Beliefs Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

6 unexpected findings about Mormon doubters — and one that’s no surprise

I’m not at the Sunstone symposium this weekend, so I missed Benjamin Knoll’s presentation yesterday with some really interesting stats on faith and doubt in the Mormon community, based on the Pew survey from a few years ago. But here’s a recap of the major findings – and if you’re interested, there’s a PDF of the whole report that you can download at the end of this post.

Ben, a political scientist at Centre College, knows from data. He has been an invaluable help to me in crafting The Next Mormons survey I’ve been talking so much about. (Speaking of which, if you are interested in donating to the Kickstarter campaign, TODAY is the last day! Click here if you’d like to support this research and get access to it before everybody else.)

For his presentation yesterday, Ben decided to take a deeper look at the existing Pew data from 2011 to determine what we can know about faith and doubt within Mormonism:

Who are the doubters? How many are there? Is this a large group or a small isolated set of a few hundred individuals who are active in the Mormon blogosphere? Just how different are doubters from TBMs (True Believing Mormons) in terms of their religious behavior and attitudes?

Mormon doubt slide 1 Knoll

For starters, about 22% of those Mormons surveyed could be classified as “doubters” by Pew’s wording — meaning that they agreed with the statement “Some teachings are hard for me to believe.”

However, this number is a little misleading because the Pew survey already favors active Mormons. You know how at church, as many as two-thirds of the folks on the rolls rarely or never show up? Well, in the Pew survey most of those folks were not included in the sampling, because 85% of the respondents self-reported as being active in the church. We’re already going to be skewing toward belief here.

So the 22% rate is actually kind of low, given the sampling. What this means is that more Mormons than 22% have doubts—possibly a lot more. But a lot of those people have already stopped self-identifying as LDS.

What can we learn about doubters?

  1. Doubting occurs almost equally between women (22%) and men (23%). This kind of blows the notion that women are inherently more spiritual/faithful – though other studies have shown that women are more likely than men to stay active in their religion even when they have personal doubts.
  2. It’s older Mormons, not younger ones, who doubt at higher levels. There’s almost a ten-point jump, in fact, in the over-50 crowd. But we have to remember that it may simply be that some of the younger folks may have already “taken themselves out of the pool,” so to speak. In other words, it might be generationally more common and acceptable for Millennials and Gen Xers who doubt to simply stop being Mormon, whereas older Mormons who doubt might be more likely to quietly stick it out. Interesting question.

Mormon doubt slide 2 Knoll

3. The less educated have more doubts. A third of people with a high school education or less are doubters (33.6%), while just over 12% of college graduates feel the same way. But again, that may be because the more educated people have already taken themselves out of the survey pool of self-identified Mormons. As Ben puts it, “The popular narrative is that those who are well‐educated tend to ‘intellectualize’ themselves and have more doubts. But they have already left and so are not included in this analysis. Of those who currently identify, those with more education report lower levels of doubt than those with less education.”

4. Democrats are more likely to doubt than Republicans, but Independents—and especially Independents who lean Democratic—are the most likely of all. I would love to know why this is so. Maybe there is a strain among doubters that questions all institutions, including political ones like parties?

5. Converts are more likely to doubt than those raised LDS. So much for the proverbial zeal of the convert! Speaking as a convert myself, it has occurred to me many times how much easier it would be to accept some of our propositional statements if you were raised on them. It’s a lot harder to come in as an adult and say, “Well, of course the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. I was thinking that all along.”

6. It doesn’t really matter where you live. Utah residents in the survey were only slightly less likely to doubt than people who lived in other parts of the United States. This is another nail in the coffin of the “Utah folks are way more orthodox than Mormons everywhere else” theory.

7. People who make more than $100,000 a year are more likely to doubt. Unlike the education effect, which turned out to be the opposite of what you might expect, this old chestnut held true: there is a correlation between high income and doubt. As Ben joked, “the Book of Mormon ‘pride cycle’ appears to be confirmed.”

You can download the PDF of the presentation here: Knoll – Sunstone 2016 presentation.

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

114 Comments

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  • Defining doubter as having trouble with one doctrine is a strange measure. That would mean that if I fully embrace the doctrine that the LDS Church is divinely established and guided, but it takes more faith for me to understand early or ancient polygamy, then I’m a “doubter.”

  • I’m not a Mormon, I am Christian, this story caught my eye. I am however very good at math and when I see that 85% of respondents reported as active, that means that 15% of those responding are not active members of your church. It would stand to reason that most of those 15% make up the 22.6% that find some of the teachings hard to believe. I think the real message here is that only about 7% of your active members have any disagreement. That is the real story here. I find that in our perish we can only agree maybe half of the time. I’m impressed by my Mormon friends and neighbors and rarely find fault in them. I feel like this story is misleading and trying to create more out of an issue that hardly exists.

  • Jana, many of the assertions that you make in this article are not really supported by the data and seem to be influenced by your own biases. First of all, Dr. Knoll’s analysis focused on one question and only one question in the survey, asking respondents to note, in regards to LDS theology, whether “some teachings are hard to believe” or “I believe wholeheartedly in all the teachings.” The question itself cannot be distilled into such simplistic responses as conversion is a journey. I, for example, cannot say (using Mormon vernacular) that I have a testimony of fasting. I have done it most my life, but honestly, beyond fast offerings going to help the poor and needy, I don’t get much out of fasting. I may respond to a question such as this by saying “Some teachings are hard to believe” when that is not really a reflection of my commitment or my conversion. To really understand the strength of belief or commitment there needs to be more than just one question and there needs to be a recognition in the asking of the questions of that spectrum, or journey that I mentioned earlier.

    In your review of Dr. Knoll’s presentation you note numerous times something to the effect that the numbers listed are misleading because the Pew research favors active Mormons. You seem to suggest that the numbers of believers should be much lower. To that I ask who it is that you are really trying to survey. Are you wanting to survey people who were born into or grew up in the church? That is great, if that is what you want, but that isn’t what the original survey did. Are you wanting to survey people who are still on the church records? That’s great too, but without starting from that list it can’t be done. The original survey asked people if they identified themselves as Mormon. Making any other assertions about any other population is unsupported. Also, around 85% of the people who identified themselves as Mormon said that they were “active” or “Somewhat active.” One of the limitations of phone surveys is that people tend to answer in an aspirational way rather than a true factual way; also definitions are left to interpretation. Being active is viewed as a positive and people are more likely to call themselves active or somewhat active even if they have not been to church in years; not only because people identifying themselves as Mormon see being “active” as a positive, they also likely consider a different definition than the official definition of the church. You state that as many as two-thirds of members on the rolls do not attend church, and while that may be true in some wards or some areas, other wards and areas may have attendance as high as 90%. The average church wide is really closer to around 50%, but again, many of those people in the non-attending half may self-select out of the survey entirely or may actually identify themselves as somewhat active in the survey.

    Also, beyond the limitations of phone surveys like this (results skewed by the kinds of people who have time to take surveys, landlines/vs cell phones, biases in how questions are phrased or asked, etc.) This survey is over 5 years old and only had around 1,000 respondents. Making any conclusive statements based upon the results of this one survey is fraught. There needs to be more data before real conclusions can be made. Jena, your pithy comments are misleading and not supported considering the limitations of this one study. Things like: “This kind of blows the notion that women are inherently more spiritual/faithful,” or “So much for the proverbial zeal of the convert!” or “This is another nail in the coffin of the ‘Utah folks are way more orthodox than Mormons everywhere else’ theory” may sound nice, but may also be false. Studies can be sexy and interesting. Sometimes we feel that they give us insight that we wouldn’t have otherwise, or proof of something that we already believe, but I would submit that the study sited proves none of the points you mention in your article.

    I am a huge fan of data. I think that it is very important in helping us understand the world and in helping us make decisions, but we also have to be careful. People can twist data to show whatever they want and to prove any point they wish. Ultimately, Focusing on the results of one question from a small study from 5 years ago and trying to make generalizations and extrapolate some meaning to the millions of other members of the LDS population in the US is misguided at best.

  • Confirmation bias in the old “pray about it with an open heart’ motif doesn’t leave much wiggle room for self doubt. Apparently you are doing it wrong otherwise.

  • It continues to astonish me that a “religion” founded by a con-man money-digger with a sex addiction (why do you think he came up with polygamy?) is treated seriously. Why don’t you start letting Scientologists do articles, given that Scientology and Mormonism have extremely similar origin stories? All beliefs in gods and devils is of course nutty, but the thing about the Mormons is that the history of Joe the Smithee is so very well known, and yet TBMs just ignore it. Fortunately, the internet continues to reveal the true craziness of Joe the Smith, forcing the Kremlin that runs the Magic Kingdom to fess up in the pages of their mouthpiece, the Deseret News, that yes, Joe-Boy was a polygamist that married teenaged girls and other mens’ wives and used a magic rock (which the Magic Kingdom still owns!) to translate the alleged golden plates (now where did those plates go again?).
    The problem is reflected in a comment I read from one TBM who, having read a biography that showed what a bounder Joe-Boy was, said “wow! If God can use somebody that awful for good, that’s really cool!”

  • The church could improve how it reacts to doubt among its members. At best, it tolerates it. At worst, it condemns it. The thing I know for certain is that condemning doubt only increases and encourages it. You cannot help another person resolve their doubts without fully accepting those doubts. Any pressure to abandon doubt makes it seem like you lack confidence that a person can honestly and completely resolve it on their own.

  • “3. The less educated have more doubts. A third of people with a high school education or less are doubters (33.6%), while just over 12% of college graduates feel the same way. But again, that may be because the more educated people have already taken themselves out of the survey pool of self-identified Mormons.”

    Note that the poorly-educated doubters will *also* take themselves out of the sample. So, for this explanation to work, the highly-educated doubters need to leave at higher rates than the poorly-educated doubters. Which is not readily obvious.

  • I think the most common reaction to doubt in our LDS church is to suppress the expression of it in public. There is strong pressure to keep silent when you disagree. Asking difficult questions is discouraged. Some wards I have lived in are much more tolerant and open minded about diverse points of views than others.
    In the ward and stake I live in now, it does not feel safe to express doubts. The Bishops are all very conservative, unquestioning types. They tend to call very orthodox, old school people to lead the organizations and teach. Many ideas are taught that aren’t even considered doctrinal, or official policy, but they are just old time, folkloric LDS ideas. It is the least open-minded ward and stake I have ever lived in. I feel bad for the members that may be struggling.
    I have found that a lot of what I do on Sunday is get pulled aside by people who have things troubling their minds and just want to talk. I have had several youth ask me tough questions because they wanted straight answers and not mind numbing quotes from old talks and books.
    But if you are one of those 77.4% who “wholeheartedly believe”, what you want from your religious experience is reinforcement of those beliefs. Affirmation of orthodoxy and approved versions of history is what makes you “feel the Spirit”. You don’t come to church to hear people express doubts. You come to be told you are on the right path and be reminded of the things you should be doing to stay there. You feel like you belong because you are surrounded by other “wholehearted” believers. I think this is a legitimate type of belief and religious expression.
    But this approach doesn’t work so well for those who struggle with doubts.
    I think the best solution is to offer multiple classes–some of which are very orthodox and affirming, and others in which it feels safe to talk openly about troubling issues. Many wards have reached that compromise. And this more open discussion forum actually provides affirmation and a sense of acceptance and belonging for those who struggle with orthodoxy and folkloric beliefs. By offering this, we open our arms to those who want the good things of our LDS faith, but have a less black and white view of the world. We also open our arms and hearts to those who may not be as conforming to the culture as others.

  • I’d be very interested to see this include inactive, former Mormons, and non-LDS Mormons. I’ve found that LDS Mormons and Mormons coming from branches of the LDS church seem to be more conservative while the Community of Christ branch of Mormonism are more liberal. I’d also like to know if/how the fact that 70% of LDS Mormons relates to the doubts. I know the LDS did a lot to chase away liberals in the 60-90’s. Were they right that there is a corilation, it’s harder to be faithful to the LDS branch when you’re liberal, as liberals are more likely to ask questions? Though my family are members of the Church of Jesus Christ in Christian Fellowship, we worship with the CoC as they don’t push a conservative/anti-nonwhite/non straight agenda. And, my wife identities as a non-denominational Mormon. I’d be curious to know how many inactive LDS Mormon believe in the Gospel but not in the LDS branch. I wonder how many Mormons would stay active in the religion if they knew they didn’t have to stay members of the LDS branch to be Mormon.

  • Jana, The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, under “Education: Attainment”, states, “Contrary to the norm for other religions denominations, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have earned advance academic degrees are more likely to be deeply involved in religious practices and activity in the Church, both from a personal standpoint and in rendering service in their Church.” It is the same for you and for me. We both have advanced degrees, and even though you have issues with the Church, you and I are committed to the Church because we have thought it through and analyzed it, nearly to death. We understand that the Bible supports and predicted the Restoration, we understand how Christian Church history shows a “Great” apostasy, we have run the logic and finally our personal experiences manifest the truthfulness of it all to us in a variety of ways. (From reading so much of your writings an a couple of your books, I did make a couple of conclusions and if I messed up about your position, I apologize and will correct, as necessary.) I posit that high school graduates to not go through that drill as thoroughly as those with advanced degrees. I have been privileged to see Sacrament meeting attendance percentages for our stake (before it was split). We had two wards with very high incomes, other wards with high incomes and a couple of wards with average and below incomes. As we well know from other data, income directly correlates with educational attainment. The richest wards averaged 70% attendance, others 40%-55%. BTW: there is other “on point” information in that encyclopedia article.

  • I’m guessing that after a lifetime of willfully giving 10%, doubts would be hard to fathom for most. No refunds.

  • This is much ado about nothing. Lots of “of course, this might be because…” statements. And, the idea that people might have a hard time believing certain aspects does not make them straight-up doubters of the faith. Having doubts goes hand in hand with faith, especially with the whole “my thoughts are not your thoughts” concept.

    This article does not provide any analysis to the Pew survey, it provides speculation and unfounded extrapolations. “It may simply be that…” = “I’m just guessing here. It could actually be the complete opposite, or it might not be related to what I’m postulating at all”. Too smart for your own good.

  • Members can attend ANY Ward they want! Show me any place where it says they can’t. Their Membership Records, however, is another story. Know what your talking about before opening your mouth and showing your ignorance.

  • Some draw circle that excludes others, and other draw a circle that includes some, but we all draw circles, plenty of them.

  • “By the fruit you know the tree…” Jesus said. Perhaps that would be a qualifying measure of judging and who to judge. Richie Preacher judges (and that name says a lot), using all the name calling ridicule possible: “Joe Smithee” “Joe the Smith” “Magic Kingdom” “Kremlin” “Joe Boy” basically wants us to know that he doesn’t believe, which is his right,but his mission seems to be to ‘take away faith & hope’, so let’s hope he will want to rebuild what he wants to destroy with what he has to offer. It would be cool if Richie’s awful talent for ridicule were used by God to do good toward others. If he’s a really a preacher then his church may have borne some fruit to share with this forum. Why would he deliberately try to insult others? That can’t make a normal person feel good. I’d say Richie, like others, doesn’t believe in killing, stealing, lying, cheating, coveting, and does believe in loving one’s parents, loving God, not idols, and the Golden Rule. That’s a lot of common ground most religions hold. Look what the Lord did with the murderous Paul on the road to Damascus — that was cool!

  • While I am a fully active, faithful Latter-day Saint, I would have to say, in all honesty, that there are some teachings that are “hard to believe”. When I first encountered the church many years ago, almost all of the teachings were “hard to believe” but experience and interventions of the Holy Spirit have made so many of them now easy to believe. If something is seen as “hard to believe” it may indicate a weakness in my understanding or experience. It absolutely does not make it untrue. It may be untrue or it may be true – my lack of ability to believe it has nothing to do with that question.

    It seems that people read this and assume that those who said that “Some teachings are hard for me to believe” do not have testimonies or are on their way out of the church. I am living proof that that is not the case.

  • I have never been shy about expressing my doubts in church settings but have rarely been treatedly badly because of it. When I have been treated badly I simply chalk it up to a lack of understanding on the part of the person(s) involved, not to an evil intention or teaching of the Church. I always try to remember that all of us are imperfect beings trying to get (be) better.

    I used to be often bitter about those who “judged” me for my doubts but then came to the realization that I was also judging them. I am repenting of that now that I know better.

  • The existence of Mormons and Scientologists raise doubts about any and all religions. And the hostility towards apostates, seen particularly in Islam, raises grave doubts about the strength of faith of any believer.

    “An infinite God ought to be able to protect himself, without going in partnership with State Legislatures. Certainly he ought not so to act that laws become necessary to keep him from being laughed at. No one thinks of protecting Shakespeare from ridicule, by the threat of fine and imprisonment.”

    — Robert Green Ingersoll

  • One thing to consider is the influence of BYU. Many Mormons have received a higher education tailored to reinforcing Mormon belief, which could play a role in enlarging the proportion of more educated members who are not doubters.

  • Nothing you have written makes any sense, because it isn’t based in reality. There are no “branches of the LDS church”. The Community of Christ (formerly know as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints) became a separate church from the LDS church after the death of Joseph Smith and developed along diverging paths much as the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The so called Fundamentalist Mormons and other splinter groups have very little in common with the LDS church and it’s teachings and the founders and members of such have been excommunicated long ago if they were ever members.
    As far as “liberals” inside the LDS church, you are aware that Harry Reid is LDS? The LDS church doesn’t involve itself in the political choices of it’s members.
    How exactly do you claim to be a “Mormon” if you belong to a church (offshoot or otherwise) that doesn’t believe in the basic teachings that define Mormonism?

  • Nice attack there. Of course with no records they get no callings, the bishop cannot give them a temple recommend, they cannot then get sealed, do baptisms for the dead, bless their own babies view sealings of family members…shall I go on? The church physically does not stop it, they just make life miserable for the person that dares buck the system. So you’re technically right, but if you don’t see the problem, you’re morally stunted.,

  • You’re technically incorrect.. There are branches of the LDS church (Brighamite), there are even more offshots of the Mormon faith from the original church established by Joseph Smith. The wiki page for the many sects does list branches from the Brighamite/Utah lineage. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book:List_of_sects_in_the_Latter_Day_Saint_movement

    Additional churches claiming lineage through Brigham Young and/or founded in the U.S. Intermountain West
    Church of the Potter Christ
    Church of the Firstborn (Morrisite)
    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Gibsonite)
    Kingdom of Heaven
    Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Most High
    Order of Enoch
    Third Convention
    House of Aaron
    Zion’s Order, Inc.
    Perfected Church of Jesus Christ of Immaculate Latter-day Saints
    Church of Jesus Christ (Bullaite)
    Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ

    These are just the branches from the Utah Brigham line. You can easily fall into the ‘No real Scotsman” fallacy, but you’d be wrong. There are branches, some have closed down, some hold true to Brighams version of Polygamy. more so than the current view as correlated.

  • A copy and paste if you have no desire to go to the page.

    The Complete Guide
    Main article
    List of sects in the Latter Day Saint movement
    Original church within movement
    Church of Christ
    Churches that separated from Smith’s organization prior to 1844
    Pure Church of Christ
    True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
    Lineage of Brigham Young
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    LDS-derived churches upholding polygamy after the Manifesto of 1890
    Council of Friends
    Latter Day Church of Christ
    Apostolic United Brethren
    Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
    LeBaron group
    Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times
    Church of Jesus Christ in Solemn Assembly
    Church of the Lamb of God
    Church of the New Covenant in Christ
    Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    School of the Prophets
    Centennial Park
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Kingdom of God
    True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days
    The Church of the Firstborn and the General Assembly of Heaven
    Church of Jesus Christ (Original Doctrine) Inc.
    Left-of-center LDS-derived churches
    The Church of Zion
    United Order Family of Christ
    Restoration Church of Jesus Christ
    Additional churches claiming lineage through Brigham Young and/or founded in the U.S. Intermountain West
    Church of the Potter Christ
    Church of the Firstborn (Morrisite)
    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Gibsonite)
    Kingdom of Heaven
    Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Most High
    Order of Enoch
    Third Convention
    House of Aaron
    Zion’s Order, Inc.
    Perfected Church of Jesus Christ of Immaculate Latter-day Saints
    Church of Jesus Christ (Bullaite)
    Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ
    Reorganized Church and other followers of Joseph Smith III (“Josephites”)
    Community of Christ
    Church of the Christian Brotherhood
    Church of Jesus Christ Restored
    Church of Jesus Christ (Toneyite)
    Independent RLDS / Restoration Branches
    Church of Jesus Christ Restored 1830
    Church of Christ
    Church of Jesus Christ (Zion’s Branch)
    Lundgren Group
    Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
    Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
    Followers of Granville Hedrick (“Hedrickites”)
    Church of Christ (Temple Lot)
    Church of Christ (Fettingite)
    Church of Christ at Halley’s Bluff
    Church of Christ (Restored)
    Church of Christ with the Elijah Message
    Church of Christ (Hancock)
    Church of Christ
    Church of Israel
    The Church of Christ With the Elijah Message, The Assured Way of the Lord, Inc.
    Followers of Sidney Rigdon or William Bickerton (“Bickertonites”)
    Church of Jesus Christ of the Children of Zion
    The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite)
    Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite)
    Primitive Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite)
    Followers of Alpheus Cutler (“Cutlerites”)
    Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite)
    True Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite)
    Restored Church of Jesus Christ
    Followers of James J. Strang (“Strangites”)
    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite)
    Holy Church of Jesus Christ
    Church of Jesus Christ (Drewite)
    True Church of Jesus Christ Restored
    Spontaneous or unknown lineage
    Independent Latter Day Saint congregations in Nigeria
    Independent Latter Day Saint congregations in Ghana
    Apostolic Divine Church of Ghana

    You did say “splinter groups have very little in common with the LDS church and it’s teachings “. True…little in common with their current teachings, but they hold to the original teaching much more than Utah does. I have read that they pretty much sold their beliefs to get statehood

  • God is what you use to justify what cannot be justified by any other means.

    Ben in Oakland.

  • I thought the Community of Christ was the original church and the LDS and FLDS were the splinter groups. The reorganized church is the one that had Emma, and her son, Joseph III. This church has received the Community Of Christ National Peace Award every year since 1993 except 1996. Nice to know something good came out of JS deeds. Unlike the LDS church and their known bigotry towards gays and blacks. Their close ties to World Congress of Families which is considered a well known hate group. Then the FLDS which basically is an excuse for raping young girls. With Warren Jeffs in prison proving their worth as a church, since he is still counseling them as their prophet, via (I’m assuming phone)

  • How am I technically incorrect? If the LDS Church does not recognize the authority of any of these groups, does not consider them a part of it’s organization or as a part of it’s congregation then how are thy branches of the LDS Church. A branch implies that they are somehow sanctioned by the LDS Church. So by your logic, Catholicism is a branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church and by extension Lutheranism and Anglacianism are branches of the Catholic Church. Because a group breaks away from the main body of a religious group and develops along different lines dos not make it a branch of the original church.
    The LDS church is the church established by Joseph Smith.
    Keep in mind that I actually live in Utah, and while I am not a member of the LDS faith, I do have many friends and family members who are.
    Why would I need to copy and past anything? I live in Utah among Mormons. My mothers family is an old Mormon family going back to the Mormon churches days in New York. I have an advanced degree in history and previously taught U.S. and Utah history.

  • yes, members can attend any congregation they wish. I am an Elders’ Quorum secretary in my ward and we only encourage people to attend where they live so they get to know their neighbors and become friends. The Lord wants people to attend where they live because He’s a God of order and that’s an orderly thing to do. Personally, I’m not as pedantic as many Mormons on this point. As long as people are going to Church and partaking of the Sacrament, that’s what matters.

  • The LDS Church denounces all of them as apostate factions. Wikipedia is your source. You should be ashamed of yourself. There’s a reason college professors don’t let students cite it as a source. At least mine didn’t.

  • Education, among other things, can teach a person how to rationalize anything. Thus it should not be surprising that the educated doubt less. They can think their way to “understanding: things that are hard to believe.

  • Those who say Mormons are non-Christians have a problem with the Council of Nicea that set the Trinity as Christian doctrine. Mormons have a Trinity but they official believe that each member of the Trinity is a separate God (as Muslims accuse all Christians of believing). Mormons also officially believe that Mormon men men will become gods, ruling their own solar systems. The point of unity, however, is that Mormons and all Christians believed that they are saved by Jesus Christ, That makes Mormons Christians.

  • I did not say I agreed with them. I was just reporting the facts, which you can see on these very pages, I do indeed think you are all Christians. It’s other Christians that have the problems. WE atheists are not bound by your sectarian squabbles.

  • I think the geographical restrictions make sense. You shouldn’t be encouraged to run away from difficult situations, but are encouraged to build up the community you live in. Plus, outside of the Mormon belt, ward hopping is impractical, if not impossible.

  • When I read the category of belief as “I believe wholeheartedly in all of the teachings” I thought, well that’s an impossible measure. No one, not even prophets, not even Joseph Smith, understands all of the teachings, let alone believes them all. It takes a lifetime just to comprehend some aspects of the gospel. So, maybe I would fall under the 22%. But it’s not for lack of testimony, but for a poorly designed survey.

  • One thing that needs to be distinguished from the other is the difference between having questions and doubting. Is there a more prevalent invitation in scripture than “ask and ye shall receive.”? The Lord wanted his disciples to ask and learn and grow and become. Doubt seems to be more corrosive in a person than simply just having questions. Doubt seems to take a cynical view of things one is taking in or has already known within themselves. Doubting Thomas was not called Questioning Thomas as his view was only bringing despair and throwing a challenge of proof as necessary for him to believe. That seems to be the opposite of faith to me whereas questioning and seeking answers builds faith (Hebrews 11). Some have commented on how doubts should be repressed and hidden. Consider the scripture D&C 6:36: “Look unto in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” The most beautiful changes i have seen in people is when they sincerely ask and want to know and are willing to find out the answers to their questions and the things that “don’t sit right.” The Savior Himself had situations where many of His disciples “walked no more with him.” John 6 provides a great example of those that experienced teachings that to them were “an hard saying, who can hear it?” as well as Matt. 13 and the Parable of the Sower which chronicles the different responses to the truths of the Gospel and what was behind the doubt and the decision to walk away from the Lord and His Church and teachings.
    When we have questions and things about the history of the Church and whether things are true or not it would be wise to check the intentions of the person asking the questions, whether they are true questions or the seeds of doubt that a person is trying to put into another’s mind and heart. A second thing that is wise to do is to check the authenticity of the claims being made against the Church or it’s adherents. Many times people will simply put out or pass along falsehoods to create a stir or to create doubt. Much anti-Mormon literature is designed this way. While a person may be wrestling with any question there are a couple other things they can do: they can act in faith until they find the answer; they can look at the question through the lens of the Plan of Salvation to gain a better perspective; and wouldn’t it just make sense that they would want to seek their answers through divinely appointed sources instead of just trying to “drink through a firehose” so to speak by trying to find out what everyone else thinks on the matter rather than seeking what the Lord and His appointed servants have said on the matter. Should we not all be trying to help one another to show our true discipleship in Jesus Christ? Should we not all be known as his disciples by how we show love and support for one another rather than be so quick to point out each other’s flaws and weaknesses in our arguments? The best way for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to show others whether or not we are Christian is to love them and live the best we can the teachings He has given us. Then it is up to them to make their own conclusions on the matter.

  • Brad James– just look at your last post of a few minutes ago.

    “The LDS Church denounces all of them as apostate factions. Wikipedia is your source. You should be ashamed of yourself. There’s a reason college professors don’t let students cite it as a source. At least mine didn’t.”

    Thank you for proving my point beyond a shadow of a doubt, as you denounce those TBM’s that are not as TBM as you tell yourself that you are.

    One more time. It’s not us atheists that fling the theo-poo at other believers. We leave that to the TBC’s, the TBM’s, and the TBB’s.

  • You all seem to be talking past each other. There is a Latter Day Saint movement in existence for almost 200 years. There are many branches, sects, etc. of that movement. The biggest and most well-known one in Salt Lake City does calls itself the LDS Church. In that sense, to say there are branches of “the LDS Church” tends to be inaccurate. As a rough analogy, one probably wouldn’t say the AME Church is a branch of the Methodist Church. Rather, they’re both denominations within Methodism.

  • I rather suppose it isn’t the opinion of other Christians that matter, but Christ himself.

  • I have no stake in the whole ‘are Mormons Christian” discussion but find the discussion intriguing. The dynamic of a larger group rejecting a smaller minority as apostate or invalid is interesting. Who gets to say who is Christian— or even Mormon for that matter? Does the majority decide? The largest Mormon sect, the LDS Church headquartered on North Temple, has for years said that the FLDS and other Mormon subgroups are not Mormon (and that there is no such thing as a Mormon Fundamentalist) while at the same time bristling at being told they are not Christian by other larger Christian sects.

  • I think it’s interesting that those who condemn members of the LDS faith as being mindless followers fail to understand the core doctrine behind both the founding and the teachings of the church. Joseph Smith petitioned God for understanding when he read James 1:5, if any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.

    The promise of the Book of Mormon, found In Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

    Mormons are encouraged to ask questions, to seek the truth of their faith through study and prayer. We give 10% tithing because it was established millennia ago. The law of the tithe predates Mormonism by several thousand years. It was established in the Old Testament. It is commanded in Deuteronomy, Nehemiah, Chronicles, Numbers, Leviticus, and Hebrews.

    If the church was to be restored, it must needs be restored in its fullness, including the law of the tithe. Educated Mormons who have studied the scriptures know this, understand it, and accept it. It is not coercion, but sacrifice.

  • I can see it both ways. I think there is a value in being put with people you would not otherwise choose not to associate with. Like you suggest, it forces one to work with people of all kinds that they might otherwise not get to. My experience in the Church where that was the case was often valuable. That said I do think there is value in choosing your spiritual home and/or community. Sure within wards this happens as cliques invariably form but an acknowledgement of this need and perhaps some a little more flexibility wouldn’t perhaps be a bad thing.

    For Walt to suggest that any member is free to fully participate wherever they choose however is just not accurate.

  • Trust me it was not wisdom he received. Fornicating with other men’s wives led to his demise.

  • ??? Solar system? I don’t know if that is doctrine. I keep seeing it and have yet to find it in our doctrine. I could be wrong, but I’ve never heard it preached over the pulpit.

  • I get your point. I guess we just want to be confused with those who are still practicing polygamy. I wonder if that is the intensity that others feel about our wanting to be called Christian. We believe in Christ, therefore we are Christian. The FLDS believe in the Book of Mormon….so….We’re probably going to have to find another way to disassociate ourselves from “them”. Fact is God loves all his squabbling children.

  • Sorry, but Mormons are not Christians because they do not believe Jesus Christ is God. To be a Christian one must believe in the Trinity, the Deity of Jesus Christ, and the Resurrection, etc. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe these basic Truths so they are not Christians.

  • Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants are Christians. 7th Day Adventists is a Christian sect and can be considered as Christians. However, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are NOT Christians because they do not believe in Jesus Christ as God. No one is saying that Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are not trying to live up to noble Christian values, but when it comes to their belief system, they are regrettably not Christian.

  • Some may be Christian, some may not.

    Mormon or Methodist, Catholic or COGIC, you can’t tell anything just by the group name anymore. People are often ignoring what the Bible clearly teaches, these days.

    So how to discern where somebody’s at? Well, if they trust you with such dialogue, just ask a couple Bible-based questions and then let them preach THEIR favorite how-to-get-to-heaven spiel for 5 or 10 minutes.

    Then compare their claims against the Bible (especially where the Bible doesn’t agree with them), and you’ll have a good starting point.

  • Cielo H. The Trinity belief comes from the Nicean Creed, which is not scripture, but the work of men… Sorry.

  • Nonsense. The central belief of Mormonism is Jesus Christ. Mormons are Christians. And so are JW. You on the on the hand appear to be self righteous jerk and exactly the type of Christian that makes me sick to my stomach.

  • It’s all the work if men, attributed to God so that it cannot be argued with…

    Except when it is.

  • There are over 100 Mormon denominations. If Joseph Smith was a Mormon then any church that branched from his is also Mormon. The LDS branch wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last. We in the Fellowship call ourselves Mormons. Just because the branch with the most money bought the legal rights to the name doesn’t make the rest of us less Mormon. That’s like the Protestants that claim we aren’t Christian. By claiming I’m not Mormon you’re indirectly stating that you’re not a Christian by giving anti-Mormons a leg to stand on.

    http://cjccf.org/priesthood-keys-passed-down/

  • I have found that the things I’ve doubted have been resolved through the years as
    Tradition or myth in the church. We must accept, there is much we simply do not
    Know and will have to wait for answers not just about the Church but science and everything else. People who want simple, pat answers to all things will be disappointed.

  • Surely you meant to say: “Backed up by Men’s Interpretation of Scripture.”
    It is interesting that this whole objection is to differences in interpretation between The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, as to whether God, Christ, & the Holy Ghost are one entity without body, parts, or passion (Trinity teaching); or whether they are three individual persons; God & Christ in the form of men (after all, we are created in His image) and the Holy Ghost as a Spirit (LDS teaching) — And yet, nothing is said about the difference in interpretation of Churches that believe in a Christ who teaches that baptism is necessary by immersion and Churches who believe in a Christ who teaches it isn’t necessary at all, if you just believe; or those who believe in a Christ who teaches that baptism is done by just sprinkling. How about Churches that believe in a Christ who teaches that Sabbath is on Saturday, differing from churches believing a Christ that teaches Sunday is the Sabbath? What about Churches that believe in a Christ who says they can’t marry you if you’ve been divorced without infidelity and those churches believing in a Christ who says it’s okay to marry, infidelity or not? Why is the attack only against a difference in interpretation by The Church of Jesus Christ? Why not against the others as well???

  • “The FLDS believe in the Book of Mormon”…and much of the D&C— and Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young and John Taylor and Plural Marriage and Section 132 etc etc. FLDS are cousins in faith to LDS as it were (along with other groups).

    I get that LDS want to have zero association with polygamy now. That’s a tough to do though. It was such a huge part of Mormonism’s first 100 years. I think the rejection of the FLDS and others as Mormon is bigger than that though. It’s appears to be an effort to establish the mainstream faith as the only, authorized and rightful heir to what Joseph Smith started. It looks a lot like the same stuff the Utah Church was engaged in during the 19th century with the RLDS and Bickertonites, Strangites etc. It’s pretty fascinating stuff actually.

  • The LDS church can denounce all they want. It still does not mean a squat to the reality that there are branches of the LDS church from may points in its history. Attacking the source, yet not the facts. Good job. The church might not like the branches, but they are there. Ignore that fact all you want, but you don’t have to be LDS to be a mormon. There are many groups that have branched off of the Brighamite and original Joeseph line to start their own. So you’re simply wrong. It does not mean you don’t have faith. It means you simply refuse to acknowledge the fact they exist, maybe because they might be right. Some hold to a truer view of the faith than the Brigham line does today.

  • I have heard that one of the reasons for the restriction is that a schism will arise. People will leave a branch that is run by a tea party, iron rodder, while some might go to the ward for that same fact. You would have a split between the ‘toe the line’ and a more liberal view that blind obedience is not needed. Sort of like the orthodox split between the High Church and Low Church in Europe.

  • I probably would have taken an oblique as you did, if I had no answers to logical questions. Nice try, though…

  • Don’t poke him. People like this love to fight over how their god is the correct version. It is like the argument over what computer system is best. ‘I Like God v2.3. He holds truer to the bible than God v2.2′,’But God v2.2 does not hold to the agreement to limit system operators to the three from the conference at Nicea LLC…so you should go and only use the Orthodox version of God v2.5. Any other version will not let you improve your system when you retire’.

  • It’s a wonderful scam for sure, all wrapped up so nicely in a bow. If you tithe 10% of you earthly wealth and jump through every hoop we put in your way you will live forever with your family near Kolob. 15 million (mostly inactive) members can’t be wrong.

  • You obviously are very ignorant of scripture. If you were not then you would know the answer to your questions. Mormonism worships a false Christ. The Christ of the Holy Bible is not the spirit brother of lucifer. Furthermore Biblical Christianity never states that it followers will become Gods as mormonism does. Not to mention the book of mormon is based upon science fiction. All of the ancient civilizations listed in it never existed. Not one of those civilizations can be backed up from any ancient coinage or artifacts what so ever. Take any ancient civilization from the Holy Bible. Numerous items exist to show that the culture written about existed.

    Your example of using the baptism as comparisons is weak. You compare apostate religion to another apostate religion, mormonism. The religion of mormonism is right up there with scientology.

  • God is God,His name is not Muhammad or Allah,and he cannot be the son of.Have no names before or after his name.You are being deceived badly.There are many things you cant see because you have been blinded,We are not alone,and stand fast for God.His ways and plans defy your simplest thought.Open your heart give all your love.Your true love will be required .

  • The American Indian as a lost tribe of Israel? Is there a shred of evidence for that belief? Cultivated wheat and the wheel were foundations of civilization in the old world, yet neither exists in the new world. Wandering Jews had no wheat seeds and lost their memory of the wheel? Really?

  • Unfortunately, religious faith is exactly what blocks the teaching from coming through the figurehead (I mean Jesus, not Smith, because I have not read of-about Smith). But people want a story/entertainment. It is tragic for newborn children, and causes religious people to be exactly those who ought “have a millstone hung around their neck, and be cast into the depths of the sea.” Good luck with that.

  • Here’s some statistics that are almost always ignored or avoided during any examination of this or that religious order. Here you go. I am a well know expert (in my own mind) on this issue and have been telling my fellow humans this simple reality for a very long time. My doing so has created a lot of hatred, name calling, and even threats against myself for stating the obvious. Here you go: As we know, humans have been creating “Gods” since the “Beginning” shall we say, and there are certainly a lot of them to choose from. And, of course, when a human decides to choose a favorite out of the pack (or is forced to) they just “know” that THEIR personal favorite is the REAL and TRUE one and the rest are phony. That is universal. As we also know, History is rife with negative events that were caused by this “war” over whose imaginary friend is the best or most powerful or blah, blah, blah. YOU will do as WE tell YOU because “God” says so, and if YOU don’t, bad things will happen to you. Sorry, but ALL of the “Gods” that humans have created for themselves to get all jacked up about are EQUAL in that they exist only in the minds of those who choose (or are forced) to select a favorite from the pack. That is reality, and I’ve been looking for evidence for my entire life that ANY of the aforementioned “Gods” exist anywhere but in the minds of their followers. I haven’t found any evidence at all that ANY of them exist. Yeah, I realize that “belief” is involved, but “belief” is evidence of nothing at all. If my stating the simple reality above makes you want to “Pray” for me or want me to go to a really hot place when I die or call me names or cut off my head YOU are who I am addressing. Oh, and some usually tell me to “enlighten” myself. That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. That’s how I know there is no evidence that any of the “Gods” humans embrace exist, so a lack of knowledge isn’t my status. If anyone reading this does have any verifiable evidence that THEIR favorite does exist, please share. If I did have to choose a favorite fantasy figure to worship, I lean toward The Flying Spaghetti Monster. SHE is really nice and loves everyone and reaches out to them with HER Noodly Appendage of Love and Peace. And, Girl “Gods” are in short supply, so I choose HER. I know this “good news” was helpful and will be received with respect, not derision or claims of blasphemy or something. I have NO problems or fear whatsoever with any of the Godfigures, but their followers can certainly be overbearing, authoritative and scary at times. If MYOB ever becomes a Religious “Value”, even Atheists will holler “Hallelujah” to the Heavens. Love ALL your fellow humans and treat them with respect. Peace

  • You might like my booklet. I don’t think that most of the world would disagree with your observations. When I saw you put “belief” in quotations it reminded me of yesterday writing notes on ‘belief vs justification.’ But all of this exists at the surface of human chattering. Emerson made the observation that ‘man is endogenous’ and anyone can learn as much about man by studying any other life (an observation made by many an ethologist). All obeisances.

  • Well said Eric. Certainly not the response I usually receive and expect. I live by a simple idea that requires only oneself to practice. “If you wake up this morning you might want to smile and enjoy the day because you may not live to see tomorrow.”. Works for me.

  • Using the numbers presented, you are correct. However, this overlooks one major number. Above, Jana talks about 2/3 (or 67%) of people on the rolls are not actively involved at church. In the Pew poll, 85% of the respondents were active. This means the Pew poll was not a representative sample of all 15 million members. I’ve heard about Pew’s method for identifying possible respondents. When conducting other polls, they would ask about the person’s religion. If they said Mormon, they would flag that phone number as belonging to a Mormon. When someone commissioned a survey on Mormons, they just used those flagged numbers and contacted them. If their previous survey respondents had left the church at the time of their surveys and identified themselves as something other than Mormon, then they would not be represented in the Pew numbers, because Pew would not know to contact them.

    Another thing to consider, many members who are inactive may still believe in all aspects of the church, but they are inactive due to life circumstances, or they just don’t have a desire to be in the pews very often. As such, saying that the 15% are definitely all represented in the 22% of doubters is a big generalization. I’d say you’re probably right that a higher percentage of the doubters exist in the inactive population, but not 100%.

    I’ll grant that correlation efforts have effectively removed much variation (disagreement) in beliefs among members, but it has also driven members with more nuanced views out of the pews. Thus, most of those that have survived correlation as active members are those who agree with the correlated narrative. This is much the same with many fundamentalist religions with strong leaders who publicly discipline any dissenters. It may mean a bit less contention in the congregation, but it also makes for extremely bland Sunday services.

  • I think the problem has been that no-one (in authority) has ever stated which solar systems (or galaxies) Heavenly Father’s (God’s?) parents and brothers and sisters (ooops, not sisters!!!) rule over, and it is only recently that man is learning that space goes on and on and on. They have of course stated that many planets are inhabited by God’s creations but those haven’t been found yet. Some have maintained, eg Joseph Fielding Smith (sorry, no link) that the sun is a celestialised (ex-earth?) type of planet. But then Joseph Fielding Smith had it written in all church Sunday School lessons etc that man would never get to the moon, until of course, man did! Maybe humans (in God’s image? according to Genesis) are on other planets in other systems. Of course, maybe a lot of our solar systems planets are hollow and their humanoids are living out of sight…

  • Or in the church definition of apostacy, “doubters” don’t exist. Either you believe in everything hook, line and sinker, or else you are an apostate!

  • And of course, JS and polygamy is now well know. Now we are struggling with JS and polyandry. Ever used the search on lds.org for polyandry?

  • I’m not sure how I’d reconcile your claim with apostle’s Hugh B. Brown’s letter: “Would you be surprised if I should tell you that I, too, have had periods of perplexity, uncertainty, and doubt; that I, too, have known the darkness, fogginess, and chill of the valley which lies between illuminated peaks of faith and confidence, and that only the memory of the hilltops along the road over which I have come coupled with the somewhat misty vision of others still ahead has given me the courage to plod on when I was tempted to ‘chuck it all,’ to wrap myself in the comfortless blanket of doubt and self-commiseration and just quit the field. Well I have had that experience. But this I can say positively, that each peak which I have climbed has seemed higher and more inspiring than the last, due at least in part, I think, to the dark background of the valley through which I came. Sharp contrasts are sometimes most revealing.”

    Isn’t the point of the story of Abraham and Isaac that every person will one day be asked to take a step where the path is not illuminated before them?

  • Wheels were known in the New World, they’ve been found on toys. It may be that wheels were used for more practical purposes and we simply haven’t found them, or it may be that the ancient Amerinds were defeated by the more technical aspects of a successful wheel-and-axle mechanism. As for wheat, perhaps the single mention of the use of wheat in the BoM was referring to amaranth, an Old World grain that was used like wheat in pre-Columbian America (which some scholars believe was brought to the New World by ship).

  • The old world did not limit the use of the wheel to toys. The wheel was not in general use in the new world as it was in the old world. It is incomprehensible that a lost tribe of Israel would have abandoned the successful use of the wheel. As for amaranth, it is not wheat!! Wheat is a grain, but not all grains are wheat. The Mormon books were invented out of whole cloth, and you know it!

  • As incomprehensible as a people using the wheel for toys never making the jump to more large-scale usages? Obviously there are technical issues involved.

    And no, amaranth isn’t exactly wheat. But then, horses aren’t exactly deer and macuahuitl aren’t exactly swords. That didn’t stop the Amerinds and conquistadors from using those terms.

  • Since very few toys have been found with rollers, not wheels, and only in South America, it is not incomprehensible that the wheel would not appear on vehicles. The Mormon books allege that the eastern American Indians were the lost tribes of Israel. There is no evidence of a wheel of any sort being used by them pre-contact. The Mormon writings are from the imagination of Joseph Smith (and probably others), and border on illiteracy. He was a con-man of historic proportions, and basically just wanted to have sex with a lot of women. He lifted large portions of the Masonic ritual for church ritual, so he was not very original or capable in that regard, either. “And it came to pass.”

  • Toys have been discovered in Mesoamerica, the earliest produced by the Olmecs (a civilization which predates the arrival of the Lehi colony by centuries, BTW, so they hardly needed to introduce the wheel there). As for being rollers instead of wheels, here’s some links to pictures:

    http://www.ancient-wisdom.com/Images/countries/American%20pics/wheeledanimal.gif

    http://www.foresightu.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/image047.jpg

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/dd/55/77/dd55775dc3f40f60360656d3dea9bbc0.jpg

    As for just where the events of the Book of Mormon took place, the book itself never says. Certainly Mormons during the Church’s founding and early years believed the Amerind the US dealt with were descendants of the Lamanites (however that term was used in the last part of the BoM). Some Mormons argued for a setting involving the North and South American continents, but the BoM itself doesn’t support anything close to that large. Some argue for a Great Lakes setting, but the general consensus is for Mesoamerica. The lack of continual occupation and especially written records from the era make it difficult to determine.

    And no, the BoM never alleges that Amerinds were the Ten Lost Tribes.

  • Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is God and believe in the resurrection, also. where did you get the idea that they don’t believe these basic principles?

  • Sadly, that’s incorrect, Cielo. LDS worship the Godhood of Jesus Christ, that as the only begotten Son of God, could He be anything other than God/Deity? I think not. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a Christian, and have a personal relationship with my God. The resurrection of Jesus
    Christ is essential to understanding the mission of Jesus Christ. It shows us the path that we will follow because of our Savior’s sojourn here on earth…The scriptures state that ALL will be resurrected, and that this is Jesus’ free gift to all of mankind. The Trinity that you refer to is the understanding that our Heavenly Father, His Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost/Spirit are God, are Deity, are of one mind, and they desire that all of mankind will have the opportunity to great rewards after they leave this mortal plain of existence.

  • Lots of opinions, there, which are merely opinions. All opinions are good because they reflect the character of the person expressing their opinions.

  • There are, and will always be, splinter groups to a faith, that have decided that they are believers in a faith, with certain exceptions, or that all of their focus should be on one aspect of the Gospel to the exclusion of other aspects of the Gospel. Go figure!

  • God has a reward for all who survive their mortal existence. I believe our actions while in mortality MAY influence the reward we receive beyond mortality.

  • It was never called polygamy, which is something different that what the LDS and FLDS have ever practiced. Call it a matter of authority…..

  • Best be concerned about where you are at. No one can cite another person as being not a Christian unless they are privied to the relationship between a person and God. The only clue we have is by the fruits of their actions.

  • We all have a testimony of Gospel principles, but the degree to which our testimony has developed varies. To say that we have doubts in a Gospel principle is not quite true…more like a work in progress. On the other hand there are aspects of LDS living and beliefs (or hunches) that are not Gospel principles.

  • It’s like life insurance….the person for which life insurance is purchase will never directly reap the rewards of the life insurance.

  • Not sure I get what yer getting at. True, it was never called polygamy and honestly that term — while easier for the general public— is somewhat inaccurate. Polygamy implies that polyandry was a much bigger part of LDS plural marriages than it was. 11 out of Joseph Smith’s 33-40 wives were married to other living men and it was even less common after 1844. Mostly the practice was polygyny— men taking multiple wives.

    And as far as a claim to authority I think it’s tough for LDS inc Mormonism (the Brighamite sect HQd on North Temple) to claim authority and absolute claims to Joseph Smith’s legacy when other sects currently practice in ways far closer to Brother Joseph.

  • All groups claim to be “the only true and living” while all others are apostate and unorthodox. And all have their pet teachings and doctrines if for no other reason than to differentiate from those they see as splinters. How does one know that it isn’t their particular flavor of Mormonism (or whatever) that is apostate? I mean all are sure it’s not them so…

  • As I have been through this exact situation myself I know for a fact that this is not true what is being said.
    My husband and I attended church in a town that was 15 miles from the one we were supposed to go to. Our records were at that Ward. We receive Temple recommends and had callings as well.
    Yes the people from the Lord that was in our area did come by to visit every so often and would invite us also to come to their Ward, but we were never treated poorly or coerced in any way to try to go to that Ward where we are supposed to go as you are saying.
    The whole point of having the words the way they are is for us to have a support system that is close by through being friends with our neighbors and being able to depend on them more than you would the common neighbor out in the rest of the world.
    It is no different than any other Church where everyone does depend on the other members of their Church that they go to specifically. This I know from being a convert to the church and having been members of other churches as well as having family who are members of multiple churches and how they are operated .
    In the LDS Church the only difference would be that they are organized as members by area so that they can live closer to one another to have even more support.
    I believe personally that it is also done as a way of organizing their membership records for easier bookkeeping. It is obviously going to be easier to organize them by areas instead of people being spread all over the place and not being able to track them down as easy if they are needed.
    As I have had to organize and file things myself I go out of my way to Place files within files within files…all subcategorizing so I can easily find things.

  • That is the reason that it was started I believe it is a good thing because I have watched one church that I went to Growing Up be split multiple times because of a few members who continually caused issues and would trying to push their beliefs and ideas of how things were to be done in that particular Church. it ended up that three separate churches came out of the one Church each one being caused by the same family. They were never in charge of any of the churches they were never in charge of any of they were never in charge of any of the churches, but wanted things to be ran their way. It might be that they did not agree with what the minister was saying and they would slowly have multiple people in that church a green with them as they went around continually complaining and gossiping and pushing their ideas.
    So if that is the reason it is done I believe it is a good idea. There is no reason for anybody to try to control everything and cause issues within any type of group. We see that continually nowadays in all sorts of organizations

  • Cielo, so sorry concerning your ignorance. The 7th day Adventist religion teaches that Ellen White was their inspired prophet, producing 55 volumes. Her visions are revelations from God. She had a vision of Saturday being the sabbath day, One noted false prophecy is that Christ was to return in 1843, then in 1844, etc., etc. However maybe you would consider them Christian. Most protestants consider them NOT Christians. Read their false prophecies for yourself. Oh, they also teach that Michael the Archangel and Jesus are one of the same.

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