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Radio Free Mormon: 225: Kerry Shirts Interview (AKA The Backyard Professor)

RFM sits down with Kerry Shirts, former believer, former director of research for FAIR (Formerly FairMormon, formerly FAIR), former apologist known as the Backyard Professor. Kerry discusses his time as an apologist defending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his subsequent loss of belief.


21 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 225: Kerry Shirts Interview (AKA The Backyard Professor)”

  1. Kerry reminds me in voice, enthusiasm, and perhaps a little in appearance of the “Yukon Cornelius” character in the Rankin Bass classic “Rudolph the Red-Reindeer”.

    I love listening to this guy.

  2. Sorry, but this guy just seems to be completely full of shit. His stories are as believable as Paul H Dunn. 100 degrees blow zero? Couldn’t he pick a more believable number?

    1. He mentioned the wind chill factor so if you take that into account, an air temperature of -30, with a strong wind could have reached a -60 to – 80 degree wind chill, which means frostbite on bare skin would only take a few minutes. He was 19 and the locals probably exaggerated the weather conditions as we all like to do. Give Kerry a break-as they say

      1. You are certainly full of shit and are prone to extreme exaggeration. Google the coldest temperature recorded with windchill. At least when Paul Dunn was exaggerating, the Internet didn’t exist to refute some of his silliness. Your stories become so outrageous it’s impossible to distinguish between creative license and factual information.

      2. And just to reiterate how silly just that one story is, google the coldest temperate ever recorded in Missouri (which I believe is where this story took place). That number is -40F in 1905. So even if we give you the benefit of the doubt and say it was that cold for you. Go to the National Weather Service windchill calculator and you can enter the temperature and a windspeed and it will return the wind chill temperature. For -40F to feel like -100F, wind speed would have to be OVER 100 MPH. Yes. You are full of shit. I’m sure it was cold, but just acknowledge your stories are exaggerated, and sometimes HEAVILY exaggerated.

  3. Well, well, well. RFM scores an interview with Kerry Shirts. Surprise is an understatement. Quite a number of years ago, I started poking JD and later Mormon Discussion bring on Kerry for an interview, but eventually came to believe that it would never happen. Not sure what took him so long.

    This discussion is full of anecdotes contrasting those who prioritize belief and then assemble data points to support it, verses those who have the courage to follow the evidence where ever it takes them. They also show how morally fraught the former approach is and I was happy to see that Kerry practices the latter.

    Born in same year as Kerry and RFM, I took note of some of the authors that Kerry mentioned in his research. Growing up across the street from BYU, my ward was full of the likes of Truman Madsen, Richard Lloyd Anderson, Hyrum Andrus, and a host of other professors. My dad was also best friends with John Sorenson. I came to trust explicitly these brethren explicitly, as I did the Q15. I had no idea the extent that their mindset and circumstances prevented from them from speaking freely – belief is the highest moral value, even over truth. I based my life on this trust, so it was quite a crash to figure out how misplaced it was. It’s a deep moral blind spot of Mormonism and the collateral damage is jaw dropping.

    Perhaps down the road it would be helpful to bring Kerry on to vet out one specific topic. I know that I would be interested.

  4. One of the best podcasts RFM has done. It’s rare and refreshing to find an honest apologist who isn’t afraid to have the courage of his convictions

  5. This was absolutely riveting and Kerry is wonderfully entertaining – like the Golden Kimball of Post-Mormon Apologetics.

    I hope that you all can do this again, I would like to hear more of his most interesting insider’s view stories – and I suspect that I’m not alone in this.

    Thanks, guys, a wonderful interview!

  6. I’m exhausted and delighted!

    KUDOS RFM…obviously an exclusive.

    That was intense. I suppose the guy was a master apologist because he can do very deep dives in many directions and never tire of the stone turning. So its no surprise that you had a challenge on your hands keeping him on track. LOL

    I now believe in reincarnation if Im to credit him with just the 10 lifetimes he had to have spent just reading heavy books. hahahaha

    He revealed some things Ive not heard anyone talk about.

    I would gladly listen to more of his experiences and Ill take him any way he comes.

  7. So very glad to watch and listen to this podcast and catch up w/ Kerry (“The Backyard Professor”) I have followed Kerry since the early 90’s back on the alt. Mormon message board, then to his YouTube Videos, and then as he transitioned he fell off most of social media–can’t say I blame him. I still follow on Instagram, though he hasn’t been active there for awhile.

    I haven’t invested the study and reading he has done on clearly a wide variety of subjects, but this comments and thoughts shared in this podcast fairly well sum up where I am at this point vis a vis the church, God, religious thought in general. I guess I would self identify as a hopeful agnostic, i.e., resorting back to the classical definition of faith: The substance of things Hoped for; but, the Evidence of things, not yet Seen.

    I hope you will do another podcast with Kerry, and others in similar situations. Love RFM and his behind the enemy lines broadcasts. Carry On, Carry On, Carry On . . . .

  8. I listened with interest because I remember Kerry Shirts. But I thought it was horrible. He came off as a loud mouthed idiot. I felt like TBMs would love this one – Kerry could be a poster child for what could happen to you if you leave Mormonism.

  9. I’ve never heard of Kerry Shirts. Dawkins first work was published in 1976, Bertrand Russell has been around forever. One really has to live under a rock to miss out on them for so long.

    1. Kerry Shirts was a big fish in the very little pond of Mormon Apologetics, decades ago. You had to be a fish in that little pond to know of him, but, everybody in the pond knew of him.

      Scott Gordon cares nothing about truth and fact, by the way.

  10. What are some of the issues that Shirts has with Gee. Kerry mentions that Gee should be embarrassed with some of his views.

    Any details?

  11. Kerry has the gift of the gab but it’s a good thing I was painting a chicken shed at the same time because while I’m certain Kerry has the ability to talk specifics and go into deep philosophical issues I felt it was only the last 15mins he stopped padding. It seemed like he was trying too hard to be entertaining. What we really want to hear were the issues that broke his shelf and what his belief paradigm now is. The reason he was angry is the same reason everyone is- that of extreme loss. Finding out after 50yrs of commitment and sacrifice you have been duped by men you have been told to trust and that you have been a part of one of the many ‘Jesus’ cults. Maybe do the interview again with an allocated time for specific topics. Thankyou RFM and Kerry for your efforts

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