Beliefs Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Mormon podcaster John Dehlin excommunicated from LDS Church, say early reports

John_DehlinThe Salt Lake Tribune has just broken the story that Mormon Stories founder John Dehlin, who was the subject of an LDS Church disciplinary hearing on Sunday, has been excommunicated.

The report is very preliminary, but at this early stage, the reasons given by the Church have been doctrinal, not political. As the Trib states,

The official charge against the founder of the “Mormon Stories” podcast was “conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church,” but the letter from Dehlin’s North Logan LDS stake president, Bryan King, called it “apostasy” and cited evidence for the unanimous decision:

  • Dehlin’s teachings disputing the nature of God and the divinity of Jesus Christ.

  • His statements that the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham are fraudulent and works of fiction.

  • His statements and teachings that reject The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as being “the true church with power and authority from God.”

It will be interesting to see what role, if any, Dehlin’s support of same-sex marriage and women’s ordination played in the council’s decision. The newspaper promises to update the story as it develops.

Also, in a few minutes on the program “Radio West,” Dehlin is expected to officially announce his excommunication and discuss the reasons for it with host Doug Fabrizio. The live interview will begin at 11 a.m. Mountain Time, 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

On a personal note, my heart goes out to John, Margi, and their children. I know that in the last weeks people on all sides have made accusations and counter-accusations, not always with the most charitable voices. I am not at all surprised by the Church’s decision, and I’m sure John isn’t either. But it’s a loss nevertheless.

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

52 Comments

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  • Going from correlated congregants to uncorrelated congregants – John has been and is an outlier. His courage and compassion is great. I am sad, but not surprized that he has been harshly judged. What makes me even more sad is how many are chiming in in an condemnation-chorus. This speaks volumes of a church-culture that is not always healthy. I’m sure John Dehlin is not perfect. He has been transparent, sometimes perhaps “to a fault” (if that were truly possible) in his faith journey – striving for authenticity. But I believe he will be vindicated some day. We need people like him in our church-home to not become intellectual and spiritual slackers. We also need ample space for faiths that waiver and transition. Thank you John, for who you are and continue to be. My heart goes out to you and to your family at this time.

  • It is not surprising to me that a man who does not believe in the doctrines of the Church, thinks Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham as works of fiction, does not even believe in God, and has publicly stated these things, would be excommunicated. What does surprise me is that he would even want to remain a part of a church he does not believe in. I’m sorry, but I have no sympathy for John Dehlin.

  • I am not surprised at all, but I am saddened. I do dislike that many, just as with Kate Kelly, take delight in him “getting what he deserved.”

    In watching the movie Selma, I was brought to tears that I probably would have been one that was glad that the blacks and their supporters were being beaten. I just can’t see that I would have been willing to risk even my membership in the church to help move the church towards the gospel of Jesus Christ. And then I have to wonder if we are just in chapter 2 of the same book with LGBT issues. I have to ask myself if my convictions for the church I believe and love are more important than being true to God and my fellow men. Am I willing to put my church membership on the line in the fight for what I think is right?

    John is flawed. I am deeply flawed. Joseph Smith and every president of the church has been flawed – even deeply flawed. But John was willing to stop pain and suffering even if it meant his church membership. I have to admire him for sticking to his guns, even if I don’t agree always with what he is shooting at. Time will show his motivations.

  • It is their ball and they have a right to who gets to play with it. But it hardly helps the reputation of the church. It makes them look a tad venal and overly self-protective.

    It certainly doesn’t help much for proselytizing efforts. “We have this wonderful new faith and its full of social support and love. But if you don’t follow the strict directions of the church leadership we will forcibly remove you from all of that.

  • I feel sorry for John for losing his testimony of Jesus Christ.
    I feel sorry for his wife.
    I feel sorry for his children, who will have a much more difficult time gaining or growing their testimony because of the choices of their father.
    I feel sorry for his stake president, who has also just gone through an painful, time consuming, and emotionally draining process along with being publicly vilified by Dehlin and some of his supporters.
    I feel sorry for any of those who have lost their testimonies or other gospel blessings due to Dehlin’s influence.
    I feel sorry for the local church, missionaries, and anyone else who have been negatively affected by the process.

  • “What does surprise me is that he would even want to remain a part of a church he does not believe in.” I don’t get why that matters.

    Like you, I don’t shed any tears for John. He seems quite comfortable.

    What makes me sad is that my Church needs to purge those who don’t believe and are unashamed to say so.

  • If it wasn’t LGBT or women’s dignity issues that got Dehlin in trouble, I am curious what issues it was?.:

    The reasons stated include:

    1) “Dehlin’s teachings disputing the nature of God and the divinity of Jesus Christ”
    What are Dehlin’s teachings about the ‘nature of God’ that are considered heretical by LDS church leaders?

    2) “Statements and teachings that reject The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as being the true Church with power and authority from God.”

    So, do I read this right, that publicly stating that the LDS Church is not the one and only ‘true Church’, that other churches might be true Christian churches too, is considered extremely heretical by the LDS Church?

  • I was a bit surprised by a doubling-down of the historicity of the BoM and BoA. Both are losing propositions in the long-run and even seems to go against the acceptability of reduced literalness advocated by Terryl and Fiona Givens in “The Crucible of Doubt”.

    BoM: The concept of the American Indians being the lost tribe of Israel was a common one during Joseph Smith’s day as a means of reconciling where the Indian people fit biblically. Science has long since discredited it across multiple disciplines, not the least of which is DNA… yet the LDS church holds on. There are undeniable textual and conceptual parallels between the BoM and 19th century works including: The View of the Hebrews, The First Book of Napoleon, The Late War, and the 1769 edition of the KJV Bible that Joseph Smith’s family owned (translation errors and all).

    BoA: The extant papyrus fragments, including the facsimiles have absolutely nothing to do with Abraham (ironically as recently admitted by the church in its essay on the BoA). The fragments, particularly those that correlate with Joseph Smith’s “Egyptian and Alphabet and Grammar” and the facsimiles offer a “smoking gun” 1:1 correspondence for which Joseph Smith was 100% incorrect. Apologists try to bend the rules to make a few things work, but it is a dishonest and unscientific stretch.

    Although I no longer find the BoM and BoA to be historical, nor do I believe in the LDS church’s truth claims, I recognize that the text of the BoM and BoA can inspire the lives of others. The church should focus on that point alone and let the historicity thing die. It’s a losing battle and they will ultimately have to back off of it. Why not now? They missed an opportunity that John Dehlin gave them to make the tent bigger… so I will remain an outlier and risk excommunication myself for simply stating historical and scientific fact. Eppur si muove!!

  • “I feel sorry for his stake president.”

    Me too. What horribly uncomfortable position. Whether John put him in that position or the Church did, it’s an unenviable job regardless.

  • It’s a bit more than that. The following is from Dehlin’s own blog:

    “I believe in many of the central, non-distinctive moral teachings within Mormonism (e.g., love, kindness, charity, forgiveness, faith, hope), but either have serious doubts about, or no longer believe many of the fundamental LDS church truth claims (e.g., anthropomorphic God, “one true church with exclusive authority,” that the current LDS church prophet receives privileged communications from God, that The Book of Mormon and The Book of Abraham are translations, polygamy, racist teachings in the Book of Mormon, that ordinances are required for salvation, proxy work for the dead).”

    So basically, he believes in the teachings that we share with with all other Christian sects but rejects all the teachings that make us a unique, separate and the true Church. Not to mention, demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of the teachings of the Book of Mormon when he labels it “racist.” And like some of the others, I don’t see why he would want to be a member of a church whose truth claims he doesn’t believe.

  • While I agree with you that the BoM teachings about darkness of skin being a curse are deemphasized today, they do exist in the text and were believed and expounded upon by subsequent LDS prophets. I’m not sure what you categorize as a “misunderstanding”. It really is in the text and was taught until the past few decades.

    I would hope that the church looks at the past, learns from it, apologizes and moves on. The whole concept of revisionist history does not work well in today’s day and age when such claims are easily debunked.

    http://mormonthink.com/book-of-mormon-problems.htm#darkskinned

  • This is from the official LDS church response:

    <>

    You say that this makes the church look “a tad venal and overly self-protective”. It’s just this sort of negative mis-understandings that the church wants to avoid and the person being ex’d wants people to think.

    However, you say “It certainly doesn’t help much for proselytizing efforts”. I don’t see how people just do not understand how a church would want someone on their membership rolls who does not believe what the church teaches.

    I am a “convert” to the LDS church, having been raised Methodist. Now, I could have gone to the leadership of the UMC, and insisted they believe as I do; I could have gone to the media and made a big stink about it, etc….

    Or, I could do what I did, and that was to leave the church I didn’t believe, and join the one I did.

  • >>I would hope that the church looks at the past, learns from it, apologizes and moves on<<

    Apologizes to whom? We have learned from the past and moved on. But I fail to see who we should be apologizing to.

  • Dehlin has publicly stated that he does not believe in a God, he became an ordained minister in another religion, he publicly demeans and criticizes church leaders and believing members, and on his podcasts he paints the church in the most negative way he can all the while playing “aw, shucks” innocent. He never entertains anyone who opposes his views. If anyone dare question Dehlin about anything he does not like he makes a derogatory comment to that person and blocks them from his Facebook, his blogs, etc. He is also a non profit making a living attacking a religion, so he is no different than the other seven hundred plus non profit anti Mormon entities whose primary focus is to attack all things LDS with yellow journalism, all the while making a good living doing so.

    Dehlin supposedly secretly recorded the church court proceedings, which goes to show how devious Dehlin really is. He has manipulated the media and his followers into believing that his court was only about his support of OW and LGTB issues. Not true. If he did record the court, he needs to be charged with wiretapping.

    Dehlin has been playing cat and mouse with his leaders for over eight years now. His leaders have worked hard in trying to avoid an excommunication. His excommunication was not sudden nor taken lightly. Dehlin did just enough of what his leaders asked to avoid excommunication, to make himself look like a martyr, and apparently it has worked. Look at all the sympathy Dehlin is getting. “My heart goes out to John” and “Poor John”, “He sacrificed his church membership for what is right”. Total BS. If Dehlin hates the LDS church so much and has issues and problems with it, why keep his membership and stay associated with the church? Especially as an Atheist. Yep, he is getting his fifteen minutes of fame.

    Dehlin, his supporters, and others who attack the LDS religion can sure dish it out but can’t take it. Typical behavior from bigots and hypocrites.

  • EG – I do agree with some of your points, but I can’t help but feel you are not following the details very close.

    He has been up-front with his leaders. He meet for a year every Sunday with his previous stake president (I give big kudo’s to that SP for his efforts to save the 1).

    He does at times ask the hard questions that many members think about. But to say he never entertains those that oppose him? I couldn’t disagree more. He admits at time he was not balanced, but if you think the Givens and Bushman’s are not a balance to some of the more negative, then we are in a different world. Those are what kept me from leaving Mormonism. I can say this – in my book he has done more to teach me about my Mormon church than the church itself. I have no doubt that I can not get the full truth by just listening to “church approved” material.

    To lump him in with all other anti-Mormon web sites just seems laughable.

    He is flawed – as we all are. I can listen to him and ignore some of his comments I don’t believe just as I must do so in general conference with the “these are not the droids you are looking for” statements like, “we will not, we can not lead you astray” (and then you go look at lds.org where past preachings of Q12 and 1st Pres are now being said were untrue and a member of the first presidency even has said that in the past mistakes were made.

    In one way his excommunication does not change anything. Those like yourself won’t touch most anything he even says with a 10 foot pole. I do feel that John’s character one way or the other will come out over the following years. Either he will diminish or be (somewhat) vindicated. Time will tell.

    I do like the one blog post that said, “the chasm that John has pointed out will not go away.” Truth coming out and no longer suppressed changes everything.

    The one thing that does bother me is I see the church moving about the same way as the US political system. The middle ground is being a demilitarized zone. So anyone that has a question is nearly attacked from both sides and is seen as a villain. That is no good for the church nor our country. I love them both.

  • Certainly, it isn’t hard to claim that some of the writers within the Book of Mormon are racist, but considering the amount of material Mormon included that painted Lamanites in a positive light he wasn’t one of them: Lamanites converting, Lamanites joining the Nephites in defending themselves from other Lamanites or the Gadiantons, Lamanites at times more righteous than the Nephites and sending missionaries to preach to them. Neither was Jacob, who compared pointed out that in some ways the Lamanites of his time were in some ways more righteous than the Nephites and whose unrighteousness was out of ignorance rather than deliberate choice. And of course, in the end when the Lamanites destroy the Nephites the bloodlines of both groups are undoubtedly thoroughly mixed to the point that you can’t tell them apart just by looking (something that may have been the case as early as the first General Moroni), and both groups are equally wicked if the edge doesn’t go to the Nephites.

    No, the Book of Mormon is clear — the Lamanites were people like any other, inherently no better or worse than the Nephites.

  • >>Science has long since discredited it across multiple disciplines, not the least of which is DNA<>There are undeniable textual and conceptual parallels between the BoM and 19th century works including<>The extant papyrus fragments, including the facsimiles have absolutely nothing to do with Abraham (ironically as recently admitted by the church in its essay on the BoA).<>Apologists try to bend the rules to make a few things work, but it is a dishonest and unscientific stretch.<>The church should focus on that point alone and let the historicity thing die.<>They missed an opportunity that John Dehlin gave them to make the tent bigger<<

    If the tent is to be made bigger, it's up to God, not John Dehlin.

  • Thanks Doug. Your answer kind of refines my first question:

    What specifically about the LDS view of God does the LDS Church see as both fundamental to being LDS, and incompatible with the view of God held by other Christian groups, which Mr. Dehlin may have come to share?

  • DougH, you have said two contradictory things:

    1. In mentioning John Dehlin’s reasons for excommunication, you said: ‘Not to mention, demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of the teachings of the Book of Mormon when he labels it “racist.”‘

    2. After I mention racist BoM text and subsequent comments made by LDS prophets, you then concede: ‘Certainly, it isn’t hard to claim that some of the writers within the Book of Mormon are racist…’

    John Dehlin did not misunderstand the BoM. There are racist teachings in there, regardless of how you’re able to personally reconcile it with the absence of racist teachings by other BoM characters. God did not curse the Lamanites (or blacks for that matter) with dark skin and then remove the curse and make them white again. That was a theory that ran rampant in the 19th century and even the church today disavows it – see the essay on the ban of the priesthood to blacks.

  • I hope that you’re kidding. What decade are we in?

    How about an apology to the general membership for being wrong and misleading the church members to harbor racist beliefs? Do you feel that Spencer W. Kimball’s comments should pass without an apology? Do you agree with Spencer W. Kimball when he said (Improvement Era, December 1960. pages 922-23):

    “I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today as against that of only fifteen years ago. Truly the scales of darkness are falling from their eyes, and they are fast becoming a white and delightsome people….

    The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos;…The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation.

    At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl…was several shades lighter than her parents…There was the doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had an Indian boy in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.

    The day of the Lamanites has come….today the dark clouds are dissipating.”

    Usually a formal acknowledgement and an apology puts this thing in the past so that we can move on. I agree that the church is slowly moving on, but they have not apologized, which leads me to believe that they do not acknowledge that these teachings were problematic.

  • Just like how God changed His mind in 1890~1910 [polygamy] and 1978 [removal of priesthood ban to the blacks]… just coincidentally happened during times of intense social and political pressure on those doctrines and practices. Right.

  • How is there a misunderstanding here?

    Dehlin published works which the church disapproved of, so they forcibly removed him from their rolls. There is no misunderstanding here. It IS a heavy handed action and it is against someone dissenting from current church doctrine. He was involuntarily removed from the church for speaking his mind.

    It makes the church look petty to outsiders. (See Brian Pellot’s article on the incident) Making excuses for it doesn’t help. It gives an impression of insularity and a knee-jerk defensive posture.

    ” I don’t see how people just do not understand how a church would want someone on their membership rolls who does not believe what the church teaches.”

    Tell that to every mainstream Christian sect out there. Nobody else excommunicate with the same frequency these days as the LDS. Excommunication is a “nuclear option” reaction to criticism. It is forcibly removing one from a church. There is no turning back from such an act for a church. Rather than laugh off criticism, attempt to bring the dissenter “back into the flock”, they decided to say that this person has no place among us (as anyone else with similar notions). It is a public form of punishment meant to send a message to the rest of the congregation.

    “I am a “convert” to the LDS church, having been raised Methodist. Now, I could have gone to the leadership of the UMC, and insisted they believe as I do; I could have gone to the media and made a big stink about it, etc”

    The difference being the UMC probably wouldn’t go through the efforts to kick you out for your dissent. They do not appear to be in the business of enforcing the public opinion of their flock by force.

  • Sorry, ignore the other post. Can’t delete it for some reason.

    >>How about an apology to the general membership for being wrong and misleading the church members to harbor racist beliefs?

    A. the “general membership” never asked for an apology.

    B. No one harbors racist beliefs, who doesn’t want to harbor racist beliefs.

    C. The LDS church never taught anyone to be racist.

    >>Do you feel that Spencer W. Kimball’s comments should pass without an apology?

    Bruce R. McConkie did give an “apology”.

    >>Usually a formal acknowledgement and an apology puts this thing in the past so that we can move on.

    If *you* need an apology to “move on”, then go ask Pres. Kimball and Pres. Young, and anyone else who owes you one to give you one.

    >>I agree that the church is slowly moving on, but they have not apologized, which leads me to believe that they do not acknowledge that these teachings were problematic.

    Elder McConkie gave as good an apology as anyone needs.

    http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/history/blacks/mcconkie_revelation.html

    >>

  • Dehlin specifically references our belief that God has a physical body, but I suspect that’s shorthand for our belief that we are of God’s lineage. My own way of looking at it is that we are to God as a caterpillar is to a butterfly.

  • ==Nobody else excommunicate with the same frequency these days as the LDS.

    Because they don’t take membership in their church as seriously as we do.

    Baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost are more than just joining the church. You are making sacred covenants with God and Jesus Christ, and if you do not live up to them, you can be excommunicated. Then when you are excused from those covenants, you are free to repent, if that’s what you want, or you are kept from damning yourself any more than you already have.

    =He was involuntarily removed from the church for speaking his mind.

    No argument. But it was not in keeping with the teachings and beliefs of our church, or, IOW, it was apostasy.

    This is from the letter sent him from his Stake President.

    “I…want you to know that I acknowledge your right to criticize the Church and its doctrines and to try to persuade others to your cause…But you do not have the right to remain a member of the Church in good standing while openly and publicly trying to convince others that Church teachings are in error.”

    http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/e/8/a/e8a44044aed3fed4/John_Dehlin_Excommunicated_Press_Release_2-10-2015_Final.pdf?c_id=8340788&expiration=1423696009&hwt=34014d0ec198f02eede603661201d15a

  • Yes, some Church leaders in times past have made racist statements, but the Book of Mormon never does. Racism is the belief in inherent negative qualities or even overall inferiority because of race. While writers in the BoM does sometimes use skin color as a distinguishing characteristic between Nephites and Lamanites, it never says that Lamanites are inherently inferior — just the opposite, it makes it clear that their problems are because of inherited TRADITIONS that can and often are given up — sometimes wholesale. And that the Lamanites are less to blame for their actions than the Nephites, because of those inherited traditions. The Nephites lack that excuse for their actions.

  • “just coincidentally happened during times of intense social and political pressure on those doctrines and practices. Right.”

    1890 was a little more than intense social and political pressure. The US government was taking away our right to worship as we want, our 2nd amendment rights.

    1978, there was no social or government pressure.

  • “Racism is the belief in inherent negative qualities or even overall inferiority because of race. While writers in the BoM does sometimes use skin color as a distinguishing characteristic between Nephites and Lamanites, it never says that Lamanites are inherently inferior.”

    Maybe you don’t consider being “cursed” to be inferior, in which case, there is no longer any reason for me to debate this with you as I take this as obvious. I am certain that 99.99% of English-speaking people would have the same interpretation of “curse”.

    2 Nephi 5:21 “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

    Alma 3:6 “And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.”

    3 Nephi 2:12,14-15 “Therefore, all the Lamanites who had become converted unto the Lord did unite with their brethren, the Nephites. And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites; And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;”

    Maybe you can run this by your non-member friends asserting that this is not a racist concept and see what they make of it. Good luck to you…

  • Lindasdf,

    You MUST be either someone young (were not an adult in 1978) OR you must have been living in the happy valley. THERE WAS PRESSURE!

  • True believers believe feelings trump facts. Those on the other side believe facts trump feelings. That’s why these discussions go nowhere. Both sides begin from different premises. After awhile, the conversation becomes white noise. (idiom, not racist remark)

  • If you mean innately inferior in appearance, that was kinda the point — to make them less attractive to those that stayed with Nephi. But innately inferior as people? No, not a bit. Nor did the writers of the Book of Mormon think so, or you wouldn’t get statements like this:

    5 “Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.
    6 “And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.
    7 “Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children; and their unbelief and their hatred towards you is because of the iniquity of their fathers; wherefore, how much better are you than they, in the sight of your great Creator?
    8 “O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.”

    As for the “white skin good, black skin bad” dichotomy, that seems to have something they brought with them from the Middle East, which is why you get scriptures like this from Job:

    26 “When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.
    27 “My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me.
    28 “I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation.
    29 “I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.
    30 “My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.”

    Or this from Jeremiah in Lamentations:

    7 “Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire:
    8 “Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick.”

    And your Alma 3 quote is a bit ironic, since only 14 chapters later we begin the story of one of the most successful missionaries ever, with mass conversions among the Lamanites. And it could be that by that time it was all a matter of perception, anyway, since the story in Alma 55 indicates that Nephites could pass for Lamanites as long as they kept their mouths shut. So your quote from 3rd Nephi could simply be the changing views of the Nephites for the Lamanites once they come into close contact with them.

    And that 3rd Nephi quote is also a bit ironic, since only three chapters later the people have again fallen into wickedness and the church is is completely “broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord.”

    Beauty is a matter of taste, strength of character and moral uprightness is not.

  • “Because they don’t take membership in their church as seriously as we do. ”

    You mean guard their church from outside ideas with the same level of intensity. Any church which actively proselytizes doesn’t take membership as seriously as those who don’t because they desire numbers in their ranks. They are looking to bolster their size through persuasive means. This means one makes adjustments to appeal to audiences wider than those born of the faith.

    So no contemplation on how such an act affects the congregation’s willingness to speak their mind?

    No thoughts on how such acts affect discussion of one’s faith in public?

    Is blind devotion to the Church leadership a REQUIREMENT to being a Mormon?

    The avoidance of such questions doesn’t speak well for the church in general. They are well within their rights to act as they did. But it certainly does make the church look heavy handed. If your belief needs to be supported by acts of force, it doesn’t speak well for it.

  • I continue to pray for John and his family. I believe he is a good man but misled by pride and let’s face it, needing to keep a base audience for income received since 2007 on his websites. He doesn’t want to become another Richard Packman, [email protected] P etc etc or any other non-important figures in the catalog of past disgruntled beer swelling :p , foul-mouthed , athiest anti-mormons over on Exmo boards ( thankfully John is far too intelligent ) I have no doubt he truly believes he is in the right. However as a TBM , scientist and former newscaster, I certainly don’t consider myself ” brainwashed ” or I’ll-informed. I don’t agree with him that we are all smoldering with questions about the historicity of BOM etc. I have a firm testimony based on very personal, spiritual confirmations and a lifetime of success in every area of my life as I apply doctrines, teachings “formulas” if you will, of LDS Church. I have yet to see ONE example of a truly happy peaceful successful former/anti-mormon. John himself said that his conferences were turning into what he didn’t want: groups of people using the time as an excuse to behave badly thereby perpetuating the stereotypical anti. John used the gay/feminist platform because he knew it’s an awesome sound bite. It generates support. However fact remains as Fabrizio said: “yes or no John?” The Church cited fundamental doctrinal disbeliefs as the reasons they excommunicated him. I pray someday when 15 min of fame are up he’ll return. Some of Sept 6th have and are doing awesome.

  • Kittywaymo – I am 100% fine with what you saying and having a difference of opinion. We are both allowed to see things the way they seem to us.

    But your comment of “I have yet to see ONE example of a truly happy peaceful successful former/anti-Mormon.” REALLY? You must either have not looked much or you have a definition that there is no other way to be happy unless you are LDS. I will give you that many (even most?) people that leave the church get stuck in the anger phase and spew hate. But that does not discount that there ARE people that have left and are truly happy. I think we don’t hear as much from these as they don’t have an axe to grind. They don’t fall into that “leave the church but can’t leave it alone.” They are happy and if Mormon’s are happy being Mormon, it is 100% fine with them. They spend their time on other things.

  • I give you that.:) true, I normally dislike blanket statements like the one I made:) however, having had discussions in the past with fairly level-headed, potentially successful Exmo’s like Tal Bachman and Steve Benson , even they seemingly have succumbed to anger, fighting amusingly between themselves. I had the privilege of meeting John in 2007 at the very beginning of Mormon Stories. I found him to be likable, kind, intelligent yet very confused about LDS doctrine. I truly wish him to find solace. I warn him though , having been in journalism 16 years previously, media outlets and staff are fickle.

  • I am thinking more run of the mill folks. But thanks for the reply.

    I actually think there is more in John’s hands to determine what goes on from here. If he becomes one of those that “can’t leave the church alone” many will say, “yep – just another in a long line.” But if he lives true to the talk about just trying to help those that fall out of Mormonism have a more gentle fall, I think he will be written differently in the history blogs. I do think eventually he is going to run out of more unique things to talk about. Maybe he will lose interest as much in Mormon Stories and turn that over and then he can go makes some real money as a therapist with a unique specialization.

  • ==You MUST be either someone young (were not an adult in 1978) OR you must have been living in the happy valley. THERE WAS PRESSURE!

    Technically, I was an adult in 1978, but I was not a member of the church then. But I still don’t know what pressure anyone could have put on our church to make them change that policy.

  • Larry, you still don’t seem to get it.

    Our church, like some other churches, have a core set of beliefs. And if you join our church, or belong, it’s usually assumed that it’s because you share those beliefs.

    However, John Dehlin didn’t share those beliefs.

    >>Is blind devotion to the Church leadership a REQUIREMENT to being a Mormon?

    No, but it is assumed that you at least share all the core beliefs.

    Can you “be a Mormon” and not believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God just like the Bible?

    No, you can’t. And why would you want to?

    Can you “be a Mormon” and not believe that the Book of Abraham, as well as the rest of the Pearl of Great Price, is the word of God just like the Bible?

    No, and again, why would you want to?

    Can you “be a Mormon” and not believe in God our Heavenly Father, and in His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ?

    No, of course not, and once more, why would you want to?

    John Dehlin allegedly did not believe any of this, and made no secret of it. And tried to persuade others to his way of thinking.

    And usually, when someone gets to that point, they want to leave the church. Others, and I’m thinking this is where Mr. Dehlin falls, are so caught up on the “culture” of the church, that they are afraid of leaving, even though they don’t believe.

    Now, however, he is free from those covenants he made with God at his baptism, so that he can much better contemplate his beliefs as they concern his membership in the church, and decide if membership is really what he wants. There is no shunning, he is free, and most welcome, to attend all church services, read and study the scriptures, pray privately (he cannot offer public prayer at a church function), etc.

    >>But it certainly does make the church look heavy handed. If your belief needs to be supported by acts of force, it doesn’t speak well for it.

    I don’t see excommunication as an act of force. And as far as I can see, I don’t understand why he gets so upset about it. The only reasons I can see that he would be so devestated is either he is so caught up in the “culture” that he can’t contemplate having his membership ended; or he wants people like you to think that the big bad church is being needlessly cruel to poor little him.

  • So apparently there is a sign that says, “Your testimony must be this big”. I wonder if that will get edited out of President Uchtdorf’s talk.

    I can agree that he could be classified as a member not in good standing per his beliefs. Within the church we even have the markings of this with the temple recommend.

  • My goodness, such mean spiritedness! I’m happy to help you out with your blanket statement and introduce you to my family, former Mormons who are happily and peacefully attending our catholic parish, success in the important things in life has blessed us, thank God, as well as material success in the less important worldly areas. We are not disgruntled, beer-swilling, foulmouthed, or atheist; although I teach my children to have a healthy respect for the right of all humans to choose how to believe and how to best live their lives. I have 1 sister, 3 brothers, all former Mormons, all happily married and 3 or 4 children each, in similar circumstances.
    You really should talk to someone about your own disgruntledness and corrosive anger, I can’t imagine you are able to live your gospel appropriately with so much ugliness in your soul. Also, trying to remember old Mormon teachings here, but it seems like you would be more successful as a mormon if you bragged and exaggerated less.
    May God bless you,
    Many, MANY former and ex-mormons.

  • Happy Hubby, unfortunately mini ex Mormons cannot leave the church alone. They can’t move on. It is fulfillment of Joseph Smith’s prophecy: “when you leave the church, it is at the behest of the evil one. Ere you are left to kick against the pricks and fight the Saints of God.” I have yet to see anyone leave the church and their life improve spiritually, emotionally, economically and otherwise. Quite the opposite happens. Exmo’s also become atheist, eventually.. To the atheist Exmo;)) apply the scientific method to the following: thoughts, pain, and relationships between human beings and human beings and their animals. All of these things cannot be measured scientifically. Does that make them nonexistent?

  • The hard sciences cannot measure thought, pain that is relative from person to person, nor the love and the feelings between human beings or human beings and their pets. I’m not talking about social science or psychology which are not the hard sciences. If you’re going to measure everything in the physical world by what you can actually test in the lab environment and there’s a lot of things that are not scientifically measurable yet I doubt if you talk to anyone that’s experienced love you be able to convince them that that feeling is nonexistent and unreal.

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