Why people leave the LDS Church, and what we can do about it

Recently a stake high councilman came to me very concerned about a family that had just decided to leave the church, and have their names removed from the records. He and his wife were desperate to know how to counsel this family–one of the best and brightest in their stake.

To help, I came up with this screencast (for Internet Explorer users) and this one for everyone else.

The basic premises are–1) you can’t help them if you don’t know what they’re going through, and 2) you can’t help them by making them a “project”.

For those of you with loved ones who have left or are leaving, I would love you to watch/listen to this and let me know what you think.

For those of you who are struggling, or have left, I would love to know if you or your family/friends would find this useful, in helping people understand and deal with your situation better.

Please let me know. This is only in draft form, and I could really use your feedback.

John Dehlin

123 comments for “Why people leave the LDS Church, and what we can do about it

  1. November 24, 2005 at 1:54 pm

    Looks good so far, John. However, I can’t get past 7:34 in the timeline. It just stops. I am using Firefox.

  2. Paul Mayfield
    November 24, 2005 at 3:13 pm

    You have some good advice for the disaffected and their loved ones.

    Here are some suggestions that come to mind.

    1. I don’t think it’s necessary to repeatedly give the disclaimer that your presentation doesn’t prove the church is false. That just encourages black and white thinking which you explain ultimately results in traumatic disillusionment.

    2. You shouldn’t absolve church leadership of responsibility for the disillusionment of the members. For example, on slide 20 you claim that most issues are with the general membership. I don’t think it’s fair to lay the lion’s share of responsibility on the membership. The church consistently teaches the black and white version of itself to the members through seminaries, institutes and correlated materials used in Sunday School. The rhetoric over the pulpit very explicitly encourages an all or nothing approach. President Hinckley explained that the church is either completely true or it is a fraud. It’s not like the members were taught a balanced version of the past but then chose to view things black and white.

    3. Slides 32-35, are excellent. They are right on the mark. I would add a couple of things to do on slide 35. A) Recognize that unless you are very well read in materials outside of the traditional Mormon paradigm (e.g. No Man Knows My History) you will not be able to empathize with the angst felt by a disaffected member. B) Avoid attribution of behavior to ulterior motives. It’s true that many who leave the church do so because of sin or laziness. But just as many or more will leave over disillusionment or because they have been victimized in some way. C) Be patient as your loved one undergoes the grieving process. When somebody becomes disillusioned (i.e. slide 31) they feel a great loss. They go through the stages of grief including denial, anger, etc. Support them in the ways you would support someone who lost a loved one.

  3. secretagentsnowman
    November 24, 2005 at 5:14 pm

    I second Kim. Doesn’t finish the presentation in Firefox.

  4. Anne Hutchinson
    November 24, 2005 at 8:04 pm

    John,

    I read your Powerpoint slides which is faster for me than to listen/view the screen cast. I think that you have a lot of good points … I found slide # 31 “Once This Happens to You …” particularly effective. For me, I no longer view the church as I did a year ago when I began some in-depth research into a few LDS topics. And there is no turning back.

    I also agree with Paul’s comment above. I have observed a lot of black and white thinking in the church and my impression is that this comes from the top levels of leadership and on down. I have grown from the black-and-white thinking of childhood / teen years to see the complexities of the church …. but I did it on my own … mainly through Sunstone and Dialogue. I don’t think the church leadership supports the type of study and discussion that brings up the complexities of history and doctrine. So when the house of cards falls … for many it appears to be a betrayal.

    For some, Sunstone and Dialogue may help. For some, this podcast may help. For others, their faith journey may require a fresh start. I would hope that your high councilman will be supportive of the aforementioned couple regardless of the path they choose.

  5. November 24, 2005 at 8:52 pm

    1. The screencast hangs up for me too, at 7:34, on the Larry King slide. In both Firefox and MS IE 5.5. I installed the latest Flash player, too. I think the file (as stored on your server) is truncated or corrupt, because the progress bar stops in addition to the time-point slider.

    2. Suggestion on this and other podcasts. I think you need to tighten up the spoken text. On this, the audio should be reduced to no more than 30 minutes, maybe down to 20. Too much expounding and verbal filler in it. I think audio that accompanies a slide show needs to be tight because the slides are already focusing my attention. Cut everything that doesn’t support your thesis. Make every statement meaningful, and don’t repeat points with alternate wordings. Get me in, and get me out quickly.

    A pet peeve: Membership status of one’s ancestors and who one is related to has nothing to do with how correct, active or faithful one is. Steve Benson can make the same claims. When people tell me their dad was a bishop, as if that strengthens their points, I tell them it makes them a sonuva-bishop.

  6. November 24, 2005 at 10:51 pm

    I’ve fixed the hangup. It works now.

    Great comments from all (hey Paul!!!)–I will incorporate.

    Also, I agree that I need to tighten up the verbal discussion…that I ramble too much. Very good feedback (Bookslinger). Thank you.

    John

  7. anon
    November 25, 2005 at 5:10 pm

    my first time to check out your stuff – i did the powerpoint slide. nice work. excellent organization and tremendous effort on your part.

    i’ve an issue with the last comment of the presentation: Part of maturity, I would argue, is finding out that things aren’t like thought…but deciding not to give up.

    not giving up is one option. for those who choose to graduate or quietly walk away from the church – it can be about integrity – being true to what you know is right. additionally, many leave or graduate from mormonism because of abuse, be that abuse of power or physical sexual abuse. neither of these reasons have one thing to do with immaturity. quite the opposite.

    not that your point should be taken away, though, as i agree that under the right circumstances (supportive ward/family envirmonment) one might choose to stay even with the knowledge of the numerous imperfections and that would take a level of maturity.

    thank you for your work in this area. i applaud you. good luck.

  8. anon
    November 25, 2005 at 6:06 pm

    I would like to comment more later, i feel there is a big void in the presentation regarding children.

    you mention the contrast to what one has been taught versus the actual history. i would suggest it is easier to cross that gap than to TEACH the correlated material to a child, knowing it is blatant lies.

    i found it easier to twist my own mind into rationalizations, but i cannot, and refuse to participate in this misrepresenation to my children, or anyone elses children.

  9. anon
    November 25, 2005 at 6:07 pm

    Big Huge Thumbs Up to you John. Your work is greatly appreciated.

  10. Dylan McDonald
    November 25, 2005 at 6:23 pm

    Its obvious you have put some time and serious thought into your presentation. I think you have created a useful tool – I hope it finds a receptive audience.

    You have captured many important points and thoughts. I would add that too often we view people leaving as those who have “lost their testimony” and try an look for some seminal event. There may have been an event that finally triggered a break, but some go for years before finally deciding to leave. You might want to rework your presentation to include those who take a longer exit stategy. I got the feeling that the timeframe presented in the ppt was a short period (although you don’t give any timeframe, your example at the beginning of the posted text indicates the family in question left unexpectedly, implying it must have been a “seminal event”). Many struggle with the decision to leave. Whats frustrating is talking to members who believe your decision was hastily made. Seminal event or not, members need to give people credit for carefully weighing thier decision.

    Slide 36 presents important points, things that many who have left have struggled with. Those thoughts are what kept me in for so many years. But there comes a point when change is too slow and the needs of you and your family can be met in other ways. Perhaps as a man (read “a white, American, priesthood holder, RM, recommend holder”) there is hope to work for positive change, but the power issues currently in Mormonism present a long struggle. Why should those disaffected prove to be martyrs just because others believe it to be the only true church? I can easily find more progressive organizations. Although the decision for me is clear, for those with deep ties to the Church (family, friends, genealogy) the issue may not be as discernable. Also, how effectively can a person work for change, when they are truly begin to agitate for it – what kind of callings will they get, will their comments be squashed, will friendships flourish once the label (pick which one you will) is applied? Sadly I have not seen it work to well in the wards I’ve been involved in.

    In your seminal event slide, you might add those who have been offended in some way. This seems to be a common occurance – I would suggest adding it.

    In slide 7 I would take out the word “dangerous” and replace it with “uncomfortable.”

    Let us know when your next revision comes out and how people are reacting to it. Thanks for putting this together.

    Dylan

  11. Wain
    November 25, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    Your powerpoint presentation outlines exactly what happened to a close friend. He did not sin, take illegal drugs, or associate with anti-Mormons. He started to ask questions about Mormonism and was eventually excommunicated.

    Every time I bring it up, every LDS person will automatically assume they know exactly why he got exed. “He must have been cheating on his wife. He must have committed some crime. He must have been going around church planting seeds of doubt.”

    It’s maddening. He really felt like he was dismissed when he started asking his bishop and Stake Pres for answers. He was labeled as a trouble maker and shunned.

    By the way, in the slide where you use words other Mormons have used to describe those who leave, “Dangerous” is exactly the right word.

    Wainer

  12. japanguy
    November 26, 2005 at 5:41 am

    Great presentation. Just wanted to make a comment about the something that I often here from active LDS. They often say that so and so left because they were sinning or wanted to sin. While this could be true, what is more likely is that the individual has had a change in world view. Most likely the so called sin happened because the individual no longer believes that it is a sin. Some may start to drink coffee, smoke, stop attending church etc. To have what you believed all of your life become false is a major change of world view. It can affect all aspects of your life. You see things from a different perspective.
    Japanguy

  13. japanguy
    November 26, 2005 at 5:56 am

    Sorry about the spelling problems. I really can spell. I was just in a hurry.
    Japanguy

  14. GDTeacher
    November 26, 2005 at 9:38 am

    Good stuff.

    Other than the fact that I am still active, this mirrors my experience pretty well. I would note that this is but one path. I don’t know that it is the most common path, but it is certainly not the only path. Coming to understand many of the inconsistencies in the church was gut-wrenching for me. Perhaps there are other things that may or may not be as common, but still very important. What about the person that experiences the misogynistic aspects of the church? What about the person who was abused as a child, but the church did not intervene as expected? What about the person who cannot contort themselves to fit into the expected cookie cutter mold? What about the person who gets ill seeing the children taught the correlated materials that don’t match the reality of the situation? What about the person who feels guilt for much of their lives for “sins” that seem insurmountable to them?

    The notion of being a Mormon on your own terms may work in some situations, but not others. Some or many leaders are unlikely to look favorably on the cafeteria Mormon approach. Those leaders may badger people to repent, be more active, do more things, become “temple worthy,” etc.

    You mention instigating a broader education of the membership. That’s great, but who and how? What would the forum be? For many of us, just having a forum to openly discuss the issues would be enough. I’ve been shut down many time in church meetings for asking some questions that are even more basic than the questions you show in your presentation. I’ve given up. I don’t attend priesthood meeeting or sunday school anymore because I hear the same correlated, whitewashed material being stated over and over sometimes supplemented with new magical faith-promoting stories. I have suggested an alternate sunday school class where issues could be discussed openly and frankly without fear. Of course that was shut down. It is not part of the correlated church programs and more likely than not, the local leadership are unwilling to buck the correlated program approach.

    In summary, the reasons why people leave are varied. I think the historical surprises that you cover well are a significant factor. I think there are many other reasons, that are unlikely to include that the person “wants to sin,” or they were “offended.” If you could cover some of the other issues, that would be useful. Broader, more accurate and frank teachings of historical issues should always be encouraged, but I am somewhat skeptical that that will completely happen.

  15. anon
    November 26, 2005 at 9:42 am

    i will pile on to what bookslinger said. the audio needs some pruning.

    your own introduction can be limited to “I am John and my background is available at mormonstories.org”

    i understand that you are trying to distinguish the departure of a multigenerational family from the many converts that fall away only hours after their baptism. i do think though that converts that have been engaged face the same emotions as those that are born in the church.

    pack your verbal presentation with bullets and punches, leave the filler for follow up discussion. great work.

  16. GDTeacher
    November 26, 2005 at 10:29 am

    Some more thoughts for consideration, sorry for the additional post.

    Another thing that I think would be very important to add in some fashion is that most LDS folks believe that their spiritual experience is somehow unique to the LDS faith. They believe that that “burning in the bosom” is a unique manifestation of the Holy Ghost telling them that the the LDS religion is the one and only correct religion. Although you mention downplaying the “one true church” perspective, you haven’t gotten to the source of that dogma, which is that burning in the bosom. LDS folks are taught that “denying the Holy Ghost” is the worst offense. They may often fear that those who have left the church have denied the Holy Ghost and must be saved. They may also not understand that among those that leave, many have come to understand that the feelings of the Holy Ghost are not unique to the LDS tradition, but are common to many religious traditions as well as many situations that are not “religious” per se. Others who have left have confirmation from the Holy Ghost that the LDS church is not true. Many LDS folks believe that those who have the spiritual experiences that differs from what they expect in the LDS tradition, are being deceived by Satan. I think incorporating this aspect into your screencast would be a very important thing to helping members understand that those who are leaving are not heading to outer darkness, nor have they been deceived by Satan. They have just come to understand things differently, in perhaps a more spiritual or perhaps a less spiritual manner than they had before. The one true church dogma is dramatically damaging and damning to those who are leaving the church and those who are watching someone leave the church.

  17. MoNoMo
    November 26, 2005 at 1:05 pm

    I just wanted to say a big AMEN, AMEN & AMEN to Anon who said,

    “i found it easier to twist my own mind into rationalizations, but i cannot, and refuse to participate in this misrepresenation to my children, or anyone elses children.”

    On your last slide you ask those of us who have left, “Don’t you have an obligation to stick around and make it better?”

    For all of us who are parents, our largest obligation is to our children and to our posterity. Do we want to “stick around” in a religion that refuses to debunk hateful myths that directly contradict the commandments of Jesus Christ, just because it is what we’ve inheirited?
    Don’t we have a moral obligation to the larger society to put our foot down in protest and refuse to allow our children to be indoctrinated with the bigoted traditions of our forefathers?
    Good Hell! It’s the 21st century and the mormon church still maintains that blacks were descended from Cain and cursed with black skin, that American Indians are descended from a cursed race of Jews, cursed with red skin, that women are inferior to men, that 5&6th Generartion Mormons like you are superior to 2nd Generation Mormons like me. It’s a caste system that is alive and well. Just the fact that you feel obligated to make this presentation emphasizes the dehumanizing aspects of Mormonism.
    I applaud your efforts, but don’t think you’ve managed to face the reality that you are still subjecting your children to the vicious cycle of Mormonism. At least they can hold their heads high in North Logan, knowing they are better than all the people who are not 6th & 7th Generation Mormons.
    For the sake of the next generation, if not your own, get out, and start a new legacy of obeying Christ’s commandment by loving your fellow man as yourself & not as a member of a lower caste!

  18. November 26, 2005 at 1:16 pm

    Nice job, John. I won’t duplicate the comments that others have made. I’d suggest adding the thought that people differ in their ability to handle the “cognitive dissonance” that comes from realizing the discrepancy between their prior understanding and their present one. What seems to be an earth-shattering event for one person is easily placed on the “back shelf” and ignored by another person. And any one person’s ability to deal with the dissonance will diminish as other things add stress to her/his life. In other words, we need to give each other the room to recognize that we aren’t all alike.

    I also wonder about the “one and only true church” mentality, and how it promotes the black & white thinking that makes it difficult for people like me to remain members, or at least active ones. I’m not sure how realistic it is for us to hope for a more encompassing church, as the perceived exclusivity of the church promotes this kind of thinking. To the extent that we can encourage people to see similar processes occuring in other churches, we may be able to make progress. But at some point, the black/white thinking seems to lead inevitably to the urge to ostracize or excommunicate people who see more human reasons for the church being the way it is.

    Good luck with the project!

  19. anon
    November 26, 2005 at 11:53 pm

    I love what you are doing John. People like you can really bring about change in the church. Thank you for taking the time to do these things. I love your line about learning that you can be your own kind of Mormon. It took me a long time to realize this (and I am still learning), and it really is a key to staying active. Sometimes you just don’t feel like you fit in, and it gets disheartening.

    My only critique is what others have said: this and your other podcasts needs trimming. You said that you ramble, and while that is sometimes a problem, also keep in my mind in that other podcasts, it is sometimes the guests who are rambling. You are very polite and happy to be talking to them and I am sure you want to let them do so. But a great host will cut in and guide the conversation to stay pithy and pertinent.

    Do keep up the wonderfu work!

  20. November 27, 2005 at 1:08 am

    I need to get my conversion and apostasy and return-to-church story all down in one place.

    I’ll just give a brief overview: I joined the church at age 24, served a 2 year full-time mission from age 26 to 28, and then went inactive a year after I got home. Four years after I went inactive, I requested name-removal. Then 11 years after that, after going through some buffetings-of-Satan, I came crawling back to church.

    Part of the reason I went inactive was unrepented sin. And part was being offended by others, both rank-and-file members, local leaders, and a couple general authorities. The saying is true, that when we lose the Holy Ghost, then little offenses become unbearable and the church offends us.

    My testimony of the Book of Mormon was very powerful, along the lines of Page 38 in Gospel Principles. It was more than a “burning in the bosom”, it was being filled with holy fire, like my bones were melting, and having pure intelligence flow into me. Joseph Smith’s descriptions of the Holy Ghost and revelation are right on the mark as far as I’m concerned. (I didn’t read “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” until some time after my conversion.)

    I’ve never lost that testimony. At times, I’ve tried to convince myself otherwise, but I always gave up after 2 seconds, because I know what I know, and I can’t deny it. Though I have tried to.

    What I saw in the MTC and in the mission field in the 80’s was devastating to me. I had bought into all the pie-in-sky ivory-tower rhetoric of “Missionaries must be this” and “Missionaries must be that”. Not having grown up in the church, and having only 2 years membership as an adult, I never got to know what real teenagers in the church were like. During those 2 years, we had no priests (16-17 year olds) in my ward. And, I never saw missionaries “off duty” or when they thought no one was looking.

    Though I was an older missionary, I remembered being a teenager. But in the MTC and in the mission field, it seemed to me that Mormon teenagers, ie, missionaries, were WORSE than the people I associated with when I was a teen. How could that be, I thought, if this was the true church? How could they be the “cream of the crop” if so many of them were frivolous punks who thought they were on a 2 year vacation? How in the hell could someone go on a mission when they didn’t think the church or the Book of Mormon were true?

    Not only that, but the men who ran the missionary program were a bunch of arrogant overbearing bullies compared to the priesthood leaders that I had known and worked with at the ward and stake level back home. No priesthood leader back home would have dared treat someone the way missionaries were treated by their MTC leaders.

    A lot of the missionary abuse stories over on RfM ring true to me. But so what? Missionaries are less than perfect. Mission presidents are less than perfect. (And some are less perfect than others.) But there just ain’t enough perfect teens to field 100% perfect missionaries. There just ain’t enough perfect men to fill all the mission president positions.

    It took me about 17 years to resolve the fact that there were/are problems with teens and young adults in the church, and problems with some less-than-perfect priesthood leaders, with the fact that this is still the one and only true church.

    The answer is on the title page of the Book of Mormon, “if there are faults, they are the mistakes of men.”

    The fact that the church raised the standards for missionary service helped me resolve things, as that was tacit admission that things had gotten out of hand. But in essence, the standards voiced by Elder Ballard in October 2002 conference were the same ones publicly stated back in the 80’s.

    What I heard though, was that now the standards were going to be enforced, instead of just pushing young men out on a mission with a wink and a nod.

    And I can’t back down from the fact that this is still the ONE and ONLY official church. I know the Book of Mormon is true, because God told me by burning that knowledge into me via the Holy Ghost. And I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet in the same manner. We never need apologize for stating that.

    To say that this is the one and only true church is not to say that there aren’t good people in other churches. And to say that this is the one and only true church is not to say that members of other churches won’t or can’t be saved.

    We claim exclusive “authorization” from God, but we don’t claim a monopoloy on truth. Most other churches do have bits and pieces of truth, and God blesses everyone, no matter what church they are in, when they live according to true principles.

    I loved Pres Hinckley’s remark about how we invite people of all faiths to bring whatever truths they have with them, and we will add to them.

    I realized that there have been imperfect and even sinful men in the true church since the day Cain slew Abel. And I finally realized there just aren’t enough perfect men to fill all the leadership positions.

    I once told that to a divorced friend, who retorted with the sarcasm that only a divorcee’ could muster: “There’s an oxymoron, ‘perfect men.'”

    Not having grown up in the church, I never really experienced “correlated white-wash.” But I do understand and agree with the concept that no organization is under obligation to air its dirty laundry, or to advertise the warts of past or current leaders.

    I don’t know what is or was taught in correlated youth material. Maybe that is where you guys got the “whitewashed” history. But I don’t remember seeing it published in the material for adults in the church. The worst you can say about correlated adult material, is that it doesn’t publicize past leaders’ warts. And that is not a sin.

    Section 132 states somewhere that Joseph had wives other than Emma. I thought that was pretty plain. So what does it matter if he had 2 other wives or 30? Either he was a prophet or he wasn’t. And all the details of who was married to whom at the same time is really none of my business. If Joseph sinned in any of those matters, the sin was on his head, and the church is still true.

    Maybe you guys are confusing “church lore” in your minds with Sunday School/Priesthood lessons.

    I don’t care if Joseph did foolish things like money-digging, water-witching, or treasure hunting as a teenager. I’ve done plenty of things that I’m not proud of, and yet, God called me back to church, and has poured out mighty blessings, and called me to participate in some mind-blowing events. So I know first hand that God will work with less-than-perfect men if they will at least _try_ to repent.

    I haven’t had visions of heaven opening, but I have experienced extremely powerful spiritual events. So I know first hand that God wants us to repent of our sins and foolishness, so that he can forgive us and bless us so that we can move on in building his kingdom, serving others, and growing to be more like him ourselves.

    Yes, bad things sometimes happen in the true church.

    Yes, well-meaning people in the church sometimes do wrong things, and people get hurt.

    Yes, sometimes there are wicked people in the church who hurt others.

    But that’s ALWAYS been the case, since the days of Cain/Abel, and especially since the days of Joseph Smith. And Joseph definitely had it worse than we do now because he had 1st presidency counselors and apostles apostatize on him and persecute the church.

    In my case, my unwillingness to repent kept me from being able to forgive others. And my unwillingness to forgive some people who hurt me also tended to keep me from repenting of my own sins. Repentance and forgiveness is a cycle that works both ways. Doing one leads to doing the other. Avoiding one leads to avoiding the other.

    Yes, it is difficult and takes a long time to resolve the apparent conflicts. But I testify that they CAN be resolved, because that is what I’ve been doing for the past three years. But more importantly, God doesn’t OWE us an explanation for every little thing. Sure, answers and confirmations are nice. It’s “nice” to be able to box up everything with tidy little bows.

    But life is not a 60 minute CSI-type TV show where every discrepency gets resolved at the end of the hour.

    While driving down life’s highway, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery, or you can concentrate on the road-kill.

    Mormon history isn’t always pretty. But neither is the Old Testament. Especially events like when one man raped their sister, the sons of Jacob slaughtered the whole town, but not until after tricking them into getting circumsized and waiting until their privy-members were at the sorest point before finally killing them. Mormons and Old Testament Jews, a lot alike, almost always getting in trouble with their neighbors. But, in both cases, they’re still God’s official church, and chosen people, in spite of the stupid things they do.

  21. Micheal Schneider
    November 27, 2005 at 7:41 am

    Hi John,
    your presentation was really good. I have never seen such a slideshow + podcast, its really cool.

    However, I wondered why you can be so sure that the total absense of mormon culture in the ancient Americas is no threat to your faith.

    Maybe that does not hold for you, but nowadays, many people trust science and the results of scholarly research.
    And if the whole research community with the exception of FARMS scholars agrees that there is no evidence whatsoever for a culture described in the book of mormon, yea, even that the circumstances described in the bom are blatantly contrasted to the archaeological reality, I would consider that a serious problem the church has to come to terms with. And that is not a problem of the everyday member, its a very problem of the church officials, starting from Gordon B. Hinckley down to every sunday school teacher.

    You ask for openness.
    An openness might however lead to the truth that the book of Mormon is not a historical record whatsoever. No geography, no culture, no animal, no coin system,writing.
    Would you go so far in your openness?

    Greets,
    Micheal

  22. November 27, 2005 at 9:25 am

    Bookslinger, I think it leads to a lot of divisiveness when the LDS are viewed as the “God’s official church” in spite of every single stupid thing they ever do. What does that make the non-LDS and the ex-LDS? Officially rejected by God, in spite of every single good thing they ever do? That’s very divisive.

    John, I appreciate what you’re trying to do with the PowerPoint. I thought your overall point was very good and meshed with my experience…up until the “things for them to consider” and the final slide. Those slides made me feel judged (as an ex-mormon who left for many of the reasons you outline in the earlier slides, as well as some of my own), which I think undermines your overall point of not judging.

    Some faithful LDS feel betrayed by those of us who leave, especially if they had previously admired us or leaned on us at some point. Several people have told me that simply by choosing to leave I essentially called them a “blind follower” and told them their sacrifices for the church were meaningless. I never said anything even remotely to that effect, but that is how they felt because of my choice to leave.

    It is understandable that people would react to those feelings of betrayal and abandonment by lashing out, thinking of me as having “lost my testimony” because I am weak and want to sin (as you point out in your hints on what not to do). But is it really an improvement if they think of me instead as being too lazy to fulfill my “obligation to help make things better, vs. pack up and leave”? Or if they assume I’m too immature to realize that people, books, and organizations can be deeply flawed and still inspired by God? Personally, I would feel just as unrighteously judged by the latter as by the former.

    Rather than fulfill a supposed “obligation to help make things better” within mainstream Christianity, Joseph Smith was inspired to “pack up and leave;” to remain on the rolls of no denomination, but to strike out on his own, with no one but God, his family, and a bunch of new people he met later. How different would history be if Joseph Smith had decided to look at his local Methodist congregation as a good place to SERVE? If he had realized that he CAN be a Methodist on his own terms?

    How about investigators and new converts to the LDS church? What if they decide they CAN be Catholics on their own terms? What if they admit to the missionaries that the LDS church is probably truer, but they’ve decided to “forget true…consider good” and they feel like the Catholic church has a better infrastructure in place in their area so that they can SERVE? Something tells me that most faithful LDS would be saying to them, “No, no, forget good…consider true! Service is so much less important in the eternal scheme of things than priesthood ordinances…serving dinner to the homeless is not a requirement for exaltation, but temple marriage is, and exaltation will bring you the most joy!”

    A year after leaving the LDS church, I joined another religion. It’s deeply flawed, too. But guess what? I really am mature enough to realize that it can be inspired anyway! Imagine that! And the interesting thing is that most members of my new religion readily admit that it is merely “good,” not necessarily “true.” That’s why no one ever stands up in front of the congregation and says “I know this church is true.” (Hearing that on a regular basis kind of interferes with my ability to “forget true…” but your experience may be different.) The official magazine of this religion (equivalent of Ensign) actually reads more like Sunstone or Dialogue in terms of the critical look it takes at the organization in each issue, so I hardly need to look elsewhere for role models in my critical approach. Nor do I need to be convinced that I can be a member of this religion on my own terms…I am told so over the pulpit each Sunday as we are reminded what it means to have no creed. Also, the minister has never called me into his office to ask probing questions designed to determine whether my beliefs in the truth of certain claims are sufficient to make me worthy to attend and participate in ceremonies; I can attend and participate in any and all ceremonies offered by this religion on my own terms.

    All of this is to say that the approach I want to take to religion is discouraged at every turn in the LDS church. Is it still possible? Yes. But it is hard enough to swim upstream as an upstanding, moral person in the wicked world. It gives me strength to have a place to go where my morals and values are welcomed and applauded, and the LDS church is not that place. As a whole, the organization does not meet my standards of integrity, of family first and beliefs second, of service first and beliefs second, of goodness being more important than truth. Are there exceptions within the LDS organization? Yes. But they are swimming upstream. My personal opinion is that if I’m still swimming upstream, I’m not home. Now that I have found a religion that meets my standards (overall, despite deep flaws), where I am welcome and encouraged to approach it the way that I feel is appropriate, I’m home.

    What does this mean for your presentation? I would suggest replacing those last two slides with something more along the lines of:

    It’s not about you! Whatever their reasons are for leaving, it’s not a criticism of your reasons for staying. It is easy to feel betrayed or abandoned when people who used to be strong supporters of the church simply walk away. But most of them are still supporting good values of family, honesty, agency, service, and so on…they are just doing so in a different way now. Try to focus on the good they are still doing in their home and community. Try to view yourselves and them as still being united in the overall cause of goodness.

  23. November 27, 2005 at 11:38 am

    FYI…I definitely will be replacing the last slide or two.

  24. anon
    November 27, 2005 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks Beijing. Wow. I would do anything to express myself as you do.

    John, let us know what you consider for the final slides. I look forward to seeing the revisions.

  25. Bookslinger
    November 27, 2005 at 2:12 pm

    I’m sorry that you believe that LDS consider non-LDS individuals to be “rejected of God”. I’ve never encountered that in the LDS church. Your accusations of “rejecting” and “divisiveness” seem like lashing out, and I don’t know why. You probably know that the claim to being the exclusive earthly organization with priesthood authority is one of the basic tenets of the LDS faith. You likely know that the LDS interpretation of scripture is that the gospel had to be restored to earth and not reformed on earth.

    I don’t believe that God rejects those who sincerely seek him, in any church. I never felt rejected of God when I sought him in other churches before I joined the LDS church. I think God used the good things in those other churches to prepare me for finding his official church.

    I’m not privy as to exactly what God “accepts” versus “rejects” in the framework that you put it.

    The claim to being the one true church does not mean the LDS church or its leaders are always perfect, nor does it mean that all other churches have no truth in them whatsoever. Did you hear Pres Hinckley’s talk where he said something like “Bring whatever truth you have with you, and we’ll add to it” ?

    I believe God accepts humility, faith, obedience, etc. I believe God rejects sin, but loves sinners, and accepts us sinners when we repent.

    Beijing: “I am told so over the pulpit each Sunday as we are reminded what it means to have no creed.”

    I’m curious. Unitarian?

    Beijing: Now that I have found a religion that meets my standards (overall, despite deep flaws), where I am welcome and encouraged to approach it the way that I feel is appropriate, I’m home.”

    Sounds like you’re happy there, and I don’t want to deny you that. You’re right. The LDS church was not for you. It’s not for everyone. The LDS church does not fulfill everyone’s needs, wants, and desires.

    I hope you continue to grow closer to God. And should things change and you wish to re-investigate or visit the LDS church, I’m positive the door will always be open.

    Article of Faith #11: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

  26. November 27, 2005 at 3:40 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, anon.

    Thanks for your kind words, Bookslinger. Yes, I am a Unitarian Universalist. Good guess.

    As for “rejected of God”, what exactly does the LDS church teach will happen to the good men and women of the earth who never accept the ordinances or covenants that the LDS church offers, when those good men and women seek to enter the Celestial Kingdom, where God’s presence is?

    I was never taught in the LDS church that God would say to those people, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant! I allowed you the privilege to worship how, where or what you may, and I am pleased with how near you drew to Me through the churches you went to and through your feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. You stuck diligently to the truth you had. You never added to it; you never accepted Mormon baptism, confirmation, endowment, or sealing, but that’s OK. You were such a good person, and so close to Me throughout your life. Enter into My rest.” Until the Doctrine and Covenants is revised to say something along those lines (and I realize it never will be), I will be politely declining your kind invitation and open door.

    I’m sorry you think I was “lashing out.” But in a thread devoted to understanding ex-Mormons, you wrote something that is particularly offensive to me as an ex-Mormon (the idea of a “chosen people” that constitutes “God’s official church”). I thought you would want to understand how I, and many other ex-Mormons, feel about such statements. If you had written those things in a different context, I would have let them pass without comment.

  27. Matt Elggren
    November 27, 2005 at 5:45 pm

    John,

    Thank you for putting this together.

    You summarize well and put into context many of the things I’ve heard you say in the past…and at the core of it (at least from my perspective:) the idea that our relationships with others are among the very few things we can justly claim as knowable truth.

    I’m sure you’ll take many suggestions and make this presentation better, but I want you to know that I think you’ve given your heart to this work and so my only suggestion is not to change it too much…not to risk cutting into the heart. ‘Cause I think you’re onto something here and I’d hate to see it correlated into oblivion…if you know what I mean. 😉

    Interestingly to me, your message strikes at the core of what I just experienced with my family this past Thanksgiving. My extended family has, to some degree, been compromised by misguided faith and the pressures it exerts on our ability to love each other and take joy in each others being. It’s like living a form of blood atonement where the fear of loosing something eternally justifies the cost of killing it in the short-term. We’ve come close to killing some of our relationships out of “gospel” inspired fear.

    The points you make in this presentation remind me that decisions for or against the church that destroy family relationships may be considered equally fanatical. And I also appreciate the encouragement to stand and make the church better. As my wife has often reminded me, when good, intelligent, thoughtful people leave the church or surrender to passivity, it’s a kind of abdication and the church is lesser for it.

    Finally, I would imagine that 100 years from now the faithful of this earth will look back with the same marvel and revulsion when regarding us that we so often experience when regarding the beliefs and practices of our predecessors. My hope is that we will have passed on the kind of tolerance and charity that will allow them to build upon our lives rather than rejecting us.

    Matt-

  28. Katie
    November 27, 2005 at 5:45 pm

    John please don’t change too much about the last 2 slides. They are the best part. During the other slides, as I listened to you expound on the evidence against the church I found myself thinking, wow, there are really some huge holes in my faith. As someone who sometimes struggles with doubts, I felt the arguments acutely. But then when you got the end, the last slides reversed my mood. I felt inspired and encouraged to keep active and keep being my own kind of Mormon. You make some great points that really resounded with me. So don’t tamper too much with them, after those hard other slides you need an inspiring finish. The presentation is not for people who have left the church, it is for people you are wanting to understand why people left and how they can help them. And it is for people who are on the brink of leaving and need to know they are not alone in their feelings. Do not kow-tow to x-members who feel judged by it. I am about as liberal and accepting as one can be, but even I realize you can’t soft-sell everything and still make it effective.

  29. ZelphWhite
    November 27, 2005 at 8:28 pm

    Copying from ZelphWhite at ZLMB…

    http://p080.ezboard.com/fpacumenispagesfrm77.showMessageRange?topicID=501.topic&start=21&stop=26

    —————

    John

    Just had one of my good friends watch your presentation. He was very surprised when I dropped the bomb on him about a week ago.

    We are the same age and have been friends since High School. We have talked about missions after high school and he was struggling about whither he should go on a mission or marry his High School girlfriend. Ever since I a was little I wanted to go on a mission and to me it was part of life. When I went into the MTC, he already bought an engagement ring and pretty much decided he was going to get married.

    After the MTC and being in the field for about a month or two we wrote several times and in one letter he told me that he decided he was going on a mission and part if it was because of my example and my letters.

    He was out over a year and then his girlfriend that was waiting for him decided she wanted to go on a mission also. While I was still a TBM I thought about all the lives I was able to influence and how more people would now be able to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the one true church. I started a chain reaction.

    Now that I know it’s not the “One and only true church” and that many of it’s doctrines are not true, I sort of feel responsible for leading people astray.

    After I told my friend it was no longer true it was very hard for him to comprehend why I would even think that. I went into a few things (the same things the presentation talks about) and he was automatically practicing “poor apologetics”. The next few days we talked about issues and I got the feeling that he thought I was sort of a lost cause but now he was concerned that I would destroy others peoples lives. It was no longer if the church was true or not, he was saying that it was bad if I shared my thoughts about the prophet Joseph Smith to others because it could divide up families. It would also make people believe there was no God or Jesus Christ and they would start sinning. I am not sure how he got this because I was telling him the entire time I still believed in God and Jesus Christ.

    Anyway I could tell he was very frustrated and still considered me a friend but that I was “Dangerous”.

    Today he watched the presentation and it helped him a lot to understand where I was coming from. After watching it, it was a lot easier for me to talk to him. He thought the presentation was well done and gave a lot of insight.

    Keep up the work John. I think it is great that you are not trying to take the approach “We Need to Get them back in the Flock or no longer associate with them”.

    Maybe some day the LDS film makers might even have a movie called “Ex-Mormons at our barbeque” :)

  30. Wanda
    November 27, 2005 at 9:10 pm

    Here’s another reason some people leave (and why I left):

    It simply does not work for everyone. Contrary to what I what taught, there is no “one size fits all” gospel that all are supposed to hear, accept and live in a happily-ever-after manner.

    Mormonism works well for some–especially middle class families. Others who struggle, and who are disenfranchised for a number of reasons, try to fit themselves into the boxes and then in exasperation try to decide if it’s really “true.” It already isn’t “good” for them, so if it’s not “true” either, one might as well leave.

  31. mormon fool
    November 27, 2005 at 9:30 pm

    Just a few thoughts:

    The Hinckley quote about the 1st half of the Snow couplet comes from a Time Magazine interview and not Larry King. If I recall correctly, Hugh Nibley argued that the papyrus that the BoA was translated from is still missing.

    You present issues that people who are considering leaving the church have. This aids those of us trying to help, to humble ourselves and empathize more. Inspite of your disclaimers, aren’t you worried about creating “seminal events” for your audience? While there is no easy answers for the issues brought up, the introduction to them was from a somewhat critical perspective and leaves those not up in apologetics hanging. But then maybe that was your intent–to make people deal with uncertainty for awhile to see how it feels?

    While there is some black and white modeling in the LDS church, the presentation brings up that church publications treat some of the issues. This tends to make the line between what is “taught” and “reality” (slide 17) a little more fuzzy. It is true that as one progresses in knowledge, simplistic models can be replaced by more complex ones. But even with a lot of knowledge, the black and white models are still useful. As an engineer, I don’t automatically jump to the most complicated model I can when I design a system to do a job. For example, sometimes the simple models used in a computer simulation are close enough to predict behavior in reality. Likewise I think it is very possible to look at a great deal of historical data and criticism and still come to the same conclusions about basic principles that I did in Primary. I am just a reacting to the blackening of black-and-white teachings.

  32. November 27, 2005 at 11:39 pm

    John
    Just watched your powerpoint presentation and listened to the screencast as well. You pretty much described most of the issues behind my disaffection and eventual rejection of Mormonism.

    I applaud your efforts to reconcile the differences between faithful LDS and their ‘apostate’ friends. I think most people who have left the church for doctrinal or historical reasons can tell you how they’ve been ostracisized and even shunned because of their choice to leave. It certainly does nothing to lovingly encourage us to want to be part of the LDS community when we are treated with suspicion and fear by those who formally claimed to be our spiritual brothers and sisters in the gospel. All it does is reinforce our ideas that the church is insular in its beliefs and that members react very badly when threatened.

    As for the internet, it only seems to magnify those negative attributes. The abuse I’ve had from self-proclaimed ‘true blue Mormons’ on the net is equal to nothing I’ve ever experienced offline. Oh the power of the priesthood…they must be kidding themselves if they think they have anything even close to it.

    Back to your presentation…you give a list of suggestions that disaffected LDS can consider in an effort to become a Mormon ‘on your own terms’. You also said to ‘forget true, consider good and what will bring you the most joy’.
    I have thought about these exact questions over the past few years, since there is still a deep longing in my heart for what I once had in the church. I have met so many wonderful people and had positive and uplifting experiences. I ‘served’ in some heavy duty callings (sometimes more than one at a time) for over 20 years. I was a faithful, temple attending member of the church who associated with likeminded people. And I loved and associated with the dreaded apostates…who never shook my faith in the slightest because you see, I ‘knew’ I had the ‘truth’.

    BUT…

    The reality is, that was all a facade because at the time I did not know the true history of my church, and I ‘obeyed’ and subjugated myself to ‘the will of God’ even when it went against the logic of every brain cell I ever possessed.
    The truth is that once you’ve explored certain issues, it is only intellectual dishonesty, circular reasoning and ridiculous fiddling with semantics..as well as the setting aside of my own common sense, that could ever keep me in the church.

    I would have to compromise my intellectual and spiritual honesty just to look for the ‘good’ you suggest we should focus on.
    What ‘good’ can come from feeling frustrated every Sunday when manuals full of historically and doctrinally sanitised materials are used?
    What ‘good’ can come of explaining to my teenage daughter why a 12 year old boy can have the power of the priesthood, but she can only do a bunch of faith-promoting projects and get a necklace at the end of the year?
    What ‘good’ comes from ‘obeying’ my leaders when I KNOW they are making questionable, and possibly very stupid decisions? I don’t need to ‘learn obedience’ from this any more, 20 years of it was more than enough. I cannot forget the many experiences I’ve had with LDS leaders who have exercised a complete lack of insight (let alone ‘inspiration’) in dealing with social and personal issues of their members. A bishop who is a financially privileged medical professional, refusing welfare to a single mother because she buys food for her cat (and therefore can’t be that hard up)… don’t even get me started.

    What ‘good’ comes from this lifestyle and all the cognitive dissonance that goes with it?
    It is impossible to attend a church where I utterly loathe some of the actions of its founders – like Joseph Smith ‘marrying’ and having sex with young girls behind his wife’s back), or like Brigham Young’s appalling attitudes to race and atoning with one’s blood for sin. I could go on, but you probably get the picture. I read Helen Mar Kimballs diary, and my heart wept for the young woman she was when Joseph decided to make her his ‘wife’ at the age of 14 – it sickened and disgusted me to read her and other women’s accounts.
    So while I see a lot of ‘good’ in the church – the terrific sense of community, the involvement with some wonderful people, the activities for families, the opportunity to serve and help others (something I love to do) ~ I just don’t see how I could ever be a part of it when I have no conviction or respect for the way it all started, and for the inequalities that continue in the power structures in the church today.

    So John, while I do understand what you’re trying to do, I think that unless someone is willing to compromise their intellectual and spiritual integrity…there is simply no way of remaining involved in the church.
    Sophia

  33. Bookslinger
    November 27, 2005 at 11:43 pm

    Beijing: As for “rejected of God”, what exactly does the LDS church teach will happen to the good men and women of the earth who never accept the ordinances or covenants that the LDS church offers, when those good men and women seek to enter the Celestial Kingdom, where God’s presence is?

    I’d like to resond to that, but I don’t have the time or inclination to give a full answer, as it would take days. You implicitly claim to understand LDS doctrine well enough to condemn it, so I assume you’ve read Section 76 (along with the rest of the Doctrine and Covenants), and you probably know what temple work is about, but your take on it is obviously different than mine. I don’t have time for extensive back-and-forths, and no matter what I say about Sections 76 and 132 and temple work, I don’t think it will change your mind. Besides, you can learn a lot more real doctrine from official church sources, than from people on a blog.

    One of the key doctrines of “judgement” in the Book of Mormon and the D&C is that people will be judged according to what light they had in life. The Book of Mormon and the D&C make plain that those who die without law will be saved in the celestial kingdom, and will judged according to their works.

    I think it’s in the book of James where it says he who sins against the greater light is under the greater condemnation. I think it follows that those who don’t sin against whatever light they have are under no condemnation.

    Then the book of Revelation states that men will be judged out of the books according to their works.

    Temple work is for those who didn’t have the chance in this life. It is not for us to judge who “had a chance” and who didn’t. It’s not for us to judge how much light a person has. I believe that people can listen to the missionary lessons a dozen times over, and if those lessons aren’t taught with the Spirit, then it doesn’t “count” as having really heard the gospel.

    Jesus is the judge of all that. But I also believe that our own conscience is also our judge.

    The main thing I offer is that your understanding of Sections 76 and 132 is different than my reading, and different from the lessons I’ve received in Sunday School and Institute. If reading directly from Sections 76 and 132 isn’t enough, I’d recommend the Doctrine and Covenants Institute manual. You can order it cheap through http://www.ldscatalog.com if you’re still interested in learning official LDS doctrine, which looks doubtful at this point, as you are happy in your new church home. (However, I would suggest learning LDS doctrine a little better if you’re going to speak out against it.)

    I’m sad that people don’t get a deeper or more accurate understanding of the church doctrines before the common “deal killers” drive them out of the church.

    Having been outside the church for 15 years before going back, I know about deal killers that make church participation intolerable. But having finally overcome those obstacles (I think, and I hope– still working on some), I now see how deeper and more correct understanding of gospel principles allows us to resolve the apparent discrepancies and conflicts that would otherwise be deal-killers to us.

    A spiritual testimony or conversion, along with a dollop of humility, are important as those things allow us to hang on until we can intellectually and emotionally satisfy or resolve the conflicts.

    As I claimed my right to leave for my reasons, I must respect everyone else’s right to leave for their reasons.

    In hindsight, I see that my reasons could have been worked out in the church if I had only sought out people to trust and gone to them with my problems and concerns.

    But I realize that at this point you’ve given up on the possibility of resolving your concerns within the LDS framework. And if your current church home satisfies your spiritual longings then there’s nothing the LDS church can offer you anyway. But if you ever decide to go church shopping again, please consider trying to find some of the pieces you missed the first time around. It worked for me.

    Another good book of explaining LDS doctrine to newcomers or non-members is “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder” by LeGrande Richards which also expounds on what we might expect in the afterlife. (Used copies are on Ebay.)

    I don’t know where you’re from, and I’ve forgotten already if you’re a convert of BIC, but I’m starting to learn that some people who grew up in the church, especially in Utah, often have very different understandings of the final judgement and the 3 degrees of glory than what is taught in official manuals. I think it is perhaps due in part to bigotry that is built up in the Mormon culture.

    It could also be because many active Mormons just don’t learn the gospel, and are just social/cultural Mormons. Those people can just as easily spread false doctrine in their casual conversations with others.

    I’m afraid too many people, those born in the church and converts, often get twisted views of the church’s doctrine through informal discussions with ill-informed or bigoted members, and don’t go to scriptural or other official sources. As an example, I heard more false doctrine from other missionaries during informal conversations than I did in the 2 years prior to going on a mission.

    I wish you peace. And one thing I’m sure of, whatever we get in the afterlife, it will be what we deserve.

  34. Wanda
    November 28, 2005 at 12:32 am

    Teachings about the afterlife, about people who never receive the gospel (in this life and the next) and teachings about temple work (and temple work itself) were also what drove me away from the church.

    For families who are, and want to, be together, these teachings seem beautiful and true–even fairy-tale-like. However, for those without families, with fractured families, etc., these teachings can be damaging, and they can lead the true seeker to delve into the history and practice of genealogy, temple work, etc. where very disconcerting things are uncovered. They then decide that it’s not worth living a religion that makes empty promises and blames the member for unfulfilled expectations (such as never-marrieds should do everything they can to find a worthy member to be sealed to instead of marrying non-members; gay members should do everything in their power to change their orientation and look forward to marriage to an opposite-sex partner in this life or the next, etc.).

    Additionally, it is clear to me (a former temple worker) that the teachings about temples and the afterlife simply do not make sense.

    1. If a good person honestly does not believe in the gospel and doesn’t accept it in this life or in the next, s/he can never be exalted, no matter if temple work was done for him/her by proxy.

    2. We have no idea whether our ancestors (or anyone else for whom we do temple work) want to be together in family units, yet we waste copious amounts of time “sealing” these people in an eternal, bound-on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven, supposedly unbreakable ordinance. Romantic love and freedom to choose one’s marriage partner has not existed with any consistency throughout time and space. Yet, as long as family records exist (and even sometimes not even then), people are sealed together in a sacred, holy ordinance even if they hated each other’s guts, were sold to each other in serfdom or slavery, were related and had incestuous relationships, etc. The “it will all work out in the end” just doesn’t cut it. Why bother even doing temple work with “it will all be sorted out in the millenium” anyway?

    And what happens if someone accepts all elements of the gospel on the other side but just doesn’t want to be married to his spouse for eternity (but she wants to be married to him)? What then?

    The whole convoluted sealing mess is not important to those in happy families. For those never-married, divorced, in unhappy marriages, singles living in areas where no “worthy” companion can be found, etc., sealings and the hoops one must jump through in life (much less in death) become unbearably onerous. IMO, the sealing ordinances are among the death knells of the Church. With more than a third of the adults in the Church unmarried (either divorced or never married), the disenchantment with such ordinances is dire. Thus, the “good news” of the sealing power becomes a bitter pill that is often eschewed in favor of marriage outside the temple or abject loneliness, confusion about temple promises (what exactly does it mean that “no blessing will be denied” singles who never marry, anyway?

  35. Bookslinger
    November 28, 2005 at 9:04 am

    Wanda: 1. If a good person honestly does not believe in the gospel and doesn’t accept it in this life or in the next, s/he can never be exalted, no matter if temple work was done for him/her by proxy.

    How could a “good person” not accept the gospel in the next life after all things are made known? There are several scriptural references to all things being made known to everyone in the millenium. And if someone doesn’t accept the gospel after all things are made known to them, why should they be exalted?

    Wanda: We have no idea whether our ancestors (or anyone else for whom we do temple work) want to be together in family units, yet we waste copious amounts of time “sealing” these people in an eternal, bound-on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven, supposedly unbreakable ordinance.

    and And what happens if someone accepts all elements of the gospel on the other side but just doesn’t want to be married to his spouse for eternity (but she wants to be married to him)? What then?

    What gave you the idea that proxy ordinances are binding on those spirits who don’t want to accept them? I’ve never heard that one. I’ve always read that temple ordinances are only effective for those who accept them on the other side. If a married couple hated each others’ guts in life, and are sealed by proxy after their death, they are under no obligation to accept that proxy ordinance.

    And since we don’t know who wants it and who doesn’t, we cover the possibility.

    The ordinances, even if they are rejected by the person on the other side, also create some kind of a “link” that the Lord wants everyone to be a part of. I don’t fully understand that part. But the D&C makes it clear the linking ordinances need to be made from parent to child, whether biological or adopted, for everyone.

    God always respects agency, on both sides of the veil. If a couple gets sealed in the temple in this life, for themselves, and later, either in this life or the next, wants to break that sealing, I can’t imagine God forcing them to live together through the eternities.

    Another aspect of sealing is that it is not binding until “sealed by the Holy Spirit” which is true for both “live” sealings and proxy sealings. That sealing by the Holy Spirit doesn’t happen until both parties want it and are ready for it.

    Wanda: With more than a third of the adults in the Church unmarried (either divorced or never married), the disenchantment with such ordinances is dire.

    I’m single, in my 40’s, and I understand the frustration.

    Wanda: Thus, the “good news” of the sealing power becomes a bitter pill that is often eschewed in favor of marriage outside the temple or abject loneliness, confusion about temple promises

    I’ve seen mixed marriages, and they are usually worse than staying single. My parents had a mixed marriage (Jewish/Presbyterian) and that was a very dysfunctional and abusive marriage and family. I don’t have the answers, but you refer to a key answer later below.

    It can take a lot of faith for singles to remain active. But a lot do it. And you’re right, a lot of people don’t understand the temple promises.

    You also sound like you were a “fundamentalist Mormon.” I was too. I took whatever the Apostles said as absolute and without exceptions.

    A year or so ago, Elder Nelson (or Elder Oaks) gave a talk in a CES fireside in which he said “Leaders teach the rules, the exceptions are left up to the individual.”

    Part of my frustration that led to me leaving the church was thinking that pronouncements by General Authorities were always absolute with no exceptions. When I found out the absolute statements didn’t hold in all circumstances, I first thought they were lieing. But later I realized that they were merely leaving the exceptions unspoken. It’s not a lie to leave things unsaid. And finally, after hearing Elder Nelson explain it, I understood.

    Part of the reason is that there are so many exceptions, and they are so individualized, is that it’s impossible to cover them all. By listing a few exceptions, it could give the appearance that there are no other exceptions. And the whole idea of teaching is to encourage people to strive to live the gospel truths, not go looking for loopholes.

    Wanda: (what exactly does it mean that “no blessing will be denied” singles who never marry, anyway?

    That’s the answer right there. The way I heard it worded is that no blessing will be denied worthy people who remain single through no fault of their own. No one is required or forced to get married. No one is required to marry an unworthy partner.

    A lot of social pressure has built up in the church with false traditions of “having to get married.” People have married in haste thinking they had to get married at all costs, or thinking that any marriage is better than no marriage, and much unhappiness has resulted.

    It does take a lot of faith to accept the “it will all work out” thing. All things have not been revealed yet. We only have the Lord’s promise that he will reveal many more important things.

    I hope to become temple worthy and stay worthy, etc. And if I marry in the temple, fine, and if I don’t, I’m still going to do the right things.

    I was endowed and served a mission before I left the church. I got a taste for the spirit of the temple and temple work. It was such a delicious feeling. I look forward to going back.

  36. Wanda
    November 28, 2005 at 11:05 am

    Bookslinger–glad it works for you, but it just doesn’t work for an awful lot of people, especially those who remain(ed) righteous, chaste and expectant for decades, never having the joy of companionship or a family in the name of faithfulness.

    I am familiar with dozens of people like these–in this country, in other countries where there are no “worthy mates” for (primarily) single sisters. Many begin to become disillusioned, realize how much of a life they have wasted, and then become bitter about the Church after uncovering unsavory elements about the church’s past, etc. One such friend, newly vulnerable from an early hysterectomy (she lived in Brazil, and because of her devotion to the church had never had a boyfriend even though she is 45), left after she heard about Joseph’s plural wives. It didn’t seem rational, fair or particularly inspired that he should have dozens of wives at his disposal while because she was holding out for a priesthood holder she had never even been held.

    As for the comment I made earlier about ancestors, my point was that of the billions of humans who have lived on this earth, only a small percentage would want to be paired with whomever they ended up with in life. The Church’s view of sealings paints families as happy units who will *want* to be with each other for eternity, and only those people will also be with God for eternity. It’s a package deal. If people don’t accept the proxy sealing ordinance–as well as all the other ordinances–they will not be exalted.

    It simply sounds like a rat race, and an unfair one at that. Gays won’t be exalted. IN the 19th (and part of the 20th) many thought blacks wouldn’t be exalted either. Now we know some will be exalted with plural spouses; some without. Some singles believe that if they don’t marry in this life, they’ll be sealed to a husband who’s already married (and second wives of widowers have no say).

    It’s all a convoluted mess, which to me clearly shows it’s all man made, and I don’t want to give my time, talents and all I have (including lonesome spinsterhood) to made-up constructs.

  37. Bookslinger
    November 28, 2005 at 1:53 pm

    Just a small point, I realized Joseph Smith had at least 2 wives besides Emma when I read D&C 132:52. I didn’t know exactly how many, but the D&C pretty much says it right there.

    Wanda:
    You certainly are entitled to your interpretations and conclusions, but I’m afraid I don’t agree with some of them. From my point of view, you seem to have jumped to some conclusions that I don’t see as being supported by scripture or published doctrine. But I do see how those conclusions are based on “lore” in the church, by that I mean the informal discussions that go around which are not based on scripture or official doctrine.

    Some other of your conclusions of LDS doctrine are correct, and I agree with them, but the proper response is “so what?”

    The older I get the more I see faithful but lonely single women in the church. One of my female friends married outside the church. Although I recommend against marrying outside the church, no one is supposed to judge someone else for marrying outside the church. Judgement is the Lord’s job.

    The LDS church is not the only church out there, and there are also plenty of non-religious organizations that provide frameworks for friendships and social contact, and even opportunities for courtship.

    My social life seems to center on the church now, but I’m also involved outside of church in a social organization, and another volunteer organization.

    My mother is now a widow, and she keeps plenty busy with friends, her church, and travel groups. If she doesn’t join the LDS church in this life, I’ll have the temple ordinances done for her and dad, so that they’ll have the choice of what to do.

    Dad was emotionally and verbally abusive but for some reason Mom stayed with him until the end. Having the temple ordinances done for them is not forcing them to be together in the hereafter. That’s still up to them. And if either one or both of them are judged by the Lord to be worthy of exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom, then I’ll let the Lord and them work out who gets paired up with whom, because that is none of my business.

  38. DJ
    November 28, 2005 at 2:05 pm

    John-

    I no longer attend church, but my reasons a slightly different than those outlined in slides. Though I haven’t read all the anti-Mormon literature, I grew up in a family where early church history–warts and all–was regularly discussed. I rarely come across a historical or doctrinal nuggett that surprises me given what I already know. My disaffection with the church was not a seminal moment; rather, it was the culmination of frustrations spanning the last decade in several areas:

    1) Feeling that you have nothing in common with church members and therefore don’t feel comfortable at church.

    2) Feeling that the church can be an extremely judgemental, intolerant place to worship whose members often aren’t good examples of Christlike behavior.

    3) Issues with parents and the church for putting the church before family during particularly vulnerable periods of my life.

    The first two sentiments are not unique, and the church and active friends/family claim to have all the answers.

    I remember when studying back in Cambridge, MA that Clay Christensen (HBS prof; area authority; then the stake mission president) conducted research which showed that the #1 reason people join the church is environmental and NOT doctrinal. In other words, people join because church is a place that helps them feel closer to God and experience God’s love through other people. According to this research, it was not the Book of Mormon or the restoration. Conversely, when people leave the church, it may be because this environment has been disrupted–either by the church or individual.

    Issue three is somewhat unique to me given the past and current callings in the church. I’ll leave it at that as they are deeply committed to the church. Suffice it to say, however, that their devotion to the church has caused me indescribale mental, emtional, and spiritual anguish that has yet to be healed.

    I applaud your quest, though honestly I don’t expect much to come of it because the church has never proven to be a strongly self-critical body. It blames the individual, counsels you to pray/have more faith, or tells you the pioneers had it much worse.

    Until the church becomes open to such criticism and realizes that it does not function as a so-called “well-oiled machine” or “perfect organization”, they will never truly understand these departures.

  39. Wanda
    November 28, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    Bookslinger, that’s the point. According to all I was taught, the Celestial Kingdom is a land of married couples (sometimes, threesomes, foursomes, and in the case of the early leaders, multiple wives and husbands) where the women are eternally producing children somehow and the men are rushin’ off to meetin’.

    Now with current explanations of sealings and current policy on sealings, people are sealed willy-nilly and “they can choose” on the other side. It’s like a sick game of Eternal Match.com meets The Square Dance at the Holler meets Musical Chairs.

    It’s offensive to many Christians and it makes no sense (and is hardly palatable). Billions of people from thousands of years ago will be crabbing for a new wife. Who do biblical concuines get sealed to? They weren’t married. What about gay men and women? They don’t get to be exalted unless they “turn straight”, if that’s even possible (which it’s not).

    Thinking about the temple, studying its history (and working there, and attending six times a week) convinced me that sealings were a limited initiation rite in Joseph’s day that has now burgeoned into a fiasco for which there are no rational or intelligent answers.

    We’ll know on the other side” just doesn’t cut it for people who sacrrifice having families in order to be faithful to the Church and this teaching in particular. It might seem like no big deal (a “so what”) to you, but to many of my friends who have chosen to remain alone rather than marry outside the temple, date nonmembers or have relationships, it’s a huge deal, and its a significant impetus for leaving the Church.

    So, John, if you will, please include in your slide that Mormonism isn’t “liveable” for many people—-not because they’re “sinners” but because it’s simply untenable, as I’ve tried to show here.

    Thanks.

  40. Ben S.
    November 28, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    I find Sophia’s comment fascinating. In her view, all Mormons are either ignorant or intellectually dishonest and lacking spiritual integrity.

    What I find so fascinating is how it is pronounced with finality, yet stems from such a limited view. I know plenty of LDS who are neither ignorant nor lacking spiritual integrity.

  41. Carl Youngblood
    November 28, 2005 at 3:42 pm

    John, my overall assessment of your presentation is positive. I have frequently wished that more members of the Church were aware of these issues and I think your recommendations for how to treat others in general and particularly those who are experiencing doubt are good. I especially like your focus on serving/making things better versus abandoning the church.

    However, I think that there is an overly negative bias in some of the sources for doubt that you present. Just to pick at random, the different versions of the first vision do not really show a progression and increased embellishment as they go on. The earliest one we have does omit important details that are found in the others, but that is all that we can honestly say. Also, many references to precolumbian horses, including fossil evidence, have been found.

    I find your dismissal of many forms of apologetics to be too broad and frankly quite ignorant. I believe it is just as possible to put one’s head in the sand, so to speak, about the positive evidences for BoM historicity as it is to whitewash the issues and make them overly black/white like you describe.

    I completely agree that it is ignorant and provincial to use logical fallacies when criticizing a scholar’s viewpoint, such as the examples you describe of saying that Fawn Brodie or Michael Quinn or whoever were sinners with axes to grind. While I believe these motivations are remotely possible, this would be the last thing I would say if I wanted to promote understanding, open dialogue and reconciliation.

    However, to classify these techniques alongside valid apologetical arguments, such as an explanation of how BoM peoples might actually have possessed an understanding of how to produce steel , etc. etc. is kind of rude and overly dismissive. I think there are many compelling evidences for the Book of Mormon that you seem to be categorizing as junk. I think Jeff Lindsay and FAIR are great examples of scientifically sound BoM apologetics, and the way you were talking it would seem to me that you would reject many of the arguments these types of sources have made.

    That said, I want to emphasize that there are limits to what apologetics can accomplish and many people do not recognize them. But they can bring insights and sometimes even provide a more concrete, less idealistic understanding of Mormon history.

    It seems kind of like you are saying that claims that the BoM is historical must be modified. I think it is very possible for the BoM to be historical and yet be different from our naive expectations. Critics frequently frame the argument in such a way that it would be ridiculous to refute, without acknowledging or even realizing that there are assumptions hidden in their apparently unbiased approach. Exposing these assumptions frequently shows that BoM critics have been attacking straw men.

    So overall I would say good work, but be careful not to distort your position by presenting things as if they had no counterargument. Though you said that there was a reasonable explanation for many of these complaints, you hardly ever gave one and presented most of them as if you believed the critical point of view more than the counterargument, paying lipservice only to its possible existence.

  42. Bookslinger
    November 28, 2005 at 11:16 pm

    Wanda, thanks for expounding on your views.

    I would pick some more nits.

    You wrote:… the Celestial Kingdom is a land of married couples…

    That is not quite accurate. The D&C says there are 3 degrees in the Celestial Kingdom. The 2 lower degrees are single people, and the highest degree, exaltation, is sealed couples or men sealed with mulitple wives.

    You wrote: … people are sealed willy-nilly…

    That is not correct. Men and women can only be sealed to each other if there is some evidence of marriage. I’m not sure what the threshhold of evidence is, such as whether common-law marriages would justify a couple-sealing.

    For parent-to-child sealing, it has to be a birth parent or a recognized adoption, doesn’t it?

    You wrote: where the women are eternally producing children somehow and the men are rushin’ off to meetin’.

    I’ve never read that anywhere, nor heard that in church, nor ever heard it from an active member. But it is commonly repeated by the anti-mormons.

    You wrote: Billions of people from thousands of years ago will be crabbing for a new wife.

    Uh… so what? Why is that any of your or my business? If there is any crabbing, I’m sure the Lord will handle it with patience, mercy and love.

    I believe in an infinitely just and fair and merciful and loving Savior and Heavenly Father. I have faith that they will treat everyone accordingly to those godly principles.

    You wrote: . Who do biblical concuines get sealed to? They weren’t married.

    Why is that any of our business?

    You wrote: What about gay men and women? They don’t get to be exalted unless they “turn straight”, if that’s even possible (which it’s not).

    I think the scriptures, especially the Bible, are clear on homosexuality.

    Sometimes, people come to LDS blogs pretending to be someone they are not.

    Taking your messages in this thread in the aggregate, I’m having a hard time accepting that you were at one time a member who was considered faithful enough to be a temple worker. You either don’t know the doctrine, or you’ve forgotten it. You’ve used too many RfM phrases.

    You’re entitled to your beliefs, and to express them here within the bounds set by the blog owner. But I think you’ve been disingenuous. I don’t think you were a temple worker. I smell a poser. Sorry.

  43. Ann
    November 28, 2005 at 11:42 pm

    Apologetics lets the believers feel good about what they believe. Once you don’t believe any more, though, all apologetics is wasted, whether good, bad, or indifferent.

    When dealing with someone who has already stopped believing, engaging in even “good” apologetics is just going to piss them off, because it just shows that you aren’t listening, and you don’t care about them. Presenting apologetics to a former believer is a waste of air.

    Maintaining a relationship with someone who has lost her faith isn’t even remotely possible if your concern is about proving her wrong. The back and forth between Wanda and Bookslinger above is a perfect example. Wanda throws out her concerns, which are common ones among disaffected Mormons and certainly not unique to her. Bookslinger neatly resolves them by bearing testimony, then closes by calling Wanda a liar, couching it in the most polite of terms. Has anybody been converted here? Has ANYTHING good happened? Um, no.

    About the ppt, John, good stuff! I agree it’s a little long. Also, I like color in my power points, but that’s just me. “Neice” is spelled wrong, as is “ark” in “ark-steadying.”

    You make a very good case for the intellectual reasons for leaving but I really think the seminal event is more significant. The intellectual reasons are fuel for the fire – but the fire starts somewhere, and it’s not always obvious what it is. In my case, it was an unanswered prayer.

  44. November 29, 2005 at 7:01 am

    Hello Ben.
    FYI, I too know plenty of LDS who are neither ignorant nor lacking in spiritual integrity ~ they live their lives according to the truths they believe and I’m truly happy for them.
    I’m sorry if my comments came across as referring to ‘all mormons’ (I don’t think I said that) when they were only about *my* thoughts on how I would feel if I returned to the church.

    My view on this issue is in no way ‘limited’ as you suggest. Suffice it to say though, that for *me* it would be spiritually and intellectually dishonest to return to church when I simply don’t believe in it any more.

    If you want to reply to me, would you please address me directly rather than speaking *about* my comments. Thanks.

  45. Wanda
    November 29, 2005 at 9:29 am

    Bookslinger, I am no poser. I was a temple worker, and an active member continuously until 2000. Not only was I an ordinance worker who attended the temple on my own very frequently, I never missed a sacrament meeting, I was a gospel doctrine teacher among many other callings.

    I am not being disingenous.

    The response among many members since my leaving (IRL as well as with you on this site) has been either “So what? You’re concerned about something that doesn’t matter!” or “You couldn’t have had a testimony! You couldn’t have been active! You’re lying!”

    There is no dialogue without listening, internalizing concerns and demonstrating empathy.

    I understand that you left and returned, and as I said before, the Church seems to work for you; good for you. It doesn’t and didn’t work for me. I find many of the doctrines confusing, harmful and alienating to many people in non-traditional circumstances. This is my worldview. This is why I left.

  46. Anon
    November 29, 2005 at 1:43 pm

    John,

    There have been several comments made about “tightening up” and “rambling.” I hope that you do not get the wrong idea about this constructive criticism. I love your relaxed style. Even though you have a relaxed, conversational approach, you are very eloquent for the most part. Please don’t become overly self-concious and try to make big changes in your style.

    Also, I just want to say that your podcasts are amazing, and at the start of a great new trend.

    -Anon

  47. November 30, 2005 at 5:21 am

    Rehi John,
    just wanted to add my two cents on the “black and white” issue.
    You complain that LDS members often see things in a black-and-white fashion, not concerning the large complex “colorful” reality.

    Have you ever read the book of Mormon? Its all black and white.
    Lets give it a try:
    How many pairs of the following pattern do you find in the book of Mormon:
    a good guy vs. a bad guy.
    E.g.:Nephi vs. Laman
    You find them throughout the whole book,
    its all good vs. bad, virtue vs. sin.
    This pattern is one of the main building blocks of most BoM stories. So,no wonder that LDS members are
    thinking that way if “the keystone of [their] religion” is constantly nourishing this pattern.

    Greets,
    Michael

  48. Ben S.
    November 30, 2005 at 9:35 am

    I think the Book of Mormon is slightly more complex than that.

    For example, Todd Compton’s article “The Spirituality of the Outcast in the BoM”

    “Abstract: In the Book of Mormon, despised outcasts, such as the Lamanites or the poor, often have a special aptitude for spirituality, and the richer, “civilized,” and more overtly religious Nephites are often declining in righteousness. This phenomenon, with some characteristic specific themes, such as being excluded from a religious edifice, is found in ancient and contemporary cultures and religions. This theme points up the complexity of the Book of Mormon, which is not simple cowboys-and-Indians melodrama.”
    here

  49. anon
    November 30, 2005 at 10:48 am

    Hey Ben S.

    Did compton get excommunicated? John’s information may be helpful to those that will consider excommunicating other authors or for leaders and families with loved ones that sympathise with Compton and his work.

    Keep up the good work John.

  50. Ben S.
    November 30, 2005 at 2:56 pm

    Compton has not been excommunicated, to my knowledge, nor do I know of any reason why he would be.

  51. Saw Skooh
    November 30, 2005 at 3:14 pm

    John,

    I have to second Carl Youngblood’s comments above. Well said, Carl. Bad aplogetics exists. But I think that the value if GOOD apologetics — and there is a LOT out there– is highly under-represented in your presentation, and your dismissal of “bad apologetics” I feel was often naive or unfair.

    I find it quite ironic that in all of your discussion about “black and white” that some of the things you said about apologetics fall neatly into that category.

    For example, your blanket characterizatin of often very sound explanations for translation using the word “steel” in the English Book of Mormon as “bad apologetics” was awfully black and white. Sounds like you’ve poisoned the well; any research or explanation that defends the Book of Mormon as literal history is bad apologetics?

    Would you characterize the papers presented by FARMS about ancient grain cultivation, and linguistic cross-labeling of grain crops, etc, to be bad apologetics too? (BTW, barley has now undoubtedly been shown to have been cultivated in pre-colombian America. Bad apologetics?)

    And linguistic explanations for anachronims are not to be dismissed lightly. I am a linguist and a translator by trade, and I can tell you that transporting ideas from one place and culture to another presents issues in terminology. Analogous terms have to be found that are “good enough” to present the idea to the target language group, but perfect analogues or identical terminology is often impossible to locate, and a similar term has to be adapted. BoM is a record of people coming from one region to another with the language of the old place, adapting it to cirumstances of the new. JS then translated in yet a THIRD enironment, and time, with yet a different language, having to adapt the new language to the foreign concepts and terms.

    I would hold up FAIR as an unspeakably valuable resource for thoughtful people with questions. I have learned a lot things that made me uncomfortable (you haven’t taught me anything new yet), and FAIR proved to a be a godsend. The articles linked therein are written by people who know more and have a greater depth in the issue than I do, and they are usuall very thoughtful and well written and can help present the other side of a negative criticism of the Church or its history.

    Many of the objections or issues that you present are THEMSELVES a distorted view of the issue, as much if not more than the church correlated version. Many so called “issues” just melt away once I know more about it, or a different perspective. True, my conception of the Church and our history never goes back to what it was, but that’s good in my view; my faith is now exercised with eyes more wide open than before.

    Several of the other issues you brought up seemed to be presented with some ignorance and oversimplification.

    Noone has been able to offer credible maps of BoM geography? What about Sorenson? Others? Bad apologetics, because they affirm the historicity claims?

    The “Two Cumorah” theory is actually very sound and reasonable. I am smart enough to know that Manti, Utah is not supposed to the site of the ancient Nephite Manti, and the same goes for Nephi, UT and Zarahemla, Iowa. The fact that early saints labeled a hill with a name from the Book of Mormon (BTW, JS never calls it that in his own history) doesn’t incline me to think it is the very same hill, or that JS or the BoM claimed such. People at the time and since made assumptions out of ignorance that aren’t supported by the book itself. Oh, and the plates were 50 pounds, not 150, and Mormon wandered for 36 years before he buried them. That’s a long time. And he never said that he buried them in Cumorah (the one mentioned in the BoM).

    Also, its true that Nibley believed that the actual papyrus rolls that JS translated the Book of Abraham from have still not been located. He said that the handful of fragments extant are a fraction of the original, and don’t match the descriptions of the “rolls” of parchment JS possessed. Not fair to attribute statements to Nibley that he never made. He never doubted the authenticity of the Book of Abraham.

    Also, Adam-God was NOT taught “throughout the Journal of Discourses.” There are only a few references to it in the JD. While BY clearly taught it, most references are from minutes, letters, reports, etc. external to JD, and most instances were not public teaching, but more intimate groups.

    Presidently Hickley’s statement in TIME was about he firs part of the Lorenzo Snow couplet, NOT the second. They are different concepts, and there is a difference. The latter is represented explicitly in the revelations, the former isn’t. And it’s true that we DON’T emphasize the former.

    So, when presenting the issues, make sure that you don’t make THEM overly distorted, or black and white, and don’t underestimate the profound value of sound apologetic literature to help people with struggles, or be too quick to condemn apologetics as bad.

  52. will
    November 30, 2005 at 4:00 pm

    John,

    Bless your hide. I think your presentation is excellent. It’s not exactly how I would have done it, but the topic is so vast that no two people will ever summarize it in the same way.

    The question of how to heal the schism between correlated and uncorrelated Mormons is near and dear to my heart. I have a plethora of thoughts on the subject, but I’ll toss out only a few.

    Steve Covey’s habit #5, “Seek to understand, then to be understood,” is a key principle. Those of us who used to be iron-rodders ourselves may think that we understand the iron-rod mindset, but in many cases we’ve forgotten what it is like to see the world through their eyes. We need to make sure that we understand where they’re coming from, and get on the same page with them before we take them to the next page.

    Religion is the foundation of an active Mormon’s life, so Mormons naturally feel threatened when their doctrinal axioms are challenged. We need to be aware of their subconcious fear and not push them further than they’re ready to go.

    Sunstone and Dialogue will be unpalatable to many Mormons, and if you point out a problematic passage in the Journal of Discourses or History of the Church, they’ll know that you didn’t just stumble onto it. The Ensign, on the other hand, is trusted by all members, and, believe it or not, occasionally tackles thorny subjects. Or at least it used to. I’ve collected many articles from official magazines that would be eye-opening to many members.

    Baby steps. If a member is really uninformed, start with the less controversial stuff, like maybe the Limited Geography Theory of the BoM. This allows them to wrap their brain around the fact that long-held beliefs can wrong. They need to slowly get used to the idea that the church has bathwater that can be thrown out sans baby.

    Love your podcast, John, and love the work that you’re doing.

  53. JWL
    November 30, 2005 at 4:06 pm

    I am not clear who is the audience for this presentation. Is it believing members who want to relate to disaffected members or is it for disaffected members considering leaving? As presently constituted it ill serves both groups. (By way of disclosure, I only looked at the PowerPoint.) You present many specifics about potentially problematic areas of church history and practice, but do not give specifics to illustrate how your proposed solutions can address these areas. You really don’t suggest much more than “learn to live with it.” As commentators above have illustrated, that is insufficient for disaffected members. And it doesn’t give believing members who are not immersed in Sunstone, FARMS, FAIR, etc. any idea how these issues might be engaged in ways which are faithful but “uncorrelated.” I think you would better serve both audiences by replacing the laundry list of problematic areas with fewer illustrations, but illustrations which are balanced by showing specifically how there are alternative believing, but “uncorrelated,” ways of approaching these issues.

    In this regard, I would second Saw Skooh’s comment. I think you ignore the usefulness of examples of “good” apologetics.

    Finally, I must object to your “What Would Jesus Do” page (I can’t remember the exact title.) Speak about a simplistic, “black-and-white” picture. Any full reading of the Gospels belies this modern image of the all-tolerant, meek Jesus. Large parts of the Gospels are devoted to showing Jesus contending vigorously with the hypocritical, arrogant, and self-righteous. Now unfortunately this can describe many active members, and I am not saying that this describes all disaffected members. However, there are some disaffected members, and many anti-Mormons, who are very much full of themselves, and I think something stronger than a milquetoast approach to them can be appropriate. More importantly, truly sincere members who are wrestling with problematic issues will appreciate informative substantive responses to their concerns rather than just sympathy and tolerance.

  54. CS Eric
    November 30, 2005 at 5:11 pm

    John,

    Count me in those who think you need to add those who don’t fit the “ideal” model. My wife and I are childless, not by choice. We would have loved to have spent the money we did trying to have children on actually having and raising them, but people don’t see our struggles, just our status. We haven’t been to Church on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day for years, and also avoid going to the Primary Sacrament Program if we can. Each of those just tears at us, knowing we can’t be a part of it. My wife also avoids RS most weeks, since so often they devolve into motherhood=righteousness, and she is shunned when she starts crying. You would be amazed how much eaiser Church would be for her if, instead, somebody sat by her and put their arm around her. It simply hasn’t happened.

    We struggle remaining “active,” mostly because so often the meetings remind us of our deepest dreams that we can never achieve. From some of the comments here, I sense that this is also the reason the Church loses so many single members, too. Church is supposed to be a place where we are comforted in our struggles, not where we feel (culturally, at least) condemned for them.

  55. Ann
    November 30, 2005 at 9:59 pm

    I was under the impression that the target audience for this presenation is believing members who want to know what to “do” about those who no longer believe.

    I think “seek first to understand,” is a very, very important precept in these circumstances. You don’t have to agree with the unbeliever’s reasons. The only way to help is to try to understand what has happened to the human being you are so “concerned” about.

    I repeat: apologetics is completely useless in convincing the new unbeliever. Believers can revel in it, but unbelievers see ALL apologetics as semantics, straw man arguments, and egregious violations of Occam’s Razor. That doesn’t mean that’s what it is, but perception is reality.

    I would suggest that if John is going to change the part about apologetics at all, he should just remove the word “bad,” because use of any apologetics in these cases is A WASTE OF AIR.

    I have a theory about ex-mormons: that whatever kind of Mormon they were, that’s the kind of ex-Mormon they become. If they were strident, dogmatic and vocal Mormons, they become strident, dogmatic and vocal ex-Mormons. If they were pleasant, accomodating, and low key Mormons, that’s the kind of ex-Mormon they become.

    So, as convinced as you are of the validity of your apologetics, and as enamored as you are of the value of your arguments, your counterpart in the ex-Mormon community is just as sure that your arguments are crap built on sand, and that they are worthless in the marketplace of ideas. There is no basis for communication between those kinds of people. I don’t know why they waste even a minute talking to each other, except to listen to the sounds of their own voices. And yet they go on, and on, and on.

    Sort of like this comment. Sorry, John! :)

  56. Administrator
    November 30, 2005 at 11:10 pm

    Saw and others….thanks for the feedback. I definitely want to be accurate in the things I write/say…that’s why I asked for feedback.

    Much appreciated.

    John

  57. December 1, 2005 at 8:18 am

    A couple of things…

    Many have given feedback that I did not do enough in this presentation to try to resolve the issues that I raised. I understand the feedback, but understand that this was not the purpose of this presentation. The purpose of this presentation is to get active members to understand the mindset of someone who leaves over historical issues. My blanket disclaimers that NONE of this prove the church is false (I was hoping) would show where I stand on the issues. I would be more than willing to create screencasts dealing with the issues (this is one of the main reasons I’ve joined FAIR, actually), but in my opinion, this screencast is already too long as it is.

    Also, you’ll notice that I mentioned FAIR and FARMS as places for potential role models on how to reconcile thought with faith. I caught a lot of crud for that from my more liberal friends…it’s interesting that few of the FAIR folk seem to recognize this, and instead focus on my attack on “bad apologetics” (which was not an attack on apologetics overall).

    I stand by the assertion that bad apologetics exists within FAIR and elsewhere (just like there is very bad anti-Mormon crud out there), and that bad apologetics can do a TON of damage to someone struggling. I also think bad anti-Mormonism is bad for everyone involved, to be clear.

    Carl and Saw,

    Would you guys be willing to work with me to create a more accurate list–a list of the historical facts that are of legitimate concern to those who choose to leave?

    Would you mind starting the list, and sending it to me as a 1st draft?

    I would love to collaborate with you on this–to make sure the list is as accurate as possible.

    The end goal is to acknowledge that there are differences between common perceptions/teachings, and what the evidence indicates–that causes people legitimate congitive dissonance and concern.

    Let me know.

    John Dehlin

  58. Bookslinger
    December 1, 2005 at 11:31 am

    Ann,
    I agree with you that apologetics is practically useless in convincing the new unbeliever to come back. And members should not hit new unbelievers over the head with the apologetics stick.

    But that is not its purpose.

    Apologetics is for the undecideds, both non-members and doubting members.

    Apologetics is also “for the record” to counter (what we believe to be) false charges made in public forums, either electronically or published in print.

    Apologetics is our side of the story. And we are entitled to defend our beliefs when they are misrepresented or attacked by others.

    Example:

    I concur with those who say there is no archealogical evidence which convincingly proves the Book of Mormon to be true.

    But some falsely charge that there is no evidence at all in favor of the Book of Mormon.

    Are we not allowed to reply to that charge by pointing out that there is much archealogical evidence which indicates plausibility of the Book of Mormon ?

    A couple examples:

    Years ago the absence of barley in the Americas was used to discredit the Book of Mormon. But then remnants of barley were discovered.

    There were no living horses in the Americas immediately before the Spaniards brought them. And no horse bones have been found that date from Book of Mormon times, 600 BC to 400 AD. Though some horse bones have been found that date much much older.

    However, statuary of horses HAS been found that dates between 600 BC and 400 AD. So there is evidence that people of that time had seen horses.

    Secondly, European archaeologists have discovered no horse bones in the geographic region of the Hun empire (part of Eurasia), though there is plenty of historical evidence that the Huns had hundreds of thousands of horses.

    So there is generally accepted evidence that horses can exist in a region, but for whatever reason, their remains can’t be found.

    Are we not allowed to politely point that out to those who denounce the Book of Mormon for mentioning horses?

    As sad as it is for the church to lose people, and as unlikely as it is to get disaffected unbelieving members to come back, I think it important, for the record, to publish the apologetic responses to the published claims against the church and against the plausibility of the Book of Mormon.

  59. JWL
    December 1, 2005 at 12:23 pm

    I would add here that “apologetics” is more than just throwing facts back and forth. Some of the response to problematic issues is not argumentative point and counter-point, but simply suggesting a different perspective on facts which are not too much in dispute. For example, it is very helpful to understand that, contra the usual church publicity, church leaders are not perfect, that they are subject to the prejudices of their times and to various personal foibles. When a church member accepts this perspective, it is easier to deal with various racist comments accurately attributed to leaders such as Brigham Young or David O. McKay. Another perspective is that practices in the church evolve and change over time, contra the “correlated” tendency to equate various rules and relgulations with eternal truth. This perspective gives one a way to process the undisputable fact that compliance with the Word of Wisdom was not nearly as widespread in the 19th C as in the 20th C.

  60. December 1, 2005 at 6:32 pm

    Hi Bookslinger,

    I appreciate your nuanced approach to faith. All the more, I was taken aback about your comment about mixed marriages:

    “I’ve seen mixed marriages, and they are usually worse than staying single. My parents had a mixed marriage (Jewish/Presbyterian) and that was a very dysfunctional and abusive marriage and family.”

    I will be happy to take you through my neighborhood where virtually everyone is in a mixed marriage. Your experience does not necessarily capture the nature of things. Many people in mixed marriages live a great life and would be deeply hurt by the assertion that their kind of marriage usually is “worse than staying single.”

    We are all human beings. Religion doesn’t establish intra-species boundaries. That means that people of various persuasions can mate and have good families. That’s the way the biology works out.

    Cheers, Hellmut

  61. December 1, 2005 at 7:05 pm

    Saw,

    You said the following:

    “Several of the other issues you brought up seemed to be presented with some ignorance and oversimplification.”

    “Noone has been able to offer credible maps of BoM geography? What about Sorenson? Others? Bad apologetics, because they affirm the historicity claims?”

    “The “Two Cumorah” theory is actually very sound and reasonable. I am smart enough to know that Manti, Utah is not supposed to the site of the ancient Nephite Manti, and the same goes for Nephi, UT and Zarahemla, Iowa. The fact that early saints labeled a hill with a name from the Book of Mormon (BTW, JS never calls it that in his own history) doesn’t incline me to think it is the very same hill, or that JS or the BoM claimed such.”

    Well, I’m not sure how studied you are or how much knowledge you have of the history and quotes surrounding the Hill Cumorah but to accuse John of “some ignorance and oversimplification”, is ridiculous and out of line. You are in no position to criticize anyone, based on your obvious lack of knowledge of the subject.

    To say that the “two Cumorah” theory is “very sound and reasonable”,is completely laughable and downright hilarious. It’s obvious that you may be the one presenting with “ignorance and oversimplification.” If you had done one shred of homework on the Hill Cumorah, before making those comments, you never would have made them. You know what they say…”if there is any doubt…you can open your mouth and remove it.”

    Now, expand and clear your mind and allow me to enlighten you with the following quotes from Prophets and Apostles, in regard to the location and significance of the Hill Cumorah and what took place there.

    These quotes will show, unequivocally, that there is no possibility whatsoever, that there could be two Hill Cumorahs. The only way there could be two Hill Cumorahs, would be if every one of these quotes and men, were wrong and not inspired of God. Are the words and opinions of modern day Apologists more important and overriding of the words of former and current Mormon Prophets and Apostles?

    I would also like to see from you Saw, proof and where in Mormon History, former Prophets and Apostles taught that there were multiple Hill Cumorahs. Good luck on that mission!! If they did exist, it would directly contradict the quotes below, so you’re in a real pickle, aren’t you Saw?

    Here are the quotes:

    “The great and last battle, in which several hundred thousand Nephites perished was on the hill Cumorah, the same hill from which the plates were taken by Joseph Smith, the boy about whom I spoke to you the other evening.” (Talk given by Apostle Orson Pratt, Feb. 11, 1872 Journal of Discourses Vol. 14, pg. 331)

    “We visited the Hill Cumorah and were accorded the courtesy of going thereon by the wife of Mr. George Sampson, a brother of Admiral Wm. Sampson, who before his death owned the property…..We were delighted to be there. Looking over the surrounding country we remembered that two great races of people had wound up their existence in the vicinity, had fought their last fight, and that hundreds of thousands had been slain within sight of that hill.”(Elder George Albert Smith, Conference Report, April 1906, p.56)

    “These records were carried by Ether from the hill Ramah, afterwards called Cumorah, where the Jaredites were destroyed, as well as the Nephites.” (Talk given by Apostle Orson Pratt, May 18, 1873 Journal of Discourses Vol. 16, pg. 50

    “Thirty-six years prior to this time his nation was destroyed in what we term the State of New York, around about a hill, called by that people the Hill of Cumorah, when many hundreds of thousands of the Nephites-men, women and children, fell, during the greatest battle that they had had with the Lamanites.” (Talk given by Apostle Orson Pratt, Aug. 25, 1878 Journal of Discourses Vol. 20, pg. 62)

    “It will be, next Thursday night, 54 years since the Prophet Joseph Smith, then but a lad, was permitted by the angel of the Lord to take the gold plates of the Book of Mormon from the hill Cumorah, as it was called in ancient times, located in the State of New York. ” (Talk given by Apostle Orson Pratt, Sept. 18, 1881 Journal of Discourses Vol. 22, pg. 224)

    “Finally, they became so utterly wicked, so fully ripened for destruction, that one branch of the nation, called the Nephites, gathered their entire people around the hill Cumorah, in the State of New York , in Ontario County; and the Lamanites, the opposite army, gathered by millions in the same region. The two nations were four years in gathering their forces, during which no fighting took place; but at the end of that time, having marshalled all their hosts, the fighting commenced, the Lamanites coming upon the Nephites, and destroying all of them, except a very few, who had previously deserted over to the Lamanites.” (Talk given by Apostle Orson Pratt, April 6, 1874 Journal of Discourses Vol. 17, pg. 24)

    “The passages which I have quoted from the Book of Mormon and the more extended discussion of this subject by Elder B. H. Roberts which was published in The Deseret News of March 3, 1928, definitely establish the following facts: That the Hill Cumorah, and the Hill Ramah are identical; that it was around this hill that the armies of both the Jaredites and Nephites, fought their great last battles; that it was in this hill that Mormon deposited all of the sacred records which had been entrusted to his care by Ammaron, except the abridgment which he had made from the plates of Nephi, which were delivered into the hands of his’ son, Moroni. We know positively that it was in this hill that Moroni deposited the abridgment made by his father, and his own abridgment of the record of the Jaredites, and that it was from this hill that Joseph Smith obtained possession of them. ” (President Anthony W. Ivins, Conference Report, April 1928-Morning Session)

    “Cumorah, the artificial hill of north America, is well calculated to stand in this generation, as a monument of marvelous works and wonders. Around that mount died millions of the Jaredites; yea, there ended one of the greatest nations of this earth. In that day, her inhabitants spread from sea to sea, and enjoyed national greatness and glory, nearly fifteen hundred years. — That people forsook the Lord and died in wickedness. There, too, fell the Nephites, after they had forgotten the Lord that bought them. There slept the records of age after age, for hundreds of years, even until the time of the Lord.” (The Latter-day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Vol.2, No.2, p.221)

    “The hill, which was known by one division of the ancient peoples as Cumorah, by another as Ramah, is situated near Palmyra in the State of New York .” (Apostle James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith , chapter 14)

    “It is known that the Hill Cumorah where the Nephites were destroyed is the hill where the Jaredites were also destroyed. This hill was known to the Jaredites as Rama. It was approximately near to the waters of Ripliancum, which the Book of Ether says, “by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all.” Mormon adds: “And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents round about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites.”

    “It must be conceded that this description fits perfectly the land of Cumorah in New York, as it has been known since the visitation of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith, for the hill is in the proximity of the Great Lakes and also in the land of many rivers and fountains. Moreover, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself is on record, definitely declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon.

    “Further, the fact that all of his associates from the beginning down have spoken of it as the identical hill where Mormon and Moroni hid the records, must carry some weight. It is difficult for a reasonable person to believe that such men as Oliver Cowdery, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, David Whitmer, and many others, could speak frequently of the Spot where the Prophet Joseph Smith obtained the plates as the Hill Cumorah, and not be corrected by the Prophet, if that were not the fact. That they did speak of this hill in the days of the Prophet in this definite manner is an established record of history….” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation , Vol.3, Bookcraft, 1956, p.232-43.)

    “In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “hill Cumorah.” On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation .

    [Editor’s Note: About 20 short paragraphs later this speaker says the following]

    “This second civilization to which I refer, the Nephites , flourished in America between 600 B.C. and A.D. 400. Their civilization came to an end for the same reason, at the same place, and in the same manner as did the Jaredites’” (Talk given by President Marion G. Romney in General Conference, October 4, 1975, Ensign Nov. 1975 pg. 35)

    Apostle LeGrand Richards, in A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, chapter 7, also stated that Cumorah is in New York.

    “Both the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it), which hill is located between Palmyra and Manchester in the western part of the State of New York.

    “Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and many of the early brethren, who were familiar with all the circumstances attending the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in this dispensation, have left us a pointed testimony as to the identity and location of Cumorah or Ramah.”(Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, page 174-175, Bookcraft 1966)

    “This time it will have to do with so important a matter as a war of extinction of two peoples, the Nephites and the Jaredites, on the self same battle site, with the same ‘hill’ marking the axis of military movements. By the Nephites this ‘hill’ was called the ‘Hill Cumorah,’ by the Jaredites the ‘Hill Ramah’; it was that same ‘hill,’ in which the Nephite records were deposited by Mormon and Moroni, and from which Joseph Smith obtained the Book of Mormon, therefore the ‘Mormon Hill,’ of today—since the coming forth of the Book of Mormon—near Palmyra, New York. (B.H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.277)

    “According to the Book of Mormon the Hill Cumorah of the Nephites–the Ramah of the Jaredites–must be regarded as a natural monument overlooking ancient and extensive battle fields. Around it early in the sixth century B.C., the Jaredites were destroyed. Here, also, a thousand years later, at the dose of the fourth century A. D., the Nephites met with practical annihilation in a battle which, whether judged by the importance of the changes it wrought in the affairs of one of the world’s continents, or the number slain,a ranks as one of the world’s great battles. In view of these Book of Mormon facts one would naturally expect to find some evidences in this section of the country for such wonderful historical events. Here one has a right to expect the evidences of military fortifications; for, though a thousand years had elapsed between the destruction of the Nephites and the discovery of America by the Europeans, still some military monuments would doubtless survive that length of time.” (B.H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.3, Ch.34, p.67)

    “One of the most noted places in ancient American history was the land in which was situated the hill known to the Jaredites as Ramah and to the Nephites as Cumorah. In its vicinity two great races were exterminated; for it was there that the last battles were fought in the history of both peoples. There also the sacred records of the Nephites found their final resting place.” (Elder George Reynolds, The Story of the Book of Mormon, Ch.69, p.325)

    In 1990 the office of the First Presidency of the LDS Church stated that Cumorah is in New York:
    Click here to see an image of the original letter

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    Office of the First Presidency
    Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

    October 16, 1990

    Bishop Darrel L. Brooks
    Moore Ward
    Oklahoma City Oklahoma South Stake
    1000 Windemere
    Moore, OK 73160

    Dear Bishop Brooks:

    I have been asked to forward to you for acknowledgment and handling the enclosed copy of a letter to President Gordon B. Hinckley from Ronnie Sparks of your ward. Brother Sparks inquired about the location of the Hill Cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon, where the last battle between the Nephites and Lamanites took place.

    The Church has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon.

    The Brethren appreciate your assistance in responding to this inquiry, and asked that you convey to Brother Sparks their commendation for his gospel study.

    Sincerely yours,
    (signed)
    F. Michael Watson
    Secretary to the First Presidency

    Here is a link to an official copy of this letter:

    Hill Cumorah Letter

    So, Saw, as you can see, the two Hill Cumorah letter from 1990, along with all of the other quotes, completely destroys any possibility of two Hill Cumorahs.

    Now, to further complicate matters, in Ether 15:15, it says, “…both men, women and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breastplates, and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war…

    Then in Alma 43: 19, it says:

    19 And when the armies of the Lamanites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni, had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing—

    Alma 43: 38 says:

    38 While on the other hand, there was now and then a man fell among the Nephites, by their swords and the loss of blood, they being shielded from the more vital parts of the body, or the more vital parts of the body being shielded from the strokes of the Lamanites, by their breastplates, and their armshields, and their head-plates; and thus the Nephites did carry on the work of death among the Lamanites.

    Alma 46: 13 says:

    13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins….

    Hel. 1: 14 says:

    14 And it came to pass in the *forty and first year of the reign of the judges, that the Lamanites had gathered together an innumerable army of men, and armed them with swords, and with cimeters and with bows, and with arrows, and with head-plates, and with breastplates, and with all manner of shields of every kind.

    3 Ne. 3: 26 says:

    ….And Gidgiddoni did cause that they should make weapons• of war of every kind, and they should be strong with armor, and with shields, and with bucklers…..

    Morm. 6 SUMMARY says:

    The Nephites gather to the land of Cumorah for the final battles—Mormon hides the sacred records in the hill Cumorah—The Lamanites are victorious, and the Nephite nation is destroyed—Hundreds of thousands are slain with the sword. [A.D. 385]

    And finally, in Ether 15: 2, it says:

    2 He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.

    Now, a couple more references regarding “Cumorah.”

    GS Cumorah, Hill
    Nephites gathered at Cumorah, Morm. 6: 2-4. Cumorah was in a land of many waters, Morm. 6: 4. Mormon hid the records in the Hill Cumorah, Morm. 6: 6. All but twenty and four Nephites were slain at Cumorah, Morm. 6: 11. We hear glad tidings from Cumorah, D&C 128: 20. Joseph Smith took plates from the Hill Cumorah, JS-H 1: 42, 50-54, 59.

    IN Ramah, Hill DEFINITION
    Jaredite name for Hill Cumorah

    GS Moroni, Son of Mormon
    The last Nephite prophet in the Book of Mormon (circa A.D. 421). Just before Mormon’s death, he delivered a historical record called the plates of Mormon to his son Moroni (W of M 1: 1). Moroni finished compiling the plates of Mormon. He added chapters 8 and 9 to the book of Mormon (Morm. 8: 1). He abridged and included the book of Ether (Ether 1: 1-2) and added his own book called the book of Moroni (Moro. 1: 1-4). Moroni sealed up the plates and hid them in the hill Cumorah (Morm. 8: 14; Moro. 10: 2). In 1823 Moroni was sent as a resurrected being to reveal the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith (JS-H 1: 30-42, 45; D&C 27: 5). He instructed the young prophet each year from 1823 to 1827 (JS-H 1: 54) and finally delivered the plates to him in 1827 (JS-H 1: 59). After completing the translation Joseph Smith returned the plates to Moroni.

    Map: Palmyra-Manchester, 1820-31
    5. Hill Cumorah Here the angel Moroni gave the Prophet Joseph Smith the gold plates on 22 September 1827 (see JS-H 1:50-54, 59).

    So, Saw, with all of the evidence above, you have to concur, that there is absolutely no possibility the “Hill Cumorah” where Moroni buried the plates is some “other Hill Cumorah.” It’s very clear from all of those references and the quotes above, that it is indeed, without a shred of doubt, one in the same.

    So, that now brings us to another massive problem; Using the references from above, there were two massive battles fought at the Hill Cumorah, right? Okay, well, as we can see above, at least 2 million died in the Jaredite battle, but they may have just been the good guys. It could have been 4-5 million, but we’ll stick with 2 million.

    Then in the Nephite/Lamanite final battle, “Hundreds of thousands are slain with the sword”, right? So, we have at least 2,300,000 that died right at the Hill Cumorah in New York. Again, I say at least, but more than likely, it would have been many more than that.

    Now, these people that fought in these battles, were “clothed after the manner of war.” So, what did this include? Here is the list; weapons of war, having shields, and breastplates, and head-plates, arm-shields, girded on his armor about his loins, bucklers, and armed them with swords, and with cimeters and with bows, and with arrows…and with all manner of shields of every kind.

    So, now we’ve established that at least 2,300,000 people died at the Hill Cumorah in New York, with all of the above mentioned weapons and dress of war. So naturally, I now have to ask you Saw and anyone else out there that believes this ridiculous “two Cumorah theory”, Where the hell is everything? Where are the millions of swords, breastplates, arm-shields, bows, arrows, cimeters, all manners of shields of every kind and oh yeah, the over 800 million bones.

    Did it all just vanish? Did God twitch his nose and zap it up to heaven to “try peoples faith.” If he did, then why are you and others, especially the Apologists, floating around this absurd “two Cumorah theory.” So, for those, like yourself, that don’t believe that the Hill Cumorah in New York is THE Hill Cumorah, You are looking for some phantom hill somewhere in South or Central America, that has all of the above, just waiting to be discovered?

    Let me tell you something; If you or anyone can find this hill, I will go back to Church tomorrow, repent of my sin of apostasy and even agree to slit my neck, Chest and stomach open, like I did before 1990 in the temple. I will be the most die-hard member in the world. I will 1000% dedicate my life to the Mormon Church and renounce all anti-Mormons as “from the Devil.”

    If this hill is found, I predict baptisms will soar into the millions if not billions. The whole earth, at least the God-fearing good people, will all want to become Mormon and learn the truth. The Church can send the artifacts all over the world and fill football stadiums with people, while they do mass baptisms in the 100’s of baptismal fonts that are set up. It will be one of the most incredible things to ever happen in the world and everyone will praise Joseph Smith.

    Now, before this fantasy above gets you all worked up and excited, I have a very strong feeling that it will never happen because the Book of Mormon never really happened. The people and events are fictitious and a figment of Joseph Smith’s imagination, along with a massive dose of plagiary. There isn’t one shred of archaeological proof in the Hill Cumorah of these battles or the Church is hiding one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. Now, why would they do that?

    Common sense tells me that the Mormon Church wouldn’t continue to beat their head on wall with their missionary program, conferences, etc, if there was an easier way. If they had this proof, this evidence, they would tell and show it to the whole world ASAP.

    Also, they wouldn’t need organizations like FARMS or FAIR, trying to help them out, while floating insane “two Hill Cumorah theories.” Why does FARMS exist anyway? The Church Hierarchy knows that they’ll never find anything, but perception is everything. If the Church just stopped looking, well, that would be a pretty bad signal, wouldn’t it? Bottom line is that if the Church didn’t need FARMS searching the earth for one shred of Book of Mormon evidence, they wouldn’t have them doing it. Oh yeah, not to mention that it would mean that the Church was lying to us, if they did have all that evidence, but then again, the Church lying or covering up, wouldn’t be anything new, would it?

    So, Saw, the proof is in the pudding isn’t it? In summary, according to past and present GA’s, including Prophets and Apostles, it is 100% impossible for there to be two Hill Cumorahs. So, we turn to the “one and only Hill Cumorah” and find nothing, not a shred of evidence to back up a single claim that millions of people died there wearing all manner of battle gear along with all the weapons.. Why? Because it never happened, sorry to burst your bubble. If you just use a tiny bit of common sense, along with your new knowledge on this, you too, will be able to see the truth of the matter.

    Now, I want to leave you with a link to Smithsonian letter: Smithsonian Letter on the Book of Mormon

    Also, here is a letter from National Geographic regarding the Book of Mormon:

    National Geographic on the Book of Mormon

    So, despite all of the quotes above, the complete lack of evidence, etc, don’t you think that if there was truly a great discovery waiting in New York in the Hill Cumorah, that National Geographic and the Smithsonian, would want to find it and show it to the world? We just need to use our brains on this one guys, it’s not that difficult. Forgot warm, burning feelings in our bosom and flip on that brain.

    If all of this stuff is there, waiting to be discovered, that would have to mean that the Mormon Church isn’t interested, National Geographic isn’t interested nor the Smithsonian….yeah right!!

    Anyway, Saw and others, that want to believe so badly and are clinging to crazy theories that have no validity, good luck with your studies and I sincerely wish you the best. Sometimes we need to forget about the burning in the bosom, or good feelings and exchange it for using our brain, knowledge and common sense. What’s that old saying? If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is!! Amen!!

    Regards,

    Samuel

    I also wanted to thank Mike Norton(Josephlied.com) and the Tanners(Utlm.org) for those quotes regarding the Hill Cumorah. When I was figuring out this puzzle of Mormonism, these quotes and their information and websites were instrumental.

    Also, Saw, I have a lot more quotes and information that I’ve discovered on my own, regarding the Hill Cumorah, so let me know if you’d like to see it. I very much look forward to your response.

  62. Saw Skooh
    December 1, 2005 at 9:12 pm

    Samuel,

    Your entire posting is based on a assumptions about me that are simply not true, nor have I given you a reason to think that they are.

    You assume that I believe that all statements, ideas, and beliefs spoken by apostles and church presidents are revelation. I don’t, and I also know that neither do John Dehlin and many of the participants in this forum. I know enough about the history of issues like blacks and the priesthood and Adam-God to know that apostles and church presidents struggle to explain things that they don’t “know” about and even express ideas that are incorrect, and even contrary to scripture or revelation – even spoken in conference. That is clear to me.

    You also assume that I don’t know about the littany of quotes that you mentioned, and haven’t “done my homework.” I do, and I have. I am not ignorant of the issue. I am perfectly aware of the Church’s long and oft-repeated tradition, since the beginning, about the “Hill Cumorah” being one and the same with its namesake in the Book of Mormon.

    But I also know the difference between a tradition and a revelation. None of the things that you copied and pasted from anti-mormon websites are revelations – they are perpetuations of a tradition that still persists to this day amongst even many modern Church leaders. Sheer volume doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a tradition. Many, many apostles and prophets have repeated and do repeat this tradition on the assumption it is true, just like many prophets perpetuated Brigham Young’s ban on blacks and the priesthood, which they inherited.

    I have no compunctions or hesitations whatsoever in setting aside a tradition when it becomes clear that it is not easily supportable by new findings. I also learned at a very young age that the scriptures stop at the footnotes, chapter headings, and the appendices. All that other stuff is not cannon.

    So, with these two rash assumptions eliminated, is the “Two Cumorah” theory reasonable? Quite. That’s all I was saying. All it means is that the hill was named after a place in the Book of Mormon early on and that an incorrect tradition has been perpetuated about its identity by members and aposles alike. That’s quite reasonable, and it’s far from testimony shattering.

    P.S. It’s significant that none of the quotes come from Joseph Smith himself, a fact ironically confirmed by Joseph Fielding Smith’s quote. Even Joseph Smith showed evidence of trying to work out Book of Mormon geography based on scraps of information he came across from the news abroad, even changing his views with new discoveries, as though even he himself didn’t know the facts of the geography and was forced to use his own best guesswork like everyone else.

  63. Bookslinger
    December 1, 2005 at 11:57 pm

    Hellmut: I will be happy to take you through my neighborhood where virtually everyone is in a mixed marriage. … Many people in mixed marriages live a great life and would be deeply hurt by the assertion that their kind of marriage usually is “worse than staying single.”

    Thank you for pointing that out, and reminding me that one data point does not a generality make. There were other factors in my parents’ marriage, and I should not blame everything on their differing religions.

  64. Revelationalist
    December 2, 2005 at 12:46 am

    Dear Skooh,
    I can understand your assumptions concerning the location of the Hill Cumorah.
    However, while not shattering your testimony on the truth of the Book of Mormon,
    they do shatter your testimony on the authority of the Church Leaders, because according to your opinion, we cannot know whether our Church Leaders are speaking revelations or pure human opinions. As such, we cannot trust their talks, for they might be human and fallible, not godly inspired.

    Following this assumption, we are nothing more than an evangelical denomination with another chapter added to the bible, but with no authority on prophets other than JS at the time he translated the BoM.

    I dont know if that your proposed way of thinking is a real progress.

    Greets,
    Revelationist.

  65. December 2, 2005 at 5:22 am

    First of all Saw, you didn’t address the fact that you said to John, “Several of the other issues you brought up seemed to be presented with some ignorance and oversimplification.” That along with your remark about the “two Cumorahs”, is what sparked my post in the first place.

    Then you went right into the Hill Cumorah, so I’m sure that was one of the things that you were referring to with your comment.

    I think that I, as a very recent and very happy Anti-Mormon, have more understanding and respect for John and what he is trying to accomplish than you do. It’s not just because the facts and things that he talks about or discusses are in agreement with my opinions, rather that he is able to look at facts of the Hill Cumorah for instance and call them facts. He doesn’t have to dance in the shadows with fear of reality.

    John and I don’t agree on everything or why some things are the way they are but we mostly agree on what they are and what the facts are. John isn’t running and hiding from what is and what was. He’s not afraid!! By the way John, I’m gonna Email you about this presentation, but it is awesome, outstanding and very well done!! Thanks for the time that you must have put into it.

    I’ve already sent it out to several people that either A-couldn’t understand why I’d be angry or B-Family members that can’t understand why I’ve done what I’ve done or why I’ve been so upset at the Church. So, thanks for that. I haven’t heard back from them yet.

    You have to be the most honest active Mormon alive on planet earth and the Mormon Church, if they were really all about honesty and truth, should hire you as their PR guy to assimilate the truth to the world since they apparently have no clue how to do it.

    John, I love how you just say, hey, this is how it is, this is how it was, this is what was said, now lets deal with it. I find it fascinating how many people here are trying to say, well…..yes and no, etc, etc. Everybody wants that middle gray area, so that they don’t have to commit to reality and truth.

    Many people in the Church, specifically “TBM’s”, just can’t seem to accept the truth or reality. I don’t really blame them though, after a life time of being programmed to believe what they do. I know that I had a hard time at first but little by little, I realized that it was what it was and my decision was obviously to leave. I couldn’t continue on in what I considered to be a fraud and a lie, supported by the Mormon Hierarchy that perpetuated these lies.

    At some point John, these people need to see what you see and accept the reality of things. I guess if not in this life, maybe the next eh? Then again, if they are happy, then they can just keep their blinders on, look straight ahead and plug their ears and hum “Praise to the man.”

    But, I have to wonder, if that is what they are gonna do, why are they here? I think most people here are truly seeking the truth and the facts but don’t like them when they hear them. Again, based on personal experience, I fully understand this and I have much sympathy and empathy for them.

    The bottom line is this; the facts and reality that John lays out in his presentation are very painfully accurate for any “TBM” or life-long member of the Mormon Church. So, first, people need to accept these things as truth or reality and then they have to decide whether they can stay in the Mormon Church or should leave the Mormon Church, knowing what they now know.

    I honestly have no problem with someone knowing the truth but deciding to stay for personal reasons. However, I do have a problem with people that try to twist and distort the facts to fit their reality and frame of reference.

    Again, that is their prerogative, but in places like this, where people discuss it openly, you will always have an argument from me.

    Anyway, Saw, He’s not stumbling around in some gray area, wondering if there’s 1,2 or 5 Hill Cumorahs. He’s not dismissing every quote that I listed as “tradition” or “things that have been repeated over and over.” Like John says, “it starts to get sketchy.”

    How can you, Saw, dismiss what the First Presidency said, including Hinckley, in 1990? You really, truly, believe that it’s just tradition and not revelation? REALLY?!! Come on man, if you truly believe this, where is the revelation?

    Why do they have a 10 foot bronze statue on the Hill Cumorah of Moroni, mounted on a 25-foot shaft of white granite and the ten-foot bronze figure of Moroni points toward heaven with the right hand and holds a replica of the plates with the left.

    Why do they have a Hill Cumorah pageant every year? Just the name of the Pageant, where they relive all of the Book of Mormon stories, should tell us volumes.

    Again, I know, I know, it must just be that whole “tradition thing.” That Hill has no significance but yet the Mormon Church bought it, put a statue of Moroni on it and a giant Book of Mormon and parties there every year with about 100,000 people, but it’s just tradition and has nothing to do with the historicity of the Hill Cumorah.

    Is any of this sinking in? Did they just do this for the hell of it? Have you seen the giant Book of Mormon monument at the Hill Cumorah and read what it says?

    Giant Book of Mormon Picture

    If you can dismiss so easily, something so basic, that has been said so many times, then I guess you can do that with everything in the Church. Nothing is what it seems, nobody says what they mean or whatever they say is just them, repeating what others have said, due to tradition.

    That sure sounds a lot like utter chaos to me with no sign of revelation anywhere. If that is the standard that the Prophet and Apostles have to live down to, to meet your approval, then I guess they don’t have to ever be inspired or have a freakin clue about anything, EVER.

    So, in other words, you could join any Church, since there is no “reality” or “real truth” to be found in this life, anywhere, or any “real certainty” especially in the Mormon Church.

    I could go on and on, giving you Hinckley’s black and white quotes,”its either true or a fraud, etc. To the current Prophet, Seer and Revelator, God’s mouthpiece, there is “no middleground” where you Saw, seem to find yourself so comfortable.

    Again, if it works for you, great, but it isn’t for me. I need more certainty, especially when, in order to get into the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, they want 10% of my money, plus my time, talents and possibly even my life if necessary.

    You said:

    “Your entire posting is based on a assumptions about me that are simply not true, nor have I given you a reason to think that they are.”

    You actually did give me every reason in the world to think that my assumptions were true, by your laughable and baseless, lacking any evidence comment, “The “Two Cumorah” theory is actually very sound and reasonable.” Where is YOUR proof that this theory is “very sound and reasonable.” I’d like to hear it, I really would.

    I’d like to see official words, from Prophets and Apostles that confirm this. I’m sure that you would be quoting them if you had them. Then again, their words are meaningless, right? So who cares anyway. Like Hinckley says, so what?

    Also, for you to basically discount or demean all of the “actual quotes” that I posted, simply because they were “copied and pasted from anti-Mormon websites”, is ridiculous and not addressing the substance and quantity of the quotes.

    It doesn’t change the fact that they are 100% correct, accurate and right out of Mormon approved material which can be purchased from Deseret Book. It’s not “Anti-Mormon” doctrine by any means. So, let’s not worry about the sources, rather the validity of the comments, okay? If you feel that they are created or made up, please help me out and show me the corrections and where they have been distorted.

    Now, on a personal note, have you considered employment at FARMS or FAIR, because you would be a perfect addition to their staff for sure. I’m serious. You appear to have knowledge of all of the issues, but are easily able to dismiss them out of hand, when anything contradicts or is obviously wrong and doesn’t make any logical sense. At least John doesn’t dismiss them, he would rather try to work through them, which I admire greatly.

    Then you said:

    “You assume that I believe that all statements, ideas, and beliefs spoken by apostles and church presidents are revelation. I don’t, and I also know that neither do John Dehlin and many of the participants in this forum. I know enough about the history of issues like blacks and the priesthood and Adam-God to know that apostles and church presidents struggle to explain things that they don’t “know” about and even express ideas that are incorrect, and even contrary to scripture or revelation – even spoken in conference. That is clear to me.”

    Now I find this last paragraph of yours to be stunning, coming from a “TBM”, if that is what you are. If you think you are a “TBM”, your in big trouble. First of all, comments made in conference are considered to be scripture and you have to know that. I was taught that those talks belong with our quad and are “revelation” and “inspired words of God.” So, if you can even dismiss those words from Conference, that you don’t agree with, then what can I say?

    If the Prophet or Apostles, in General Conference, can say false things and contradict revelation and scripture, then what’s the point of anything these men say and how do you do what to dismiss and accept?

    So, Saw, can you please explain to everyone here, exactly how you do decide what is “revelation?” I guess that it’s up to you what is and isn’t, meaning that there never is anything “official” that can be relied upon as revelation. I’m sure you’ll correct me if my impressions are wrong.

    It must be easy just being able to pick and chose what is inspired or not inspired based on your opinions and feelings. That is not in agreement with what the Church teaches, and that is for sure.

    I seriously think that you need to re-read Ezra Taft Benson’s 14 fundamentals in following the Prophet:

    14 Fundamentals in following the Prophet

    Here is a quick summary for you:

    In conclusion let us summarize this grand key, these “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet”, for our salvation depends on them.

    1. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

    2. The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

    3. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

    4. The prophet will never lead the church astray.

    5. The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

    6. The prophet does not have to say “Thus Saith the Lord,” to give us scripture.

    7. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

    8. The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.

    9. The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.

    10. The prophet may advise on civic matters.

    11. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.

    12. The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

    13. The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—the highest quorum in the Church.

    14. The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.

    I testify that these fourteen fundamentals in following the living prophet are true. If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain—how close do our lives harmonize with the Lord’s anointed—the living Prophet—President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency.

    My personal favorites are #’s 4 and 6 but then again, he probably just learned this stuff when he was a kid and was repeating tradition or something, right? Does Ezra Taft Benson have any credibility to you?

    Then you said:

    “You also assume that I don’t know about the littany of quotes that you mentioned, and haven’t “done my homework.” I do, and I have. I am not ignorant of the issue. I am perfectly aware of the Church’s long and oft-repeated tradition, since the beginning, about the “Hill Cumorah” being one and the same with its namesake in the Book of Mormon.”

    So, again, you consider these quotes, the letter from 1990, to be just tradition and nothing more? Maybe everything is tradition? Maybe the whole Church is bogus and people just keep saying what they’ve heard others say?

    It’s like the 2, 3 year old little kids in Sacrament Meeting, when they start saying, “I know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet, I know the Church it true, etc.” You have the Parent whispering in their ear, etc. I guess they too then are just following in tradition like the Prophets and Apostles. I’m just trying to use the same mentality and expand it to other things in the Church.

    Then you said:

    “But I also know the difference between a tradition and a revelation. None of the things that you copied and pasted from anti-mormon websites are revelations – they are perpetuations of a tradition that still persists to this day amongst even many modern Church leaders. Sheer volume doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a tradition. Many, many apostles and prophets have repeated and do repeat this tradition on the assumption it is true, just like many prophets perpetuated Brigham Young’s ban on blacks and the priesthood, which they inherited.”

    Dude, you are just making my points for me. Seriously, are you a strong member of the Church, for real? How do you know the difference between a tradition and a revelation in the Mormon Church? What is your criteria? Help me out please, I’d love to know what you base it on and how you know for sure that it is what you have somehow determined it to be.

    What I find to be truly astonishing, is that you’ve figured out, somehow, that the “Hill Cumorah tradition”, is just a tradition when, as you say above, “they are perpetuations of a tradition that still persists to this day amongst even many modern Church leaders.”

    Then you said, “Many, many apostles and prophets have repeated and do repeat this tradition on the assumption it is true, just like many prophets perpetuated Brigham Young’s ban on blacks and the priesthood, which they inherited.”

    That’s amazing!! They still have the “assumption that it is true”, repeat it all the time, don’t realize that it’s just a “tradition”, but you, somehow know for a fact that it is indeed, not true, and just a tradition.

    I think this goes to show how desperate you must be, to cling to your testimony of Mormonism and are in complete denial of the facts. How could you possibly receive revelation that these Prophets, Seers and Revelators can’t receive.

    Maybe you can work out a personal visit with them through your Bishop, in order to share your apparent “inspired Knowledge”, which they haven’t been privy to as of yet. I would say that the Mormon Church has big problems if you are currently receiving more revelation than the Prophet himself and have a better handle on whether the Hill Cumorah is THE Hill Cumorah or not..wow..they might need some restructuring or something. They obviously, really need your help.

    Then, you dig a deeper hole for the GA’s when you admit that their “tradition is not easily supportable by new findings.” I would say “any findings” to be more accurate in this instance. Anyway, you said:

    “I have no compunctions or hesitations whatsoever in setting aside a tradition when it becomes clear that it is not easily supportable by new findings. I also learned at a very young age that the scriptures stop at the footnotes, chapter headings, and the appendices. All that other stuff is not cannon.”

    So, I have to ask, who am I, or you, or anybody, to override the only Prophet of God of the One and only true Church on the whole planet earth? Who gave you or me the authority, as members that is, to be able to be “setting aside a tradition”, that they, the Prophet and Apostles, still believe in, teach and perpetuate? Have they rescinded this teaching of the “One Hill Cumorah” and I missed it?

    Then you said:

    “So, with these two rash assumptions eliminated, is the “Two Cumorah” theory reasonable? Quite. That’s all I was saying. All it means is that the hill was named after a place in the Book of Mormon early on and that an incorrect tradition has been perpetuated about its identity by members and aposles alike. That’s quite reasonable, and it’s far from testimony shattering.”

    Now, we are right back to square one, aren’t we? I find it to be very damning. I guess since I just shot down your “elimination of the two rash assumptions of the “Two Cumorah” theory”, maybe I wasn’t so off-base after all.

    Like I said, we are right back where we started. It’s apparent that you will not look at the evidence or give any credibility to Prophets or Apostles of the only true Church, that you claim to believe in, so what’s the point? It’s like talking to a brick wall if the most important men in your Church, your leaders, that talk to God, have no credibility and you can’t rely on anything they say.

    If these men that have led and guided Mormonism have no credibility whatsoever to you, than no quote or anything that I, or anyone, could ever show you, would ever matter. Even if the Prophet Hinckley himself, personally told you how it was, you apparently would just dismiss him too. So why are you even a member?

    You are, basically, your own self-appointed Prophet and determine what is or isn’t revelation or just tradition for the Mormon Church. Again, that is not in align with what the Church teaches, so you may have to seriously ask yourself if you are really a true-believer or why you stay a member of the Church. It makes no sense!!

    Have you actually expressed these opinions to your Bishop or Stake President? I would love to know their reaction.

    I think you said it best, how you really believe, in another post, where you said, ” What I mean is that I believe that any person who has received as much witness as you and Roasted Tomatoes (and I) have received about the Book of Mormon, as God’s “word to us” and a witness for Christ, need have no hesitancy in affirming a belief that it is “true,” without any additional qualifications placed on that word. Having come to Christ through the book, it seems to me that one need only trust what He Himself testifies about the book – that it is “true” (D&C 17:6).

    So, that it the truth of how you feel, lets just be honest and get it all out. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what the Apostles and Prophets have said or not said, whether their words are inspired or not inspired, etc. None of that matters to you at all, based on what you said.

    The bottom line is that, as you said, a person “need have no hesitancy in affirming a belief that it is “true,” without any additional qualifications placed on that word.”

    So, for you, it’s all about feelings and has nothing to do with any proof or evidence. If something arises or doesn’t arise, that disproves what you feel to be true, you use your feelings to dismiss what may be hard evidence to the contrary of what you are feeling. Am I right? Please correct me if I’m wrong, I’m just going by what you’ve said and I apologize if I’ve misunderstood you or your comments.

    Then in another post, right below the other one, you said to John,

    “My testimony is based on faith in these things, and is NOT a “rational Tower of Babel” at all. I imagine that maybe this is all still too “black and white” and not “useful” to you and others. That’s fine, I guess. I believe that some things ARE black and white in certain ways while remaining quite nuanced in others, and D&C 1:30 is one of those. I don’t think anyone in this forum is ever going to change anyone’s mind anyway, but I just want my perspective to be understood. It’s good to have some balance here, though I do feel quite alone.”

    I think you are right about one thing when you said, “I don’t think anyone in this forum is ever going to change anyone’s mind.” Everyone has the right, obviously to feel and believe whatever they want to. I would just like you to explain what you mean by, “I believe that some things ARE black and white in certain ways while remaining quite nuanced in others.”

    So, how did you determine the “Hill Cumorah to be black and white and not nuanced in other ways?” Is it because of your belief and strong feelings that the Book of Mormon is true that prevents you from analyzing the facts and quotes that I’ve mentioned?

    In other words, if the Hill Cumorah in New York is THE hill from the Book of Mormon, where two great wars were fought, where Moroni buried the plates and it has not a shred of archaeological evidence, that would prove by all reasonable means, that the Book of Mormon is false.

    So, you can’t accept that it is THE Hill Cumorah, because that would shatter your Book of Mormon testimony. Am I pretty close? I’m just trying to somehow understand your position and maybe I have you all wrong.

    Then you said:

    P.S. It’s significant that none of the quotes come from Joseph Smith himself, a fact ironically confirmed by Joseph Fielding Smith’s quote. Even Joseph Smith showed evidence of trying to work out Book of Mormon geography based on scraps of information he came across from the news abroad, even changing his views with new discoveries, as though even he himself didn’t know the facts of the geography and was forced to use his own best guesswork like everyone else.

    Now, wouldn’t you think that the man who had a ton of visions, saw the Father and the Son, translated the Book of Mormon, etc, would have had to have some clue as to where the Book of Mormon took place. What about Zelph, the white Lamanite? He certainly knew all about him didn’t he?

    Even FARMS agrees that Zelph was found but the details vary depending on whose journal account we read. But how could Joseph Smith be so clueless when he could receive such specific revelation regarding Polygamy, blood atonement, the Priesthood, etc? It just doesn’t jive or make any sense. I think it’s pretty safe to say Joseph believed that a great many things took place right there, were they were, as evidenced by a letter from Joseph to Emma on June 4th, 1834, and have no fear Saw, this is off of FARMS, so it’s safe.

    Joseph wrote Emma:

    The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity, and gazing upon a country the fertility, the splendour and the goodness so indescribable, all serves to pass away time unnoticed.

    Why would God reveal that info to Joseph, on the spot, while denying him any clue as to where the Book of Mormon cities and battles where? It makes no sense to me within the framework of Joseph Smith being a Prophet of God and the original translator, or creator, of the Book of Mormon. To me, this fact that even Joseph didn’t know, is very revealing and transparent of what I consider to be nothing more than a work of fiction.

    Now, again, let me leave you with an extended version of some of the quotes from Marion G. Romney, that was in my original post above, from a talk entitled “America’s destiny.” It was given in the October, 1975 conference and appears in the November 1975 Ensign.

    What he says is considered to be scripture since it was said in conference and cannot be refuted.
    He says the following(Now I realize that you’ve already said that this man’s words have no credibility whatsoever to you but here they are again, anyway.)

    “In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “hill Cumorah.” (Morm. 6:6.) On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation.”

    “Thus perished at the foot of Cumorah the remnant of the once mighty Jaredite nation, of whom the Lord had said, “There shall be none greater … upon all the face of the earth.” (Ether 1:43.)”

    “As I contemplated this tragic scene from the crest of Cumorah and viewed the beautiful land of the Restoration as it appears today, I cried in my soul, ‘How could it have happened?'”

    “Pursuant to this decree concerning the land of America, the Jaredites were swept off in the manner we have reviewed, because, rebelling against the laws of Jesus Christ—the God of the land—they ‘ripened in iniquity.'”

    “Nor were they the only people who anciently were divinely led to this choice land to grow in righteousness to be a mighty nation and then to deteriorate in wickedness until they ripened in iniquity and were, pursuant to God’s decree, swept off.”

    “This second civilization to which I refer, the Nephites, flourished in America between 600 B.C. and A.D. 400. Their civilization came to an end for the same reason, at the same place, and in the same manner as did the Jaredites’. From the account of their death struggle, I quote:”

    “And now,” says Mormon, their historian, “I finish my record concerning the destruction of my people, the Nephites. And it came to pass that we did march forth before the Lamanites … to the land of Cumorah. … And when … we had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land of Cumorah, … my people, with their wives and their children, did … behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them.

    “And it came to pass that they did fall upon my people with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war.

    “And it came to pass that my men were hewn down, yea, even my ten thousand who were with me, and I fell wounded in the midst; and they passed by me that they did not put an end to my life.

    “And when they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow … from the top of the hill Cumorah, [230,000] of my people who were hewn down, …

    “Even all my people, save it were those twenty and four who were with me, and also a few who had escaped into the south countries, and a few who had dissented over unto the Lamanites, had fallen. …

    Moroni a little later wrote:

    “Behold I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father, Mormon. …

    “… after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, … the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed.

    “And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people.” (Morm. 8:1–3.)

    “The tragic fate of the Jaredite and the Nephite civilizations is proof positive that the Lord meant it when he said that this “is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.” (Ether 2:9.)”

    “This information, wrote Moroni, addressing himself to us who today occupy this land, “cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles” (now, Gentiles is the term used by the Book of Mormon prophets to refer to the present inhabitants of America and to the peoples of the old world from which they came), “[this] cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.”

    “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ.” (Ether 2:11–12.)

    {Just a note-these quotes are off of the most Pro-Mormon site on the Internet, the Mormon Church’s and Jesus’ official website, LDS.org.}

    Marion G. Romney, “America’s Destiny,” Ensign, Nov. 1975, 35

    Also, here’s a great quote from FARMS that I came across, regarding the Hill Cumorah:

    “This summary of the archeology of western New York, developed by a prominent archaeologist, shows that the region of western New York could not have been the scene of the culture described in considerable detail by Mormon. Where are the ruins? Where are all the other cultural facets demanded by his text? They simply are not there. This author fails to show that the Nephites ever lived in that area. By contrast, there is substantial evidence for a Mesoamerican location for those cultures. In fact, there is agreement on a number of site locations being specific Book of Mormon cities. There is also general agreement that the probable site of the Hill Ramah/Cumorah was at the hill called Vig in Veracruz, Mexico.”

    Again, Saw, I plead and beg with you, to show me and everyone here, where, one credible source,(Not an apologist) like a Mormon Prophet or Apostle, mentions that there were two Hill Cumorahs and that the Hill Cumorah in New York is NOT The Hill Cumorah where two great battles were fought, where Moroni buried the plates and where Joseph retrieved them.

    Give us something to nibble on, anything, other than your opinion with no facts, warm feelings or some apologist’s explanation which has no authority or validity whatsoever.

    Also, you can’t possibly overrule Prophets and Apostles with an Apologist, FARMS or FAIR can you? I know that FARMS is officially part of and funded by BYU but that doesn’t give them authority over Hinckley. Benson said it well in that talk above, who is allowed to speak for the Church. If you lose that, then you have nothing and there is no need whatsoever to even have a Prophet, right?

    If you can indeed overrule the Prophet, then Mormon leadership is irrelevant, has no authority and the Church is false along with everything that goes with it. I’m just using Hinckley’s words on this one. Here is a quote from Gordon B. Hinckley’s “loyalty” talk in the April 2003 conference:

    “Each of us has to face the matter—either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.”

    There is no way, that some yahoo over at FARMS or FAIR, should or could have more information, knowledge or revelation, than a sustained and called Prophet, Seer or Revelator, period!!

    Hinckley also said this, regarding the First Vision, in his talk called “The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 78:

    That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.

    Then again, in this talk, called “My Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 51, he addressed the critics of the Book of Mormon when he said:

    I have read the words of critics, who from 1820 until now have tried to destroy the validity of that account. They have made much of the fact that there were several versions and that the account as we now have it was not written until 1838. So what?

    Also, if these men are what they say they are, as I mentioned before, then you also can’t know more than them, right? Now, all of this is possible, that everyone apparently knows more than them, if they aren’t what and who they claim to be.

    Show us your hard evidence that proves, or even could lead one to believe that this whole Hill Cumorah subject we are discussing, is merely a tradition and not revelation!!

    In conclusion, I would say, Mormons, you have a big problem on your hands and it’s not going away!!

    Now, let me close with some of Hinckley’s remarks on whether members are even allowed to discuss these things openly.

    Here’s how it went:

    Larry King: Are people ever thrown out of your church?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: Yes.

    Larry King: For?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: Doing what they shouldn’t do, preaching false doctrine, speaking out publicly. They can carry all the opinion they wish within their heads, so to speak, but if they begin to try to persuade others, then they may be called in to a disciplinary council. We don’t excommunicate many, but we do some.

    I do wish you the best Saw in your journey.

    Regards,

    Samuel

    Here’s a bonus quote:

    “Doctrinal interpretation is the province of the First Presidency. The Lord has given that stewardship to them by revelation. No teacher has the right to interpret doctrine for the members of the Church”

    President Ezra Taft Benson

    “The Gospel Teacher and His Message”
    as found in LDS manual “Charge to Religious Educators,” pp.51-52

  66. Ben S.
    December 2, 2005 at 7:58 am

    Samuel, you’re losing people with your cut and paste. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

  67. December 2, 2005 at 9:13 am

    Well Ben, your losing me with your inability to respond to one thing I said or one cut and paste that I posted. Of course for people like yourself that apparently don’t have the answers or the ability to intelligently respond to the very valid “cut and pastes” that I listed, I guess that is your only way out.

    I guess my post was for people with a longer attention span than you are capable of in this instance. I didn’t want to be rude but I think in this case, it was merited. I just can’t stand it when somebody has nothing to offer to the discussion, so they just interject something arbitrary that has nothing to do with anything. If you don’t like the posts, simply don’t read them and relieve yourself from getting “lost.” Like you Said, KISS!! You would do well in taking your own advice.

    Saw makes the remark to John, ““Several of the other issues you brought up seemed to be presented with some ignorance and oversimplification” with no facts to back it up and what am I supposed to do, just let it slide. There are countless quotes by GA’s, including Prophets and they aren’t relevant to you now either?

    Hey Ben, are you the one laying down the law, setting the rules in here now or what? I’m just curious. I didn’t know that John had assigned you as the Moderator? If he did, then block my IP address and boot me out of here. However, John and I actually happen to respect one another and desire many of the same things, such as openness and honesty in the Mormon Church.

    Our ultimate goals of where people end up, with our help, may be different, but the bottom line is that we both want people to be happy. We both have a set of people that we are helping and I admire greatly what John is doing to help the people that need his specific help. He is doing the Mormon Church a great service.

    Now, Ben, I’ve noticed that you too like to talk a lot and have some long responses, so, how about a real response from you, regarding the substance of the discussion, instead of some lame response about “cutting and pasting.” I know that you can do better than that.

    So, did you actually read the quotes from your Prophets and Apostles from my first post? If you did, what is your opinion on the “two Hill Cumorah theory” and give me some quotes from Apostles and Prophets to back it up. I’ll be anxiously awaiting your response.

    Regards,

    Samuel

  68. Ben S.
    December 2, 2005 at 10:34 am

    Samuel, one very quick remark.

    “It must be easy just being able to pick and chose what is inspired or not inspired based on your opinions and feelings.”

    One must *always* pick and choose. To do otherwise is to impute de facto infallibility to Church leaders, something they have never claimed. It’s ironic how so many people who leave the Church don’t understand that.

    You said to Skooh, “they do shatter your testimony on the authority of the Church Leaders, because according to your opinion, we cannot know whether our Church Leaders are speaking revelations or pure human opinions.”

    We can in fact know, but that knowledge is personal and not objectively shareable. You seem to be suggesting that we don’t need to confirm the particulars of doctrine, only the generalities of psotion, something like “as long as I know GBH is a prophet, I can accept anything and everything that comes from his mouth.” That’s an assumption that I and many others disagree with, including many past church leaders.

    As to your particulars, I neither have the time nor see any reason to respond, since this has been hashed out over and over elsewhere. Simply put, I dsagree with your assumptions and your arguments. Enjoy your rhetorical victory at having the last word. I was simply trying to be helpful instead of bombastic with my short remark. Back to studying…

  69. Ben S.
    December 2, 2005 at 10:35 am

    My apologies, it was “Revelationist” not Samuel who responded to Skooh above.

  70. December 2, 2005 at 10:39 am

    One more thing Ben S…..I just made a quick trip through some of your posts and well…don’t be criticizing me for cutting and pasting, when you’ve done in more than anybody. Need I site examples?

    I don’t even care that you do it and everyone does it. When it pertains to the conversation and it is pertinent, who cares? Well, I guess you care, if it’s me that is doing it, right?

    I actually like it when people do it and it helps me to understand their point of view. Obviously you really like it too, especially when you are doing it eh?

    I just ask that you not be a hypocritical by pretending that it isn’t something you do, by criticizing me for doing it. I like to deal with straight shooters that are honest, not people that are “do as I say, not as I do” kind of people. Some of your cutting and pasting was humongous by the way. Did you think that I wouldn’t check?

    So, hey, keep cutting and pasting from FAIR, and I’ll keep cutting and pasting from Prophets and Apostles talks, okay? Capisce?

    Oh yeah, back to the main subject; Do you believe that there are two Hill Cumorahs and that the Hill Cumorah in New York is NOT the hill where two great battles were fought, between the Nephites/Lamanites and the Jaredites?

    Just answer the question and we’ll be fine. I noticed how you did the same thing to Hyrum, criticizing him and his attitude and what angle he was coming from, instead of giving a response with some substance. I hope I’m wrong but I’m expecting the same thing from you.

    Prove me wrong Ben!! Hey, in the end, if you are happy and I’m happy with what we believe, that’s great and that’s all I want and all that really matters. In the meantime, we can have some meaningful conversation and debate, right?

    Remember now, 6 months ago, I was were you are, maybe even a more die-hard member than you, who knows? I never doubted that the Mormon Church was true, not once, despite the many things that I saw along the way.

    In the end, maybe we can all learn to get along someday, I hope. It’s amazing how passionate many of us are in our beliefs here, now we just need to learn how to channel that passion into meaningful conversation and stick to the subject.

    One thing to keep in mind; the Mormon Church created some aspect of all of us and had a great influence on our thoughts, ability to reason and to be able to think critically, from the time we were little kids. Obviously, I’m referring to those of us that grew up in the Church. Anyway, I guess we’ll just have to work with what we’ve got.

    Take care Ben and I look forward to your answer to my question.

    Samuel

  71. Ben S.
    December 2, 2005 at 10:47 am

    I don’t believe I’ve cut and pasted from anywhere but my own notes, and I believe that primarily they have been citations to make a point. After my first one (which John had to clean up since the formatting didn’t go through), I’ve tried to set off any quotations by using the blockquote html.

    My main point in the original comment (which, admittedly, I could have made clearer) was that people’s eyes tend to glaze over when reading long rambling and sniping comments. If you want to have an effect on people, the best way to do it is to be concise, clear, and polite.

  72. Bookslinger
    December 2, 2005 at 11:31 am

    Samuel, You sound pretty bitter. Do you need a hug?

  73. Matt Smith
    December 2, 2005 at 12:31 pm

    John,

    This is great. I flipped through the slides and will go back and listen to the audio later. I will probably forward this on to a few people.

    One point I think is important is that often there is a lot of really bad “evidence” of the truth going around. We portray the church to ourselves as “provably” true. Its a bit of a contradiction. We teach faith, but at the same time teach (somewhat informally) that since our church is true we must be able to prove it. Some examples that come to mind:

    * all the propaganda targeted a missionaries (23 reasons why the Book of Mormon must be true, etc.)

    * bad fireside/seminary devotionals that try to paint the church/prophets/book of mormon as something they are not (e.g. Del Parson’s Jesus picture)

    * attempts to use statitics from the Utah population (education, divorce, teenage pregnancy, abuse, etc) to prove some sort of better quality of life enjoyed by Mormons.

    Note that these are not doctrinal, but they do have an effect on people, and it adds to the dissolutionment when people realize that some of what they have been told is innaccurate, logically unsound or just plain made up. The key fallacy here is that I think a lot of people with good intent think that if the church is true (white), they should be able to prove it (either by proving it white or at least not black).

    In short, there is a lot of bad storytelling going on that is plain undoctrinal and I think a lot of people base a portion of thier testimony on it, especially in thier youth. This is really dangerous becuase it conditions some of the membership to have unrealistic expectations (What? ETB can comission an exact portrait of Jesus, but he doesn’t know that a document is a fake?)

    I know the church can’t be held accountable for everything in Deseret Book (or can it? they do own it), but it can certainly put some standards on what goes on in seminaries, firesides, and missions.

  74. December 2, 2005 at 6:24 pm

    John, I just wanted to say again, that I love this presentation. I have no clue whatsoever, what Bookslinger is talking about. Reduce it to 20-30 minutes of audio? Tighten up the spoken text? Give me a break!! What is this guy talking about? He is definitely in the minority, not the majority.

    John, I hope that you completely disregard such foolish hyperbole. Most of the comments that Bookslinger made in that post(5th from the top), are ridiculous in my opinion. You are who you are, have a great style and most everyone seems to enjoy what and how you do your show.

    Please don’t ever feel the need to change, simply because one person has no appreciation for who you are or how you do things. If you lose someone like Bookslinger, who cares? No need to compromise what your doing to keep them happy.

    Again, if Bookslinger is having such a hard time listening to your podcasts for all the reasons listed in that post, then tune out. Bookslinger, are you a professional podcast director? Can we hear your podcasts please, to understand better what you are talking about and how “tight” your show is?

    I think that you are very focused in this presentation John. I didn’t find you to just be rambling on and on about nothing? I guess if it is something that doesn’t interest that person, than they can’t see it as relevant.

    But how the hell are you supposed to cover all the ground you covered, with 36 slides, some issues very in depth, very important, in 20-30 minutes? My feeling is that if someone can’t set aside an hour to listen to something so important, than they aren’t your audience and who cares anyway? Ideally, you don’t want to lose anybody, but you can’t make everyone happy all the time.

    It’s also unfortunate that people like Bookslinger, apparently learned nothing about compassion and love toward those who have left Mormonism, based on his comments to Wanda above, who was being sincere as how she was feeling. If he learned nothing in an hour podcast/presentation, can you imagine what a 20-30 minute podcast would have accomplished?

    Bookslinger said to Wanda:

    “You’re entitled to your beliefs, and to express them here within the bounds set by the blog owner. But I think you’ve been disingenuous. I don’t think you were a temple worker. I smell a poser. Sorry.”

    It’s kind of sad that you specifically wrote, created and made this podcast/presentation for people like Bookslinger and yet he continues on, in his old ways, making no progress, accusing Wanda of being disingenuous and a poser. Maybe in time it will sink in, at least I hope so.

    Am I a poser too Bookslinger and anyone that left the Church or doesn’t see eye to eye with you? There’s just no way that I could have ever been a die-hard “TBM”for over 30 years and served a mission, had callings, went to BYU, married in the temple, etc, right? Don’t tell me that you also believe the “they must have sinned BS” too. I sure hope that you don’t.

    I would highly suggest that you, Bookslinger, go listen and watch this presentation again(as painful as it may be for you), and try to actually learn something this time around, okay? Actually listen and focus on the words that John speaks and what he expresses and with great passion I might add.

    Thanks for the offer of a hug, but I’ll decline, thanks!! If I needed one, it wouldn’t be from you. Man, you didn’t even offer Wanda a hug? I guess that I should feel privileged eh?

    Now, once again, I’m looking for an answer to my question, which both you, Bookslinger and you, Ben S, do not want to answer. I’m begging you guys, pleading with you, just answer the question. Would you really rather talk about the fact that I’m bitter, offer me a hug and talk about “cutting and pasting.” Are you avoiding my question? So far, yes, since you’ve both had a chance to respond and haven’t done so.

    Here is my question once again:

    Do you believe that there are two Hill Cumorahs and that the Hill Cumorah in New York is NOT the hill where two great battles were fought, between the Nephites/Lamanites and the Jaredites, and where the plates were buried and then retrieved by Joseph Smith? This isn’t hard guys.

    If it isn’t THE one and only Hill Cumorah, then give me the evidence and what you are basing it on, not just some warm, fuzzy, feeling, or your bones melting, or your bosom burning, okay? Also, I would like to see the quotes from Apostles and Prophets that emphatically contradict the other quotes that I shared. I don’t want any BS from FARMS or FAIR, I’m talking something official here from someone that had or has the authority to speak on the matter.

    Maybe you haven’t answered me because you can’t, because there isn’t a response or evidence to the contrary of what I’ve already shown. So, like I keep saying, just answer the question and we’ll be fine. That’s all I want from you guys, is an honest answer with evidence to back it up. Is that too much to ask? Am I being unreasonable?

    Saw, completely disregarded every single comment from Apostles and Prophets stating that the Hill Cumorah/Ramah is the one and only hill from the Book of Mormon. Saw believes that they said it, simply because it is tradition to say and believe it. I don’t believe that for a second. Either they truly believe it or know that it is BS. No middle ground as Hinckley says. It’s true or a fraud!!

    However, I now have much more respect for Saw, because at least he has taken a side, chosen his answer, which is more than I can say for you Bookslinger and Ben S. Start slinging some books Bookslinger and see what you can come up with.

    Maybe you, Bookslinger, can collaborate with Ben S and come up with something. Gook luck with that and as I keep saying, I anxiously look forward to your answer and response. Show me the error of my ways and how wrong I am, along with the former Apostles and Prophets, regarding the Hill Cumorah. I’m all ears guys, enlighten me please. At least throw me a bone.

    Regards,

    Samuel

  75. December 2, 2005 at 7:22 pm

    Bookslinger, when considering why I left the LDS church and what you can do about it, please know that the offer of a cyber-hug is actually much more helpful than accusing me of not properly understanding LDS doctrine, while apparently supposing that you understand it more properly than I. Neither of us will ever succeed at nailing that particular JELL-O to the wall.

    I grew up in an LDS family that had FHE every Monday night, most times straight from a FHE manual but sometimes based on a gospel topic the parents felt inspired to teach about and sometimes the kids gave the lessons based on Primary or YW/YM lessons. I never missed church unless I was really sick. I listened in Primary, and told my parents over Sunday dinner what I had learned. As a teenager, I actually went to Sunday School and paid attention the whole time; I was never even tempted to hang out in the hallway or parking lot. I read the Book of Mormon through for the first time at age 11. I then set to reading the rest of the standard works, and re-reading the BOM multiple times. Yes, I did pray about the truthfulness, and got a warm feeling. (Years later, after my change of perspective, I prayed to know whether the BOM was the work of men, not God, and got the same warm feeling. Make of that what you will.) I attended early-morning seminary and actually stayed awake and relatively focused throughout. I memorized all the seminary scriptures. I eagerly soaked up everything the teacher shared from the manual. I attended BYU and took a religion class every semester–in addition to the required BOM classes, I chose to take the classes that covered the rest of the standard works. The text for my D&C/Church History class was the institute manual you speak of. I was a Gospel Doctrine teacher in one BYU ward, a Relief Society “Spiritual Living” teacher in another, and got a lot of compliments about how diligently I stuck to the manuals and the scriptures yet made the lesson interesting. I served an honorable full-time mission. During personal study time, I stuck diligently to reading and re-reading the short list of allowed texts both in English and in the language of the area I served in; I was not one of those who used language-learning as an excuse to waste time and lose the Spirit via comics or novels. As you know, “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder” is on the shortlist. As a young working person, I attended institute weekly, in addition to all my Sunday meetings. One semester the text for the institute course was that same D&C manual. For the one year that I lived close enough to a temple to do so, I attended the temple weekly, and took time afterward to ponder things in the celestial room. Throughout all those years, I was praying daily, reading the Book of Mormon 30 minutes a day almost every day, preparing for the Sunday School lesson well in advance almost every week even when I wasn’t the teacher. If you count from my baptism on, I spent 16 years diligently seeking through approved sources only to come to an understanding of LDS doctrine.

    Yet according to you, I didn’t manage to see the doctrine clearly in all its radiant gloriousness even after sixteen years of diligently trying to do so (age 8 to 24). Hmmm….I wonder why that is (actually, I think I know). When LDS people beg me to re-read the BOM just one more time, and pray about it just one more time, in the hopes that I will see that the LDS church is the “ONLY” true and living church on the face of the earth, I feel like I’m being asked to take one more look at the emperor and see if I can’t make out at least the faint outlines of his gloriously radiant clothes. That the BOM may be historical or plausible or whatever, I can’t say for sure, since I don’t have the intellectual training to play with the big boys at FARMS and FAIR. But I can say for sure that it is not going to win me away from a universal worldview toward an outlook based on chosenness, official authority, and “only-trueness.” My conscience will no longer allow me to go there.

    I guess you won’t believe the above about my personal history, as you didn’t believe Wanda about her background. But *I* know what my background is, and if you want to understand why I left and what you can do about it, you might start by asking me what I already know, what my experiences have been, and taking my word for it, rather than patronizing me from the get-go as having a shallow, inaccurate understanding of LDS doctrine.

    Although if you do believe me about my background, you’ll just condemn me for “sinning against the greater light,” which won’t be a productive way to begin the dialogue, either.

    Ann may be right; LDS-exmo dialogue may be a waste of air. Thanks again to John for a sliver of hope that it might not be.

  76. Ann
    December 3, 2005 at 12:06 am

    Ann may be right; I suggest you all find a way to program this as a macro on your keyboard.

    [humbly bowing…well, bowing, anyway…]

  77. Bookslinger
    December 3, 2005 at 12:25 am

    Beijing: if you know the doctrines from the Doctrine and Covenants so well, then why have you mischaracterized them here on this blog?

    If you want to put your own spin on them fine, but qualify them as YOUR interpretation, not as what all other active LDS believe.

    You’ve made statements (more like accusations) of what LDS doctrine is, and I can’t see how you derive those statements or questions from the D&C or the Institute manuals.

    But maybe I should understand that. I served a mission with some kids who grew up in the church, attended everything, did everything they were supposed to, and they still didn’t understand some basic doctrines. And some of those who did “get” the gospel, probably looked at me and wondered why I was such a stupid jerk.

    I fully understand how one’s beliefs change, because I’ve been there. I understand how someone can disagree with the scriptures, with doctrine, and with church policy, I’ve been there. I can understand how your conscience doesn’t let you revisit certain places, I’ve been there. I can understand being offended by Mormons both rank-and-file and leadership, I’ve been there.

    Your messages led me to think that you were much older than 24 at the present, you seem to have more maturity than a 20-something. Maybe its true that after people leave the church for a while they start forgetting what it was they believed in.

    Anyways, you and Wanda and Samuel have shown me what apologetics is for. I now see the light.

    Apologetics is not to reclaim ex-members. It’s to set the record straight for all the misinformation that ex-members spread.

  78. December 3, 2005 at 11:43 am

    “…but qualify them as YOUR interpretation, not as what all other active LDS believe.” That’s what I did. I never said “all active LDS believe” anything.

    I stated what was NOT in the D&C, making clear that it was NOT in there. My belief is that anything less than the hypothetical doctrine I wrote above constitutes “rejection;” the actual writings in the D&C fall squarely in the category of what I consider to be “rejection.” I realize you don’t see it as rejection; I realize the manual says it’s not rejection. I realize that people get a “second chance” after this life to accept ordinances via temple work, but what I’m talking about are the people who don’t *ever* accept LDS ordinances, not in this life or the next, but were good people through and through, who fed the hungry and clothed the naked and built strong relationships with their family and so on. The doctrine is that they eventually (in this life or the next) are going to have to believe LDS doctrine and accept LDS ordinances, because if they seek to enter the celestial kingdom without having believed and accepted those things, guess what will happen? REJECTION.

    I understand that current practice is to gloss over that or minimize it, so as not to offend. But it is still scriptural, still doctrinal, and you and I both know that is a large part of what motivates the push to “proclaim the gospel” and “redeem the dead.” That is what it means to claim to be the “only true…” Other religions may be good, but they’re not good enough; if they were, there would be no tearful testimonies of gratitude for the restoration, no missionaries and no proxy temple work.

    Bookslinger wrote: “I served a mission with some kids who grew up in the church, attended everything, did everything they were supposed to, and they still didn’t understand some basic doctrines.” “Maybe its true that after people leave the church for a while they start forgetting what it was they believed in.”

    How many times and in how many ways are you going to tell me I just don’t understand what the church teaches? What a dolt I must be to have gone through all that effort for so many years and still not “get” it–or maybe I “got” it at one point, but my grasp on the doctrine was so flimsy I managed to forget it within the few years since leaving. But the lightbulb has gone on over YOUR head, and it has stayed on; unlike me, you really “get” it now. I’m pretty sure that’s not the way to “maintain an equal relationship” like the Missionary Guide teaches.

    Perhaps instead of telling me how much you think I don’t “get,” or don’t remember, it would be magnanimous of you to admit that you and I both “get” what the church teaches equally well, but have come to different personal conclusions about what that doctrine means for us individually in our lives, and for the world at large. Your interpretation works for you; mine works for me. But both of us understand and remember and “get” the underlying facts.

  79. December 3, 2005 at 9:20 pm

    Beijing,

    I really appreciate your comments and your background. We sound much the same in what we went through in our history and then ultimately leaving the Church. I can relate to so many of the things that you are saying.

    It’s amazing that Bookslinger has been where we are or out of the Church, but can’t seem to remember why or what it felt like?

    He kind of reminds me of a guy that was in my best friends mission. He had committed adultery and been excommunicated 3 times and then re-baptized. After the 3rd time of going through this, a missionary, from his area and where my friend was serving, was sent home for having sex with a girl.

    When this guy talked to my friend about the situation, all he could do, was shake his head and say, “how could this missionary do something so horrible while on his mission and disgrace the Church, his Family and himself?”

    This coming from a guy who committed adultery 3 times and been excommunicated 3 times. I certainly hope that you Bookslinger, aren’t like this guy and that you can actually have some compassion and understanding of why people leave, instead of calling them posers, etc. Try to understand what they are saying, instead of judging them and accusing them of not being sincere.

    You’re behavior just reminded me of this guy. That story has always stuck in my head as a disgraceful example of how unforgiving people can be in the Church.

    Many people in the Church that have left and come back, seem to forget what it was like to leave and why they left and why others might feel similar things. Once they are back in “the fold”, it’s full steam ahead, as if nothing happened. I find that very unfortunate.

    I don’t obviously say that everyone is like this, but there are a lot of them. If you can’t learn from your past and then strive to help others, then what good is your experience? It was all for naught.

    In reality, they are just following the Church’s teachings of exclusion and “we are the only ones in the world that know the ‘real truth.'” It breads arrogance, lack of compassion and very judgmental, unforgiving people. It’s really ashame.

    Just ask most missionaries that come home early from their mission for any reason, but especially for sex or something bad. In most cases that I’m familiar with, they are looked down upon, especially by people in their ward.

    Rumors start flying, etc. Everyone always assumes the very worst, but that is a natural thought process that is ingrained in the Saints from the time they are young. Sin is unacceptable, especially by a missionary that is so close to the Lord and filled with the spirit. How could he do such a thing?

    The GA’s may claim that other religions are great, preach that they are tolerant, etc, but it isn’t sincere, when the First Vision and Book of Mormon condemn them all as abominations, Harlots, etc.

    So, they can say whatever they want, but their scriptures and “official doctrine”, paint quite a different story. No matter how you slice the pie, the Mormon Church claims to be the “only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth.” What does that make everyone else along with their Church?

    Anyway, my original reason for this post, was that I just wanted to make another point about people having their chance on the other side to hear and accept the Gospel.

    I think that what I’m gonna say is so obvious, that most people don’t even think about it or realize it. In general, the Church doesn’t want people to use any common sense, or think outside the box, that’s for sure.

    I’m sure that the Mormon apologists out there, like Bookslinger and Ben, might be able to come up with a response that involves a burning bosom, faith or melting bones. Of course, their response, like their others, will have nothing to do with common sense, reality or facts.

    Now, if you believe the doctrine that M. Russel Ballard taught at a Stake Conference a month or so ago, than it really kind of throws it all up in the air. His Grandfather, a former Apostle, taught him that “we don’t know that we are dead, when we die.”

    That is until we start trying to do things that we normally do, (I guess like, picking up the morning newspaper, getting a drink from the fridge, changing the channel on the TV, etc), and we can’t, because we don’t have a physical body.

    Then and only then, do we know that we are dead. So, we are still on earth I guess, walking around our house, etc, with no clue that we are dead.

    Pretty strange eh? He said that he knows this doctrine to be absolutely true, because his Grandfather said so and taught it to him. Wow, I guess I was always under the mistaken idea, that we went immediately to the spirit world when we die. Silly me!! I don’t know why I believed that?

    In other words, I guess we’ll be living in the real life movie of Ghost. I think that Ballard may have watched one too many movies, including “Ghost” and “the Sixth Sense”, maybe even “Heaven Can Wait”, etc. I wonder if he to “sees dead people.” What a joke!!

    Anyway, I just thought that I’d mention that for fun, but let’s disregard it for this conversation, since I’ve never heard it before or after and it surely isn’t “official doctrine.” If anyone doubts that he said this, I would be glad to provide the proof for you.

    Now, lets just think about this “people will have a chance on the other side” BS that is taught in the Mormon Church, thus justifying the hundreds of millions if not Billions of dollars that are spent on temples.

    Without this doctrine, the main purpose of the Church, based on money spent, goes right out the window. Based solely on the money spent on temples, redeeming the dead is the number 1 mission of the Mormon Church, no matter what they say.

    Of course, by building more temples, they are also trying to influence more people to go the temple, which of course requires a full tithe, which makes them billions more, each year.

    This of course allows them to invest more money, so that they can then buy more malls, land in Hawaii, cattle ranches, gaming preserves, city streets and blocks, etc.

    So maybe, in reality, it’s actually a tie between redeeming the dead and making money as far as their missions go.

    So my question is the following; Assuming that we DO KNOW that we’re dead when we die(contradicting Ballard and his GP), wouldn’t it be easier to accept the Gospel on the other side? I mean, come on, lets get real here.

    I’m assuming that if you are dead, in the Spirit world, being taught about God’s plan by other spirits, that it might be just a little easier to accept.

    You will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is a God, that there is an afterlife and that you will live for Eternity, right? I mean, come on, you are sitting in the spirit world, probably hanging out with Family and Friends, who have also died.

    More than likely, that alone would be motivation enough to accept whatever was being taught to you, if your Family has already accepted it and encouraging you. Hell, maybe they’re even sitting in on these discussions, helping with reading scriptures, etc, just like real life. Why would anyone decline and say no at this point?

    What would be the advantage to reject the truth when you are surrounded by it? Now, if they were just evil people, did horrible things in life, hate their Family, etc, sure, they may reject it.

    But , I’m talking about “good people” that just enjoyed life, had a good time, but never knew much about God, the afterlife, etc. Most importantly though, they never had a chance to hear the Mormon Missionary discussions. After all, that is what it is all based upon, isn’t it?

    Every single person’s entire Eternity is based on whether the Mormons knock on their door. After all, The Mormon Church, is the “only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth.”

    As Jesus told Joseph Smith, face to face, all other Churches are “wrong”, “all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” and that, “that those professors were all corrupt.” So, you can either belong to Jesus’ one true Church or the “harlot or Mother of harlots, of all the earth.”

    My point is, the faith that you would need there, to accept, doesn’t even compare to the faith that you need here, in this life. So, theoretically, based on this knowledge, the people that lived on earth, that never got a Chance to hear the Gospel, partied it up and had a hell of time, are better off than a Mormon that fell short, with “all of the light.” Right?!!

    How is that just? Imagine the plight of us EXMO’S that had all the light, spiritual confirmation and then rejected it and fought against it. Wow, are we screwed!! We would have been better off to have never known about the Mormons and just waited until we got to other side. Damn!!

    So basically, Us EXMOS will be in big trouble, while the “never knew it on earth people”, can wave at us as they head off to the Celestial Kingdom.

    Yeah, that sounds very just, considering that they didn’t need 1% of the faith that we needed all the while, living a life of sin, at least sin, whey applying our “greater knowledge and light.” Great plan!! Very just!!

    If Brigham Young or Joseph Smith were still here, they would have to slit our throat and spill our blood so that it could rise to heaven like smoke and help us to redeem ourselves from our “gross iniquity and sins.”

    Here are a couple of great references to Ol’ Brigham’s “Blood Atonement” speeches, right out of The Journal of Discourses, which you can get at Deseret Book. In Utah, you can also check them out at your local library as well.

    This is for those of you out there, or TBM’s, that are in denial and don’t believe that “Blood Atonement” ever existed:

    http://journalofdiscourses.org/Vol_04/refJDvol4-10.html

    http://journalofdiscourses.org/Vol_04/refJDvol4-42.html

    This ridiculous “Mormon plan” is fatally flawed and very unjust if you just use your brain and think about it. Hell, even a Mormon that tried really hard, but just fell short, didn’t pay tithing, etc, is worse off than one of these “never knew it on earth” people.

    So, we basically bust our butt to do the best we can and get condemned for it while they get a pass to Eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom, having lived a life of “unknown sin”, then learning the truth, accepting and repenting.

    Isn’t that wonderful? It’s just wonderful!! Now, to their credit, the Church does teach that if they wouldn’t have accepted it in this life, they won’t accept it in the next life.

    That’s s good thing, therefore, we don’t have to worry about Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Saddam Hussein, Bin Ladin, etc, making it to the Celestial Kingdom, right?

    However, I do have a “TBM” friend that will argue to the death that they, too, “will have a chance to hear the Gospel, since they never heard it here.” I then counter with, “yeah, but they wouldn’t have accepted here, being mass murderers, so they won’t accept it there.” He then says, “that we don’t know that for sure”, and around and around we go.

    As you can imagine, it can get pretty infuriating, discussing with a TBM, whether or not Hitler will be in the Celestial Kingdom, just because he never got to hear the discussions.

    The last time we discussed this, the conversation lasted about 5 hours and we got no where, ending up where we started. Isn’t Mormon doctrine wonderful? It’s simply beautiful and beautifully simple, right?

    Although, for some unknown reason, the Mormon Church still likes to do the temple work for these evil, murderous dictators? Kind of like re-instating John D Lee to full Church membership. Why would they do this? How many times, have they now done the temple work for Hitler and all of his henchman? Oh yeah, it’s okay, just a little error.

    I guess, as John likes to quote quite often, Boyd K. Packer once said, “Some things that are true are not very useful.”

    He then also said, “Teaching some things that are true, prematurely or at the wrong time, can invite sorrow and heartbreak instead of the joy intended to accompany learning.”

    Now, in closing, here is Packer speaking of “Anti-Mormons” and describing what he sees, when around us:

    “Remember: when you see the bitter apostate, you do not see only an absence of light, you see also the presence of darkness. Do not spread disease germs.”

    So, I will end this post, on behalf of my “presence of darkness”…LOL!!

    Regards,

    Samuel(AKA “disease germ”)

    Oh yeah, Ben and Bookslinger, I’m still waiting for a response to my original question. Got anything yet? I’m waiting for you to enlighten me with your knowledge and research while proving me and several former Apostles and Prophets to be wrong.

    I should use a John Lynch quote, “I’m just sincerely seeking to understand.”

    Also, one more thing Bookslinger, can you please point out to everyone what I’ve said, or Ann, Beijing, Sophia, Wanda and others, that is “misinformation” that needs to be corrected by pathetic apologetics?

    Your silence and lack of response to my very easy, basic question, speaks volumes, doesn’t it? Your silence is deafening.

  80. Ann
    December 3, 2005 at 11:06 pm

    Samuel, Bookslinger won’t be able to find anything I’ve said that needs to be corrected by apologetics because I rarely, rarely discuss doctrinal issues on the ‘net any more (and I certainly haven’t done so in this thread).

  81. Bookslinger
    December 4, 2005 at 4:01 pm

    Samuel:

    Let’s start with a piece of misinformation on your blog about how missionaries aren’t allowed to eat at all (have to starve as you say) if there is not an investigator at a member’s home for a dinner appointment.

    Though the specific dinner rules vary from mission to mission, no where are missionaries required to fast or skip dinner (or lunch for that matter) if the member doesn’t present them with an investigator for a dinner appointment.

    I’ve been places where at times the rule was in place where you couldn’t invite missionaries to your home if you didn’t have a non-member friend to introduce them to, or to have a missionary discussion. However, that rule was aimed at the members, not at the missionaries. The missionaries could still eat at their own apartment.

    Even in areas where the non-member-must-be-present-for-a-dinner-appointment rule is in place, members are still permitted to give groceries to the missionaries to help them out where needed. I’ve often seen bags or boxes of groceries for the missionaries in chapel kitchens on Sundays.

    As far as what you’ve copiously copied-and-pasted here (what I’ve read, I don’t have the time to read everything you’ve posted here) on this blog (mormonstories.org), all the counterpoints to the issues you raise are at fairlds.org, farms.byu.edu, and jefflindsay.com.

    I know you don’t care for those web sites, but I would invite any lurkers who are interested in the LDS side of things to check out those web sites, and do a search for your topic of interest.

    I would also like to point out to undecided people that religious truth is not found by following whoever is the best arguer or debater or salesman of their religion. The apostle Paul said that spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and that to the natural man they are foolishness.

    Whatever religion is the true one, it’s guaranteed to look foolish to worldly people.

    Samuel, I’m saddened that you are in such bitterness and are holding on to so much pain. I spent 15 years being mad at the church, its leaders and its members. Several other things happened, but I also had to stop being angry before I could heal and find resolution.

    If you still believe in a God, ask him to heal you. If you are now an atheist, then I just don’t know what I could say that could help you. I’m sorry.

    No matter how many people you win over to your way of viewing things, you’re still going to be bitter and hurt. Getting others to join you is not the way to resolve your pain.

    I now enjoy participating in the church, my questions have been answered, and my pain is in the process of being healed. But at the same time I realize it’s not for everyone.

  82. December 4, 2005 at 7:26 pm

    http://tomanyquestions.blogspot.com/2005/12/i-drop-by-unusual-grouping-of-podcasts.html

    Blogspot does not allow trackbacks as of yet so here is a rough trackback.

  83. December 10, 2005 at 6:05 am

    Bookslinger,

    I greatly appreciate you exposing yourself in your last post. It’s blatantly clear that you don’t have very good reading comprehension, or purposely misconstrued my words, when you talk of the misinformation on my blog. First of all, the quote about the new mission rule is directly from a missionary in the field.

    Secondly, please help me find where I said, that unless missionaries eat with members, with an investigator present, that they can never eat at all or ever again. READ it again but more slowly and carefully this time. If this is the same attention that you pay to Church doctrine, I can see how and why you got back into the Church.

    Here is the link to that post

    At that rate, I could return too, like tomorrow. To assume that I was saying that they can NEVER eat AT ALL, is well, ridiculous!! You know it and I know it and everybody reading this and my blog knows it.

    These comments from this missionary were contained in an Email/letter that was sent from him to his Family and then forwarded onto Friends and other Family members.

    Would you like the Families name, so that you can contact them and verify the veracity of the comment? Do you think that I just make things up to further my Anti-Mormon agenda? You see, that’s the beauty of it, I don’t have to make anything up. There’s so much damning information out there, all over the place, and it’s not hard to find.

    But, at least you then admit that you are actually aware of this policy or rule in some areas, that’s a big admission on your part. So, you see, it isn’t a thing of fantasy, since you too, are familiar with this new policy or rule.
    This was the first that I had heard of it.

    So, I guess that we don’t disagree that this rule does exist out there, we just disagree on the consequences and who it is punishing. There is no doubt by the way, that it punishes everyone involved, both the missionaries and the members. If you can’t see that, then what can I say. It can’t be any clearer.

    I also find it ironic that out of 77 posts on my blog, that is what you came up with…LOL!! I know, I know, you don’t have the time to read what I write, but, it’s okay. No worries.

    But again, where did I say that the missionaries couldn’t eat AT ALL? What I was referring to(and you what I meant), is that not eating with members can be a huge blow to missionaries that are barely getting by, due to the crappy/low amount of money that the Church is dolling out to them each month.

    If that was really the meaning that you got out of that post, it sounds like the Mormon apologetic tactics, are taking over your life and consuming your brain. In the world of apologetics, you can twist words to mean whatever you want it to mean.

    It doesn’t matter that the Families of these missionaries are paying $400/month, the missionaries only get what the Church, excuse me, Jesus, decides they need. In some cases, it is much less than what they need to survive each month. To further prove this point, I even quoted the missionary from further down in his letter, when he says the following:

    “…as a mission they have told us that we have to buy food as an apartment, instead of each missionary buying and cooking on his own. This was hard at first, because each person likes different food. So, we tried for a while to have the companionships take turns buying things. This worked out alright, although we weren’t eating that good of food (corn dogs and cheese quesadillas ).”

    Now, why would this new rule be required of them saying: “they have told us that we have to buy food as an apartment, instead of each missionary buying and cooking on his own.” Because they obviously aren’t getting by very well, or have enough money to buy their own food, individually.

    Now obviously, anyone would understand that he isn’t talking about cases where there are just two missionaries. They very obviously have multiple missionaries in that apartment and the rule is that they have to buy all of their food together now.(as a group okay) Maybe it applies to twosomes too, I don’t know, but I’m sure that they wouldn’t need to do that.

    I’m just trying to spell it out for you and simplify it, so that you can understand what I was actually saying, since you missed it the first time around.

    But Yeah, what I was really saying, was that the Church said the new rule is that if members don’t have an investigator present, Mormon Missionaries, can’t eat AT ALL, ever again…LOL..and they will just all drop dead of starvation. Yep, you nailed it!!

    So, start ordering caskets now, because Mormon Missionaries are forbidden to ever eat anything, unless their is a member with an investigator. Give me a break dude!! Did you really, honestly believe that what was I was saying? REALLY? Are you serious?

    Now, from my own personal experiences, I remember times on my mission, in Argentina, where we were screwed over by the exchange rate that the mission home received and not supplemented by the mission home. Whatever they lost, we lost, period. Our money would be a week or two late arriving and then when it finally got there, it was half or less of what it should have been.

    We had to survive for the month on half or one-third of what we normally had. The members were a God-send. We would have been lost without them. Pretty sad, when poor people in Argentina are being relied upon to feed the “rich” Mormon missionaries, from the “Billion dollar” Mormon Church, isn’t it? One thing for sure, is that those wonderful people came to our rescue and shouldn’t have had to.

    Too bad the Church can’t take proper care of their own when these situations arise, or ever for that fact. But then again, I’ve laid out absolute proof on my blog and in my tithing podcasts, example after example, of how the Mormon Church robs from the poor and openly admits it. I’ve got many more examples that I haven’t even gotten to yet, but there coming.

    Can you imagine what would have happened if we had had that rule in place on my mission and been obedient missionaries? I’m sure you can’t and won’t imagine it. It never happened, never would, etc, etc,..blah blah blah.

    I’m just very grateful to the poor people in Argentina that literally had to feed us, so that we didn’t STARVE. Yeah, I said STARVE!! It’s a good thing this rule wasn’t in place for us or we would have had to chose, starving or disobedience.

    Yeah, I’m sure in your mind, I’m just making that story up too. I guess I could let you read my mission journals, would that do it? Again, I don’t need to make this stuff up, not one bit.

    For those that would like to know more about this situation, let me share yet another story from another website called To Many Questions.

    This website is by Gunner and you can read it to know more about him. It is an excellent, down to earth yet powerful website. He does an excellent job and covers both common and unique things in a unique way. He is very honest about how he feels and straightforward. I love a straight shooter that can say what he means and mean what he says. He too, feels anger and can see first hand the abuse that takes place in the Mormon Church.

    I’m going to share this story in its entirety, because I think it’s very powerful, moving, pertinent and clear how much these “rules” can affect missionaries lives. The Church is focused on two things, NUMBERS, NUMBERS, NUMBERS and MONEY, MONEY, MONEY.

    The GA’s or Mission Presidents, sit in their offices, looking at bottom line numbers, both on baptisms and money, while coming up with new strategies to raise them, without any regard whatsoever to the well-being of the missionaries.

    The internal pressure that MP’s get from Salt Lake, filtered through Area Presidencies, is tremendous. Their butt is on the line, especially if they want to rise in the ranks of the GA’s and someday, be taken care of for life. I know for a fact, that the Area Presidencies, on orders straight from Salt Lake, crack the whip big time on Mission Presidents.

    My Mission President used to run around like a lapdog whenever those “powerful men” arrived. It was hilarious to see this dictator terrified of these other men. It made me feel good and we used to laugh about it.

    Mission Presidents and Area Presidencies treat the missionaries like a piece of meat, in order to achieve their personal objectives. It saddens me greatly to read something like this story I’m about to share or the Email/letter from my blog and it stirs deep emotions within me, reminding me of many personal experiences from my mission.

    I realize that Bookslinger doesn’t have time to fully read what I write, so this story is for those of you that do have the time and care enough to make the time. I do appreciate you using your time to read this post but more specifically, this story from Gunner’s site.

    By the way, this story was written by a Former Mormon(inactive) that has not officially resigned. He has great compassion and understanding, which isn’t found in some active Mormons. His act of kindness is to be commended. This is a Christ-like man.

    By the way, if you can’t tell, I have great compassion for those good missionaries out there that have to deal with all of this crap. They are being used and abused to further the purposes of unholy men. I was once where they are now, so I understand all too well.

    Here’s the story:

    “Earlier this evening, I was walking downtown to eat at my local Chinese buffet, when up ahead what should I see? Two missionaries walking my way. I thought “They don’t know me, I’ll just smile, say no thanks, and be on my way.”

    “When our paths met, we both paused as the senior companion started giving his spiel. In the middle of his introduction, I heard something that completely threw me off – his stomach rumbled. I watched his face, which winced at the same time I heard the sound. I cut him off “Elders, when was the last time you ate?” They told me that all they had eaten in the past 2 days were 2 cups of Ramen noodles each. “I tell you what…” I said “if you promise to leave the church at the door, you can come with me to eat at the buffet.” You would have thought that I had just offered them a garbage bag full of $100 bills. They agreed and we went to the restaurant.”

    “As we ate, my curiosity got the best of me. I told them that by the church’s standards I was “inactive” but I knew a few things about how the church works. The ward has a sign-up sheet for families to sign up and feed them. Was no one signing up for this? What the senior companion told me made my jaw drop.”

    “There is a new policy.” he said “It isn’t that there is a lack of people wanting to feed us, it is just how the system is complicating things. Before, members just signed up for a day and time, we came over, we ate, and then we were on our way. Last month, our new mission president told all wards that all dinner appointments must have a non-member, an inactive member, or a new convert present, or they must be canceled. If there is no prospective convert, we don’t eat.”

    “That blew me away. He told me that members still give them things to eat, but that only lasts you so long. Since the town I live in is a virtual dead zone for the church, you can imagine what their dinner schedule must look like. Later in the conversation, they told me that things have been getting even more difficult since their car has been taken away. They said that 3 weeks ago, someone with no license and no insurance rear ended them at a stop light. The mission president told the elders that it was their fault for not being more careful and took their keys away.”

    “I asked them if I could ask them an honest question. I told them that nothing they said would bring me back to church, so they might as well just tell me the truth. They agreed. “Do you think the church cares about you?” I asked them. They thought about it for a few minutes and then both said “I really don’t know.” They said that they would like to believe that the church loves and cares about them, but they couldn’t understand why it would allow such a program to be put in place.”

    “As we parted company, I gave them my cell phone number. I told them that any time they were hungry, they could call me and we would go get something to eat. My only condition was that they respect my new-found faith and not try to reconvert me. They said that we have a deal. We left with a smile.”

    “Has anyone else heard of this new policy in the church, or is it just a local thing? When they told me, my jaw dropped. It sounds like the new mission president is a real prick. How can he honestly believe that starving his missionary force will bring people into the church? I have absolutely no reason to doubt the elder’s honesty that this is a real policy. He could have said “We have been fasting for 2 days. The Lord promised us that when we broke our fast, we would be in the presence of someone in desperate need of the gospel. Brother The Coach, we invite you to soften your heart, repent, and return.” I wouldn’t have believed them, but it would have made the church look much better than telling me about the ‘new policy.'”

    “It makes me sick that any church would do this to members who are volunteering their TIME AND MONEY to serve.”

    http://tomanyquestions.blogspot.com/2005/10/i-do-not-think-of-myself-as-good.html

    Again, this story is just another example of how this “new rule” is punishing both the missionaries and the members. I’m sure that there are those members and missionaries that will and do break this rule. But, I speak of the die-hard, 100% obedient missionaries, that will follow the rule to the letter of the law.

    It will be those missionaries and the members where they serve that will be punished the most. There is no point other than to punish in order to try to manipulate and increase numbers, that’s all. Sadly, there were times in my mission, when I would have not eaten with members, chosen to starve, in order to be obedient. I would have been too afraid to lose the blessings from the Lord.

    Ironic isn’t it? The most obedient missionaries will suffer the most and in some cases, yes, starve. Yep, that’s pretty much how it goes in Mormon missions at least it did in mine.

    I can’t say for 100% what I would have done, but for the most part, I did what they told me and I strove for 100% obedience. Some of my comps hated me because I was a “reglero.” In other words, I wanted to be 100% obedient, so that God would lead us to his elect and not punish them for our sins and transgressions. I always wanted to be the example to my companions of an obedient missionary of the Lord.

    Remember, if you aren’t finding people, or baptizing, it is most likely because you are sinning. Those people are out there, God’s elect, but God(Adam), or the Lord, won’t lead you to them unless you are “in tune” with the spirit and being 100% obedient.

    That is what they taught us anyway. Now I know it was all a big farce and scare tactic. The Church rules with fear!! Too bad I fell for it all, hook line and sinker. I was a sucker, but we live and learn. It was all I had ever known.

    Now, you are welcome of course to respond to this post, if you want to Bookslinger, or if you have the time, but don’t worry about it if you don’t, I understand. I’ve only asked you 3 times to answer my question regarding the Hill Cumorah. You’ve made 3 posts since I originally asked Ben the question and not one word or answer from either one of you.

    It’s very apparent that you either don’t have the time, knowledge, desire or the ability to find a real answer to such a basic question or you would. It’s sad that you don’t have the ability to use your own brain to respond and have to refer me to FARMS, FAIR and Jeff Lindsey.

    I specifically said, or requested, that I wanted an answer from you, based on a source that had the authority to speak on the matter, not from some apologetic crap that has no authority whatsoever.

    When is the last time that Hinckley referred the membership to FARMS for their answers. Now, I know that he personally sanctions FARMS, loves the work they do, but he doesn’t tell people in General Conference to go there for answers.

    So, thanks for showing everyone that you don’t have the ability to analyze and answer questions for yourself. It’s unfortunate for sure.

    It sad when apologetics have to speak for you on such a simple, basic question. I believe that the truth is, you don’t want to even think about the answer or the question, because the answer may throw everything you know and now believe again, into complete turmoil.

    Honestly, I respect that, but it would be nice to have you just be honest and tell me that you don’t want to deal with that question, instead of dodging it. Just say, that the question scares you and that you’d rather just be happy, move forward and not think about it. All I want is honesty from you. If you don’t know the answer, then just say, “I don’t know.”

    It’s amazing that FARMS, FAIR and Jeff Lindsay, can so easily and completely ignore the plethora of quotes and statements that I “copiously copied-and-pasted” from former Apostles and Prophets.

    Here is a great quote listed on Jeff Lindsay.com, which finally answers the question for you, so you are off the hook Bookslinger.

    Jeff Lindsay says:

    “The New York “Hill Cumorah” just doesn’t fit what the text says. Notice: the text does not say that Cumorah was the hill where the plates for the Book of Mormon would be preserved. It appears that they were brought to New York, but that’s not where the final battle of the Nephites occurred.”

    Isn’t it amazing how the world of apologetics, can turn a simple blue sky into multiple colors that no one can be 100% sure of. It’s a joke!! Since you referred me there, Bookslinger, I’m assuming that whatever they say, is what you say, think and believe. Their words are your words, right?

    Once they speak, the thinking is done, right? In your mind, their words hold more water than former Prophets and Apostles, right?

    So we can now all assume, safely I might add, that you unequivocally, do not believe the Hill Cumorah in New York to be the same Hill Cumorah where two great final battles were fought. That is what they say, so that is what you say. Finally!! closure!! I got my answer!!

    I guess I can say thanks for finally, albeit indirectly, answering my question. Now that just leaves Ben S, who seems to be missing in action. I look forward to hearing from you too Ben, but I’m assuming that you’ll be taking a similar road and path as Bookslinger. Again, that’s fine. If you refer me to the same sources, then I have the answer. Done deal!!

    Bookslinger, I appreciate the fact that you shared your personal conversion, de-conversion and re-conversion story but may I make a suggestion; If you don’t want to be engaged by others with opposing views, read completely what they have written in response and then respond accordingly, then stop posting.

    It’s obvious that you like to call others out when you believe them to be “posers, disingenuous and never really a temple worker” like you did to Wanda. However, when someone is trying to figure you out and pin you down on what you believe, asking you direct questions, you respond by not addressing their questions and trying to change the subject or referring them to FARMS, FAIR and Jeff Lindsey. That is disingenuous.

    Don’t be putting heat on others that you yourself aren’t willing to deal with. Like I said, just a suggestion. You may want to re-think what you are doing.

    How can you properly respond to someone if you don’t even have or take the time to thoroughly read what they’ve written? It’s obvious that I’ve wasted my time to some degree, but hopefully someone gained something from our exchanges.

    Anyway, your welcome to have the last word, since I’m not gonna waste any more of my time talking to someone that won’t even take the time to read what I’ve written or answer my questions. Maybe you are a poser, who knows?

    I’m just joking with you now, just thought it would be fun to throw that out there. I just don’t think that you want to deal with the reality of the problems in Mormonism.

    Here’s the bottom line and a peace offering; if you are happy, I’m happy for you. Everyone has to find what makes them happy. It’s obvious that you will never understand or believe what I’m saying, anymore that I’m gonna pray to the Mormon God to heal me of my “pain and bitterness”, as you put it.

    Bookslinger, I’m sure that you are a good guy and are genuine in your re-conversion and I’m glad that you are happy. Different strokes for different folks. I’ve been where you are and it isn’t for me. I dedicated over 30 years of my life including a 2 year mission to the Mormon Church and it isn’t for me anymore.

    The fact is, if you learned anything from John’s Presentation, I feel that I was lied to and deceived, along with my Family and Friends, for over 30 years. The things that John discusses in his presentation, were deliberately hidden from us by Mormon Church hierarchy or not taught to us and nothing has changed. They go forward misleading future converts everyday and current members, every Sunday with their watered down lessons.

    I believe the Mormon GA’s to be very deceitful men that do it deliberately to further their own agenda, mainly money, numbers and fame.

    Now I find myself in a very difficult position, both within the community where I live and with my Family. I have the Mormon Church to thank for this. Do they care? Of course not!!

    What does the Mormon Church do to someone that breaks rank and disagrees with them? Well, in most cases, if you are vocal publicly, they excommunicate you, but they do it because they love you so much. Yeah right!! Everything they do, both good and bad, is done in the name of God and out of their love and concern for you, so they say.

    Yeah, it’s a little hard to just “move on”, when I’m reminded on a daily basis of the BS of Mormonism. When your Family and Friends, put the Church first in their life, as they are taught to do, well, that doesn’t leave room for an evil, Anti-Mormon apostate.

    In fact, the members are directly taught not to even associate or sympathize with someone like me, at the risk of losing their temple recommend and their Eternal Life.

    The Mormon Church is a divider, not some Family uniter. The only way that you can unite a Family in the Mormon Church, is if everyone sees things the same way and everyone gets baptized a Mormon. I’ve seen the pain of part-members Families and marriages and it ain’t pretty. It creates an incredible amount of friction and problems.

    How about when their kids get married and they can’t be there for the temple wedding? Does that show love, acceptance and uniting? It’s all pain and too much pain.

    As the days/weeks/months roll by and I’m missing people from my life that once loved and respected me, well, that’s pretty hard to ignore.

    I’m heading to Outer Darkness now, in their eyes. Like I mentioned in another post here, If Brigham Young or Joseph Smith were alive, they’d have to kill me, as a favor to me, of course. That way the smoke from my blood could rise to heaven and please God and atone for my sin of apostasy.

    That would be the only way that I could repent of my awful condition. I would post some great blood atonement quotes here, but why bother, you wouldn’t read them anyway.

    I’m gonna do a nice long post on my blog, regarding blood atonement and everyone can read it there. That way, you won’t have to bother even seeing them. You probably don’t even believe that blood atonement ever existed or was taught anyway, so what’s the use.

    So, Bookslinger, I bid farewell and I wish you the best. I’m sincerely happy that your happy. As I said, whatever it is that you have found in your life that makes you happy, great!! Seriously. If you had become a Jehovah’s Witness and said that it made you happy, wonderful.

    I’m happy where I am too, you are happy where you are and to quote Tom Hanks, “the sun will come up tomorrow.”(At least we hope it does anyway, you never know) I better say goodbye, so that you can finish reading the Book of Mormon by December 31st. Sorry, I just think that Book of Mormon Challenge is absolutely ridiculous. Did you read the article in the Salt Lake Tribune?

    Anyway, it has been fun Bookslinger, but time to move on. I do sincerely wish you the best. Sorry if my passion and directness, came across as harshness. I don’t think that I was anymore direct than you were with Wanda. I’m very passionate about my feelings regarding the Mormon Church.

    I have also put in an enormous amount of time studying Mormonism over the last 6 months and I have therefore reached very strong conclusions based on the knowledge that I have gained. I gave my life to the Mormon Church, served a mission and agreed on many occasions(at least 15 times) to slit my throat, chest and stomach for them, if needed.

    That’s a lot to ask of somebody, plus, all of the other covenants and promises that go with that. When has anyone else, in your life, ever asked you to agree and covenant to slit your throat on behalf of them, in the name of God? I would guess never.

    Thankfully, they have removed these barbaric penalties, that were never from God and spare everyone from have to act them out and pantomime their own death along side their Mother, Father, Family members and Friends. That was truly a horrible experience for me.

    So, please understand, as John tried to point out in his presentation, that discovering most of what I thought I knew, was a lie or not true, really pisses me off. To read the awful racist quotes from Brigham Young, McConkie, Kimball, Packer, etc, and then realize that they have never been recanted or been apologized for….makes me furious. They can’t even say they’re sorry?

    I just can’t belong to an organization that doesn’t apply the repentance process to themselves, that they expect us to apply to our life. They, the Mormon Church Hierarchy, are accountable to no one. They refuse to admit their past mistakes and help people to heal that may have been hurt by them.

    Members should just have to be held accountable to Heavenly Father and Jesus, just like they apparently are. No member, should ever have to confess anything to a Bishop, EVER. If they won’t confess and make things right, why should any member?

    They are hypocrites, plain and simple. Like I said, I’m a straight-shooter and all I want is honesty and consistency and neither one are able to be found in the Mormon Church.

    Sadly, John Dehlin, has to be the one to set the example for them of what they should be doing. Pretty sad when John Dehlin is more sorrowful and sorry than the Prophet and Apostles themselves, isn’t it? Sad that he has to do what they will most likely never do.

    They could learn a lot from John. I hope that they are reading these posts and listening to his podcasts. John Dehlin is a thousand times better human being, than any of these men that call themselves, Prophets, Apostles, Seer, Revelator and servants of God.

    They could learn from John Dehlin’s honesty, integrity, understanding and compassion toward those that have problems with the Church or have left the Church.

    Most importantly, they could learn from his honesty in dealing with the history of Mormonism and all of the problems that have existed. At least he can admit them, discuss them and apologize for them.

    They should be ashamed of themselves!!

    Anyway, Bookslinger, Ben S and whoever else is reading this, I wish you the best, Merry Christmas and have a very happy new year.

    Like John keeps telling me, there is more common ground between us than you think and if we look, we can find it and help each other in our journey of life.

    If the Mormon Church would actually follow John’s example of openness and honesty, I would back off of them considerably. Their stubbornness to never admit their past errors, or apologize, is what brings the attacks by people like myself. The Mormon Church wants to divide us, but let’s not allow them to do that, okay?

    Take care everyone and keep up the great work John!! You are helping everyone!!

    Samuel the Utahnite

  84. Caroline
    December 11, 2005 at 10:21 pm

    Hi John,
    I think this is a worthy and interesting effort. You’ve nailed what I think is one of the reasons people become so disillusioned – the fact that our leaders are presented as perfect and our history is whitewashed in lessons and manuals. Nuances are ignored, and when people discover the nuances in other sources, it’s hard for them to figure out how to handle it.

    If I could make one suggestion, I would encourage you to add a slide about women’s difficulties in the church. You could mention the fact that women are absolutely outside the hierarchy of the general church, and thus many feel they don’t have a voice in contributing to policy, doctrines, programs, etc. Also, the fact that all the manuals the church uses don’t feature women’s voices and ideas at all. Additionally, the whole “presiding/hearkening” issue in the proc and temple causes much angst and sorrow in women I know.

    These are all reasons several women in my circle have decided to leave the Church, and I think your presentation could be enhanced if you included them.

  85. Charles Silvers
    April 3, 2006 at 11:08 pm

    I was happy that someone has addressed these issues in the presentation. It addresses truths that many Mormons have never heard.
    I love the teachings of Jesus, have raised my children and grandchildren in the church. This is because I still have very warm feelings for almost all the primary and young adult songs, activities and leaders that improved my life.
    Also, the sweet nature of how our primary teachers and song leaders teach and treat our clean fresh young children has always been outstanding in my experience.
    The issues in the presentation rarely come accross most Mormons I know, and in my very large family, they choose to just see these differences as era appropriate.
    I remember being taught that Blacks “Sat on the fence” or were cursed. Also that when Lamanites converted their skins became white. Also the Adam-God teaching.

    Regarding the temple endowment. I was like others – very startled to experience the endowment at 19 years old back in 1965. I felt betrayed that no one every taught me a temple prep class.
    In the endowment, when they ask you if anyone wants to leave, rather than take upon themselves sacred ordinances and covenants, I had no knowledge of what they were going to ask, so how could I object? It was confusing and strange to promise to “suffer my life to be taken”.
    No one has ever asked me to give up or tell these signs and tokens.
    Also, no one has ever explained to me why, a covenant revealed to a prohet from God was changed. I just went to the temple in 1990 and experienced a session that was much shorter and much different.
    I have chosen to remain in the church and continue to enjoy all the benefits of the church. At age 60 I really have no desire to discard the good that I have done in my family and my life by discarding the church.
    Thanks for this presentation and opportunity to express these long held thoughts and feelings without losing my Temple Recommend.

  86. Doug Satterfield
    May 22, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    John, I really enjoyed listening to and watching your podcast presentation and think it very well done. I have gone through very much what you explain happens to so many and this has been over the last two years for me.

    You have really “hit the nail on the head” in explaining so many areas of concern that happens to many of us born in the Church and long time faithful members when they find out certain facts that has eluded them for all their years in the Church. These are found out for many various reasons that you have exlpained well and that cause the person to research and seek further knowledge of the real truth as best he can, through the many avenues available.

    I really wish that many Church leaders like the bishops and stake presidents in the Church could listen to this podcast to help them understand better the things involved when one of their members comes to them with questions etc. having confronted many of the subjects you list.

    In my case, I like you, went overboard at first and just decided to quit attending Church and considered briefly having my name removed. I then, like you, knew this was something I just could not do as I have been mormon my whole life (62 years now) and the Church still means so much to me and is very much a part of my heritage. (I am third generation mormon) I therefore, after a day of prayer and fasting to help me in my decision process, decided to return to Church and accept all the good teachings that made so much sense to me and that come from Christ and do it by faith. It was too late for my marriage, however, as my wife left me and we remain very separated and she has no plans to return. The initial problems in my marriage were instigated by my stubborn and fanantical seach for the truths in the various issues and problems in mormonism despite my wife’s pleadings to not go there. For me, I just had to know the information available on all these issues so as I could discern or decide for myself what was true or very probably true based on evidences given, etc.

    Therefore, all these issues, and the things many others have gone through or are now going through like you have listed, ended up causing a breakup of my temple marriage of 38 years with 6 kids. That is sad, and I certainly do not wish the same result on anyone else in a similar situation. Therefore, all the things you list that we should do for and acknowledge for those who have gone through this are very good and is something that should be considered by the faithful members who have great testimonies and have never gone through a crsis of faith that can very easily happen for so many good members of the Church.

    I give you great credit for providing this forum for help in keeping many in the Church who otherwise would probably just leave. Keep up the good work. I will continue to listen to future podcasts from your site as they become available as they are very informative. Thanks. Doug

  87. Jo
    May 24, 2006 at 4:06 pm

    Stumbled across this site while “surfing”, my favorite time waster. I too am a “returned” mormon having left the church, excommunicated by a gay bishop who a year later was excommunicated himself. I understand the dissallusionment, being ostracised and the pain of it all. But, what I read in the comments here affirms the saying that people can leave the church, but they can’t leave the church alone. The only explanation I can come to for this is the spirit. The still small voice that beckons us.
    I have investigated other churches, but whether active, inactive or exed, I could not become totally indifferent to the LDS faith. Indifference is the ideal when wanting to totally leave, indifference being the opposite of love, not hate. Hate is too close to love. Hate is what keeps people attached. Why when we leave we cannot totally leave begs the question, why can’t we leave it alone. The apologetics, the theories and the searching for ‘signs’ to either prove or disprove will not help. We are dealing with things of the spirit. We as mortals are no match for that. It is folly to think that we are. When I start to drive myself crazy with the what ifs and the whys, I have to just rely on the Lord for strength and guidence. I try not to lean unto my own understanding too much. that is not to say that I don’t use my brain. “the glory of God is intelligence.”
    I do believe that all good religions, read that, all uncorrupt or evil religions, have light and knowledge and as bookslinger said, they will be exalted. We also believe in eternal progression. That means exactly that. We will continue to progress as spiritual beings throughout eternity. Are there heinous sins going on within this church? Yes. Are there heinous sins going on in other churches? Yes. We need to be where we feel that we can get the closest to the Lord aside from all the imperfections of the members. We will be judged where ever we go and whatever church we attend. That is the nature of humans. We are judgmental. And that is precisely what I am struggeling with in my life at this time. I have been down that proverbial rocky road. I have been where many would not like to admit to going. And now, the result is that I have rebellious children who rebel against the church in their adulthood. The oldest ones not having been raised within the church for much of their lives. the youngest ones being raised in the church after my rebaptism twenty years ago. It is heart breaking to see child after child reject living within the gospel. That is the hardest thing for me to deal with. I try and try, to be patient, loving and accepting but my children openly condemn the church to me and disregard my feelings about the sacredness of the gospel. It is hard not to retaliate. So for those of you who harbor bitterness against the church and have strained family relationships due to your leaving the church, please understand that it is our heart break that we are dealing with within us. Heart break at knowing what angst you must be enduring and not knowing how or what to do to heal that and help you see that trusting in the Lord and the gospel is the healing balm. The answer to mending relationships and families.
    This topic is so painful for me at this time. I am seeing the fruits of my rebelliousness and it is a bitter fruit indeed.
    Bookslingers comments have been comforting to me as has this site. I am glad I found it. I dont know why I never came across it before.

  88. jordanandmeg
    May 24, 2006 at 8:10 pm

    Jo.
    Beautifully said.

  89. May 25, 2006 at 7:24 pm

    I feel for you, Jo. Just be honest to your children and things will be alright. Your children have reasons for their decisions. If you try to understand them on their own terms then you might find that very little separates you.

  90. Jo
    May 25, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    thank you jordanandmeg and Hellmut for your kind words.
    I am open with my children about lifestyles, resultes of agency and the gospel. But, it is hard to see them “playing in the street” if you will and be unable to do anything about it. I see the results in my young grandchildren who have no spirituality in their lives.
    If anything, comparing the lives of people without the gospel and those with, there can be no denying the clear difference. As President Faust discusses the light in their eyes. The counenance is totally different. Their countenance radiates when the spirit is present and it is dark when it is not.
    Delving into the real issues is difficult for me and trying my faith, but something I must do. I have wrestled with these issues my entire life but always felt guilty, disobedient, rebellious, etc. I am hoping it will give me more patience, understanding and compassion with my children for wanting to go the way of the world. It seems that they would be able to see the destruction by one lifestyle and the light and healing by the other.

  91. May 27, 2006 at 6:20 am

    It is true, Jo, that people who are changing their way of life are taking a risk. It is not true, however, that Mormons are the only spiritual people on the face of the earth. On the contrary, I have to say that my gentile peers in Germany grew up a lot healthier than me. That includes ethics, morality, and spirituality.

    I find your remark troubling. It indicates that you are not considering the relevant facts when you evaluate your way of life.

    There are good aspects of Mormonism. It is sad, however, that the LDS Church teaches our chilidren cultural arrogance. The Utah/Mormon way of life includes many dysfunctional aspects. Many are the result of Mormon doctrine and Church practice.

    The arrogance that Faust is preaching is only making us blind. It’s your and my responsibility to take the blinders off and determine what’s good and bad for ourselves. That requires us to test our assumptions.

    That isn’t easy but it’s worth it. Most importantly, you might built truly intimate relationships with your loved ones.

  92. Jo
    May 27, 2006 at 11:35 am

    Thank you for your thoughts, Hellmut. I did not intend to reply that Mormonism is the only way for people to have that ‘light in their countenance’. Living a spiritual life within or out of the LDS faith gives us the light of Christ as well. You can detect that light in any people who live in such a way. Prior to my returning to the church, I attended other faiths and worked on my spirituality. I can recall times when the spirit was with me, and when it wasn’t even out of the church. I truly believe that it was by furvent pursuit of truth that I was led back to the LDS faith. Never the less, I believe that most people are often led back to the faith of their youth. While we may not always remain there, it is an important spring board and must be resolved within us if we are to progress and grow spiritually. With true enlightenment, then and only then, can we make the decision to stay in that faith or another that we have studied. I hope I have made sense.
    My children attend no other faith nor do they live and teach spirituality in their homes. I do not attempt to pursuade them to re-activate in the LDS church, but do try in subtle ways to encourage inclusion of spirituality in their lives and the lives of their children. I regret that spirituality did not have the emphasis in our home as my eldest were growing up. The consequences will have generational effects. I can only hope that I can be an example now by my actions and how I love and nurture them all.
    Forgive me if I have made spelling errors. Without spell check, I am at a disadvantage. It never was my strong suit.

  93. Jamie
    June 10, 2006 at 4:15 am

    Hello, I just looked at your PowerPoint & if I may tell you a story, it may help to give you another perspective. I am an ex Mormon who removed my name from the church records and my reasons why seem very different from the points you make in your presentation. Today is the first time that I have spoken of these things in a very long time. I hope it helps.
    I joined the church when I was 17. I had studied the doctrine since age 14 however; my Mother would not allow me to be baptized until I had been involved for a while. When I was finally baptized, so many people came to support me they had to open up the chapel. I felt so special. A woman in the ward allowed me to wear her beautiful white temple dress. I felt so close to God that day.
    I soon graduated from High School. Having a non LDS family made it difficult for me to fit in and I chose to move to Utah to attend College. I loved every minute of it. I took as many classes at the institute that I could and I faithfully attended church and kept all of the promises that I had made as a young woman and as a new member. Skipping ahead a little…. I finally felt like I was at a place where I could date. I had hesitated for a while so that I could really get a grasp on being the best LDS woman that I could be. I dated very nice, polite RM’s and had a lot of fun learning all about the blessings of being surrounded in my new world. My family could see how happy I was and they were never outwardly offended by my new found family. I finally met my husband at a fireside. He had just come home from his mission and I loved to listen to his great knowledge of the church. I spent hours in the local temple yard with him as he recited scripture after scripture. I had never learned much about the temple before meeting him. I quickly began to make bi weekly baptism for the dead days. I loved the temple. I think I spent more time on the temple grounds than I did on campus! Finally after a long 4 months of dating… He asked me to marry him. I was so excited. I was going to have it all… I remember going to the temple the week before my wedding. 9 of my family members were flying in and they were not going to be able to be inside of the temple. I had requested that I take my endowment before the sealing ceremony so that I wouldn’t be in the temple all day leaving them outside. A civil service was out of the question for me so this was my way of giving a little to the family who raised me. I was so nervous and excited. I savored every moment of that day. I was so overwhelmed with the experience. It was so peaceful and beautiful. I was honored at the chance to be so close to my Heavenly Father. That week something changed. I figured it was wedding stress but my soon to be husband seemed to have a bit of a quick temper with me. My bishop was a bit concerned when I told him but my fiancé’ quickly made the decision that we should see his bishop instead. The wedding went on. The day was wonderful and I just knew that I had married a worthy priesthood holding RM. Oh Boy was I blind sided. The abuse began on our honeymoon. I would love to tell you all of the things that he did to me but it would take a year and a half. Torture was his favorite. Oh it could be burning living things one day or forcing me to eat rotten meat from our garbage or beating our pets to near death. You think of it, I’m sure he did it. I was most terrified when he would snap in and out of these rages long enough to ask me to call out the evil spirit that was inside him before he would begin to scream and bite himself again. I left my home in fear of my life 3 times. Nobody at church knew about the first 2. Let me tell you about the third. When I became pregnant with our child, I had hoped things would be different. I remember one Easter Sunday sitting next to my mirror getting ready for church. Something must have set him off. After seeing him do this so much I knew well enough to move quickly as a large hole went into the door I was standing next to and not my head. After our child was born, he began to hurt him. I think a mother’s love is one of the strongest most powerful things in the world. I couldn’t stand to see what he was doing to this helpless new baby. For fear of my life and the life of my baby who was less than 3 months old at the time, I ran away. I remember praying for him to leave peacefully that morning. The moment the door shut and he left for work I went into the bathroom and I threw up. I was physically sick at the thought that I had ever let my child into this dark, dark place. I called my visiting teachers to tell them he was at work and that I had to be gone before he came home. They actually helped me move to my mothers and the Bishop even came and waited to tell my husband. About a week later and after needing a restraining order, my Bishop called to tell me it was time to go back and fix my relationship. I knew that if I went back, he would hurt us for leaving so I said no. That night they stripped me of all of my callings and told me I wasn’t worthy to teach young women about the blessings of the temple because I couldn’t even keep the covenants that I had made. I went to church that Sunday and my husband was there. I told the Bishop about my fear of him and that I had an order for him to stay away. The bishop told me that I should leave if I was uncomfortable and that my husband was not leaving.
    A lot of other things happened after that including a Bishop who was also an attorney “helped” my husband while I racked up a … well lets see I am at about $35,000 so far. The topic of religion was being used ad a weapon on both sided in our legal divorce so my attorney asked me if I could remove myself from the church so that we could separate me from them. I would like to say the rest is history. It was like I hit a dead end at 120 mph. Everything was over in 30 days. By the time I sent the letter requesting that my name be removed, no effort had been made to talk me out of it. Or to even speak to me at all, for that matter. They were the ones who removed me from my callings and my ward. Why bother to help a burden I guess. No church, no friends, no husband, but no more abuse.
    I would like to make something very clear now. I DID NOT LEAVE BECAUSE I LOST MY TESTIMONY!! I was pushed out like an old shoe. I want everyone whou reads this to try to understand just one feeling that I felt at that time. Please keep in mind that I was not even 21 years old at this point. Take a moment and picture if you will a young woman praying on her knees, reading the scriptures, keeping the word of wisdom to the fullest extent. Sharing an incredible testimony of the blessings of the temple and of her Heavenly Father with anyone in earshot. Now you know who I was when I made the decision to take my baby and leave my home. I was not an apostate. I was not looking for Starbucks, or wishing that I could wear a tank top. I was abused. My infant son was abused and my pets were abused. During this difficult time I wore my garments and prayed and fasted like I never had before while I waited for conformation of my removal from the church records. I cried for weeks. I would see friends who were there at the church when I was baptized now walking by me without taking a second glance. I endured my best of friends attending court hearings to tell the judge what a great husband I had and how upset they were at the very idea that he would hurt his own family. The last thing for me was to remove my garments. Here almost 9 years later I am in tears remembering the first time I put on regular underwear. It was the last thing I held on to. They represented everything that I believed in and had hoped for. They were my eternity and it was over. I held them in my hand and I prayed to God to let something good come of this. Oh how I cried. I respectfully discarded them and then…it was over. To this day I remember the temple like I was just there. I have often closed my eyes and pretended to be in the Celestial room with that peaceful feeling in my heart. I still know all of the words to all of my favorite hymns and I hum them when I’m sure nobody is around. It became so difficult that I finally moved out of the state where this happened. I felt completely alone in the world for a very, very long time. It has been 9 long years since I left the church. I have a great family now and life is good. I have been blessed with a husband who honors me and loves our children. But there is this whole piece of my life that I cannot share with any of them because they would never understand. I find myself seeing LDS women when I am out and about and I feel jealous!! I miss the friendships so much. I miss the feeling that I was a part of something special. I was very devoted to the church. I was about as LDS as I could have been. Since everyone I loved and associated with turned
    Their backs on me, I guess I just gave up on ever having that kind of relationship with anyone. As for church and religion, I swore I would never put myself or my family through the pain of loving a church and then losing it the way I did. Over the years I have forced myself to stay away from religion. I don’t even pray anymore. I figure if a God does exist, he would understand. Thank you for hearing my story.

  94. June 10, 2006 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story, Jamie.

    I hope that you and your child are alright now. I am amazed that you could pull it off all by yourself.

    It is unfortunate that LDS Bishops receive so little training and supervision by qualified personnel.

    Did you ever receive any help like counseling? May be, you could benefit from a self-help group for abused mothers.

    It’s probably a stupid thing to ask. You must have pursued a lot of opportunities during the last nine years.

    Best wishes, Hellmut

  95. FreeAtLast
    June 12, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    At the ex-Mormon conference in SLC a couple of years ago, there was a panel of female authors, most of whom had been LDS. One of the women (Linda – not her real name) had written her story of her multi-year experience as an abused LDS wife of a ‘faithful’ Melchizedek priesthood holder (so everyone in her ward, stake, and Mormon community thought).

    Linda’s husband had frequent fits of anger/rage and beat her often. He physically, mentally, and emotionally abused their children. Like Jamie’s experience, Linda’s domestic situation was a nightmare, a reality that local priesthood leaders wouldn’t acknowledge. The emphasis of Linda’s priesthood leaders (which was typical) was to preserve the family unit, seemingly at any cost. What she really needed was to remove herself and her children from a dangerous and incredibly stressful situation. Linda eventually did (after the abuse become utterly intolerable), her dream of an ‘eternal’, ‘Celestial’ marriage destroyed by the reality of her husband’s brutality and her priesthood leaders’ blinkered, patriarchal, Mormon mindset.

    Like all LDS females, Mormonism had psychologically conditioned Linda (who’d been raised in the church) to base much of her self-esteem on the fantasy of a ‘perfect’ Mormon marriage and family life. For generations, being a ‘wife and mother in Zion’ has been THE primary source of perceived worth for LDS females. Mormon males receive approval from the LDS community for priesthood, Scouting, mission, academic, professional and business/financial achievements, but Mormon women are granted approval mainly for being a ‘wife and mother in Zion’.

    Another major psychodynamic that was at play in Linda’s situation was the disempowerment that LDS women experience in the church. LDS teenage girls and women are denied the priesthood by the church’s male leadership, and see Mormon men and teenage boys in the spotlight week after week (as bishopric members, Priests, Teachers, and Deacons taking care of the Sacrament, visiting High Councilmen conducting church business, etc.). Even Mormon mothers who endure suffering during pregnancy and labour, are told by Mormon men that they cannot participate in the blessing of their own child. They’re relegated to sit in the congregation with other non-family members (observers, really), while a group of Mormon males are in the spotlight of everyone’s attention, ‘blessing’ the child. As well, for generations, hundreds of thousands of LDS women were required in the temple endowment ceremony to promise to obey their husbands, which only psychologically reinforced their second-class status in the church and Mormon community. It is any wonder that so many LDS women are chronically depressed?

    The following are cases of Mormon priesthood abuse that played a significant role in me leaving the church:

    -My mission president humiliated his wife in front of myself and the other mission office staff.

    -A Mormon man I’ve known since the early 1970’s physically abused his first wife, divorced her, re-married, and became a bishop and stake president. The church excommunicated his first wife for having a one-time affair, which was triggered by her husband hardly ever being home due to church work.

    -I know of an Elder who burned a Mormon boy (who had cerebral palsy), sexually abused him, and choked him. The missionary was allowed to stay in the mission field by the mission president (although the Elder was quickly transferred out of the area). The mission president went on to become a General Authority.

    -My sister’s father-in-law, our former branch president and bishop, made sexual advances toward her when she was waiting for her sweetheart (his son) to come home from his mission.

    -I have an ex-Mormon female friend (I’ll call her Tammy) who was raised in the church by LDS parents. During her formative years, Tammy’s father, a Melchizedek priesthood holder, repeatedly sexually abused her. As an older child, she told her mother about the abuse; her mother did nothing. As a teenager, Tammy went to the police and reported the abuse. They investigated her allegations and subsequently charged her father, who ended up doing prison time. Incredibly, her mother blamed Tammy for ‘destroying the family’!

    After being released from prison, the father told church leaders that he wanted to be re-baptized (he’d been excommunicated). Tammy made it clear to the bishop and stake president that given the fact that her father had so grossly abused and disempowered her during her formative years, she had the right to have the final say whether he should be re-baptized or not. They ignored her wish and allowed her father to be baptized again. He subsequently moved to another area where he reportedly tried to establish ‘buddy’ relationships with a no. of LDS young women in his new ward.

    Many LDS women have learned a hard, painful truth as a result of personal experience: ‘God’ (as defined by Mormonism) does not rescue people from difficult and harsh realities. Our only salvation is ourselves. Other people, like caring friends and/or family members might be able to help, but ultimately, each person is the only consistently reliable person/being who can ensure personal safety and quality of life. Many Latter-Day Saints (and people in other religions) never ‘get’ this truth/fact. They spend their lives waiting for God to make things better, while the source of their power, protection, and liberation looks them in the mirror every day.

  96. Ruth
    June 12, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    I have read through your powerpoint and several responses. I must disagree with one of your last statements. After almost a year’s wrestlings and long talks with bishops, family members, dear friends, institute teachers, I have decided that at the core I simply don’t believe that the LDS church is God’s one and only true and living church on the earth. I still believe God is with the members of this church (sometimes despite the church organization and not because of it)and I have seen it be a great power for good in my own life and many friends. There are many elements that I will miss, the temple, hymns, close communion with fellow believers; but it is not enough to convince me to stay. I feel that in staying, I would be sanctioning the doctrine that invalidates all other roads to God as incomplete to one extent or another. So, for me I simply can’t stay. I don’t leave bitter, angry, or to fullfill a secret desire for coffee icecream. I will ever cherish the experiences I have had in the LDS church and carry them with me as I continue to seek out and discover God. I hope to continue my treasured friendships with many LDS friends and I hope that our discussions are not about what is missing in my life, but an exchange of how each of us is personally finding our way to better living. My greatest tire is the presumption that I am treating my past experiences flippantly, and this is an unintentionally cruel and demeaning accusation.

  97. June 12, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    Ruth,

    I certainly didn’t mean to make that accusation. I fully empathize with, and support your decision.

  98. jordanandmeg
    June 12, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    Freeatlast,
    most mormon men I know are great guys.

  99. jordanandmeg
    June 12, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    And Ruth,
    Wonderfully said. There is no better way to leave the church if one so wishes.

  100. FreeAtLast
    June 13, 2006 at 11:30 am

    The LDS Church recently announced that it will build a temple in the metro area where I live (Vancouver, BC, Canada). The press release (ref. http://www.lds.org/newsroom/showrelease/0,15503,3881-1-23528,00.html) states that there are 172,000 church members in Canada. Assuming that 50% are ‘active’, 20% are children age 12 or younger, and 60% of the remaining group are youth and adults who are ‘temple worthy’, that means that approx. 41,000 Canadian Mormons will be attending the seven temples (including the one in metro Vancouver). That’s less than 6,000 members using each of the seven multi-million dollar temples. The annual cost of lighting, cleaning, heating, air-conditioning, landscaping, and otherwise maintaining each temple must be many thousands of dollars.

    While on the subject of expensive church buildings, in November 2002 I visited the LDS Conference Center during a visit to SLC. A tour guide, a retired medical professional, took me through the Center. He pointed out the large alabaster light coverings, pear wood panelling, super-sophisticated sound system and broadcasting equipment, massive I-beam in the ceiling that had been forged in Europe and shipped to the U.S., high-end carpeting, and other expensive elements of the building. I asked him how much it cost to build; he wouldn’t say. I then told him that I’d heard about $400 million, an amount he would neither confirm nor deny. I know that if I’d been a tithe-paying member, the response would’ve been the same. For generations, the LDS Church’s patriarchal leadership has concealed from members financial details of how it uses their tithing and other ‘contributions’. Their ‘you-don’t-need-to-know’ attitude and the church’s lack of financial transparency was one of the many reasons why I left.

    As the tour guide and I walked past large paintings depicting Book of Mormon stories, he told me about Lehi and his family sailing to the ancient Americas from Israel, the Nephite and Lamanite civilizations that spread across the Americas, native Americans descending from the Lamanites, the Brother of Jared and his lighted, submarine vessels, and other BoM stories. As we departed the area where the paintings are located, he took his gaze off of me, got a puzzled look on his face, and speaking to no one, really, he said, “If I wasn’t raised in the church, I wouldn’t believe these things.” I’d told him at the beginning of the tour that I wasn’t a member; his words were extremely revealing. Little did he know that I’d been raised in Mormonism from early childhood, went on a mission, left the church a decade before, and had studied the effects of LDS religious indoctrination and Mormon psychological conditioning extensively since 1992.

    The Oct. 18/05 issue of Commercial Property News reported that the LDS Church was (is) spending US$1.5 billion to “redevelop 20 acres of Downtown Salt Lake City, focusing on more than 1 million square feet of retail, as well as housing and office.” (ref. http://www.cpnonline.com/cpn/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001307971). In 2003, the church bought the second largest ranch in Nebraska, and in 2004, 633 acres in Hawaii, with plans to build a 200-room hotel on the north side of Oahu and residential subdivisions. A couple of years ago, I read a news report that the church was the second largest private landowner in the U.K.

    The Aug. 4/97 issue of Time estimated that the church’s total wealth was US$30 billion (ref. http://lds-mormon.com/time.shtml). The reported membership that year was 10,070,524. For 2005, it was 12,560,869, a 24.7% increase in nine years. Assuming the percentage of tithe-paying members has remained the same since 1997, and the church’s real estate and other investments have appreciated at an average of 5% per year, it’s no stretch of the imagination to put the church’s total wealth at approx. US$45 billion. In “Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power” (by former BYU Professor of History, Dr. D. Michael Quinn and published in Dec./94), the listed assets of the church included 48 banks, 34 lumber companies, 60 newspapers and magazines, 55 mining firms, 55 railroads, 9 hotels, a $16 Billion insurance company, and a chain of radio and TV stations.

    In May 2005, President Gordon B. Hinckley told church members, “In the last 10 years we have supplied in cash and commodities hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to those not of our faith.” As of Nov./04, total church donations for humanitarian aid since 1985 totalled US$450 million based on church press releases and public statement made by senior church leaders. In the U.K., the church is required by law to submit financial reports each year (which the public can view at http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/). Here’s a summary of data for a recent year (2003):

    Total funds received: £31,788,000
    Total expenditures: £28,678,000
    Net surplus for 2003: £3,110,000
    Total of church accounts at year end: £18,849,000

    Expenditure totals for the year from the report:

    Physical Facilities: £8,162,000
    Equipment: £687,000
    Units Costs: £626,000
    Fast Offering Fund: £500,000
    Materials and Supplies: £246,000
    Humanitarian Aid Fund: £193,000
    Perpetual Education Fund: £101,000
    Temple Construction Fund: £45,000

    Total Net Book Value of Church Lands and Buildings: £216,474,000

    The LDS Church (U.K.) spent 1.57% of its 2003 income on fast offering, 0.61% on humanitarian aid, and 0.32% on assisting people with their education. In total, the LDS Church (U.K.) spent only 1/40th of its 2003 income on helping people in need. The church’s income surplus for 2003 was nearly four times what it spent on fast offering/church welfare, humanitarian aid, and the perpetual education fund. The total of the church’s accounts as of Dec. 31/03 was nearly 25 times more than what it spent on helping financially-disadvantaged individuals and people requiring humanitarian assistance.

    Every year, about one quarter of a million children around the globe lose their vision due to a deficiency of certain vitamins in their diet. The cost of an appropriate vitamin supplement to prevent premature blindness is $0.05/day (when purchased in bulk), or $220/child (to age 12). A donation of less than 1% of the LDS Church’s annual income could save tens of thousands of children from going blind prematurely.

    Every year, about 35,000 people (non-combatants) around the world are killed or seriously injured by landmines. Since 1988, the HALO Trust, a British charitable organization (ref. http://www.halotrust.org/), has cleared more than 5 million of the estimated 70 million landmines buried in 90 countries. It’s annual budget is US$45 million. A donation of less than 4% of the sum that the LDS Church is spending on the two SLC shopping malls to the HALO Trust could double its life- and limb-saving work.

    But building a multi-million dollar temple in Vancouver, BC is more important than doing more to relieve human suffering and save lives for the senior priesthood leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

  101. Ruth
    June 14, 2006 at 11:09 am

    John – Thanks. I listened to your story today – I appreciate you sharing the depth of your soul. Thanks for the site, for giving me and so many a voice. You have my profound respect and support.

  102. BEA
    June 21, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    I have to say I really thought the presentation was something that I would have loved to have heard from my church leaders 2 or 3 years ago when I approached the subjects with my bishop. Honestly, like a lot of other people I long for the companionship and the comraderie that I once experienced in full fellowship in the church. My wife and boy still attend but upon confronting a lot of the issues outlined (and many others) I find it difficult to be able to accept that the constant bombardment of “I know the church is true” the church is perfect etc.

    Initially a lot of the initial doubts I had stemmed from a college project on of all things Lake Bonneville. For those of you outside of Utah and the Wasatch front one can look to the “everlasting hills” and see a number of “bathtub” rings circling the valley. As someone brought up to believe that the literal “temporal” age of the earth was about 6,000 years and that Adam was the first man and so on. I was shocked to find out that that Lake Bonneville last existed as recently as 15,000 years ago with evidence of human habitation in caves surrounding Lake Bonneville dating to 15,000 years ago in addition to other archeological sites around the world tens of thousands of years more ancient than that. That is substantially greater that the 6,000 years that church leaders have consistetly cited as the timeframe of the first man, physical death etc. Simply put and not to get bogged down in the minutia because I realize science is not error free either 19th sentury science justdoesn’t hold up as eternal truth today. At the point of finding that first inconsistency I still remained active in the church. After all, is the age of the Earth and the first people REALLY more important than the eternal salvation of my soul?

    A few years later my wife and I decided that we would adopt an african-american child and made a trip to LDS family services (which in itself was an eye opening experience “why would you want to settle for an african-american child?).

    I then started to try and find out about the ban on the priesthood. As strange as this may sound to a lot of people I never really and still do not have a problem with the church deciding who it will or won’t give the priesthood to. It is a private organization and they make the rules. If they want to exclude blacks, red heads, chirpas or whomever it is their right to do so. The issue I have was the reasoning behind the ban. All the “thus sayeth the lords” and “in the name of Jesus” followed by some epithet about how evil ,low life and cursed black people are and that slavery is a divine institution and so on. Much more inflamatory than exclusion from the priesthood in my opinion is the thought/doctrine endorsed on numerous occasions from official letters from the first presidency that just being born with black/dark or whatever skin was a consequnce for less than stellar performance in the “war in heaven.” It was at this point that I became very concerned and wondering if this really was/is the feelings of God toward my new little son? Did God say these things to his one and only prophet on earth as well as numerous leaders through the decades following? I prayed and prayed to know these teachings were truly divine revelation. I tried to find contemporary explanations about the pre-existence valiance. At no point have I been able to determine that the doctrine has been officially denouced. What I have been able to determine is that the the doctrine has been substantiated over and over again through various manuals, letters, discussions, discourses and correllated materials to remove all doubt from my mind that this was not a general “church policy issue”, opinion or conjecture but was indeed bonafied “real doctrine” and therefore continues to be.

    Did I want to endorse an organization that still (though quietly) holds as a belief that my son was not good enough in pre-earth life to be born with white skin? That white skin is better or desirable? By attending church am I silently endorsing and sustaining “ALL” of the teachings of the prophets including a belief that that my son is substandard in any way? Can I take the “cafeteria” approach to the church? These are the questions that I was struggling with (and continue to haunt me as I try to determine my place in the church).

    As I’ve struggled for the last 3 or 4 years with these issues I have always drawn the comparison between my belief in the church and a glass of water. Starting out my belief was full, I accepted anything and everything as the “gospel truth” that came from any and every prophet since the restoration. When I discovered the earth was older than 6,000 years old and Adam was not the first human. I had to pour a little bit out of my cup and had to ignore that particular part of a sunday school lesson relating to the garden of eden and Adam and Eve. When I found out that the Book of Abraham wasn’t actually lost in a fire in Chicago like I had been told for years and was not truly a literal translation and was not “written with his own hand” I had to pour a little bit more out of the glass. Joseph Smith and secret marriages. Post Manifesto church sanctioned polygamy. The flood of Noah being a literal and complet baptism of the earth. A little more out of the glass. When I discovered the doctrines relating to people of African descent I had to pour more out of my glass. And eventually I really have to wonder, what else is left? Does the church or it’s leadership really have a clue what “true” really means? Is it the sanitized for your protection correllated version of true? Ultimately, people will choose to believe no matter what kind of skeletons are found in any number of closets. I know that my concerns may have been lessened had someone with real authority been able to address the issues in a substantive way but no one has the authority to speak for the church and, from the half a dozen leaders I spoke with I got 6 different answers all lacking any kind of real insight into the issue at hand. But one thing that I can say is the sweep it under the carpet, pretend the church is perfect, ignore the issue, don’t ask don’t tell policy that is the modern church just hasn’t cut it for me.

    I’ll finish quickly by saying and this has been a question that has nagged me ever since my struggles began…. How does one follow the admonition of Yoda the Jedi master “You must unlearn what you have learned” Or alternatively how do you un-ring a bell?

    I can’t say how helpful listening to this podcast and reading on this blog has been for me. I don’t know what if any activity level in the church I may have in the future but I can say that a combined adult lesson in a meeting block from time to time covering some of the issues outlined in the webcast would be a really good thing. But unfortunately members with questions will continue to be marginalized for the good of the “flock”.

    Thanks for your time.

  103. July 3, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    Hey John

    A friend of mine listened to the screencast and absolutely loved it! I put it on my web page as well in the Communication section. My friend wanted to record it onto his computer, the whole thing, especially with your excellent narration. So whenever his highly active LDS friends ask him about the church he can just say, “here, listen to this…” He and I would like to know if it’s possible to download it onto our computer in case the link gets broken etc?

  104. Jo
    July 15, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    Jamie, I hope you still refer back to this site and know that there are people here who understand and love you.
    I wrote about being ex-communicated by a gay bishop. That was actually finally the beginning of the end if you will. The real beginning was another bishop a few years earlier who told me that regardless of what my husband did, it was my duty to stay with him for the sake of my children and that I would reap my reward in heaven. My husband did not beat me, it was just multiple affairs. I didn’t know until the gay bishop entered the picture and I finally left my husband for good that my husband was bisexual.
    Tony Feliz, author of Out Of The Bishop’s father was my bishop at the time I was ex-communicated. There was much manipulation and coersion on his part when I made initial feeble attempts to leave my husband. I experienced a lot of ostracization by men in the ward and then the women as well.My husband and bishop smeared my name to many people in our ward. It was painful. I now realize, though, that much of my reactions were destructive and self defeating. I did not have supportive parents, so was very lost and angry.
    It is hard and can take a long time to find your way. I, too felt yearnings for the very church I left. It sounds that you do not feel angry at the church,Jamie,but at the perpetrators of the so very heinous abuses you experienced. I hope that you are able to find peace in your soul. For me, it took me two more marriages with very controlling men, one a mental health professional who was extremely abusive in every way. Still, the Lord never left me alone. He will not leave you entirely. Pray to him every day. Go to church if you feel you need to. If your husband is a good man, he will support you in what you need to do to find spiritual peace.
    As I said in an earlier comment, there are heinous crimes that are committed in this church and ever other church. Maybe the difference in the LDS church is that we expect so much more of the members and we put total faith that as so called “saints” they are incapable of maltreatment and horrible behavior. You must be wary of everyone. The church is not a Utopia. But, you are right, Jamie, there is a spirit unparalleled in the temple. I believe that it is that spirit that beckons you.
    Go to the temple grounds if there is one where you live. You can also subscribe to the Ensign. If the LDS faith is the faith that is within your heart, you need not deny it. Have faith in your husband that he will support you in your quest for peace within.
    Jo

  105. just one of many
    July 28, 2006 at 11:37 am

    I have been the victim of every I/it scenario! I appreciate your thoughful presentation. I just left the church and it was partly due to the fact that the bishop’s inability to understand the effects of “the gap”. We refused to stay behind to try to change things because we as members are powerless. If we voice our concerns openly, we can be brought up on Apastasy charges and be exed. How is discussing truth apostasy? By the way the church doesn’t seem to get what you are trying to do. Have you seen the new Joseph Smith movie in Salt Lake…talk about fictionalizing church history! I refuse to teach my children that the church is “true” when the truth isn’t allowed inside its walls.
    By the way, your suggestion that people can pick and choose which doctrines to accept/ reject is a fouled theory. If you don’t accept all and abide by all, you are judged. The rift between child and parent would be great. How does the parent help the child reconcile that the church says it has all the truth, but not all of it is technically true. You become the “apostate” parent and the church becomes a substitute parent driving a wedge between parent and child.
    I can be a good person, by virtue of choice. Your right lds church service is easier, but after leaving the church I have found that choosing how I can serve my fellow man has many benefits. I don’t have a “list” to check off each month as to how and who I needed to serve. I had to constantly look for those in need, become active and seek for ways to serve God.

  106. September 30, 2006 at 4:01 am

    I find your presentation to be misleading, contrived and ultimately missing the pooint and the setup.

    I have left the church after being manipulated by its many constructs.

    Your focus must shift from blind apology if you wish to appear rational.

  107. Don H
    February 9, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    I found that most people that bash the LDS church they themselves has a difacult time getting along in any good struchured church. We are Christians the same Lord of King David, Moses and the twelve aposeles, lives in my heart and intire life the same. Thank you for this time to wittness of Christ , Don H

  108. dean
    February 19, 2007 at 12:36 am

    It is very difficult to leave the churh. The inconsistecies within Church histories and doctrines are simply too numerous to stomach. Yes, ‘prophets’ are men, and men make mistakes…but if Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and even Hinkley are wrong about certan revelations which supposedly came from God, the how can any one person decide which are real and which are false?

    None of the prophets from the Bible were ever wrong when they prophesied in the name of God. Brigham yound SAID that God told him about Adam being our true father and only God to worship. If he said that God told him that, then how can we believe anything else?

  109. Brad
    April 17, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    John,

    From the perspective of a long-time ex-mormon, I think what you are trying to do here is a good thing. You may be swimming upstream, but I think it is worth doing. When you talk about focussing on the “good” as opposed to the “truth,” one of the “bad” aspects of mormonism is its tendency to rip families apart when one or more members leaves the religion. If your efforts reduce that effect at all, I think you have done a good thing.

    On apologetics. It’s not just the new exmos who won’t be convinced. Apologetics are useful only for those who really want to believe, but have doubts. LDS apologetics starts from the conclusion that Joseph Smith restored the true church to earth or that the Book of Mormon is a historical record of peoples in the Americas and seeks to prove that those conclusions are possible. Most exmos are interested in figuring out what is true, not what could possibly be true. So, from the perspective of having some sort of dialog with those who choose to leave, there are no “good” apologetics.

    I wish you luck in your efforts.

  110. Tasha
    April 24, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    I really appreciated this honest approach to understanding why people leave the LDS church. I left the church 8 years ago, and I struggled with many of the issues you addressed here. The one thing that I noticed that you left out, however, was those people (like myself) who discover the Truth found in the Bible. The message of the Bible is vastly different from the message of Mormonism. The LDS Church has come to a point of using the Bible as a sort of front to make them look Christian, when really the only verses they learn are the ones that – out of context – seem to back up Mormon theology. You should definitely have a slide dedicated to What we were taught about the Bible (that is is corrupted, incomplete and unreliable/ that it agrees with the Book of Mormon and LDS theology/ that it is equally proofless to the Book of Mormon), and what the facts are about the Bible (that there are thousands of manuscripts available to check the accuracy of it/ that it was not translated by monks and priests of the Catholic church, but by men who were hunted and killed by the Catholic church for trying to give the Bible to everyone/ that there are thousands upon thousands of archaeological, historical and anthropological evidences for the Bible/ that the message of the Bible is that Jesus paid the whole debt for our sins and that through his atonement PLUS NOTHING we are saved from Hell and adopted as children of God). This was the clincher for me, not the sordid history of the Church. Just the Bible, and the simplicity of the gospel of Christ and his cross.

  111. Quinn
    April 24, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Great effort that attempts to help LDS leaders and members away from judgment to dialogue, a very scary thing for members and leaders alike in an authoritarian culture. And waking up to the falseness of LDS history and doctrine tests relationships to their core, and yes, most are disparaged. It must be the person, not the church in the minds of members and leaders.

    May I suggest your analysis is fairly superficial? You highlight the taught/reality gap but leave out biggies like Jesus saying the gates of hell would not prevail against his kingdom, directly refuting the need for a restoration, where Joseph’s ability to translate was directly testable he failed miserably in Kinderhook and the Book of Abraham, not to mention that we know what the early apostles thought and taught, and little resembles core LDS theology. So you still ignore many glaring evidences that show Mormonism for what it is and never establish a reasonable criteria for the truth. Look to the Bible. The Bible tells us that those who prophecy in the name of the Lord are 100% accurate, something that Smith can’t claim, not even close. Or those who teach what is counter to the established word are to be “accursed.” So it isn’t a taugh/reality gap, but a God’s word/Mormon reality gap.

    I pray that God will inspire LDS leaders and members alike to open themselves up to their own sin of arrogance and pride, and come to know the Jesus of the Bible who always was God and stands with open arms to recieve them.

  112. Quinn
    April 24, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    One more thought…I’ve done research on those who leave Mormonism and have found that there are tremendous losses for most…relationships, respect from LDS friends, and many others you mentioned. And so inspiring that those who came to a saving relationship with Jesus view all those losses as mere bumps on the road. Sadly 60% who leave the LDS faith end up aganostic, turned sour on religion. Most likely this is due to deep revisionism…AKA why let the truth stand in the way of good story. Honesty is always the best policy unless you choose to excommunicate scholars for printing evidence critical to the sacred stories. You can’t hold a position of integrity and show such distain for truth at the same time as is clearly the case among the intellectual purge in the early 90’s that continues today.

  113. Trevor
    April 24, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Quinn,

    Which Jesus of the Bible? You can’t simply make up your own composite character and call him the “Jesus of the Bible.” It’s a lot more complicated than that.

  114. May 23, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    This thoughtful and kind screencast has general principles that will serve anyone whose loved ones are going through a conversion (or deconversion) in any faith.

    Well done and humane: we so often forget to be the best our tradition (whatever thay may be) asks of us.

    -Kushana

  115. Amy Cote
    July 5, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    I loved your presentation, yet, I’m still troubled very deeply that people actually remain loyal to a church that is a fraud and true to a false profit who was a liar, adulterer, caused married women to commit adultery, etc. The Church cannot be true if Joseph Smith is a fraud, which is pretty easily shown if a person really WANTS to know the truth. Smith is a fraud, the Book of Mormon is not the “most correct book on Earth” and the Church leaders, if they are truly “Christians” need to stop deceiving members and non-members alike. The Church is NOT TRUE, Joseph Smith is NOT a TRUE prophet. Admit it and move on! The Truth will set you free! It did me!

  116. Amy Cote
    July 5, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    I found it amusing and confusing by the comment above that even if Joseph Smith sinned in his polygamy, that sin is on his head and the church is still true. Joseph Smith taught as DOCTRINE that polygamy was REQUIRED and WILL ALWAYS BE REQUIRED (“the everlasting covenant”) to become a god. If he sinned in this matter and this is NOT of God, then he wasn’t telling the truth and the prophet would be directing the church to do something that is abominable before the Lord (which it clearly IS, ALWAYS). Now, God would not tell a true prophet to direct people to do something ungodly. So if it was a sin, which is WAS, IS and ALWAYS WILL BE, he was NOT a true prophet. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that if someone tells you to break a commandment that has already been commanded, they will be called least in heaven. We already know having sex with people other than our spouses is adultery, so anyone who teaches us to break the commandment is not of God. PERIOD!

  117. Fritz Jensen
    July 12, 2007 at 1:31 am

    I found that the Quinn entry of April 24, 2007 to be right on, in its first two paragraphs, but I found the 3rd paragraph incongruent with the first two.

  118. annegb
    July 12, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    Freeatlast and others, you only validate my opinion that people leave the church because of jerks and jerky behavior more often than a dispute over doctrine. I know jerk is too softly euphemistic, I’m trying to quit cussing.

    I tell you, I am so mad at somebody in my ward right now over a particularly egregious wrong that involves the highest level of hypocrisy, I could leave. I won’t, but I’m mad. Righteously so.

    It’s hard to hang on through what people experience. Like Jamie, I think God understands and I think He’s going to slap a bunch of temple recommend holders up the side of the head as He lets us sinners through first.

  119. Fritz Jensen
    August 4, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    There are three ways to leave the Church:

    1, Excomunication
    2. Write a letter to the 1st Presidency asking
    that your name be removed.
    3. Just go inactive.

    MOST CHOOSE #3

  120. Brook
    August 5, 2007 at 1:28 am

    This is demoralizing.

Comments are closed.