon copy believers of your beliefs) is such a pain and difficult after years and years of LDS socialization. But hey, live and learn. Just consider all of this an entertaining pass time until you get tired of the LDS soap opera series, and do find eventually find that other spiritual home away from home.

    And this is just one pathetic story with regard no doubt many “outside the box” problematical issues.

    Might I also add:

    1. One of my daughters (married now) left the church over this sealing, eternal family issue. She just couldn’t live in limbo, or as a “freak” compared to her peers at church whose parents have managed to stay together and live in the eternal, “families are forever” box.

    2. Two of my sons (both married now, as well) who remain active in the church, are still emotionally affected by this sealing, eternal family issue. Although they (in fact all of my children) have lost complete respect for their mother because of what she did to the family, for the purpose of only suiting her own selfish whims at the time, she is still ‘the mother,’ and consequently they suffer because of this. They too, feel as though they are in limbo and don’t know what is going to happen *to her* or the family. I mention *to her* because although they know about her prior, insidious agenda (which became painfully obvious for many reasons), but again, here’s the rub: She’s their mother and they still don’t want to see her live in Mormon, lesser Kingdom hell, or have any of their family members end up as second class citizens in the Celestial Kingdom (those who at least want to be there), while all of their LDS peers go forth onto their intact ‘in the box’ eternal family unit glory. They can’t escape the stigma of the doctrine.

    3. How did I feel being married to this wonderful woman, who has been sealed to her late husband (and children), while I sat in church and almost every Sunday would hear some fellow declare, “I am so grateful to be sealed to my wife and children for all eternity.” How did my wife feel? I’ll tell you how she felt; besides being PAINFULLY obvious, she told me that it would slice her heart in half every time someone would say that, and know the pain and suffering I felt because I am not sealed to anyone, especially my own children. And one church member who she confided in one day had the audacity to tell my wife , “Well, (my wife’s name), that was your choice. You should have married an LDS widower for ‘time only’ in the temple.” That’s an LDS ‘in the box’ classic, callous response.

    Hence, doesn’t the church realize this? They must. A member of the temple presidency I spoke with at length said there are countless situations like this and ones that are far worse than my own. Yet, the impression I get when I used to watch General Conference and see the ‘Brethren’ and the other GAs seated in their big, comfortable, red mohair chairs, with all their smug confidence was that they are ‘in’ with Christ as His co-heirs, but I was more than likely pretty much ‘out’; at least while alive, to be sure. Oh well, sucks to be me, eh Mormon church. “Yeah, you’re welcome, Vikingz2000, and thanks for all the years of devotions and tens and tens of thousands of dollars you’ve given to ‘build up the Kingdom’. Too bad you ain’t gonna be part of it, ol’ chump… err… I mean ‘chap’.”

    Angry? You think? Well, not to any great degree anymore, but so disappointed in the ‘one, true, living Church.” It could do so much better if it really wanted to for ‘the one’ of the ninety and nine, like me and those similarly lost (but I’d bet there are a heck of a lot more than just ‘one’).

    • Ewadley May 4, 2011 at 6:05 am

      Wow so sorry to hear about your situation. I like your piece and even though its not meant to be funny it has an appealing sardonic quality which I liked. Thanks for sharing. I definately feel your pain.

      • Vikingz2000 May 4, 2011 at 8:13 am

        Thanks, Ewadley. You are right-on about the humor. My anger *has* been evolving into some sort of sardonic humor about all things Mormon, and that has really helped me — I think. I keep remembering, though: “God will not be mocked!”

        “What? You mean He’d rather have me go off my stick, slit my wrists and die, rather than hear me speak lightly of His one, true Church and His anointed that oversee it?”

        “Yup, that’s what blood atonement is for.”

        “But, I’m just trying to save my sanity in this insane situation. It’s just a coping mechanism.”

        “Son, trying to stay sane in this hen house is like wanting the roosters to try and lay eggs; ain’t gonna happen. Just eat the green Jello, boy. It just takes a second; you won’t feel a thing.”

        All of this is so bizarre — look at all of these comments. What kind of church is this that would elicit all of these affected responses?!! God must want us to have a sense of humor to let this happen, otherwise I’m sure He’d slit His wrists!

  109. Ren May 3, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    -I feel the church could focus on the spirit of “love thy neighbor” more than letter of the law moralizing.
    -I could use less priesthood narratives and more respect for women beyond honoring motherhood
    -I lost my faith in God entirely and requested to be removed from the records. I rejoined 4 years later in part because through Mormon Stories I found members who did not have a traditional dogmatic view of Christianity and were still able to have a voice and function within the LDS community. I don’t know if I would have ever set foot back in a chapel w/o the community of Mormon Stories. It helped me heal when my faith crumbled and helped me rebuild it in a healthy way.

  110. Brad Christenson May 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    • Your situation/thoughts/feelings with regard to the church.
    I feel a bit backward from many of the stories I have listened to so far in Mormon Stories (joined this week after a friend told me about it that is struggling with his faith). I was born and raised in SLC by an anti-Mormon (married and divorced 5 times) mother and ended up in the church anyway. When I joined the church at 20 in 1979 my mother signed me up to the Utah Lighthouse Ministry newsletter and gave me the new 1970 abridged copy of Fawn Brodie’s book and ask that I read it. I did and served a mission right after my 21st Birthday. I was living by myself at the time and the Bishop insisted I inform my mother of my mission call. She told me she would rather have been told that I had been killed in an accident. I have not had any real challenge to my faith since, although I have read many books with many different perspectives on Mormonism. I can see many of the questions that were presented to me as a youth 30 years ago, and I know many are very compelling. I am very committed to the church, and serve in every opportunity I can as best I can. I would say that for the different molds you have defined I would consider myself a “Liberal member”.
    • What you feel you are needing/lacking that the church has not yet been able to provide.
    I would say that I have kept my mother’s political persuasion, she in past days (she is now 87) was quite involved in the Utah Democratic Party. I am very vocal in church meetings if someone brings up politics or demeans President Obama I am quick to tell them to leave it alone. I certainly am an outcast in this regard but I don’t care, except that these brothers and sisters of mine need to realize that Glen Beck was not called by the church to lead us to all truth. I don’t have the family baggage that many have so I don’t care what people perceive me as. I feel grateful to have a relationship with God. Most of my social life involves my family and siblings and none of them are LDS (except my wife and children). They are great people that give much to our community and God loves them as well as he loves me (don’t tell them I said that they are atheist for the most part). I know the Mormon tent is big enough for me to be under, just wish some of my neighbors realized at times. Seems the leadership speaks more about tolerance for differences of opinions (not speaking about LBGT here), but – oh well
    • How Mormon Stories has helped in that journey (if it has).
    I must say that being new to this forum I don’t have much to say, nor do I feel that I am on a journey. My friend has been enlightened by many of the podcasts and I plan on listening to many of them as well. It is nice to hear people that actually have come to some conclusions for themselves and have actually deeply considered their own respective belief structure. Great to know so much thought has been given, and thanks for the many hours of work you have provided Mr Dehlin, to bring about this community. I have attended Sunstone, but not for 20 years or so. Now that my children (babies just turned 21) are older I might get more involved.
    Thanks again
    Brad

  111. Jesse May 3, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    I was raised in the church, temple married, RM, always active, parents have been bishop, RS president, etc. I was 100% a believer and intending to fulfill a new calling teaching when I decided to read up on LDS history out of love for the church and lifelong devotion. I had no intention of finding anything faith challenging, but it is impossible to read any kind of serious LDS history and not meet some very big, I think impossible challenges to one’s faith. Anyone who says otherwise is either not orthodoxy to begin with or simply hasn’t looked into LDS history. Once I learned about peepstones, polyandry, and the Book of Abraham my whole world fell apart. I had suicidal thoughts for months, not because of personal loss, but because I knew the intense social and family consequences simply not believing would have, it seemed almost unbearable. My wife had no clue what to do, I felt out of place, and my (otherwise very kind, educated) bishop was extremely unhelpful and even damaging to both my relationship with the church and my relationship with my wife. Bear in mind that 2 years later I am still active, not because I believe (I don’t, at all) but because the church has my whole life in its iron grip. I still like some aspects, but overall going through this process has been the most painful thing in my entire life. I believe much of the blame lays at the feet of LDS church leaders for neglecting to make some hard choices and look at the stark facts. Frankly, they have left the one and gone after the ninety and nine. Perhaps that seems harsh, and I know the LDS leaders are well intentioned, good people, but there are way too many families being torn apart because reality simply doesn’t fit the LDS worldview that most members have been taught is 100% accurate and approved by a prophet who can’t lead the church astray. I know plenty of people who are divorced for nothing more than a lack of belief in the church in an otherwise good marriage (this has even happened in my extended family) and my own marriage is in an extremely precarious place simply because of this one issue. My wife and I are staying together for now despite the church, not thanks to it.

    Mormon Stories (and another podcast called Mormon Expression) both helped me look at the church in a new light (more positive, less angry and bitter) as well as help me out of the extremely dark and depressing place that being slammed by reality left me. Mormon Stories is and continues to be an amazing place of support and love. John Dehlin himself has personally helped me on numerous occasions, he is one of the kindest most Christ-like people I have ever met. I have made many friends and built a system of support that is helping me through this struggle.

    Some easy, constructive things LDS leaders could do, that would have helped me in my situation:

    – Every single church leader should watch John Dehlin’s excellent video, “Why People Leave the LDS Church” in its entirety. This gives an exact depiction of what has happened to me and countless others. It explains better than anything what we are going through and how to deal with the situation. PLEASE watch it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZQJc5SxnVs
    – Bishops are not trained to handle this. They just aren’t, so unless the church is going to train bishops extensively, the church should be prepared to refer people to Mormon Stories where they will find support and encouragement rather than having a bishop quote them Moroni’s promise and tell them all they have to do it pray more (that’s what mine did). There are probably active members in almost every ward, and certainly ever stake in the US, who are listeners. These are good people, smart members who know all the tough issues. Had my bishop referred me to other members of our ward who had gone through the same thing I would have had a much easier time (I discovered a semi-active, non-believing ward member a year later through the podcast community, who turned out to be a great friend and has encouraged me to stay active). I found out later there were 3 ward members who were listeners, as well as a former mission companion, a good friend, and several other classmates.

    Not so easy things that should happen:
    – I hate to break it to any church leaders, but organic evolution is a true and correct fact that explains the variety of life on earth, including human evolution. I don’t know how to sort it out doctrinally, but the church is either going to have to change its position related to evolution or be crushed by truth. People are leaving the church every day over evolution.
    – Ditto with homosexuality. The church may see its practice as immoral, but it is organically caused – this is a scientific fact. Members who think that gays chose to be that way because Pres. Packer said so are simply hurting the church. Again, I don’t know if there is an easy solution here but stopping the demonization of homosexuals might be step one.

  112. Thomas May 3, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    * Your situation/thoughts/feelings with regard to the church.

    Fully active, tithe-paying, temple recommend-holding ward leader trying to serve compassionately in spite of a seemingly distant and unconcerned hierarchy that marginalizes those like me with questions and doubts. Many times I feel that the Church as an organization (corporation) is not worthy of my service, but that God and my fellow men are always worthy of it.

    * What you feel you are needing/lacking that the church has not yet been able to provide.

    1) The ability to speak my mind freely and without fear in F&T Meeting, Sunday School, Priesthood Meetings, etc. The social pressure to remain correlated is enormous. Discussing true Church history is taboo, even if it has been mentioned a time or two in the Ensign (eg., rock in hat translation method, Elder Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign, July 1993). 2) The support and understanding of my own spouse, who dismisses nearly everything I bring to the table that is factually true, because believing and following the brethren is paramount. 3) The freedom to speak of intellectual, scientific subjects (such as evolution and a non-global flood) that are readily discussed and accepted by professors at BYU, with those of ultra-correlated, literal beliefs, without feeling like a pariah. 4) Permission to baptize & confirm my child without holding a temple recommend, or being able to obtain a temple recommend without having to turn my mind into knots and feel like I’m being dishonest because I don’t (and probably will never again be able to) hold the complete party line about the Restoration. Same thing for other ordinances such as Priesthood ordinations. 5) I was endowed prior to 1990. I would like to get back the brainpower I wasted trying to find meaning in Endowment Ceremony elements that are no longer there. But an explanation of why they were removed would help that situation. 6) I would like the Church to make an official statement about the book “Mormon Doctrine” by Bruce R. McConkie, which is no longer in print, so that my Bishop and others will not continue think that it is an approved reference. 6) Updated YM/YW manuals that accurately reflect the times and even current Church policy (eg., interracial marriage is now okay). 7) Etc., etc.

    * How Mormon Stories has helped in that journey (if it has).

    John has his finger on the pulse of the disaffected member, and he is adept at explaining that state and the circumstances that lead to it. His interviews have been insightful, educational, uplifting and sustaining through multiple periods of lonely doubt and distress. He is taking the lead for those of us who can’t or won’t, sticking his neck out in a very valiant and public way for the downtrodden but hopeful doubter. I think that any disciplinary action against him would generate another Thomas Murphy situation.

    —-

    In my mind, the Church has a long way to go to be successful with its intelligent members in this day and age. Transparency is the new way; what do they have or need to hide? I believe the brethren are aware of our plight but care more for the middle than the fringes.

    Pursuant to Temple Recommend Question #9 (“Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?), I hereby state that I am a unique individual and have not commented anywhere else on this thread. I choose not to reveal my actual name because of reasons noted above.

  113. Brian Johnston May 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Thank you John for all the work you have done creating podcasts and online communities to help members of the LDS Church. I am one of the people who has benefited, and I stay an active member of the Church.

    Not only that, but John inspired me also to reach out in the same spirit of Christ-like love. This is what the Church teaches, isn’t it? This is the message of the scriptures. Reach out to the people who are in need. They are not being served by the Church. Sorry if that comes across as blunt or a criticism. I’m just saying what hundreds and hundreds of people have told me. I hear these people every day. There are a LOT of people going through these crisis of faith. The internet community John inspired me to help run has over 700 a people day visit it, and that is just one small, tiny corner of the internet world of Mormonism.

    John is a brother in Christ, always. If anyone needs to know more about the positive work he does, feel free to contact me.
    -Brian Johnston
    brian.johnston [at] staylds.com

  114. lump May 3, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    I currently attend and serve as ward clerk in my ward. I have listened to most of the MS podcasts and find them very helpful in sorting out my feelings towards the church. I am still looking forward to an ice cream together sometime. Though I am a few hours away, I was born in Logan and got my BS at USU 30+ years ago. I commend you for your efforts in trying to walk the tightrope between faithful LDS and the more liberal path. For family reasons, I am still active. Your podcasts have helped me believe it is a possible alternative. It is also an ‘escape’ where I can hear things that are beyond the correlated view of LDS thought. For that I am grateful and wish you the best in whatever challenges you are now facing. I, for one, believe your efforts are well worth it and have helped me maintain my sanity.

  115. Michael Jantzen May 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    I think Mormon Stories at the very least has helped me realize there are other people out there like me – its helped me understand the church on a much much deeper level than 4 years of seminary, 2 years of mission etc ever did. It helped me realize no matter what I do or where I go – I’ll be a Mormon – even if its my own version of what it is to be Mormon.

    I quit going to the LDS church because I felt like I didn’t belong – no-one there really liked me – not that I was all that pleasant to be around, but I did try. For a really long time I lived the orthodox existence, but I still suffered – lots of really bad things happened to me this last 5 years (I lost my really cool job, my brother died, I’ve had to move 5 times – I could go on) no real cool blessings. After I stopped going I started to read around the net and found other forums and people who have lived the same existence sadly – almost word for word.

    It did become quite a bit easier to live with myself when I entertained the notion that the things I had learned in the church (which I’ve since found aren’t even doctrine really) could cause me to be unhappy with myself. The notion that the reason I’m unhappy and doing poorly in life is because I sin (I’ve never done anything worth talking to a bishop about!). I’d literally spend all day killing myself over my weaknesses. Now I embrace my weaknesses (which is weird – because since then I’m really no-longer even tempted by them!).

    I was a shy quiet single 34 year old virgin who doesn’t relate to women at all until last summer when I had a wakeup call at quite possibly the worst single adults conference in history – in Center Point Oregon. After that I met a nice girl, kissed for the first time and life has been ok since. Its not perfect, but I certainly feel better. Since I began to question that validity of this organization its kind of become a downward spiral (as far as the church would be concerned) – if I do question the brethren its all up for grabs and the less sense it all makes. I don’t expect the church to come out of the closet as it were, but I’d go back if it was fun again. When I was a kid – it was fun. We went on ward outings, camping, ward/stake dinners that had eatable food (not meat and potatoes) – it was fun to be there. If I could go back I would – I really would.

    I still believe in God and Jesus, but when you take a step back for a minute – the churches vision of him and the reality of what they are doing are two completely different things. Go back to being a support organization and stop judging people, chastising people for being horny, telling them what to wear etc etc and stop buying media companies, building malls and running wildlife preserves.

  116. Andrew Ainsworth May 4, 2011 at 12:10 am

    LDS leaders, such as Elders Oaks and Packer, have acknowledged in talks given to CES instructors that there are many facts about church history that are not faith-promoting, and they have encouraged instructors not to mention such facts.

    With the advent of the Internet and a surge of interest in Mormon Studies kicked off by Richard Bushman’s biography of Joseph Smith, Church members are increasingly discovering the facts that Church leaders encourage CES instructors not to mention. When faithful Latter-day Saints discover reliable evidence of faith-challenging facts that they have never before encountered, they experience feelings of confusion, disillusionment, and even betrayal.

    The LDS church does not provide any fora where faithful Church members can discuss this increasingly common experience. To the contrary, such discussions are discouraged at Church meetings and are absent from official Church publications. As a result, Church members are left to discuss their troubling discovery of faith-challenging facts in informal settings. Mormon Stories is one of those informal settings.

    Mormon Stories and other informal discussion fora are an inevitability. If Mormon Stories were to cease to exist, some other informal discussion forum would appear. Mormons will continue to informally discuss their troubling discovery of faith-challenging facts for as long as LDS leaders continue to discourage CES instructors from giving students the whole story about Church history.

    Mormon Stories has been invaluable to me personally in navigating through very difficult times. In a culture where black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking is dominant, Mormon Stories contributors provided an alternative path that enables people to continue to choose Church activity even after the traditional faith of their childhood has left them.

    In my own case, Mormon Stories was largely responsible for keeping me active in the Church for three-and-a-half years after I came to the conclusion myself that the LDS church was significantly different from what it had been represented to me as being.

    Sincerely,
    Andrew Ainsworth

  117. anon for this, sorry May 4, 2011 at 12:19 am

    I don’t want this to be a pity party, but I need the church to know that it causes me a lot of pain. The anger I feel every day is almost unbearable and I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t fit in the church, yet can’t leave. I would leave instantly if my parents were accepting. I just can’t do it anymore. My negative experiences started on the mission when I became a little fanatical about the church. It caused me great anxiety to do what was asked and I suffered, thinking that I wasn’t doing enough and not able to “save” people. Imagine my horror when my mother sent me Rough Stone Rolling and I found out about polyandry. Can you imagine the feeling that I felt of abuse at the hand of the church just to further its agenda? Or the fact that the church tries to take your God-given individuality and time and so much of your money and gives nothing in return? Around that time, I had the distinct impression that even if it was true, it would be an unbearable cost to lose out on so much of your life just to serve the church, especially when it lies to you. I tried to fit inside the church when I got home, trying to make it work out desperately before my faith shattered, but I knew it was coming, in the mean time, living a hypocritical, seemingly pious life. What was worse was the fact that I was so arrogant and unfeeling towards people because of the mindset that the church caused me to have, especially having served a mission and thinking I was some kind of golden calf. I had to recognize that and pull the plug. I could feel the difference when I no longer did the things the church tried to make me do and adopted a different mindset. After that, I realized that I could no longer be happy in the church or even a good person with it in my life. Imagine after all this when I started even more fully seeing the church for what it is, like what everyone describes? I have not made a single comment in church for 2 years and could not unless it was inclusive to those trying to practice freedom of speech. My atheist friend came to church and made a single comment about how he didn’t agree with a scripture, but said it in a nice way, and the entire room practically went up in flames. It was awful. Church is not a positive place for me anymore. I have outgrown it. The world is sadly, a whole lot bigger than Mormonism’s dogma, with its demonizing teachings. ie People who leave the church get a bad spirit? I cannot overemphasize how disgusted that makes me feel, yet so many people in the older generation think that, including my parents. And the church needs to stop demonizing gays. The gays that I’ve met since my mission have been, sadly, more nice on average than Mormons I’ve met since being back. If being gay makes you nice, than the whole world should at the very least be bisexual. There’s so much more that the church needs to change. I don’t know that I would be able to stay, but I would at least entertain the option, if only to have a community and to make my parents happy. And what’s this talk of people thinking they’re going to discipline John? If they did, I would probably leave the church, no question. Why would I stay when I can’t voice my own individuality? I got more sympathy from exmormon.org in one post than I got since being back from my mission. (2 years) Why would I want to stay in a place where people are unable to care about you as an individual, but care more about you towing the line for the church, including how much you conform with the current dogma? The church also needs to stop pushing a corporate agenda, including for profit ventures that has made the church too big to fail and taken the financial support that we need out of our communities to support us and not only make life tolerable, but ENJOYABLE again. This also includes the need to push the church’s agenda onto EVERYTHING and lay off. The church needs to stop thinking that it needs to solve the heathen world’s crises and focus on internal ones that it is supposed to solve with its system but creates instead and subsequently turns a blind eye to. Note: my sister suffered from scrupulosity on her mission and the church probably was not a help to her. A proper reliance on the miracles of SECULAR knowledge would have helped. But I’m sure she was told to just read, pray and obey and not look to non-correlated materials. By the way, thank you John for offering to help her. I haven’t met you, but my sister has and she is really appreciative. I seriously could write a book here, so I’ll stop. I was supposed to be more “faith-promoting,” as per John’s advice, but I’m tired of not being able to speak my mind.

  118. Michelle May 4, 2011 at 12:20 am

    I have been raised LDS, held a temple recommend for the last 20 years, attended my church meetings faithfully and held several positions in YM, primary and scouts. I never would have imagined my faith could be tested, let alone dwindle. I’ve never rebelled, even as a youth, I walked the absolute straight and narrow. Over the past year, I dug into my religion to learn it to the fullest, to be able to teach my children and help them over come their doubts and questions. I also have a husband who has had questions for the past 10 years and I had asked him to keep his concerns between me and him and not let the kids see him doubt or question the church. I wanted to be able to help him overcome his doubts too. I followed the instructions in D&C to study the apocrypha (ps – the apocrypha referenced in D&C is NOT Dead Sea Scrolls or Nag Hamadi texts as these were not found until 1940s. I believe the apocrypha referred to is the Book of Enoch, which contains teachings found in the temple ceremony and may have been, most likely is, a book studied by the EARLY Masons) and also followed a quote from Joseph Smith to study death/near death experiences. These sources were added to my obsessive study of the scriptures. For the first time in my life, I started to see things in the scriptures I was not prepared for. I also wondered “what” had been restored. If it was restored, then it must have been on the earth at one time. This is what prompted my study of the Old Testament and its origins. In researching the new flood of questions that came to me and the many contradictions, I seemed to become overwhelmed with the amount of information that is out in the world. I began to study world history and dipped a little into old religions. I stayed away from anything that would be considered anti-mormon. Regardless of my caution in choosing my study materials, my world turned upside down and inside out and I felt very alone. After seeing what I feel is evidence that the Old Testament and New Testament are not the “Books of God” I had always believed them to be, I then started learning more about my own church and the history. Taking the entire picture as a whole, I could no longer hold onto my faith. I feel there has been an avoidance of the truth by LDS church leaders who have been marketing the religion in a manner similar to that of other churches. Correlation. I announced to my family that I will be leaving the church this past Feb. I’m sure others are familiar with the depression, the lack of faith in oneself, and the loss of friends and family that come when someone leaves the LDS church. I am ashamed to say I was just like those who are now judging me. I had once wondered about my own marriage and what I should do if my eternal mate chose not to be a “faithful” member. A month ago, I found mormonstories AFTER I had made my decision. It has been like a cool drink of water. I now know I am not alone, that others recognize the inconsistencies as I do. I am so grateful to mormonstories for the honesty and truth presented. I would suggest to the church authorities that they add a little more truth to their teachings…it would lessen the shock and if members grew up with the church, knowing the truth from the beginning, I think they would have an easier time staying in the church. Then again, my decision is based on a more than just church history swept under a rug. Mormonstories has helped me maintain my sanity. I now have a way to communicate with my parents through these podcasts. I don’t want my parents to change their beliefs, but it would be nice if they could acknowledge that the histories are true and I’m not possessed by Satan for repeating them. Thank you John and everyone who has made the many interviews and access to them possible. You are all appreciated more than you know!

    • Paul May 5, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      I am the doubting husband. What I have seen from Mormon Stories has made me feel that I am not alone in my doubts and questions of authenticity. I thank John for at least conversing about topics that most (including myself) were too afraid to do so. Thanks for shedding light. I have not come to any one conclusion at this time. I will keeping searching to find my own truth and hopefully help my wife and children to find theirs. Thanks again John.

  119. Roy Jones May 4, 2011 at 12:29 am

    My catalyst was the stillbirth of my daughter. This had worldview shattering implications for me. I had built my faith on the idea that my righteous priesthood performance ensured protection/blessings for my family. I felt like I had failed as a father. I was unable to find comfort in the sealing power of the priesthood as Stillborn children are not currently sealed to parents. I have thought much about this issue. I understand that there may be politicaly unintended consequences for sealing unborn children to parents as a quasi declaration of when life begins. But if we are able, in the absence of sure knowledge, to seal a woman to multiple deceased husbands to whom she had been married in life and allow God to sort it out (it is my understanding that we do this) then what would be the harm of performing these parents-stillborn child sealings under the same theory. It is my belief that such a ceremony would be extremely cathartic and meaningful for my family.
    StayLDS.com has helped me to find alternative methods to continue to find joy and value in my participation in the LDS church.
    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  120. Bob May 4, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I am a male, bisexual Mormon. I was married and divorced at a young age and tried to raise a child and go to college at the same time. I am married again, and to all appearances doing great. But I am having trouble maintaining my interest in the church. Unlike most people I do still believe in plural marriage and I have a hard time with the idea that we gave up on God’s law because of man’s law. Especially in a country where said law is so clearly unconstitutional! Then you add in the church’s involvement of Prop. 8 and I feel like we’re back in the days of black people not having the priesthood. Which I feel strongly that that was due to racism amongst the leaders. I have come to a more deist view of Mormonism. That is, that God created us and sent us forward, after all when our prayers are answered, it’s by someone else, not an Angel. Now God does still have some contact with us to be sure (Christ lived among us) but I think it is more limited than we would believe. I suppose I think of the Holy Ghost more as a medium of spiritual communication than an incorporeal benevolent uncle constantly watching over us all. I also take issue with correlation. I understand the need for it, but I read histories of the church and things seemed exciting. Today our lessons are over-simplified and very repetitive. I do not look forward to attending lessons or training, and even general conference in the church because of this. Despite all of this I am still very active and have a testimony.

    I started listening to Mormon stories a few months ago and really enjoy the discussions. I love that John has created a “place” where I can “be” and know that others are going through the same issues that I am. I also enjoy the intellectual and honest interviews. I think it’s sad that the church has no ability to admit a mistake, ever. And that if we speak out there is church discipline threatening us. So I often bite my tongue in Elder’s Quorum. But this is a place where I can look into these things more.

    I like John’s recent interest in creating some kind of community where those interested parties could meet. I thought of some form of book club or study group that met regularly to discuss things in real space rather than online. I have joined forums and they are good, but I don’t think they can replace real live interaction.

  121. Debbie May 4, 2011 at 12:44 am

    I am a fifth generation Mormon. My ancestors were among the original members of the church. They made great sacrifices to help establish Zion in these latter days. I value my heritage in the church and I feel like the Mormon Church is as much my church as it is the Prophet’s church. For ten years of my life I was inactive in the church and I didn’t like being inactive. I came back to full activity when I got married. I raised my children in the church but they have all become inactive. I wish they would choose to come back but I don’t blame them for leaving. The black and white mindset has been hard on them. They feel like they have to be either totally in the church or totally out of the church. I also felt this way when I was young.

    Mormon Stories podcast has a lifeline for me. I finally feel like I have a place in the church – like I belong to a community of Latter Day Saints who “get” me. The support I get from the MS community is extremely nourishing. I am a faithful temple recommend holding member of the Mormon Church even though I don’t believe it’s theology. I attend church every week and teach early morning seminary. I have taught seminary for four years and hope to teach for at least another two years. Teaching seminary has taught me that all religions are flawed but they also provide mankind with comfort, hope and community. I hope the church will make it’s tent big enough to accomodate people who like being Mormon but don’t have a testimony of its truthfulness.

  122. MM May 4, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I am a convert of 30+ years, having joined the church as a teenager. I married young to a faithful returned missionary, had babies right away and devoted myself to the church by serving diligently when asked in a variety of demanding callings while raising my children as a stay at home mom. While the idea of temple sealings was an appealing one, it has also caused me to wonder exactly what it means to me as a convert. Rather than the lovely thoughts about the temple that are planted in our minds in conference talks and young women lessons, the temple has been a symbol of family ‘disunity’ for me, due to the social pressure to have a temple marriage and the temple marriage policies that made me leave my immediate family outside. That has caused a great deal of pain and remorse for me because of the wedge it placed in my relationship with my parents and siblings and the heartbreak it caused them. I spent my whole wedding day crying and feeling sick at what I had done, and still have a difficult time when I recall that day. Rather than the happy feelings and family support that one should have on their wedding day, I felt very alone and totally overwhelmed with sadness. I spent many years afterward, trying to be a wonderful example to my non-member family members, thinking that my example would show them how important temple marriage was, how wonderful the church was and what it could do for them. Unfortunately, the memories of that day were equally painful for them, and had the opposite affect. Trying to be that perfect example caused them to view me as aloof and drove a further wedge.

    I have particularly struggled with the culture of the church over the years. At first I embraced it and tried to be the same and think the same as my ‘born in the church’ Mormon friends. But I have realized that by doing so, I was not being authentic and was denying parts of me that make me who I am. When people stand up in testimony meeting and tell about how grateful they are that they were born of “goodly parents” because they were born into the “one true church”, I don’t feel bad anymore. I can now see that my parents were still ‘goodly’, even though they didn’t teach me about the true church. I often find the focus on “the church” vs “the world” quite tiresome and not a reflection of what I observe in my day to day dealings with non-Mormon family and friends.

    I have come to realize that the narrowly defined gender roles and worship of “the traditional family” in the church has caused those who can’t define themselves in that way, whether through divorce, lack of a marriage partner, infertility or other reasons, a lot of pain and suffering. Even though I believe in the value of families, I wish there was more value placed on individual contributions rather than the individual as they relate to “the family”. I am concerned for how the messages that my daughters received in young women’s have damaged them and/or caused them suffering.

    The church was a help to me when I was younger and raising my family, but now I find many of the talks irrelevant and I often come home feeling worse than before I went. I am tired of constantly receiving instruction in every meeting about the ways that I should be working harder to become a little more perfect, but little in the way of inspiration or transcendence or communion with God. I long to feel the same kind of awe at church that I feel when I visit a beautiful cathedral or spend time in nature. I long for beautiful music and messages of hope and faith in the face of uncertainly, rather than an insistence on knowing that the things people talk about (a lot of which are personal opinion and conjecture) at church are true. I have tried to feel that way in the temple, but find the endowment ceremony leaves me feeling empty and more confused than ever.

    I had my doubts about polygamy and some aspects of Mormon history from the start, but believed that if I lived by faith, I would eventually gain a testimony of some of the more troubling things. Unfortunately, as I have studied and read more about church history, I find that I have more doubts than before. I have gained a great deal of peace from just accepting that I don’t believe certain things and focusing on the things that I do believe. I love the people in the church and the sense of community, but have a really difficult time sitting through lessons that are bland and offer no forum for serious discussion. Leaving the church is not an option for me, so I try to focus on just being a friend to people and not being a s**t disturber at church. I try to think about the basic principles that are being taught (most of which I can believe) and how I can apply them to my life in my own unique way, and not the way others tell me I have to apply them. Fowler’s stages of faith have also helped me to understand others faith journeys and where they are coming from.

    I have appreciated the discussions and podcasts that I have heard on Mormon Stories. They have helped me work through my feelings, get over my anger and depression and move on to a place where I am now content with my own uniqueness and way of looking at things while still remaining connected to the church . I hope that by doing so, I can help others who may be struggling in some way with similar issues.

  123. Aaron T May 4, 2011 at 1:04 am

    There is a white hot fire of discontent burning under the marble facade of the Mormon church because many educated, BIC, returned missionary, married in the temple Mormons are finding out that the correlated version of church history we learned through Sunday School, Seminary, Institute, and normal Mormon life was simply not true. History was whitewashed, facts were obfuscated, and dissimulation tactics were used to make the church seem to be something that it simply was not. The facts themselves are bad enough, but the deceptive tactics and active concealment of church leaders (they can call it whatever they want), are themselves now being buried by the march of evidence available with a click or two on the world wide web.

    I think I could have mentally stayed in the church – dealt with the Book of Abraham, dealt with Joseph’s “marriages” and dealt with the other historical issues – but the church’s lack of candor pushed me over the top. Do what is right let the consequence follow – except when it’s not faith promoting. It was a bad, bad policy.

  124. Navybluesteph May 4, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Without the efforts of John Dehlin and others like him, I would be unhappy, misunderstood, and completely alone.

    The Church works well for some people. i d not not deny that. Nor do I deny that there are truths within Mormonism, as there are in other well-meaning religions.

    But sometimes, people have doubts. And just like the volatile atmospheric conditions that spawn tornadoes, once in a while the conditions are right and leadership and former strong members’ doubts mix and the results are catastrophic.

    I never did a thing wrong. All I did was have doubts. I never spoke publicly about them. I was caught up in a whirl wind and the result was a zealous leadership decision to rid my stake of “diseased germs.”

    And I was hurt. Beyond words my soul was injured.

    I found a tribe, on the Internet, a community of former believers who got me, who knew where I had been, where I was going, and loved me anyway. In those days, that was more valuable than diamonds, more precious than solid gold.

    And then I found John Dehlin.

    John’s hour long Youtube explanation of why people leave the LDS church was enough for me to seek peace, rather than nurse wounds that lead to hard feelings, to grudges. I get those feelings. I get those who feel that way. And I have compassion for them.

    But that wasn’t the life I wanted. John’s efforts went a long way in helping me come to a place where I could be at peace with my LDS roots. John and others who labor in the same vineyard help me to remember the beautiful things about my faith history. What he does is foster understanding for those of us who stand outside the fire, who feel disenfranchised.

    Nothing is more important than keeping families and marriages together, despite a redefining of faith. This is the bottom line for me, and for others like me. Let’s foster understanding and build bridges over some of the unfortunate statement made by Church leaders about those who walk down this path. What we want is the love and support of our families. What we need are open arms and compassion.

    Thank you John.

  125. Mike May 4, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Can not add much to what is said because so many comments are my same experiences. If I could say one thing it is that for a church that professes the family as so important it seems to be tearing mine apart. I wish there was fellowship for those who can not believe in the truth claims of the church. That somehow accommodation could be made so you are not considered demon possessed if you have questions and hence your children and spouse think they have lost you to some fanaticism .

  126. ff42 May 4, 2011 at 1:19 am

    The church teaches that “When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.” (page 181 of PR/RS manual or https://lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-31-honesty?lang=eng) yet doesn’t appear to practice that it preaches making it (or rather the leaders) a hypocrite.

    Am I suppose to embrace, encourage, and devote my life to liars (by the own definition)?

  127. Debbie May 4, 2011 at 1:25 am

    One last request for the leaders of the Mormon Church: Please, please, please publish an article in the Ensign counseling faithful members about what to do when their spouse has a faith crisis and expresses doubt or disbelief about the church. Please emphasize they should NOT consider divorcing someone because they lose their faith in the church. This is happening to too many families.

  128. Scott May 4, 2011 at 1:26 am

    This whole issue the church has with masturbation and telling young men that it is a sin is ridiculous. First of all it is a natural thing for all humans and healthy. Not masturbating can lead to testicle problems with reproduction. The second problem I see with it is that it makes us all sinners because everyone is doing it whether they admit it or not. The church leaders do not seem to recognize this, but women do it also.

  129. 1979 May 4, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Hi,

    I would like to know how the church/brethern reconciles the biblical verse stating that it is not good for man to be alone (which has clearly been interpreted as marriage) with the advice in “God Loveth His Children” in that homosexual Mormons while not choosing their feelings must remain single and celibate.

    Thanks.

  130. Nabedahi May 4, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Mormon Stories has helped me navigate my crisis of faith while retaining church membership with a support network I don’t have in my ward or with my friends/family. Thanks to John Dehlin and his work, I haven’t felt alone in my faith crisis or with some of the challenges I’ve had to survive. Here’s my story:

    After losing a gay brother to suicide, my turmoil rested in how and why Heavenly Father would really want me to choose the church above family. My brother killed himself because we shunned him as a sinner, and lost to rebellion. I still struggle with intense pains of guilt over how I could have accepted him for who he was, but was educated by my very orthodox parents to not “condone” his actions, thus pushing him away. I don’t blame them, they were only doing what they were taught to do. The majority of my family continues to be harsh and condemning to those who deal with homosexual tendencies and choose to live a life as an open homosexual….even after the suicide of their own son/brother. This is quite disorienting to me, and I find immense conflict inside myself regarding this issue. I haven’t felt that the church has offered any sort of middle ground for people like myself who cannot justly support the church in it’s position regarding homosexuals.

    After my brother’s death, my husband had a crisis of faith over church history and cultural issues. At this time,the answer to my prayers was to be “open minded” and to love him and seek to understand him. Because I tried to listen to him, and be open minded, I also had my own faith crisis. This doubt came to me from my studies of church history. Generally speaking, the church has not been fair or honest with it’s history.

    Cultural divides arise when some members of the church only see their membership as a following of the rules and guidelines. They see those that “question” as being sinners, which is not true. But what of the member who cannot fully fit the “Mormon mold”? My husband stopped going to church when he felt uncomfortable in Elder’s quorum for having questions that didn’t “fit” the lesson plan. My personal discomfort stems from the way I see him treated as an “inactive” member, the way my children perceive him as an “inactive” member, and the lack of tolerance and acceptance from church members.

    On a personal note, I am struggling myself with gender equality issues. I have just recently witnessed my son, who just received the Aaronic priesthood, proclaim to my 10 year old daughter that “basically [he] has extra powers because [he] has the priesthood”. The most recognition my daughter will receive at the age of 12 is a certificate of graduation from primary. How is my daughter supposed to feel when she is given the opportunity to meet with a group of girls only twice a month (at age of 10), and the scouts meet once a week with special camp outs, including “Father’s and Sons”. There isn’t a standard of equality amongst the youth, and they grow up with false ideas of where their power or lack of power comes from.

    I am at a crossroads. I love the church and its focus on family. I love the hymns and the intent to teach strong moral conduct. I love serving and teaching my children the benefits of serving. But for the last 9 months of attending, I have felt like an outsider. I feel like I cannot speak honestly and openly about my own doubts. I have not truly felt accepted because I attend alone, without my husband. I feel like the church’s support is only for those who can fit.

    Thank you

  131. 1979 May 4, 2011 at 2:00 am

    •Your situation/thoughts/feelings with regard to the church.

    I am a 30 YO Male, Single, RM, BIC, gay Mormon. I’m a college grad, professional, athletic, well liked, good looking guy. I am agnostic but active and particpating. I have learned to distinguish between spiritual and factual truth. I still seek spiritual/philosophical truth from the church while rejecting incomplete or misrepresented history and doctrine. I reject absolutism. I have a calling, meet frequently with my bishop, discuss my disaffection in candid terms with him and those closest to me, and participate on my terms. I refuse to be scared or intimidated into a level of activity or belief that I am not comfortable with. I no longer attend the temple. It was usually a painful experience.

    •What you feel you are needing/lacking that the church has not yet been able to provide.

    The church has a difficult time listening to and understanding its gay members and accepting its damaging role in gay members’ lives. The church’s position on homosexuality is unacceptable, unsustainable, and leaves much to be desired. The idea that I just grow old by myself and that I will get married in the next life does not give me hope or a reason to stay involved in the church. I don’t appreciate being compared to or lumped in with alcoholics, the mental/physically challenged, the sweet spirits, or socially inept. It feels contradictory to other scripture in that man should not be alone, or that the same sociality that exists in this life is replicated in the next. Fortunately, I don’t have to internalize negative thinking and practices. My happiness is not dependent on the church’s position nor do I expect the church to change. Although if the church were to make additional adjustments, it could make my life easier.

    •How Mormon Stories has helped in that journey (if it has).

    Mormon Stories has helped me appreciate my Mormon heritage and no longer be ashamed of it in spite of the negative impacts the church has had on my life at times. It has helped me recognize some of the positives the church gave me and still can give me. I no longer feel the need to unMormonize myself. Though as I age, it seems those positive aspects are diminishing and it feels my place and role in this religious community is diminishing.

    Thanks.

  132. Kathleen May 4, 2011 at 2:01 am

    After devoting more than 40 years of our lives to the LDS church, my husband and I completely stopped our activity about 7 years ago. I loved the church when I was growing up. For a good 35 years it was EVERYTHING to me and I gave it everything I had. I wished I were the type of person who could just “believe” in it all, not question polygamy, racism, women’s issues, etc. But I could never believe it was the one true church on the earth and because of my questions and discomfort with certain issues, when it came to church, I always felt like a square peg in a round hole. I finally decided that I could no longer stay active in the church with any amount of integrity. I disagreed with too much.

    I discovered Mormon Stories about six months ago when John interviewed a good friend of mine for a podcast. Since then, I have listened to nearly every podcast. I would like to stress that this is literally my only connection to the Mormon church at this time, and what a wonderful connection it has been. I have enjoyed the podcasts from active members of the church as much as I have enjoyed the podcasts from disaffected members. This has come as quite a surprise. I found the podcast by Jared Anderson on the New Testament particularly enriching. I also loved the podcasts on scrupulosity and yoga. The podcast with Carol Lynn Pearson was wonderful.

    What sets Mormon Stories apart is that at this point in time, you have active and disaffected Mormons coming together on the same site, sharing their stories and expertise and the sum of this is a wonderful thing. This may be the only place on the internet where someone who is questioning the church or who has left the church can come and experience varied points of views. It is so much more helpful to explore one’s faith on a site like Mormon Stories than on the ex-Mormon sites that are full of negativity.

    Thanks so much to all of you at Mormon Stories. I hope there will be many more stories to come.

  133. Charlesolson May 4, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Put frankly: the church has shown no interest in serving this community. We feel disenfranchised, ignored, and we feel we are represented by men who have little/nothing to do with us. Whether born in the church and attending church schools like me, or from completely different backgrounds, we have gone on painful journeys of learning how little we mean to the church, even while the church counts us in its 14 million member figure.

    Mormon Stories provides a place to explore what our heritage means to us, in ways church has never attempted. When I was struggling with my testimony, church members and local leaders let me know that I was to pass through my ‘dark night of the soul’ by myself. To acknowledge my questions would be to acknowledge a problem, and its so much easier to assign the problem to the questioner rather than the institution.

    If honest inquiry and the exploration of divinity cannot exist within a church founded on honest inquiry and the exploration of divinity, then it will continue to hemorrhage its best and brightest. I can say that all of my “thinking” Mormon friends are in my boat with me (in various stages of questioning/leaving the church), and this is just the random assortment of Mormon youth in Utah Valley growing up in the 90s together. The really impressive people are all in various stages of doubt. Mormon Stories has encouraged me to believe that the church still has something to offer me, that I am not alone in my search for the divine. This is no small accomplishment.

  134. Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 2:08 am

    I have listened to every episode of Mormon Stories in short period of time (6 months). I love the church and the good it does, but I have doubts about certain historical issues and truth claims. I remain an active member, fulfilling my calling, home teaching, etc. John has always been respectful and honest in his format. A few of his podcasts have been life-changing for me. I understand some members may become bitter over perceived deception of slights. John’s approach to dealing with difficult issues has helped me avoid bitterness and resentment, and come to a place where I can appreciate my church while dissenting in some areas. I keep most of my heretical ideas to myself. If I ever come to the point where I can no longer participate without being disruptive to others, I will leave. But, for now, Mormon Stories has helped me bridge the gap between my dissonance and my desire to believe.

  135. AML May 4, 2011 at 2:14 am

    I was born into a really good Mormon family, in a great Mormon area, and I was a great Mormon kid. I embraced the church whole-heartedly.

    On my mission, I started struggling with a strange health problem that would come and go. Sometimes I would be in severe pain, other times I would be fine. Instead of being understanding, my health problems were treated as an imposition, and as ‘faking’. Even missionaries with genuine mental illnesses like OCD, bipolar disorder and depression were treated as if they were faking. This was stated to my face, and regularly made a part of ‘training’ at district and zone meetings. The AP”s were relentless in going after ‘fakers’ in their eyes. I put my whole heart and soul into my mission, and I worked at it as hard as I could, however I became more ill and in more pain as time went on.

    During the worst time of pain, both physical and mental, we had a visit from two General Authorities, Ballard and Eyring. I went to this massive missionary meeting with hope in my heart that I would feel the spirit, rather than pain. At that meeting, all that we got was a lecture on street contacting. It felt like my soul had been crushed. No words of encouragement, no acknowledgement that some missionaries were in pain, we got a lecture on street contacting. After a long time struggling with this strange illness, I was sent home early for health reasons. To my face, the last thing my Mission President said to me was ‘Well Elder, we’re pretty sure you’re not faking it.’ When I go home, I was diagnosed with a form of rheumatoid arthritis.

    What was worse, was that I had no way to talk about what had happened to me in the church. I tried to attend my student ward on a regular basis, and I attended my family ward after I got married on a regular basis, but I had no way to talk about what had happened. No way to talk about the pain, no way to talk about how the mission leadership had treated me. I didn’t talk about it to anyone, and I spiraled into deep depression and severe panic attacks. It took talking to a non-Mormon therapist to finally find the words to describe what happened. Those are words like neglect, abuse, spiritual abuse.

    Even after my challenges on my mission, I kept going in the church for 10 years. I struggled, and fought and did every calling I was asked to do until I was so tired, worn and panic stricken that I seriously considered taking my own life. My wife was the one who recognized just how messed up I had become and insisted I see a therapist.

    John’s podcasts helped me keep going, and they helped me stay sane. At one of my worst times, he responded directly to me with his feelings and what he’d learned in his journey, honest and respecting my own journey and my own decisions.

  136. Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 2:36 am

    John, MS meets a need for me that is currently not being met by the church. I look forward to hearing stories of people from all walks of life, the struggles they’ve gone through and the challenges they’ve overcome. Unlike the church, MS isn’t trying to shoehorn all of its listeners into one path. Instead, all paths are valued, whether that leads someone to find their own niche in the church or to leave the church without animosity.

    I sincerely hope this meeting on Thursday is productive. I’m concerned about the treatment the Affirmation folks received, and I hope your situation is more successful than theirs was.

  137. Kassie May 4, 2011 at 2:45 am

    I am currently an active “non-correlated” member of the church. I attend most every week and serve in a calling. I find myself very reluctant to let go of the church, even though I don’t have a traditional testimony anymore. I know many of my ward members would be shocked to discover how much my views differ from their own. I believe that if I were to openly express my thoughts and opinions, I would become an outsider in my ward and my community. I would be the person that should be carefully and politely avoided for fear of my ideas influencing someone. And yet I continue to go to church, not just to fit in with my community, but also because I feel a real desire to be there. I am still drawn to Mormonism and find it to be a valuable part of my life. But is there really a place for me there?? I wonder how long I will be able to continue on my current course, feeling like I can’t truly be myself. I yearn for the church to create room for discussion, for a safe place to voice my sincere thoughts and questions. Why do we have to be so afraid of ideas and information?

    I’m also slightly troubled by some of the things I see as I watch my young daughters go to primary. They learn so many wonderful things there and I’m often grateful for the discussions it creates in our home and the values they are learning. But I wonder why they can’t be given real examples of female leadership to look up to. The pictures of the general authorities line the wall of the primary room, and they are taught very clearly to obey these men without question. Not a single picture of a woman is anywhere in sight. Not a single woman is ever quoted. They are never urged to follow the wise counsel of any female, ever. I can’t help but wonder if these little girls walk away from primary with the idea that women are less valuable, less wise, less worthy.

    As far as Mormon Stories is concerned, it has been an invaluable tool in helping me to feel less isolated. I have greatly appreciated the positive tone that it maintains, which has helped me to maintain a more positive mind-set in my own relationship with the church.

  138. Bec Reynolds May 4, 2011 at 2:52 am

    I wish the church hadn’t encouraged me to marry young and have lots of kids.

    I married the wrong person. The children ruined my health. Now I am stuck ever plodding along with no support from my family of origin to leave and move on. My husband is not gay, but even if he was my family would still insist that I remain married to him. Let humans develop into adulthood! Let them make their life altering choices based on compatibility and passion and truly knowing someone, instead of telling them over and over that the Lord wants them to settle down as soon as possible.

    I wish the church, with such a lofty claim as the proclamation on the family, could give some relevant, perhaps pediatrician/child psychologist-backed advice on raising a family. My siblings and I and many other LDS members I know were made to feel so terrible guilty and so worthless, in a fanatical brainwashing like fashion. Let kids be kids! Let them grow up feeling like they fit in with their peers, and let them know they have something original and independent to be and to aspire to.

    I wish the church would just let humans be . We are white, we are brown, we are straight, we are gay, we are sexual beings, we are logical forward thinking beings. Let us be. Quit manipulating us with all the “sinners” talk. Make a nice place for people to uplift each other and enrich the community without excluding anyone! You are in a position to do it.

    Mormon Stories has impressed me for years. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  139. new EQ May 4, 2011 at 2:54 am

    John …

    I have held significant leadership positions at a ward level while going through a crisis of faith. I have listened to everything on MS …many multiple times. I’ll ditto the point that MS has helped me stay in some middle ground. It has helped me understand the historical issues in a different (less angry) light and appreciate the complexities of running an organization the size of the church.

    I’m not sure how much longer I will continue to attend regularly. I can’t stand gospel doctrine and haven’t been in the last year. I would love a regular forum to discuss issues with like-minded people. I know there are people who want the same… since I am given “stewardship” to try to reactivate many of these people in my ward. So I’ll extrapolate from a ward in Davis County with very high activity rates…. 30% of our elders quorum is looking for something different. (And I know they still want something – because we discuss religion regulary outside of the church.) I can only imagine this percentage is higher in other areas.

    Thanks for all your work buddy.

  140. Martha May 4, 2011 at 2:56 am

    My husband experienced a faith crisis several years ago, mostly due to church history issues. I had known about many of these issues before, but was not as bothered by them as my husband was. We went to the stake president and our bishop for help and advice. Neither had the ability or will to discuss the issues we had, and instead of recognizing a cry for help, they took away his recommend and calling due to his questioning mindset. At one point they considered giving him a calling to run the basketball program, but decided that his testimony was not strong enough for that calling. I am not sure what scheduling the gym and belief in the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith have in common, but somehow the bishop saw the connection.

    We attend church every week. I teach Gospel Doctrine. I was the Primary President through those tough years. My husband helps neighbors whenever we hear of a need. We pay tithing. Everyone knows us, and yet we are virtual strangers in our ward. My teenage children are ignored by the bishop (my 17 year old had not been called in for an interview for 21 months now). I feel that I cannot express my true testimony or question what is taught without some kind of retribution. It is sad that the only testimony that is acceptable is “I know the church is true”. I would love to bear testimony that I believe the gospel can guide us in Christ-like living, and that Joseph Smith was a flawed man that made many mistakes, but that I hope it is true that God somehow spoke to him. If I said that, I would be called in by the Bishop, released from my calling, and further sidelined in my ward. So I stay silent.

    The only reason I continue to attend and try to be a part of our ward is because of the influence of Mormon Stories. It is through the podcasts, websites, facebook community, etc., that I feel like I have people that can understand me, and with whom I can discuss real gospel principles. In church only the milk answers are acceptable, but I am dying for some meat. In Mormon Stories I get meat. Through Mormon Stories I also find ways to re-frame the tired old lessons from the Gospel Doctrine manual into lessons that are applicable in today’s world, and that really focus on Christ like behaviors. That is something that is sorely lacking in our church today. I believe the church needs to finds ways to be accepting of those who question. If not, even greater losses will continue.

    God bless John Dehlin and all the good he has done with Mormon Stories.

  141. Joanna Brooks May 4, 2011 at 3:03 am

    When I was 19 – 21 years old, Mormon feminists–my major role models–were excommunicated and fired from BYU. An apostle said that people like me–a Mormon feminist–were “dangers” to the Church. As someone born in the covenant of pioneer stock and extremely devout my whole early life, that broke my heart. Especially after the Church started anti-gay marriage activism (I’m a California resident), I found I could not set foot in sacrament meeting without bawling. I felt broken. I was inactive for eight years. StayLDS.com and especially the opportunity to do a Mormon Stories interview and all of the contact with Mormon Stories communities that has followed helped me find a way back in, to express the love I feel for this Church, and to share it with my children. What has happened with Mormon Stories and its communities is in many respects an effect of the digital era. Members now have the ability to express themselves and communicate with one another and access unprecedented array of information about the Church. There is so much good that can come from this development. And there is no way of putting the internet genie back in the bottle or silencing what is now happening among members. May God bless us all with softened hearts and increased love and forbearance and may God guide Church leaders as we all learn to deal with the diversity of experience and feeling among Mormon people.

  142. Elizabeth May 4, 2011 at 3:11 am

    Mormon Stories helped me find people who think like me; who aren’t sure, but have a strong desire to know and gain knowledge. Mostly importantly, it provides a forum for discussion where I don’t have to qualify every statement with “but I still believe the church is true.” I can just say what I think, and work it out from there. I don’t have to “cover” myself every step of the way.

    I guess a nice summary would be to say that Mormonstories and the community groups allow for freedom of thought and discussion and exploration without fear of staying in a box. We are allowed to stay in a state of temporary uncertainty on mormonstories that surprisingly, has led me to even more surety of the things that are really important. (For me, my explorations have led to a deeper look at my own spirituality and the role of the Savior in my life.)

    Thank you so much!!

  143. Anon May 4, 2011 at 3:18 am

    John,

    Mormon Stories came to me at a critical time in my crisis of faith. My marriage is intact today due to your podcasts on how to survive and make a relationship work when you are not both believers.

    And just a side note to the incredibly personal yet somehow similar stories to mine that I find woven throughout the comments left to the this question. I am not an emotional person and yet tonight I find myself near tears reading of the heartache you have all gone through and which I share with you. Please know that it is this sharing that makes the pungent moments of mourning my time of innocent faith as I know that I am not isolated and alone.

    Thank you.

    • Anon May 4, 2011 at 3:22 am

      Sorry, that should read “Please know that it is this sharing that makes the pungent moments of mourning my time of innocent faith more bearable as I know that I am not isolated and alone.”

  144. Brian D, Idaho Falls May 4, 2011 at 3:21 am

    I found out things about church history that I had no idea about before at about 28 years old. I had gone through seminary, went to a church school, gone on a mission, and had leadership callings in the wards and branches where I participated. I had read a very large amount of books published by church approved sources. Then I read the book Guns, Germs, and Steel.

    The archeological findings listed there did not correlate at all with the Book of Mormon. As I investigated further, I found that the historicity of the Book of Mormon very doubtful based on many factors.

    I turned to apologists sources, such as Sorenson. I was immensely relieved to find his reference to other populations in the Book of Mormon, but was surprised that I had missed it in my 20+ readings. When I checked the verses in the Book of Mormon, his interpretation seemed distorted and dishonest. Apologists went from a helping hand to a millstone.

    When I turned to the internet, I found the ex-mormon boards first. I would consider them the most aggressive of online communities. They are very angry at what they feel are deceptions. I found Mormon Stories not to long after that. It put questions in context without invalidating them. I went from someone who was ready to show up at the meeting house with pitchforks and torches to someone who recognizes that this is the path for some people, and perhaps for me. I went from believing that church leadership might be a little nefarious to believing that the leadership was, as a whole, good people trying to do the right thing.

    Four years have passed since my crisis of faith. I am still attending approximately 1/3 of the time. I still believe in Christ, but here too little of his words and his love at meetings. I enjoy the community, but no one wants to be the villain forever. I still have the mormon blood flowing through my veins, and it is hard for me to let go. It is hard when the church leadership says they don’t want me at general conference. I don’t know how long I can stay as an unwelcome guest, but because of the influence of Mormon Stories, if I leave, it will be as a happy person who is happy for those that find happiness in the faith.

    Whether I stay in the faith or leave, it will be without anger or malice thanks to the peaceful influence of Mormon Stories. Thanks John.

  145. Bryan_gee_otr May 4, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Mormon Stories has renewed my sense of belonging as I feel completely isolated within the I-15 LDS corridor. I have been listening to the Mormon stories podcasts and they have first, validated me to know that I am not alone in my experiences, perceptions and outlook of being a non traditional Mormon. It is unfortunate that I have had to go to a virtual space to feel that way but I feel and think that I do not fit with my current ward which I am active with. At least with the Mormon stories/Mormon matters group I now have a sense of place. Life right now would be a bit unbearable for me if this community were not around. I appreciate the fact that the group, listeners, interviews are not afraid to ask and answer the hard questions. There is the absence of sugar coating truth or misrepresenting the truth which is an indicator to me that what is being accomplished is genuine and good. Thanks to John et al. for all that they do!

  146. Lindsay Park May 4, 2011 at 3:28 am

    I have been an active, temple attending, tithe payer my whole life. Last month my husband and I decided to stop attending due mostly to: -Church’s involvement/stance on Prop 8 coupled with Elder Packer’s October Conference talk.
    -The gender inequalities in the church
    -Principles taught through mediums of shame and guilt
    -Whitewashing of Church history

    Mormon Stories as well as John Dehlin’s other projects kept me attending my meetings as long as I have and have made me realize I don’t want to pull my records. Mormon stories has shown me the beloved diversity of my Brothers and Sisters in the faith and that there too can be a place for me. Thank you John Dehlin.

  147. Idahospud May 4, 2011 at 3:36 am

    As the mother of 5 daughters, one of whom is getting old enough to go to the temple, I really struggle with how to prepare my girls for their experiences there–I am most concerned that while the YW program is supposed to prepare my girls to “make and keep sacred coventants,” they aren’t telling them what those specific covenants are; the non-reciprocal ones are the most troubling and as a novitiate, I felt coerced into promising things that I wasn’t prepared for, and then couldn’t speak about to anyone outside the temple. I have spoken my concerns to my bishop, who passed me along to the stake president, who passed me along to the temple president, who passed me along to a former temple president who was my stake president growing up (I didn’t even try to reach the last one; I was too disheartened). None of them could quell the spiritual anguish I feel at my own temple experience, but all of them cautioned me against telling my daughters what their precise covenants will be, with the reasoning that I might poison their experience. As their mother, with stewardship over them and a sacred duty to protect and nurture them, I feel I must tell them what to expect when they go. I have taught them their whole lives to know in their souls that they are equal to any boy in the sight of God, but the temple’s liturgy seems to teach otherwise and then actually extracts a covenant from women in which they must agree to their husband as mediator between them and God.

  148. Brad May 4, 2011 at 3:38 am

    I’m a 5th generation Mormon, BIC, RM, married in temple, with 4 kids. I’m still actively participating in church. My family has a very strong history in the church, and I’m proud of many of my ancestors.
    1) Unlike a few people I know, I was fully aware of all the inconsistencies of church doctrine/history. Up until recently, I had sufficient energy/faith to explain away these problems. But now I feel spent and just too tired to keep up the mental gymnastics. I strongly believe that the church teachings helped me during my youth, and know that I’d be a different person today were it not for the church. But I’m coming to the realization that the church is not completely what it purports to be. I’m convinced that the majority of members are good people, and the church as a vehicle helps them to become better. But if it isn’t what it claims to be (i.e. the one true church with infallible priesthood power and prophets), then we are just one of many good organizations in the world.
    I understand and believe the teaching that our leaders make mistakes, though they are trying to do God’s will. But it seems to me that the leadership of the church is not willing to admit this to me. Specifically (and I recognize these are very common problems with the people commenting here), I cannot believe any longer that denying the priesthood to blacks was God’s will, just like I can’t believe that the 1979 reversal was a ‘revelation’. I cannot accept the church lying about practicing polygamy for 20+ years, then ‘revealing’ that it is the only way to be saved in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, then doing an about face and rescinding the practice. I don’t have the energy anymore to believe that the avoidance of tea is just as important to my spiritual well-being than avoiding illicit drugs, and that it was only a suggestion to abstain until it wasn’t. The church indoctrinates us to believe that the gospel never changes, and when it so clearly does (as in the above examples), it is held up as God’s will. I can have faith in the impossible (i.e. the existence of God), but if an organized religion requires me to have the same level of belief in it as I do a God, then it better damn well have a near immaculate history.

    2) Like many other commenters, I need the church to admit what is becoming painfully obvious. There are serious issues with things the church holds as infallible, which are not going away. They will get worse if it continues to ignore them. There is too much information out there. As of now, I have zero interest in introducing non-member friends to the church. If I did, I know it would only be a matter of time before they find out for themselves these faith-shattering inconsistencies. I need the church to take a step back and realize what their callous attitude is doing to members like me, who in all respects should be 100% committed to the church program. And if it can’t ‘come clean’, at least start with more inclusive vision from the top down. As I heard someone say before, the church should make it very difficult for people to leave, and very easy for them to come back.

    3) I’ve only recently become acquainted with mormonstories. But it has helped me in my crisis of faith, if only to know that there are quite a few Mormons out there like me, that still want to associate with the church, but have similar issues. I have believed for so long that the orthodoxy of the church is one of its most strongest assets. But now that I find myself out of the orthodoxy but still wanting to be included, I view it as more of a liability. Mormonstories helps me see the goodness of people who still share a connection to the church, no matter how tenuous. It strengthens my belief that there is good everywhere, and that the church would do well to welcome many more into the fold. And it has also helped me to want to stay connected to the church. To be honest, I don’t know where I’ll be in a few years, but for now I still remain connected to the church.

    Thank you John. You have performed a valuable service.

  149. Matt May 4, 2011 at 3:42 am

    I am a sixth generation Mormon and have been a traditional, very orthodox practicing member my entire life. I have been an Elder’s Quorum president twice in two very large wards. I had an emotional crisis after my brother left the Church a few years ago and I wanted to save him from being dammed to a lesser kingdom. My world was turned upside down after I read Rough Stone Rolling. I lost confidence in the Church and felt betrayed. After I read this book I started reading every book I could from professional, believing, Mormon historians. I spent the next several years reading. I suffered in silence as my world was collapsing. I did not want to bring up these difficult historical questions up with anyone in my ward. I never heard of anyone ever discussing them and I didn’t want to harm anyone’s testimony. I couldn’t sleep for years because I knew what I taught on my mission and what I heard at Church were only a few pieces of the story. I felt compelled to leave and pull my kids out of the Church as a matter of principle and integrity. The Church has always taught me to do what is right and let the consequences follow. I felt so alone. That all changed when a good friend told me about Mormon Stories in 2010. I was no longer alone! Listening to others work through these difficult ethical dilemmas helped me stay in the Church. I found others that were walking the same path as me and they found good reasons to stay. I am currently still active with a Temple Recommend because of John Dehlin and Mormon Stories.

    • watchyour6 May 4, 2011 at 7:01 am

      You are awesome. And you are right. So is John!!!

  150. JOHNc May 4, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Some of us have practical problems with no one to turn to. My wife has a skin condition and cannot wear regular garments. Her attempts to have some custom made have been lost in the endless cycle of bureaucracy. What is here choice? Local leaders don’t even know how to help her. Either de-centralize the church – or – create a better system for voicing our concerns to those who can actually do something about it.

    Also, as a diseffected Mormon who still has a strong faith in Jesus – the deification of leaders (past and present) needs to end. Basically, I’m tired of hearing that an acknowledgement of our leaders fallibility is somehow speaking evil of them.

  151. anon-4-this May 4, 2011 at 3:53 am

    I choose to remain anonymous for this message because I am most likely sitting in the meetings where the impact of Mormon Stories(MS) is being discussed. I am a lifelong, dedicated Mormon who, after a tremendous trail of faith is proud to be counted among the Latter-day saints that call themselves “Uncorrelated Mormons”.

    MS was a pillow when I needed it most. It represents a group of saints who for reasons unknown encountered troubling information, and needed an external voice to validate thoughts, and commiserate the explosion of personal testimony. It is comforting to know there are so many like me! So many people — educated, reasonable, heartbroken people who no longer see with the eye of faith. MS provided insights that gave me pause. I have nearly pulled the rip-cord a thousand times. The cord that would rip me from my Mormon roots, my Mormon family, my Mormon job, everything…

    Only you hold the power to engage this growing problem on a global scale.. You know the tipping point is not only approaching, but accelerating with every day of inaction — it is impossible to deny the sobering facts! The Church is in trouble. Do something to stop it!
    I ponder at times my future with the Church. Without change perpetuated by the highest levels, five generations of Mormon heritage ends with me.. I have the power and influence to alter the trajectory of generations to come — You need to change! – You need to realize the pain you are causing, and change!! CHANGE DAMMITT!!! And do it now.

    You have the information you need, you know the primary, secondary, and tertiary causes of disaffection. Let your historians take off the gloves and tell the absolute truth, they are waiting to do it. Faithfull members will see and process the information as new data – disaffected members will see the Church as embracing reality.

  152. Rhodakanaty May 4, 2011 at 3:57 am

    This is the most amazing collection of beauty I have ever read.
    These are the 95 theses of Mormonism.
    I see myself in so many of the comments.
    Heterodoxy is not a crime.

  153. Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 3:58 am

    John,

    As I have said before, Proposition 8 drove me from the LDS church. I had been an active member for half a century, often called upon to put “problems” on the shelf, be they historic, doctrinal, and social in nature. Still I paid my tithing, and held numerous positions, often as a stake leader, and was usually the instructor in gospel doctrine, elder and high priest groups, etc. I also served three missions. I raised five children who served missions and married in the temple (except a gay son, who served his mission, but chose not to ruin someone’s life).

    The church’s attitude towards, blacks, women, Native Americans and gays drove me insane. Proposition 8 would have turned me against my own two brothers and my oldest son. I was unwilling to change my love for them, or to ridicule their same gender relationships and lives of service they practice and believe in. Their integrity is without borders. They are advocates on environmental GREEN issues, AIDS awareness and EQUALITY for all Americans. They were sweet caregivers to my aged parents in their final decade of life.

    Your thesis, HOW TO STAY IN THE LDS CHURCH, kept me grounded for several years. Your current association with MORMON STORIES PODCAST keeps the restoration in my life (to a degree). I love the stories, knowledge and vision expressed there. I do have hope in the grace offered unconditionally through Christ, but the modern real estate corporation that we call a church doesn’t claim my heart any longer.

    Please continue in the work you are called to, that your advanced degree is leading toward. I respect John Dehlin so very much.

  154. Jacque May 4, 2011 at 4:01 am

    John Dehlin’s counsel stopped me from throwing away my marriage of 22 years when my husband became disaffected from the LDS church.

  155. Natalie H. Kelly May 4, 2011 at 4:04 am

    For a while, I’ve that that perhaps the new “I am a Mormon” campaign was modeled off of Mormon Stories. It is a way of showcasing and cataloging all the different ways people can identify as Mormon. The Kingdom of God is an inclusive kingdom, where all should be ushered in and loved. Mormon Stories has done more than almost any other resource in pushing our community to be that kind of big tent. Every level of the church would do well to mimic the heroic love and acceptance modeled by the program.

  156. JOHNc May 4, 2011 at 4:07 am

    Also,

    As you’ve said many times John – there just is not a forum for discussions like this in the church. If the church will not accept or facilitate this kind of dialogue as a natural human need – people will continue to leave. They have no choice as long as the church is drawing the line in the sand. Its cruel and dishonest to say to me that what I see before my eyes is somehow “anti” or evil deception. The historical record is available – it can’t be hidden any longer. We as a people need to open our eyes.

  157. Joe May 4, 2011 at 4:10 am

    *** IMPORTANT *** PLEASE CLARIFY *** IMPORTANT *** PLEASE CLARIFY *** IMPORTANT ***

    Hi John (Dehlin):

    Your description regarding this meeting is somewhat vague. And this has led to confusion among us posters. So could you please clarify an important point?

    • Is this interview with a person of authority over you (such as a Bishop or Stake President)?
    • Or is this an honest and sincere invitation for a dialogue between you and someone of real authority in The LDS Church (for example a General Authority, Member of the Twelve, or someone in the First Presidency)?

    If it is the former, my heart goes out to you. But I guess this would come as little surprise to many of us. If it the later, and you are fortunate enough to have an honest and sincere dialogue with someone in authority who actually cares… well HALLELUJAH!!!

    Thanks for all your efforts.

    Warm Regards,

    Joe M Christensen

    • Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 4:15 am

      Joe,

      I’ve already done the latter once or twice, but this one is the former. But I don’t want to talk about who it is. Sorry. Maybe once it’s all over. I’m hoping for a positive outcome. That’s mainly why.

      Thx for asking.

    • Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 4:15 am

      Joe,

      I’ve already done the latter once or twice, but this one is the former. But I don’t want to talk about who it is. Sorry. Maybe once it’s all over. I’m hoping for a positive outcome. That’s mainly why.

      Thx for asking.

      • Joe May 4, 2011 at 4:27 am

        When it is all said and done, would you please keep this page posted. Thanks.

  158. Chris May 4, 2011 at 4:15 am

    I will try to be brief. These answers are in the context of someone who no longer accepts as literally true many of the truth claims of the church but hopes that there is a God, believes that the love that Jesus taught is a life-changing power and finds a lot of goodness in the Church. That is about as far as I can go.

    1. Feelings toward the Church: I’d like to stay if there is a place for me. I don’t want to have to play a part to stay. I just want to stay and be able to get from it what i think is useful and leave what I think is not.
    2. What has the Church not been able to provide? A comfortable space for the type of person I describe above. I don’t expect the Church to bend and change and make accommodation for every flavor of belief. Just making a little space for the people who can’t accept the literal truth but who find goodness in some of the teachings. Who can’t bear an “I Know…” testimony but who could bear an “I find goodness in this teaching…” testimony.
    3. Mormon Stories probably kept me in the church. When I crashed, I went looking for anything that could support a decision to stay. Any way of crafting a system of belief that let me belive I could stay. MS gave me that.

  159. Austin Smith May 4, 2011 at 4:16 am

    I consider myself pretty orthodox in my fundamental beliefs about the church: I accept all the truth claims about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, Christ, living prophets, etc. Mormon Stories has helped deepen and clarify my faith. I feel like my commitment to the church is stronger after listening to virtually all of the podcasts. True, I’m more willing to believe Brigham Young was mistaken in instituting the priesthood ban or question the wisdom of Prop 8, but I’m more likely to bear my testimony now on fast sunday because I’m more convinced of the things I do know (which includes all the really important stuff about the Church), I feel like I’m better able to relate to non-members and thus be an effective positive example of active Mormons, etc.

    Mormon Stories has been a good influence in my life and, overall, in my relationship with God and with the Church.

  160. Austin Smith May 4, 2011 at 4:16 am

    I consider myself pretty orthodox in my fundamental beliefs about the church: I accept all the truth claims about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, Christ, living prophets, etc. Mormon Stories has helped deepen and clarify my faith. I feel like my commitment to the church is stronger after listening to virtually all of the podcasts. True, I’m more willing to believe Brigham Young was mistaken in instituting the priesthood ban or question the wisdom of Prop 8, but I’m more likely to bear my testimony now on fast sunday because I’m more convinced of the things I do know (which includes all the really important stuff about the Church), I feel like I’m better able to relate to non-members and thus be an effective positive example of active Mormons, etc.

    Mormon Stories has been a good influence in my life and, overall, in my relationship with God and with the Church.

  161. Trojancougar May 4, 2011 at 4:19 am

    I know of no better way to express how John Dehlin and Mormon Stories have helped me than by sharing a few emails that I sent to John. I sent these in what have been some of the toughest moments in my crisis of belief. I can’t express the desperation that I felt when reaching out. I also can’t express how much they have helped…

    john,

    i know nothing about you other than what i’ve read publicly, but i’ll
    ask that you keep this dialogue between us.

    i’ll try to be brief, but I may seem choppy (or worse yet, crazy) in
    the process. Certainly this is outside of my comfort zone as I don’t
    know that i’ve ever taken this much time to address an email to a
    complete stranger. given your current studies, you clearly have some
    appetite for superfluous detail and personal history.

    that said, a bit about me: i have pioneer history on both sides of my
    family–nauvoo, england, polygamy, all of it. I have been active all
    my life. With few exceptions, to date i’ve lived a pretty exemplary
    mormon life–primary, youth conference, aaron priesthood leadership,
    served a mission, graduated from BYU, taught at the MTC, taught
    seminary, elder’s quorum president, was on the high council.
    more personal info xxxxx.

    with that oversimplified and terse bio, let me punchline. i find
    myself in a crisis of faith–or more accurately–a crisis of belief
    about Mormonism. and because one of my many concerns centers on the
    lack of broadmindedness in the body of the church, it has made it
    incredibly difficult to look for answers in the church. And I resent
    the trite, thoughtless rehearsals to pray and read my scriptures as the
    solution–as you might imagine, I’ve done some of that.

    so, i search. i find my thirst for knowledge, truth, and answers
    growing in this process. not simplified sunday school. not
    embittered ex-mormons seeking validation. whole truth–with all of
    its warts and unpleasantries.

    anyway, in this process I’ve done a lot of reading on and offline.
    but i was especially moved by some of the mormon stories articles a
    few days ago. then, tonight I read a bunch of staylds.com and reread
    several times https://staylds.com/docs/HowToStay.html. somehow that
    lead me to your bio on wikipedia and your connection to most of these
    things. and this section prompted this incredibly-unlike-me email:

    At times personally conflicted about continuing Mormon Stories, Dehlin
    stopped and restarted the project several times, then retired it at
    the end of 2007.[16][17] After only minor additions the following
    year, Dehlin took the blog and podcast offline in October 2008 over
    concerns that it may hinder some listeners’ faith.

    i just wanted to say that i’ve found all of these resources incredibly
    helpful. there is an honesty and especially on openness about the
    approach to these things that is what i need right now. the
    intellectual honesty and the loyalty to truth (not institution) is
    inspiring. they make me reconsider some of my assertions about
    mormonisms openness and willingness to explore the difficult topics.

    again, let me take a second shot at a punch line: thank you. i hope
    that this note nudges some of the personal conflict that you have
    clearly felt during some of these projects.

    thanks,

    xxxxx

    fast forward a few weeks:

    John,

    I can’t believe that i’m doing this again. after another sleepless
    night of examining my belief, i’m back to reach out again. in the
    event you can’t distinguish me from the other dozen of these you get a
    week, i’ve pasted my last (and only previous) message to the bottom of
    this one (the one above)

    as i alluded to then, initially i reached out because I’d had three
    separate experiences that have been incredibly moving during my crisis
    of belief. 1. listening to one of the mormon story podcasts 2.
    reading staylds.com including reviewing at length your seattle ppt
    from 2007 (not paying any attention to the fact you authored it until
    months later when reading your bio). 3. familiarizing myself with
    your story/bio and learning that you’ve been obviously a significant
    part of each of those three things–which was something that i didn’t
    seek out and was something i learned only recently.

    now, i reach out again because last night I listened to another
    podcast, Mormon Stories #114: Mormon Expression Interviews John
    Dehlin. Therein you said so many things that ring true for me that I
    thought it worth reaching out again–with a different purpose this
    time.

    Let me outline a few of the things that really resonate with me:

    1. your advice to go slow through a crisis.
    2. your perspective on the dilemma of being a first presidency or
    quorum of the 12 member today. i completely believe (as it appears
    you do) that they have no idea how to defend much of the history that
    they’ve inherited. i think they’ve made a calculated business-like
    decision about how to deal with it, which i don’t blame them for–as i
    now believe there are no good answers to most of the tough questions.
    however, this calculated choice they’ve made does not leave room for
    them to reach out to the “groups of 1s,” to put it in podcast 114
    language. In my language I’d say it doesn’t leave room for me to feel
    anything but alone.

    3. your year of semi-activity (where i am now)
    4. your decision to come back to your spiritual home.
    5. your advice to often leave local leaders out of this. (i very
    generally alluded to my crisis of belief with my stake president when
    i asked to be released from the high council several months ago and
    that has only lead to him calling in the calvary. Cookies,
    missionary visits, and genealogy consultants are not what i
    need–though appreciated. I love a good cookie as much as the next
    guy. However, i don’t feel understood. Now, my stake president has
    made me his project, which only accelerates my
    uncomfortableness–although he’s among the best men i know.)
    6. your goal to ascend fowlers stages of faith–which is an option or
    goal i hadn’t considered.
    7. your ability and way of thinking about navigating paradox. Until
    meeting your materials, I never considered doing this in the Mormon
    church. That may seem strange, but Mormons typically have such a
    singular interpretation of everything that it never occurred to me
    even possible until meeting your story and materials.
    8. adding on to point 7, you made a very interesting point about how
    creating a place for the disaffected has to be a ground swell given
    the brethren’s strategic choice in handling our history.
    9. I was eerily surprised to hear you outline the factors from your
    unique vantage point that are statistically most likely to make a
    person stay or go because of how much they align with my
    beliefs/theories on why people stay.

    But perhaps the two things that most cause me to reach out are:

    9. your ability to have been through this while keeping your family in
    tact and at least mostly spiritually aligned.
    10. your ability/tolerance to now not be irritated with members’
    claims like “only true church” and general assertions that are founded
    on a false history or a narrow world view that you don’t identify
    with. (this is the biggest reason i don’t go to priesthood meeting
    much–i leave feeling angry or alone or both nearly every time.)

    let me briefly summarize where i am and then i’ll get to my ask.

    i’m sort of still active. i go to church two to three times a month
    and then sacrament meeting only. i do this for my family. i go to
    every meeting expecting to get little or nothing out of it personally.
    I have three kids (all with names from the scriptures.) I’ve asked not to
    have a calling for a while. I’ve decided to try to refrain from talking
    about this with any family member (except my wife) as I believe I have
    been the anchor for many, i would likely lead some of them away–even
    if i eventually came back. though hard to not share, i don’t believe
    that good can come from me discussing it, at least yet. this whole
    process has been really hard on my wife and my marriage.

    this process was brought on through a garden variety mid-life crisis
    about 1 year ago by the death in my family.

    i go to a therapist weekly, and my therapist is amazing.
    however, he gave up on organized religion long ago, so this aspect of
    my journey is nearly impossible to discuss with him. he doesn’t
    understand how big this has been in my life.

    my crisis of belief is actually difficult to discuss with anyone. my
    wife finds this process too painful, and i think she’s partly afraid
    of what effect empathizing with me or even intellectually
    understanding me will have on her faith, which is huge aspect of her
    identity. and i don’t believe anyone else is capable of
    understanding–which is why i’m reaching out to you with some amount
    desperation…and i’m finally getting to my ask.

    i’d love to talk to you. I’m willing to do that in whatever format
    you’d like–writing, phone, whatever. If you plan to be anywhere from
    specific city to specific city in the near future I’ll gladly buy you
    dinner anywhere you’d like to go. you can stay at my house. I’ll
    even fly to meet you. the frequent flyer miles are burning a hole in
    my pocket anyway. also, i’m even willing to pay for “spiritual
    therapy.” i’m also willing to do it in some way that helps one of
    your initiatives, staylds, ms… anyway, you get the point, i’m open to
    one of many formats.

    do you have time for yet another conversation with another “one”?

    please keep these details between us for obvious reasons.

    thanks for considering,

    xxxx

    sorry for spamming all of your emails. i got them from fb and wasn’t
    sure which to use. let me know if you’d prefer me to contact you
    differently (or not at all).
    ==========

    John was incredibly helpful afterwards too. He gave me hope.

    I don’t think I would have gone slow without John or Mormon Stories.

    I think this process would have been much harder on my family and my marriage without John and Mormon Stories.

    I thank God for this open forum.

  162. Trojancougar May 4, 2011 at 4:19 am

    I know of no better way to express how John Dehlin and Mormon Stories have helped me than by sharing a few emails that I sent to John. I sent these in what have been some of the toughest moments in my crisis of belief. I can’t express the desperation that I felt when reaching out. I also can’t express how much they have helped…

    john,

    i know nothing about you other than what i’ve read publicly, but i’ll
    ask that you keep this dialogue between us.

    i’ll try to be brief, but I may seem choppy (or worse yet, crazy) in
    the process. Certainly this is outside of my comfort zone as I don’t
    know that i’ve ever taken this much time to address an email to a
    complete stranger. given your current studies, you clearly have some
    appetite for superfluous detail and personal history.

    that said, a bit about me: i have pioneer history on both sides of my
    family–nauvoo, england, polygamy, all of it. I have been active all
    my life. With few exceptions, to date i’ve lived a pretty exemplary
    mormon life–primary, youth conference, aaron priesthood leadership,
    served a mission, graduated from BYU, taught at the MTC, taught
    seminary, elder’s quorum president, was on the high council.
    more personal info xxxxx.

    with that oversimplified and terse bio, let me punchline. i find
    myself in a crisis of faith–or more accurately–a crisis of belief
    about Mormonism. and because one of my many concerns centers on the
    lack of broadmindedness in the body of the church, it has made it
    incredibly difficult to look for answers in the church. And I resent
    the trite, thoughtless rehearsals to pray and read my scriptures as the
    solution–as you might imagine, I’ve done some of that.

    so, i search. i find my thirst for knowledge, truth, and answers
    growing in this process. not simplified sunday school. not
    embittered ex-mormons seeking validation. whole truth–with all of
    its warts and unpleasantries.

    anyway, in this process I’ve done a lot of reading on and offline.
    but i was especially moved by some of the mormon stories articles a
    few days ago. then, tonight I read a bunch of staylds.com and reread
    several times https://staylds.com/docs/HowToStay.html. somehow that
    lead me to your bio on wikipedia and your connection to most of these
    things. and this section prompted this incredibly-unlike-me email:

    At times personally conflicted about continuing Mormon Stories, Dehlin
    stopped and restarted the project several times, then retired it at
    the end of 2007.[16][17] After only minor additions the following
    year, Dehlin took the blog and podcast offline in October 2008 over
    concerns that it may hinder some listeners’ faith.

    i just wanted to say that i’ve found all of these resources incredibly
    helpful. there is an honesty and especially on openness about the
    approach to these things that is what i need right now. the
    intellectual honesty and the loyalty to truth (not institution) is
    inspiring. they make me reconsider some of my assertions about
    mormonisms openness and willingness to explore the difficult topics.

    again, let me take a second shot at a punch line: thank you. i hope
    that this note nudges some of the personal conflict that you have
    clearly felt during some of these projects.

    thanks,

    xxxxx

    fast forward a few weeks:

    John,

    I can’t believe that i’m doing this again. after another sleepless
    night of examining my belief, i’m back to reach out again. in the
    event you can’t distinguish me from the other dozen of these you get a
    week, i’ve pasted my last (and only previous) message to the bottom of
    this one (the one above)

    as i alluded to then, initially i reached out because I’d had three
    separate experiences that have been incredibly moving during my crisis
    of belief. 1. listening to one of the mormon story podcasts 2.
    reading staylds.com including reviewing at length your seattle ppt
    from 2007 (not paying any attention to the fact you authored it until
    months later when reading your bio). 3. familiarizing myself with
    your story/bio and learning that you’ve been obviously a significant
    part of each of those three things–which was something that i didn’t
    seek out and was something i learned only recently.

    now, i reach out again because last night I listened to another
    podcast, Mormon Stories #114: Mormon Expression Interviews John
    Dehlin. Therein you said so many things that ring true for me that I
    thought it worth reaching out again–with a different purpose this
    time.

    Let me outline a few of the things that really resonate with me:

    1. your advice to go slow through a crisis.
    2. your perspective on the dilemma of being a first presidency or
    quorum of the 12 member today. i completely believe (as it appears
    you do) that they have no idea how to defend much of the history that
    they’ve inherited. i think they’ve made a calculated business-like
    decision about how to deal with it, which i don’t blame them for–as i
    now believe there are no good answers to most of the tough questions.
    however, this calculated choice they’ve made does not leave room for
    them to reach out to the “groups of 1s,” to put it in podcast 114
    language. In my language I’d say it doesn’t leave room for me to feel
    anything but alone.

    3. your year of semi-activity (where i am now)
    4. your decision to come back to your spiritual home.
    5. your advice to often leave local leaders out of this. (i very
    generally alluded to my crisis of belief with my stake president when
    i asked to be released from the high council several months ago and
    that has only lead to him calling in the calvary. Cookies,
    missionary visits, and genealogy consultants are not what i
    need–though appreciated. I love a good cookie as much as the next
    guy. However, i don’t feel understood. Now, my stake president has
    made me his project, which only accelerates my
    uncomfortableness–although he’s among the best men i know.)
    6. your goal to ascend fowlers stages of faith–which is an option or
    goal i hadn’t considered.
    7. your ability and way of thinking about navigating paradox. Until
    meeting your materials, I never considered doing this in the Mormon
    church. That may seem strange, but Mormons typically have such a
    singular interpretation of everything that it never occurred to me
    even possible until meeting your story and materials.
    8. adding on to point 7, you made a very interesting point about how
    creating a place for the disaffected has to be a ground swell given
    the brethren’s strategic choice in handling our history.
    9. I was eerily surprised to hear you outline the factors from your
    unique vantage point that are statistically most likely to make a
    person stay or go because of how much they align with my
    beliefs/theories on why people stay.

    But perhaps the two things that most cause me to reach out are:

    9. your ability to have been through this while keeping your family in
    tact and at least mostly spiritually aligned.
    10. your ability/tolerance to now not be irritated with members’
    claims like “only true church” and general assertions that are founded
    on a false history or a narrow world view that you don’t identify
    with. (this is the biggest reason i don’t go to priesthood meeting
    much–i leave feeling angry or alone or both nearly every time.)

    let me briefly summarize where i am and then i’ll get to my ask.

    i’m sort of still active. i go to church two to three times a month
    and then sacrament meeting only. i do this for my family. i go to
    every meeting expecting to get little or nothing out of it personally.
    I have three kids (all with names from the scriptures.) I’ve asked not to
    have a calling for a while. I’ve decided to try to refrain from talking
    about this with any family member (except my wife) as I believe I have
    been the anchor for many, i would likely lead some of them away–even
    if i eventually came back. though hard to not share, i don’t believe
    that good can come from me discussing it, at least yet. this whole
    process has been really hard on my wife and my marriage.

    this process was brought on through a garden variety mid-life crisis
    about 1 year ago by the death in my family.

    i go to a therapist weekly, and my therapist is amazing.
    however, he gave up on organized religion long ago, so this aspect of
    my journey is nearly impossible to discuss with him. he doesn’t
    understand how big this has been in my life.

    my crisis of belief is actually difficult to discuss with anyone. my
    wife finds this process too painful, and i think she’s partly afraid
    of what effect empathizing with me or even intellectually
    understanding me will have on her faith, which is huge aspect of her
    identity. and i don’t believe anyone else is capable of
    understanding–which is why i’m reaching out to you with some amount
    desperation…and i’m finally getting to my ask.

    i’d love to talk to you. I’m willing to do that in whatever format
    you’d like–writing, phone, whatever. If you plan to be anywhere from
    specific city to specific city in the near future I’ll gladly buy you
    dinner anywhere you’d like to go. you can stay at my house. I’ll
    even fly to meet you. the frequent flyer miles are burning a hole in
    my pocket anyway. also, i’m even willing to pay for “spiritual
    therapy.” i’m also willing to do it in some way that helps one of
    your initiatives, staylds, ms… anyway, you get the point, i’m open to
    one of many formats.

    do you have time for yet another conversation with another “one”?

    please keep these details between us for obvious reasons.

    thanks for considering,

    xxxx

    sorry for spamming all of your emails. i got them from fb and wasn’t
    sure which to use. let me know if you’d prefer me to contact you
    differently (or not at all).
    ==========

    John was incredibly helpful afterwards too. He gave me hope.

    I don’t think I would have gone slow without John or Mormon Stories.

    I think this process would have been much harder on my family and my marriage without John and Mormon Stories.

    I thank God for this open forum.

  163. painter May 4, 2011 at 4:26 am

    As a fifth generation active member, I feel like my world has fallen apart. I have been anxious and depressed since learning of the great divide between the correlated history and the actual truth. I am pleading with The Brethren to please, please, please quit promoting a white washed version of the truth. We members can handle messiness…….what we can’t handle is being deceived. I had to explain to my fifteen year old daughter yesterday that Joseph Smith actually had 33 wives. She was astounded. What I didn’t tell her is that he was sealed to women who were already married. What do the brethren expect me to do, lie to my four grown children? Do I keep the truth from them? I have to tell them the truth or they might be as devastated as I was on finding out. We owe it to our children to COME CLEAN. We shouldn’t be afraid of TRUTH.
    Secondly, we need to do a much better job focusing our teachings and our worship on our Savior! Our primary children are woefully ignorant about the Savior’s life and ministry. We need to teach our little ones about the life of Christ. How about focusing on the Savior’s life for an entire year. Also, how about changing the YW’s motto to: We will stand as witnesses of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

    Thank you to John and Mormon Stories for helping me stay sane through one of the most difficult times of my life. I would have to admit that going through this crisis of faith has been as rough as my breast cancer nightmare a couple of years ago.

  164. Sheree May 4, 2011 at 4:34 am

    For everyone that is connected with Mormon stories they all have a great deal of gratitude for John’s honest manner. They will not stop thinking out of the box if he is removed. He has opened thousands of windows and those windows will continue to open thousands more. He provides a source of understanding that the church doesn’t offer. Some might say if the church was open with its history then there wouldn’t be a need for a channel like Mormon stories. Personally, his staylds site was the only anchor I had. I would have removed my family a long time ago. Social networking/internet has made it possible to connect with fellow active temple recommend holding members like myself who don’t go out tearing down the church, but respectfully and quietly support each other in our various walks of life. This connecting and communicating cannot be eliminated by anyone; it is just the way we communicate in today’s world. No disciplinary action should be taken. Mormon stories is just an additional guide for people. It isn’t replacing or threating the church, it is retaining members that would otherwise vanish.
    Sincerly, Sheree (BIC, Active, Temple Recommend holder, Mother, Current EQ President’s Wife, loving daughter of God)

  165. Nikki Hunter May 4, 2011 at 4:34 am

    I am an active, married, temple-recommend-holding, calling-magnifying, pioneer-stock-descended LDS with 6 children. Before I heard about Mormon Stories, someone who knew I was struggling with issues regarding the temple pointed me to John Dehlin’s essay on how to stay a member of the church. That encouragement and advice buoyed me and helped me stay active; about a year later, my husband–a member of the bishopric–was dealing with his own doubts, and I forwarded the essay along to him. I think the “permission” to be a (secret?) “cafeteria Mormon” saved our activity when the cognitive dissonance was just too loud.
    Since that time, I have listened to many of the Mormon Stories podcasts, and to hear the struggles of others–elicited by John’s compassionate, fair, non-judgmental questions–has made me feel less alone in my struggles and more confident in my choice to stay active. In the din of voices that is the unlimited availability of material about Mormons on the internet, Mormon Stories speaks with clarity and honesty to many of us, and I am grateful for this amazing project.

  166. CarlC May 4, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Well, now that I more fully understand the purpose of the meeting, I feel I need to more succinctly repost.

    TBM. Have been my whole life. Recently married in the temple. 30 and male.

    I’m very sympathetic to the problems of running a worldwide church with disparate needs that vary wildly from location to location. Mormon Stories podcast is a place where I can go to meet and listen to and interact with other like-minded Mormons for whom the basic correlated material is not entirely adequate. I’m not having a crisis of faith so the podcast is not helping me stay in (that’s what my testimony is for) but it is nice to have a place with a more complete and nuanced discussion of Mormonism, warts and all. Mormon Stories very much fills that role in my life.

  167. CarlC May 4, 2011 at 4:36 am

    Sorry, I hit the “post” button too fast. I also served a mission, grew up in Orem and Provo, and have a MA in religion and am currently working on a PhD in religion.

  168. Kathy May 4, 2011 at 4:40 am

    When I had a faith crisis there was no one in the church I could turn to for help or support. Instead I was out, shunned, disowned.
    I wanted to be accepted back in my ward so for three years I doubled my efforts getting up early reading scriptures, pleading to the Lord to help me get back in and attending the temple. When I finally went to my sp for help he said there must be some sin in my background. Wow, I was floored and started looking elsewhere for spiritual support.
    This is when I found Mormon Stories. I felt understood and less alone. I got my husband to listen to the pod casts and they helped him understand me better. He was able to accept my path more and I was able to continue to support him in the church. Ms helped our marriage.
    Based on my experience I would love if the church could be more supportive of those of us who are diffent.
    Rather than scare me with the ability to keep me from seeing my children marry, help me make their marriage a wonderful family event.
    Rather than scare my husband that he will not be with me in the next life, help us enjoy this life together.
    Rather than focus on the outside i.e. white shirts, earrings, help us to feel we are fine and welcome to participate just the way we are.
    God loves us for who we are not for what we do or don’t do or how we look.
    Help me appreciate who my children are becoming and support them in their interests even if it’s a daughter who wants to pursue a career path.
    Rather than exclude me in leadership because I am a women, help me to have a voice.
    I have a voice, I am good enough and I would like a place that welcomes me as I am and supports my efforts to grow spiritually.

  169. anonymous May 4, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Mormon Stories has validated feelings and thoughts I have had for 20+ years. Sadly, I feel I did throw away a marriage of 12 years and the consequences to myself and my children continues to haunt me. I am so grateful for the work that John and others are doing. If I had had this resource 10 years ago, the marriage may still have ended, but my approach and subsequent processing of the transition could have been much healthier, more authentic, and more loving. I am so grateful for the connection to these resources now….never too late to learn, to heal, and to move forward in love. Blessings to everyone who has shared and continues to share from their heart.

  170. Anon May 4, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Just and FYI

    Another thread is running here, including a comment about who the meeting is with.

    https://forum.newordermormon.org/viewtopic.php?t=20790

  171. Joe May 4, 2011 at 4:58 am

    As with many who have posted here, my faith crisis began while studying LDS Church history. But my concerns started rather innocently. I am a firm believer that you can gain greater understanding by understanding context behind quotes, scriptures, etc. So while teaching EQ, I would research out the source materials for each quote in a lesson.

    I became increasingly disenchanted when, time-and-time again, the correlated LDS manuals would use these quotes, scriptures, etc. forcefully out-of-context. My struggle became worse as I immersed myself in LDS Church history (only Deseret Book resources). Again, this study was done out of a love for The Church and a desire to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ (by having better insights and knowledge).

    But an honest person cannot study LDS Church history without something challenging happening. You start to notice HUGE inconsistencies between correlated LDS Church history and the true Restorationist history. In short, The LDS Church does not convey/share history with the same level of integrity and honesty that it demands of members in general day-to-day life.

    For many of us, we don’t know how to process this disconnect. Many honest people feel as if their only path is the path out of The LDS Church. And in many ways, this is the path that our integrity demands. John Dehlin has offered many of us a different path. It is a path that allows us process these inconsistencies while hearing tremendous interview… such as the interview with Dr. Bushman, Edward Kimball, and Dr. and Sister Hardy.

    John was incredibly sensitive and discrete in breaking the news of this visit. But I am truly disappointed to hear about it. Whether anything comes of this meeting or not, the meeting itself sends an additional disturbing message about historical (and intellectual) honesty and The Church.
    _____________________________

    I find the disconnect between TBM and LA/Ex-Mormons to be unreal. At work a few weeks ago, I had a discussion with a good friend who is a TBM. I said, “Probably more than 50 percent of the people leaving The Church leave because of intellectual dishonesty (by The Church).” He couldn’t even fathom that idea… because we are told (in Sunday school) that people leave because of SIN (or perhaps laziness).

    So we did a quick (informal) poll of several LA/Ex-Mormons. The question was, “Did you leave The LDS Church because you didn’t like the lifestyle? Or did you leave because of a historical issue?” Every single person that we asked said they left because of historical dishonesty. My friend was blown away by the responses.

  172. Joe May 4, 2011 at 5:28 am

    Hi John:

    So following up on my first set of questions… did the SP set up this visit? Or was it you?

    Jeff Ricks (as PostMormon.org) is reporting that you are resigning from The LDS Church. Any truth to this?
    https://www.postmormon.org/exp_e/index.php/discussions/viewthread/28352/

    Best Wishes,

    Joe M Christensen

    • Joe May 4, 2011 at 6:15 am

      Well, after looking at a few more posts at both PostMormon.org and NOM (https://forum.newordermormon.org/viewtopic.php?p=285005&highlight=#285005), I guess we have the answer.

      This saddens me. You were one of few individuals that actually gave me HOPE about The LDS Church. You gave me hope that–despite all rational thinking–maybe… just maybe… The LDS Church (or maybe just the Restorationist movement) had some level of “Truth” left in it.

      John, I have attended the Community of Christ periodically over the past year. You should give it a try. The service feels like HOME… but without the baggage. It was super Christ-centric. And to be honest, I probablfeel a “better spirit” at these services then I do at my home (LDS) ward.

  173. pigs in a blanket May 4, 2011 at 5:34 am

    John:
    1) Life long member of the church – deep family and cultural roots. Always been stalwart – one of the kind you describe who ‘cares too much’. Known many high level church leaders or their families in the past. My ties to the church are more than just social – there is something utterly compelling about the ‘gospel’ and the concept of faith, belief, hope, charity – and divinity that speak to my soul. I am well versed in the ‘secular’/scientific/rational challenges to our faith, and faith in general – and am highly sympathetic to the very real challenges which confront it. I consider this a condition of life and not one I’m likely to solve/resolve even though I get very anxious about it. Some days I feel torn apart mentally trying to construct a peaceful harmony with some of the riddles of the ‘modern’ church and its place in the world and the authenticity of overall claims of judeo-christian authority (of which the old testament provides particular paradox of disturbing history, beliefs and mores mixed with compelling, hope filled silver lining doctrines and accounts) but at the same time I feel like there would be something ironically fitting and totally possible that tomorrow I wake up and see Christ coming in the clouds of the sky in all his glory as has been fortold. I’ve been a defender of the faith and huge critic at the same time. I find it eery how some of the prophetic and doctrinal lines and themes of the biblical tradition do literally fit so tightly into Joseph Smith’s Mormonism. I have matured in my ‘mormonism’ through some particularly tough life experience after following the TBM ‘pathway to enlightenment’ only to find it seriously flawed. With regards to the organization itself and hierarchal leadership I have similarly mixed feelings: while on hand there generally a heartfelt commitment to good – there is a malaise pouring over the church, a thick, goopy mess of passionless, charismatic-less, spiritless, blahness. The thrill is nearly gone – and it has everything to do with John Doe Member and everything to do with John Doe GA and everyone else who rode in with them. There are serious fundamental cracks showing in the foundation – and I’m not picking at doctrinal crumbs here – the stuff of Hugh Nibley’s Leaders to Managers I think says it all. Church leadership today is about 98% Managers and the rest only aspiring leaders in my take. I think there maybe no correcting this – tilting at windmills.

    2) What I am lacking that the church doesn’t provide: Not just what I need but I bet for most others: As Randy Paul pointed out so deftly on Mormon Matters podcast recently: the distance between average members and leadership is now getting exponentially large – this chasm is outrageously dangerous and unprecedented in my opinion. We may have reached critical mass. The church may have grown too large. Financially the nebulous and increasingly questionable means of the Corp of the President having becoming a sickening mess to me. I served a mission in one of the poorest places on earth. I’ve seen people literally starving to death, dying in the streets. And in the developed world too – there are people flat broke – struggling under crushing economic conditions – meanwhile the church, pompously and proudly declares that it can quite comfortably and ‘not out of tithing funds’ build its City Creek Center with billions of dollars, can lose $600 MILLION DOLLARS (my God $600 MILLION!?) via an insanely risky bet by Beneficial Life on mortgage backed securities – and pat all us’little’ people in the church on the head and say “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” (James 2:16) – I feel like I’m screaming into an echo chamber. ‘Some of us are dying out here! With holes in our roofs and cars literally with pieces falling off of them, with homes devoid of even basic furniture, with failing businesses, staggering debts and so on.’ What do we need from the church? We need to consecrate together our means – and actually, literally help each other. I’m all for hard sacrifice – but the scale is now tilted to near robbery – it is becoming crushing taxation without representation, a gluttonous, unholy yoke like Solomon laid on the old house of Israel. Like in the Shawshank Redemption when Andy Duphresne asks the pharisee prison-warden “how he could be so obtuse?” – the financially crushed, humble followers in the church today are in awe saying to the leadership the same thing – How can you be so obtuse? How can you continue down this path with us? How can you grind the faces of the poor? I don’t believe this is the way of God or the intended financial and spiritual format for a body of believers.
    Bottom line is – there is a hugely detiorating sense of community, of a cohesive interdependent group of people where there is NO SKIN IN THE GAME – where we have no REAL financial, physical, tangible connection to each others lives and well being. No sense of consecration in a real sense. I think this is key to many of the other problems (mindless, useless meetings, faltering mediocre mission work, and all other systemic-organizational failures). Fix this and the church might have the breath of life again – without it and we continue to wander aimlessly.

    3) My situation and Mormon Stories: Absolutely priceless – while there maybe those who will use this information or this forum to their own negatives ends – your work is serious, grown up stuff which personally has provided a positive community of online believers/semi believers and more who can reach out and feel others who are part of this same community within the larger church. This is obviously meaningful, comfort those who stand in need of comfort work that is very hard to find in today’s church. As you know there is a blood bath going on out there in the church. Good people are being pushed out, and those that choose to stay are literally suffering in silence or being hacked to death, a Sunday at a time, by the slicing insensitivies and many times outright emotional and social brutality of the pharisees among us. Unfortunately they make up the most powerful ‘faction’ within the church – today as seemingly in New Testament times (a la Paul Toscano). To this end I’m unconvinced and possibly without hope that real change can actually be affected. In any case MS, MM and the like are hugely necessarily resources for LDS to have grown up, balanced conversations with ourselves – if we leadership isn’t grown up enough to stomach adult conversations in church then what should be in church is here. We need it, we love it, God bless it. In many ways there is more ‘community’ here in this virtual world than in what passes as the body of Christ that sickly comes together for 3 hours of Sunday malaise.

  174. Longhorn May 4, 2011 at 5:40 am

    The fact that almost 200 comments have appeared in just the first day since John first posted this request gives some indication of how widely these kinds of sentiments are shared. My thoughts on this are complicated, but I will endeavor to be brief…

    I am a convert of more than 10 years. I was baptized while at college, was surrounded by an exemplary group of LDS students, served a mission to Latin America, came home, was promptly married in the temple to a life-long member. I am currently a Gospel Doctrine teacher in our ward. Despite outwardly looking like a conventional Mormon, I am anything but. Most of my beliefs about God, the scriptures, and theology are non-traditional from the POV of most members of the Church (though I feel that they fit well within the broader history and scope of Mormonism) and as a result, I have felt quite alone in both my family and my Church community for the last five or six years. I am one of those who would likely leave if it were not for my wife, who with words from her own mouth, has said that she would leave me and take the kids if I were ever to leave the Church. I am aware of most of the historical issues (many of which I learned about before coming to MSP), and though they disturb me, in some cases greatly, I have more or less made my peace with them. What concerns me most is that I have serious doubts as to the inspiration that the Prophet and the Twelve Apostles supposedly enjoy. I cannot say that I have seen any indicia of inspiration from them, if I am honest with myself, at any point during my membership. Rather, they seem to be running the Church like a corporation, and doing it according to their own preferences and decisions. Instead of holding their position because of revelation (e.g. some special moral insight more profound or true than something that I could find inside a Hallmark card or on the Dr. Phil show), they are merely part of the self-perpetuating priesthood authority with the prerogative to determine what the “Church’s position” is on any issue. I have plenty of other “issues” with the Church (e.g. Correlation, gender equality, LGBT issues), but they all flow from this one.

    For this reason, Mormon Stories, Mormon Matters, and the rest of the Bloggernacle have been a “godsend” to me. More than simply communicating information, it gave me a sense of community and a feeling that there were others out there like me, who even if they did not share my beliefs, at least respected them, and went about trying to discover truth in a similar fashion. I have been heartened to see Mormon Stories grow from more than a one-man podcast to what I hope it will become- a supplemental community for LDS who are not wholly satisfied with their experience in the organized Church.

  175. Grigg May 4, 2011 at 5:45 am

    John, you and MormonStories have helped me more than I can say. Thank you! Is your meeting with Marlin Jenson? He was kind enough to meet with me after I read Grant Palmer’s book. Please tell him that Jesus is the answer to the problems faced by the LDS church today. When I learned to look at Church leaders through the eyes of Jesus and not Jesus through the eyes of Church leaders all my pain caused by the deception of the LDS church started to heal. Jesus had nothing but contempt for the Pharisee. Honesty is the best policy. Please tell Marlin that the church would be better off in the long run to just come clean about its past and become a more Christ-centered church. Jesus not Joseph

  176. BDBERKEY May 4, 2011 at 5:47 am

    The problem is that the Church engrains the notion that the institution is synomymous with “The Kingdom”, and friends and family erroneously think that when one finds out the lies and damage (note: we are merely coming across this, we are not responsible for this, the church is) you are going against Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. LDS leaders do nothing to disabuse its members of this critical distinction, and usually conflate them as the same thing. This thinking and practice adds insult to injury.

    I am not apostate; the LDS Church is apostate, IMHO. The institution in the era of correlation and corporatism has abandoned Christ and searching for truth, simple beauty, wisdom, the kingdom of God is within you, “Thou art That”, etc..

    Came across this quote today from a book entitled “So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore”

    “The institution provides something more important than simply loving each other in the same way we’ve been loved. Once you build an institution together you have to protect it and its assets to be good stewards. It confuses everything. Even love gets redefined as that which protects the institution and unloving as that which does not. It will turn some of the nicest people in the world into raging maniacs and they never stop to think that all the name-calling and accusations are the opposite of love. … Institutionalism breeds task-based friendships. As long as you’re on the same task together, you can be friends. When you’re not, people tend to treat you like damaged goods. … Any human system will eventually dehumanize the very people it seeks to serve and those it dehumanizes the most are those who think they lead it. … Over time institutions … become abusive when the demand for conformity takes over. … Once people are in love with the program and grow dependent on it as the spiritual component of their lives, they won’t see its limitations. It cannot substitute for their own life in him and it can only produce an illusion of community because it is based on people doing what it takes to sustain the institution … ”

    This is highly heretical, but I am of the thought that us members, particularly BIC ones, with more stake in the game, need to call the modern Church and its leaders to repentance. I have no problem stating as such, even and maybe especially if church discipline is involved. I’m a glutton for punishment, no?

    The system is broken.

  177. BDB May 4, 2011 at 5:48 am

    This is highly heretical, but I am of the thought that us members, particularly BIC ones, with more stake in the game, need to call the modern Church and its leaders to repentance. I have no problem stating as such, even and maybe especially if church discipline is involved. I’m a glutton for punishment, no?

  178. Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 5:57 am

    I recently had a friend (an American woman) return from living with her husband in China for a few years. She relayed to me her frustration that local officials in China do not represent the people; rather they represent the communist party and its wishes. All legislation is entirely top-down. Local people have no voice at all in the affairs of government in China. In the United States, on the other hand, any average citizen can contact his representative and have influence all the way up to the White House. In the United States, our local representatives do not represent the President of the United States or his party; their job is to represent the American people.

    With all due respect, the LDS Church operates more like the Chinese government. If I go to my bishop or stake president, he is not there to hear my voice so that he can represent me to area authorities or the First Presidency. He is there to represent LDS Church policy from the top down TO ME. I cannot send my thoughts, by the voice of a representative to the First Presidency. My only job (as that of my Chinese counterpart) is to obey.

    As a conscious individual who seeks to appreciate her full status as an American Citizen and as a human being and exercise all rights connected thereunto, I can no longer dream of subjecting myself to any other system of government–neither politically nor religiously. Any willingness to do so has fled from me right along with my former ignorance of my God-given moral agency.

    If I could make one request, it would be to see the LDS Church correlation department be entirely deposed and replaced by what was there in the first place–God-given human conscience, personal revelation and a willingness to openly believe one’s own religious ideas as did the men in the School of the Prophets who shared and debated their own ideas about God and Heaven, and who differed greatly in their opinions and were fine with it. I would ask that the Church adopt this policy over that which was exercised over me: When I had a difference of opinion with my stake president, he told me that I had lied in my temple recommend interview. My husband asked him, “How did she lie?” The stake president replied, “See this question: Do you agree or affiliate with anyone whose views are contrary or opposed to those of the LDS Church?” My husband replied, “Whom has she affiliated or agreed with?” He replied, “She agrees with herself.”

    I am currently 40 years old and was raised in the LDS Church. For the last 14 years I have been a member of a stake in Utah County. My great great great grandfather was Elias Harmer who worked as a carpenter on the Nauvoo Temple and crossed the plains to Utah in 1851. I was a student at Brigham Young University. I taught Russian at the Provo Missionary Training Center. I have a calling as a nursery song leader in my ward. I have been going to church on my own terms for almost two years now. As I have no local church representatives, I am pleased now to represent myself to you. With an example like John Dehlin’s and others on Mormon Stories who have been so respectable and candid, I feel that I can do no less.

    Sincerely, Holly

  179. Devin Wilcock May 4, 2011 at 5:59 am

    I was serving as a counselor in the Bishopric during Prop 102 in AZ (Prop 8 in CA) and was instructed to assist with filling phone banks and instructing ward members to consider the proposition. Having served a mission, studying, and knowing full well how the process of personal revelation works, I heeded our Bishop’s advice to pray about this issue (coupled with fasting). I received personal revelation that was in direct conflict with the Brethren. I couldn’t understand why this was so. I studied further American History and the bringing about of the 1st Amendment. The information I was learning confirmed my answer to my revealed prayer, but as I was trying to understand my opposition to the Brethren’s directives, I passionately paid attention to anything the Brethren had to share on the matter. Oaks, Wickman, Bednar, Cook, and Ballard advised on the issue, but with all thier advice, I could still see errors in thier argument/teachings. A ‘special place’ for religion, as Oaks puts it, does not exist. I am not an intellectual by any means, but the more they spoke on the matter, the more questions started to develop about church history, authority, continued revelation, and sustaining the President and all Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. This is when my belief in the church and my worldview came crumbling down. My Stake and Ward leaders were not helpful in this dilemma either. Friends, associates, and even family relationships became jeopardized. I know my revelation is from God just as well as Joseph Smith knew what he says he knew. I cannot deny that personal revelation I received on Prop 102. I have received additional personal revelation since that has confirmed to me the sweet feelings or spiritual promptings that we describe so well in the church. I know these promptings come from God just as much as anything else I know is real in this life. Mormon Stories podcasts helped temper the anger I felt from what seemed to be betrayal from learning I’ve been indoctrinated with a limited view and version of church history all my life. I can only speculate what choices I would have made if I didn’t find Mormon Stories, but I can say with certainty, that they are better choices than choices made without finding Mormon Stories.

    Mormon Stories provided me with comfort that I was not alone in my experience and views. I have been even more blessed to plug into a network of friends (in and out of the church) and experiences that have richly enhanced my life more than I could have ever imagined after this dilemma. I am still an active member and teach primary in the same ward I served as 2nd Counselor in the Bishopric. I don’t know what the future of my relationship with the church will be, but my family, friends, and experience will be more eternal than this church can ever declare to be. I sustain the Brethren as much as I sustain the elected leaders of our country. I support the elected leaders of our country, even ones I disagree with, more than I do the Brethren at this time. I can usually still feel the spirit when Uchtdorf speaks, but it is most difficult for me to feel the spirit when Packard speaks even though I know he has the best of intentions. I also will not quietly sit in the back row if I see bigotry/hatred being taught. Saying we love others, but treating them differently is not genuine love for others. I know. I am an ‘Other’ now. Others may question my beliefs, but at least I’m willing to go to hell for them.

  180. Samuel Vijarro May 4, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Dear John and the Mormon Stories Community,
    I was a convert in my early 20s. After a year in the church, I began a mission in Guatemala. Upon my return home, I began the process of prosyliting my family and friends, researching the “real” history of the church and the crisis of my LDS faith. I eventually left the church and have since embraced an Evangelical-Christian faith.
    Though I am no longer a LDS, I still abide in a very strong love and affection for the LDS people I came to know. I know that some of them struggle as I did. In all candor, my hope is that they leave the church. But I recognize this, obviously, isn’t the choice of every person who comes to the knowledge that the church is not what it claims to be.
    That being the reality, I rejoice with you, that the work of Mormon Stories is giving struggling LDS a real and tangible way to work through their feelings, issues, etc… In the early years of my struggle, research was not so easy for this “average guy” convert who didn’t know much about research. I thank God for this digital age, the internet and so forth. I echo what Joanna Brooks said regarding the “internet genie” being here to stay. It became the lifeline of my research for years, helping me to search for material – books, audio, video, blogs and podcasts to answer my many burning questions.
    In company with all of that, is John Dehlin and his work. As illustrated in the many comments in this page alone, Mormon Stories has been a priceless blessing to so many, already. Even though John and I have chosen different life paths, resulting from our faith crisis, I applaud him and appreciate him for his exemplary integrity. The struggles he faced, head on, during his mission and through his faith crisis, reveal his honesty, simple and true. As such, it is my humble opinion that he is, in his own right, a new era pioneer in the church. His work has become too big for the Brethren to continue to ignore, hence this upcoming meeting. I believe, this meeting, with a church leader, is but a first step in many more to come.
    When all is said and done, whatever strides and breakthroughs are accomplished by it, my prayers are with you, John, that Jesus Christ will be your reason for the pursuit and that His glory is the outcome; May every life, which is, in any way involved and/or affected by this meeting, be drawn closer to the only, ultimate Savior of all, Jesus Christ.
    Ever in His service, Samuel Vijarro

  181. Bean May 4, 2011 at 6:10 am

    The Church is lacking a sense of reality — when it comes to history, the fallibility of prophets, the word of wisdom, etc…. What I get from the Mormon Stories podcast is authentic discussion about things as they really are.

    In my opinion, the worst thing that the church does is vilify people and benign acts, causing division and contention among the members. For example, beards, earrings, tattoos, marrying a person you met on your mission, wearing flip-flops or a blue shirt to church, doing anything on Sunday, these are all things that a person can do to cause others to question their righteousness. Rather than addressing this, the church continues to call for more rules and more divisions.

    The worst of the vilification is reserved for those of us who question the church’s history and validity, when in fact, the church is the one which is hiding the truth. THE CHURCH DESTROYS FAMILIES BECAUSE OF THIS.

    If the church had rooted itself in reality, even with its ridiculous history, I may have continued to attend. Instead, they choose to perpetuate a dishonest and judgmental culture, which I can not be a part of.

    Mormon Stories/Mormon Matters has helped me to come to terms with reality.

  182. Lee Prince May 4, 2011 at 6:28 am

    My name is Lee Prince. I am an active, faithful, truth-claims believing Latter-day Saint.

    The Church facilitates my relationship with Christ and access to His Atonement in many ways. It suffices to say my spiritual needs are met in the LDS Church. However, “church” as experienced in the correlated three hour block on Sunday tends to be filled with many people who mingle what they learned in their MBA program with scripture. The “mid-level management” of the Church (Bishops, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents) often, in a systemically widespread way, fails to even barely adequately minister to those who struggle and suffer because of historical events and doctrinal differences with the Church. To borrow from Hugh Nibley, we are a people who thrive in an environment of “zeal without knowledge.” (as members of God’s church have historically done, see for example, the Old and New Testaments) We hurl ourselves headlong into an effort to keep track of meaningless statistics and make sure everyone is wearing the right color shirt. Neither Jesus nor Brother Joseph would approve.

    Mormon Stories Podcast fills an inevitable void left in the Church since the time of its correlation in the middle of the last century. As has been conveyed in earlier posts, there are no acceptable or accessible places to ask (and struggle with) the questions that must be asked (and struggled with) in the correlated three hour block. Mormon Stories is a healthy, open forum to do that. Mormon Stories Podcast, and John’s work in general, is noticeably tempered and restrained. There is an obvious lack of pushing folks one way or another. Anyone with a discerning eye can see that this is due to John’s deliberate restraint. Very rarely does he criticize the Church or encourage/endorse positions or behavior of any kind. He is providing a forum that will happen and needs to happen with or without him. The tone and substance of Mormon Stories Podcast is infinitely more preferable than the alternatives.

    I don’t need MSP, but I enjoy it and I am grateful John is doing it for those who do need it. My brother, who has posted earlier, needs it. Many others in all stages and walks of Mormonism need it. There is a grand tradition in the Church of asking important questions and embracing the answers that come, whatever they may be and however they may differ from previous notions of truth. MSP is in that tradition.

    Also…Have you listened to the podcasts? They’re really good.

  183. Katrina Anderson May 4, 2011 at 6:28 am

    I found Mormon Stories after reading Carol Lynn Pearson’s Mother Wove the Morning which sparked my feminist awakening. I love her interview and many of the other interviews John has done.

    I love that through the podcast, we can see that there are many ways to be Mormon. I want the tent of Mormonism to be large. I want it to be inclusive. I want it to be ok to ask questions and to be different. I want us to remember that there is more than one way to be a good Mormon. I don’t want us all to be from the same mold. I want Mormonism to be a diverse group of Saints working and serving together. I want there to be less emphasis on superficialities and more on love, compassion, and service.

    I love the Church. I love the people. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love being Mormon.

  184. Deborah Dushku Gardner May 4, 2011 at 6:41 am

    I am not happy about some of the things I’ve learned about our Mormon history, but for some reason, my faith is unshaken and I continue to love the Mormon church. All churches have a past. All church members of all churches have made mistakes. Most church leaders, even apostles and prophets have made mistakes. I served a mission as in imperfect sister missionary and yet people believed my message. If they knew of my mistakes, would they have not joined the church. If they learned later about my mistakes, would they feel deceived and like they needed to leave the church? I certainly hope not.

    Each one of us has to make a choice about what we are going to do with the information we now have. In my opinion, the choice to stay in the church or to leave should NOT be solely an intellectual decision. In matters of religion, the heart must also be involved. Faith IS a factor. People don’t join the Mormon church because of intellectual reasons. They join because something deep down inside them tells them it is a good thing and that it is true. That can’t be explained. In my opinion, the only element MS is really missing is the element of promoting FAITH. If we are all truly trying to follow Christ, we can’t just intellectualize our religion.

    We must be willing to not only search out our church history, but the scriptures as well because therein truly lie the real mysteries of God. If people are truly searching for the truth, they should not be obsessed only with the historical dirt, but the beautiful mysteries of God which all of us, I am sure need to learn more about. Focusing only on the negatives is so damaging. I wonder if any of the readers on MS know, for instance, that Joseph Smith raised many people from the dead. If he was not a prophet of God could he have done that? The positives need to be addressed more.

  185. Matt H. May 4, 2011 at 7:01 am

    1) Current situation: I am an active (BIC) temple recommend holder, trying to make the LDS theology and culture work for me. I’m more cultural than spiritual these days, but hopeful to find a greater spiritual path in Mormonism. I value the “clean living” guidelines of the church and I believed from a young age that our purpose should be to live a good life at a minimum, but ultimately be like Abraham as described in Abraham 1:2. I can’t help but think Joseph Smith was inspired and a prophet, even though I think he did some pretty crazy things.

    Regular church services usually leave me unfulfilled, due to the mundane packaging of correlated lessons, although occasionally I come away feeling edified. I love my ward brothers and sisters. However, I find regular worship meetings to be unsafe environments for me to express my true feelings and questions regarding church history, doctrinal issues, and doctrinal inconsistencies. I’ve been told, by fellow members in often not so subtle and kind ways, that I should follow the church leaders no matter what and I will eventually come to realize my own follies. It is easier for me to reconcile the messy church history, than it is to reconcile the perceived cover up by the church leadership, and the perceived subterfuge to keep the lay membership from understanding truths about LDS history and past policies and doctrines that are embarrassing according to our current world view. The recent prop 8 issue was a total embarrassment due to the blatant hypocrisy related to our own history of polygamy, which the church tries to pretend never happened, or at best, treats as a footnote.

    2). What is lacking: Frankly I don’t think the church leadership cares to hear any feedback about what needs to be improved in the church. If there is a LDS leader who honestly thinks it is worthwhile to hear the concerns of struggling members, he won’t be taken seriously by the rest of the “brethren”. Hopefully, John, this person isn’t just patronizing the MS experience.

    For what it is worth, the church “lacks” the following: full (sometimes even partial) disclosure on history; intelligent lessons; tolerance of sincere doubts; trust of members to believe the uncorrelated truth.

    3). How has MS community helped me? For the first time in my life I discovered other people share my concerns. Part of my journey has been very lonely but the MS experience has helped me process much of the LDS messiness and provided a support group to lean on. It helps to find people who share my concerns and leverage their successes to stay on the ship. I realize many fall off the ship, but I want the basic plan to be true. This is the only “safe” community that allows honest discussion without the backlash which orthodox Mormon culture unintentionally serves up. I feel more of a gospel connection with this community than I do my own ward because I feel it is more honest.

  186. Mike Griffitts May 4, 2011 at 7:13 am

    I was raised in a faithful, loving LDS family, served a mission to Europe, married in temple, graduated from BYU, graduate school at an Ivy league school, and by my mid-30s could no longer cope effectively with the simplistic and sometimes inaccurate versions of history and doctrine that were repeated over and over. I tried to muster the belief that someone who questioned and demanded honesty and integrity could fit into an institution and culture that was so forcefully focused on the Book of Mormon as precisely what Joseph Smith said it was, on the First Vision as precisely what Joseph Smith reported in the late 1830s, on the Book of Abraham as…

    My family and I have not attended in more than five years, and they have been five of my happiest years in many ways. But I do take very seriously the foundation that the church has played in my life, and the powerful influence it has on my extended family.

    I would love to see an institutional openness to honest dissent. Mormon Stories provides a fantastic forum to hear thoughtful Mormons talk about their research, their struggles, their triumphs. Despite my disaffection from the institution, I know that I’m Mormon in many ways and I so appreciate that validation in the wide open tent that John and others have constructed through Mormon Stories.

  187. Bret May 4, 2011 at 7:37 am

    I feel like the church offers many wonderful things to its members by learning how to serve others, show charity, etc. However, the challenges I have are related to the authoritarian approach where seeking knowledge seems discouraged, especially in the realm of science. There is no platform within the church to openly discuss certain sensitive doctrinal points for those of us who are uncorrelated members and to get understanding for the cognitive dissonance we feel. Mormon Stories offers this platform where sensitive issues are openly discussed and where you can find those members who are feeling the same we you do. I have found an exposition of reasons in coming here to help me reduce my dissonance in a positive way. We all need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance, and if you are uncorrelated, this is the perfect place to be. Thanks for taking this bold and courageous step, John!

  188. Hans H Mattsson May 4, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I thing Mormonstories helpt me to keep the faith. M S is a answer to my prays about the church history. I know the brethen through my calling as I seventy and they know me. We have hade hours of talks about the problems with the church founding history. We need a forum in the church to let the members as all the questien they have .
    //A Swedish Brother

    • Gina Colvin May 4, 2011 at 8:15 am

      OK – a bit of a double take here!! I’ve got so many many questions for you – I hardly know where to start. What kind of questions and how were you concerns dealt with by the brethren??????

      • Hans H Mattsson May 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm

        The brethen ask me to be quait and don´t talk to the members and my famalie about my douts and questiens. I am not aloude to say things that will hurt there filings fore the church. I think thats all I can say now.

        • swede May 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm

          hej hans, tragiskt att höra, jag tycker att du skall vara stolt som vågade/vågar ifrågasätta istället för att blunda för problemen.
          vad skulle hända om du berättade vad “bröderna” sa till dig? – hotade de med uteslutning eller?…kämpa på hans

        • Gina Colvin May 4, 2011 at 8:36 pm

          Well thanks for sharing – it means such a lot that you are able to come forward and support MS. For those of us who have been (and continue to be) faithful active members amidst our turmoil of questions and doubts it is good to know that our concerns exits at the centre as well as the periphery of the church. I hope one day you will be able share your story with us.

  189. Bret May 4, 2011 at 8:24 am

    The “uncorrelated” Mormon…

  190. LSK May 4, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Haha like they care. Okay, I have been very deeply hurt by the deception. My family is destroyed by it. I lost my community and work for following the truth where it lead. But dear leader, I have something you do not, integrity.

  191. EHS May 4, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I was raised in the church, attended BYU, served a mission and married in the temple. I have now been married 19 years and have three children. I always loved the church – despite having problems growing up with the place of women – and assumed it was true. When I went on my mission, I knew I hadn’t had a witness of its truthfulness, but assumed I would get one if I worked harder at it. My goal was to truly know by the end of my mission that the church was true. I was disappointed when this didn’t happen, but my dedication to the church was unchanged. Over the years I had many frustrations (which I’m still having a difficult time enumerating and articulating), but they mostly regarded why, if we are led by a prophet, we always seem to be following the world (after taking stands against it) on social issues rather than leading it. I found ways to rationalize or ignore many things, but the issue of homosexuality was always a major struggle for me. I found the arguments against it to be weak – almost more so as the church became more enlightened and compassionate. If a gay man was no longer encouraged to marry a woman as a cure, how is he a threat to traditional marriage? Although I had a hard time accepting this doctrine, I forced myself to do so, prayed for peace in my heart over it, and told myself that it was enough that I would not judge or try to dictate the actions of others. Then Prop 8 kicked me in the stomach. I was distressed at the aggressive action of the church and the level of pressure I felt to support the proposition (not even living in CA). I came home from church one Sunday after a statement was read over the pulpit, feeling that my church standing could be in question if I were to openly express my opposition to Prop 8. It was demanding enough to try to believe that homosexuality was wrong, but I couldn’t convince myself that it was right to try to legislate something so purely a religious belief (and believe me, I tried to get myself in line). To me, it fell within the principle following the dictates of our own conscience and allowing all men the same privilege. After time and much more prayer and mental struggle, I had to admit that my conscience dictated to me that homosexuality was not wrong, and that is when I finally felt peace. However, it put me in complete opposition to the teachings of our prophets, even if they are evolving, and this brought new turmoil. I always knew I didn’t have that absolute confirmation of the church’s truthfulness, and my hope was no longer strong enough to hold up my overloaded shelf. I’m happy to go to church, and don’t even want to change the way I live. I always said that if I ever left the church, the only two things that would be different would be that I wouldn’t wear garments or believe homosexuality was wrong. However, we are taught that we are in or out, it’s all true or it’s all a fraud, we accept it all or we’re in some degree of apostasy. We are also called on to teach and testify and be interviewed for temple recommends, so keeping our feelings to ourselves is not an option if we don’t want to lie. Since I thought I was in or out, and I couldn’t agree with our prophet on this issue, I thought I was out. I knew it would destroy my husband, and I didn’t know if he would be able to stay with me (extra scary when you’re a woman with a sociology degree who didn’t put off having children or pursue a career). About this time I found Mormon Stories, and felt that it saved my life. I’m still in a great deal of turmoil, as is my husband, but MS let me know that I wasn’t alone. It introduced me to wonderful people who shared all of my concerns but were so much more intelligent and could actually articulate them. They have helped me to have the courage to talk honestly and lovingly with my church leaders and husband, and to see that in or out may not be the only options. They’ve shown me the possibility of navigating a way where I can feel that I maintain my integrity and also cause my family the least possible amount of pain. Being honest about doubts and disaffection is excruciating no matter what, but MS has eased that pain and been a friend to lean on through the process.

  192. Bret May 4, 2011 at 10:08 am

    We now represent 0.20857528248 % of the Earth’s population (6,775,235,700 humans and 14,131,467 members). All of those additional placeholders in the percentage makes me think we have more significance in the grand ol’ scheme of things.

    • Vikingz2000 May 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      Bret: That percentage is actually more like 0.36% of ‘real’ membership.

      This is what I worked out:

      Total LDS membership (2010) = 14,100,000

      Total World population (2011) = 7,000,000,000

      2,538,000 Number of active worldwide LDS (18%)

      12,408,000 – Number of inactive worldwide LDS (82%)

      0.20% of the total world population are on the official membership roles (active and inactive) of the LDS church.

      0.036% of the total world population are active members in the LDS church.

      The church better acknowledge there is a most dire problem and it will only get worse.

      I am in quasi mourning for my church. It is like attending a vigil for a very ill family member on the verge of dying; at the very least, the church is dying fast for me.

      • Vikingz2000 May 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm

        Correction: That’s 0.036% of ‘real’ membership.

      • Bret May 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm

        Nice, now I feel even worse! ;)
        The celestial kingdom is going to be a lonely place.

      • Jeronimo May 4, 2011 at 11:27 pm

        Excellent analysis. Here’s some more numbers to digest.

        Total Missionaries = 52,225

        Cost to go on Mission = approx $5000/ year

        Total to support missionaries = $261,125,000
        (this does not include the millions in tithing funds spend on missions)

        We spend 261 million per year out of our own pockets for 272, 814 converts, of which 80% go inactive leaving 54,562 retained. So the real cost to each missionary is $4785/per convert. Wow.

  193. Bret May 4, 2011 at 10:17 am

    A graph to with it…

  194. Carys May 4, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Mormon Stories gave me a community at a time when I felt isolated and lost. It gave me hope to know that there were other mormons out there like me who had unanswered questions and needed to search for answers.

    All my life I was told to stay away from uncorrelated materials. I was obedient. When I came across historical information that bothered me and started to ask questions about it, I was told that I was ignorant for not knowing it in the first place: heads the church wins; tails I lose.

    Apologists condemn people like me who didn’t know the church’s true history. They say that we never took our religion seriously, they say that everyone knows about polyandry and other uncomfortable truths, they say that our questions are precipitated by sin and then proceed to ask us if we are hiding a pornography addiction. Mormon Stories does not condemn people. Mormon Stories treats people like adults and discusses all sides of the issues, leaving its listeners to draw their own conclusions.

    Thank you John.

    • Salon May 4, 2011 at 12:19 pm

      “I was told that I was ignorant for not knowing it in the first place: heads the church wins; tails I lose.”

      True dat!

  195. Bridget NIght May 4, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I no longer feel this is the church I was raised in. My German parents who joined the church in Berlin and survived because of church assistance raised me to have a strong testimony. My dad investigated the church for 3 years and questioning was encouraged while I was growing up in the church. We were told that a church that could not stand up to scrutiny was built on a weak foundation. We had all the volumes of “Answers to gospel Questions” by Joseph Fielding Smith in our home and discussed them in family home evenings. I have letters my dad wrote the prophet and church leaders with replies back from them. I served an honorable mission in Austria for two years from 1969-71. I loved listening to LeGrand Richards, Hugh B. Brown, and Paul Dunn and had alot of their tapes. Gospel discussions were a big part of my life. Boyd. K. Packer set me apart for my mission.

    Europe was a difficult mission and I began questioning more because of it. I came home very discouraged and almost lost my faith in God. I married a convert to the church who joined on an intellectual testimony hoping the Moroni’s promise of a witness of the Book of Mormon would come later. My husband loved Paul Dunn and trusted his spiritual experiences which kept him in the church. When we found out he had fabricated his spiritual experiences, my husband was devestated. He said if Paul Dunn could fabricate his spiritual experiences, how do I know Joseph Smith didn’t fabricate his. My husband after 30 years of fasting, and praying never got the spiritual witness Moroni promised and he was never going to rely on others testimonies for his faith again.

    I was devestated from all of this as I have always wanted the church to be true. Having taught Gospel Doctrine for 4 years, and gospel essentials another 4 years I did my homework. Church history was especially disturbing to me. A friend I had brought to the church in Denmark started showing me disturbing things about church history from its own books and he left the church. Boyd K. Packers disturbing statements about intellectuals, homosexuals, and feminists besides his last years conference talks just added to the mix. We had a gay son who we knew could not change and to ask him to live without love and a partner for the rest of his life seemed creul. Anyway, my friend in Denmark led me to one of John Dehlin’s group called staylds.com. It was a direct answer to prayer and kept me in the church much longer than I would have otherwise. I have shown my present and previous bishops and high council leaders John Dehlin’s utube video about why people leave the church. My husband was in the stake high council when we left the church. Only one responded that he listened to it and thought it was very good. This previous bishop is a convert himself and understood that many inactive members have serious questions that should be heard and addressed. But, most of the church leaders we have interacted with would not even look at the video or discuss our questions. They just dumped us like a hot patotoe. Our present bishop even told my husband that he couldn’t possibly not gotten a positive answer to the Book of Mormon.

    In the church we only hear all the positive experiences people have with the lds scriptures, and temples. There is no place for people who have had negative experiences to express themselves without being called apostates. John Dehlins video made me feel llike someone understood us and staylds.com was a place we could ask our questions without being put down for them.

  196. Sterling Swallow May 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Five years ago I stood on the cusp of leaving the LDS Church and walking away from a Church that has given me so much. In some dark moments of depression I happened upon a new podcast entitled Mormon Stories on the web. Mormon Stories was honest and open and provided interviews of both famous and everyday Mormons. These people candidly shared struggles, doubts, and challenges as they tried to navigate their lives and membership in the Church. I was struck and I am still struck to this day about how Mormon Stories holds no punches when it talks about tough questions in Church history, practice or doctrine and yet it is never disrespectful of the Church. Even when the interviewees might have been slightly critical of a Church practice Mormon Stories never endorsed such stances. I say all that to emphasize how safe I felt (and still feel) that Mormon Stories was. Members of the Church can be enriched and deepened in their knowledge of Mormonism while not threatening their faith. Personally Mormon Stories helped me stay with the Church at a time when I thought I was the only one asking the questions I was asking. I found instead that many faithful people who asked the same questions were able to maintain their activity and devotion to the Church.

    (In the interest of complete honesty for anyone who may be reading this and happen to know me I must say that I have not been active for a few months, but that has to do with my own personal struggles and integrity and has nothing to do with Mormon Stories. Mormon Stories is a safe place where people can ask questions about their faith and feel community and strength while doing so).

  197. Jillanderso May 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I am a thirty-two year old mother and PhD. I am a sixth generation Mormon. As a seventeen year old in Houston, TX, I experienced painful rejections and chastisement from my Bishop and Stake President in response to my intellectual and spiritual questions (and nothing more than that). That began five years of soul searching and deep confusion about my place in my church. When my branch became involved in the Take Back Vermont anti-gay marriage laws campaign, I made the decision to leave my church rather than speak up given my past experiences when I did just that. I have NEVER stopped looking back, or being Mormon. I love this church. I love my family, who has shown an incredible range of unconditional, Christ-like love as my journey on this earth has unfolded. I have a powerful and life-guiding testimony of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and his Love. I am actively seeking to build Zion on earth, where I live in Mexico City. Mormon Stories, along with a handful of other online initiatives like it, have been extraordinarily healing. I listen from afar and I am moved by the Holy Ghost. And I begin to see that maybe there is a path back to my Mormon community, my Mormon church. Maybe there is a ward that will accept me (all of me!) and my gifts in their midst again someday. Mormon Stories embraces so much of the richness and beauty and power that I have experienced as a member of a Mormon family and Mormon communities.

    My grandfather died in March. He was buried in Salt Lake City, in his temple clothes, a worthy member of the church. He made it clear to me that my relationship to him and his willingness to listen to me was never in jeopardy. He made it clear to me (as he did with all thirty of his other grandchildren) that I was and will always be his granddaughter and a part of his eternal family. He bore his testimony of his faith more as a series of stories that he told and re-told throughout his life than a list of proscriptions and rote-phrases. Every single one of his thirty-one grandchildren flew to Utah for his funeral: member and non-member, active and less active, return missionaries and recovering drug addicts. Not a single lamb was lost.

  198. Silentdawning May 4, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I will post the following:

    1. StayLDS helped me find a place to discuss my concerns without being ostracized or marginalized in my Ward any further. I asked to be released from a high profile calling previously and everyone treated me poorly afterwards — that’s what led me to seek out StayLDS.

    At least at STayLDS, I could express my concerns and people would listen, empathize, and give sometimes helpful advice. If I said my true thoughts at Church then I would be kicked out of the meeting, I’m sure.

    I also find the advice of some of the people at StayLDS have more influence over me than the Ward members. The Ward members tend to come out with worn-out answers I’ve heard a million times before, and which are no longer satisfying. Here at least, there are alternate perspectives. Rather than blind denial of the problems we have in our Church, there is acknolwedgement, recognition of them, and advice about how to cope in spite of them. At Church, all you get is denial or accusations of apostasy if you try to point out ways of improving.

    2. I found that others shared my concerns. I felt I was no longer alone and that others have similar problems with accepting some of the cultural and policy-oriented decisions made within our Church. It has opened my mind and provided a place to go for community that I don’t find in my Ward.

  199. Silentdawning May 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    By the way, if there is room for listening to those of us who have felt on the outs with the Church (I’m an active member, by the way). Here are a few things that have been hard on my over the years…

    1. Releases that are sloppily handled. Giving you the handshake two months after one describes the difficulty in staying in a high profile calling while juggling some extraordinary life and work experiences, and then finally getting released officially two months after that. The General Handbook is light on protocol for releasing people so they feel positive about what they did. Tons of advice on how to extend callings, but nothing about appropriate releasing processes.

    2. The one-year waiting rule for the temple. It forced me to choose between my non-member family and the Church. My family is still alienated from the Church as a result of the one year rule — its not much of a welcome experience for non-members to find they are not included in the most important part of their first son’s wedding. The Church leaders who insisted I wait a year for the temple if I get married civilly have long since forgotten about me. But my immediate family today still harbors unsure feelings about the Church because of how it ostracized them from the experience of seeing their son married. Why can’t we be less egocentric and think about the impact such policies, which have nothing to do with salvation, have on non-member families? In other parts of the world, like Britain, you CAN’T have the temple ceremony be the only ceremony, there MUST be a civil ceremony — so why do we force families into these kinds of conflict in America and Canada?

    3. Lack of transparency over financial statements. The Church appears so much like a business, which is inconsistent with its claims to a divine commission…..there is so much more we could say about that.

  200. Silentdawning May 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    And last of all, could we try to make our Church experience less repetitive and unstimulating? I have trouble sitting through our meetings anymore because it’s the same thing, day in, day out…..I have tried all kinds of things frankly, our programs have rarely ever been functioning at a level I feel are satisfactory given the funds we invest to make this Church strong. Poorly trained youth leaders, poorly planned programs, poorly trained leaders….youth should do more than just show up and play basketball. YW should not show up for YW activities and find nothing is planned.

  201. manwaring May 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Last year when I began digging deeper into church history I (like many others) started struggling with feelings of confusion, loneliness and resentment. Mormon stories, similar groups and people have given me assurance that I can wonder and question but still stay faithful and be an active, positive part of the church. I feel that this new perspective, while difficult to go through, is helping me to become a more open and compassionate person.
    If the Church can make an effort to similarly support a more open, “faith” centered approach while fostering understanding for those that wonder that we’d see more latter day saints genuinely pulling together rather than feeling that in order to be people of integrity they need to walk away.

  202. schleppenheimer May 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    What I feel the Church needs to understand now, ESPECIALLY after reading all of the previous posts here:

    1. There’s a new wave of disaffected Mormons. These are NOT people involved in sin or heresy. These are the leadership of every ward, every stake in the world. They are your bishops, your Relief Society Presidents, your high council members, your youth leaders. They are the ones who show up early to meetings, and leave late. They have temple recommends. They pay tithing. They’ve gone on missions, and they’ve sent their children on missions. This new wave are the elite of Mormonism, and you just might be losing them.
    2. Information, for good or bad, is out there on the internet for all to see. The church might as well own up to the bad.
    3. The people who are NOW disaffected often started their disaffections because they were in the process of trying to improve their testimony. They are the gospel doctrine teachers and seminary teachers who were trying to improve their lessons, they are the members who decided that they had better improve their testimony about Joseph Smith by doing some research, they are the members who were appalled by the church’s stance on Prop 8 and tried to research ways that they could align themselves with the church’s stance without losing their personal integrity.
    4. Those who are questioning are often older, experienced members who have served faithfully for half a century, and are smart enough to see the discrepancies of the church as if for the first time, in broad daylight.

    Mormon Stories podcasts are often the only thing that keeps us in the church. It provides a forum for intelligent discussion of important concepts that are painfully necessary to it’s audience. The church has made itself very clear that it does not want to hear from it’s members about questionable church history or questionable church concepts. Those who have gone to church leaders trying to find answers have been turned away. Mormon Stories podcasts allows people to realize that they are not alone — that there are many others out there who have the same feelings and concerns. John Dehlin has handled these podcasts in a very fair and balanced manner.

    My personal feeling is that the church has changed radically over my lifetime. I have loved the church, and my church membership, up until about five years ago. We are no longer a community of highly moral people in an immoral world. We are now becoming “of” the world, within the church. We are more concerned with “outward appearance” issues rather than concentrating on improving the inner person.

    What I feel the church needs to do:

    1. Center our church around Christ and Christ-like attributes, pure and simple.
    2. Recognize that people who have centered their life around morality, per church instruction, are justified in their horror over learning the truth about Joseph Smith. Do not nail us to the wall for being appalled that the first prophet of our church had the kind of character that would get him excommunicated from the current church.
    3. Realize that truth DOES matter — that the concept that “not all that is true is faith-promoting” is damaging to the credibility of the church.
    4. Stop concentrating on outward appearances. It is shallow and beneath us.
    5. Begin concentrating on radical improvement of our membership in the church. Push education like you’ve never pushed it before. Make sure that all of our members are the best at what they do. Concentrate on INTEGRITY more, and OBEDIENCE less. If integrity was first and foremost, obedience will follow as a natural course. As Mormons we should be the most educated, the top in our trades, the absolute best that society can provide.
    6. If Mormons became more representative of the very best that a religion can produce, then our missionary numbers would improve.
    7. Stop sending out missionaries who are not ready or who are pressured.
    8. Stop pressuring our young people to get married. Teach them to be worthy to be married, to be high-quality companions, and marriage will naturrally follow. Early marriage only contributes to a high divorce rate.
    9. Stop correlation of church instructional manuals. If you want high-quality people in the church, church instruction has to be enlightened and demanding. If you want sheep in the church, then keep up correlation. The trouble with this is that sheep don’t know how to LEAD.
    10. Listen to your members. Quit trying to keep everything controlled and submissive. When you discourage members from writing the brethren, and turn around and send their letters to their local authorities so that said members can be “taken care of” — the message sent to your members is that you do not love us, you have disdain for us, and that we do not matter. I recognize that the brethren have received lots of mail in the past, and that this is difficult to deal with. But, as with all the problems the church currently has, not dealing with the problems isn’t working very well. Meeting the issues head on might have a truly positive effect.

    This new wave of disaffected church members truly WANT to remain in the church. We don’t like the information that we’ve read about in Rough Stone Rolling and other sources. We are saddened by what we’ve have learned. We are crying out for help, and receiving none. And the truly scary part, in terms of the Church’s future, is that we are the workers, the ones who come early, and stay late. The ones who get substitutes when we won’t be at the ward on a particular Sunday. The ones who give everything we’ve got to the church.

    • Joe May 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      @ schleppenheimer

      This is an awesome list. I would add an eleven.

      11. Get rid the bad policies that are based upon tradition rather than inspiration. Why do we have to sing every hymn like it is a funeral march. Who cares if someone has a beard or multiple earrings? Etc., etc.

      • Eric C May 5, 2011 at 3:20 am

        About the earring thing, Bednar is going to be in there for a loooooong time, so you might be waiting awhile on that one! ;)

        • Joe May 5, 2011 at 4:47 am

          He could repent of this sin of unrighteous judgment. And add humor to the apology by showing up to conference with two little hoops. Or maybe that was a South Park episode…

    • Jared Anderson May 5, 2011 at 1:30 am

      Fantastic list and well articulated thoughts. The internet has transformed society, and I think all religions and other organizations need to adapt or atrophy. I love the Church and pray it does the former.

  203. zytines May 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    “Your situation/thoughts/feelings with regard to the church.”
    Until a couple months ago, I was an EQ instructor and attended church at least monthly. I am currently taking a break from attendance. After years of searching, reading, and praying, I no longer believe in the exclusive truth claims of the church. However, I seek a balanced approach to my thoughts and feelings about the church and try to look for the good in its theology, community, and outreach efforts.

    What you feel you are needing/lacking that the church has not yet been able to provide.
    1) I would like my voice to be heard. I would like it if the church had an ombudsman for every ward/stake who can listen to any and all concerns and doubts that I have with no threat of formal or informal punishment. Along these lines, it would be helpful if all bishops and other leaders received training on how to deal with doubts and doctrinal/organizational questions, similar to the brief address by Richard Bushman to a CES seminar at BYU in July 2008.
    2) I would like the church to have a clear position on whether or not it wants me in its ranks. Clearly, I don’t think the church should excommunicate anyone who doubts (who would be left?), but if I am going to stay active, I want to be able to be open with my thoughts and beliefs (respectfully) and not have to hide silently in a corner.
    3) I would like the church to treat all members equally, in doctrine and practice. I would like to be able to raise children in a church that does more than pay lip service to the idea of equality. The more the leaders of the church tell my wife that she’s equal, the more I know that she’s not treated as an equal.
    4) I would like church services to be interesting and challenging. I would like the curriculum to teach more theology and to ask the tough questions — even when there are no clear answers. I would like church to be a place of worship, not another meeting that feels like a corporate meeting.

    How Mormon Stories has helped in that journey (if it has).
    Mormon Stories validated my concerns. It let me know that my questions were okay and that sometimes there aren’t clear answers. It let me know that I wasn’t alone. It helped my work through my doubts and questions and anger and sadness and loss to come to a place where I am at peace with myself and mostly view the church in a positive light. Whether I stay or leave, I can at least recognize the beauty and goodness in the church. Thanks to Mormon Stories, I am not an angry apostate, but a peaceful heretic.

    • schleppenheimer May 4, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      Wow. This is great. Thanks for expressing more of what I felt needed to be “out there.”

    • Jared Anderson May 5, 2011 at 1:31 am

      Man, this thread makes me want to be friends with every one of you who has posted. :)

  204. Michael May 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I always been an active Mormon. RM, Temple Marriage and callings like EQP and Ward Clerk. I have also been an agnostic for the last 10 years. Mormonism was dry and stale for many years until I found MS. It introduced me to a mormonism that was rich and interesting and helped me realize I wasn’t alone in my struggle with God.

    I have a good happy marriage with a very open minded, smart, beautiful woman, but my wife said she would leave me if I went inactive. What are we teaching our members? Are families important? Or are just mormon families important? Why do we think it is OK for a family to break up just due to a spouse not attending church any more?

    I really love the members of the church, I enjoy uncorrelated mormonism. I love teachings like self discipline, charity, education and service. And I hope to find a place for myself at the table of mormonism.

  205. cameron May 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Hans H. Mattsson-are the Seventy that served in Sweden and was released in 2005?

  206. cameron May 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Hans H. Mattsson-sorry! are YOU the Seventy that was released in 2005

  207. arthur May 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    In general, I agree with most of the sentiments here, except that I would say that Mormon Stories has had a negative effect on my spiritual life and my happiness. Before I really spent much time here I felt like I had found a very comfortable, happy medium with my relationship with the Church (despite by universalist and non-literalist beliefs), but Mormon Stories just feels very dark and unhappy, focusing on the worst aspects of the Church without enough attention paid to the best. In a marriage, for instance, focusing on only the most negative parts of the relationship will invariably lead to a termination of the relationship, even if there are very good things in that relationship. I think I’ve been able to maintain a balance in my life, but it’s despite Mormon Stories, not because of it. I am guessing there are many more people like me who have the same relationship with Mormon Stories, who don’t comment simply because they think they’re in the minority or they discontinued listening.

  208. Paul Jones May 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks to John Dehlin and Mormon Stories Podcast, my wife and I are still married after 22 years. I strongly perceive, through my own experience, that the LDS church would have been perfectly okay with it if my family had broken up over my faith crisis 5 years ago, if it could have meant that they could have kept my wife and daughters “in the fold”. Since the institutional church is so ill-equipped to help families who struggle in this way (intellectual crises of faith), and understandably has no interest in doing so outside of protecting itself as an institution, I am grateful beyond measure for resources such as Mormon Stories Podcast to help try to make sense of the confusion that has been created by the church through no fault of the rank and file members.

  209. susan May 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I went from being a fully believing RS President to an angry, disillusioned, non-believing member in the space of less than a year, simply from looking for more information on FARMS and FAIR about church history and Book of Mormon historicity. These sites are pro-mormon apologetic sites. I found huge amounts of material that had been hidden from me for my whole 60 years of membership in the church – including seminary, institute and many leadership positions. While FARMS and FAIR try to put a positive spin on things such as 9 versions of the First Vision, polyandry, lack of evidence for historicity of the Book of Mormon, and the mistranslation of the Book of Abraham – it became very clear that I had not been treated with the same degree of openness and honesty that the Church expects from me.

    While I struggled with all this new information and the horrible feelings of betrayal, I came across John Dehlin’s podcast “Why People Leave” and “How to Stay in the LDS Church After a Trial of Faith”. I found I was not alone, and was not really going crazy. These and many others of his podcasts helped keep me sane, and helped me negotiate my trial of faith with less bitterness and depression.

    Currently I am still active, serving as Ward Choir Pianist and Compassionate Service Leader. Yes, my testimony has changed dramatically, and I no longer believe literally in many of the things I was taught for most of my life, but still find much value in the church, in my local ward, and in loving and serving those around me. I attribute most of this positive outcome to John Dehlin and his incredible body of work – and to his personal passion for helping those who come across this now widely available information on the internet without any formal church process for guiding us through.

    Thank you John, you have been a huge blessing in my life. I only wish the Church would implement some type of program to help people through these serious crises of faith, that is based on honesty, openness, acceptance, non-judgment and recognition of truth no matter where it leaves. John, among others, are showing the way to making the Church a better organization.

  210. Beachluver44 May 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I was a born in the covenant member from a TBM family of four children. I attended seminary and even converted by high school boyfriend to the church. I attended BYU and continued my love of learning and questioning. However, I did carry a “shelf” of concerns. The biggest disconnect as a young woman was the practice of polygamy. I never understood nor accepted it as divine. I continued believing hoping that one day I would understand.

    I graduated from BYU and became an unmarried working woman. Eventually, I found a wonderful Mormon man to take me to the temple. We have 4 children who were all born in the covenant of the temple. I was stalwart and unwavering in my dedication to the church. I gave and served whenever and where ever I was asked. I have served as a teacher in the Relief Society, a teacher and counselor in the Young Women’s programs several times, and multiple callings in the Primary, including Primary President. I share these to let you know that I was active and involved until recently.

    We moved away from the hub of mormonism and now live in the midwest. My shelf of doubts grew as I began to see the damage that the church does to people. In the fall of 2007 we were listening to General Conference when Julie Beck gave her talk “Women Who Know.” When she concluded I stood up, looked at my husband and told him that talk was the worst conference talk I had ever heard. I then walked out of the room. It would be the last time I ever listened to conference.

    The following day I was wondering if other mormon women were as upset as I was about this talk. I googled her name and tittle of the talk. That one click changed my life forever. Women were talking about this talk and were upset and insulted. I read blogs and found myself reading Feminist Mormon Housewives. I felt relieved that I was not alone. I finally found my way over to New Order Mormon and read the recovery forum until my head hurt. I spent a few months reading about real Mormon history and eventually stumbled upon John Dehlin’s essay/video about how to stay in the church. His essay helped me keep my sanity, but eventually the lies, deceit and intolerance led me away. I ended up in personal counseling to help find some balance. My husband still believes in the Mormon church. He is a convert and I am hopeful that one day he will leave also.

    To maintain my personal integrity and emotional and mental health I stopped attending church altogether in the fall of 2009. All four of our children stopped attending with me. I did not forbid them from attending, they find 3 hours of church repetitive, boring and insufferably long. I don’t blame them. At the time of my personal freedom away from the Mormon church our children were 18, 16, 13 and 10.

    If the Mormon church wants to keep their stalwart leaders, not just members, then they will need to start listening to those people who were in leadership positions and are leaving. I can’t see myself ever going back to the Mormon church.

    Here are a few suggestions-

    1. The members don’t need more than 1 hour of worship. Anything more than that is torture.

    2. Stop punishing families with temple marriage. It is cruel and exclusionary. I can’t see the pure love of Christ in excluding family members from such an important day.

    3. Allow women to run their organizations and give them equal responsibilities.

    4. Get rid of early morning seminary. It drove my children away.

    5. Be honest with your history. Begin facing the skeletons in your Mormon closet.

    6. Stop pretending that people who leave the Mormon church do so because we want to sin or were offended. You know it is not the truth.

    7. Begin using missions as a way to make the world a better place. Make them service missions. I think the results would be much better than trying to sell religion like a door to door salesman.

    8. Stop telling the youth to get marriage young, you have no right to tell them that.

    I could go on and on and on. Perhaps our messages will get to the top. I doubt it.

    The Mormon church is a very rich and powerful organization. It could do so much good in the world. Instead it builds expensive, exclusive temples along with billion dollar malls. I find that disappointing.

    • schleppenheimer May 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm

      I too was completely disgusted by the “Women Who Know” talk — and it became obvious to me that outward appearances were way more important to the church than a truly good, christ-like person.

      Your list is FANTASTIC! I started to pick out the few that I really liked in your list, and then I realized that I totally believe in the ENTIRE list. Thank you.

    • Elder Vader May 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      I just wanted to add my thoughts to this list
      1 – There is very little respect for people’s time from the top down in the church. Make this stuff voluntary. Lose the heavy hand. Right now you’ve got people anxiously engaged in busy work.
      2 – I think it should be a practice for couples to get married in a civil ceremony first, and after they’ve lived together for at least a year, maybe two or three, THEN go to the temple together, if they WANT to be sealed for eternity. Maybe a ward party once a year where the people who have been sealed for a certain number of years (maybe multiples of 7 like the old testament jubilee year) get honored for staying married and sealed. One reason why non-mormons aren’t integrated into our worship is because we exclude them at key times.
      3 – Exactly, I feel the same.
      4 – Maybe put seminary online like the khanacademy or something. Whatever.
      5 – Candor. Exactly. I feel exactly the same.
      6 – I feel exactly the same.
      7 – I feel the same. It would be very very easy to change how we as a church view the mission experience. I wonder if the people at the top appreciate just how lame the missionary program is.

      • Joe May 5, 2011 at 4:44 am

        My companion and I had a family in South Carolina (back in 1995) who told us we could visit them as long as we didn’t wear a suit. They thought it looked too uncomfortable, and they believed it made us look stuffy.

        So we visited them every P-day in shorts and a T-shirt (I was so stuck living the letter of the law).

  211. Alysonmansfield May 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I’m an active, temple recommend holding member and I’ve enjoyed listening to some of the Mormon Stories podcasts. For me it’s been a safe way to learn about the history of the church and some of the issues people have with Church history/Church doctrine, without feeling like I have to defend my testimony. I have only listened to a few of the podcasts, but I’ve appreciated the diversity of thought reflected here.

    I think the podcasts have unearthed a lot of anger and hurt caused by Church doctrine and practice and confusion about what the doctrine actually is and what is just culture. I’m not interested in listening to podcasts where someone vents and is negative, but when someone questions, is this doctrine or just policy based on our culture, I find it helpful to keep my mind open and seek further light.

    I really enjoyed the podcast on Blacks and the Priesthood (also a BYU presentation), Dr. Bradshaw’s podcast on homosexuality, Carol Lynn Pearson, Bruce Bastian, and Mormons and Masons. All had valuable insights and were presented in a way that felt “fair and balanced” and I think would help most active members understand important issues.

  212. David Verman May 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    (I posted this before as a reply to someone elses post. So i shall post it again properly if that is ok) Mormon Stories has allowed me to think freely about Mormonism and it’s history and has given me opportunity to reflect upon the nature of my faith and then decide for myself how my faith should be shaped. Mormon stories has given me a pathway that charts my own spiritual journey. I can think what I want, and believe what I want. I have learned to put away foolish and needless guilts and focus on my priorities. Mormonism for me is no longer the threat that loomed over me as a child, it is no longer an autocratic school master. I no longer believe that I will be burned alive if I don’t pay my tithing. I believe that God is full of grace and mercy, and that I can freely love God and my fellow man. Mormon Stories has given me opportunity to ask the questions I always wanted to ask but was afraid to do so, to not be afraid of the truth regardless. It has given me the courage to call upon the Church to reflect upon what the truth really is, Thank you John Dehlin and Mormon Stories. David Verman

  213. David Verman May 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    (I posted this before as a reply to someone elses post. So i shall post it again properly if that is ok) Mormon Stories has allowed me to think freely about Mormonism and it’s history and has given me opportunity to reflect upon the nature of my faith and then decide for myself how my faith should be shaped. Mormon stories has given me a pathway that charts my own spiritual journey. I can think what I want, and believe what I want. I have learned to put away foolish and needless guilts and focus on my priorities. Mormonism for me is no longer the threat that loomed over me as a child, it is no longer an autocratic school master. I no longer believe that I will be burned alive if I don’t pay my tithing. I believe that God is full of grace and mercy, and that I can freely love God and my fellow man. Mormon Stories has given me opportunity to ask the questions I always wanted to ask but was afraid to do so, to not be afraid of the truth regardless. It has given me the courage to call upon the Church to reflect upon what the truth really is, Thank you John Dehlin and Mormon Stories. David Verman

  214. ryan May 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    •Your situation/thoughts/feelings with regard to the church.

    I am an active Mormon, if by active you mean “attends every week, pays tithing, holds a calling”

    I have journeyed from orthodox, literalistic, TBM (RM, BYU, Temple marriage, the whole 9 yards) to a point where, in my view, the best explanation for religion in general (and our church in particular) is “man-made”. I hold open the possibility that God (if there is one) has a hand in directing human affairs, possibly even our church, but the probability seems very low to me.

    •What you feel you are needing/lacking that the church has not yet been able to provide.

    This question is somewhat non-applicable to a person like me. I certainly don’t go to church for intellectual stimulation. A de-emphasis on convincing ourselves and each other that we are right (with its inherent implication that others are wrong) is the only thing that comes to mind at the moment.

    •How Mormon Stories has helped in that journey (if it has).

    “helped” is a subjective word. I think it is plausible to say Mormon Stories contributed to my journey from TBM to agnostic at best, atheist at worst (see how Mormonism still shapes my language? An atheist would probably say “atheist at best, agnostic at worst.) ;-)

    Whether or not Mormon Stories accelerated, retarded, or simply cushioned that journey is more difficult to determine. For me, the move from one camp to the other started long before coming in contact with Mormon Stories. I discovered Bart Ehrman before discovering John Dehlin. For me, Mormon Stories has been something like an Island for Misfit Mormons. Some arrive here after having literally been voted off the mainland. Many arrive here not necessarily because we’re smarter than our fellow TBM’s, but certainly more curious and actively engaged in attempting to “gain more knowledge and intelligence in this life through diligence and obedience” than perhaps our more lackadaisical TBM brothers and sisters. This inevitably leads to problems. Mormon Stories would not exist if it didn’t. And at least here we can find other misfits just like us!

    I’m grateful for Mormon Stories. It’s my most meaningful engagement with Mormonism anymore. I think it has the potential to help some stay active in the church AND help others move on, but either way it IS HELPING people. Real, live, honest-to-goodness people. It keeps us connected and there’s got to be something in the teachings of Jesus (and/or his church and/or his appointed leaders) that approves of that.

  215. ryan May 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    •Your situation/thoughts/feelings with regard to the church.

    I am an active Mormon, if by active you mean “attends every week, pays tithing, holds a calling”

    I have journeyed from orthodox, literalistic, TBM (RM, BYU, Temple marriage, the whole 9 yards) to a point where, in my view, the best explanation for religion in general (and our church in particular) is “man-made”. I hold open the possibility that God (if there is one) has a hand in directing human affairs, possibly even our church, but the probability seems very low to me.

    •What you feel you are needing/lacking that the church has not yet been able to provide.

    This question is somewhat non-applicable to a person like me. I certainly don’t go to church for intellectual stimulation. A de-emphasis on convincing ourselves and each other that we are right (with its inherent implication that others are wrong) is the only thing that comes to mind at the moment.

    •How Mormon Stories has helped in that journey (if it has).

    “helped” is a subjective word. I think it is plausible to say Mormon Stories contributed to my journey from TBM to agnostic at best, atheist at worst (see how Mormonism still shapes my language? An atheist would probably say “atheist at best, agnostic at worst.) ;-)

    Whether or not Mormon Stories accelerated, retarded, or simply cushioned that journey is more difficult to determine. For me, the move from one camp to the other started long before coming in contact with Mormon Stories. I discovered Bart Ehrman before discovering John Dehlin. For me, Mormon Stories has been something like an Island for Misfit Mormons. Some arrive here after having literally been voted off the mainland. Many arrive here not necessarily because we’re smarter than our fellow TBM’s, but certainly more curious and actively engaged in attempting to “gain more knowledge and intelligence in this life through diligence and obedience” than perhaps our more lackadaisical TBM brothers and sisters. This inevitably leads to problems. Mormon Stories would not exist if it didn’t. And at least here we can find other misfits just like us!

    I’m grateful for Mormon Stories. It’s my most meaningful engagement with Mormonism anymore. I think it has the potential to help some stay active in the church AND help others move on, but either way it IS HELPING people. Real, live, honest-to-goodness people. It keeps us connected and there’s got to be something in the teachings of Jesus (and/or his church and/or his appointed leaders) that approves of that.

  216. Brad May 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I grew up a member of the Church and served a full-time mission, BYU, married in the temple, the whole deal, but I’ve never really felt a deep spiritual connection to the Church. I can’t say that I ever had a deep “testimony” of the Church (or the Gospel for that matter). Until very recently, I always assumed that that was because I had done something wrong. There was some sin that I hadn’t fully repented of, or if I would just pray harder or fast longer or be more obedient, I would have some kind of powerful conversion experience.

    I latched on to the “fake it ’til you make it” counsel from Packer’s “Candle of the Lord” talk (“a testimony is found in the bearing of it” and all that) and figured I was just going to have to continue on pretending. I felt very alone.

    After leaving BYU and coming to grad school, I finally mustered up the courage to talk with my wife about my doubts and (lack of) feelings about the Church. She is a faithful, wonderful member, and it was very difficult for her to take. For me the tipping point was renewing the temple recommend. I just couldn’t continue to fib my way through the questions, and so I talked to my bishop about it. He was understanding, and now for the first time in my adult life I am not a “current temple recommend holder.”

    I can’t tell you how much the podcast has meant to me. Being a doubting mormon put me in a very lonely place. John Larsen at the Mormon Expression podcast commented recently on how the Church does an excellent job in taking care of people with temporal needs (new baby, sickness, moves, etc.) but there is nothing in place for those who just aren’t benefiting from the standard “pray, pay, and obey” formula. Just knowing that I am not the only one that finds it difficult to believe is a tremendous relief.

  217. peaceandjoy May 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I am a convert of 32 years. I was so excited to find a church that was so simple and good. I was busy raising my children and doing my different callings that I didn’t have time to think about the doubts I had about the church from the beginning. I never had a testimony of knowing the church was true but I believed and hoped. But then my children were raised and I had time on my hands. I read the book of Mormon in two weeks and waited for that testimony that the church was true. Didn’t happen. I started reading about the history of the church on the internet and that was that. Then I didn’t want it to be true. I believe in a loving and kind God. And I hope He is true because that is all I have to hang on to right now. I had to be honest and I told my Bishop and Stake President. They were very nice about it. I have enjoyed the Mormon Stories podcast and StayLDS. They have helped me see that everyone is just trying to do their best in life and I can’t judge anyone because I have never walked in their shoes. For that reason I can go to church with my believing husband and daughter. It is very hard and I think I will start going to Sacrament only as soon as my last daughter goes to college in the fall. Thanks so much for all the support and the feeling that I am not alone in this!

  218. Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I can’t express my thoughts about the wonderful role of MS any more eloquently than has already been reflected here. I just want to be included in the numbers who feel hurt and betrayed by the church that insisted on a level of honesty in me that it wouldn’t rise to itself.

    I’m a 51yr old woman. Life-long TBM (until 8 months ago), 6 children (one out on a mission as we speak), still active (fun, like slamming your hand in the car door several times a week, more on sundays), married to a fabulously Christ-like man.

  219. Jon Shurtleff May 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    My family is pioneer stock on both sides. There’s polygamy and all the rest. My father was a Skousen nutball who believed that the earth was 6000 years old and ice age was cause by ice falling from a passing asteroid. I was always interested in science so conflict began at a very early age. I was also very shy and introverted. In retrospect, I believe that I developed clinical depression at a very early age due to a physical predisposition which seems to be inherited and due to the familial and faith related conflicts. My experience in the Church was not positive. I was marginalized socially because of my shyness and a very cliquish atmosphere in my units growing up. Despite that I did well in school and at the end of High School I could have taken my pick of colleges to attend. I chose BYU because of family pressure and because that’s what my family would pay for and because of the growing depression I didn’t have the strength to break out on my own. I hated BYU. I went on a mission to Southern Germany which was a horrible experience. I returned to a massive failure of my father’s business which made the front page in San Diego where we lived. We were ostracized by the Church because of it and my father was eventually excommunicated under highly dubious circumstances – Among other things, the disciplinary council insisted that he represent himself despite a gag order from the court. He declined and they went ahead anyway. The stake president was a major investor in his company. This was devastating to my family and led to my parents divorcing and the disintegration of the relationships within my family. The stress of all of this led to me having a complete mental breakdown in 1986. I’ve only gotten stable again in the last five years. During those years I did find a lot of support from the Church both temporally and spiritually from my leaders. In all this time though I could never find someone that I could really talk through my feelings and questions about the Church.

    You may ask, with all of this, why didn’t you just walk? First, the shreds of faith that I had left kept me alive for 25 years. The concepts of immortality and being free from the illness that I have after death kept me alive. But as I’ve stabilized over the last couple of years, I’ve found that the questions I’ve had over the years didn’t go away. They were just postponed. So,gradually, in fits and starts I started googling. It’s been a harrowing experience. In the last six months I’ve been off of work on disability and I’ve had a lot of time to study and think as I’ve gotten well. It’s been a roller coaster. I should mention that, despite all of this, I have a very faithful, strong wife of 12 years who comes from a very strong, family who has been extremely supportive.

    Finally a couple of months ago, I found StayLDS which led me to Mormon Stories. Mormon stories has helped me turn my life around. Finally, I found a resource which helped me to see that I was not alone. For me it was always Mormonism or atheism. Atheism, though, would not support my survival. So I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Mormonism, full of doubts and questions or atheism and high risk of self-destruction. But I started inhaling podcasts and started finding answers to my questions and started to be able to formulate a framework for my beliefs that was not black and white.

    I would be a very unhappy atheist now if it weren’t for Mormon Stories.

    I still don’t know where this all will lead but it has given me a starting point for starting my spiritual journey.

    So, That said, here are my answers to you questions:

    Your situation/thoughts/feelings with regard to the church.
    ——————————————————————————

    Positive
    —–
    I like the community.

    I like having a safety net in times of trouble, socially, spiritually, temporally, etc.

    I like the love and concern of my present, tiny unit in the Netherlands.

    I don’t think you ever grow out of needing to be reminded of the basics but you need to have access to more advanced substance also which is generally not available.

    I can see the need to ‘standardize’ but there needs to be a way to do this without stifling personal development.

    There are a lot of unique and beautiful things about our brand of Christianity and it’s doctrines, assuming they are grounded in reality, which leads to the next section.

    Negative
    ——-

    I don’t like secrets. The Church hides a lot of things. The Internet is there. All available information is available for everyone to see. There’s no stemming the tide of this. Everyone knows that the Church has documentation that is not available even to scholars. I think that the Church needs find a way to go full disclosure and let the cards fall where they may. They’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Face mass exodus of members, especially young members because they hide things and people find out through the Internet and other sources or face a mass exodus of members if they open things up and members have to come to terms with the truth. But in the long run it’s better to open the vaults and let the cards fall where they may.

    I think the Church is run like a corporation and more and more it shows. I detest the PR soaked image of the Church. It’s marketed like cars and blue jeans. It’s a carefully polished fake. There’s got to be a better, more transparent, sincere way to do things.

    There needs to be much more transparency or transparency period. Nobody really knows what the Church is doing with our money. It’s spelled out in the Churches articles of incorporation that the ‘Corporation Sole’ (The president of the Church) is not accountable to the membership for what is done with the funds. We have to trust – blindly – that they are being appropriate stewards of our tithes. We know that it’s building temples and meeting places and that it’s used for operation. But there is no transparency into its commercial operations. The mall in Salt Lake is an example where the Church’s good judgement really has to be questioned

    The culture of the Church has serious problems. It’s rigid, inflexible, legalist, rules, rules, rules. Stick to the pattern and you are fine. Anyone who questions the pattern or doctrine or the rules is suspect and subject to be ostracized or in the worst case disciplined.

    What you feel you are needing/lacking that the church has not yet been able to provide.
    ———————————————————————————————————————-
    Is there a GA academy where they all learn to smile and speak the same? We need spontanaity, dynamism, real personalities, genuine sincerity. What happened to Le Grand Richards and Hartman Rector Jr.?

    My wife says that Church was fun when she was young. Now it’s dull and lifeless.

    How Mormon Stories has helped in that journey (if it has).
    ——————————————————————————

    As noted above it has been extremely valuable. It may have saved my health, my sanity, if not my life. I’m not exaggerating. I look forward to every podcast. It has also stimulated me to become more involved in the member online presence in general. Weren’t we just admonished from the pulpit to do that?

  220. Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    In 2007, I hit a wall in my life. I had tried SO HARD to live the way I thought I was supposed to. One day, in August, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I stopped eating. I remember thinking, “Either I will die, or I will get help, and I really don’t care which option it is.”

    I had a bishop who helped me get into counseling. I started talking about me and my life without the “sugarcoating” for the first time ever. I talked about sexual abuse as a child. I talked about what it felt like to be raised a girl in a patriarchal home. I talked about being raped and beaten by my ex-husband and being beaten by then current husband. I talked about how I believed it was my fault. I just needed to be kinder, better, less-selfish, serve more, but I couldn’t make myself do it. I’d rather die. And I didn’t even believe I deserved to die quickly. I deserved one of the slowest most painful deaths a person could suffer.

    I studied the Ensign and the scriptures for HOURS everyday. I wanted to know what I was supposed to do. What does a person who is in an abusive temple marriage do? Is it okay to leave? How many times do you listen to, “I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again,” before you say, “I can’t forgive this, because I can’t live like this anymore.”? The Ensign, lds.org, the scriptures, had nothing. NOTHING.

    I started reading stories of abusive relationships. I started learning what a healthy relationship looked like. I started to see that not only was I in an abusive and harmful relationship with my husband, but I was in an abusive relationship with the church. Between my therapist and the books, I was being told not to let anyone speak to me with “shoulds” or to tell me who I was, or who I was supposed to be, or what I thought, or what I felt. I knew those things, and only me.

    I realized that in order for me to find ME, I had to get out of the church. Again, I was faced with fear and guilt and sadness. I believed my family would be happier if I died than if I left. I hadn’t known anyone who left the church. My therapist gave me a link to John Dehlin’s podcast, “Why do people leave the LDS church?”

    From there, I found the Mormon Stories Podcast community. I started sharing my pains, and my fears, and my questions. People listened. They didn’t try to tell me I was wrong. They didn’t try to tell me I was right. I felt HEARD. I found a place where I could figure out what I believed, rather than being told what to believe. First time ever. It was amazing.

    I am now inactive. Its been almost a year since I last went to church. I don’t plan on ever going back. I may have my records removed at some point, but for now, I see no reason. My life is better than I ever could have imagined, and I believe a big part of that came from the support I found in Mormon Stories (and in break-off groups that came from that group).

    If the church could be as open, honest, genuine, accepting, and loving as the people have been in Mormon Stories, it might be a place I would want to be. Until then, I surround myself with the kind of people I want to be with. And I spend my Sundays in the mountains with my horse.

  221. Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    In 2007, I hit a wall in my life. I had tried SO HARD to live the way I thought I was supposed to. One day, in August, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I stopped eating. I remember thinking, “Either I will die, or I will get help, and I really don’t care which option it is.”

    I had a bishop who helped me get into counseling. I started talking about me and my life without the “sugarcoating” for the first time ever. I talked about sexual abuse as a child. I talked about what it felt like to be raised a girl in a patriarchal home. I talked about being raped and beaten by my ex-husband and being beaten by then current husband. I talked about how I believed it was my fault. I just needed to be kinder, better, less-selfish, serve more, but I couldn’t make myself do it. I’d rather die. And I didn’t even believe I deserved to die quickly. I deserved one of the slowest most painful deaths a person could suffer.

    I studied the Ensign and the scriptures for HOURS everyday. I wanted to know what I was supposed to do. What does a person who is in an abusive temple marriage do? Is it okay to leave? How many times do you listen to, “I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again,” before you say, “I can’t forgive this, because I can’t live like this anymore.”? The Ensign, lds.org, the scriptures, had nothing. NOTHING.

    I started reading stories of abusive relationships. I started learning what a healthy relationship looked like. I started to see that not only was I in an abusive and harmful relationship with my husband, but I was in an abusive relationship with the church. Between my therapist and the books, I was being told not to let anyone speak to me with “shoulds” or to tell me who I was, or who I was supposed to be, or what I thought, or what I felt. I knew those things, and only me.

    I realized that in order for me to find ME, I had to get out of the church. Again, I was faced with fear and guilt and sadness. I believed my family would be happier if I died than if I left. I hadn’t known anyone who left the church. My therapist gave me a link to John Dehlin’s podcast, “Why do people leave the LDS church?”

    From there, I found the Mormon Stories Podcast community. I started sharing my pains, and my fears, and my questions. People listened. They didn’t try to tell me I was wrong. They didn’t try to tell me I was right. I felt HEARD. I found a place where I could figure out what I believed, rather than being told what to believe. First time ever. It was amazing.

    I am now inactive. Its been almost a year since I last went to church. I don’t plan on ever going back. I may have my records removed at some point, but for now, I see no reason. My life is better than I ever could have imagined, and I believe a big part of that came from the support I found in Mormon Stories (and in break-off groups that came from that group).

    If the church could be as open, honest, genuine, accepting, and loving as the people have been in Mormon Stories, it might be a place I would want to be. Until then, I surround myself with the kind of people I want to be with. And I spend my Sundays in the mountains with my horse.

  222. Average Bishop May 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I am currently serving as a bishop in my ward. I do not want to draw attention to my ward or family at this time but I would like to say that I am extremely grateful for what John Dehlin has done. It took remarkable courage for him to create Mormon Stories and I for one know it has made me a better bishop and a better disciple of Jesus Christ. I now know why a lot of people are leaving the church. I committed sin in believing the myth that there was some type of problem with them. I have repented of that sin. There are very legitimate concerns and questions that faithful members have. Some of them are being mistreated as a result of those concerns. We are bearing false witness when we accuse our brothers and sisters of sin, or wanting to sin, or being offended. We can do better. We need to raise the bar on compassion, love, acceptance, tolerance and mercy. We need to be more concerned with the weightier things of the kingdom, as Jesus taught than outward appearances and “tithing our mint and cummin”. We need to decide if we will be a restoration of the Old Testament or New Testament. We need to decide if we will truly take upon ourselves the name of Christ or if we will be Levites who walk on the other side of the road while our brothers and sisters lay half-dead. We need to stop saying: It is their own fault. They were offended. They have underlying sin or want to sin. It is not acceptable. John had the courage to stand up in a very positive, and dare I say miraculous way, and Christ-like way, and left the 99 and went after the 1. I respect him and salute him and Mormon Stories.

    • Jared Anderson May 5, 2011 at 1:47 am

      So courageous and powerfully expressed. Thanks for posting Average Bishop. I especially appreciate what you said about repenting for believing people only leave the Church because of problems with them.

      • Eric C May 5, 2011 at 2:58 am

        I think John was

      • Eric C May 5, 2011 at 3:03 am

        Yes, I agree. If my bishop would have understood where I was coming from and had treated me with more respect, rather than as if I wanted the world more than the church, I might have stayed. But there is this huge gap of misunderstanding that is still very much in and taught by the church that ultimately kept me out. The thing is, the church is ultimately the cause of this because of deciding not to educate members about its history and other things thoroughly enough!

  223. mmmmmam May 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    May I add my words of gratitude and support to John and Mormon Stories. You fulfill a real need that exists in the church today. Open discussion……love and acceptance. You have opened my eyes and my heart to many of my brothers and sisters who are in pain and know not where to turn. I have had 3 of my adult children and their spouses leave the church. I could not understand why? I now understand more of their journey. I wish I knew then what I know now. I could have been more loving and understanding. We need more truthfulness…….more candor……more kindness. Church leaders are men and women just like you and me……they are not perfect. We as members need to have more input and collectively wondrous things could happen.
    God bless you John on your journey.

  224. Di May 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    1. I’m an unofficial exmo. At this point I am interested in what the church does because it’s an integral part of my history and current life (since I live in Utah). Other than that, I just don’t care and it doesn’t affect my day-to-day thoughts much. The only thing I do feel really resentful/bitter about is how my and three of my siblings leaving the church has affected my parents. They have been told too many times by church leaders that if they do everything they are supposed to, their kids will never stray. Well they did everything they were supposed to, but we strayed anyway. I hate to see their pain and confusion about our choices and I hate to see them beat themselves up about it. STOP TEACHING THAT.

    2. Nothing. I’m not a part of the church. As far as for other people, I know many friends who experience serious conflicts and cognitive dissonance about their feelings vs. church doctrine. I would like, for them, to see the church not only SAY critical thinking and some disagreement is okay, but back that up by not criticizing and demonizing those who do question.

    3. I found Mormon Stories five years after I left the church and I have found it very valuable to find other people with the same questions and issues I had/have, without having to slog through vitriol that can sometimes come with the disillusionment people feel. I feel like I’m going through a sort of secondary catharsis by listening to MS.

  225. limes May 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    My thoughts in regard to the church? The first word that comes to mind is betrayal. Betrayal by how it tells its history, betrayal by advertising itself as being all about family when, in fact, it is more about preserving itself as an institution at the cost of a family, if need be. Betrayal by making a lack of belief and trust in Joseph Smith and/or Thomas Monson a faster road to apostasy than not being sure about believing in God himself.

    My situation? I am still a completely active member, thoroughly enveloped by active family. I can’t be out without risking everything. Even being quiet I risk everything. That’s not what a church is supposed to be about.

    What I feel I am lacking that the church has not been able to provide? True worship. Not stressed obedience to prophet and priesthood. But I don’t think I will ever find it.

    Mormonstories and other online support groups have helped in knowing I’m not walking this road completely alone. John Dehlin being at church was a helpful thought that windows and doors were opening.

  226. Bryce May 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    I am a semi-active but no-calling Mormon who “believes” in the mission of the church and likes to speak of my spirituality in terms of Mormonism. I have heterdox beliefs–I do not believe in a historical book of Mormon and I do not believe in an embodied god and I disagree very strongly with the Church’s political position on same-gender marriage. I do however, attend, participate (to a degree), and pay some tithing (less since the Prop. 8 issue). I think that there is a lot more variation on belief, practice, and experience in the church which is ignored in favor of a feeling of uniformity.

    Without an outlet for learning, speaking, and experiencing my own Mormonism, there is no place for me in the church. Mormon Stories has helped me feel accepted, understand the doctrines of the church, and accept the diverse, and contradictory ways of being Mormon. Without safe spaces for a grass-roots expression of our shared values and beliefs by members, I would go somewhere else.

  227. Carl Reese May 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    John. I haven’t spent a lot of time on Mormonstories because I left the church years ago. However, I was very impressed with the “Why They Leave.” I also know many people that say that mormonstories has helped them immensely.

    If I had a chance to speak with a church leader I would emphasis love and acceptance much like what you said in “Why They Leave.” I would also emphasize that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people that attend church but don’t believe. Perhaps that is what the GAs need to know most. I would like to think that the leaders don’t want them to be trapped. I would like to not have the jaded opinion that they don’t care about the pain these people suffer as long as they continue to attend and pay tithing. However, the leaders lack of action and acceptance of doubters does support a jaded opinion. That the church can be a trap that hurts people and that leaders don’t care as long as they continue to pay tithing. So if I had a chance to speak with a church leader I would emphasize that people need to be free to leave if they want without fear of ostracization, rejection, and/or divorce.

    These trapped people that face divorce and family rejection are my friends and my family. To an extent my relationships with my family have been hurt by the church’s attitudes toward apostasy. I feel there is a huge amount of coercion in the church to stay. The irony to me is that according to church teachings, coercion was Satan’s plan, not Christ’s.

  228. Clarkeface May 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I live in China and am grateful for a) the community of saints I find here and b) that we are allowed to meet together in-line with the laws and requests of the government here. There are many aspects of China that are completely foreign, frustrating, and confusing. I often find myself feeling like I am on uneven ground seeking support from others. The social bonding is strong among latter-day saints here, and I find a wonderful community.

    While the social bond of the church is strong, I sometimes find the spiritual strength weak. I find great wholeness, goodness, and joy in connecting with God in ways I found outside the church. I am friends with wonderful people that I don’t feel are any less happy or will enjoy any less joy in the next life without the church. I don’t identify with ‘only one true church’ paradigm.

    I am active in the church, but find my spiritual satisfaction outside of it. This puts me on a certain level feeling like an outsider in the institution; often feeling foreign, frustrated, and confused. Mormon Stories has provided another great community of support validating my feelings and helping me find a place back in the church. Even in China, I can still connect to others and find a sense of place.

  229. SteveS May 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I am an ac

  230. Katie L. May 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Mormon Stories helped me navigate a challenging crisis of faith, gave me hope that I can be Mormon even though I don’t always feel like I “fit in,” and even helped me get a diagnosis and effective treatment for a stubborn case of scrupulosity (religious-themed OCD). I am active in the church, a temple recommend holder, in the Relief Society presidency in my ward, and a committed member of the church…and Mormon Stories and StayLDS have been an important part of that journey for me.

  231. Pollz05 May 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Everything you outlined in your two presentations (Why People Leave the Church & The Future Uncorrelated Mormons) was perfect. Give him that presentation. ; ) I just think that there is a lack of understanding by church leaders, and a fear from the traumatised believer/ evaporated believe people to be honest and explain the issues. I would say that the Priesthood Leaders are NOT helpful. They are not helpful because they don’t understand and accuses you of being bitter, unfaithful, and not doing enough, etc. I don’t want to be completely honest with my bishop because I don’t want to be punished for my unbelief. I would also explain that people who have a loss of testimony and in a lot of pain and they don’t fall out of faith lightly. That’s a great point to bring home.

    Also I’d say that the church is not a place where diversity is celebrated or even present. It’s a really unwelcoming place for those who are different. It works real well for those who fall in line and are in the mainstream, but those who aren’t cookie cutters it’s not a nurturing place.

  232. cwald May 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I am an active member of the church, served a mission, married in the temple, have three kids, and I am currently serving as the Elders Quorum President of our branch. I for one am very grateful for all the work that John Dehlin has done with his Mormonstories and StayLDS websites. There is no question that I would not be part of this church if it was not for these resources.

    Perhaps the biggest impact these sites have had on me, is it showed me that the church can still be good and meaningful to me and my family, even though it has warts and flaws. Contrary to the cultural teachings that I grew up with, the church does not have to be all true or all false. And that is a good thing, because there are SO many things that are NOT TRUE about the church. If the church has to be “all true or all false,” than I cannot remain a part of it. If the church insists on absolute conformity at the expense of tolerance and diversity, I cannot remain a part of it. I don’t like that option, and I reject that notion. I hope there will always be a place for me, and those like me, in this church.

    The StayLDS website has shown me the fallacy of the “all true or all false” dogma. I no longer have to believe in the whole black and white mentality, which caused me so much angst, because at one point I truly felt like I had no choice but to leave the church in order to preserve my integrity and honor. I love the church, I love the people, and I love the concept of Pure Mormonism, and I feel like it is a great pathway to find god and peace in this life. I’m grateful that I can stay LDS and keep my integrity and honor, even though I am certainly unorthodox, and I have serious concerns and issues when it comes to many of our over-emphasized cultural and traditional dogmas and commandments like white shirts, beards and tea drinking, and the whole white-washed history of the church.

    When I found out the true history of this church (from our own LDS sources), and how many of our “commandments” have merely evolved from cultural traditions, I was devastated. Thanks John for being a voice for some of us out here who truly want to remain a part of the tribe, yet struggle with these issues and really don’t feel welcomed or wanted by many of the members and leadership, because of our unorthodox beliefs.

    I stand with you and believe in what you are doing.

    Chad Waldron

  233. SteveS May 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I am an active member of the LDS Church with a testimony of at least one thing: that the Church is not “true” for me any longer. This realization came suddenly after years of soul-searching and struggle, mostly all by myself even though I’m surrounded by family. I continue to attend Church each Sunday because my family are all active members of the Church, and because my employment depends on my worthy membership. John’s podcasts and blogs have given me a sense of community that I felt I lacked in all the wards in which I have lived, and have given me the courage to finally explain my lack of belief to my bishop and wife. It has a been a painful, difficult path for my wife and I, and we still are working through the many layers of issues of how faith and practice in the LDS Church intersect with lifestyle choices for our relationship, our family dynamic, and the community of which we are a part.

    I used to feel a lot of anger and resentment directed at the leaders of the Church for perpetuating myths, practices, and attitudes that I feel were both personally hurtful and damaging to millions of other individuals. I was listening to one of the Mormon Stories podcasts one afternoon while working out in my yard when it happened. I can’t remember what the guest was saying, but all the pain, anger and sense of betrayal that had been building up inside vanished as one thought came to me: “The Church isn’t true, and it’s OK.” I realized that the struggle I had to reconcile my doubts about the Church’s doctrines, practices, and culture had forced me to perform metaphysical and moral contortions around glaring problems in hopes of being “worthy” of some divine manifestation that would suddenly help everything fall into place, and which would allow me to be at peace with the Church again so I could rejoin the faithful. The answer of comfort did come, but not in the way I had expected. For me, the Church IS broken–it’s tenets will NOT lead me back to God. It’s values run counter to my moral and ethical standards of self-conduct, and counter to what I believe was Jesus’ radical message of peace and love in a struggle against political, economic, and religious domination systems that seek to destroy our humanity, our compassion, and our will to build for ourselves God’s Kingdom here on Earth.

    The “its OK” part of my “epiphany” helped me move past my anger and frustration, and gave me confidence and permission to decide for myself exactly what I was going to care about and where I was going to place my loyalties, without worrying too much about whether they fit in one all-encompassing “plan” presented by the Church. I feel like I’ve moved beyond the Church in many ways, even as I continue to participate in the life of the Church each week as I attend services, teach sunday school, give talks in sacrament meeting, etc. I don’t feel like I am able to fully explore the totality of my personal faith path right now, but given that the Church plays such a big part in my extended family’s life, a huge part in the lives of all the people around me, and given that my membership is a condition of my employment, I find this compromise inhabitable for the time being. I also counterbalance the frustrations I feel toward the management of the Church with an acknowledgement that the Church accomplishes much good in the world, and is not without value. I also have a growing sense that I am not alone in my feelings, and that perhaps we as a community of Christians are on the cusp of radical change in the Church that could help fix many of the problems that ostracize and marginalize many. John’s words have encouraged me to hang in there, awaiting a time of refreshing. Who knows? perhaps if and when such changes come I can be there to help those around me who may struggle out in the open. I hope John and people like him will be there, too.

  234. Elder Vader May 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I am a temple married, BYU graduate, returned missionary with three children. I come from deep Mormon roots going back several generations. I am active in the church, and serve in my callings but have expressed to my Bishop that I have had a serious crisis of faith, and that although I’m worthy to attend the temple, I’m just not interested in having a temple recommend. I love the members of the church I’ve grown up with, served with, lived with, attended school with. They are good people. It is not an act, at least in my experience. I can think of a few very bad apples who are serving in leadership positions in the stake and ward level, including one bishop but those individuals are by far in the minority.

    I am seriously bothered by the lack of candor on the tough historical issues from top levels of church leadership. I understand that it is a tough position for the leadership to be in. Unfortunately the only possible language to describe the current approach to these tough topics is that the church lies about it. That really hurts to say, and it hurts to feel. Its like holding that opinion in my mind cuts against my own heart. The church has declared war on certain categories of its own membership that have a lot of love for the church, and a lot to offer the church. Gays, feminists, and intellectuals. That hurts too. Its the corporatist top down approach that just drives me crazy. I just get stuck on it, and it makes me sad.

    I’ve talked to several others who have been blown out of their testimony for various other reasons, most notable to me are the Prop 8 campaign, and feminism, or spending billions on SLC downtown mall, or accepting bailout money.

    These people aren’t haters, yet they are treated badly — like the female jewish engineer on Schindlers List. “You can’t pour the concrete like that, the building will fall down!” “If you put up with this from her, you’ll have to put up with it from all of them.” “Yeah, you’re right.” (Jewish engineer gets shot)

    What I need from the church that it currently isn’t providing. Candor – coming clean about the past mistakes. Repentance of past mistakes on some level. Space to be different. If Maxine Hanks wants to publish a book, and agitate for some kind of change, and church leadership thinks she’s off the rails, why can’t they give her the same freedom they give Cleon Skousen for agitating for certain change and having his wacky theories. Let them be. Don’t you guys have some actual sinners to excommunicate, or some feeble knees to strengthen? I honestly feel that the church’s top enemies – Feminists, Gays, and Intellectuals could contribute a lot of good things to the church, but the church doesn’t see that they’re fighting their own allies sometimes.

    Mormon Stories has helped me to feel that I’m not alone, and that I’m not crazy. There are other people out there that feel like me, who are proud of their heritage, and yearn for it to be a vital force for good in society, but who also see all the lumps and bumps. I’m glad Mormon Stories is out there.

    I still might leave the church. For now I’m in.

  235. Natasha Helfer Parker May 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    As a mental health professional and an active member of the church, I work with members on a variety of mental health concerns – many having to do with spiritual doubts, church disaffection, fear of disciplinary action, inappropriate guilt, and how these relate to family/spousal relationships. Having a safe and respectful place, such as Mormon Stories, to go to with questions -as well as being able to find a community where others are dealing with similar issues- has been an invaluable asset for many of my clients. As a therapist, I am privy to much information that clients are not comfortable sharing with their priesthood leaders due to a variety of reasons (fear of disciplinary action, fear of lack of confidentiality, fear of public awareness or embarrassment, their leaders are their peers/co-workers/friends, they are not comfortable or do not like their present leader, etc.). Because of these dynamics, I’m not sure if the church leadership is fully aware of the pain, grief, and suffering that is currently occurring in greater numbers amongst many of our members. Unfortunately, we lose many within our fold due to either actual or perceived rigidity within the definition of what it means to be a Latter-day Saint.
    I feel honored and privileged to have been invited by John Dehlin to contribute to the resources at the Open Stories Foundation. Just like we tell our missionaries that they will never be able to grasp the profound effect the seeds they are planting will have throughout generations – I like to remind John of the importance of his work as well. I hope that leaders within our church will see the value of John’s work, recognize the sincerity and caring heart of this great man, and treat him and his wife with the respect they deserve.
    Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT

  236. Calm Is Good May 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I am a convert of 40+ years, RM, temple marriage, still active, HP, held every position possible at local level. Because of the correlation program, the church is no longer the church I used to love. The correlation program has sucked the spiritual life from the church and the members because of over emphasis on control. It needs to be scrapped. The money needs to be returned to the ward level so programs can flourish once again. I remember the autonomy the auxiliaries used to have prior to the correlation program when church funds remained at the local level. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, which is what has happened to the top leadership of the mormon church. Not due to fraud, but due to pride. All the top leadership are CEO types, and all are members of the sons of the pioneers mormon royalty families. How many plumbers and farmers are in the top leadership? The spiritual leadership of the church needs to be cleanly separated from the business side of the church and the books need to be opened again to the membership as they were prior to 1959 so everything is kept above board. I no longer trust what leadership says due to the above. How does a 3 billion dollar mall benefit a poor peruvian saint or the janitors you laid off that really needed those jobs? The top leadership is so detached from the membership that you simply no longer get it, and it is all due to pride, money and the desire for control. Let them eat cake should be your motto. I hope this sounds harsh, because you need to change soon before it is too late. (probably is, the youth are gone, when you lose one generation, you are done)
    Also, quit being disingenuous about church history, come on—Brigham Young sounded like he was monogamous in that life’s of the prophets series that was suddenly discontinued. Use Rough Stone Rolling as a history book for a gospel doctrine year so everyone knows the truth and is on the same page. Truth is truth and will stand on its own. Real members will stay, although some will leave, but at least we won’t be lying anymore. All religions have their bad history, the catholics are still around and we all know they have dealt with some real historical issues.
    Finally—I am bored out of my ever loving mind with the lessons being dumbed down. Give us some meat!!!! I look for reasons to go home early or skip meetings altogether. Stop making bishops use conference talks for the speakers in sacrament meetings!!! Let there be some originality. Most of you guys are not that great of speakers to begin with(conference speakers should have professional training by the way, Joel Olsteen has and you allow his books to be sold in Deseret Book).
    Finally, make the youth the center point of the ward. Concentrate on allowing them to have fun. The boys and girls get equal money, have equally fun programs. Forget a priesthood purpose—-the youth must start having fun again like they did 40 years ago. You are losing them.
    Hire the janitors back. It wasn’t Christ like to lay them off anyway. They who could least protect themselves-you laid off, they who needed the jobs the most–you laid off. Sure I know you gave them a small severance but it is a horrible economic environment and you dumped them into it.
    I am a TBM, 40 year convert who is the bedrock of the local ward I’m in—-and I am Not happy. You should be worried because you don’t know how many of us there are. A collapse could be very near.

  237. Far Away So Close May 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    1) I am fully active and in my 40s. I was always curious with some doubts at times and read Nibley, D. Michael Quinn, and B.H. Roberts (Studies of BoM) in high school and thought that’s what all college-educated people did in the church. How I got this idea, I’ll never know. I am convinced that a loving God exists and the human soul is immortal. I feel very comfortable with evolution and science. I have been down the road of doubt with respect to the church over the past 5 years (I did also at 14, 16, and 19 years old), but spiritual experiences in the context of ministering in the church keep coming in very fulfilling ways–I am staying and I think God is behind the church. I would also stay to honor the feeling of heritage my wife has for her faithful ancestors. I think that the spiritual gifts exist in the church and have seen examples of prophecy and non-trivial inspiration that has saved people from great harm. I think that many of the things we have in the church have the fingerprints of many people on them, so things that didn’t start well can be upgraded, and important things that have been neglected can be refurbished. For example the temple ceremony contains not only Joseph Smith’s ceremony, but also David O. McKay’s and Gordon B. Hinckley’s prayerful consideration of what this experience should be. It would be inconsistent to believe in evolution and also not believe that the church and its teachings are evolving.

    I have been angry. I have had trust issues with my parents (my father was massively unfaithful). So I used the church as a shelter from the lack of trust I felt and decided to trust the church. What happened later was of course predictable. Once I came to accept the basic facts about polyandry and polygamy, my anger for my father and for the church got mixed up together. I finally realized that I am free and I could move on. I live more than 5000 miles from Salt Lake, so I am not influenced by Mormon culture unless I want to be.

    2) The church should become open and transparent about historical and financial matters. It was not very smart to think that one can make extraordinary truth claims and then skirt historical issues in unreasonably biased and shoddy ways in official materials. Trust is not easy to restore. They will get to openness eventually once they figure out what to do and get everyone to agree to the overall plan.

    3) Mormonstories helped me value openness. It has been healthy for me to listen, to think, and to decide how I felt about various issues. I treat everybody I know with more compassion because I have heard people talk about their experiences and points of view and I think those people matter. I have appreciated the discussions with experts in various niches in the area of Mormonism. I think the fact that John has not been disciplined by the church means something important about where the church is going in terms of how it treats its members.

  238. Steven May 4, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Several years ago a good friend of mine (from my early college days) was going through a crisis of faith. He never described it that way, but in hindsight that is what it was. He introduced me to a world I thought I had known, but had not yet adequately explored. I naively went along on this journey with my friend; an expedition that included long discussions of early LDS church history, doctrines, policies, etc. I read the writings of Richard Bushman and was soon introduced by my friend to the Mormon Stories podcast.

    I have not read Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” in many years, so forgive me if what I remember does not quite jive with the actual story. From what I recall of the novel, one of the principle characters (at the beginning of the story) is disillusioned with the Utopian society that surrounds him. As the story progresses, however, it becomes apparent (to the chagrin of the reader) that Bernard’s disillusionment is largely on account of his inability to “fit in” to his society, as opposed to any great philosophical critiques of it that he may have. Those who have read the novel will know that there are casualties who, unlike Bernard, come to see the great society for what it is.

    My friend is today an active member of the LDS church. Although his views are non-traditional, he has decided to remain. When my friend was struggling it often seemed to me that he found himself at odds with the church. Although an active member, he was single, had on more than one occasion received erroneous counsel from church leaders and was generally concerned by the simple fact that his patriarchal blessing was a plain document, void of grand promises of leadership opportunities that awaited him in the church. In his time of crisis my friend had many concerns of history, philosophy, doctrine and science; but ultimately it seems to me that it was his relationship with the church community that mattered most to him (i.e., he desperately wanted to “fit in”). My friend has since been married in the temple, adopted a fallibility view of church leaders and has even served in a bishopric.

    Although I cannot blame my friend, I sometimes feel that to some extent I am a casualty of his journey. I now know the facts and as a result often feel very much lost at sea (I have been an inactive member of the church for about four months, largely on account of not wanting to be subjected to the belief questions in the temple recommend interview). I do not know how my journey will end. It is very likely that I will eventually return to full activity in the church (perhaps I am in some ways very much like my friend). I come from an active LDS family and my in-laws are also very much active believers in the LDS faith. At present only my wife and my friend know of my struggles. As a result, the Mormon Stories podcast has been an invaluable tool for me in my journey. It is a place where I can go to feel as though I am not alone. Although tough issues are discussed candidly, the overall tone is positive and uplifting. As I said before, I do envision myself eventually returning to the fold. That said, I concede that I will probably never be the same true believing person that I was before my journey. It is my hope, however, that somehow in braving the storm I will be a better husband, father and friend than I was before. I only wish that the LDS church would have had some kind of support structure that might have aided me along the way. Thanks to Mormon Stories, I have not had to travel alone.

  239. Sweetasanangel May 4, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    •Your situation/thoughts/feelings with regard to the church.
    I am currently an active member of the church. I accept scientific claims that are in conflict with the church and am a non-literal christian believer. I feel that most members have a good spirit about them and are striving to be the best they can be and to follow their leaders with diligence (even if it is in ignorance). I feel that as I have grown up in the church it was dishonest in it’s portrayal of it’s history (through gospel art and church manuals etc) and that the concept and implication of “single mindedness” has been damaging. I feel that the church’s focus on a list of things they can check off as a determination of whether you are “worthy or not” instead of what’s in your heart and your desire to serve God had a negative influence on me. I think it gave me a misguided view of what it meant to be Christian and caused me to be judgemental to others. I do not think many aspects of Mormonism, organizationally, is in harmony with the teachings of Jesus.
    •What you feel you are needing/lacking that the church has not yet been able to provide.
    The ability to have open discussions including an acceptance of a wide variety of thoughts (with members) with out the risk of loseing ones reputation with in the church. More of a Christ-centred approach as opposed to the “be obedient to your leaders and their interpretation of things” kind of way.
    •How Mormon Stories has helped in that journey (if it has).
    I just started listening to it and decided to start at the beginning. The open discussions with a wide variety of topics has been refreshing and informative. It helped me when the world as I knew it came crashing down on me.

  240. Greatestdadever May 4, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I am very pleased to have an opportunity to tell you about my experience in the church. I was born and raised an active Latter-Day Saint. I have served in a number of callings at both a ward and stake level. Several years ago I set out to explore the truth claims of the church which I viewed as problematic. This was not something I treated lightly. I realized that the mere act of investigating these claims might be seen by some church leaders as hostile. Since then I have been asked many times, by many church members, what do you hope to accomplish? What is the point? Some people told me that I should first decide that the church was “true”, and then investigate as a means to prove my conclusion. While this might be faith-promoting, it did not get to the heart of my purpose. I want to know the facts. My whole life I believed in the church based upon the information that the church provided to me. The result of my investigation was a gut-wrenching realization that there was much about the church of which I had not been made aware. There are several points on which I actually feel that the church has misstated or misrepresented known historical facts. Why would church leaders do this?

    I feel that the church (and by church, I mean the institutional church, not the collective of active latter day saints) has a real credibility problem. In addition to hiding important historical information, there are several instances in which the church has made quiet changes that leave the majority of church members with erroneous impressions and misinformed. One such example is the fairly recent changes to the Introduction of the Book of Mormon in which the wording was changed from the Lamanites being the PRINCIPAL ancestors to simply being AMONG the ancestors of the American Indians. This is a huge change to what I was taught growing up, yet I didn’t hear anything from the church to clue me in to this important change. Another example is that the book Gospel Doctrine was recently pulled from the shelves of Deseret Bookstores. Again, I was taught growing up to refer to Mormon Doctrine as authority on the subjects it discussed. It was taught from the pulpit, taught from in classes, and on the personal bookshelves of most members I knew. It’s teachings were included in the Bible Dictionary. If there was a reason to pull it from distribution please tell us what it is so we can stop believing in incorrect doctrine! Don’t just quietly pull it from production and leave us to wonder! Likewise, if a conference talk is changed for some reason between presentation and printing, please tell us why! There are too many instances that come to mind of our church members being left with one impression, while the church seems to secretly (or at least very quietly) make changes. Were black members less valiant in the pre-existence or not? Should we revere the Apostles and Prophet and their teachings as infallible, or not? Sometimes the church is silent, and at other times conflicted. The church just did a huge “I’m a Mormon” campaign, then Elder Packer said in conference that we should not call ourselves Mormons. We recently heard a letter read from the pulpit to stop treating general authorities like rock stars, but then we teach that they are so special that their words are literally scripture to us.

    Where does Mormon Stories fit in to all of this? Well, despite the best effort of correlation, the church today is full of contradictions. We have statements of former leaders that conflict with present leaders, scripture that has been de-canonized, scripture that has been changed and doctrines that are no longer included in our manuals. We have statements of current church leaders which are contradictory with one another, we have local leaders who vary greatly in tolerance and leadership style. We have huge historical anomalies, including inaccurate representations which have been promulgated by the church. There are so many unanswered questions that remain. Is Sunday School the right place to discuss these issues? Should they be the subject of Sacrament Meeting talks? I don’t think so.

    Mormon Stories allows discussions and investigations of these issues, so that people like me have a place to talk about their concerns and questions. There is no other forum in the church that promotes open dialogue of these things that are of great concern to many members of the church. The internet/information age is upon us, members of the church will come to know these things. It is inevitable. I walked away from the church for a time and went completely inactive after initially discovering so many things that I felt the church had lied to me about. I had no intention of returning. The discussions that take place in Mormon Stories podcasts have helped me be able to return to activity in the church. I no longer feel alone, and I am able to see and experience perspectives other than my own. This has been incredibly useful in helping me to see the value in the church, despite my serious reservations.

    Finally, in my opinion, our lesson manuals and discussions have been watered-down significantly during the course of my membership. Church has become an extremely boring place where members utter the same platitudes and canned responses to the same essential questions. The lesson themes recur with incredible frequency. There is a real lack of scholarship on things like biblical issues, and most members in the meetings I attend seem to be there out of a sense of duty more than anything. In a word, most people I know agree that church is boring. However, when I listen to Mormon Stories, I feel invigorated and excited about the gospel again. It it wonderful to be free to think outside of the simple lessons in which we quote our own leaders incessantly. Mormon Stories affirms value in all pursuits of knowledge and experience, much as Joseph did in the early days of the church.

    I can finally answer the question that has been asked of me so many times: “What is your purpose, what do you hope to accomplish?” My purpose, and the purpose of Mormon Stories (as I perceive it to be) is the search for truth and meaning. If I accept the first vision, I want to do it with eyes wide open to the fact that there are several different accounts of that experience. Likewise for any number of troubling issues. I am no longer an infant that needs to be sheltered from the dangerous world. The world is no less dangerous, but I am equipped to deal with it and make my own value judgments. I doubt that I will ever trust the church as I once did, as an ultimate authority for my life, but I am still here, thanks to Mormon Stories. For some things that I am unable to literally interpret, Mormon Stories has helped me to discover meaning and an appreciation of symbolism and even myth. In Mormon Stories I find a refreshing and exciting vitality to discussions of gospel principles and an honest examination of the past. It has been said that all truth is not helpful. However, I view the truth that thing which sets us free, not a weight that bears down upon us.

  241. flower May 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    It is my deep connection to God and the Christ Spirit, my high morals, and my gift of empathy that has led me to become disaffected from the church.

    The disgusting acts, doctrines, attitudes and teachings of our past prophets were said to be in the “name of the Lord” and “God’s will”. Either God and Jesus were horrible gods, or the church is a fraud. I cannot accept that a loving God would confuse me by choosing corrupt men to head his church and then expect me to believe it is all true. I cannot worship a God who commands polygamy, polyandry, blood atonement, lying for the Lord, etc… Nor can I worship a God who discriminates against blacks, women, homosexuals, intellectuals, etc… This is not the God that I have a personal relationship with, therefore I have concluded that the LDS church is worshiping a false God/Christ, brought to us by false prophets.

    I still attend church part-time, but now direct the bulk of my time and money serving outside the church. I also have much more time to devote to my five young children, which is wonderful! I now have a stronger testimony than ever before on how much God loves me. I am “good enough” and LOVE is the most important force on the earth. Love is what also seals us together. My questions are all starting to fade, and everything makes so much more sense to me now. I would be overwhelmed with joy right now were it not for the horrible treatment I now receive from those who I love the most.

    A little of what this new testimony has cost me…

    -My entire family, extended family, and in-laws are all extremely orthodox members. I am now seen as lost and broken. Our relations have been severely damaged.
    -My husband, despite his love for me, believes church comes first and cannot imagine remaining married to me if I do not believe. Divorce is a real possibility. (his family would fully support this) I pray our love is enough to get through this!
    -My teens came home one Sunday after a YW lesson on associating only with LDS friends, and told me they no longer should be in the same room as me because I was “poison” to them, and it is okay not to honor a parent who will lead them astray.
    -Despite keeping my opinions to myself, word still gets around. I have lost many, many once close LDS friends who now no longer want anything to do with me.

    What Mormon Stories, StayLDS, and NOM has done for me…

    They have given me hope, acceptance, validation, understanding, intellectual and open discussion, and true, unconditional Christ-like love and friendship. Something I have been unable to find in church.

    What I would like to see from the Church…

    Honesty, financial transparency, open discussion… own your past! Most of all… A RETURN TO THE SIMPLE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST. Our church may be named after him, but I hear so little about him within the walls of church. We are forgetting what he truly stood for!

    ps… I am also disgusted that my young children are required to learn and sing the song “Praise To The Man” in primary this year. What happened to praising Jesus?!

    • flower May 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm

      I forgot to add that the knowledge that I will be unable to attend my own children’s temple weddings someday brings me more anguish than I can even put in words. Is there any other church out their that will forbid a parent from seeing their child wed? This policy does nothing but tear families apart on a day when they should all be coming together. Younger sibling who have not yet been endowed should be able to be present as well. Seriously… one of the most hurtful policies the church has!

      • Happy2bLDS May 4, 2011 at 8:26 pm

        I am sorry for your pain and your hurt. The temples are the most holy and sacred places on earth according to the LDS church and so there are certain requirements for an individual to be able to enter them so as to not distract from the purity and strong spirit of God that exists within the temple walls. This is the way it was in Biblical times too. If a person wants to comply with those requirements, then he or she can certainly enter the temple. No one will stop you. If you don’t want to comply with the standards or are no longer a member of the church or don’t believe in the LDS church anyway, then you have already made the decision that temples are not something you believe in, value, or where you really want to be anyway.

        The sealing covenant ceremony is not considered a wedding, it is a sacred covenant made with God that binds two people together into the eternities as well as uniting them lawfully. As the highest and ultimate covenant we can make with God, this ceremony is held intensely sacred. Others who look at this covenant as a religious cultural experience or just Mormon wedding vows, or who do not feel the ceremony is religiously correct, valid, or sacred are naturally not allowed to be present so as to not compromise the holiness of the covenant. I know that that doesn’t take away the fact that you want to see your children get married, but doesn’t all this make sense? There are all kinds of regulations and rules in all kinds of institutions all over the world whether it be a university, a business, a club, board membership in an organization, a church, a synagog, a private school, sororities, or a local gym. You CAN enter the temple, you just need to believe in the principles taught there in and follow what they stand for. Otherwise, it is considered a mockery of God to enter them. That is the belief system. Why would God want people who don’t value his temples or the teachings therein to enter into His temples anyway? I don’t know what you value or what your religious views are. I don’t know if you used to be a member or if you are not a member of the LDS church, but if you WERE a member, you probably already knew that that would be one of the lost privileges of no longer being a part of the church. Still, I know that doesn’t take away your pain. I hope the day will still hold beauty for you. I admire your daughter for her integrity in sticking to her belief system though. That takes intense devotion and conviction.

        • Rick Robison May 4, 2011 at 8:30 pm

          Deborah…all I can say is you just don’t get it. I hope you have more empathy for your own family than you show here.

          • Rick Robison May 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm

            I’m sorry Deborah…I don’t know your plight or experiences, but your post just set me off. It struck a nerve because I was unable to attend my daughter’s wedding last year too, and it was heart-breaking. Let me try to put it into a perspective you might be able to empathize with.

            First, I am a former bishop, temple married, RM, etc….and I had exposure to information that I could not deny that the church truth claims are NOT TRUE. So I felt I had to act in integrity and I resigned my membership years ago. So what YOU are asking me (us) to do if we want to ttend our own child’s wedding is to lie to enough people so that we can get a recomment (like many choose to do) in order to attend this special day and ceremony. Is that what you would have us do?

            My (our?) point is that a wedding is both a temporal and “eternal” event. For those of us that are just as certain of our disbelief as you are of your belief, we are forced to be absent at the part of the ceremony that we DO believe in — that of the exchanging of temporal vows and expression of love and commitment our own child is making the one time of their life.

            And you call this a family oriented church?

          • Happy2bLDS May 4, 2011 at 9:52 pm

            Rick, I am sorry I offended you and apparently several others. I know your experiences are personal and tender and I can’t blame you for your frustrations and pain. I only wanted to point out that it is okay that the church has it’s temple standards (in my opinion). I certainly don’t think you should lie to get into the temple. That ruins the whole point of everything. Everyone must stand by their convictions. Everyone on here has strong convictions and so do I. I guess my convictions are considered irritating and unfair to the majority of the people on here, but to me, they make sense and I hold true to them. That also needs to be okay. My parents are converts and I grew up regularly persecuted for my Mormon beliefs by non-Mormons. My entire life I have had to resolve others’ concerns about our church. I served a mission in Bulgaria, which was considered the most highly persecuted mission in the world. I have had my beliefs and convictions tested over and over again. I came out stronger and more of a believer then ever before. I know that this is not the case for everyone on here, but that does not mean that what I have to say doesn’t count. There is a lot of anger being expressed in these posts. I didn’t know all the dirt about the church’s history until recently, but someone I’m okay with it. I don’t feel lied to or deceived. I realize that the early leaders of the church were people, not perfect Gods. I try to dwell on searching out the mysteries of God in the holy scriptures and increasing my relationship with God and the Savior. Church happens to strengthen my testimony in Christ, not people. I feel badly for all the hurt and pain that is being expressed on this blog. My own husband is on his own journey right now as he tries to figure out how he feels. He spends time reading about and researching the upsetting early history and delving into the past mistakes of the brethern when they were trying to establish the church. I find no value in it. I spend time reading the New Testament and Book of Mormon. I need to be uplifted and strengthened. I need my faith increased. I need to focus on what the church stands for TODAY. That’s me. That’s where I am at. Some may accuse me of being “weak-minded” or “ignorant”, but I am not. I have simply chosen to hold onto the good parts and forgive the mistakes of those leaders who I believe were trying their best. Thank goodness I wasn’t called to be a prophet because I would have screwed everything up for sure. I think we are too hard on them. Humans make mistakes. Perhaps I shouldn’t have ever said anything at all on here though. I just want people on here to understand that some of us still believe and it is just as hurtful for us to watch our loved ones struggle with all this when we remain TBM’s. It is EXTREMELY painful for me. Again, sorry I offended you.

          • Rick Robison May 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm

            Thanks for your brave response Deborah. It might help you to understand that most of the people that are posting here once felt as you do, so we can relate to your pain today. Of course it is your choice and agency to choose to be study and be uplifted by what you believe is the words of God. I think most of us have no problem with you or anybody choosing to live a life that you feel is “god’s way.

            To me, the Book of Mormon is a book written and promoted deceptively and fraudulantly. I have no use for it anymore…I choose to read books that I’m much more certain are truthful.

            But more than this, the issue of an institution tearing families apart because of different beliefs is quite disturbing and painful. And unnecessary. I hope you will understand our point of view here.

            Thanks for dialoguing.!

          • flower May 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm

            Deborah… We are not offended, we just want you and other TBM’s to know that the only “struggle” the majority of are currently dealing with is that of being viewed as “lost” by our loved ones. It hurts, because we don’t feel lost… we feel enlightened! Were it not for the disapproval of those that we love the most, the majority of us would be feeling extremely happy!!! Please don’t feel sorry for us.

        • SteveS May 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm

          Deborah, I’m not sure you get how the ancient temple worked. Jews went to the temple BECAUSE they had sinned and needed to participate in sacrifice rituals in order to be cleansed. There were no priesthood leaders given them interviews beforehand. The only covenant they made was essentially made for them: they were circumcised at 8 days old. The only people excluded from worship at the temple were those who were not part of the ethnic tribe of Jews. So the LDS concept of the temple as a place where only clean people can be is a modern invention.

          • Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 8:53 pm

            I’m glad somebody pointed that out. This connection between the ancient temple at Jerusalem and modern Mormon temples is a bizarre one, which seems to encounter difficulties when a study of history is undertaken. (Much like many of the other problems people here have encountered).

          • Happy2bLDS May 4, 2011 at 9:54 pm

            We are all sinners. People who enter the temple are sinners too. I never said we are all perfect. The LDS temples are not run in the exact same manner as the Biblical times, I never said that. I simply meant to mention that there absolutely were standards and laws in regards to entering the temple. Please refer to my response above.

          • SteveS May 4, 2011 at 10:30 pm

            “The temples are the most holy and sacred places on earth according to the LDS church and so there are certain requirements for an individual to be able to enter them so as to not distract from the purity and strong spirit of God that exists within the temple walls. This is the way it was in Biblical times too.”

            How did you not say that the LDS temples aren’t run in the same way as the ancient temple in Jerusalem?

            My point was the exact opposite of yours. There were almost no standards governing who could and could not enter the temple. One had only to be a Jew. By birth (for the most part). You were either automatically good to go, or automatically excluded from temple worship just by who you were ethnically. I’m not saying this is the way it should be, but you should be more careful in making statements about the current LDS temple worship being the same as it was in Biblical times. The “Spirit of God” may be or have been present in both, and its true that ordained priests officiated in rituals in both, but aside from that, there are almost no similarities between the two, including the conditions governing who could and who could not enter.

        • Vikingz2000 May 4, 2011 at 9:03 pm

          @ Happy2bLDS

          Oh, wow. Oh, the callousness. Oh, the so total absence of charity. YOU may be happy to be LDS, but your callous, arrogance has just made me MORE happy to be getting out of a church who has far too many members like you, i.e., the most vile and despicable, pseudo-Christians one could ever imagine.

          @ flower

          Take heart, dear sister. Love and the love of truth will eventually make you free; especially free from persons such as ‘Happy2bLDS’. You need these moral imbeciles in your life like you need Satan. My heart goes out to you; I’ve been there, too; although not exactly the same situation, but the recipient of similar reactions of these so-called ‘Saints’.

          I hope your husband sees the light and realizes that a wife like yourself is of far greater worth than any religious ideology and culture, especially a culture that espouses and cultivates people like ol ‘Hap’. He should be in YOUR corner and standing up and defending you; I hope he has the balls along with the common sense and sincere love for you to do this.

          Your kids? That’s tough. They do grow and go, though, but that’s still real tough. Yet, I hope you will always have a good husband to cushion your blows. If he does end up leaving you over an issue like this, then he too will be taking his place amongst the most vile and reprehensible of bastards and witches. Trust in God. I did, and it eventually worked out for the better — much better.

          • Happy2bLDS May 4, 2011 at 10:13 pm

            Vikingz2000, please refer to my response above. You are concerned about being charitable and yet you are the one being derogatory. I simply stated the LDS belief-system on temples and some of my own convictions. It wasn’t me who claimed that someone was satanic, vile, calloused, arrogant, despicable, pseudo-Christan, etc. If we are going to respect everyone’s OPENNESS about their beliefs on here, let’s not discriminate against TBMs. Some of us still believe and you don’t have to be bitter about that any more than I need to be bitter about your hate for the LDS church. If you want to be respected for your beliefs, respect others’ as well. If you want to be understood and accepted and unjudged by TBMs, then be understanding, accepting and nonjudgemental of them. It works both ways.

            I happen to love people from all walks of life, countries, religious backgrounds, and sexual orientation. I have friends who are Jewish, Agnostic, Atheist, Baptist, and Catholic. I love them all and we talk openly and respectfully about religion. It’s okay that some people really do love being Mormon, in spite of some unfavorable early church history. I choose to move on. I like how the church is today, CURRENTLY. I like the current prophet. I don’t feel the need to spend time being upset about the past. But that’s just me. I know others don’t feel that way. Everyone has to choose their path. I have been offended and wronged by humans in the church, but I eventually got over it. I offended others too, I am sure. Apparently I am offending people now. I don’t enjoy attending church in Utah as much as I did in California, but still I go and still I am usually strengthened in one way or another if I am focusing on Christ. I also try to reach out and serve others there.

        • flower May 4, 2011 at 10:27 pm

          I actually feel more “worthy” now to be in the presence of God than I ever have before, but for the first time in my adult life I am unable to correctly answer all the TR questions which renders me “unworthy” in the eyes of the church.

          Again… the current church policy concerning attendance of a temple marriage does not support the importance of families. It divides them. A good solution would be to remove the one year “penalty” a temple-worthy couple must wait if they choose a civil marriage first.

        • Mike May 4, 2011 at 11:17 pm

          Deborah: I really hope that you never find yourself in a position where your son or daughter is getting married in the temple and you can’t attend, because I wouldn’t wish the experience on my worst enemy. Ironically, the problem could be solved with a simple change in practice – allow young marrieds to do their wedding outside the temple, and then do the sealing inside. This is how things are done in the Church in most of the world. Ask yourself why the Church does not do that in the US? You said yourself that it is “not considered a wedding”, so why have the wedding in the temple?

        • MM May 5, 2011 at 4:45 am

          For me, the issue isn’t about the sacredness of the temple, it’s the horrible policy of having to wait a year after a civil ceremony to be sealed in the temple, and the cultural pressure to get married in the temple as the only option for a faithful member. The wedding ceremony is only a part of the entire ritual. It is also a time to celebrate, when family and friends gather in support of the couple, as happens in almost every culture in the world. It should be joyous time for those who are closest to the couple, not a time of sadness and despair. Temple sealings are sacred religious ceremonies that have meaning only for those who believe in them, and should be kept separate from other festivities, particular when non-believing family members are involved. My temple sealing would have been much more meaningful to me had I not been crying my eyes out due to the emotional trauma of leaving my distraught mother behind after she handed me my wedding dress that she had so lovingly made for me, and walking into the temple with my future mother-in-law into a sealing room where I didn’t even know who half the people were. Parents who have lovingly raised a child to adulthood deserve better than this, and faithful LDS couples should not have to make that choice. And frankly, the somewhat arbitrary questions that are part of the temple recommend interview, in my opinion, do not ensure that the person answering them is more righteous than another, but rather more obedient to the institution of the church. We are all sinners in some way or another, and that is an insulting thing to say to non-members, that they can’t see their child be married because they are not righteous enough. This isn’t a doctrinal issue, it is a policy issue that could easily be fixed by getting rid of the one year waiting period.

      • Vikingz2000 May 4, 2011 at 9:03 pm

        @ Happy2bLDS

        Oh, wow. Oh, the callousness. Oh, the so total absence of charity. YOU may be happy to be LDS, but your callous, arrogance has just made me MORE happy to be getting out of a church who has far too many members like you, i.e., the most vile and despicable, pseudo-Christians one could ever imagine.

        @ flower

        Take heart, dear sister. Love and the love of truth will eventually make you free; especially free from persons such as ‘Happy2bLDS’. You need these moral imbeciles in your life like you need Satan. My heart goes out to you; I’ve been there, too; although not exactly the same situation, but the recipient of similar reactions of these so-called ‘Saints’.

        I hope your husband sees the light and realizes that