Welcome to Wheat & Tares!  Today is our first day; we’re the newest Mormon blog, and we want to give you a warm welcome.  We hope you’ll stick around for a long time.

It’s been quite a week.  All of the writers here are used to writing about issues that affect and interest you, our readers.  We’re not used to being the subject, and frankly, we’re a bit uncomfortable to be the focus of—dare I say it—a scandal.  But it feels like there’s an elephant in the room, so we’d like to address it and put it behind us:  Out with the Old, In with the New.

We have nine bloggers here:  myself (Mormon Heretic), Bored in Vernal, Hawkgrrrl, Stephen Marsh, Jeff Spector, FireTag, Adam F, Andrew S, and jmb275.  You may know that we all used to blog at Mormon Matters.  As the result of an incident that occurred last week, the 9 of us have decided to create this blog.

John Dehlin gave his side of the story on Tuesday.  We have great admiration for John, and we’re all grateful that John started Mormon Matters and gave us all a voice.  We hope that Mormon Matters will continue to be a success.  We love and support our co-bloggers Joanna and Natasha who have decided to remain at Mormon Matters to help out.  John has plans to revamp the blog, and we wish him well.

John wasn’t involved in the day to day operations of Mormon Matters—we were.  From time to time he would pop in a post unannounced on a timely, usually controversial topic.  John’s Marlin Jensen post on Sept 25 was no different.  Day to day, we’ve tried to give everyone who comes to the site a voice.  Censoring and closing down comments was a rare tactic under our team at Mormon Matters, and it will be equally rare here at Wheat and Tares.  If you can use mostly clean language and are respectful of others, you are welcome here.  We don’t care if you like what we write or not; your comments can stand or fall on their own merits.  Mormon Matters was known for the passion of our commenters, and we don’t plan to change that at all.  Just keep it clean and civil.

While John was aware of our team’s policies, as the owner, he did not feel obligated to them.  His Jensen post turned out to be controversial.  Due to time constraints, and fearing the conversation would become unruly, he chose to close down the comments—a relatively routine practice at other blogs.  But it was not routine at our blog.

We questioned John about the wisdom of shutting down comments, especially since John wanted to bump the post back to the top of the blog because the Huffington Post had linked to his article.  Because some had questioned John’s actions, he feared that someone with admin rights might open the comments without his permission.  John was incredibly busy last week, and he didn’t have time to deal with us or monitor the post.  So he revoked everyone’s rights to the blog without any notice to us.  All of us were absolutely stunned, and that’s not the way we felt we should be treated after working hard to more than double the readership and improve the blog’s already high readership ranking dramatically.

John has wanted to move Mormon Matters in a different direction for quite some time, a direction that wasn’t suitable to the existing admins and would have required a lot of effort and commitment.  While John is great with podcasts and multimedia, many of our team prefer straight blogging. While the misunderstanding was the unfortunate catalyst, it just made sense for both him and us to part ways.  None of us are happy with how things happened.  Yes, there were hurt feelings on all sides, but we are confident the healing has already begun.

Regarding “the scandal” from last week, I think most of us would like to adopt Forrest Gump’s line and say, “That’s all I have to say about that.”  It’s something that we won’t forget, but we are confident that this new blog is the start of something really cool.  Out with the Old, In with the New.

I’m sure there will be passionate debates here, just as there were at Mormon Matters, and we welcome that.  We want to encourage openness and dialogue about topics that they may not have anywhere else, plus new content that is not confined to Mormonism.  We think what we created at Mormon Matters was cool, and we want to bring the cool things there over here.  Out with the Old, In with the New.  We hope that we are instantly familiar to you, and hope you’ll stick around for the good times we’ll have here.

Once again, welcome, and we hope that Wheat and Tares will be one of your favorite blogs!  (Actually, we hope it will be your favorite!)  We’re truly grateful you joined us here.  To us, you are the community.