Mormon Stories - LDS

This week Mormonism and the world (basically) have been captivated by the new Netflix Documentary "Murder Among the Mormons" - which covers the Salt Lake City bombings of 1985, and is currently #2 in the USA on Netflix.  (SPOILER ALERT!!!!)

While reactions to the documentary (produced & directed by friends Jared Hess and Tyler Measom) have been universally SUPER positive, many progressive and post-Mormons have expressed a wish that the documentary would have spent more time discussing the role of the Mormon church in: a) creating the environment that gave rise to the bombings, b) attempting to cover up/hide its problematic history, and c) obstruct or hinder the investigation of the bombings.

I this epic, 2-part, 6 hour interview with Mormon/Ex-Mormon legend Sandra Tanner, we cover many of the questions/topics/issues that progressive and post-Mormons have been wanting to know about the Mormon church, Mark Hofmann, the bombings, and the investigations, such as:

  • What do we know about Mark Hofmann's childhood and adolescent years?
  • When and how did Mark Hofmann lose his Mormon faith?
  • What are some of the direct and undeniable similarities between Joseph Smith and Mark Hofmann?
  • What can we ascertain about Mark Hofmann's possible motives for forgery?
  • What issues regarding Mormon Church truth claims were being discussed publicly during Mark Hofmann's childhood and adolescence years, and what written materials may have influenced him?
  • What behavior on the part of the Mormon church in the 1960s and 1970s may have served as motivating factors for Hofmann?  Particularly, to what extent did the LDS Church participate in overt deception of its members that could have influenced him to turn on the church?
  • What are Sandra's memories of Hofmann and his close associates like Shannon Flynn, Brent Metcalfe, Curt Bench, Lyn Jacobs, Brent Ashworth, etc.?  Were any of them suspected as accomplices?
  • What do we know about the main Mormon-related Hofmann forgeries, and why were each relevant from a Mormon.history perspective?  How did Hofmann's forgeries intersect with and challenge Mormon church truth claims?  How did they stand to harm the church?
  • What role did the Mormon church play in hiding and/or covering up Hofmann's forgeries?
  • Perhaps most importantly, Sandra recounts the inspiring story of her husband, Jerald Tanner, discovering that Hofmann's Salamander Letter was a forgery a FULL YEAR before the bombings, how she and Jerald fought about his discovery, what Hofmann's reaction was to Jerald's discovery, and how it was received in the larger Mormon studies and news community (spoiler alert: it was largely ignored).
  • Sandra also movingly discusses how she and Jerald were largely ignored and marginalized by the broader Mormon history community, including being denied a display table at Sunstone, and how many Mormon history scholars would take advantage of the Tanner's research without giving them any credit or citations.  She cites as the main reason of this mistreatment her and Jerald's willingness to question Joseph Smith's sincerity - which remains a taboo in the Mormon studies community to this day.
  • Sandra recounts her memories of the bombings and of the investigations.
  • Perhaps most importantly, what responsibility does the Mormon church play in contributing to the environment and led to the bombings?

All this, and so much more.  This is a 6 hour interview.

  • Part 1 (4 hours) talks mostly about Sandra's memories during and after the bombings.
  • Part 2 (2 hours) focuses more on Sandra's direct reactions to the documentary Murder Among the Mormons.

For your convenience we have created time codes that will let you know which parts of the videos you can jump to (if you want to jump around or refer certain parts to friends).

We hope you enjoy!!!!!!!  And a HUGE thanks to Sandra (and Jerald) Tanner for sharing with us her/their historic insight.  For me, this was a true honor.  MORE TO COME!!!!

- John Dehlin (March 10, 2021)

P.S.  If you value Sandra and her contributions to Mormon history, please support Sandra Tanner and Utah Lighthouse Ministry with your donations!!!


00:01:32 - Sandra’s impressions of “Murder Among the Mormons”

00:14:39 - How the LDS church was portrayed in the documentary - positive vs. negative

00:21:06 - Could this documentary pose a challenge to some member’s faith?

00:23:16 - Truly’s role in the documentary & lawyers as church “historians”

00:30:20 - Was it smart for it not to be a “hit piece” in the LDS church?

00:42:11 - How the story is being revived

00:51:15 - Could Hofmann had any accomplices’?

00:54:44 - Heroes & villiain of the story

01:00:35 - Culpability of the LDS church & their obstructing of justice

01:04:13 - Sandra’s recommendations for books on this subject

01:10:47 - Legacy of the Hofmann scandal & its impact on Mormonism

01:22:56 - “Lying for the Lord” & how Joseph Smith set a president of dishonesty within the church

01:28:04 - Why people stay in the church after they have lost their faith

01:32:21 - Could there be another event like this that threatens the church?

01:34:35 - Sandra’s predictions for the future of Mormonism

01:39:48 - Upcoming biography on Jerald & Sandra Tanner

01:43:41 - Sandra’s experiences from Mormon Stories Podcast

01:50:07 - Reflections on Jerald Tanner

01:54:21 - Closing remarks 

Direct download: MormonStories-1406-SandraTanner2021pt2.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 3:20pm MST