Resolving Disharmony in the Church

NOM = “new order Mormon” — a general term for people who self-identify as Mormon, yet maintain unorthodox beliefs or practices. I mention this because there’s a bit of drama going on right now with John Dehlin. John is one of the most well-known church members associated with the NOM world (he does the Mormon Stories podcasts) [update: to clarify, John doesn’t self-identify as a NOM — he says, “over the past year I’ve distanced myself from any particular model, and instead just want to help people find joy wherever they feel led.”]. Apparently he’s been called in by his stake president, and the two of them are working out whether or not his beliefs call for church discipline.

John’s approach to this conversation has been to present his work as a positive contribution to the church, showing how he reaches out to members who feel alone and unsupported by the regular church structures. In a sense, John is working to demonstrate that there is a whole segment of members who want to be part of the church, but who find that the church is not meeting their needs. This is an interesting approach, but its success depends on whether church leaders actually want these uncorrelated Mormons to stay in the church.

In group conflict, there is often a static faction (the side representing the status quo) and a dynamic faction (the side agitating for change). The static faction can respond in one of several ways to the actions of the dynamic faction. Here are three possible responses I see in this situation:

  • Working toward harmony. When one spouse in a marriage is dissatisfied and wants to leave, the other spouse’s first response will often be, “What’s wrong, and what can I do to make it right?” There’s a desire to work things out. When done well, they can use this approach to help redefine the relationship in a way that allows both spouses needs to be met. The static faction (the spouse who’s happy with things) and the dynamic faction (the spouse who’s unhappy) work together to better understand each other and create a solution that works for both of them.
  • Fighting for the status quo. When the southern states attempted to secede from the United States, the northern states fought to keep them from leaving. However, in this case the goal wasn’t to reach out to the southern states and find a way to allow their values to co-exist. It was an attempt (ultimately successful) to maintain unity through enforcing the static faction’s values on the dynamic faction.
  • Welcome separation. Imagine if the Palestinians said to Israel, “We’re tired of all you guys. We’re leaving.” Do you think Israel would make overtures to keep the Palestinians from going? I don’t think so. They’d smile, wave goodbye, and be glad to be done with the conflict. In this case, the static faction (Israel) has no vested interest in maintaining unity with the dynamic faction (Palestine).

John Dehlin’s approach is based on the hope that church leaders (the static faction) desire to work things out, that they want the unconventional members of the church (the dynamic faction) to stay. I certainly hope this is the case, but I’m not certain. I can imagine things progressing along the lines of any of the three scenarios above.

When “difficult” (unorthodox) members threaten to leave the church, I can imagine that some church leaders might see that as a welcome relief — “Great, they’re gone. That makes things easier. Now we don’t need to worry about their silly concerns or indulge their disobedience.” Or I can imagine the northern/southern states approach of, “Yes, we want you to stay, but you need to obey our rules. We love you and will do everything we can to keep you here, but you need to understand that it will be on our conditions.”

But what I hope for is the marriage approach — the opening of a dialogue whereby church leaders can sincerely say, “I’m sorry that this is so difficult for you. Please help me understand the problem, and let’s see what we can do to make things work.” The foundation for this approach is open communication, mutual respect, patience, willingness to experiment, and a sincere desire for understanding. I hope the best for Bro. Dehlin, and I believe that there’s room in the church and in the gospel for those who ask questions. I’ll be interested to see how this drama unfolds.

382 comments for “Resolving Disharmony in the Church

  1. May 11, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Apparently he’s been called in by his stake president, and the two of them are working out whether or not his beliefs call for church discipline.

    From what I understand, it isn’t so much John’s beliefs that would have been grounds for discipline (however distasteful such disciplinary measures seem to me) as it is his actions–what he does with the beliefs, no? I saw him say something to the effect that his SP said they would draw the line at someone actively encouraging people to leave the Church, for example. Of course, the boundary between belief and action is artificial and deserves more exploration than I’ve given it yet.

  2. May 11, 2011 at 9:14 am

    This sort of stuff is complicated for church leaders as there’s no real section on heresy in the handbook. Heresy, which appears to be what you are describing is a very different creature to apostasy.

    IMHO people can believe what they will. What you do determines how others will respond to you.

  3. May 11, 2011 at 9:28 am

    This is an interesting approach, but its success depends on whether church leaders actually want these uncorrelated Mormons to stay in the church.

    Could we at least make a token acknowledgement that there is also some responsibility for members to decide whether they want to accept the beliefs and standards that the Church exists to reinforce and promulgate?

  4. Jonathan M.
    May 11, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Maybe its time that thinking members/ex-members thought very seriously about joining the Community of Christ. Even if just 2000-3000 mormons joined each year, in ten years that church would begin to feel like home (culturally speaking, it does feel different, in my opinion too different, to ‘Utah’ mormonism at present). There, at least, members are free to openly voice their doubts and concerns, while taking Joseph Smith seriously.

    For the record, I’m a less-active member of the LDS Church and have no wish to leave; if, however, there was to be a significant move of mormons/former mormons to the CofC I might be tempted to make the switch. At least their members are free to drink tea and coffee!!

  5. Ben S
    May 11, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Jonathon, as a thinking member, I’m staying put ;) Perhaps a different descriptor?

  6. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 9:36 am

    BHodges, good point. That’s probably a more accurate description than I gave.

    Hagoth, I’ve never been near the disciplinary process. All I know is that a friend of mine who served with a bishopric said that 100% of the cases he handled were chastity related. He commented that it was interesting how in early church history apostasy (or heresy, I suppose) was common grounds for discipline, but that in his experience it doesn’t happen much in the church today.

    TOTaLN, I’m just describing the approach that I see John taking here. You’re right, he could respond to his stake president by saying, “Okay, I’ll stop saying things that make you uncomfortable.” From what I see, his approach instead is, “I’m sorry that this makes you uncomfortable. Let me help you understand why I’m doing it.”

  7. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Jonathan M., the approach you suggest is similar to John’s — encouraging unorthodox members to stand up for their unorthodox beliefs. The question I’m asking in my post is, would church leaders see the mass exodus of unorthodox members as a bad thing (sheep leaving the fold) or a neutral/good thing (cleansing the church)? I don’t know.

  8. May 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

    its success depends on whether church leaders actually want these uncorrelated Mormons to stay in the church.


    Church leaders may — do, I have no doubt — actually want “these uncorrelated Mormons” to stay in the church. They are, however, under no obligation to work toward success on Dehlin’s terms, or the terms of any other challenger, if those terms are contrary to the Lord’s will.

  9. May 11, 2011 at 9:44 am

    I’ve written about this a bit recently at W&T, and I have to agree that it doesn’t seem to be about beliefs as it is about actions.

    But instead of focusing on John, I tried focusing on the broader NOM/uncorrelated Mormon community. What kinds of actions would a NOM/uncorrelated Mormon be comfortable with doing? If people can stay LDS, but without being comfortable to pay tithing, serve in certain LDS roles, or to teach/share the Gospel, then couldn’t this form the basis by which the church leaders call someone a “difficult” member whose exit might be a “welcome relief”?

    At the very least, I don’t see them going out of their way to support NOMs IF this is the case. (That being said, my posts have discovered an actual lot of diversity here. Many uncorrelated Mormons don’t view themselves as NOMs, and there are many ways one can be uncorrelated, I’ve found.)

  10. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Ardis, good point. I should phrase that as, “its success depends on whether church leaders actually want these uncorrelated Mormons to stay in the church as uncorrelated Mormons.”

  11. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Andrew, you’re right that the diversity is difficult to label. I’m not comfortable with the “NOM” label for myself, but I’m also not interested in being a “correlated Mormon” (if such a camp exists :) ). I feel like just some guy in the church trying his best to make sense of things and do well.

  12. May 11, 2011 at 9:50 am

    re 11,

    Exactly, one of the first things I discovered was that many of the people I talked to who call themselves uncorrelated Mormons do not think of themselves as NOMs and view NOMs a bit more negatively.

    So, I don’t know…it’s ultimately interesting that you have a post about the NOM end game and talk about John Dehlin, when he really is aiming to deal with “uncorrelated” Mormons.

  13. Ben S
    May 11, 2011 at 9:57 am

    There are some several terminological issues here. I’m not sure how John would categorize himself anymore, but since he’s not attending Church and doesn’t really believe in any of its doctrinal tenets, I’m inclined to think the OP’s association of him with NOMs isn’t too far off.

    That said, I don’t think the post is actually about him, personally, so perhaps it’s irrelevant.

  14. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 10:00 am

    John just contacted me and asked me to update the post to clarify that he doesn’t view himself as a NOM, so Andrew and Ben are right on. I’ve updated the post to reflect that.

  15. May 11, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Ardis said, “They are, however, under no obligation to work toward success on Dehlin’s terms, or the terms of any other challenger, if those terms are contrary to the Lord’s will.”

    For the record, I have no terms. I have neither criticisms nor suggestions for the church or its leadership.

    My only interest is in helping folks who struggle with the church navigate their journey in a way that minimizes unproductive pain, and maximizes joy. That is all.

  16. bbell
    May 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Pretty much what Ardis said…

    Also. I largely think the outcome of this meeting depends on the attitude that JD goes in with. If JH has a good attitude and is open to the idea that he might need to dial things back a bit (if this is what his SP wants I have no idea what the SP is doing here) then the meeting will go well.

  17. May 11, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Ben S said, “doesn’t really believe in any of its doctrinal tenets,”

    Ben — You are wrong. For the record. There is much about LDS doctrine that I still believe…if you count things like love, service, faith, repentance, prayer, etc. as core to LDS doctrine.

  18. May 11, 2011 at 10:09 am

    That isn’t much of an improvement, Dane. Church leaders probably want “uncorrelated Mormons” to stay in the church and correlate themselves.

    I see that this is a conversation where a voice like mine isn’t going to be welcome, though. You grant Dehlin status equivalent to that of church leaders, and grant authenticity to perversions of belief. Your own oft-expressed views that agitating for change is by definition a good thing is in a similar vein.

    Be careful, Dane. In your apparent desire to pretend there are no divisions, you’re driving the wedge deeper.

  19. May 11, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I have to agree with Ardis here. I simply do not see much reason for Church leaders to support uncorrelated Mormons as is.

  20. May 11, 2011 at 10:13 am

    The crazy thing is….no one is asking for support, change or accommodations. For the record.

  21. May 11, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Oh, baloney, Dehlin. Your “terms,” whether you grant the label or not, are your claimed “interest … in helping folks who struggle with the church navigate their journey” — if that “navigation” supports “uncorrelated Mormonism,” and if you want that “navigation” to be accepted or at least not objected to by church leaders, then you have “terms.”

  22. May 11, 2011 at 10:15 am

    So there would be no problem if you were ex’d. There’d be no problem if the church systematically sought after middle way and uncorrelated Mormons and critically evaluated their place in the church?

  23. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Ardis, your voice is always welcome. I’m not sure why you say that I’m granting Dehlin status equivalent to that of church leaders. I feel that I’m describing a particular instance of conflicting opinions, and that I’m laying out three possible scenarios I see unfolding. Then I express my personal hope that things unfold along the lines of a particular one of those scenarios. I’m not saying that the church leaders are under any obligation to accommodate unorthodox members, or that these members have the right or power to demand change from the church; only that I hope there’s a solution that will allow these members to find satisfaction in the church. Maybe there’s not one, and if that’s the case then I wish the best to all involved.

  24. Ben S
    May 11, 2011 at 10:21 am

    John, that’s not much of a correction ;) Denominationally speaking, you could be Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian, or atheist with those as your beliefs. There’s nothing particular religious or unique about those things.

  25. May 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

    It’s hard for me not to see “uncorrelated Mormons” or “NOM” or “Open Mormons” or whatever designator they are selecting as people who are setting up their own kind of stakes. (Stakes in terms of boundary markers, not Church units.) This is manifest in their differentiating themselves by assigning labels like “TBM” to other members of the church, which from what I gather describes those simple-minded (or non-thinking) folks who actually believe there were golden plates, or that Joseph Smith spoke with God and angels, or other “kooky” things like that. So these folks want to be seen as different, and want the difference to be accepted or normalized in the church. But they’ve already got off on the wrong foot, imo, by allowing themselves to be set apart, or distinguishing themselves deliberately as being set apart. In watching their conversations it is hard not to walk away with the sense that it is another type of Rameumptom situation. Granted, I believe there are Rameumptom situations with many different types of members of the Church. But the NOM or OM or whatever folks don’t seem to recognize that they often slip into that mode themselves when they talk about those “TBM’s.”

    I think Nathan’s #3 starts to get to where I see the heart of the matter.

    Could we at least make a token acknowledgement that there is also some responsibility for members to decide whether they want to accept the beliefs and standards that the Church exists to reinforce and promulgate?

    Right, and to what extent are we as members required to acquiesce, or to what extent can we help the Church change for the better? I think of good members who felt to oppose the priesthood ban pre-1978. I think there were fruitful and unfruitful ways to deal with that opposition all around. The difficulty is seeing how to deal with it, and we also need to recognize that individual church leaders, like members, won’t always succeed in making things right.

  26. May 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Ardis. I love you.

  27. May 11, 2011 at 10:29 am

    The crazy thing is….no one is asking for support, change or accommodations. For the record.

    I’m not sure how you can say that, really. First, I see it is hyperbolic to say that “no one” is asking for change, etc., because there really are people who are asking for change. Think of the small groups which have appeared following the Prop 8 situation. Also, haven’t you personally expressed desires for various things to change in the Church? You’ve talked about the way the church talks about or teaches its history, for one thing, right?

  28. May 11, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Marriage partners have equal status, Dane; generally, so do negotiators at the bargaining table, or diplomats at a peace conference, the other analogies that suggest themselves from elements of your post. By casting the conflict between Dehlin and the church, or between NOMs and orthodoxy, or wherever you see the conflict as being centered, in terms of marriage partners or diplomats, you’re granting Dehlin status equivalent to that of church leaders.

    I’m not calling for “love it or leave it” — I’ve never told people who bash Utah that the same highway that brought them in can also lead them out, or told political protestors to find a country they like better, or dissenters in the church to get out, or anything like that. I’m not suggesting that for NOMs. But to champion any call for the church to adjust to make room for NOMs, rather than calling on NOMs to work toward accommodating themselves to the gospel, is beyond the pale.

  29. May 11, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Dehlin, I love honeybutter.

  30. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 10:35 am

    So, 27 comments in now, I expected to hear people express their expectations of how things would turn out in John’s case in particular, or with orthodox/unorthodox interactions generally. That’s kind of the topic of the post. Not that I mind an impassioned engagement about terminology or unorthodoxy or John Dehlin, but my interest is more in how things will progress than in how they should progress. I’ve given my own groundless speculation and hopes. Anyone else have any prognostications to make on how things will turn out, either with John, NOMs, or orthodoxy generally?

  31. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Well, it was 27 comments when I wrote that. Ardis, I’m not calling on the church to unequivocally accommodate NOMs. I’m hoping that it’s not beyond the pale for church to engage with its members to the extent of at least discussing possible solutions that would be acceptable within the framework of the restored gospel. Like I said, I hope it’s possible to work things out, but maybe it’s not.

  32. May 11, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I believe that the Stake President will do what the Lord wants him to do. I believe that John may or may not concur that it is what the Lord wanted the Stake President to do. It will then be up to John to decide, ultimately, what he is going to do. (As it always has been.)

    As much as John wants to see the Church change, he doesn’t offer much of a model for that change when he indicates he no longer believes in the foundational claims of the Church. Think Godbeites.


  33. don't know mo
    May 11, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Mike S. or Jared Anderson please say something

  34. Ben S
    May 11, 2011 at 10:51 am

    What will happen? A lot depends on the particular Stake President, and what (one-sided?) material John presents to him (which will not include his praise for Grant Palmer.)

    Speaking in context of the Godbeites, George Q. Cannon offered the following. Does it apply to Mormon Stories and JD’s other venues?

    “A friend . . . wished to know whether we had said that we considered an honest difference of opinion between a member of the church and the authorities of the church was apostasy, as he said, we had been credited with having made a statement to this effect. We replied that we had not stated that an honest difference of opinion between a member of the church and the authorities constituted apostasy; for we could conceive of a man honestly differing in opinion from the authorities of the church and yet not be an apostate; but we could not conceive of a man publishing those differences of opinion, and seeking by arguments, sophistry and special pleading to enforce them upon the people to produce division and strife, and to place the acts and counsels of the authorities of the church, if possible, in a wrong light, and not be an apostate; for such conduct was apostasy as we understood the term. We further said that while a man might honestly differ in opinion from the authorities through a want of understanding, he had to be exceedingly careful how he acted in relation to such differences, or the adversary would take advantage of him and he would soon become imbued with the spirit of apostasy, and be found fighting against God and the authority which He had placed here to govern his church.”

  35. Randy B.
    May 11, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Following up on Dane’s question (#30), which is pretty speculative and depends in no small part on the personality of John’s local leaders, I’m curious what Ardis, Ben, Blair, and others would personally do if they were sitting in the shoes of those local leaders. It’s easy enough to state your disagreements with John. The real question is, what, if anything, would you do about it.

  36. anon
    May 11, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I had a long discussion with my bishop recently over the generic subject of people distancing themselves from the church and coming back (not me or any family member, just kind of generic).

    He made the observation that he has a fair amount of leeway to adjust practices that his ward members find bothersome. He has, depending on the context, a tiny bit of leeway to adjust certain policies (he and I had a disagreement over the definition practice vs. policy). He has zero leeway to modify doctrine.

    His ultimate observation was that, in some cases, members who believed in the core doctrines and supported core policies could be accomodated. But the Church wouldn’t budge on doctrines and policies. If it was simply a practice-based dispute, then he felt he had a great deal of ability to help.

  37. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 10:58 am

    “My only interest is in helping folks who struggle with the church navigate their journey in a way that minimizes unproductive pain, and maximizes joy. That is all.”

    That is a mighty fine goal, but that is the goal of the church as well. I know almost nothing about what is going on with you or your positions John, but it seems that you don’t accept the path the church has established to achieve those goals. Is your wisdom greater that Christ’s? Are you better able to lead us down a plan of happiness? Or is it that you don’t think Christ is actually leading this church, that it is a human organization, and that you are better able than the humans involved?

    I see no reason why a person would want to be part of an organization that has different fundamental beliefs than they do. Why join a group and then demand to change the character of it? You say you don’t want change or accomodations, which is fine, but why stay a member of a church with whose teachings/policies/doctrines you disagree?

    Dane said: “I hope there’s a solution that will allow these members to find satisfaction in the church.” I think they call that repentence Dane – having a change of heart. If you aren’t satisfied as a member of the church, either leave so that you don’t have the internal conflict, or change your opinion and values to those that the Lord has set.

    Of the three scenarios, everyone would love to see the marriage work out – it fits nicely with the recognized symbol as Christ as the bridegroom. A marriage can be happily and joyfully repaired after unfaithfulness of a spouse (obviously we are the unfaithful spouse, not the Lord). But how can you expect any marriage to work if the unfaithful (dual meaning in that term) spouse insists that they will to continue whoring themselves to worldly beliefs, actions, and traditions? Can that unfaithful spouse make claim to their right for a healthy, happy marriage?

  38. Randy B.
    May 11, 2011 at 11:01 am

    “I know almost nothing about what is going on with your or your positions John . . . ”

    but don’t let that stop you

  39. May 11, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I have to sort of concur with Jonathan’s assessment in #4.

    There’s already a community offering a lot of what Dehlin is after – it’s called the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS). I see no point in pushing another redundant group offering the same thing.

  40. Ben S
    May 11, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Randy, that would depend almost completely on John. But why bother asking? What would you do?

  41. Randy B.
    May 11, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Ben, assume you meet with John, that you have long conversations about your respective positions, that at the end of the John decides to continue what he’s doing, and the ball is back in your court as to how to proceed. I’ll happily tell you my position (which is obviously based on less than perfect, or even close to it information), but I’d be interested in hearing from you guys first.

  42. Ben S
    May 11, 2011 at 11:14 am

  43. May 11, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Randy B., your comment is a good example of what I am referring to in regards to setting up stakes. Here you have neatly divided things into categories of Blair, Ben, and Ardis, all evidently together versus John.

    What would I do? I think I would talk to John, pray about the circumstances, seek council from others and God, and try to do what’s best.

    That is a mighty fine goal, but that is the goal of the church as well. I know almost nothing about what is going on with you or your positions John, but it seems that you don’t accept the path the church has established to achieve those goals. Is your wisdom greater that Christ’s? Are you better able to lead us down a plan of happiness? Or is it that you don’t think Christ is actually leading this church, that it is a human organization, and that you are better able than the humans involved?

    Again, I think this sort of view sets up an either/or division which I don’t find particularly useful to actual on-the-ground circumstances. Yes, I believe our leaders can be very inspired, I believe Christ helps direct the church. At the same time I think we as individual church members play our own respective roles in the process as well. This brings me again to the question about where we draw the line, or even more specifically, how we draw it, as members or leaders respectively. So it doesn’t have to be the case that John thinks he can do things better than the other humans who are involved, but that he sees himself as one of those humans who is involved. When we get down to it there is plenty about John’s actions that I disagree with, but at the same time I’m not as comfortable setting up these distinct camps or buying into them as much (which is also something John seems to do, as do plenty of others).

  44. May 11, 2011 at 11:16 am

    #41 – I’m not Ben, but if it were me, I would meet multiple times with John to get his input. I would meet with his wife to get her input. I would read everything I could get my hands on that John has written. I would ask John for clarifications of those writings, if necessary, and ask him to clarify any differences between those writings and his current beliefs. I would ask in great detail how John would answer the first three temple recommend questions.

    Then I would pray and fast and pray and go to the temple and pray and perhaps fast again. I would talk with John’s bishop and get his input and ask him (the bishop) to do the same praying and fasting that I was.

    Then I would reach a decision regarding whether a disciplinary council would be held. If I felt one were necessary, I would talk to John (and perhaps to his wife) about such a council and the ramifications of such a council. I would try to schedule a time for the council that was agreeable to John. And then we would have it.

    I would not reach a decision about John’s membership status before going through all of the above. That may be an unsatisfactory answer to some who think that the end should be known from the beginning, but it is the truthful answer to “how would I proceed.”

    I suspect that John’s Stake President will do some variation on the above.


  45. Ben S
    May 11, 2011 at 11:22 am

    And my #42 should have included a requisite smiley for those who are jocularity-impaired. I would not actually hold a witch-burning. Those are only done at the Area Seventy level.

  46. MAC
    May 11, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I have a problem with the “dynamic” designation all together.

    It suggests that the challenges of a particular “NOM” or “uncorrelated Mormon” are greater than or more significant than the challenges faced by other members of the Church, that their situation is exception and requires that they be accommodated.

    There is an inherent selfishness in the idea that one’s personal cross is greater than anothers. Why are NOM so special that their particular tension with the Church, whatever it may be, must be relieved, why not polygamists, or anti-immigration nativists or John Birchers?

  47. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 11:30 am

    NOM = “new order Mormon” — a general term for people who self-identify as Mormon, yet maintain unorthodox beliefs or practices.

    room in the church and in the gospel for those who ask questions

    You can’t honestly call for reconciliation while you are lieing about one side of the divide. Your description of NOMs is incredibly offensive and dismissive of the real concerns of folks on the other side of the issue.

  48. RickH
    May 11, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Why are NOM so special that their particular tension with the Church, whatever it may be, must be relieved, why not polygamists, or anti-immigration nativists or John Birchers?

    Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that I’ve heard people pitch anti-immigration nativists and John Birchers pitch their views in Sunday School without being corrected. But if I were to stand up and say, “I think the ban on blacks holding the priesthood was just a mistake, that the only inspiration behind it was racism,” I’d be called to the carpet. And possibly to the bishop’s office.

  49. Randy B.
    May 11, 2011 at 11:32 am

    You’re a day late, Ben :) I’ll take that as “I’m punting”

    Blair, I’m not neatly dividing anything into categories. I picked the three of you because you all seem to be troubled by some of what John has done. There’s nothing more or less to this than that. And to be honest, I’ve go no idea what you mean by setting up stakes. My only point here is that it is one thing to disagree with John (many do), but quite another to decide how to approach that situation when acting on behalf of the church. I didn’t see Dane’s post as an opportunity for the respective camps as you put it to come and express their respective views on the worthiness of John or his projects. Instead, I saw it as a chance to discuss how we as a church deal with these sorts of disagreements.

    As for what you would do, I’ll try one more time. Assume you’ve done everything Allen has noted (all good advice), and at the end of the day, you feel you have received no clear divine direction one way or the other and you determine that God is leaving this call to your best judgment.

  50. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 11:32 am

    As for how things will turn out? As long as things stay at a mild simmer, probably nothing. People like John will still be unsatisfied and the church will still want them to change. But I don’t see any disciplinary issues for holding false beliefs.

    Local church leaders don’t like controversy and try to appease everyone in my opinion. As long as noone is advocating to others paths contrary to the church (I don’t know if that is happening or not) than leaders usually placate rather than enforce discipline. Example: Young men, who Bishops don’t find trustworthy, are advanced in priesthood simply because they have aged rather than for showing genuine dedication to the Lord and his gospel, so we end up with priests and elders who can’t be trusted with keys to a church building but are given keys to the kingdom….just so that people stay happy.

    Likewise, as long as comments are confined to “I wish the church would go in this other direction” and not “Church leaders are making mistakes, listen to me instead” than I see placation and brushing controversy under the rug as the norm, and therefore the expected result this time. This being a more public occurrence though….who knows?

  51. LRC
    May 11, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I see a lot of people suggesting (in various degrees): If you don’t like it, leave.

    Or, the Church wants you to stay, but you have to change.

    So, what’s a person to do when s/he has a testimony/feels called by God to stay? And what’s that person to do when one bishop/stake president is welcoming with open arms and the one across the street is holding disciplinary councils?

    I don’t know that we need lots of specific definitions of what is welcome and what is not, but perhaps we need a better picture of what “Mormon member” is.

    And maybe it would be helpful to figure out what makes people feel like they need to be “new order” anything: Is it policy? practice? doctrine? It wouldn’t take a change in scripture to accommodate a lot of NOM-ish concerns (say, oh, service missions for young people; revised hymnbooks; dress code standards; approaches to church history; speakers in church/conference; KJV Bible for English speakers;), and if a few accommodations would keep some wonderful people in and contributing to the community, that can only be a good thing.

    We all lose when we force/squeeze people out of the community.

  52. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 11:39 am

    MAC, I picked the terms “static” and “dynamic” because I felt they were neutral terms — “static” meaning “unchanging” and “dynamic” meaning “changing”. When conflict occurs in an organization, it can between those who want change and those who don’t want change (static vs. dynamic) or between two groups who want change in different ways (dynamic vs. dynamic). The latter is what we see in US politics (republicans vs. democrats). The former is what I think I’m seeing here.

  53. KMB
    May 11, 2011 at 11:39 am

    “Is your wisdom greater that Christ’s? Are you better able to lead us down a plan of happiness? Or is it that you don’t think Christ is actually leading this church, that it is a human organization, and that you are better able than the humans involved?”

    Jax (and others with the same feeling): have any of you actually read or listened to anything John has produced at or

    Do you genuinely not understand that the vast majority of “uncorrelated” LDS *want* to follow Christ — that their concerns are largely there are a lot of things taught and followed in the Church (both today and in the past) that don’t seem to be from Christ at all, but rather doctrines and philosophies of men?

    You’re addressing these members’ concerns with the equivalent of “just humble yourselves and follow the Lord” when this is exactly what they want to do in the first place.

    What if someone believes in Christ (and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon even) but genuinely doesn’t believe that the Lord cares about how many earrings someone is wearing, or about real estate development in downtown SLC? Or doesn’t believe that the Word of Wisdom is supposed to be a commandment instead of voluntary as the D&C says? What are those members supposed to do — cross their fingers and hope for the best?

    This is exactly John’s point: how do you expect to resolve anyone’s concerns when you genuinely don’t seem to understand what the uncorrelated/NOM concerns actually are?

  54. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Adam G. (#47) — I wrote this article on the understanding that “NOM” is synonymous with “uncorrelated” or “unorthodox” Mormon. I apologize for any offense given — help me understand who I’ve misrepresented and how, and I’ll do what I can to act with better understanding and respect in the future.

  55. mrsbrittdaniel
    May 11, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Seems like some believe that asking for any change is equivalent to disobeying the will of the Lord. That doesn’t even make any sense in light of our church history. I could list multiple examples. We all could. Emma asked for change, didn’t she? She was sick of the chewing tobacco being spat upon the floor. I am frightened when I see requests for change demonized.

    I also think it is incredibly dangerous to equate the SP’s actions with the “will of the Lord”. I bet even the SP wouldn’t claim to be on the batphone. I am sure he is trying and praying and listening, but statements of certainty about the “will of the Lord” kind of turn my stomach.

    I also chafe at any kind of questioning/out of the box thinking being labeled “perversions of belief.” Let’s cut to the chase – the LDS church’s doctrines and positions are not always crystal clear to begin with. We have boatloads of contradictory statements from various church leaders. We can quote this talk or that pamphlet, this prophet’s letters or that hymn text. The whole business with Otterson’s statement after the BKP debacle last fall is case in point. In order to determine whether or not perversion is taking place, we must first determine the belief in question. Sometimes, that ain’t easy to do. You’d think it would be, but it isn’t. The handbook says one thing, JS said another. The church’s PR office says one thing, but GAs say another. paints one picture, FTSOY paints another.

    For the record, I’m not criticizing the contradictory messages. We are a large church spanning multiple centuries, continents and cultures. I just think it’s incredibly simplistic to pretend like there’s some document out there where all of the contradictions are resolved.

    For the purposes of this conversation, which “beliefs” do you think are being perverted, Ardis?

    As for this – “Granted, I believe there are Rameumptom situations with many different types of members of the Church. But the NOM or OM or whatever folks don’t seem to recognize that they often slip into that mode themselves when they talk about those “TBM’s.” – I agree! Good reminder all the way around. :)

  56. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 11:44 am

    You are mischaracterizing the tenor of the thread, but you have a good point about a functioning community being one that has some room for variation. However, and this is a pretty big however, I’ve run into people making that argument before and invariably they don’t understand the opposite tension: a community that has too much room for variation ceases to exist. Until you can understand and articulate why we all lose when we do not force/squeeze people out of the community, you really don’t have much to say to us about specific accommodations between too much lenience and too little. Some of Stark’s insights on what makes a religious community successful would be a good place to start.

  57. mrsbrittdaniel
    May 11, 2011 at 11:44 am

    BTW, I like the “static” and “dynamic” designations. I think they are value-neutral & appropriate for the conversation.

  58. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 11:47 am


    If it comes down to my best judgement I allow them to retain membership. If you don’t ‘know’ it is proper to excommunicate someone, then you don’t remove their blessings from them.

    If though after prayer and fasting and quesioning and prayer and fasting and more asking for guidance from the Lord on how His church is run, if after all that He still doesn’t direct me, than I begin to question my worthiness to receive revelation!

  59. anon
    May 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

    We all lose when we force/squeeze people out of the community.

    Not necessarily. I’m thinking of the mother in our ward whose son participated in Boy Scouts but was a terrible, terrible distraction (the mother, not the son). Our troop ran perfectly fine. She didn’t like the practices, the policies, etc. Ultimately, she left. Both sides are happier.

    (No, this isn’t the same thing as leaving the church. But it’s a nice subequivalent.)

    We mythologize the single lost sheep, but keep in mind, the shepherd went back for it and brought it back to the flock. The shepherd didn’t move the bring the flock to the lost sheep.

  60. mrsbrittdaniel
    May 11, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Adam Greenwood – I like your point about communities ceasing to exist if too much variation is allowed. I think that is a very valid point.

    However, the church does not exist for its own benefit! In my understanding, the church was established as a vehicle to spread the gospel. It is the gospel message that saves, not the church. One way of looking at it is we don’t need to protect the church, but instead, we need to proclaim the gospel.

    If our aim is to protect the institution, then by all means, squeeze uncorrelated Mormons out. But if our aim is to become more like Jesus, then loyalty to the institution HAS to take a backseat. It certainly did in his earthly ministry. The history of Adam’s (human) family, even if I limit myself to the OT, NT, BoM narratives, shows that the institutions change, shift, disappear, reappear. The Mormon church may be God’s vehicle at this time, but I do not believe it is an eternal entity. I imagine we, as a church, could go a LOOOOOONG way toward looking after the “one” before the ninety and nine crumbled.

  61. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 11:51 am

    those terms you use are pretty meaningless. Did you really put up this post without doing any research about what both NOMs and Mormons who are concerned abotu NOMs have to say about their specific beliefs?

  62. Ben S
    May 11, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I believe in a complex, big-tent Church full of paradoxes where one can ask questions. I promote complexity and nuance and tolerance. I have my own issues in the Church I’d like to see addressed.

    I do not believe in a Church where one can actively and confidently disbelieve (and undermine the belief of others) in its major distinguishing tenets, and those who do believe are looked down on as ignorant or credulous naifs. (I’ve seen this done on his Facebook page.)

    I first met with JD for lunch in Logan maybe 7-8 years ago. I have interacted with him face-to-face on rare occasions since, but more frequently either in public or private Facebook posts, email list, and in one-way communications like podcasts. My opinions are not held ignorantly. But I allow the possibility that my opinions could be changed with new information.

  63. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Mrs. B. D.,
    if institutions are as unimportant to the gospel as you suggest, then it shouldn’t be a matter of concern that some institution is excluding some people from it.
    ‘Static’ and ‘dynamic’ are obviously value-laden terms, especially with reference to institutions. You undercut your own credibility if you try to argue that they aren’t.

  64. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 11:58 am

    KMB said:

    “What if someone believes in Christ (and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon even) but genuinely doesn’t believe that the Lord cares about how many earrings someone is wearing, or about real estate development in downtown SLC? Or doesn’t believe that the Word of Wisdom is supposed to be a commandment instead of voluntary as the D&C says? What are those members supposed to do — cross their fingers and hope for the best?”

    If you believe that J.S. was a prophet and the BOM is true, but don’t believe the current or past leaders are being guided by the Lord, why would you want to be part of the church. If the church is “true” then the current and recent leadership ARE guided by Christ and are telling the truth that He cares how many earrings girls wear. If they are wrong, and Christ isn’t guiding this church, then it isn’t “true” ( I hate that term FYI) and there isn’t any reason to stay in it. If they feel ‘called’ to stay in the church, why wouldn’t that calling include accepting as true Church teachings, policies, and doctrines?

  65. mrsbrittdaniel
    May 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I did not say institutions were unimportant. I used the analogy of a vehicle. I also used the term “loyalty”. I am not saying we do not need a vehicle, only that the vehicle is more temporary than the message it carries. The church provides much as an institution, but I don’t think our main focus should be the protection of the institution.

    And not to put too fine a point on it, but our marching orders from Jesus are to minister to people. To the degree that institutions help us minister, great. But when the institution gets in the way of the person, I think we are moving in a direction other than what Jesus intended.

  66. May 11, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I would find Dehlin’s stated purpose of wanting room to “ask questions” a bit more convincing if Dehlin himself didn’t seem so convinced on all the disputed topics.

    Every time I’ve listened to Dehlin, the assertions and arguments of critics of the LDS Church are accepted with hardly any dispute at all. And whenever Dehlin encounters the work of apologists, he airily waves it away as simply “not credible.”

    It doesn’t seem to me that Dehlin really has “questions” about anything regarding the LDS Church – except how to get it to stop taking its own faith claims seriously.

    I really don’t believe that Dehlin is coming from a stance of uncertainty here. I think he’s pretty much made up his mind about all things LDS, but merely claims uncertainty in an attempt to appear more fair-minded than he really is.

  67. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    In terms of variance and straying from requirements I think of the encounter between Christ and the rich young man. Christ told him what to do, give everything away and follow him. The young man didn’t like that idea and left ‘sorrowing.’ How much variance was there for this otherwise fine example of Christ-like behavior? None. Christ didn’t call him back and tell him that he could work out an exception or that special rules or policies would work for him.

    I know there are examples where Christ allowed variances as well, but this story came to mind. So when do we allow variances and when don’t we? I don’t know and pray that those responsible for making those decisions are finding guidance from the Lord rather than their own wisdom.

  68. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Mrs. B. D.,
    our marching orders are to create Zion. That involves sustaining individuals but it also involves sustaining a people. The gospel would be pretty weak stuff if it didn’t promise to create eternal communities and eternal institutions.

  69. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm


    “The church provides much as an institution, but I don’t think our main focus should be the protection of the institution.” Doesn’t at least one of our temple covenant disagree with you?

  70. mrsbrittdaniel
    May 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Yes on creating Zion.

    But you think we’re going to have eternal institutions? Oh lawsie, I don’t want to go to any kind of correlated Heaven.

  71. mrsbrittdaniel
    May 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I guess you’re equating the LDS church with the Kingdom of God. I believe the LDS church is a part of the Kingdom of God but is not synonymous with it. To me, the Kingdom of God here on earth is larger than the church. Does this make sense?

  72. May 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    #53 KMB said “…have any of you actually read or listened to anything John has produced at or”

    Yes, I have. But I’ve also read things that John has said in other venues, such as recently stating that “my wife and I no longer attend church, and we no longer are willing to act or appear as though we believe the fundamental truth claims (given existing information).”

    One must reasonably ask that if one doesn’t believe the basis for the Church, why stay at all? John is apparently answering that to his Stake President.

    Further, John has publicly stated on RfM in conversations with Steve Benson that “the StayLDS position is no longer something that I push.” In other words, it does not good to read StayLDS to get an idea of what John believes if StayLDS isn’t something that John advocates currently. He may have believed it at some time in the past, but it is apparently not something he believes now.

    What John believes now (apparently) is what he stated here in #15: to help people “in a way that minimizes unproductive pain, and maximizes joy.” Despite the fact that it sounds like a bad paraphrase of a Bobby McFerrin song (“Don’t worry; be happy”), it is consistent with what he told Steve Benson in the aforementioned RfM conversation:

    “I now believe that people should follow their joy….period. In or out of the church. That said, I would guess that many more people have left the church than have stayed because of my Internet work — and I’m perfectly happy if they’re happy. I mean that.”

    Of course, I doubt that the Stake President will ever see John’s comments in an online conversation with Steve Benson since things drop off of RfM so quickly. From the Stake President’s perspective, I can imagine that it is the attitude concerning those who leave (and the fact that even John thinks there are many more who have left the Church because of his guidance than those who have stayed) that is problematic. And that is where his judgment, his discernment, and the direction of the Spirit become crucial.

    Reading StayLDS and MormonStories won’t help give a full picture in those instances.


  73. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Adam (#61) — yes, I did exactly that. I didn’t intend for this post to be about NOMs and non-NOMs (or even about John Dehlin). I just meant to use NOMs as a sample jumping point into what I see as the deeper issue of how organizations approach and address conflict between internal groups.

  74. May 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    StayLDS is nothing more than an anti-Mormon website that wants to pretend at objectivity, fairness, and sympathy. It’s the website that die-hard anti-Mormons quote when they’re trying to pretend to be open-minded.

    It’s like saying “you suck.” But saying it with a patronizing smile.

  75. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    “But you think we’re going to have eternal institutions?”

    Of course.

    “Oh lawsie, I don’t want to go to any kind of correlated Heaven.”

    Nice rhetoric. As if the issue here were things like teaching out of Sunday School manuals and not stuff like Joseph Smith, the priesthood, and the Book of Mormon. This is your second statement that lacks credibility and I’m no longer convinced you are arguing in good faith. Enjoy interacting with the others on this thread.

  76. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I have a hard time believing you, because if you did, your inaccurate descriptions would have to have been knowingly inaccurate.

  77. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Adam, I’m still as clueless as I was back at #54. Help me understand how I’m lying, and like I said, I’ll do what I can to fix it.

  78. May 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I would find Dehlin’s stated purpose of wanting room to “ask questions” a bit more convincing if Dehlin himself didn’t seem so convinced on all the disputed topics.

    That’s a good way to put it, I think. Most of the time I don’t sense a “looking for answers” approach as much as I see an “I’m convinced this is the way it is, and I’m upset that the Church manuals and SS teachers and Seminary and CES folks don’t seem to agree with Grant Palmer and me.”

  79. May 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    One must reasonably ask that if one doesn’t believe the basis for the Church, why stay at all? John is apparently answering that to his Stake President.

    This takes the approach of asking the member to account for their membership, rather than seeking to be acted upon by the church (in disciplinary councils, or whatever else). I think that is a valid question. If John doesn’t believe in the “Fundamental truth claims” of the Church it really is hard for me to account for why he would stick around. This isn’t an invitation for him to leave, it is a question based on my own feeling that if I had that same perspective I’d probably just walk.

    To put it as plainly as possible, I think John wants to retain his membership in order to be more accessible to people who are still in the church but not of the church, so to speak. It would be harder, perhaps, to help people make an admittedly difficult transition out of the Church without being worthy of trust partly based on that common membership. Why else would John want to stay? He doesn’t attend church anyway. Randy asks what we would do in this situation, but we can also ask why John would force the issue himself as well, right? I know they contacted him, but why not just say “I don’t believe in the fundamental truth claims of the church, so it’s alright if I separate from official records but maintain a community connection with friends and loved ones, etc.”? I don’t know.

  80. May 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    That’s a succinct way to put it Blair.

    Grant Palmer indeed.

  81. May 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I love John (very, very dearly), but I do believe Seth is right. John doesn’t accept any of the truth claims of the Mormon church, but stays in because he feels like it gives him some kind of street cred with his work. He could easily find another faith community that fits him better and work to bring people to that group. He doesn’t realize that by constantly harping on the church’s problems (without offering a better system), he ISN’T helping people feel satisfied where they are. He is causing people who might be satisfied to become dissatisfied. Furthermore, I am uncomfortable that he makes so much money doing what he does. I understand that his family needs the money because he’s in grad school (I am in that same situation myself), but I would feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable funding my grad school by challenging anyone’s faith. And this is coming from someone who generally agrees with most of the issues that he emphasizes (homosexuality, blacks and the priesthood, gender issues, our history, etc.).

    The thing that really gets under my skin is that when he asked everyone to submit their stories about how Mormon Stories has affected them, I tried to be very fair and honest and had to conclude that the net effect on my faith has been negative. I felt I had a balance with the Church before, despite my unorthodox beliefs, and Mormon Stories constantly makes me feel dissatisfied with Mormonism. I still think I have a balance, but it’s despite Mormon Stories, not because of it. Well, John apparently didn’t like that, because he deleted my comment. I guess when he said “stories” about how Mormon Stories has changed your life, he meant “positive stories.” I don’t know if he was deleting all negative comments or just mine, but either way it bothers me that I don’t feel I can talk to him about this stuff without irritating him so much that he deletes my comments.

    I really don’t know why John is still in the church. I think the honorable thing would just be to resign. But I don’t think he will. And if the church ever took any kind of disciplinary action against him, he’d be seen as a poor persecuted martyr by his countless minions. And he’s too good and smart of a guy to let himself become that.

  82. Syphax part deux
    May 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Syphax, the irony in the deletion of comments is that John appears to “whitewash” Mormon Stories, while there are many episodes of that very podcast which would denounce such things in regards to the church.

  83. Mike S
    May 11, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I think the issue is complicated the fact that there are several different issues here that often seem to be lumped together into the same “NOM/uncorrelated/etc” category:

    1) Disbelievers: These are folks who think things along the line that Joseph Smith was a fraud or that there is no God. They may consider themselves culturally Mormon, but there is little the Church can do to accommodate folks in this category. As long as they aren’t actively harming the Church, there’s really not any problem with enjoying their presence, but if they actively fight, I think the “welcome separation” model is what will be used.

    2) Uncertain: These are folks who really don’t know. They may have been members for decades. They may have served missions, served in callings, read the BofM, etc., but may just not know. Because they don’t have the “I KNOW THAT xxx IS TRUE” feeling, they can sometimes feel adequate, as this isn’t really an attitude that is accepted on Sunday. “Support groups” or whatever such as NOM or other places can be beneficial to these folks, as they can feel they are not alone. They can come to an equilibrium where they can still maintain a membership in the Church without feeling “inadequate”.

    Like the marriage example, the Church COULD work towards this group. This group already WANTS to feel “closer” to the Church. It would take the Church somehow accepting people once again who say “I believe” rather than “I know”. It would take a reemphasis on actual faith as the basis of a testimony rather than knowledge. Who knows if the Church would/could do this.

    3) Don’t like practices: This group also often gets lumped in the same category. This group believes in the Church, yet understands that many of the policies of the Church are man-made and non doctrinal. If you complain about them in the normal “Sunday” setting, you are considered as complaining about the leadership or questioning their callings. You may be considered “apostate” by some. I’ve covered some of these issues on W&T, talking about NON-DOCTRINAL things such as Changing Garments and Not Counting Earrings. Again, this would be an easy group to reconcile if the Church chose to do so. The members ALREADY appreciate the good things in the Church. And they are non-doctrinal policies that could easily be changed.

    So, I think there are a lot of sub-groups lumped together within the topic of this post. I think that different strategies should be used with each of the different sub-groups. Some issues are more easily reconciled than others.

  84. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    “I didn’t intend for this post to be about NOMs and non-NOMs (or even about John Dehlin). I just meant to use NOMs as a sample jumping point into what I see as the deeper issue of how organizations approach and address conflict between internal groups.” – Dane

    To get back to Dane’s purpose and original OP, does anyone have any examples when the church was reconciled with a group, or quasi-group, of disaffected people?

  85. brian larsen
    May 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    What would I do? I’d sit down and get to the basics: like the baptismal interview questions. If no problems there, I’d say they were basically fine, and nothing needed to happen. If the person had problems with that stuff, then we’d talk about whether or not they want to retain membership and why. If they wanted to retain membership, but didn’t want to meet the baptismal requirements, then some discipline should follow. If they don’t meet the requirements, but want to, then work towards that together.

    In regards to Dane’s three options – I think the “status quo” on basically everything but the core principles should always be questioned (and even on core principles, at times) – so I’m not for the option of fighting for the status quo, except for on core principles (baptism requirements). Also, I think that “working towards harmony” is always ideal (except on core principles), but not always feasible or desired – in which case the “welcome separation” occurs. If there’s a question on core principles, then we can discuss it or not (depending on their temperament) – but in the end, if someone has already decided against those, the welcome separation is were it’s at.

  86. mrsbrittdaniel
    May 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Adam – I wasn’t trying to argue with you. In fact, I agreed with you about the need for Zion. I’m baffled that you accuse me of having no credibility since I wasn’t trying to establish any. And I don’t know what you mean by the suggestion that I’m not arguing in good faith … what are you trying to say? I’m not trying to be unkind or troll about. I was just sharing my own take on things. Maybe I’m just allergic to the word “institution”, but my vision of the next life doesn’t involve corporate stuff.

    You said I wrote two things that lack credibility. What was the first?

  87. chris
    May 11, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve thought about this a lot as well and I see the increasing problem of what the church claims to do and what people do not want or do not believe they can do.

    In the plan of salvation, everyone is going to “get their money’s worth” out of this life. Of course, that’s thanks to the life and sacrifice of Christ, but also because each one of us has received certain experiences within a mortal frame that will enable us to look back upon our lives (after we’ve died) and be able to frame those perspectives in an eternal way.

    The church exists to help develop that framework now, and to spread that framework over the world via missionary work and in the process administer in ordinances that give one power to progress this world and enable progression in the next.

    Ultimately, the goal is to be like Christ, and as Christ desired to be like the Father, that would also be our goal.

    But what does the church do with people who are unable or flat out deny they want any part of that, but still want the parts of the church they like (fellowship, service, etc.).

    In other words, they want the fruits of becoming like Christ, but don’t (or can’t) embrace the aspects of exhalation that come through become like Christ.

    Or in other words, what to do with a church focused on bringing people to the celestial kingdom, when so many are happy to have a terrestrial or telestial one? Ideally, you’d invite them to come along for the ride and hope they’ll gain further light and knowledge that we all seek to be worth of the celestial. But that seems very difficult, even impossible to progress in that sense if we cut off those principles that produce further light and knowledge (ie. if we deny or refuse to live up to certain principles, revealed from God already).

    I’m not sure what should be done in situations like this. Through the church, the Lord is offering preparation and progression toward exhalation and various endowments of power to help along the way. Often many of the “things” people like about the church are fruits that come with gospel living. But it seems as if some want the fruits of the gospel without the (whole) gospel itself.

    Further complicating the matter is the fact that we’re all intelligent beings and can argue and articulate why XYZ is unnecessary, or unrelated, etc. etc. and so we think we can craft a kind of system where the fruits are present but those things we don’t particularly agree with aren’t.

  88. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Adam, I’m still as clueless as I was back at #54.

    Then you didn’t do the research.

    “People who self-identify as Mormon, yet maintain unorthodox beliefs or practices” is literally everyone. So is “those who ask questions.” People who think the Book of Mormon and the Church’s claims to revelations are untrue, at best ‘inspired’ in the way Johnny Depp’s performance in Pirates of the C. was inspired–who think Joseph Smith was a fraud or self-deceived–who oppose paying tithing and encourage others not to–who encourage each other not to be too open about their disbelief, so they can continue to help others “follow” them out of disbelief—they aren’t everyone.

  89. bbell
    May 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    How does JD make money off his work? I had never considered that angle.

  90. May 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    To get back to Dane’s purpose and original OP, does anyone have any examples when the church was reconciled with a group, or quasi-group, of disaffected people?

    Yes, the “Third Convention” in Mexico. Very briefly (there’s far more nuance to it than this), in the 1930s some Mexican Saints demanded a change in local leadership that met their ideas of Mexican nationalism. When their demands weren’t met, they appointed their own leader, suitable to themselves. It was a tumultuous time politically, and there were misunderstandings on both sides due in part to miscommunications and the inability to travel freely. Some Mexican leaders in that movement were excommunicated. Very soon after WWII ended, Pres. Geo. Albert Smith went to Mexico and met personally with just about everybody who wanted to say anything. The excommunications were reversed, local members became reconciled to Salt Lake authority, everybody had a group hug, and there was, so far as I understand, complete reconciliation.

  91. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    You’re right, Adam, like I said, I didn’t do any research about NOMs for this piece. This wasn’t a post intended to be about NOMs. The way I’ve seen the word “NOM” used in bloggernacle vernacular, it refers to unorthodox members — members who are public about their opinions that may or may not line up with church doctrine. Whatever baggage the term “NOM” has beyond that isn’t what I’m writing about. Does being a NOM mean that you necessarily believe Joseph Smith was deceived or a fraud?

  92. KMB
    May 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    “If you believe that J.S. was a prophet and the BOM is true, but don’t believe the current or past leaders are being guided by the Lord, why would you want to be part of the church. If the church is “true” then the current and recent leadership ARE guided by Christ and are telling the truth that He cares how many earrings girls wear. If they are wrong, and Christ isn’t guiding this church, then it isn’t “true” ( I hate that term FYI) and there isn’t any reason to stay in it. If they feel ‘called’ to stay in the church, why wouldn’t that calling include accepting as true Church teachings, policies, and doctrines?”

    One can easily believe in Joseph Smith being God’s prophet, but not in Brigham Young (and any LDS leader since) in the same way — thousands of people believe that today. Starting with the RLDS/COC, there are over 300 churches based off of some form of Mormonism (meaning Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon) but who do not believe Pres. Monson is also God’s prophet in the same way.

    Immediately after Joseph Smith was killed there were a lot of faithful members who believed in Joseph Smith’s divine calling (and the Book of Mormon) but didn’t believe Brigham Young was called to replace him. How does that invalidate their faith in JS and the BOM in the first place?

    And even if you do believe Brigham Young was called to replace him, that doesn’t prove ALL of his “doctrinal” teachings actually came from the Lord — indeed, that’s pretty hard to defend even for the most ardent believers. Doesn’t that raise reasonable questions about the role of divine guidance in LDS leadership?

    It’s a vast oversimplification (and easily disproven by even a casual look at Church history) to say that if the Church is “true” then current and past leadership has ALWAYS been guided by the Lord in ALL things. And if you admit the possibility that Church leaders aren’t ALWAYS guided by the Lord (even if you still believe this is the Lord’s Church) then that obviously just leads to the question of: when are they inspired and when aren’t they, and how can you tell the difference?

    Why *wouldn’t* you expect members to ask questions about current policy and interpretations of doctrine and whether they truly have a divine basis. Asking whether Pres. Grant was correct in adding the Word of Wisdom to the temple recommend interview has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the Book of Mormon is true — indeed, it is only the people who DO believe in the Book of Mormon who would deeply care about that question in the first place.

    I’m still skeptical that the hard-liners commenting here have really studied the type of person who reads and comments at any of John’s sites — they aren’t people looking for reasons to leave (they have those already), they are looking for reasons to stay.

    Promoting absolute truth claims and effective infallibility of leadership with no nuance or respect to the reality of history — especially when most of the members in question are already familiar with direct counter-examples — doesn’t help, neither does failing to answer any of those members’ good-faith questions (or even respect the motive for asking the question in the first place). It is pushing people out of the church who don’t really want to leave. The question is: is anyone listening, and does anyone care?

  93. May 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    “I don’t want to go to any kind of correlated Heaven.”

    That is part of the glory of the Plan of Salvation as it is currently taught. There is an uncorrelated heaven, and the members there will be perfectly happy.

  94. chris
    May 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I would also just like to say I’ve felt a pretty strong personal revelation that Dehlin, and others, whether they realize it or not are a acting in a sense like Christ in a way that we all should. That feel & conviction came upon reading this line,

    “My only interest is in helping folks who struggle with the church navigate their journey in a way that minimizes unproductive pain, and maximizes joy.”

    I am certain that he does not always live up to this stated aim, but neither do I. But in some way, I can imagine Dehlin taking some personal burdens of those who are struggling, upon himself (criticism, sacrifices of time, money, etc) and lightening their burdens in the process. That’s a very real and amazing thing. Thanks John for doing your part to become like the Savior.

    I’d only add one suggestion, if you’ll permit. Now that you’ve lightened the load point them to Lord and help them to embrace the gospel on the Lord’s terms, not their own.

  95. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Another example might be the beginnings of the church affiliation with the BSA. The church had decided to not officially sponsor scout troops, but wards went right ahead and did it unoficially. Eventually SLC decided that if you can’t beat ’em you might as well join ’em.

  96. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Ardis, thanks for the example in your #89. I’m not familiar with the “Third Convention”, but I love Pres. G. A. Smith and wish I knew more about the man.

  97. May 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    #88. John asks for donations from his listeners. He has made an agreement with his listeners that he will continue the podcast, despite the fact that he is in graduate school, as long as he receives enough donations to make the effort worth it. I can’t say how much he makes, but apparently it is sufficient for his needs. I think he should release how much he makes plainly in his FAQ section.

  98. May 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    “It is pushing people out of the church who don’t really want to leave. The question is: is anyone listening, and does anyone care?”
    Of course they are listening, and of course they care. Many of them have felt “pushed” out of the church themselves on numerous occasions. But it is impossible for some to imagine that those who have chosen to believe in the tenets of the Church, who have chosen to believe in the guidance, inspiration, and revelation of Christ to Church leaders, who have come to an understanding of the mortality and imperfections of all people (even men in charge) and also an understanding of forgiveness and charity, might have weathered the exact same storms as those who do not choose the same.

    And that is a form of hubris that cannot be surmounted by any external force, even total capitulation.

  99. May 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Ardis, the Mexico example occurred to me as well. As I understand it, the vast majority, but not all, of the excommunicants had their membership restored. A polygamous sect took advantage of that fact and absorbed many of the still-disaffected members.

    @#72 Allen, et al: “I’ve also read things that John has said in other venues … Of course, I doubt that the Stake President will ever see John’s comments in an online conversation. … Reading StayLDS and MormonStories won’t help give a full picture in those instances.”

    I have a Church policy/procedure question. Would it ever be appropriate to notify the priesthood leaders of that kind of material, if they hadn’t asked you for it? I’m not saying, telling or recommending what the leader should do, but just providing information. I guess it’s also related to the whole sustain/oppose process.

  100. May 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Nathan, while I don’t know that there was no polygamous incursion, this is an element with which I am entirely unfamiliar. I think it might be misleading to use a word like “many” in connection with members who didn’t return to fellowship in 1946. This was a political argument, not a doctrinal one that would have left anyone susceptible to polygamy — they wanted a leader “of the pure race” and weren’t looking to follow anyone with an alternate prophetic claim.

  101. May 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    If there are any discrepancies between Ardis’s and my descriptions, believe Ardis’s. My description was based on a short conversation about 10 years ago, and I could easily be remembering it wrong, or confusing two different events. :-)

  102. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm


    I have no reason to doubt you when you say there are 300 churches founded on belief in J.S. and the BOM. If you/they/anyone “do not believe Pres. Monson is also God’s prophet” today, then why don’t you/they/anyone join those churches instead?

    You asked this question:
    And if you admit the possibility that Church leaders aren’t ALWAYS guided by the Lord …then that obviously just leads to the question of: when are they inspired and when aren’t they, and how can you tell the difference?

    But your previous paragraph about BY and TSM being prophets, and the nature of questioning the core doctrines of the church, suggest that what you are really asking isn’t ‘are they always’ being guided, but rather ‘are they EVER being guided?’ So again I ask, if Pres. Monson isn’t a prophet, and the core messages of the Church aren’t founded in Christ, why stay in the church? Are your ward social activities really that much more enjoyable than mine?

    I would contend (as others have hinted at) that the only real reason is to enjoy the mask of respectability that the church offers. They know the church to be ‘true’ and don’t want to be seen as antagonistic even though they don’t agree with the teaching or intend to obey the codes of conduct. They (excuse the broadstroke here) are white sepulchres.


    I knew you would be the one to give me an example. Any others?

    Any parallels to the conservative LDS people who don’t want the church involved in immigration because it goes against their view of ‘nationalism’? Or do the parallels not begin until they ‘elect’ new bishops for themselves?

  103. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    You’re right, Adam, like I said, I didn’t do any research about NOMs for this piece.

    Ah. I misunderstood your previous answer.

    Might I suggest in the future that charity towards this Stake President and generally to members of the Church who think along those lines might make a little research a good idea before you start describing their opponents in extremely positive terms? If you are really interested in more than one point of view, you may not want to start off asking why the Church and mainline Mormons opppose motherhood and apple pie.

  104. May 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    In comment #81, Syphax expresses very well what my concerns are in regards to John Dehlin’s approach to things.

    As I understand it, John rejects the LDS church’s truth claims. He does not believe Joseph Smith is a prophet or that the Book of Mormon record was engraved by ancient prophets on gold plates. Perhaps even more dramatically, in a conversation we had on a post on his FB wall, John stated that he wasn’t sure if he believed that Jesus ever existed.

    Reading that, I don’t think John Dehlin’s belief system is a Mormon belief system or even, by a technical definition of what he said, a Christian belief system.

    Since reading that comment that he made, I’ve been mulling seriously the difference between what it means to be a Mormon and to be passionate about Mormonism. There can be quite a difference and I think John Dehlin exemplifies what it means to reject Mormonism (and even formal Christianity) while still being passionate about the topic of Mormonism.

    One of my concerns – and I’ve expressed this to him – is that he shows up in articles and news stories about Mormons and is represented as a Mormon. Specifically, he has been photographed and pictured in a New York Times article and an NPR podcast about the Book of Mormon musical. In both productions, which no doubt were listened to and read by thousands, he was described as a Mormon.

    There is a subtle thing going on – where some people are representing themselves as Mormons by saying that they grew up Mormon or that they served Mormon missions – but it soon becomes clear from things they say that they don’t actually hold to any unique Mormon beliefs or that they in fact categorically reject most uniquely Mormon beliefs. As I understand it, John falls very much into that category.

    I understand that his name is on the records of the church. I guess in the most technical fashion that makes John a Mormon. But from a number of things he has said in conversations we’ve had and points he makes online, I feel he fails the basic fundamental standards that should qualify someone to represent a church member to a greater non-LDS public.

    When I questioned John Dehlin about the honesty/dishonesty of doing this, he said that the NY Times reporter knew very well what Dehlin’s perspectives were and sought him out for that very reason. As a criticism of the New York Times, that, in my opinion, is a dishonest way to do reporting and I don’t think, even if he has been completely open with the reporter and the reporter still wants to go along with it, that John should accept and cooperate with that approach. That too, strikes me as less than honest.

  105. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I would contend (as others have hinted at) that the only real reason is to enjoy the mask of respectability that the church offers.

    Probably, but some people will have genuine family reasons for living what they feel is a charade. And some people will genuinely feel that staying Mormon after they have ceased to believe in Mormonism is some kind of assertion of their individual dignity against the oppressions of the church. Its a messy world with messy people in it.

  106. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks Adam, I appreciate your response, and hopefully we’re closer to understanding each other. I’m still not sure where you get the sense that I’m describing either side in “extremely positive terms”. When I go back to look at what I wrote, I see an identification of two factions in conflict, and an expressed hope that they’ll be able to work things out to their mutual satisfaction. I don’t make any value statements regarding either side. I think you might be reading things into my post that I didn’t write there.

  107. May 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    #98 Nathan said: “I have a Church policy/procedure question. Would it ever be appropriate to notify the priesthood leaders of that kind of material, if they hadn’t asked you for it?”

    To answer questions like this, I try to put myself in the place of the priesthood leader: If I was the priesthood leader, would I want the information? Would it help me make a better, more informed decision?

    If the answer is yes, and I thought that the person interacting with the priesthood leader may withhold what I deemed as crucial information, then I would feel there is nothing ethically wrong in supplying the information. I wouldn’t try to sway opinion; I would simply supply it.

    In this particular case, I suspect that John (and other uncorrelated or middle-way Mormons) would view this as interference at best and poisoning at worst. John would, understandably, only want information to get to his Stake President that put him in the best light possible. (Syphax, in #81, stated that his post putting John in a negative light was deleted from MormonStories by John.)

    The flip side of the coin, however, is that nobody should ever–not once–assume that we speak in private or in a vacuum. If we don’t want our words shared with priesthood leaders (or spouses or bosses or others), then we shouldn’t cast them on the waters of the Internet.


  108. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm


    not to belabor the obvious, but if the only thing you say about NOMs is that they are ‘dynamic’ people who ‘ask questions’ and “maintain unorthodox beliefs and practices,” then you are treating them as totally unexceptionable or even admirable. It makes the fact that there is another side at all inexplicable. If you can’t come up with a description that doesn’t make one side look crazed, you aren’t being neutral. Do you seriously not get that, or are you just yanking my chain?

  109. Thomas Parkin
    May 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    On the labels. I consider myself unorthodox, or at least willing to be where it seems called for. Inquiry is necessary for growth, and inquiry into any subject can be profitable based on the truest and deepest motivations of the inquirer – as well as his ability to remain open, tentative and learning while standing on what he has learned. But I am not a New Order Mormon, as I understand the term – I just can’t imagine it. If I didn’t accept that there is significant substance to the truth claims of the church, my remaining time in the church could be measured in nano-seconds. Obviously, other people’s mileage varies.

  110. psychochemiker
    May 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Ben S.
    You could always make sure the Stake President gets a fair representation by sending Dehlin’s SP some representative samples of his work supporting Palmer and others.

  111. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Don’t worry Adam, I’m not just yanking your chain :) You’re not the only person in this thread who has accused me of favoring the NOMs in my post, so I take that to mean that I didn’t communicate clearly. For example, here’s what I intended with the examples you gave:

    – “dynamic”: the words “static” and “dynamic” are value-neutral terms in several disciplines — notably literature, science, and technology. “Static” just means “non changing” and “dynamic” means “changing”. In literature, I see the terms used most frequently to refer to static and dynamic characters. Nephi is a static character — his story starts and ends without any great internal changes. He is a paragon of righteous obedience. Zeezrom is a dynamic character — he experiences change. It doesn’t make one of them better than the other; they’re value-neutral terms.

    – “ask questions”: I’ll give you that one. Perhaps both orthodox and unorthodox members ask questions equally. I don’t really know.

    – “maintain unorthodox beliefs and practices”: I don’t even know how to respond to your assertion that this is an “unexceptional or even admirable” description. Do you feel that “unorthodox” is a term of praise?

    I agree that whatever I said, it has made “one side crazed”, but I’m just not seeing why. In my mind, this article could have more-or-less substituted “Boy Scouts” or “Tea Partiers” for “NOMs” (assuming that one of those groups had issue with the church), and it would have still conveyed my core point — that conflict occurs inside of organizations, that the static faction is generally the one with the power to control the outcome of the conflict, and that there a different paths and outcomes possible in the conflict.

  112. May 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm


    Is that really the kind of people we want to be? Sending notes to the SP about things other people have said/done that we don’t agree with to try to get them excommunicated? I’m aware of what John has said and done, having listened to all of the MS podcasts. I like some of it, other parts not so much. Maybe John has changed his mind about some of the things he has done in the past, maybe he hasn’t. John’s position has changed several times throughout the history of MSP and I have no doubt that it will change again, maybe bringing him back to more traditional belief/activity in the Church. Shouldn’t he be given that chance without having to prostrate himself before the entirety of Mormondom for your amusement? John’s membership status ought to be between him and his SP. I know that John is no longer a traditional believer, but I am both amused and troubled that 90% of people on this thread are so eager to throw him to the wolves because of it.

  113. May 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Sorry, that last comment was from me, but I repeated psychochemiker in the Name and in the first line.

  114. May 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I can see where Allen is coming from re: sending material in, but I’m more apt to leave it in the hands of those directly involved, as well as the Lord’s hands. Now, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. I might do differently if the subject in question is abuse or something like that. That’s my personal take.

    Above all of this, though, it seems John is getting a bit more advertising but not providing much actual information about things. If he doesn’t attend church, doesn’t believe the truth claims of the Church, and at the same time seems to be making a career from people leaving the Church it is hard to not be cynical about his motives.

  115. May 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm


    As I said, I think that the Stake President should be informed only if certain strict conditions are met. (I took it as a hypothetical question on Nathan’s part anyway.)

    There is another thing that you don’t seem to take into account — John publicly asked for feedback from MormonStories visitors/fans so that he could use it with his Stake President. In other words, he threw it open for the public to have a conduit to his Stake President to, in all likelihood, sway the Stake President in the way that John wants him swayed.

    Plus, as was pointed out, it was John that apparently deleted negative comments on that very thread, presumably because he didn’t want them seen by the Stake President. That seems like cherry-picking to me and borders on censorship. It is something for which John (and others) have castigated some with whom they’ve been philosophically at odds in the past.

    Do you believe that it is right that the Stake President only get the view that John wants him to have? Do you believe that the Stake President might appreciate other information that is outside the limited view that John apparently wants him to have?


  116. May 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    What I mean is that I really don’t understand how John can claim that “The crazy thing is….no one [presumably him included] is asking for support, change or accommodations. For the record.” I simply don’t think that is the case at all; quite the opposite.

  117. May 11, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    These words from Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons (in the mouth of Sir Thomas More) seem apropos here:

    “What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? … And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s, and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

  118. May 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    By the way, I should point out that I’m not sending anything to John’s Stake President; I don’t even know where John lives. Nor am I advocating anyone else doing so. I think (as I outlined in response to Nathan’s question) that doing so is a personal decision that I could see being justified in some instances.


  119. Mike S
    May 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I don’t know if I am specifically “moderated” or if my comment (around #83) was moderated because of HTML code, so I’ll repost it without the codes. I apologize if it double-posts…

    I think the issue is complicated the fact that there are several different issues here that often seem to be lumped together into the same “NOM/uncorrelated/etc” category:

    1) Disbelievers: These are folks who think things along the line that Joseph Smith was a fraud or that there is no God. They may consider themselves culturally Mormon, but there is little the Church can do to accommodate folks in this category. As long as they aren’t actively harming the Church, there’s really not any problem with enjoying their presence, but if they actively fight, I think the “welcome separation” model is what will be used.

    2) Uncertain: These are folks who really don’t know. They may have been members for decades. They may have served missions, served in callings, read the BofM, etc., but may just not know. Because they don’t have the “I KNOW THAT xxx IS TRUE” feeling, they can sometimes feel adequate, as this isn’t really an attitude that is accepted on Sunday. “Support groups” or whatever such as NOM or other places can be beneficial to these folks, as they can feel they are not alone. They can come to an equilibrium where they can still maintain a membership in the Church without feeling “inadequate”.

    Like the marriage example, the Church COULD work towards this group. This group already WANTS to feel “closer” to the Church. It would take the Church somehow accepting people once again who say “I believe” rather than “I know”. It would take a reemphasis on actual faith as the basis of a testimony rather than knowledge. Who knows if the Church would/could do this.

    3) Don’t like practices: This group also often gets lumped in the same category. This group believes in the Church, yet understands that many of the policies of the Church are man-made and non doctrinal. If you complain about them in the normal “Sunday” setting, you are considered as complaining about the leadership or questioning their callings. You may be considered “apostate” by some. I’ve covered some of these issues on W&T, talking about NON-DOCTRINAL things such as Changing Garments and Not Counting Earrings. Again, this would be an easy group to reconcile if the Church chose to do so. The members ALREADY appreciate the good things in the Church. And they are non-doctrinal policies that could easily be changed.

    So, I think there are a lot of sub-groups lumped together within the topic of this post. I think that different strategies should be used with each of the different sub-groups. Some issues are more easily reconciled than others.

  120. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm


    I don’t understand what you are still confused about.

    You presented a conflict between the church and NOMs and/or John Dehlin without presenting any information at all that would suggest that anyone could have any reasonable objections to the NOMs and/or John Dehlin. Since you admit you had done no actual research, you had no basis for presenting the issue as if there were nothing to be said on one side. But you did present the issue that way. Why?

    I agree that ‘static’ and ‘dynamic’ are neutral terms in, say, mechanical engineering. They are not neutral terms when discussing organizations and institutions. You were discussing the latter. Why did you use biased terms when, as you’ve told us, you actually knew nothing about the positions of the parties?

  121. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    what is the law against Stake Presidents having facts?

  122. CatherineWO
    May 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I started to read through the comments here, but had to stop because I found many of them to be so hurtful. I’m not sure what you all would call me, probably what some of my local ward members call me, and it is neither kind nor accepting. In fact, I have been so emotionally abused (through words and rejection) and physically abused (through unwillingness to accomodate my disabilities) by my ward members that I have official permission from my stake president to attend another (any) ward in my stake (where I attend Sacrament Meeting only, sitting in the very back). It is no exageration for me to say that John Dehlin has done more to keep me in the Church (emotionally and spiritually, since I cannot be there much physically) than anyone else. He has exhibited nothing but love and understanding. Many of you who have commented here seem to be beyond feeling for people (your sisters and brothers in the gospel) who may think, feel and act a little differently than you do, but still really care about this church. I don’t think that John or most of those he ministers to (because that’s what he does) have any desire to fight against the Church. On the contrary, most just want to be included and loved for who they are. There’s a beautiful old folk song that goes:

    All God’s critters got a place in the choir–
    Some sing low, some sing higher,
    Some sing out loud on the telephone wire,
    And some just clap their hands,
    Or paws
    Or anything they got.

    We could all make beautiful music together if we’d just make a little room for each other.

  123. May 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    What facts are being withheld? John operates a public website. If the Stake President cares enough to look, he can find John’s own comments re: Grant Palmer or anything else. He can probably glean them without even having to listen to all of the podcasts by reading comments, etc. If you think that John is cherry-picking his submissions to send to the Stake President, you’re right. But how would what you propose be doing any better?

  124. anon
    May 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    It’s interesting – the more generations someone claims to be in the Church, the harder they’ll fight to stay in or change it to their ends. Converts of less than a decade don’t seem to have any trouble just leaving…

  125. May 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    #122 anon,

    That’s hardly a fair comparison. New members have less invested in the LDS Church – leaving is much easier for them.

    #120 Catherine,

    I’d be interested in hearing HOW what Dehlin is doing helped you stay in the LDS Church.

  126. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    so the ‘law’ is that you can share facts with a Stake President, but only if the facts aren’t available through some other channel? Thomas More was a much better Mormon than I am, because I’ve never heard of that law.

    I know when you called us hurtful, emotionally abusive physical abusers who are beyond feeling, you meant it inclusively and lovingly. I’ll make a little room for you to clap your paws in my garage anytime.

  127. May 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    AHL, I’m not talking about “trying to get them excommunicated.” I agree that it would be completely inappropriate to give unsolicited advice to or try and persuade a priesthood leader to take any certain course in something like Church discipline. And if John has changed his mind on something, it shouldn’t be a problem for his stake president to know about it, since John will have ample chance to explain how it has changed. I don’t understand how his one-on-one meetings would provide public amusement for the entirety of Mormondom. As I understand the situation, John has been the only one to publicize his meetings with his priesthood leaders.

    Please believe that I’m not wanting to throw anyone to wolves (I’m not sure that’s a good characterization of disciplinary counsels anyway). I’m just trying to understand the process, which I’ve never had part in. It occurred to me that during sustainings, it’s a matter of common procedure to ask if anyone has objections. I just wondered if that applies to disciplinary counsels as well, particularly if they’re unsolicited.

  128. gst
    May 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I appreciate those who work to retain us disaffected types–I have a hard time staying in the church when it does things like oppose the MX missile, build “green” chapels, and stand up for illegal immigrants. But then somebody reminds me of the good work it does oppressing gays, and I realize that it’s all worthwhile.

  129. May 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    If you have some information or evidence that a Church member has molested a child, abused a spouse, committed financial fraud, etc. and that is not publicly known, of course you can share that information with a Church leader. That is so obvious as to barely be worth mentioning. What I have a problem with is folks taking comments from John out of the context of the totality of his work and sharing those with the Stake President. And lets face some “facts” here- we’re talking about doctrinal, historical disagreements and nothing on the magnitude of the three examples of conduct I gave above. Not even in the same ballpark.

  130. Anon
    May 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    The title of this post is “Resolving Disharmony in the Church”. I think the title speaks volumes in how the Church prefers to “resolve” the issue.

    Hours ago I submitted a comment that suggested that all of the people lumped together under the NOM/Uncorrelated/Etc category might perhaps be different. Some people are truly antagonistic and there is really only one way for the Church to respond – “Welcome Separation”. Other people might be “Wonderers”, while others might be “Believers who have issues with various non-doctrinal practices”. In these groups, there is potential for resolution – “Working Toward Harmony” if the Church desires. These sub-groups obviously WANT to work things out – but it’s up to the Church if it is worth working out.

    In any event, the comment has been “Moderated” out as if it was never written (it was around #83 at one point). And I suppose this is symbolic of the ideal resolution to the title of the post – “Resolving Disharmony in the Church”

  131. chris
    May 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Adam 124 – that comment and your response to it both bring to mind… “They withhold forgiveness to keep another in their debt and to justify their injured feelings.”

    But don’t worry, it can easily be said of me, “Defensiveness is used by them to justify and rationalize their frailties and failures.”

  132. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    To be frank, AHLDuke, I don’t care what you personally do or do not have a problem with. I think we’re both clear by now that your John Dehlin advocacy isn’t law.

    also the beyootiful testimonies that are so moving they make your hair stand on end. Though that may be just because the Church is static.

    for keeping people in your debt, withholding forgiveness is good but promissory notes are better.

  133. chris
    May 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    GST 126-
    Don’t worry, green chapels are just a way to embrace self-reliance and pinch pennies (a defining characteristic of the Lord’s covenant people) at the same time.

    The MX Missile was a way to redirect Russian nuke targeting from Utah to Wyoming.

    And illegal immigrants is just the church putting a couple of the important commandments – “Six days thou shalt work.” and “Love they neighbor” above some of the lessor ones, “honor the laws of the land”. And to be fare, working to change the laws of the land in order to honor those previous two commandments is actually the best way to honor the laws of the land.

  134. don't know mo
    May 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm


    I didn’t get that CatherineWO was calling out people here on this thread, but was commenting on her experiences in her own ward. As to the commenters on this thread, I understood her to say that she was hoping for a little more compassion and understanding from those with opposing views.

  135. chris
    May 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    follow-up on 132- Oh and I forgot the gay thing. Don’t forget Utah is right below a massive Caldera. It’s just gold ol’ self interest to seek to prevent another Pompeii.

  136. chris
    May 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    er… good.

  137. don't know mo
    May 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    that should be @*125*

  138. Tom O.
    May 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Seth R. @124:

    You ought to reflect a little bit more on that statement. Converts often sacrifice a great deal for their membership in the Church — more than multi-generational members, where Church membership and activity is presupposed — in many instances. These sacrifices often take the form of lost friendships, family relationships, and careers.

  139. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Anon, thanks for bringing your moderated comment to my attention. Usually if a comment gets caught in moderation, it’s not because one of us bloggers here has blocked it — usually it’s just because the automated software catches it. I’ve gone in and released it. It’s now on at #83.

  140. May 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    #128 AHLDuke: What I have a problem with is folks taking comments from John out of the context of the totality of his work and sharing those with the Stake President.

    I would be more persuaded by this argument had you pointed out that John himself is making just such a selective presentation of his work to the Stake President. If you are a stickler for context and totality you’d recognize that no one would need to dig up anything negative and send it to the SP because those things would be a part of what John would be letting him know to begin with, right?

  141. Jenkins
    May 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    #98 This is an issue between John and the SP. John can represent himself as he wants to. I sure don’t want to have neighbors checking my trash for anything they can show to the Bishop or, God forbid, my internet history :) and I think that is an atmosphere very different from what Christ intends.

    #81 What’s wrong with making some money for the service you do. If people don’t like the podcast they won’t pay. That is between him and those that pay for the service. I don’t see that he has any obligation to tell anyone other how much he makes.

    #91 KMB, Thank you for a fair description.

    Why would anyone with disagreements on certain aspects of the church want to stay? Do you really see no value in Mormonism? I can disagree with a lot of things the U.S. is doing right now but I still consider myself American and want to be an American. There are benefits to being associated with the church and just because I may disagree doesn’t mean I’m less.

    There are a lot of contradictions in Mormonism and I appreciate someone like John Dehlin being a voice out there. I don’t agree with everything in Mormonism and it’s nice to know there are people like me. Just because that isn’t part of your struggle doesn’t invalidate it as part of mine. We all have different ways of interpreting our religion, it doesn’t mean that any one way of doing it is 100% correct. John focuses on parts of the church he disagrees with, it would be a pretty boring podcast if he didn’t. I haven’t listened to or read all of what John has out there but for the most part he is at least respectful of all sides. I don’t think John is perfect. Neither do I think Thomas S Monson is perfect. I think the danger is in thinking that any one person alive now is. We all have to make our own way in this journey and I believe it is better to include everyone, even the ones we don’t agree with than it is to exclude them.

  142. May 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    BHodges: Yes, but…lets be clear that what John is cherry-picking for the stake president are other people’s opinions about him and MSP, not what he himself has said or done. Are you ready to be responsible for every negative opinion somebody has formed about you, known to you or not? That’s a pretty heavy burden to bear.

  143. chris
    May 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    140 – “What’s wrong with making some money for the service you do.”
    Well if it is a profit thing (and I actually assume it’s not unless he happen to just get a few big donors), then it is an issue. Not a deal breaker, but it does impact it a bit.

    Becoming a professional grievance monger may help those who are grieving, but it often means you have to keep finding more and more grievences to keep the money flowing. Not saying that this is the case though. I’d say he is perhaps a hobbyist grievence monger who in the process is actually helping to temporarily relieve some people’s burdens but (seemingly) points them in a misguided direction that doesn’t bring lasting joy.

  144. May 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    #140 Jenkins

    Except Mormon Stories is organized as an official non-profit organization by the government. So either way, at some point in the future, Mormon Stories’ financial records will be available to anyone who wants to see it, and I’m predicting raised eyebrows when that happens. Therefore, John DOES have an obligation, by law, to disclose how much he makes. I would expect no less than full disclosure from any official, reputable, non-profit organization.

    Aside from the legal issues, we’ll have to agree to disagree about the ethics of this situation. I think the fact that Mormon Stories makes money for John entirely changes the dynamic of this whole situation.

  145. Mike S
    May 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    #139: Dane

    Thanks. I didn’t think it was too offensive so was curious. And thanks for the post – it’s a constructive way of looking at the issue.

  146. May 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    AHL, yes, I’ve been ready to be responsible for whatever opinions people formulate about me for a while now. It’s remarkably simple to find out who I am, and people have done so to my detriment before, I assume someone will do so in the future. People aren’t going through John’s private mail here. In fact, one person noted that their comments were actually deleted from John’s solicitation of comments. Why would John do that, do you think? If he did in fact do it.

  147. Jenkins
    May 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    142- “I’d say he is perhaps a hobbyist grievence monger who in the process is actually helping to temporarily relieve some people’s burdens but (seemingly) points them in a misguided direction that doesn’t bring lasting joy.”

    Who defines lasting joy? It’s between John and his subscribers, how is it any different from any other non-profit podcast?

    Ultimately the church will decide if it wants a member of the church being very public about their disagreements or an excommunicated member doing it. I think the church will most likely come down on the side of excommunication.

  148. May 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Gst, #127, you crack me up.

  149. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Adam G.,

    You presented a conflict between the church and NOMs and/or John Dehlin without presenting any information at all that would suggest that anyone could have any reasonable objections to the NOMs and/or John Dehlin. Since you admit you had done no actual research, you had no basis for presenting the issue as if there were nothing to be said on one side. But you did present the issue that way. Why?

    You’re right that I didn’t suggest any reasonable objections to the NOM side. But I also didn’t suggest any reasonable objections to the church side. I didn’t suggest any reasonable objections for *any* side, because my post wasn’t about taking sides in this conflict — as I’ve repeated, it was about using this particular conflict as a jumping-off point to discuss how conflicts can progress (toward resolution or division) in the church.

    I agree that ’static’ and ‘dynamic’ are neutral terms in, say, mechanical engineering. They are not neutral terms when discussing organizations and institutions. You were discussing the latter. Why did you use biased terms when, as you’ve told us, you actually knew nothing about the positions of the parties?

    I explained to you that “static” and “dynamic” are neutral terms, at least to me. You’re welcome to fault me for using the terms poorly, but please don’t fault me for intentionally using “biased terms”. Apparently they are biased terms to you, and I’m sorry for the distress that may have caused. What terms would you suggest I had used in their place?

  150. jb
    May 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    I have read all the comments posted here. It seems to me, that the discussion has less to do with resolving disharmony and more with passing judgment. I am only left to wonder when Governor Boggs issued the “excommunication order” for John and all the other “uncorrelated” Mormons? That may be a bit inflammatory, but that is how the tone of the conversation is coming across to me.

    I listen to MSP,MMP,the Fair Blog, and the LDS channel. I don’t agree all the time with John, Dan, or Blair, but I appreciate the information. The fact of the matter is, that the church is a tool for man/woman to use while working out his/her salvation. From my understanding, which is limited, salvation is a personal thing; each person works out their own differently.

    Rather than imply that John or other “uncorrelated Mormons” are not Mormon enough for the church. I prefer to worry about my own salvation.

  151. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    well, the water is there. If you won’t drink, you won’t.

  152. May 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks for starting the discussion, Dane. It’s a great topic.

    What is the end game? Is there really a middle way, or is it all just stepping stones to exit?

    I agree with Adam G. that some level of boundary maintenance is going to be necessary in order to maintain a cohesive community. There is a dissipation issue (some people just want to talk about Beanie Babies, why do they want to self-identify within our community?). And there is a consistency issue, if people are committed to ideas that are antagonistic to the community.

    I have personally made the argument, for instance, that so-called “difference feminists” or “complementarian feminists” are not real feminists. This is based on the idea that their views are incompatible with the core ideas of feminism. And on that question (are complementarian feminists really feminists?), there are a variety of views. They tend to differ markedly along political lines.

    So yes, absolutely. Boundary maintenance is a natural part of community health.

    On the flip side, boundary maintenance can be taken too far. As Nate wrote years ago, people tend to define orthodoxy based on their own views, and everyone else the heretics. (

    We can see all sorts of examples of this in the LDS context. One well-known online boundary policer recently blasted any church members who liked or said positive things about the Book of Mormon Musical. ( I’ve seen blog posts condemning as heretics any church members who do not vote for the One True Political Party.

    While boundary maintenance is to be expected in a community, it can also be taken too far.

    Thus, the devil is in the details. What are the beliefs which are core to Mormonism? If John Dehlin or anyone else accepts some beliefs but not others, how should they be viewed?

  153. May 11, 2011 at 5:49 pm


    Non-profit organizations have a legal obligation to disclose their finances? Since when?

    How much does Thomas S. Monson make?

  154. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I just wanted to step in here long enough to give a big Bronx cheer to psychochemiker’s suggestion that members tattle on one another. I have personal knowledge of how such letters are received (including yours, psycho), and the SPs in question are dumbfounded that members are behaving like 3 year olds in the sandbox. Then they have a good laugh and roundfile the letter while making jokes about the sanity of the person who sent it.

    Anybody who thinks priesthood leaders welcome this kind of intrusion is plain nuts. They already spend way too much time dealing with petty disputes. At least once a week a bishop has to spend an hour of his life trying to calm somebody down who thinks the CTR class heard false doctrine in Primary last week.

  155. Dane Laverty
    May 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Adam, I love you, but you’re killing me here :) I feel like you think I understand things that I’m not understanding. As far as I can tell, your two beefs with me are (1) that I didn’t make any explicit value judgments between the two sides in this conflict, but (2) that I made implicit value judgments through my choice of words. Is that even close to what you’re talking about, or am I not even in the same playing field with you?

  156. May 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Mark, do such reactions occur in cases where the leaders have already begun disciplinary procedures?

  157. May 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm


    I think he’s also calling you out for imprecision. And he’s right, in that NOM is a specific community and belief set while you’ve used the term more generally — kind of like saying “I’m going to call anyone who doesn’t keep kosher a Reform Jew.” There may be a lot of overlap between the two groups, but one is actually a defined community of its own.

  158. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Contrary to what Mark Brown says, most leaders that I know welcome the opportunity to roundfile stuff and to question the sanity of the membership. A much needed relief.

  159. May 11, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Mark, you’re prob. right. As for me, it would take some level of personal involvement to stick my nose in a situation.

  160. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Nathan, Adam, yes, the leaders I know are all waiting with bated breath to learn that somebody is wrong on the internet.

    Here’s the thing. Priesthood leaders already know their members better than almost all other members of the ward know them. When some unknown party from two time zones away shoves his oar in, it is just another case ark steadying, and an implication that they don’t know what is going on under their noses. It happens all the time, and it’s ridiculous. Most of the letters sound like somebody who claims to have been abducted by space aliens, they’re that nutty.

  161. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Mark Brown,
    I appreciate your response to my comment. It would be even more flattering if you read it first.

  162. May 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    If someone from two time zones over knew that the member had been abducted by space aliens, do you think the Priesthood leaders would want to know about it during a disciplinary council?

  163. May 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Mark Brown, in general, I mind my own business and expect others to as well. I’ve never even considered “tattling on” anybody at any time. But there obviously are times when you have a responsibility to report some things to leadership. This is probably not one of those times, but I don’t think we should discard the possibility that such a time may come up. If somebody is deliberately misrepresenting himself and leading people away from the Church and setting up a competing institution while openly and regularly criticizing the Church, well, that may be one of the times.

    I am reminded of a ward in Miami where a group secretly met to form a church that competed against the existing ward. At least one member of the bishopric was a member of the secret group. They ended up leaving the church en masse and taking a few dozen people with them. Of course, their competing church dissolved in a few weeks, but the damage was done. If you were privy to secret meetings where people were planning this kind of activity, would you report it to the bishop and stake president? I probably would.

  164. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Adam, Ahh! I got it the second time, and it is pretty funny.

    I just skimmed the first time through and misunderstood.

  165. May 11, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Personally, I don’t like the idea of members reporting to church leaders about the bad behavior of other members – unless something that is extremely harmful is witnessed – and by that I mean something that is truly abusive and/or illegal. I don’t really have an actual example in mind – nothing that I’ve seen so far.

    But I do think it makes sense in some cases to raise concerns directly with a person.

  166. May 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Wow! I wish I knew what it would take to make everybody happy and agree on these difficult issues. I still think it’s about process (Sec. 121 attitudes) and basic principles (faith, repentance, ordinances by priesthood authority, Holy Ghost, endure to the end.) Go ahead and call me simplistic, but I can’t even understand all the things people are saying here.

    I certainly have my faults. And I haven’t been a SP, but I have been a bish of a very interesting ward that had people heading for the cliffs on both the right and the left (and I’m not talking politics). While presiding at numerous disciplinary counsels and referring a few others to the SP, we never had to do one on apostasy. I remember one little meeting with the SP and our bishopric before a sacrament meeting and the SP asked if he should stand up and clear up some “borderline apostasy” – at least false teaching with BIG influence in the ward (almost like that counter-church Geoff #162 mentioned), We three voted and it was 2-1 against (my poor counselor!) What I and the other counselor said and I think it ended up unanimous, was that we ought to give people time for proper teachings to set in and let them figure it out on their own without pushing anyone into a corner. And we were real close to people adversely harming others spiritually. But I didn’t want to do it even though I think I may have in some cases.

    So, I don’t know what to do other than keep trying. I’ve made a conscious choice to be loyal to the church no matter what, so I usually end up sustaining and supporting authorized priesthood leaders. That’s my choice, but some will choose differently and sometimes that has consequences. And I also have a commitment to treat everyone with as much charity as I possibly can because it never fails even if I do (rather often). I don’t think reasoning can work us out of these conflicts. But I think charity can.

  167. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I should preempt this question with the statement that I have never reported dishonorable conduct to any church leader; BUT

    it does have a scriptural foundation in Section 20

    53The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them;

    54And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking;

    So why is it so unheard of or “crazy” to do so?

  168. May 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    #152 Kaimi

    I am not a lawyer so I could be completely wrong. I was under the impression that non-profits disclose their financial records:

  169. mmiles
    May 11, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Where does that say to tattle?

  170. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    mmiles, by what method would you suggest that teachers make sure that their is no iniquity?

    and is there a record for number of posts on a single T&S thread?

  171. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Some of say that leaders don’t want to know about members bad behavior. Maybe your leaders don’t care about the welfare of their members. My leaders get genuinely concerned that when we hear that Bro. J has started smoking again, or Sis K. started attending another church. He isn’t just concerned with abuse, as obviously should be reported, he wants to know about the spiritual health of all of the members he is responsible for.

  172. DCL
    May 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    #167, yes, most exempt organizations required to file annual Form 990 are also required to disclose it reasonably; however there is a big loophole for organizations with gross receipts less that $50,000.

    If Mormon Stories is set up as an exempt org, it was not done as a 501(c)3 because it does not appear on IRS Publication 78. So, donations to it are not tax deductible.

  173. Howard
    May 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    How would we treat these people if they were investigators? Would we turn them away?

  174. mmiles
    May 11, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Well they probably can’t make sure there is no iniquity unless they chain people up so they don’t do anything wrong. I suggest those verses mean teaching correct principles.

    It has been my experience that when bishops are told things by members about other members, it is almost always by gossipy, ill-informed people who don’t know what they are talking about. If someone is breaking the law of chastity and someone tattles, it doesn’t really help to call someone in to talk about it unless they want to, in which case they’d usually come on their own.

  175. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I think the process is to teach them correct principles and baptize them if they accept those principles. If they reject them, yes we turn them away! I can’t imagine the interview otherwise:

    Do you believe Jos. Smith is a Prophet?


    Do you believe in the BOM


    Do you obey the WofW?

    I will as soon as it allows me to drink and smoke.

    Have you ever participated in an abortion?

    I work for Planned Parenthood.

    Do you support Thom. Monson as a prophet?

    A what? I don’t think so?

    Do you want to be baptized?

    Yes, I like talking to your members at church and getting food from the bishop, like the satisfaction of being a Mormon, and want to be allowed to hold the priesthood and attend my cousins temple wedding.

    Anyone think the above interview SHOULD end in a baptism? Well that is what coninued membership is about for far too many people who call themselves Mormon.

  176. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm


    They teach them correct principles and expect them to change. If they don’t the only way I see to maintain a “no iniquity” position in the church is through disciplinary action.

    I’ve never turned anyone in, probably because I’ve never had knowledge of serious wrongdoing, I’m just asking why it seems so repugnant to do so. Informing a church leader about wrong doing needs to be done in the right spirit I grant, but why label all information as ‘tattling’ which connotes an absence of good intentions?

  177. Sonny
    May 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Ah, Zion!

  178. Howard
    May 11, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I know two people who remained investigators for ten years because they weren’t ready for the baptism interview thankfully no one turned them away.

  179. May 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I think as far as reporting behavior about someone you knew was going through disciplinary council, I’d first pray about it, and then if I still felt a need to disclose, I’d let the Priesthood leader know that I was familiar with the situation, and willing to offer information if it is wanted.

  180. May 11, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    I’m not a tax lawyer.

    Would MoSto fit into one of the many religious exemptions to disclosure?


  181. May 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I have collected everyone’s IP addresses and I’m reporting all of you to the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities.

  182. mrsbrittdaniel
    May 11, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Hey Adam – I asked you what my first instance of no credibility was, but then went back and read your comment. You said that pretending “static” and “dynamic” were value neutral showed I lack credibility. However, in my field (as an English professor), those terms ARE value neutral. I’ve never used them in any other way. That doesn’t mean they don’t have other connotations, only that for some of us (me), they are, indeed, value neutral. I think your accusation that I was using them incorrectly or disingenuously and therefore lost all credibility was harsh and off the mark.

  183. Sonny
    May 11, 2011 at 8:26 pm


    I’m just asking why it seems so repugnant to do so

    I don’t think it is repugnant, but I think the idea of turning others in can be abused greatly, and from what I hear from my brother (a bishop), it IS abused greatly (at least in his ward).

    Here is an example. I know of a member that was at a public golf course with a woman. From a distance, another church member spotted them and reported a likely affair to the golfer’s bishop…based on what he saw. Turns out the woman was the golfer’s wife. Also, said golfer and wife were so incensed at this they have drifted away.

  184. May 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Hey, can someone with the computer skills for it (J Max?) put together a program that to use ward lists at to connect IP address to ecclesiastical leader?

    I’m envisioning one where I type in the offending IP, and it auto-generates an e-mail message to the local leaders. Preferably one with check-the-box options for common types of heresy.


  185. May 11, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Go right ahead, Kaimi. My ex may not be as educated as you, but I’m willing to guess he’s far more inventive. If he hasn’t gotten me exed yet, I rather doubt anything YOU have to say will accomplish it.

  186. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Kaimi I love your type of humor…even if it is used to ridicule me!

    Sonny, I can see it being abused. and i would suggest that we abuser be brought in for “bearing false witness.” I wouldn’t suggest people turn each other in for “I think Bro. X might…” We can agree on abuse being turned in I assume. But there are surely other circumstances where a loving member can mention to a loving leader that Bro/Sis X is having issues without it being ‘tattling.’ Or do we have a more serious problem; no caring leaders, members not caring about each others welfare? …hmmm perhaps our home teaching numbers suggest that is the problem!

  187. Jax
    May 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Kaimi, it wouldn’t be the first time this week that a member of my branch called the branch pres about my conduct…. apparently a Branch Mission Leader can’t say he doesn’ like the commercials because it gives a false impression about what conduct we expect from our membership. He would apparently be guilty of not supporting the missionary effort and sabotaging his own calling.

  188. Howard
    May 11, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Why does a Bish or SP with the power of decernment need tattle tails?

  189. anon
    May 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Motes and beams.

  190. May 11, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I agree, anon. Throw them in the mote. If they try to swim out, hit them with a beam.

  191. Cameron
    May 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    #187-Not every Leader has the gift of discernment and you certaintly don’t get ordained and then have all this power and knowledge. You have one day in the calling what you had the day before without, like any other gift you have to work at it and be humble about it. What is more, just because you aren’t a leader doesn’t mean you don’t have it.

  192. mrsbrittdaniel
    May 11, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    I cannot think of a single instance in *my* church life when someone’s reporting to a leader about Bro. X’s behavior came from a genuine Christlike desire to help. Not to say that it cannot happen, but personally, I’m drawing a blank. I’m sure plenty of people THINK they are reporting out of love, but that doesn’t mean they were. Jesus taught us that we should go the person who has offended us, not that person’s priesthood leader.

    I am reminded of a time when one of my mother’s seminary students “reported” her to the Bishop and SP (via her parents) because my mother taught that LDS women, in an earlier time, gave blessings. She was called in to report on her actions to these priesthood leaders and the Bishop then started attending seminary to keep tabs on her. The whole thing was very unpleasant & revealing.

  193. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Good grief, Jax. Haven’t you ever heard of church organization? There is a structure for reporting your home teaching, and a priesthood holder has no authority whatsoever for somebody in a different state. The idea that somebody would print something off the internet and then mail it to a SP he doesn’t even know is ludicrous.

    As for reporting bad behavior within your own ward, next time you go to the church on a weeknight, take a good look around the lobby at the people waiting to see the bishop. You can assume about half of them are there for the same purpose, to make sure that the bishop is aware of every little detail of this or that bad behavior their neighbor or family member is doing. Then imagine that you are the bishop and have to listen to this kind of crapola, hours at a time, night in and night out. If you still feel an urgent need to add to his burden with your gossip, be my guest.

    There is a very good reason why Brigham Young said that the Mormon creed should be Mind Your Own Business.

  194. May 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    #184—If SilverRain’s ex tries to get her ex’ed, does that make him an ex exer? If he stops, does that make him an ex-ex exer?

  195. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    If he does it by mailing the SP examples of pornography he claims SilverRain is using, it makes him an XXX ex-ex exer.

    (p.s., SilverRain, I know that isn’t true.)

  196. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    #174, Jax,
    funny stuff.

    #178, SilverRain, very mature response. I like it.

  197. May 11, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Mebbe y’all are in very busybodyish wards. I was ward clerk for five years, I’ve been in the bishopric for almost three, and for six+ months I “filled in” for the bishop while he was deployed. Those very few occasions in which one member came to speak about another were motivated by worry and concern; NEVER ONCE was someone “tattled on.”

    I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen. But I’m saying that, giving my experience as much weight as anyone else’s here (especially those who have never actually sat behind the bishop’s desk), its frequency is being extrapolated on tenuous evidence far beyond my own reckoning. And to presume that most of the people waiting to see the bishop are there to be nasty little busybodies says a lot more about the charity of the presumer than that of the presumee.

  198. Hellmut
    May 11, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I am not going to get involved in the substantive debate here. But I would like to point out that it is bad form to address a person by their last name without a title such as Miss or Mister. You could also just address him by his first name.

    It’s bad manners. And manners matter, especially, in a conflict.

  199. May 11, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    I served in a bishopric for two years, counseled with several dozen people. Not a single tattler.

  200. May 11, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Mark Brown.

    That’s a frankly lousy view of your fellow ward members you’ve got there.

    I served as Executive Secretary for a Bishop, and also as ward financial clerk. As far as I can tell, the majority of the people meeting with the Bishop are either there for temple recommend interviews, or financial difficulty. There also seemed to be some personal troubles. But I never got the sense that a lot of tattling was going on.

  201. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Well, bless your heart, TOTAL Nathan.

    When you sat with an unhappy spouse, how hard did you have to steer the conversation away from all the bad things the other marriage partner was doing? My experience was that getting people to focus on their own faults and not somebody else’s was about 90% of the battle, but it was incredibly hard to do.

  202. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Yeah Seth, being a bishop is a breeze, let me tell you. Sign temple recommends, do food orders now and then. Easy Peasy.

  203. May 11, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    That’s fine Mark. But I still think it’s a pretty negative way to portray a ward you were serving.

  204. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Should we call you Hell or Mr. Mut? Please advise.

  205. Aaron B
    May 11, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I would just like to take this opportunity to confess that I am the author of around 40% of the comments in this thread, including all of those by Adam Greenwood, Mark Brown and psychochemiker. I play games like this because I have nothing better to do. I have no friends.

  206. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Uh, OK.

  207. Vin
    May 11, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I participate on a Facebook group that is a sort of “offshoot” of a group John Dehlin created. We are generally attempting to make the church work in our lives, and if someone put a gun to the group’s head and forced it to label itself, it’d trend “agnostic” to “troubled believer”. We want to express our spirituality within Mormonism, the reasons for which are varied. Most of us are quite sympathetic to the Church, the average participant would fit into Mike S’s “Uncertain” or “Don’t like practices” category, and we want to stay in the Church while we work out spiritual/doctrinal/historical issues. We discuss problems very bluntly, but I’d like to think objectively.

    How much space does the Church have for people like us that are trying to make things work?

    fwiw most of us are quite fond of John Dehlin, his imperfections notwithstanding

  208. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    30 cubic feet.

  209. Cameron
    May 11, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    #205-Work what exactley? Faith, repentance, baptism, following the Spirit and enduring to the end are what matters

  210. Charlie
    May 11, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    #198 and others: I served 5 years as bishop and then in stake presidency and the only “tattled on.” case was about an alleged child molester who was back in our ward, members where then quick to come to me to ‘do something’ about him.

    Regarding brother J.Dehlin, unless he opening fights against the church or they interpret his pro-gay views as fighting the brethren, then nothing much will happen. We can’t excommunicate or discipline someone for not believing, but only if they are a threat to other members or work against and lobby against the church. If this stake president does some research into what John Dehlin actually believes in and does then the most he can do is take his temple recommend away.

    Plus he’d be crazy to discipline someone so public over his beliefs and lack of belief in the church.

    Anyways, having said that, brother Dehlin, what has happened? you are pretty silent over in your own page but did talk a bit here.

    (by the way, T&S has finally found an interesting subject to cover!! good work!)

  211. Howard
    May 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    AG is that your sense of humor or are you just being sarcastic and condescending?

  212. May 11, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Howard, bet on the latter.

  213. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    To get back to Dane’s question, and also to answer Randy B.’s question, here is a possible way to resolve the issue at hand:

    1. The SP should inform himself thoroughly about the issues. I understand they resolve around a)a feeling that the church is hiding the ball regarding its history and not being truthful, b)a feeling that the church insists on blind obedience, and encourages a culture of yes-men, c)disappointment in the lack of transparency when it comes to matters of governing and financial matters in the church.

    2. The SP should then size up the situation and recognize that John a)whitewashes his own history, b)is surrounded by a coterie of yes-men and brown-nosers who praise his every utterance in a cult of personality that has to be seen to be believed, and even then you can’t believe it, c)is not forthcoming about the $$$ that comes to him as a result of his priestcraft.

    3. The SP then asks forthrightly for the member to demonstrate a fraction of the honesty and humility he is demanding of the church. If the member is unwilling to do this, the SP is entitled to disbelieve any and all truth claims originating the member.

  214. May 11, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Kinda interesting to notice the contrast between this thread and the discussion over at Mormon Matters: one is an interesting conversation about the LDS church and its single young adults; the other reads like the intertitles of a Donner Party highlight reel.

  215. Charlie
    May 11, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    212 Mark Brown.

    Your comments on Dehlin #2. are a distortion of the truth. Dehlin is no church nor close to it. The LDS church is a church and a worldwide institution. Very different cases.

  216. Adam Greenwood
    May 11, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Howard, #210,
    reject the false dichotomy.

  217. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Charlie, nope.

    Mr. Dehlin is a smart enough guy to realize that he is pulling the wool over peoples’ eyes. If he wants to accuse other people and parties of dishonesty or prevarication, he damn well better be spotless himself. Why are you sheeple unwilling to see it?

  218. Charlie
    May 11, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    “to realize that he is pulling the wool over peoples’ eyes. ”

    Neither the church nor Dehlin is doing that. Only crazy conspiracy theory loving dudes think that. You ain’t one of them, right?

    Both sides are doing what they honestly believe is right and true but they don’t see eye to eye.

  219. Vin
    May 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Mark, that’s a pretty serious claim. Please elaborate on examples of Dehlin pulling the wool over people’s eyes.

    As far as his stated intent, I think his intent has changed many times. I think he often has desired to make changes to Church policy, or to create a movement that “holds the Church’s feet to the fire”. But other times I see him working principally to help people on their spiritual journeys, accepting that the Church is unlikely to change for them.

  220. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Chino, as long as we are talking about Mormon Matters, maybe you could give us a little tutorial about how it all hit the fan over there when John did the full freakout. You know, accusations of disloyalty, acrimonious disputes about who did what, permas censoring each other. People learned very quickly that when John encounters anything besides full and 100% obedience, he just blows up the whole blog. Not a lot to be proud of, really.

  221. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Vin, are you even paying attention? Go to his FB page and make a remark that is only 90%, instead of 100%, fawning. He will delete it immmediately. So much for tolerating dissent.

  222. May 11, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Hey, Mark, I’m gonna leave you to it. I’m sure tearing down John is very important to building up the kingdom. And if you’re especially mean, maybe the 18-30 crowd will come back to church. Knock yourself out.

  223. May 11, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    The description “ad hominem” is terribly overused in internet discussion. Mark Brown’s 212 is an actual ad hominem, and a cheap shot as well, which is particularly sad because Mark’s comments are generally much higher quality.

    It is a logical fallacy to suggest that John’s criticisms of the church are necessarily unreliable because he is Bad Person in some way.

  224. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Chino, I think John and the 18-30 crowd are separate issues. I don’t think he offers any answers for the YSA or any other age group.

  225. May 11, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    And I agree that John handled the MM blowup very badly, and has handled some other online interactions badly as well. I like and respect John, but I don’t think that everything he does is butterflies. (He hasn’t deleted anything of mine yet that I’m aware of, and I’m not unwavering praise.)

  226. May 11, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Kaimi, this thread could have used you about 150 comments earlier. Am I remembering correctly that Adam originally left T&S a couple of years ago because you, or one of the other permas had expressed uncorrelated thoughts, similar to those John is accused of here, on another forum or in back channels? It’s a real shame that you all felt the need to let him back in.

  227. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Kaimi, I am saying that John has become that which he is unwilling to forgive about the church.

    Did I claim that he was a bad person? I don’t think I did. My point is that he has no standing to criticize, given that the faults he is so quick to point out are faults he himself displaing that he doesn’t have so abundantly. That isn’t necessarily a problem — an alcoholic, more than anybody else, can recognize the problem in somebody else — but what is missing here is a sense of humility. I’m not saying he doesn’t have valid concerns, I am saying that he does his cause damage and makes the problems worse.

  228. Mark Brown
    May 11, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Well, that was completely incoherent. Try again.


    Kaimi, I am saying that John has become that which he is unwilling to forgive about the church.

    Did I claim that he was a bad person? I don’t think I did. My point is that he has no standing to criticize, given that the faults he is so quick to point out are faults he himself displays so abundantly. That isn’t necessarily a problem — an alcoholic, more than anybody else, can recognize the problem in somebody else — but what is missing here is a sense of humility. I’m not saying he doesn’t have valid concerns, I am saying that he does his cause damage and makes the problems worse.

  229. Cameron
    May 11, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    What does MM stand for? Micro Machines?

  230. May 12, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Mark, I agree they’re separate issues. My point was that this thread makes whatever else other people are doing look good by comparison.

    I mean, if you’re keen to talk about what’s happened elsewhere online, we can. The recent Mormon Matters podcasts have featured some of their best panel discussions ever. And the writers over at Wheat & Tares have gone on to improve on whatever they were doing at the old Mormon Matters. So sure, there was a dust-up, feelings were hurt, but the grown-ups moved on and now it’s all good, even better than before.

    By comparison, as far as I can tell, the bloggernacle is as bitter as ever.

  231. May 12, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Wait, Chino, I thought you were saying that we were the smart ones and the folks at W&T were the Donner party.

    Watch out, buddy, or we’re really going to have to put your feet to the fire.

  232. Mark Brown
    May 12, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Chino, I guess that is where we differ. I don’t think that things have changed and are now better than before, to my ear it sounds like the same old bombastic bitterness — “ZOMG, the church LIED!!!” It is pretty hard for me to stomach this from people who themselves are not forthcoming.

  233. Mark Brown
    May 12, 2011 at 12:11 am

    I should amend that so say that it is hard for me to take that from people who are unable or unwilling to see these same tendencies in themselves. A little empathy would go a long way, but it is hard to get past the cheerleader section, in both cases.

  234. Vin
    May 12, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Ask Blair what he’s written on John’s wall. I’ve seen him comment numerous times. Have you considered that, if something John was doing was personally beneficial to you, maybe you wouldn’t view him as an evil person?

  235. May 12, 2011 at 12:18 am


    I understand your complaint about John. It’s that he is inconsistent.

    I don’t agree with all of your facts; but I also think that the complaint itself doesn’t hold water, even if all of the facts are correct. There is a big difference between offenses at an institutional level and offenses at an individual level.

    To use one high-profile example, the lead plaintiff’s attorney in the Enron litigation was later himself busted for personally committing fraud and obstruction of justice.

    Lerach’s statements about Enron rise or fall based on their own merit, not based on the issues in his own life. It would be wrong to say, “Bill Lerach alleges that Enron was cooking the books, but Lerach himself committed fraud. Therefore, his claims about Enron should be discounted.”

  236. May 12, 2011 at 12:21 am

    No, Mark, where we differ is that I’ve actually listened to the last couple of Mormon Matters episodes, and here’s who I heard: Dan Wotherspoon, Joanna Brooks, Tresa Edmunds, Jared Anderson, Kristine Haglund, and Jana Riess.

    None of whom I’d describe as either bombastic or bitter.

  237. Mark Brown
    May 12, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Vin, the recognition that John has done some good things does not require me to chug the Kool-aid. He has also done, and continues to do, some remarkably harmful, spiteful, and childish things. Is it OK to point that out?

  238. Mark Brown
    May 12, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Chino, sorry, I thought you meant the entire Dehlin phenomenon. If you don’t believe me, go take a look on FB. I agree with you that the recent podcasts were top-notch.

    Kaimi, I think we are still talking past each other. I don’t mean to set this up as institution vs. individual. It isn’t so much about John and the church as it is about the acolytes and True Believers who surround him. They complain about simplistic explanations from SLC, but are willing to accept John’s simplistic explanations about the church without hesitation. It bugs me.

  239. Mark Brown
    May 12, 2011 at 12:50 am

    I guess another way to say it is that John himself has become an institution, in a way. At least it would be reasonable to reach that conclusion, given the way so many people sycophantically defer to him.

  240. Vin
    May 12, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Mark, John is in a position where he interacts with literally thousands of people, many of whom consider him a trailblazer that has really put himself out there. He gives them a voice they feel they don’t have, and for many, he’s the first person they’ve seen discussing these things openly. Does it surprise you that there are a number of sycophants in the group?

    Seriously man, your criticism is way over the line IMO.

  241. May 12, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Yeah, I just checked John’s FB page. It’s pretty bad. He’s posted a link to and it’s over-the-top inflammatory stuff.

    Now I’m seriously bowing out. I’m not even in John’s target demo, so it’s not like I’m gonna beat my brains out defending his project(s). Mostly I just hang out hoping for a chance to take potshots at the ‘nacle for dropping the Niblets ball. Seriously, you guys huffed about taking it back from Mormon Matters and then what did you do with it? Not much as far as I can tell. You know, I get that y’all have got the truth and all, but your audience might like being shown a good time once in a while (which means something different than stroking the egos of the same ten dominant personalities year after year).

    Oops, kinda veered off topic there for a sec. Sorry!

  242. May 12, 2011 at 1:07 am

    I agree with some of your complaint, Mark. I think it’s true that John’s methods are not always ideal. He also has occasional freak-outs in which he gets defensive, paranoid, and weird.

    I still think he’s basically a good person who is putting a ton of energy into a basically good project. He gets hammered all the time by Mormons and by ex-Mos.

    The church environment is such that some voices are made unwelcome. The cumulative effect of that can be to make some of those people sometimes freak out. This isn’t necessarily a reason to discount the message.

    People who stop using heroin get the shakes and have panic attacks. This doesn’t mean that we should discount their advice to get off the junk. It means that the exit process is itself traumatic, and it should be expected that they’ll act abnormally for portions of it.

  243. May 12, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Also, the issue of deleting negative comments and creating an in-group is an interesting one. John D. may have occasional freak-outs and deletion binges, but he’s not the only blogfather who meets that description . . .

  244. Mark Brown
    May 12, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Oh, Chino, you’re so coy.

    You too, Kaimi.

    Anyway, I don’t discount the message. I mostly agree with it, and that is why I’m concerned that John’s ego and public apostasy is making things even worse.

  245. Mark Brown
    May 12, 2011 at 1:28 am

    It means that the exit process is itself traumatic

    Yes, it is an exit process. I’m glad we can call a spade a spade and quit pretending that it is anything else.

  246. May 12, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Mark Brown #200,

    You’re changing the goalposts. We were talking about ward members “tattling” on each other or being “busybodies,” not married couples have troubles with each other. They’re different situations, and you know it, and the fact that you’re bringing it up to muddy the waters here strongly indicates to me that you’re not discussing in good faith.

    But to answer your question, with each of the couples I counseled (there were three, in case you’re wondering), I met with each of the spouses individually, and when they had laid bare their complaints, I discussed with them what THEY could do to improve the situation — explaining beforehand that I wasn’t blaming them but that it was futile for the two of us to discuss what a third person would do, and confirming to them that I would ask exactly the spouse exactly the same questions.

    Still not the same as tattling, and you know it.

  247. Mark Brown
    May 12, 2011 at 8:09 am

    TOTAL Nathan,

    It seems to me that a characteristic of being human and living in a fallen world is that we have a hard time seeing our own problems. Whether those are problems in a marriage, or differences in the way people approach Primary sharing time or the scout program, or online discussions, usually one of the first and easiest things we do is accuse another person of being wrong or acting in bad faith. And when that accusation is revealed to a person in authority, it is a textbook case of tattling. This entire thread, including your own comments, underscores that fact.

  248. May 12, 2011 at 8:23 am

    #191 mrsbrittdaniel “Jesus taught us that we should go the person who has offended us, not that person’s priesthood leader.”

    Actually, Jesus taught to go to the person FIRST and then if they don’t listen, to go to their priesthood leader. (See Matt 18.) But we’re not really talking about those who have given offense, here. Nor are we talking about reporting unsolicited information in a “tattling” manner. We are talking about an ecclesiastical investigation that has already been opened and, in this specific case, even publicized by the person in question.

    As far as John himself, I haven’t the experience with or knowledge of him to make any personal comments. My thoughts on this subject are strictly hypothetically generalized.

    Mark & Nathan (193&194) —LOL! I feel a Suessian poem coming on.

  249. May 12, 2011 at 9:07 am

    #222. Kaimi

    I realize that John’s beliefs don’t make his actual arguments unreliable. Perhaps his arguments are valid. I guess my problem is that by portraying himself as a Mormon, he is saying, “See? You can have significant disagreements with the Church and still be a faithful Mormon.” Except he’s not. And when he says things like “I think women should give healing blessings again!” he needs to be clear that he is not coming from the angle that believes the priesthood is an actual power from God, but rather a ritual like rain dances or burning a tie six months into your mission. From that angle, yeah, who cares who does it or how it’s done?

    So he still might be right that women should give healing blessings, but I do think there is a psychological need to know where he actually stands on things. Logic would dictate otherwise, but people are generally not logical.

  250. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 9:14 am

    nathan and whoever your were 200 posts ago that said your ward didn’t have tattling problems but real concern… I’m glad to hear there are other units where people genuinely care about each other and aren’t just looking to tear others down to make themselves feel important.


    You told me to go ahead and keep tattling…but I’ve said I never have, and don’t really see much reason I ever would. If I witnessed abuse, especially of a child, you would be hard pressed to stop me from killing somebody. If I witnessed an affair (witnessed doesn’t mean suspect, like the golf course story) I would tell the spouse, not the leadership. If it were illegalities (theft, fraud) I would tell the cops. If it were bad doctrine I would try to correct them when I heard it….but others aren’t as willing to simply destroy abusers, confront heretics, inform abandoned spouses…etc. So for those who need a safe environment with someone they trust in order to report something wrong, I say go to a Bishop or other leader.

    I do see the tattling though, like I said, I was turned in for not being a fan of the ad campaign. I just don’t like a stigma for those who report to Bishops. It seems too much like much of the gang mentality where you don’t ever help the cops, don’t ever give them information, even if they are protecting you, because then you’re a snitch and can’t be trusted. Just feels like a bad idea to stigmatize them.

  251. May 12, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I realized that my last comment might be offensive to Native Americans (seriously). Sorry about that. Rain dances are actually still practiced, are practiced with traditional rules, and there is a kind of hope/faith that goes along with them. So never mind about that. But the tie burning thing I stand behind.

  252. May 12, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Mark Brown,

    There is a BIG difference between having a personal problem with a spouse that one needs help with, and the tattling/busybody behavior that was originally the point of my comments. I revise my earlier estimates of bad faith (though not because you said, “See? You think I’m arguing in bad faith! That PROVES you’re judgmental!”). I now simply see you as being willing to subsume all nuance or distinction when you don’t want to agree with it.

    Oh wait, that’s what “bad faith” is. My earlier suspicion still stands. You may now accuse me of all kinds of hideous TBM hidebound thinking for not extending to you the nuance you gleefully deny others.

  253. Sonny
    May 12, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Jax (249),

    Well reasoned IMO. You are right. There definitely are situations when reporting is required. It takes a sense of good judgement to know under what circumstances reporting the behavior of others is appropriate. And actually I would hope that everybody on this thread would agree with that. The problem, of course, is that not everyone exercises good judgement, or that many have very different definitions of what behavior(s) constitute appropriate justification to get a priesthood leader involved, and I think that is what is being objected to by many on this thread.

  254. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Sonny I agree completely that many run to Bishop and SP now with petty problems that don’t need reporting. It is a time consuming problem for bishops. I don’t like stigmatizing people who turn to them though. I recognize the issues people have with it, but would police ever stop asking for tips from the public to help solve a crime just because they got some, or even most, bad leads? It sucks, but you wade through the garbage to get the information to help people in need. I can’t imagine a loving leader not wanting to know about problems. You have to have someone come tell you if people are baptizing other in swimming pools, or having women bless the sacrament in their homes, are advocating for polygamy, have held drug/alcohol binges in their homes…etc. How will any problems ever be fixed if no one comes forward?

    I’ve asked friends of mine to please point out to me character weaknesses that they see, bad doctrines I may advocate in SS, or moments of anger or irrationality. I’ve told them that I want to be better than I am and that I can’t see all of my own faults – I’m too close to them, and asked that if they love me, that they would help me improve by pointing out weaknesses. I tell them that I will do the same to help them progress. Someone claimed the ‘mote and beams’ thing was going on when I said we shouldn’t be against reporting things. fantastic, I have a beam in my eye, so help me see my motes and I’ll help you see yours… Same idea with bad behavior… I’ll approach someone personally, but others are too timid and need to feel comfortable approaching someone, well IMO the bishop is the next best person.

  255. Vin
    May 12, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Syphax, I wasn’t aware of the fact that John goes around trying to pass himself off as a regular average Mormon. Everyone on his facebook knows he’s not, he’s mentioned in several places on his blogs that he’s not active and probably won’t become active in the future. Do you need him to put a big “Explicit Warning: Inactive Mormon Content” stamp on his stuff?

  256. jb
    May 12, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Jax @253

    I was in a ward where this reporting thing happened. The report called in to question my worthiness to hold the priesthood and my fidelity. It was a baseless accusation, but it created an impression within the ward that I was forced defend against. I think that by empowering the membership with the reporting responsibility you seem to be advocating, especially in our church, is a mistake. It is too easy for men and women within in the church, as soon as they get a little authority (or think they do) to begin to exercise unrighteous dominion over their fellow members. It only takes one person and one statement to ruin a reputation, and a ruined reputation can make church attendance painful.

  257. May 12, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I can whole-heartedly say, that would suck. I’m sorry you had to go through that. How did you respond to the accuser, and to your leaders?

  258. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 10:28 am

    JB, I love that verse from 121…it fit perfectly. But I said previously that reporting poor behavior should be from KNOWLEDGE of poor behavior, not rumor or suspicions (except for perhaps child-abuse). And reporting should not be a ward-knowledge thing. Confidentiality is SOOOOO important. If a bishop had leaked that I had been accused of something…man better hide himself…but if the informant did, then there was no ‘caring about others welfare’ in his heart and he needs to be condemn publicly for ‘bearing false witness’ publicly, IMO, in accordance with D&C 42:91
    91 And if any one offend openly, he or she shall be rebuked openly, that he or she may be ashamed.

    and the bishop should be the one to do it!

  259. May 12, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Maybe I shouldn’t jump in (again),

    But the major point of difference between John Dehlin and the church is that John Dehlin doesn’t claim to be perfect. John Dehlin doesn’t claim to be inspired by God. John Dehlin doesn’t teach his followers that in order to be good followers of him, they should obey him — even if he’s wrong — and they’ll be blessed for it.

    To the extent that we want to argue that the church doesn’t claim these things either, to the extent that we want to say, “The church is just an organization of imperfect humans and so we shouldn’t expect it to be any better or less flawed than any human organization”, and to the extent that we want to encourage people who have become disaffected because they were led to believe these things (but they aren’t true) that they should reconsider their anger or their disappointment or their whatever, then congratulations, we are now becoming middle way/uncorrelated Mormons!

    I am sympathetic to claims that John claims to be something he’s not in other areas (Syphax really summarizes this complaint in comments like his comment #248), and maybe that’s sufficiently damaging that you all should continue to bring the hammer down on him.

    But in a comparison effect, even if you don’t like the kinds of members he is brokering, it seems mighty strange to be so opposed to someone who encourages people to *stay in the church*, however they can manage it (and seems pretty effective at it)…when it would be VERY easy to find other people who actually and actively try to take people out of it.

  260. jb
    May 12, 2011 at 10:31 am

    @Nathan000000 To be honest, I was very pissed off. I called and set up an appointment with the Bishop, and I explained the situation. He was very understanding and sympathetic. Actually, he was the easy one to deal with. The Bishop knew that the claims were baseless, it involved one of his counselor’s. The members, on the other hand, were not as dissuaded from these hurtful rumors. I am sure that the reporting member felt and assumed that they were doing their duty, but everyone knows what happens when we assume. Eventually, time helped heal the wounds, but unfortunately not all members have the capacity to exercise good judgment with a vigilante reporting process.

    Obviously there are some things that must be reported to the authorities, but empowering non-mantled members, to pull the tears from the wheat field can cause more harm than good.

  261. May 12, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Andrew, I think I made my point about keeping people in the church at your blog last night, but it got munched (or my computer screwed up). In any case, I think keeping people in the church might actually be counterproductive in the long-term. I think the main thing folks in SLC see is numbers, and they have no incentive to change unless they see the numbers drop.

    That’s not really a direct criticism of John, though, more of a general philosophical objection.

  262. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 10:36 am

    As much as I LOVE the ongoing narrative about JD’s actions….could it please stop? The point of the OP wasn’t to talk about JD or his actions/beliefs. It was to talk about how an organization deals with dissidents – I don’t think we need to publicly pass judgment on JD, or anyone else, in this thread. Nor do we need to hash out the justification behind each comment he has made, how much money he makes, or his activity level…..

    My current discussion haven’t been the most on point either I admit, but they are close to the topic without singling out individuals….can’t we at least stop talking about this one individual?

  263. May 12, 2011 at 10:39 am

    #261. I respect that and I apologize if I have taken this thread off-track. There aren’t any threads specifically about John, he deleted my comment off his website, he hasn’t been responding to my emails, and now I’m de-friended off his Facebook. I suppose I’ve been looking for a place to vent.

  264. Sonny
    May 12, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I see where you are coming from Jax–I got your back, ward member, and you got mine. If I am doing something wrong I want you to let me know and I will do the same, and together we will become better people. (I hope I am framing that correctly). And I think that is admirable and the intent is pure.

    The only problem I see is not all in the church have the same feelings about others pointing out their weaknesses/faults/apparent wrongs. Some feel that it is far better to work on their faults/issues/shortcomings themselves. I am speaking in a very general sense and am in no way referring to the situation with John, whom I know little about and the little I do know makes me uncomfortable.

    The problem I have with me *personally* approaching others about what I see, or think I see, is that I completely lack context. I do not know what is going on in Brother Doe’s life. He and I are perhaps on different parts of the path toward salvation and understanding.

    It reminds me of a film/thought exercise that was shown in the MTC when I was there in the mid 80’s. (I hope I am remembering this right) We see a series of events from a certain perspective and then are asked what we just saw. We then see the same series of events but from someone else’s perspective and then are asked what we saw. Conclusions drawn the first time were changed after seeing a fuller picture. The moral was this: be very careful with how you interpret/judge what you may think you see. It did not say never interpret/judge, but just be very aware that you very well may not be seeing the full picture.

    So I do applaud you for wanting others to point out the mote in your eye, and you will do the same for them–as long as it mutually works well. I’m just saying that some would rather discover and pull out their own motes and beams, and why some are very hesitant to point other motes in others, even if the intent is honorable.

  265. May 12, 2011 at 10:45 am

    re 260,


    I didn’t even notice I had a comment in my pending queue. I have approved it. Anyway, I agree (but we already knew that).

    re 261,




    Anyway, to answer the topic question, I think the church will fight for the status quo or welcome separation. I see little reason why it would change to meet the wants/needs of NOMs/uncorrelated/dissident/etc., Mormons…especially not most of the ones that these groups want.

  266. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 11:01 am

    AARRGGHH…so sometimes the numbering of posts is there, and sometimes it isn’t, which makes me aggravated that I’m screwing something up, because it makes it hard to a) no what people are responding to when they say re#261 and b) do you know how hard it is to count that many posts to say something yourself?

    So excuse the totally-not-related post, but can someone help me out and tell me why I can’t see them at times?

  267. May 12, 2011 at 11:06 am


    what browser do you use? If you use an older (e.g., Internet Explorer *before* 8 or 9), then you won’t be able to see comment numbers. Even if you use IE 8 or 9, if you are viewing the site in “Compatibility Mode”, you won’t be able to see comment numbers.

  268. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Sonny, I see the problems. Many will want to just walk up and say “your wrong about….” rather than communicating reasonably. It makes people upset to hear and leads to people leaving the church.

    But doesn’t this sound more like someone who REALLY cares?:

    “Bro. X, can I talk to you? I know I don’t know everything, but I want to help if I can. It seems to me that your view of ( whatever ) may be different than mine, and I’d like to see if I misunderstand, or if one of us in confused about the doctrine.”


    “Bishop, I overheard the deacons talking about a Playboy magazine they stole. I don’t know who exactly has it, who knows about it, etc., but I thought you should know. I didn’t want to accuse them, but thought you should know. Maybe you check with the boys to see if if I misheard, or if there are problems that can be resolved?”

    That can be changed obviously for the circumstances. But respect can be shown and everyone be uplifted, IF (a big ‘if’ I know) both person correcting/reporting behavior is acting out of love, and the person being corrected/accused knows that the only motivation is an intent to help.

  269. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 11:16 am

    No idea which IE I have….nor do I know how to check. I can sometimes see the numbers, usually only early on in threads, but then they won’t appear anymore. The inconsistency seems strange to me.

  270. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Andrew…I love you… you want my next child? Turns out compatability mode was on….don’t even know what compatability mode is/does…but thanks!

  271. May 12, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I know I am way late to the conversation, but I see the vision given to Lehi and Nephi in 1 Nephi chapters 8 and 11 of the Book of Mormon state quite clearly that there will be some who are able to come to the Tree of Life, partake, and still fall to the evils and designs of the world/adversary.

    Regardless of where John Dehlin, or others like him, have been historically with relation to the standards and teachings of the church, current behaviors have shown, in fact his own words have declared that his life is not in accord with the teachings of the Church. That being the case, there are two very clear and simple options. He either repents to be in line with Church standards or leave the church. We are in a time where being luke warm is no longer acceptable. Even to the world’s standards there is no honor is such dishonesty with one’s self and with the society around us.

  272. May 12, 2011 at 11:32 am

    re 269:

    Whoa whoa whoa, I don’t need any children!

    Sometimes, compatibility mode is needed for some sites, because they are designed to work only with older versions of IE. One thing you are going to want to do is go to Options -> Compatibility View Settings and make sure that is NOT listed. If it is, remove it.

  273. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Andrew… I have one on the way now…you sure you don’t want it??? I can have it to you by Christmas!

    T&S isn’t there…I just click the little icon at times when I mean to hit refresh. Thanks!

  274. Vin
    May 12, 2011 at 11:50 am

    “Here I am a young buck coming into the system, and the circulation is ‘Lets excommunicate the Sterling McMurrins of the Church, and weed out the liberals.’ That got thrown around a lot. Even poor Lowell Bennion got thrown into some of that… There isn’t a kinder, more gentle Christian in the world. And yet there were those in the system who tried to weed him out, because he kept the President McKay kind of vision open…

    “The George Boyds and the Lowell Bennions kept people in the Church whom nobody else could have. Philosophically, they could go with you on the trip through your frustration in thinking, and bring you back. Not many people could do that. I worked with George for many years down at the University of Southern California. I watched him save kids that nobody else could. And yet there was that element in the Church that tried to get him bumped, because he didn’t teach what they taught. I’ve found in the Church, and this is what gave me great comfort with President McKay, that there is room for all of them, not just a few, not just those here or there, but the whole spectrum.”

    Paul H. Dunn, cited in David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, p. 44-45

  275. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    And the scribes and Pharisees approached their ecclesiastical leader but Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman he decided to hold a disciplinary council then and there he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

  276. Ben S
    May 12, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Howard, it’s not sin. It’s not rumors of uncorrelated ideas.

    It’s an utter lack of faith in anything LDS and perhaps Christian, and the persistent spreading of those viewpoints.

  277. May 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I wonder if the honest merchant in the temple courtyard, plying his moneychanging trade, said “Wait, why are you coming after me? You saved my cousin’s sister from a stoning a few days back!”

    Point is: Every case is different. John Dehlin isn’t a moneychanger and he isn’t the woman caught in adultery. He is John. And regardless of the armchair quarterbacks in this game, I believe his Stake President will make the right decision.

    Following the decision, John can then decide if he will be the grateful woman or the incensed moneychanger. ;-)


  278. Brenda
    May 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Ardis and others who advocate this position – This approach relies on the church being True, with a capital “T”, as in the priesthood and prophetic authority being exactly what it claims to be and all the correlated stories happening exactly as they appear in the Sunday School manuals. And God literally leading this church, but not others, and talking directly with the top leaders and telling them exactly how to manage people like John. With this model, there may be no room for dissention because anything but the correlated program pollutes the product, which is directed by God.

    I understand this may be your position. But imagine for a minute, if it’s possible, that this church were just like any other church, with people in authority leading the charge of the institution and some members in pain and struggling to make it work, mostly for the sake of keeping their families together. If this were just any other church without direct authority from God and with a collection of doctrines that had evolved over time, rather than being pure, would you consider a different approach? Would there be room for those who believe less or differently than others? Are there different ways to think about this problem that could be explored to help keep more families together and participating?

    In other words, would the response to this problem be different based on whether the religious institution was truly empowered with prophetic authority or not?

    Regarding those who suggest the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) as an alternative . . . . I love that organization, but the biggest issue with this approach is that it divides families. It’s rare that whole families are ready to make this kind of paradigm change at the same time. The kind of people who are seeking out Mormon Stories and StayLDS, I’m betting, are mostly trying to stay engaged for the sake of keeping their families intact. The value of families is STRONGLY expressed across all Mormons, no matter where they fall on the spectrum of belief.

  279. Ben S
    May 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Brenda, I highly doubt that’s Ardis’ view of church governance, inspiration and manuals, and it’s certainly not mine. And to pick one doctrinaire example, it wasn’t Elder McConkie’s either. “prophets… are left to work out their problems without inspiration in many instances.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 547.)

    I’m fine with people at Church who feel like they have unorthodox or nontraditional beliefs or none at all. We could argue a lot over that category, because I probably fall into it myself, as do many many other LDS. It’s a spectrum. We have at least two active guys in my ward who have labeled themselves as without faith or extremely unorthodox, and no one gives them any problems that I’ve seen.

    However, those who only stay for social or family reasons, who have no faith in any LDS tenets, shouldn’t publicly undermine the Church’s basic teachings and their leaders should know not to call them into positions where faith is a necessity.

  280. May 12, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    If this were just any other church without direct authority from God and with a collection of doctrines that had evolved over time, rather than being pure, would you consider a different approach?

    I can’t speak for Ardis et al, but if the Church isn’t what it says it is, well, DUH. What if everything I accept about the purpose, authority, and utility of the Church were not what I believed? It’s like asking, “But what if the world were flat, not round — would that change the way you sail your ship?”

  281. May 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Brenda, you don’t come within ten miles of accurately defining my view of the Church. Everything in your comment that depends in any way on your representation of my view of the Church fails.

  282. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    According to Brenda we should stop proselytizing …because it is rare that families can have a paradigm shift all at the same time – and dividing families would be wrong.

    If this were any other non-prophetically led church, which didn’t teach correct principles and eternal truths, then why would you stay in it? Does staying in a church that is lying to you make your family stronger? “Hey son, come listen to Gen. Conf. and lets dissect the falsehoods of the prophet together???” Huh? you can’t come up with more productive time together than “let me tell you why everything you learned at church today is wrong.”

    If the church isn’t ‘True’ then they are pouring poison into your mind and soul. If you believe that is that case, you should want to get out. You would strengthen your families much more by seeking out truth together than try to withstand poison together.

  283. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    So it’s all or nothing Jax?

  284. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    No Howard, I never said you have to leave if you don’t believe. I only ask why you would want to stay? You can have degrees of conversion and faith as well as levels of understanding – you can think a few pieces of that apple have gone bad, but if at the core you think the whole substance is rotten (i.e. BoM isn’t true, no divine guidance, etc – which is what Brenda suggests), then this is the biggest sham in history and we should want to get out.

  285. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Where is the archeological for the BoM and what do you make of the DNA evidence that seems to oppose it? Is it apostasy to ask these kind of questions?

  286. May 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Syphax/Arthur – I won’t share our private communications here on this board, but since you brought it up…..I’ll just say in my defense that if I were to share w/ the folks here what you have written to me privately….I think that many would understand why I don’t consider us to be friends at this point…FB or otherwise. If I have deleted your comments or not answered your emails, it’s because I considered the emails/comments to be mean-spirited and unkind (or intentionally hurtful)…not because of the content or substance.

  287. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Do you ask because you are looking for answers or because you want to sew disbelief? Rather than demand someone else provide the answers, and criticizing their legitimacy, why don’t you go find answers for yourself?

    The primary problem comes in the way the questions are asked. You are asking from a position of doubt and won’t believe until proof is provided. Why not ask from a position of faith and believe that answers will come?

    Do you have any evidence to the contrary? Such as proof that Jo. Smith, or anyone else for that matter, wrote the BoM? How do you justify your doubts? How did the BoM come to be if JS’s account is a lie?

  288. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Jax I ask to provoke thinking.

    I have a very strong testimony of the BoM as witnessed by the Spirit but that doesn’t mean I’m convinced it is non-fiction actually fiction is a much deeper richer teacher than non-fiction that’s what parables are about. My point: it IS ok to question it is not apostasy it is OK when investigators do it so why isn’t it OK for members to do it especially when they are experiencing a crisis of faith?

  289. Brad
    May 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Too bad I didn’t catch this post until comment 286. I love Jax’s comments most of all, simply because they are extreme, conservative, and provocative as always. They used to annoy me, now they just make me smile. I also didn’t know Ardis was so entrenched in conservatism.

    More power to John Dehlin. John, I have long been a huge fan of what you do. You give a voice to a segment of the Mormon population that has long been shouted down and ignored. The standard conservative Mormons need to be aware that the world of Mormonism is a diverse place where many different opinions, attitudes, and ideas do exist and can exist. There is a growing liberal Mormon population (both in terms of doctrine and politics) which exists not only among the members, but also the leadership (e.g. Marlin K. Jensen). May it thrive!

  290. May 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    And yet somehow I did think we were still friends, and I still do. Sorry I offended you. Still not sure how exactly, but I have been told before that I can come across as very harsh online, so I’ll just take your word for it. If you ever need me you know how to find me.

  291. Sonny
    May 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm


    Okay that is just truly scary.

  292. May 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    #287 Howard said: “…it IS ok to question it is not apostasy.”

    You are 100% correct; questioning is not apostasy. However, if you (1) arrive at answers to your questions that oppose those given by the Church and (2) start teaching those answers to others, then that IS apostasy.

    #287 Howard said: “It is OK when investigators do it, so why isn’t it OK for members to do it…”

    Question? It is OK for both investigators and members to question, as noted above. However, it should be pointed out that it is technically impossible for investigators to apostatize from something they have not, by covenant, accepted and agreed to defend.


  293. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Allen the front door of the church warmly welcomes and embraces questioning investigators the back door often gives questioning members a guilt trip and maybe the cold shoulder. This dichotomy cannot be resolved within the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  294. May 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Which “Brad” are you, 288? Personal comments by an unidentifiable person who acts as if he knows anything about me are ugly.

  295. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Howard, non-fiction is a wonderful teacher, I agree. You can learn all sorts of good principles and values, and influence behavior quite well with non-fiction. But the BoM isn’t there to teach us principles and values (though it does do that) it is meant to testify of the REALITY of Christ – of His divinity, life, mission, and gospel. The BoM doesn’t tell us how great it would be IF there were a savior, it tells us He actuals WAS. Does it teach of reality by telling of things that didn’t really happen? Doesn’t that seem a bit absurd?

  296. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Howard how do you feel about a spouse/business partner/teammate who vows to fight along side you until the end, but then turns against you? All the time in the world is given for people to make the decision they want to join…once they do they are expected to honor the agreement.

    Everyone is encouraged to continue to grow and learn and question and improve in order to help themselves and the common cause. One of the biggest problems I have with Church members is that they don’t question enough. They think knowing the church is true is enough and stop trying learn more about the Christ, the gospel, etc. They don’t read, think, or pray nearly enough. The early brethren didn’t sit in counsel and struggle to learn Hebrew and Greek so that they could better understand original texts for us to sit idly and think a testimony of “I know the Church is true” will suffice. But EVERYONE is expected to KNOW certain truths before they join – that Jesus is the Christ, that J.S. was a prophet, that the LDS church today is lead by prophets, that the BoM is an actual account.

    I’m a branch mission leader and I fight with a new set of missionaries every few months to get them to NOT baptize people as quickly as they do because they almost never understand the commitment. I feel bad for people who make it unawares. They don’t understand how much more is expected of them in this church than in others, or how seriously we take our membership. But once they make the commitment I have almost no remorse when they turn their back on it.

  297. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Jax…a bit absurd? No, not at all fiction can be one of the best teachers of truth. The notion of the BoM being a second testament of Christ is a very nice idea but only recently added I don’t know it’s history did Joseph forget to include it? Was it new revelation or done for marketing or both?

    I’m open to the possibility of some non-fiction are you open to some the possibility of some fiction?

  298. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Jax what is the agreement? People aren’t necessary converted at baptism it is quite common for conversion to come later often much later.

    I believe the BoM is an actual account but not necessarily a non-fictional account. Do you believe in a global flood? If so where did all the water come from and where did it go?

  299. Sonny
    May 12, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Howard 296)

    The BoM has ALWAYS been a second testament of Christ, whether that phrase was added to the cover recently or in 1830. You can’t be serious.

  300. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Sonny I didn’t mean to imply that the book had been rewritten for that purpose.

  301. Sonny
    May 12, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Howard 299),

    Oh I know you did not imply that. I just am perplexed at why you would think that the fact that we now call the BoM a second testament of Jesus Christ has anything to do with the historicity of the BoM.

  302. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Sonny I was answering Jax 294.

  303. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 7:21 pm


    Doesn’t the page written by Mormon say it is written to convince Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ? Has that been added recently or was it always there?

    Can a record adequately convince of truth if it purports to be “true” but in fact isn’t? Non-fiction stories are good for conveying principles and such only if they are understood to be non-fiction. They are so good at it because they can leave out all the many variables, the incidentals, that happen in real life. But if you think a story is true and it isn’t, then you are left wondering about all those variables. The BoM includes so many of those variables, little incidental facts that have no relevance, that I would have to think it were a true record even if I hadn’t been given spiritual confirmation. There are just too many things that would be pointless to add, to take time to think up and to write down, if you were trying to come just convey good principles. The author was either telling the truth or had a serious attention deficit disorder.

  304. Bob
    May 12, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    @ Jax: “But once they make the commitment I have almost no remorse when they turn their back on it.
    Jax, most become members at age 8. I think your statement to too hard.

    I beleive the BoM is fiction. Should I walk away from everything else? All others things I believe in__my family_friends_hope_Christ?

  305. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Correction….I said non-fiction when I meant fiction above. My mistake.

    To answer your question Howard, I am open to fiction in the BoM. But it is identified that way. Examples: Allegory of the olive tree, Alma 32 “faith is a seed”, Lehi’s Tree of Life…. all fictional representations of truth to convey correct messages. The BoM stories of Lehi through Moroni??? …not fiction.

  306. Jax
    May 12, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Baptisms at age 8 are almost ALL children of members who should have taught them the truth. They should know better than the adults! Now the children of parents who are inactive but have them baptized without having taught them the truth??? Then IMO the ‘sins’ of breaking the covenant are at the feet of the priesthood holder (bishop) who allowed someone to get baptized without a testimony. I mentioned earlier about my low opinion of leaders who advance young men through the priesthood just because they have aged…I have an even lower opinion of bishops or missionaries who baptize kids with no testimony. For that group I suppose I do have some sympathy.

    I work with many of them as a WML. They ask good questions and I do my best to answer them. But if I tell them the truth and get rejected…their fault. Maybe they don’t know JS was a prophet or that the BoM is true (quite common), so I take the time to show them how they CAN know and gain a testimony. It isn’t exactly a well guarded secret – EVERYONE can get one. But most often they reject that opportunity as well and I am left with little sympathy again.

    Bob, if you think the keystone to our religion is false, then you shouldn’t be a part of it. Don’t walk away from your family and friends though. You can be a fantastic husband, father, friend, neighbor without being Mormon (contrary to popular LDS belief). If you believe in the tenets of the church, be a member. If you don’t, then leave and continue being a fantastic human being. Don’t stick around and pretend to be faithful when in fact you are not – that is deceitful. If you have questions, ask them and work through them. If they can’t be answered satisfactorily, leave. I hope that doesn’t come across as harsh. I don’t mean it in a “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” kind of way. I just don’t know why anyone would want to be part of an organization, any organization (golf club, Boy Scouts, political party, esp. a church) if they don’t believe in its goals, mission, or history.

  307. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Jax please read the page you refer to several reasons were given first then your quote begins with “And also to the convincing…” certainly not strong evidence of the main reason for the book.

    Can a record adequately convince of truth if it purports to be “true” but in fact isn’t? Well, what exactly does “true” mean?

    Non-fiction stories are good for conveying principles and such only if they are understood to be non-fiction. How do you know?

    Where is the DNA evidence in support of the Lehi through Moroni stories?

  308. May 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Howard, the DNA criticisms of the Book of Mormon are probably one of the biggest embarrassments for the anti-Mormon community in the past decade.

    For the argument to even hold any appeal you have to have complete ignorance of either how DNA works, what the Book of Mormon is saying, or both.

  309. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Jax I think you are taking baptism to literally the ordinance can come before the commitment and often does certainly that happens regularly with baptism for the dead.

  310. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Please enlighten me Seth R.

  311. Vin
    May 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Jax, you really seem to have no idea how traumatic leaving the Church can be to someone living along the Wasatch Front or in a multi-generational Mormon family. For instance, (not that I’m planning on it, but) were I to leave the church, it would devastate my parents, my in-laws, my wife, and my employer, not to mention immediately cast me as an outsider to all my neighbors. Even if I believed being an active Mormon was a negative factor in my life, leaving is still almost off the table because of the terribly negative ramifications.

    It certainly gives me reason to fight it through and try to make Mormonism work for me.

  312. Brian
    May 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Great reading, this. I love JD, imperfections and all.

  313. Charlie
    May 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    John Dehlin,

    what’s happened then with this interview process? has he summons you to a disciplinary council or not? Was it all a storm in a tea cup? Or did he ask you to self censor over this interview -which surely you wouldn’t do!

    I’m dieing to hear your side of the story. You don’t need to wait until after the disciplinary council you know.

  314. Bob
    May 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Gee Jax__thanks for the ice float!

  315. May 12, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Howard, even if everything happened exactly the way the Book of Mormon says it did, we would not expect to find any Israelite DNA among modern Native Americans.

    Take a common method of tracing ancestral DNA – markers in the mitochondrial DNA.

    These are only passed through the female line. So the real DNA we’re concerned with is Saria’s in this case (Lehi’s wife) or Ishmael’s wife. Neither of whose DNA we have any information about. They could have been Phoenecians for all we know.

    Anyway, since the DNA markers in this instance pass only from female to female, all that has to happen is for the female descendant to have no female children. If there are no female children, then there is no DNA marker passed on, and the evidence of ancestry is lost. The same problem happens with genetic markers on the male side.

    Now, if Lehi and company were the SOLE ancestors of the modern Native Americans, then we would still expect to see genetic traces. But the Book of Mormon does not claim this – nor has Mormon scholarship claimed this for over half a century. Most Mormon scholars these days believe that when Lehi landed in the New World, he and his group found it already populated with indigenous people. Over centuries they mingled with these peoples and their unique genetic signature was lost.

    Even the Book of Mormon itself gives indications of Lehi’s group mixing with a larger non-Israelite population (were else do you get enough people by the end of the Book of Jacob to be having “wars” with each other?).

    Problems of genetic tracing are further compounded by the genocidal wars described in the book of Mormon and Moroni. Not to mention the massive genetic bottleneck that occurred when the Spaniards discovered the New World and brought with them catastrophic European diseases. Historians estimate that about 80% of the indigenous population of the Americas perished upon contact with terrible diseases like smallpox and the plague. Entire genetic lines were wiped from the map without a trace.

    The only way the DNA criticisms stand any chance is if you believe the Book of Mormon describes a continent-wide geography populated soley by Lehi’s group (and the Mulekites theoretically). If you do not believe in this continent-wide, sole-ancestry theory (which most Mormon scholars today do not), then the criticism just becomes irrelevant and ridiculous.

    Even Sorenson himself (the guy who started this criticism) has surprisingly admitted that a limited geography model for the Book of Mormon kills his entire argument.

    I agree with him. This criticism is dead on arrival. The only place it holds any credibility is among the ignorant, and in brainwashed echo chambers like RfM and

    Go ahead Howard, ask a random population geneticist whether he or she would expect to find genetic traces today among Native Americans of a group of about thirty people who mixed in with the population over 2600 years ago. See what they have to say about it.

  316. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Thanks a lot Seth R.

  317. May 12, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    No problem Howard.

    And sorry if I sounded irritable in my comment. It’s been a long day.

  318. Bob
    May 12, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    @ Seth,
    Sorry Seth, DNA lives on with Church thinkers, not just “among the ignorant “.

  319. Ben S
    May 12, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    “Even Sorenson himself (the guy who started this criticism) has surprisingly admitted that a limited geography model for the Book of Mormon kills his entire argument.”

    Not Sorenson (BYU anthropologist/archaeologist). You’re thinking of Southerton (Exmo Australian plant genetecist).

  320. anon
    May 12, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Howard, Seth R. is leaving out the fact that you can also trace DNA from the Y chromosome. And we do know exactly where Lehi is supposed to be from. Y DNA can trace a man’s ancestry more accurately than mitochondrial DNA. Explaining how it all works is beyond a comment on a blog. A good introduction to how this works is Trace Your Roots with DNA: Use Your DNA to Complete Your Family Tree by Megan Smolenyak. She is not LDS, and the book has no LDS connections, so you’ll get a good layman’s introduction to how DNA is used in the study of ancestry.

    You know I’m just so puzzled by this whole thread– how can you claim to be a Mormon in good standing but spend so much time savaging another person’s character?

  321. Howard
    May 12, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Thanks anon

  322. Cameron
    May 12, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Hmmm, I wonder what Megan Smolenyak’s Genetics background is…

  323. Mark Brown
    May 12, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Excerpt from the book recommended by anon in comment 319:

    “But for now, you have all you will need to know if you grasp one fact: Y chromosome tests cannot prove that you share a particular common ancestor with another person, only that you share a common ancestor at some point.”

  324. May 12, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Right Mark, which basically kills the entire point that anon was trying to make.

    Pointing out that Native Americans have a common ancestor in Asia says absolutely zilch about whether there were other genetic sources in the mix.

    Right you are Ben.

  325. May 12, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Oh, and I didn’t mention Y-chromosome issues because they suffer from the exact same problems as the mtDNA does.

  326. Howard
    May 13, 2011 at 2:32 am

    This is the kind of thing that stimulates disharmony in the church and causes people to question their beliefs. Past editions of the BoM introduction page say all of the people chronicled ” were destroyed, except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” it was changed in 2006 to read much the same except “…Lamanites…are among the ancestors of the American Indians.” Some observers have speculated the change was forced by the debate over DNA. Can anyone shed more light on this?

  327. James
    May 13, 2011 at 2:53 am

    Seth R,

    Thank you for that excellent explanation of the DNA controversy. Very helpful!

  328. May 13, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Keep in mind Howard that the wording change you are talking about was only to an additional introduction page. It’s not a part of text translated by Joseph Smith – including the title page claimed to be written by Moroni himself. It’s a part of an introduction published at a later date by the LDS Church itself. It’s not a part of the original text any more than the italicized chapter headings written by Bruce R. McConkie are.

    As such, it can be reworded for clarity without causing any particular problems in my mind.

  329. Bob
    May 13, 2011 at 8:45 am

    @ Seth,
    IMO__ the ” clarity ” or change was made because the Church was trying to deal with the DNA evidence that it found convincing.

  330. Howard
    May 13, 2011 at 9:01 am

    OK Seth R. I understand your point but you wrote “Now, if Lehi and company were the SOLE ancestors of the modern Native Americans, then we would still expect to see genetic traces. But the Book of Mormon does not claim this” well it didn’t claim SOLE but it did claim principal from 1981 until it was changed in 2006 apparently as a response to the DNA debate. Principal takes us a lot closer to expecting genetic traces than the current post 2006 wording.

  331. Howard
    May 13, 2011 at 9:07 am

    So who shall we believe? Joseph? The 1981 church? Or the current church?

  332. May 13, 2011 at 9:07 am

    That’s why I pointed out that the Introduction you are referencing was never inspired scripture in the first place – nor did the LDS Church ever claim it was.

    It’s certainly true that Mormons have believed in a larger geographic scope. Some of them were even general authorities of the Church. But that doesn’t make that opinion binding scripture. Nor should it be particularly upsetting when such non-essentials are changed for clarity or in light of additional information.

  333. May 13, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I suggest you pray about it Howard and study out the matter for yourself.

    Personally, I’m inclined to go with the actual text of the Book of Mormon – which has repeatedly been publicly declared to be from God. Rather than the Introductory page, which has never been publicly declared to be from God.

  334. Bob
    May 13, 2011 at 9:25 am

    @ Seth:
    What you are saying is no one__ from JS until ‘DNA’ or the ‘word change__ could read and understand the BoM like you do(?)

  335. Howard
    May 13, 2011 at 9:26 am

    The 1981 edition was prepared under the supervision of the Scriptures Publication Committee, under direction of the First Presidency and edited by a committee headed by members of the Quorum of the Twelve.

  336. Jax
    May 13, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Wow…milk a cow, go to a baseball game and catch some shut eye and you really miss a lot in here…

    I love the conversation DNA….Seth R explains it better than I would be able to. My reading on it has left me sketchy. Thanks.

    @Howard who said:
    ” the ordinance can come before the commitment and often does…” Yeah, but it shouldn’t. How can you commit someone to keeping codes of conduct, holding to doctrine, and supporting an organization if they the personal commitment to do so hasn’t come yet? Doesn’t that seem wrong to you?

    “Non-fiction stories are good for conveying principles and such only if they are understood to be non-fiction. How do you know?” – Just they way I relate to them, nothing more.


    I understand that the trauma may be severe for your family if you left (not that you want to). But the personal trauma for many of being in the church seems to be even greater. So if you (or anyone) doesn’t think it is true, then why go through the seemingly more severe personal trauma?

  337. Howard
    May 13, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Jax wrote How can you commit someone…Doesn’t that seem wrong to you? No it doesn’t I don’t think you should commit someone they should commit themselves.

  338. Vin
    May 13, 2011 at 9:51 am

    @Jax – it seems you’ve got the dilemma. It’s not at all clear that these people should have to leave the church, IMO. I think they should be given more space, particularly if they’re not necessarily “spreading disease germs” (to quote BKP). Yet many of them feel like they’re being pushed out.

  339. Seth R.
    May 13, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Bob, I see that you’re trying to make this about me personally.

    Convenient how you ignore that this isn’t just my own private reading and opinion of the Book of Mormon, but rather represents almost a century of good scholarship done by other people in genetics, textual analysis, archeology, history and so forth.

    So this is hardly “Seth spouting off his own opinion.” I wonder why you are so eager to make it appear that it is?

    Feeling threatened, are we?

  340. May 13, 2011 at 10:07 am

    What a disturbing, unChristlike series of comments.

    John Dehlin is a personal friend of mine, his ministry has blessed my life. I am quite upset about some of the truly inaccurate unkind things said here.

    I am not an orthodox believer, but I LOVE being Mormon and I love the Church. I am still a member today because of John’s work.

    I will not leave simply because a bunch of judgmental hacks on the internet think that a certain level of orthodox is required to be a member. I did not choose Mormonism. I was born into it. Yet, if I were to decide to leave, the exit costs are extraordinary. Those costs are the highest possible- damage to the most intimate relationships with those I love. The Church literally has my most intimate parts of life held as collateral. And yet you expect me to just up and leave because I don’t have a literal belief in the truth claims of the LDS Church.

    I have no desire to undermine the literal faith of others. That’s cruel, like telling a 4 year old there is no Santa Claus. But I am not going to be expelled from my spiritual home either.

    Those of you who have accused John of apostasy or agitating for doctrinal change need to back off. Both accusations are inflammatory and not based in fact. John’s work speaks for itself. It is to help those who have a struggle with their faith.

    You are confident in your literal belief today, but trust me, some day that may change. You may have a dramatic crisis of faith. You may not be a literal believer tomorrow. You simply cannot know today what will happen to your beliefs and understanding tomorrow. If and when that day comes, I can only hope that the orthodox believers you encounter are far more charitable to you than you have been to my friend John Dehlin. And in that day, you will need a friend like John because it is a lonely, harrowing experience. And John, being the Christ-like man that he is, would probably provide you with that friendship even though you have been a complete and utter douchebag to him today.

  341. Dane Laverty
    May 13, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Let’s wrap this up. This has been a great conversation, one that we needed to have, and one that we’ll continue needing to have. The comments on the thread have been sincere from both sides, and, I believe, have largely been meant respectfully (even if not always received that way by the intended recipients…again, on both sides).

    I don’t like closing comments on posts, and I’ll leave comments open here. However, at this point in the thread I encourage you to post your concluding thoughts.

    Thanks — D

  342. Mark Brown
    May 13, 2011 at 10:27 am

    blanco nefita,

    If I said something that childish and ridiculous, I’d use a pseudonym and a phony track-back, too.

    Lots of people have learned for themselves over the past 6 months just how small, vindictive, and petty JD can be to people who once considered him a friend, and who defended him in both public and private venues. Ultimately, everything is all about John. If you haven’t figured it out yet, your turn is coming.

  343. May 13, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Concluding thought? The same one I have whenever I deal with ex-Mormon, most non-Mormon, and all anti-Mormon historians: How utterly condescending it is for such people to pat a Mormon on the head, smile indulgently, and tell me that when I grow up and get to be as smart as they are, I’ll lose faith, too. That to me epitomizes the mocking of those living in the great and spacious building, the ones who can’t wait to act as doorman to usher me inside.

  344. May 13, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I never said you’d lose faith or that you are not informed or intelligent, Ardis (but thanks for trying to reframe my position). I only suggest that it is a possibility. And if that day comes, I hope that you’ll have a friend like John Dehlin.

  345. Frank
    May 13, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Yeah, John – your habit of prompt de-friending when you get your feelings hurt is very puerile.

  346. Jax
    May 13, 2011 at 10:51 am

    To honor Dane’s wishes…my closing thoughts

    I don’t want to push anyone out…but still don’t see why you would want to be in if it is all a lie. I can see the difficulty with ‘leaving’ when family connections have deep roots. But if your family are Christlike at all, they SHOULD understand that you don’t believe anymore, allow you to exercise your agency to distance yourself, and still act like family members should. They at least shouldn’t give you a cold shoulder, but know that the best way to understand the blessings of the gospel and its truthfulness is to live without it for a time. Then the distinction between light and dark will be more clear.

    Leaving is at least an honest approach, rather than pretending to believe. Maybe it is just my attitude, but I will seek after Christ no matter what, and if I had to leave my family to get away from a lying, deceitful church (which is what many appear to think it is) that is not Christ-led, than I would leave them.

    Mark 10
    29And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

    30But he shall receive an ahundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

    If this church isn’t leading you to Christ, then go find him!

    I still think reporting of improper behavior to ecclesiastical authority is a good idea. How many lives have been ruined because no one came forward early on, when iniquity began to creep in and help would have been easy; but instead was allow to grow and flourish until serious transgression had erased all options but the most painful punishments? I don’t condone ‘tattling’, but reporting facts with love and caring – not backbiting and revenge. It is hard to gage and many will abuse it, but stigmatizing people for seeking help is NOT a good idea.

    I truly wish JD and other NOM the best in their search for happiness, but testify that the only way to true and everlasting happiness is through the ordinances of the priesthood that can only be found in this church. The BoM is true. Jo. Smith was and is a prophet. Jesus does lead this church. TSMonson is a prophet today. The doubts expressed are lies of the adversary. I hope you all a smooth journey that I hope will end in repentance, a change of heart, and reconcilliation.

    And thank you to Andrew for answering my computer questions and to Kaimi for ridiculing me with humor! It made me smile!

  347. May 13, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Blanco Nefita,

    I think you are mis-characterizing what is going on here, in regards to John Dehlin.

    John Dehlin is a unquestionably a talented, intelligent person. The question for many of us is how he uses those talents and intelligence. You talk about how he ‘ministers’ and that’s an apt word – because he is an activist and a leader – in general a leader of people who no longer accept the Church’s truth claims, people who are disaffected, people who dislike the LDS Church and where it stands. Some of us strongly disagree with directions in which his activism is headed.

    I actually served in the same mission that John Dehlin served in and it’s well known that he strongly disagreed with what the mission president was doing there (this mission president of which I speak was MP for the first three months of my mission) in regards to what are referred to as ‘baseball baptisms’. John Dehlin spoke up and got himself in some trouble, but he was sincere and real about it and took the lumps.

    When I speak up about some of the things that I think John Dehlin is doing wrong, I am attempting to do it in that very same spirit. I think, as a leader, John Dehlin is influencing people both inside and outside the church – and sometimes I feel he does so in a deceptive manner. One of my main concerns is that he’s becoming a go-to guy for people who want to be able to represent LDS church members a certain way – and I don’t think he should be that person.

    You say people are treating John in an un-Christlike manner. But Christ could be sharp and direct with people at times, when it was appropriate.

  348. Thomas Parkin
    May 13, 2011 at 11:01 am

    “Resolving Disharmony”

    Or, not. :)

  349. Ben S
    May 13, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Some things may just be unreconcilable.

    I’ll quote Andrew S. from another thread a while back (whose perspective is that of a former LDS member.)

    “I think the issue is that membership in the church ideally (at least in the minds of some) requires certain conditions…and these conditions may seem a sacrifice to some….If your options are either heretical membership or staying far away from the church as possible, the former doesn’t seem too promising.
    Having people be members just to be members isn’t the ideal, especially if those people don’t believe and especially if those people acknowledge that they aren’t trying to believe in the status quo and really just want things changed.”

  350. palerobber
    May 13, 2011 at 11:41 am

    @ Ardis 342

    except John Dehlin isn’t an “ex-Mormon” and thankfully that’s not a label you’ll ever be in a position to force on people.

    btw, i’ve never seen anyone on this board try to convert you. i suspect your real objection is that to the extent that unorthodox mormons are accepted in the church, it devalues you own special talent for orthodoxy.

  351. May 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Concluding thoughts:

    Everyone who disagrees with me is a wicked sinner. Hanging’s too good for them. Same with everyone who agrees with me. I like key lime pie.

  352. May 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    But it has to be Priesthood Key Lime Pie.

  353. Sonny
    May 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    My concluding thoughts.

    First about John. I don’t know him but have read passionate opinions about him on both sides. Comment 289, to me, raised a red flag about him and gave support in my mind to those that are highly suspect of John and his motives. In my line of work, I see comments like 289 from those that are beholden to manipulators. The shut out by John on FB of this individual is much like a control-type of ‘punishment’, followed by a small public reach-out by John in 285, then the submissive ‘repentance’ to John in 289. I was not going to comment at all about John because I admittedly don’t know much about him nor have I visited his websites. But, reading what I did on this thread, I was concerned enough to offer my admonishment for caution.

    Next, final thoughts to those whose faith seems to have been shaken by DNA studies. Seth has done, in my mind, and excellent job of explaining some of the faulty conclusions drawn by som–that because there are no middle-eastern DNA markers in the DNA of current Native Americans that somehow that means the BoM is not true, or that the church is somehow trying to hide the elephant in the room by changing some of the wording to the introduction page of the BoM (which was as Seth points out NOT translated text by Joseph Smith.) I read something on the bloggernacle a few months back that I really liked, and it went something like this:
    “Uncertainty: being less than 100 percent certain of something
    Faith: uncertainty pointed in the direction of belief (and all the actions and inactions that go with such a bearing)
    Doubt: uncertainty pointed in the direction of disbelief (and all the actions and inactions that go with such a bearing)
    Thus, while UNCERTAINTY is a part of faith, doubt is not. Although both pertain to uncertainty, faith and doubt cannot co-exist — they are polar opposites.”

    I suggest to those that are struggling with the DNA issue that no amount of explanation by Seth or anybody will suffice in your mind if you actions and mindset are pointed in the direction of disbelief. It does not mean you have to suspend thinking and reasoning, but it does mean you have to allow yourself to be in a position to seriously and sincerely consider faithful explanations presented to you. Alma 32 nails the formula. Good luck, and may you be blessed in your search for understanding and enlightenment.

  354. May 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Sonny, please don’t get the wrong impression of what happened. The friendship and love John and I feel is a familial bond: I am John’s nephew.

  355. Mike S
    May 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve never met John or actually ever exchanged so much as an email with him. I have obviously read some of the things he has written and visited sites he has been involved with. I never wrote for MM, but now post things from time to time on W&T, which are some of the same people. But I don’t really know John.

    All that being said:

    1) Like him or not, John has served a purpose. There is obviously a fairly large contingent out there (how large – who knows? Jeff Spector tried to get a handle on this in a post today on W&T) who have various issues with things in the Church. Their issues are as varied and numerous as there are individuals.

    Many of these people felt “alone” in the church, because these issues aren’t really things that people talk about on Sunday. In the past, people could either try to suppress these issues and stay fully engaged with the tension that involves, or else just throw the baby out with the bath water. None of the issues that John has discussed are new with him. But if he has helped to provide a way for people to discuss them, that is a good thing. And if even 10% of people who might have left have instead found a way to stay engaged because of John, great.

    2) John may have changed his views over the years. I’m fairly new to all this, so don’t really know. But so what. That is the point of discussion. I’d much rather have a discussion with people who will listen, discuss and process issues, all while being open enough to potentially change viewpoints, than someone who is set in their ways enough that they won’t even consider that they might be wrong. Politicians change viewpoints as things evolve (ie. Mitt Romney). Even prophets and apostles change viewpoints (ie. McConkie who famously said “I was wrong” with regards to blacks and the priesthood). So who cares if John’s views evolved.

    3) I’ve never seen John’s Facebook page. I don’t know if he “deletes posts”. But the ironic thing is that the sites that have “censored” my comments the most (or “moderated” them) seem to be the ones who are most likely to dog-pile on John for what he does.

    4) John asked for some monetary support. Also, so what? How many people does the church employ to write websites, design advertising, etc. It takes real time and real money to do that. And guess what, that department probably has a budget in the millions, and we pay them. And if we’re talking about donations, I doubt John would be building shopping malls, etc., but that is a threadjack of my own comment.

    So, I don’t know John. I’ve never talked to him or emailed him. I’m fairly impartial. But he has helped a lot of people.

  356. Charlie
    May 13, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    My concluding thoughts:

    John Dehlin has done -and is doing- more good than bad.

    He’s currently inactive so if anything we should be trying to help him back into full activity not disciplining him.

  357. It's Not Me
    May 13, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I actually “reported” somebody to the bishop a few years back. And believe it or not, it was out of concern for the family. The parents were having martial difficulties, and it appeared the family was making some decisions that would tend to hinder rather than help. Their 16-year old daughter was dating a 28-year old man (with mom and dad’s approval), and they were having teenagers with drug problems stay in their home. While dad was away at work, mom had another (male) ward member over to pull weeds together on a daily basis. I was genuinely concerned and thought the bishop, who I believed was entitled to some inspiration on how to help, ought to be aware.

    It was not well-received by the bishop, however. For reasons I won’t go into here, I was not surprised. Bishop was a good man, but when we had a big disaster in our family he offered no help, nor did he facilitate any help (I know because I was a member of the ward council at the time and so was present at the meetings).

    Anyway, my point is that I was sincerely concerned about the direction this family was heading, but felt that there was nothing to be gained by discussing it directly with them. If I were the bishop I would want to know so, at a minimum, I could include them in my prayers. I don’t think the “power of discernment” means a bishop knows everything.

  358. It's Not Me
    May 13, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    That would be “marital” not “martial” difficulties.

  359. May 13, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    @ Charlie 355 – I hope you realize that you have offered a very subjective sense of “good.” Christ went about doing good. JD has gone about doubting, questioning that borderlines on insulting, and has helped to usher people away from the True Church of Jesus Christ. How often we let the faults of men in the church be some kind of rationalization or justification of sin in our lives. Sure the brethren have made mistakes. They admit to it, but that does not give rationalization for one person like JD to create a spiritual vacuum to their own benefit.

    I say, Laban was beheaded under the guise of it being better that one perish than 1000’s dwindle in unbelief. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much good we do if there is a thousand times more that are injured as a result. John is showing a pattern and path where he is leading himself away from the faith. No one is forcing him to disagree with the Church – he wants to. People keep acting like the church is at odds with John, but the reality is John is at odds with the Church. Any battle that is given by him and his followers is only designed to make the church look like the enemy when the eventual end is that he will be out of the faith by choice.

    Perhaps the most insulting thing that I have found about those who defend JD is that they assume that JD has the only way, the truth, and the life. He has become their salvation and they pay him for that privilege. The devil mixes his lies with the truth. JD has taught somethings that have merit, but he has also destroyed the faith of many. There is no honor in such acts.

  360. Howard
    May 13, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    358 So JD is the devil?

  361. May 13, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    No, there is only one devil. But there are many that do his work.

  362. Howard
    May 13, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    So JD does the devil’s work?

  363. May 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Rather than be caught in a deceptive trap I will defer to 3 Nephi 14:13-23:

    13Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat;

    14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

    15Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

    16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

    17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

    18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

    19Every tree that abringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

    20Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.

    21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

    22Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?

    23And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

    Does JD endorse sin? Does he call for fault finding in the church and its practices? Is permissiveness and acceptance of sin a greater ideal than obedience and faith? If so, then he does so in opposition to who’s Church he mocks.

  364. Charlie
    May 14, 2011 at 5:03 am

    @ James Humark #358,

    My sense of good may be subjective but you are really going to extremes there in your criticism of JD. I mean JD as “the only way, the truth, and the life”? c’mon.

    Helping people who are disaffected with the church for one reason or another to stay in contact with family members and learn how to negotiate with those TBM family members can’t be something that is bad. Interviewing president Kimball’s son about those days around ’78 or the former mission president and still very active Dr Bradshaw also can’t be that bad (that podcast had everyone measuring their middle fingers!)

    Sure his views on homosexuality aren’t something I agree with nor does the church but overall, on the balance of good/bad, his activities would be more on the good side than the bad side.

  365. May 14, 2011 at 8:16 am


  366. Charlie
    May 14, 2011 at 8:20 am

    danithew 364,

    you mean chupapija?

  367. May 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

    The fact that people are referring to each other as TBN and NOM, uncorrelated, JD being one of the originators of such titles and classifications, is just another sign of the divisions that are being perpetuated by his hand. This is not unifying, this is dividing. It is finding reason for hate and separation. Where as others are seeking to destroy the church from the outside, he seeks to destroy it from the inside like a cancer.

    @ Charlie 363 – If John is trying to keep people in the church as many so claim is the source of his “good” then he is the worst advertisement for his own product. He is inactive at best, cunningly apostate at worst. In either case, if he won’t keep himself in the church, why should I believe that he intends the same for others? Preaching one thing then practicing another is hypocritical.

    I understand that there have been a few that have decided to “stay” but under what pretense are they staying? Is it conversion? Is it a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel? You say “good”, but all I see is JD helping people acclimate to their state of sin and distanced from the truth. You say it sounds harsh, but I am not making things up. These are John’s choices, not my harsh judgements. Homosexuality is just one aspect. Inviting people to financially support his priestcraft, writing articles about how to live with marriage after losing a testimony, going from Mormonism to Atheism is not only anti-mormon, it is anti-god. It is one thing to have such positions in a personal sense, but to advertise, to encourage, to usher people away from the Tree of Life on purpose… the only good I see is to make the evil less noticeable.

    (For the record, this is my last response on the issue.)

  368. May 14, 2011 at 10:44 am

    No, Charlie – from what I’m seeing that’s a crude term.

    By throwing the word chupacabra down there, I was trying to say this comment thread should be over and done.

  369. May 14, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    My final comment is that “defriend” is a far better term, aesthetically, than “unfriend,” and I’m glad the people here are smart enough to know that.

  370. May 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    We all lose when we force/squeeze people out of the community.

    “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” That’s the one Star Wars quote that deserves to enter the canon of proverbs in English. There’s always going to be a trade-off between getting people to stay and getting people to conform.

    Sorry to comment on something way back @51. I did skim the whole thread. @117 — that is one of the best movie quotes ever. Chino & Kaimi: amusing as ever. ;)

  371. May 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Of course, that assumes that maximizing membership numbers is the primary goal and purpose of the entire enterprise.

  372. Bob
    May 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    “The primary goal and purpose of the entire enterprise”__is to save all Soles__even NOMs.

  373. Charlie
    May 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    @ James 366,

    JD has only recently become less active. When he did that presentation on ‘how to keep loving your relatives after you leave the church’ he was active and was only trying to help those ex-mormons stay in contact with their extended families.

    “writing articles about how to live with marriage after losing a testimony” yeah so did the apostle Paul when he wrote to married couples about divorce.

    Here’s the thing, someone has to do this, someone has to try to reach out and help those now part member families stay together after one has lost his testimony. Divorcing in those situation only adds fuel to the fire and should be avoided at all costs, but the fact is that some people see ‘a loose testimony=divorce’ equation only unfortunately and then their kids pay.

    Still I think you are wrong to call the man apostate, anti-God, hypocrite etc. That’s just way too much my brother…

  374. Bob
    May 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Souls that is.

  375. May 14, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Bob, that assumes that attendance numbers are the best way to achieve that.

  376. Dan
    May 14, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    holy schneikies! You step away from the computer for a while and the place goes ballistic!

  377. Suleiman
    May 15, 2011 at 11:31 am

    James in #366:

    “The fact that people are referring to each other as TBN and NOM, uncorrelated, JD being one of the originators of such titles and classifications, is just another sign of the divisions that are being perpetuated by his hand.”

    Wow, is this hyperbole or what? JD is the cause of this problem?

    We now live in the most diverse society in the history of the world, with more philosophical and ideological positions than we can possibly identify here; with a rapidly expanding core of scientific knowledge and culture(s) that change at the speed of the internet.

    JD isn’t the cause of this phenomena by any stretch of the imagination. He is struggling with the social and psychological effects of our “modern” situation. MANY other LDS are as well. Whether these people are “apostates” is impossible for me to determine. But they are children of God. Their pain is real. And I am not so sure that we are dealing with their struggles and angst effectively.

    Heavens, I am still trying to cope with the idea of female church employees not wearing pantyhose!

  378. May 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    re 375,

    Dan, I prefer ovaristic.

  379. Wraith of Blake
    May 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Speaking wholly theoretically here: the most efficient way to “circle the John Dehlin square” (I apologies for that expression) would be for the church to look entirely upon the “acts” category of temple recommend questions and ignore the “beliefs” one. The reason there are so many noncorrelated–to hijack the term–Catholics and Jews among those religious groups: ’cause so-called “devout” or “practicing” adherents of these faiths can define their status by what devotional observances they perform, more so than within Mormonism. Mormon religiousity is a bit more Protestant-like in that we listen to–-and, indeed, are even greatly encouraged to partake in preachings as part of our […oops!: their] worship. Since that isn’t going to change any time soon, I don’t see a vibrant community of LDS comparable to the more liberal members of the Community of Christ faith developing any time soon.

  380. Dan
    May 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm



  381. jacquie
    May 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    New Order Mormon? I’d never heard that before. In my mind, NOM = National Organization for Marriage
    Perhaps not the best choice of acronyms there…

  382. May 16, 2011 at 1:56 am

    @380 So true!

Comments are closed.