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  • samuel Johnston

    I was recently visited by a pair of Mormon missionaries. I wanted to yell RUN, RUN, set yourselves free! -but their young minds were locked up so tightly. It makes me angry to see these young people so deliberately mislead by unrelenting propaganda. Granted, most are better off than the neglected and virtually thrown away children in too many our our unhealthy, unorganized neighborhoods, but this heavy handed programming is hardly an optimum alternative.
    I was able to escape the narrow religious programing I was subjected to by my well intentioned parents – but it was not easy and it left huge emotional scars. I was rescued by the free library system, a few caring school teachers, and a University education. Better to teach the young how to behave, and how to learn, and then let them find their own answers.

  • Entropy 1

    Samuel & PBS’s Religion and Ethics,

    Concerning the very well put together report on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, by PBS’s “Religion and Ethics, ” I have to say thank you. Specifically thank you for the fair and mostly accurate representation you gave of our faith and of missionary work. This is a rare thing, and it seems like your reporters went to great lengths to understand what you are reporting on so that I as a member I recognize what you are saying as accurate and without intentional bias. The time it probably took to produce this level of quality is a rare thing, in regards to most reporting regarding my faith.

    Samuel Johnston, I read your comments on the two missionaries and your perception of how their minds were “locked up” and implication that there is some sort of brainwashing going on with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I must say your comments did make me chuckle. No insult is intended Samuel, but you see that your misconceptions of why we believe what we do so strongly and what a benefit living this spiritual standard of conduct, taught to us by Jesus Christ through prophets, gives us. What you said displayed to most any member of the church a remarkable ignorance concerning people of our faith.

    I may be able to offer you an alternative point of view and some things to think about. You are of course free NOT to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints regardless of the outcome of my post and its effect on your views, but my goal here is to address some of the ideas about our faith that are not true. This is important because then you will have an accurate idea of what our faith truly is and can make a well informed decision. Briefly, here are some teachings from our faith that you may want to look up and think over. Joseph Smith, the first prophet of our modern age, was asked once about the city he had just established in Nauvoo, Illinois, and “how he could govern so many people, and to preserve such perfect order?” The question was apparently from a curious member of the Legislature, and story told by another church leader John Taylor. Joseph Smith then replied to the Legislator’s question with the following:

    “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” (“The Organization
    of the Church,” Millenial Star [Newspaper], Nov. 15, 1831, 339).

    This idea that men and women are free to choose for themselves is also contained in other writings of Joseph Smith as well as practices of the church that still exist today. The thing that we are not free from, whether we know about these true ideas or not, is what the real world and even eternal consequences that result from our choices. If we feel a natural tendency to kill someone who has injured us in some way, we still have a choice to do what is right or not. If we kill another, like Cain in Genesis, we suffer Gods consequences for our actions. If we resist the natural tendency toward revenge and make the hard choice, then our life is infinitely better and we find the joy associated with living this way. Using correct principles to make right choices will not only make us happy, but we will have accomplished God’s purpose for our life (see Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:25, p. 59).

    Knowing about these true principles and doing our best to live up to this knowledge we believe came from God through prophets brings about a better life. This road-map through life, or the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what we believe has been restored, and once you have tried it, you will know it is good and it is of God (See New Testament, John 7:17). This knowledge of how much better things can be is why we feel so strongly about what we believe and probably the source for what you call “deliberately mislead by unrelenting propaganda.”

    Here are two more quotes from the Book of Mormon, in which the ancient American prophet Nephi speaks about this God given freedom given to all mankind as part of the test of this life and the second quote is about how to recognize the truth when it is given to you:

    ” Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them
    which are expedient undo man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life,
    through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to
    the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable
    like unto himself.” (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:27, p. 59).

    Now for the other quote about how to judge good from evil, and how to know the truth when it is right in front of you. The son of the ancient prophet Mormon, who put most of this ancient record together, adds his own words to the end of this book, and this Moroni being a prophet himself has a few more correct principles about how to know who is from God and who is not:

    “5. For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for
    if their works be good then they are good also.

    6. For behold God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he
    offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth
    him nothing.

    7. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.

    8. For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is
    counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted
    evil before God.

    9. And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real
    intent of heart; yea and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.

    10. Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a
    good gift.

    11. For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good
    fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore a man being a servant of the devil
    cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.

    12. Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil
    commeth from the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against
    him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil
    continually.” (Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:5-12, pp. 521-522).

    I have found these passages on how to judge good from evil particularly useful in my life. For you Samuel, I invite you to look at the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, with this way to judge in mind, and its counterpart verses in the Bible. Simply put, God has given us something of great value in restoring modern prophets and apostles, his gospel, and new scripture. If you want to know if it is true, the Book of Mormon is the key; read it, study it, compare it to the Old and New Testaments, pray to God if it is true, and try some of the true principles for yourself–you will see that it is true.

    Samuel, I know that God is real. The truths I have are of great value to me, because to the degree to which I am successful in following the example of Christ and live these commandments, I live a better and happier life. You should know that it is a hard road though. It isn’t easy to live these commandments, and I am honestly no better than you or anyone else, but what I do have is repentance, a baptism by someone who has authority from God to take away sin, and I also have a road-map that helps me find joy in this life. In addition to baptism, part of that road-map is the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide me through life and help me make my own best choices–which is given after baptism by someone who has God’s authority to do so.

    You have already probably guessed that I was a missionary once too Samuel. I served in the Northern Provinces of Argentina 1994-1996. I am not a young man anymore, but as I look back on my time as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (sometimes called by the nick-name Mormons), I have a fondness for this hard time and treasure the memories I have of that place and those wonderful people–especially those whom I was able to make a difference. My dad converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from the Baptist faith years before he met my Mom, whose family has a long history of LDS church membership. I was the first in my family to go and I would not trade my time as a missionary for anything, not a college degree, or my graduate degree, or any amount of money or honor. It is a hard choice to decide to go on a mission, and while there it was a hard life, but it is one choice I am very glad I made. It made me a better, tougher, kinder, and more compassionate person, who is continually determined to self-improve using the true principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I have been entrusted with.