John Dehlin: A Spy Story

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_Kishkumen
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John Dehlin: A Spy Story

Post by _Kishkumen »

Having watched the epic journey of John Dehlin from his days as a questioning Mormon who was trying to make things work all the way up to the present, one of the perennial points of interest has been the use of spies to keep tabs on John. The use of spies is one of those things that the LDS Church does at the risk of seeming like a cult, but it seems to think that the benefits of using spies outweigh the cost of looking like a cult.

We saw the fruits of some of the spying on John in Greg Smith's mammoth hit pieces on John Dehlin, which were published on the Interpreter's website. it seems that Smith (or some of his friends in the apologetic community) was combing John's Facebook feed to gather any little bit that could be taken out of context and twisted in a way to make Dehlin look bad. Our own Rollo Tomasi did a thorough analysis of this dirty pool here at MDB. I recommend it highly.

Now John has done a lengthy miniseries of interviews with folks like Dan Wotherspoon and Gina Colvin that go into great depth on where John is today and how he got there. One bit from part 3 of the Gina Colvin interview that I found especially interesting was John's report of the spying that occurred within his ward. I quote:

John Dehlin wrote:My EQP and some other members of my ward had started to spy on me and investigate me.. and attempted to gain entrance into some of the private forums I was entering. And, this all came out, and I became furious, and I felt like I was being spied on. And so, at that point I didn't feel welcome to go to Elders Quorum because these guys who had been spying on me without telling me were in the leadership there. And so, I would just go to sacrament meeting with my family. And that was true up through June of 2014. I was still actively attending sacrament meeting with my family and letting my kids be raised in the church.


Then Dehlin skips back a bit in time:

John Dehlin wrote:So, but, it was that fall, that, so going back... it was the fall of 2013... where L. Whitney Clayton reorganized my stake and called Brian King um, and, where Oaks gave that talk, and where I realized I could not just be silent anymore about the harm being done to LGBT people, and women and minorities, etc., and so I gave my TED Talk that November. I wrote my Ordain Women profile that December, I think, and then I got called into the bishop that January, February of 2014.


Gina Colvin wrote:OK, and we're going to talk really quickly about the charges against you for your disciplinary council. What were they exactly?


John Dehlin wrote:Uh, man, I am not prepared... let me just see. So when Brian Hunt my bishop called me in in late January early February of 2014, he specifically mentioned my Ordain Women profile and my work on Progressive Mormonism which was a website I had created. Um, you know, trying to encourage a brand of Progressive Mormonism. And he basically just said, "Those things are a problem, and I am going to start an investigation." And by that point, I was just, I didn't have patience for another investigation, and I said, "You, Brian Hunt, can investigate me, but I will not be participating in that investigation." So, this is when I wrote him and said, "I will be attending sacrament meeting with my children, and I'll still remain a member of your ward, but for ecclesiastical reasons, you can just as well not consider me a member of the ward, because I won't be interacting with you anymore as my ecclesiastical leader, if you're going to conduct yet another investigation after all of the investigations I had already had.


Gina Colvin wrote:So, you were pissed off.


John Dehlin wrote:Yeah. Just tired. Just tired, and, yeah, I was angry. But the crazy thing is I was still committed to activity, so I was still raising my kids in the church and I was still attending sacrament meeting. But I just, the investigations really just got to me, you know. You know, a member... a guy who lives on my street, who was EQP, would be home-teaching me and acting like he loved me and my family and then he would be secretly gathering, you know, Tweets and Facebook comments and trying to get into secret forums and then turning all that information in to try and get me excommunicated.


Gina Colvin wrote:Right.


John Dehlin wrote:So it was...and that same EQP told me his grandpa had been excommunicated and that it was the best thing that ever happened to him, and that if he ever had to excommunicate me, or had to help contribute to my excommunication, he would consider it an honor to have played a part in that because he would feel like excommunication at that point would have been God's will and he would have been helping, you know, perform God's will. And he told me that himself! You know, and that was just a really twisted, sick way to be my EQP, and my, you know, ecclesiastical leader, from my point of view.


From what I am able to piece together of this interview, it appears that L. Whitney Clayton reorganized John's stake, placed King in as stake president (the man who would ultimately excommunicate John), and John's bishop called John in to tell him that he was going to investigate John. John declined to participate. Then his EQP, a neighbor, started gathering information from John's Tweets and Facebook page, and tried to get into different private online forums under false pretenses to gather yet more information about John. At the same time, this EQP is home-teaching John's family, acting compassionate toward John, and yet telling him it will be an honor to participate in John's excommunication should it come to that.

Wow.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist
_Tobin
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Re: John Dehlin: A Spy Story

Post by _Tobin »

Kishkumen wrote:From what I am able to piece together of this interview, it appears that L. Whitney Clayton reorganized John's stake, placed King in as stake president (the man who would ultimately excommunicate John), and John's bishop called John in to tell him that he was going to investigate John. John declined to participate. Then his EQP, a neighbor, started gathering information from John's Tweets and Facebook page, and tried to get into different private online forums under false pretenses to gather yet more information about John. At the same time, this EQP is home-teaching John's family, acting compassionate toward John, and yet telling him it will be an honor to participate in John's excommunication should it come to that.

Wow.
hehe

I'm sure there is a majority of members of the LDS Church that would act like this if asked to by their bishop or state president. It is just best to ignore LDS leaders or pretend like you have no idea what they are talking about. And I can't believe how calm John was. If my EQP had said something like that, I'd point out he was the biggest dick I'd ever met and that I wanted nothing to ever do with him again (and to stay the hell away from my family).
"You lack vision, but I see a place where people get on and off the freeway. On and off, off and on all day, all night.... Tire salons, automobile dealerships and wonderful, wonderful billboards reaching as far as the eye can see. My God, it'll be beautiful." -- Judge Doom
_Kishkumen
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Re: John Dehlin: A Spy Story

Post by _Kishkumen »

Tobin wrote:I'm sure there is a majority of members of the LDS Church that would act like this if asked to by their bishop or state president. It is just best to ignore LDS leaders or pretend like you have no idea what they are talking about. And I can't believe how calm John was. If my EQP had said something like that, I'd point out he was the biggest dick I'd ever met and that I wanted nothing to ever do with him again (and to stay the hell away from my family).


In my view, this serves as a fine example, albeit on a relatively humble scale, of how ideology can make decent people commit evil acts. LDS people are expected to spy on their neighbors when it comes to issues of "sin." For example, those who commit sexual sins with other members are supposed to identify the other parties. It's written in plain English in the Church Handbook of Instructions. Those who do so are probably encouraged to feel like this is a crucial part in the repentance process.

I have no doubt that John's old EQP did these things and that he felt as smug and righteous about it as the day is long. It is probably also the case that some of the participants in the Mountain Meadows Massacre felt the exhilaration of fighting for a righteous cause when they cut down numerous innocents in cold blood.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist
_Tobin
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Re: John Dehlin: A Spy Story

Post by _Tobin »

Kishkumen wrote:In my view, this serves as a fine example, albeit on a relatively humble scale, of how ideology can make decent people commit evil acts. LDS people are expected to spy on their neighbors when it comes to issues of "sin." For example, those who commit sexual sins with other members are supposed to identify the other parties. It's written in plain English in the Church Handbook of Instructions. Those who do so are probably encouraged to feel like this is a crucial part in the repentance process.

I have no doubt that John's old EQP did these things and that he felt as smug and righteous about it as the day is long. It is probably also the case that some of the participants in the Mountain Meadows Massacre felt the exhilaration of fighting for a righteous cause when they cut down numerous innocents in cold blood.


I wonder how many Mormons have read Dystopian Novels like Lord of the Flies, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and a Brave New World to name a few? There is real danger in stupid ideologies and policies, but if you are ignorant of the danger it is easy to fall prey to it.
"You lack vision, but I see a place where people get on and off the freeway. On and off, off and on all day, all night.... Tire salons, automobile dealerships and wonderful, wonderful billboards reaching as far as the eye can see. My God, it'll be beautiful." -- Judge Doom
_Kishkumen
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Re: John Dehlin: A Spy Story

Post by _Kishkumen »

Tobin wrote:I wonder how many Mormons have read Dystopian Novels like Lord of the Flies, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and a Brave New World to name a few? There is real danger in stupid ideologies and policies, but if you are ignorant of the danger it is easy to fall prey to it.


Agreed.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist
_Maksutov
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Re: John Dehlin: A Spy Story

Post by _Maksutov »

Kishkumen wrote:Having watched the epic journey of John Dehlin from his days as a questioning Mormon who was trying to make things work all the way up to the present, one of the perennial points of interest has been the use of spies to keep tabs on John. The use of spies is one of those things that the LDS Church does at the risk of seeming like a cult, but it seems to think that the benefits of using spies outweigh the cost of looking like a cult.

We saw the fruits of some of the spying on John in Greg Smith's mammoth hit pieces on John Dehlin, which were published on the Interpreter's website. it seems that Smith (or some of his friends in the apologetic community) was combing John's Facebook feed to gather any little bit that could be taken out of context and twisted in a way to make Dehlin look bad. Our own Rollo Tomasi did a thorough analysis of this dirty pool here at MDB. I recommend it highly.

Now John has done a lengthy miniseries of interviews with folks like Dan Wotherspoon and Gina Colvin that go into great depth on where John is today and how he got there. One bit from part 3 of the Gina Colvin interview that I found especially interesting was John's report of the spying that occurred within his ward. I quote:

John Dehlin wrote:My EQP and some other members of my ward had started to spy on me and investigate me.. and attempted to gain entrance into some of the private forums I was entering. And, this all came out, and I became furious, and I felt like I was being spied on. And so, at that point I didn't feel welcome to go to Elders Quorum because these guys who had been spying on me without telling me were in the leadership there. And so, I would just go to sacrament meeting with my family. And that was true up through June of 2014. I was still actively attending sacrament meeting with my family and letting my kids be raised in the church.


Then Dehlin skips back a bit in time:

John Dehlin wrote:So, but, it was that fall, that, so going back... it was the fall of 2013... where L. Whitney Clayton reorganized my stake and called Brian King um, and, where Oaks gave that talk, and where I realized I could not just be silent anymore about the harm being done to LGBT people, and women and minorities, etc., and so I gave my TED Talk that November. I wrote my Ordain Women profile that December, I think, and then I got called into the bishop that January, February of 2014.


Gina Colvin wrote:OK, and we're going to talk really quickly about the charges against you for your disciplinary council. What were they exactly?


John Dehlin wrote:Uh, man, I am not prepared... let me just see. So when Brian Hunt my bishop called me in in late January early February of 2014, he specifically mentioned my Ordain Women profile and my work on Progressive Mormonism which was a website I had created. Um, you know, trying to encourage a brand of Progressive Mormonism. And he basically just said, "Those things are a problem, and I am going to start an investigation." And by that point, I was just, I didn't have patience for another investigation, and I said, "You, Brian Hunt, can investigate me, but I will not be participating in that investigation." So, this is when I wrote him and said, "I will be attending sacrament meeting with my children, and I'll still remain a member of your ward, but for ecclesiastical reasons, you can just as well not consider me a member of the ward, because I won't be interacting with you anymore as my ecclesiastical leader, if you're going to conduct yet another investigation after all of the investigations I had already had.


Gina Colvin wrote:So, you were pissed off.


John Dehlin wrote:Yeah. Just tired. Just tired, and, yeah, I was angry. But the crazy thing is I was still committed to activity, so I was still raising my kids in the church and I was still attending sacrament meeting. But I just, the investigations really just got to me, you know. You know, a member... a guy who lives on my street, who was EQP, would be home-teaching me and acting like he loved me and my family and then he would be secretly gathering, you know, Tweets and Facebook comments and trying to get into secret forums and then turning all that information in to try and get me excommunicated.


Gina Colvin wrote:Right.


John Dehlin wrote:So it was...and that same EQP told me his grandpa had been excommunicated and that it was the best thing that ever happened to him, and that if he ever had to excommunicate me, or had to help contribute to my excommunication, he would consider it an honor to have played a part in that because he would feel like excommunication at that point would have been God's will and he would have been helping, you know, perform God's will. And he told me that himself! You know, and that was just a really twisted, sick way to be my EQP, and my, you know, ecclesiastical leader, from my point of view.


From what I am able to piece together of this interview, it appears that L. Whitney Clayton reorganized John's stake, placed King in as stake president (the man who would ultimately excommunicate John), and John's bishop called John in to tell him that he was going to investigate John. John declined to participate. Then his EQP, a neighbor, started gathering information from John's Tweets and Facebook page, and tried to get into different private online forums under false pretenses to gather yet more information about John. At the same time, this EQP is home-teaching John's family, acting compassionate toward John, and yet telling him it will be an honor to participate in John's excommunication should it come to that.

Wow.


It's a very ugly part of the LDS culture, Reverend. I can remember when the Salt Lake City Police Department was working with the Wilkinson administration at BYU to identify Y students at the city's few gay bars. Then there were the spies on campus listening in on evil "liberal" professors. Eugene England confirmed to me in 1976 that this was still continuing under Oaks but lower key. There was also the case of Douglas Wallace, a quirky LDS dissident who dissented at General Conference and earned, not just a Church security detachment, but a SLCPD surveillance opening post that ended with the accidental crippling of an officer. All that within about a 10-15 year span of time. Who knows what has been going on the last 40 years? That's why these online fora are important, because these issues are rarely treated in the conventional press.
"God" is the original deus ex machina. --Maksutov
_ludwigm
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Re: John Dehlin: A Spy Story

Post by _ludwigm »

Tobin wrote: Lord of the Flies, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and a Brave New World
If You has read all of that, then I get off You from the list of hm .. khm .. You know what list.
- Whenever a poet or preacher, chief or wizard spouts gibberish, the human race spends centuries deciphering the message. - Umberto Eco
- To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin. - Cardinal Bellarmine at the trial of Galilei
_hagoth7
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Re: John Dehlin: A Spy Story

Post by _hagoth7 »

Tobin wrote:
Kishkumen wrote:...and tried to get into different private online forums under false pretenses...At the same time, this EQP is home-teaching John's family, acting compassionate toward John...
...I'm sure there is a majority of members of the LDS Church that would act like this if asked to by their bishop or state president....

Boy do I ever disagree. Fully and completely.

People actually do have principles, believe it or not.

Added: To say that it happens on occasion is one thing. But to say that the majority of members would act that way is balderdash, IMNSHO.
Joseph Smith: "I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself."
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/Book of Mormon/alm ... ang=eng#20
Red pill: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/acts/ ... ang=eng#10
Blue pill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NNOrp_83RU
_Tobin
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Re: John Dehlin: A Spy Story

Post by _Tobin »

hagoth7 wrote:
Tobin wrote:...I'm sure there is a majority of members of the LDS Church that would act like this if asked to by their bishop or state president....

Boy do I ever disagree. Fully and completely.

People actually do have principles, believe it or not.
I'm not surprised that you disagree. However, it has been my observation that LDS members lack courage to challenge their leaders and the stupid policies they promote. If what you were saying were true in the least, then the LDS Church would have done away with this stupid excommunication process long ago. It doesn't take any effort to kick someone out of your church. The fact the LDS Church engages in such ugly and nefarious process like this speaks volumes about the inbred stupidity within the organization and those that are leading it.
"You lack vision, but I see a place where people get on and off the freeway. On and off, off and on all day, all night.... Tire salons, automobile dealerships and wonderful, wonderful billboards reaching as far as the eye can see. My God, it'll be beautiful." -- Judge Doom
_Kishkumen
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Re: John Dehlin: A Spy Story

Post by _Kishkumen »

Tobin wrote:
hagoth7 wrote:Boy do I ever disagree. Fully and completely.

People actually do have principles, believe it or not.
I'm not surprised that you disagree. However, it has been my observation that LDS members lack courage to challenge their leaders and the stupid policies they promote. If what you were saying were true in the least, then the LDS Church would have done away with this stupid excommunication process long ago. It doesn't take any effort to kick someone out of your church. The fact the LDS Church engages in such ugly and nefarious process like this speaks volumes about the inbred stupidity within the organization and those that are leading it.


In this case, I have to agree with Tobin. It is not that LDS people lack principles. It's just that those principles can be overridden by the demands of their LDS Church membership. It simply is a fact that narcing on fellow members is a policy of the LDS Church. And we can add that long list of instances of spying from earlier in the 20th century that Brother Maksutov reminded us of.

I am sorry, hagoth7, but whether you like it or not, there is a rich history of spying and invasion of privacy in Mormonism. I do not say this to condemn Mormons, but to point out that such policies, some of which remain today in the Church Handbook of Instructions, encourage people to inform on each other. I look forward to the day when such practices of spying and informing come to an end.

Does anyone recall that creepy story about Church security hunting down D. Michael Quinn? Man, that one gave me the shivers.
"Petition wasn’t meant to start a witch hunt as I’ve said 6000 times." ~ Hanna Seariac, LDS apologist
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