Mormons are decriminalizing doubt. What’s the next step?

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questions and doubtsOn Sunday, I was heartened and nourished to hear not one but two loving talks at General Conference about doubt and faith.

Primary General President Rosemary Wixom and Elder Brent Nielson of the Seventy both shared stories of people they know who have worked through doubts. In both cases, the doubters eventually returned to the Church, but the anecdotes didn’t have that triumphal and judgmental trope I’ve seen before in Mormon discourse: i.e., “these people lost the faith because they were A) unrighteous B) lazy C) looking to be offended or D) all of the above. Probably D.”

In fact, Sister Wixom went out of her way to explain that was not the case for the woman whose story she was telling. Earlier this week I discovered that the woman in question is part of an online discussion group I also participate in, where she confirmed that Sister Wixom adhered to the facts as the woman herself had outlined them in a Relief Society lesson. (In fact, the only thing she thought Sister Wixom may have gotten wrong was in graciously describing her as a “young mother” when she feels a bit older than that most days!)

This woman was not angry at the Church, and enjoyed nurturing relationships with ward members and parents who loved her through her questions. Still, those questions turned to doubts — deep ones that seemed to rock the very foundations of the Mormon faith she grew up in:

In spite of her substantial support system, she became less active. She said, “I did not separate myself from the Church because of bad behavior, spiritual apathy, looking for an excuse not to live the commandments, or searching for an easy out. I felt I needed the answer to the question ‘What do I really believe?’”

This, to me, was the heart of this talk and of this moment for many people in our Church. What do we really believe? How do we find God when the traditional answers the Church has given to people who struggle with doubt prove inadequate? In their most benign form, these answers have been self-help advice to pray more/read the Scriptures more/volunteer more/put a smile on your face more/count your blessings more.

More, more, more tasks heaped upon the individual who is already often worn down with the hard and necessary work of asking questions.

I’ve heard all of those task lists, those benign and well-intentioned responses. The more sinister and fear-filled answer (which I have heard less often and hope is diminishing thanks to talks like these) is usually something along the lines of, “Your questions are not important, or are even dangerous. If you can’t stop asking them yourself, at least stop asking them where other people can hear you. The Time-out Corner of Shame is over there.”

In more than 20 years as a Mormon, I can tell you that I have absolutely sucked as a missionary. I have never “brought anyone into the Church,” and frankly feel little desire or calling in that direction. Where I do feel called is in helping those who may already have one foot out the door feel more heard and included.

Sometimes that happens through my writings, and sometimes it happens because people at Church will grab me in the hallway and ask me to talk to their adult child who has stopped attending or their friend who is struggling with doctrine or history. I try to make myself available to those conversations, and I hope I have been helpful. Most of the time I say little, because I’m not there to trot out the Four Laws of Apologetics, and would be hopelessly inept at doing that anyway. I am there to be an ear, and a shoulder. That is all.

How a religion deals with doubt, and with doubters, is a test of its maturity. Mormons aren’t alone in wondering how best to handle questions and burnouts and crises of faith. Perhaps it is true that religions that focus so much on the early stages of faith – the dramatic conversion experience, the honeymoon phase of a new walk with God, the missionary mandate – have not paid enough attention to what happens in the middle, that lifelong struggle of enduring to the end. We focus plenty on our behavior in the middle, but not so much on our waxing or waning faith.

My friend Lauren Winner, an Episcopal priest, writes about this “middle” in her memoir Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis. This book, my favorite of all she has written, is about what happens when reality sets in:

We don’t talk especially well in the church about people’s moments of spiritual desolation, and maybe there are Christians who don’t have those moments, but I think most of us have them. It’s actually part of the architecture of the Christian life, not the odd exception. The communities of which I have been a part are wonderful, nurturing, nourishing Christian communities, yet they do a better job talking about the beginnings of people’s spiritual lives. We have a long history in North American Christianity of narrating people’s conversions as though that’s the end of the matter, when really that’s the prelude to the matter. And sometimes in our communities we say in response to someone’s spiritual desolation, “It’s fine; it’s understandable; we’ve all been there,” but we expect it to get resolved in about six weeks. And if it doesn’t get resolved in about six weeks, the person must not be trying hard enough or something, or not doing the right kind of praying.

These are wise words. I’m delighted that talks like Sister Wixom’s are turning doubt into a legitimate topic of conversation in Mormon culture, and not a dirty word. Decriminalizing doubt and doubters is the first step. The next task is much harder: cultivating a corporate faith that openly acknowledges that times of spiritual desiccation are a vital part of the Christian life.

  • Jonathan Felt

    Another apt blog post by the Riess-enable One. Our current needs do seem to be in shoring up our own faith and practices in a collective manner. It’s time to put aside all shallow belief patterns and really come to know of what we are preaching. The Lord is most likely sponsoring our doubts in order for us to cast off the faulty traditions we have developed for too many consecutive generations.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Jana, I confess to having doubts and I wonder if either you or your fine readers could help me?

    1) How can the Book of Mormon be true (e.g., be a literal history of ancient Americans) when it is contradicted in every non-trivial way by the archaeological evidence (e.g., domesticated horses, smelting iron/steel, domesticated Old World crops, Hebrew/Egyptian, etc.)?

    2) ) How can the Book of Abraham be true (e.g., a literal record written by Abraham) when it is so obviously a fraud (e.g., the story is totally not what’s on the actual papyri)?

    3) How can the church be true if the founder (J. Smith) was the perpetrator of two great frauds: “The Book of Mormon” and “The Book of Abraham?”

    4) How can J. Smith be trusted when he was such a moral miscreant (e.g., “marrying” young 14-year-old girls, marrying the wives of other men, engaging in financial cons, etc.)?

    5) How can the current leadership of the church be “living prophets and apostles” when they have virtually nothing to say about so many of the world’s most pressing concerns (e.g., social justice, pollution, global warming, etc.).

    6) How can anyone say that the Church is lead by “living prophets and apostles” when these men have taught false doctrine (e.g., curse of Blacks, etc.)

    7) How can Mormonism be “true” (e.g., led by God) when Mormon leaders have (and do) exercise such unrighteous dominion (e.g., excommunicating Kate Kelly).

    8) How can Mormonism be “true” (e.g., in possession of the “priesthood”) when the Book of Mormon equates black skin with a “curse” from God? And when earlier prophets (from who the current batch claim their “authority”) were such hateful racial bigots?

    Please don’t tell me to go to FAIR or FARMS. I’ve read all their material and, frankly, they do more harm than good. If Mormonism were true I certainly think Mormons would not be reduced to the rags and tatters found at FAIR and FARMS.

    But perhaps they’ve missed something and perhaps the answer is out there. Somewhere.

    Or, perhaps Mormonism is exactly what it looks like — a clumsy, transparent, and immoral fraud.

  • Jonathan Felt

    One thing I’ve noted in the past about my own doubts was the phasing I went through including a very angry descent period. Sister Snowcroft’s challenge statements about our Church are not questions at all, and it isn’t reasonable to suppose she is the only one who sees. Our Jewish cousins find truth in the shadows and in the contradictions; indeed in the very paradoxes created by faith. They don’t stop at the first layer of anything they are searching. I would suggest you assume God is creating your turmoil so you can think in a new way and so you can be ready for what is coming.

  • Wayne Dequer


    Thank you for your thought provoking comment. Personally, I “doubt” your “doubt.” Of course, a major part of the the question is how do we define doubt. Is doubt, “to be uncertain about (something):” or “to believe that (something) may not be true or is unlikely:” and/or “to have no confidence in (someone or something)”? Or, are you perhaps quite certain in your mind that the restored gospel is false, so while you may be raising doubts, you have no doubts about your beliefs?

    FAIR and FARMS do Not prove the truth of the restored gospel, but then that is neither their claim nor goal. They offer thoughtful scholarly comment and evidence answering attacks which claim the restored gospel should be dismissed out of hand (see “great and spacious building” in 1 Nephi). Belief in the gospel is still a matter of faith (see Alma 32: 26-43) buttressed by personal inspiration and revelation from the Holy Ghost and personal experience with the fruits of living gospel truths. We are to seek understanding through study And prayer. Patience is usually required in our effort to understand and, much more importantly, to receive personal revelation on questions that are bothering us.

    Adequate information regarding most of your questions can now be found at “Gospel Topics” at and references and links provided there.

    Again, thank you for your comment which has encouraged me to try to reply constructively.

  • Jacob H.


    Perhaps black and white is not how God made this world. Maybe you would enjoy reading some John Donne. “At the round earth’s imagined corners blow / your trumpets angels”… “There’s nothing simply good, nor ill alone, / of every quality comparison, / the only measure is, and judge, opinion”… “And new philosophy calls all in doubt, / the element of fire is quite put out; / The sun is lost, and th’earth, and no man’s wit / Can well direct him where to look for it”.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    It’s clear that doubt hasn’t been “decriminalized” at all; it’s as verboten as ever. And (as brother Felt so nicely illustrates) members still instinctively react to doubt, not with answers, but with personal innuendo (e.g., “very angry decent period.”)

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    I’m truly wondering why you think “black and white” have anything to do with the questions I asked.

    I’m not wondering why you didn’t bother to answer any of the questions, though. I’ve asked them many times, and members invariably come up with empty “answers,” or none at all.

  • Debbie Snowcroft

    Wayne wrote: “Personally, I “doubt” your doubt.”

    Of course you do, Wayne. After all, wasn’t that what the prophet told you to do?

    As with the comments from brother Felt, you’ve illustrated (with your “answer”) how pointed questions are still as unacceptable in Mormonism as ever, and how Mormons always try first to blame the person asking the questions, instead of answering the questions.

  • Annie

    Welcome to the world of doubting mormons. Many of us have been asking those questions for a very long time, and I’m here to tell you that you won’t find any concrete answers. I promise. Trying to find a satisfactory answer to those questions is like nailing water to the wall. I completely understand your frustration. I’ve felt it myself. Not sure where you are on your journey but please know that you’re not alone. If you haven’t already, try listening to some Mormon Matters podcasts. Those have been so helpful for me.

  • Jen K.

    Thanks Jana. It’s a breath of fresh air to hear doubt decriminalized.

    I think another next step might be to cultivate an environment safe for sincere dissent, discussion, & debate. The silencing of non-conforming points of view, and the fear and ‘Time-out Corners of Shame’ (awesome phrase, btw) need to stop. I agree it seems to be a matter of maturity.

    [To previous posters] There are sincere questions – questions asked with pure intent, no ulterior motive, only seeking truth – wherever it might be found. And there are questions with an agenda – questions that make a statement or aren’t really questions at all. I think it’s my job to make sure my own questions are the sincere variety. And it’s also my job to treat all others’ questions *as if* they are sincere, even if they may not be. How can I judge that? I don’t think I should try.

    Debbie – you bring up some of the hardest questions in Mormonism. I wish I knew the answers. I don’t. Many of your questions trouble me, too.

  • Wayne Dequer


    Actually, President Uchtdorf encouraged us to: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.8” ( see

    With Gatling-Gun like action you rattled of 8 of the most common anti-Mormon charges complete with emotionally loaded phrases like: “obviously a fraud,” “perpetrator of two great frauds,” “moral miscreant,” “hateful racial bigots,” “reduced to the rags and tatters,” “a clumsy, transparent, and immoral fraud,” while claiming to simply be asking questions. Actually I specifically addressed some underlying issues and misconceptions while providing further information about specific questions by way of the link to “Gospel Topics” at Your questions seem to be negative assertions that you are presenting without supporting evidence, rather than sincere questions due to any uncertain about the topics.

    Don’t get me wrong. I respect your right to express your opinions especially on the internet. We all have the right to do so. However, I would hope that most of us would do in a sincere and forthright manner. I wish you well in all of your positive endeavors.

  • Jacob H.


    [1-3] How can the [BoM,BoA,church] be true?
    Answer: How did John Donne find truth in the Bible when his own poetry points out that the earth doesn’t have four corners from which angels can trumpet forth God’s will?

    [4-8] How can [JS,current leadership,Mormonism] be [white] when all I see is [black]?
    Answer: As John Donne said, “There’s nothing simply good, nor ill alone”. When, as it were, scales fall off your eyes and for the first time you see just how misguided and corrupt what you once blindly revered is, it is natural to call “all in doubt” and believe, as it were, that “the sun is lost, and th’earth”.

    But what’s wrong is fundamentalism. And the way you asked each one of your questions, sounds as if from a fundamentalist perspective, which tends to flatten and decontextualize and suppose that straw men are perfect substitutes for the messiness of real life. John Donne, as a strong skeptic and believer, is a decent role model for one who didn’t look at the world with rosy glasses but who didn’t give up hope, either.

    I guess possibly why your questions are hard to answer directly is that I and maybe others reject completely the categories and definitions you assume in them. I don’t consider the BoA or the BoM to be frauds, or to be literally true. Same goes for the Bible. I don’t trust JS or anyone, but I have spent many years trying to understand him as a person, in the context of his times and knowledge and aspirations. I think I have a feel for the extent of his lies, misleadings, truths, and experiences, and to treat it correctly deserves more nuance than your questions, or a long blog comment response, would allow.

    But maybe I can offer my personal, non-contextualized and therefore misleading responses anyway, in the spirit of Jen K.
    1) It’s not, in the sense you are asking about.
    2) It’s not, in the sense you are asking about.
    3) You didn’t explain what you meant by “true”. Then again, I’m not sure anyone knows what is meant by it. If you mean “led by God” as in question 7, then see my response to 7. If you mean some other way, then please clarify.
    4) He, nor anyone, can nor should be.
    5) By your requirements, they’re not.
    6) If you require a “living prophet and/or apostle” to never have taught something false, then no one can.
    7) Personally, maybe God writes straight with crooked lines. If your requirement of a religious thing to be “true” is that it is led by God, does it have to be 100% led by God? Like, every last detail and person? Sounds like you mean leadership or administrative choices have to be 100% led by God? If that is the requirement, then nothing is true. People are agents of good and ill. If you mean, God in some mystical sense is guiding the fate of the collective church, then my hope is that God in some mystical sense is guiding everyone, and so perhaps every church is true to greater and lesser extents, depending on the aspects we examine and the degree of guidance in those aspects? But then “true” becomes a virtually useless word to use. Maybe we should ask about “truthiness” instead. Or maybe drop true/false, black/white approaches to the value of things.
    8) Since when did possessing priesthood require its possessor not to be a bigot? How well do you know the people whose entire lives you are summing up in the word “hateful”? Another evidence of black and white thinking, devoid of nuance and therefore inevitably inaccurate. Anyway, “priesthood” as it is often referred to today is quite the mythical humbug, and since you put it in quotes I am wondering whether some questions should be asked about it first, before you predicate the truthiness of Mormonism upon it? The sense of your question [A (Mormonism) can’t be B (“true”) so long as C (BoM) does D (equates curses with black skin)] as it stands sounds to me like, “How can smythes be pigwams when marigols are porquipt?” I don’t see how the first part is predicated in any way on the second, so it is all gibberish to me.

  • Old Guy

    I’m with you, and I have a theory about why it’s hard to get straight answers. Here are the worthiness interview questions. At the bishop’s discretion, you can lose your TR for unsatisfactory answers:

    So, I wonder if straight answers are hard to come by because of the temple worthiness interview and the fear of losing a TR. Same applies to telephone polls where the status quo gets a 95% approval, for example.

    Maybe some members worry if they give a doubter an honest answer, don’t give a “faith affirming” sermon or answer a poll wrong, they might lose their TR. Maybe not everybody thinks this way, but I expect many do.

  • dillet

    Debbie, the crux of the matter is that your “doubts” read like a litany of classic anti-Mormon charges copied wholesale from a book or website. And the problem with that is the way every point is phrased as an indisputable truth, when in reality each comes from misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and even outright lies which have become hallowed by 185 years of repetition. No wonder you “doubt.”

    If you honestly want plausible, reputable reasons to believe, they do exist: “Mormon’s Codex” by John L. Sorenson; “Joseph Smith–Rough Stone Rolling” by Richard Lyman Bushman; “Lehi in the Desert” and “World of the Jaredites” by Hugh Nibley. And the website Wayne Dequer gave you. These are lengthy and pithy but some of the best and most trustworthy.

    Those who don’t want to see their “doubts” challenged tend to dismiss these sources as beneath their time and effort, just because the authors are faithful LDS. The ultimate test is purely spiritual and purely personal–when Heavenly Father tells you, through the Holy Ghost, that the Restored Gospel is true, then that personal revelation spreads a wide umbrella that covers all manner of questions and urges you to turn to the best sources for further confirmation.

    I hope you will not let yourself be sucked into the Anti-Mormon crusade. Best Wishes 🙂

  • Old Guy

    Instead of providing a link, I’d like to see you, right here on this blog, pick one question and answer it in 20 words or less in your own words. Please be brief and specific in your answer.

  • SanAntonioRob


    Calling Joseph Smith a “moral miscreant” is not expressing doubt. Calling other prophets “hateful racial bigots” is not expressing doubt. They are very clear and very negative judgments (whether you think they are warranted or not). So having other members push back against your comments has no bearing on doubts being “criminalized” or not.


    Personally, I doubt your faith – or rather your assertions you appear to put faith in. First, I find many of the “Gospel Topics” entries (specifically regarding blacks and the priesthood, the Book of Abraham, polygamy in general, and polygamy as practiced by Joseph Smith) woefully inadequate. It is… disappointing, to put it mildly… that Abraham would receive and pass down to us revelations on the name of the star closest to Heaven (let’s be honest, an entirely pointless piece of information), but the modern Church can only give us potential possibilities of why certain modern Church practices were begun and continued for decades. THAT information – given with the same authoritative clarity as the name of Kolob – would do much more to help us understand (a) revelation and (b) how our prophets receive it, or (c) what steps we can take to mitigate against future unholy practices being part of our policy and culture. That would actually be useful, in my opinion.

    Second, while I hold dear the truths contained in Alma 32, I don’t think it applies to most of the concerns Debbie brought up. Not understanding why, or not believing that God would command a prophet to marry and have sex with 14-year-olds and married women is not going to be answered by “experimenting upon the word”. Not understanding why, or not believing that God would command the Church to without the priesthood and temple ordinances from blacks is not going to be answered by “experimenting upon the word”. I would say that, with so many very faithful members struggling with those and similar items in our Church history, our “knowledge is [nearly] perfect in that thing” – that living the gospel and exercising faith doesn’t make those doubts go away. Or for many, even manageable.

  • Old Guy

    I can give you honest, straightforward answers to every one of these. No sermons, no links to, no reading lists, no testimonies, and (most importantly) no John Donne poetry.

    Unfortunately, the clear, correct and honest answers are not “faith affirming,” so you will never, ever hear them from a mormon.

  • SanAntonioRob


    It’s interesting that you call them “anti-Mormon charges” when the Gospel Topics that address them (inadequately, I believe) also confirm the truth of many of these claims (ie. Joseph Smith did marry 14-year-olds and other men’s wives, the priesthood ban “may” have been spurred by prejudice, the Book of Abraham is not depicted in the facsimiles included in our scripture, etc.).

  • Jonathan Felt

    I am sorry.

  • Old Guy

    Jen, Thank you so much for your honest and non-judgmental post. “I don’t know” is infinitely better than any of the “answers” above.

  • Old Guy

    Jen, Thanks! A nonjudgmental “I don’t know” is *infinitely* better than the convoluted replies above.

  • maddy

    Debbie. All good questions. I have those same questions rolling around in my head. And, I don’t even fault you for referring to Joseph Smith as a “miscreant” because truthfully if we were assessing any other person many of us would apply that label. The problem is there are no good/adequate answers to your questions, which is why I don’t negatively judge anyone who leaves the church asking those questions. For me, for now, I guess I’ve set those questions on the shelf and looked at if/how the church can be a tool to help me live a more Christ-like life. I can’t imagine ever saying again, “this is the true church” meaning this is the only way back to God and that our leaders get more correct/direct answers from God than any other spiritual leader or individual. But I also wonder how people like Richard Bushman, whom I respect, can maintain that level of belief? Or, how/why did those around Joseph maintain that belief?(obviously some did not). And, one thing I’ve learned in life is that there are many pieces to a puzzle, many sides to a story. I wonder what would be written about me if someone had to piece together my life, my thoughts, etc from the scraps I left behind and others views of me.
    So far, I’ve found that the church can provide me opportunities to serve God and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Obviously, there are many callings I would decline.. And, who knows. at some point I may stop my involvement altogether. But that is my journey so far.

  • Wayne Dequer


    Thanks for your response. Perhaps clarification of my thoughts would help. I do Not believe the question are anti-Mormon but the characterizations of “moral miscreant,” “hateful racial bigots,” and “a clumsy, transparent, and immoral fraud,” are anti-Mormon. I know that is Not precisely what I originally wrote, but that was my intent. I usually do Not use the term anti-Mormon.

    I joined the Church as a college-aged convert in 1966. I was a history and anthropology major at UC Santa Babara. I’ve been reading widely in LDS history since the late 1960’s including LDS and non-LDS sources. Joseph Smith’s polygamy is Not a new topic although his marriage to teenaged wives and sealing to women married to other men is relative new (see Todd Compton, “In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith”, 1997). I have certainly experienced questions and discomfort with some of this information, but have come to better understand the context both by study and prayer. I certainly do Not have all the answers. I understand why some sincere individuals find what we know to be disturbing, but I suggest we be careful Not to read in details and motive we do, in fact, Not know. Patient study and prayer have been sufficient for me. I believe the best on-line source on Joseph Smith’s polygamy is which I recommend. The 4 essays at are also candid, clear and well-referenced.

    I find the Book of Abraham to be very useful and instructive scripture. I was never convinced that it provided sufficient reason for continuing to deny blacks of African ancestry the priesthood. Many of us were hoping, praying for the “long-awaited day” in 1978 when priesthood blessings were extended to blacks. For those wanting more scholarly evidence and insight “One Eternal Round” by Nibley and Rhodes is worth thoughtful study.

    I find careful, accurate and honest gospel scholarship to be helpful, but my faith rests on past and present personal inspiration and revelation from the Holy Ghost. Scholarship and human reason can only take us part way, and may indeed become a distraction to some for those things of greatest worth. It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that we can know the truth of all things and that truth will lead us to faith, hope, charity and Christ (read Moroni 10 at ).

  • Jacob H.

    Old guy (nice name!),

    I certainly don’t mean to sound convoluted. I just don’t find it meaningful to pander to the constructs of someone who seems to be stuck somewhere in the second to fourth of Fowler’s stages of faith development. Once the hollowness of asking the question of whether something theological is “true” is recognized, better questions can be asked.

    From a positivist perspective, one might assert that nothing outside the realm of tangible experience or empirical proof is certain or true. From this perspective, it seems like Debbie realizes what a house of cards her prior faith was made of.

    But from an antipositivist perspective, the meaning (not anything as elusive as “truth”) of anything is inherently subjective, and so a better question to ask, for instance, might be “If the BoM text is NOT literally true, then what is the BoM? What is it’s meaning?” Then one might find that there are multiple responses to the question, rather than get stuck in the artificial true/false dichotomy Debbie seems to be in at the moment. One could also ask “What should it mean? How should it be interpreted?”

    One response could be, “The BoM is not (historically) true and so it holds no meaning for me and I will henceforth not be a part of any faith that supports its use and treats it as being historically true”. A valid response, and one that implies treating the BoM as a sign of the limits of what a person will incorporate into their interactions with the world. The same person could perhaps then proceed to shun all faith-based religions.

    But that’s not the only valid response. Debbie seems to be mobilizing against a literalist form of the faith, and what I mean to say is, that’s not the only path. Personally, the literalists (and just about anyone with fundamentalist leanings) are completely wrong. Yet I and many others who lean in my direction support the faith, as nonliteralists support many faiths. And as a more minor point, her characterizations of historical stances and persons in the Church are lopsided and inaccurate, and seem to demonstrate an underdeveloped sense of our history, which I fear restrict her ability to creatively manage her current, painful new knowledge base surrounding her faith.

  • Old Guy

    Yeesh! You sure do use a lot of big words. To me her questions look straightforward. Each one ought to be answered or explained in a sentence or two. No offense, but I’d personally rather hear “I don’t know” or “I’d rather not say” than, as Mr. T would say, a bunch of jibber jabber. But she was asking, not me. I got no dog in this fight.

  • Wayne Dequer


    Thank you for raising your specific topics. I do Not have faith in the essays at “Gospel Topics” although I believe they are good summaries of the best scholarship currently available. I have faith in Jesus Christ and His restored gospel because of my experiences with the whispering of the Holy Ghost and the consequences of decisions I’ve made based on those insights. It is my experience for myself and my hope for others that the information in those essays can provide sufficient direct and indirect information coupled with sincere and patient study and prayer to provide needed answers.

    You have asked for authoritative help in understanding revelation and how our prophets receive it. Let me suggest some authoritative sources: 1) D&C 138: 1-11 at ; 2) “The Divine Call of a Missionary” at ;3) “Revelation” and links provided at ; 4) “The Spirit of Revelation” at . It is my personal opinion that we understand the diversity and similarities of how others, including prophets and apostles, receive inspiration and revelation, as we become more familiar with doing so ourselves.

    You have asked for authoritative help in understanding what steps we can take to mitigate against future unholy practices being part of our policy and culture. Let me suggest some authoritative sources: 1) The most recent General Conference and especially the addresses by the members of the Council of the 12 and the First Presidency at ; 2) Doctrine and Covenants section 1 at ; 3) D&C 121:34-46 at (cited and/or paraphrased several times in this last General Conference).

    I personally often think of a Venn diagram of 3 cultures: A) Gospel Culture, B) Mormon Culture, C) Utah Mormon Culture. There are both overlap and differences. What matters is the Gospel Culture. I do Not believe that the Church is flawless, Mormon culture is perfect, that all is well in Zion, or that the restoration is complete (see ). The scriptures teach us that attitudes lead to actions. Even among gospel attitudes not all are of equal importance. Charity — the pure love of Jesus Christ — is the most important of those attitudes. I suggest we teach the cultivation of charity, forgiveness, humility, and repentance from our own sins (see Matt 5-7).

    Alma 32 deals directly with how we acquire and strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel. It reminds us that faith is Not a perfect knowledge. I certainly do Not claim to have all the answers. I have some specific questions and things that concern and even bother me. Compared with my overall experience with the restored gospel and church, I can comfortably keep these things in perspective. A few of my questions and concerns have been totally and wonderfully resolved in my short life-time. That strengthens my faith that God does indeed have all the answers and sometime in eternity I may be able to understand them.

    I wish you well in your effort to understand and live the gospel.

  • GP

    Answer [to Jacob’s “Answer”]: How did John Donne find truth in the Bible when his own poetry points out that the earth doesn’t have four corners from which angels can trumpet forth God’s will?

    Real Answer: The Bible is not always literal and/or was based upon an older and scientifically inaccurate worldview. The BoM is provably a 19th century work of fiction. I get where you’re going with trying to redefine “truth” in an abstract or metaphysical way, but this distinction of “truth” is not made in church curriculum. The church teaches that the BoM is a literal history of seafaring Israelites.

    Jacob: “I don’t consider the BoA or the BoM to be frauds, or to be literally true…”

    I’m not sure if you are an active member or not, but these are two of the publicly primary reasons for John Dehlin’s excommunication. He considered the BoM and BoA as being not literally true (read: fictional). I applaud you for your candor; however, using the same rubric as John Dehlin’s Stake President, one simply cannot remain an active member and publicly and make such statements. These positions are not the doctrine of the church (at least not currently).

    Jacob: “I think I have a feel for the extent of [Joseph Smith’s] lies, misleadings, truths, and experiences, and to treat it correctly deserves more nuance than your questions, or a long blog comment response, would allow.”

    Occam’s Razor. Look for the simplest answer that raises the fewest questions. Long explanations trying to dissect and justify the life of a man who lived 200 years ago to fit into the prophetic mold taught by the church doesn’t add up. Couple this with so many other inconsistencies and problems noted by Debbie and it is exponentially less believable.

    Best of luck to you on your faith journey wherever it may lead you.

  • GP

    dillet: “Debbie, the crux of the matter is that your “doubts” read like a litany of classic anti-Mormon charges copied wholesale from a book or website.”

    Did you ever wonder why there are “classic anti-Mormon charges”? It’s because the so-called “charges” are actually just history. From your book list, it seems that you are fairly well-read. Yet, the books that try to handle the problematic history in a faith-promoting way use inconsistent criteria in an attempt and make the history logical/believable. But even with the apologetic mental gymnastics that are out there, it still doesn’t come close to adding up. In short, the “answers” given are not answers, but theories of people who are trying to justify their own confirmation bias. They are not looking at it with an open mind and “real intent” of finding the actual truth. I suffered in this space for several years (doubting my doubts) and finally just could not bring myself to lie to myself any longer… it just isn’t believable. I suggest that you move from books with theories and try looking at the original sources. Make your own conclusions. The evidence leads to a pretty straightforward conclusion.

    dillet: “And the problem with that is the way every point is phrased as an indisputable truth, when in reality each comes from misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and even outright lies which have become hallowed by 185 years of repetition.”

    What lies? Debbie is probably like me and has made her own conclusion based on the evidence. The conclusion is not hard to reach, the evidence clearly points to her conclusions. She perhaps could have been more articulate in her wording, but facts are facts.

    As for making statements of indisputable truth… have you every been in a Fast & Testimony meeting before? I see Debbie’s statement as no different than the testimony of a faithful member of the church who bears testimony and somehow KNOWS that the church is true because of a feeling that they get (defying logic and reason).

  • GP

    Jana – great article. You provoke good thought and discussion. Thanks for doing what you do.

    I’d like to try and answer your question: Mormons are decriminalizing doubt. What’s the next step?

    The next step would be to be direct and honest with the church membership. And be SPECIFIC. Leaders use words like “so-called”, “trumped-up charges”, “lies”, “anti-Mormon”, “not perfect”, etc. But I never hear real substantive examples of what they mean. What are the lies? What is anti-Mormon? When a leader is not perfect, what do they mean? What are the “trumped up charges”?

    Of course, to be specific would mean death to the church. The bulk of the membership (at least anecdotally speaking) does not know the problematic church history. Most believing members I interact with do not even want to know it. They’re afraid of the history, and rightly so. I was once afraid of the history and then I finally looked. Yeah, I “lost my testimony” as some may say, but as I see it, what really happened is that I gained knowledge and reassessed my life and beliefs based upon new information that was previously withheld from me.

    My desire is simple. Give the church membership the FULL truth. The complete story. Then let them decide how to proceed. Some people will still believe – GREAT. Some people will leave – GREAT. Some people will stay but as an unbeliever – GREAT. But what good does it do to keep dancing around reality? And for heaven’s sake, if/when the church does come fully clean, provide counseling to individuals and families for the fallout. Yes, it will be painful, but it is the right thing to do. Do what is right and let the consequence follow.

  • Wayne Dequer

    Fair enough. So from one old guy to another:

    Debbie attacks Book of Mormon archaeology. She’s wrong because she’s out of date. Study “Mormon’s Codex” by John L. Sorsenson (2013).

    That’s 20 words + a date

    For a better answer I could add: I joined the church in 1966 while a student at UC Santa Babara majoring in History and Anthropology. I had a spiritual witness of the restored gospel and the Book of Mormon, but looking at Mormon Archaeology of that time period, was quite disturbing to me. Archaeology is a major branch of Anthropology, and I took every undergraduate course in Archaeology offered at UCSB. Archaeology is based on inference and suggested conclusions are usually quite debatable. However, the Mormon stuff I’d seen was just awful.

    In 1969 or 1970, I met and listened to John Sorsenson. I expect more intellectual tripe and commented in the discussion that the Book of Mormon provided little that could be tested through Archaeology. He kindly showed me the errors of my assumptions and introduced me to his study of significant correspondences. “Mormon’s Codex” is the culmination of his study. His academic and scholarly credentials are more than adequate to suggest that we study his book carefully which I have done.

    The truthfulness of the Book of Mormon has Not been proven. However, I believe that the preponderance of the evidence, given Nibley’s and Sorsenson’s work, is that the story told by the Book of Mormon is Archaeologically and Historically credible.

    The Book of Mormon was published in 1830. There is a chart at that shows that by 1842 “archaeology” could only confirm about 8 of 60 Book of Mormon claims (13.3%). By 2005, the amount confirmed had risen to 58%. We still cannot confirm everything and probably never will this side of the millennium, but their has been significant progress which one would Not expect from a work of fiction whoever created it.

    Besides, as Hugh Nibley has pointed out, if we are going to disbelieve the Book of Mormon we need to come up with a way in which it was created that accounts for what is actually in the book. Joseph Smith’s account involves angels and seer-stones which are admittedly supernatural. However, many naturalistic suggestion have been made and none have proved credible.

    Finally, the Book of Mormon itself suggest a method of testing its veracity: study it humbly, prayerfully, and with faith in Christ and the Holy Ghost will reveal to you in your feelings and thoughts that it is, in fact, true (see Moroni 10). Of course any faith in Christ and humble prayer could very well constitute a confirmation bias, and it could also constitute needed real-intent and spiritual receptivity.

    I suggest that if we want to know much of anything in this life we have to do our homework. Few answers about important subjects come in 20 words or less. Some don’t want to take the effort, being satisfied with their current beliefs and status. Of course for those of you who already believe the Book of Mormon is a fraud, that too constitutes a confirmation bias. 😉

  • GP

    All theories.

    The church no longer has an official stance on exactly who are the descendents of the Lamanites. Of course Joseph Smith clearly identified them generally as the American Indians around him and that was how the church membership viewed it… the American Indians around them were the literal descendants of the Lamanites.

    However, since that time, science has pushed these claims into the theoretical and non-literal space – not the least of which is the DNA evidence of which there is ZERO proof to the historicity of the people in the BoM.

    If the BoM was real, the LDS prophets and apostles of God would have clarified this a long time ago… or better yet, would have not changed the original story. But the LDS prophets and apostles have steadily grown silent on the subject and even retracted previous statements that identified the BoM people and geography. For those looking for tangible BoM evidence outside of superficial church curriculum, the only thing remaining are theories and redefinition of words.

  • Wayne Dequer


    I congratulate you on no longer lying to yourself. Integrity is very important, and outright self-deception to maintain appearances or keep the peace is unwise, especially in the long run. Acting “as if” can be a helpful stepping stone in the learning process, but it need to lead to an inner change of heart — conversion. I’d rather see someone honestly leave than endless go through sham motions without real-intent and full purpose of heart. The Lord wants us to follow him without hypocrisy or guile (see Revelation 3:16). Which pleases God more, hateful Christians or kind Atheists?

    I too am sometimes bothered by how some folks share their testimony by saying they KNOW. Of course that could be due to me being overly judgmental, but I’ve heard more than a few travelogues and self-justifications on first Sundays. A few years ago I watched a young lad with his Stretch Armstrong in hand, testify and demonstrate about how he KNEW Stretch Armstrong could defeat any other superhero. I’ve also heard many simple testimonies expressed with spiritual, if not rhetorical, eloquence. That spirituality, coupled with the introspection involved in partaking of the sacrament meaningfully and considering the state of my own testimony, make fast Sunday worthwhile.

    I note that the General Officers of the Church rarely say “I KNOW.” They tend to say “I witness” or “I testify.” However, I suggest one need Not usually defy logic and reason in obtaining and sharing a testimony. We are encouraged to gain knowledge by study And prayer, rather than study Or prayer.

    Both apologetics (the discipline of defending a position through the systematic use of information) and attacks can use scurrilous mental gymnastics and/or well reasoned explanations and facts. At best we should all be not only accurate to the best of our ability, and be careful to identify real facts as opposed to opinions. We should be thoughtful and polite avoiding needlessly inflammatory rhetoric. It is wise to acknowledge there is more than one way of selecting, examining, and interpreting the facts we report.

    Many swords are double edged. It is certainly possible for those who embrace the restored gospel to be guilty of having a confirmation bias, isn’t it equally possible for those who have firmly decided that Mormonism is false to also have a confirmation bias?

    It is not uncommon in western thought to envision most decisions as either/or. Sometimes topic are more complex than we originally thought. Teaching math has taught me there can be sometimes be multiple parts to the answers or even multiple correct answers. It is wise to occasionally double check to make sure we are not discarded the babe with the bathwater.

    I wish you well in all of your positive endeavors.

  • Old Guy

    Regarding “The Mormon Codex” by Sorenson, the limited geography model is not up to date at all. Sorenson started work on it least 30 years ago. As far as I know (and I’m not an expert) there’s no mainstream, peer-reviewed support for this work. But, here’s how I look at it: it’s not my job to go around “educating” everybody to my way of thinking. I don’t have all the answers myself. Thanks very much for your earnest answer to my post.

  • Jacob H.


    You sound like a nice person. Thanks for your well-wishes =). I wish you well also. I too am a fond reader of original sources, though I like my secondary sources as well. Although it is only the primary sources that arm one with certainty and clarity in their positions.

    To your first point, couldn’t we say that the BoM is also “based upon an older and scientifically inaccurate worldview”? Without calling it fiction (just as I wouldn’t call most of the Bible or Koran fiction), I could still agree that it borrows from Baconian empiricism, Cane Ridge revivalism, and neoplatonic supernaturalism. So I don’t see why I can’t treat the Bible and BoM both as generally non-literal, albeit in very different ways. The trouble for me is we don’t have a good common word for what it is. I won’t defend the way the church officially teaches things, since it is not currently a concern of mine (I find selective apathy to be quite the useful vice).

    I am active. I am very sorry for what John has been through. I seem to be in good standing, locally. Partly because I think some people are intimidated by me, partly because I truly mean no harm or disruption by my points of view, but rather I explain them to the extent others tolerate it and / or desire further understanding of stuff. And usually I just stick with facts I can point to in church history or the scriptures, or if I get lucky I can bring in biblical research. Facts are hardly punishable (although I guess I lost a teaching calling once for ignoring the manual and just teaching the documentary hypothesis instead. Also, not ignoring any of the weird stuff in the OT. Where was Bokovoy when I needed him?).

    Occam’s razor, indeed. Wayne points to Nibley and Sorenson as guiding lights, although their approaches to the text seem to oppose each other somewhat. Did the Nephites preserve Israelitish cultural mores or did they assimilate heavily? I do recommend anyone reading Sorenson and Nibley to also independently study early Israelite / Canaanite culture and American culture for themselves. Also, I made an alphabetic list, with notes, by hand of all the geographic references in the BoM, if anyone is interested in creating their own maps based on it:
    The geography is pretty meager.

    But back to GP (gold points?). Hmm. Occam’s razor is a good starting point, for first-order approximations. But simplicity should maybe be tempered with explanatory power and falsifiability. “Joseph never lied” — well, you can catch him lying. “Joseph believed he was doing the work of God” — I think you can actually quantify the strength of his belief at different moments of his life. “Joseph had a persecution complex” — um, just read the history, blink, and then reread it. Okay, that one was actually a loaded statement that should be broken down into more statements that can be qualified. Anyway, slowly building up a 3-dimensional picture based on evidence-based assertions is at least one way to safely position oneself closer to reality and away from the caricatured reality one inevitably grows up with.

    Such a picture is always still a crude approximation, but you can at least put boundaries on the believability of assertions people make. And it’s a fun past-time to continually re-evaluate such a picture, although at some point the approximation stops making frequent changes. In lieu of this, definitely an evidence-based Occam’s razor is a good way to stay keyed in to whatever conclusions one makes about a topic. Anyway, GP, I’m really just agreeing with you, for the most part. I hope you’d enjoy church more if you had a few uncorrelated Mormons like me to keep you company. We’re friendly AND obnoxious! Can’t go wrong!

  • Wayne Dequer


    Respectfully, if “The BoM is provably a 19th century work of fiction.”, please do so. Feel encouraged to use Occam’s Razor and anything else you’d like.

    If the discussion get’s too long for this site feel free to contact me through Facebook. The spelling of my name is unique.

  • GP

    Thank you for your kind comments and thoughtful response Wayne. I also appreciate you seeing the value in integrity (wherever that may lead).

    Yes, anyone can experience confirmation bias. Although I try to not have it, I’m sure it affects me in some areas of my life. The interesting thing for me is that my confirmation bias FOR the church was extremely strong at one point. I did everything that I could to make it work… and it did work for a while. But after digging deeper into church history, I found that not only were my questions still unanswered, but I found many more problems – some of which went against my core values. The confirmation bias for the church being “true” finally gave way… and it’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t gone through it… but for some (like me) once the switch is “off”, it doesn’t come back on.

    Then it becomes a matter of what to do next. I seriously considered attending as a non-believer since I was very close with my ward and stake friends. But in the end, I realized that I needed to be true to myself and not pretend to be someone who I wasn’t anymore. It was a very painful decision and not one that I wanted to make, but it was out of necessity.

    Thanks for the well-wishes, and I wish you the same.

  • GP

    “Anyway, GP, I’m really just agreeing with you, for the most part. I hope you’d enjoy church more if you had a few uncorrelated Mormons like me to keep you company. We’re friendly AND obnoxious! Can’t go wrong!”

    Funny, I was thinking the same thing :). Yes, although our conclusions may be different on certain topics, we seem to think alike in many areas. I do appreciate your response, essentially all of which resonated with me.

    Regarding your view of if the BoM can be viewed as a product of a scientifically inaccurate worldview – yes, I absolutely believe that this is possible. I believe that the church will ultimately come to this position out of necessity. In a way, it has already unofficially started with books like “The Crucible of Doubt”. However, we are not there yet… as I mentioned, two primary factors for John Dehlin’s excommunication was his rejection of a literal and historical BoM and BoA. A testimony stating disbelief in historicity of these books will pave the way to a trip to the Bishop or SP’s office and ultimately some kind of disciplinary action if one doesn’t keep quiet. I realize that your mileage may vary depending on the Bishop or SP, but certainly this is an unpopular (or probably more accurately heretical) position in the church today and simply does not exist in curriculum nor would it be welcome over the pulpit.

    I would like to ask you this… what is your take on the official claim of the BoM is historical? The church teaches that it is a real account of real people who lived in America. It sounds like you do not support this claim. What do you tell others if you are placed in a teaching position? How do you bear your testimony of it? I personally would have a hard time listening to people state that it is historical when it so clearly is provably not… and there is no way that I could ever bear testimony of it being historical (not anymore anyway).

  • GP

    Wayne – are you asking me to prove to you that it is a work of fiction?

    I’ve done research on my own, but later came across the CES Letter ( that highlights the main points in the first section. Here are a few things off the top of my head:

    1. Up to 25% is copied from the bible, including translation errors specific to the KJV owned by Joseph Smith’s family
    2. Biblical anachronistic quoting of Paul
    3. New World anachronisms (horses, steel, coinage, swords, chariots, wheat, etc.)
    4. Zero DNA evidence
    5. Zero linguistic evidence
    6. Zero archeological evidence
    7. Concepts and even passages clearly from 19th century works like “The Late War” and “The First Book of Napolean”
    8. Concepts taken from popular views of Indians at the time (documented in “View of the Hebrews”)
    9. Extremely similar stories between the Tree of Life dream and Joseph Smith Sr’s dream (as recalled by Lucy Mack Smith) – they are so similar that it is almost identical
    10. Joseph’s creativity and storytelling ability
    11. No purpose for the plates in the translation process (a common rock in a hat was used instead – not some crystal Urim and Thummin or spectacles used and buried by Nephite prophets as I was previously told)

    I could go on, but this is just from memory and I think gets the point across. Now, I realize that for some people, they can somehow rationalize it. I encourage folks to go to the church’s unofficial apologetic group FAIR Mormon and look at their responses to these issues. I do not find their answers as rational or logical in any way at all. But I respect someone’s right to believe in whatever they want. It just doesn’t work for me.

  • Wayne Dequer

    Old Guy,

    Respectfully, the limited geography model was the central focus of “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon” written by Sorenson in 1985. There are indeed other theories and a well referenced and linked source to them can be found at The limited geographic model is at least 60 years old which has nothing to do with its plausibility or evidence of its probability. Please provide references for you assertion that it “is not up to date.”

    “Mormon’s Codex” has been peer reviewed by Brant A. Gardner ((M.A. in Anthropology from State University of New York Albany) and Mark Allen Wright (PhD Anthropology from UC Riverside with a subfield of specialization in Mesoamerican Archaeology) at . It is an 11 page review + footnotes. Both of these authors and well as the publication are Mormon since they are the ones interested in this topic. However, they have appropriate academic training and credentials from secular universities to write a scholarly review. The review is not a whitewash being rather critical of some methodology and conclusions which is what I would expect.

    The book has been out since 2013 which has given non-Mormon scholars in the subject area a reasonable time to seriously review the over 700 page volume by competent academics who found it lacking in merit. I have not found any non-Mormon reviews although “Recovery from Mormonism” published both informational and critical comments about it before publication at,710197,710197 which I found to be interesting as an exercise in opinion largely without any basis.

    “Mormon’s Codex” has extensive footnotes and an 85 page Bibliography citing primarily non-Mormon scholarly sources. These are certainly available for anyone, including those non-Mormon scholarly authors, wanting to check and write about applicability and accuracy of fact or characterization of their work.

    I try to provide accurate and constructive information. Like you, I do not claim to have all the answers. I simply suggest that those who would dismiss the Book of Mormon out of hand carefully check their facts and do their due diligence.

  • Jacob H.

    “probably more accurately heretical”

    Yes! This in fact what I warn people about up front. I am a heretic, but a faithful one. I justify my heresies with data. So… taking for instance the list you just provided to Wayne from Jeremy Runnells, the route of the faithful heretic might be to point out these problems as evidence of the fact that revelation, if we accept that it exists, is very, very messy. You can’t separate the mind, background, and assumptions of Joseph from anything he produced. Heck, read into Lucy Mack’s anecdotes a bit and you’ll find that Joseph convinced his family that the Nephites were almost carriage-riding new england colonists.

    Assume Joseph believed the stories he told his family about the Nephites. That his visions and dreams were real. Well, next he TELLS US how he translated the BoM! Read D&C 9 over again. Given that Joseph had been meditating on and rehearsing to his family the stories of the Nephites for at least half a decade, he knew their story in some detail before he began his translation. And in translating, he meditated on how the events occurred, and how it was transcribed, and he spoke the words that came to him. If nothing came to him (stupor of thought), it seems he came up with ways around his writer’s block: assume his prior train of thoughts was wrong and try again, or resolve issues in his immediate life that were causing him trouble.

    To me, the process was just as spiritual and intense as D&C 9 implies it was. And it was chalk full of Joseph’s mind. But to a believer, there’s no denying Joseph’s sincerity, nor the possibility that this is exactly how God works in inspiring people. And no wonder His inspiration is so dang cloudy. Like the people in Bountiful, we hear a voice and it’s undeniably from above, but we can’t understand the words. If we accept that Joseph and his associates truly were inspired from God, it doesn’t follow that we have to accept that they or current leaders or ourselves have interpreted that inspiration correctly. In fact, we can point to the whole bible and its history as our witness that God’s inspiration is utterly ambiguous and contradictory, but perhaps it is because we are imperfect receptacles and only by chance or design we gradually and collectively stumble into divine truths.

    My position on the BoM is if it is based in history, that history is so far bull-dozed over by Joseph’s perceptions of the history that hardly a trace of it, if anything, remains. Alma could have existed but I doubt his sermons sounded like a Baptist preachers’, nor that the Nephite’s conception of Christianity was at all like ours. If the Nephites existed and Joseph had been inspired to produce a work that accurately reflected what was being taught among them, we would read it and be like, “These pagans weren’t Christian! There isn’t a hint of Christianity in here!” And Mormonism wouldn’t have happened.

    Also, the Book of Mormon can be read against its own polemical directions, similar to what Grant Hardy and John Sorenson have done at times. Was Nephi really as righteous as he pretends to be? Didn’t Alma’s own preaching cause in some ways the great wars of the latter half of his book? Why is Moroni driving the Lamanites out of their own lands to establish strongholds in the wilderness, when the rest of the war seems to consist of the Lamanites fighting to regain those very lands they had just been driven out of? Why do they seem to only accept war when they are being spurred on by disaffected Nephites? As a counter-cultural book, it has a certain timelessness to it like the gospels.

    Also, with Skousen’s work we have the Amlicites being the same as the Amalekites… but that means the Amlicites have their beginning in the 5th year of the reign of the judges… but before the first year of the reign of the judges, Aaron traveled to the land of the Lamanites and finds that the Amlicites had already built a big city with the Lamanites and were so hard-hearted that they wouldn’t convert. Crazy time-traveling Amlicites. Similar games can be played with Jershon, the city of Aaron, and Nephihah. Also, the war at the end of Alma has Moroni fighting in the western parts and then traveling to the eastern parts, and receiving a letter from Helaman, who proceeds to tell him about events that had happened in the western parts in the years that Moroni apparently was there too. So many fun literary threads to pull on, not even touching outside sources!

    All to the point, that taking the BoM seriously as literal, quasi-verifiable history maybe completely misses the point. If it is inspired by God, then God intended or else couldn’t help to make it heavily interpolated by the well-intentioned musings of a young prophet. And the non-literalist position is one that should be taken very seriously as perhaps one of the more well-founded and lasting positions to be accepted by believers. In a “ha ha — only serious” kind of way.

  • GP

    Or… the BoM was entirely fictional.

    I understand your desire to fit these events into something that you can reconcile as I’ve been there myself. Since you’ve already read the CES Letter, I assume that you’re aware of the major issues not only with the BoM but other areas. I can’t understand how you reconcile it; however, if you truly can make it work (even as a heretic!) then I am really happy for you. And you get bonus points for not denying the evidence… which I see a lot of from apologetics. So kudos to you for being honest with folks even at the expense of being branded a heretic. At least folks know that you are being honest with them and aren’t hiding anything.

    That said, one thing that prevented me from going down this route is that none of the theories that you mentioned above are raised by Joseph Smith or his associates – they are all post hoc constructions to fit within the Mormon worldview. The accounts presented by Joseph Smith were always given as factual and historical… which is why the church still holds this literal/historical position today (for now anyway). I mean, Joseph Smith told folks to go preach to the “Lamanites” (the American Indians in the United States).

    So… if you are saying that your theories above are somehow sanctioned by God, then why would He make it so difficult to reconcile? Specifically, why would he allow the prophet of the restoration to make claims that ultimately were provably false? And for a God that commands killing (Laban) and taking the wives of other living men and teenage wives (Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, et al), then shouldn’t that signal of revelation be a lot more clear? I mean, I’d hate to hear about someone who killed another in the name of God and the killing would be accidental due to an unclear signal. I don’t mean to use harsh examples, but you get the point hopefully. It just doesn’t make sense to me. So I think that your approach is really stretching it.

    “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
    — Galileo Galilei

  • Old Guy

    Wayne, I personally think the BOM was made up for the most part. I think a lot of you for holding fast for your beliefs and taking the time to explain so well. Even my wife and I can have major disagreements and still love and respect one another. 🙂

  • Marshmallow

    @ Snowcroft: I’m surprised that you said you’ve read all that stuff. By your questions, I would never have guessed. The answers to your questions can all be found in them, and/or by following their instructions. Go back and read again. This time around, don’t ignore the parts you did last time. I’m dead serious. I recommend you start with The Book of Mormon, then the rest of the Standard Works, and go from there. In all your searching, you never learned how to pray and get answers? God will help you, if you are sincere. If you are sincere. If you are really sincere.

  • srm

    Debbie Snowcroft,

    The problem, as i see it, with you post. The issues that you post have been addressed so many times that it gets tiresome. I suspect that you have already made up your mind and all the discussion in the world won´t change it. However, rather than dumping a big bucket of doubts, If you want, why don´t we choose one or two and discuss it.

  • Jim

    Take heart, ye Mormons. Many, many of all religions have doubt. A Pew Foundation survey found that 50% of those who described themselves as being religious are not certain there is a God.

  • SanAntonioRob


    I agree with nearly 100% of the content you have posted in your responses.

    Perhaps I should rephrase my concern so we don’t keep speaking past each other (that is how I feel, at least). I have studied revelation, the Holy Ghost, the power of study and prayer, etc. my whole life. I have also experimented upon the word, exercised faith in uncertainty, overcome previous doubts, and feel like I have received at least partial answers for the questions Debbie raised.

    My concern is that there are very specific items in history and past policies from the Church or its Prophets that the current Church or its Prophets do not have definitive answer for. When it is such a huge concern for many faithful members, when it is the source of many members losing faith, and when it is a subject of scorn for the Church’s detractors, it is VERY disappointing that there is no definitive answer. I have looked several times at the Gospel Topics page – once again, they don’t give definitive answers, only potential possibilities of perhaps why things happened. I don’t believe God not wanting to clear answers to those who want them is the reason. I DO believe too many in the Church don’t think these questions – policies that kept a whole race from the temple, the Prophet have sex with children – don’t matter. Or that they are too scared that the answer might be that many of these things did NOT come from God. That the Prophet and the Church CAN lead people astray in certain practices. These are very specific questions that need, desperately, to be addressed for the Church as a whole. They will not be addressed for the Church as a whole based on following your suggestions above and hoping I can stop thinking about those concerns.

  • Jacob H.

    Thanks, GP. Aside from arguing that the BoM is ahistorical, I also try to point out how useful it is to read it as it would have been read by its first audiences. That is, the Nephites and Lamanites were virtually the only inhabitants of the early Americas, that they had iron age technologies, and horses, etc. Also, that the early Saints were millenarian in their outlook, and that many of the mistakes they made were because they believed Christ’s coming was just around the corner, and that God would use his powers to wreak havoc on the nonbelievers.

    But also that Joseph’s own millenarian views had been tempered a bit by his experiences by the time we get into the Nauvoo period. Witnessing the changes in Joseph’s own outlooks as he experiences his many disappointments is a very humbling undertaking. Pointing out how often everyone is wrong when they interpret their spiritual promptings is a good way to force us to take the promptings more seriously, and ask what they’re really all about if they don’t really give us license to predict the future or be certain of theological truths because of them.

    To me maybe it is simultaneously sensing the deep spirituality of early Mormonism, and yet the grievous error of believing that such spirituality necessarily produces ontological correctness or provides license for unethical behavior, that makes Mormonism compelling and worth supporting. This understanding can surely come about through other means, but Mormonism has the advantage of its short and well-documented history, as well as its relative openness to intellectual inquiry (notwithstanding all the signs to the contrary..). Its faults become its strengths in allowing people to overcome the shortsightedness of nascent faith.

    “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them”.

    So as the faith matures and we deal more openly with our chaotic history, I guess I see the possibility that some day we will be able to have the spirituality minus the bigotry, for those who desire a spiritual home. And if we don’t deal with our history and mature, we will crash and burn against our own contradictory past and teachings, which we will deserve.

  • Randy Astle

    You must be a member of a different Church. 😉
    I’ve been a member of the LDS Church all my life and have never felt like doubting was viewed as “criminal”.
    Can’t say that I’ve ever seen the judgemental attitude that you describe. (Which isn’t to say it doesn’t exist — I just don’t think it is the predominant perspective of Church members, as your article seems to suggest.)

  • “I felt I needed the answer to the question ‘What do I really believe?”

    Something doesn’t become true just because we believe it. It’s important to discover what’s true, and then believe the truth.

  • Old Guy

    You could answer “The BOM was written by elves.” and claim the question “has been addressed.”

    It’s only when an individual stops asking that you can claim to have addressed the individual’s question.

    Instead of being passive-aggressive, why not just ask if she’s made up her mind before going further? If she has, you’re done.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    So, obviously you don’t have “doubts” – you have accusations or indictments that you demand be accepted as well founded. Anyone who would tell you otherwise is just “rags and tatters” doing “more harm than good.”

    OK. I get that. Does it have anything to do with what Jana has written here? Obviously it is possible to be Mormon and work through the issues you bring up, but you don’t seem genuinely curious about that.

  • JP

    GP –
    I follow your explanation of how you went from fervent believer to doubtor to being torn by wanting to spend 3 hours out of every week to be with your friends, to deciding that you ultimately need to be true to your self by spending those 3 hours in any other way you choose. What I can’t connect is how you then made the jump to spending hours posting extensive comments at 1:49 AM to a likely Mormon audience all about how they their beliefs are way off base. Leaving the church for lack of belief is one thing but then you haven’t really left. You comment regularly on these boards and invest great energy and time in debating people with faith and I just don’t see what you get out of it.

    I served my mission because I truly believe that living the gospel can bring joy and happiness to anyone’s life. So it made sense to me to try to share it and I felt ‘called’ to do it. What is your calling? I believe I had a positive influence on a handful of people but in the end I may have been the greatest benefactor from my mission service. Do you feel your work has a positive affect on others and particularly on you? It just seems like so much work on your part and I can’t imagine the motivation, on your part, or the handful of others who do the same.

    Even now, having just spent 10 minutes writing this comment I can’t help but think I may have just wasted the time….

  • Old Guy

    Are you saying only Mormons have doubts worth addressing or that one’s intent behind expressing a doubt makes a difference? I certainly have no problem going to my priest (or a fellow member, a Bishop, or the Pope for that matter) with “Dude. Seriously? The wafer turns to flesh and the wine to blood when you tinkle that bell? I doubt it! How do you explain it?” I am confident I’d be treated kindly and not judged or berated in any way. Neither my “tone”, my motive, my sincerity, nor my faith would matter. I would also expect an honest, clear answer. Not “Pray about it until your answer agrees with mine.” or “There’s an essay about it on” All the judgemental, patronizing, hostile, or evasive replies to the OP simply reinforce Jana’s point. Very few on this board seem to get it.

  • Old Guy

    The posts in reply to Debbie remind me of a personal rule of thumb: “The reliability of an answer is inversely proportional to length.”

    A person who really knows his stuff gives a short, clear, direct answer. A long, complex, dodgy answer is a red flag.

  • Joel

    Jana is right. Those talks were a big deal.

    “Doubt” is a vague a term, and has become a euphemism imbued with different meaning by the Church and non-believers. What’s helpful about those talks is that they both contemplated situations where “doubt” meant more than being unsure or having questions. Rather, the individuals discussed in the talks had tentatively concluded that the Church was probably not true. Even more, the subjects had been OPEN about their thoughts with others.

    Sister Wixom and Elder Nielson taught that such members should not be stigmatized, feared or made to feel unwelcome, even in their faithless states. We should both (1) give them space to figure out their own beliefs unmolested (by our well-intentioned pressure) and (2) make sure there is always room for them in the Church and our families.

    I’d like to think that that goes without saying. But I can’t remember ever hearing that particular message in General Conference before. It was wonderful.

  • Allen

    Personally, I am never sure whether someone who lists a series of doubts online is really doubting or if they are just leveling attacks against religious beliefs they don’t like and wish didn’t exist.

    As far as decriminalizing doubts go, in my mind there was a moment when the church changed direction on this issue. It was when a former area authority in Sweden named Hans Mattsson was featured prominently in the New York Times in 2013, along with some of his doubts. He had not left the church, he was just no longer sure what he believed. The reaction to his expression of doubt was not the knee-jerk condemnation that we might have seen in previous years. I think pressure had been building for several years for the church and its members to deal with doubt and serious questions in a different way. I think that the direction of the church changed a little with that article, even if we haven’t arrived at our destination yet.

    I also think that people generally respond defensively when they are insecure in their beliefs. Two hallmarks of security are approaching different belief systems with respect and responding to criticisms with patience and sincere engagement. Perhaps the “decriminalization” of doubt in the church reflects increased security in our beliefs.

  • Michael

    Your questions make it crystal clear that you don’t need answers. You already have your answers. You need to accept them, and move on.

  • GP

    The one thing about repetition… is that over time, you’re bound to believe whatever it is you are repeating. For example, I’ve read the BoM more than a half a dozen times. Reading it one more time will not make any of its contents any more real/literal than my previous readings.

    And then there’s this gem:

    “Consider recording the testimony of Joseph Smith in your own voice, listening to it regularly, and sharing it with friends. Listening to the Prophet’s testimony in your own voice will help bring the witness you seek.”
    — Elder Neil L. Andersen, Oct 2014 GC

    I’m trying to keep an open mind on this, but it screams programming… 🙁

  • GP

    The problem is that the “answers” given are not adequate – they defy logic and reason. Look for my list of just a few BoM problems elsewhere in the comments for some examples. I’ve heard a lot of theories to try and explain away the problems, but when you’re dealing with theories that the church itself doesn’t have an official stance on, then the question remains unanswered.

  • Michael

    All the negative comments about Joseph Smith are rocking my boat. It is said, or inferred, that he was a liar; a pedophile; racist, etc. A scoundrel of the first order.

    What bothers me is that I also derive great comfort from the writings of an adulterer and murderer. His adultery puts Joseph’s to shame. Must I chuck the Psalms along with my Book of Mormon? Read only the New Testament?

    But wait. Saul of Tarsus was a murderer of Christians before he converted. What a low-life. And a racist, too, in view of his disparaging remarks about Cretans.

    Joseph is starting to look squeaky clean in comparison.

  • GP

    Jacob – you nailed it in your last paragraph. I agree completely. It’s too bad that the acceptance is moving too slow, or perhaps I would have stayed. I figure that by the end of my life (40-50 years from now) that the church will more or less reach this destination… and I will be happy for the members when it gets there.

  • Elder Skywalker

    If I didn’t have “Mormonism for Dummies” I would have never joined the church. Jana you are truly a wonderful missionary! Thank you!

  • GP

    Hi JP (are we related?) – good question. I somewhat answered this question in my direct reply to Jana’s posting.

    My intent is quite simply to tell people the truth. I honestly do not mind one way or the other what another person believes (or doesn’t believe) so long as they are happy and they have an opportunity to be informed about the faith that they are choosing. But when the church makes claims that are provably false and goes to great lengths to suppress non-faith-promoting historical information, then I feel that someone has to get the word out.

    If you have seen me posting quite a bit, then you should know that while I have stated conclusions about the church not being “true”, I have never personally attacked a person nor have I told them what to believe. I am simply stating information and try to explain my rationale. See my comments to Jacob elsewhere in this blog posting and you will see what I mean. He’s a cool guy who admits to the problems and still believes AND he’s honest about it with others. I respect him for that… it takes a lot of courage to be honest and he’s happy.

    If you are happy where you are, then continue believing. Best wishes to you on your faith journey wherever that may ultimately lead.

  • GP

    ‘The posts in reply to Debbie remind me of a personal rule of thumb: “The reliability of an answer is inversely proportional to length.”’

    I totally LOVE that quote… very well-said.

  • srm

    GP, again, rather then dump a whole bucket of ‘issues’ why not choose one or two and discuss it?

  • GP

    Sure, if it’s ok with Jana. There is already so much put into either side whether it be and or If there is something new or unique that you want to discuss, then I listed a few problems with the BoM elsewhere in a comment in this post… take your pick.

  • Choke

    Debbie –

    Talk about poisoning the well. 😉 Your questions make an awful lot of assertions that simply are not true. Before looking for answers, you may want to question your suppositions.

  • Choke

    For doubt to be decriminalized, it would have to have been “criminalized” – which it never was. While doubt may have been more strongly discouraged than today, doubt is doubt – and apostasy is apostasy. They are not – nor have they ever been – the same thing.

  • Fran


    Jesus spoke to Saul after he was resurrected, asking him why he was persecuting him (Acts 9:1-5). Saul became a Christian, instead of persecuting them, and felt much grief for his previous actions. He also became the apostle Paul, and diligently preached about Jesus and the Kingdom of God, as Jesus has done.

    Not only that, but Paul was greatly persecuted by the Jews for his preaching, even being stoned and left for dead (which he wasn’t–Acts 14:19).

    Paul based his teachings on Scripture, especially those in the Old Testament which had to do with the fulfillment of prophecies concerning Jesus, and which proved him to be the Messiah. The majority of Jews rejected him as Messiah then and continue to do so today.

    None of these circumstances are applicable to Joseph Smith, who came up with his own Bible, the Book of Mormon. The Holy Bible is God’s Word, inspired by him, and published worldwide, for man’s guidance and direction. The Holy Bible is what true Christians should base their faith on.

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  • Joel


    “While doubt may have been more strongly discouraged than today, doubt is doubt – and apostasy is apostasy. They are not – nor have they ever been – the same thing.”

    Intriguing. Can I ask you questions:

    1. How do you define doubt and apostasy?

    2. Any overlap between the two?

    3. Certainly “criminalize” is a provocative term. Aside from excommunication for apostasy, have there not been repercussions — official or cultural — for admitting that you’ve lost your faith, that you currently don’t believe fundamental tenets of Mormonism?

  • Fred M

    I think “criminal” is a pretty strong word, but when was the last time you heard someone express doubts in sacrament meeting or Sunday school or priesthood quorum? Probably very rarely, if ever, and if it was done it probably made everyone there EXTREMELY uncomfortable. I would say that honestly admitting you have doubts is strongly discouraged by LDS culture. We all have them to varying degrees, but admitting them and openly discussing them is not something we do. So when they come we talk about them in secret with our bishops or go to the internet to find others who feel the same way. I believe these talks are very positive steps toward confronting the very real doubts we as believers have.

  • Old Guy

    @Joel. I was thinking along those lines myself. “Criminalize” is kind of a loaded word, and even a bit polarizing. I personally took it less literally, along the lines of “We vilify doubters.” in the sense of scolding and judging them. I can see how others might take it in a more legalistic sense of “We punish doubters.” in the sense of taking action against them.

    As you say (and I’ve seen in posts above) the meaning of “doubt” varies as well. For non-Mormons it has the generic sense of independent of context “I doubt it’s gonna rain today.” = “I doubt the BOA is authentic.” Mormons may interpret it only in the context of a sincere faith journey “I doubt BOA is authentic, but through prayer I can come to a deeper understanding.”

    I think these quite different interpretations can cause people to talk past each other.

  • Old Guy

    A non-Mormon with no vested interest in the BOA might have a neutral perspective when expressing doubt, whereas a Mormon might take the expression of doubt as an attack.

    Compare: “Old Guy, I doubt it’s going to rain.” and “Old Guy, I doubt you’re as handsome as you think you are.” 🙂

  • MonkeyKing

    Jana your questions seem insincere because they contain multiple logical fallacies, which is a method used by countless detractors in the past. The questions are framed to seem genuine and to pose actual concerns but the form of the questions themselves indicate that they are not an attempt to come to an understanding but are in fact posed for some other purpose.

    The most common logical fallacy you use is false dilemmas. Every question you pose contains this type of logical fallacy. False dilemma is when you pose a question that limits the possible responses. i.e. The Book of Mormon is either a literal history and supported by archeological evidence or it is not true. The logical fallacy is that there are other possible options which your question thereby precluding anyone trying to answer without going into a protracted response which requires addressing the premises you set out as inviolate but in fact are not. This type of fallacy also includes the complex question forms wherein you create complex questions which preclude certain answers. i.e. The church cannot be true because Mr. Smith perpetrated two great frauds. The question itself limits the possible answers to be either that the church is true despite the two great frauds or that the church is not true because of the two great frauds. You have prohibited me from answering without first defining what is “true” what is “fraud” was there a “fraud.” Then you would simply reject any part of my definitions and claim that proves that your original proposition (question) was correct – that the church is not true because of the two great frauds. When in fact no answer to the proposition (question) is true because the question itself is not valid.

    You also resort to using fallacies of relevance. That is in your case personal attacks (ad hominem). Rather or not Mr. Smith was an embezzler, fraudster, or any other sort of miscreant has nothing to do with the validity of the Mormon or any other church. Truth is independent of the source. In a religious context, God is required to use sinners as his spokesmen, as all are sinners, therefore just because you find a particular sinner more offensive than another that does not make the words God gives them to speak any more or less true.

    You also use fallacies of presumption. That is one or more pf the presumptions in the question are incorrect. i.e. How can Mormon leaders be living apostles and profits when they have taught false doctrines. One of your erroneous presumption is that living apostles and prophets must always be correct in their teachings. Within Mormonism itself this has been a topic since the beginning and it is taught over and over again that the apostles and profits do err and that it is incumbent upon the individual to determine the truth of any teaching.

    Every one of your alleged faults with Mormonism and their scripture can also be said about Christianity and the Holy Bible. There is no widely accepted archeological evidence for any of the stories in the Bible. It was not authored by those to whom it has been attributed to. Every prophet and apostle sinned before and after their calling. Subsequent definers of Christianity who in fact established more of the currently held doctrines than the apostles themselves were also sinners and taught false doctrines. If Mormonism is false it is no more false than any other sect professing Christianity.

    If you wish to truly come to an understanding of why some choose to believe in the tenants of Mormonism you should more carefully consider the questions you ask.

  • JP

    You have stated your ‘intent’ and made clear what you do (get the truth out). You even give a general reason: paraphrase – when the church lies, someone has to get the truth out. But none of this indicates what YOUR motivation is. What drives you?

    I’m even further perplexed when you try to make it very clear that you don’t even care what the result is: you ‘honestly do not mind one way or the other what another person believes (or doesn’t believe) so long as they are happy and they have an opportunity to be informed about the faith that they are choosing.’

    So you must not be motivated by results – I’ll be happy if I can’t bring more joy to someone’s life by bringing the truth to them. On my mission I always felt that I could add joy to someone’s life regardless of how happy their life currently was. I was then disappointed/sad when someone rejected what I had to teach. Apparently you are not; so I ask – what drives you?

  • GP

    JP – I am curious as to the intent of your question to me. What bothers you more, me personally or the information that I am presenting? The reason why I ask is because we should be constructively discussing the issues here, not personalities. Intent does not change the issues nor does it help advance an argument.

    This is actually a common apologetic tactic… focus on the source of the information instead of the information itself. A good example of this is how the church warns members to avoid getting church history information from the Internet. The Internet itself is just a vehicle or medium. The content can come from the Internet, a magazine, a book, a podcast, etc. The real question is, is the content reliable? There can be a stigma that because it is easy to disseminate information on the Internet, then the information can be hastily arranged and therefore less reliable. Indeed, that may be the case for some circumstances, but could also be the case in any printed format too. It’s best to look at original sources and draw your own conclusions. By looking at original sources (and rejecting some – yes, even some that are against the church), I am quite certain of the reliability of the sources that have led to my conclusions.

    If you have a different perspective of what I post, then by all means, speak your position. But I wouldn’t worry too much about me if I were you.

    BTW (from your original post), the timestamps on this website are in the Eastern Time Zone :). Best wishes to you…

  • scott

    I am not going to try to answer all these questions as I imagine this is not really the right venue for such big questions.

    I have found a very interesting site that is looking at answering many of the geography and archeology questions, I found it gives a much more realistic and unique approach to the question of where did the Book of Mormon occur. Hope you are patient enough to put the time in to read through this. If not that might be part of the problem.

    As to your other questions some of them have non-LDS support, to the scientific questions you asked.

    I am one of the used to be doubters. The answers are there, the questions is whether a person is interested in finding truth or selective to support their own belief.

    I know this is true.

  • Joel

    To Church leaders, would the spectrum of “doubt” also include someone in this position?: ‘I no longer have confidence that the spiritual experiences I’ve had can be interpreted as proving the church is true. I want to examine this anew in the same way that I look at every other religion, employing the same degree of skepticism with which I evaluate Catholicism or Hinduism.’

    Is that too critical to be characterized as “doubt”? Is it something else?

    I loved the GC talks be they seemed to contemplate this scenario. We’re well beyond mere uncertainty.

  • Michael

    I 100% agree with you and I love your response. I can answer every single accusation but it will only fall on deaf ears and once a “question” is answered she, just like many other anti-mormons will simply move on to another subject. For example: she claims the BofM talks about Blacks not holding the Priesthood? Where is that found in the BofM? Another post talks about DNA. Whoever posted that should read the whole report. Guess what’s been found in other tribes…European DNA. Why doesn’t that make the mainstream. The reason we (I) don’t answer is because she has not read the BofM, nor prayed about it so why defend or waste time in the defending it to someone…anyone who has already made up their minds. It’s OK that they don’t share my faith so why try to make me doubt it. Why do people like her feel so threatened by the LDS faith. Christians believe in the Trinity. Has she studied where that came from? Does she know it’s not found in the Bible anywhere? Does she know that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John didn’t write those books? In Exodus why are we told that no man can see the face of God and live? According to her God doesn’t have a face. Why in the next chapter of Exodus does it tell us that Moses spoke to God face to face as a man speaks to his friend? If God and Jesus are the same why in NT does Stephen see God the Father and His son standing next to him? I guess by her standards the bible is not true either sense it clearly contradicts itself. I have had doubts and will continue to have doubts. I read, study the standard work, history, church history, definitions, etc. If God exists then this is “a” true church. I say “a” because I believe all religions have truth. If God doesn’t exist then it can’t be any of us. In the end if she really believes in God then show me by being a good believer. show love not hate, isn’t that what Christ was all about anyway. Show me by your actions that you are a good Saint and follower of the word.

  • Old Guy

    Your question made me think a bit more, and I came to this: The real issue here isn’t about degrees of doubt, defining doubt, or the line between doubt and apostasy. The real issue is trusting that each member’s spiritual life is theirs alone, and let the chips fall where they may. If we all achieve *unconditional* love and acceptance for each other, the issue vanishes.

  • Joel

    Old Guy,

    Insightful. Beautiful. Nutritious food for thought.

  • Wayne Dequer

    GP- In response to your list of 11 proofs or bits of significant evidence that the Book of Mormon is 19th century fiction:

    Thanks for your prompt response. Thursday and Friday are busy days and evenings for me most weeks so I’m just now getting back to you. Your list looks impressive, but let me follow your format and reply to your 11 points off the top of my head. Afterwards, I will have some comments about “proof” and scholarly explanations.
    1. There were and are multiple versions of the KGV with minor variations. There is a significant amount of the Book of Mormon that closely parallels one of the KGV of Joseph Smith’s day. However, the Book of Mormon quotations from Isaiah have wording differences from both his and modern KGV in a very significant percent of the verses. The Book of Mormon restatement of what is Matthew 5 is significantly different in the last verse. I know because my wife and I have studied the Book of Mormon in parallel with the KGV verses at least once. However, you might be correct about KGV errors being perpetuated, so your point deserves more study.
    2. Moroni’s treatise on charity is very similar to 1 Corinthians 13 by Paul. It could be a simple copy as you imply, parallel and detailed revelation from God, or they could both be working from an earlier source.
    3. New World anachronisms:
    a. Horses – Conventional wisdom is that they only came after Spanish Contact. Horses are not mentioned often in the Book of Mormon and they aren’t used in battle as I remember. There are 3 possibilities: a) You could be right; b) they could have called something a horse after a few generations in the New World (I saw a funny video on Facebook in the last few days of a Canadian Mounty riding a Moose with saddle and bridal); or c) a small population of horses could have indeed survived in that part of the Americas from the common prehistoric American horses that seemed to have disappeared a few 10,000 years previously. Horse bones have been found in an unexpectedly early layer in at least one dig. Fossil records are always incomplete.
    b. The mention of steel is not frequent in the Book of Mormon. My memory is that limited steel creation dates before 600 BCE in the Old World. Steel is the alloying of iron with pretty small amounts of carbon. Under fairly primitive steel making conditions it is quite easy for carbon from the fire to get into the iron in the smelting and forming process. Once it does so it is technically steel and has some of the improved properties. At least that’s my memory.
    c. Many Mormons assume the Nephites had coinage although the actual text doesn’t say that! I believe they are talking about weights and measures used in trade.
    d. I don’t remember chariots being mentioned often in the Book of Mormon. There certainly are examples of pre-Colombian wheeled toys. Plains Indians, etc. later dragged poles without wheels behind horses to carry loads. That could be done with other American domesticated animals and could be translated as chariots by Joseph Smith even without wheels.
    e. Wheat- In Latin texts I translated in High School the word corn appears fairly often for grain. It’s also similarly found in the Bible. Yet we think and speak of corn as maize, which has a New World origin. Words previously used for other plants and animals are not infrequently applied to a similar object in a new environment.
    f. Although I have not consulted it recently, I remember as identifying many more potential Book of Mormon anachronisms and offering plausible explanations for most although not all.
    4. There is also Zero DNA evidence that the Nephites did Not exist. Given the probable size of the initial Nephite gene pool, probable mixing with other populations, and the Book of Mormon account of genocidal wars, it should not be surprising that little or no evidence of it now exists. Among other sources I have read on this topic, I remember an essay on dealing with this topic in a reasonable manner. Further, given reasonable confirmation bias on the part of many secular researchers, it is not unreasonable to expect that contradictory DNA (like contradictory carbon 14 evidence in archaeology) might well have a tendency to be attributed to other factors and be discarded.
    5. There is certainly some linguistic evidence in Uto-Aztecan (?) showing significant links to middle-eastern words and to Egyptian which is more than your claim of zero.
    6. You are correct that we have not found Nephi’s Tomb or a sign saying Zarahemla City Limits. There is considerable historic, geographic, and some archaeological evidence that the Old World account in 1 Nephi is plausible. There is very extensive archaeological evidence that cultures in central-America were consistent with descriptions in the Book of Mormon. While certainly not without fault, the books “Lehi in the Desert” (Nibley) and “Mormon’s Codex” (Sorenson) provide an extensive array of well documented evidence on these topics, which is a lot more than zero!
    7. “The First Book of Napoleon” is admittedly new to me and therefore warrants more research and study. I’ve read significant parts of “The Great War” and while I can find some very limited parallels, it is clearly not a source for the Book of Mormon. There have been various suggested sources for the Book of Mormon over the years. None of them, thus far have stood up. To prove the Book of Mormon to be 19th century fiction you need to come up with very convincing source material and significant proof of likely authorship.
    8. Only at a very superficial level does the Book of Mormon parallel popular views of the Native American Indians at that time or those in “Views of the Hebrews” with which I am pretty familiar.
    9. Joseph Smith Sr.’s dream recalled by Lucy Mack Smith and Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life do have very significant parallels. That presents 3 possibilities: a) Joseph Smith borrowed from his father’s dream in writing the Book of Mormon, b) God gave Joseph Smith Sr. a similar dream to Lehi knowing Joseph Jr. would later translate Lehi’s dream and the parallels and interpretation might well strengthen the faith of the Smith family, c) Lucy Mack Smith’s recall of her husband’s dream was influenced by her familiarity with the Book of Mormon account.
    10. Was Joseph Smith, by 1830, a very creative and accomplished fictional story teller? He was quite young, inexperienced and poorly educated. If so, would that have allowed him to write the Book of Mormon which is over 500 pages of detailed history, religious doctrine, allegories, etc.? I think the answer to both question is most probably “No.”
    11. The Lord told Oliver Cowdery through Joseph Smith that he needed to “study it out in [his] mind” before he could translate. In part this probably meant studying the characters on the plates. We certainly have accounts of Joseph having the plates before him as he dictated to scribes. Joseph Smith says the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God. My memory is, he does not say how that was accomplished except he mentions the Uruim and Thummin. I suspect that he used more than one specific physical method over the process of translating. There has at least been speculation that the Urim and Thummin were awkward to use. We have at least one account of him using a seer stone at the bottom of a hat to block out extraneous light to help him focus. Both a seer stone and the Urim and Thummin are physical aids to receiving help from God as are the Liahona, the Brass Serpent on a Pole which Moses raised up, casting lots by early apostles to choose a new member, using consecrated oil to anoint, etc. I expect they help us focus faith. As Joseph became more comfortable he may have translated without any physical device to help him focus and obtain the needed revelation. History records he sometimes lost the ability to translate at the time of the lost manuscript and another time after an argument with Emma. Perhaps, near the end he could even read some of the characters directly. Joseph’s account is the only first-hand account of how the process worked within him. I seem to remember that a primary lesson mentions the use of a seer stone and that one of the apostles (Elder Nelson?) addressed this topic directly in a talk printed in the Ensign in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s. I became aware of the use of a seer stone as an aid to translation in the early 1970’s. It may surprise some, but it doesn’t prove the Book of Mormon is 19th century fiction!

    This is much more argumentative than I would normally be, but you had a really good list. I respect your right to believe as you like. I am grateful we are all free to share our opinions on the internet.

    I presume you are familiar with these topics because you researched them while struggling with your membership in the Church as you said. I’m familiar with them because as a convert of about 4 years I wrote a paper on the views expressed in the eastern press about the Utah War (New York Times and Harper’s Weekly microfilms) as a grad student in 1970 at UC Santa Barbara. Those publications exposed me to an excellent selection of anti-Mormon sentiments and arguments of that time period. Most of them are still around today. My undergraduate majors at UCSB were history and anthropology (emphasis on archaeology). I had to field my share of pointed questions about LDS beliefs and history during college. Given my somewhat unusual background, I have kept abreast of the field so I could thoughtfully reply to “hard questions.” The internet has made that easier.

    Respectfully, saying we can “prove” most anything is usually unwise and often intellectually arrogant. I taught Math in public school for 15 years (another story). I very familiar with geometric and algebraic proofs which, after careful checking, can be absolute. There are also a very few things that can be proved using formal logical proofs. When we say “prove”, we usually are using the quasi-legal definition of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I believe that in just my informal quasi-cross examination, I have raised more than sufficient reasonable doubt without even presenting my side of the actual case. You probably disagree which is certainly your right, especially on the internet. My side of the case could run to many hundreds of pages since I believe there now exists a preponderance of evidence that the Book of Mormon is plausible.

    As fairytales accurately suggest, it is very difficult to change people’s perceptions once they make up their minds. As examples, Chicken Little and the Emperor’s New Clothes come to mind. I can’t and would Not try to prove the Book of Mormon in any of these ways, although I believe that another type of proof – spiritual proof/personal revelation – is available to those who will patiently and faithfully seek it.

    I do not find FairMormon, Farms, the scholarly essays at, Sorenson, or Nibley to be flawless either. All scholars make mistakes, and history teaches us they are bound to be wrong about a significant number of their opinions. I have always found Farms materials to be high quality. FairMormon has significantly improved its organization and accuracy in the last few years. However, all of us need to check sources for even-handedness and accuracy on a regular basis.

    You mention the CES Letter. I have perused Jeremy Runnells’ sites although I obviously have not had time to read them carefully. They are impressive and have the polish of great care. It looks persuasive. However, little is really new. I also note that FairMormon has a detailed and well referenced response at . I recommend the FairMormon site to all who have looked a Jeremy Runnells’ site and are at all willing to consider another viewpoint.

  • GP

    Hi Wayne,

    Thanks for the candid and objective reply. You are indeed well researched on this topic, and it’s good to hear the viewpoints of others as I tend to glean a little more perspective here and there.

    Many of the points that you have brought up had buoyed my testimony for about two decades. There came a point where I decided to not look anymore though because I had a very difficult time finding some of the points (let alone the combination and arrangement of many points) to be rational and retaining my testimony was important to me. However, as time went on, although I wanted the apologetic arguments to make sense to me, my conscience simply couldn’t allow it any longer, and at some point my proverbial “shelf” broke.

    Somehow I came up with 11 points from memory, but there are more issues that didn’t come to mind in the time I allotted for creating my original list. Anyway, rather than raise more issues (as these replies are getting long), we should probably cap it at the list of 11. Here is my reply to your follow-up:

    1. Yes, I would recommend looking a little more into the KJV (not KGV :)) translation errors. There are two interesting categories. First, Joseph Smith carried over errors specific to his family’s Bible (written in English). And second, the quotations of Isaiah were certainly from an English Bible and not an ancient text; this has been demonstrated by comparing early texts of Isaiah to Joseph’s translation. Joseph added words and concepts that simply did not exist in the text or context. He clearly used an English source and not an ancient source for those quotations.
    2. Moroni/Paul parallels – agree with your list as primary options.
    3. Anachronisms:
    a. Horses – there is no evidence of horses in the Americas after around 10k years ago… until the Spanish arrived. Yes, words can try to be manipulated to mean a tapir, moose, deer, etc; however, I would expect such cases to have been called a name other than a horse in “the most correct book”. Changing definitions of words from a defensive position raises suspicion and questions.
    b. Steel – no evidence in the Americas before the Spanish.
    c. Coins – indeed, you are correct… and I had mistakenly perpetuated this assumption. The monetary system is laid out but with no specific mention of it being coinage.
    d. Chariots are mentioned in the BoM and in context with horses a significant number of times. Google has some great links on this topic with the specific BoM references.
    e. Wheat – see “horses” above. I’d think that God would just call it for what it is… not sure that He would expect folks to change the definition of a word later on when it is challenged.
    f. FAIR on anachronisms – I find very little plausible from FAIR. But it may just be a difference of how open a person is to possibilities – even for possibilities that cannot be rationalize or otherwise are unexplainable.
    4. There is zero evidence of Middle Eastern DNA mixing from the BoM timelines. You mentioned secular researchers having confirmation bias. The scientific method does not have confirmation bias – it shows data and the data tells a story. The BoM story is not supported by science; not because secular researchers are trying to discredit the BoM narrative, but because the data simply does not exist. I’m sure you know that there have been several faithful LDS researchers (some paid by the church) who have tried to use science to prove the BoM, but they have been unsuccessful. So I don’t see the confirmation bias you assert.
    Recently, I’ve seen some members of the church gleefully mention a National Geographic article that seems to indicate Middle Eastern origins for ancient inhabitants of the Americas. But they didn’t read the article completely because those origins are simply from human migrations out of Africa and through the Middle East which was already known. A great summary of all of this can be found at:
    5. Do you have any references for the Uto-Aztecan linguistic links to Middle Eastern words that you cite? I’ve seen some attempts to do this for other circumstances (there is even a section in View of the Hebrews that has this); however, it seems to have been more coincidence. I am not aware of any specific tracing of linguistic changes within the time period of the BoM to now that would have changed so radically to only leave a few trace words instead of more compelling connections.
    6. I have heard faithful arguments of “evidence” for the BoM. While I see the individual pieces of evidence presented, I don’t see a good case made in connecting it together, much less tying it to the BoM. It seems like more of a selected set of interesting parallels to get a “wow” factor from an audience seeking proof to a predetermined conclusion (while leaving out other evidence that doesn’t help the case). I just don’t see any evidence that when linked together makes a direct connection to the BoM.
    7-8. The parallels to “The Late War”, “The First Book of Napoleon”, and “View of the Hebrews” are compelling to me and are summarized in the CES Letter ( – which I highly recommend that you read. Are any of them copied word-for-word? No, not in most cases at least not substantially. However, I am convinced that their content (which was available to Joseph Smith) influenced the BoM and possibly were at times directly used or referenced during the writing of the BoM. This is more than clear… one example is recent work from Chris and Duane Johnson at … it’s fascinating to peruse the parallels.
    9. Regarding Joseph Smith Sr’s dream matching Lehi’s dream… yes, your list of possibilities closely mirrors my own list of possibilities.
    10. Is Joseph capable of DICTATING (not “writing” as you stated) the BoM? Absolutely. There are no known cases to me where it was said that Joseph wrote the BoM… all cases were through dictation to a scribe with all of the primary sources saying the dictation occurred through a rock in a hat. Joseph also dictated many portions of the D&C and the BoA. He was capable of standing up and going on and on with teaching/preaching/lecturing as is accounted several times in the history of the church. Beyond that, I never personally found the BoM as a literary marvel that many church members claim (even as a believer). It is unnecessarily verbose, copies heavily from the Bible, parallel’s Joseph’s own familial circumstances in some cases (there are parallels in Nephi/Joseph and again the Lehi/Joseph Sr.), and essentially is a collection of answers to Christian questions that were heavily debated in Joseph Smith’s life. On this topic, the argument is more subjective since others will see the BoM as an amazing work; however, I absolutely DO see it possible for Joseph Smith to dictate the BoM and for significant portions he may have also even had help.
    11. BoM translation method. Here’s an exercise to go through which helped me on this topic. Don’t listen to me or any other person’s summary. Go through all of the primary sources for how Joseph “translated” the BoM. You will find that all of the primary sources (and vast majority) mention it was through a rock in his hat. The plates were not used. The name “Urim and Thummim” did not even enter the historical record until 1833, several years after the BoM was “translated”… and the purpose of the biblical Urim and Thummim does not match the purpose that Joseph Smith claims… it was more of a magic 8 ball or dowsing rod type of device to indicate a yes/no type of answer – not a conduit for showing characters one-by-one to use as a translation device. Nor was the biblical Urim and Thummim a dual-purpose rock for also unsuccessfully seeking out golden treasure for friends and neighbors as Joseph did. Joseph’s rock (“seer stone”) was found buried some 20 feet underground while digging a well for Josiah Stowell… He used this rock for searching buried treasure, and in the middle of his treasure quests (not after), he translated the BoM with that very same rock. And again, the name “Urim and Thummim” is absent from the historical record until 1833 – this story is an evolving one. I suggest (if you haven’t already) reading D. Michael Quinn’s “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” which is very well referenced. Does this prove the BoM is fictional? No. But it’s highly suspect when the same superstitious instrument was used to unsuccessfully find buried treasure, Joseph finds plates of gold (hint, hint – treasure), he uses the same stone to translate the plates, the witnesses saw the plates with their “spiritual eyes” (in an imaginary or enhanced state), etc. The correlated story told by the church was a big one to swallow on faith as it was, but when you add in the details, it becomes a lot harder to accept – and to me, it just doesn’t pass the straight face test.

    As for defining “proof”, yes, I use the same metric as the one used in the US judicial system. Can the BoM really be what it claims? I’d put the odds at 1 in a trillion (not mathematically, but just emphatically). Does anyone have the smoking gun like the lost Spaulding manuscript? Nope – that’s because the BoM is almost certainly just a combination of influences in Joseph Smith’s life with a lot of his creative imagination mixed in. And as I mentioned in a few of the items above, there is absolutely no scientific evidence directly linked to the BoM storyline.

    Well, this turned out to be A LOT longer than I thought. If you’ve made it this far, then please accept my apology for being so long-winded.

  • JP

    GP –
    To answer your question, I am far more bothered by you personally than by what you have to say. But let me step back, not ‘You’ per say but more you, as a collective handful, that expend great effort trying to erode other’s testimonies. I’ve never been able to understand what motivates this effort. There must be something. I saw that you like to talk so I thought maybe you would be willing to provide some incite. And at the same time, it may provide some context to what you have to say. For instance, if you claimed that you did this out of pure love for your fellow man and that you had found something that brought you great joy so you felt compelled to share it, that would be different than say, you explaining that you had felt betrayed by a church you had given much to so the best way you could get back at it was to enlighten as many members as possible. Those things mean something.

    As for my part, I guess I was motivated enough to invest 30 minutes of time into engaging with you for possibly a couple reasons. One, as I state above, I’m curious what leads people to do what you do. My curiosity along with my desire to protect something I love was enough to comment. And to be honest, I enjoy a little back and forth where I get to be clever. It seems to me, as I read many of these posts, that a lot of people enjoy this a great deal.

    You’re right, you want to talk about issues and I am more interested in the individual, such as yourself, and what motivates you. I’ve not met you but when talking face to face with some of your ‘colleagues’, I’ve never got the feeling that they were motivated from a place of joy and love. But that’s just me being judgmental.

    PS I’ve seen you post on other articles posing as a doubting member truly seeking to get better understanding. Only a few comments later it became abundantly clear that you’re not seeking understanding at all. So much for being true to your self…

  • GP

    JP – I value honesty and that is what motivates me. If the church would teach an accurate account of their history in missionary and church discussions, then there wouldn’t really need to be corrections made by others like me. There wouldn’t be excommunications for “apostasy”. There wouldn’t be families that break apart because those who leave the church get judged by members for being “deceived by Satan”. There wouldn’t be those who are unforgiven for “denying the Holy Ghost”. These kinds of judgements are unhealthy for individuals and for families. Imagine a world where everyone knows the truth and accepts each other regardless of their beliefs or disbeliefs. Channeling John Lennon: “Imagine all the people… living in harmony” :).

    Anyway, I may be missing what you are asking or maybe you find it difficult to believe that someone who values honesty can be motivated by it. People don’t just walk away from an organization where they invested their entire life (socially, time/money, beliefs, etc.) Parts of it stay with you and parts of it need to be further analyzed and processed. I am still processing my loss of faith – about 1.5 years ago I was a devout and literal believer. I am still dealing with the impact on myself, my family, friends, etc. Sometime down the road (probably to your delight), I will slowly fade away from message boards and live an authentic life without thinking as much about the church. But for now, this is where my interest lies and helps me process what I’ve gone through over the past 1.5 years.

    Now I have a question for you… after significant research, my position now is that the church’s truth claims are not “true” (e.g. the BoM and BoA are not historical). Can you tell me the “right” way that I’m supposed to communicate this position without coming across as “tearing apart testimonies”? If you cannot tell me how this is possible, then it is unlikely that you will be capable of seeing my true position or accepting my right to express my position publicly. I am simply interested in getting the truth out. If someone loses a testimony over knowing the true history of the church, then wouldn’t you consider it a shame that they weren’t given the full truth at the beginning of their engagement with the church instead of later in their involvement? I find that presenting an incomplete (and sometimes fully inaccurate) account under the justification of “milk before the meat” is deceptive. Don’t you also “believe in being honest”?

    I don’t pose differently on other boards… if you saw me elsewhere supposedly posing as a doubter, then that may have been earlier in my faith transition or perhaps it was somehow miscommunicated or misunderstood. Or maybe I felt a certain way when I made the posting – it’s a rough road to head down and it has bumps up and down.

    I wish the best to you JP. If you take anything away from this conversation, please be kind to those who you are close to who “lose their faith” whether it be a family member, friend, or someone else. They need your unconditional love and support… it would mean a lot to them.

  • mka

    the issue I have with you is that I doubt that you have been a member or if you joined it may have been for only one purpose. The FACT is that if you have lost your testimony or ever had one you can just go away. why do you have to try to take others with you. If you were sincere, you would ask us to search and pray for the truth. The fact that Joseph Smith married a 14 year old in the late 1800’s doesn’t shake my testimony or that perhaps Brigham Young might have been swayed by racism about blacks holding the Priesthood still doesn’t make God non-exist or the gospel true. Do people make mistakes aka, Paul H. Dunn? Absolutely. Humans, go figure. Can you tell me how you would have judged Mary at 14 marrying Joseph a widower of over 40 years old with other children? I suppose you would have not believed that Jesus was the son of God because he was born out of wedlock to a 14 year old girl. Maybe I missed your point. If you are stating the God does not exist then I can’t reason with you about whether or not the LDS church is true or not. I think maybe Joseph Smith might have let power go to his head or that he made mistakes along the way. Some big ones that will lead to people like you leaving the faith because of his actions. The parable of the Sower. Listen to Elder Oak’s talk and you may understand my point. David, Saul/Paul, Thomas who doubted, Moses who angered the Lord, Aaron who worshiped a golden calf, Jonah who disobeyed God and we can go on. So if we are looking for the perfect person to lead us i don’t think you will find one. I think if you come to understand God the way I do, things that are troubling you won’t anymore.

    The reason I doubt your sincerity is because you are not asking anyone anything. You are accusing, pointing fingers and have made up your mind. You are as any anti-Mormon I’ve ever met and I’ve met many. You try to disguise it by pleading sincerity of lost faith but I don’t believe you.

  • Old Guy

    “… never [thought of the ] BOM as a literary marvel…”

    I have thought about this myself. To me the BOM reads like a parody of the KJV Bible. It’s not just the language, just the story lines, or just the proper nouns. It’s all of the above. To my ear, the BOM is a
    rather pedestrian thing, while the KJV Bible is a thing of beauty.

    I often hear it said that Smith couldn’t possibly have invented the stories in the BOM because of the short time involved, the length and the rich detail. I think folks claim this based on their own personal limitations. As it turns out, glib storytelling is a talent that can seem miraculous, but it really is not. Some people have the ability to weave a tale out of scattered facts the way you’d weave a hearth rug from rags.

    I’ve seen plenty of “scientific” or “scholarly” evidence supporting the BOM as a divine work. I am sure there are scholars who devote their lives to it, and there are some enormously long posts here (with a lot of long words) about it.

    To me, personally, neither the research nor the BOM itself passes the sniff test.

  • EG

    There have been a couple of non LDS scholars who have tackled the Book of Mormon and had some interesting things to say.

    There are good internet sites that have answers to some difficult issues. No, not FAIR Mormon, or or any apologetic site. If I can find them anyone can. If a person really wants answers all they have to do is look.

  • Joel

    “There are good internet sites that have answers to some difficult issues. No, not FAIR Mormon, or or any apologetic site.”

    Do tell. I beg you.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Debbie, your assertions are full of false information and assumptions. I think it unlikely you will take me seriously, but I would suggest that you will never be satisfied with any information anyone gives you because you refuse to doubt your own judgments, to even consider that your conclusions are based partly on your own ignorance. You demand that believing Mormons demonstrate to your subjective satisfaction that you are wrong about any of your statements, but I wonder if you have considered that you may be even a small bit as fallible as the people you denounce.

    I will address just one item on your bill of indictment, the claim of “racism” among the leaders of the LDS Church. Any conclusions you draw about that need to include the fact that the Mormons, including crusty old Brigham Young, have always invested their resources into recruiting American Indians, and Hispanics, Polynesians and Asians into their church, which is why there are so many Mormons around the world.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Considering how the Brethren tolerated Sterling McMurrin over his long life, I don’t think they have ever had a problem with people having doubts about their faith in the doctrines of the LDS Church. I grew up in a very blue collar ward where people with college educations were few, and few of our neighbors were prepared intellectually to field questions from people who had doubts about the doctrines of the Church, but I personally never experienced a negative reaction from any of our local leaders about my teenage questions. Anyone who has been a home teacher knows that the members of the Church vary in their understanding and faith. I have seen the message of Alma Chapter 32 borne out, that the strength of our faith is affected by our willingness to conduct the “experiment upon the word” that Alma invites us to, not just to think about it but to live it and see the truth of it as it plays out in the lives of us and our neighbors.

  • Elisabeth Taylor

    Debbie- It seems to me that you didn’t come here with questions – you came here with condemnations and nothing anyone can say to refute your “questions” would mean anything whatsoever to you. Are you really surprised no one has responded to you with anything substantive?

  • LindaSDF

    1. The Book of Mormon was not supposed to be a history book, it’s what it’s subtitle says, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. For me, there is just enough evidence, or at least, a rational explanation, to keep these things from being deal-breakers for me. It’s the message that’s important, not the historical plausibility.

    2. There is evidence that Joseph Smith had much much more papyri than what the church has today, including journal entries from non-members back then. For instance, the papyri the church has has only the first Facsimile found in the Book of Abraham, but there are three facsimiles there. Where did the other two come from?

    3. “Frauds” is a relative term, here. Again, it’s the message much more than anything else. And too many people, including me, have found comfort, inspiration, etc., from the pages of these books.

  • LindaSDF

    4. Was he a “moral miscreant”? The fact that he “married” these women (when I believe the term “sealed” is closer to the truth) does not mean that there was anything immoral going on. Especially there is really no evidence that he ever consummated the “marriages” to the younger girls.

    Also, whatever “financial cons” Joseph Smith might have had going, they sure didn’t do any good, as he died as he lived, pretty much a pauper.

    5. Actually, they do have something to say about these things. Just because they do not come out and say it in so many words, does not mean they are not addressing the issues. What ever problems there are as far as these issues, are caused by us, by mankind, and it’s up to us to fix it.

    6. “These men” have not taught false doctrine. Perhaps one does not like what the situation is, but that does not mean it’s false doctrine.

    Take “the curse of blacks”. Did you mean “curse of Cain” perhaps? I’m not sure here.

  • LindaSDF

    7. Excommunication is not exercising “unrighteous dominion” if it is done for the right reasons. For example, Kate Kelly was clearly breaking the covenants she made with God at her baptism and again in the temple (apostasy, speaking evil of the Lord’s annointed, hurting the missionary effort, etc.) and when that happens, one needs to be excused from those covenants. That’s what excommunication is.

    8. First, the “black skin” part is separate from blacks not being able to hold the priesthood. Second, throughout the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites and the Nephites, and lots of other “-ites” went from being good to being evil to good again. There was also a lot of mixing of these groups, even tho this was not supposed to happen. Too many unanswerable questions to make this a deal-breaker for me.

  • LindaSDF

    As far as being “hateful racial bigots”, I’m thinking that these 19th and early 20th century men are being judged by 21st century standards. I think that if we are judging them based on the standards and knowledge of their day, they would more be considered ignorantly prejudiced.


    there are reasons and there are excuses.

    There are only two reasons that I can think of for someone to leave the church:

    1. for whatever reason, they no longer believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

    2. they no longer believe in God.

    Anything else is just an excuse.

    For those who have left the LDS church, but still consider themselves to be Bible-believing Christians, a question:

    How do you know that the Bible is the word of God? What scientific evidence is there of the deity of Jesus Christ?

    Is there anything, anything at all, that the church has done for you, something good that came out of your membership, your association with other Mormons? Surely t

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