Ep 155 – Excommunication: The Musical


Posted February 15th, 2015

Glenn, Jake, Matt, and John Hamer humbly present “Excommunication: The Musical” — a dramatic recreation of John Dehlin’s secret informal probation meeting that eventually led to his excommunication from the mormon church.

And we occasionally break into song.


Click HERE for the full text for the dramatic — it isย “Appendix C: Transcript of August 7, 2014 Meeting With President Bryan King”


  • Frank

    Oh my god. If the first 8 minutes are any indication, I can’t wait until I have time to listen to the rest of this. Very funny stuff!

  • Orrin Dayne

    I agree with John Hamer 100% that the Brethren’s desire to avoid any additional bad press on gay rights is a strong reason why his activism was omitted from the council’s decision. You excommunicate a guy for supporting gay rights, hello front page NY Times, CNN, etc. You excommunicate a guy for not believing in Jesus or the Book of Mormon, you don’t make page D12 of the Provo Daily Herald.

    Another reason is that, by omitting the gay or women’s rights activism, they can paint Dehlin as someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus or the Book of Mormon, which completely marginalizes him in the eyes of true believing members. This ensures that almost none of them look into anything he’s had to say.

    • Orrin Dayne

      Loved this episode. So many laugh-out-loud moments. Great editing. It hit the spot, for sure.

  • JRon

    John Dehlin’s a douchebag. Haha that was great.

  • Wayne

    Holy ****, this is hilarious. This whole affair is a circus of epic proportions. Thanks for this podcast! I’ve only gotten through 1hr (and I agree with Orrin so far), the church is skirting the main issues so there will be less mud on their face at the end of the day.

  • Rhill

    This dialogue nicely demonstrates the unresolvable problem, and untenable position the church corrals itself (and its representatives) into by its emphasis of ONE true view, and emphasis of faith over evidence, but then also championing agency, and intelligence, and people’s right to question (free speech), and practice a reasonable faith. I’ve puzzled what the Morg could really do in this sitch to resolve their inner conflict/messaging. Were I the Stake Pres, I would ask only that he be clear to his listeners when he is stating heretical views, possibly an opening and closing disclaimer on his podcasts, even requiring that self identify as a heretic…then let him stay, play, and say whatever he wants with whomever he wants.

    • Ron Hill

      Emphasis on faith and FEELINGS, that is.

  • Nate

    John Hamer, I love your laugh!!!!!! It’s infectious. Don’t feel bad about laughing, you guys were laughing at the absurdity of the discussion, not at the people themselves. And that’s why we love Infants on Thrones, it’s so healing to be able to laugh about serious things.

  • Jerome

    You guys need some help with your John Dehlin impression, so here it is. Just talk like Patrick Star. Itโ€™s easier that way.

  • Me

    Haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Great episode.

  • Orrin Dayne

    The panel did a good job demonstrating that the Stake President in the August meeting was not so much concerned that John Dehlin expressed doubt openly, but that people gave a s*** about John Dehlin’s expressions of doubt. It was all about his audience.

    President King’s post-council excommunication letter to Dehlin referred to (1) “Your ***teachings*** disputing the nature of our Heavenly Father and the divinity of Jesus Christ” (2) “Your ***statements*** that the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham are fraudulent and works of fiction” and (3) “Your ***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.” (emphasis added)

    Note that President King refers to both “teachings” and “statements” — which is sloppy writing. I think President King viewed all of these as “teachings” because there was an audience. And the audience was a big problem.

  • Orrin Dayne

    Thank you, Matt, for calling out the Church for claiming ownership of the priest-penitent privilege. It was sickening to see the Church distort something designed to protect church members into a tool for abuse. It pisses me off too.

  • Thisiscrazy28

    I’ve only listened to about the first 15 minutes, but I already have a couple of comments:

    First off, I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of the whole “Radio Lab” stuff, but the Bon Jovi background during the opening prayer was priceless and hilarious.

    Second, I just realized how passive aggressive and whiny the whole “this has been hard on me too” speech was on King’s part (e.g., receiving e-mails, calls at work). That was King’s little, passive-aggressive jab at John. Thought it was pretty classless on his part–especially since he’s the one who chose to hold the court.

    Third, the part about King taking the matter very seriously and with “a lot of thought.” Later on in the transcript, he admits that most of the quotes (i.e., evidence) that he has from John’s statements came from other people. King’s ignorance to John’s body of work Mormon Stories (including proper context) is appalling. The fact that you would hold the “salvation” of someone in the balance over second-hand information is outrageous.

  • Jerome

    Listneing to the words of Pres King reminded me of an old joke: Whatโ€™s the difference between an orthopedic surgeon and a carpenter? A carpenter knows more than one kind of antibiotic.

  • Homsar

    Don’t feel bad about laughing at these guys, Jake. They didn’t get into stake leadership positions by accident. They aren’t really just normal guys. They have aspired for the positions that they are in, and I think its ok and important to laugh at them because of their pretended positions of power.

  • Christ.Cheezus

    I am an hour or so into this episode and another thing that struck me is that the Korihor’s and Nehor’s of the BoM had some really goofy arguments. There is so much of a back story and nuance to all the sides of the argument of the “truth” (whatever that is) that it cannot be contained in a few of the gotcha moments that the BoM contains, though I suspect the leadership present at this meeting felt they were confronting the Korihor of “their day”. The “leadership” would save themselves and their church a lot of PR headache in the long run to just tell John that he does not fit into their club and that he must go. They should drop the pretense.

    From my perspective or paradigm (if you will), the LDS Church Corp is a club, and ultimately there is one dude – T-Mon – who sets the rules. If you don’t play along with his rules, he or his minions can kick you out. I liken it unto a motorcycle gang whose requirement it is to ride a Harley. Don’t show up with a Yamaha and expect to ride with them unless you can walk on water and make wine flow.

  • This King dude is well versed in what is known in the HR world as “happy horseshit”.

  • Erica

    On John Delhin’s claim that Galileo was executed by the Catholic Church… this is the third time I’ve heard this from a stupid person, and it’s all been relatively recently. The first two people I’ve heard claim this were James Randyites, so it wasn’t so surprising.

    But seriously, don’t people go to high school? I learned in high school that Galileo spent the rest of his life under house arrest. And history researchers have yet to prove my high school textbook wrong about that.

    • articulett

      True– it was Giordano Bruno who was killed for heresy for saying things like the sun is just another star and the universe doesn’t revolve around earth and there could be other planets with life etc. People sometimes get them confused because the church did a lot of killing in those days. Galileo just spent the rest of his life locked up for his scientific “heresy” some years later.

      What definition of “stupid” are you using that includes John?

      • Erica

        I don’t think John is stupid, and to be honest I don’t really think there are very many stupid people on this planet at all. I’m just always surprised when smart people say stupid things. I really shouldn’t have used that specific word. But we all say stupid things sometimes.

        And no, no one gets Galileo confused with anyone else. Just about about everyone accurately knows who Galileo was. There’s just a surprising amount of people out there who think he was executed. Like this young woman who famously read half an Andrea Dworkin book and split the skeptic movement asunder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnJCi81BLVo

  • Lance

    I kept waiting for some of Jenkins sentences to finish with, “the Iraq and such as.”

  • EnriquePalacios

    I have listened to 4 minutes and 30 seconds so far. Mind blown. Holy shit, how do you guys do this so fast?

    • Glenn

      Hot Tub Time Machine

  • Kathy

    Awesome, very fun and strangely cathartic. I was reminded of times I met with priesthood leaders to work out what we were going to do in our organization only to realize I was only there for them to tell me what to do, we we not discussing anything. Ahh the memories. Great podcast.

  • Nate

    I can’t believe I just listened to this 3 hour episode again, but it’s just too funny. But the thought occurred to me the second time around … if the Stake President was “monitoring” Dehlin’s output for a “change in tone” since august, but didn’t call him in for a council until early 2015, what came just before that? Infants on Mormon Stories! You guys were the last straw! Yay!

    • Glenn

      I don’t think so, Nate. I think I remember hearing that John had been contacted by his SP about reconvening before we recorded our episode.

      • Nate

        Awww I liked that theory. Lol. Maybe you guys were his middle finger to that, then ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Matthew Bryde

    Excellent presentation – more music and you’d give the South Park guys a run for their money.

    I’m now anticipating John Dehlin revealing he also recorded the High Council court. Would love to hear the transcript of that meeting!

  • Bryce J

    This is great. I’m only an hour in, but the realization that King was filibustering is spot on. I just had my SP and bishop over and I couldn’t believe how much the SP could talk. He just went on and on. It was definitely about him.

  • disqus_rCGmMLsntM

    This was hilarious in its absurdity. I grabbed the letter from the NYTimes and followed along.
    I think my take-away was he got them to concede by their actions and words of a local leader that the church has no allegiance, loyalty, or ultimate claim to truth– as truth is welcomed only if it is a faith-promoting truth. Similar to how the church recently went on record in court that it “does not teach truths, it teaches beliefs.”
    Best line: “That’s a nice salvation you’ve got there. Be a shame if something happened to it.”

    • Orrin Dayne

      Jake’s “nice salvation” line was classic.

  • Daved6

    Plain adorable. It’s weird that some of you got so worked up about it. F-them, at the end where some guy is saying that to King and Jenkins, this is about Dehlin. Such callous disregard for humanity.
    I have no idea what this transcript (let’s see deceptively recorded conversation and then transcribed as if someone intent on betraying the wishes of another isn’t going to doctor it) does for his cause. He wants it to be about SSM more than anything. So his SP mentions when pressed that supporting SSM to a following largely antagonistic towards the SP’s version of the Church, at the very least, is a problem. And somehow that translates to justifying Dehlin making it all about SSM in order to further his LGBT advocacy? It’s cute how the obvious is missed by people due to their own biases. It’s kinda what we’re left with in this world, ain’t it?
    “But the Church is so bad…it just has to be…therefore there probably is this ulterior motive of chopping his head off for support LGBT rights”.
    “Choppping his head off”?
    “well it’s so so sad and hard for people when they lose faith.”
    “I guess, but does that mean he’s been hurt by someone?”
    “yes….the Church. The Church always hurts. Plus his grandma got so mad at him…you wouldn’t know nothing. That’s how bad you are.”
    Oh spare me.

    • Matt

      Good try, I guess? It’s funny, we’ve been criticized for being too hard on John in this. Apparently you didn’t catch where we noted that john forced the issue of gay marriage and ordain women on the sp. Or maybe you missed where we made the point that john incorrectly made this all about SSM and ordain women. Or maybe you missed where we made the point that the stake president’s focus was on John having a following and being influential. Apparently you missed where we come to the conclusion that although SSM and ow were reasons for why’ve was disciplined, they certainly weren’t the only or most important reasons for why he was disciplined. Apparently you just missed the point? Could be your own biases at work.

      • Daved6

        Oh man. I can’t believe you guys are suffering criticism for being too hard on John. NOw I feel bad for having a different perspective.

        What are we to do? All agree with each other? suck it up, you over-sized boob.

        I didn’t miss the things you mention. I just don’t see your view as all that well thought out. For instance, you say, ” we made the point that john incorrectly made this all about SSM and ordain women”. Fine by me. But it seems more evident that it wasn’t about them at all. SSM advocacy wasn’t spoken of as a cause for excommunication, but you conclude as you say here, “that although SSM and ow were reasons for why’ve was disciplined, they certainly weren’t the only or most important reasons for why he was disciplined”. SSM advocacy was only said to be a “problem”, unofficially, by his SP. OW I could grant you, but then that seems only tied to his informal probation discipline.
        The written records don’t allude to SSM nor OW. But somehow sending out this transcript, makes John feel vindicated when he made this all about SSM and Ordain women, and then later as he tried to argue it was only partly about those, as you guys argued. See that last part? That’s where you guys are wrong.
        Of course our biases feed our thoughts. What are you denying that, or something?

        • Matt

          Better an over sized boob (which is awesome) than an oversized ass canker such as yourself. You can continue to believe SSM had nothing to do with John being ex’d. You’d not only be wrong, but stupidly blind as well. Your insights are pretty naive and sloppy. Maybe you should do something your’re no doubt better at – like smelling your upper lip or being hated by all the people you come in contact with?


          • Daved6

            I don’t think there’s any reason to pout about it. I’d love it if there was a credible argument to support ssm being dehlins big old offense. There are tons of ssm supporters in the church. Sure by tons I mean a handful or two, but they remain and ain’t getting tossed out anytime soon

    • Orrin Dayne

      In interviews, Dehlin wants to make his LGBT activism in recent years as *the* factor in his discipline. He argued that his offending statements regarding the Church were old and that the thing that has changed was his recent activism. Dehlin ignores that something else has changed: the Google problem is increasingly causing people to leave the Church. So much so, the Church is issuing essays ( http://www.mormonessays.com/ ) trying to address concerns. In that context, the Church needed to discredit Dehlin as a major player in the Google problem, not as an LGBT activist. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be all about LGBT activism.

      But while I don’t see his LGBT activism in recent years as *the* factor in his discipline, I believe it is *a* factor. It is a factor that was deliberately omitted because they could excommunicate him on other grounds without getting a bunch of bad press. If circumstances prevent you from sending Al Capone to jail on organized crime charges, you send him to jail on tax evasion and just thank God he’s in jail. I think the Church leaders believed that the circumstances prevented making LGBT activism an issue, but felt justified in going with the non-controversial issues (John’s attacks on Jesus, Church authority, BOA, BOM), which were sufficient. This doesn’t mean that Church leaders felt his activism was unworthy of discipline.

      • Daved6

        eh…unless we are able to tie his LGBT activism to leading people out of the Church I don’t know the Church has such an issue with it. But it’s easy enough o just say the Church sees it as a reason, without any evidence of that.
        I think one thing is certain–the Church sees the narrative Dehlin prefers as to history and doctrine are leading people out fo the Church. Thus the essays and all that.

        • Orrin Dayne

          The SP admitting that his support of gay marriage was a problem is evidence that it was a factor relevant to discipline generally, if not excommunication. The counselor saying “that’s not why we’re here” is evidence that they deliberately omitted it– perhaps, as you put it, the Church may not have “such an issue with it” to make it part of the excommunication. I suspect that their hesitancy is more about public perception than acceptance of his activism.

          The Church can excommunicate for apostasy based on opposing the Church or its leaders–independent of anyone being led away. But I believe they are loathe to interpret LGBT activism under this definition.

          • Daved6

            Ssm is being more and more the law of the land. It’d be silly for the church to start tossing out members for supporting law. Sorry at got fooled on this one.

  • Allison

    I hope you already know this, but Glenn, Jake, John, and Matt, I love you guys. Ok. Gushing over.

  • hunterkorvis

    I loved the Dehlin version of Nature Boy

  • Heather_ME

    Holy crap! I disagree with John Hamer. Never thought I’d see the day. I think the Mormon church (and most other churches) will eventually accept LGBT people/marriage the way that most churches now accept interracial marriage as well as female ordination. Not because there will be any sort of political pressure for them to do so, but because society trends toward becoming more accepting.

    • But how would they do that and square the circle doctrinally?

      • Glenn

        I agree with Bob and John Hamer. I love your optimism on this one Heather and would LOVE for you to be right. I just have such a hard time seeing the church ever legitimize gay sex — even between legally married couples — let alone being willing to perform civil gay marriages for time in church meetinghouses or — even more heard to see — sealing gay couples for time and all eternity in the temples.

        But if it makes you feel any better, Heather, I’m not going to demand that you apologize for being a woman in this case. Pretty cool and magnanimous of me, huh?

        • Heather_ME

          Just because you or I won’t be around to see it doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

          • Glenn

            I didn’t say it wouldn’t happen. I said I have a hard time imagining that it will.

            (which also doesn’t mean that it won’t)

      • Orrin Dayne

        I was raised with an understanding that Mormon theology contemplates some sort of celestial procreation to create spirits. I think that’s hard to back away from at present.

        The only reason I think Heather could be right is that the celestial procreation of spirits could be correlated into oblivion, making it possible to pivot to a theology that permits same sex marriage.

        But for that to happen, it would take two or three generations to die out such that the remaining members and leadership were born into a church where their only understanding of the after-life is a vague, correlated “being together” concept that was easier to square with same sex marriage.

        • Heather_ME

          Lots of people were raised with the understanding that black people were born with tons of skin pigment because they’d been fence sitters in the pre-existence. It’s enshrined in scripture and has been preached by prophets. Somehow that has been excised. This won’t be any different. Eventually people will say, “Those silly people in the past! They were so ignorant! Products of their time! How sad they didn’t have the understanding and revelation we’ve received now to understand that creating spirits/worlds/etc isn’t determined by genitals. How sad people thought that only actual sex was the way to create life in the eternities.”

          • Glenn

            Keep in mind, Heather — I’m not saying you are wrong (and certainly not saying your argument isn’t rational — or expecting that the church would be rational — a rational person would see the inequality in opposing SSM). So I’m not saying that I am right and you are wrong — I’m just explaining why I see things differently. And I’m not even holding your lack of Mo Cred against you. But mine was pretty high, so… ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Heather_ME

            Yes, it is true. You do out preform me in the mormon cred department….. not to mention the # of podcasts released in a week department. I should just bow my head and agree. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Ryan

            I agree with Heather. I think it will happen eventually, but it could take a long time. The catholic church and others will have to go first before the Mormon church feels too much pressure. Sadly, we probably will all be dead by then.

          • Heather_ME

            I shared this exchange with my husband. His response: “And Mike Tannehill’s great-great grandson will spend his time on social media repudiating the new interpretations and demanding the church leadership stop claiming prophets of our time were wrong.”

        • Heather_ME

          I agree with you on how long it will take, fwiw. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Heather_ME

        The best way I can answer this question is with another question. Why do people expect the Mormon church to behave rationally when they’ve proven that acting rationally is about the last thing they are concerned with? How did they square the circle on African Americans? How did they square the circle on polygamy and D&C 132? The church has already proven that they make changes without rhyme or reason. It baffles me when people say, “Come now, Heather. Be reasonable. An organization which claims that a kid found a golden bible in the ground that only he could translate to uncover the secret history of the aboriginal inhabitants of this land wouldn’t do anything silly or inexplicable!”

        This kind of change will happen the same way the changes with African Americans came about. The body of the church will stop believing the doctrines that a specific gender was assigned in the pre-existence. Those who wend their way into leadership positions, despite their advanced age, will have grown up in the same time period and will also be less apt to believe such things. Abracadabra! “Revelation” will be received and offending theology/scriptures will be abandoned in favor of different interpretations. Why is that so impossible to imagine?

      • Tierza Rose Askren

        I know I am way late to this little party – but I agree with Heather, though with a slightly different spin – the LDS church will, eventually, accept gay marriage because the LDS church doesn’t have an ounce of moral backbone (and don’t get me wrong, I DO NOT think that the LDS stance on LGBT is in any way moral – I mean that the church doesn’t hold to its own standards if those standards might cost them something.) – The church always goes with the least costly moral choice (see all the other examples here but best example by far the church’s reaction to Nazi Germany – read up on that if you want another great reason to really hate them). The church followed the norm in fighting gay marriage and it will hold to that position until it genuinely starts to hurt the church and then they will change – doctrine be damned. There is no doctrine in the church so sacred that it cannot be changed. None. And women’s issues will not change any time soon because even outside the church it isn’t a pressing issue.

        • I’m still mulling it over, but I like this angle… Btw- tell me more (or point me in the right direction, if you don’t mind) about the Nazi Germany story. I’ve heard about it before but only at about the level that you shared… Is there enough there to do an episode about it?

          • Tierza Rose Askren

            I first found out about the Nazi problem when I was about 10 and found a book in my parents house about Karl-Heinz Schnibbe and Helmuth Hubener who were young Latter-day Saints in Germany who distributed anti-nazi literature and were captured – Hubener was executed and all of them were excommunicated by the church. Many higher church leaders in Germany were pro-Nazi and the church was proud of its connection with the Nazi government (until it became better not to be). A book on the subject, Moroni and the Swastika has just been published. http://mormons-in-nazi-germany.blogspot.com I haven’t read it yet but I am planning to. I imagine there is plenty there for an episode.

          • Glenn


  • Chad Brown

    You guys really out did yourselves on this one! I loved every minute of it. You had me in stitches during the “there’s a gap” section. Jake, the sentimental regrets at the end were the perfect touch.

  • Pink-lead

    What struck me was a connection between the emphasis on John’s individual accountability for the bad things he’s done or said and throwing that idea back at the institution. Does the Church apologize? Apparently not. I suppose some essays ambiguously authored and addressed to those who can find them constitute confession and restitution……This is one example of the Church’s overreaching that will continually haunt it until these ghosts are properly exorcised. The church is reaping what they’ve sown. Double deuce. _-|__ __|-_

  • Heretic

    It won’t download. I have tried four times. I can only capture something between the first two minutes and the first ten minutes. I can download all your other podcasts just fine.

    • fucker

      hahaha fagot

      suck your dick bitch

      • JRon

        as in self-sucking?

        • fucker

          bingo dumb fuck

          • JRon

            How big are you?

  • christ.cheezus

    My visual for David Jenkins is Brick Tamland… Steve Carell’s character in the Anchorman movies.

  • This was once again, awesome! I love when you guys either smack down or do something like this. It saves me from having to read it all myself. Like those awful essays…yuck!
    I really enjoyed the way you presented it. And was laughing a long with you guys. Thanks again for the great show you do!

  • Leslie North

    John Dehlin impersonation is hilarious, and very good

  • Liz of Austin

    This was amazing to listen to! You guys did a great job! I actually laughed out loud several times. Loved the commentary and insight about the meeting. This was far more entertaining than if I had just read the transcript all by my lonesome.

  • Scrivvles

    I have listened to the “There’s a gap” part about 150 times, no exaggeration. (02:12:02 to 02:16:37) I have laughed so hard at times, that I seriously worried that I was going to rupture my spleen or something.

    I do wish the rest of the Infants could have been on the show, because there was just so much great material. I’m pretty sure Tom, Bob, Randy, and Scott could have delivered some real zingers.

    It makes me feel bad that this situation was almost certainly pretty rough for John Dehlin to experience. But, I like to think that he can listen to this and get some chuckles. In addition, hopefully he can feel some of the compassion and respect that you Infants clearly have for him.

    • That was so much fun! I just listened to it again & I reiterate my love of the role in which I was cast.

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  • Orrin Dayne

    Still on my second time going through the catalog. This episode is one of my favorites. It’s a jewel. I laughed again and again throughout.