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EX-MORMON OPINION - SECTION 22
The "Opinion" topic was created to separate out recovery from opinions on posts made in Ex-Mormonism.
| As a non-Mormon who is interested in Mormon affairs the most important thing I learned from the "anointed one" interview was this: Mormons Are Delusional. To be a faithful TBM member of the church you have to have an alternate belief system outside that of normal reality.
When I growing up around Mormons in the southwest I didn't know much about the church -- mostly that Mormons didn't drink alcohol, Coke or coffee, believed that Jesus of Nazareth appeared to the Aztecs, and wore old school style frumpy "majick" underwear. I didn't find out just how strange Mormonism really was until I was older. Somehow I thought that rational, intelligent people could see through it and realise that it was fake -- but they don't. They really, truly believe it.
My experience asking a bishop about the "Curse of Cain" and other problems with the "Book of Mormon" (notice that I put it in quotes just as I would with any other book title in lieu of italics--it's not scripture) was the same as "anointed one" had with Jeff Holland. They don't answer questions directly. They don't have an answer. If you don't want to live in their imaginary world they don't want to you to play with them any longer. It's not even a "Rashamon" style different interpretation of the facts. There are no facts. They don't even say something like "since the 'Book of Mormon' mentions horses in ancient North America, therefore some of these animals must have escaped the Holocene megafauna extinction--just how we don't know" but they won't do it. The make believe Mormon reality *is* the only reality. For an outsider, this is one of the most fascinating things about the church. The sad part is that they consciously use the threat of loss of friends and family to keep people from straying. Not quite like North Korea shooting your family or sending them to the gulag if you escape but you get the idea.
| Mormons instill that fear of having no family or friends--having no "support system"--as the worst situation possible. This is their "outer darkness." Some of us feel that this prophesy comes true when we become apostates, because the Mormons try to make it come true--but it is all in our mind. Mormons are experts at gaslighting their victims. I was extremely ill, devoid of hope, living alone, unable to work and earn a salary. This was like the proverbial "test." Because of pain, and a weakened immune system, I quit all my callings, and the Mormons were nasty about it, not taking "no" for an answer, telling me that illness was not an excuse, and telling me that God would make me well enough to continue to serve, bla-bla. When I told the bishop that I was also not going to any meetings or pay tithing, either, for an indefinite period of time, he threatened me that God would withdraw His blessings, that I would become sicker, and my children would fail. I think this is a classic example of a total "Mind F_ck."I had to go into therapy because of this. My illness was a physical challenge, but the cult threats were my mental challenge. I believed, at the time, and I thought I was doomed. Positive thinking, laughter, love, and hope work wonders in getting patients well, and the Mormons took all that from me. I did not have one Mormon visitor, or one phone call to see how I was, in all those months. I had taken casseroles to my Mormon neighbors many times.
The whole experience was like the Wizard of Oz, when Toto drags the curtain away, and the Wizard is nothing but a tiny guy flipping switches, saying, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." When I discovered it was all a delusion--I felt like I had been mind-raped. But, at the same time, I felt free! I was not "cursed." God loved me, and He wanted me to get well, and continue to raise my children! I was born-again, in every sense of the word!
I opened my eyes to reality, and I had been Skype-ing, emailing, and talking to my children daily, had maintained close contact with some old friends from since elementary school, some non-Mormon neighbors, doctors, nurses, therapists, health care people, authors of good books, Jay Leno and other comedians on TV, my dog, soothing pain-killers, the views out my windows, the birds. The whole world was mine--and those Mormon a-holes had told me that I did not deserve this!
Yes--a delusion can kill you. A delusion can make you sick. An delusion can cause people to commit crimes. Even though "Anointed One" was revered and honored among his peers, I still feel sorry for him and his wife .
| It's hard to listen to the first part of the interview about "living the Mormon dream." So many of the happy experiences are based on this authoritarian structure and organization being in place and everyone buying into it. Well of course everything is chummy when you have this community of the like-minded held together by fervency, fear, and social discipline. Teens are much easier to wrangle if they are caught in an indoctrination program that threatens their salvation, controls their sexuality, binds them to a peer group, and exacts many hours each week of their time and devotion. Then your daughter talks to you about all the little social inconsequentialities that occurred at the Stake dance. And then you feel superior to the secular Dad whose daughter isn't so controlled, but you are blind to the notion that this has nothing to do with Joseph Smith's supposed divinely inspired Restoration and everything to do with the LDS church's practical power and worldly success. Guess what? Take a poor person off the street, clean them up, insert them into a monolithic authoritarian belief system with many new "instant friends" and support from the group, and set the person up with a job or any life skills, and Hey Presto!, you've worked a miracle in that formerly down and out person's life. "Praise God!" Well, you praise god and put it all down to his miraculous power if you take your eye off the money ball and forget the realistic material basis of the situation.
There's no alternative when inside the fishbowl to marveling at all the things there, all the validated beliefs, all the mutual support (or surveillance), all the serendipities of fate being read as miracles and all the trials being read as God's Will.
Of course, Dehlin just eats it all up like some sort of LDS church apologist: "Oh so you had a real witnessing, huh? That's something even not all of us BICs have had." How can one not be impatient with this sort of fatuous gawking over "Moroni's promise" "coming to pass"? Anointed One speaks to this in mentioning that lots of books and experiences can be transforming or make one feel positively about life.
That's why so many Mormon promises are conditional on the believer's faith: if it works, you believed enough; if it didn't, well you just didn't believe hard enough. It's all self-confirming feel-goodism when you get to the Missionaries' challenge of asking investigators to pray about the BoM and ponder on Moroni's promise.
| For the purposes of this thread I'd like to focus on whether or not the overall teachings of the church does harm to its members. Feel free to add positive or negative examples of teachings that exist within the LDS church. I thought I'd start with examples of teachings that I consider to be harmful. |
Any criticism of leaders is wrong (even if the criticism is true)
"It's wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true."
Dallin H. Oaks
"Does the commandment to avoid faultfinding and evil speaking apply to Church members’ destructive personal criticism of Church leaders? Of course it does. It applies to criticism of all Church leaders–local or general, male or female. In our relations with all of our Church leaders, we should follow the Apostle Paul’s direction: “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father.” (1 Tim. 5:1.)...
The counsel against speaking evil of Church leaders is not so much for the benefit of the leaders as it is for the spiritual well-being of members who are prone to murmur and find fault. ...
Government or corporate officials, who are elected directly or indirectly or appointed by majority vote, must expect that their performance will be subject to critical and public evaluations by their constituents. ...A different principle applies in our Church, where the selection of leaders is based on revelation, subject to the sustaining vote of the membership. In our system of Church government, evil speaking and criticism of leaders by members is always negative. Whether the criticism is true or not, as Elder George F. Richards explained, it tends to impair the leaders’ influence and usefulness, thus working against the Lord and his cause....
Public debate–the means of resolving differences in a democratic government–is not appropriate in our Church government. We are all subject to the authority of the called and sustained servants of the Lord."
Dallin H. Oaks. Feb. 1987 Ensign.
"Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who ‘speak evil of dignities.’ (Jude 1:8.) Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself]. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true."
Dallin H. Oaks. Address to Church Educational System teachers, Aug. 16, 1985
Information is withheld from the lay membership.
"There is a temptation for the writer or teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful."
Packer, Boyd K. (1981), "The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect"
"He [Stanley Kimball] spoke of three levels of Mormon history. Level A, he said, is the Sunday School version. Everything on Level A is obviously good and true and harmonious. Level B, however, is the anti- Mormon version of the same story. ...On this level, everything that you thought was good and true and harmonious actually turns out to be evil and false and chaotic.
He noted that the Church typically seeks to keep its members on Level A or, at least, feels no institutional obligation to bring them to a deeper level. Why? Because souls are lost on Level B. And, though Level C might be academically more desirable, it cannot be accessed without at least some exposure to Level B. Were he in a leadership position, he said, he would probably make the same decision.
Once members of the Church have been exposed to Level B, though, he said, their only hope is to press on to the richer, more complicated version of history that is to be found on Level C–which, he contended and I agree, turns out to be essentially, and profoundly, like Level A. The only cure for bad historiography is better historiography. The only remedy for bad anti-Mormon arguments is better counterarguments....
Not everybody needs Level C. But some do, whether because they are troubled by Level B or because they find Level A insufficiently nourishing in some way. Many good saints will live their entire lives on Level A, and they will be saved."
Daniel C. Peterson
*I do believe the church is improving in this area, but much like with polygamy and the priesthood ban, I believe the change is only coming because of external influences. In short the internet is forcing their hand.
Emphasis on obedience to the leadership.
"Tell the children that we have a special leader to follow, our prophet. Explain that a prophet is a man who speaks with God–God tells the prophet what we should do. Tell the children that if we follow the prophet, we will be happy and Heavenly Father will bless us. Explain that to follow the prophet means to do the things he tells us to do."
Nursery Manual: I will follow the Prophet
"Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,
Follow the prophet; don’t go astray.
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,
Follow the prophet; he knows the way."
"She came home from the fireside, took off the second set of earrings, and said to her parents, “If President Hinckley says we should wear only one set of earrings, that’s good enough for me.”
Wearing two pairs of earrings may or may not have eternal consequences for this young woman, but her willingness to obey the prophet will. And if she will obey him now, on something relatively simple, how much easier it will be to follow him when greater issues are at stake."
Russel M. Ballard. Liahona Dec. 2002
“My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he tells you to do something wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it."
Heber J. Grant
Negatively portraying everyone who leaves.
"In later years, I saw a few leave the Church who could then never leave it alone. They used often their intellectual reservations to cover their behavioral lapses"
Neal A. Maxwell April 2004 General conference
"If the people would live their religion, there would be no apostasy"
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 78–84
"Why do men apostatize? Why do they lose the faith? Why do their minds become darkened? Because they wander from the right path; they neglect their duties and forget to pray, and to acknowledge the Lord and He withdraws His Spirit from them and they are left in the dark."
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, (1998)
“The moment you permit yourselves to lay aside any duty that God calls you to perform, to gratify your own desires; the moment you permit yourselves to become careless, you lay a foundation for apostasy. Be careful; understand you are called to a work, and when God requires you to do that work do it.” Another thing he said: “In all your trials, tribulations and sickness, in all your sufferings, even unto death, be careful you don’t betray God, be careful you don’t betray the priesthood, be careful you don’t apostatize; because if you do, you will be sorry for it.”
Joseph Smith Ensign Sept 1971
"It seems that history continues to teach us: You can leave the Church, but you can’t leave it alone. The basic reason for this is simple. Once someone has received a witness of the Spirit and accepted it, he leaves neutral ground. One loses his testimony only by listening to the promptings of the evil one, and Satan’s goal is not complete when a person leaves the Church, but when he comes out in open rebellion against it."
Glenn L. Pace General Conference April 1989
"Those who leave the Church are like a feather blown to and fro in the air. They know not whither they are going; they do not understand anything about their own existence; their faith, judgment and the operation of their minds are as unstable as the movements of the feather floating in the air. We have not anything to cling to, only faith in the Gospel" (DBY, 84).
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 78–84
"What is that which turns people away from this Church? Very trifling affairs are generally the commencement of their divergence from the right path."
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 78–84
Teachings on Sexuality
Corianton had been guilty of sexual sin, and his father spoke to him in love but plainly: “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” (Alma 39:5).
General Conference. April 2010. Elder D. Todd Christofferson
I know some will protest that these next quotes aren't "doctrine", but I include them because of their extreme nature and because they have resulted in real suffering. To my knowledge the church has not repudiated them.
“Also far-reaching is the effect of loss of chastity. Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation when there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”
Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, LDS Prophet, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 196
“Loss of virtue is too great a price to pay even for the preservation of one's life – better dead clean, than alive unclean. Many is the faithful Latter-day Saint parent who has sent a son or a daughter on a mission or otherwise out into the world with the direction: "I would rather have you come back in a pine box with your virtue than return alive without it."" – Apostle Bruce R. McConkie
Mormon Doctrine, pg. 124;
I'll likely add more examples later, but it's getting late.
| Most progressive?
Holy crap that was seriously delusional. Unbelievably so.
(a) high in egalitarianism
Is that why we must wait to take the sacrament until the presiding leader has first taken it? Or why we must stand when an apostle or other GA enters the chapel? Is that why anyone in a leadership capacity with the title of President is supposed to be referred to as President so-and-so, all the time?
broad leadership participation
As long as you have a penis there is some truth to this, as long as you have no facial hair, and wear the "right" color of shirt.
contributions of all members
Certainly contributions of all members are accepted, in the monetary sense.
lifelong learning and education
So long as what you are learning isn't something that contradicts church teachings. Ask members how excited they are about reading more about the origins of some of their own holy scriptures, like, say, the Book of Abraham?
compassion and service to others
As part of trying to convert, reactivate, or retain them in the church, then yes.
tolerance toward others
and what is called “abundant community” – and (b) low in inequality, hierarchy, class distinctions, resistance to new ideas and learning, self-centeredness, intolerance, and separateness.
Low in inequality? I'm not sure that's entirely accurate. As far as hierarchy goes, the church is about as hierarchical as it gets unfortunately. Class distinctions? Ok, I'll buy that mostly, except for the GAs, who are decidely of a different "class" within the church.
And low in separateness? Ok, maybe since the church seems to be jettisoning a lot of its old-time beliefs in order to fit more comfortably with mainstream Protestantism, the separateness is slowly being worn away. But historically this church has been as separate as it's possible to be, to the point where in the past the church would advise its members to separate themselves from whereever they lived and move to Utah to "gather with the Saints in Zion" or whatever.
| Most progressive?
In this paper I am using “progressive” in reference to the organizational structure, practices, and functioning of the Church – the essential nature of the Church. By “progressive” I mean an organization that is (a) high in egalitarianism, broad leadership participation, contributions of all members, lifelong learning and education, compassion and service to others, tolerance toward others, and what is called “abundant community” – and (b) low in inequality, hierarchy, class distinctions, resistance to new ideas and learning, self-centeredness, intolerance, and separateness.
So instead of using the progressive the way that people understand it, he use "progressive" the way that most would use "egalitarian". But even then the proofs that he uses are so bad, that they completely miss the counter criticism. Here's a pro-tip: using long lists of redudant character traits, with out supporting evidence, especially when there has been much written to counter your points. For example, he writes that LDS women share half of the leadership opportunities, but ignores that the Bishop is the authority that calls, and decides who will lead and for how long. Or in the no-compulsion section, he says that people lead with out compulsion; I would bet that most who served a mission would say that they had intense pressure from friends, family and priesthood about serving.
But the bigger problem of the thesis is that progressive requires forward movement. Where in Mormonism is there a forward movement? Mormonism is currently looking back and trying to become even more conservative. You can't be "progressively" conservative.
| According to blogger DenverSnuffer, apostle Russell Nelson has told several stake presidents that there will be a major revelation announced at general conference next week. As the blogger put it, "President Thomas M. Monson has received a revelation that will affect every man, woman, and child in the church."
I'd love to see the church announce something we've already predicted:
Relief Society sisters being able to hold and manage their own money as if they were adults.
Dates and times of services published online and in the phone book so people don't have to have a missionary involved if they want to attend a Mormon meeting.
Hiring professional cleaners for the buildings so they can pretend they care about the health of families more than they love getting free service.
Banning food in the chapel.
Having a quiet room and a full nursery and craft activities for children during Sacrament meeting. Stop making it a contest of whose children can sit the quietest for such a long time.
Pretending to respect a woman's choice about who she is sealed to by honoring her request for a temple cancellation even if she is not lined up to marry a temple-recommend-holding Mormon.
Refusing tithing from men who are not current on child support.
Eliminating tithing settlement and making donations truly voluntary.
Honoring the checkmarks when members donate additional funds for a specific purpose. All other churches do this, no one else has a disclaimer that they can use your money for whatever the f they want even if you have given it for a specific purpose.
Giving donated money for missionaries TO THE MISSIONARY.
Allowing missionaries to have normal contact with their families when they are not proselyting.
Giving missionaries the respect and safety of holding their own passports when they are in a foreign country. (I can't believe this isn't the subject of protests by parents of missionaries). This is a form of bondage which should not continue.
Making it mandatory that a missionary report illnesses to his family so they can be part of the decision-making process with his doctors regarding his continued participation. Excluding the family is not family-friendly.
Stop guilting old people to make up for their sins by donating their estates to the church.
Stop calling senior citizens on senior missions without giving them a reminder that they can refuse a calling which they have to pay for themselves. This is abuse and is craven.
Remove the names of children automatically when their parents resign. Consider that the parents want their FAMILY's name removed, not just their own name.
Take out the names of people who resign from the statistics. It is dishonest to keep counting me as a member until I am 110 when I resigned years ago.
Stop proselyting at funerals. It is bad manners and is disrespectful of the "celebration of life" that is supposed to be a moment to focus on the human being who is no longer with us. Quit making it about you, the church.
Fact check all faith promoting stories told at General Conference and by GAs wherever they go. They lie. You should be real familiar with that, TSCC. You don't need another Paul Dunn debacle.
Stay out of politics completely. For real, not the fake way you are doing it now. Quit pretending you have an obligation to get involved in "moral issues." Your shunning of former members, hatred of gays and blacks have all shown you to have no moral guidelines, rather the prejudices of old bigoted white men.
Use your money for charitable purposes without yellow shirts and calling the local TV station. Instead of building a mall, build wells in third world countries. Have each ward adopt a needy region of the world, supporting its humanitarian needs and its missionaries. Centralization does not create compassion. Involvement with human beings does.
Yeah, I have a few ideas....
| I think that Monson just inadvertently created a new Mormon feminism. They will never come out and grant women equal rights in the church, but they may have given women two tools to grab it in the next decades.
1) Lowering the age for women to serve will bring more women into the mission field. This was intentional, as the number of guys serving is falling. The church needs to fill its shrinking missionary ranks, so do like Uncle Sam and put Rosie the missionary in his place. I'll wager that they lower it to 18 if they get more women going to replace the men who aren't going.
This will create a lot more female RMs, putting them on more even footing with the men who have served missions. It also reduces the "Sister Missionary" stigma of only going if you can't get married, since no one expects 19 yo to be married any more.
2) I think that sending young men out straight from HS, instead of giving them a year of college first, will reduce the number of RMs who graduate from college. It will be harder for them to get into college after 2 years of no schooling, and then harder for them to adjust to college with a 2 year lapse from HS. Since women already earn 57% of BAs, this puts another impediment for men to getting degrees, lowering their earning potential and making them more reliant on women to finance the family.
With more female RMs and a growing proportion of women graduating from college relative to men, the future leaders of the LDS Church are the women. Not the nice little housewives who cook, sew and change diapers, future LDS women will be the professionals fluent in a 2nd language who can talk in RS about "what I did on my mission" without people thinking she was just an old maid when she went.
| Maybe we should just ask Mormons ... Why are you NOT offended?
Since we are on the offended topic today: When inactives are accused of leaving because they were offended, wouldn't a good comeback be "Why are you NOT offended?" Like there is something wrong with MORMONS for tolerating evil, rather than letting them cast aspersions on us. Because seriously Mormons ...
How you NOT offended by conference talks warning you not to research church history but just believe as you are told?
How are you NOT offended by women being made to feel marriage, housekeeping, babies and baby voices are the greatest contribution they can make to the Lord?
How are you NOT offended by only being fed part of church history by your leaders and being told the rest isn't important to your eternal salvation?
How are you NOT offended by your inactive friends and family being routinely trashed by members and leaders alike as being sinners, not having their act together, being unworthy, being lazy etc?
How are you NOT offended by having your boy ripped out of your arms for programming when he has barely taken the graduation cap from his head?
How are you NOT offended by the fact the church has a right to take your money and use it without any accountability, like you are too stupid to be able to understand?
How are you NOT offended that you have to pay to get into heaven and it's sold to you as obedience?
How are you NOT offended by being required to be exactly obedient to every whim of the humans who claim they are above you? BTW, especially when you know that obedience tactic was used by such historical figures as Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jong Il?
How are you NOT offended by the gossip, infighting, cliques, and judgementalism in your average ward? Did you know you become like the people you hang around the most? Do you really want to become that small and bitter?
How are you not offended that a church that purports to be led by Jesus Christ just invested billions into a high end shopping mall?
How are you not offended that there is no public accountability for how your tithing dollars are spent?
How are you not offended that a church labeled gays, intellectuals and feminists as "enemies"?
How are you not offended that the church will excommunicate and/or fire members for expressing political or personal opinions?
| A conversation in another thread got me thinking about this. The thread was about whether or not Mormonism is the same as Christianity. There is the old argument that since their church has "Jesus Christ" in its name, that waives them in. There are many arguments back and forth, and the intent of this OP is not to settle them. Maybe some of you will get a chuckle in the process, though. Enjoy!
This article takes a cynical, albeit well-deserved, look at food labels.
I will make some parallels between deceptive food labels and Mormonism.
One of the most common tricks is to distribute sugars among many ingredients so that sugars don't appear in the top three.
Ingredients are listed in order or proportion. A food plan I follow says not to eat anything if sugar is in the first 5 ingredients. They will use alternate names for sugar, or use ingredients that can be called something else. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is just sugar under an alias.
Mormons would never approach anybody and tell them they will have to give up all the good things in life, have their bedroom behavior micromanaged, and promise to give up their time and money if it is ever demanded. They would never tell an "investigator" that they will someday be cleaning toilets and bowing to Mormon royalty.
Another trick is to pad the list with miniscule amounts of great-sounding ingredients.
Milk before meat. The Mormon Church has been a huge PR success in this respect. They are able to churn out so much positive, yet empty, drivel that converts drown in a sea of meaningless feel-good stories and never really find out the truth until it's too late.
Members have their lives filled with busy work, conference, preparing for talks, raising children, and doing whatever else they are told. It keeps them so busy they never get a chance to figure out they've been duped. This is a very common cult tactic. Keep them busy and they'll never figure it out.
Hiding dangerous ingredients
Hiding in plain site. Apologists will claim that all the history of their church is readily available to the world, and every member should be aware of historical problems. Nobody is hiding a thing. This is often used to minimize the deception; reframing it as a "well-known fact." This makes the member who just recently found out some embarrassing facts about Mormonism at fault. (Common Mormon argument tactic. See "You left so you could sin.") Mormons only have a few plays in the playbook, but I will give them credit for constantly evolving new variations on the blame the victim theme.
My favorite and the impetus for this post:
Don't be fooled by the name of the product
Mormons claim that having the name "Jesus Christ" in their extremely long name makes them Christian. It doesn't. Even Mormon leaders from days gone by wanted to make it very clear to the congregation that they are NOT like Christian churches. In fact, in the 70's we were told never to approach with "We're just like you." Today, I think mainstreaming is the new plan. Those of us who are honest with ourselves enough to see the flip-flop find it insulting when what we were intentionally and systematically indoctrinated to believe is now dismissed by apologists as:
- He was just speaking as a man.
- That was never official church doctrine.
- You misunderstood.
- You didn't do your research.
- You're just looking for an excuse to leave so you can sin.
| Has Mormonism taken God out of the loop?
Interestingly they stress that the president of the Church is "God's Prophet" on the earth. This was not stressed in the first half of the 1900s. In those days if you said "the prophet" it was assumed you were talking about Joseph Smith.
It was towards the end of David O. McKay's tenure as president that the word started being used more to refer to the president of the Church. Nowadays it's bandied about as if the President is somehow God's infallible conduit of information. We are told to "follow the Prophet," etc. Primary kids sing the mantra over and over.
However, as I have noted here before, no president of the Church has mentioned getting anything from God to give to the Church for about 20 years. The last time that I know of was when Ezra Taft Benson told said that the Lord told him to have the members read the Book of Mormon. If anyone knows or a more recent claim by a Church president please let me know about it.
So we have prophets who don't "speak as a prophet." We are not to ask whether or not what he said was his opinion or whether it was revelation from God--we're supposed to just accept and obey. An excellent example of this is Hinckley's talk about how many earrings to wear. This came across as just an older guy's fashion advice. He basically reiterated what was the accepted fashion during most of his life from 1912 until around the 70s.
But the Relief Society president and the Apostle David Bednar picked this up and ran with it. Since a "prophet" said it we were duty bound to follow unquestioningly. To ask if he was speaking "as a man" or "as a prophet" would be way too presumptuous. We are to FOLLOW THE PROPHET. That's all that counts.
This is interesting given how many times a TBM will say, when given a quote by Brigham Young (even ones where Brigham claimed to have received revelation or when he was claiming to speak as a "prophet" etc.) "oh, he was just speaking as a man."
To say that about the current prophet, however, would be to verge on heresy.
So Mormons have taken God out of the loop. Joseph Smith gave revelations in the very word of God--Thus saith the Lord, etc. Now they announce policy changes and fashion advice WITHOUT EVEN CLAIMING that it is from God, and the membership is expected to follow unquestioningly, WITHOUT ASKING IF IT WAS FROM GOD OR JUST THE PRESIDENT'S OPINION.
We are instructed to follow the MAN, without question. Not just accept his "prophetic revelations" but ANYTHING he says.
God has, effectively, been taken out of the loop.
| I won't go into politics, but I did want to mention the incredible transformation that the LDS church has done in the past few years. I am Hispanic, grew up with all the you are from Lehi crap, Lamanite note generation, chosem, rose in the desert, blah.
As things about illegal immigrants went from disagreement as to what to do to suddenly tying crime and disease to races...and suddenly Utah became anti-Hispanic overnight. I began to get dirty looks in my lilly white neighborhood grocery store, I heard comments yelled out at public events, etc.
I attended the Spanish branch because I felt like those people were so great and humble and genuine. This gave me the opportunity to see a hideous change in the church.
A guy who had been a recent convert was called into see the BP. he was shaken down not only for tithing, but for back tithing, he has been a member 6 weeks. This guy made less than 400 a month and was sending 300 back home to his wife and kids in El Salvador. He lived with 10-15 other guys in a basement apartment. He paid up. About 20 months later he was laid off. He came to ask me what he should do. I told him that this was the reason people paid tithing and that he should go see the BP. The BP told him that he was instructed not to give aid to those who were breaking the law by being here illegally, since this would make the church complicit. It is the time about 2 years ago that bills were being introduced saying that if you gave an illegal a ride or hired them you could go to jail. Well this guy was devastated, his money was good enough but he was trash when it came time to get some food for 2 weeks. I told him to go to the English ward, after treating him like trash, they helped him.
A missionary, here since he was 2 years old served in Nebraska, the church keeps the illegal boys stateside so they don't have to worry about visas and re-entry. Our branch was so excited to go get him from the airport. The parents were told that the church could not be caught transporting an illegal. They had to drive to Nebraska to come get him. No one in the branch could talk to them about helping pay for gas or using a car. It had to be discussed off property. This boy was great to have on a mission, but he was filthy trash afterwards.
I have a hundred more stories but I wanted to share the incredible turn the church has made against Hispanics. Refusing to sign a document that said lets at least be civil. Hispanics don't forget, no matter how much spray tan people wear. It cost their guy the election and for the foreseeable future, many converts.
| The Church has managed to gather 14 million members in its 180-year history. By contrast, Facebook garnered 600 million active users in just seven years. The Church's annual growth rate is down to 2.5%. I think it's clear that if the Church wants to "fill the whole earth," then what the Church is doing now isn't working.
Mormonism is an intensive religion, and there is only limited demand for intensive religions like Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, and Seventh-Day Adventist. Only a relatively small percentage of the population is willing to dedicate their whole lives to a religion. There appears to be greater demand for less intensive religions like Catholicism, though I understand that Catholicism is America is shrinking. One website I read showed a mathematical model that put the world carrying capacity for Mormons at 30 million. Exponential growth can only happen when there is no competition, and the Church faces competition for new members from other intensive religions like the JW who compete for the same "customers."
You may be surprised to know that the world's fastest-growing major religion (by conversion numbers) is actually Islam, which is growing at about 6.4% annually. Each year there are five times as many new Muslims as there are total members of the LDS Church.
The fact is that Mormonism's "brand" just doesn't appeal to that many potential "customers." I don't think that the Church could broaden its brand to appeal to a larger number of people without disaffecting the current true believers. The Church would have to make major changes, but I don't know what they would be.
| James E. Talmage, The Great Apostasy 7:26, pg. 107:
Disregard for truth. As early as the fourth century, certain pernicious doctrines embodying a disregard for truth gained currency in the Church. Thus, it was taught "that it was an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by that means the interests of the church might be promoted." Needless to say, sins other than those of falsehood and deceit were justified when committed in the supposed interests of church advancement, and crime was condoned under the specious excuse that the end justifies the means. Many of the fables and fictitious stories relating to the lives of Christ and the apostles, as also the spurious accounts of supernatural visitations and wonderful miracles, in which the literature of the early centuries abound, are traceable to this infamous doctrine that lies are acceptable unto God if perpetrated in a cause that man calls good.
Rediscovered this while doing some research on Mormon views of the Council of Nicea. I found it rich with irony.
| "If you want to know what Mormons believe ask a Mormon"
But Hinckley says:
"I don't know that we teach that."
"don't worry about those little flicks of history"
The official LDS press office says:
"It is not known precisely why, how, or when [denying blacks the priesthood] began in the Church..."
So, which mormon are we supposed to ask again?
| In the late 19th century the US supreme court was asked to apply the 14th Amendment to corporations and define them as individuals with all the same rights individual persons have. The court agreed. It was but a few decades later that the LDS church transitioned from a nominal corporation to a Corporation Sole.
Under a common definition, a corporation sole consists of one person only, and the successors of that person in some particular station or office.
The LDS corporation is treated not only like an individual under US law, but is actually literally an individual (as held by its office).
So, if the corporation sole is legally and to some degree literally an individual with all the rights, issues and factors of other individuals, I wondered...
... Shouldn't the individual be tested for mental disorders, such as psychopathy?
One of the most accepted psychopathy checklists is the Hare list. http://www.hare.org/scales/pclr.html
The primary list is summarized as "Aggressive narcissism" and lists as criteria:
1- Glibness/superficial charm
2- Grandiose sense of self-worth
3- Pathological lying
5- Lack of remorse or guilt
6- Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
7- Callousness; lack of empathy
8- Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
In my estimation, the LDS corporation rarely if ever issues an "apology" or admission of error, even lying/covering up to hide their issues (factors 3,5 and 8). They believe they are the one and only true organization from the supreme intelligence (f. 1 and 2). They use tactics which are prototypical manipulations of individuals and of the public (one face for the media, another for members) (f. 4 and 6). Their policies show no empathy, and in fact they brag about their expectations being so hard and requiring sacrifice as a testimony that they are the one-and-only god given corporation (f. 7).
Summing up, LDS inc as a corporation individual would indeed classify positive under the Hare list for psychopathy.
| I hear this all the time, "My bishop would never do that."
He wouldn't cover up physical or sexual abuse.
He wouldn't sit on a resignation letter for months on end.
He would not show up unannounced at my door at 10:00 pm.
He wouldn't ask my minor child about masturbation specifics.
He would never allow wardmembers to go behind the backs of parents and invite nonmo children to church events just because that child was "blessed" shortly after birth.
He would not allow children to be baptized without parent permission.
Here's the truth. All of the above travesties go on in the mormon church. Because many posters had caring bishops who they trusted not to do these things does not mean the exceptions are acceptable.
How much harassment is acceptable? None. How much invasive interrogation of children is okay? None. How many baptisms without parent permission should we overlook? None. How much demonizing of exmo and nonmo parents to their children is perfectly acceptable? Answer? Zero to all of these.
Annectodtal reports of good bishops who mean well can't make up for the cases where mormonism breaks down due to "personal revelation" among misguided mormon wardmembers and their imprudent bishops.
We can't assume that untrained over-worked bishops will follow handbook policy or that they'll use good sense. No amount of abuse is acceptable in a church. The problem with the morg is that cricism of abuse of power needs to be encouraged but it is totally disallowed.
| While trying to interpret the way apologists reason around who said what and with what authority, I made myself a checklist:
I have tried to organize the hierarchial structure of revelation. The higher ranked point trumps a lower one.
1. "Theres an angel in my bedroom with a drawn sword, and he will kill me if I don't ......."(Member experience).
2. The prophet turns pale during a live session of General Conference, while bathed in a strange light and bystanders hearing a heavenly choir humming, he utters "Thus sayeth the Lord...." (After he finishes the members have to vote yes, (or as it is written in pure Adamic: jeeze)for it to be counted as a real revelation).
3. One of the 15 makes a statement during a press conference or a general conference(Members still have to vote).
4. One of the 15 writes something in a letter to be made public to the whole church.
5. The LDS Newsroom publicizes a statement.
6. "It says here right in the book of........."
7. A former prophet or apostle wrote it.
8. A former prophet or apostle said it.
9. "I heard it in general conference.."
10. "I read it in the ensign.."
11. "I saw God and spoke to him face to face and he told me ......."(Member experience).
12. "I was carried away in the spirit..."(Member experience).
13. "I had a vision in a dream..."(Member experience).
14. "I think I saw one of the three Nephites the other day and he told me to..."
15. "My stake president said so.."
16. "I felt a burning sensation in my chest..."(Member experience).
17. "My bishop said so.."
18. "I felt a chill down my spine.."(Member experience).
19. "I just feel at peace about it.."(Member experience).
20. "It makes sense.."(Member experience).
21. "Brother Jones said so.." (Member experience).
22. "Sister Jones said so.." (Member experience).
Things that can alter this ranking:
1. He was speaking like a man.
2. That was a revelation from the devil.
3. That wasn't voted upon by the whole church
4. That revelation wasn't made public
5. The revelation was made public, but the people was either too sinful, unreceptive, or ignorant for it to work as stated.
6. That was not an angel of light.
Explanations for revelations that didn't come through:
1. It is yet to occur in the milennium..
2. "You interpreted it with your mind, but not with your heart.."
| I've taken notice that a few reporters have a few stale Mormonism pieces in their folder that are waiting for slow news days. This is probably one of them.
This piece is in many ways emblematic of some of the problems I noticed in the media coverage of Mormonism over the duration of the Romney candidacy.
First, Mormonism is "misunderstood." What does that mean? Who gets to determine what is understood correctly. Professors are interviewed as if they are representative of rank and file Mormons. The Sunstone, Dialogue, Claremont McKenna crowd are a distinct subculture of Mormonism--an extreme left wing if you will. When I was on my way out, I thought the Sunstone Symposium was a curious affair in which people opened with a song and a prayer and then proceeded to bash the church's doctrine, structure, leadership and practices to death. Related to point #1, these people tended to be the ones to define who understands Mormonism correctly. Joanna Brooks seemed to give the impression that one can believe whatever one wants openly as a Mormon, as long as one culturally blends in by avoiding coffee etc.
I think that's a result of pretzeling one's mind to the point that one can answer the question: Do you believe in and have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith in the latter days? with a "yes." Most Mormons implicitly understand that this means you believe certain things. (1) Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in the grove, (2) The Book of Mormon is a divinely inspired ancient record (3) Joseph Smith received additional revelation from God, including section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. This is a question that gets asked before people can enter the temple.
The notion that one can simply believe what one wants, and speak openly about that as a Mormon is completely false. Just think of that video posted a couple days ago about the BYU 25. Cecil Samuelson explicitly stated that the Honor Code of BYU forbids criticism of the First Presidency--even about political matters. They are the First Presidency of all and in all. If Mormons can think and speak their minds on whatever they want then what in he11 happened to the September 6, Grant Palmer, and Lyndon Lamborn?
Another feature of this particular news item that nerved me was the notion that Mormonism is evolving. No doubt Mormonism is an evolving religion, but all religions are whether they acknowledge it or not. The evolving label with respect to Mormonism has several problems as I see it.
First, Mormonism has not been presented as evolving to the membership and investigators. How much rhetoric did we hear growing up about "unchanging standards of righteousness," how depraved moral relativism is, and the beauty of God's eternal truth revealed to his prophets? If your experience was like mine--quite a bit. Secondly, the report gives the impression that everyone is deciding the evolution of Mormon doctrine, when this is in fact not the case. A very narrow select group of men has input in those calls. Finally, this completely ignores the difficulty presented when we were required to go to the wall and stick our necks out there for church teachings that were later walked back, deemphized, denied, or otherwise abandoned. All the subtle about faces gets people to wonder whether the supposedly inspired leaders are worth their 10% commission on your life.
For my part, I'm glad Mitt Romney lost and the folders full of Mormon puff media spots will hopefully be exhausted. This whole ordeal has forced many of us to have more exposure to TSCC than we would have liked.
| 10. Mormons don't realize most people aren't willing to trade their integrity for a plate of cookies.
9. Mormons don't get that leaving the church is a choice rather than a reaction.
8. Mormons think we have forgotten they sit around in meetings plotting to get us back. They forget we know all their limited
collection of stunts they pull to reactivate someone.
7. They think we don't know how they talk about those who left, even though we heard those conversations for ourselves as members.
6. They never ask why we left. So they never address any real concerns
5. Mormons can't fathom that they are NOT the best people on earth and that it's not necessarily a privilege to be allowed to associate with them.
4. It's more fun for them to bad-mouth those who can't "keep up" with their gospel-frantic lives than reactivate them.
3. Mormons don't understand we know more about their church than they do.
2. They don't care about getting inactives back, they only care about getting CREDIT for getting inactives back.
1. The product they are trying to get us to buy is CRAP.
| I was BIC and didn't have my epiphany that the Church was bogus
until I was 31 years old. By that time my entire personality
had been formed in Mormonism. I even attended for a couple of
years afterwards even knowing it was false because it was the
only thing I knew--it was my culture.
One of the common themes here is a hatred of Mormonism ("hate
the belief but not the believers," as I say). Mormons
constantly characterize "apostates" as "bitter." It has been my
observation that any "bitterness" does not happen with disbelief
but comes later as a result of how one has been treated because
of that disbelief.
If I look at another close-knit religious group I see
similarities and differences--I'm specifically thinking about
Judaism. A Jew can be up-front about not believing that the
Torah was written by Moses. A Jew can be up-front about
considering "G-d" to be a metaphor. Such a Jew can still be
accepted by Judaism as one of theirs. There will be those who
disagree but there is no over-arching authority to tell such a
secular-thinking Jew that he must not voice his "opinions" to
A Problem with Mormonism is that it has a prophet and
apostles. There are MEN who can lay down the law for the rest
of the group. And the laws they lay down cannot be
In a documentary recently Holland talked about how one can
hold the view that the Book of Mormon is not historical and
still be a Mormon. But, he continued, if one ADVOCATES for
that position "then we're going to talk,"--meaning, of course,
that disciplinary action will be threatened if not initiated.
If a Jew were to be in the synagogue after services chatting
with fellow Jews and advocating the idea that Moses DIDN'T
write the Torah there would be no threat of disciplinary
action. There would be disagreement and discussion but no
This is a key difference between one close-knit religious
group and another. I don't know of a lot of ex-Jews who are
really pissed with Judaism. Many of the current OBSERVANT
Jews would be an analogue of a NOM-Mormon (yes it's redundant)
except that they would not be forced to keep their opinion to
What Judaism doesn't have is a central authority that lays
down the law for all Jews and threatens to "discipline" those
who don't toe the line. Other than that (and secret
ceremonies) Jews are pretty much like Mormons.
What if Mormonism did not insist that someone view the Book of
Mormon as historical, or even divinely inspired, but only
insisted that you respect it as a means of focusing your moral
attention--as parables which you can contemplate and. maybe,
even improve on. What if you could openly disagree with the
Bishop, SP, MP, Area Authority, Seventy, Apostle or Prophet
and have your disagreement discussed solely on its merits and
no stigma of "apostasy" or "evil speaking of the Lord's
anointed" attached to it?
Of course very few converts would happen with such an
organization. Nobody would be committing to a 2-year mission
under the current missionary rules. But Judaism does not
proselytize. In fact, if you ask about converting they are
supposed to discourage you to make sure you are really sincere
What if those of us who were BIC and grew up Mormon could
remain Mormon and still be accepted for who we are. What if
our knowledge and beliefs could be welcomed in a SS class
discussion? What if we could still be Mormons without having
to compromise our consciences?
Of course the term "Mormon" would have changed a lot under
such a situation. Much of the current structure is based on
the authoritarian totalitarianism that the Church leaders
impose on the members. Could the religious/cultural aspect of
Mormonism survive such a change?
Discuss amonst yourselves.
| It has been said that many of us are here not because we didn't believe enough, but because we believed too much! some people here actually really believed that prayers could be answered, blessings could heal, etc. and were dissappointed in one way or another. the LDS church makes some of the boldest claims in the world. There are so many good organizations and churches out there. And yet, the LDS claim to be the only one with the full gospel that god and jesus christ care for. They claim to have the apostles of jesus christ. they even call them apostles! They claim to be able to heal, etc. When i was on my mission, we talked about moses and other prophets, and claimed to have one just like him.
So, what has the LDS church done to justify these claims? Given that they are the mouthpiece for god and jesus christ and have access to a prophet seer and revelator, we would expect than to surpass other organizations. Now, i know TBMs love to say that its a church led by men, men arent perfect, they have weaknesses, etc. but all other organizations are led by imperfect men as well, so shouldnt the LDS church at least surpass other man made and run organizations?
Are they open with their finances, like many other churches and charities are? No, they are very secretive about their finances,
Have they avoided bankruptcy? No. they have had many financial problems, as recent as the 1970s.
Have they predicted any future events? surely a prophet can do that, and it could save many lives. No, they have not predicted any future events. to the contrary, they have been wrong about predictions.
Are they a strong voice for peace? No. President Hinckley strongly endorsed the 2004 Iraq invasion that has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, costs trillions of dollars, and is not generally seen as a worthwhile event. Hinckley went out of his way to voice his support for it.
Have they avoided trouble with the law? No, from polygamy, to destroying a printing press, all the way up to a 2009 federal violation for campaign laws with prop 8, the church has a long history of breaking the law, lying for the lord, mountain meadows, etc.
Have they produced any scripture in the last 150 years? No. They have even gone out of their way to do so. They stress that prophets talk as men, that things shouldnt be taken literally, etc. They brag of an open cannon, but have yet to add anything to it.
Have they clarified the existing scriptures? No. The hard questions remain untackled, an outsourced to groups like Fair and FARMS to defend tough questions but retain plausible deniability. What are prophets for, if not to clarify scripture?
Have they been ahead of the curve on anything significant? No. they were way behind the country on civil rights. Sure there were many people who were slow to come around, but shouldnt god's true church figure out civil rights sometime before 19 freaking 78??
Are they ahead of the curve on womens rights, gay rights, avoiding child abuse? No, there are enough examples of this that they dont need mentioning.
Do they have a demonstrated ability to heal ? No, henry eyring , a top leader, mocked a man who actually believed that one of jesus christs' professed apostles could heal him.
Are their meetings incredible? No. they are not.
Is their message well received? No, in fact it is one of the least well received messages in the history of the world. At any given time there are 50,000 missionaries giving 4,000 hours a year for two years with one goal, to convert people to LDS. there are who knows how many members trying to do the same thing, and tens of millions of dollars in advertising to do the same thing. And yet, the convert rates suck! they are terrible. On a dollar or hour basis, it might be the least popular product in the history of the entire world.
So, I ask again. What has the Church done to justify their bold claims? I see no evidence that they have. They say that big claims require big evidence. well we have the biggest claim in the world and no evidence at all. It is so messed up for them to do so. And that is why the members are so frustrated. even the ones that believe, just feel its off. I believe it is due to the disconnect between the claims and the reality.
What say ye?
| There are some Spanish explorer accounts of pre-Columbian cultures, such as Aztec, Maya and Zapotec, sacrificed humans to their gods. Archaeological finds in the last 4 decades have corroborated these accounts.
Since sacrificed to their gods, if discovered taking place in some part of the world today would these practices of human sacrifice be respected, tolerated and allowed because those involved believe that this is what deity wants from them? Because those involved think there is value in it? Because they consider it sacred?
Critics are often asked to back off of calling the Book of Mormon the obvious historical hoax and 19th Century fabrication that it is because TBMs hold it sacred or find value from it.
Now, I fully expect to hear in response, "how can you compare human sacrifice with harmless belief in a book about the past?" The human sacrifice is an extreme used to illustrate a point. If I believed in human sacrifice, I'd not take issue with others participating in it. However, I bring my thinking and sensibilities to bear, and find human sacrifice terrible and would want to stop it and would speak out, vitriolically, against it. I do not want anyone else harmed, even die, from it.
When I bring my thinking and sensibilities to bear on the Book of Mormon, I think it the chief tool by which a fraud has been perpetrated for more than 180 years. Why would I constrain my vitriol in speaking out against it because others hold it in high esteem, consider it sacred 'scripture' when I want to contain its fraudulent influence?
Even with our sensibilities about the value of human life today, if we were to come across a small island with a tribe practicing human sacrifice because they believed their gods want it, would our other sensibilities that we need to be respectful of other cultures, try to understand them, and treat with respect what they hold sacred slow us in trying to put a stop to the human sacrifice? How long would we allow it to continue without intervening to stop it? Centuries? Decades? Years? Months? Days?
So, how long should those of us who have come to realize the insidious fraudulent tool that the Book of Mormon is continue to allow others to be enslaved to Mormonism's cultish reach? Should we continue to be soft-spoken and indulgent because others consider the Book of Mormon to be 'sacred', 'scripture'--believe it to be an account of what their god told other followers, from another place in time?
| Test your end-of-season trivia remembrance of Mormon porkie-pies - marks out of ten; for every one you let slip it's one dollar in the collecting tin for the first carrollers who invade your doorstep (or an extra glass of champagne on Christmas Day if you prefer). If you get them all right, go to teacher for an extra bit of Christmas tuck.
Who said this:
- Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues.
- I have many a time, in this stand, dared the world to produce as mean devils as we can; we can beat them at anything. We have the greatest and smoothest liars in the world, the cunningest and most adroit thieves.
- The idea that all truth is based on scientific evidence is simply untrue.
- We are accused here of polygamy, and actions the most indelicate, obscene, and disgusting, such than [sic] none but a corrupt and depraved heart could have contrived. These things are too outrageous to admit of belief ...
- All of the doctrines and practices of the Church are taught publicly. There are no secret doctrines, no private practices, no course of conduct approved for a few only.
- The church does not become involved in politics.
- Satan can even use truth to promote his purposes. Truth can be used unrighteously. Facts, severed from their context, can convey an erroneous impression ... The fact that something is true is not always a justification for communicating it.
- When it was first published in 1830, there was little scientific or historical evidence to substantiate the claims of Joseph Smith that the record came from metallic plates and told of ancient civilizations on the North and South American continents. Today such outward evidences have been discovered and help confirm that Joseph Smith was telling the truth about the Book of Mormon.
- We know the voice of the Lord, we know when he wants us to do something.
- Indeed, in some instances, the merciful companion to truth is silence. Some truths are best left unsaid.
- Gordon B Hinckley
- Brigham Young
- Dallin H Oaks
- John Taylor
- Bruce R McConkie
- Gordon B Hinckley (again)
- Dallin H Oaks (again)
- James E Faust
- M Russell Ballard
- Russell M Nelson
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