John Dehlin

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John Dehlin
Born Boise, Idaho, US
Alma mater Brigham Young University; Utah State University
Occupation Director of the OpenCourseWare Consortium
Religion Excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
Spouse(s) Margi Weber Dehlin[1]

John P. Dehlin /dəˈlɪn/ is the founder of the Mormon Stories Podcast,[2] and was an influential early participant in the Mormon blogging scene (sometimes referred to as the bloggernacle) who has specialized in addressing concerns of those with crises of faith.[3] Dehlin, although heterosexual, is an LGBT rights activist.[1][4] A graduate student of clinical and counseling psychology at Utah State University, Dehlin's research interests involve the nexus of religion and mental health. Dehlin has published peer reviewed journal articles on the topics of scrupulosity in obsessive–compulsive disorder,[5] trichotillomania,[6] and has co-authored several articles on the LDS treatment of LGBT members.[7][8][9] Dehlin is also the creator of several Mormon-themed podcasts, blogs and web sites. Dehlin worked for several years in various positions at Microsoft, and served for a few years as the Director of the OpenCourseWare Consortium for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In February 2015, a disciplinary council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) was held, with Dehlin being excommunicated from the church. A letter sent to Dehlin by church authorities cited instances in which Delhin publicly renounced his belief in core Mormon doctrine, such as stating that the Book of Mormon was a fraud, that the LDS Church was not the true church and that it did not receive authority from God.[10] In a public statement the church also noted Dehlin's rejection of the divinity of Jesus Christ as a factor in his excommunication.[11]

In previous disciplinary councils, Dehlin received no sanction. (Hearings can result in probation, disfellowship or excommunication.) Spokespersons at LDS Church headquarters generally decline comment on such action citing confidentiality and that they remain under the purview of local-level (in this case, North Logan, Utah) LDS leaders.[12][13] However, after Dehlin's discussion of the disciplinary proceedings, the LDS Church released a statement regarding the interactions of the council with Dehlin.[14] Scott Gordon, president of the Latter-day Saint apologetic organization FairMormon, believing Dehlin faced likely sanction owing to his advocacy of nonbelief in Mormon tenets, said Dehlin "wants to belong to the culture, to the community, but he doesn't believe in the faith."[15]

Early life and education[edit]

Dehlin was born in Boise, Idaho, and raised in Katy, Texas.[16] As a member of the LDS Church, he served as a missionary in Guatemala in the late 1980s.[17] He then attended Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, where he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1993.[18]

After graduation, Dehlin worked for five years in software and as a consultant for Bain & Company, Arthur Andersen, Citicorp, Heidrick & Struggles, and the LDS Church. He then worked at Microsoft for seven years in programs for developers, marketing, speech technologies, and product demos.[18]

Dehlin's brother, Joel Dehlin, also worked at Microsoft, and became the chief information officer of the LDS Church in 2004.[19]

In 2004, Dehlin moved to Logan, Utah to begin work under David A. Wiley at Utah State University (USU) on OpenCourseWare-related projects.[20] Dehlin would serve as USU's OpenCourseWare Consortium Coordinator and Director of Outreach for the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning Director of Outreach for two years, where he promoted OpenCourseWare to other universities.[18] While at USU, Dehlin also completed a Master of Science degree in Instructional Technology in 2007.[21] In January 2007, MIT hired Dehlin as the Director of the OpenCourseWare Consortium.[20]

Dehlin is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical and Counseling Psychology at USU.[22]


Finding limited internet presence for constructive Mormon intellectual sources, Dehlin approached the Sunstone Education Foundation and presented to its Board of Directors about the importance of participating in developing internet communities through blogging and podcasting. The Board accepted his offer to initiate these programs[23] and, in September 2005, Dehlin joined the Board of Directors and began a Sunstone podcast as well as SunstoneBlog.[24] In July 2007, he also became executive director of the Sunstone Education Foundation, in which he was to focus on strategic initiatives to strengthen Sunstone's position as an open forum for Mormon issues.[25] In that role, he tried to increase the organizational focus on its longstanding motto, "faith seeking understanding", and to attract new and younger membership.[26] Dehlin resigned from Sunstone in January 2008.[27]

Mormon Stories[edit]

In September 2005, after finding reasons to stay a member of the LDS Church, Dehlin created the Mormon Stories podcast as an open discussion of Mormon issues with the intention of giving listeners reasons to remain in the church.[17] Through interviews, Mormon Stories focused on varying Mormon experiences and perspectives. Several notable Mormon figures were guests on Mormon Stories. To date, listenership at times exceeds 25,000 downloads per episode.[citation needed] Mormon Stories has been featured in many venues, including being broadcast on KVNU in Logan, Utah.[28] In June 2007, Dehlin was quoted for stories by The New York Times and Good Morning America, discussing Mitt Romney and Mormonism.[29][30]

At times personally conflicted about continuing Mormon Stories, Dehlin stopped and restarted the project a few times.[31][32] In January 2010 Dehlin resumed the blog and podcast, focusing on faith crises, mental illnesses, and notable guests,[33] beginning with interviews of Joanna Brooks and John Hamer.[34][35] Two other regular hosts joined Dehlin in conducting interviews for the podcast: Dan Wotherspoon, former editor of Sunstone magazine; and Natasha Helfer Parker, a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist.

Other blogs[edit]

In June 2007, Dehlin started Mormon Matters as a blog and weekly podcast, with the intention of eventually becoming a radio show.[36] The format was a discussion panel on events, culture, politics and spirituality within Mormonism. Panelists were to represent different sides of each issue, although the show later struggled to retain regular conservative LDS panelists.[37] In early 2008, Dehlin converted Mormon Matters into a group blog and lessened emphasis on new podcast episodes,.[38] Dehlin resumed the Mormon Matters podcast on March 5, 2011 with Dan Wotherspoon as the host, and Joanna Brooks as a frequent co-host.

Dehlin is also the co-founder of the Mormons for Marriage website [39] (a pro-gay marriage site) and Stay LDS,[40] a community dedicated to helping unorthodox Mormons stay in the LDS Church, if that is their desire.[41]

Crises of faith[edit]

As an LDS missionary in Guatemala from 1988 to 1990, Dehlin's mission began baptizing up to 700 converts per month. To accomplish this, Dehlin claims many missionaries were using deceptive methods which were allegedly taught and supported by some mission leaders. Dehlin was disturbed and reported these activities to his mission president, who did not share Dehlin's concern and sent him home early (normally a disciplinary action). After reporting on this to apostle, Dallin H. Oaks, and completing his two-year missionary term in the Arizona Tempe Mission, Dehlin remained an active, faithful member of the LDS Church for the next 20 years, but began to study church administration, history, doctrine and theology more in depth.[17]

While living in the Seattle area, Dehlin was called to be an early-morning LDS Seminary teacher. In preparation for the next year's class, he began studying LDS Church history in greater depth which led to his discovery of several controversial issues such as Joseph Smith's practice of polyandry, DNA and archeological issues with the Book of Mormon, and others. With shaken faith, he did not find many informed or sympathetic local church members and therefore contemplated leaving the church. On the Internet he found communities antagonistic toward the LDS Church which also did not encourage him to stay. Eventually, Dehlin discovered publications such as Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and Sunstone Magazine, which acknowledged the controversies but provided thoughtful responses and solutions to the problems. These resources helped Dehlin decide to stay in the church for several years after his initial discoveries.[23]

In 2011, Dehlin reported going "inactive" from the LDS Church for a period of months, citing an inability to believe some of the church's fundamental truth claims.[42][43] After being exonerated from a series of investigations into his Internet activities (led by his LDS bishop and stake president), Dehlin returned to the LDS Church as an active member.[44] In 2012, Dehlin began meeting weekly with his stake president to discuss his worthiness. In February 2014, Dehlin wrote an email to his bishop requesting no more contact from the bishop, home teachers, visiting teachers, the Relief Society, or any other church leaders. He said that he and his wife would attend the ward when their children did, but "otherwise would like you to please no longer consider Margi and myself as members of the ward." [45]

Church discipline[edit]

On June 7, 2014, Dehlin was asked if he preferred to resign from the LDS Church or face a disciplinary council for apostasy.[46] Discipline options include excommunication. A letter sent to Dehlin from his local stake president referenced an Internet posting in which Dehlin wrote that he no longer believes many fundamental “truth claims” the church makes.[47] The next day, a disciplinary hearing was scheduled for another member-critic, Kate Kelly, a human rights lawyer who founded the Ordain Women movement. The successive disciplinary actions against prominent critics appeared reminiscent of actions taken in 1993 against the September Six.[47][48]

In early 2015, Dehlin's stake president asked Dehlin to appear at a disciplinary council to address various allegations including apostasy (Mormon parlance for "heresy"), his support of same-sex marriage and the ordination of women, and for his engaging others in questions about church teachings.[49][50] On February 10, 2015, Dehlin received notice that he had been excommunicated.[10] In a press release, stated by the LDS Church as being used "to correct the public record", the church denied that Dehlin was excommunicated for his views on same-sex marriage, ordination of women, or questioning the faith.[51] The church stated that Dehlin was instead excommunicated for stating the Book of Mormon was fraudulent, statements that reject the church's assertion as the true church, and "openly and publicly trying to convince others that Church teachings are in error."[52]

On March 10, 2015, Dehlin appealed his excommunication to the First Presidency, claiming the action was a "flawed and unfair process."[53]


  1. ^ a b "TEDxUSU: Survive", TEDx Events, Utah State University:, November 5, 2013 
  2. ^ "Mormon Stories Podcast". Retrieved 2014-08-30. 
  3. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (July 20, 2013). "Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt". The New York Times 
  4. ^ Post by Joanna Brooks (2011-07-13). "Landmark Survey of LGBTQ Mormons Launched". Religion Dispatches. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  5. ^ John P. Dehlin, Kate L. Morrison, and Michael P. Twohig. "Behavior Modification: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a Treatment for Scrupulosity in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder". Retrieved 2013-04-02. 
  6. ^ Jesse M. Crosby, John P. Dehlin, P.R. Mitchell, Michael P. Twohig. "Cognitive and Behavioral Practice: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Habit Reversal Training for the Treatment of Trichotillomania". Retrieved 2013-04-02. 
  7. ^ John P. Dehlin, Renee V. Galliher, William S. Bradshaw, Daniel C. Hyde, Katherine A. Crowell. "Sexual Orientation Change Efforts Among Current or Former LDS Church Members.". Retrieved 2014-05-26. 
  8. ^ John P. Dehlin, Renee V. Galliher, William S. Bradshaw, Katherine A. Crowell. "Psychosocial Correlates of Religious Approaches to Same-Sex Attraction: A Mormon Perspective.". Retrieved 2014-05-26. 
  9. ^ Kate Bradshaw, John P. Dehlin, Katherine A. Crowell, Renee V. Galliher, William S. Bradshaw. "Sexual Orientation Change Efforts through Psychotherapy for LGBQ Individuals Affiliated With the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.". Retrieved 2014-05-26. 
  10. ^ a b Walch, Tad (February 10, 2015). "John Dehlin excommunicated from LDS Church". KSL. 
  11. ^ LDS Church press release on Dehlin's excommunication
  12. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher (January 15, 2015). "Podcaster’s exploration into 'difficult' LDS issues lands Dehlin disciplinary hearing". Salt Lake Tribune. Eric Hawkins said, "We respect the privacy of individuals, and don't publicly discuss the reasons why a member faces church discipline. Those reasons are provided to a member by their local church leaders." 
  13. ^ Walch, Tad (January 15, 2015). "Mormon critic John Dehlin says he'll face church disciplinary council". Deseret News. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (January 15, 2015). "Mormon Church Threatens Critic With Excommunication". New York Times. 
  16. ^ Dehlin, John. "Author Profile: John Dehlin". Mormon Matters. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  17. ^ a b c Dehlin, John (September 4, 2005). "Mormon Stories Podcast # 001: Bad Baptisms? My Mission Experience in Guatemala". Mormon Stories. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  18. ^ a b c "User Profile: John Dehlin". OpenCourseWare Consortium. Retrieved 2008-07-21. [dead link]
  19. ^ Dehlin, Joel. "About Joel". Joel Dehlin Weblog. Retrieved 2008-12-08. [dead link]
  20. ^ a b Dehlin, John (March 15, 2007). "Meet and Greet". OpenCourseWare Consortium Forum. OpenCourseWare Consortium. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  21. ^ Dehlin, John (December 16, 2007). "I did it". Mormon Stories. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  22. ^ Dehlin, John. "John Dehlin Ph.D.". Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  23. ^ a b Goble, Clark (September 26, 2005). "M* Interviews… John Dehlin". The Millennial Star. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  24. ^ Wotherspoon, Dan (September 15, 2005). "Bloggin and Podcasting Sunstone Style!". SunstoneBlog. Sunstone Education Foundation. Retrieved 2008-07-21. [dead link]
  25. ^ "Sunstone foundation hires executive director". Deseret News. July 28, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  26. ^ Moore, Carrie A. (August 7, 2007). "New direction for Sunstone?". Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City). Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  27. ^ Dehlin, John (June 8, 2008). "<comment>". The New Mormon History. Latter-day Commentary. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  28. ^ Grover, Tom (January 3, 2008). "John Dehlin, Mormon Stories featured in today’s Herald Journal". KVNU’s For The People. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  29. ^ "Church and State: Mormonism and Romney" (VIDEO). Good Morning America. ABC News. June 19, 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  30. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (June 11, 2007). "Romney’s Run Has Mormons Wary of Scrutiny". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  31. ^ "What is/was Mormon Stories?". Mormon Stories Podcast. April 14, 2009. [dead link]
  32. ^ "Some Bonus Material, and a Break". Mormon Stories. December 25, 2007. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  33. ^ "Mormon Stories 2010 — A New Direction". Mormon Stories Podcast. January 15, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  34. ^ "Mormon Stories # 112 & 113: Joanna Brooks Parts 1 and 2". Mormon Stories Podcast. January 20, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  35. ^ "Mormon Stories # 116: John Hamer Pt. 1 — The LDS Succession Crisis of 1844 and the Beginnings of the RLDS Church". Mormon Stories Podcast. January 24, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  36. ^ "About". Mormon Matters. Retrieved 2008-07-21. [dead link]
  37. ^ Dehlin, John (July 14, 2007). "Desperately Seeking Conservative LDS Panelist(s)". Mormon Matters blog. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  38. ^ Dehlin, John (January 9, 2008). "Looking to turn Mormon Matters into a Group Blog". Mormon Matters blog. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 
  39. ^
  40. ^ "Stay LDS / Mormon | New Ways to Stay Connected". Retrieved 2013-07-22. 
  41. ^ Dobner, Jennifer (July 20, 2009). "Mormons in crisis find online refuge". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  42. ^ "New Order Mormon • View topic - Conversation on FB with a friend, because oh John Dehlin". Retrieved 2013-07-22. 
  43. ^ "Support for People as they Leave or Consider Leaving the Mormon or LDS Church | The Community Forum | Yes, John Dehlin has left the Church". Retrieved 2013-07-22. 
  44. ^ "You, the Church, and Mormon Stories | Mormon Stories Podcast". 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2013-07-22. 
  45. ^ [1]
  46. ^ Dalrymple, Jim; II (January 15, 2015). "Prominent Mormon Blogger Facing Excommunication For “Apostasy”: John Dehlin founded the Mormon Stories podcast and has commented extensively on topics such as LGBT issues and gender within the religion. He now faces excommunication.". Buzz Feed News. 
  47. ^ a b Goodstein, Laurie (11 June 2014). "Mormon Church Warns 2 Activists of Excommunication". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 June 2014. Kate Kelly and John P. Dehlin, who have gained national attention for pushing the church to ordain women to the priesthood and to accept openly gay members, have been notified this week that they face expulsion for apostasy. 
  48. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher. "Founder of Mormon women’s group threatened with excommunication". The Salt Lake Tribune (June 11, 2014). Retrieved June 12, 2014. 
  49. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (January 15, 2015). "John Dehlin, Mormon Critic, Facing Excommunication". The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  50. ^ Moulton, Kristen (January 22, 2015). "Disciplinary council delayed for 'Mormon Stories' podcaster John Dehlin". Salt Lake Tribune. 
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^ Fletcher Stack, Peggy (March 10, 2015). "Mormon critic John Dehlin appeals LDS excommunication". Salt Lake Tribune. 

Further reading[edit]

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