General story Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Mormon leaders have trust issues

Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra on Temple Square in the historic Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo courtesy of Mormon Tabernacle Choir

 

Last week, By Common Consent ran a thoughtful post by Kevin Barney on Mormon leaders’ knee-jerk response toward self-protection. Barney pointed out that keeping important information about history or decisionmaking so close to the vest is just not serving the LDS Church well in the digital age.

The impulse behind this circling of the wagons is well-intentioned, I think: leaders want to protect members from unnecessary pain or confusion.

The problems come when people later find out the truth, whether it’s about how the Book of Mormon was translated or how many wives Joseph Smith had.

Then they don’t just feel confused, but deceived. This is not the story they heard in Sunday School.

And then comes a question that is to them far worse than any that might have occurred to them if the Church had been transparent in the first place: What else aren’t they telling me?

In The Next Mormons research I have been struck by the fact that among former Mormons, particular historical problems or doctrines don’t emerge as the primary reasons for leaving the Church. I was expecting that many people would pinpoint, say, seer stones as problematic, or indicate that they were troubled by conflicting accounts of the First Vision.

But that did not happen. Book of Mormon historicity ranks ninth, and the other specific historical issues barely register at all. (Only 6.5 percent of people, for example, said that seer stones were among their top three reasons for leaving the Church. Just three percent were concerned that DNA evidence that Native Americans did not have Middle Eastern ancestry.)

But the third most common reason overall (and tied for first among Millennials) was “I did not trust the Church leadership to tell the truth about controversial issues.”

And that’s the core problem right there. It’s a trust gap.

During the months that I’ve been analyzing this data, a new website called “MormonLeaks” has debuted, featuring leaked documents and videos that might paint the Church in a negative light. “See what leaders really say behind closed doors! See, finally, what they’re hiding!” seems to be the primary M.O.

I’ve been following some of the releases, mostly internal documents and minutes from various meetings and trainings. And so far it has turned up no major scandals, no secret combinations:

  1. We got to see an apostle’s pay stubs and surmise that actually, the leaders of the LDS Church aren’t getting rich doing their jobs. For their age and experience they could be making a lot more money—and many did, in their former careers.
  2. We found out that young single adults have terribly low activity rates (see here). That did teach me something new—that the activity rate is actually even worse than my own data shows. But it’s hardly earthshattering.
  3. We got another list of famous people the Church has performed proxy baptisms for. Le sigh.
  4. We were reminded, time and again, that the Church is an enormous and unwieldy bureaucracy. Honestly, it seems like half of the discussions revolve around record-keeping and budgets.

This is not to say that the documents released thus far aren’t of interest to historians and even to ordinary church members. For myself I’m glad the information is out there. But there are very few eyebrow-raising revelations here. In fact, quite often (as with the pay stubs), the Church is presented in a positive light.

So what is the Church’s response? Is it “Thank you for leaking our internal documents that demonstrate that the only nefarious thing we’re actually up to is boring people to tears with interminable meetings”?

Uh, no.

Instead, the Church slapped MormonLeaks with a legal notice and demanded it remove one of the documents.

I’m not arguing that the LDS Church doesn’t have what appears to be a slam-dunk legal case about intellectual property. I’m not an attorney, but it certainly looks like MormonLeaks is posting the Church’s own intellectual property without permission. Not good.

My question isn’t a legal one, but more about strategic PR: These documents have, so far at least, been public relations gold for the Church. The institution could not have done a better job of convincing members that it’s not hiding anything interesting if it had hired MormonLeaks itself. It’s Witness for the Prosecution all over again. Nothing to see here, folks.

But old habits die very, very hard. The Church’s long-held fortress mentality still seems very much in place, as Kevin rightly points out at BCC.

And I have to wonder: How many more people have to feel betrayed that they were kept in the dark about something before Church leaders realize that it has a major trust problem on its hands? And that further battening down the hatches is not going to resolve the larger problem?


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Correction: “I did not trust the Church leadership to tell the truth surrounding controversial or historical issues” was the third most popular response among all former Latter-day Saints, not second as originally stated in this post. I am sorry for my error. — JKR

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.

52 Comments

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  • Your post reminded me of a video I found online a few months back.
    Spencer Fluhman gave a fascinating talk at the UVU institute on the Church’s history and secrets and power. While I did not agree with everything he said, his discussion about the relationship between institutional secrets, boundaries and power, is compelling.

  • Nobody should be having perfect trust in any leader of anything. The Lord obviously does not since He has organized the Church with presidencies and councils to look after each other. So, it is okay if LDS members do a little “trust but verify” with their leaders every now and then. That being said, LDS leaders have some very good reasons for holding cards close. The Church has plenty of enemies, critics, and competitors still. It is not just history. Doctrine is one thing, but the internal policies, procedures, formulas, intelligence, and plans are another. No wise leadership is going to make that sort of information too easily available to every critic or enemy, or even member. There are members who make and break covenants and promises in the Church as easily as changing a hairstyle or clothes. There are members who go with “every wind of doctrine” that blows in from pop culture, and then try to impose it on the Church.. What wise leadership would trust them? Not in a business. Not in a government or an army. And not in wise Church. Too many of those who claim to be betrayed have done some betraying themselves.

    Leaders should be truthful (to the best of the knowledge they have) but they don’t need to be required to reveal everything they know at all times to everyone. That is nonsense. How can a student learn basis math if we have to jump to calculus all the time, or else it is a betrayal? Is the Bible a betrayal because 90 percent of Christ’s life is left out? What if He had a wife, or more than one? Abraham did and he is called a prophet and spoke with God. The “new” information about Joseph Smith was readily available–I knew when I was a boy he had more than one wife. But I also recognize at some point such details become a distraction from what is still the main point of the history (restoration of Christ’s authorized Church, etc.). Consider also that Christ was deemed a criminal guilty of a capital offense in the record given us in the Bible. This suggests that His missing life story may be much more colorful than some imagine. But is it really a betrayal by God to withhold the distractions of the entire story to focus on what really matters–His divine birth, teachings, and atonement? LDS leaders could be more open, but not too much more without it causing a different set of problems.

  • Mormon leaders have trust issues indeed.

    To wit:

    Bottom line: Mormonism is a business/employment/investment cult using a taxing i.e. tithing “religion” as a front and charitable donations and volunteer work to advertise said business. And the accounting books
    are closed to all but the prophet/”profit” and his all-male hierarchy.

    Tis a great business model i.e. charge your Mormon employees/stock holders a fee/tithe and invest it in ranches, insurance companies, canneries, gaudy temples, a great choir and mission-matured BYU football and basketball teams.

    And all going back to one of the great cons of all times i.e. the Moroni revelations to Joseph Smith analogous to mythical Gabriel’s revelations to the hallucinating Mohammed !!!

  • Not too long ago I listed for someone asking what my top issues were with the church. They were:
    My main issues
    – Don’t feel God in the LDS church
    – Lack of Honesty by top church leaders
    – Lack of any Revelations by church leaders (and 1978 has been declared “policy change” with window dressing)
    – Ever-changing doctrine
    – Apparent lack of Faith in God by church leaders (have to embelish as just truth isn’t good enough)
    – Top church leaders not fulfilling roles – They are not answering the hard questions that many are struggling with

    You will notice almost all these deal with top leadership. I LOVE my last 4 bishops – all wonderful men. My SP is great. Even my area authority is a good guy. But above that, I no longer trust them and they have given me nothing to change that opinion and in fact continually more reasons to more deeply distrust them.

    I also wrote a blog just today pointing out that the whitewashing is continuing.
    https://wheatandtares.org/2017/04/19/is-whitewashing-continuing-today/

  • Trust but verify. This is absolutely meaningless within the church. The underlying assumption with that statement is that the source you are verifying could possibly be wrong. However, that is not possible with the church leadership. They are never wrong. Its Just as misleading as the statement that you dont blindly follow the prophet but need to get your own testimony of policies, teachings, Revelations. What happens when you get a testimony that the teachings, policies, or Revelations are wrong and not of God? You are told that your Revelation was from the devil and that you need to try harder because the prophets are never wrong. Circular reasoning and logical fallacy at its best.

  • Trust gap or are members just not very well informed about practices and history. The business about seers stones has not been kept secret and has been documented from time to time in official talks and publications for the last 120 years. I wonder how many other issues that bother some members are a lack of doing homework. I’ve known for 50 years that some general authorities get a stipend. It’s been common knowledge. The big issue that critics have used for years is that church leaders are getting rich. That one has been killed off, I feel sad for anyone who decides to leave the church for any reason, but a little reading of information that is readily available would solve many problems.

    That said, I think there is a naivety among member that the church has been perfect and our leaders are infallible. Mistakes have been made, but members do have a responsibility to educate themselves and understand how things work.

  • You stated it well. Much better than I did. Your perspective is balanced and very reasonable.

  • This fits my experience. Many callings, RM, married to RM. EQ President in multiple states. Intensely loyal. Resigned at age 38 with a temple recommend and as an adult Sunday School teacher. Shocked the ward. My wife followed. We have four beautiful children who have little familiarity with the church for which I am grateful. Years before resigning, I made a list of the 10 people in the world who seemed most connected and grounded spiritually. It was a simple brainstorming exercise from my heart. I then tucked that list in my planner. Several years later I pulled it out and at that point it hit me that I did not have any LDS leaders on the list. I had people like Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama. One theme I noticed in my list was that although some of these people were part of a religious tradition, they all seemed to transcend religion in their spiritual influence and connection. They had a deep abiding love, lack of judgment, were not exclusive, and never used shame. Some lived in poverty and just served with no intention of personal gain. At that point it bothered me that I had not included LDS apostles and prophets on this list…after all how could I have neglected to name people of my own faith. They certainly were not left off intentionally. I went through a period of deep reflection and realized that deep down in my heart I did not see these men as spiritual leaders. But then, I had to define how I did see them and realized that I saw them as corporate executives with a business to spin. That was a very painful and traumatizing experience. I had to reframe my LDS experience in order to not feel that years of my life and $100,000 in tithing had all been a waste of time and resources. They had not created an open space of nonjudgment where people could come together as a community, be honest about what they struggled with, show vulnerability, and feel community support. That would truly be a spiritual place. We can’t grow unless as individuals and collective institutions (including the church) can come to terms with with our mistakes…admit them, learn from them, and strive to move forward by making the world better. In my view, LDS leadership created a spiritually stifling environment with rote answers and things that were absolutely taboo to discuss, such as some of the history. Correlation made it worse, but the issues predate correlation. I was less concerned with what the history was than how it was packaged and in some cases hidden from me. It would have brought tears to my eyes to hear things from church leadership such as: We should never have excluded people with black skin from the priesthood. It was a mistake, We are deeply sorry and will do everything in our power to make amends OR polygamy was not endorsed by God. It should not have been practiced. It was demeaning to women, caused huge heartache, and perpetuated abuse that continues to have terrible consequences tO THIS DAY! We are sorry that this happened in our history and the outgrowths it fostered. We are trying to learn from those mistakes. We are creating safe houses and means for people in that situation to leave it and create a different and better life. Instead, the church leadership digs in their heals and as Dallin Oaks has suggested, they will never apologize. That is not spiritual leadership. That has definitely not built trust. I have never told anyone to leave the church. We all have to follow our own spiritual journey and there isn’t a single path that fits for everyone. For our family, we felt like we deserved better and could do better and we have.

  • Well conceived article…. however, for many it’s a little late now to find out the church has been pathological liars, and self persecuted bullies ever since Joseph made the whole shebang up. They used to wield excommunication for those that got to uppity about it all. Even that falls apart when you realize if they lied about the little stuff they are also probably lying about the big stuff as well.

  • I was miserable as an LDS Mormon. The Church was always the greatest source of anti-Mormon teachings and material. As a non-LDS Mormon I’m happier, my lack of doubts allow me to use the priesthood better, and I’m no longer making excuses for bigotry and dishonesty from your church. I share the Book of Mormon and the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people and tell them not to worry about all the problems with LDSism, it’s not about a church, it’s about your relationship with Christ. It’s wonderful and it’s a Gospel people are able to hear, feel, and find God in.

  • We need to give the church credit for producing 13 gospel topics essays that are supposed to address the “trust gap.” However, numerous issues still remain: (1) The church won’t promote the essays in general conference, the Ensign, or Church News, nor will they rewrite them into the church manuals–hence most people are still unaware of the essays. (2) The essays still whitewash and downplay church history. Take the “Race and Priesthood” essay, for example. It calls the rationales for the priesthood and temple ban “theories or opinions” of earlier leaders, rather than the DOCTRINE it once was. I could go on. Church leaders just need to grow up and move on. People are forgiving, I believe; but they have a low tolerance for deception.

  • If you don’t feel God, it’s your attitude and lack of preparation. Where is your evidence or claims of dishonesty. Saying someone is dishonest without saying how you came to believe that is senseless. The revelation on the Priesthood was a revelation. President Kimball received it by revelation.

  • My faith transition did begin with anachronisms in the BOM and historical problems. The ignorance and outright lies by Church leaders did not help. The bottom line is that if this Church were truely run by Christ, they would not have done it. Joseph Fielding Smith for example nose grew just like pinochio when he said the seer stone was not used in the so called translation. The Church leaders are running scared at this point.

  • Trust. So I trusted the Church Doctrine and leaders, made life choices with their “truth” and perspective in mind. My life wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t really mine. I felt trapped and limited, like a bird with its wings clipped. Safe but something was missing. Then I learned the real truth about history and the Church. The trust is shattered of course and I’m left with something resembling ptsd.

    And then I evaluate the Church with my own standards and mind and heart. Do I believe in an exclusively male priesthood? Do I trust that their positions regarding lgbtq will evolve lovingly? Do I believe temple rituals, tithing funds, etc. should be secret? Do I want my children to believe one gender presides over another and has eternally dictated roles and responsibilities? Do I trust that they no longer believe or practice polygamy in the temple? And the answer is NO.

    So is it trust that made it necessary to leave? It’s part of it but not all of it. Could I forgive the missteps–yes, with a frank apology, admission of wrongdoing, and several policy changes to prove a change of direction.

  • This, for me. Once I got a whiff of the hypocrisy, saw that Christ’s only true church held me to a higher standard than it did for itself, that was it. I was like Ralphie discovering the secret code was a crummy commercial.

  • Not speaking for Happy Hubby, he can do that himself. But my first reaction to your comment was: Kinda like the “spirit” I felt during Paul H. Dunn’s completely fabricated life experiences given before hushed and reverential crowds? Yeah, I felt that sort of spirit watching conference.

  • Like you, I grew up Mormon in an age when the Church was actually a lot more open about origins and its own oddities than it is now. Then, “Priesthood Correlation” came along during that same era, slowly at first, but with the hidden agenda of countering the rise of Civil Rights in America and across the world. Racial, gender and LGBT civil rights threatened the established order of the Church and Mormon leaders responded by limiting access to previously open information and to suppress the independence of the various auxiliary organizations of the Church. Prior to the 1960s, General Relief Society Presidents presided for life or until they chose to step down, same for other auxiliary leaders. But as Civil Rights spread and some auxiliary leaders appeared more open to change than the top 15 old men of the Church, all the control reins got pulled in tight, and have stayed that way for more than 5 decades after the 1960s. Now, in the information age, all those manipulations are being laid bare for all to see, and it makes the fallout worse than ever.

    One of the last old shoes of new information to drop will be how deeply the Mormon Church has been involved in the controversial and fraudulent practices of so-called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy. The Church reeled badly enough when the anti-LGBT overreaction to Obergefell v Hodges was outed in the press in late 2015 and with it, the equally harsh, decades-old policy against the children of polygamy. Requiring adult children of either gays or polygamists to disavow parents to be join the Church or to be active in the Church is simply barbaric and inexcusable for a religion that is all about family “togetherness” or at least pretends to be.

  • I’m glad that the Gospel Essays have been placed on the Church’s Web site, but the Church has a hard time getting away from its practice of finessing the truth.

    For example, in the “Race and the Priesthood” essay, we are never told that Brigham Young said interracial marriage would “always” be wrong, that blacks would never receive the priesthood during mortal life and that it would be available to them only after the Millennium. Instead, his false teachings are transformed into a sunny, prophetic-sounding promise that blacks would “one day” be eligible for priesthood blessings. This feel-good bunk was edited and approved by the First Presidency.

    Also, the essay refers to the prohibition as only a “policy” rather than disclosing that church presidents had consistently called it a doctrine and a commandment.

    I don’t care that prophets make mistakes, even on doctrinal matters. But the Church’s overemphasis on obedience to leaders puts it between a rock and a hard place when fessing up to the errors.

  • I read a couple other posts by this flunking saint hood guy and quickly realized they are the same as this one. Huge confirmation bias. I am one of these “mormon millennials” I would say, and the mormon leaks confirms to me the things I already suspected. The leaders have no revelation. They do make too much money (considering so many faithful members around the world do their callings for free and put in heavy amount of time). But I can see that’s this writer’s thing. To try to impress on others how he sees issues and pretend that is how they see them, or should see them, then dismiss it all. But most of us still look at those paystubs and all the amenities and reimbursements, and say, yep. That is a lot of money to preach for Jesus.

    Besides, its not just trust issues. Breaking trust rises to the top because it hurts. However, if the church came out tomorrow and was transparent and dumped all their history out there for everyone to see, people would leave all the same. And in the future no one would join. Trust would no longer be the top issue. However, the church would probably see even larger amounts leave and the missionary effort would fall.

    The people that still join the mormon church and aren’t just indoctrinated in it their whole lives almost never know anything about it other than the current story presented by nerdy 19 year olds who also know nothing about it.

  • That is the standard line I have heard for decades and believed. I did everything I could to get a confirmation for 4+ decades, but still didn’t feel God or that he loved me. It was only after I walked away from Mormonism did I feel my heart swell with love for others and felt an overwhelming feeling that God loved me. It is transforming.
    I have to answer for myself to God, just like you do. If you feel the LDS church is bringing you closer to God, then by all means do it and do it as well as you can.
    But I don’t appreciate others discounting my experience by saying things like, “if you don’t feel that God is telling you to be a Jehovah’s Witness, then YOU have a problem!” To me this sounds exactly what you are saying.

  • I get why a 36 year old monson needed a stipend (that’s like a wage, but without the taxes). But uchtdorf must have an adequate pension fund, why does he need $20,000 a month? My friends earned that a year and are paying for their own couple’s mission.

  • The trust issue is interesting and it’s deeply tied to a common body of evidence that everybody shares, and in many ways is unrelated to the GA’s. And it’s something the Mormon church can do nothing about.

    The issue is NOT that Mormon apologists (FAIR, BYU-NMI, or the very weak, one-sided essays) can manufacture a rationale and explanation for their belief. That’s entirely to be expected, and there’s nothing unique or special about Mormons doing what other religious groups do.

    The real issue is that the common body of evidence –– when explored honestly and seriously with “the Glory of God” –– fully justifies negative conclusions about Mormonism at virtually every turn. Including about common, routine religious/spiritual experiences that are interpreted as the “Holy Ghost” and “testimony.”

    And that cannot be dismissed as simply the wayward exercise of “free agency.” They are reasonable and rational conclusions based on the humble, sincere, genuine and honest exercise of intelligence in the search for truth and knowledge. And for many people, it also includes genuine, sincere prayer. And they are consistent with and fully supported by the evidence.

    The distrust, of course, is compounded because the Mormon church and it’s leaders, almost since it’s inception, have undeniably not been totally or generally transparent about the evidence –– it has not been taught upfront by the missionaries, nor in Sunday School, Seminary, the MTC, or in correlated instruction manuals.

    Mormon leaders will have some success inoculating coming generations with a little more openness and honesty but, unavoidably, for all Mormons who are willing to seriously engage honest and non-apologetic study, it’s pretty much game over. It’s just too easy to find too many good reasons to NOT believe. It doesn’t matter what those who need to believe conclude.

  • Yeah, agreed. I have several issues with this. For one, I was always told our leaders were sacrificing to lead God’s church. Not much of a sacrifice. Secondly, there are people on the local level working full time jobs and doing another full time job just about in bishoprics, stake presidencies, relief societies, elder quorum callings, etc. who actually are sacrificing for those few on the top getting paid.

    Is the amount exorbitant? Not if you compare it to CEO’s of businesses, like this author is doing. But is it high for paid clergy? Yes. In my opinion and the opinion of many others, it sure is. Not to mention that the stipend doesn’t even accurately show the reimbursables and other benefits. When you compare that to the average member’s income, who are paying their tithing to make it all possible, it is very high, even more so in comparison to these 3rd world countries. When I served my mission in Brazil, we stayed in tiny hovels that sometimes were infested with rodents and insects in rough areas. I was told (and was in agreement) that we should live among the people we teach, and not above them. I still agree with that. It was also a book of mormon tenant in mosiah with king benjamin talking about serving with the people, working with them, not earning wages off of them. Yet, as with so many things in the church, that just didn’t seem to apply any longer, and not to the top leadership now for sure.

    But lastly, fine, so they get paid. It’s a job, not a sacrifice you choose because its more important than six figures and prestige. Fine. Then just be transparent with all of it at least. Let the people know how much they are paying you. The church wants to treat the church as a business in every other way except being transparent with its stakeholders/members. Don’t criticize, don’t question, don’t worry about it. But the truth is, if they could press a button that could erase all the history, burn all the books and research against them forever, and keep all their finances a complete secret without any ability to question it, they would. Heck, that is exactly what they had been trying to do before the internet came along.

  • Rocky:
    I am on the same page with you here: leaders are fallible, and there’s nothing wrong with them getting paid so they can pursue a church-office full time.

    What strikes me as dissonant, though, is the fact that non-mormon clergy aren’t give the same benefit of the doubt: as a non-Mormon, what I hear from LDS missionaries and their materials
    1)about our paid clergy and church leaders, is that having paid clergy (like Protestants and Catholics have) means they are only in it for the money and you can only trust volunteer leaders like the LDS have, and
    2) The fact that Protestant clergy are fallible and sometimes sin proves that our churches’ apostasy from Christ, whereas the LDS, on the other hand, is lead by always infallible prophets.

  • Rational, this seems like this is an emotional response. Please tell us what you really think or feel.

  • From: lds-mormon.com/time.shtml

    “The first divergence between Mormon economics and that of
    other denominations is the tithe. Most churches take in the greater part of
    their income through donations. Very few, however, impose a compulsory 10%
    income tax on their members. Tithes are collected locally, with much of the
    money pas-sed on informally to local lay leaders at Sunday services. “By
    Monday,” says Elbert Peck, editor of Sunstone, an independent Mormon
    magazine, the church authorities in Salt Lake City “know every cent that’s
    been collected and have made sure the money is deposited in banks.” There
    is a lot to deposit. Last year $5.2 billion in tithes flowed into Salt Lake
    City, $4.9 billion of which came from American Mormons.”

    “The Mormons are stewards of a different stripe. Their
    charitable spending and temple building are prodigious. But where other
    churches spend most of what they receive in a given year, the Latter-day Saints
    employ vast amounts of money in investments that TIME estimates to be at least
    $6 billion strong. Even more unusual, most of this money is not in bonds or
    stock in other peoples’ companies but is invested directly in church-owned,
    for-profit concerns, the largest of which are in agribusiness, media,
    insurance, travel and real estate. Deseret Management Corp., the company
    through which the church holds almost all its commercial as-sets, is one of the
    largest owners of farm and ranchland in the country, including 49 for-profit
    parcels in addition to the Deseret Ranch. Besides the Bonneville International
    chain and Beneficial Life, the church owns a 52% holding in ZCMI, Utah’s
    largest department-store chain.

    All told, TIME estimates that the Latter-day Saints farmland and
    financial investments total some $11 billion, and that the church’s nont-ithe
    income from its investments exceeds $600 million. ”

    “Members of the church celebrate the Lord’s Supper with water
    rather than wine or grape juice. They believe their President is a prophet who
    receives new revelations from God. These can supplant older revelations, as in
    the case of the church’s historically most controversial doctrine: Smith
    himself received God’s sanctioning of polygamy in 1831, but 49 years later,
    the church’s President announced its recision. Similarly, an explicit policy
    barring black men from holding even the lowest church offices was overturned by
    a new revelation in 1978, opening the way to huge missionary activity in Africa
    and Brazil. ”

    AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC/SATANIC CONS CONTINUE
    TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

    Joe Smith had his Moroni and Satan/Perdition/Lucifer. (As does M. Romney)

    “Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah.”

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being
    created by God and of course Satan and his demons.

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this “tin-kerbell” got around) and of course the jinn.

    Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern
    day demon of the demented. (As do BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other “no-namers” to
    do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

  • Mike, I could have written your comment. Examination of the BOM and history of the Church left me feeling like nothing made sense. Literally, nothing could add up. This was 35 years ago, when I was a bishop. After a handful of years of total mental compartmentalization, I just laughed out loud and accepted that I had always been lied to by people that didn’t know the difference between a truth and a lie. I said for years that in order to learn what Mormons believe and what Mormon history is, you have to go to sources outside the Church. Except for a few anonymous articles at the Mormon website, this unconscionable treachery still persists; but, it is a step in the right direction.

    It isn’t so much that we can’t trust Mormon leadership: they can’t trust each other or themselves either. They’re as blind as the rest of us, floundering about, like the rest of us, trying to make sense of the mess they got born into. Damn you human instinct!

  • I’m not falling for this. Suppose that the church flew its record books wide open and revealed everything. What would happen? Would it convert more people or cause more to fall away? I propose more would leave as they could not bear the truth.

    There is a reason that levels of information in any organization needs for be on a “need to know” basis. Even God (especially God!) does not reveal everything He knows to all of His children until they are ready for it. The same is true in this church, another church and every other organization out there for a variety of reasons.

    Satan will do anything to get people to break their covenants and lose their standing. Our task is to remain faithful at all times and wait patiently on the Lord, not allowing Pride to get in the way and kick ourselves out of the Church because it isn’t run the way We want it to be.

  • So in other words, if I as a Mormon does seriously engage and honest study, I will see that the game is over and the Church is wrong. If I come to any other conclusion after a good honest study, I really did not do an honest study. That is a very convenient position for you.

    Perhaps it’s a little more complicated than that. People can do an honest, hard study of any issue and from the same data come to very different conclusions. This is how we get hung juries in legal cases. All members of the jury hear the exact same evidence but they reach different conclusions from that exact same evidence. I will not take shots at your conclusions of things as its your right to decide for yourself what is right and wrong but please don’t insult those who have heard the exact same arguments that you have heard, studies the issues, and have come to a different conclusion than you have. Your conclusions are not the standard that we all should base our conclusions on.

  • Of course, there were no shots taken, and no claim or assertion of either “right” or “wrong” or true or false about any conclusion.

    And I insulted nobody. If a person feels insulted nevertheless, that’s their issue and their problem.

    As far as “game over,” that was specifically qualified — and you deliberately left out the “non-apologetic” — “for all Mormons who are willing to seriously engage honest and non-apologetic study..”

    Of course, I had already explicitly acknowledged that apologetic study — essentially beginning from a position of belief, and approached tendentiously, with heavy confirmation bias — predictably will be indulged, and the conclusions will be in favor of the pre-existing belief. That’s to be expected. There was no assertion those conclusions are wrong, but apologetic is what it is.

    The explicit point made is that honest, informed, legitimate negative conclusions are fully justified and supported by the evidence. Period. You concluding something else doesn’t change that.

    You did not even argue or dispute let alone refute that point. Or argue that negative conclusions are irrational or illogical or wrong.

    And of course, people justifiably leave Mormonism based on informed, competent, well-studied, justifiable negative conclusions. Not, for instance, because they ‘listened to Satan,’ or sinned or wanted to sin, or because they were “unworthy,” or intellectually or spiritually lazy, etc etc. But because humble, genuine, informed, sincere and heart-felt study — using “the glory of “God” — justified honest conclusions that warrant leaving. Even with prayer.

    What you conclude and choose is irrelevant — it does not negate or diminish their justified conclusions or choices. They’re perfectly competent in trusting their own judgment over that of FAIR, BYU-NMI or the essays. GA’s or other Mormon leaders or members shaming, and blaming it on Satan or weak faith, etc, is simply lame and dishonest or head-in-sand. Faith was weak only relative to the strength of fully justified conclusions.

    And, of course, those justified, negative conclusions have the benefit of not requiring miracles, magic, the supernatural, rocks in hats, or gods or ghosts. Nor do they require a beginning negative bias — many BIC and lifelong devout and faithful Mormons, intelligently and fully competent, beginning with a positive bias, reluctantly come to honest, well-studied negative conclusions.

    Related and instructive is that not a single scholar on mormonscholarstestify.org converted to Mormonism based on the conclusions of serious, informed, honest and critical study of those controversial issues.

    Similarly instructive, if you read all of their bios, not one of them embraced or converted to Christianity and Bible belief based on the conclusions of serious, informed, honest and critical study of the Bible, either.

  • btw, using your own analogy, a strongly held and psycho-emotionally invested preconceived conclusion, buttressed with its heavy apologetic confirmation bias, would have disqualified you from the jury in your own example.

    Perhaps you have another analogy, or actual example, of impartial, previously-not-believing persons, who have come to positive conclusions about the BOM, BOA, “first vision,” based on a serious, informed, consideration of the common evidence. Let’s also include evidence for the existence of the “Holy Ghost,” and for the nature and interpretation of religious/spiritual experiences in that consideration.

  • With respect, I think what you just wrote is incredibly disingenuous. I’m not sure about your age, but anyone born after 1970 was taught a carefully controlled, correlated, white-washed message about the Church and it’s history. They were also trained to have an intense fear when confronted with outside or “unapproved” sources, the very sources one reads to find out the truth. Books not sold at Deseret Book, books and articles written by members who ended up getting excommunicated for writing the truth, symposia, and anything by the Tanners would have been helpful to read, but the fear of hell was put into me and others brought up in the Church during this time. Luckily, the Internet changed the whole game.

    I’m gratified that you industriously sought out the truth on your own. But you have to admit that the culture is not conducive to independent research or pointed questions.

  • Total BS from rockyrd. Find me a church manual that talks about seer stones. I went to church every week for 30 years and never heard the word seer stone once. I read church approved material and never once heard about them. Served a mission and many callings. I heard about seer stones from some guy at work one day that’s not a member. My 70 year old father had never once heard about seer stones and read tons of church material. Rockyrd is trying to invent a story where the church has been teaching about seer stones and hats, the details of polygamy, polyandry, and a host of other things they tried to erase from historical existence.

  • You raise a very good point of tension that I think many disaffected have not fully considered. Is it ok to “lie for Jesus?” Many in church leadership use this as justification. I can understand why they do this. But this approach is failing in my opinion. The new generations have Google. We find more safety and security from entities that promote transparency. I think eventually, the church will have to find a way to be fully transparent about some things. History is one of them. Finances needs to be more transparent. And maybe those called into a life of church service should be called on for greater financial sacrifice. In addition, the church will have to find a way to make the real history relevant and meaningful.

  • Who said anything about “lying for Jesus”? Not me and I don’t see how anyone could construe it as something I intended or something I promote.

    As for the church not being transparent, everything (except finances and personal records of those who have been excommunicated) is available in open libraries near Temple Square and more of it is available online all the time as it is digitized. It used to take a bit of work to find something, now all you need are a few clicks and yes, you may have found something, but is it true? Few will take the time or energy to find out.

    Finances do not need to be more transparent. It will not help anything or anyone and the Lord has not required it to be revealed to all. In fact, here is the Lord’s command regarding the tithing of the church and how it is to be spent (he uses the word “disposed” here to mean spend): D&C120:1 “Verily, thus saith the Lord, the time is now come, that it shall be disposed of by a council, composed of the First Presidency of my Church, and of the bishop and his council, and by my high council; and by mine own voice unto them, saith the Lord. Even so. Amen.”

    Notice, there isn’t the requirement that it be voted on by the members or revealed to the world. The Lord Himself tells them with his own Voice what to do.

    How will opening it all up to the world help anything when the Lord’s Own Voice is the determining factor in all of these decisions?

  • If people ask questions and information is intentionally held back because the person, “can’t handle it” then that’s lying for Jesus in my opinion.

    D&C120:1 is nice. But people who make donations to an organization deserve some amount of reporting and the receiving entity should have some accountability. As our reporting and accounting abilities have become more efficient, there is now a greater emphasis to show people how funds are being used across all kinds of businesses and charities. This isn’t the 1800s any more.

  • Here is the link:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRWHaaFn9A4

    I am not affiliated with Mr. Fluhman. I mean, I took one of his classes once. It was a great course on mid 19th century Utah. Loved the class, but he gave me a C+. So, I’m still a little miffed at him, to be honest. But the material he presents here is fascinating, and he’s a decent enough fellow, so I’ll let the C+ go…eventually.

  • My “inactive” neighbor used to work for the church. He broke ties with the corporation after learning that the reason to get young single adults married ASAP was because, as they approached 30, they were far less likely to keep paying their tithing if they remained single. Straight from the mouth of the head of statistics.

  • Mormon PTSD. Great analogy and diagnosis. Thanks, Now I know what my problem is, but how to heal it.

  • I was born in the 50’s and the story of Joseph looking into his hat to translate was new to me. Why did he need the gold plates if all he needed was his hat and a rock. I’m so mad.

  • And along with the apology for the misleading “doctrine”, how about removing the “Everlasting Covenant of Marriage” from the D&C which remains today as part of LDS scripture. Bah-Humbug!.

  • It is a dishonest practice to keep back information, Kelly. To withhold information from people is lying. This is a classic example of lying for the lord, and the fact you can’t see how hiding facts from people is wrong shows how far the church has convinced you that the ends justify the means. YOU believe you get to decide how much info a person gets, and what they get. You’d probably also support that the lower class of mormons don’t need to learn to read for themselves, because they have people like you to interpret things for them, feed them only what they need to know.

    If I sell you a car, and don’t ever tell you that the odometer stopped counting about 200k miles ago, is that dishonest? According to you, no it’s not. Also, we could both find a ton of church leader quotes about honesty and omission, and how not telling the WHOLE truth is still lying and dishonest. Somehow your faith has stripped you of your moral code though.

    On another note, it’s not even just a matter of hiding key information, but also straight up creating inaccurate narratives as well.

  • Why members feel compelled to tell the truth to these dirty filthy liars is beyond me. They willingly lied to you and had you lie for them for decade upon decade. And IMHO, you are delusional if you think they are special or inspired. That too is another one of their lies.

  • It also doesn’t help the over-all feeling of trust, when some leaders (and members) brand those who pull away from the Church and choose to speak out about its questionable, whitewashed dominant narrative and inconsistencies in history and practice, as negative, arrogant apostates who, after being offended or proving themselves too weak or lacking the faith to “live the gospel”, have some axe to grind under the “influence of Satan”.

  • For me, there is enough beauty and goodness (spiritually) in the LDS Church, that I think most people would or could feel the spirit of God (I certainly did and still do).
    But I think it’s largely a personal matter and for me, I can feel the spirit of God, just watching a good movie or being in a group of sincere Christ loving people, which many people in many churches (including the LDS) are.

    I take exception however to the implication that the evidence for dishonesty in the Church (even if unintended) is not there. I think for those who genuinely want to get at the truth, the evidence is there in abundance. All one has to do is the research (objectively, without cognitive bias). The link further below might be a good place to start.

    As to the ‘revelation’ regarding the priesthood, I think yes, perhaps in the sense that God’s response could have been, ‘Yeah and it’s about time you guys asked me. It never should have been so in the first place.’

    http://www.mormonthink.com/lying.htm

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