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Greg Smith, Dan Peterson, John Dehlin, & Lou

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For the record, I'm going to lay out the facts (as I know them) regarding the Greg Smith, Daniel Peterson, Lou Midgley happening of the past few weeks and months.

1) A few weeks back someone contacted me to let me know that the Maxwell institute was about to publish a lengthy, footnoted article dedicated to critiquing/attacking me and Mormon Stories authored by Greg Smith.

2) I immediately emailed Daniel Peterson, and cc'd a few people I consider to be friends, to find out if this was true -- telling him that if, indeed, the story was true, that I would appreciate knowing about it, and that I would be contacting my GA friends to ask for their involvement. This was his response:

You're threatening, blackmailing, and defaming, and I don't appreciate it.

I also don't have time for it, and I'm definitely not in the mood: My older brother, my only sibling and only remaining connection to my parents, died suddenly on Friday. I'm at Harvard to give a lecture tonight and will be in California later in the week for my brother's funeral.

Coincidentally, I had to contact the Orem police yesterday -- and not for the first time -- about threats of violence from an unhinged former Mormon in California.

I don't find what you're attempting here even remotely acceptable.

If you cared at all about my good will, you chose a very bad approach. And your timing couldn't possibly have been worse.

-dcp

3) I replied with the following:

Dr. Peterson,

I am very deeply sorry to hear about your loss.

Also, please know that it is not my intention to do any of those things that you allege. I did not create this situation. Simply, I was very disturbed yesterday to learn that the Maxwell institute might be preparing a hit piece on me, so I responded the best way I knew how to get a response from you.

When things improve for you personally, I hope that you and the Maxwell institute will consider a different approach than you have used in the past. You harm many people, including the church you seek to help, when you attack people publicly for their struggles with legitimate issues. ..... I sincerely believe that attacking the messenger harms everyone involved -- you, me, the Maxwell institute and the church included.

My sincere well wishes to you and yours during a hard time. Also, I'm happy to reconsider my approaches, and I hope that you will do the same.

Sincerely,

John Dehlin

He did not respond.

4) When I attended the UVU conference, several people (faithful members of the church) came up to me and told me that they were aware of the article written about me, and were sickened by it -- including people who had read it. I was informed that there was significant disagreement within the Maxwell institute itself about whether or not the article should be published.

5) After my panel discussion at UVU, Lou Midgley came up and verbally assaulted me (that's how it felt to me, anyway) -- threatening me and attempting to tie me to the death of a missionary on my mission (Brian Bartholomew), and trying to tie me to Grant Palmer back in 1992 (one of the most bizarre accusations I've ever heard, since it was another decade before I even learned his name). People took pictures and video of the affair (which I have)....which was pretty funny. The interaction, of course, was not funny. Not at all. It was deeply disturbing to me.

6) I decided to contact a GA friend of mine to let him know about the piece, and to ask him to intervene. Given Midgley's verbal allegations, I was not about to be slandered in that way, and I honestly felt like such an article would sully Neil A. Maxwell's good name, and would be damaging to BYU, the church, and to many members of the church who value what we do with Mormon Stories. The GA told me that he would contact a few people in high places, and that he would do his best to intervene.

7) A few days later I was informed by a very, very reliable source that some very clear communication was given to the Maxwell Institute that publishing this article about me was ill advised, and that an apostle was involved in that communication. I was informed that the decision was made to no longer publish the article via the Maxwell Institute, and that it would be returned to its author, Greg Smith. I was also told to not be surprised if the article ended up being published by FAIR.

8 ) A few weeks back I wrote Scott Gordon to ask if he intended to publish the article. He declined any knowledge of the article, but did not respond regarding whether or not he intends to publish the article. Still waiting for that response.

A final note: I don't mind being criticized. Not at all. Also, I need to clarify something: I did not respond this way out of a desire to protect or save myself, or out of a spirit of censorship. My guess is that this article, in the end, would have probably given us more credibility and publicity regarding the good things we are trying to do at Mormon Stories

So why did I fight the article? I did it because I believe in my heart that the old school, disingenuous, ad hominem-style apologetics a la Daniel Peterson and Louis Midgley are very, very damaging: to the church, to its members, to its former members, and mostly to its targets. My strategic hope was that fighting this article within the ranks of church leadership could be used to help bring light to these destructive tactics, and hopefully drive a death nail or two into them. I don't know if I've ultimately succeeded on that front (time will tell, I guess), but based on feedback from several sources, I feel like it may have done some good in this regard. If not, well....at least I tried.

For those who want to know what Mormon Stories is all about, see here: http://mormonstories.org/about/

I'll end by quoting from our shared values statement:

1) We acknowledge the richness of Mormon heritage, teachings, and community in all of its diversity.

2) We believe that one can self-identify as Mormon based on one’s genealogy, upbringing, beliefs, relationships, and other life experiences, regardless of one’s adherence or non-adherence to the teachings or doctrines of any religious organization.

3) We seek spaces where we as Mormons can live lives of intellectual and spiritual integrity, individual conscience, and personal dignity.

4) We acknowledge and honor different spiritual paths and modes of religious or non-religious truth-seeking. We respect the convictions of those who subscribe to ideas and beliefs that differ from our own.

5) We recognize the confusion, distress, emotional trauma, and social ostracism that people on faith journeys often experience. We seek constructive ways of helping and supporting people, regardless of their ultimate decisions regarding church affiliation or activity.

6) We affirm the inherent and equal worth of all human beings. We seek spaces where Mormons (and all people) can interact as equals regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. In this spirit of egalitarianism, we prefer non-authoritarian and non-hierarchical means of organization and affiliation.

7) In addition to explicitly striving to align all operations with the Mormon Stories Shared Values, we endeavor to ensure that the projects we undertake: a) support individuals in Mormon-related faith crises, b) save marriages, c) heal families, and d) celebrate, challenge, and advance Mormon culture in healthy ways.

Edited by mormonstories

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Really bad form in a number of ways, John. Too bad. I follow your activities and now it appears you're just another frothing anti I wouldn't want my kids to read. Find peace, brother.

Edited by Bob Crockett

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Really bad form in a number of ways, John. Too bad. I follow your activities and now it appears you're just another frothing anti I wouldn't want my kids to read. Find peace, brother.

A "frothing anti"? Good grief.

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Maybe an overstatement for which I apologize. But what person in his right mind would ever now carry on an email dialogue with John. And where are my GA pals when I need protection from the Mormons?

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John, you are a valiant man to take on the old-school, slash and burn type of apologetics. I hope you are successful in your efforts to stop this kind of thing.

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Really bad form in a number of ways, John. Too bad. I follow your activities and now it appears you're just another frothing anti I wouldn't want my kids to read. Find peace, brother.

Bob - I honestly don't know another way to stop the ad hominem attacks than to stand up to them...to confront the bully. If you have ideas, please let me know. I'm sorry if this disappoints you. Maybe if you were the target of such attacks, you would understand.

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Nice to know where JD draws the line about promoting diversity of opinions and individual conscience, etc.

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Really bad form in a number of ways, John. Too bad. I follow your activities and now it appears you're just another frothing anti I wouldn't want my kids to read. Find peace, brother.

I also wonder if you have any feedback for Greg Smith, Daniel Peterson or Louis Midgley regarding "bad form."

Edited by mormonstories

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You need PR help. You are pissing all over the brand you have worked hard to establish. I can't speak for them but what Givens, Bushman or Gardner would now submit to an interview?

I routinely try to help clients try and squelch negative press stories about to be published. Just as there is a First Amendment right to publish them in the first place so is there a right to back channel them before they are published.

But to go public about it and post private emails is to invite the public in to your home to look at your porn stash, so to speak.

You are a public figure. Of course people will criticize what you do. I have done it. Isn't your brand and what you are trying to do greater than your need to get revenge? Just sayin.

Edited by Bob Crockett

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John, would you please quote your original email to Dan Peterson? It seems fair for full disclosure.

I agree.

There's no way to legitimately judge Daniel's email response without seeing the original email sent to him. It's kind of odd that it wasn't included in the OP.

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You need PR help. You are pissing all over the brand you have worked hard to establish. I can't speak for them but what Givens, Bushman or Gardner would now submit to an interview?

I routinely try to help clients try and squelch negative press stories about to be published. Just as there is a First Amendment right to publish them in the first place so is there a right to back channel them before they are published.

But to go public about it and post private emails is to invite the public in to your home to look at your porn stash, so to speak.

For some who just called John a frothing anti, I am puzzled that you would be offering him such helpful and constructive advice.

It seems to me that if you want to be a critic of Mormonstories and John, then dagnabit, just be a critic.

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Bob - I honestly don't know another way to stop the ad hominem attacks than to stand up to them...to confront the bully. If you have ideas, please let me know. I'm sorry if this disappoints you. Maybe if you were the target of such attacks, you would understand.

You might want to pull back on the self-righteous indignation just a touch. First of all, you were the one to bring up a threat of going to the GA's. I think if someone had reached me with that type of statement up front, I would react badly. It is a little bit like, "Look chap, you don't know what you are talking about. You don't threaten me to start off a conversation. Lastly, talk to anyone you want. Next, wait until I contact you. Until then, ....choice words about what you can do with yourself."

To confront the Bully???? You are the bloody chap with the bully bullpit. Wake the friggin heck up! Geez, what type of hypocrisy does it take to speak form your frame of mind? Do you not get your own roll in this little piece of stupidity?

I am sorry, but I reject your interaction with DP. I reject your attempt to paint yourself a whited sepulcher, and I reject the utter stupidity of the mindless supporters of your actions. In fact, this whole thing is so stupid there is nothing else to say.

I can tell you one thing; you would never want to contact me in the same manner.

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I am a critic. But just because I am a critic of Signature Books doesn't mean I don't buy its books.

Edited by Bob Crockett

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If what OP is saying is that the proposed story was defamatory, then he should have said that. (And if he hadn't read the story, how would he know?) If he was saying he objected to someone investigating him, hearing stories and rumors about him, writing about what their research lead them to, and printing it then he should have said that. The whole, "I'm going to my GA friends" is just plain ugly: even if one had such "friends", and even if GA's put themselves in the awkward position that OP asked them to be in. And the OP's suggestion that any decision was the result of GA pressure, when it could as easily have been the end result of the internal debate that he already knew of, is unctous.

There may be enough misunderstandings to go around, surely. But this thread and the ugly words leveled as labels against Dan Peterson, particularly, are so very disgusting. If it is true that any of the article was defamatory, the OP's advertising of the article here and to apparently others would have to be construed as the republishing that caused the harm.

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What I'm missing in the OP is the original email John sent DCP - a conspicuous omission which leads me to believe DCP's response may well have been warranted.

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2) I immediately emailed Daniel Peterson, and cc'd a few people I consider to be friends, to find out if this was true -- telling him that if, indeed, the story was true, that I would appreciate knowing about it, and that I would be contacting my GA friends to ask for their involvement. This was his response:

It is interesting that you quote DCP's email verbatim, but not the email which precipitated it (yours).

Will you post your email to DCP?

Thanks,

-Smac

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Ugly stuff being thrown around here.....

It's a mormon story in the making. Too bad.

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2) We believe that one can self-identify as Mormon based on one’s genealogy, upbringing, beliefs, relationships, and other life experiences, regardless of one’s adherence or non-adherence to the teachings or doctrines of any religious organization.

I could not disagree more strongly with this statement. Mormonism is a community of faith. To say that faith is irrelevant to being a Mormon is absurd.

Religious affiliation is a choice. It's not a community grouping about which we have no control (such as, say, being male or being caucasian).

-Smac

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John, you are a valiant man to take on the old-school, slash and burn type of apologetics. I hope you are successful in your efforts to stop this kind of thing.

So says the self-described "Fifth Columnist."

-Smac

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So says the self-described "Fifth Columnist."

-Smac

Freedom of speech ought to flow in one direction only, to the "neutrals".

Still waiting on the original email sent to DCP.

Edited by Log

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Freedom of speech ought to flow in one direction only, to the "neutrals".

Still waiting on the original email sent to DCP.

I am waiting, too. I have a measure of the man when it comes to DCP. As to John Dehlin ... not so much.

John, please post your email to DCP.

Thanks,

-Smac

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I've been personally attacked for some of my stances in the past. However, I've never gone to a GA to complain before. Must be nice to be connected, even when you are no longer connected....

I am not a fan of Mormon Stories, as I feel that it tends to sensationalize and focus on the problems, rather than on the strengths of Mormonism. I can see how an article regarding Dehlin's work and the reasons behind what he's doing could be important. That I haven't read Greg's article, I cannot judge it either way on whether it is ad hominem or not. Sadly, I'm only getting half the story here. I know that Lou Midgely can be an attack dog, as I've seen his work for 20 years in doing this. But Greg's work is usually not in that same vein. So, I cannot determine if this is an attempt to prevent an ad hominem attack, or someone just whining about it. Since Dehlin has posted this, he has only given wings to the issue.

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/snip self-immolating rant/

It's been no more than two weeks since I predicted, in a conversation with Lou, that you would eventually self-destruct. I just didn't expect it to occur this soon.

Oh, well ... as the old saw goes:

"All's well that ends well."

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A final note: I don't mind being criticized. Not at all. . . .

So why did I fight the article? I did it because I believe in my heart that the old school, disingenuous, ad hominem-style apologetics a la Daniel Peterson and Louis Midgley are very, very damaging: to the church, to its members, to its former members, and mostly to its targets.

On another board where this alleged article was first discussed, it was disclosed that I am also about to be the target of Maxwell Institute hit piece. I have less first hand knowledge of this than John claims for the article he believes is about him. I have not made any attempt to stop its publication (if it exists). I have no GA friends to whom I might appeal, but I do have a couple of men inside the Maxwell Institute whom I call friends. I haven't even asked if it is true.

Echoing John, I don't mind being criticized. Standing on what I have written, I would want such an article published.

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