Mormon Stories - LDS

Join me today as I sit down with a living legend, Rod Decker, who has gained great prominence in Utah over the past 50 years as a journalist, columnist, and reporter for KUTV Channel 2 news. An observer of Utah politics from an early age, Decker has a truly unique perspective on Utah culture, faith, and politics, and I could not be more honored to have him as a guest on Mormon Stories Podcast.

Rod Decker's most recent publication, "Utah Politics: The Elephant in the Room" can be purchased here.

 

Direct download: MormonStories-1427-RodDecker.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 9:58am MDT

Marriage, Family, & Sex therapist, Natasha Helfer, hosts this special edition of Mormon Stories Podcast with John & Margi Dehlin, as they discuss the aftermath of Natasha's trial for apostasy and excommunication from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Direct download: MormonStories-1426-NatashaHelferDebreif.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 1:43pm MDT

Join us now for Part 3 of what many are calling a truly groundbreaking Mormon Stories Podcast series - my interview with teen convert, former All-American athlete, and former Mormon seminary teacher and CES employee Marc Oslund.

In today's episode Marc shares with us:

  • An insider's view of how the Mormon church began realizing that it was hemorrhaging its youth and young adults, and how the church has experimented in seminary/institute/CES with both "inoculation" and "avoidance" when confronting its long-denied problematic history.
  • How the Mormon church relied on Terryl Givens and other progressive Mormons to help re-train Mormon CES employees, the backlash that ensued from orthodox instructors and managers, and how the Mormon church worked hard to simultaneously distance itself from Terryl Givens' teachings.
  • An observation that Mormon apostles no longer act as guardians of doctrine and theology, and how they have now "outsourced" that work to progressive theologians like Terryl Givens and others, in part so that they can maintain plausible deniability.
  • Marc's transition from an orthodox Mormon to a progressive/liberal (Terryl Givens)-type Mormon as a Mormon seminary teacher, in response to the training the church provided him, and how that ultimately undermined his own career in CES.
  • How Marc was ultimately and literally pushed out of CES for explicitly following the advice of Mormon apostles like Elder Ballard to openly discuss the problematic issues.
  • How the CES System continues to promote orthodox leaders in spite of its lip service to promoting openness and tolerance for diversity.

You will not regret the length and depth of this interview.

Direct download: MormonStories-1425-MarcOslundPt3.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 9:53am MDT

Join us today as we continue with part two of our three-part interview with former baseball player and LDS seminary teacher, Marc Oslund. Fascinating for so many reasons, I believe this is one of the most important Mormon Stories Podcast episodes I've ever released.

  • Marc was a heavily recruited high school baseball and football player in the L.A., California area.
  • He converted to the Mormon church as a teen.
  • He was drafted to the baseball Major Leagues three different times, and turned down those offers to go on an LDS mission and to BYU.
  • He was an all-American baseball player at BYU.
  • He served an LDS mission where he was often racked with guilt and shame - almost sent home for it.
  • When his baseball career ended (due to post-mission injuries), he became a Mormon CES seminary teacher, and served from around 2013 to 2019 - while the Mormon church was trying to become more open/honest about its history, and deal with public activists like Kate Kelly, myself, Sam Young, Jeremy Runnells, etc.
  • Even though he constantly had doubts/questions/concerns, his position as a seminary teacher caused major rifts in his marriage when his wife expressed occasional doubts, specifically about the Mormon temple ceremony.
  • Marc became a liberal/progressive/Givens Mormon while a seminary teacher - but was punished by CES for his progressive stances.
  • Marc ultimately lost his orthodox Mormon faith as a seminary teacher, and was pressured to quit his job.

In part 2 of his story, we will hear about Marc's experience working for the Church Educational System as a seminary teacher, his attempts to be open with students about church doctrines, and why he eventually began to question the leadership of the LDS church - all while working within the CES program.

Direct download: MormonStories-1424-Marc_OslundPt2.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 10:00am MDT

Join us today as we kick off our three-part interview with former baseball player and LDS seminary teacher, Marc Oslund. Fascinating for so many reasons, I believe this is one of the most important Mormon Stories Podcast episodes I've ever released.

  • Marc was a heavily recruited high school baseball and football player in the L.A., California area.
  • He converted to the Mormon church as a teen.
  • He was drafted to the baseball Major Leagues three different times, and turned down those offers to go on an LDS mission and to BYU.
  • He was an all-American baseball player at BYU.
  • He served an LDS mission where he was often racked with guilt and shame - almost sent home for it.
  • When his baseball career ended (due to post-mission injuries), he became a Mormon CES seminary teacher, and served from around 2013 to 2019 - while the Mormon church was trying to become more open/honest about its history, and deal with public activists like Kate Kelly, myself, Sam Young, Jeremy Runnells, etc.
  • Even though he constantly had doubts/questions/concerns, his position as a seminary teacher caused major rifts in his marriage when his wife expressed occasional doubts, specifically about the Mormon temple ceremony.
  • Marc became a liberal/progressive/Givens Mormon while a seminary teacher - but was punished by CES for his progressive stances.
  • Marc ultimately lost his orthodox Mormon faith as a seminary teacher, and was pressured to quit his job.

In part 1 of this incredible story, Marc talks about his upbringing in LA, his conversion to Mormonism, and why he gave up multiple opportunities to play major-league baseball in order to pursue a career in the Church Education System.

This is a long one...probably deserves its own podcast...but it's really, really important. I hope you enjoy.

Direct download: MormonStories1423-Marc_OslundPt.1.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 12:21pm MDT

As the COVID pandemic begins to slow in Spring of 2021, we are seeing a surge in vocal Mormon church members being summoned to disciplinary councils for excommunication on the charges of apostasy. Last week Natasha Helfer was excommunicated from the Mormon church for nothing less than advocating for ethical mental health and sexuality. Today we interview Neesha and Kyle Brost, who were recently threatened with excommunication by their Mormon leaders for posting videos to their very popular TikTok channel.

This is Neesha and Kyle's Mormon Story

Direct download: MormonStories-1422-NeeshaKyle.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 10:55am MDT

Join us as we talk to Shannon Flynn, who was an associate of bomber and forger Mark Hofmann, as well as a major figure in the new Netflix documentary "Murder Among the Mormons."

Direct download: MormonStories-1421-ShannonFlynn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:01am MDT

Please join us now as we interview Marriage and Sex therapist Natasha Helfer as she discusses her pending Mormon disciplinary council for apostasy.

Natasha Helfer's membership council is taking place on April 18th at 7:30 pm central time zone.
 
How you can support Natasha:
  • Write letters of support to President Stephen Daley,
  • Attend the council itself as an "approved" participant or in a more general way (details below),
  • Sign a mental health professional letter that is currently being drafted (if this is your profession) - please contact Lisa Butterworth to sign this, and
  • Spread the word on social media.
Contact information:
Event taking place at the Derby, Kansas Stake.
Direct download: MormonStories-1420-NatashaParkerTrial.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 12:17pm MDT

Today we have Shannon Flynn and Tonya and Scott Reiter in studio to remember the life of their friend, Lyn Jacob’s, associate of Mormon forger and bomber Mark Hofmann.

Direct download: MormonStories-1419-RememberingLynJacobs.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 10:20am MDT

Returning Mormon Stories Podcast guest, Roger Hendrix, is a former LDS Bishop, Mission President, and CES director, and was also called by Gorden B. Hinkley as a Trustee for the Deseret Trust Company for 18 years. And as if that weren't enough, Roger also worked as a business Management Consultant for 35 years, and did a syndicated daily radio commentary on social, political, and economic trends for nine years.

Join Roger and myself today as we provide an analysis of the LDS church as a multi-billion-dollar corporation, and discuss "the future of Mormonism" - as Roger sees it.

Books by Roger Hendrix:

  • Bend, Create, and Plan Your Future, author Roger Hendrix
  • Choosing the Dream, The future of Religion in American Public Life. Co- authored with Fred Gedicks
  • Leverage Point, a novel written with Gerald Lund.
  • The Idea Economy, Why your ideas will have to create personal wealth and hope in an age of uncertainty. Co- authored with Rob Brazell.
Direct download: MormonStories-1418-RogerHendrix.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 12:03pm MDT

For as long as the Mormon Internet has existed, Ex-Mormon women have been expressing concerns about abusive behavior by Ex-Mormon men.

Today a panel of Ex-Mormon women come together on Mormon Stories Podcast to introduce athe following six concepts: 1) Consent, 2) Deference to Patriarchy, 3) Gender Roles, 4) Modesty, 5) Sex Shaming, and 6) Victim Blaming.

The intent of this episode is to help educate Ex-Mormon men about how to treat Ex-Mormon women, particularly online and in Ex-Mormon communities.

Participants in the panel are: Hannah Dunnigan, Sarah Hess, Margaret Frances Phillips, and Elisha Lee.

Direct download: MormonStories-1417-UnlearningMisogyny.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 11:16am MDT

Since Title IX passed in 1972 to prevent sex discrimination under any education program receiving Federal financial assistance, the religious exemption clause has gone virtually unchaellenched. For decades, the Department of Educations has granted Title IX exemptions allowing dozens of religious colleges like BYU and Liberty University to discriminate based on sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, even when they receive millions of taxpayer dollars every single year.

Join us today at 4:00 pm MT as we interview attorney Paul Southwick, Chandler Horning (BYU) and Luke Wilson (Liberty University), about their groundbreaking class action lawsuit filed against the Department of Education. Chandler and Luke are among 33 former and current students from different federally-funded religious colleges who have been harmed by their discriminatory policies. The lawsuit argues that the Title IX religious exemptions “as applied to sexual and gender minority students, is unconstitutional and that the Department must enforce the protections of Title IX at all taxpayer-funded educational institutions, including at those institutions that discriminate and cause harm on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Direct download: MormonStories-1416-ReligiousCollegesLawSuit.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 11:57am MDT

Join me today as I interview Carah Burrell (TikTok's "Nuancehoe") who has quickly became one of the most notable (and hilarious) ex-Mormons on social media right now!

In addition to her great success on TikTok, Carah also has a very interesting Mormon story - from her unique upbringing in the church, to her experiences navigating the LA comedy scene with her husband, as a young mormon couple. Carah also had the opportunity to work for the LDS church's public relations department, which has further added to her interesting perspective on the Mormon church.

You can check out some of Carah's work here:

Direct download: MormonStories-1415-CarahBurrell.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 9:47am MDT

Join me today as I interview Salt Lake City lawyer, Mark Naugle, who developed the website QuitMormon.com - which aims to give former Mormons a more streamlined way to resign their membership from the LDS church, without the need to meet with a church authority figure. Since 2015, Mark has filed over 80,000 legal resignation letters with the LDS church. However, in response to his website, the church recently changed the terms to now require a notarized letter in order to apply for resignation.

Listen along to hear Mark's personal story, how QuitMormon.com came to be, and what he is doing now to continually challenge the LDS church on this issue.

Direct download: MormonStories-1414-MarkNaugle.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 8:39am MDT

  • What happens when a Mormon bishop falls in love with a member of his congregation?  How could this happen?
  • What situation would make a divorced single mother returning to Mormon church activity fall in love with her married bishop?
  • In what ways does the calling of Mormon bishop, including both excessive time demands on the Bishop and the practice of one-on-one "worthiness" interviews with single women, put excessive strain on bishops, their marriages, and their families - making infidelity more likely?
  • Should divorced single women (or anyone for that matter) seek life counseling from a Mormon bishop?  Are bishops trained and qualified to do life counseling?
  • How could a bishop and a divorced single mother come to believe that they were both engaged in a God-approved polygamous relationship?  Does a story like this help us better understand the Chad Daybell / Lori Vallow story, or the Joseph Smith story?
  • What happens when a Mormon bishop loses his faith, while he is serving as bishop?  What type of pressure does that put on the bishop, his wife, and their family?
  • What is it like to be viewed as "the mistress" in a public relationship that is viewed as scandalous (i.e., a Mormon bishops falls in love with a ward member, loses his faith, asks to be released, and the entire ward/stake knows)?
  • What happens when a Mormon stake president is forced to release a Mormon bishop early?  What types of pressure does this situation put on the stake president, the ward, the bishop, and the bishop's family?  How does the Mormon church handle such situations?
  • If you happen to fall in love with someone who isn't your spouse mid-life, how do you decide whether to stay in the struggling or failed marriage to improve it vs. leave the marriage to seek greater joy/fulfillment?  Is there ever a time to "cut your losses" in a marriage and move on, or should most/all marriages be preserved at virtually all cost?
  • Can 2nd marriages work, with all the complexities of divorce, ex-spouses, step-children, etc.?  Or are they generally doomed to fail?
  • How in the world do you ever heal from a lifetime of trauma as a Mormon?  Is healing and growth possible?  If so, what are some resources that can be helpful?

Today's epic two-part Mormon stories interview with Matthew and Elizabeth explores all of these questions, and much, much more.  Buckle in for a 7+ hour in-depth interview.

I promise you that you will not be disappointed with these two strong, vulnerable, inspiring humans.

Direct download: MormonStories-1413-ShakespearPt2.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 10:19am MDT

  • What happens when a Mormon bishop falls in love with a member of his congregation?  How could this happen?
  • What situation would make a divorced single mother returning to Mormon church activity fall in love with her married bishop?
  • In what ways does the calling of Mormon bishop, including both excessive time demands on the Bishop and the practice of one-on-one "worthiness" interviews with single women, put excessive strain on bishops, their marriages, and their families - making infidelity more likely?
  • Should divorced single women (or anyone for that matter) seek life counseling from a Mormon bishop?  Are bishops trained and qualified to do life counseling?
  • How could a bishop and a divorced single mother come to believe that they were both engaged in a God-approved polygamous relationship?  Does a story like this help us better understand the Chad Daybell / Lori Vallow story, or the Joseph Smith story?
  • What happens when a Mormon bishop loses his faith, while he is serving as bishop?  What type of pressure does that put on the bishop, his wife, and their family?
  • What is it like to be viewed as "the mistress" in a public relationship that is viewed as scandalous (i.e., a Mormon bishops falls in love with a ward member, loses his faith, asks to be released, and the entire ward/stake knows)?
  • What happens when a Mormon stake president is forced to release a Mormon bishop early?  What types of pressure does this situation put on the stake president, the ward, the bishop, and the bishop's family?  How does the Mormon church handle such situations?
  • If you happen to fall in love with someone who isn't your spouse mid-life, how do you decide whether to stay in the struggling or failed marriage to improve it vs. leave the marriage to seek greater joy/fulfillment?  Is there ever a time to "cut your losses" in a marriage and move on, or should most/all marriages be preserved at virtually all cost?
  • Can 2nd marriages work, with all the complexities of divorce, ex-spouses, step-children, etc.?  Or are they generally doomed to fail?
  • How in the world do you ever heal from a lifetime of trauma as a Mormon?  Is healing and growth possible?  If so, what are some resources that can be helpful?

Today's epic two-part Mormon stories interview with Matthew and Elizabeth explores all of these questions, and much, much more.  Buckle in for a 7+ hour in-depth interview.

I promise you that you will not be disappointed with these two strong, vulnerable, inspiring humans.

Direct download: MormonStories-1412-ShakespearPt1.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 10:26am MDT

This week in the April 2021 Liahona (Mormon church monthly magazine) the LDS church released 6 online articles attempting to coach faithful Mormons on how to better treat family members who have lost their faith in the Mormon church. I my opinion, they really are groundbreaking articles (even though they were confusingly withheld from the printed publication).

Join us on 3/26/2021 as we discuss, praise, and critique the 6 articles. I would love your feedback on the articles as well. The 6 articles are:

Direct download: MormonStories-1411-April2021LiahonaArticles.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 3:36pm MDT

Join us now as Anthony Miller and Douglas Stilgoe join me to break down the recent rebranding and partial repenting of FAIRMormon, which includes: 1) taking down the controversial "Kwaku" / Cardon Ellis / Bradley Witbeck videos that attacked Jeremy Runnells and John Dehlin, 2) promising to cease ad hominem attacks, and 3) a name change.

Direct download: MormonStories-1410-FAIRMormonPartiallyRepents.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 9:27am MDT

Join me today for this amazing Mormon Stories interview as I talk to Jared Hess and Tyler Measom about the making of their new Netflix documentary, "Murder Among the Mormons."

Direct download: MormonStories-1409-JaredHessTylerMeasomDoc.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 4:25pm MDT

Join us today as the brilliant John Hamer returns to help us dig deeper into:

  1. The main Mark Hofmann Forgeries, and
  2. The main attempts to "cover-up" unfavorable history by the Mormon church.
Direct download: MormonStories-1408-JohnHamerMarkHofmannForgeries.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:44pm MDT

Today I share (and provide reactions to) a recent fireside given on February 28, 2021 by faithful Mormon scholar and Utah State University professor Patrick Mason given at the Logan Utah Cache West Stake.

This is a re-recording. I decided to re-record because I felt as though my reactions were too angry. Honestly, I felt a bit unhinged. I know that many of you valued the passion. I'm sincerely sorry to disappoint you.  My overall goal has always been for the podcast to feel "safe" for questioning Mormons, and I don't want to lose that for this important episode.

I have included screen shots of the questions that were submitted by questioning stake members during the Q&A, which can be found here. I have also included the stake president statement that they decided NOT share Patrick’s presentation on the stake Facebook page as they had said they would during the presentation.

Finally, a HUGE thanks to Angelina at GroveTrove Getaways for supplying us with this video. If you want to thank Angelina, you can find her on Instagram @agrovetrove.

Direct download: MormonStories-1407-PatrickMasonStakeFireside2021.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 4:32pm MDT

Today I share a recent fireside given on February 28, 2021 by faithful Mormon scholar and Utah State University professor Patrick Mason given at the Logan Utah Cache West Stake.

This is a version that has no commentary.  I have released adjacent to this episode a version with commenatry.

Finally, a HUGE thanks to Angelina at GroveTrove Getaways for supplying us with this video. If you want to thank Angelina, you can find her on Instagram @agrovetrove.

Direct download: CacheWestStakeFireside-PatrickMason-NoCommentary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm MDT

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 MDT

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 YouTube 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!!!

====================

Part 1 Timecodes:

00:07:13 - Summary of Sandra’s background
00:14:51 - Sandra’s understanding of Mark Hofmann’s early life & beliefs
00:19:39 - Hofmann’s exposure to treasure digging and LDS truth claims
00:32:02 - Parallels between Mark Hofmann and Joseph Smith
00:36:12 - Theories surrounding the Golden Plates & Book of Mormon
00:45:30 - Speculations on Mark Hofmann’s faith crisis
00:48:17 - Sandra discusses Shannon Flynn
00:55:53 - More on Hofmann’s mission, & his research into Mormon history
00:57:03 - Salamander Letter
00:58:50 – Sandra on intentional deception by LDS Church leaders
01:00:58 – Hofmann first comes to Utah Lighthouse Ministry in 1978 to share first known forgery – on the 2nd Anointing
01:06:19 – Mark’s handwriting – juvenile “chicken scratch”
01:07:10 – The beginning of a discussion of Mark Hofmann’s possible motives
01:09:07 – Mark Hofmann’s lack of empathy - callousness with the bombings.
01:12:44 – Mark Hofmann’s ego & his desire to pull off the “ultimate deception”
01:14:23 – Hofmann’s desire to embarrass the church & expose the faults their “power of discernment”
01:18:50 – More comparisons between Joseph Smith and Mark Hofmann – Around their “Ponzi schemes” unraveling into chaos and violence
01:20:56 – Discussion of Anthon transcript - Hofmann’s first major (known) Mormon forgery
01:28:34 – Jerald Tanner first uncovers forgery in 1960s – Oliver Cowdery pamphlet
01:31:21 – Jerald Tanner received pushback on forgery claims - Fawn Brodie and Juanita Brooks state they will continue to use the document
01:35:19 – Discussion of original Anthon transcript
01:39:08 – Hofmann’s Joseph Smith III Succession Forgery
01:45:58 - Hofmann trying to paint Brigham Young in a bad light.
01:52:11 – Brent Ashworth describing Hofmann “fishing” for documents that collectors might want
01:53:01 - Hofmann begins a bidding war over his Joseph Smith III Succession document
01:54:11 - LDS church “front buyers”
01:57:09 – Hofmann’s claim to have the McLellin collection
02:05:19 – Lyn Jacobs & Sandra’s thoughts on his omission from the “Murder Among the Mormons” documentary
02:08:18 – A discussion of frequent questions regarding Hofmann’s sexuality
02:14:09 - Hofmann’s 1825 Letter from Joseph Smith to Josiah Stowell
02:17:42 – What LDS Church leaders knew about Joseph Smith’s use of folk magic and treasure digging
02:21:15 – The Smith family merging of folk magic with Christianity - Hyrum Smith’s use of “magic documents” & Joseph Smith’s use of the “Jupiter Talisman”
02:28:52 – LDS General Authorities consciously sanitizing Mormon church history (Hinckley, Oaks, Turley)
02:31:40 – Church Patriarch Smith showing magical papers at LDS church firesides in the 20th century
02:32:50 – Wilford C. Wood “buying up” valuable LDS Church artifacts
02:36:29 – Smearing critics - tragic story of LDS Church translator, Stan Larson, losing his testimony of Book of Mormon Historicity, and being forced out of LDS Church employment.
02:42:57 – Other LDS Scholars forced out or fired
02:44:40 – Discussion of top LDS Church leaders knowing the problems with the church’s core truth claims, but continuing to mislead members intentionally
02:46:55 – The “rule” that Joseph Smith can’t be known as an intentional deceiver
02:49:56 – Did Mormon General Authority Hugh B. Brown admit that he did not believe in Book of Abraham historicity to Thomas Ferguson?
02:51:46 – Did Mormon General Authority B.H. Roberts loose his faith in Book of Mormon historicity?
02:59:51 – The integrity of Jerald Tanner.
03:05:53 - Martin Harris as one of the three witnesses
03:07:26 - Potential motives and means for deception
03:12:39 - Do LDS General Authorities have the gift of discernment? The Anthon Manuscript and photo of Hofmann with LDS General Authorities
03:16:25 - Questioning authenticity of salamander letter
03:32:13 - “Salamander or Moroni?” pamphlet for Sunstone Symposium
03:46:07 - The unwritten rule of the Mormon history community – “Don’t question Joseph Smith’s sincerity, or face marginalization”
03:52:51 - How Jerald and Sandra Tanner were disrespected by the Mormon history community & treatment of the Tanners by Dialogue and Sunstone (Tanners not allowed to have display table at Sunstone)
03:56:13 – Begrudging acceptance of Tanners after Jerald is vindicated.
04:01:01 – How Sandra’s work affected the relationship with her sister, who was embarrassed by her work
04:03:05 – God was Sandra’s motivation to keep going.
04:07:41 – The McLellin papers & other Hofmann forgeries
04:09:11 – Sandra’s discussion of Richard Turley’s book on Hofmann, Victims, & Mormon church’s obstruction of the murder investigation
04:13:47 – Hofmann’s motives for murder & conviction
04:19:27 - Discussion of first murder
04:23:13 - Brent Ashworth as potential target of Hofmann’s 3rd bomb
04:33:04 - Mark Hofmann’s plan to forge the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon

Direct download: MormonStories-1405-SandraTanner2021pt1.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 10:05am MDT

"View of the Hebrews" is a book first published in 1823 by Ethan Smith of Vermont.  In "View of the Hebrews," Ethan Smith argues (among other things) that the Native Americans were descended from the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.  This book was so popular that it had a second printing in 1825.  

Mormon General Authorities and apologists have feared "View of the Hebrews" for over a century, starting with B.H. Roberts in the early 1900s.

Why is "View of the Hebrews"  potentially problematic for the Mormon church and the Book of Mormon?  A few reasons:

  • Joseph Smith claimed to have come up with the idea for the Book of Mormon the VERY SAME YEAR (1823) that "View of the Hebrews" was first published.  Coincidence?
  • Ethan Smith (the author of "View of the Hebrews") was Oliver Cowdery's pastor in Vermont PRIOR to his working with Joseph Smith as Book of Mormon "scribe," and it is certain that Cowdery was familiar with the book.  Coincidence?
  • Mormon General Authority and historian B.H. Roberts wrote hundreds of pages doing research on the disturbing similarities between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon.  Later, B.H. Roberts went on to lose his testimony in the historicity of the Book of Mormon.  Coincidence?

Recently, the brilliant Radio Free Mormon decided to read "View of the Hebrews" from cover to cover to see what the "hubub" is all about.  

Join us as we explore the following questions:

  • What is View of the Hebrews fundamentally about?
  • What are the important similarities and differences between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon?
  • Was Ethan Smith's "View of the Hebrews" a source of inspiration for the Book of Mormon?
  • What cultural dynamics were at play in upstate New York in the early 1820s that could have influenced BOTH books?
  • Are there any direct connections between "View of the Hebrews" and Joseph Smith?
  • Why has "View of the Hebrews" caused so much concern for Mormon apologists, from B.H. Roberts to today ? How have Mormon apologists responded to View of the Hebrews?
  • Does "View of the Hebrews" present significant, compelling problems for LDS Church and Book of Mormon truth claims?
Direct download: MormonStories-1404-ViewoftheHebrewsRFM.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 3:12pm MDT

Chelsea and Nick Homer were both raised as devout Utah Mormons - with all the good and bad this entailed, and both were equally determined to have the perfect Mormon marriage and family.  After meeting at BYU and an extended, careful courtship, Chelsea and Nick were married in the Bountiful temple. Then their Mormon dream immediately began to fray.

Beginning with the wedding night/honeymoon, Chelsea and Nick experienced problems with sexual intimacy, due (in large part) to unhealthy messages they received around sexual "purity" and "modesty" as Mormon teens.  Then, a year into their marriage, Nick began to lose his testimony in the Mormon church - causing Nick and Chelsea to seriously contemplate divorce.

When it became clear that Nick was not going to perform the priesthood blessing for their their firstborn child, Chelsea and Nick decided to courageously post about their situation on her Instagram account, in part to defy the shaming and unhealthy rumors that so often accompany this situation within Mormonism (e.g., "Nick must be into PORN!"). This post was dated September 24, 2017.

Surprisingly to both Chelsea and Nick, a Public Relations employee for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked if Chelsea would write a post about this experience for the Church’s Instagram. This post (dated February 7, 2018) can be found here, and to date has 58,947 "likes."  Later, the LDS Church PR department asked Chelsea to author an article about navigating her Mormon mixed-faith marriage as a believing wife.  This heavily correlated article is entitled "Who Do I Choose - God or My Husband? - and was published by lds.org on July 25, 2018.

After these social media posts, Chelsea and Nick immediately began receiving messages, emails, and phone calls from other young Mormon couples also experiencing faith crises and/or mixed-faith marriages.  To help provide support and community for all the young Mormon women who were struggling with faith crises, Chelsea formed on July 31, 2019 a Facebook group entitled "Faith Journey Meetups," which at present has over 2,000 members.  The description of this group is as follows:

Welcome! This is a meetup hub for women who are actively navigating their personal faith journeys anywhere along the LDS belief spectrum. Come, make friends, schedule get-togethers. This is a safe place to find support and turn internet acquaintances into real life friends.

Eventually, Chelsea also lost her faith in the Mormon church, and today Nick and Chelsea are navigating a life of healing, growth, and joy after Mormonism.

This is their story.

Direct download: MormonStories-1403-ChelseaNickHomer.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 1:19pm MDT

Hey Mormon Stories Listeners!

I am planning some super-cool interviews for the newly released "Murder Among the Mormons" documentary (released today on Netflix).  A few SUPER important requests for you all:

  • Please watch it ASAP! It's fantastic!
  • Please share it with all your believing Mormon family members and friends.  If they are concerned about the content, consider letting them know that:
    1. Richard Turley (former assistant LDS Church historian and head of LDS Church Public Affairs) participates in the documentary, and
    2. The documentary was carefully designed by both Jared and Tyler to be fair/balanced.  In my opinion, the doc is TOTALLY TBM worthy, so please watch it AND tell everyone about it!

I am planning several super cool interviews, including an interview with Directors - Jared Hess and Tyler Measom.  So stay tuned for that!

Here's where I need your help.  I would REALLY love it if you would share with me: a) your reactions to the doc, and b) any questions you have for Jared and Tyler. This will help me make the most of time with them (which I see as precious).  It will also stand as a cool record of progressive and post-Mormon reactions to the film.

Please post your reactions here!

If you want to watch additional coverage of the Mark Hofmann bombings on Mormon Stories Podcast, you can check out the following episodes:

Thank you in advance for your support!  And a HUGE thanks to Jared and Tyler for making a documentary that we ALL can be proud of as Mormons/Ex-Mormons. More soon!

Direct download: MormonStories-PSA-MurderAmongMormons.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 2:20pm MDT

  • Do you miss the "spirituality" that you once felt as an active Mormon?
  • Have you struggled to find joy/meaning/mental health after losing your Mormon faith?
  • Are you still active in the LDS Church, but feeling spiritually empty as of late?

Join me as I assemble am amazing panel of wise humans to discuss "Spirituality After Mormonism." Panelists include Margi Weber Dehlin, Anthony D. Miller, Samantha Shelley (Zelph On The Shelf), and Holly Ashton Wallin.

You will not be disappointed with this amazing lineup of wise humans.

Feel free to bring your own questions, comments, and suggestions!!!!!

Direct download: MormonStories-1402-SpiritualityAfterMormonism.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 12:02pm MDT

Join us today on Mormon Stories Podcast as we interview Mike Rinder - former top-level Scientology Executive. Mike was raised a Scientologist, knew L. Ron Hubbard personally, and became David Miscavige's "right hand man" as he lead Scientology's "Office of Special Affairs" (OSA). The OSA handled media and public relations, legal and government relations, and dealing with the "enemies of Scientology."

Mike appeared in the Scientology documentary "Going Clear," as well as in the documentary TV Series "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath." He currently co-hosts a podcast with Leah Remini called "Scientology: Fair Game."

Direct download: MormonStories-1401-MikeRinder.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 1:24pm MDT

Hey Mormon Stories Listeners - I need your help!!!! This Friday (9am mountain time) I will be interviewing Mike Rinder - a former high-level leader of the Church of Scientology. I only have an hour with Mike, so I want to spend at least a few minutes of the hour comparing the Mormon church with the Church of Scientology.

To be clear - I have studied Scientology enough to know that it is deeply problematic....from literally kidnapping/imprisoning members, to having members physically beaten, to militantly suing members, etc. In short, I know that Scientology is a brutal, inhumane, super-harmful cult. Consequently, I am also fully aware that any comparison between the Mormon church and the Church of Scientology is deeply fraught. But hear me out.

I once read in Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" that sometimes the less immediately lethal viruses are often the most harmful viruses overall, primarily BECAUSE they are less deadly than their counterparts. In other words, if a virus is so deadly that it immediately kills its hosts, it has a tougher time spreading, and ultimately harms fewer organisms. Conversely, if a virus doesn't kill its host, but makes its hosts sick enough for a long enough time, the virus can spread much more successfully to a much larger population, and do more harm overall to many more people . Get it?

And so this is where I would like your feedback...and it's only an intellectual exercise. Here is the question:

If the variables we are measuring include:
1) Total human hours extracted from members without fully informed consent (total hours wasted under false pretenses, in a sense),
2) Total abuse/pain/suffering inflicted on humans under false pretenses, and
3) Total $$$ amount fraudulently extracted from its members over the lifetime of the church....again, under false pretenses and without informed consent....

...could an argument be made that the Mormon church, in aggregate, causes more overall harm than the Church of Scientology...in part BECAUSE it is somewhat less severe overall?

Also, what arguments/points am I missing?

Please make your best case below (one way or the other), and I will do my best to incorporate your input into my discussion with Mike Rinder on Friday.

Also, if you have any questions for Mike, please share them below and I will try my best to incorporate them.

THANKS IN ADVANCE!

John Dehlin

P.S. Please know that I KNOW that the Mormon Church does a TON of good in the world (particularly for its members). Believe me....I see that, and I believe that. I am talking about the harm that the Mormon Church causes IN SPITE of all the good it does as well.

Direct download: Scientology_vs._Mormonism_-EDITED.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:04pm MDT

Join us as we talk with cult expert Steven Hassan about how to help a loved one who believes in and follows the QAnon conspiracy cult. Questions we will address include:

  • What is QAnon?
  • Does QAnon qualify as a harmful cult?
  • How is QAnon harming people, families, and our nation?
  • How can you help a loved one who believes in and follows AQnon, or any other destructive cult?

Dr. Steven Hassan's Reddit AMA (Q&A) at QAnonCasualties entitled "How to Help People Involved in QAnon" can be found here.

Steven's main web site is: Freedom of Mind.

Books Mentioned in Today's Episode:

Cult Documentaries Mentioned in Today's Episode:

Direct download: MormonStories-1400-HassanQAnon.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 4:47pm MDT

Is it possible to stay active in the LDS Church in 2021 after....

....learning all of the problematic history... ....becoming an ally for LGBTQ Mormons... ...becoming a feminist... ...becoming an "intellectual Mormon"... and after losing one's orthodox faith?

More importantly, why would anyone WANT to?

In Part 1 of my two-part interview with dear friend and faith transitions coach Jana Spangler, Jana told us the story of her Mormon faith journey, which includes:

  • Battling with perfectionism as an LDS teen and young adult.
  • Feeling broken and inadequate as a single Mormon woman attending the University Utah, struggling to meet the church's standards of "worthiness."
  • Being threatened with an LDS Disciplinary Council be a well-meaning Mormon bishop, and how that actually HELPED turn Jana's life around at the time.
  • Finding and marrying Rob - who "checked all the Mormon boxes" at the time.
  • Batting with infertility.
  • Experiencing self-doubt and depression as a Mormon Mom.
  • How Jana's passion for self-improvement and retreats/workshops led to a Mormon faith crisis.
  • Jana's shifting views of Christ's atonement, which include absolute, unconditional love.
  • Jana's courage to share her testimony struggles with her Holladay, Utah ward and stake.
  • How untraditional Mormon podcast hosts, authors, and organizations (such as Bill Reel, Gina Colvin, Dan Wotherspoon, John Dehlin, Thomas Wirthlin McConkie, Sunstone, etc.), along with a supportive husband and understanding church leaders, helped Jana find a way to stay ACTIVE in the LDS Church.
  • What factors led Jana to decide to stay active in the LDS Church...for now.

In Part 2, Jana provides a more detailed framework for how others can find a way to remain active in the LDS Church if they so desire, inspired by the works of Richard Rohr and James Fowler (among others).

Direct download: MormonStories-1399-JanaSpangler2.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 10:46am MDT

Is it possible to stay active in the LDS Church in 2021 after....

....learning all of the problematic history... ....becoming an ally for LGBTQ Mormons... ...becoming a feminist... ...becoming an "intellectual Mormon"... and after losing one's orthodox faith?

More importantly, why would anyone WANT to?

In Part 1 of my two-part interview with dear friend and faith transitions coach Jana Spangler, Jana tells us the story of her Mormon faith journey, which includes:

  • Battling with perfectionism as an LDS teen and young adult.
  • Feeling broken and inadequate as a single Mormon woman attending the University Utah, struggling to meet the church's standards of "worthiness."
  • Being threatened with an LDS Disciplinary Council be a well-meaning Mormon bishop, and how that actually HELPED turn Jana's life around at the time.
  • Finding and marrying Rob - who "checked all the Mormon boxes" at the time.
  • Batting with infertility.
  • Experiencing self-doubt and depression as a Mormon Mom.
  • How Jana's passion for self-improvement and retreats/workshops led to a Mormon faith crisis.
  • Jana's shifting views of Christ's atonement, which include absolute, unconditional love.
  • Jana's courage to share her testimony struggles with her Holladay, Utah ward and stake.
  • How untraditional Mormon podcast hosts, authors, and organizations (such as Bill Reel, Gina Colvin, Dan Wotherspoon, John Dehlin, Thomas Wirthlin McConkie, Sunstone, etc.), along with a supportive husband and understanding church leaders, helped Jana find a way to stay ACTIVE in the LDS Church.
  • What factors led Jana to decide to stay active in the LDS Church...for now.

In Part 2, Jana provides a more detailed framework for how others can find a way to remain active in the LDS Church if they so desire, inspired by the works of Richard Rohr and James Fowler (among others).

Direct download: MormonStories-1398-JanaSpangler1.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 12:53pm MDT

Recently, BYU Egyptologist John Gee published an article via the online Mormon apologetic website "The Interpreter" - attacking the scholarship of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, specifically Volume 4 of "The Joseph Smith Papers Revelations and Translations." The article is entitled: "Fantasy and Reality in the Translation of the Book of Abraham."

Gee's main attack targets are recently retired BYU professor Brian Hauglid and current LDS church employee Robin Jensen.

- Why would a BYU professor be attacking the work of the Joseph Smith Papers project - both of which are owned and controlled by the LDS Church?

- What issues are at stake in this battle between old style and new style Mormon apologists?

Join me and Radio Free Mormon on Friday at 11:15am Utah time as we discuss the history and details of this "civil war" within the world of Mormon apologetics.

Direct download: MormonStories-1397-Civil_War.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 3:12pm MDT

Please join me as I interview Dr. William L. Davis about his book "Visions in a Seer Stone: Joseph Smith and the Making of the Book of Mormon."

In this interdisciplinary work, William L. Davis examines Joseph Smith's 1829 creation of the Book of Mormon, the foundational text of the Latter Day Saint movement. Positioning the text within the history of early American oratorical techniques, sermon culture, educational practices, and the passion for self-improvement, Davis elucidates both the fascinating cultural contexts for the creation of the Book of Mormon and the central role of oral culture in early nineteenth-century America.

Drawing on performance studies, religious studies, literary culture, and the history of early American education, Davis analyzes Smith’s process of oral composition. How did he produce a history spanning a period of 1,000 years, filled with hundreds of distinct characters and episodes, all cohesively tied together in an overarching narrative? Eyewitnesses claimed that Smith never looked at notes, manuscripts, or books—he simply spoke the words of this American religious epic into existence. Judging the truth of this process is not Davis's interest. Rather, he reveals a kaleidoscope of practices and styles that converged around Smith's creation, with an emphasis on the evangelical preaching styles popularized by the renowned George Whitefield and John Wesley.

William L. Davis, an independent scholar, holds a Ph.D. in theater and performance and has published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought; John Bunyan Studies: A Journal of Reformation and Nonconformist Culture; Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies; Style; Text and Performance Quarterly; and Textual Cultures.

Dr. William L. Davis’ book, “Visions in a Seer Stone: Joseph Smith and the Making of the Book of Mormon” can be purchased in the following ways:

University of North Carolina Press

Amazon

Direct download: MormonStories-1396-William_L._Davis.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 11:47am MDT

For those who really care about Mormon Stories Podcast, and particularly for those who donate, please provide feedback when you can.

Thanks!

John

Direct download: MormonStories-1395-UMFeedback.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 4:14pm MDT

Please join me as Neon Trees front man Tyler Glenn and award-winning pianist and composer Paul Cardall return to Mormon Stories Podcast to premiere a new music video: "I Know It Hurts", from Paul Cardall's memoir-style album "The Broken Miracle." We would welcome your questions for Tyler and Paul during this live Q&A.
 
“I Know It Hurts” was co-written by Cardall and Glenn after they met several years ago at the famed LOVELOUD Festival, where they were both performing. Glenn is co-founder of the festival, alongside Imagine Dragon’s Dan Reynolds.
 
“Before writing this song, Tyler and I discussed at length the challenges we all feel that result from trauma,” Cardall explains. “In my case, though my heart transplant was a beautifully orchestrated miracle, it was still the grand finale to a lot of years of medical trauma. It triggered anxiety and depression. For everyone who is suffering, not necessarily physically, but because they are different or feel like an outsider, I want to say to them, ‘I know it hurts.’ This song acknowledges that you are not alone. This song validates our feelings in a way that says, ‘keep going, keep fighting, we understand.’”
 
Glenn adds,
 
“I wanted the lyric and performance of this song to convey a sense of understanding how it feels to get through a trauma or heartache. So much of life for many is the search for a sense of belonging, a sense of self-worth. This song feels more like an acknowledgement of that, and I hope it brings a feeling of being seen and comforted. I hope those in pain from whatever it may be, feel a sense of validation.”
 
The video, directed by Rob Norbutt, is in stark black and white, the simplicity of which amplifies the power of the message:
 
You’ve been floating out in space
You just wanted to believe
There were tears upon your face
And your body felt no ease
Dear God is there not more
Cuz it’s cold on the church floor
 
Cardall’s new album is more than a colorful collection of 19 emotionally-charged songs. The Broken Miracle is a musical memoir, a personal manifesto that celebrates a life filled with nearly unfathomable tragedy and heady triumph. An enthusiastic collaborator, Cardall welcomes an all-star cast of creative partners on The Broken Miracle. The title track was penned with Christian music veteran Matt Hammitt and Carter Forge, and is sung by Hammitt. “Broken Machine” features singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata’s vocals on the tune Cardall co-wrote with Yamagata and Trevor Price. In addition to Glenn, the project also includes appearances by Ty Herndon, J. Daniel, and Akelee; while pop star David Archuleta sings the power-ballad “My Heart Beats for You.” His collaboration with Thompson Square on “All I See is Snow” was declared “ the Christmas song of the pandemic.”
 
Cardall’s evolution as an artist continues with the release of The Broken Miracle, a title inspired by his true-to-life story of being born with a congenital heart defect, which nearly took his life numerous times. Cardall received a heart transplant 10 years ago and continues to thrive as a father, husband, and artist. The Broken Miracle will also be released as a biographical fiction novel written by J.D. Netto. The book will be released February 2.
Direct download: MormonStories-1394-GlennCardall.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 5:25pm MDT

Join us for a review of Fiona and Terryl Givens' new book: "All Things New: Rethinking Sin, Salvation, and Everything in Between."

According to Amazon: "In this book, Fiona and Terryl Givens trace the roots of our religious vocabulary, explore how a flawed inheritance compounds the wounds and challenges of a life devoted to discipleship, and suggest ways of reformulating our language in more healthy ways all in the hope that, as B. H. Roberts urged, we may all cooperate in the works of the Spirit to find a truer expression of a gospel restored." Panelists include Jana Spangler, Anthony D. Miller, and Brittney Hartley.

Direct download: MormonStories-1392-AllThingsNew.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 8:50am MDT

After being raised by an orthodox Mormon mother and a "redneck, somewhat Jack Mormon Pioneer stock dad," Gretchen Day decided that she was going to be an "all in" Mormon mother.  After getting engaged at age 19 (as a BYU Freshman), Gretchen went on to get married in the LDS temple, and to fulfill many of the stereotypes of a Utah County Ultra-Orthodox Mormon mother, including:

  • Having 8 children.
  • Homeschooling her children using Book of Mormon-based curriculum.
  • Raising her children with little to no media.
  • Imposing strict "modesty" guidelines on her children (mostly her daughters).
  • Doing at least one underwater home birth.
  • Pursuing strict dietary practices ("perfect eating) such as restricting sugar, eating only raw, vegan foods, etc.

Over time, Gretchen's ultra-orthodox Mormon dream began to crumble in several different ways:

  • She began to experience serious depression.
  • She started making serious life decisions based on "spiritual experiences" based on feelings -- that may not have been very healthy for her (in hindsight).
  • Some of her children started to lose their testimonies of the church.
  • She had a son who became seriously depressed and ultimately suicidal, based in part on inhumane "worthiness" interviews conducted by well-intentioned bishops, mission, and stake presidents - who were/are operating within an abusive system.  This included feeling pressure to lie about his faith crisis to his home ward and BYU bishop, in order to keep his place at BYU and to stay in good standing with the church.
  • She began learning about factual Mormon church history (e.g., polygamy, Book of Mormon problems), which became deeply triggering for her.

As Gretchen's faith began to crumble, she started to feel trapped within the Utah County Mormon bubble.

  • Should she lie to her son about her faith journey, as he was preparing to leave on his mission, or should she be honest with him and risk spoiling his experience?
  • Was she trapped in a "Mormon mafia" of sorts, with no escape?
  • Should she "come out" to fellow ward members and leadership, and risk social ostracization?
  • Or should she quietly "fade away" from church activity to avoid any conflict?

In Gretchen's case, she decided to leave the church in a very vocal fashion.  This has included:

If you are seeking a powerful, inspiring story of one ultra-orthodox Utah county Mother's journey out of Mormonism, this is it.  If you enjoyed the interviews of folks like Donna Showalter, Leah Young, you will deeply treasure this interview (but only after it breaks your heart).

Direct download: MormonStories-1392-GretchenDay.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 1:09pm MDT

Gregory Barnes is a Mormon filmmaker and artist raised in Oak Park, Illinois. He studied film at BYU and served a Mormon mission in Argentina. Raised a faithful Mormon, Gregory was influenced by the comedic absurdity of exiting that Jell-O-obsessed desert religion.

Gregory currently is a Master’s Student at TISCH at NYU where he made his most recent short film The Touch of the Master’s Hand -- a dark comedy about a Mormon missionary who confesses an unusual pornography addiction to his mission president. The film premieres at the Sundance Film Festival this week.

Gregory's work has been featured by NPR, Playboy, and Pitchfork.

Clip from movie: https://letterboxd.com/festiville/story/exclusive-clip-greg-barnes-mormon-masturbation/?fbclid=IwAR1wLkfTSrP06TpCoMac0ccOdq_uKWvikcPE_ODomZ8gACJCBfwz-h939rI

https://fpg.festival.sundance.org/film-info/5fd1639604818b0ec7648fa7?fbclid=IwAR0_XlPZxkvM_JkWJbl3NrZV7EHJIdr5b-cZLmDzUAqWQlbBB0krBYjOTKo

https://www.gregorybarnes.com 

Direct download: MormonStories-1391-TouchOfTheMastersHand.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 8:50am MDT

After losing your orthodox Mormon faith, have you given up on the possibility of any sort of belief in and/or association with "God" or "Jesus"? More importantly, are you seeking to fill some of the existential and/or spiritual holes left over after your faith crisis?

Today I sit down with John Hamer, Community of Christ Seventy and pastor of the Community of Christ Toronto Congregation to talk about why he thinks theists especially, but also some atheists have adopted a counterproductive position about the idea of "God." We'll also discuss why he thinks this is even a relevant conversation to have in the 21st century. Didn't rational people hash this all out in the Enlightenment? John Hamer believes that the majority of Christians including many intellectual leaders of the movement took a wrong turn centuries ago and with negative consequences for the whole path of Western civilization today. He proposes going back and exploring an alternative path, including opening up the term "God" as a variable in need of undefinition and reexamination. What, if anything, might this accomplish?

Tune in and pose your own questions and objections.

Direct download: MormonStories-1390-UndefiningGod.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 10:50am MDT

John Larsen is one of the most influential and well-respected figures within Modern progressive and post-Mormon communities.  John (along with his ex-wife Zilpha) was the co-host of Mormon Expression podcast for several years, and he is an occasional host of Sunstone Podcast.  He has appeared on Mormon Stories Podcast several times over the past decade.

In today's episode I bring John Larson back, and we discuss several topics, including:

-Divorce after a faith crisis.

-Raising children with mental illness after a faith crisis.

-Alcohol and drug use after a faith crisis.

-Non-monogamy/swinging after a faith crisis.

-The LDS Church's response to the COVID pandemic.

-The impact of the QAnon phenomenon within the United States, and within the LDS Church.

-How conservative politics within the U.S. are tearing apart some Utah wards and families.

-What it would take to bring John Larsen back as a podcaster.

-The need for kindness within both political and religious discourse, and how challenging this can be.

John Larsen is one of my favorite thinkers in modern Mormonism, and is a fantastic guest.  you will not be disappointed with this episode.

=============

Some of the Mormon Expression episodes mention in this episode include:

-Episode 27: The Word of Wisdom for Dummies

-Episode 95a: Doctrine and Covenants 132 for Dummies Part 1

-Episode 95b: Doctrine and Covenants 132 for Dummies part 2

-Episode 275: How to Become an Ex-ex-Mormon

-Episode 276: How to build a transoceanic vessel

 

John's past Mormon Stories Podcast episode include:

-Episodes 186-187: "Mormon Stories Broadcasts Live with John Larsen and You!"

-Episode 312: Mormon Expression Interviews John Dehlin

-Episode 531: "John Larsen's Mormon Expression"

-Episode 1097: "Building Community after Mormonism: A Conversation with John Larsen"

Direct download: MormonStories-1389-JohnLarsen2021.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 1:36pm MDT

In this short Mormon Stories Episode I sat down with Trent Told, who created a prototype of Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon Plates. Based on Dan Vogel’s theories surrounding the “Tin Plates” and the Book of Mormon, Trent created a proof of concept model of the Book of Mormon made out of tin, in order to help demonstrate the physical size and weight of the plates. This model is also intended to help illustrate complexity and improbability that Joesph Smith could have possessed and handled actual Gold Plates (let alone run with them).

Direct download: MormonStories-1388-Recreating_BOM.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 12:06pm MDT

Join me today for one of my favorite Mormon Stories Podcast interviews/interviewees of all time. In today's episode, Stanford University graduate student Amy McPhie Allebest returns to discuss the development of patriarchy within human civilization, with a specific focus on the religious context. She also announces her new podcast entitled "Breaking Down Patriarchy - An Essential Texts Book Club."

Patriarchy has incredibly deep roots in the human condition, and harms everyone - especially women, but also men, youth, and children. This episode is for ALL of us, and you will not be disappointed with Amy's incredible knowledge, insight, and compassion.

The Oxford Dictionary defines patriarchy as "a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it." All cultures all over the world practice patriarchy, sometimes violently, sometimes seemingly benevolently, sometimes in ways we are so accustomed to that we don't even notice. But when was patriarchy instituted? How? Why? Who has challenged this system, and how have their critiques changed the world?

Breaking Down Patriarchy: An Essential Texts Book Club answers these questions, as well as addressing the very personal ways that patriarchy impacts our lives and relationships. Every week, an intelligent, insightful, relatable guest joins host Amy McPhie Allebest to read and discuss a historical text. Listeners are invited to read the book ahead of time, but even if they are not able to read, Amy and her reading partners provide a thorough "breakdown" of the issues and powerful, practical takeaways that benefit the real lives of women - and men! - everywhere.

Check out the introductory episode to hear about the reading list, and the egalitarian vision that aims to foster the flourishing of all human beings, including boys and men.

Amy's Bio: I grew up in Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, reading, writing, drawing, singing, and practicing the piano and violin. I attended Brigham Young University, where I met Erik Allebest during my first week of freshman year, studied abroad in Israel, lived in Chile for a year and a half as a missionary, and married Erik all before graduating with a degree in English. Erik and I moved around - to Colorado, Southern California, Utah, Spain, and Northern California - while Erik started and ran chess businesses for a living (primarily chess.com) and I stayed home to raise our four children. Those four kids have become brilliant, hilarious people and are our very best friends. I am a long-time trail runner, a recent CrossFitter, a lifelong reader and writer, and an almost-graduate of Stanford University's Master's of Liberal Arts program.

Web Site Link: www.breakingdownpatriarchy.com

Facebook Page: facebook.com/breakingdownpatriarchy

Instagram: @bdownpatriarchy

Twitter: @bdownpatriarchy #patriarchy #feminism #mormon

Direct download: MormonStories-1387-BreakingDownPatriarchy.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 11:41am MDT

In my opinion, one of the most damaging books ever published by the Mormon Church is Spencer W. Kimball’s “The Miracle of Forgiveness.” Among other things, this book teaches that:

  • No young Mormon man or woman is worthy to go on a mission if they masturbate.
  • Masturbation alone leads to masturbation with others, which leads to “homosexuality.”
  • Being gay or lesbian is “ugly,” “repugnant,” and comparable to a disease.
  • “Homosexuality” leads to bestiality.
  • “Homosexuality” can be easily “cured.”
  • People who have pre-marital sex, and even rape victims, are “blighted” and “scarred.”
  • It is far better to die than to lose one’s “virtue.”
  • Death by suicide is a sign of foolishness, faithlessness and/or weakness and/or sin.

To be clear, this book is currently sold at Deseret Book, and remains on the book shelves of hundreds of thousands of Mormons across the world.

In this short presentation, I offer my brief argument for why I believe that “The Miracle of Forgiveness” should be removed from Deseret Book, and I let listeners and viewers know what they can do to help. I also share my thoughts on what the Mormon Church can do to help “atone” for selling this damaging book for several decades.

How You Can Help:

  • Share this Presentation.
  • Email Deseret Book:
    • service@deseretbook.com
    • mediainquiry@deseretbook.com
    • hrdept@deseretbook.com
  • Call Deseret Book
    • 1-800-453-4532 (Toll-Free US and Canada)
    • 1-801-517-3369 (International)
  • Speak to any influencers you know.
  • Do what you can to remove this book from the access of people who might be vulnerable (book shelves, etc.).
  • Please share with me/us what you did, and the reactions.
  • Remember the date: 1/18/2021.
  • Monitor deseretbook.com for when they take the book down.
  • I will throw a party when it’s gone (likely this summer post-COVID)

P.S. This is a re-recording to make the video less “ranty,” and to remove the discussion of book bans and book burnings, which is not useful. HUGE thanks to everyone who gave feedback on this. I always want to be a constructive voice.

Direct download: MormonStories-1386-Miracle_of_Forgiveness_Re-Record.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05pm MDT

Please join me and Radio Free Mormon for a discussion of “Laura A. Gaddy vs. the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” – a class action lawsuit currently before the United States District Court for the District of Utah, with Robert J. Shelby as the Presiding Judge.

The main purpose of the case is as follows: “The case seeks certification as a class action based upon the large number of former Mormons who have been deceived by Defendant COP’s fraud, as a result of the Mormon Corporate Empire’s longstanding coordinated lies and material omissions about its history as well as lies about its use of tithing donations and how it would use that tithing in the future.”

Two of the main documents central to the case can be found here (for your review):

Click here to contact Kay Burningham (the attorney on this case), or to follow this case.

Financial donations to support the past and ongoing expenses for the case can be made here.

P.S.  One primary motivator for this episode is to fundraise for Radio Free Mormon so that he can be supported in his podcasting efforts, and so that we can keep him around for a very long time.  Please click here to become a monthly donor to Radio Free Mormon.

Direct download: MormonStories-1385-Gaddy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:14pm MDT

In a recent video released by paid actors supported by FAIRMormon and the More Good Foundation, Kwaku El, Brad Witbeck, and Cardon Ellis make the claim that I and Mormon Stories (and Jeremy Runnells) are intentionally "homewrecking for profit" with the work we do.

In an attempt to combat this hurtful claim, I reached out to our amazing Mormon Stories Listeners, requesting your help by sharing if/how Mormon Stories Podcast has helped your family. I have been deeply honored and humbled by the overwhelming support we have received, and would like to personally thank each one of you that were brave enough to share your own “Mormon Story” with me.

Mormon Stories podcast seeks to understand, explore, challenge, and improve the Mormon experience through stories, and has never had the intention of harming families in any way. In fact, we strive to support and mend family relationships by promoting healthy communication skills and unconditional love.

The primary objectives of Mormon Stories podcast include:

  1. Providing support to Mormons who are transitioning away from either orthodox Mormonism, or from Mormonism altogether, with a particular emphasis on:
    • Minimizing the anxiety, depression, and occasional suicidality that can accompany a transition away from religious orthodoxy.
    • Reducing the number of unnecessary divorces attributable to Mormon faith crises.
    • Creating a community of support for liberal/progressive and post-Mormons.
  2. Building greater awareness regarding accurate LDS/Mormon church history, doctrine, and theology – so that both active, believing Mormons and investigators of the church can make informed decisions regarding their investment in, and engagement with the church.
  3. Identifying opportunities for growth/improvement within the LDS church, and within broader Mormon culture.

Mormon Stories Podcast by no means benefits from the destruction of families, and we are saddened to see our community mis-represented in this way. It is my hope that the personal accounts represented in this video will be evidence of how Mormon Stories has actually benefited the lives of our listeners, and lay to rest the claim that Jeremy Runnells and myself have ever participated in “homewrecking for profit.”

Thank you.

Direct download: MormonStories-1384-Testimonials.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:23pm MDT

Recently two friends of mine (Liz Cannon and Ray Purcell) asked to interview me about my role and experiences over the past 20 years trying to support people experiencing a Mormon faith crisis.

This is our interview.

Note: This interview is not a "typical" Mormon Stories Podcast interview, in that it warrants a PG-13 "rating" due to some adult language and topics in the interview.  Listener and viewer discretion is advised.

I hope you enjoy.

Direct download: MormonStories-1382-LizAndRay.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:48am MDT

My reaction to yesterday's riot at the U.S. Capitol (January 6, 2021).

Direct download: MormonStories-1382-MormonismAndTrumpism.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:37pm MDT

Jim Bennett is the author of "A Faithful Reply to the CES Letter." He is also the son of the late Utah U.S. Senator Bob Bennett.

In Part 5 of a multi-part series with Jim, I bring to Jim listener/viewer questions, along with several questions/observations of my own, into a passionate, 4 hour final conversation.

If you were frustrated that I gave Jim "a pass" in the previous episodes, you may be more satisfied with this episode.

Direct download: MormonStories-1381-JimBennettPt5.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:53am MDT

Jim Bennett is the author of "A Faithful Reply to the CES Letter."  He is also the son of the late Utah U.S. Senator Bob Bennett.

In Part 4 of a multi-part series with Jim, we discuss in-depth his approach to maintaining belief in the Mormon church AFTER exposure to all of the historical and social problems currently vexing the LDS church, as highlighted in Jeremy Runnell's groundbreaking book "CES Letter: My Search for Answers to my Mormon Doubts."

Today's episode covers:

  • Women and the church and the Ordain Women movement.
  • The Mormon church's approach to "Law of Chastity" issues including pornography, masturbation, and one-on-one "worthiness interviews."
  • The Mormon church's handling and mishandling of sexual abuse cases.
  • The Mormon church's treatment (including excommunication) of activists and critics.
  • A closing discussion of the faith crisis "epidemic" within the modern LDS church, and Jim's opinions about the best way to handle the situation.

To thank Jim for his participation so far in this series, please email him at: jim@canonizer.com.

Direct download: MormonStories-1380-JimBennettPt4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:55pm MDT

Jim Bennett is the author of "A Faithful Reply to the CES Letter."  He is also the son of the late Utah U.S. Senator Bob Bennett.

In Part 2 of a multi-part series with Jim, we discuss in-depth his approach to maintaining belief in the Mormon church AFTER exposure to all of the historical and social problems currently vexing the LDS church, as highlighted in Jeremy Runnell's groundbreaking book "CES Letter: My Search for Answers to my Mormon Doubts."

Today's episode covers:

  • Joseph Smith's polygamy.
  • Racism in the Book of Mormon.
  • The LDS Church priesthood and temple ban on members of African descent.
  • The LDS Church's teachings regarding LGBTQ members and same-sex marriage.
  • What is the role/need for Mormon prophets?

Also, please do not miss my dear friend Bill Reel's super in-depth interview with Jim if you happened to miss it.

Direct download: MormonStories-1379-JimBennettPt3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:26pm MDT

Jim Bennett is the author of "A Faithful Reply to the CES Letter."  He is also the son of the late Utah U.S. Senator Bob Bennett.

In Part 2 of a multi-part series with Jim, we discuss in-depth his approach to maintaining belief in the Mormon church AFTER exposure to all of the historical and social problems currently vexing the LDS church, as highlighted in Jeremy Runnell's groundbreaking book "CES Letter: My Search for Answers to my Mormon Doubts."

Today's episode covers:

  • The Book of Mormon
  • The Witnesses to the Book of Mormon
  • The Book of Abraham
  • The Kinderhook Plates
  • The First Vision
  • And much, much more!

Also, please do not miss my dear friend Bill Reel's super in-depth interview with Jim if you happened to miss it.

Direct download: MormonStories-1378-JimBennettPt2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:55pm MDT

Jim Bennett is the author of "A Faithful Reply to the CES Letter."  He is also the son of the late Utah U.S. Senator Bob Bennett.

In Part 1 of a multi-part series with Jim, we discuss in-depth his approach to maintaining belief in the Mormon church AFTER exposure to to all of the historical and social problems currently vexing the LDS church, as highlighted in Jeremy Runnell's groundbreaking book "CES Letter: My Search for Answers to my Mormon Doubts.

Today's episode covers:

  • How/why to continue believing in God after a Mormon crisis of faith.
  • How/why to continue believing in Jesus after a Mormon crisis of faith.
  • What it means to Jim to be a fallible Mormon prophet.
  • How Jim views the claim that the Mormon church is the "one true church."
  • Jim's condemnation of FAIRMormon's recent YouTube videos attacking Jeremy Runnells and me.
Direct download: MormonStories-1377-JimBennettPt1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:33am MDT

Are you looking for a story of hope and love to end this gosh-forsaken year? Here you go.

WordPerfect co-founder and philanthropist Bruce Bastian (interviewed here and here) never expected to find love again after his mixed-orientation Mormon marriage dissolved.

Then he met Clint Ford.

This is an epic love story for the ages, folks. So hopeful. So inspiring. I hope you enjoy!!!! And I hope that this story makes you as happy as it made me.

Direct download: MormonStories-1376-BruceAndClint.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:19pm MDT

Ten years ago I interviewed WordPerfect co-founder and philanthropist Bruce Bastian, wherein we discussed his life growing up as gay Mormon boy in Idaho, his years at WordPerfect, his journey "coming out" as a gay Mormon father in the 1990s, and his early efforts to support LGBTQ rights.

Since this first interview, Bruce became even more active in fighting for LGBTQ equality in the United States, continuing his involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and supporting LGBTQ equality in Utah - all of which meaningfully contributed to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States in 2015.

Recently I sat down again with Bruce to record a history of these past 10 years from his perspective.  I hope you enjoy!

Direct download: MormonStories-1375-BruceBastianEquality.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:46am MDT

Today, Anthony Miller, Jana Spangler and Brittney Hartley join us to discuss the topic of navigating and enjoying Christmas after a Mormon faith crisis.

Direct download: MormonStories-1374-ChristmasAfterAFaithCrisis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:51pm MDT

Zelph on the Shelf is one of the most successful YouTube channels in history dedicated to exploring Mormonism in thoughtful and entertaining ways.

 

Five years ago I sat down with Samantha Shelley and Tanner Gilliland to discuss their loss of faith as "Mormon Millennials." That episode was extremely well-received at the time, and was highly influential in the journey of tens of thousands of Mormons, including Tyler Glenn (lead singer of Neon Trees).

Today's episode with Tanner and Samantha will be in two parts:

Part 1: Samantha and Tanner discuss the evolution and impact of Zelph on the Shelf over the past 5 years.

Part 2 (My favorite part): Samantha and Tanner discuss how they have healed and grown over the past 5 years in many of the domains most salient to transitioning Mormons, including: creativity, community, identity, mental health, spirituality, sexuality, finding meaning/purpose in their lives, and in thoughts about death and the afterlife.

Part 3: We end this interview by discussing Tanner and Samantha's perspective on the recent Mormon apologetic content released by FAIRMormon, featuring controversial apologist Kwaku El.

I found Samantha and Tanner to be incredibly thoughtful and wise, and am confident that you will thoroughly enjoy this episode.

Direct download: MormonStories-1373-ZelphOnTheShelf.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:24pm MDT

Recently, the Mormon apologetic organization FAIRMormon has released several aggressive new videos via their YouTube Channel starring the actors Kwaku El, Cardon Ellis, and Brad Witbeck. These videos are intended to appeal to younger Latter-day saints, but also launch aggressive attacks against me (John Dehlin) and Jeremy Runnells (author of the CES Letter). The historical accuracy/honesty of these videos has also been called into question by many.

Today we interview Anthony D. Miller - a wise and thoughtful post-Mormon - about these latest events. Some of the topics we hope to cover are listed below. We would also welcome your questions/comments.

Topics for today:

  1. Motivations behind Mormon apologetics.
  2. Differences between Mormon apologetics and critical scholarship
  3. Contrast traditional apologetics and more progressive, nuanced apologetics
  4. Examples of people who have shifted from apologetics towards critical scholarship, and their explanations as to “the why.”
  5. Examples of people who engage with critical scholarship, but operate within Mormonism with a mostly a metaphorical paradigm with an apologetic bent.
  6. Contrast how GenZ, Millennials, GenX, and Baby Boomers engage with information.
  7. How GenZ at times experiences fragility, catastrophizing, call-out culture, and perception of violence in speech, and how these things affect engagement with apologetics and scholarship. (Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Coddling of the American Mind).
  8. Current spectrum of apologetics
  9. Approaches and methods for distribution
    1. Firesides and conferences
    2. Radical Orthodoxy proclamation, Deznat, etc.
    3. Adaptations to respond to social media, YouTube, TikTok
  10. What we might expect going forward
  11. Will this approach work? Will it backfire? Is it ethical?
Direct download: MormonStories-1372-AnthonyMillerApologetics.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23am MDT

Recently I was super fortunate to sit down with reality tv stars Heather Gay and Dre Nord - who are both currently appearing on BravoTV's "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."  In this three-part series, we focus on Heather and Dre's life experiences within the context of Mormonism (and Utah Mormonism). 

Part 1 covers...

  • Heather and Dre's early years as devout Mormons.
  • Dre's marriage, divorce, and faith crisis as a Mormon in her early 20s.  This includes how Dre navigated her life as a divorced single ex-Mormon Utah Mom without a college degree.
  • Heather's experiences at BYU and serving an LDS mission in France.
  • Heather's somewhat challenging efforts to find a faithful Mormon husband (Billy Gay).
  • Dre shares how she almost lost her mother to death by suicide, in part due to pressures of "perfectionism" that many Mormon women experience.
  • Heather shares some of the reactions she has received from members of the Mormon and ex-Mormon communities, as well as from the Utah LGBTQ community, regarding her participation in the show.

https://youtu.be/svHV0bQEHwA

Part 2 covers... 

  • Heather's marriage to Billy Gay III, which culminated in Heather becoming Relief Society President ended in divorce.
  • How Heather and Dre met, and how they were able to build a successful, multi-million dollar business together (Beauty Lab Laser) as divorced Mormon single women in Utah.
  • Dre shares the tragic story of losing her brother to suicide last year, and how she and Heather created a 501c3 non-profit called "Don't Leave" to help "break the stigma around mental health."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtUYWOc_JOo&feature=youtu.be

Part 3 covers...

  • Heather's struggle to accept the end of her "Eternal Marriage," which included years of denial.
  • Heather's life as a divorced single Mom, which included experimentation with things she never considered trying as a devout Mormon (e.g. alcohol).
  • How Heather's perspective on Mormonism changed once she became dear friends with two wonderful gay Mormon men.
  • Heather and Dre discuss their opinions about how harmful the LDS Church's doctrine around LGBTQ members is.
  • Heather and Dre also discuss the ways in which the LDS Church's "Proclamation on the Famly" harms not only LGBTQ members, but also Mormon women/girls and men/boys as well.
  • Heather discusses her current struggle to reconcile her longstanding orthodox Mormon beliefs as they conflict with her developing beliefs about life.

This is a heartwarming, epic, and inspiring story of resilience.  I was deeply moved by this vulnerability, wisdom, courage, and resilience of these inspiring women.

Please share any questions or comments you have for Heather and Dre below.

Direct download: MormonStories-1371-RHSLCPt3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14pm MDT

Recently I was super fortunate to sit down with reality tv stars Heather Gay and Dre Nord - who are both currently appearing on BravoTV's "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."  In this three-part series, we focus on Heather and Dre's life experiences within the context of Mormonism (and Utah Mormonism). 

Part 1 covers...

  • Heather and Dre's early years as devout Mormons.
  • Dre's marriage, divorce, and faith crisis as a Mormon in her early 20s.  This includes how Dre navigated her life as a divorced single ex-Mormon Utah Mom without a college degree.
  • Heather's experiences at BYU and serving an LDS mission in France.
  • Heather's somewhat challenging efforts to find a faithful Mormon husband (Billy Gay).
  • Dre shares how she almost lost her mother to death by suicide, in part due to pressures of "perfectionism" that many Mormon women experience.
  • Heather shares some of the reactions she has received from members of the Mormon and ex-Mormon communities, as well as from the Utah LGBTQ community, regarding her participation in the show.

https://youtu.be/svHV0bQEHwA

Part 2 covers... 

  • Heather's marriage to Billy Gay III, which culminated in Heather becoming Relief Society President ended in divorce.
  • How Heather and Dre met, and how they were able to build a successful, multi-million dollar business together (Beauty Lab Laser) as divorced Mormon single women in Utah.
  • Dre shares the tragic story of losing her brother to suicide last year, and how she and Heather created a 501c3 non-profit called "Don't Leave" to help "break the stigma around mental health."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtUYWOc_JOo&feature=youtu.be

Part 3 covers...

  • Heather's struggle to accept the end of her "Eternal Marriage," which included years of denial.
  • Heather's life as a divorced single Mom, which included experimentation with things she never considered trying as a devout Mormon (e.g. alcohol).
  • How Heather's perspective on Mormonism changed once she became dear friends with two wonderful gay Mormon men.
  • Heather and Dre discuss their opinions about how harmful the LDS Church's doctrine around LGBTQ members is.
  • Heather and Dre also discuss the ways in which the LDS Church's "Proclamation on the Famly" harms not only LGBTQ members, but also Mormon women/girls and men/boys as well.
  • Heather discusses her current struggle to reconcile her longstanding orthodox Mormon beliefs as they conflict with her developing beliefs about life.

This is a heartwarming, epic, and inspiring story of resilience.  I was deeply moved by this vulnerability, wisdom, courage, and resilience of these inspiring women.

Please share any questions or comments you have for Heather and Dre below.

Direct download: MormonStories-1370-RHSLCPt2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:20pm MDT

Mormon Stories Listeners,

I really need your help.  The Mormon Church is funneling millions of dollars each year into non-profit "charities" like the More Good Foundation and FAIRMormon to smear my name and Jeremy Runnell's name, in hopes of destroying the positive impact of Mormon Stories Podcast.  Watch any cult documentary.  It's what cults do.

In a recent video released by paid actors supported by FAIRMormon and the More Good Foundation, Kwaku El, Brad Witbeck, and Cardon Ellis make the claim that I and Mormon Stories (and Jeremy Runnells) are intentionally "homewrecking for profit" with the work we do.  Here's a clip of their lies.

https://youtu.be/3jYZNBwsS3Q?t=86

I could really use your help in the following way:

  • Please record a short video or write out a paragraph or two describing if/how Mormon Stories Podcast has helped (or harmed) your family.
  • Feel free to include what role (if any) the LDS Church, and/or apologetic sites like FAIRMormon played in promoting family health and unity, or in harming your family.
  • Please email your videos to me here: mormonstories@gmail.com, or you can message them to me on Facebook.
  • Or if you prefer to write your story, please do so in the comments below.
  • Please know that these videos and/or this text could be used publicly.

This would mean the world to me, and will help blunt the lies that FAIRMormon, Cardon, Kwaku, Brad, and the More Good Foundation are telling people.

Thank you so, so much for your support.

John Dehlin


Recently I was super fortunate to sit down with reality tv stars Heather Gay and Dre Nord - who are both currently appearing on BravoTV's "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."

In this two-part series, we focus on Heather and Dre's experiences as Mormons.  Topics covered in today's episode include:

  • Heather and Dre's early years as devout Mormons.
  • Dre's marriage, divorce, and faith crisis as a Mormon in her early 20s.
  • Heather's experiences at BYU and serving an LDS mission in France.
  • Heather's somewhat challenging efforts to find a faithful Mormon husband (Billy Gay).
  • Heather also provides glimpses into her emerging Mormon faith crisis, which she is currently in the middle of processing.
  • Heather shares some of the reactions she has received from members of the Mormon and ex-Mormon communities, as well as from the Utah LGBTQ community, regarding her participation in the show.

This is a heartwarming and inspiring story of resilience.  I was deeply moved by this vulnerability, wisdom, courage, and resilience of these inspiring women.

Next week we plan to share Part 2 of this interview, which will cover:

  • Heather's marriage to Billy Gay III, which ended in divorce.
  • Dre's life as a single Mom in Utah.
  • How Heather and Dre met, and how they were able to build a successful, multi-million dollar business together as divorce Mormon single women in Utah (Beauty Lab Laser).
  • Heather will go into more detail about her Mormon faith crisis.
  • Heather and Dre will share their perspectives on life today, as highly successful entrepreneurial non-practicing Mormon single moms in Utah.
Direct download: MormonStories-1369-RealHousewivesPt1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:36am MDT

In today’s episode we will provide an overview of several LDS church apologetic non-profits, and discuss recent concerns about dishonesty, mean-spiritedness, and the incitement of violence by some people associated with these Mormon apologist non-profits. The Mormon apologetic non-profits that we will be discussing today include: the More Good Foundation, the Mormon Interpreter Foundation, Book of Mormon Central, and FAIRMormon.

Direct download: MormonApologistNon-Profits.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54pm MDT

Paul Cardall battled long odds from birth, eventually triumphing over a serious heart disability to earn distinction as an outstanding composer and pianist. In 1997 he first won widespread notice by setting author Richard Paul Evans’ No. 1 NY Times best-seller The Christmas Box to music. Cardall’s achievements range from releasing 11 chart-topping albums, winning the Gospel Music Association Dove Award for Instrumental Album of the Year, collaborating with Grammy-winning singer CeCe Winans, Audrey Assad, The Piano Guys among other distinguished artists.

With over 2 billion streams, Cardall is one of the most listened to Steinway & Sons sponsored artist in music business. His entrepreneurial activities include founding and directing the Stone Angel Music label and recording studio, promoting medical research and providing scholarships for congenital heart disease through his foundation. Cardall’s music has included works for piano, vocal, band and orchestral settings. On his latest album, Peaceful Piano, he returns to his solo performance roots while exploring complete real-time improvisation for the first time.

Paul's Mormon story includes:

  • Growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, learning to "fit in" as a child and youth with a heart condition.
  • Serving an LDS mission, and marrying in an LDS temple.
  • Paul's rise to celebrity as a piano performer - first in Salt Lake City, then joining the LDS Church speaking/inspiration circuit, and ultimately becoming a world-renowned musician, with hundreds of millions of Spotify downloads.
  • Paul's receipt of a human heart transplant, and his recovery.
  • Paul's struggles to maintain a healthy/happy marriage, ultimately leading to his disfellowshipment from the LDS Church and a shaming public divorce.
  • Paul's remarriage to a non-LDS woman, and his invitation to co-author a Mormon hymn with LDS Church apostle David A. Bednar called "One by One."
  • Paul's loss of testimony in the LDS Church, and his discovery of a new faith in traditional, non-denominational Christianity.

Cardall’s story is continuing to evolve as an artist, author and humanitarian. His upcoming album The Broken Miracle, which will be available for pre-order this December, was inspired by J.D. Netto’s biographical fictional novel, based on real events in the artists life from being born with only half a heart, enduring a series of surgeries, which culminated in a heart transplant. While waiting for a donor heart, the pianist’s brother was tragically killed. The album will feature several award-winning guests including David Archuleta, Ty Herndon, Thompson Square, Neon Tress’ Tyler Glenn and more.

We hope you enjoy this episode!  Paul is a fantastic human.

Direct download: MormonStories-1367-PaulCardall.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:44pm MDT

In 2014 the LDS Church released an essay entitled "Race and the Priesthood" as part of its Gospel Topics Essays Initiative. This essay was groundbreaking in that it officially renounced past LDS racist teachings regarding blacks and the LDS Priesthood. This essay has been highly controversial. Some see it as groundbreaking positive progress. Some see it as deceptive and/or inadequate. Others lost their faith in the LDS Church because of it.

Today on Mormon Stories Podcast we interview Dr. Matt Harris who recently published an analysis of the Race and Priesthood essay. Matt's essay is entitled "Whiteness Theology and the Evolution of Mormon Racial Teachings." This essay is contained within the newly released book entitled "The LDS Gospel Topics Series: A Scholarly Engagement" published by Signature Books (edited by Matt Harris and Newell G. Bringhurst).

Click here to purchase this very important book: https://www.amazon.com/LDS-Gospel-Topics-Scholarly-Engagement/dp/1560852879

Direct download: MormonStories-1357-MattHarrisRace.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:07pm MDT

Join me now as I interview historian Dr. Matt Harris about his new book entitled "The LDS Gospel Topics Series: A Scholarly Engagement" published by Signature Books. In this episode we will provide an overview of the book, and discuss the events that led to the release of the essays by the LDS Church.

Direct download: MormonStories-1356-GospelTopicsEssaysMattHarris.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:28pm MDT

In today's Mormon Stories Podcast episode legendary Utah journalist and investigator Lynn Packer discusses his recent investigation into possible fraud perpetrated by Utah Mormon Tim Ballard and Utah Mormon Attorney General Sean Reyes - as part of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), which has raised over $30 million claiming to rescue children from sex trafficking.

Packer has raised concerns about Tim Ballard and Sean Reyes being involved in the following:

- Stockpiling $30M in donations that are not being used to save children.

- Excessive compensation to Tim Ballard (over $300k/year). - Unethical accounting that now is likely hiding Tim Ballard's total compensation.

- Lavish expenditures (e.g., first class flights, 5 star hotels, dramatic helicopter appearances) with no financial accountability about how funds are used.

- Using false statistics to over-state the prevalence of child sex trafficking worldwide to lure donors.

- Using excessive emotion and religious manipulation to lure donors, including claims to be called of God, and to be protected by God in OUR's work.

- Using affinity with Mormon celebrities like Mormon apostle M. Russell Ballard, Glenn Beck, and Elizabeth/Ed Smart to lure donors.

- Claiming credit for raids that they were not involved with. - Engaging in illegal and unsafe raids (jump teams) that often yield no positive results.

- Alleged unsavory behavior of jump team members, including illegal drug use during raids, sexual assault, etc.

- Drawing money and attention away from legitimate charities who are meaningfully providing solutions to the problems OUR decries.

- Victimizing and politicizing the suffering of children for political gain (Sean Reyes).

- Associating with and taking advantage of known false conspiracy theories like QAnon.

- Using the LDS Church's law firm (Kirton & McConkie) to intimidate and silence whistleblowers.

- In summary, manipulating wealthy donors through religious and patriotic emotion and misusing or misallocating funds, all on the backs of a very vulnerable population.

Lynn Packer is best know for accurately exposing Mormon General Authority Paul H. Dunn for lying to Mormon church members about made-up World War II heroics and about playing professional baseball, all of which led to Elder Dunn being prematurely fired as a General Authority (and which the Mormon church tried to cover up through intimidation).

Please join us if you have comments or questions for Lynn.

NOTE: This podcast is not asserting that any of these allegations are true. Only that Lynn is claiming to have gathered evidence in support of these positions.

Direct download: MormonStories-1364-TimBallardOUR.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:26pm MDT

Dear Mormon Stories Podcast Listeners,
 
Due to COVID-19, we have lost several donors in 2020.
 
Please help us keep Mormon Stories Podcast alive by donating today, tomorrow, #GivingTuesday, or any time over the next several weeks.
 
Facebook is matching donations made at or near 6am Mountain time tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. The Facebook Campaign link can be found here:
 
https://www.facebook.com/donate/936338056891340/936338066891339
 
Our Facebook goal is $20,000 for this year, and we are at $1000 at this point.
 
You can also donate directly here:
 
https://donorbox.org/mormon-stories?default_interval=m
 
Please help us stay alive if you are in a position to help!
Direct download: GivingTuesday2020.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:53am MDT

Paul H. Dunn is one of the most beloved General Authorities in the history of the Mormon church. His vast popularity was based on his uncanny ability to tell gripping stories in General Conference, in firesides, in over a dozen books, and on cassette tapes about his time as a professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals, and about his career as a combat veteran in World War II.

The only problems were:

1) Paul Dunn made up these stories. They were literally untrue.

2) Paul Dunn made a great deal of money, and drew his fame from these false stories.

3) Paul Dunn used his fame/reputation to advance fraudulent business schemes.

Even more disturbing, however, were the lengths and breadths that the Mormon church went to, to suppress, cover-up, and kill this story - using its vast financial and legal resources.

This story only came to light because of one courageous Mormon journalist - Lynn Kenneth Packer - who coincidentally was the nephew of super powerful/influential Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer.

In the end, Lynn Packer was fired from his job as a BYU professor for his involvement in investigating and breaking the Paul H. Dunn story. And while this story was minimally covered in an Arizona newspaper and in Sunstone magazine at the time, TO THIS DAY Lynn Packer has never been granted an extensive media interview to tell this story.

Until today that is.

Direct download: MormonStories-1363-PaulHDunn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:07pm MDT

Join us now for Part 4 of our interview with legendary Mormon journalist Lynn Packer (nephew of Boyd K. Packer), wherein he will be sharing with us what it was like to cover the darker side of Mormonism or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a journalist. Some of the stories we will cover in this episode include those of: Mark Hofmann, Ervil LeBaron, the Lafferty brothers, and Ted Bundy.

Direct download: MormonStories-1362-LynnPackerPt4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:25pm MDT

As part 3 in my interview with groundbreaking Mormon journalist Lynn Packer (nephew of Boyd K. Packer), I want to share with you a fascinating 30 minute video produced by Lynn, which provides essential background information to understand the following:

  1. The evolution of the LDS Church away from valuing thought, science, and scholarship (based on the influence of GA B.H. Roberts and others), and towards the prioritization of emotion-based orthodoxy and fundamentalism (based on the influence of J. Rueben Clark, Harold B. Lee, Joseph Fielding Smith, etc.)
  2. The careers of both LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer and GA Paul H. Dunn,  And,
  3. The eventual backlash against science and scholarship led by Boyd K. Packer from the 1980s through today, which led to the intentional hiding of factual LDS Church history, and the punishment of scholars and thinkers (from the September 6 to modern excommunicants like myself).

This 30 minute video will provide important background for the subsequent 3 episodes with Lynn.

Direct download: MormonStories-1361-LynnPackerPt3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:17pm MDT

Twelve years ago Adam Hughes was serving as a Mormon bishop in Northern Arizona and Marlana was a stay-at-home Mormon mother of four. Last year, Adam and Marlana were still active, believing, orthodox Mormons living in Tucson, Arizona. Only a few months ago, Adam and Marlana lost their faith in Mormonism, while their son was preparing to leave on his mission.

This is their story.

Direct download: MormonStories-1360-Hughes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:07pm MDT

Join me today in my series with Lynn Packer - journalist, investigative reporter, and nephew to the late LDS/Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer.

Lynn Packer was involved in many significant Utah news stories including that of forger/bomber Mark Hofmann and serial killer Ted Bundy. Lynn is perhaps most well known for his investigation of Mormon General Authority Paul H. Dunn. Lynn's investigation directly led to Elder Paul H. Dunn being put on Emeritus Status by the LDS Church First Presidency for repeatedly telling fabricated stories to the worldwide church membership.

  • In Part 1 we discuss the early life of Mormon Apostle Boyd K. Packer, and his rise to power within the LDS Church.
  • In Part 2 we discuss Lynn Packer's life, and his perspectives on and interactions with Boyd K. Packer while he was working as a Utah investigative reporter (and while working at BYU).
  • In Part 3 we will discuss Lynn's investigation of LDS General Authority Paul H. Dunn, discovering that he was telling false stories to LDS Church members about his involvement in professional baseball, and in his activities as a World War II soldier.
  • In Part 4 we will discuss Lynn's recent investigation into Operation Underground Railroad and Tim Ballard.
Direct download: MormonStories-1359-LynnPackerPt2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:57pm MDT

Join me today in my series with Lynn Packer - journalist, investigative reporter, and nephew to the late LDS/Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer.

Lynn Packer was involved in many significant Utah news stories including that of forger/bomber Mark Hofmann and serial killer Ted Bundy. Lynn is perhaps most well known for his investigation of Mormon General Authority Paul H. Dunn. Lynn's investigation directly led to Elder Paul H. Dunn being put on Emeritus Status by the LDS Church First Presidency for repeatedly telling fabricated stories to the worldwide church membership.

  • In Part 1 we discuss the early life of Mormon Apostle Boyd K. Packer, and his rise to power within the LDS Church.
  • In Part 2 we discuss Lynn Packer's life, and his perspectives on and interactions with Boyd K. Packer while he was working as a Utah investigative reporter (and while working at BYU).
  • In Part 3 we will discuss Lynn's investigation of LDS General Authority Paul H. Dunn, discovering that he was telling false stories to LDS Church members about his involvement in professional baseball, and in his activities as a World War II soldier.
  • In Part 4 we will discuss Lynn's recent investigation into Operation Underground Railroad and Tim Ballard.
Direct download: MormonStories-1358-LynnPackerPt1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:02pm MDT

On November 3rd U.S. citizens will vote in what many believe will be a defining election for the United States of America.

Today, in a two-part series on Mormon Stories Podcast, we seek to understand why some Mormons and Post-Mormons are choosing to vote for either of the main presidential candidates: Donald Trump or Joe Biden.

This episode features Mormons and Post-Mormons who support Joe Biden. Please join us for comments and questions.

Direct download: MormonStories-1357-Biden2020.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:22pm MDT

On November 3rd U.S. Citizens will vote in what many believe will be a defining election for the United States of America.

Today, in a two-part series on Mormon Stories Podcast, we seek to understand why some Mormons and Post-Mormons are choosing to vote for either of the main presidential candidates: Donald Trump or Joe Biden.

This episode features Mormons and Post-Mormons who support Donald Trump. Please join us for comments and questions.

Direct download: MormonStories-1356-Trump2020.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:08pm MDT

For the past two years a predominantly LDS neighborhood in southeastern Sandy, Utah (known as "Autumn Ridge") has been flying an unusually large number of rainbow flags during PRIDE week to show their support for fellow LGBTQ community members. 

Last week, a faithful, non-LGBTQ-affirming Latter-day Saint neighbor in this community sent a somewhat self-righteous, pretentious, and cowardly letter to his/her fellow LDS neighbors, questioning their faithfulness to the LDS Church due to their flying of these rainbow flags.  In response, a wonderful, faithful LDS Church member and neighbor named Cynthia K. Phillips penned a courageous, thoughtful response to this letter, which can be accessed here.

Today we interview the two founders of the "Project Rainbow" initiative in the Autumn Ridge section of Sandy, Utah: Kristy and Willy Donahoo.  We also interview Cynthia Phillips, who is an active, believing member of her local LDS ward, and who fervently supports this initiative.

Our goals with this episode are:

  1. To spotlight good people doing good things.
  2. To inspire YOU to sponsor a Project Rainbow initiative in your neighborhood.  Our hope is to turn Utah, Idaho, and Arizona RAINBOW-COLORED!

Please join us with your comments and questions!

Bios:

  • Kristy Donahoo is a financial advisor and partner with Ray LeVitre, CFP™. Together, Much of Kristy’s career spanned over 20 years in executive management positions in Northern California/Silicon Valley with high tech and early internet companies. When she relocated to Utah, she was personally recruited by Utah’s Governor Michael O. Leavitt to lead the state’s hosting and business development programs for the 2002 Olympics. She later went on to teach in a highly regarded private Utah school prior to becoming a financial advisor. Kristy and her husband moved to Utah from California about 20 years ago. They enjoy Utah for its people, the four seasons and proximity to their four adult children. She and her family enjoy beach time in California and Hawaii during summers and snow sports during Utah winters. Kristy serves on the Advisory Board of the John Williams Encircle Home in Salt Lake City, a resource center for at-risk LGBTQ+ youth and their families.
  • William Donahoo is an attorney with Donahoo & Associates and also handles case management and firm administration. William joined the firm in 2009 and specializes in prevailing wage cases, representing employee interests. 
  • Cynthia Phillips has been a teacher and administrator in secondary schools for the past 35 years during which she has taught Latin, History, English Language Arts, and Ancient Greek. Cindy is currently a secondary teacher at the Weilenmann School of Discovery, a public charter school located in Park City, UT, where she also served as the Executive Director for many years. During her career, she has never allowed administrative assignments take her fully out of the classroom because teaching and students are her love and passion.  Prior to her administrative and teaching positions at the Weilenmann School, Cindy was an administrator and teacher at the Waterford School, a private school located in Sandy, UT. Cindy is currently a member of the governor-appointed Utah State Charter School Board, a member of the Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission, a member of the Lone Peak Hospital Board in Draper, UT, and a former member of the Northeastern Utah Educational Services Board.  Cindy holds a BA in Latin from Brigham Young University, an MA in Classics from Tufts University, an MA in History from the University of Utah, and she is currently a PhD candidate in Comparative Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of Utah. Cindy and her husband, Greg, reside in Sandy, UT and Heber, UT. They have five children and fourteen grandchildren.
Direct download: MormonStories-1355-SandyRainbowRevolution.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:39pm MDT

Katie Harmon was raised Catholic in Laramie, Wyoming. After falling in love with a Mormon boy at age 15, Katie became socially/emotionally converted to the LDS Church in spite of...

  • High ambitions for herself (Katie was a 4.0 student, got a 33 on her ACT, was in AP classes, got a full ride scholarship to the University of Wyoming, and wanted to become a doctor) and
  • Strongly valuing social justice (e.g., anti-homophobia, anti-sexism, anti-racism).

As Katie became fully committed to the Mormon church, she saw her original aspirations slowly slip away, as she began to follow "the Mormon way for women." Katie ended up:

  • Experiencing severe Scrupulosity as a Mormon woman.
  • Enduring an invasive and inappropriate "sexual repentance" process.
  • Marrying 3 months after graduating high school to a man she had only known 7 months.
  • Getting sealed to her husband while her non-LDS family sat outside the Mormon temple.
  • Having three children within a short period of time before she felt ready to do so, based on LDS teachings.
  • Feeling frustrated when, after her 2nd child was diagnosed with major health issues at 20 weeks, priesthood blessings failed to heal her ailing child. She basically discovered after conversion that the "Priesthood power" was not real, and did not work.
  • Confronting the stifling "ableism" of Mormon doctrine, theology, and culture.

As Katie's hopes and dreams began to fall apart, she began studying Mormonism more closely, and discovered that she was not taught as an investigator important truths about Mormon history and the LDS church that would likely have prevented her from joining.

Katie's motivation for doing this interview is to call on the LDS Church to be fully honest in its missionary efforts, and in its education of children and youth, so that people like her can not be misled into joining and/or committing their lives to the Mormon church without being fully informed about its history, doctrine, and theology.

Direct download: MormonStories-1354-KatieHarmon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55am MDT

The TikTok platform has become a major player in global culture, and the ExMormon TikTok community has become very active/vibrant over the past few months.

Today we feature ExMormon TikTok sensation Kayla White (ExMormonMindy). Her channel can be found here.

This is Kayla's story.

Direct download: MormonStories-1353-ExMormonMindyTikTok.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:42pm MDT

Brennan Harris’ dad, Kip Brower Harris, took his own life on January 9, 2019, while he was employed as Dean of Students at Brigham Young University - Idaho.  During his 30 year career at BYU Idaho, Kip Harris had served twice as a Mormon bishop, served in a Mormon Stake Presidency, and was personal friends with LDS Church apostle David Bednar. 

In the final years of his second term as bishop, Kip Harris became involved in an extra-marital affair with a neighbor and ward member.  Inexplicably, when Kip Harris was found in a car with this neighbor/ward member by a Sugar City police officer, this police officer informed Kip Harris' LDS church leaders (violating the separation of church and state).  Kip Harris' church leaders, in turn, notified Harris' employer (BYU Idaho), who then put Kim Harris on leave (threatening to fire him).  This horrific sequence of confidentiality violations led Kim Harris to feel like his only option was to take his own life, which he did in January of 2019.  Press coverage of Kip Harris' death can be found here and here.

Brennan Harris, Kip's son, believes that the LDS Church, BYU Idaho, and Sugar City police are all partially responsible for his father’s death.  Brennan has written publicly about his father's story at these links:

This is Brennan’s story.

Direct download: MormonStories-1352-BrennanHarris.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03am MDT

Ezra Taft Benson is perhaps the most controversial apostle-president in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For nearly fifty years he delivered impassioned sermons in Utah and elsewhere, mixing religion with ultraconservative right-wing political views and conspiracy theories. His teachings inspired Mormon extremists to stockpile weapons, predict the end of the world, and commit acts of violence against their government. The First Presidency rebuked him, his fellow apostles wanted him disciplined, and grassroots Mormons called for his removal from the Quorum of the Twelve. Yet Benson was beloved by millions of Latter-day Saints, who praised him for his stances against communism, socialism, and the welfare state, and admired his service as secretary of agriculture under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Using previously restricted documents from archives across the United States.

Matthew L. Harris breaks new ground as the first to evaluate why Benson embraced a radical form of conservatism, and how under his leadership Mormons became the most reliable supporters of the Republican Party of any religious group in America.

Matthew L. Harris is professor of history at Colorado State University-Pueblo. He is the author of The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History and editor of Thunder from the Right: Ezra Taft Benson in Mormonism and Politics.

Matthew's new book can be purchased here: https://uofupress.lib.utah.edu/watchman-on-the-tower/

Direct download: MormonStories-1351-ETBMattHarrisPt2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:07am MDT

Ezra Taft Benson is perhaps the most controversial apostle-president in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For nearly fifty years he delivered impassioned sermons in Utah and elsewhere, mixing religion with ultraconservative right-wing political views and conspiracy theories. His teachings inspired Mormon extremists to stockpile weapons, predict the end of the world, and commit acts of violence against their government. The First Presidency rebuked him, his fellow apostles wanted him disciplined, and grassroots Mormons called for his removal from the Quorum of the Twelve. Yet Benson was beloved by millions of Latter-day Saints, who praised him for his stances against communism, socialism, and the welfare state, and admired his service as secretary of agriculture under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Using previously restricted documents from archives across the United States.

Matthew L. Harris breaks new ground as the first to evaluate why Benson embraced a radical form of conservatism, and how under his leadership Mormons became the most reliable supporters of the Republican Party of any religious group in America.

Matthew L. Harris is professor of history at Colorado State University-Pueblo. He is the author of The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History and editor of Thunder from the Right: Ezra Taft Benson in Mormonism and Politics.

Matthew's new book can be purchased here: https://uofupress.lib.utah.edu/watchman-on-the-tower/

Direct download: MormonStories-1350-ETBMattHarrisPt1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:24am MDT

Mormon Stories Podcast Friends,

Have you ever been touched, inspired, or educated by a particular 3-10 minute segment of a Mormon Stories Podcast episode? If so, I could really use your help.

I am looking to create 100 short, 5-10 minute YouTube videos that include highlights of the most touching or memorable Mormon Stories podcast moments. Consequently, I am seeking volunteers who are willing to go to YouTube and email to me the episode link and time codes (start and stop) of their favorite highlights from past Mormon Stories Podcast episodes. From there I will chop up the videos and put them on my new "Understanding Mormonism" YouTube channel.
 
If you are willing to help, please email the YouTube link and time code (start/step) to:  understandmormonism@gmail.com

And thank you SO much!

John Dehlin
Direct download: MormonStories-VideoShorts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:45pm MDT

Is there more than one way to be a Mormon? What qualifies as "authentic Mormonism"? Has it always been this way? Is it possible to reconcile religious belief with a natural, scientific view of the universe?

Many people see secular and religious views as incompatible. They seem to believe it necessary to suspend disbelief and accept superstition in order to be religious, or that religion is an obstacle to productive engagement with the world. Even many of us who still profess some level of religiosity will admit that religion sometimes makes productive engagement more difficult and is sometimes less effective than it could be. For those who believe in prophecies of the eventual redemption of humanity, is it possible to work toward a vision of the future that is understood only vaguely, if at all? What is the effect of faith that is not active? Might active faith in Mormon (and other religious) visions of the future be essential to realizing them?

Today we'll be talking with Carl Youngblood about his life as a Mormon and a transhumanist, what that word even means, and how his struggle to apply his faith meaningfully in our rapidly changing world has led him to co-found the Mormon Transhumanist Association, where he currently serves as a member of the board of Directors. Carl looks forward to sharing his ideas and answering your questions about his life and faith.

Direct download: MormonStories-1349-CarlYoungblood.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:35pm MDT

Was your marriage destroyed, or almost destroyed by the LDS Church's 12-step program for pornography "addiction"? Join us today as we sit down with Nik and Dawna Berry to discuss how the LDS Church's 12-step program for Pornography addiction almost ruined their marriage, and how they survived and healed from it.

Direct download: MormonStories-1348-DawnaNikBerry.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:40am MDT

Mitch Shira is an actor and impressionst whose TikTok videos have been taking the progressive and post-Mormon world by storm.  Under the TikTok handle "genie_man," Mitch impersonates past and present LDS Church General Authorities with incredible accuracy and sharp-edged humor.  Today, meet the man behind the voices. 

Warning: Adult humor.  Discussion of electro-schock therapy of LGBTQ Mormons.

A sampling of MItch's videos:

Direct download: MormonStories-1347-MitchShiraGenieMan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:17pm MDT

Join us today as we bring back the wonderful, groundbreaking historian Shannon Caldwell Montez.

Previously on Mormon Stories, Shannon shared with us:

  1. Her research regarding how LDS Church general authority, historian, and chief apologist B.H. Roberts lost his testimony in Book of Mormon historicity, and
  2. Her own heartbreaking and inspiring story as a Mormon woman, wife, and mother.

Today Shannon returns to share with us her research regarding "The Secret Mormon Meetings of 1922" - which were organized by LDS Church General Authority B.H. Roberts after he failed to obtain any meaningful or useful answers from the LDS Church First Presidency, Quorum of the 12, or other General Authorities regarding the deep and significant scientific problems that completely undermine the credibility of the Book of Mormon as ancient history.

Shannon's thesis is outstanding, and it can be found here.

Direct download: MormonStories-1346-SecretMormonMeetings1922.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:37pm MDT

As part of our ongoing series on 21st century Mormonism outside of the United States, today we interview Douglas Stilgoe. Douglas is a 23 year old, 3rd generation Mormon raised in Warwickshire, England (Coventry England Stake).
 
Douglas' story is interesting for many reasons:
  • He discusses life as a Mormon in the UK in the 2000's.
  • He was raised in the same area as Tom Phillips, the high-ranking Mormon church leader in the U.K. who lost his faith and left the church AFTER receiving his 2nd anointing.
  • His story explores how painful and damaging Mormonism can be on families when a parent loses their faith.
  • He discusses his own very recent loss of faith as a young adult in the U.K., after being a very devout believing youth (just over the past year).
 
For more information on Tom Phillips and the 2nd Anointing, see here.
Direct download: MormonStories-1345-DouglasStilgoe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:06am MDT

Today I will be reviewing my recent research into the topic of how the pirate Captain William Kidd and the practice of New England treasure digging that followed Kidd directly inspired Joseph Smith to create the Book of Mormon.
 
I've been doing this research in preparation for a new Youtube channel I'm launching called "Understanding Mormonism with Dr. John Dehlin."
 
I need your help in the following ways:
 
1) I'd love to know if there are any important errors or omissions in my research.
2) I'd love to know if you find the research interesting/worthwhile overall.
3) I am making a call for listeners to submit their own essays/PowerPoint presentations for future videos in this project.
 
Any feedback, questions, or any submissions can be sent to:
 
understandmormonism@gmail.com
 
 
Direct download: MormonStories-1344-CaptainKidd.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41am MDT

Karen Adam was raised in a same-sex household in Scotland (her mother identified as Lesbian). She joined the Mormon church at age 17 in 1992 after a teenage pregnancy. Karen lived as a member of the LDS Church in Scotland for almost 20 years - maturing from a young teenage mother to serving as LDS Sunday School teacher, Young Women’s President, Compassionate Service Leader, Relief Society Teacher, Primary Presidency, etc.
 
Karen was married and sealed for eternity in an LDS temple, and for years helped raise six children, living a very traditional LDS family life.
 
When Karen’s marriage fell apart she found solace in serving the wider community in Scotland outside the confines of her Scottish Mormon ward. This led on to a political awakening, and ultimately to her leaving the LDS church, and running for political office in Scotland.
 
Topics covered in this episode include:
  • Converting to the LDS Church in Scotland,
  • Teenage pregnancy.
  • Being a devout Mormon in Scotland.
  • Navigating an abusive marriage that included drug addiction.
  • Navigating divorce and remarriage within the Mormon church in Scotland.
  • Dealing with harmful messages and policies regarding female sexuality as a Mormon Scott, including damaging bishop interviews.
  • Responding to the Mormon church's harmful LGBTQ policies as a Mormon Scott having been raised in a same-sex household.
  • Experiencing a Mormon faith crisis in Scotland.
  • Rebuilding life as a post-Mormon divorced Scottish mother.
  • Throwing her hat into the political ring in mid-life as a Scottish ex-Mormon woman.
This is Karen's story.
Direct download: MormonStories-1343-KarenAdam.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:40pm MDT

As many of you will recall, Shannon Caldwell Montez joined us on Mormon Stories Podcast in July, 2020 to tell us her own story, as well as to tell us the story of B.H. Roberts - the LDS Church historian and General Authority who was tasked to answer problems about Book of Mormon historicity, only to lose his testimony of the Book of Mormon as a historical document.

During the B.H. Roberts episode we learned about a series of all-day meetings B.H. Roberts had in January, 1922 with the LDS Church First Presidency, Quorum of 12 Apostles, and the Quorum of 70 to discuss these Book of Mormon problems in-depth. Ultimately, Shannon shows in her thesis that the LDS church leadership was both unprepared and unwilling to address the problems Roberts presented - resulting in much disappointment and frustration for Roberts.

In this follow-up interview with Shannon, we review evidence addressing the question as to whether or not Mormon General Authority and church historian B.H. Roberts lost his testimony of the Book of Mormon as a historical document.

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast Include:

Direct download: MormonStories-1342-BHRobertsBOMShannonCaldwellMontez.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:12pm MDT

URGENT: Dr. Ritner is facing kidney failure and is in need of a living donor to secure his life and continued research. If you can help, please contact Dana McClain, Northwestern Medicine Transplant Coordinator, 312-695-0828. Living donors save lives!

Also, if you are grateful for Dr. Ritner's time and expertise with this podcast, please email him and express your gratitude!!!

============

Part 1: Dr. Ritner's story, the historical context for the Book of Abraham, and Facsimile 1

https://youtu.be/ORNYUyHg3pY

Part 2: Facsimiles 2 & 3

https://youtu.be/df4flxToFvM

Part 3: The Abraham Egyptian Papers, return of the "lost" papyrus, and an in-depth discussion of LDS Book of Abraham Apologetics

 

Series Description: 

For more than a century Joseph Smith's Book of Abraham "translation" has been revered as holy scripture by devout Mormons, and denounced by all credible non-LDS Egyptologists as a 100% erroneous translation -- a combination of Joseph Smith's imagination and some plagiarism (much like the Book of Mormon, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, and the Mormon temple ceremony.

The first major scholarly analysis and critique of the Book of Abraham by world-class Egyptologists came in 1912 and was published in the New York Times.  Of course this article was neither appropriately considered nor adequately addressed by LDS church leadership, and ultimately the issue faded from LDS church membership consciousness for several more decades.

Beginning in 1966 with the rediscovery of the core Book of Abraham papyri fragments found in the archives of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (that were thought to have been lost in the 1871 Great Chicago Fire), Mormon apologists such as Hugh Nibley, John Gee, Daniel C. Peterson, Kerry Muhlestein, Michael D. Rhodes, etc. have attempted to employ apologetic tactics to rescue the Book of Abraham from a total loss of credibility - once credible translations of the papyrus demonstrated undeniably that Joseph Smith's "translation" was 100% inaccurate, and in fact, had nothing to do with Abraham at all.  In fact, the papyri were dated to be written over 1500 years after the time Abraham would have lived.

For decades questioning, doubting, and non-believing Mormons have engaged with Mormon apologists like Nibley, Gee, Muhlestein, and Rhodes to determine the historicity and legitimacy of the Book of Abraham - with the credibility of Joseph Smith and the LDS church restoration hanging in the balance.  In spite of the LDS church's century-long efforts to either hide or convolute the issues surrounding the Book of Abraham, many Mormons have lost their faith and left the church over the Book of Abraham, as it is often listed as one of the primary reasons that Mormons lose their faith.

While many orthodox, doubting, and post-Mormons have heard the opinions of pseudo-Egyptologists/Book of Abraham apologists like John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein, and Michael D. Rhodes, few Mormons or post-Mormons have actually heard the opinions of a legitimate, world-class Egyptologist about the historicity and credibility of the Book of Abraham - until today.

Today, as a joint production of Mormon Stories Podcast and Radio Free Mormon podcast, we interview Dr. Robert Ritner.  Dr. Ritner is Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and was from 1991-1996 the first Marilyn M. Simpson Assistant Professor of Egyptology at Yale University.  Dr. Ritner is the author of over 100 publications on Egyptian religion, magic, medicine, language and literature, as well as social and political history. He has lectured extensively on each of these topics throughout the United States, Europe and Egypt.  Ritner has led Oriental Institute tours of Egypt for 30 years.  He is also the author of The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, and an essay entitled “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham” — A Response - written as a response to the LDS church's gospel topics essay on the Book of Abraham, which is deeply problematic according to Dr. Ritner.

In this three-part sit-down with Dr. Ritner, we will discuss his upbringing in Houston, Texas and his scholarly background and the events that led to him becoming interested in the Book of Abraham.  We will provide a contextualizing history to the Book of Abraham story, and discuss in-depth Joseph Smith's completely erroneous translation of Facsimiles 1-3 from the papyrus.  We explore the emergence of the Abraham Egyptian Papers in the mid 1960s, along with the discovery of the "lost" Book of Abraham papyrus.  We end this series by exploring some of the seemingly unscholarly and disingenuous tactics used by Book of Abraham apologists John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein, and Michael D. Rhodes to try to bolster belief in the Book of Abraham.

Finally, a HUGE thanks to Bruce MacArthur for making this interview possible. Also, a MASSIVE thanks to RFM for co-hosting, Bill Reel for all of his great work over the years, along with all of the amazing scholars who helped me/us prepare for this interview, including: Mike Brown of the Mormon Stories Truth Claims essays, MormonThink, Jeremy Runnells and the CES Letter, Dan Vogel, Brent Metcalfe, Letter for my Wife, MormonInfoGraphics.com, this super cool video, and much much more content than I could ever fully list here.

URGENT: Dr. Ritner is facing kidney failure and is in need of a living donor to secure his life and continued research. If you can help, please contact Dana McClain, Northwestern Medicine Transplant Coordinator, 312-695-0828. Living donors save lives!

Direct download: MormonStories-1341-RobertRitnerPt3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:53pm MDT

URGENT: Dr. Ritner is facing kidney failure and is in need of a living donor to secure his life and continued research. If you can help, please contact Dana McClain, Northwestern Medicine Transplant Coordinator, 312-695-0828. Living donors save lives!

Also, if you are grateful for Dr. Ritner's time and expertise with this podcast, please email him and express your gratitude!!!

============

For more than a century Joseph Smith's Book of Abraham "translation" has been revered as holy scripture by devout Mormons, and denounced by all credible non-LDS Egyptologists as a 100% erroneous translation -- a combination of Joseph Smith's imagination and some plagiarism (much like the Book of Mormon, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, and the Mormon temple ceremony.

The first major scholarly analysis and critique of the Book of Abraham by world-class Egyptologists came in 1912 and was published in the New York Times.  Of course this article was neither appropriately considered nor adequately addressed by LDS church leadership, and ultimately the issue faded from LDS church membership consciousness for several more decades.

Beginning in 1966 with the rediscovery of the core Book of Abraham papyri fragments found in the archives of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (that were thought to have been lost in the 1871 Great Chicago Fire), Mormon apologists such as Hugh Nibley, John Gee, Daniel C. Peterson, Kerry Muhlestein, Michael D. Rhodes, etc. have attempted to employ apologetic tactics to rescue the Book of Abraham from a total loss of credibility - once credible translations of the papyrus demonstrated undeniably that Joseph Smith's "translation" was 100% inaccurate, and in fact, had nothing to do with Abraham at all.  In fact, the papyri were dated to be written over 1500 years after the time Abraham would have lived.

For decades questioning, doubting, and non-believing Mormons have engaged with Mormon apologists like Nibley, Gee, Muhlestein, and Rhodes to determine the historicity and legitimacy of the Book of Abraham - with the credibility of Joseph Smith and the LDS church restoration hanging in the balance.  In spite of the LDS church's century-long efforts to either hide or convolute the issues surrounding the Book of Abraham, many Mormons have lost their faith and left the church over the Book of Abraham, as it is often listed as one of the primary reasons that Mormons lose their faith.

While many orthodox, doubting, and post-Mormons have heard the opinions of pseudo-Egyptologists/Book of Abraham apologists like John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein, and Michael D. Rhodes, few Mormons or post-Mormons have actually heard the opinions of a legitimate, world-class Egyptologist about the historicity and credibility of the Book of Abraham - until today.

Today, as a joint production of Mormon Stories Podcast and Radio Free Mormon podcast, we interview Dr. Robert Ritner.  Dr. Ritner is Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and was from 1991-1996 the first Marilyn M. Simpson Assistant Professor of Egyptology at Yale University.  Dr. Ritner is the author of over 100 publications on Egyptian religion, magic, medicine, language and literature, as well as social and political history. He has lectured extensively on each of these topics throughout the United States, Europe and Egypt.  Ritner has led Oriental Institute tours of Egypt for 30 years.  He is also the author of The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, and an essay entitled “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham” — A Response - written as a response to the LDS church's gospel topics essay on the Book of Abraham, which is deeply problematic according to Dr. Ritner.

In this three-part sit-down with Dr. Ritner, we will discuss his upbringing in Houston, Texas and his scholarly background and the events that led to him becoming interested in the Book of Abraham.  We will provide a contextualizing history to the Book of Abraham story, and discuss in-depth Joseph Smith's completely erroneous translation of Facsimiles 1-3 from the papyrus.  We explore the emergence of the Abraham Egyptian Papers in the mid 1960s, along with the discovery of the "lost" Book of Abraham papyrus.  We end this series by exploring some of the seemingly unscholarly and disingenuous tactics used by Book of Abraham apologists John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein, and Michael D. Rhodes to try to bolster belief in the Book of Abraham.

Finally, a HUGE thanks to Bruce MacArthur for making this interview possible. Also, a MASSIVE thanks to RFM for co-hosting, Bill Reel for all of his great work over the years, along with all of the amazing scholars who helped me/us prepare for this interview, including: Mike Brown of the Mormon Stories Truth Claims essays, MormonThink, Jeremy Runnells and the CES Letter, Dan Vogel, Brent Metcalfe, Letter for my Wife, MormonInfoGraphics.com, this super cool video, and much much more content than I could ever fully list here.

URGENT: Dr. Ritner is facing kidney failure and is in need of a living donor to secure his life and continued research. If you can help, please contact Dana McClain, Northwestern Medicine Transplant Coordinator, 312-695-0828. Living donors save lives!

Direct download: MormonStories-1340-RobertRitnerPt2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:32pm MDT

URGENT: Dr. Ritner is facing kidney failure and is in need of a living donor to secure his life and continued research. If you can help, please contact Dana McClain, Northwestern Medicine Transplant Coordinator, 312-695-0828. Living donors save lives!

Also, if you are grateful for Dr. Ritner's time and expertise with this podcast, please email him and express your gratitude!!!

============

For more than a century Joseph Smith's Book of Abraham "translation" has been revered as holy scripture by devout Mormons, and denounced by all credible non-LDS Egyptologists as a 100% erroneous translation -- a combination of Joseph Smith's imagination and some plagiarism (much like the Book of Mormon, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, and the Mormon temple ceremony.

The first major scholarly analysis and critique of the Book of Abraham by world-class Egyptologists came in 1912 and was published in the New York Times.  Of course this article was neither appropriately considered nor adequately addressed by LDS church leadership, and ultimately the issue faded from LDS church membership consciousness for several more decades.

Beginning in 1966 with the rediscovery of the core Book of Abraham papyri fragments found in the archives of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (that were thought to have been lost in the 1871 Great Chicago Fire), Mormon apologists such as Hugh Nibley, John Gee, Daniel C. Peterson, Kerry Muhlestein, Michael D. Rhodes, etc. have attempted to employ apologetic tactics to rescue the Book of Abraham from a total loss of credibility - once credible translations of the papyrus demonstrated undeniably that Joseph Smith's "translation" was 100% inaccurate, and in fact, had nothing to do with Abraham at all.  In fact, the papyri were dated to be written over 1500 years after the time Abraham would have lived.

For decades questioning, doubting, and non-believing Mormons have engaged with Mormon apologists like Nibley, Gee, Muhlestein, and Rhodes to determine the historicity and legitimacy of the Book of Abraham - with the credibility of Joseph Smith and the LDS church restoration hanging in the balance.  In spite of the LDS church's century-long efforts to either hide or convolute the issues surrounding the Book of Abraham, many Mormons have lost their faith and left the church over the Book of Abraham, as it is often listed as one of the primary reasons that Mormons lose their faith.

While many orthodox, doubting, and post-Mormons have heard the opinions of pseudo-Egyptologists/Book of Abraham apologists like John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein, and Michael D. Rhodes, few Mormons or post-Mormons have actually heard the opinions of a legitimate, world-class Egyptologist about the historicity and credibility of the Book of Abraham - until today.

Today, as a joint production of Mormon Stories Podcast and Radio Free Mormon podcast, we interview Dr. Robert Ritner.  Dr. Ritner is Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and was from 1991-1996 the first Marilyn M. Simpson Assistant Professor of Egyptology at Yale University.  Dr. Ritner is the author of over 100 publications on Egyptian religion, magic, medicine, language and literature, as well as social and political history. He has lectured extensively on each of these topics throughout the United States, Europe and Egypt.  Ritner has led Oriental Institute tours of Egypt for 30 years.  He is also the author of The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, and an essay entitled “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham” — A Response - written as a response to the LDS church's gospel topics essay on the Book of Abraham, which is deeply problematic according to Dr. Ritner.

In this three-part sit-down with Dr. Ritner, we will discuss his upbringing in Houston, Texas and his scholarly background and the events that led to him becoming interested in the Book of Abraham.  We will provide a contextualizing history to the Book of Abraham story, and discuss in-depth Joseph Smith's completely erroneous translation of Facsimiles 1-3 from the papyrus.  We explore the emergence of the Abraham Egyptian Papers in the mid 1960s, along with the discovery of the "lost" Book of Abraham papyrus.  We end this series by exploring some of the seemingly unscholarly and disingenuous tactics used by Book of Abraham apologists John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein, and Michael D. Rhodes to try to bolster belief in the Book of Abraham.

Finally, a HUGE thanks to Bruce MacArthur for making this interview possible. Also, a MASSIVE thanks to RFM for co-hosting, Bill Reel for all of his great work over the years, along with all of the amazing scholars who helped me/us prepare for this interview, including: Mike Brown of the Mormon Stories Truth Claims essays, MormonThink, Jeremy Runnells and the CES Letter, Dan Vogel, Brent Metcalfe, Letter for my Wife, MormonInfoGraphics.com, this super cool video, and much much more content than I could ever fully list here.

URGENT: Dr. Ritner is facing kidney failure and is in need of a living donor to secure his life and continued research. If you can help, please contact Dana McClain, Northwestern Medicine Transplant Coordinator, 312-695-0828. Living donors save lives!

Direct download: MormonStories-1339-RobertRitnerPt1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:58pm MDT

Over the past several decades. credible Mormon-themed scholarship has determined beyond any reasonable doubt that Joseph Smith's claim have special powers to "translate" ancient languages was not true, and that Joseph often relied on plagiarism to produce his "revelations."  Up until recently, at least three clear instances of false translation by Joseph Smith were widely known: the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and the Kinderhook Plates.

In the summer of 2015, something truly remarkable happened.  A BYU undergraduate, along with her professor, discovered a fourth example of false translation, and yet another example of plagiarism on the part of Joseph Smith - this time in the canonized "Joseph Smith Translation" of the Holy Bible (found in modern LDS scripture)

Join me and scholar Haley Wilson Lemmón today as we discuss this groundbreaking research she conducted at BYU, along side professor Thomas A. Wayment -- as together they discovered literally hundreds of instances where Joseph Smith plagiarized portions of the Joseph Smith "Translation" of the Bible directly from Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary.

Today's story includes:

  • Haley's early years growing up as a highly devout Mormon girl and young woman who struggled significantly with undiagnosed religious anxiety (possibly scrupulosity).
  • Haley's LDS mission to Panama.
  • Haley's discovery of Joseph Smith's plagiarism, as she was working as a BYU undergraduate research assistant under Dr. Thomas A. Wayment.
  • Haley's deep struggle with her Mormon faith once she began studying the authenticity of Mormon scripture and other truth claims.
  • Haley's troubling brush with the BYU Honor Code Office, which almost resulted in her being expelled from BYU.
  • How Haley's name was almost removed from the publishing of her research with Dr. Wayment.
  • A review of Haley's current views on LDS Church truth claims.

As a part of this interview, we will be discussing in-depth the article/chapter "A Recently Recovered Source: The Use of Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary in Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation" that she co-authored with Thomas A. Wayment, which recently appeared in the newly released book "Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith's Translation Projects in the Development of Mormon Christianity," edited by Michael MacKay, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Brian M. Hauglid.

Direct download: MormonStories-1338-HaleyWilsonLemmon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:34pm MDT

How does a Mormon wife and mother become a groundbreaking historian?

Join us today on Mormon Stories Podcast as Shannon Caldwell Montez shares with us her journey to become a historian after living an orthodox Mormon life for decades.

Shannon recently obtained a Master's degree in history from the University of Nevada, Reno. Her Master's thesis is entitled "The Secret Mormon Meetings of 1922" - which chronicles how Mormon General Authority B.H. Roberts lost his faith in the historicity of the Book of Mormon, called a multi-day meeting with all of the top LDS Church leadership to inform them of the many, credible scientific problems with the Book of Mormon.

Shannon's Master's thesis can be downloaded here: https://scholarworks.unr.edu/handle/11714/6712

Shannon's previous Mormon Stories Podcast interview about the life of B. H. Roberts can be found here.

Direct download: MormonStories-1337-ShannonCaldwellMontez.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:17pm MDT

Have you ever wondered how much the top-level Mormon church leaders know about the problems with LDS Church truth claims, and for how long they have known about these problems?

Long before Mormon General Authority F. Enzio Busche lost his testimony in the Mormon church…

Long before Mormon Area Authority Hans Mattsson lost his testimony in the Mormon church....

Long before the CES Letter…
Long before Mormon Stories Podcast...
Long before Grant Palmer....
Long before the Leonard Arrington church history years…
Long before Fawn Brodie wrote “No Man Knows My History”....

….did you know that a high-level Mormon General Authority lost his faith in the historicity of the Book of Mormon -- in the early 1900s - after an in-depth study of the scientific problems with the Book of Mormon (e.g., archaeological, anthropological, linguistic, geographic)?

More significantly, did you know that this same General Authority notified the LDS First Presidency of the scientific problems with the Book of Mormon via three separate manuscripts, and in 1922 led a two-day emergency meeting in Salt Lake City with all the top Mormon church leadership -- the LDS First Presidency, the Quorum of 12 Apostles, and the Quorum of the Seventy -- to candidly discuss what to do about these problems with the Book of Mormon?

Did you know that soon after this General Authority led this meeting with all the top Mormon church leadership, he was sent on a mission -- far, far away from LDS Church headquarters?

Did you know that these three, in-depth manuscripts -- outlining in great detail the credible scientific problems with Book of Mormon historicity - were intentionally hid from LDS Church membership for over 60 years?  Did you also know that after this General Authority died, top LDS Church leaders intentionally did all they could to erase from church membership the memory of this thoughtful, honest, and courageous General Authority?

Did you know that the only reason we know any of this is because progressive Mormon church members quietly delivered copies of these manuscripts to Mormon scholars, and that these manuscripts were eventually published - against the Mormon church’s will - by the University of Illinois Press in the 1980s (and eventually by Signature Books)?

Today’s Mormon Stories Podcast episode covers the rise and fall of Mormon General Authority Brigham Henry (B.H.) Roberts.  You will not want to miss this story.

Our interviewee is Mormon historian Shannon Caldwell Montez - who recently completed a Master’s Thesis at the University of Nevada - Reno entitled: “The Secret Mormon Meetings of 1922.”

The song for today’s podcast bumper is called “All is Well” by The Sabre Rattlers.

Direct download: MormonStories-1336-BHRoberts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:13pm MDT

Today we interview Ed Decker -- ex-Mormon, Evangelical Christian, career "Anti-Mormon," and creator of the controversial 80's "anti-Mormon" movie called “The God Makers.”  Today’s interview focuses on four main areas:

Part 1: Ed’s conversion to Mormonism, his life as a Mormon, his loss of faith, and his excommunication.

Part 2: Ed’s “calling” to minister to Mormons, and the making of “The Godmakers.”

Part 3: A discussion about the impact of and controversies surrounding “The God Makers.”

Part 4: Ed’s unfortunate involvement in “The God Makers 2,” the negative fallout, and Ed’s life from then until now.

Direct download: MormonStories-EdDecker-Full.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:37pm MDT

Today we interview Ed Decker -- ex-Mormon, Evangelical Christian, career "Anti-Mormon," and creator of the controversial 80's "anti-Mormon" movie called “The God Makers.”  Today’s interview focuses on four main areas:

Part 1: Ed’s conversion to Mormonism, his life as a Mormon, his loss of faith, and his excommunication.

Part 2: Ed’s “calling” to minister to Mormons, and the making of “The Godmakers.”

Part 3: A discussion about the impact of and controversies surrounding “The God Makers.”

Part 4: Ed’s unfortunate involvement in “The God Makers 2,” the negative fallout, and Ed’s life from then until now.

Direct download: MormonStories-1335-EdDeckerPt4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:32pm MDT