A Genuine Search for Truth.

Do What is Right;
Be Faithful and Fearless.
Do what is Right;
Let the Consequence Follow.

 

“If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation,
If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”
-President J. Reuben Clark, First Counselor of the First Presidency

“We seek for truth, wherever we may find it.”
-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“You must work through the spirit. If it leads you into conflict with the program of the church, you must follow the voice of the spirit.”
-Elder S. Dilsworth Young, First Counsel of the Seventy, 1945

 

 

I have been so shocked, disturbed, and saddened by what I’ve learned. I’m going to try and come up with a way to display all this information in a somewhat coherent and simple way.  This is incredibly difficult because there is literally SO much and my notes are all over the place.   

I need to say that while some of what is ahead weighs heavier than others, it really is not any one issue.  It’s not just the sexist polygamy and shocking polyandry, it’s not just the lying and deceit to Emma, it’s not just the 130 years of institutional racism (which effects are still seen), it’s not just how we introduced slavery to Utah, it’s not just the Native American slave trade, or racist doctrine, it’s not just the false translation of the Book of Abraham and the Kinderhook Plates, it’s not just the lack of archaeological, anthropological, and linguistic evidence for the Book of Mormon, it’s not just the unexplainable anachronisms within the Book of Mormon, it’s not just the confusingly identical Freemason and Temple ordinances, it’s not just the contradictory (not just different) versions of the First Vision, it’s not just the confusing timeline face of the First Vision and the confusing timeline of the Priesthood restoration and angelic appearances of John, Peter, James, and John being left out of the Book of Commandments, it’s not just that Joseph Smith disobeyed every rule in Section 132, it’s not just his dirty and nasty behavior in accruing women and lying about it, it’s not just the mind blowing Mark Hoffmann disaster, it’s not just the horrid terror attack that is the Mountain Meadow Massacre, it’s not just the unchristlike fear and persecution of the LGBT members, it’s not just the church lying about most of all of this and/or hiding it.  It’s obviously the sheer weight of all of it combined that troubles me most.  

The straw that broke the camels back, was just that – a straw. Eventually, there becomes a credibility issue and there are simply too many straws on the camels back. In this case there became way too many excess straws.

I do need to say. I do not go to “anti” sites. There is no need. My problems lie within the doctrine itself, and the publications of the church and publications from BYU. I’m not trying to prove the church false, and I don’t have a “side.”

I set out to find answers to my most simple questions – like why is tithing necessary for salvation? Why do we practice the Word of Wisdom in the way we do? Why did we practice polygamy? What was that Black Priesthood Ban all about? The challenge is that by studying the origins of these innocent questions, I uncovered a whole tomb of problems that threatened the entire integrity of the church. I have nothing to gain from the church being false, but rather I have everything to lose.

However, I can’t unread what I have read from church approved sources. I can’t change something to be true because I want it to be. It doesn’t work that way. The only time I go to anything considered “Anti” is if its quoted or cited in a “pro-mormon” work – like the church essays. But even then, when following those links, nothing is really anti – it’s just third-party-neutral.  If the church discussed the problems more openly, there would be no need for us with questions to visit sites like Fairmormon or MormonThink. But since the church is largely silent on these very real issues, then those who “search for truth, wherever we may find it,” have no choice but to venture to Fairmormon, MormonThink, or the Neil A. Maxwell Institute.

I’m not interested in anti-mormon lies or conspiracies, I’m not interested in proving the church false. I’m interested in the truth. That is why I need answers. Why I’m searching for answers. The challenge is that after over a year of studying, I haven’t found any good answers that aren’t quickly debunked.

If in what you read below you find hard to believe and say, “there’s no way that’s true,” I beg you to research it.  I’m so tired of being alone in this and being told that it can’t be right. I’m so sick of being told I’m visiting anti sites when LDS scholars and historians agree with every fact I have posted below. There may be some disagreements on extreme details, but the main storyline and the facts I present below are 100 percent true. Please keep that in mind. PLEASE click the links, and research yourself. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes I explain myself, other times I merely leave a link. Trust me when I say, I don’t want you to take my word for it. PLEASE study yourself. Find the answers, find the truth.

Polygamy/Polyandry

“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.”
-Joseph Smith, excerpt from “Address of the Prophet,” May 1844, shortly before his death.

“Careful estimates put the number between 30 and 40. See Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, 2:272–73.”
Footnote 24 – LDS Gospel Topic Essay, ‘Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo’:2

Ok. Let me first address a claim someone made to me about this subject: “The size of the cache of documents, sworn statements, publications, etc., on the subject is immense. The spectrum of viewpoints range from very hostile to very friendly to the LDS religion and its founder. The people originating these documents also ranged from very hostile to very friendly to the LDS religion its founder. Hence my first conclusion: It is not possible to know the truth about the Prophet’s morals from the documentary evidence…These sources are hopelessly contradictory. A person can find ample documentation to support any position he/she may be predisposed to take.”

Ok. First off. This is the topic I have spent the most time studying by far. This persons view point shows complete ignorance of the subject and contradicts not only LDS scholars and historians but also the LDS essay itself. Throughout my discussion with this person, they were contradicting the church essays on various subjects constantly. This person, who meant well, also made the claim that the “new and everlasting covenant” was referring to marriage and not necessarily polygamous marriage – also adding that D&C 132 is not necessarily referring to plural marriage. These claims are factually incorrect, and I have yet to find a single LDS scholar or historian that agrees with that. According to LDS scholars and historians, when we read “new and everlasting covenant” or “celestial marriage,” it is referring to polygamy.  It’s not really a debatable point amongst scholars. The “new and everlasting covenant,” and “celestial marriage,” IS plural marriage. Secondly. This persons comment, “any position he/she may be predisposed to take,” shows a huge problem to me. There is no “side.” Just because one source is antagonistic toward the church or another source is supportive of the church does not mean that either statement is invalid. One must compare all evidence and follow the line where stories match.  Its called history. This is what historians do. There is no side. Only the truth – what happened? Historians literally do this for a living. Spend their career examining evidence and sources.  To claim that we can’t draw conclusions because there is just simply too much evidence is propoterous. Especially when one hasn’t even read or examined the source documents themselves. Not to mention, in the church essay, the church claims there is not enough evidence. So what is it? Too much evidence or too little?  The writer of the claim above is guilty of a logical fallacy – Argument from Ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam.  Plus I should mention the obvious double standard that we can’t possibly know Joseph Smith’s morals.  If this were true, then we also wouldn’t be able to know if he had good morals either.

So I have two things to say to the writer who disputed my claims. Why were you able to find an “immense” set of records, when the church says, “historical records of early plural marriage is therefore thin.”???  And then with the immense set of records, there are enough actual source documents that we can get a picture of who Joseph was – that picture is not a good one.  Let me show you what I mean.

OK! MOVING ON….

First. I think we can all admit that this is a tricky subject and the ugly stepchild of the church that no one, including the church, likes to talk about. But ask yourself these questions before continuing. Perhaps ponder them for a few minutes and come up with some answers. 

  • If I created a church tomorrow and claimed to be a prophet, and I told my congregation that God commanded me to implement polygamy in a certain way because God is a God of order, how would my congregation know if my commandment came from God?
  • If a commandment of polygamy came from God, how would he expect it to be followed? (Answers are in D&C 132)
  • What would it mean or signify if the prophet that revealed God’s law of polygamy didn’t follow the commandment of polygamy?
  • What is the purpose of polygamy in Joseph Smith’s time? Did the purpose ever change?
  • If God stopped the commandment of polygamy, but people continued practicing it on their own, is this a problem? Is this a sin? What sin is being committed, if any?

Ok. Now go read the essay by the church that has been approved by the first presidency and Q12.  Lets just look at some takeaways from the essay:

  • Joseph illegally married more than 30 women.
  • Joseph married at least 11 women who were already married (polyandry).
  • Joseph only told Emma about 4 of them.
  • Joseph married children when he was in his late 30’s. Excuse me. Girls “several months before their 15th birthday.”
  • Joseph denied (lied about) this his entire life.

The thing is, polygamy is easy to justify and toss aside until you study how it was practiced. Now reflect on the earlier questions. Do you have some cognitive dissonance happening? It’s ok. Join the club. The essay barely skims the surface and leaves out, no doubt purposefully, very damning information. If one really wants to know more, know what really happened, how would we do this? There is so much information, what can we trust? How can we paint a clear picture of what happened? Well, there is a way. It just involves some reading. And don’t worry! No Anti-Mormon resources needed, nor are they encouraged. The safest way is to use church approved sources. Ok, but where can we find them? No one needs to read more than the sources the church uses in their essay.  It includes MORE than enough, including many sources by Todd Compton, such as In Sacred Loneliness which you should absolutely read. However, if you wish to learn more without buying the book, this site is written from a faithful perspective and is essentially an online summary of Todd Compton’s work.

In the essay we learn many disturbing facts, including learning about Polyandry (polygamy in which a woman has more than one husband). Polyandry makes zero sense and goes directly against the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife.” It also goes directly against D&C 132 instructions for polygamy, see D&C 132:61. Especially if the whole point of polygamy was to just bring forth more children to grow the church, there would be no point in marrying someone who already had a faithful husband (use Zina Huntington Jacobs as a case study for this) as they could just as easily bring forth more children on their own. Joseph had at least 11 polyandrous brides. Among them being Apostle Orson Hyde, who was sent on his mission to dedicate Palestine when Joseph secretly married his wife, Marinda Hyde. Again, what I present of how Joseph Smith practiced polygamy/polyandry is all true, the more you read – and only from church approved sources – the more disturbed one becomes. We may not know everything, but what we DO know paints a disturbing picture. Another great recourse for this is the Year of Polygamy podcast. She (the podcast narrator – Lindsey Hansen Park) largely uses “In Sacred Loneliness” by Todd Compton (a church approved source) and she has links to all her sources for study and examination.  Please listen to the podcasts (click the names of each wife, it will take you to the podcast about them).  From “In Sacred Loneliness,” and the other sources from the church essay we learn the disturbing pattern of how Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and polyandry – especially with Fanny Alger, Helen Mar Kimball, Sarah Ann Whitney (see also here), Zina Huntington Jacobs Young Smith, Sisters Eliza and Emily Partridge, and Lucy Walker.

A few themes (indisputable facts – LDS historians agree with these) we learn from studying (again – church approved sources) how Joseph Smith practiced polygamy:

  • Would send men on missions and then secretly marry their wives (study Apostle Orson Hyde story for this).
  • Lied to Emma constantly, to the public constantly, and to the the church constantly.
    • Letter from Joseph Smith to Sarah Ann Whitney:
    • “…my feelings are so strong for you since what has passed lately between us…it seems, as if I could not live long in this way; and if you three would come and see me…it would afford me great relief…I know it is the will of God that you should comfort me now in this time of affliction…the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safety…burn this letter as soon as you read it; keep all locked up in your breasts…You will pardon me for my earnestness on this subject when you consider how lonesome I must be…I think Emma wont come tonight if she don’t fail to come tonight…” (Joseph Smith, George Albert Smith Family Papers, Early Smith Documents, 1731-1849, Folder 18, in the Special Collections, Western Americana, Marriott Library, University of Utah)

  • Married a mother/daughter set, and three sister sets. Several of these included Joseph Smiths own foster daughters (Lawrence sisters, Partridge sisters, and Lucy Walker are examples).
  • Would tell women God had chosen them for him, and give them 24 hours to decide.
  • Proponents of “spiritual wifery” taught that sexual relations were permissible outside of legalized marital relationships, on condition that the relations remained secret. Joseph Smith, Journal, May 19, 24, and 26, 1842; June 4, 1842, available at josephsmithpapers.org.
  • Some of the marriages to these women included promises by Joseph of eternal life to the girls and their families, or threats that he (Joseph) was going to be slain by an angel with a drawn sword if the girls didn’t marry him.
  • Helen Mar Kimball, the 14 year old girl-bride said: I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.”
    • This is what Joseph said to her, “If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation and exaltation & that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.” She talks of her mother’s hidden grief: “to see her child, who had scarcely seen her fifteenth summer, following in the same thorny path [of polygamy].”
    • Joseph told a reluctant Helen Mar Kimball that if she married him it would ensure her salvation and the salvation of all her family. Imagine the burden on a 14 year-old girl’s emotions of the salvation for her entire family riding on accepting Joseph’s proposal.
  • Lucy Walker, married to Joseph at 17 (days after her 17th birthday) when Joseph was 37. This story needs to be told. Here it is:
    • The Walker family arrived in Nauvoo in Spring 1841. Lucys mother did of Malaria in January 1842. This left her husband John, with 10 children to care for. Joseph Smith then sent John on a 2 year mission to the eastern states. Leaving the 10 children homeless. Joseph placed Lucy’s siblings in different homes with different members. Except for Lucy. Joseph Smith placed Lucy in his own home.
    • Very shortly after, Joseph Smith informed her, I have a message for you. I have been commanded of God to take another wife, and you are the woman.”
    • Lucy wrote, “My astonishment knew no bounds. This announcement was indeed a thunderbolt to me.” She then writes of her prayer that night, “Oh that the grave would kindly receive me that I might find rest on the bosom of my dear mother...Why should I be chosen from among thy daughters, Father, I am only a child in years and experience. No mother to council; no father near to tell me what to do, in this trying hour. Oh, let this bitter cup pass.”
    • Joseph told her, after she tried to say no, that the time was coming when they’d have to go to the Rocky Mountains and get married, and that it must be secret. Joseph then gave Lucy an ultimatum:I have no flattering words to offer. It is a command of God to you. I will give you until tomorrow to decide this matter. If you reject this message the gate will be closed forever against you.
    • Well. With that threat. The thought of never seeing her mother again, and having no place to live. Guess who changed her mind? They were married the next day on May 1, 1843. Really? What was she supposed to do?
  • Fanny Alger. Joseph’s first affair/wife. Oliver Cowdery called it a dirty, nasty, affair. This was Joseph’s first “wife.” I put it in quotation marks because the sealing power wasn’t restored to the Earth until 1836, the affair happened in ’33/’34.  D&C 132 was published in 1842. So. See the problem?
    • William McLellin reported a conversation he had with Emma Smith in 1847, which account 38 is accepted by both LDS and non-LDS historians, describing how Emma discovered her husband’s affair with Fanny Alger:
      • One night she [Emma] missed Joseph and Fanny Alger. She went to the barn and saw him and Fanny in the barn together alone. She looked through a crack and saw the transaction!!! She told me this story too was verily true.”
  • The Partridge sisters – Eliza and Emily.
    • Both married to Joseph without Emma’s knowledge or consent the first time. Then married again with Emma’s consent (she didn’t know they were already married).
    • They were living with Joseph, as live-in help. Or adopted daughters.
    • Emma finally agreed to let Joseph practice polygamy (she didn’t know he already had been) if she got to choose the brides. So she chose them.
    • They performed another ceremony to keep Emma unaware that they were already married.
    • “The first door that opened for us was to go to Smith’s, which we accepted.” “[I was] a nurse girl, for they had a young baby … Joseph and Emma were very kind to us; they were almost like a father and mother, and I loved Emma and the children.” “the Prophet Joseph and his wife Emma offered us a home in their family … We had been there about a year when the principle of plural marriage was made known to us, and I was married to Joseph Smith on the 4th of March 1843, Elder Heber C. Kimball performing the ceremony. My sister Eliza was also married to Joseph a few days later. This was done without the knowledge of Emma Smith. Two months afterward she consented to give her husband two wives, providing he would give her the privilege of choosing them. She accordingly chose my sister Eliza and myself, and to save family trouble Brother Joseph thought it best to have another ceremony performed. Accordingly on the 11th of May, 1843, we were sealed to Joseph Smith a second time, in Emma’s presence … From that very hour, however, Emma was our bitter enemy. We remained in the family several months after this, but things went from bad to worse until we were obligated to leave the house and find another home.” (Emily Partridge’s journal)

  • If women refused his proposal, and then spoke about it. He would use church publications, like Times and Seasons, to slander their name and character to further hide that he was practicing this principle of polygamy/polyandry:
    • Sarah Pratt – a “whore from her mothers breast.”
    • Martha Brotherton – a “mean harlot.”
    • Nancy Rigdon – a “poor, miserable girl out of the very slough of prostitution.”
    • Nice Joseph. Nice.
  • Zina Diantha Huntington-Jacobs-Smith-Young. 
    • Zina was 18 when her mother died and went to live in Joseph’s home.
    • Soon she met Joseph’s friend, Henry Jacobs. He played violin. She played Cello. They fell in love.
    • Joseph was supposed to officiate their wedding but never showed, so John C. Bennett performed the marriage.
    • Zina asked Joseph why he didn’t show, He told her it had been made known to him that she was to be his Celestial Wife and he could not give to another one who had been given to him.”
    • Joseph sent Henry on 8 missions while he was married to Zina. At one point Joseph sent a message to Zina through her brother: “Tell Zina I have put it of and put it off until an angel with a drawn sword has stood before me and told me if I did not establish that principle and live it, I would lose my position and my life and the Church could progress not further.”
    • After four proposals and extreme pressure with the responsibility for the life of the prophet, Zina finally accepted.
    • After Joseph’s death, Brigham Young took Zina for his wife while she was still married to Henry Jacobs. Brigham called Henry to serve a mission in England and told him to find another wife.
  • Published doctrine that monogamy was the only relationship sanctioned by God, while secretly practicing both polygamy and polyandry.
  • He never showed any hesitancy in practicing polygamy. The “Angel with a drawn sword” quote is used out of context. He used this after he already had multiple wives and used it as a way to coerce women who were hesitant into accepting his proposal.
  • Joseph Smiths was married/sealed to at least 22 other women before being sealed to Emma, his first legal wife, on May 28, 1843. What!?
  • Polyandrous relationships would be without the husbands consent or knowledge. 
    • Including a union to a newlywed who was currently pregnant (Zina Huntington).
  • Unions without the knowledge or consent of first wife Emma, including to teenagers who worked with Emma in the Smith home such as the Partridge sisters and the Lawrence girls.
  • Learn that the Nauvoo Expositor was only started because Joseph Smith tried to marry his counselor’s (William Law) wife behind his back. It was printing that Joseph Smith was practicing polyandry and polygamy. Thats why Joseph ordered the destruction of it. It was not printing lies.
    • “Smith made his visit to his [William Law] wife in the middle of the night, when he knew her husband to be absent. Joseph had asked her to give him half her love; she was at liberty to keep the other half for her husband.”
  • Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated because he grew increasingly distraught over what he said was a “dirty, nasty, filthy affair” to Fanny Alger. Who Joseph smith married in 1834, without Emma’s knowledge or consent.  He was excommunicated on charges of “falsely” accusing Joseph Smith of polygamy. They weren’t false.
  • Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered for trying to commit adultery with another mans wife. Also the tar is not black tar. That’s an anachronism. The tar, is room temperature pine-tar. It’s not painful, it’s just humiliating.
  • The list goes on and on and on and on. And that cognitive dissonance just keeps piling up. It’s ok. You’re not alone. Keep going.

How do we justify/explain the constant lies to Emma, lies to the public, and lies to the church, manipulation of women, women as bargaining chips, and how Joseph Smith broke literally every rule set forth in D&C 132. If you’ve never read D&C 132, you definitely need to. I’m surprised by the number of Mormons that are unfamiliar with its details.

If the sealing power was not restored to the earth until 1836, how do we explain Joseph’s illegal polygamous “sealing” to Fanny Alger in 1834? I need to discuss this one further. It would be more accurate to say that Joseph NEVER claimed that Elijah gave him sealing keys in 1836. That entire concept didn’t exist until Brigham Young and Orson Pratt’s preparation to go public with polygamy, and they needed to pin down the authority by which they acted. Let me explain. If you don’t want details, skip this block quote.

Fanny Alger (pronounced Al-Ger not Aljer it turns out) and the transaction occurred between 1832 and 1835. Apologists have tried to push it to the 1835 date to say that it was after a sealing ceremony, thus she becomes a “wife” rather than pure adultery by any definition.

The following comes from Johnny Stepson, Mormon Historian:

“In the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph added this text about Moroni, Elijah and Elias to a revelation that he had first given in 1830:

Behold this is wisdom in me: wherefore marvel not for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel; to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim; and also with Elias, to whom I have committed the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things, or the restorer of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, concerning the last days: and also John the son of Zacharias, which Zacharias he (Elias) visited and gave promise that he should have a son, and his name should be John, and he should be filled with the spirit of Elias; which John I have sent unto you, my servants, Joseph Smith, jr. and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain you unto this first priesthood which you have received, that you might be called and ordained even as Aaron: and also Elijah, UNTO WHOM I HAVE COMMITTED THE KEYS OF THE POWER OF TURNING THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS TO THE CHILDREN and the hearts of the children to the fathers, that the whole earth may not be smitten with a curse: and also, with Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham your fathers; by whom the promises remain; and also with Michael, or Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days. (1835 D&C, Section L:2) Marquardt”

Notice, no mention of keys for sealing. That gets grafted on later.

“This illustrates how Joseph was now separating Elias and Elijah into two persons and therefore they both would now literally return. Joseph would LATER claim in 1839 that Moroni told him that Elijah would appear to reveal to him “the priesthood”. John the Baptist now becomes “filled with the spirit of Elias” who revealed to them the lesser priesthood; while Elijah holds the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children. Joseph also claims that Elias is the angel Gabriel who “held the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things.”

A year after Joseph wrote the letter above about how THE ELDERS would turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, he and Oliver Cowdery claimed to have a vision in the newly completed temple at Kirtland. In that vision, they claimed that,

“…Elias appeared,** and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed. After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said: Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—THEREFORE THE KEYS OF THIS DISPENSATION ARE COMMITTED INTO YOUR HANDS; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.”

Once again we see Elias and Elijah as separate characters, and that Elijah was only committed with the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the children of men, while Elias (Gabriel or Noah) committed to them “the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham”.

Joseph Smith has now become an Elias of the last days, with the spirit and power of Elijah that would enable him to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. There is no mention of any “sealing power” at all before Nauvoo.

It seems that the invention of another person was necessary because of the claimed restoration of two priesthoods, Elias (John the Baptist) as forerunner to the Aaronic Priesthood, and Elijah as forerunner to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Joseph then turned the word “Elias” into some kind of “forerunner” who could be anyone.

There is nothing here about Elijah revealing any “sealing keys” in 1836. This was a later ad hoc explanation that was ascribed to Elijah at that time after Joseph died. Joseph would claim later that Elijah was still to appear IN THE NAUVOO TEMPLE to reveal the “fullness of the Priesthood”. This all came out of the Baptism for the Dead doctrine, which Joseph developed between the late summer of 1840 and 1842.”

There is no evidence for keys for polygamous marriage sealing prior to Nauvoo.

Pre-nauvoo, Joseph did speak of “sealing,” but only in the context of an individual’s redemption from the fall and being “sealed up” to eternal life. This was a power he did claim and exercise throughout the 1830s (for instance when he sealed the Colesville Branch up to eternal life in 1832 – source ).

The innovation in Nauvoo was to begin more openly describing the social ties that must bind people together if they are to be one in Christ in eternity, being “sealed” together. Joseph’s sealing activities in this sphere are merely extensions of the same sealing power he had been exercising for over a decade, including his earlier plural marriages.

He would encompass both of the above “sealings” as functions of the power or spirit of Elijah. When Joseph explained how one gained that power, his explanation never had anything to do with Elijah appearing to him and him passing authority to others. Instead, every explanation involves a person making their calling and election sure and having God, via a theophany, tell them that whatever they seal on earth will be sealed in heaven. Joseph recorded his experience of gaining this authority in what would become D&C 132, but the experience itself happened over a decade earlier, apparently when he was asking for understanding about biblical plural marriage. Whether one believes that conversation with God actually happened or not, the evidence is that Joseph did claim to have power to seal on earth and in heaven throughout the period during which he is reported to have taken plural wives. It simply isn’t the form of authority invented after his death, now the official narrative of the LDS Church, authority ascribed to Elijah’s 1836 appearance. For more info see this blogpost I found while researching this. It’s very detailed and accurate.

Why did Joseph break every rule in D&C 132? Why did he lie about it? If polygamy was actual doctrine, and the way of the church, why didn’t he admit it to the public, It matters not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain true principle, even if I stand alone in it.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet JS pg 332) Why lie about it to the public and to the church?  Even if it was illegal to the laws of the land, shouldn’t he have “always maintained true principle?” even if it was unpopular/illegal? If D&C 132 said he could only marry virgins, why did he practice polyandry? Indeed, 11 of the wives of Joseph Smith were married to other men while married to Joseph (the church acknowledges this).

Why did he coerce woman to be unfaithful to their gospel-following husbands whom they loved (Zina Huntington)?  Why did he send men on missions only to conveniently marry their wives while the men were away (Patty Bartlett Sessions, Zina Huntington Jacobs Young Smith, Marinda Johnson Hyde)? Why did he choose to marry children? Or rather, why did God command him to take children so young? Would God really choose 14 year old girls for Joseph?  One at 14 (Helen Mar Kimball-wife 26), and one at 15 (Nancy Winchester-wife 33) and seven under the age of 18? And a little research shows this was not common – even then. The common age for marriage in Utah around 1850 for men was 27, and for women was 23, according to official records from the National Institute of Health. This is a pattern in polygamy (that ended numerous marriages with the first wife, the first wife would grow increasingly distraught over how young her husbands brides were becoming), President Lorenzo Snow was married to a 16 year old when he was 57.  These were not normal, but suggest perverse behavior. Yet we say that FLDS church is gross, misguided, and evil. But…that’s what heaven looks like?

teen-brides

 The But you say that was socially acceptable behavior of the time? Marrying 14 year old girls? No. It wasn’t. But lets say it was. Ok then. Well marrying gay people is socially acceptable now isn’t it? So why can’t we do it? Oh Gods Law on marriage is never changes even if societal norms change? ….riiiiight… And even if it was socially acceptable, was it socially acceptable to God? Would he have “chosen her” for him? Cause thats what Joseph Smith said, that God had chosen her for him. There’s no way you can apologetic around this one – it was gross. “But they didn’t have sex!” you say? There is no evidence to say they didn’t, but lots of evidence suggesting they did. Including from Helen Mar herself. But even if they didn’t. It doesn’t matter. She was married to him and wasn’t allowed to date, to go out, or even go to a community dance (she tried, they said no – you’re married).  No matter if they had sex or not (they did) he still 100% controlled her sexuality. Let me help you see what this looked like. The photo below is Warren Jeffs and the young girl is his new wife, but it might as well be Joseph Smith.  Because he did the EXACT SAME THING. This is what a 14 year old marrying a 37 year old looks like. Which is why Warren Jeffs and the FLDS justify it. Because Joseph Smith did it and the Book of Mormon allows it. Especially since Official Declaration 1 is not scripture, its just a declaration saying the practice is temporally ended. Thats why D&C 132 is still in scriptures – Polygamy is Doctrinal. This is the reality. You can’t pretend that it isn’t.

warren jeffs

To believe in Polygamy, one must believe God commanded Joseph to take 14/15 year old children as wives (and ALL that entails: sex), one must believe God gives woman as prizes or awards, one must believe that God commanded Joseph to send husbands on missions only to marry their wives while they were gone, one must believe that God commanded Joseph to marry woman without Emma’s knowledge or consent. Joseph Smith’s version of Mormonism has a lot more in common with Warren Jeffs version than what we practice today.

We claim we don’t practice polygamy, but we do. Men are allowed to be sealed to more than one woman and are expected live with both in the after the life. I’ve been told multiple times that we are going to be expected to practice polygamy to receive ultimate salvation and be in the celestial kingdom. D&C 132 says as much (D&C132:4) and Brigham Young said, “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into Polygamy.” Which is confusing because Gordon B. Hinkley said in a 1998 TV interview with Larry David that polygamy is not doctrine and that he condemns it. So…which is it? No one seems to know the answer to this. And for something that seems to be the essence of our church and doctrine, how do we not know? We know we can’t have hot drinks and can only eat meat in season, but we don’t know if we’re going to be expected to practice polygamy? 

A fundamental problem with polygamy is that it inherently diminishes the worth of women. How can “one righteous man” equal MORE THAN “one righteous woman”? What God would create an entire class of humans, i.e. females, that will always be subordinate to another class, i.e. males? I hear the argument that polygamy was used to take care of widows who lost their husbands.  While this did happen, it was in the minority. Brigham Young also made it clear on more than one occasion that he wasn’t really into old ladies, he was just doing them a favor. This argument also doesn’t work that well either unless the male patriarch was rich – like Brigham Young. But for the vast majority of men (who were poor) who had 20-60 wives (yes, real number of wives) it was expensive and the women’s lives were horrible. You did not want to be a wife of Heber C. Kimball.

Why was Emma the 22nd – 25th woman to be sealed to Joseph?!?!?! (see here: Bergera, “The Earliest Eternal Sealings for Civilly Married Couples”, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Volume 35, Fall 2002, Pgs. 41-66 –

“By the time of his sealing to Emma, Smith had married some twenty-five celestial wives” (Pg. 54);

also see Bushman, “Rough Stone Rolling”, Vintage Books, 2005, Pg. 494,

“on a cold Sunday evening, May 28, 1843, in the upper room of Joseph’s redbrick store, Joseph and Emma were ‘sealed’ for eternity by the power of the priesthood”

Why was “doctrine” changed in response to “legal” and “political” pressures? 

Why was original D&C 101/109 (monogamy) replaced with D&C 132 (polygamy) two years after a new anti-polygamy act, Polan Act, was passed? Why was the 1st Manifesto released 5 months after the Church lost their appeal at the Supreme Court? Why was the 2nd Manifesto released 1 month after Joseph F. Smith performed poorly in his interview before Congress at the Senator Smoot Hearings? See here for citations and a full timeline of how it changed.

Here’s my polygamy test.

Did Joseph practice polygamy as he says it was “Revealed” to him in our current Section 132? Meaning, did he practice it 1) with the consent of the head wife, (or at least give her the opportunity to say no) 2) only marrying single women, and 3) were they virgins? 4) for the purpose of raising up righteous seed?

NO. NONE OF IT.

Let me leave you with these, one of these men is not right. One must be a false prophet, right?

  • Brigham Young: “Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, I promise that you will be damned.”
  • Gordon B. Hinckley: “I condemn it, yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal.” 

The Many Wives Of Joseph Smith Chart v2.0

UPDATE: This might take the cake for the absolute craziest thing I have learned. It is so beyond disturbing. On the docket for “Today I learned.” We have this headline: Today I learned that  early Mormon leaders castrated men who would not give up their wives to other men who wanted them. Yeah. This happened. Bishop Snow was a bishop in the newly settled Utah. He wanted a young girl to be his polygamous wife but she wanted to marry her young boyfriend. Snow tried to send him away on a mission and did everything to persuade him to forsake his sweetheart. When that failed, Bishop Snow and other church leaders ambushed him and castrated him so the girl would no longer want him so he could add her as one of his several polygamous wives. But don’t worry. It’s Brigham Young approved. Brigham Young was informed of what happened and said to “let it be” and didn’t even remove Snow as the bishop. This is what polygamy does to the thought process of these men. They probably started off as normal people, but after years of conditioning and being told that they’ll be gods with their harem of women in heaven, you get violence like this. It’s a hierarchal structure, a way of gaining power. See here.

I did some research and found a thesis written in 1985 about bishop Warren Stone Snow. It’s called Warren Stone Snow, A Man in Between: The Biography of a Mormon Defender and was written by John A. Peterson. A PDF is available at byu.edu. Go to page 109 to read about the castration. Brigham Young did nothing about it, basically approving it:

Late in the spring, Joseph Young (Brigham’s brother,) and a few other members of the Church’s First Quorum of the Seventy, learned of the incident while visiting the central Utah area. Joseph was incensed and “entirely disapproved” of the action…. Upon his arrival at Church headquarters Joseph Young…talked with Brigham Young in his office. Undoubtedly in connection with Warren’s recent action, the subject of “eunuchs” came up. In a near rage, Joseph said that “he would rather die than to be made a Eunuch.” Brigham, much more placid than his brother at this point, simultaneously referred to the emasculation and paraphrased a statement made by Jesus by saying that “the day would Come when thousands would be made Eunuchs for them to be saved in the kingdom of God.”

Obviously referring to Lewis’ crime, they then discussed sexual sin, Brigham again emphasized his feeling that the time for such severe punishment was still in the future…. But then, making obvious reference to Warren, he said, “I will tell you that when a man is trying to do right & do[es] some thing that is not exactly in order I feel to sustain him,” and perhaps looking at Joseph, he authoritatively added “& and we all should.”

Within days of the above conversation, Brigham, who had in all probability heard of the incident firsthand from Warren before he heard it from his brother, wrote a letter to Warren and affirmed his friendship.

The Book of Mormon

I first learned about problems with the Book of Mormon after reading a story about BH Roberts. This led me to his book, unpublished until after his death: Studies of the Book of Mormon. BH Roberts was a President of the Seventy, and was the prominent church historian of the time.  He is known for recognizing the parallels of View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon, recognizing some of the anachronisms in the Book of Mormon, as well as acknowledging Joseph Smith’s imagination and how Joseph Smith would tell stories similar to the Book of Mormon as a child for entertainment of those around him. He was such an expert on church history that when Heber J. Grant received questions about the Book of Mormon that he could not answer, he assigned BH Roberts to answer them.

I’ve heard inaccurate stories about BH Roberts, and that his findings were really just him playing Devils advocate. If you read his writings, this was not the case. These issues disturbed him and he wanted the church to address them. Here is a condensed history of BH Roberts and the Book of Mormon: (block quote used for ease of reading)

The church had received a series of questions about the Book of Mormon and Talmage gave them to Roberts to formulate some responses. Roberts was a President of the 70 and the assistant Church Historian. He dutifully investigates, grows concerned, and gives a multi-day presentation to the church leadership (first day was like a 7-hour presentation). Talmage–a trained scientist–writes in his journal after the first day that Roberts has shown that there is a problem with horses and the BOM, but that if the BOM says there were horses, then there must have been horses and it is the science that is wrong. To me this is another example proving that being smart and being a scientist isn’t a magic bullet for recognizing/accepting truth.

But it gets more depressing. After it is all over, the leadership gives a collective shoulder shrug and moves on. Roberts can’t believe that they aren’t concerned, and worries that he might not have been blunt enough, so he asks to meet with them again. They delay and delay, but finally grant him another meeting with a select few. He again tries to impress upon them that these are serious issues and that the church had better come up with some answers or people may begin to leave the church upon discovery of these issues. Each of the authorities then stand up in turn and bear their testimonies of the work, culminating with George Albert Smith, who was the counselor in the first presidency at the time. Smith, in tears, tells Roberts that it doesn’t matter what he finds or tells them, his testimony will never be shaken. Just before his death Roberts confides this story to a friend of his. This was the moment he realized that it truly didn’t matter what he found. Smith’s belief was not a matter of accepting truth over falsehood, but of faith.

Now we know, in addition to View of the Hebrews, there were two more books that appear plagiarized in the Book of Mormon. Why are there 3 books (The Late War, View of the Hebrews, and The First Book of Napoleon) published years before the Book of Mormon (in New York) that when entered into a modern big data linguistic computer (and compared to one another) they are mathematically deemed “source material” for the Book of Mormon? Meaning that the Book of Mormon is a verifiable plagiarism of these books. If it were a college paper, it would be flagged for plagiarism.

B.H. Roberts, as mentioned, studied this extensively and said of View of the Hebrews,

Did Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon? It has been pointed out in these pages that there are many things in the former book that might well have suggested many major things in the other. Not a few things merely, one or two, or half dozen, but many; and it is this fact of many things of similarity and the cumulative force of them that makes them so serious a menace to Joseph Smith’s story of the Book of Mormon’s origin.

Not only that, but he also alluded that just going off of the imagination that Joseph had (numerous accounts, including some from his mother, tell of Joseph Smith’s wild imagination and include telling stories of Indian people being from the ten tribes of Israel at an early age), this and View of The Hebrews would have been enough to create the entire Book of Mormon. Except, we now know Joseph Smith not only had View of the Hebrews, but also The Late War, and The First Book of Napoleon.  BH Roberts said (in Studies of the Book of Mormon, pg 243,250):

“One other subject remains to be considered in this division… viz. – was Joseph Smith possessed of a sufficiently vivid and creative imagination as to produce such a work as the Book of Mormon from such materials as have been indicated in the proceeding chapters… That such power of imagination would have to be of a high order is conceded; that Joseph Smith possessed such a gift of mind there can be no question….In light of this evidence, there can be no doubt as to the possession of a vividly strong, creative imagination by Joseph Smith, the Prophet, an imagination, it could with reason be urged, which, given the suggestions that are found in the ‘common knowledge’ of accepted American antiquities of the times, supplemented by such a work as Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews [published in Palmyra in 1825], it would make it possible for him to create a book such as the Book of Mormon is.”

Let me be clear. Lots of books are going to have many words in common. 1-word grams are trivial and don’t mean anything. 4-word grams are pretty strong. Entire sentences is straight up plagiarism.  This is what we’re talking about here. The problem with the BoM is that there are many 4-word grams and several longer ones between sources, excluding Biblical citations, of course. For a detailed look at some of these examples, see here. Now, critics tend to overstate what this means just as much as apologists tend to blow it off.  But here’s a screen shot if you’re not gonna go over to the site:

Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 6.38.37 PM

  • Book of Mormon (published 1830): “And it came to pass that in the same year that the people of Nephi had peace restored unto them”
  • The Late War (published 1816): “But it came to pass, the same year, that the people of Columbia were revenged of the evil”

All this means is that Joseph was influenced by the language and phrasing used in certain sources. It is something like how you begin to talk like your close friends and use similar phrases to them. If you have a friend who says “prostatus” a lot, and you like them, you are likely to start saying “prostatus” too.

For the apologists, the argument that there are striking similarities between the BoM and other books like “A View of the Hebrews” is trivial because of course when someone translates, their own language pattern shows up in the translation. And quite frankly, this is a very rational argument if we are talking about plain-old regular translation. Of course, the problem is that Joseph claimed that God showed him a word-by-word translation, at least for the BoM, so we should not expect any of the book to sound like Joseph’s language. First, the data contradicts the “loose translation” hypothesis that apologists love when talking about horses, steel, and swords. To make it all work, we have to assume a very specific scenario where God gave a direct translation to Joseph that happened to match the same sort of language being used in the religiously-themed histories in the decade and state that Joseph lived in.

For the critics, they overstate the results because they conclude a cause/effect relationship when all the analysis shows is correlation. Of course, that does not mean they are wrong, only that the data does not directly support their hypothesis nor tell us what sources Joseph Smith might have used. All it tells us is that the apologists are wrong.

The relationship in linguistic studies could mean as little as Joseph being generally influenced by his environment (which is a common and well-known effect) or it could mean that Joseph straight up plagiarized, or anything in between. The problem then, is why would Joseph’s colloquial language become superimposed on a translated text if God did the translating, not Joseph?

Another glaring problem we must discuss: Why are there anachronisms throughout the Book of Mormon (horses, cattle, oxen, sheep, swine, goats, elephants, wheels, chariots, wheat, silk, steel, and iron – these did not exist in pre-Columbian America during the Book of Mormon times 2200 BC – 421 AD). Apologists claim victories in some of these items but closer inspection reveals significant problems. It has been documented that apologists have manipulated wording so that steel is not steel, sheep become never-domesticated bighorn sheep, horses become tapirs, etc.  This argument boggles me. There is absolutely no evidence that horses existed in America during the time of the Book of Mormon. Despite numerous attempts to find evidence. This is another example of Appeal to Ignorance Fallacy. Generally speaking, a lack of evidence is not evidence. With one exception. When evidence has been searched for, then lack of evidence can begin to provide evidence. The church has made great efforts in looking for evidence, as well as church supporters to no avail. (I will discuss later NHM which isn’t as exciting as I’d hoped it would be).  This has led apologists to take the stance that horses doesn’t really mean horses. It means tapirs. From FairMormon: “a more likely candidate for the Nephite loan-shift “horse” would have been the Central American tapir.

This argument just makes me say, really? Thats the best we got? In case you don’t know what a tapir is or what one looks like. Enjoy this gem I found.  I googled “tapirs and horses” and unintentionally found a picture of a laminate and his tapir:

 

232A-Image Nephite on Tapir

Now. Imagine all these “horses” and chariots riding into battle! Compare with Alma 20:6: “Now when Lamoni had heard this he caused his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots.”

What are 1769 KJV edition errors, as well as the translators italic clarifications doing in the BoM? When King James translators were translating the KJV Bible between 1604 and 1611, they would occasionally put in their own words into the text to make the English more readable. We know exactly what these words are because they’re italicized in the KJV Bible. What are these 17th century italicized words doing in the Book of Mormon? Word for word? What does this say about the Book of Mormon being an ancient record? Perhaps you say that God wanted to include those 17th century monk additions in there? However, the Book of Mormon includes mistranslated biblical passages that were later changed in Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible. These Book of Mormon verses should match the inspired JST version instead of the incorrect KJV version that Joseph later fixed. A typical example of the differences between the BOM, the KJV, and the JST:

3 NEPHI 13:25-277

25: …Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26: Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27: Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

MATTHEW 6:25-278
(From the King James Version Bible – not the JST)
25: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26: Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27: Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

MATTHEW 6:25-279
(Joseph Smith Translation of the same passages in the LDS Bible)
25: And, again, I say unto you, Go ye into the world, and care not for the world: for the world will hate you, and will persecute you, and will turn you out of their synagogues.
26: Nevertheless, ye shall go forth from house to house, teaching the people; and I will go before you.
27: And your heavenly Father will provide for you, whatsoever things ye need for food, what ye shall eat; and for raiment, what ye shall wear or put on.

Another glaring problem is Christ’s Sermon on the Mount in the Bible and the Book of Mormon are identical. But Joseph Smith later corrected the Bible. In doing so, he also contradicted the same identical Sermon on the Mount passage in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is “the most correct book” and was translated a mere decade before the JST. The Book of Mormon was not corrupted over time and did not need correcting. How is it that the Book of Mormon has the incorrect Sermon on the Mount passage and does not match the correct JST version in the first place?

One could say all these mistakes were simply that. Mistakes by Joseph Smith, and that the translation process wasn’t clear, leaving room for Joseph’s own language and mistakes to work his way into the Book of Mormon. However, the way the Book of Mormon was really translated (rock in a hat) makes all these mistakes impossible. For clarification, read my next section – Book of Mormon Translation.

In regards to the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. A study from BYU has revealed that JS plagiarized from a contemporary source – Adam Clarke. Yes from BYU. In order to make it work, they reinvent the word translation – “Direct Borrowing.”

Apparently Joseph Smith’s “Inspired Translation” of the bible could also be qualified as a plagarism or “Direct Borrowing” of a contemporary source. See this snippet from the research paper:

Our research has revealed that the number of direct parallels between Smith’s translation and Adam Clarke’s biblical commentary are simply too numerous and explicit to posit happenstance or coincidental overlap. The parallels between the two texts number into the hundreds, a number that is well beyond the limits of this paper to discuss.”

“In conducting new research into the origins of Smith’s Bible translation, we uncovered evidence that Smith and his associates used a readily available Bible commentary while compiling a new Bible translation, or more properly a revision of the King James Bible. The commentary, Adam Clarke’s famous Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, was a mainstay for Methodist theologians and biblical scholars alike, and was one of the most widely available commentaries in the mid-1820s and 1830s in America. Direct borrowing from this source has not previously been connected to Smith’s translation efforts, and the fundamental question of what Smith meant by the term “translation” with respect to his efforts to rework the biblical text can now be reconsidered in light of this new evidence.

“What is noteworthy in detailing the usage of this source is that Adam Clarke’s textual emendations come through Smith’s translation as inspired changes to the text.”

You get the idea. Ok. Back to the Book of Mormon.

Why is there ZERO evidence in places where there should be an abundance? Like the Hill of Cumorah, where there were at least 23,000 deaths just from the Nephites. And despite claims that this Hill Cumorah isn’t where it purportedly happened, there are dozens of prophetic claims that it was. Yet, there is absolutely nothing on The Hill of Cumorah. There is absolutely ZERO archeology to support the Lamanites and Nephites, even though they were supposed to number in the millions. No roads, buildings, armor, swords, pottery, art, etc. The entire civilization just vanished and took every piece of evidence with them. We like to claim its a historical record of the people of early america, but no record of this people exists and no anthropologist or archeologist actually acknowledges the BoM as a historical record of any peoples in the Americas. We used to teach that Native Americans were the descendants of Lamanites but no DNA evidence suggest that, which the church acknowledges. In fact every new DNA study continues to make the BoM narrative impossible. Which sure makes this statement from Spencer W. Kimball awkward,

They are not Orientals. They are from the Near East…it is not impossible that there could have seeped across the Bering Strait a little oriental blood as claimed by some people. But basically these Lamanites, including the Indian, are the descendants of Lehi, who left Jerusalem 600 years BC.”

And then we have the church essay,

“The evidence assembled to date suggests that the majority of Native Americans carry largely Asian DNA.”

Numerous civilizations have been discovered as far back as 3600 BC, which was a Caerau Hillfort, in Wales.  We found stone arrowheads, tools, and pottery.  It’s not that we’re incapable of finding civilizations that old, it’s that NOTHING exists for the Book of Mormon in places where it’s said to have happened. This is obviously not something that we’re just supposed to “take on faith” because the church seems very obsessed with finding evidence. The church financed the New World Archaeological Funding (NWAF – a BYU archaeology division led by LDS member and archeologist Thomas Stuart Ferguson) and were tasked in the 1950’s and 60’s to find archeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon.  After 17 years of searching, the founder of NWAF (a Latter-Day Saint) wrote on a February 20, 1976 letter about trying to dig up evidence for the Book of Mormon: “…you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the dirt-archaeology. I should say — what is in the ground will never conform to what is in the book.  Thomas Ferguson’s story is tragic and worth a read into more.  No one can’t say he wasn’t a fully believing member, and he tried to remain one even after reaching the conclusion that Joseph made it all up. See here for more and a copy of the letter. There is evidence that suggests BH Roberts also believed the Book of Mormon’s power to be in the subjective, rather than objective.  And that more than likely believed it to be a fabrication of Joseph Smith. There is solid evidence he also didn’t believe the priesthood restoration occured.

Now. If you find yourself saying, “where’s the proof Joseph Smith knew those books existed or even had access to them?” Well, I was stunned to find out that Oliver Cowdery’s pastor was the author of View of the Hebrews. The Late War was used in the schools that Joseph Smith went to. The First Book of Napoleon is very likely to have been found in a local bookshop, as books from England were commonly found throughout New England.

The argument is also brought up that an “uneducated” person such as Joseph would never have been able to write that as he could barely read and write himself. Well. This is factually not true. Joseph was a very smart person, and could obviously read and write as he read both the bible and kept a journal.  The original 1830 Book of Mormon, which doesn’t look or read like our version today, is what you would expect it to be from someone of Joesph Smiths caliber – full of grammatical errors, contradictions in people and places, and full of anachronisms.

When the Book of Mormon was first published in 1830, it looked very different than today. The text was all in paragraph form. The original Book of Mormon had the appearance of an average ‘non-religious’ book. The modern Book of Mormon used in the Church looks much more ‘biblical’ as everything has been put into numbered chapters and verses, cross referenced with footnotes, etc.

The first edition of the Book of Mormon was riddled with grammatical errors. This alone questions whether the text was written by man or translated divinely. There were also several more significant errors in the early editions of the Book of Mormon such as changing the name of King Benjamin to King Mosiah (King Benjamin was already dead at this point) or changing that Mary was the ‘mother of God’ to the ‘mother of the son of God’.

Overall there have been some 3,913 changes to the first edition of Book of Mormon. This is the book Joseph called ‘the most correct book on earth’. For more detail on the changes go to: Link is here.

So when determining whether or not Joseph could have written the Book of Mormon, we should actually be looking at the first edition of the Book of Mormon and not the current version we have today which has been altered by people other than Joseph Smith. But lets assume that these mistakes happened because he’s just a man and could makes mistakes when translating. After all, thats the position we’re forced to take at this point. The challenge, is that new viewpoint doesn’t work either. Let me explain why in this next translation section.

UPDATE, BUT WAIT! THE NEW MAYAN DISCOVERY! IT CHANGES EVERYTHING!

I’ve seen the new Mayan discovery all over facebook and LDSliving is even paying for facebook ads, displaying how this discovery pretty much makes the Book of Mormon true. First off. It’s incredibly disrespectful of the actual Mayan history, which is rich and robust. Then we come along and say – oh no, you’re history is false. You’re real history is in the Book of Mormon!  It literally takes no more than a Google search to see that the Mayan Culture and The Book of Mormon have nothing in common. First off, there is no Christian writing on any Mayan document or rock, script, wall, literally anywhere. Thats why they thought the Spanish Conquistadors were Gods. There are no chariots, horses, elephants, etc. in the Mayan culture.  Also. The Book of Mormon itself, and the past ten prophets have said that it took place in the United States. We’ve shifted that to the “limited geography theory,” because it’s impossible to have happened in the United States. So it must have happened in a tiny place probably near Guatemala because there were people there when the Book of Mormon happened! Easy peasy right? Well. Not really. You see. There’s no evidence of any Lamanite, Nephite, or Jaredite in that tiny limited geography. They know this, so they just use this story to say look, we didn’t know they were here! This huge civilization has gone undiscovered! Look how possible it is to have the Nephite and Lamanite and Jaradite and Zarahemla out there and not have discovered it! Well. Two things. First. Of course. You can’t prove a negative. But you can use that same logic for unicorns, mermaids, or scientology or Catholicism. You can’t say they don’t exist, so those other things must be true too! Secondly, it’s not a new civilization. It’s the same civilization, just more of it. They also knew it was there, they just couldn’t find it all because of the dense forrest. I emailed Dr. Coe, an archeologist from Yale who’s spent his entire life studying the MesoAmerican people. He is also quite familiar with the Book of Mormon claims. I asked if this new discovery raised the plausibility to only 1% for the Book of Mormon people. He said this:

Dear [Name Removed- but. ME],

No, there’s absolutely nothing in these recent Lidar (airborne laser) surveys to prove that the Maya cities were built by Nephites or Lamanites (or by Jaredites, for that matter). I still think that Joseph Smith’s account of “Zarahemla” is fiction.
 
I may be doing another interview with John Dehlin in the near future, so stay tuned!
 
All the best,
 
Michael Coe

OK BUT LASTLY!!!! Literally all we have to do, is look at dates. I didn’t need to email Dr. Coe but I thought it would help emphasize the point. The Mayan civilization started 2000BC, with a good steady civilization by 1000BC, and peaked around 2-300 AD.  The civilization kept going until the Spanish Conquistadors around the 15th Century. Why does this matter? Well. The civilization – according to the Church, must be either the Nephite or Lamanite people. We’ll go out on a limb and say or even the Jaradite people. But heres the problem. It can’t be the Jaradites because (according to the Book of Mormon) died out before the Nephi and Fam came. It ALSO can’t be Nephi and fam because they came around 6-700 BC. So…the Mayans were already there. So they can’t be the Nephites or Lamanites. It’s also highly unlikely that these two civilizations that are in the millions exist in such a tiny “limited geography” without bumping into each other and writing about it. Also the Book of Mormon also says that the land was uninhabited…so.  Yeah. Lets all stop talking about the Mayan discovery and Mayans in general – its disrespectful to their already ancient and amazing history.

The Book of Mormon Translation

“I will begin by saying that we still have pictures on our Ward bulletin boards of Joseph Smith with the Gold Plates in front of him. That has become an irksome point and I think it is something the church should pay attention to. Because anyone who studies the history knows that is not what happened. There is no church historian who says that is what happened and yet it is being propagated by the church and it feeds into the notion that the church is trying to cover up embarrassing episodes and is sort of prettifying its own history.

So, I think we ought to just stop that immediately. I am not sure we need a lot of pictures in our chapels of Joseph looking into his hat, but we certainly should tell our children that is how it worked… It’s weird. It’s a weird picture. It implies it’s like darkening a room when we show slides. It implies that there is an image appearing in that stone and the light would make it more difficult to see that image. So, that implies a translation that’s a reading and so gives us a little clue about the whole translation process. It also raises the strange question, ‘What in the world are the plates for? Why do we need them on the table if they are just wrapped up into a cloth while he looks into a seer stone?’”

Richard Bushman, LDS scholar, historian, patriarch (from the Fair Mormon Podcast – Episode 3: Richard L. Bushman P.1, 47:25)

Aside from the fact that we continually and purposefully hide how the Book of Mormon was really translated – it was NOT reading the plates through a urim and thummin – but rather the stone in the hat method.  Joseph Smith only used the urim and thummin for the 116 pages of Lehi. Once he began again, what six month later, he used his old reliable chocolate rock in the hat method – for the entire Book of Mormon.

Remember it wasn’t this (despite being the sole way we advertise it) and he never even used the plates. They stayed covered and often not even in the same room. The Church knows this. And yet, this is how we advertise it:

ensign translation

This is how it really happened (notice no plates anywhere to be seen #accurate):

Translation

It was not clear Nephite seer stones, but rather a chocolate colored egg-shaped rock that Joseph had found in his youth (back in his treasure hunting days. He would use the same rock, in the same way, to look for treasure – people would pay him for this – he was never successful). That rock was then put into a hat and words would glow on the rock until the scribe wrote them down EXACTLY how they appeared and the words would not disappear until they were written down perfectly.  I found it surprising to learn the rock has been in the possession of the church this whole time, so it’s a little surprising that they never really tell anyone that thats how the Book of Mormon got translated. Heres the rock. Yes. The literal, actual rock – #history:

seer stone

Now. At first I said “so what?” You may be saying this too.  Why would the church keep this from us, this means nothing? Who cares how it was translated? Right? What we have now is the word of God! Ok. Thats what I said too, until I realized – This method makes it impossible for any of these “mistakes” to have happened. Remember all those anachronisms, remember all those KJV errors, remember Joseph’s language being influenced by the sources around him, etc etc etc. Yeah remember those? Well we can’t talk our way out of saying – of course Joseph’s language is in the Book of Mormon! Joseph probably misinterpreted horse when he should have wrote tapir – you see how this is a problem? Because it couldn’t be a “translation” error. Joseph Smith was just merely saying the words that appeared on the rock.  If he said a word wrong, or it was written down wrong, the word wouldn’t disappear until it was corrected. NONE of these errors/mistakes/anachronisms/etc work with this translation model.  I assume this is why the church has no problem letting members believe the current Gold Plate translation story. Keep in mind, this is the same rock he used for treasure hunting too. He would put the rock in his hat, put his face in the hat, and it would tell him where treasure was located. The church acknowledges all of this in their essay.

All the changes, and doctrinal changes made to the BoM are in direct conflict with how the Book of Mormon was translated. These changes and errors would have been impossible to make. How do we account for these? Obviously we try to pretend that all the thousands of changes were grammatical. But clearly they are not. How do we account for these? Why were the plates not even in the room at the time of the translation? If he didn’t use the Urim and Thummim nor the Golden Plates …. What was the point of them? If the glowing rock revealed the exact word until it was written down correctly, why did the original manuscript of the BoM (which we just bought for 35 million in 2017 from the RLDS and is now searchable and comparable on the Joseph Smith Papers website) need to be altered, corrected, edited, and doctrinally altered 3,000-5,000 different places?

If the chocolate egg-shaped rock was a real urim and thummim and Joseph was a seer and revelatory, then when the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon translation were lost/stolen. Why didn’t Joseph Smith use the rock in the hat method to find out where it was? Since we recently learned that the church is still in possession of this rock, why don’t our current or past prophets in their power as seers and revelators continue to use the rock in the hat method to discern new scripture? Or to learn about false scripture – Kinderhook Plates (which the church insisted on the authenticity until 1980), the Book of Abraham, the Mark Hoffman craziness?

 

The Book of Abraham

Joseph_Smith_Papyrus_I

For an overview of all the problems of the Book of Abraham – start here. Seriously. Take twenty minutes and go read it. If reading isn’t your thing (if so – how’d you make it this far?) you can watch this 24 minute youtube video that doesn’t an excellent job getting you up to speed on the Book of Abraham. If you want to be intrigued to read or watch it, here’s a quote from the church essay on the subject:

None of the characters on the papyrus fragments mentioned Abraham’s name or any of the events recorded in the book of Abraham. Mormon and non-Mormon Egyptologists agree that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the book of Abraham, though there is not unanimity, even among non-Mormon scholars, about the proper interpretation of the vignettes on these fragments.27 Scholars have identified the papyrus fragments as parts of standard funerary texts that were deposited with mummified bodies. These fragments date to between the third century B.C.E. and the first century C.E., long after Abraham lived.

Compare with what the church still contradictory claims in the Book of Abraham:

“A Translation of some ancient Records that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt. The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.

 

See how thats a problem…? It can’t be both people…Go read the link. Or watch the video.

Why did Joseph Smith claim (and the church teach as true for 100+ years) that he translated the Egyptian papyri from Hieroglyphics to English into what is now the Book of Abraham only to backwalk when enough people learned of the evidence to the contrary and the pressure became too much to pretend it didn’t exist? Since we now know that the Book of Abraham papyri didn’t even contain the word Abraham and is just a standard egyptian funerary text that has literally nothing to do with Abraham and is written 2,000 years after he lived, how do we reconcile this? Why are we still using this as scripture and claiming it was written by Abraham and translated by Joseph Smith? Even LDS scholars acknowledge its fabrication. None of the facsimiles in the BoA are translated correctly, better said – NOTHING was translated correctly in the BoA.  Joseph Smith was wrong on literally everything he translated in the Book of Abraham, and all the facsimile and vignettes in the Book of Abraham. How do we account for this? He simply could not have been more wrong.

86% of Book of Abraham chapters 2,4, and 5 are King James Version Genesis chapters 1, 2, 11, and 12. Sixty-six out of seventy-seven verses are quotations or close paraphrases of King James Version wording. (See An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, p.19) If the Book of Abraham is an ancient text written thousands of years ago “by his own hand upon papyrus,” then what are 17th century King James Version text doing in there? What does this say about the book being anciently written by Abraham? There are also several anachronisms in the Book of Abraham (such as Chaldea, Egyptus and Pharaoh). The Egyptian gods mentioned in the Book of Abraham, such as Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah and Korash never existed. These are not the names of actual Egyptian gods. The Book of Abraham is a major disturbing hole in church doctrine that threatens the entire integrity and truthfulness of the church. But when combined with the Kinderhook plates and the lesser known Greek Psalter incident (only one antagonistic source for this one, which could be easily dismissed except it matches Joseph’s behavior and track record with translation) it shows a disturbing pattern of false/wrong translations. Joseph Smith is 0 for 3 in translation.  And actually, I have since discovered some breaking BYU research showing that without a doubt Joseph plagiarized his translation of the bible as well. 0 for 4. 

WHY THE SCROLLS MATTER AND WERE NOT JUST A TOOL FOR REVELATION

A new approach to the Book of Abraham is that the scrolls don’t matter one cahoot. That Joseph Smith wasn’t translating at all, the scrolls merely inspired to him to get a revelation about Abraham. This could work except there are problems that make it problematic and impossible. This new approach ends up actually being a tacet admission of the evidence against the translation. It also contradicts claims of Joseph Smith, the Book of Abraham, and claims of the church itself.

Joseph Smith wrote in his journal numerous times citing translating the scrolls in detail and that “one of the scrolls contained the writings of Abraham.”  In the History of the Church, we say, “The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies, is beautifully written on papyrus.” The Book of Abraham itself says, “translated from the papyrus,””written by his own hand, upon papyrus.”  Not to mention that the Horus scroll vignettes were canonized as scripture too, and those are completely wrong as well. In Joseph Smiths journals, you can see him translating the symbols one by one following the surviving scrolls we have. Unfortunately for the Book of Abraham, the scrolls that survived are the scrolls proving that nothing was translated correctly.

The Church provides a theory as to how Joseph Smith Translated the Book of Abraham, while admitting that he got everything wrong at the same time. It’s called the Catalyst Theory. I’ll let them explain from the essay:

“…illustrations with no clear connection to Abraham anciently could, by revelation, shed light on the life and teachings of this prophetic figure….Joseph’s study of the papyri may have led to a revelation about key events and teachings in the life of Abraham, much as he had earlier received a revelation about the life of Moses while studying the Bible. This view assumes a broader definition of the words translator and translation.33 According to this view, Joseph’s translation was not a literal rendering of the papyri as a conventional translation would be. Rather, the physical artifacts provided an occasion for meditation, reflection, and revelation. They catalyzed a process whereby God gave to Joseph Smith a revelation about the life of Abraham, even if that revelation did not directly correlate to the characters on the papyri.”

But doesn’t this explanation, that Joseph just needed a physical catalyst to receive “inspiration”, and that means he “translated” it, fly in the face of all the evidence?

Joseph Smith clearly shows he believed he could translate Egyptian! Look at these quotes from his journal (HOC – History of the Church):

Spent the day in translation Egyptian characters from the papyrus HOC 2:320, 26 Nov 1835

“The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies, is beautifully written on papyrus” HOC 2:348, 350-351. 31 Dec 1835

“As Mr. Chandler had been told I [JS] could translate them, he brought me some of the characters, and I gave him the interpretation” HOC 2:235. July 3-6, 1835

“The remainder of this month, I [JS] was continually engaged in translating an alphabet of the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients” HOC 2:238, July 1835

Clearly Joseph believed he was literally translating the Book of Abraham, and not just receiving inspiration-revelation. Am I wrong on this?

So if Joseph believed he was translating Egyptian, and got it all wrong, and the Church admits he got it all wrong, then what does that say about his ability as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator? What about the Book of Mormon?

 

NHM – Nahom?

nhm

So I said I would talk about NHM or Nahom. Now. When I first found this I got excited. Like. This was it. Here is proof! Because thats the stance that the Church takes on it. However, I’ve learned that I need to verify most church truth claims. So unfortunately its not as exciting as it sounds. But, perhaps it will be testimony building for you? Let me explain.

A stone was found in Yemen with the inscription NHM (see photo above – yep. Thats the real altar) which some LDS’ believe means Nahom, a city mentioned in the Book of Mormon when Lehi was still in the Old World before coming to America. So first off, this is not archeological proof in the Americas,  but rather one of the locations Lehi and his party traveled through after leaving Jerusalem.  But still. I mean. Thats something right?   Here’s a quick catch up on the subject from wiki:

Nahom is a place referenced in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 16:34) as one of the stops on the Old World segment of Lehi’s journey. This location is referred to as the place where Ishmael is laid to rest. It was also at this location that the path of Lehi’s journey changed from a southern to an eastern direction before continuing toward the coast and the land (1 Nephi 17:1) Bountiful. (See Archaeology and the Book of Mormon.)

Some archaeologists believe that they have located the site of Nahom as a settlement and tribal area known anciently and still today as NHM. Critics doubt the link between Nahom and NHM, as well as having other criticisms.

LDS scholars have proposed locations for Nahom based on archaeological evidences. Others give reasons for which the proposed locations do not match the archaeological evidences and descriptions given in the Book of Mormon.

The church’s stance, or at least unofficial stance is this, from FairMormon:

By describing in such precise detail a fertile Arabian coastal location, as well as the route to get there from Jerusalem (complete with directions and even a place-name en route), Joseph Smith put his prophetic credibility very much on the line. Could this young, untraveled farmer in rural New York somehow have known about a fertile site on the coast of Arabia? Could a map or some writing other than the Nephite record have been a source for him? The answer is a clear no. Long after the 1830 publication of the Book of Mormon, maps of Arabia continued to show the eastern coastline and interior as unknown, unexplored territory. In fact, until the advent of satellite mapping in recent decades, even quite modern maps have misplaced toponyms and ignored or distorted major features of the terrain.

There is simply no way that Joseph could have obtained enough information about Arabia to fabricate more than a minute fraction of the voyage described in First Nephi.

So there are actually a few problems with this discovery. It’s interesting and kind of exciting to think that archaeologists have actually found a real place mentioned in the Book of Mormon. But the evidence supporting these claims is very weak and requires a lot of imagination to justify it. A concern I had is that LDS apologists promoting the theory all reference other Mormon works. So they are using Mormon sources to back a Mormon hypothesis. Also, the stone with the NHM on it doesn’t say that it is the name of the place. It could mean anything – a person’s name for example. Lets take a look. Its depressing. I know. I want it to work too. Hang in there.

Problem 1: Significance of the Evidence

In his book By The Hand of Mormon, Mormon apologist Terryl Givens (The Crucible of Doubt guy) writes of the ancient altars found in Yemen carved with the letters “NHM”:

These altars may thus be said to constitute the first actual archaeological evidence for the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

Here’s why Givens’ statement actually hurts the BOM’s case: At that part of the BOM storyline, the Lehites have left Jerusalem and are on their way to the promised land. There are only a few dozen people in the party at most. This carving is in the general area of where the Lehite party supposedly traveled through, and dates from the general time frame. So far, so good. Sounds reasonable.

OK, here’s the problem: The BOM storyline goes on to say that the Lehites eventually make it to the promised land (the American continent, of course), and they grow into a mighty nation of hundreds of thousands of people, occupying the land for a thousand years (not to mention the preceding Jaredites, who allegedly arrived circa 2500 B.C. and grew to number in the millions.) The Lehites divide, and war against each other.

The BOM gives very specific details about its characters’ culture, religion, politics, flora and fauna, etc. The BOM people speak/write Hebrew and some form of Egyptian. They worship the Old Testament God, follow the law of Moses, and even preach and worship Christ both before and after His ministry.

They train horses and use them to pull chariots as Old World people did. They develop metalworking skills and smelt “swords of finest steel” and other metal tools and weaponry.

They grow into a population as vast “as the sands of the sea” and build great cities which “cover the land with buildings from sea to sea.” Early in the 5th century A.D., the wicked Lamanite faction battle and eliminate the entire opposing Nephite nation which numbers more than 300,000.

Now, here’s another problem: if the “NHM” carving truly was “BOM evidence”—and if the BOM storyline as I’ve outlined here were true—then scholars should be able to find a million times more items of physical evidence for the BOM culture somewhere in the Americas than the single stone carving in Yemen.

Numerous artifacts of that Christ-worshipping, horse-training, Hebrew-writing, steel sword-making culture should be scattered all over the region in which LDS apologists claim the BOM took place (Central America). But of course, there aren’t any. None, zip, nada. Apologists cite tantalizing “possible evidence” such as a few horse bones, meteoric iron ornaments, the Bat Creek stone, etc. They propose excuses for lack of evidence such as “Maybe the horses were deer,” “Maybe the horses were tapir,” etc. But they cannot show a single, unambiguous, confirmed item of physical evidence to show that the BOM occurred anywhere in the Americas.

And that’s why Teryl Given’s admission is so damning to the BOM’s case: If, in his view, the “NHM” carving is the first item of evidence for the BOM’s historicity ever discovered—after 170+ years of looking for some—then it’s safe to say that no artifacts will ever be found in the Americas, where the evidence should be thousands of times more likely to be found.

Problem #2 Coincidence

orca island

Look at this majestic Orca. Aren’t they the coolest? Fun fact. I love nature. Black Fish changed me. Anyway, moving on. The island in the background is Orcas Island. It is the largest Island in Washington State’s San Juan archipelago. The waters surrounding Orcas island are frequented by so many orcas, that there are three different whale watching tour operators located on the island and several more on other nearby islands.

USA Today gives the following advice to anybody wishing to see these magnificent creatures in their natural environment: “In North America, your best bet is to head to the islands at the northern tip of Washington state near Bellingham and Anacortes, Washington. These small islands, including San Juan Island and Orcas Island, are the orcas’ home base in the States.”

You might think that Orcas Island was so named because of all the orcas that live in its surrounding waters. That’s what I have always thought and it makes perfect sense, but it’s not true.

“Orcas” is the shortened form of “Horcasitas” who was the Viceroy of Mexico who sent an expedition to the Pacific Northwest in 1791. His full name/title was Senor Don Juan Vicente de Guemes Pacheco y Padilla Orcasitees y Aguayo Conde de Revilla Gigedo. Orcas Island was named after him. His name was so long, they also named San Juan Island and Guemes Island after him. He is the “San Juan” in the San Juan Islands.

Well, if they didn’t name Orcas Island after orcas, then the orcas themselves must be named after Orcas Island, which makes sense since they congregate around the island. Or maybe they were named after the Viceroy which would also make sense since he sponsored the expedition. His men discovered these orcas and named them after him. Interesting bit of trivia, except…it didn’t happen that way.

Orcas is an ancient Roman name used for the whales, possibly borrowed from ancient Greeks. It was in use for millennia before Orcas Island was named after the Viceroy.

So Orcas Island, which is well known for its orcas, was named for a Mexican Viceroy, and orcas is an ancient Roman name that had nothing to do with the Viceroy. The only logical conclusion is that all of that is wrong and of course it was named after Orcas, its just too weird not to be! I mean. Look at all those Orcas! At Orcas Island! Or, maybe…just maybe…it’s a coincidence, a HUGE coincidence.

Maybe, sometimes in a world as big, and old, and as wonderful as ours, things randomly happen and unrelated things can have the appearance of being related when in actuality, they’re not. In fact we use this argument in talking about the Book of Mormon, especially in relation to Geography. If the LDS apologists can believe that that the NHM evidence is too significant to be just a coincidence, then how do we justify the fact that many names in the BOM seem to correspond to maps of the local region that Joseph grew up in indicating that he just made up the names in the BOM.

The Book of Mormon is supposed to be a history of real people living in a real place. For the first 150 years of Mormonism’s existence, everyone thought it was a story about a people who left the Middle East and came to South or Central America, and who fought wars clear up into New York state where their history was hidden in a hillside, inscribed on gold plates. Joseph Smith, in 1830, translated those plates, he said, by “the gift and power of God,” into 1611 English from “Reformed Egyptian Hieroglyphics.”

However, one needs to look no further than New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to find the “coincidences” in the setting of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon’s land is very similar to the Northeast United States and Southeast Canada. Most eerily, or “coincidentally” the city names.

Book of Mormon Geography:

pic 1

Map of Joseph Smith’s area:

pic 2

Notice the name similarities.

Throughout the Book of Mormon we read of such features as “The Narrow Neck of Land” which was a days and a half’s journey (roughly 30 miles) separating two great seas. We read much of the Hill Onidah, the Hill Ramah, and the city of the City of Angola—all place names in the land of Joseph Smith’s youth. We read, in the Book of Mormon of the Land of Desolation named for a warrior named Teancum who helped General Moroni fight in the Land of Desolation. In Smith’s era, an Indian Chief named Tecumseh fought and died near the narrow neck of land helping the British in the War of 1812. Today the Canadian city Techumseh (near the narrow neck of land) is named after him. We see the Book of Mormon city Kishkumen located near an area named, on modern maps, as Kiskiminetas. There are more than two dozen Book of Mormon names that are the same as or nearly the same as modern geographical locations.

Now our stance has long been coincidence on these. Thats fine, it doesn’t bother me. But what bothers me is that apologists think that only coincidences in their favor are more than coincidences. There are of course many other coincidences with more substance behind them such as the parallels between the View of The Hebrews and the Book of Mormon for example that they summarily dismiss as just a coincidence because those coincidences are damaging to the Joseph Smith story. In fact I run into this problem a lot. Including when I had a talk with a gentlemen about my questions. He would constantly say I wouldn’t be allowed to use a source (such as the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, who by their very nature are antagonistic), but then use that source when it was beneficial to his storyline?  Somehow they either don’t realize they’re doing this or feel they’re justified in doing this. Again. I’m not about sides. I just want to know the truth. So I get very frustrated with these contradictions. The Sharpshooter Fallacy also fits in this coincidence realm.

Problem #3 – Every Non-LDS Historian

Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University, Philip Jenkins (non-LDS) wrote a “critique” (don’t like that word as it implies sides) of Nahom called The Nahom Follies. It’s pretty harsh, but there are many like it. It is quoted in its entirety below:

I wasn’t planning to write this piece, but so many of the comments on my earlier Book of Mormon posts have raised a particular point, and I don’t want it to seem that by ignoring it, I am conceding its value. The story also says much about how an authentic academic find metastasizes into popular religious folklore—a lesson for mainstream Christians, Jews and Muslims no less than Mormons.

I have been focusing entirely on the historicity of the Book of Mormon in its New World context. Despite that explicit goal, I keep getting questions on the lines of “What about Nahom?” which for many apologists seems to be the ultimate validation that yes, indeed, there is something in the Smith mythos. Supposedly, this is a site where Lehi stopped in the general area of Arabia, “the place which was called Nahom,” and in modern times, a related name with a NHM-stem has been found inscribed on some altars discovered in the region, in modern Yemen. The Book therefore (seemingly) reports something that Joseph Smith could not have known in 1830! Meridian Magazine breathlessly reports “Finding the First Verifiable Book of Mormon Site.” This is, literally, the only case where anyone still seriously pretends that they have some kind of archaeological support for the Book of Mormon, though they should be embarrassed to do so. “Book of Mormon Archaeology” is no longer an oxymoron!

Of course there is no such link.

Pure coincidence offers a more than adequate explanation for the supposed parallel—which, as I will show, is not even that close. When you actually look at the vaunted clincher evidence about Nahom, and understand how tenuous the alleged connections are, your response should properly be: when you get there, there’s no “there” there.

Just what exactly was found? Smith refers to a place called Nahom. The altar inscriptions, on the other hand, refer to a people or tribe. As a sober account in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies notes, one text commemorates Bi’athar, son of Sawdum, son of Naw’um, the Nihmite. Based on extensive analogies, that last name should refer to a family title, like Benjaminite, with no necessary suggestion that the ancestral family was linked to the burial site. Usually, such tribes did not construct places bearing their names, but that’s not an absolute.

And that’s it? THAT “is the First Verifiable Book of Mormon Site”?

To give the authors credit, they honestly cite the inscription word as Nihmite, without pretending it was “really” Nahom. Yet despite this precise quotation, the story morphs and expands in popular retelling, until it becomes something like “The Book of Mormon describes a place in Arabia called Nahom. And now scientists have discovered inscriptions using the same name at that very place! Whoa!” For Mormons, as for many other religious denominations, the Internet has vastly accelerated that process of folk-tale evolution, fueled by wishful thinking.

Even assuming that this was a close parallel, which it is not, there is no mystery about its origins. Smith was hugely inventive of names, even if he was pretty transparent about their origins. I have often walked by the Lehigh river, which likely gave its name to Lehi. Meanwhile, the region of Palestine/Israel is awash with inscriptions giving the names of people, tribes and places, into their many thousands. So also were the neighboring trading regions in the general region of Arabia—which were, incidentally, rich and fertile, and quite unlike the grim desert of the Book of Mormon accounts.

By the law of averages, the two lists of names—Smith and historical reality—had to coincide at some point. It would actually be far more astonishing if none of Smith’s invented names had a real life counterpart in the general region of the Middle East.

That correlation is all the more likely when you know how Semitic names work. Very often, peoples of the region used three consonants, without vowels marked, so DWD was the written form of what we call David. A name inscribed as NHM could be Nahom, Nuhem, Nahum, Nihim, Nehem, Nehim, Nihm, Nahm, Nihma, Nahma … I am making up the exact forms, but you get the point. The odds of some accidental correspondence are very high.

To quote John Hamer,

Although some apologists have described the odds of this Nahom/Nihm/”NHM” correlation as “astronomical,” it hardly even rises to the level of notable coincidence. The Book of Mormon derives its names from a book that has Semitic sources, i.e., the King James Bible. Many of the names in the Book of Mormon are just plucked directly from the Bible, e.g., “Lehi” (Judges 25:9), Laban (Gen. 24-30), Lemuel (Prov. 31:1-9). Other names, however, use the Bible as their inspiration with alterations, e.g., “Jarom” (“Joram” 2 Sam. 8:10), “Omni” (“Omri” 1 Kings 16:16), “Nehor” (“Nahor” Gen. 11:22). “Nahom” easily fits into the latter category: “Nahum” is actually a book of [the] Old Testament.

I will argue with him about the origins of “Lehi”!

You should read the funny analysis of the shifting apologist claims in these matters. It concludes, “To make this fit we have to make several assumptions: A linguistic assumption that Joseph’s English Nahom, which he allegedly translated from an unknown Reformed Egyptian language, is connected to the Nihm tribe in Yemen. An assumption that there was a place in 600 B.C. named after the Nihm tribe…. ”

One other critical point seems never to have been addressed, and the omission is amazing, and irresponsible. Apologists argue that it is remarkable that they have found a NHM inscription—in exactly the (inconceivably vast) area suggested by the Book of Mormon. What are the odds!

By the way, the Arabian Peninsular covers well over a million square miles.

Yes indeed, what are the odds? Actually, that last question can and must be answered before any significance can be accorded to this find. When you look at all the possible permutations of NHM—as the name of a person, place, city or tribe—how common was that element in inscriptions and texts in the Middle East in the long span of ancient history? As we have seen, apologists are using rock bottom evidentiary standards to claim significance—hey, it’s the name of a tribe rather than a place, so what?

How unusual or commonplace was NHM as a name element in inscriptions? In modern terms, was it equivalent to “Steve” or to “Benedict Cumberbatch”?

So were there five such NHM inscriptions in the region in this period? A thousand? Ten thousand? And that question is answerable, because we have so many databases of inscriptions and local texts, which are open to scholars. We would need figures that are precise, and not impressionistic. You might conceivably find, in fact, that between 1000 BC and 500 AD, NHM inscriptions occur every five miles in the Arabian peninsular, not to mention being scattered over Iraq and Syria, so that finding one in this particular place is random chance. Or else, the one that has attracted so much attention really is the only one in the whole region. I have no idea. But until someone actually goes out and does some quantitative analysis on this, you can say precisely nothing about how probable or not such a supposed correlation is.

And to make an obvious point once more: the burden of proof on this—and the chore of crunching the numbers—belongs to the people making the claims. Nobody has an obligation to disprove anything.

But the Nahom argument also has a second and separate component, which must be treated independently. Here, we go beyond mere coincidence to propose a more concrete argument for a direct Smith borrowing.

Evidence for an actual place called something like Nahom in Yemen/Southern Arabia appears in European maps from the mid-eighteenth century onwards, so that, unlike the altar inscriptions, these were clearly known in Smith’s lifetime. A form of NHM (Nehhm) shows up for instance in the travel narrative and maps of Carsten Niebuhr, of the 1761 Danish Arabia Expedition, marking a location in Yemen. An English translation of his writings appeared in 1792, and copies were available in US libraries in the early nineteenth century.  This Niebuhr parallel is noted by an impeccably Mormon source. Critics, meanwhile, point to the work’s presence in US libraries at the relevant timeOther European maps also show a related place-name in the area.

On the one hand, this fact confirms the existence of Nahom as a place, although only in modern times, not ancient. (There is that irritating little matter of the two thousand-plus year gap between the “Nihmites,” wherever they lived, and the Ottoman-era settlement of Nahom). For the apologist cause, though, this is also utterly damning. The map evidence makes it virtually certain that Smith encountered and appropriated such a reference, and added the name as local color in the Book of Mormon.

Some European maps certainly circulated in the US, and the ones we know about are presumably the tip of a substantial iceberg. I have not tried to survey of all the derivative British, French and US maps of Arabia and the Middle East that would have been available in the north-eastern US at this time, to check whether they included a NHM name in these parts of Arabia. Following the US involvement against North African states in the early nineteenth century, together with Napoleon’s wars in the Middle East, I would assume that publishers and mapmakers would produce works to respond to public demand and curiosity.

So might Joseph Smith have looked at a map in a bookstore, been given one by a friend, seen one in a neighbor’s house, discussed one with a traveler, or even bought one? After all, there is one thing we know for certain about the man, which is that he had a lifelong fascination with the “Oriental,” with Hebrew, with Egypt, with hieroglyphics, with his “Reformed Egyptian.” He would have sought out books and maps by any means possible …. No, no, I’m sorry to suggest anything so far-fetched. It’s far more likely, is it not, that he was visited by an angel, and discovered gold plates filled with total bogus misinformation in everything they say about the Americas, but with one vaguely plausible site in Arabia. Ockham’s Razor would demand that.

And yes, I’m joking.

The apologists’ stance on these matters involves some deep ironies. They go to inordinate lengths to stress the improbability or (allegedly) the impossibility of Smith having access to any such maps or other materials. Just to make this clear, then. Issues of plausibility, probability, evidence, good sense and conformity to logic and science are vitally important in analyzing any matters potentially harmful to the Book of Mormon: we need to be hyper-cautious, hyper-critical, and eschew any speculation not grounded in precise documentation. If applied by scholars attacking that book, though, then such criteria are unacceptable, because they ignore the faith on which it is based, and which is higher than mere reason. In fact, such critical methods are probably a clear symptom of anti-Mormon bigotry. Got that?

Wisely, the LDS church makes no statements either supporting or doubting the alleged Nahom connection.

Is there even the ghost of a case here that needs debating or answering? Obviously not. And this is the best the apologists can do?

I could ask a follow up question. If the Lehi folks were still erecting inscribed monuments while they were crossing Arabia, why did they give up the practice (together with all traces of their writing, technology, pottery-making, metallurgy, architecture etc) the moment they hit the New World? Making a fresh start? And if they did keep up those skills and customs, where are the archaeological remains?

I have now formulated the Nahom Rule. Whenever desperate Book of Mormon apologists realize that their New World claims have failed totally, they will cite Nahom. Sadly, this too is built on shifting desert sands.

The name NHM denotes both a tribal region and a location in the southern part of Arabia. In 1763 a German surveyor and mapmaker named Carsten Niebuhr produced a map which contained the place name “Nehhm” at a location approximately twenty-five miles northeast of the Yemen capital Sana’a (Aston & Aston 1994, p. 5). In 1792 Robert Heron published a two-volume translation of Niebuhr’s first work titled Niebuhr’s Travels through Arabia and Other Countries in the East. There is no evidence, however, that Joseph Smith had access to these materials before the publication of the Book of Mormon. Likewise, there is also no evidence that he or one of his acquaintances did not have access to these sources.

NOTE: FAIR states that “A number of ancient maps, for example, show a location — in this same spot in Arabia — that went by the name of Nehem (other maps spell the location as Nihm, Nehem, and even Naham, but they all refer to the same geographical location in southern Arabia). While a few of these maps may have been available to scholars in Joseph’s day, it is highly unlikely that they were available to Joseph Smith.” Reference: mormontimes

This FAIR Link mentions Niebuhr’s and d’Anville’s books. It also says that neither were at Dartmouth when Joseph was a boy, nor were they available in Manchester, New York in the lending library.

In the Allegheny’s collection were both books that apologists claim were not available to Joseph Smith. Here is an 1823 catalog:

D’Anville’s book on ancient geography is on page 18

Niebuhr is on page 44

At some 300 miles away, that would have been quite some distance for Joseph to travel. However, Sidney Rigdon lived in Allegheny County in Pennsylvania. The point is that it was published decades before the Book of Mormon was. And who is to say that copies of Niebuhr’s work did not make it’s way closer to Smith any time after the map with “Nehhm” on it was first produced in 1763?

The Maxwell Institute also mentions several maps that show Nahom that were published before 1830.

So if the BOM is not historical, it is quite possible that the author(s) of the Book of Mormon did in fact see Nahom, or some variation of the name, on some map or book that was available during Joseph’s time. Also, “critics” point out that like many other Book of Mormon names, Joseph may have simply used Biblical words as his roots and simply changed a vowel or consonant to make a word that sounded different. Some critics contend that since there is Book of Nahum in the Old Testament, it is much more likely that he simply changed the U to an O to suit his purpose. Even changing the A to an O in Naham is second place on the list.

NAHAM
, 1 Chronicles 14:19,
NAHUM, Nahum 1:1-3
NEHUM, Nehemiah 7:7

So you see what I mean? It’s not nearly as exciting as I had hoped it was. But perhaps you think it is significant. If you would like to continue reading about problems in the Book of Mormon and different faithful perspectives on them, check out MormonThink or FAIR. I know this hard. We’re just getting started. If you need to take a break and get a Dr. Pepper, I understand. If not, here we go.

 

The First Vision

There are at least four different and contradictory first vision accounts, and two are by Joseph Smith directly. The only one written in his own hand happened in 1832 – twelve years after the vision actually happened – and is nothing like our official version we used today. The Church admits in its November 2013 First Vision Accounts essay.  Here are the accounts:

First Vision v3

It’s not that there are different first vision accounts that is the problem. It’s that they are contradictory, and grow in extravagance each time they are told. 

Here is an example of contradictions, just one of many.
1832 account:

1832 excerpt

Compare this to the official 1838 version:

1838 excerpt

Its also that they weren’t written down for twelve years. It supposedly happened in 1820, but wasn’t ever written down until 1832. No one knew about it until then. No one had heard about them for 12-22 years! Even early church members had no idea this happened. There is absolutely zero evidence to suggest that he was criticized for it like we like to claim as a church and feature in films. In fact, there is consensus, even among LDS historians that no one knew (including Joseph Smith’s family!) and no one prosecuted him for it. James B Allen, former BYU Professor and Assistant Church Historian explains,

“There is little if any evidence, however, that by the early 1830’s Joseph Smith was telling the story in public. At least if he were telling it, no one seemed to consider it important enough to have recorded it at the time, and no one was criticizing him for it. Not even in his own history did Joseph Smith mention being criticized in this period for telling the story of the first vision…The fact that none of the available contemporary writings about Joseph Smith in the 1830’s, none of the publications of the Church in that decade, and no contemporary journal or correspondence yet discovered mentions the story of the first vision is convincing evidence that at best it received only limited circulation in those early days.”  

So why do we claim that he was? Because it paints a better picture for converts? If we have to lie in order for someone to gain a testimony, what does that say? It’s also the fact that the version we use as Church history, the 1838 version, is so different from the earliest account we have and so different from the ONLY version written by Joseph Smith himself. Why are we using the 1838 version, instead of the 1832 version? How do we account for the conflicting claims? The 1832 version has no mention of two beings, has no reference to asking the question about which church he should join, and has no description of being attacked by Satan. Who actually appears to Joseph Smith depends on the account that one reads.  It varies from a spirit, an angel, two angels, Jesus, many angles, or the Father and the Son appearing to him. The reason for seeking help from the divine also changes – bible reading and conviction of sins, a revival, a desire to know if God exists, wanting to know which church to join, or already knowing all churches were false – they are not the same in each account. Contrary to Joseph’s account, the historical record shows that there was no revival in Palmyra, New York in 1820. There was one in 1817 and another in 1824. There are records from his brother, William Smith, and his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, both stating that the family joined Presbyterianism after Alvins death in Nov. 1823 despite Joseph Smith claiming in the official 1838 account that they joined in 1820 (3 years before Alvin Smith’s death).

Why did Joseph hold a Trinitarian view of the Godhead, as shown previously with the Book of Mormon? If he clearly saw that the Father and Son were separate embodied beings in the official first vision? It wasn’t until 1837 that Joseph Smith decided God and Jesus were two seperate being with physical bodies. Before that time, he preached that God was a spirit without a body, and Jesus was the physical embodiment of God (see Rough Stone Rolling pg 420). This teaching is even in the BoM (Mosiah 15:2-4), although some of the passages reflecting this doctrine have been changed to reflect the update. Why would Joseph have preached that God didn’t have a body until 1837 if he had really seen that God and Jesus both had physical bodies in 1820 like he later claimed? But when you look at the FIRST first vision account, he makes no mention of two seperate passages and only saw, “The Lord.” The two 1835 accounts that while one of the two personages testifies of that Jesus is the son of God, neither personage is specifically identified as God or Jesus. He also sees “many angels.” Not until 1838, the official version, one year after he changed his views of Jesus and God, did he claim to see two separate personages and identify them as God and Jesus. The 1842 version, the Wentworth Letter, has its own issues and goes back to identifying either personage as neither God nor Jesus. Why do we use the version that we do? Why do the versions contradict one another? Why did the church hold a Trinitarian view until 1837 when Joseph Smith saw God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ in 1820? Why did no one know about it?

Why do even early church leaders versions of how it happened not match what we say today (Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and John Taylor all told the story, but said “an angel” appeared to Joseph Smith – not two personages, see quotes below, and this was as late as 1879 – 59 years after the first vision)? Why was it not published in the 1833 Book of Commandments nor in the 1837 first missionary pamphlet Voice of Warning and Instruction to All people? Which one is correct? Why does our current version differ so much from the original 1832 version? There are just way too many holes in the first vision story that it calls into question the validity of the entire vision. 

Notable non-mentions – contemporary documents or individuals who never mention the first vision – not once – not at all: ALL local newspapers, Alexander Campbell (head of the Campbelite Church who attacked Joseph on all kinds of fronts – but never mentions the first vision), JB Turner “Mormonism in All ages” does not mention the first vision (another early anti-mormon document), the John Whitmer history does not mention the first vision, John Currell’s 1839 History of the Church does not mention the first vision, Sidney Rigdon never once – in all of his writings – never mentions the first vision, The Evening and Morning Star never refer to the first vision, The Latter-Day Saint Messenger and Advocate never mentions the first vision, The Book of Commandments never talks about the first vision, the Doctrine and Covenants never mentions anything like the 1838 version.  It is COMPLETELY missing from the early record.

Notable individuals who reported the first vision as ONLY an angelic vision: Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, Orson Pratt, Parley Pratt, Orson Hyde, William Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Heber C. Kimball. The only person from this list to ever change it to present that the first vision was anything other than an angelic visitation was John Taylor and he did that later in life. The rest of them never thought the first vision happened, it was merely a visit from an angel. Nearly every other contemporary account lists the first vision as just another angelic vision.  It wasn’t until the 1870’s that this changed.

The question is, what happened in the 1870’s that changed this?  Guess who died in the 1870’s? Brigham Young – 1877. Brigham Young was the chief advocate for the Adam-God Doctrine – what is now known as the “Adam-God Theory.” This doctrine had been taught openly in Utah now, and the St. George Temple Ceremony even reflected this for 25 years. A lot of people were uncomfortable with this doctrine. When Brigham Young died in 1877, the Church was left with a theological dilemma. So there was a strong desire to move away from eh Adam-God Doctrine to a more mainstream understanding.  But the Adam-God doctrine was well understood by the populous because of the changes at the Lecture of the Veil.  They need an authoritative way to dismiss it. They needed a way to move around and beyond the Adam-God doctrine – this is when the emphasis on the first vision occurred because it gave the Church a way to reaffirm that the church was a christian church. We also get at this time the modernization of Jesus and that Jehovah and Christ are the same person. The first vision we have today and the emphasis placed on it, which is so key to the theology of the mormon church, came about because we needed away to get rid of Adam-God. Here’s what was said all the way up to 1877, merely just an angelic vision.  It wasn’t until after the 1870’s did the 1838 account become doctrinal and wide-spread common knowledge. Not until 1902 did the Church adopt the 1838 account as official and enter it into the Pearl of Great Price. A way to leverage against the Adam-God Doctrine. Anyway, See below:

Brigham Young:

“The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven … but He did send his angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, 1855, p.171)

Wilford Woodruff:

“The same organization and Gospel that Christ died for … is again established in this generation. How did it come? By the ministering of an holy angel from God, out of heaven, who held converse with man, and revealed unto him the darkness that enveloped the world … He told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world … Joseph was strengthened by the Spirit and power of God, and was enabled to listen to the teachings of the angel. . . The man to whom the angel appeared obeyed the Gospel.” (Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, vol.2, 1855, pp.196-197)

George A. Smith:

“He [Joseph Smith] went humbly before the Lord and inquired of Him, and the Lord answered his prayer, and revealed to Joseph, by the ministration of angels, the true condition of the religious world. When the holy angel appeared, Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong.” (George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, 1863, vol.12, pp.334)

John Taylor:

“How was it, and which was right? None of them was right, just as it was when the Prophet Joseph asked the angel which of the sects was right that he might join it. The answer was that none of them are right. What, none of them? No. We will not stop to argue that question; the angel merely told him to join none of them that none of them were right.” (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol.20, 1879, pp.158-171)

 

Priesthood Restoration

A common theme that arises and continues to arise is that no one ever knew of major revelations until they were needed and authority was questioned. From Rough Stone Rolling,

Summarizing the key events in his religious life in an 1830 statement, he mentioned translation but said nothing about the restoration of priesthood or the visit of an angel. The first compilation of revelations in 1833 also omitted an account of John the Baptist. David Whitmer later told an interviewer he had heard nothing of John the Baptist until four years after the Church’s organization. Not until writing in his 1832 history did Joseph include ‘reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministering of angels to administer the letter of the Gospel’ among the cardinal events of his history, a glancing reference at best…The late appearance of these accounts raises the possibility of later fabrication.

The priesthood ordination is alleged to have occurred on May 15, 1829 and subsequently the church is organized on April 6, 1830. Elders are ordained, apostles called, missionaries are sent out, the D&C (Book of Commandments) is first published in 1833. Yet the historical record does not have a single instance or record noting this or any similar event until 1834—five years later. There is not a single shred of a record–not a letter, a journal entry, a pamphlet, a note, a press article, a church tract, a meeting minute, or even a rumor. Nothing. The 1833 Book of Commandments has nothing (BIG DEAL!). We are asked to believe that people saw and communed with Peter, James and John, received the priesthood from them, relied on this priesthood to organize the church, made ordinations, established offices, sent out missionaries, armed them with tools of persuasion, and proclaimed themselves as God’s prophets, and NEVER ONCE mentioned a melchizedek priesthood ordination “under the hands of Peter, James & John” to anyone including their own families for years, and never even included the event in the first edition of the D&C.

Why did it take 3 plus years for Joseph or Oliver to tell members of the Church about the restoration of the priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John? David Whitmer, one of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, said, “I never heard that an Angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic Priesthood until the year 1834[,] [183]5, or [183]6 – in Ohio…I do not believe that John the Baptist ever ordained Joseph and Oliver…” Early Mormon Documents, 5:137. Why did Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery change the wording of an earlier revelation when they complied the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, adding verses about the appearances of Elijah, John the Baptist, and Peter, James, and John as if those appearances were mentioned in the earlier revelation in the Book of Commandments, which they weren’t.

Had the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood under the hand of John the Baptist been recorded prior to 1833, it would have been expected to appear in the Book of Commandments. However, nowhere in the Book of Commandments is this miraculous and doctrinally vital event recorded.

Had the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood under the hands of Peter, James, and John been recorded prior to 1833, it likewise would have been expected to appear in the Book of Commandments. However, nowhere in the Book of Commandments is this miraculous and doctrinally vital event recorded.

It wasn’t until the 1835 edition Doctrine & Covenants that Joseph and Oliver backdated and retrofitted Priesthood restoration events to an 1829-30 time period – none of which existed in any previous Church records; including Doctrine & Covenants’ precursor, Book of Commandments, nor the original Church history as published in The Evening and Morning Star.

Another problem: Melchizedek Priesthood given by Lyman Wight – not Peter, James, and John: (from Rough Stone Rolling, pg 157-158)

“During the turbulent meeting, Joseph ordained five men to the high priesthood, and Lyman Wight ordained eighteen others, including Joseph. The ordinations to the high priesthood marked a milestone in Mormon ecclesiology. Until that time, the word ‘priesthood,’ although it appeared in the Book of Mormon, had not been used in Mormon sermonizing or modern revelations. Later accounts applied the term retroactively, but the June 1831 conference marked its first appearance in contemporary records…The Melchizedek Priesthood, Mormons now believe, had been bestowed a year or two earlier with the visit of Peter, James, and John. If so, why did contemporaries say the high priesthood was given for the first time in June 1831? Joseph Smith himself was ordained to this ‘high priesthood’ by Lyman Wight. If Joseph was already an elder and apostle, what was the necessity of being ordained again?”

If Peter, James, and John ordained Joseph Smith to the Melchizedek Priesthood in 1829, why did Lyman Wight ordain Joseph Smith to the Melchizedek Priesthood again in 1831???  The actual minutes of this June 1831 conference showing “Joseph Smith jr. & Sidney Rigdon were ordained to the High Priesthood under the hand of br. Lyman Wight” can be viewed here.

Why does nobody in or out of the church know the exact date of the Melchizedek Priesthood? How do we reconcile how inconsistent Oliver Cowdery was in describing which heavenly being or beings had come to confer that authority?

I was wondering about D&C 110, and I thought it was a bit odd that the vision was supposedly seen by Joseph and Oliver, but Oliver doesn’t mention it, and Joseph didn’t ever talk about it. Would they both conspire to tell such a bold bald faced lie about a vision? Or did Joseph just proclaim it and Oliver stay quiet?

So, my first find is this, from the Joseph Smith papers. This is the first handwritten third party account that became D&C 110.

Take a second to read it, it is enlightening when compared to D&C 110.

This BYU document says the handwriting is that of Willard Richards. It was written before November of 1843. It also points out that Oliver was usually the scribe for many revelations. So, that begs the question, if Oliver was present, why was he not the scribe for this revelation? Especially since it is told in first person in our present D&C?

Which brings me to the next part. Section 110 was added to the D&C in 1876 and officially canonized in 1880. Thirty years after Oliver’s death. So that answers the first part of what I was wondering about. It was part of 26 revelations added to the D&C at that time.

Those sections are now numbered 2, 13, 77, 85, 87, 108–111, 113–118, 120–123, 125, 126, 129–132, and 136. Section 2 buttresses section 110 as fulfillment of prophecy. Most of the others buttress priesthood authority. When viewed in a historical context of what was happening in Utah at the time, its clear the church was trying to back up its authority. Brigham Young was trying to establish his Order of Enoch and was encountering resistance from the church membership. Also, note that this is where the civil war prophecy gets added to the D&C… after. the. civil. war.

For a complete overview of all the problems with the Priesthood Restoration – see here. Remember dates and documents are important. There are problems with both, and later fabrications. This is definitely worth much further study. Please take fifteen minutes and click here to learn more. 

 

Racist Doctrine and the Black Temple Ban

blacks get priesthood

“The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.”
-The First Presidency Statement Release on the Negro Question, 17 Aug. 1949

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 7.50.28 PM

So. I tried to bring this up to an older gentlemen who I assumed was a church expert (I reference this conversation often I know), whom I know meant well. But his answer was just so wrong I have to address it. He told me the church was never racist, and the black temple/priesthood ban wasn’t racist. He said that church leaders were just waiting until the world was more accepting of different races before allowing them. That way the church wouldn’t be prosecuted as it was so new. Aside from the fact that being afraid of “persecution” for our morals goes against the entire doctrine of the church, there is 130 years of racist doctrine. If you’re not familiar with how we brought slavery to Utah, definitely check this out. We also started a unique Native American slave trade program! How great of us.

There were talks about “the so-called civil rights” movement, like from Ezra Taft Benson’s Oct. 1967 General Conference address: “There is no doubt that the so-called civil rights movement as it exists today is used as a Communist program for revolution in America just as agrarian reform was used by the Communists to take over China and Cuba.” What makes this talk disturbing is the Civil Rights Act was just passed, so this talk was in response to it. Also remember this was in the height of the Cold War, so referencing communism is an obvious insult – insinuating that being pro-civil rights is akin to communism. There was even a letter from Apostle Delbert L. Stapley urging George Romeny (LDS Governor of Michigan and father of Mitt Romney) to reconsider his stance on civil rights in 1964. It’s a scary, disturbing letter, definitely read the whole thing. Here’s a quote from the letter to entice you to read it in its shocking entirety:

“I am sure you know that the Prophet Joseph Smith, in connection with the Negro problem of this country, proposed to Congress that they sell public lands and buy up the Negro slaves and transport them back to Africa from whence they came…The statements of the Prophet Joseph Smith have been a helpful influence on me because they accord with my own understandings regarding the Negro. I cannot, in my own feelings accept the idea of public accommodations; the taking from the Whites their wishes to satisfy the Negros…I do not have any objection to recognizing the Negro in his place and giving him every opportunity for education, for employment, for whatever contribution he can make to the society of men and the protection and blessings of Government…I am not against a Civil Rights Bill if it conforms to the views of the Prophet Joseph Smith according to the references above given. I fully agree the Negro is entitled to considerations, also stated above, but no full social benefits nor inter-marriage privileges with the Whites, nor should the Whites be forced to accept them into restricted White areas.

This may repulse you and you may find yourself saying that this must be an isolated incident or perhaps that he was just speaking as man. But there are many instances where these ideas were discussed over the pulpit as doctrine, I will list a lot of them. Here are a few excerpts. Now read these. Because they are going to become very important:

Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-1844):

“Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species…
– Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., January 2, 1845, History of the Church, v. 5, pp. 21-218

Prophet Brigham Young (1801 -1877):

“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. The nations of the earth have transgressed every law that God has given, they have changed the ordinances and broken every covenant made with the fathers, and they are like a hungry man that dreameth that he eateth, and he awaketh and behold he is empty.”
– Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 10, p. 110

Prophet George Albert Smith (1870 – 1951):

“Your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and white races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient patriarchs until now…. there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this area, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.
– LDS First Presidency (George Albert Smith), letter to Virgil H. Sponberg (critic of the anti-black ban), May 5, 1947, quoted in Lester E. Bush, Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview, p. 42

Apostle Mark E. Peterson (1900 – 1984):

“We must not inter-marry with the Negro. Why? If I were to marry a Negro woman and have children by her, my children would oil be cursed as to the priesthood. Do I want my children cursed as to the priesthood? If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse. There isn’t any argument, therefore, as to inter-marriage with the Negro, is there?”
– Apostle Mark E. Peterson, “Race Problems – As They Effect the Church,” Address given at the Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, delivered at BYU, August 27, 1954

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie (1915 – 1985):

“However, in a broad general sense, caste systems have their root and origin in the gospel itself, and when they operate according to the divine decree, the resultant restrictions and segregation are right and proper and have the approval of the Lord. To illustrate: Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry.
– Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 114

Ok. Good job. Now go read the church essay on the subject. Notice the “we disavow”? I noticed it too, I’ll bring it up again later. But I digress – I was always taught that blacks weren’t allowed to have the priesthood. I never got a good reason why. I was also shocked to find out it wasn’t only a priesthood ban, it was a “blacks can’t enter the temple and receive saving ordinances ban.” Black individuals and families were forbidden from entering the temple and blocked from receiving saving ordinances. Whats odd is that Joseph Smith gave the priesthood to at least two black individuals (Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis). Brigham Young then took it away, and every single prophet all the way  to Harold B. Lee kept the ban in place. So. Heavenly Father likes blacks enough to give them the priesthood under Joseph Smith but then he decides they’re not okay for 130 years when Brigham Young shows up?

Ok. Remember when I said read all the quotes and read the church essay. Here’s why. In the Church’s 2013 essay, it says Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else.”  This statement contradicts not “theories” (a whitewashing example)- but actual doctrine said by the past 9 prophets AND the Book of Mormon.  I don’t think anyone listening to the talks, quoted above, would say that they were just “theories” when they heard them. We’re taught to heed our prophets and quorum of the twelves words. People flock for miles to hear an Apostle speak at their Stake Conference. They’re words matter and are meant to be scripture. No wonder there are so many racist people in the church. They grew up hearing doctrine like this. Which leads me to my next point.

We can’t claim we aren’t racist. Its doctrinal and in the scriptures. The church’s current position contradicts the Book of Mormon itself (2 Nephi 5:21). The church disavows “theories” that black skin is a curse. But…we have Alma 3:6:

“6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.”

What should we do with Alma 3:6? Is the church going to remove it from the Book of Mormon? Or maybe put a footnote in the BOM saying that the church disavows this? The cognitive dissonance just grows and grows! Hang in there. You’re not alone – I promise! Plus if we disavow these “theories” which is a major shift in doctrine. How does no one know? Shouldn’t we say this over the pulpit? Announce it at general conference? It seems apparent that they don’t seem keen on letting anyone know.  Stories like this one, make that apparent.

Past prophets have all made disturbing and racist claims as doctrine from the pulpit. (See Letter For My Wife for a small sample, pg 51). But essentially what the church is claiming as “theories,” has been doctrine for 130 years. See this image from a 1930 Church Lesson Manual. It makes it pretty clear: doctrine.

1930 Lesson Manual - white blessed people

Since this church essay is really hard to find, never read at the pulpit, or read at conference – I assume most think that it’s still doctrine. The same God who “denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female” is the same God who denied blacks from the saving ordinances of the Temple for 130 years? But? Changed his mind again in 1978 about black people? And then changed his mind again in 2013 when this First Presidency approved and Quorum of the Twelve approved essay was released?  But again, you can’t really disavow this because it’s scriptural. Here’s a few places where it says that the Native American’s are the Lamanites (D&C 28D&C 30D&C 32).  Now remember how this was a common belief to explain all the structures, because there is no way a non-white man made such things. It’s pretty racist. Except now we say that the Native American’s aren’t and we don’t know where the laminates were or lived. In fact, Joseph sent men on missions to covert the “Laminates.” See here.

Now, I have been told that they weren’t really racist. That discouraging interracial marriage was just about culture. I have been told that if racist comments were made by apostles or prophets, they must have come before they were ordained as such. I have been told they were just speaking as man, and not as prophets. These simply are not true. In fact, here’s a letter from the First Presidency of the church in 1947 to the black Dr. Lowery Nelson saying it is:

“Your position seems to lose sight of the revelations of the Lord touching the preexistence of our spirits , the rebellion in heaven, and the doctrines that our birth into this life and the advantages under which we my be born, have a relationship in the life heretofore.

From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel.

Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient patriarchs till now God’s rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogenous. Modern Israel has been similarly directed.

We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this area, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.

Faithfully yours,

(signed) George Albert Smith J. Reuben Clark, Jr. David 0. McKay”

I am going to paste a talk given by Apostle Mark E. Peterson, this talk, as well as the one I post later by Spencer W. Kimball later, shows that this was not just a theory and was not just them speaking as man. This was absolutely doctrine. Referring to Blacks, church leaders would say things like, “the doctrine will never be changed, no matter how much the world wants us to change it, we cannot change God’s law on the Negro.”  Sound familiar? How often do we hear church leaders speak about our gay friends, “We cannot change God’s Law, no matter how much the world is changing, we will never change our doctrine on Gay Marriage.” It screams parallels to the way we viewed Blacks.  As will make sense by this talk. Perhaps decades of doctrinal talks like this is perhaps why a gentlemen I talked to on the subject believed it wasn’t racism. Just like we all thought segregation wasn’t racist, and separate but equal wasn’t racist. I’ve always been fascinated how someone can be so blatantly racist, without seeing that they are acting racist. Is it unreasonable to think that in the one true church where our men leaders have one of the closest connections to God, that He would be able to whisper to them – racism is bad? Anyway, decide for yourself, there was literally so much that I needed to share that I decided to quote most of the talk for transparencies sake, here is the talk by Apostle Mark E. Peterson WHILE he was an acting apostle:

God has commanded Israel not to intermarry. To go against this commandment of God would be in sin. Those who willfully sin with their eyes open to this wrong will not be surprised to find that they will be separated from the presence of God in the world to come. This is spiritual death.

The reason that one would lose his blessings by marrying a Negro is due to the restriction placed upon them. “No person having the least particle of Negro blood can hold the Priesthood” (Brigham Young). It does not matter if they are one-sixth Negro or one-hundred and sixth, the curse of no Priesthood is the same. If an individual who is entitled to the Priesthood marries a Negro, the Lord has decreed that only spirits who are not eligible for the Priesthood will come to that marriage as children. To intermarry with a Negro is to forfeit a “Nation of Priesthood holders.

The discussion on civil rights, especially over the last 20 years, has drawn some very sharp lines. It has blinded the thinking of some of our own people, I believe. They have allowed their political affiliations to color their thinking to some extent, and then, of course, they have been persuaded by some of the arguments that have been put forth.We who teach in the Church certainly must have our feet on the ground and not to be led astray by the philosophies of men on this subject.

I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a cafe where white people eat. He isn’t just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. It isn’t that he just desires to go to the same theater as the white people. From this, and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it. We must not allow our feelings to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry for Negroes that we will open our arms and embrace them with everything we have. Remember the little statement that we used to say about sin, ‘First we pity, then endure, then embrace’.

Now let’s talk about segregation again for a few moments. Was segregation a wrong principle? When the Lord chose the nations to which the spirits were to come, determining that some would be Japanese and some would be Chinese and some Negroes and some Americans, He engaged in an act of segregation.

When he told Enoch not preach the gospel to the descendants of Cain who were black, the Lord engaged in segregation. When He cursed the descendants of Cain as to the Priesthood, He engaged in segregation.

Who placed the Negroes originally in darkest Africa? Was it some man, or was it God? And when He placed them there, He segregated them.

The Lord segregated the people both as to blood and place of residence. At least in the cases of the Lamanites and the Negro we have the definite word of the Lord Himself that he placed a dark skin upon them as a curse — as a punishment and as a sign to all others. He forbade intermarriage with them under threat of extension of the curse. And He certainly segregated the descendants of Cain when He cursed the Negro as to the Priesthood, and drew an absolute line. You may even say He dropped an Iron curtain there.

Now we are generous with the Negro. We are willing that the Negro have the highest education. I would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it. I would be willing that they have all the advantages they can get out of life in the world. But let them enjoy these things among themselves. I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change that segregation? It reminds me of the scripture on marriage, ‘what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’ Only here we have the reverse of the thing – what God hath separated, let not man bring together again.

Think of the Negro, cursed as to the priesthood. This Negro, who, in the pre-existence lived the type of life which justified the Lord in sending him to the earth in their lineage of Cain with a black skin, and possibly being born in darkest Africa–if that Negro is willing when he hears the gospel to accept it, he may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory.

If you think this talk is just unique. Its not. We’ll look at another in a moment. But read that last sentence of the talk again. How great that blacks get to go to the celestial kingdom! I mean. They’ll be slaves sure, but how gracious of God to let them go at all!

Another fascinating study is looking at the circumstances for which revelation is given. Giving blacks permission to enter the temple is advertised as a beautiful revelation and that the time was right to lift the curse.  But…coincedently coincides with the IRS potentially revoking BYU’s tax-exempt status, Standford and other universities boycotting BYU athletics, the arising problem of us not being able to tell who’s black in places like Brazil, and the Post-Civil Rights societal trends were against the Church’s racism. 

I just wish so so badly that the one true church was the one leading the civil rights movement, not the last major church on the planet to adopt it in 1978.  How awesome would it have been for us to have been leading equal rights among races as far back as 1832!? Except our doctrine makes this impossible, despite our claims that our doctrine isn’t racist. We even had to change the Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi 30:6 read “white and delightsome” until 1981 when we changed it to “pure and delightsome.” This is despite Brigham Young and Spencer W. Kimball quoting this phrase multiple times and decades of it being doctrine. Compare this page (start at first full paragraph – it syncs with 2 Nephi 3-6) with you’re BoM on you’re phone or hardcopy. That link is the original 1830 Book of Mormon saying, “white and delightsome.”

We taught as late as 1995 that you shouldn’t marry outside your race. This is from the 1995 Aaronic Priesthood Manual, Lesson 31: Choosing an Eternal companion:

Compare the results of the vote with the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball. Have a young man read it. We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question” (“Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1977], p. 144).

I’m so blown away by this. We can “…” teachings of prophets about tithing but we can’t “…” racist doctrine? Let me show you what I mean:

Lorenzo Snow Ch 12: I pray that every man, woman and child … shall pay one-tenth their income as a tithing. Want to know what the “…” says? The … is Who has the means. The church chose to “…” four words – who has the means.

Once again, we can “…” doctrine that makes tithing not mandatory but we can’t “…” teachings that young men marry those how are of the same racial background “generally”?  Why!? And it’s the first thing! More important than economic, social and educational background.  Clearly, racism is doctrine. The church very clearly wanted to engrain this into the young men, since the instructions are that the youth are supposed to read that paragraph. How and why are we ok with this? 

This makes sense when you take into account the NUMEROUS racist doctrines that Brigham Young and subsequent prophets would preach like this one:

“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol.10, p.110)

It should be mentioned that Brigham Young practiced this law (see Blood Atonement), there are at least two cases in which blacks were killed after being caught sleeping with white women in the Salt Lake Valley. Another shocking racist doctrine is that by living the gospel, dark skin can change to being “white and delightsome.”  Spencer W. Kimball gave a sermon, as an Apostle in the 1960 October General Conference, about how essentially our missionary work is turning Indians skin white, and that was a good thing and we needed to keep doing that (a surprisingly common – yet shockingly racist doctrine):

“For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsomehe was some shades lighter than the younger brother just coming into the program form the reservation. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.

The talk is truly disturbing, you should really read the whole thing, but there are 130 years of sermons like this delivered from prophets as doctrine. It wasn’t just him. This was doctrine. Because it’s taught in the Book of Mormon. Like Apostle Legrand Richards said in a 1978 interview, “The Book of Mormon tell us that; and he has a dark skin, but he has promise there that through faithfulness, that they all again become a white and delightsome people.” This is so fundamental to Mormonism. It is DOCTRINE. If you go to church and you say this is the true church – THEN YOU ARE SAYING THIS IS TRUE.  It fits in so well with the racist thoughts and beliefs of early America. But we can’t just claim that they were people of their time – BECAUSE ITS IN OUR DOCTRINE. This is what we believe! If you have a problem with that, you need to do some serious self evaluation of if this is the true church if this is the fundamental doctrine – blacks are cursed, and by living the gospel, can become white and delightsome again. 

Are we not worried we’re treating the LGBT community just as poorly as we treated blacks, and we’re going to be embarrassed again looking back at how we treated them?  How can we trust our prophets, seers, and revelators when they have been so wrong about so many important things for so long while claiming to be receiving those same revelations from God? Follow the prophet they won’t lead us astray? Except…they will. And they have.

I’ve been told by my Bishop that the black ban and LGBT issues shouldn’t stop me from coming to church, and that I can be a voice on the inside for equality and push for that. I don’t know how thats supposed to work? People get excommunicated all the time for that. There are multiple cases of folks who had a problem with the black ban, tried to make their voice known that this was nothing but bigoted discrimination.  While we acknowledge now, they were right, during the time – they were excommunicated. Douglas Wallace and Byron Marchant are two examples of this. Modern Day examples would be John Dehlin and the women behind the Ordain Women movement. All of these people were/are believing members. Who felt in their hearts that the church was so wrong on this issue and urged the first presidency and Q12 to pray for inspiration on the subject. They were excommunicated. These are all examples that you can’t have any differing viewpoints or thoughts when it comes to church policy or doctrine. So, I’m not sure how my Bishop expected it to work out for me? But nevertheless, here I am. Trying.

This (see below block quote) is an excellent example of how the black ban, and excommunication relates to women and the priesthood.  This has also been another long doubt of mine. The “Equal but Separate” roles has always sat strange with me. My viewpoint was, “didn’t we already acknowledge that Separate but Equal is not equal? Does no one remember Brown vs The Board of Education?”  Anyone? I’ve always thought  it strange how men could pretty much do whatever they wanted, hold whatever callings they wanted, get whatever job they wanted but woman just need to find a man and pop out kids. But thats ok! Women are awesome! It’s like we say one thing, but our doctrine and actions say another?  I’ve had a hard time with that for as long as I can remember.

I know everyone was appalled by the ordain woman movement – that still goes on, but is muted since they excommunicated a lot of them. The thing is, after learning church history, their request isn’t farfetched at all or just so far off-base that it’s ridiculous, which church members like to claim. Early church woman held the priesthood and even administered blessings to the sick (see the church essay).  This was then taken away. Knowing that not ordaining blacks the priesthood was a mistake, is it not unreasonable to ask if taking it away from woman was/is a mistake? Woman asking the First Presidency to pray and ponder if perhaps taking away the priesthood from woman was a mistake is not an evidence-lacking question. It makes total sense. It would make way more sense for woman to also have the priesthood than to not. That would be equal – not “separate but equal.” Just equal. I can’t imagine a “true church” having doctrine that prevents men and woman from being equal. But from Polygamy, to discouraging careers, to the lack of the priesthood – we absolutely do. We say it’s equal, we tell ourselves it’s equal…but I don’t see it. Here’s the blog post about Byron Marchant (the man excommunicated for speaking out about the Black Ban) and how it relates to ordain woman:

I was in the Language Training Mission (currently MTC) on June 8, 1978 preparing to leave the following week for the Japan Fukuoka Mission. My small group of Japanese-speaking missionaries was in our classroom memorizing the discussions, when there was a commotion in the hall. President Kimball had just announced the end to the priesthood-temple ban, which prevented black men from being ordained to the Mormon priesthood and black women from attending the temple and receiving their endowment. Missionaries poured into the halls. Feet leapt and hands slapped in high-five celebrations everywhere. It was an amazing moment to be a new Mormon missionary. It was confirmation that in these modern days God was speaking directly to his prophet.

For me, the news came as both an answer to prayer, and a resolution to a difficult internal conflict. While I believed that the gospel was true, and that I should serve a mission, I did not know how in good conscience I could teach what seemed to be a bigoted doctrine. More than any other doctrine, the priesthood ban threatened my faith in the church.

My mother, Elva Marchant, was the sixth of fifteen children raised in a small two-bedroom bungalow in the Liberty Ward, just west of Liberty Park in Salt Lake City. Her younger brother Byron Marchant had excelled in tennis as a teenager, after overcoming a serious heart condition as a child. Byron served a mission in France, return and married my Aunt Gladys. They were my “cool” relatives. They were young, good-looking, and socially conscious. They purchased a house in the Liberty Ward, which was located on 500 East, directly across the street from Liberty Park. Byron was employed as the park’s Tennis Pro, and he also worked as the ward’s janitor.

He seemed to be a natural choice to work with the youth, and he was called to serve as the Liberty Ward scoutmaster. In his open and caring way, he not only worked with Mormon boys, but also reached out to all scout-aged boys in the area. This included two African-American youth, who turned out to be exceptionally bright, natural leaders. Byron selected these two young men to serve as the senior patrol leader and assistant senior patrol leader for the troop.

While the Boy Scouts of America and the LDS Church are separate organizations, in Utah they are almost one in the same. In 1973, the church initiated a policy, which required that the leadership of a ward sponsored scout troop must be the same as the ward’s deacon quorum presidency. In other words the president of the deacons quorum must also be the senior patrol leader, and the first counsel must be the assistant senior patrol leader. Because of the discriminatory policy banning black males from the priesthood, Byron was told that he must remove the two African-American youth from troop leadership, and replace them with less qualified white youth. This troubled Byron deeply.

At first, he thought that the policy simply overlooked the unique circumstances of an inner-city ward. He believed once explained, leaders would grant an exception for his unique situation. He misjudged the openness of the leadership. He began climbing the hierarchy to plead his case, and was rejected at every level. Rather than understanding, he received condemnation and threats. Meeting with no success, in 1974, he worked with the NAACP, to file suit against the Boy Scouts of America for violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The NAACP decided not to file suit against the LDS church, because of the special protections afforded to religions under the First Amendment.

LDS leadership’s refusal to reconsider its policy in light of its discriminatory effect on African-American youth radicalized Byron. He could no longer remain silent about the larger discriminatory policy of the priesthood/temple ban, which had formally been in place since its decree by Brigham Young before the Utah Territorial Legislature on February 5, 1852. Bryon began to speak out, and to protest.

Byron’s activism split our large extended family in two. My parents, my grandmother and several of my mother’s brothers and sisters supported Bryon. My mother used his example to teach me about our troubling Mormon history with race, and the importance of standing up for what is right. Other family members saw anything challenging church authority as evil, and attacked Byron. This split in the family still defines many of our relationships today.

For Byron, the world turned dark. The church fired him as ward janitor. My aunt Gladys was diagnosed and died of brain cancer. Bryon’s in-laws, with support from some members of the Marchant family sued, alleging that he was an unfit parent. But, through it all, he remained true to his conviction that discrimination based on race is wrong, no matter who does it. During these dark days, one afternoon each week, Byron would carry a sign in front of the Church Office Building on North Temple St. in Salt Lake City. I remember driving downtown and seeing him walking in front of the building, all by himself holding his sign. He was determined as ever to do what it right.

Leading up to the October 1977 conference weekend, Bryon and a few other like-minded Mormons planned to carry out a protest on Temple Square. By this time, his local leaders were threatening to convene a disciplinary court. After negotiations, Byron agreed to call off the protest in exchange for a promise from his leaders to stop plans to convene a court. The protest was halted, but Byron still wanted to make his point.

I was in my first semester of college that fall, attending the University of Utah. I was also working as a part-time teller at Zions Bank, saving money to go on a mission the next spring. My girlfriend Laura and I planned to spend conference weekend on the couch listening to talks. As we watched the start of the Saturday afternoon session on October 2, 1977, a familiar voice boomed from the television set. I immediately knew it was Byron. “President Tanner did you note my vote?” First Counselor N. Eldon Tanner looked confused, as he searched for the source of the dissenting vote. Security responded escorting Byron from the building. Byron later explained to the press that his negative vote was meant to highlight the injustice of the priesthood ban.

At 4:00 a.m., Friday, October 14, 1977, the Liberty Stake High Counsel excommunicated Byron Marchant, for his opposition to the priesthood-temple ban. This shocked me, because I both wanted to serve a mission, and I also believed the Byron was right. However, despite the LDS church’s very public excommunication of a member for his stand in favor of equality, and against the bigotry of the priesthood ban, less than eight months later, there I was with hundreds of other missionary’s high-fiving and shouting about a new revelation from God. It was a great feeling of relief. But, didn’t God know eight month’s earlier that Byron was right, and that the ban would be lifted?

Thirty-seven years have passed since that day at the Language Training Mission. Nearly all Mormons now believe that racial equality is God’s will. But, for half of the membership of the church, a priesthood ban remains in place. Women are still not allowed to hold the priesthood or participate in church governance. The children of some of the relatives who criticized Byron, occasionally post messages to my Facebook wall criticizing my support for Ordain Women. They say it is wrong to question a church policy. I have seen this movie before. I have faith that right will prevail, and the time will come when today’s critics of female ordination will accept that gender equality is the will of God.

Once again, I feel the need to say this:

“If discriminating against people for something they can’t change is a core expression of your religion, perhaps you should reevaluate your religion.”

Here was the final words of wisdom to Dr. Lowry Nelson, a member of the church.  Please give up your liberal views of equality and get in line with Church teachings. Yay love!

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Prophets and Leading us Astray with False Doctrine

We like to claim that we’re not to blindly follow our leaders. We use this by pulling out quotes like,

  • “You must work through the spirit. If that leads you into conflict with the program of the church, you follow the voice of the spirit.”  (Elder S. Dilsworth, 1945, First counselor of the Seventy).

However, we really ARE expected to follow the prophets teachings no matter what. Even if they are in direct conflict with our conscience, even if we disagree, even if we pray and receive a different answer.  We know this because the vast majority of prophetic quotes go like this:  

  • “When our leaders speak, the thinking is done.” (Improvement era, June 1945).
  • “When the prophet speaks, the debate is over.” (Apostle N. Eldon Tanner, Ensign, Aug. 1979, p2-3).
  • “The Lord has promised us that he will never (sic) fall (sic) – allow the prophet to lead his people astray…you might not like what comes from the authority of the church, it may contradict your political views, it may contradict your social views, it may interfere with some of your social life. But if you will listen to these things as if from the mouth of the Lord himself.”
  • “Follow your leaders who have been ordained and have been publically sustained, and you will not be led astray.” (Apostle Boyd K. Packer, General Conference, Oct. 1992, Ensign Nov. 1992)
  • “No true Latter-Day Saint will ever take a stand that is in opposition to what the Lord has revealed to those who direct the affairs of his earthly kingdom. No Latter-Day Saint who is true and faithful in all things will ever pursue a course, or espouse a cause, or publish an article or book that weakens or destroys faith.” (Apostle Bruce R. McKonkie, Conference Report, Oct. 1984)
  • “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place.” (President Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff: History of his Life and Labors, p. 572)
  • “Keep the eyes of the mission on the leaders of the Church…We will not and…cannot lead [you] astray.” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, Oct. 2014 Conference)

The challenge with all these is that the prophets absolutely do lead us astray.  And when people receive personal revelation (that we’re told to get when prophets speak – not to mention, if we have to pray and receive personal confirmation for revelations and have our own direct line to God, then what’s the point of prophets?) that stands in conflict with what the church says, they are disciplined and often excommunicated. Even though prophets have led us astray on many many issues. Blacks obviously – but also with Adam-God Theory (this one is mind boggling), Blood Atonement, Polygamy, and Mark Hoffmann.

President Brigham Young taught what is now known as “Adam-God Theory.” He taught that Adam is “our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.” Brigham not only taught this doctrine over the pulpit in conferences in 1852 and 1854, but he also introduced this doctrine as the Lecture at the Veil in the endowment ceremony of the Temple. Brigham also published this doctrine in the Deseret News on June 18, 1873:

“…in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me – namely that Adam is our father and God…Our Father Adam is the man who stands at the gate and holds the keys of everlasting life and salvation to all his children who have or who ever will come upon the earth.”

This is so huge. How could our second prophet, who supposedly has a direct line to God, not even know who he’s talking to? Makes one wonder if the Brighamite Church (this is what the mainstream LDS church is called and opposed to the Strangite Church which became the RLDS) of Mormonism is the right branch off? Our church’s first prophet after the succession crises didn’t even know who he was talking to? Which means that for twenty five years, members were also praying to Adam, going through the temple where the endowment ceremony reflected that. For 25 years the St. George Temple endowment ceremony was changed to reflect the Adam-God theory. How do we account for this? But contrary to the teaching of Brigham Young, subsequent prophets and apostles have since renounced the Adam-God theory as false Doctrine. Spencer W. Kimball renounced the Adam-God theory in the October 1976 General Conference. Bruce R. McConkie also made a statement:

“The devil keeps this heresy [Adam-God Theory] alive as a means of obtaining converts to cultism. It is contrary to the whole plan of salvation set forth in the scriptures, and anyone who has read the Book of Moses, and anyone who has received the temple endowment, has no excuse whatever for being led astray by it. Those who are so ensnared reject the living prophet and close their ears to the apostles of their day.”  

Ironically, Elder McConkie’s June 1980 condemnation asks you to trust him and President Kimball as today’s living prophet while disavowing and not trusting past prophets.  Further, McConkie is pointing to the endowment ceremony as a source of factual information. What about the Saints of Brigham’s day who were following their living prophet? And what about the endowment ceremony of their day where Adam-God was being taught at the veil?  We can claim he was just speaking as man, but Brigham Young also said, “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture.” (Journal of Discourses 13:95)

Along with Adam-God, Brigham taught a doctrine known as “Blood Atonement,” where a person’s blood had to be shed to atone for their own sins as it was beyond the atonement of Jesus Christ. Again, this was something that Brigham practiced.  And as with the Adam-God Theory, the Blood Atonement doctrine was later declared false by subsequent prophets and apostles.

The Mark Hoffmann story is just straight crazy. In the early mid-1980’s, the Church paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in expensive and valuable antiquities and cash to Mark Hoffmann – a con man and soon-to-be serial killer – to purchase and suppress bizarre and embarrassing documents into the Church vaults that undermined and threatened the Church’s story of its origins. They documents were later proven to be forgeries. The lack of discernment by the Brethren on such a grave threat to the Church is troubling and raises many red flags. Speeches by Elder Dallin H. Oaks and President Gordon B. Hinckley offered apologetic explanations for troubling documents (Salamander Letter and Joseph Smith III Blessing – crazy stuff) that later ended up, unbeknownst to Elder Oaks and President Hinckley at the time of their apologetic talks, being proven complete fakes and forgeries. Elder Oaks defended and rationalized a completely fake and made up document that Mark Hoffmann created while telling “Latter-day Saint readers” to be “more sophisticated in their evaluation of what they read.” There was significant dishonesty by President Hinckley on his relationship with Hoffmann, his meetings, and which documents that the Church had and didn’t have. While these prophets, seers, and revelators were being duped and conned by Mark Hofmann’s forgeries over a four-year period (1981-1985), the Tanners – considered some of the biggest critics of the Church – actually came out and said that the Salamander Letter was a fake. Even when the Salamander Letter proved very useful in the discrediting the Church, the Tanners had better discernment than the Brethren did. While the Tanners publicly rejected the Salamander Letter, the Church continued buying fakes from Hofmann and Elder Oaks continued telling Latter Day Saints to be more sophisticated.

Our prophets are continually wrong and continually lead us astray. How do we account for this when we’re told, “When the prophets speak, the thinking is done.”?  How are we supposed to blindly follow them? How are we supposed to trust them on things like LGBT discrimination? If Brigham Young was a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, would it not be unreasonable to expect that God would give him a hint that racism is not okay, sexism is not okay, blood atonement is not okay, and God’s name is not “Adam”?

I should also mention the continually contradictory conference talks/sermons here. This is something I noticed early on in my youth, but during my studies I noticed it tenfold. Here are some examples.

  • From April 2017, President Monson: We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil in the world today?”
    From the same April 2017, President Uchtdorf: “One of the ways Satan wants us to manipulate others is by dwelling upon and even exaggerate the evil in the world.
  • President Gordon B. Hinckley from the 1993 Christmas Devotional: “In moments of quiet, we reflect upon His matchless life and His unconditional love for each of us.”
    Then we have President Russel M. Nelson from the 2003 February Ensign, ‘Divine Love:’ “While divine love can be called perfect, infinite, enduring, and universal, it cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional.

Don’t have a testimony? That’s ok. Just pretend you do!

I find this teaching pretty messed up.  Whether it’s intentional or not, I don’t know, but this method is certainly beneficial to the church. It prevents anyone from speaking up about their doubts or problems with the church, in either its culture or truth claims. It makes those with questions or doubts feel isolated and alone in their thinking. The basic idea, that I’m sure you’re familiar with, is to bear you’re testimony and that will make you gain one. So even if you don’t have a testimony, pretend you do, the more you say it, the more your testimony will come. I found a few talks on this where the general authority encouraged members to do this. Both Dallin H. Oaks and Boyd K. Packer taught that you should repeat things that you don’t know are true until you do know (believe) that they are true:

“It is not unusual to have a missionary say, ‘How can I bear my testimony until I get one? How can I testify that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the gospel is true? If I do not have such a testimony, would that not be dishonest?

Oh, if I could teach you this one principle. A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that ‘leap of faith’ as the philosophers call it.” – Boyd K. Packer

“Another way to seek a testimony seems astonishing when compared with the methods of obtaining other knowledge. We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it. Someone even suggested that some testimonies are better gained on the feet bearing them than on the knees praying for them. – Dallin H. Oaks

I did a little research on what seemed like to me, surely psychological. I’m not sure whether the church knows the benefits of this or not, and whether they’re intentionally encouring members to do this or whether they sincerely believe it’s a good method. But this is a form of self-propaganda.  From wiki:

“Essentially, it is the act of telling one’s self (or a group telling themselves) something that they consider to be true, or to convince themselves, with the unfortunate repercussion of their having no doubts. Because of what they do to themselves, they will go over every aspect of their side of the “argument” to prove themselves that they are right, and will refuse to look at any alternatives. Self-propaganda is a form of self-deception. It functions at individual and social levels: political, economic, and religious. It hides behind partial truths and ignores questions of critical thought.

It is also an example of the Illusory truth effect.  From wiki:

“The illusory truth effect is the tendency to believe information to be correct after repeated exposure.  Their phenomenon was identified in a 1977 study…When the truth is assessed, people rely on whether the information is in line with their understanding or if it feels familiar. The first condition is logical as people compare new information with what they already know to be true.  Repetition makes statements easier to process relative to new, unrepeated, statements, leading people believe that the repeated conclusion is more truthful. The illusory truth effect has also been linked to ‘hindsight bias,’ in which the recollection of confidence is skewed after the truth has been received…Researchers discovered that familiarity can overpower rationality and that respectively hearing that certain fact is wrong can affect the hearer’s beliefs. Researchers attributed the illusory truth effect’s impact on participants who knew the correct answer to begin with, but were persuaded to believe otherwise through the repetition of a fasehood, to ‘processing fluency.’”


Temple and Freemasonry

1200px-Square_compasses

The above symbol is the square and the compass of Freemasonry. Whaaaat?

I realize this is a sensitive subject. Again I want to express that I am not visiting anti-sites, I am an endowed member of the church, and understand how this may be a sensitive subject. But this page serves as a purpose for me to express the “straws on my camels back,” and so I must discuss all of the “straws” and this subject is one of them.

In my search for answers on this subject, I’ve been told an array of answers and apparently it is commonly taught:

a) That the temple ritual hasn’t changed, at least the important parts.
b) The signs, tokens, and symbols were present in solomans temple, but they were too sacred (secret) to be written in the Bible.
c) The original Mason’s built solomans temple. They constructed secret passages and spied on the temple ceremonies. They adopted, but corrupted the ritual.
d) You see, the temple ceremony was not stolen from the Mason’s. It was stolen by the Mason’s, from the one true ancient church.

I ask these questions because I learned that just seven weeks after Joseph’s March 1842 Masonic initiation, Joseph introduced the Endowment Ceremony in May 1842.

  • March 15, 1842 – Joseph Smith became a Mason in his general business office. (History of the Church, vol.4, p.551)
  • May 4, 1842 – Joseph instructed the other leaders on the washings, anointing, signs and tokens. (History of the Church, vol.5, p.2)

So our answer to this is, “yes, but it’s from Solomon’s Temple.” Which makes sense that this has been passed down. Even Joseph Smith believed this, and believed the church had the “true masonry,” or “full masonry.” But there is a serious problem with this.

Freemasonry has nothing to do with Solomon’s Temple and it started in England in the 1700’s as a stonecutters guild. There is no historian that thinks Freemasonry began at Solomon’s Temple, not even the church thinks that anymore. It is common knowledge now, that Freemasonry started in the 1700’s. This is big. You have to realize. Our entire justification for our entire ceremony is that it was based on Solomon’s Temple. In fact, 99% of members still think it was. Actually, most probably have no clue there are similarities, but those that do believe it’s because of Solomon’s Temple.  It’s been taught that the ceremony has been the same since the days of Adam, and that Adam did the same things. That Solomon’s Temple had the same things. Joseph Smith thought that too. It wasn’t until somewhat recently that we’ve discovered when Freemasonry started. This is a major problem. Because it reveals that the ceremony hasn’t been the same since the day of Adam, its a recent and changing ceremony and everything we do in the Temple has a freemasonry ceremony associated from it. Let me explain some more.

So then we said, “well, it may be copied from freemasonry but God can use whatever means he wants to teach his ordinances, including rituals from existing organizations.” There are a lot of problems with this. While you may say that its not a big deal, that Joseph Smith could use whatever construct he wanted to set up the temple, and perhaps the man just really liked freemasonry. So. What’s the problem? The problem is these are weak answers that make zero sense and goes against past doctrine and prophets. There are really some scary questions we must ask on this subject. Let me explain.

The temple and freemasonry are 80% identical. For a side by side comparison, click hereBelow is a small collection of those that bare most striking resemblance::

1. Compass and Square

  •     Masonic compass and square: The candidate then enters, the Senior Deacon at the same time pressing his left breast with the point of the compass” “As he enters, the angle of the square is pressed against his right breast”
  •     LDS sign of the compass and square: On our garments we
    also have the sign of the compass on the left and the square on the right.

2. Washing and Anointing

  • Masonic washing ceremony: “Master orders the basin of the perfumed water and a clean napkin to be brought to him, and directs candidate to wash his hands, which he does … Master takes a box of perfumed ointment and anoints candidate on his head, eyes, mouth, heart, the tip of his right ear, hand, foot.”
  • LDS initiatory: We also have a ceremony where preparatory washing and anointing takes place.

3. New Name

  • Masonic presentation of a new name: “I also present you with a new name; it is ________.”
  • LDS new name: I give you a new name which is never to be divulged to anyone except at a certain place and time shown you. The name I shall give you is ________.”

4. Tokens

Masonic Entered Apprentice grip vs. First Token of the Aaronic priesthood:
masonic entered apprentice grip

 Masonic real grip of a Fellowcraft vs. Second token of the Aaronic priesthood:
masonic real grip of a fellowcraft

5. Signs

  • Masonic sign of the Master Mason:
    • The sign is given by raising both hands and arms to the elbows, perpendicular, one each side of the head, the elbows forming a square.masoic master mason
  • LDS sign of 2nd token of the Melchizedek priesthood:
    • The sign is made by bringing both hands to the square, palms to the front…(former). The sign is made by raising the hands high above the head…(current).

6. Embrace and Wording Through the Veil (note the aprons)

  • Masonic embrace and wording:
    • The Master and candidate holding each other by the grip, as before described, the Master says…
      Q. What is this?
      A. A grip.
      Q. A grip of what?
      A. The grip of an Entered Apprentice Mason.masonic embrace
      Q. Has it a name?
      A. It has.
      Q. Will you give it to me?
      A. I did not so receive it, neither can I so impart it.
  • LDS embrace (same) and wording :
    • Present him at the veil and his request shall be granted…
      Q. What is that?
      A. The second token of the Melchizedek priesthood.
      Q. Has it a name?
      A. It has.
      Q. Will you give it to me?
      A. I cannot, for I have not yet received it.

7. Penalties (removed from LDS temple endowment in April, 1990. Replaced with a stern warning).

  •  Masonic penalty sign: “Made from the due-guard by dropping the left hand carelessly; at the same time raise the right arm and draw the hand, still open, across the throat, thumb next [to] the throat, and drop the hand perpendicular by the side.”
  • Former LDS penalty sign: “In executing the sign of the penalty, the right hand, palm downward, is drawn sharply across the throat, then dropped from the square to the side.”
  • Masonic penalty oath: “Binding myself under no less penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots.” 
  • Former LDS penalty oath: “We and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any secrets of this … Should we do so, we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by their roots.”
  •  Masonic Penalty of the fellow craft: “Having my left breast torn open, my heart plucked out, and given to the wild beasts of the field and the fowls of the air.”
  • Mormon penalty of the second token of the Aaronic Priesthood: “We agree to have our breasts cut open and our hearts and vitals torn from our bodies and given to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.”
  •  Masonic Penalty of the master mason: “To have my body cut in two, my bowels removed and burned to ashes which are then to be scattered to the four winds of heaven.” 
  • Mormon penalty of the first token of the Melchizedek Priesthood: “Should we do so, we agree that our bodies be cut asunder in the midst and all our bowels gush out.”

Church leaders from Joseph Smith on have taught (and the Temple ceremony itself implies) that the temple ordinances have been the same in the true church ever since Adam, and cannot be changed.  From Joseph Smith History, Vol. 4, pg 208:

“Now the purpose in Himself in the winding up scene of the last dispensation is that all things pertaining to that dispensation should be conducted precisely in accordance with the preceding dispensations…he set the temple ordinances to be the same forever and ever and set Adam to watch over them, to reveal them from heaven to man, or to send angels to reveal them.”

But how can that be if the majority of the ceremony has recent origins, and if it continues to change in major ways, including even the ordinances and covenants themselves? For example — the grotesque body cutting penalties were changed in 1990 to the hand “signs” we use today, which has caused them to lose their original meaning. And, if this means that only parts of the Temple ceremony are essential to our salvation, and the rest are simply Masonic (or otherwise made-up) rituals, then why continue teaching the non-essential parts, especially when they’re so strange? The church HAS removed many of them from the ceremony, but why were they even included to begin with if they were just a vehicle for the “true” ordinances? Why not just focus on the revealed essentials? Plus, what’s more is that we’re taught that these masonic rituals and handshakes are required for us to pass by angles and get into heaven. BUT then how do you explain that the masons invented them just a few hundred years ago??? This is the question. There is no good answer.

Also, doesn’t the idea of passing by angels with handshakes contradict the scriptures which teach that we’re judged by our actions and the intents of our hearts (Alma 12:14), not by what handshakes we remember? Plus what about all the freemasons, ex-mormons, and those who do a google search, who already know the secret passphrases and handshakes? Do they just walk straight into heaven?

Why do we criticize the Catholic Church for reducing the baptism from immersion to sprinkling, when we have done the exact same thing in our washing ceremony in the temple which started as a full body washing while standing in a tub and has been reduced over time to now only being a symbolic washing with one touch of one finger? Why would we do this after Joseph Smith taught that the temple ceremonies should not be changed?

The challenge is that we’re trying to attach meaning to symbols and rituals that are man-made and copied from the masonic order.  The square and compass symbols on garments and at the veil in the temple are so out of place, they are almost testimony breaking items by themselves. The majority of the temple ceremony is a reenactment of the creation and Adam and Eve in the garden. Ok cool, no problem. Their creation and fall from the garden is symbolic of each participant individually, and the human race as a whole. I’m tracking, good to go. We’re born innocent, we fall from grace. Again, good stuff – in full support. We gain knowledge and experience joy and sorrow. By listening and following the Christian message, we’ll be redeemed. So far so good, not really all that different from most of Christianity.

However, then things start to get a little weird with the masonic handshakes, hand movements, and chants. And then comes the square and compass. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?! It has zero relevance to anything that just happened in the temple. It has zero relevance to ancient Jewish worship. It has ZERO relevance to the story of Adam and Eve. Sure there’s some meaning assigned to the symbols, but that still has NOTHING to do with the last 2 HOURS you just spent in the ceremony? I find it bewildering that everyone attaches hundreds of different meanings to them, and LDS members say that most members don’t understand the symbolism and its importance (of course most think there is a link to Solomon’s Temple). It reminds me when musicians analyze music and assume the composer thought about all the ideas they pull from the music. Oh but here’s a neat coincidence – the square and compass are very relevant symbols in brick laying and stone cutting. And tie in very nicely to masonic ceremonies and are prominent symbols in masonry. Huh? It’s almost like Joseph became a Mason, decided to incorporate their ceremonies into mormonism, and change a few words and have a different dramatization, and the end result is disjointed symbology that doesn’t make any sense when you put it all together.

Why did the Church remove the blood oath penalties and the 5 points of Fellowship at the veil from the endowment ceremony in 1990? Both of these were 100% Masonic rituals. What does this say about the Temple and the endowment ceremony if 100% pagan Masonic rituals were in it from its inception? What does it say about the Church if it removed something that Joseph Smith said he restored and which would never again be taken away from the earth? Does the eternal salvation, eternal happiness, and eternal families really depend on Masonic rituals? Is God really going to separate good couples and their children who love one another and who want to be together in the next life because they object to uncomfortable and strange Masonic Temple rituals and a polygamous heaven? I tried to not give too much detail here, but there is literally SO MUCH masonry in our temples. It makes zero sense knowing that it was a 1700 invention. 

I can’t help but think, how much good we could be doing with the amount of money it costs to make Temples. Surely, the Lord would prefer our temples to be modest and small. Filled with only necessity and not the most expensive items money can buy. It seems odd to build such lavish temples when there are members who can’t even afford dinner. If Christ returns, I don’t foresee him being in this white and spacious building, but rather out in the slums, and with the poor, and those with a contrite spirit. Thats where we should be too.

The unfortunate truth about the Temple and Garments. 

The unfortunate truth, is that after studying this subject and it’s origins –  it comes down to – Polygamy. The ceremony was a way to keep women in polygamy/polyandry sworn to secrecy. The Garments were a constant reminder of that “sacred” covenant, and the blood oath that they took.  A constant reminder of the horrifying end they would face if they said anything. If they mentioned anything about the temple they would receive eternal damnation and death. No more wives telling their best friends and the word getting out. This provided a way to instill fear into people to never speak of what happens in the temple – polygamy sealings. The Garments provided a way for early male members to recognize others practicing polygamy. Because it was so secret, most members didn’t even know polygamy was a thing until Utah. Garments were a way for members to know who was trusted with this super secret practice. In fact Joseph held this overs Emma’s head. He said it was required for salvation but refused to let her into the temple until she accepted polygamy. So essentially. Holding her fate above her head until she accepted that he could have sex with dozens of women. I doubt people would still proudly wear their garments if they knew their origins and their original purpose.

If you’ve read this far – let me just say – you’re not alone – I’m proud of you. I promise you, it will be OK. Let’s keep going.

 

The Dishonesty, Censorship, and Whitewashing over our History

In Chapter 31 of Gospel Principles, it says this about honesty:
“There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.

The Joseph Smith movie that missionaries show investigators is almost completely false, full of lies, is ridiculously whitewashed, and omits numerous facts. This is what we show converts to get them to gain a testimony? Again. What does it say if we have to lie in order for people to gain a testimony? Even Richard Bushman, the Rough Stone Rolling guy admits, “The dominant narrative is not true. It can’t be sustained.” We are paying money, deliberately deceiving and withholding truths from members. The First Vision did not happen the way the church says it did, they know that. The Book of Mormon was not translated the way they say it was, they know that. And yet, I’m the one being looked down upon because I’m the one telling the truth? I just don’t get it. It’s incredibly frustrating. Don’t be mad at me for pointing out that someone else is lying to you. Please. Don’t shoot the messenger.

 

The 2013 Official Declaration 2 Header said, “Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. In direct conflict we have this 1949 First Presidency Statement.  Along with the above First Presidency statement, there are many other statements and explanations made by prophets and apostles clearly “justifying” the Church’s racism. So, the 2013 edition Official Declaration 2 Header in the scriptures is not only misleading, it’s dishonest. We DO have records – including from the First Presidency itself – with very clear insights on the origins of the ban on the blacks. The church finally released the Race and the Priesthood essay where they point to Brigham Young as the originator of the Ban, and basically throw the subsequent 10 prophets under the bus as they “disavow” their racist doctrine. Why did it take the church so long to admit the truth on this issue?


LDS official publications remove critical references to Joseph Smith’s activities as a con man.
Documents discovered in 1971 by Dr. Wesley Walters in Norwich, New York, verify that Joseph Smith was a “glass looker” and that he was arrested, tried and found guilty by a justice of the peace in Bainbridge, New York, in 1826 for this criminal activity.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 4.01.02 PM

LDS historian Dr. Francis W. Kirkham, refused to believe that Smith was a disreputable con man, who bilked people out of money with promises to find buried treasure through the use of a peep stone in a hat. He didn’t know the above document existed. He wrote, “If such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him…. How could he be a prophet of God, the leader of the Restored Church to these tens of thousands, if he had been the superstitious fraud which ‘the pages from a book’ declared he confessed to be?” (A New Witness for Christ in America, vol. 1, pp. 385-87 and pp. 486-87; and The Changing World of Mormonism, Chapter 4, “Joseph Smith and Money Digging.” See also Shadow or Reality? pp. 35-36).

Hugh Nibley, famous dissembling LDS apologist also stated, “…if this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith.” Dr. Nibley’s book also states that if the authenticity of the court record could be established it would be “the most devastating blow to Smith ever delivered.” (Hugh Nibley, The Mythmakers p. 142. See also The Changing World of Mormonism, Chapter 4, “Joseph Smith and Money Digging.”)

In the 1826 court record Joseph Smith confessed that “for three years” prior to 1826 he had used a magic stone placed in his hat to find treasures or lost property. Mormon histories insist that a heavenly messenger revealed the presence of gold plates on September 21, 1823 to an innocent Joseph Smith, at the same time he was actually conning overly optimistic treasure seekers out of their money. Smith also swore that gold plates were buried in a hill near his Palmyra, New York home. He continued these deceptive practices for at least three of the four years after God was supposedly preparing him to receive the gold plates. According to apologists Kirkham and Nibley, these facts completely undermine the credibility of Mormonism’s first prophet and founder. (Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, Signature Books, 2004, pp. 80-86)


Zina Huntington Jacobs Young Smith’s biographical page on LDS.org is totally whitewashed.
I was shocked and appalled when I found this, after already knowing the real story. Quick recap on Zina (again, please research yourself, but this REALLY happened -block quote used for ease of reading, but thoughts are an accumulation of sources and are my writing):

She was married for 7.5 months and was about 6 months pregnant with her first husband, Henry Jacobs, when she married Joseph after being told by Joseph’s life was in danger from an angel with a drawn sword. Zina and Henry were both musicians, and very in love. Henry was also a faithful LDS member. Zina had turned down Joseph multiple times, this is where he came back just a few months into her marriage with the “drawn sword” comment. While being married to Joseph, she also remained with Henry. Although Joseph sent him on numerous missions, presumably so they could sleep together, as was a pattern of his. After Joseph’s death, Zina married Brigham Young and had a child with him while still legally married to Henry Jacobs. Brigham sent Henry on numerous missions as well. Henry wrote Zina often, and there are records of him discussing his lovely wife while he was on his missions, and the letters are heartbreaking. While away on his mission, Henry wrote several love letters to his wife. “I dream of you often, and desire to see you very much,” he wrote in one letter. Another says, “Zina I have not forgotten you my Love is as ever the same and much more abundantly And hope that it will continue to grow stronger and stronger to all Eternity worlds without End…I remane (sic) as ever your affectionate Husband in truth.” It wasn’t until Henry returned that he learned that Brigham had married his wife and that she was openly living as his wife. Brigham told him he was less of a man, and that he needed to find a new wife, that Zina was his now. I kid you not, this happened. It’s a tragic, disturbing story. Henry never got over Zina.  It’s hard to say how Zina felt about Henry by then since she didn’t write about it, but it’s clear from her statement to a reporter that she didn’t love her polygamous husbands the way she once loved Henry, for a polygamous wife, in her view, “must regard her husband with indifference… for love we regard as a false sentiment; a feeling which should have no existence in polygamy.”  

It’s sad, right? The biography on LDS.org does not even list Joseph Smith as a husband or concurrent husband with Henry Jacobs. It does not list Brigham Young as a concurrent husband with Henry Jacobs. There is nothing in there about Polyandry. It is deceptive in stating that Henry and Zina “did not remain together” while omitting that Henry separated only after Brigham young took his wife and told Henry that Zina was now only his wife. Zina’s index file on LDS-owned familysearch.org clearly shows all of Zina’s husbands, including her marriage to Joseph Smith. Why is Joseph Smith not listed as one of Zina’s husbands in the “Marriage and Family” section or anywhere else on her biographical page on lds.org? Why is there not a single mention or hint of polyandry on her page or in that marriage section when she was married to two latter-day prophets and having children with Brigham Young while still being married to her first husband Henry?

 

Joseph Smith fought polygamy. There is no evidence for this. In fact evidence says the contrary. The “angel with drawn sword” is used often to say he didn’t want to, but its used grossly out of context. Joseph Smith already was practicing polygamy by the time he used that. And he used it as a tool to manipulate women into accepting his proposal, not because he didn’t actually want to practice the doctrine. Why are we keeping up this lie? Here is an excerpt from the current seminary manual for D&C 132:

Doctrine and Covenants 132:49–66

The Lord counsels Joseph and Emma Smith concerning plural marriage

Explain that the Prophet Joseph Smith was reluctant to begin the practice of plural marriage. He stated that he did not begin the practice until he was warned that he would be destroyed if he did not obey (see “Plural Marriage,” Historical Record, May 1887, 222). Because of a lack of historical documentation, we know very little about his early efforts to comply with the commandment. However, by 1841 the Prophet obeyed the commandment, and over the next three years he married additional wives in accordance with the Lord’s commands. The Prophet Joseph Smith’s obedience to the Lord’s commandment to practice plural marriage was a trial of faith for him and his wife Emma, whom he loved dearly.

This is literally nothing but a bold faced lie. He was hooking up with Fanny Alger in 1831, he didn’t say he was going to be destroyed if he practiced plural marriage. He said he would be destroyed if certain women didn’t take him as their husband. I CANNOT believe this lesson manual still says this. This is straight up lying and manipulation. 

 

The Nauvoo Expositor. The church claims it was printing lies about the church and about Joseph Smith. What we don’t say is that it didn’t print a single lie. It was telling the truth. It merely just exposed his polygamy.  The destruction of this printing press was what initiated the chain of events that actually led to his death. This really bothered me in the Joseph Smith video, it said he was being extradited for crimes he did not commit.  He absolutely committed those crimes! He ordered the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor for printing truth and he was guilty of practicing polygamy/polyandry. Both crimes he DID commit. I was also shocked to learn how the Nauvoo Expositor even got started. Its crazy. His death is essentially because of polygamy/polyandry and his secretive/manipulative tactics. Joseph’s 2nd counselor in The First Presidency, William Law, found out that Joseph tried to get his wife to secretly be sealed to him. “Smith made his visit to his wife in the middle of the night, when he knew her husband to be absent…Joseph had asked her to give him half her love; she was at liberty to keep the other half for her husband.” (Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, 1876, p.61) Naturally Elder Law was furious when he found out, but Joseph called his wife a whore and a liar, and his wife called Joseph names. Ultimately, Elder Law believed his wife and did more research to find out what was really happening. William Law then started the newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor.  THAT’S why the Nauvoo Expositor started. Members have been taught that the times Joseph spent incarcerated in jails were because of Satan stirring up the hearts of men to falsely imprison him. Nothing is ever said of actual crimes committed by Joseph and his followers.

 

Oliver Cowdery. We are always taught he was excommunicated, but never taught why. Because he grew exceedingly concerned about Joseph’s affair with Fanny Alger. Not because he sinned, not because he apostatized. Oliver called it, “a dirty, nasty, affair.” The poor guy actually had a conscience and he and Joseph’s relationship grew too contentious that Joseph excommunicated him. The charges were for “falsely” accusing Joseph Smith of Polygamy. Joseph WAS practicing polygamy WITH Fanny. While it’s true that Mr. Cowdery never denounced the Book of Mormon, he also never denounced what he said or what happened with Joseph and Fanny Alger. And it should be noted that he didn’t denounce the BoM because his current church – the Reformed LDS church also used the BoM.  Have you ever heard that in Sunday School? Nope. Me neither.

 

Missionary Material. Remember the rock in the hat? And how the majority of members don’t know that’s how the plates were translated?  Well the church likes to claim they’ve never hidden that from anyone. And artists merely choose to depict something one way – Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 9.48.24 PMthey can’t control what the artists version is. I find this hard to believe since the church filters everything – especially it’s art. Del Parson, the famous church painter who did the Christ portrait thats now famous, basically talks about how he had to send multiple sketches to the Church and they turned down numerous versions. They were EXTREMELY specific on both content and facial expressions. If you want to read that story, see here. So their excuse that all paintings depict Joseph actually translating the plates are because of artists interpretations, I find that to be a little deceitful. But lets pretend for a second that they are being totally 100% honest in that, they can still choose which artwork to display and which to use as teaching materials.  So when they say – they don’t know how anyone gets the idea that Joseph never looked in a hat – here is the current Preach my Gospel.  Looks to me like Joseph is reading right off the Gold Plates doesn’t it? I wonder how anyone got such a silly notion that the church hides how it was really translated?


Official Mormon histories are not forthcoming about the statements by the three and eight witnesses respectively, who claim to have seen Smith’s gold plates and handled them.
The faith promoting histories do not inform investigators or members that their experience was one that took place in their imaginations or as they called it, “spiritual eyes,” “eyes of our understanding,” “a supernatural vision,” or “visions of the mind.” Martin Harris (one of the 3 witnesses) testified publicly on March 25, 1838 that “none of the signatories to the Book of Mormon saw or handled the actual physical plates.” He also indicated that Joseph prepared an affidavit beforehand and asked the witnesses to sign it. But because they had not seen a physical object, only a vision of them, some balked. They were finally persuaded by Joseph to sign.

David Whitmer also told Zenas Gurley Jr. on January 14, 1885 when asked if the witnesses actually touched “the real metal,” “We did not.” The witnesses handled “the plates” in a vision only, according to Whitmer. Such is the power of imagination. (Grant Palmer, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, Chapter 6) There are other significant problems with the story of the 3 and 8 witnesses described by Palmer, for those interested in reading more.  See here, its a hot mess.

Lorezno Snow’s tithing.  At the 1899 General Conference, President Lorenzo Snow delivered a talk on tithing: “I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child who has the means, shall pay one tenth of their income as a tithing…” But when this is published in the manual of Teachings of Lorenzo Snow: “I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman, and child…shall pay one tenth of their income as a tithing.” The removal of the phrase “who has the means demonstrates that the modern church is not above misrepresenting the truth. How and why has tithing been reinterpreted for this modern era? When studying the history of tithing, it’s disturbing how we hide the fact that it was never meant to be a burden and was not meant to be a requirement for salvation. There are tithing success stories sure. But there are many, many, many more that do not end well.

There is literally a 45 page document written by a Church Education System full-time employee with examples of ways the church lied, omitted, used deceptive tactics throughout its teachings and manuals and talks. But I just included a few examples.

 

SCIENCE PROBLEMS

There was no death on this earth before the Fall of Adam. This was 4000 B.C. It is scientifically established that there has been life and death on this planet for billions of years. How do we reconcile this? How do we explain the massive fossil evidence showing not only animal deaths but also the extinctions of over a dozen different Homind species over the span of 250,000 years prior to Adam? I have legit been told, that Adam and Eve was in an alternate dimension on this Earth. I’ve been told that this only refers to the Garden of Eve, not the rest of Earth. I’ve also been told that the science is wrong. But if you look at the doctrine, it is no death at all on Earth before the fall. So none of those answers work. Lets look at the 2018 LDS Bible Dictionary under the topic – death: Latter-day revelation teaches that there was no death on this earth before the Fall of Adam. Indeed, death entered the world as a direct result of the Fall (2 Ne. 2:22; Moses 6:48).” Or perhaps D&C 77:6, “…the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.

If Adam and Even are the first humans, how do we explain the dozen or so other Hominid species who lived and died 35,000-2.4 million years before Adam? When did those guys stop being human? Or as Joseph Fielding Smith said in the Doctrines of Salvation, If Evolution is true, the Church is false. If life began on the earth, as advocated by Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel, and others of this school, whether by chance or by some designing hand, then the doctrines of the Church are false.”

Genetic science and testing has advanced significantly the past few decades. How does the fact that lots of us have remnants of Neanderthal? How does this fact fit with Mormon theology and doctrine that we are literal descendants of a literal Adam and Eve from about 7,000 years ago? Where do the Neanderthals fit in? How do we have pre-Adamic Neanderthal DNA and Neanderthal blood circulating through our veins when this species died off about 33,000 years before Adam and Eve?

How do we explain The Tower of Babel (a story of the Jaredites in the BoM)?How do we explain the Global Flood, 4,500 years ago that science has discredited?

How do we explain Noah’s Ark that science has discredited? Humans and animals having their origins from Noah’s family and the animals contained in the ark 4,500 years ago. It is scientifically impossible, for example, for the bear to have evolved into several species (Sun Bear, Polar Bear, Grizzly Bear, etc.) from common ancestors from Noah’s time just a few thousand years ago. There are a host of other impossibilities associated with Noah’s Ark story claims.

 

Treatment of LGBT,
Shock/Aversion Therapy at BYU and
The Family Proclamation 

“If discriminating against people for something they can’t change is a core expression of your religion, perhaps you should reconsider your religion.”

Apostle Mark E. Peterson:
“Since homosexuals have become a nationwide entity, and have come out of hiding to demand their place in the sun, many of them claim that they are what they are because they were born that way and cannot help it. How ridiculous is such a claim.”

IMG_3319

We said it’s a choice. Thus the term that still is all over church sunday school even today – “same sex attraction.”  Now we admit that it’s not a choice. But the hurtful ideas still linger. If you want proof of that – look at this picture. Notice the date. Look at what is listed as a mental illness… yuuuup.  Even as late as 2018, the idea that gay people should just stop choosing to be gay persists. It’s apparent by this photo. Even in 2014, Apostle L. Tom Perry, at the Priesthood Leadership Conference was asked, “How do you help a young man or young woman who comes in and says, ‘I think I’m gay.’ Perry’s response, “Give them association with manly things, strong men that represent the ideal of relationships, a man who is vigorous and knows the power he holds.” Not only that we taught that gay people should just marry, have kids, and be faithful, and this would make them straight. So. Now we have a whole bunch of divorces, and tons of kids. THEN they make the policy change that kids with gay parents can’t be baptized until they’re 18 and denounce their gay parents. Which is a problem that only exists because the church encouraged gay men and woman to marry those whom they aren’t sexually attracted to. The church no longer advises this, but the damage was done.

Suicide rates among mormon youth tripled when the November “gays are apostates” policy came out. We treat gay people so so terribly.  We try and pretend like they’re welcome and that we love them and we have no problem with gay people, but then they listen to David Bednar saying “There are no homosexual members of the church.” And I find the whole thing just hard to swallow. We can say we love gay people, and they’re welcome, and we shouldn’t discriminate, but when are actions show the opposite, our words mean nothing. Elder Oaks was recently interviewed in 2006 about same sex attraction.  It was asked where do you draw the line between love for your gay son without potentially endorsing their behavior?  Can you invite their partner over? Can they both spend the weekend at Christmas? This was Elder Oaks response, and it sounds nothing like love and acceptance:

“I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your ‘partnership.'”

Elder Oaks has also said this on homosexuality:

“First, I believe in retaining criminal penalties on sex crimes such as adultery, fornication, prostitution, homosexuality, and other forms of deviate sexual behavior. I concede the abuses and risks of invasion of privacy that are involved in the enforcement of such crimes and therefore concede the need for extraordinary supervision of the enforcement process. I am even willing to accept a strategy of extremely restrained enforcement of private, noncommercial sexual offenses. I favor retaining these criminal penalties primarily because of the standard-setting and teaching function of these laws on sexual morality and their support of society’s exceptional interest in the integrity of the family.”

So I think Elder Oaks’ views on gays is quite clear. Oh no. It gets worse. But before we get there, let me show a comic that captures the hypocrisy of “love” that we say we give to the LGBT community.

hypocrisy

An extremely disturbing method we used was shock therapy at BYU.  This really happened. Page 52, under Chapter 3, is where the details of the program are. They would take gay men and woman to BYU, have them sit in a chair, hook them up with wires to their genitals and inner thigh, show them gay pornography (which was the first time most of them had ever seen pornography and were shocked and scared) and then shock them multiple times. They would then show them straight porn, and not shock them. This repeated for weeks or months until the recipients would say that they were cured. Dallin H. Oaks was President of BYU while this was happening and oversaw the program. How does the one true church think this is appropriate and a good idea. Not one study has ever shown that any type of conversion therapy works. Not a single respected study has shown this is a choice or a result of  anything other than being born gay. Despite the claim that some people choose to be gay, or experience abuse and then become gay, or any other claim. There is ZERO evidence to suggest that, but mounds of evidence that being gay is not a choice. Mounds of evidence that aversion/conversion therapy does serious psychological harm to those that go through it. Mounds of evidence that it doesn’t work.

We like to keep the myth alive in church that its a choice and it doesn’t define them as an individual. Yet when talking to cis (heterosexual) people, we say that they absolutely deserve to be loved and feel sexually desired in their relationships. But this never applies to our gay friends. We encourage them to abstain their entire life from not only sex, but any form of physical enjoyment with anyone they’re attracted to. We say it’s just about chastity. But, we all know that if they went on a date and had a lovely time with a gay partner, our response would be – come one *insert name* be strong! This does not define you! It’s so so messed up and such a psychologically destructive double standard.  For more resources on the issues here, go to this website and read his article here. Lets take a look at the flip-flopping on our LGBTQ friends:

Past Position

Present Position

Is it a Choice?

“Many have been misinformed that they are powerless in the matter, not responsible for the tendency, and that ‘God made them that way.’ This is as untrue as any other of the diabolical lies Satan has concocted. It is blasphemy. Man is made in the image of God. Does the pervert think God to be ‘that way’?” (Kimball, TMOF)

“There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just ‘that way’ and can only yield to those desires. That is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life.” (Packer, Oct 1976 Gen Conf)

“Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them.” (Ballard, “The Lord Needs You Now,” Ensign, Sep 2015, also cited in mormonandgay. org, “Church Teachings”)

“While same-sex attraction is not a sin, it can be a challenge. While one may not have chosen to have these feelings, he or she can commit to keep God’s commandments.” (mormonandgay.org, “Church Teachings”)

“Perhaps such susceptibilities are inborn or acquired without personal choice or fault…” (Oaks, “Same-Gender Attraction,” Ensign, October 1995)

What Causes Homosexuality?

“Parents need to know that lack of proper affection in the home can result in unnatural behavior in their children such as homosexuality…” (Victor L. Brown Jr., “Two Views of Sexuality”, Ensign, July 1975)

“Homosexuality would not occur where there is a normal, loving father-and-son relationship.” (J. Richard Clarke, Apr 1977 Gen Conf)

“If children have a happy family experience they will not want to be homosexual, which I am sure is an acquired addiction, just as drugs, alcohol and pornography are. The promoters of homosexuality say they were born that way. But I do not believe this is true.” (Hartman Rector, Jr., Apr 1981Gen Conf, transcribed from audio)

“Don’t blame yourself for your child’s same-sex attraction. This is no one’s fault. Blame is neither necessary nor helpful.” (mormonandgay.org “Ten Tips for Parents”)

“We surely encourage parents not to blame themselves and we encourage Church members not to blame parents in this circumstance.” (Oaks/Wickman interview, 2006)

[The church deleted significant portions of Hartman Rector’s talk in all text versions, including the passage shown here.]

“What is more, [masturbation] too often leads to grievous sin, even to that sin against nature, homosexuality.” (Kimball, TMOF)

“Sometimes masturbation is the introduction to the more serious sins of exhibitionism and the gross sin of homosexuality. “ (Kimball, “President Kimball Speaks on Morality,” Ensign, Nov 1980)

“The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same- gender attraction. Those are scientific questions – whether nature or nurture – those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.” (Oaks/Wickman interview, 2006; also cited in mormonandgay. org, “Church Teachings”)

Past Position

Present Position

“Every form of homosexuality is sin. Pornography is one of the approaches to that transgression.” (Kimball, “God Will Not Be Mocked”, Ensign, Nov 1974)

“’A normal 12- or 13-year-old boy or girl exposed to pornographic literature could develop into a homosexual’” (Victor L. Brown, April 1970 Gen Conf)

[Note: none of the recent church resources or talks on homosexuality mentions masturbation or pornography as a cause. As quoted above, the church takes no position on cause, leaving that to the scientific/medical realm.]

“Why somebody has a same-gender attraction… who can say?” (Oaks/Wickman interview, 2006)

Is it Curable?

“Curable and Forgivable – With Effort. After consideration of the evil aspects, the ugliness and prevalence of the evil of homosexuality, the glorious thing to remember is that it is curable and forgivable…Certainly it can be overcome…” (Kimball, TMOF)

“…a change in attraction should not be expected or demanded as an outcome by parents or leaders.” (mormonandgay.org FAQ)

“I must say, this son’s sexual orientation did not somehow miraculously change–no one assumed it would.” (Holland, Oct 2015 Gen Conf)

“And while the number of divorces causes us to fear and admit it partly to be true, the principle of marriage is right. Some have changed their desires and yearnings and have convinced themselves that they are different and have no desire toward the opposite sex. … But let this individual repent of his perversion, force himself to return to normal pursuits and interests and actions and friendships with the opposite sex, and this normal pattern can become natural again.” (Kimball, TMOF)

“President Hinckley, faced with the fact that apparently some had believed [marriage] to be a remedy, and perhaps that some Church leaders had even counseled marriage as the remedy for these feelings, made this statement: ‘Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices.’” (Oaks/Wickman interview, 2006)

Difference Between Being Homosexual and ‘Acting on It’

“This perversion [homosexuality] is defined as sexual desire for those of the same sex or sexual relations between individuals of the same sex…” (Kimball, TMOF)

“…same-gender attraction is not a sin, but acting on those feelings is…” (Holland, “Helping those who Struggle with Same-gender Attraction,” Ensign, Oct 2007)

Now we must discuss The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I hear talks at church how this was proof of our leaders divine inspiration. How could they have known this would be an issue? It was ahead of its time! I learned that its creation took over a year and was made in response to being turned down for access into a gay marriage case in Hawaii. It was not ahead of its time. It was written after the courts in Hawaii denied the Church the right to file an amicus brief in this same sex marriage case in 1995. They were denied because the Church failed to provide proof it had a stake in the case. So then in September 1995 the Proclamation is released – knowing they needed sure fire proof. They then file another amicus brief, citing The Proclamation as doctrine and proof. This time it works and they’re admitted into the same sex marriage case. If it was ahead of it’s time it should have been written in before February 1995. Here’s a timeline:

proclamation

For a more detailed look at this timeline, see here. For anyone who would like a detailed timeline and context for church policies and doctrine on LGBT, here ya go:

-1981 Church guide on Homosexuality identifies a “Disturbed Family Background” as a factor leading to homosexuality (“lack of a warm, supportive, affectionate relationship” with the father, an “overprotective and dominant” mother, inadequate instruction on “proper masculine and feminine behavior,” or a strained or hostile relationship between the mother and father). Asserts that homosexuality is a learned behavior.

-August 7, 1984 newly called apostle Oaks writes memo to church: “Principles to Govern Possible Public Statement on Legislation Affecting the Rights of Homosexuals.” In it he advises against church trying to increase criminal penalties on homosexuality, as that will only create martyrs. Nor should church push against “condition” of homosexuality as “the public will see the debate as a question of tolerance of persons who are different…and those who oppose may well be seen as unmerciful prosecutors of the unfortunate.” Instead, church should focus on promoting “exceptions” to job-discrimination laws in order to protect the youth from those that would “proselyte and promote” homosexuality, such as teachers, coaches, scoutmasters, etc.. since this would be “more persuasive to the public and less subject to counterarguments…” He also states: “In my opinion the interests at stake in the proposed legalization of so-called homosexual marriages are sufficient to justify a formal church position and significant efforts in opposition.”

-1988 church hired PR firm to monitor and lobby homosexuality stance in Hawaii (church ends up spending $400,000–SLTrib 3/26/09, B1). See https://rationalfaiths.com/from-amici-to-ohana/ for more on the Hawaiian roots of the proclamation.

-Dec 1990 three homosexual couples in Hawaii were denied marriage licenses, initiated lawsuit Baehr v. Lewin

-1992 Colorado passes Amendment 2 preventing sexual orientation from being used to define a protected class–not put into effect as it is immediately challenged.

-May 1993 meeting of all-church coordinating council Packer identifies feminists, homosexuals, and intellectuals as three chief dangers to church.

-Feb 1994 1st presidency letter urges all U.S. members to contact legislators to preserve “sanctity of marriage”.

-1994 PEW reports that for first time less than half of all children now raised in traditional family.

-Feb 1995 church petitions to become codefendants in Baehr v. Lewin (rejected).

-Mar 1995 Utah passes first DOMA act in country recognizing only “traditional” marriages.

-Sept 1995 Proclamation issued in general RS session (Richard G. Wilkins, law professor at BYU and director of World Family Policy Center, appears to have been the primary author–drawing on his own briefs and writings (though Nadine McCombs claims firm of Kirton & McConkie were primary authors–others claim their role was limited to reviewing Wilkins’ draft for church)–in attempt to establish that family was “central” to LDS doctrine—shoring up argument for standing in future cases). RS upset that they were not consulted and per Okazaki interview would have insisted on “a few changes.”

-October 1995 SCOTUS hears challenge to Colorado Amendment in Romer V. Evans.

-Oct 1995 Oaks article “Same-Gender Attraction” in Ensign says idea of “homosexual” person incompatible with LDS doctrine as it “implies that a person is consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice…”, “homosexual, lesbian, and gay” should only be used as “adjectives” to refer to “thoughts, feelings, or behaviors.” (He traces gender claim in preexistence to 1912 1st presidency statement–yet that statement doesn’t directly address gender issue in preexistence: “…all people who come to this earth and are born in mortality has a pre-existent, spiritual personality, as the sons and daughters of the eternal father”. Is the term “sons and daughters” an assertion of gender, a poetic substitution for “children,” or referring to their later gendered state? The article says nothing else to indicate that it is introducing, defending, or revealing anything about gender in the preexistence other than that one line). Oaks also references 1922 Talmage article “The Eternity of Sex” that says that we “doubtless” had gender (though Talmage has no prophetic or scriptural source for this—just logical assumption that since Gen 1:27 has a creation specifying “male/female” and then Gen 2:4-7 has humans actually being created, the first must refer to a “spiritual” or premortal creation. However, he does not seem to be aware/acknowledge that these are two different accounts (The E and J) of the same event. The early compilers didn’t know which was correct, and so included both. The context of Talmage’s article is that women had just gained suffrage in 1920 and 1922 Supreme Court upheld women’s vote))

-1996 Baehr (now called Baehr v. Mike) trial judge rules that state has failed to provide compelling interest in banning same-sex marriage and instructs state to issue licenses (though stays it for appeals).

-May 1996 SCOTUS issues ruling in Romer v. Evans, striking down Colorado Amendment 2.

-September 1996 US passes DOMA–which House Judiciary Committee characterizes as a response to “a redefinition of marriage in Hawaii to include homosexual couples could make such couples eligible for a whole range of federal rights and benefits”.

-1998 Corporation of the President donates $500,000 to Alaska Family Coalition to promote Alaskan Ballot Measure 2 (passed but ruled unconstitutional in 2014).

-November 1998 Hawaii passes Amendment 2 “reserving” power to define marriage to legislature–which promptly restricted it to opposite-sex only.

-1999 Baehr ruling reversed on basis of Amendment 2 (in 2013 legislature reversed itself and legalized same-sex).

-March 2000 California passes DOMA (Proposition 22), estimates are that more than half of funding came from LDS members (members told of donation forms being distributed in foyer after sacrament meeting).

-February 2004 San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom directs city clerk to issue same-sex licenses.

-August 2004 California Supreme Court nullified licenses.

-2007 Coalition of Catholics and Mormons (Matt Holland on board supported by Oaks) form the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). 2012 leak of internal memos shows that group intends to drive “wedges” between gays, blacks, and latinos as a way of undermining LGBT momentum. Church denies direct connection to/control of NOM.

-May 2008 California Supreme Court rules in In re Marriage Cases that access to same-sex marriage is a fundamental right, overturning Proposition 22.

-June 2008 proposition 22 is re-proposed for Nov ballot as constitutional amendment Proposition 8.

-Nov 2008 with massive push by NOM, California passes Proposition 8 (ruled unconstitutional in 2010–Investigative journalist Mark Schoof’s WSJ article and follow-up publicity revealed church was not only the primary coordinator of support for initiative (77 people at Church HQ working full-time on issue), but also had directly contributed to campaign (mostly in-kind donations). Legal complaint filed by Fred Karger led church to report $189,903–California fined church $5,539 for failure to comply with election disclosure laws. See Youn 2013 G.W. Law Review 81:2108).

-2013 United States v. Windsor strikes down US DOMA.

-2015 Church backs passage of Utah “Fairness for All” law (stylized as a “RFRA-lite” law), prohibiting discrimination of LGBT, but carving out “exemptions” for religious objections (bill co-written by Becket Fund and Alliance Defending Freedom?).

-June 2015 SCOTUS rules in Obergefell v. Hodges that gay marriage is a fundamental right and cannot be forbidden by any state.

-November 2015 Church Handbook changes are leaked to the public. People living in same-sex relationships are to be considered apostates and their children cannot be blessed, baptized, ordained to the priesthood, or serve missions unless, after age 18, they “disavow” gay marriage and receive permission from the 1st presidency.

-2016 Church sends letter to Mexican saints urging opposition to President Nieto’s initiative to legalize gay marriage–church also participates in the group Consciencia Nacional por la Libertad Religiosa (Mexican papers claim church is primary financial support—no figures available).

-Sept 2017 Church files amici curiae (Christian Legal Society, et al.) in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. How supportive of Alliance Defending Freedom has NOM or church been?

So here is a legal document (the Proclamation) that is now used as scripture to discriminate against gays and also women. Women who want to perhaps pursue a career and delay motherhood are pointed to The Proclamation and told they shouldn’t. It becomes even more strange upon reading an interview with Chieko N. Okazaki, the First Counselor in the Relief Society Presidency. She said this about the Proclamation (pg 136 of document):

Chieko Okazaki: ...In contrast, in 1995 when “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was written, the Relief Society presidency was asked to come to a meeting. We did, and they read this proclamation. It was all finished. The only question was whether they should present it at the priesthood meeting or at the Relief Society meeting. It didn’t matter to me where it was presented. What I wanted to know was, “How come we weren’t consulted?”

Greg Prince : You didn’t even know it was in the works?

Chieko Okazaki: No. They just asked us which meeting to present it in, and we said, “Whatever President Hinckley decides is fine with us.” He decided to do it at the Relief Society meeting. The apostle who was our liaison said, “Isn’t it wonderful that he made the choice to present it at the Relief Society meeting?” Well, that was fine, but as I read it I thought that we could have made a few changes in it.

In a document that describes women’s roles, they weren’t even consulted. Had zero say. Not even women in the highest positions of the church. I was so sad and shocked to learn this document was produced to ensure same sex marriage would never happen and that this document could be used as evidence in court. It’s a legal document, not a spiritual one. I now find it odd that this document is displayed everywhere in homes. And we wonder why gay church members hide their feelings.  Who would want to come out as gay in this discriminatory Church and its discriminatory culture?

No matter how much I pray to know the truth, or how many different ways I can frame this question. I continually come up that we are super wrong on this entire issue. We can somehow justify the ways in which Joseph Smith practiced marriage and sex, and we’re ok with all the crazy ways marriage and sex was practiced in the bible, but gay marriage, THAT’S too much? Really?

Let me finish this section by quoting Apostle Delbert L. Stapley in his letter to LDS Governor of Michigan, George Romney (father of Mitt Romney).  In this letter, same as I quote in my “black and the priesthood ban section,” he says extremely racist and bigoted ideas of blacks and urges Governor Romney to reconsider his Civil Rights position as it goes against the teachings of Joseph Smith and of the Church. He finishes by saying something that rings so true to what I hear todays members and leaders say of our LGBT members. Does this not worry you? Read this, and ask yourself if you’ve said bigoted things about LGBT members, but then finished your thought that we should love them anyways. You cannot have both, for they do not work. When church leaders and members say that, it reminds me of ideas we had in the past with race. Like this whole letter:

“Now, don’t think I am against the Negro people, because I have several in my employ. We must understand and recognize their status and then, accordingly, provide for them. I just don’t think we can get around the Lord’s position in relation to the Negro without punishment for our acts; going contrary to that which He has revealed. The Lord will not permit His purposes to be frustrated by man.”

I think this needs to be emphasized here again:

“If discriminating against people for something they can’t change is a core expression of your religion, perhaps you should reevaluate your religion.”

 

Word of Wisdom

This one has been one of those that has always left me confused. Imagine showing up to a new group of friends and one friend is in a dinosaur costume. Everyone just ignores it and even compliments them on how professional their outfit is. You are left there confused and baffled, like. Is no one else seeing this? Thats how I’ve felt about the word of wisdom.

Sitting in Sunday School when you have lessons on the WoW, the teacher often says, “Its remarkable that we’ve been given this instruction way before anyone was thinking about this!” Or they say, “The Word of Wisdom is all about being healthy and taking care of your body!” And I’m just like…no it isn’t…we don’t even practice the word of wisdom the way it tells us to…Is no one else seeing this?  Here’s my thing. If the word of wisdom was about health, it would say “lay off the sugar, get off your butt, and exercise.”  It says none of those things. Now, some will argue that the Sunday School lesson does include overall health. Which it does. But that doesn’t matter one cahoot in a Temple Recommend Interview.  An individual may consume 10 red bulls a day, eat only McDonalds, never exercise and he still may enter the temple. However, if a fit athlete who only “eats meat in season” but drinks a cup of coffee in the morning, then he is sent home repenting without a temple recommend. Coffee has been proven to be healthy, especially for the heart. So has tea. We used to say it was because of the caffeine, but thats not it. I’ve also heard its because it could be potentially addictive. Ok…? But what about soda. Have you seen the success of soda shops in Utah? What about chocolate? What about fast food? What about sugar? Sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Why not hot cocoa? Why not hot soups? Why not iced coffee? Why not iced tea?

Lets look at the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89):

2. To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint
5. That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.
6. And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.
7. And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.
9. And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.
11. Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
12. Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
13. And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
17. wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

First off. Why is it only coffee and alcohol that is keeping folks from the temple, where’s all those meat eater, non-veggie eater sinners at? In the temple. That’s where they’re at. See what I mean? As long as I can remember, I have always been puzzled by this.

Aside from the fact that the Word of Wisdom was never meant to be anything other than – a word. of wisdom – lets look at how we should be practicing it according to scripture:

Verse 2 – Clearly states that the Word of Wisdom is not a commandment; yet modern members are asked if they follow it during temple interviews and will not be issued a temple recommend if the interviewer feels that they do not properly adhere.

Verse 6,7,9,17 – Makes the distinction between 4 different types of drinks: wine, strong, hot and mild. Wine = ok for the sacrament if you make it yourself. Strong drinks = not ok. Hot drinks = not ok. Mild drinks = ok.

Verse 9 – Mentions “hot drinks.” What exactly does “hot drinks” refer to? Apostle George Q. Cannon stated, “We are told, and very plainly too, that hot drinks – tea, coffee, chocolate, cocoa and all drinks of this kind are not good for man…. We must not permit them to drink liquor or hot drinks, or hot soups or to use tobacco or other articles that are injurious.” (George Q. Cannon, General Conference, April 7, 1868, Journal of Discourses, vol.12)

Verse 11 – Only eat produce in their proper season.

Verse 12,13 – Meat should only be eaten in the winter or during a famine.

Verse 17 – Mild drinks made from barley area ok. What drinks are made from barley? Beer.

Here’s the stitch. Like I mentioned, the Lord’s Law of Health seems to lack real health considerations. Currently, extremely obese members are given temple recommends, while active, healthy, and fit members who drink coffee and tea would not qualify. It seems that if God really wanted to give the saints a code of health that would have prevented pioneer deaths due to a long list of illnesses including scarlet fever, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, influenza, pneumonia, cholera, malaria and small pox, he would have added things like the need for sanitizing water by boiling, increased personal hygiene and quarantining of sick persons.

I was also shocked to learn that the “hot drinks” thing was actually a pretty common misconception at the time. This wasn’t anything new by Joseph Smith:

One common misconceptions in this era said that hot liquids were not good for the body. A popular book titled, Wholesome Advice against the Abuse of Hot Liquors, particularly targeted tea, coffee and hot chocolate labeling them as unhealthy. This book argued that an excess consumption of hot drinks caused the blood and insides to heat up and that “Excess of heat is the most common cause of sickness and death.” Medical science at the time was so basic that the evidence presented in the book was based largely upon crude anatomical knowledge and references to classical Greek and Roman texts.

A few decades later, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was arguing for complete abstinence from tea, on the grounds that it gave rise to “numberless disorders, particularly those of a nervous kind”. He placed emphasis on the religious importance of self-denial. (http://www.tea.co.uk/a-social-history#temperance) Interestingly, Joseph Smith became very familiar with Methodist teachings when in June 1828 he became a member of minister Nathanial Lewis’ Harmony, Pennsylvania congregation. It is important to note that Joseph became a member after the First Vision where he was told that all religions were incorrect.

I’ve also discovered that the Temperance Movement should also be looked at:

Alcohol had been socially acceptable during the colonial era, but a social shift in the early 19th century initiated the belief that drinking was no longer acceptable. The temperance movement was an organized effort to encourage moderation in the consumption of alcohol or press for complete abstinence. Marcus Morton founded the American Temperance Society in 1826 and it benefited from a renewed interest in religion and morality in America. The movement began to grow exponentially. Within 12 years it claimed more than 8,000 local groups and over 1.5 million members. By 1839, 18 temperance journals were being published. Some groups took positions on moral issues and advocated temperance with alcohol rather than abstinence. The movement split along two lines: moderates who allowed some drinking and relied on moral persuasion alone, and radicals who demanded prohibition laws to restrict or ban alcohol. Prohibitionists dominated many of the largest temperance organizations after the 1830’s, and temperance eventually became synonymous with prohibition.

“On October 6, 1830, the Kirtland Temperance Society was organized with two hundred thirty nine members…. This society at Kirtland was a most active one…. it revolutionized the social customs of the neighborhood. The Temperance Society succeeded in eliminating a distillery in Kirtland on February 1, 1833, just twenty- seven days before the Latter-day Saint revelation counseling abstinence was announced, and that the distillery at Mentor, near Kirtland, was also closed at the same time.” (Brigham Young University Studies, Winter 1959, pp.39-40)

Needless to say, the Word of Wisdom wasn’t original inspiration. But just a culmination of common health misconceptions at the time. And thanks to our weird culture of ignoring some conference talks, while simultaneously taking some as extreme doctrine – it’s now something that is strictly enforced when it was never meant to have been anything other than – “something to think about it.” Obviously Joseph nor Brigham took it very seriously. I think a lot are shocked to find out that Joseph Smith continually broke the Word of Wisdom, in fact in cartridge jail they all shared a bottle of wine. He also drank tea and coffee. Brigham Young started a distillery in Utah – Valley Tan Whiskey. Mormons actually have a rich alcohol history in Utah. It wasn’t until the prohibition that it became a temple recommend interview question. This dialogue article by a BYU professor in 1981 does a really good job of explaining the history of the WoW. It appears that up until 1902, the only thing the leaders could agree on was that “they should refrain from eating meat except in dire necessity [since] Joseph Smith taught that animals have spirits”. See here, also an interesting snippet:

“Though it is clear that some church leaders, like Heber J. Grant and Joseph F. Smith, insisted upon complete abstinence from tea, coffee, liquor and tobacco, all General Authorities were not in agreement on all aspects of the Word of Wisdom. During a discussion in 1900 after he became President of the Church, Lorenzo Snow again emphasized the centrality of not eating meat, a point rarely emphasized by others, and in 1901, John Henry Smith and Brigham Young, Jr., of the Twelve both thought that the Church ought not interdict beer, or at least not Danish beer. Other apostles, like Anthon H. Lund and Matthias F. Cowley also enjoyed Danish beer and currant wine. Charles W. Penrose occasionally served wine. Emmeline B. Wells, then a member of the presidency and later president of the Relief Society, drank an occasional cup of coffee, and George Albert Smith took brandy for medicinal reasons. Apostle George Teasdale, agreeing with President Woodruff, thought that no one ought to be kept from working in the Sunday School because he drank tea and that eating pork was a more serious breach than drinking tea or coffee.”

Alexander, “The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement”, 1981, 14(3), Pgs. 78-88

Small Questions

Why did Nephi kill Laban? Why was that Ok? That was murder. The man was sleeping. Not to mention. If he cut off his head, there would be blood literally everywhere. I don’t see how he could have then put on his armor? Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see where it says Laban is a wicked and corrupt guy in the Book of Mormon. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t say it anywhere. Imagine, for a second, that Warren Jeffs or any other “prophet” and approached Thomas S. Monson or Russel M. Nelson and said, “Give me the mountain vaults, God told me I should have them.” Even Governor Herbert would refuse such a request. That is essentially what Lehi does to Laban. Laban doesn’t have to be wicked to refuse giving his plates to someone God spoke directly with him. Anyone else got a problem with this? Or have an answer that makes sense? I never really had a problem with this until Afghanistan, and then it’s always bothered me.

Why is money more important for salvation than kindness? I have always found it pretty weird and not right that tithing is required for salvation. I understand it’s important, but required to be saved??? It always seemed a little – pay to play to me. And there are no questions about being kind and loving to enter the temple? There is a “are you honest in your dealings?” And “Do you pay tithing?” “Do you drink coffee (WoW)?” But nothing on being kind and loving…You could construe that “Do you follow the teachings” could be referring to kindness, but you could also make that claim for the “honest with you fellow man” question – so that doesn’t really cut it. (I added a tithing section at the very, very end of this blogpost).

Why are boob jobs, plastic surgery (cosmetic reasons), and permanent make up ok, but tattoos and an extra earring aren’t? 

Why can men wear skimpy swimsuits and show their stomach, but woman can’t? Why is a woman’s stomach hyper-sexualized when mens aren’t? I feel like this causes a problem where boys are conditioned to think that woman’s only role is sex and that it’s up to the woman to control their thoughts. I feel like modesty only applies to woman. Woman aren’t in charge of controlling what men think of them. The way they dress does not “invite” thoughts into mens heads. Men are just conditioned that they can look at women this way because thats their role. Here’s a newsflash. Men can control their thoughts just fine. They’re just taught they don’t have to. A women in a bikini is simply a women wearing a swimsuit the same as a man is wearing a swimsuit, there is nothing sexual about it, and to imply that there is, is reaaaally weird to me. I feel like everything in the Church is hyper-sexualized. Finding sexual references where no normal person would make the situation sexual. It’s gotten to the point where a women shoulders is essentially like looking at porn. It’s sooooo weird and sooo sexist.

fatherhood

But we’re conditioning our young men to think like this, and conditioning our young women to be terrified of their own bodies because men are just gonna visualize sex with them if they can see their shoulder. This weird perverse mindset only exists in the church.  Here is a cover of a book that was sold at Seagull Book, called “Fatherhood.” Notice the obvious attempt to cover the little girls shoulder? The worst photoshop job ever. This isn’t modesty. Do you realize what this is implying? By doing this you’re suggesting that her shoulder is offensive and sexual – THAT A LITTLE GIRLS SHOULDER IS SEXUAL. CAN WE PLEASE STOP SEXUALIZING CHILDREN AND WOMEN. Ugh. Ok. To laugh this off – watch this on point video about modesty – click here

 

Why not iced coffee? Why not iced tea? None of those are against the word of wisdom as it was revealed to Joseph? These are insanely more healthy than any energy drink that  we’re currently allowed to drink in abundance.

 

“YOU’RE JUST AN ANTI-MORMON APOSTATE!”

This section is my response to the older gentlemen whom I had a long discussion with. He didn’t call me an Anti-Mormon apostate, but he did say a lot of what I said was Anti-Mormon lies or conspiracy theories. He didn’t say it in an insulting way, but it is insulting nevertheless, when the vast majority of resources come from church archives and Joseph Smith Papers Project.

Before you claim that this is anti-mormon or anti-mormon lies. Ask yourself this: Why is this anti-mormon? What about what I’m saying is anti?  Do these statements, perhaps about polygamy or racism repulse you, and therefore its anti-mormon? Or do you these things repulse you, but the church and its leaders have nothing to do with it and so its therefore anti-mormon conspiracy? Is it simply not true, and therefore is anti lies? If documentary evidence does exist from reputable and trustworthy sources, such as church archives and Joseph Smith Papers, what then? Will you continue to accuse me of being anti-mormon because I show you the truth and therefore must have an anti-mormon agenda? Or will you shift your positioning and say, “they were acting as men, not Lord’s appointed?” in order to rationalize this way?

Person 1: “I don’t believe something exists”

Person 2: “It actually does exist, and here is evidence of it, cited from sources you would respect”

Person 1: “I don’t want to read that evidence, therefore I’ll continue to claim that something doesn’t exist”

Don’t be Person 1. Ignorance isn’t bliss. Knowledge is power. Think critically. I’m not telling you what conclusions to come to. But for me, this is all really hard to juggle. If answers exist. Please tell me – BUT! DO YOUR RESEARCH. Don’t call me a liar without looking at the evidence. Keep reading for where to start in your research.

truth

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Topics I didn’t write about,
but really should eventually.

A.
The Witnesses.
It’s a hot mess and nothing like we learned in Church. Essentially, the safest bet is to just throw them out. Turns out no one actually “saw” the plates with physical eyes, but with “spiritual eyes.” This is only the tippiest, toppiest, part of the iceberg with these guys. Here’s some takeaways.

1. No scribe was allowed to see the plates.
2. All of the witnesses saw the plates spiritually, not physically.
3. Signatures of the witnesses are the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery.
4. All witnesses of the plates left the Church; save 2 members of the Smith family.

For more info read Letter For My Wife, pg 16-22. Or here at MormonThink.

 

B.
Joseph’s earlier treasure hunting days and fraud convictions.
They absolutely play a role, the chocolate rock he uses to transcribe the BoM was actually found when he was much younger and used it for treasure hunting – long before using it on the BoM.  He was then convicted for fraud. Now I know you’re saying, thats lies! He started a religion of truth and satan had people accuse him. No, this was long before the church started, and here are the original primary source documents. He would use that chocolate rock, stick it in his hat, and it would lead him to treasure. People would pay him to do this. Now riddle me this. If you could find treasure with your magic rock and hat, would you charge people…or just find the treasure yourself… Because the treasure was worth a lot more than you were charging people…???? Now, if L. Ron Hubbard was a convicted con-man before he started Scientology.  Would we not say – yeah, that explains a lot.

C.
Strengthening Church Members Committee.
A group/employees who are set to watch people of the church who apostate and become too famous or church members who publish books that paint the church in a disfavorable light. The church claims that it started to prevent predatory practices of polygamists. Elder Holland used some lawyerly term when describing it saying, “yes, that is the primary task of the organization.” So…whats the secondary task??? Or the third? Michael Purdy, the head of Media Relations for the Church and also the mastermind behind the “I am a Mormon” campaign acknowledged it’s existence. This seems super conspiracy, but it’s not! Thats the crazy part. This organization exists and it spies on members who it sees as a threat.

D.
The Kinderhook Plates.
 I don’t go into enough detail on this. This is very damning to Joseph’s credibility. Joseph Smith translated these small plates that people had brought him. They appeared to be small gold items with ancient writing on them. Joseph translated them and believed they contained the history of the “descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, King of Egypt.” Named after where they were found. Near Kinderhook. Well. They were forgeries. The church claimed they were authentic until 1980.

E.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Especially its relation to the Blood Atonement.

F.
False Prophecies.
Joseph Smith prophetically saying people lived on the moon and Brigham Young said people lived on the sun. The list is endless on false prophecies. Definitely worth a more in depth look. Like that Joseph taught that men lived on the moon. See here (scroll to the bottom under: Our Sunday Chapter):

“Nearly all the discoveries of men in the last half century have… contributed to prove Joseph Smith to be a prophet. As far back as 1837, I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they live to a greater age than we do – that they live generally to near the age of a 1,000 years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.”

 

G.
Women
. Soooo many prophetic sermons on the roll of women. I barely touched the surface. It’s not great and it’s certainly not equal. Heber C. Kimball has said woman are “jewels in the crown of men.” This has since been repeated often. It’s a nice metaphor until you realize that these jewels are actual people and that the crown goes on the head of male. It’s actually pretty gross and perverse. Here’s another snippet from Apostle Heber C. Kimball (it’s not just his teachings though) via Journal of Discourses:

“In the Spirit World there is an increase of males and females, there are millions of them and if I am faithful all the time, and continue right along with Brother Brigham, we will go to Brother Joseph and say, ‘Here we are Brother Joseph’ … He will say to us, … ‘Where are your wives?’ ‘They are back yonder; they would not follow us.’ ‘Never mind,’ says Joseph, ‘here are thousands, have all you want.’

Women are a possession – plain and simple. Thats why in the early days of the church women could instantly divorce their husbands for someone of higher priesthood authority. Because they had a right to them. Yup. Thats real. It happened. A lot. It’s STILL in our temples. Women. You can’t get into the highest degrees of glory unless a man takes you there. Theres also three tiers to the Celestial Kingdom as well in case you didn’t know – just do a quick search on lds.org. But you can’t receive the highest exaltation there unless your man takes on more than one wife. So not only can you not even enter the celestial kingdom without a man, but you can’t even go to the highest level unless your ok with him having multiple lovers. This women’s story explains it very well. Sexism and msyogny are so fundamental to mormonism. You can’t escape it. MEN ARE REWARDED IN HEAVEN WITH WOMEN. Are you ok with that? Do you believe that? Because the Church does. If you say the Church is true – you are endorsing that belief.  But yeah know what, what do I know? The church isn’t sexist. I mean. Look! They let a woman say a prayer in General Conference for the first time in April 2013! See. Not sexist. Look. Women can speak! Who knew? Let’s close this section with Brigham Youngs view on Women (only a small sample of his wives in picture):

When the servants of God in any age have consented to follow a woman for a leader, either in a public or a family capacity, they have sunk beneath the standard their organization has fitted them for; when a people of God submit to that, their Priesthood is taken from them, and they become as any other people.”

brigham-young-polygamy2.jpg


H.
Tithing. And its
 evolution from “if you can” to “if you have to choose between feeding your family and tithing – pay your tithing.”  Also the evolution of how tithing became required for salvation. This is a huge red flag to me. It’s so pay to play? And what are they spending the money on? I know this seems super “conspiracy theory” but it’s really not. If you say humanitarian work, you’re unfortunately wrong. I said I wasn’t going to go on about these topics, but let me hurry and explain what I mean since this was one of my earliest doubts/questions.

In Jan. 2006, from the Church PR department, (Deseret News Publishing Company): Edgley said, “that since 1984, the LDS Church has donated nearly $750 million in cash and goods to people in need in more than 150 countries.” That averages to $37.5 mil per year or about $3-$4 per Mormon member went to the poor. The total of $750 million in 22 years spent in cash and goods to people in need is only a small fraction of what the church spent on a mall (City Creek) they built in Salt Lake City. Which was estimated at costing three to five billion

The best estimates are that the church’s assets are around $100 billion and that tithing runs $4.5-6.5 billion per year. But no matter how you slice it, humanitarian work is a small part of church expenditures.

Even many individuals and corporations spend more than 1% on charitable work:
Wal-Mart – 1.5%
Ford – 2.2%
JP Morgan 2.1%
MBNA – 1.4%
UPS – 1.1%
GM – 1.23%
Avon – 3.97%
MetLife – 1%
Prudential – 1.22%
Eli Lilly – 1.4%

According to the IRS, the average charitable contribution is 2.2%.

Why is it that several large corporations and the average gentile are more charitable than the one and only true church upon the face of the whole earth? Again, we come back to the fact that the church proportionately spends very little of its wealth and income on helping the poor and unfortunate. Since the Church won’t disclose it’s finances, we cannot calculate the exact non-religious charitable giving, but it appears that less than 1% of tithing actually goes to helping the poor. If you include investment income, it’s much less than that.

Why does there need to be a corporate side? Why does the church need to buy malls, hotels, restaurants, condos, ranches, farmland, Oahu land, resorts, TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and insurance companies? How does owning these things contribute to the 3 missions of the church of perfecting the saints, redeeming the dead, and preaching the gospel?

The real point is that the church seems to get more money through tithing and investment income than it perhaps knows what to do with.

Business Week reported the following in this July 2012 article:

According to an official church Welfare Services fact sheet, the church gave $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid in over 178 countries and territories during the 25 years between 1985 and 2010. A fact sheet from the previous year indicates that less than one-third of the sum was monetary assistance, while the rest was in the form of “material assistance.” All in all, if one were to evenly distribute that $1.3 billion over a quarter century, it would mean that the church gave $52 million annually. A recently published article co-written by Cragun estimates that the Mormon Church donates only about 0.7 percent of its annual income to charity; the United Methodist Church gives about 29 percent.

Notice how it took the church 25 years to give 1.5 billion in humanitarian aid but they blew 3 billion on a mall… Yeah. There is a lot of deception in the evolution of tithing. I touched on this briefly in my Lorenzo Snow “who has the means” quote.  But essentially. Tithing was never meant to be a burden on anyone or families. Now it is, and is required for salvation. Plus the “self reliance” culture of the church makes those who ask for help feel ashamed and often times not ask for the help they need when tithing becomes too burdensome. With it being a requirement for a temple recommend, and thus required for salvation, and with malls being built costing upwards of 5 billion, and so little of the Church’s money going to humanitarian work – its a fair question to ask where is my money going, what are you using it for, and why do you need it? It seems the Church cares more about tithing than any other commandment. You are asked about tithing 1.5x per year. More than any other question. You are asked about tithing once a year at tithing settlement and once every other year for a temple recommend. Thus 1.5x per year.

I. 
The Church Culture. It’s actually incredibly harmful. One must be a cookie cutter mold to fit in. This constant strive to be perfect AND appear perfect. One must “avoid the appearance of evil” which is actually really harmful because one must appear happy constantly to protect the image of the Church. One can’t have any doubts. Doubts are looked down upon. Doubts can keep you from going to the Temple, from attending friends weddings, or from having friends at all.

J. 
Lehi’s vision/dream is the same dream Joseph Smith Sr. had. Joseph Smith Jr. heard this dream growing up. It’s almost exactly the same dream. With the tree, the fruit, too delicious to the taste, etc etc. Lucy Mack Smith reported that her husband, Joseph Smith Sr., had the following dream when Joseph Smith Jr. was 5 years old:

“I thought,” said he, “I was travelling in an open, desolate field, which appeared to be very barren. As I was thus travelling, the thought suddenly came into my mind that I had better stop and reflect upon what I was doing, before I went any further. So I asked myself, ‘What motive can I have in travelling here, and what place can this be?’ My guide, who was by my side, as before, said, ‘This is the desolate world; but travel on.’ The road was so broad and barren that I wondered why I should travel in it; for, said I to myself, ‘Broad is the road, and wide is the gate that leads to death, and many there be that walk therein; but narrow is the way, and straight is the gate that leads to everlasting life, and few there be that go in thereat.’ Travelling a short distance further, I came to a narrow path. This path I entered, and, when I had travelled a little way in it, I beheld a beautiful stream of water, which ran from the east to the west. Of this stream I could see neither the source nor yet the termination; but as far as my eyes could extend I could see a rope, running along the bank of it, about as high as a man could reach, and beyond me was a low, but very pleasant valley, in which stood a tree such as I, had never seen before. It was exceedingly handsome, insomuch that I looked upon it with wonder and admiration. Its beautiful branches spread themselves somewhat like an umbrella, and it bore a kind of fruit, in shape much like a chestnut bur, and as white as snow, or, if possible, whiter. I gazed upon the same with considerable interest, and as I was doing so, the burs or shells commenced opening and shedding their particles, or the fruit which they contained, which was of dazzling whiteness. I drew near, and began to eat of it, and I found it delicious beyond description. As I was eating, I said in my heart, ‘I cannot eat this alone, I must bring my wife and children, that they may partake with me.’ Accordingly, I went and brought my family, which consisted of a wife and seven children, and we all commenced eating, and praising God for this blessing. We were exceedingly happy, insomuch that our joy could not easily be expressed. While thus engaged, I beheld a spacious building standing opposite the valley which we were in, and it appeared to reach to the very heavens. It was full of doors and windows, and they were all filled with people, who were very finely dressed. When these people observed us in the low valley, under the tree, they pointed the finger of scorn at us, and treated us with all manner of disrespect and contempt. But their contumely we utterly disregarded. I presently turned to my guide, and inquired of him the meaning of the fruit that was so delicious. He told me it was the pure love of God, shed abroad in the hearts of all those who love him, and keep his commandments. He then commanded me to go and bring the rest of my children. I told him that we were all there. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘look yonder, you have two more, and you must bring them also.’ Upon raising my eyes, I saw two small children, standing some distance off. I immediately went to them, and brought them to the tree; upon which they commenced eating with the rest, and we all rejoiced together. The more we eat, the more we seemed to desire, until we even got down upon our knees, and scooped it up, eating it by double handfulls. After feasting in this manner a short time, I asked my guide what was the meaning of the spacious building which I saw. He replied, ‘It is Babylon, it is Babylon, and it must fall. The people in the doors and windows are the inhabitants thereof, who scorn and despise the Saints of God, because of their humility.’ I soon awoke, clapping my hands together for joy.”

Reference: Lucy’s Book, edited by Lavina Fielding Anderson, Chapter 2, pp. 297-98.

 

K.
The Kirtland Bank lies and failure. Resulting in members losing their life savings. The creation of $3 bill. What? Yeah. Read more here.

Lastly – Does it Matter?

truman show title page

“When you look at someone through rose-colored glasses,
all the red flags look just like…flags.”
– Wanda, Bojack Horsemen –

Does it matter if the Church is true? If it weren’t true, would you really want to know? That’s an incredibly difficult and brave question to ask. I’m sure it varies person to person. Some may say, it helps me be a better person? What’s wrong with that? Who cares if it’s true?

Believe me. I respect that answer. But for me it’s different. Because if it’s not true, then we’re discriminating against all these poor LGBT members and non-members. I’ve heard an adage that I believe to be true at this point – “Whats good [about the Church] is not unique, and whats unique is not good.” People are good in spite of the Church, not because of it. When thinking about this, I thought back to an image

Except for

I remembered in primary. A quick Google search helped me find it. The lesson is common – don’t listen to music that is otherwise good except for that one small thing. It taints the whole product. Right? Rated R movies can be really moving and powerful, but we avoid them because of the swear words or one sex scene because it destroys the whole message. Right? Remember this image from our youth? And yet we’re supposed to turn off this thinking? Should the same line of thinking not apply here also? We’re supposed to ignore the racism, blood atonement, misogyny, polygamy, polyandry, homophobia, D&C 132, Egyptian papyri, KJV plagiarism, kinderhook plates, masonic rituals, garments as a mean of silencing women on polygamy, city creek mall, hypocrisy, patriarchy, blacks temple ban, blacks priesthood ban, judgmental tendencies, and I mean – the list goes on and on. But yet, we continually tell ourselves that it teaches us to be a good person? Does it? Would you still eat that ice cream? Because it tells us to focus on the family and serve others? I can give you a list of organizations that also do that, that don’t have all that discriminatory bad stuff (like Unitarian Universalism which I’m really impressed with as well as Humanism, or philosophical examples like Existentialism, Modern Stoicism).  We often hear stories about converts, and how they contemplated joining because it would disappoint their parents, or their family threatened to never speak to them again – we (missionaries, friends and wards) would still encourage them to join because it’s the right thing to do. Because it’s true. We would tell them to be brave! Trust in God! Does the same logic not apply if it’s verifiably not true? Should we not also be brave?  Because if it’s verifiably not true, shouldn’t we still do the right thing? Even if that means disappointing family and friends?

Thats where my mind wanders when I’m thinking about just focusing on the good. It’s hard to do, knowing the ramifications of the doctrine and the manipulative past. Because if members were truly following the Gospel the way the First Presidency wanted them to: they would never have complained about the Black Temple Ban, they would never have been disgusted about Polygamy, they would call all gay people evil and apostates. If people followed the Church, true to the doctrine and the way the First Presidency wanted them to, the Church wouldn’t have to be easing up on the gay thing. We’re judging everyone and ourselves for no good reason. We’re trying our best to take away their rights all in the name of love and religion. We’re saying, “we love you and welcome you, we just don’t think you should experience love like we do and don’t think you should get married. I love you and support you, but please remain celibate, while I go home to my loving spouse and we’re going to share our love with each other – but you stay strong and go home and Netflix!”  It feels SO SO wrong to me. I feel like it’s exactly what we did to blacks. How is it not?

We’re also judging people constantly. Including ourselves. We’re judging people for that movie they went and saw, we’re judging them for that friend they were talking to (that we know hangs out with the wrong people!), we judge them for not wearing their garments or obviously taking them off when they could have easily exercised with them on, we judge people who suddenly don’t take the sacrament one week when they did the last, we judge people who struggle with faith, we sometimes only see people by their priesthood worthiness and not by their other great qualities, we isolate ourselves from amazing, life-changing people and life-changing experiences because they cuss or drink a beer or don’t quite live up to their priesthood callings.

If the church isn’t true, it’s not just ourselves that it’s affecting. It effects everyone we interact with, the friends we choose, the way we judge them and interact with them, the way we think about discrimination policies, to think it’s not hurting anyone is ignorant. We must realize that the policies and doctrine, if they are not true – and even if it is true – they are hurting a lot of people.  If you can only focus on your own journey, and say it doesn’t matter – I so understand. This is so hard. So. So. Hard. I completely understand. But perhaps try and think how your past actions and judgments have possibly affected would be life-long friendships.

If you want to stay for the good, and for the community. There are plenty of places to get that without the bad. Pick one that doesn’t marginalize women and have a history of white supremacy and racism. Pick one that doesn’t condemn a segment of our population to a life of celibacy, loneliness, and self loathing. Find one without the elitism of its hierarchy and its iron clad pecking order. In addition to picking a better one without the sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc: Pick one that doesn’t emphasize obedience of leaders over moral decency. Pick one that doesn’t require you to reject science when it conflicts with belief. Pick one that doesn’t teach you to lie to others about your knowledge of its truthfulness in order to believe more. Pick one that doesn’t teach that your worthiness as a human is determined by a few questions by a stranger. Pick one that doesn’t recommend to you to seek the advice from an untrained neighbor in a volunteer position about everything including money issues, marital problems, depression, medical concerns, neighbor issues, addictions, etc. Pick one that doesn’t require you to give 10% of your money as payment to get into heaven or to live with family after this life. Pick one that doesn’t require you to base every major decision on your feelings, often ignoring important facts that would change the decision. Pick one that doesn’t teach you that those outside your group are dangerous and you should avoid making strong relationships with them. Pick one that doesn’t teach you that the way someone dresses or what they are drinking is an obvious indicator about how good of a person they are. Pick one that doesn’t revise and hide its history. Pick one that doesn’t pretend that everything a prophet says is from God while simultaneously asking you to ignore any past statements that conflict with current ideology. Pick one where mothers are included in the story of creation and guidance of their children while on earth.  The list goes on and on, you get the idea.

But what about our spiritual affirmations that the church is true? Here’s the problem – God reaffirms truth to all religions. He confirms to everyone that their particular church is true. Sometimes more abruptly than He confirms to many LDS members. I wondered about this when I was growing up. I always wondered, would I have thought the world was flat, would I have been a Roman Catholic had I been born at the right time?  Would I be a baptist if I were born in the south? During my studying of evolution, I came across this quote from an evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, that really hit me as I have always wondered this:

Isn’t it a remarkable coincidence, almost everyone has the same religion as their parents, it always just happens to be the right religion. Religions run in families, if we’d been brought up in ancient Greece we’d all be worshiping Zeus and Apollo. If we’d been born vikings we’d be worshiping Wotan and Thor. How does this come about? Well of course, through childhood indoctrination. One by one those ancient belief systems have vanished off the face of the earth and everybody seems to get along just fine without them.”

I’ve often heard people say they rely on so-and-so’s testimony or can’t imagine leaving because of so-and-so.  But it’s entirely possible that so-and-so also have just accepted this as a way of life and over time it became life. That they also stayed for the same reasons. Through many discussions on this general topic, I’ve learned from LDS members that God positively responds to all truths and reaffirms them. For more info – watch this then this. So this is a major problem, because those members then say that they rely on faith to know if something is true. But how can we know then? How do not know if God is not just testifying of a partial truth? If it’s all the same? In fact, I hear so many talks and testimonies about struggles of discerning between feelings, emotions, and the spirit?  There seems to be so much confusion on this subject. Even Joseph Smith, after trying to sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon to Canadian publishers (another crazy topic for another day), was questioned why he did that. Joseph said to them regarding his failed revelation to sell the Book of Mormon, he said, Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil.”  So if not even the Prophet Joseph Smith can discern his own feelings, how are we to only rely on those experiences when so much evidence shows the contrary?  Now please don’t think that your experiences aren’t real or valid. They are. Let’s imagine a scenario, let’s say I called your mother and told her that you just died in a car accident.  She would be devastated and full of feelings and emotions. The feelings she would have in that moment would be deep, and strong. But you didn’t die in an accident. I just made that up. Her emotional reaction was founded on no truth at all, yet it was just as powerful as if it actually happened. That’s the power of belief.  A fascinating read is found on MormonThink about this subject. See here.

When I ask myself this question, I think of The Truman Show a lot. His life was great inside that bubble. Everything he could have ever wanted was there. His life was great – amazing even. Why leave? Perhaps this is another way to frame the question. Does it matter if he knows his world is not real? Do we care if we live in a Truman Show if it makes us happy? The world outside that bubble is too real. Bad things happen.  Life is hard, he must find his way amongst the billions of other people out there. And yet. We want him to leave? We want him to walk out that door? Why? Because it’s worth it. Because although bad things happen, amazing things also happen. Because the world, as scary as it is, is beautiful. There is so much beauty in truth. No matter how hard or scary it is. There is beauty in admitting we don’t know what will happen when he walks out that door, but we know there is beauty and happiness waiting for him beyond it. Even if it’s hard, and even if we don’t know what that means.  So the question is, if we know the truth to The Truman Show, are we brave enough to walk up the stairs and walk out that door?

“Do what is right; be faithful and fearless.
Do what is right; let the consequence follow.”

If you’re having a hard time with all of this information, please watch these Mormon Stories episodes called “Family Ties.” Its about two families who were close as they began to learn about what you just read. Please know you’re not alone. I also found this short TED x video very thought provoking, perhaps you will too.

“A man is accepted into a church for what he believes,
and he is turned out for what he knows.”
– Mark Twain

Thats how I feel, after being shut down every time I’d ask questions in Sunday School or tried to politely correct them when they were saying things that were not true. Every time I’d try and bring this up with Bishops or Stake Presidents or Church friends. I don’t blame them. But it sure seems that the one true church really doesn’t care about the “true” part. Who taught them to be so afraid of truth? I thought others would want to know this information. It turns out they don’t. My integrity won’t allow me to pretend I haven’t read what I have, that I haven’t learned what I have learned. I know God will not fault me for seeking out truth “wherever I may find it.” I apologize if this has been hard. But I feel like facts and truth matter. At least they do to me. Please don’t fault me or blame me for sharing the truth.  I’m not the one that has been dishonest. If you’re disturbed and confused, look to the place that withheld this information to begin with – walk up those stairs and see whats behind that door.

truman show

 

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