THE MORMON CURTAIN
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EX-MORMONISM SECTION 18
A very large selection of posts made by those in recovery from Mormonism. Culled from throughout the Ex-Mormon Communities.
| Author Charles Mackay wrote that people more easily accept extraordinary claims as a group than when confronted by such claims in isolation. He also discusses that only in extracating oneself from the madness of crowds can one slowly come to one's senses.
I find these concepts applicable to the exit from mormonism for many of us on this board. I have used the 12-step term of "restored to sanity" to describe my life as it is post-mormon. And for many of us, our journey out of mormonism was very isolated - an incredible inner struggle, a bloody battle in our own minds.
My TBM husband is so caught up in the extraordiary claims and delusions of mormonism. Even though he has a graduate degree, he fails to use his critical thinking skills to examine the teachings of the church. He likes the comfort and confidence that being part of a group provides him. For a period of time he was inactive, but he was (as he puts it) "a lost soul". He had no mooring, no purpose, no one telling him what to think about the big scary issues in life. He is uncomfortable with silence, and he is uncomfortable with saying, "I don't know the answerl" There must be an right and wrong point of view to everything. Of course, he is part of the group - mormons -who are always right! He will never come to his senses as long as he has a need of the group.
Each of us on this board knows the pain of detaching and letting go of the delusions we bought into for so long. Even though I enjoy daily "contact with the living" (line from Feel by Robbie Williams), since my exit from mormonism I like to keep a few steps back from the 'crowd.' After reading Mackay's book "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds', I now consciously understand why I have been suspect of crowds - so I can observe any madness or delusions that the crowd might just be buying into. It is not a lack of social skills on my part; rather, it is my radar up and working after the trauma of mormonism and my exit.
The book is a great read!
| I sat on the stand, just to the right of the bishop. I sat suffering through yet another Sunday. The day before, like too many Saturdays before it, I had become sick to my stomach knowing that I had to wake up the next morning, go to bishopric meeting, PEC, sacrament, Sunday school, interviews, and visits.
I needed it to end. It had been over eighteen months since my accidental research had led me to the painful, yet inevitable conclusion, that my faith since childhood was based on fraud, misrepresentation, superstition and deceit. I had been candid about my questions, research and fears. The bishop had struggled with me. But in the end, it didn’t matter. I couldn’t believe and I couldn’t fake it anymore. Requests for my release were ignored and delayed. The only official response was for me to stop researching history.
“Be patient.” That is what my latest request to be released was met with. The stake was planning to re-boundary again and would install a new bishopric. It didn’t want to call a new counselor to replace me. It also, it appeared, didn’t want the ward to see Bro. Campbell be released. Rumors of my apostasy had been leaked by the other counselor to “concerned” ward members. Releasing me would validate those rumors.
That morning, I had to force myself into the shower. I put on my suit, grabbed my church briefcase and headed very reluctantly to my car and drove the dreaded seven miles into the parking lot. As I got out, I glanced at the temple just behind the chapel. Once upon a time, it had meant something to me. Now, well it seemed so pointless an edifice.
I walked through the double glass doors and turned left and found my lonely seat in the bishop’s office. Once upon a time I had been a vibrant and energetic young leader. Now I just endured another Sunday. I voiced no opinion or thoughts during bishopric discussions. I was no longer asked to offer prayers, spiritual thoughts or to give advice. I wasn’t even allowed to conduct sacrament meetings anymore when the monthly rotation came my way. It didn’t matter. I was just an empty suit in an empty religion.
After bishopric meeting, I found an empty chair in ward council. It all sounded the same. The same families with the same problems and the same reports from the same leaders. These people were good people, but the rock they were pushing would never reach the top of the hill, nor was the stone ever going to encompass the earth. Eyes darted to me and quickly glanced away. It had become so obvious that something had changed. The bishop and other counselor worked the agenda, gave assignments, and ended the meeting, leaving me with ten minutes to say hello to my wife and children before the start of sacrament. Only three hours of my incarceration were left that day.
I could see it in her eyes, too. She was spiritually exhausted but hadn’t reached the snapping point yet. That would come in a few more months. I wondered if she understood how horrible it had been for me that morning, that month, that year.
The prelude music started and I took my seat at the bishop’s side. The last several months I had felt like an imposter sitting there. I looked over the faces of the ward members as they visited and found their normal pews. Some of these people had been there when I began law school. They had helped bless my children. I had cried with them, and enjoyed life with them. I had taught their sons, and mourned their dead, planned funerals and blessed the sick. The astonishment of discovering the fraud had vanished, to be replaced with depression and hopelessness. I wondered what I would do instead of attending gospel doctrine class. I couldn’t do that anymore. It had become too hard to listen to packaged misinformation. Perhaps I would go visit Primary and watch the children play. Or maybe I would escape to the clerk’s office and read.
I didn’t even know who was speaking that day. I looked to my right and saw the faces of two friends. He had struggled with depression and recently was forced to undergo drug rehab. Few in the ward knew how pain killers prescribed for back surgery had kidnapped this man. He was struggling with his own challenges. Somehow his courage gave me momentary strength. I would make it through another Sunday. There, next to him was his stoic wife. Even after all these years, I really didn’t know her that well.
Opening hymn, invocation, ward business, sacrament hymn, and sacrament. I wondered if the deacon cared about what he was doing? I was slightly amused that the bishop reviewed the sacrament prayer card – none of it mattered. The speakers were announced and the great betrayal commenced. She spoke on faith and accepting truth based on spiritual manifestations and the need to ignore intellectual doubts and even facts. It had been one of her better talks, but today it felt like a knife in my back.
Perhaps it was just a coincidence. The bishop had agreed a year earlier to just assign talks focusing on Christ and New Testament parables. She had focused on faith and the restoration. My growing doubt was erased. He spoke of the divine mission of Joseph Smith and how one mustn’t view evidence as an attorney, but only through the eyes of faith.
I was startled by the emotions I had begun experiencing. Depression was replaced with a surging anger. I hadn’t felt this level of annoyance in many years. Adrenalin surged through me.
My ability to exist in that atmosphere, already strained, reached the breaking point in that very moment. My impulse was to stand and leave. I looked down at my wife and children. I turned to the bishop and asked why he had betrayed me in this way. He mumbled something and began sweating. Later I would learn that my law partner’s wife had told an out of state former ward member of my apostasy. They had gossiped the news to the speakers. He acknowledged to them the rumors and permitted them to “help me” by speaking at church.
The bishop had been previously fair with me. But I emotionally could not endure another second of it. Walking off the stand would relieve me, but embarrass my wife, children and the bishop. I fought the urge. I turned to my left and whispered to him that after sacrament meeting I was leaving. He nodded.
The meeting ended. I picked up my briefcase and found my wife. Her face reflected an acknowledgement that a boundary had been crossed. I told her that I loved her but that I couldn’t be a Mormon anymore. I left the building and headed north. I had always wanted to attend a UU meeting. I found the building in Edmond and fortunately I was just in time for the start. Members visited around a kitchen table and drank coffee. I had removed my tie when I noticed the casual clothing of those attending. The sermon that day was on the need to question faith.
I never attended another LDS church meeting again.
| I personally treat my dear family, whom I love and appreciate with tremendous respect. It is a personal decision and not for everyone.
Though I think they believe in a myth - I don't make fun of them or their beliefs. I don't treat them with contempt or disparage what they believe.
If we dicuss our beliefs I attempt to be thoughtful and careful.
After 18 years out - I have a great relationship with my family. There are limitations and we have both had to grow and learn to respect each other - but their choice to believe in the church does not diminish my love nor my admiration for the many great things they do and the personal growth they have encountered.
For the most part - my family - even though Mormon are kind, sincere, thoughtful, and loving.
I just would not have flaunted my new found awareness by ridiculing something they still believed was sacred. I might have tried to have an open discussion - but I personally would not use my new name in front of them.
| I have seen this attitude among many Mormons and I must say that I once had a similar problem. Here are some true tales of Mormon-related delusions for you all...
My husband and his adopted brother took care of a very ill mother off and on for 10 years and were neglected because of her serious pregnancy complications and mandated bed rest. At 5 years of age, my brother-in-law was walking himself to and from Kindergarden, fixing himself and my MIL lunch, and taking care of her after school until my husband got home. But they knew there was another baby destined to bless their family, so she kept on getting pregnant and putting her family through this Hell at least once a year. Finally, when my husband was 10 and his bro was 6, a "miracle" baby sister was born at 24 weeks gestation and weighing barely over a pound. She was blessed and given a name in the hospital isolette where she remained for 4 months while her lungs and other organs matured.
I met this sister when I was 20 years old and engaged to her brother. My first impressions were that she was very odd. i have a sister her age, and she seemed years behind in how she related to other people, her interests, and behavior. I had the "opportunity" to live with her for about a year when I was pregnant with my daughter and alarm bells went off for me. She was home-schooled and her mother was just so proud of how wonderfully smart and well-accomplished she was when all the other babies she'd known who were born so premature had serious learning problems and health problems too, even as teenagers. This was of course, credited to Heavenly Father's interventino and blessing their family for being so righteous. However, I could see signs of a severe learning disability- I have 2 severely dyslexic brothers and am slightly dyslexic myself. I tried to approach the subject with my MIL, but she would hear nothing of it.
So, after years of struggling in school and barely making it out of HS, my SIL decided to attend community college. She decided to be tested at the CC for learning disabilities. She now has a diagnosis of severe dyslexia as well as a few other problems and receives special services from the school to help her in her classes. If her parents had admitted there was a problem instead of denying her disability, they could have received services to help her in Elementary school and she would have learned to overcome many of her hardships. She would have learned to compensate for her disability, would have learned alternate ways of learning, and would have enjoyed school a whole lot more and struggled a whole lot less.
I adopted a son through foster care. He was placed in my home at 4 months of age. He had been exposed to methamphetamines and other drugs during the pregnancy. He was developmentally on target when he was placed in our home. We had done our research and we knew what we were getting in to. We had relatives who voiced their concerns over our decisions to adopt a "drug baby" and we shared the information we had learned with them. We had learned that drugs interfere with development mush like prematurity and that most babies exposed to drugs caught up developmentally by age 3-4 and were fine. Some could have behavioral problems and ADHD, but we were prepared for that.
Our son was our little "miracle" too. He hit all his developmental milestones on target. He seemed like a very normal baby and kid. I have him to thank for getting me out of the church since he is African American and I started to do research for his sake, so I could reconcile certain issues and raise him in the church and feel good about it. It backfired. LOL!
We started to notice that our daughter we adopted after him was catching up and moving past him developmentally about a year ago. She is 11 months younger. We became very concerned, but we enrolled him in Kindergarden even though we knew he was not academically ready for school. We figured he could repeat it if he needed to. His grandparents are in compete denial of his developmental delays. They discouraged us from seeking help. His teacher even told us that he was probably just behind because he is young for his class, having barely turned 5 in September. But we knew something was wrong and we went with our gut and convinced his Pediatrician to refer us to have a developmental assesment, etc. She was hard to convince, because it's not that obvious and his problems really come out more at home and in school, not with relating to professionals.
We had his assesment this morning. He was diagnosed as borderline mentally retarded. His developmental level is about equal with a 3 1/2 year old child. He is young and will probably fall into the fully retarded category in a few years as school becomes more academic according to the psych we saw. He will eventually need to be placed in smaller special-Ed classes and will need occupational therapy and serives through our REgional Center. I am of course sad about this, but we were a little prepared for the diagnosis and although it was hard to have it confirmed, it is great to know and be able to get him help now.
This relates to Mormonism in a big and very important way. As a Mormon I would have been VERY reluctant to seek help, let alone accept it. It would have been very hard for me to admit that my child was not perfect and that he had ~gasp~ problems. I know this for a fact, not speculatively, because my oldest daughter, my biological daughter is high-functioning autistic/Asperer's and I did not accept or seek help or a diagnosis for her until after I had left the church and no longer felt the need to have the "perfect" family.
Leaving Mormonism has allowed me to accept my children for who they are and allow them to be themselves instead of pressuring them to perform and act the part of the perfect children, part of the perfect family. It has also taken a great deal of stress off me. I don't need to be perfect, I don't need to have the perfect family, I am not perfect, and that's just fine.
It was a hard lesson to learn, but I've learned, I've grown, and I'm ok.
| I work with so many people that are willing to die on every hill they encounter, everything seems to be a battle and a fight to the death scenario - EVERYTHING is a BIG deal.
I work with a professor who interviewed at a major University for a Chair position. The department is a top ranked program, with nationally recognized faculty and an amazing graduate program.
This professor makes every hill a major battle and in the interview he told them what the flaws were in their program and he would save them. When some of the faculty seemed offended, he then took them on and told them how their efforts needed improving.
He never heard back from them! Not even a - "sorry, we decided to go another direction" - letter.
He defends his cantankerous, argumentative, negative interactions as heroic. Yup - he sees himself as a hero.
Here are some of his comments:
WOW - he does not see himself as difficult, demanding, destructive, or defeating.
- I tell it like it is!
- I am a straight shooter!
- I had to set them straight!
- Sometimes people can't handle the truth!
- You have to take a stand!
- I am always honest, you can count on that!
- I seem to get into trouble for being honest, but my integrity is the most important thing!
He sees himself as honest, brave, having integrity, being upfront, and sacrificing.
So the fact that his relationships are so strained and ineffective is just the cross he must bear for being a man of integrity. What a disconnect.
What hill is worth dying on? The older I get, the fewer hills I am even willing to climb. I don't take my family on about religion, I rarely counsel my children - even when they ask. I don't make fun of some of my co-workers, use sarcasm, roll my eyes to communicate my disapproval, set the facts straight anymore.
Now I think - if I set her straight on that myth (church astronomical growth, for instance) - does it matter? How does it make her feel? How can I be so certain all the time about my facts? How does this impact our relationship? Is this really a hill to die on?
So now what pops out is - "Hmmmmmmm . . ." Or when my son told me one of his friends had talked him into reading the BOM (in the past I would have freaked) I simple asked, what do you think? When he said he thought it was interesting, I asked: What do you find interesting? (He told me last night, he found it boring and just could never get into the book and has quit reading it!)
When my step Mom told me that she would vote for Mitt and would never vote for Hillary, I asked her to tell what she liked about Mitt and what were her concerns about Hillary. She did not have to defend her opinion.
As a manager there are some hills I do have to battle. And there are causes I want to get involved in a real way. But most of the time, in the kitchen, living room, or even my office the conversations have nothing to do with world peace, but they have a lot to do with personal peace and my effectiveness in relationships.
I choose my hills very carefully.
My colleague seems to choose every hill and in the name of integrity he has slain many enemies. And almost everyone is an enemy in his world.
Fighting enemies can be so exhausting!
| For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
While serving my time for Mormonism as a missionary in Germany, I would often spend a little time each day reading through the Luther Bibel in an attempt to understand the role of Christ and his mission, not to mention reading the most correct translation of the New Testament according to Joseph Smith. On one such occasion, I came across a passage in 2 Timothy where Paul gives encouragement and hope to the beleaguered Timothy. Paul’s words gave me comfort with a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance.
As I read the words, I saw that fear was not from God, yet as I examined my missionary experiences, I saw that fear was always present. The missionary program was fear based. My temple experience and requirement to keep my temple covenants at all costs was driven by fear. My experiences with mission authority were fear based. My personal life, filled with regret and remorse for not doing and being enough was fear based. Yet as quickly as I discovered that my life was riddled with fear, my fear caused me to bury it deep down inside of me again and ignore it as I had always done.
As I made my way out of Mormonism, I saw my old nemesis was always present. I was afraid to see, I was afraid to investigate, I was afraid of what my family and friends would do and think, and in some ways I was afraid of myself.
I have not yet transcended fear in my life, but I do confront it frequently, removing its power and hold over my mind and heart. For those who still struggle on their road of discovery and self-acceptance, distance yourself from the fear which holds you back. Turn to friends and loved ones for strength and support if possible, but move forward, removing more and more fear as you go. Once the source of fear has been removed and the distance grows between you, fear diminishes and its power lost.
One of my favorite films is Defending Your Life, written and directed by another of my favorites, Albert Brooks. In this film, we see the main character Daniel in his sojourn into the afterlife, wherein he is required to make an accounting of sorts for his life’s experiences and decisions. The thrust of the defense is not based on good or evil, but on how well he confronted his fears in life. Failure to prove that he had conquered fear during his life would require that he return to earth to repeat his earthly experiences until he mastered his fears and could then be permitted to move on. Without spoiling the film for those who have not seen it, suffice it to say that Daniel eventually conquers his fears through love and is permitted to move on to bigger and better things.
Just as Daniel used the power of love to conquer his fears which held him back, we too must love ourselves enough to stare our demons in the face and remove their power over us. There is life after the fear. There is understanding, self-acceptance and love after the fear. There will still be trouble, heartache, misery and challenge, but there will be less fear in our lives giving us more strength to face whatever life throws our way.
Face the fear.
| Yeah, I know that statement sounds really wussy, but that's the way my exit from mormonism was. I read about some people that one day are TBM, read one book or sometimes simply one article, and boom they're out. Whether it was about JS's polygamy, DNA and the 'Lamanites', the Book of Abraham or something else, it doesn't take much and they are able to let go, to give it all up.
Part of me is jealous that it is so simple for them; another part feels that maybe they're just taking the easy road, taking other peoples' word for things, letting others work out the issues, not doing their 'due diligence'.
Giving up mormonism didn't happen simply for me. I spent countless years studying subject after subject and reading book after book. (This all took place before the advent of the internet) I made clandestine visits to the Tanner's bookstore in SLC. When I first started going I would park down the street so my car wouldn't be seen. Even while visiting the bookstore and purchasing 'anti-mormon' literature I would sit at Sandra's desk and argue with her why mormonism was still true even though it had flaws. Eventually I ended up with every single publication they put out.
Due to the mormon influence in my life I used to pray every night that I would be able to know the truth about what I was reading and thinking. I wanted God to tell me in my mind and in my heart what the truth was. They were some of the most fervent prayers of my life.
This is where the tears come in. Frequently I would lay in bed and tears would come to my eyes thinking about all the thoughts swirling around in my head. What if I chose wrong and lost my family's or my own salvation; more tears. This process went on for years. I felt it was something so important that I had to get it right.
And I did.
| I grew up in the church. In primary, Sunday school and seminary, I was taught many wonderful things that prophets did. The miracles of Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon Prophets, and the prophets and apostles in the Bible.
They built my expectations up. I imagined a modern prophet having the same powers as previous ones. I expected to see miracles as a normal course of things.
When the people in the Book of Mormon found records they couldn't read they brought them to the prophet and he translated them. When I heard about the dead sea scrolls I wondered why the prophet didn't translate them for us. I wondered why the church used scholars instead of inspiration. Wasn't that the problem with the bible.
When I heard about Spencer W Kimball's operation for throat cancer I wondered about the gifts of healing and why we never heard of the apostles healing people like the apostles in the new testament.
I wondered about the gifts of discernment over the Hoffman scandal.
I wondered why any doctrine could be unclear in the bible after Joseph smith retranslated it and why that disclaimer about the bible not being translated correctly was still in the articles of faith.
I expected the prophet as a spokesman for God on earth to say something that God would say to everyone not just the church. Especially during real troubling times.
I expected the prophet and the President of the United States to be talking regularly like they did in the Book of Mormon. Either clashing like Abinadi and Noah or collaborating like Moroni and Alma during the wars.
I never expected the Prophet to have lead people astray or to have to apologize or discount the things former prophets did.
| This is a very valid point.
For me, it wasn't and it was due to the "chains and hooks" embedded in me by Mormonism. Fears created by Mormonism (and religion in general) are very pervasive. This is why out of all of the trinkets of Mormonism that are dropped by Ex-Mormons, it is the garments that are the last to go. I've seen Ex-mos who took nearly two years before they could finally move from taking them off here and there, to taking them off a little more, to finally FINALLY throwing them in the garbage. The psychological conditioning of Mormonism runs extremely deep.
Imagine a religion that can dictate to you what kind of underwear you have to wear. Imagine the control at that level.
Shrek said to his annoying ass, "Ogres are like onions". Ok, Shrek never existed (but hey, neither did Nephi or Moroni for that matter) but leaving Mormonism is like peeling back the layers of an onion. It takes time. It produces anger and pain and at the same time, an insatiable appetite for more.
When we were in Mormonism and we began questioning, we were told to stop, to pay, pray and obey. We were told we needed "milk" before "meat" (although we later realized that nobody ever had any meat, and meat was simply those who kept their mouths shut), we were told to put our thoughts and ideas on the shelf and stop trying to figure out. "Our answers would be answered later on in the next life. Joseph Smith gave us enough meat to last for centuries". The boys at FARMS provided us ten thousand word essays that before, we wouldn't bother to read because look, ten thousand words! They must have done their research, right? They are college professors working for the Lord's University, there is no reason to actually READ through the whole document and besides - the material they reference on the Anti side was forbidden. We were told stories of people who actually felt the spirit "rush out of the room" and some even heard maniacal evil laughter when they picked up Anti material.
Interesting. Now that we are outside of Mormonism, those same people are now saying that we are apostates. We are being sifted even as wheat by Satan. We no longer have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. We have abandoned God. We are no good, we should be avoided, chastised, prayed for, love bombed, name submitted to temples and more. We were told we just could not see the real truth. When we now read the FARMS material and Anti material and see the flaws in the FARMS work, we're told we should "Shut up and sing" (kudos to anyone who remembers that reference!)
Tell you the truth, I'd much rather be on this side of the coin. I believe those people in Mormonism who sweetly smiled (with daggers behind their backs) while we were Mormon, and then called us apostates when we left - are the most unhappy of them all. They are the Mormons who paint on their happy faces every day while behind the scenes are grappling with so many emotions they are popping prozac on a daily basis. They will never be free because they have no concept of what true freedom means.
I've met few Ex-Mos who said it was a "lightening" moment. For most of us, it was more of a "Oh my god, is that true?" as we peeled back the layers and saw the truth. It came in waves.
Here is something - when I was Mormon I was told that Jesus Christ would open the fountains of knowledge to me and I would never thirst. The ol' bait and switch of "Knock and it shall be opened" sales pitch. To tell you the truth, I was starving as a Mormon. My thirst was never quenched - and when I proclaimed I was hungry and thirsty, I got chastised for it. When I got out of Mormonism and began to unravel the real truths, my hunger and thirst began to be satiated. As Mormons, I could never be satiated because the truth was always kept from me. It was the truth that was fulfilling.
| I recall one of Boyd Packer's "talks," in which he said that the church is, indeed, "a way of living," and not "just a church" (not his exact words).
He was right about that, wasn't he?
I am always stunned at how much it influenced everything about me. I was always a reluctant member of "the team," and the yoke chafed and rubbed. But I pulled, and tried to keep pulling. Like everyone else who has been in the Mormon system, you find you don't let go easily.
It influenced what I think of politics, the government, education, sex, entertainment, money, psychology, medical care, "free time," and family.
There were no parts of my life it did not get into. Talk about water flowing into every crack in the rocks. Nothing was not pried into.
I first realized it when I was about 12 years old, and I was asked about masturbation. That was the first time I discovered the church would stop at nothing to get into my life. I was almost dizzy with surprise. It hit me then---"This is not religion." Real religions don't bother with such personal and intrusive things. They work on the entire person, and don't care about the weenie.
When I went to the temple, it really hit me. I found that everything I owned, thought, valued, or cared about belonged to th "Corporation of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." They wanted it all, and they made no bones about taking it. It was alarming to me---and very frightening. I could not accept it, or recover from it. It made me want to run.
I went on a mission, and found out just how much they owned me. I was treated like a common infantryman. We wore uniforms, obeyed orders, marched when told to, and rested when told to. They influenced what we ate, thought, listened to, read, and did with out "spare time." Any deviation was a cause of serious intervention. In short, they treated the missionaries like shit.
You do not get away from this intrusive system without a real struggle. Its like the proverbial tar pit, and if you get one leg out, the other sinks in deeper. You pull, twist, gyrate, and cry. Eventually you get out, but you are covered in sticky tar, and it does not come off without great effort.
This is serious stuff. It is, indeed, a total system of mind, thought, and financial control.
| In "Stumbling on Happiness" author Daniel Gilbert starts his book with a unique premise. Humans are bad decision makers.
"Our temporal progeny (future selves) are thankless. We toil and wear ourselves out to give them just what we think they will like and they quit their jobs, grow their hair, move to or from San Francisco and [our future selves] wonder how we could ever have been stupid enough to think they'd like THAT!"
The book is an exercise on why we are bad decision makers, how we can't accurately predict what we want tomorrow, and why we consistently fall prey to bad decision patterns.
My nephew is what I would call a bad decision maker. He has never excelled at school or had a lot of ambition. At the same time he is smart, a returned missionary, and kind. And has hormones raging through his body.
Enter a beautiful South American young woman, a convert to the Mormon church, visiting Utah. She attended his student ward and three months later was his wife.
They married in the temple and at the reception his proud father praised his son for being an RM and marrying in the temple, honoring his priesthood, and making him proud.
His father then told how when his son returned home from a mission in Chile he told his father he wanted to marry a South American beauty. This proved the son's marriage was forordained and sanctioned.
I sat there and was stunned. I had married a man who was a lot like my sweet nephew. He was also a righteous man who did it all "right." But my righteous husband, though he wanted sex badly - never wanted fatherhood, parental or patriarchal responsibility, and did not aspire to any of that.
We began a thirteen year battle. I insisted on being a stay-at-home mother and we quickly had four children. He tried to guilt, threaten, and hate himself into being a provider, but alas, he just did not have it in him.
Finally I gave up. Finally I quit trying to force my square husband into a round sinkhole. We divorced.
With four children in tow I now started a difficult and laborious process of trying to get my education and put together a career that would support us.
I did it. It was hard, it was gratifying, it was unnecessarily difficult. My children paid a price during our years of instabililty and struggle (do research on how familial stress impacts the emotional health of children).
My husband and I could have delayed children or not had children. We could have both gotten careers off the ground first. We needlessly created a situation that became unmanageable.
We could have been better decision makers.
But just like the teenager that gets the cool tattoo at 16 and then pays to have it removed at 30, we thought we were making good decisions. And so did our family.
I remember telling my father I was pregnant with my third child. My husband was once again unemployed and lost. My father hugged me, congratulated me, told me that HF was proud of me and that I was a righteous daughter of God.
WOW - now that is interesting reinforcement.
Why is it so difficult to make good decisions. Read the book - but to put it simply:
We can not know how we will feel tomorrow and our imagination is so unrealistic about the decision's outcome; we either glorify the hoped for outcome or terrorize ourselves with a feared outcome that we are hopelessly unable to assess real cause and effect.
We tend to do what is expected in our cultural.
We think we want to be happy, but most of us will consistently choose prestige over happiness.
Our perfect picture future - we imagine the good but ignore the struggle.
I imagined my future marriage without the careful consideration of all the factors that create good marriages and safe homes.
I did not factor in depression (though I had already a clear history), that hormones were the driving force in our decisions to marry not a readiness to assume adult responsibiities, that money instability is stressful (you don't need millions, but studies show that you need enough to feel safe and meet basic life requirements), that my husband's inclination did not match my preconceived notions of breadwinner, that I was not interested in homemaking or raising children even though I was a woman and on and on and on.
We could have figured this out but another complicating factor was our religions beliefs reinforcing our bad decision making at every step.
Back to my nephew. They have been married four years and have two children. Neither has an education and the wife wants to be a stay-at-home mother. After all - just read Beck's talk - mothers that know - are home.
My nephew is increasingly distraught as he fails again and again to fulfill his role of provider. Hie $10/hour wage does not provide for much. Their small apartment is dirty and his wife has taken to reading away the hours. I remember reading to escape my situation.
Like me twenty five years ago, he and his wife can not sit and sort it through because they have a predetermined path that defines every decision. To assess what they want and how to get there is to question God.
They are outliars, three standard deviations from the norm - but no one cares. The whole goal to to make them fit. Perfect obedience will provide perfect lives. Maybe these square children will eventually become round and not disappear into quiet lives of desparation.
Maybe if my sister and brother-in-law just keep scolding them, guilting them, sending them articles, reading scriptures and quoting prophets - my nephew and his wife will wake up with resolve to be what they have no desire to be.
I tried to make my husband be everything he wasn't. I tried to make myself be everything I wasn't. Everyone thought that children and responsibility would stir in him his priesthood obligation. He did not rise to the occasion, he sank deeply into despair.
One day I started to tell the truth about us and that set us free. Under the crushing reality of life, children, bills, stress, unpreparedness - I started to use a different scale for measuring my decisions.
Instead of "how can I keep the commandments?" it became "how can I achieve the outcomes I want?" What a different way to live life.
It was like someone gave me glasses and I could see. Now when some caring person tried to set me straight and help me make the right decision, with my new found insight, I was able to tell them to mind their own business.
I want to sit my nephew and niece down and tell them, I have been where they are and I can give them information that would help. But they can't learn from me. In the end I failed in their eyes. I walked away from the source of my endless struggles to figure out my life, I walked away from the major source of my bad decision making - the Mormon church and turned my life around. They don't see the irony.
If prestige, culture and imagination are the stumbling blocks I doubt they will make any changes soon. They are rewarded and acknowledged as good decision makers as they get further behind, live more desparately.
One day the promise and the reality will become so disparate that they will see the truth. But how deep will be the hole they will have dug. And then their decisions will completely change.
They can figure it out. It will be hard, it can be gratifying, and it will be unnecessarily difficult. their children will pay a price from years of instabililty and struggle.
So, when someone tells me the church is a good place to raise a family - I can't imagine what they are thinking.
| Background: My Mormon stepfather's health has been deteriorating somewhat these past couple of weeks. He's not dying, but his joints and other spots on his body have become pretty painful. The fact that he has bad arthritis in his knees exacerbates the situation. Since my TBM mother said that she had some work to do this morning at home and my stepfather needed a lift to a medical appointment, I offered to drive him. No big deal. |
As he and I were leaving the house, my mother threw her arms around my neck (presumably to thank me) and held me as tightly as a small child would their parent. She also put her head on my shoulder, tight in against my neck, which always makes me feel uncomfortable. As I waited in the car for my stepfather, I thought about my mother's child-like 'clinging'.
I determined that even at age 69, there is a significant part of my mother's psyche that perceives herself as weak and powerless. When the missionaries knocked on the door of my parents' apartment in 1966, she took to Mormonism like a duck to water. Why? Well, one of the messages of the missionaries was that a loving, all-powerful 'Heavenly Father' and 'spiritual' elder brother, Jesus, were very aware of her as an individual and her 'trials and tribulations', and loved her beyond her comprehension. At the time, she was lonely, unhappily married, and depressed, with two, small, needy children whom she was not emotionally or psychologically ready to raise.
The teaching of the missionaries and LDS Church that she needed a 'savior' to 'spiritually redeem' her from the negative consequences of her 'sins' only reinforced her self-perception as weak and disempowered. She chaffed at times at the patriarchy in society, but was content to be an obedient member/follower of a religious organization run by men. In the LDS organizational structure, females have always answered to Mormon males. My mother never asserted herself against LDS patriarchy, never expressed how she really felt about Mormon polygamy (which was still taught in the church as a 'restored' doctrine until the late 1970s), and never spoke her truth about her dislike of the church's racist doctrine against blacks.
Since I was a small boy, my mother has perceived me as strong and independent, characteristics that she failed to cultivate in herself. During my formative years, her frequent response (sometimes daily) to arguments with her atheist husband (my father) and life's vicissitudes was to burst into tears and spend hours weeping in her room (no exaggeration), while the rest of the family forged on. All the crying and sobbing, praying and fasting, pleas directed to 'God', 'blessings of comfort' from 'strong' Mormon priesthood holders/fatherly figures, visits to the temple, scripture-reading, and so on over 20+ years did nothing to address my mother's underlying psychological dysfunction.
Mormonism has provided my mother (and so many other people) with a very convenient escape from having to face within themselves that which requires attention: their issues. After all, if a person is 'busily engaged in the work of the Lord', then after normal, everyday responsibilities are attended to, what time is left to confront and address one's 'crap'?
No one is coming to rescue us, not individually or collectively. When we accept this fact in our minds, we step on to a path that will take us to an increasingly stronger sense of our power. This is not the type of pseudo-power that results from having a lot of money or possessions or the type of power that people wield as a function of their position in an organization (haven't we all worked for an SOB boss?!). I'm referring to inner power, for lack of a better term, the inner knowing/experience that one is powerful because one is able to think and act, and improve the quality of one's life and the lives of others as a result.
In the LDS mindset, power comes not from within, but from without - from 'the Lord' 'out there', and whatever 'blessings', favors, forgiveness, etc. 'God' decides to dish out. This aspect of Mormonism is part of the reason why one hears members say from the pulpit, "If I didn't have the church, I wouldn't know who I'd be or what I'd do with my life! The church is everything to me!" And Mormonism defines what 'God' wants people to do, down to how many piercings per ear LDS girls 'should' have. Powerful people do not require an external organization or group telling them what to do. Their guidance comes from within and they know from experience that they can fully trust their thinking, intuition, and judgments, which reinforces their sense of being powerful as an individual, something that after 41 years as a member of the LDS Church, my mother still does not know.
| “The right to lie in the service of your own interests is highly valued and frequently exercised”–Nero Wolfe
I began this list when I was a full time employee of the LDS Church Education System (CES). I worked as a Seminary Principal/teacher, Institute teacher/Director, and Stake CES Coordinator from 1975 - 2002. My last assignment was brief. I signed a Letter of Agreement with CES to serve as the Director of the Pullman, Washington LDS Institute of Religion adjacent to Washington State University in July 2002. I resigned from CES a month later. I carry fond memories of the students, ward leaders and others I grew to respect in the LDS Church. I started this list in an effort to defend the church from its detractors. I was insulted that critics accused LDS church leaders of dishonesty. I “knew” the criticisms could not be true.
As an informal defender, I discovered that those charging the church leaders with dishonesty sometimes had the facts on their side (when I took the time to check). I defended the church leaders anyway pointing out that (1) all organizations are run by humans and if you search hard enough, of course you’ll find a few isolated examples of deception; and (2) the leaders of the LDS church are working out their salvation too as they gain wisdom and experience; of course they will err on occasion. This was my way of dealing with the cognitive dissonance. In my view premeditated deception was an isolated case but not a pattern or standard practice.
Sometimes I caught myself revealing less than the whole truth, or embellishing in order to defend the church. I noticed that other members often did the same thing. I gave myself permission to be slightly dishonest because I was defending God’s one true church; or so I reasoned. In time, I resolved not to be dishonest when defending the church. I decided to let the lives and sermons of the church leaders speak for themselves. If detractors were right some of the time, the church and I would deal with it.
A list of prevarications presented in the proper context would prove that lying wasn’t actually lying. Instead the list would prove that a perceived lie was probably a misunderstanding, a remark out of context or a deliberate misinterpretation of historical events. My belief was that those who accused church leaders with deception were deceivers themselves, who twisted words and took remarks out of context. But as I read more church history the list grew, and at some point it occurred to me that a pattern of institutionalized deception had been established by Joseph Smith. Subsequent church leaders, including those who serve currently, followed Smith’s example of lying to protect the church. The growing evidence pointed to a standard practice.
When the church or its leaders needed protection it was and is, okay to fib, deceive, distort, inflate, minimize, exaggerate, prevaricate or lie. You will read quotations by church leaders who admitted that deception is a useful tool to protect the church and its leaders “when they are in tight spot,” or “to beat the devil at his own game.” They admit engaging in moral gymnastics; that God approves of deception – if it’s done to protect the “Lord’s Church” or “the brethren.”
I was devastated to learn these uncomfortable truths. I had naively believed that when church leaders transgressed, they followed the required steps of repentance, as taught to members and investigators. I believed they had the courage to face their mistakes and confess their shortcomings, no matter what the consequences; to live the same standards they set for the members. I believed they were completely honest.
D. Michael Quinn called the use of deception by LDS church leaders, “theocratic ethics.” (The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, page 112) Smith lied to protect himself or the church; which was an extension of himself. Dan Vogel in his excellent work, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, described Smith’s viewpoint. Smith used deception if in his mind; it resulted in a good outcome. Smith had Moroni, an ancient American prophet and custodian of the gold plates declare, “And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. (Moroni 4:11-12). Translation: if deception was necessary to do good, or bring a soul to Christ, then it was worth it, as long as God approves. Smith believed he had an instinct for knowing when God approved of lying.
Smith believed God also approved of murder if it was done for a good cause. He wrote in the Book of Mormon that Nephi was inspired by God (1 Nephi 4:6) to deceive and capture a servant; and then murder another man in order to secure an ancient historical record on brass plates. In Missouri, Smith and his counselor Sidney Rigdon threatened to kill Mormon’s who disagreed with Smith’s policies and initiatives (Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Chapter 3, “Theocratic Beginnings,” 79-103).
Smith re-wrote scripture to demonstrate that God had ordered the prophet Abraham to use deception to protect himself and his wife Sarah from harm (Abraham 2:23-25).
Young Smith’s chosen profession relied on deception to earn a living. He promised clients that he could see underground treasure using a magic stone and was paid well to locate the hidden gold. (He never did of course.) Smith’s arrest, trial and conviction in Bainbridge, NY for fraud in 1826 documented his activity. He was found guilty of glass looking. The modern term for Smith would be a con artist. (Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, 82-86). Modern scams operate on a similar principle.
Joseph Smith was entirely comfortable with deception. He wove it into the fabric of Mormonism as a way of dealing with those who questioned his authority or who reported his deception or tasteless behavior. Excellent historical works record Smith’s deception and the deception of other LDS leaders. A list of good authors who are nevertheless charitable to Smith are: Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, Prophet’s Wife, “Elect Lady”, Polygamy’s Foe. Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 2004. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1994. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1997. Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, Vintage Books, NY, 1995. B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage, University of Illinois Press, 1992. (The essay on Lying for the Lord in Hardy’s appendix is masterful and yet compassionate.) Also, Will Bagley’s, Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK 2002, offers insight into the minds of other church leaders who used deception effectively too. An excellent online list is the online book by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism at www.utlm.org/onlinebooks; and Richard Packham’s excellent piece entitled, “Mormon Lying.” http://home.teleport.com/~packham/lying.htm)
Below is a list of notable prevarications by church leaders. Some rate higher on the “deceit-scale” than others. The list is not exhaustive, and offers a sample of some of the well known incidents of deception on the part of LDS church leaders. I referenced each of the numbered incidents with the secondary source. It’s easier for the normal reader to locate information in a secondary source. The excellent footnotes provided in the secondary sources will provide you with the primary sources if you wish to review them. (I’m working on an identical list using the primary sources.)
At the end of the list is a brief review of recent research on lying.
1. The official version of the First Vision by Joseph Smith (1838) was unknown to the members of the church during the 1830s. It evolved after years of refining and retrofitting events; and describes a more spectacular and miraculous event than earlier versions of the same event. The 1832 account is the original handwritten version though not as dramatic as the 1838 version. It does not mention God the Father as one of the visitors who appeared to Smith, or the religious excitement around Smith’s home, persecution by enemies, being attacked by the devil, being told by Jesus to remain aloof from apostate Christian Churches; and he was not called to restore a church and serve as its prophet. The 1832 “vision” resembles a common Christian epiphany where he imagined Jesus forgiving his sins. Church leaders suppressed the contradictory and less impressive version for over a century. (James B. Allen, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, pages 29-45. See also Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, pp.24-25; and The Changing World of Mormonism, pp. 148-166)
2. The LDS church consistently describes in sermons and paintings, the visitation of an angel named Moroni to Joseph Smith on September 21, 1823. Moroni is pictured floating above Joseph or next to his bed, alone in his bedroom. The pictures do not portray Joseph’s five brothers that slept in the same room with him. A restored Smith house is used for LDS tours showing the small room and only two beds for six brothers. Nothing resembling the actual sleeping arrangement is hinted at in the church’s official literature and pictorial recreations of the scene. It would seem inconceivable to most investigators (and perhaps many members) that Joseph’s brothers sleeping in the same room and bed would not have been awakened by the events as described by Joseph. The inaccurate depictions and lessons tell a different story to make it seem more believable. This is an example of the deceptive “milk before meat” principle used to excuse the suppression of questionable historical stories about Mormon origins. http://www.mormonthink.com/moroniweb.htm
3. The LDS Church permits members and others to believe that the History of the Church was written by Joseph Smith. Smith never finished the history of the church he was dictating prior to his death. The Joseph Smith History was completed in August 1856 by historians that attempted to make the history appear as if it was written by Joseph, by orders of Brigham Young. They wrote approximately sixty percent of the history after his death. The church failed to inform its members of this fact, preferring to let them believe that the official history was written by Joseph Smith. (Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1971, pp.466, 469, 470, 472). In the middle of the 20th century, after the deception was pointed out by critics, the church admitted to the practice. When something in History of the Church proved embarrassing, such as the Kinderhook Plates hoax (where Joseph was tricked by pranksters who created fake metal plates – Joseph claimed they were ancient Egyptian plates), which is written in the first person by Smith, the practice was for LDS apologists to claim that a scribe or someone else must have written the embarrassing section instead of Joseph Smith. (Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Shadow or Reality? Chapter 7, “Changes in the Joseph Smith History,” pages 126-142)
4. The famous Rocky Mountain Prophecy was a later addition to the official church history and not uttered by Joseph Smith as a prediction that the Mormons would inhabit the Salt Lake Valley. Despite the fact it is not authentic; the church presented it as such for more than a century. The ‘Rocky Mountain Prophecy’ was added after the Mormons arrived in Utah. (The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 406) The church had no intentions of giving this information to members, in order to make their history appear more faith promoting. The deception was exposed by Jerald and Sandra Tanner.
5. Related to changes in the history of the church, Jerald and Sandra Tanner published the following in The Changing World of Mormonism, “One of the most interesting changes in the history is the name of the angel who was supposed to have appeared in Joseph Smith's bedroom. In the history as it was first published by Joseph Smith, we learn that the angel's name was Nephi: "He called me by name and said ... that his name was Nephi" (Times and Seasons, vol. 3, p.753). “In modern printings of the History of the Church, this has been changed to read "Moroni": "He called me by name, and said ... that his name was Moroni ..." (History of the Church, vol. 1, p.11).
a. “The original handwritten manuscript shows that the name was originally written as "Nephi," but that someone at a later date wrote the word "Moroni" above the line (see photograph in Mormonism–Shadow or Reality? p.136). In the book Falsification of Joseph Smith's History, page 13, Tanners showed that this change was made after Joseph Smith's death. An examination of the duplicate copy of the handwritten manuscript, Book A-2, provides additional evidence that the change was not made during Joseph Smith's lifetime. This manuscript was not begun until about a year after Smith's death. Like the other manuscript (Book A-1), it has the name "Nephi" with the name "Moroni" interpolated above the line.
b. “It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith lived for two years after the name "Nephi" was printed in Times and Seasons and never published a retraction or revision. In August, 1842, the Millennial Star, printed in England, also published Joseph Smith's story stating that the angel's name was "Nephi" (see Millennial Star, vol. 3, p.53). On page 71 of the same volume it reads that the message of the angel Nephi ... opened a new dispensation to man...." “The name was also published in the 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great Price as "Nephi." Walter L. Whipple, in his thesis written at BYU, stated that Orson Pratt "published The Pearl of Great Price in 1878, and removed the name of Nephi from the text entirely and inserted the name Moroni in its place (reprinted in The Changing World of Mormonism, Chapter 13, pages 409-410).
6. Official Mormon histories have omitted references to Joseph Smith’s drinking and use of tobacco in order to preserve the image of their prophet, who if living today (2007) would be unable to pass a worthiness interview and receive a temple recommend in the church he founded. (Changing World of Mormonism, pages 413-414 and Chapter 18 of the same online book). “Joseph tested the Saints to make sure their testimonies were of his religion and not of him as a personable leader. Amasa Lyman, of the First presidency, related: 'Joseph Smith tried the faith of the Saints many times by his peculiarities. At one time, he had preached a powerful sermon on the Word of Wisdom, and immediately thereafter, he rode through the streets of Nauvoo smoking a cigar. Some of the brethren were tried as was Abraham of old'" ("Joseph Smith as an Administrator," Master's Thesis, Brigham Young University, May 1969, p.161. Quotation found in The Changing World of Mormonism, page 31).
7. Leonard Arrington, the church historian for nearly a decade lamented the suppression of real Mormon history in favor of a faith promoting version. Writing six years previous to his appointment as church historian, Dr. Arrington wrote: "it is unfortunate for the cause of Mormon history that the Church Historian's Library, which is in the possession of virtually all of the diaries of leading Mormons, has not seen fit to publish these diaries or to permit qualified historians to use them without restriction." (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Spring 1966, p.26). Leonard Arrington was demoted in 1980 and sent away from the church historians office to BYU because of his refreshing honesty; he was a threat to the faith promoting history the church insisted he support (Deseret News, Church Section, July 5, 1980). The church does not report accurate unflattering historical facts about its origins and leaders to the membership or the world, unless forced to by published disclosures of deception.
8. Joseph Smith claimed that God revealed truth to him. Sometimes God or Jesus appeared in person, sometimes they spoke in an audible voice, and sometimes they spoke as a quiet voice or feeling in his mind and heart – DandC 8:2; 9:7-9. He made arrangements to publish the revealed truths in the Book of Commandments but Missourians destroyed the printing press in 1833. Only a few copies were saved. Two years later he published another version with original revelations revised and more revelations added and called it the Doctrine and Covenants. Apologists claim that added material was only to make the revelation seem clearer to the reader. (Melvin J. Petersen "A Study of the Nature of and Significance of the Changes in the Revelations as Found in a Comparison of the Book of Commandments and Subsequent Editions of the Doctrine and Covenants," Master's thesis, BYU, 1955, typed copy, p.147).
David Whitmer, a close associate of Smith’s, was perhaps the most vocal opponent to the revisions. Because he considered the unrevised revelations to be God-inspired revelations; and the revisions all added to Smith’s authority and power. (Letter written by David Whitmer, published in the Saints' Herald, February 5, 1887). To this day, LDS members are unaware of the significant revisions. They do not know that the meaning of some of the “revelations” was reversed. David Whitmer and others raise the question of whether Joseph Smith received revelations from God or whether they originated in his own mind. If Mormons continue to insist that JS was inspired by God, critics might ask, “Which God? – the one who revealed the first revelations, or the one who revealed the later ones that contradicted the first?” (David Whitmer see An Address To All Believers in Christ. Also The Changing World of Mormonism, online book, Chapter 3, http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/changech3.htm)
Joseph retrofitted revelations to make it appear as if church history unfolded incrementally in a sequential and logical way, described by the faith promoting histories created by the LDS church. He referred to this process of revising God’s word as continuing revelation. Others call it theological innovation, revelations of convenience, or creative imagination at work.
9. Joseph Smith created the Mormon priesthood after organizing the church, though faithful followers are unaware of this historical development. His priesthood innovations were an extension of the practice of revising revelations to match his evolving theological ideas. La Mar Peterson explained, “The important details that are missing from the "full history" [of priesthood restoration] of 1834 are likewise missing from the Book of Commandments in 1833. The student would expect to find all the particulars of the Restoration in this first treasured set of 65 revelations, the dates of which encompassed the bestowals of the two Priesthoods, but they are conspicuously absent.... The notable revelations on Priesthood in the Doctrine and Covenants, Sections 2 and 13, are missing, and Chapter 28 gives no hint of the Restoration which, if actual, had been known for four years.”
“More than four hundred words were added to this revelation of August 1829 (Section 27 of the Doctrine and Covenants). The new material added the names of heavenly visitors and two separate ordinations. The Book of Commandments listed the duties of Elders, Priests, Teachers, and Deacons and refers to Joseph's apostolic calling but there is no mention of Melchizedek Priesthood, High Priesthood, Seventies, High Priests, nor High Councilors. These words were later inserted into the revelation on Church organization and government of April, 1830, making it appear that they were known at that date. But they do not appear in the original, Chapter 24 of the Book of Commandments three years later. Similar interpolations were made in the revelations known as Sections 42 and 68” (Problems In Mormon Text, by LaMar Petersen, pp.7-8. See also Gregory A. Prince, Power on High: The Development of the Mormon Priesthood. Signature Books, 1995. D. Michael Quinn, Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Chapter 1, “The Evolutionof Authority.” The Changing Story of Mormonism, Chapter 16).
10. Joseph Smith and the Mormons’ official publications remove all references to Joseph Smith’s activities as a professional con man. Documents discovered in 1971 by Dr. Wesley Walters in Norwich, New York, verify that Joseph Smith was a "glass looker" and that he was arrested, tried and found guilty by a justice of the peace in Bainbridge, New York, in 1826.
LDS historian Dr. Francis W. Kirkham, refused to believe that Joseph Smith was a con man, who bilked people out of money with promises to find buried treasure through use of a peep stone in a hat. He wrote, “if such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him.... How could he be a prophet of God, the leader of the Restored Church to these tens of thousands, if he had been the superstitious fraud which 'the pages from a book' declared he confessed to be? (A New Witness For Christ In America, vol. 1, pp.385-87 and pp.486-87; and The Changing World of Mormonism, Chapter 4, “Joseph Smith and Money Digging. See also Shadow or Reality? pp 35-36).
Hugh Nibley, famous dissembling LDS apologist also stated, “"...if this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith." Dr. Nibley's book also states that if the authenticity of the court record could be established it would be "the most devastating blow to Smith ever delivered" (Hugh Nibley, The Mythmakers p. 142. See also The Changing World of Mormonism, Chapter 4, “Joseph Smith and Money Digging”).
In the court record Joseph Smith confessed that "for three years" prior to 1826 he had used a magic stone placed in his hat to find treasures or lost property, placing his money-digging activities from 1823 to 1826. Mormon histories indicate that a heavenly messenger revealed the presence of gold plates on September 21, 1823. Joseph Smith was conning overly optimistic treasure seekers out of their money at the very time he claimed that an angel revealed to him that gold plates lay buried near his home. He continued these deceptive practices for at least three of the four years after God was supposedly preparing him to receive the gold plates. These facts undermine the credibility of Mormonism’s first prophet and founder. (Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, Signature Books, 2004, pp. 80-86)
Members and investigators to Mormonism are not offered details of Smith’s deception or the court records convicting him. Church leaders contend that “some [historical] truths are not very useful” and undermine attempts to create a faith promoting history of Mormonism (versus an accurate and objective history). (Boyd K. Packer, "The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect", 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271) LDS Historians are excommunicated if they publish an objective history rather than a faith promoting version. Packer cited above, referred to objective histories of Mormonism as “disease germs.”
11. Joseph Smith claimed that he discovered gold plates with strange engravings, and special spectacles called "Interpreters." The LDS Church teaches members and investigators that the “Interpreters” were actually a Urim and Thummim used to translate the golden plates. This claim is not true. In an 1885 interview, Zenas H. Gurley, the editor of the RLDS Saints’ Herald, asked David Whitmer if Joseph Smith had used his peep stone to translate the plates. Whitmer, who offered his home to Smith and acted as a scribe for part of the translation of the Book of Mormon, replied that Smith gave the Interpreters back to an angel and used a peep stone or “Seers Stone” to translate the Book of Mormon; one that he had found while digging a well. It looked like an ordinary rock but Smith claimed it gave him the ability to see buried treasure, receive revelations, and translate ancient records. (The Changing World of Mormonism, pp. 80-83)
After Martin Harris, who also acted as a scribe, lost the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon translation. He also said that Smith claimed that the angel Moroni took back both the plates and the Interpreters after the loss. He claimed that the angel later returned the gold plates, but not the Interpreters. Harris confirmed that Smith used his special rock placed in a hat to produce the present-day Book of Mormon. (The Changing World of Mormonism, pp. 80-83) To see actual photographs of Smith’s favorite, magical stones, see pages 324-325 of D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, Revised and Enlarged, Signature Books, SLC, 1998.)
William W. Phelps first suggested in 1833 that perhaps the seer stones were the Urim and Thummim of the Old Testament (The Evening and Morning Star, Jan. 1833). This lent more credibility to Smith’s story. Historians for the church rewrote the historical accounts to make it appear that from the beginning the Interpreters or Smith’s peep stone was referred to as the Urim and Thummim. This is more tasteful in the minds of some than referring to the instruments used to translate the Book of Mormon as “the peep stone Joseph found while digging a well.” (The Changing World of Mormonism, pp. 80-83. See also comment by BH Roberts in Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol. 1, page 129)
12. Official Mormon histories are not forthcoming about the statement by the three and eight witnesses respectively, who claim to have seen Smith’s gold plates and handled them. The faith promoting histories fail to inform interested students of Mormon origins that in both cases, their experience was one that took place in their imaginations or as they called it, “spiritual eyes,” “eyes of our understanding,” “a supernatural vision,” or “visions of the mind.” To say that the witnesses handled a literal, physical object is more impressive than admitting that they merely imagined that they handled literal, physical objects.
Martin Harris (one of the 3 witnesses) testified publicly on March 25, 1838 that none of the signatories to the Book of Mormon saw or handled the actual physical plates.” He also indicated that Joseph had prepared an affidavit beforehand and asked the witnesses to sign it, but because they had not seen a physical object, only a vision of them, some hesitated to sign; but were finally persuaded by Joseph. David Whitmer also told Zenas Gurley Jr. on January 14, 1885 when asked if the witnesses actually touched “the real metal,” “We did not.” The witnesses handled “the plates” in a vision only, according to Whitmer. Such is the power of imagination. (Grant Palmer, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, Chapter 6) There are other significant problems with the story of the 3 and 8 witnesses described by Palmer, for those interested in reading more.
The 8 witnesses did not all see the plates or angel at the same time as the church leads people to believe either. The plates were seen in two groups of four not all 8 together as popularized in church paintings. (Deseret Evening News, 6 August 1878, Letter to the editor from P. Wilhelm Poulson, M.D., typed transcript, p. 2) Only David Whitmer and perhaps Oliver Cowdery saw the angel together. Martin Harris removed himself from the group and did not see the angel until some three days later. (Grant Palmer, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, Chapter 6. Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70-71) Info From: http://www.exmormon.org/file9.htm )
13. The LDS Church misrepresents the method by which Joseph Smith authored the Book of Mormon. Quite unlike the explanations and images offered to members in official church publications, Joseph Smith never had gold plates in view when “translating,” nor did he use an Old Testament instrument called the Urim and Thummim. (The Changing World of Mormonism, pp. 84-85)
His “translation” method was the same used to earn money to locate subterranean treasure for money. He put his favorite peep stone in a hat, pulled the hat over his face, and rested his elbows on his knees, to read the English words and sentences that God caused to appear on the stone, according to Smith’s faithful scribes. The imaginary plates were never in view, in the same room, or often never in the house. (Emma Smith, The Saints' Herald, May 19, 1888, p.310; and Saints' Herald, November 15, 1962, p.16. Martin Harris, Historical Record, by Andrew Jensen, p.216. David Whitmer, An Address To All Believers In Christ, p.12. Grant Palmer, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins)
This may explain why nothing ancient appears in a book that is supposed to be of ancient origin, despite claims by the LDS Church to the contrary. It may also explain why large sections of faulty King James texts are plentiful, and why virtually nothing Smith described about the life of ancient inhabitants of America is correct. Despite Apostle Russell M. Nelson’s talk to a select group admitting that Joseph used the stone-in-the-hat method to translate the Book of Mormon, he failed to give sufficient salient details such as the fact that the plates were often never in the same room as Smith; and he never consulted the plates during his supposed translation. This begs the question which the church avoids: Why all the fuss about a set of golden plates – including the threat of death to anyone who saw them without permission - if they were not in view and he did not use them as a reference? (Russell M. Nelson, "Adapted from an address given 25 June 1992 at a seminar for new mission presidents, Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah", can be found at http://www.mormoncurtain.com/topic_russellmnelson.html#pub_-777766216)
The next section deals primarily with purposeful deception by church leaders to protect the practice of polygamy. The practice instigated an almost constant stream of untruths, lies, or prevarications. Some apologists have excused the leaders’ dishonesty, and praised them instead for their extreme dedication to a principle they believed was revealed by God. This kind of apologetic logic would also praise those who strap bombs to their bodies or fly airplanes into skyscrapers driven by fanatical dedication to their particular religious beliefs.
14. Joseph Smith’s first recorded secret experimentation with adultery began with a teen-age girl named Fanny Ward Alger who worked in the Smith home as a maidservant. William E. McLellin, Mormon apostle, indicated that Emma Smith “looked through a crack and saw the transaction” in the barn. (Richard Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History, 2nd Edition, Signature Books, 1989, pages 4-11) This led to a severe rift between Oliver Cowdery and Joseph. Cowdery referred to Smith’s indulgences with Fanny Alger as “A dirty, nasty, filthy affair.” (The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 215) Church leaders and apologists evade linking Smith with his adultery by calling it an authorized “plural marriage.” Todd Compton, author of, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, 2nd edition, notes that in February or March of 1833, when Joseph was 27 and Fanny Alger 17, he had sexual relations with her. After Emma found out about Joseph’s secret love affair, she turned Fanny out of their house, where she had been working as a servant. (In Sacred Loneliness, pp. 34-36)
15. The LDS Church canonized monogamy as God’s marriage arrangement and then later did an about-face, adopting polygamy as God’s recommended mode of marriage (DandC 42:22-24). Rumors about the Fanny Alger affair and rumors of another affair with Vienna Jacques, led to the development of an “Article on Marriage.” LDS leaders presented it to the general assembly of the church on August 17, 1835. The article was canonized as scripture and placed in the Doctrine and Covenants where it remained until 1876. It acknowledged that the church [Joseph Smith] had been “reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy” and declared that “we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman but one husband. . .” (Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, Prophet’s Wife, “Elect Lady,” Polygamy’s Foe, Doubleday and Co. Garden City, NY, 1984, p. 67) The question arises again after Smith revised revelations from God: Which of God’s revelations was “inspired”? The one recommending monogamy or the one recommending polygamy?
16. Joseph Smith institutionalized the practice of lying, so church leaders could deny the practice of taking multiple wives and keep Smith and the church out of legal trouble. Straight-faced lies permitted leaders to deceive with a clear conscience; believing that God permitted and even encouraged lying to protect the principle.
An article from the 1886 Deseret News listed the code words and the rationale for their use. When accused of practicing “polygamy” Joseph and Hyrum denied it because it was different than “celestial marriage” and “a plurality of wives.” Polygamy was after all, a doctrine of men and the devil. “Celestial marriage” was different Smith reasoned, because it was a holy doctrine revealed by God. Joseph wanted followers to believe that the two terms were completely dissimilar. Other code words were, “eternal marriage,” “the divine order of marriage,” “Holy order of marriage,” “living up to your privileges,” “new and everlasting covenant,” and “a different view of things.”
If accusers did not frame their allegations using precisely the right terms, the leaders felt justified in prevaricating. Even if the accusers framed their words perfectly, the leaders lied anyway. Their view was that it was more important to live the higher law - loyalty to the Prophet - than to expose the truth to Gentiles. A prominent feature of Mormonism is that loyalty trumps honesty. (Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, p. 113. See also B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage, University of Illinois Press, 1992, p. 365. For an excellent treatment of loyalty and obedience vs. honesty see http://i4m.com/think/leaders/mormon_loyalty.htm and http://i4m.com/think/leaders/come_clean.htm)
17. Vienna Jacques of Nauvoo heard rumors about “spiritual wifery.” She wanted Emma to ask Joseph if the rumors were true. Was “spiritual wifery” a doctrine of the church?” Emma asked and relayed Joseph’s answer. Vienna reported, “he, [Joseph] had told her [Emma] to tell the sisters of the society . . . “the whole idea was absolutely false and the doctrine an evil and unlawful thing.” Joseph was secretly practicing plural marriage at the time. (Mormon Enigma, p. 114) Joseph prevaricated. He was actively practicing and teaching the principle.
18. Contrary to the traditional belief that a first wife must give her consent in order for her husband to take another wife, Emma was unaware of nearly all of Joseph’s “marriages” to other women. For example, Eliza Snow, the secretary to Emma in the Relief Society organization, as well as Sarah Cleveland, Emma’s counselor, who was legally married to John Cleveland, were married to Joseph, though Emma knew nothing about the marriages. According to Newell and Avery, “To live as a secret wife to a friend’s husband demanded evasion, subterfuge, and deception.” (Mormon Enigma, p. 119)
19. Joseph Smith secretly married 17 year old Sarah Ann Whitney in August 1842 without Emma’s knowledge or consent. He had no intention of confessing his behavior to Emma. He wrote to Sarah and her parents who approved of the marriage, “The only thing to be careful of is to find out when Emma comes, then you can not be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safety. . . Burn this letter as soon as you read it.” (Mormon Enigma, p. 125)
20. The Times and Seasons, August 1842 published an article defending Joseph. It quoted the DandC. “ . . . We declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband. We know of no other rule or system of marriage.” The purpose of the article was to deny that Joseph had taught John C. Bennett the concept of spiritual wifery, after Bennett seduced several women in Nauvoo under the guise of God-inspired polygamy. The fact is that many of those who signed the declaration on monogamy were secretly practicing polygamy. Joseph had taught Bennett the principle, and the signatories knew it. (Mormon Enigma, p. 128) Mormons used the term spiritual wife (the ungodly form of plural marriage) as an excuse to deny the charges. But they used the term themselves to describe the “right” version of polygamy before and after their exodus to Salt Lake. By denying that Bennett had been taught the concept of false practice of spiritual wifery, but not the true concept of eternal marriagechurch leaders felt justified. (B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage, University of Illinois Press, 1992, p. 365)
21. Joseph deceived Emma again when he married two other women (probably Martha McBride Knight and Ruth Vose Sayers) without her knowledge or consent in the winter of 1842-43. (Mormon Enigma, p. 134 and note 13)
22. Joseph secretly proposed to 19-year-old Nancy Rigdon in Nauvoo. He wanted to take her as a plural wife. She declined, so Joseph dictated a letter and sent it to her. In it he tried to convince her that it was God revealed the practice to Joseph and ordered him to take multiple wives. Part of the letter read, “That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another . . . . Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.” Nancy showed the letter to her father, Sydney Rigdon. When Sydney questioned Joseph about it, he denied the whole affair. Joseph admitted to it only when Sydney showed Joseph the letter he had dictated and sent to Nancy. (Mormon Enigma, p. 119, and Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, 2nd edition p. 32-33)
23. Martha Brotherton was an 18 year old convert from England in 1842. She emigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois with her parents. Brigham approached Joseph Smith to ask if he could add Martha as another plural wife. Smith agreed and called a meeting with Young and Martha. She knew nothing of the agreement between them beforehand. And her parents were not invited, though she was a dependent minor. After Smith and Young tried to persuade her, Martha refused the offer of marriage. They encouraged her to lie to her parents and keep their proposal a secret and tried to persuade her to accept Brigham’s proposal. Martha finally appealed to them through tears and pleading that she be given time to think about the offer.
After being sworn to secrecy and permitted to leave the room, Martha revealed everything to her parents and wrote it down while the important details were fresh in her mind. She told others in Nauvoo about the episode before the family boarded a steamboat bound for St. Louis. She published her account in a St. Louis newspaper (St. Louis Bulletin, July 15, 1842, p. 2). Smith, stung by the article, immediately denied that the events Martha described took place. He went further. He organized the Mormon PR machine and issued false affidavits and statements that called Martha not only a liar, but also an apostate and harlot. Smith used character assassination when he thought the situation warranted it; whether his unlucky victim was 18 years old or not. His abuse of power and authority is staggering; not to mention his assault on the truth. (Arza Evans, The Keystone of Mormonism, Keystone Books Inc., 2003, St. George Utah, pp. 20-21.)
24. On March 4, 1843 Joseph deceived Emma when he secretly married 19 year old Emily Partridge. She was urged to keep the marriage a secret and said, “Of course I would keep his secret.” At some point, Emma weakened and gave Joseph, Emily and Eliza Partridge as plural wives. She may have understood, believing that Joseph would not consummate the marriages. Joseph participated in the fake ceremony, but neglected to tell Emma that he had already secretly married the two sisters some time before. (Mormon Enigma, p. 138)
25. On May 1, 1843, Joseph deceived Emma and others when he married 17 year old Lucy Walker while Emma was in St. Louis. Lucy admitted that Emma was not present and she did not consent to the marriage; “she did not know anything about it at all.” (Mormon Enigma, p.139)
26. Without Emma’s knowledge or consent, Joseph secretly “slept” with young Emily Partridge according to her own testimony under oath. She testified that she “roomed” with Joseph while Emma was somewhere else in the house on the night of their second marriage. It is likely that Emma did not understand that Joseph would have sexual relations with the two sisters Emma presented to him. (Mormon Enigma, p. 144) For information indicating that Joseph consummated his multiple marriages see http://i4m.com/think/history/joseph_smith_sex.htm
27. According to Benjamin F. Johnson, living in Ramus, Illinois, on May 16, 1843 Joseph shared a room with the “daughter [Eliza] of the late Bishop Partridge.” This was without the knowledge or consent of Emma. (Mormon Enigma, p. 145)
28. Joseph deceived Emma when he proposed to 14 year old Helen Mar Kimball as a plural wife. She agreed to marry Joseph because he told her that it “will ensure your eternal salvation and exaltation and that . . . of your fathers household and all of your kindred.” She remarked, “I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward.” She later admitted that she may have been deceived by her parents as well as Joseph. She stated, “I would have never been sealed to Joseph, had I known it was anything more than a ceremony.” (Mormon Enigma, pp. 146-147)
29. Joseph Smith persuaded some women and girls to marry him by testifying that he had been commanded by and angel with a drawn sword to take multiple wives. "Joseph was commanded to take more wives and he waited until an angel with a drawn sword stood before him and declared that if he longer delayed fulfilling that command he would slay him."
- Hyrum Smith, Elder Benjamin F. Johnson's Letter to George S. Gibbs, 1903 (link can be found at http://i4m.com/think/history/angel_sword.htm)
30. Joseph’s polygamous activities were unknown to the vast majority of the saints in Nauvoo. He publicly denied that he ever practiced plural marriage, showing the ability to consciously mislead his devoted followers without remorse. (Mormon Enigma, p. 147, and Mormon Polygamy, pp. 20-21) When Joseph was confronted about being married to other wives in Nauvoo he protested, “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” In fact, he was sealed to dozens of women at the time. (Solemn Covenant, p. 365)
31. Cyrus Walker defended Joseph in court after being arrested. In exchange, Joseph promised to deliver “the Mormon vote” to Cyrus (a Whig) when he ran for Congress. Later however, Joseph reneged on his promise by stating that Hyrum had received a revelation to vote for the opposition party (Mr. Hoge, a Democrat). Joseph stated that Hyrum had never received a false revelation, and in essence directed the church to vote for the candidate that Hyrum supported instead of Cyrus Walker. Joseph betrayed Cyrus and he did not forget it. Cyrus and others in the party (the Whigs) vowed to drive the Mormons out of the state. (Mormon Enigma, p. 148, 151. also An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, George D. Smith editor, Signature Books, 1995, p. 114)
32. Joseph privately told William Clayton to keep a particular plural wife but that some of the membership would be troubled about it if they found out, since most of the saints believed Joseph’s repeated denials that he approved of plural marriage. Joseph cautioned Clayton that if “they raise trouble about it and bring you before me I will give you an awful scourging and probably cut you off from the church and then I will baptize you and set you ahead as good as ever.” (An Intimate Chronicle, p. 122) Fake church discipline and excommunication were another form of deception used effectively to keep members trust alive.
33. Official Mormon histories fail to inform readers of the competition to get as many plural wives as one could. William Clayton, close associate of Joseph Smith wrote on August 11, 1843 that with regard to marrying additional wives, Joseph told him, “You have a right to get all you can.” (An Intimate Chronicle, p. 115) Those who accuse Smith of treating women like chattel use this incident as evidence. Other examples exist in the speeches of Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, made after the saints migrated to the West.
34. After receiving a promise from Joseph that he would cease the practice of polygamy (a lie), Emma began to reaffirm the traditional standards of Christian marriage–one husband and one wife–as stated in the Doctrine and Covenants in Relief Society meetings. Joseph secretly confided to some that he had no intention of keeping his promise to Emma. (Mormon Enigma, p. 175) William Clayton recorded in his journal that “Joseph told me that since E[mma] came back from St. Louis she had resisted the P[riesthood] in toto and he had to tell her he would relinquish all for her sake. . . .He however told me he should not relinquish anything.” (An Intimate Chronicle p. 117; Emma had apparently threatened Joseph with divorce and in order to prevent it, Joseph lied.
35. In August 1843, Emma discovered that sixteen-year-old Flora Woodworth possessed a gold watch given to her by Joseph. She realized the implications and demanded that Flora give the watch back. Smith reprimanded her, but Emma refused to be quiet in the carriage ride home. William Clayton said that Joseph had to employ “harsh measures” to stop her complaining. (Mormon Enigma, p. 159) It also raises the question of whether or not Joseph used both physical force and lies to avoid divorce. (An Intimate Chronicle, p. 118)
36. The official history of the church states that the Relief Society was disbanded in 1844 shortly after being organized, “due to the various calamities that befell the saints.” Those writing the official history as well as the leaders of the church knew it was actually disbanded because Emma Smith was an outspoken opponent of polygamy. (Mormon Enigma, p. 175) Joseph’s public discourses and written ones (a letter from the presidency and an article entitled, “The Voice of Innocence,” written by W. W. Phelps with Joseph’s supervision, denied that polygamy was part of the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints. These documents were read in Relief Society meetings in Nauvoo and recommended as the standard by which saints should conduct themselves. Joseph needed to silence Emma and take away her forum. She quoted his denials as evidence that polygamy was not an inspired principle and not practiced by Smith. (Mormon Enigma, p. 175)
37. Official Mormon histories aware of the marital arrangements, withheld information about Joseph’s polygamous marriages–namely that nearly a dozen of his first polygamous wives were legally married to other men at the time of their marriage to Joseph (polyandry). They have never admitted that Joseph practiced polyandry. (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, Signature Books, 1997 Introduction. See also http://i4m.com/think/history/Joseph_Smth_mens_wives.htm)
38. Official Mormon histories deceive readers by failing to point out that Joseph exercised poor judgment, to say it most kindly, in choosing his friends and other church leaders. William Clayton’s journal entry for May 16, 1843 records the following: “President J[oseph] said that the way he knew in whom to confide, God told him in whom he might place confidence.” Many of Joseph’s closest associates and those he trusted most brought damage to him and the church. John C. Bennett of Nauvoo was a classic example, yet Mormon histories reject the opportunity to fully investigate these inconsistencies, choosing instead to portray Joseph as the noble prophet who could discern the feelings of peoples’ hearts. (Intimate Chronicle p. 102)
39. Official Mormon histories have publicized plural marriages as being as normal and as full of affection as monogamous marriages. Some may have been. However, Zina Diantha Huntington, when interviewed by a journalist from the New York World, in 1869, drew a distinction between romantic love and plural marriage. Commenting on women who were unhappy in their polygamous marriages, she said they “expect too much attention from the husband and . . . become sullen and morose. . .” She insisted that the successful polygamous wife, “must regard her husband with indifference, and with no other feeling than that of reverence, for love we regard as a false sentiment; a feeling which should have no existence in polygamy.” Lucy Walker, who had been sealed for time to Heber C. Kimball, after the death of Joseph Smith said, “There was not any love in the union between myself and Kimball, and it is my business entirely whether there was any courtship or not. . . It was the principle of plural marriage that we were trying to establish, a great and glorious true principle.” (In Sacred Loneliness, pp. 108, 466-467)
40. Joseph lied about lying when the Expositor was published in Nauvoo, accusing him of lying. During the city council debate over some allegations made in the Expositor, Joseph declared that he had not kept the doctrine of polygamy secret but had taught it openly. William Clayton recorded however, that Emma Smith told him “it was the secret things which had cost Joseph and Hyrum their lives.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 367)
41. Lying became such an integral practice with the Latter-day Saints, church leaders instructed members how to lie about polygamy, according to the testimony of members given under oath. (Solemn Covenant, p. 365)
42. Loyalty was more important than honesty in the early church. Joseph’s instruction to the Twelve in 1839 was that above all else, “do not betray your Friend.” He frequently reminded members that they should honor friendships above all else even to death. While the Danites were active in Missouri (1838) Justus Morse described how he and others were directed to help out a friend by lying–to “do it with such positiveness and assurance that no one would question our testimony.” The greatest of evils according to Joseph in an 1839 address to the 12 were “sinning against the Holy Ghost and proving a traitor to the brethren.” Smith confided that he deceived the saints by keeping secrets from them because they were “little children” unable to “bear all things now.” Joseph counseled the Relief Society Sisters not to be overzealous in their search for wrongdoing and to be charitable toward the accused, after counseling them to seek out evil-doers months earlier. Stories about adultery and spiritual wifery especially aggravated him. (Solemn Covenant, pp.365-366)
43. In a well-publicized debate between John Taylor and a Protestant minister in 1850, John Taylor denied that the church practiced polygamy. In fact, at the time, he was the husband of multiple wives. (Solemn Covenant, p. 367) In a public discussion in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France, he claimed, “ . . . I shall content myself by reading our views of chastity and marriage, from a work published by us, containing some of the articles of our Faith. "Doctrine and Covenants," page 330 ... Inasmuch as this Church of Jesus Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again (Tract published by John Taylor in 1850, p.8; found in Orson Pratt's Works, 1851 edition. Found in The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 261-262). Taylor knew that the real revelation on marriage was the one on plural marriage, but failed to admit it to his audience.
44. Orson Pratt admitted that when called upon to defend the practice of polygamy, he deliberately misled his listeners regarding the practice of polygamy. He did not consider this to be lying. It was done to protect a law higher than man’s misguided laws. (Solemn Covenant, p. 367)
45. Charles W. Penrose admitted that after Joseph’s death, certain facts about him were purposely withheld from church publications “for prudential reasons.” Expediency became more important than honesty; deception was accepted as a necessary tool, while grass roots members were commanded to be honest and disciplined for dishonesty. (Solemn Covenant, p. 367)
46. At the Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857, 120 innocent men, women and children as young as eight years old, in an Arkansas wagon train party were murdered by Mormons. Amasa Lyman and George A. Smith, Mormon apostles, accused members who wanted to honestly testify to the facts of the case of seeking “to betray and expose their brethren into the hands of their enemies.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 367) Members were threatened if they “betrayed” those who took part in the murders. To Mormon leaders, anyone who cooperated with law enforcement authorities investigating the murders was guilty of the sin of betrayal. This in the minds of Smith and Lyman, was worse than the massacre of 120 innocent men, women and children. Some see the events of 9-11-2001 in a similar light as 9-11-1857. Both were the result of fanatical and unquestioning obedience to religious authority. (Will Bagley, The Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, pp. 157, 176-177)
47. Lying was so prevalent as an institutionalized tactic among church members during the 1860’s-1880’s, that John D. Hicks alleged that when “polygamists were prohibited from voting, the Mormons promptly swore that they were not polygamists; when those who taught or practiced polygamy were discriminated against, everybody immediately became silent on the subject; and when members of organizations which advocated polygamy were denied the ballot, they withdrew. . . from the Mormon Church” to become eligible to vote (Solemn Covenant, p. 368) This is reminiscent of the fake excommunication Joseph proposed to William Clayton in Nauvoo. See item #32.
48. Mormon “children in theocratic, territorial and polygamous Utah were taught to lie about family relationships, their parents’ whereabouts, and even their own last names.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 368) Mormon parents are conscientious about teaching their children to be honest and to obey the LDS prophets.
49. In a letter to President John Taylor in 1887, Charles W. Penrose expressed concern that “the endless subterfuges and prevarications which our present condition impose . . . threaten to make our rising generation a race of deceivers.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 368)
50. While lobbying on behalf of the First Presidency in Washington, in 1887, for statehood for Utah, Franklin S. Richards and John T. Caine prevaricated stating that polygamy was a “dead issue” in Utah and that it wouldn’t be revived. They attempted to explain away the church’s position on polygamy by saying that plurality was not a commandment and that “celestial” and “plural” marriages were not the same thing. This was wholly untrue yet their conduct received approval from the First Presidency. Apostle John Taylor admitted approvingly to church members in Nephi, Utah that the statements made in Washington were a “d----d lie.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 369)
51. When explaining whether recommends were being issued to members to marry polygamously, one church authority said that “he no longer gave recommends for marrying plural wives but gave them for obtaining whatever blessings the Lord might bestow." He used these code words to subtly affirm that indeed recommends for plural marriage were still being issued, after assuring the American public that they weren’t. (Solemn Covenant, p. 370)
52. The Manifesto of 1890 was in fact another attempt to dupe the U.S. government and to some extent, the church members into believing that the LDS church intended to comply with the mandate of the government to abandon the practice of polygamy. Members at that time generally fell into two groups: those who believed that the leaders only pretended to give in to government pressure to obtain statehood, and those who believed that the Manifesto was necessary as a hedge against discovery of the true facts about polygamy in Utah. Church leaders believed that if once given statehood, Utah could make polygamy legal by creating a provision for it in the sate constitution. A belief in a strict interpretation of states’ rights, fed their illusion. (Solemn Covenant, p. 370)
53. Thomas J. Rosser was a missionary in Wales in 1908. He asked his mission president Charles W. Penrose, if the 1890 Manifesto banning plural marriage was a revelation from God. Penrose answered, “Brethren, I will answer that question, if you will keep it under your hats. I Charles W. Penrose wrote the manifesto with the assistance of Frank J. Cannon and John White. . . Wilford Woodruff signed it to beat the devil at his own game.” The Manifesto, authored by Penrose, was submitted to a committee – Judges Charles S. Zane, C.S. Varian, and O.W. Powers, (nonmembers). The wording was changed slightly and the document was recopied by a clerk named Green. (Samuel Taylor, The Rocky Mountain Empire, New York, NY, MacMillan, 1978, p. 35) Current members are led to believe that the Manifesto was a sacred communication from God to church president Wilford Woodruff. Impressive documentation exists to indicate that it resembled a trick to beat the devil (federal government), as Penrose suggested. (D. MichaelQuinn, LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890 – 1904, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1985.)
54. In 1903 Wiley Nebeker of Afton, Wyoming wrote to apostle John Henry Smith complaining that the church made use of deceit and duplicity to further the practice of polygamy, while assuring the government that leaders no longer condoned the practice. He wrote, “To be plain, while I am fully converted to the belief that this is a true principle, I am not converted to the idea that the Lord justifies deceit and falsehood.” He did not believe saints ought to be forced into “apologizing to our own consciences.” In response, apostle Smith perpetuated the dishonesty by spreading more disinformation. Rather than address the central issue of lying, Smith told Nebeker that the doctrine was true but no longer being practiced. This was a calculated lie. (Solemn Covenant, p. 371)
55. Florence, a daughter of Anthony W. Ivins asked her mother why her father seemed so upset following a meeting of the apostles and the First Presidency. Her mother told her that President Smith had said something in the meeting that greatly disturbed her father. President Smith said, he “would lie any day to save [his] . . . brother.” Florence said that it was her opinion that her father was troubled over the remark for the rest of his life. (Solemn Covenant, p. 372)
56. Because the practice of deceit was discussed in the leading councils of the church, leaders were counseled not to write notes from meetings in their personal diaries. President Joseph F. Smith was afraid that someone might read the diaries of George Q. Cannon and Abraham H. Cannon and use the information against the church. The leaders were told not to keep a private record of what transpired in the meetings. To this day, the church steadfastly refuses to allow researchers to examine the diary of George Q. Cannon because of damaging evidence, indicating that Church leaders did engage in institutionalized, systematic deceit. (Solemn Covenant, p. 372)
57. After the Manifesto, it appears that at least 250 plural marriages were performed, despite repeated denials on the part of the church leadership that plural marriage continued as an official doctrine and practice. The church’s propaganda is so effective that church members today and the media are still more likely than not, to believe that the Manifesto was a good faith effort on the part of church leaders to terminate the practice of polygamy. John Henry Smith is alleged to have remarked that the Manifesto was only “a trick to beat the devil at his own game.” Smith viewed lying for the Lord as justified and honorable, if engaged in for a good cause. (Reed Smoot Case, vol. 4, p.13. Solemn Covenant, p. 392)
58. During the 1890s the church tried to answer the criticism of opponents that a theocracy existed in Utah and church leaders controlled all elections. Leaders instructed members to pretend to align with different political parties. George Q. Cannon was asked about the degree of honesty in this strategy. He said that the potential political gains that could be achieved made sincerity irrelevant in this case. (Solemn Covenant, p. 372) The church motto seems to have been, “act sincere even if you don’t mean it.”
59. Matthias F. Cowley stated in a hearing before the Quorum of the Twleve in 1911 that he had been chastised for asking for permission to pre-date post-1890 plural marriages to make them appear to have occurred before the Manifesto. He said he was trying to illustrate the “training I have had from those over me,” which was to act with duplicity without asking for permission, in order to preserve the image of plausible deniability for the church hierarchy. (Solemn Covenant, p. 373)
60. Ironically, after claiming that he had been taught to lie by previous leaders, Matthias F. Cowley also claimed “I am not dishonest and not a liar and have always been true to the work and to the brethren. . . We have always been taught that when the brethren were in a tight place that it would not be amiss to lie to help them out.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 373) The ability to compartmentalize reached its peak in the minds of church leaders who idolized Joseph Smith and who jousted with the federal government over polygamy.
61. Related to the above quote, Cowley quoted a member of the First Presidency who he said had taught him that “he [the member of the First Presidency] would lie like hell to help the brethren.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 373)
62. Despite consistent denials that church leaders demanded complete and blind obedience, as well as the cloak of infallibility, members were told that when confronted with doubt, they should always subordinate their judgment to that of their priesthood leaders. Leaders indeed dictated matters from the most trivial to the most profound and far reaching. In fact, men refusing to go on missions were once told that they should anticipate relinquishing their wives for refusing to obey the Brethren. This is at odds with the claim by modern leaders and apologists that members of the LDS Church have always been admonished to exercise their own agency and think for themselves. (Solemn Covenant, p. 373) The same tension exists currently between one’s individual agency and the church’s demands for obedience, loyalty and conformity.
63. Though members were occasionally told to exercise their individual moral conscience and beware of blind obedience to their leaders, most often in common practice they were ordered not to question the judgment of their leaders. Brigham Young put it this way, “sheep must follow the Shepherd, not the shepherd the sheep.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 374)
64. Modern leaders of the church have used general conference as a platform to condemn the practice of situational ethics. Yet Joseph Smith’s letter to Nancy Rigdon sent to convince her to become a plural wife is the epitome of situational ethics. It said, “That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another . . .. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire . . .. But in obedience there is joy and peace unspotted.” Mormons often translate teachings about unquestioning obedience, and treating leaders as infallible into: “You don’t question things. If the church says it, you don’t say yes or no, you go along.” This principle and practice tends to relegate honesty to a lower priority than blind obedience and conformity to Church leaders. (Solemn Covenant, p. 374. Mormon Polygamy, p. 32. See also for an excellent treatment: http://www.i4m.com/think/leaders/mormon_loyalty.htm)
65. Henry S. Tanner explained that when he was forced to lie to protect himself or the church then the word he spoke (lies he told to civil authorities under oath) had no binding power. He believed that the Mormons would be regarded by God as having made no promises nor be accountable for lies told to protect the church. Tanner and others blamed the government for making them lie. Lying was elevated from duplicity and degraded communication to a religious duty. (Solemn Covenant, p. 374-375)
66. Carl A. Badger, who was not a church member, acted as a friend and counselor to the church during the Smoot hearings. During those hearings it was discovered that the church leaders had lied and deceived the federal government about its intentions to rid the church of polygamy. He concluded that the church had decided that some things were more important than honesty. He said that the result was moral confusion. George D. Kirby, writing in the Improvement Era in 1910, admitted as much when he answered charges that Mormons were deceitful. He wrote that there might be “truth in the charges.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 376)
67. United States Senators participating in the Smoot hearings where church leaders repeatedly and systematically lied under oath, determined that the decision to lie to protect polygamy and church leaders’ practice of it, ultimately led to charges of casuistry, secrecy, and moral contradiction. Many concluded that Mormon leaders consistently stood for honesty as long as their own affairs were not involved – when it was convenient. A gentile expressed it this way, “When any of us [non-members] sin . . . we sin for our own sakes.” But when a saint lied, it was done “for Christ’s sake.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 376)
68. The Salt Lake Tribune was at odds with the church in the late 19th century because of polygamy and the Church’s control of civil government. Adding to the disgust of Tribune editors was that the church claimed to be the Lord’s special vessel of truth, but so often refused to live up to the honor. Tribune editors rejected the claim that institutionalized lying and deception was necessary to protect the Lord’s church. The paper claimed something hard to refute; that it was impossible “for a Mormon Elder to be a new polygamist without at the same time being a liar.” Church leaders, compounded the problem by claiming that they had always been honest. (Solemn Covenant, p. 377)
69. Mormons were inventive in their ability to distort the truth to preserve polygamy and convince themselves that they were honest. B. Carmon Hardy has written, “In addition to semantic usages such as union and sealing, thus permitting denials of plural marriage, reference has also been made to instances involving the marrying of two wives on the same day; reliance on the fact that women were always sealed to men, allowing their husbands to deny that they had married polygamously; use of proxies; marrying a new wife legally, after the death of a prior legal spouse, while maintaining relationships with earlier plurals; the performance of ceremonies at sea or in foreign countries; and resort to concubinage. The variety of ruses employed will never fully be numbered.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 377)
70. John Taylor received a revelation in 1886 wherein he declared that those wishing to inherit the highest degree of the celestial kingdom must continue to live the principle of plural marriage, no matter what pressure was brought to bear against them. Ironically, modern polygamists point to the same revelation as their commission to carry out the dictate of the Lord’s anointed, in order to keep plural marriage alive until the millennium. They also use lies, deception and codes to mislead law officers. Dorothy Allred Solomon confessed, “Although we were reared to treasure truth and cling to the light, our way of life was filled with secrets.” This readiness to deceive has been referred to as “Mormon logic.” Sometimes they “disobey a lesser law to keep a higher one.” Another irony is that modern members are highly critical of the tactics of the modern polygamists, who borrowed the tactics from Mormon polygamists in the 1800’s. (Solemn Covenant, p. 378)
71. One subtle way of deceiving government agents was for church members to say that the church had abandoned polygamy. The idea was that the church was an organization that had abondoned the practice. But individual priesthood leaders might still take new wives. Thus the idea was that though the church had abandoned the practice, the priesthood had not. This allowed church leaders to act in a dual role–either as corporate spokesman or individual priesthood holder. At least as far back as President John Taylor, it was understood that the responsibility for encouraging plural marriage had been taken from the church and extended to everybody “upon his own responsibility.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 378-379)
72. Apostle John W. Taylor married Janet Maria Wooley as his third wife only four days after the Manifesto was presented and accepted in general conference. They married in a carriage in Liberty Park at night in Salt Lake City. The family intentionally backdated the marriage date to 10 October 1889. Apostle John W. Taylor married Rhoda and Roxie Welling on 29 August 1901 (11 years after the Manifesto). The ceremony was performed at the Taylor home in Farmington, Utah. Joseph F. Smith, who was acting as a counselor in the First Presidency, gave permission. The subterfuge was regarded as virtuous by church leaders. (Solemn Covenant 206-207)
73. Apostle Brigham Young Jr. took a plural wife the year before the 1890 Manifesto was published and again in August 1901, despite President Woodruff’s insistence (in the Manifesto) that no such marriages had been solemnized prior to its publication. He must have known better, because Young was president of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles. Later, during the debate over B.H. Roberts attempt to take his seat as an elected representative to the House of Representatives, B. Young Jr. publicly asserted that President Snow’s denials regarding the continued practice of polygamy in the church after the Manifesto were true. Ironically, Young was quoted as teaching that he had “naught but contempt for all forms of hypocrisy or deceit.” In fact, his half-sister said of him, “He can keep still but must not deceive.” Mormon leaders developed a blind spot when it came to their own dishonesty. (Solemn Covenant, pp. 207-208)
74. Apostle Marriner W. Merrill took a plural wife in the Logan Temple in 1901, well after the Manifesto was accepted as binding upon the church. He denied under oath in front of the Senate committee investigating Reed Smoot that he had married Hilda after 1890. Though the committee possessed solid evidence that he was lying he continued to insist that he was telling the truth. (Solemn Covenant, p. 208)
75. The son of Wilford Woodruff, Abraham Owen Woodruff married 18 year-old Eliza Avery Clark as a plural wife in 1901 (11 years after his father presented the Manifesto). She was previously engaged to a young man living in Wyoming where she resided with her family. After apostle Matthias F. Cowley persuaded her to marry Woodruff, she broke her engagement and consented to marry Woodruff. Cowley performed the ceremony in Preston, Idaho. (Solemn Covenant, pp. 208-209) Modern church members might be stunned to learn of the disregard for the law demonstrated by church leaders. In a modern members’ mind it would conflict with the covenant to obey the laws of the land. (DandC 134:1 “We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them. . . .”)
76. Apostle Rudger Clawson married a plural wife in 1904 (14 years after the Manifesto had been accepted as binding on the church). He married Pearl Udall as a second wife with his wife’s consent. Apostle Marriner W. Merril spoke directly to younger members of the Quorum of the Twelve and advised them not to neglect the opportunity to build up a kingdom for themselves (a euphemism for polygamy). Clawson took the command from his superior seriously, though it meant contradicting the Manifesto. After the marriage, Merrill counseled young Clawson to mislead those looking for evidence of post-Manifesto plural marriages by writing misleading entries in his diary, or simply neglecting to record them. (Solemn Covenant, p. 211)
77. Abraham Hoagland Cannon married Annie Cannon after President Woodruff gave him consent to do so, in 1894, four years after the Manifesto declared an end to all plural marriages. What adds interest to this form of deceit is that Annie was taken as a concubine. Apparently church leaders had considered this practice from 1843 on when the revelation to Joseph about plural marriage mentioned that the Lord approved concubinage.
Members usually denied that they practiced concubinage, and insisted that they only married honorable wives. George M. Cannon suggested the concubinage method to Abraham and said, “I believe in concubinage, or some plan whereby men and women can live together under sacred ordinances and vows until they can be married.” He insisted that such relationships must be kept secret until the government changed its laws. He added that concubinage would open up a way to take care of “our surplus girls” as well as fulfill the command to multiply and replenish the earth. Despite protests by contemporary Mormons that polygamy established high standards of decency and morality, it appears that some church leaders rationalized the use of concubinage. Abraham H. Cannon did. Fifteen lines are cut out of his diary for October 1894, three days after his visit with Annie and Uncle George Q. Cannon, where the suggestion regarding concubinage was made. Though Annie lived to be 79 years of age, there is no record of her having been married. She is said to have accompanied Abraham Cannon on numerous excursions and she refused a proposal for marriage from prominent LDS member, Heber Bennion. (Solemn Covenant, pp. 214-215)
78. President George Q. Cannon appears to have entered into a concubinage-like relationship with Amelia Madsen one year before his death and well after the Manifesto was presented. She was past child-bearing age. (Solemn Covenant, p. 215)
79. Joseph F. Smith performed a secret marriage for Abraham H. Cannon and Lilian Hamlin. The four; Abraham and Lilian, and Joseph F. and a wife, traveled by train to California. On the way to Catalina Island by boat, the marriage was solemnized on the vessel. LDS Leaders believed that solemnizing marriages on water permitted them to say they had not performed marriages “in” the U.S. – or “on U.S. soil.” Abraham contracted an ear infection on the trip and after returning home to Salt Lake died. Before expiring he confessed to Wilhelmina, his first wife that he had married Lilian Hamlin and she presumed that Joseph F. Smith had performed the ceremony since he was the only authority of the church present. Nevertheless, during the Smoot hearings Joseph F. Smith consistently denied having performed the marriage. Those who have investigated the facts have little trouble dismissing Joseph F. Smith’s denials as pure prevarications. To further confuse those who might be interested in the marriage, Joseph F.Smith traveled under the assumed name Orson Smith, a code name for his own person. It allowed Smith to deny that he (Joseph F. Smith) performed the ceremony. (Solemn Covenant, 219-220)
80. Apostle George Teasdale married a plural wife, Marion Scoles secretly in October of 1897. His diary entries for the 23rd to the 28th are missing. These are the dates when the couple traveled together and were married. He later married another wife, Letitia Dolly Thomas on 17 May 1900. Teasdale divorced Lillias Hook, a former wife to try avoid scandal, because the Salt Lake Tribune had begun to investigate the matter. President Joseph F. Smith told the Smoot committee that Lillias had never been a real wife to Teasdale–only an elderly housekeeper. She had been sealed to Teasdale in name only as a favor to her, Smith told the committee. To the contrary, Lillias was only 35 when she was married to Teasdale, hardly elderly. She was 8 years younger than Teasdale. Teasdale’s divorce complaint from Lillias stated that she was unable to have sexual intercourse. Yet he remained married to her for decades before divorcing her. Incongruously, the records of the Twentieth Ward in SLC where Lillias lived,list one George Vivian Teasdale, born on 11 June 1896, and name George and Lillias Teasdale as the parents. (Solemn Covenant, 221-226)
81. Bogus divorce in order to mislead authorities was a ploy sometimes used in Mormon polygamous families. The logic was that if a fake divorce was necessary to live the higher law of polygamy it was acceptable. Also, Mormons believed that earthly divorce was not binding in heaven anyway. In the eyes of the Lord, the couple was still married. (Solemn Covenant, 226-227)
82. Ninety year-old President Wilford Woodruff took a new plural wife in 1897 one year before his death. He married Lydia Mamreoff von Finkelstein Mountford who was a 49 year-old. She was a guest lecturer in Salt Lake City, having been invited by James E. Talmage. President Woodruff was captivated by her. She was baptized in February 1897. They traveled together to California and used assumed names when registering in a hotel in Portland, Oregon. Most likely, between 20 and 22 September 1897, they were married while sailing back to Portland from California. Mountford was the legal wife of Charles Edwin Mountford. This would not be the first instance of plural marriage to a woman still legally married. Joseph Smith practiced that concept nearly at least 11 times (In Sacred Loneliness, pp. 15-23). It has always been postulated that whatever others did after the Manifesto, President Woodruff had honored the “revelation.” The marriage was later solemnized by proxy in the Salt Lake Temple in 1920. (Solemn Covenant, 228-232)
83. The LDS leaders’ constant use of prevarication turned friends against them. Theodore Schroeder, once friendly to the Mormons became a bitter enemy when he discovered the extent of the deceit used by church leaders and members alike. In 1897 he wrote essays exposing the continuing practice of polygamy, despite denials issued by the church. He set out to prove that the church had consistently lied about its involvement with polygamy since the Nauvoo period. (Solemn Covenant, 246)
84. B. H. Roberts admitted taking plural wives as late as April 1890 during the Smoot Hearings, contradicting President Woodruff’s statement in the Manifesto that no such marriages had taken place in the year preceding the Manifesto. Roberts was probably lying about the year he married his last plural wife, Dr. Milford Shipp. She was still legally married and lived with her husband until 1892. The marriage to Roberts most likely occurred in 1894. Roberts managed to expose both he and President Woodruff as deceivers at the same time. (Solemn Covenant, 247)
85. When B.H. Roberts was elected to the House of Representatives after Utah became a state, the House voted to exclude him because an investigation revealed that Roberts was engaged in polygamous marriage and that one of his wives had married him after the Manifesto. Since it was a clear violation of the law of the land, and he and the LDS leadership had flouted the society’s legal code, he was declared unfit for office. A petition was circulated demanding that B.H. Roberts be denied a seat in Congress. Seven million citizens signed it and it was presented to Congress. Those considered enemies by church leaders were provided a national platform from which to trumpet their evidence of dishonesty on the part of church leaders and members. (Solemn Covenant, 249, 250)
86. Reed Smoot was elected to the United States Senate and lawmakers protested immediately. The government authorities feared that Smoot was a polygamous sympathizer, though he was not a polygamist himself. It was also a well established fact that the church had engaged in deception for decades to evade the law. Because of the church’s reputation for dishonesty, the Smoot investigation lasted more than 3 years (1904-1907) and resulted in over 3,000 pages of sworn testimony. The scope of the inquiry broadened to include the history, theology and culture of Mormonism itself. If the citizens of the U.S. doubted the honesty and veracity of the Mormon leaders and their people before the hearings, afterward they did not doubt due to mountains of testimony and documented evidence. The Mormons were guilty of unending prevarication. (Solemn Covenant, 251)
87. President Joseph F. Smith was the first witness called and placed under oath to tell the whole truth before the Smoot investigation. His testimony may have been the most damaging of the whole investigation. He pled incredible ignorance concerning the polygamous activities that he personally permitted and encouraged. Yet he admitted to fathering children by 5 wives since 1890, after the Manifesto had been issued. He categorically denied that Presidents Woodruff and Snow had authorized polygamous marriages after the Manifesto. He knew that to be false. He went on to say that he had not heard anyone “advocate, encourage or recommend” plural marriages since the Manifesto. This was false. U.S. leaders and citizens joined with the LDS members in disbelief that President Smith would blatantly lie under oath–denying what others plainly knew to be true. One witness suggested tongue in cheek that President Smith was using his words differently than the way most people use them. (Solemn Covenant, 253)
88. Mormon apologist histories complain about the “persecution” heaped upon President Smith at the hearings, and praise his dignified responses. The truth is the constant stream of duplicity and lies increased the hostility toward Mormons. Most were disgusted with the Mormon Prophet, Seer, and Revelator who refused to come forth with a degree of honesty while under oath before the Senate hearings. (Solemn Covenant, 253-254)
89. George Reynolds antagonized hearing participants when he lied about knowing that his own daughter had married Benjamin Cluff (president of the Brigham Young academy) as a plural wife. He made the fantastic claim that since the Manifesto was issued 13 years prior, he had never spoken to anyone either for or against the practice. Reynolds had to be persuaded by Smoot to refrain from testifying that though his daughter was married, he knew nothing about it. (Solemn Covenant, 253-254)
90. Under oath at the Smoot hearings, Hyrum M. Smith, son of President Joseph F. Smith testified that he had no recollection of the subject of polygamy being discussed in any of the meetings of the Quorum of the Twelve. Then he contradicted himself by assuring the committee that if the subject was discussed, the Twelve were urged to stamp out the practice. Both statements were lies. (Solemn Covenant, 254)
91. Francis M. Lyman lied under oath when he told investigators that although everyone else in Utah was aware of continued cohabitation with plural wives, Senator Smoot was unaware of the practice. The interrogator followed that response and inquired if Smoot was uninformed about the state he was supposed to represent. Lyman contradicted himself by stating that Smoot was probably better informed than anyone else about domestic practices in the state he represented. To make matters worse, Lyman claimed that he was being guided by the Spirit of the Lord in his responses. When the interrogator asked Lyman if he was blaming the Lord for the contradictions (lies) within his testimony, Lyman had no reply. He added later that polygamy was a mystery of the kingdom. (Solemn Covenant, 254)
92. Under oath, Apostle John Henry Smith testified that he couldn’t remember his own birth date, as well as other easily recalled facts about his life that he claimed he could not recollect. (Solemn Covenant, 254)
93. Apostle Marriner W. Merrill swore that he had taken no plural wives since the Manifesto, though it was widely known that he had taken one in 1901 (eleven years after the Manifesto). (Solemn Covenant, 254)
94. Senator-to-be Reed Smoot, testified that he had no knowledge that “any apostle or any member of the Presidency” had taken a plural wife since 1890, except for the cases he learned of at the hearings. This was demonstrably false as later testimony by Smoot illustrated, when he contradicted himself. (Solemn Covenant, 255)
95. Under oath at the Smoot hearings, President Joseph F. Smith testified that church inquiries into polygamous marriages or the arrangement of plural marriages by church leaders in Salt Lake was an issue delegated to the local units to investigate. He did this despite being the one, along with other church leaders, to orchestrate the marriages. (Solemn Covenant, 255)
96. President Smith promised under oath to arrange for church leaders from Salt Lake to cooperate and appear before the Smoot hearings to testify about the issue of polygamy in Utah. Yet, after returning to Salt Lake, he wrote to Senator Burrows that several apostles could not travel to the hearings on account of ill health. He wrote that he could not persuade apostles Taylor and Cowley to appear. These excuses qualify as pre-meditated deceit. President Smith had the power to require the apostles to appear. To compound the deception, Teasdale and others who supposed to be suffering from fragile health took several long journeys (Mexico, Arizona and Canada), and the trips had no ill effects on their health. In fact, Teasdale traveled to Mexico and Canada to run beyond the grasp of the interrogators at the Smoot hearings. (Solemn Covenant, 256-257)
97. Church leaders attempted to persuade Anthony W. Ivins to sign an affidavit that they knew to be categorically untrue. Being a man of clear conscience, Ivins refused to sign it. The purpose of the document was to certify that no plural marriages occurred in Mexico after the Manifesto. Most members are unaware that church leaders pressured others to lie. (Solemn Covenant, 257)
98. Because of the damaging testimony at the Smoot hearings, public perception of the Mormons was that Mormons and their leaders were liars. Smoot wanted the leaders to take steps to repair the damage they had caused at the hearings by giving false testimony. Consequently, President Smith read a statement that compounded the problem of negative perception. The statement denied that plural marriages had been performed in the church after the Manifesto, and denied that new plural marriages were being performed currently. Both statements were false. In fact, he had sanctioned many marriages since the Manifesto. He also stated that those who had had marriages solemnized since the Manifesto were subject to excommunication from the church. This was also a lie. Finally, Smith blasted the committee for accusing church leaders of being dishonest. (Solemn Covenant, 259-260)
99. Apostle Francis M. Lyman sent a message to Apostle Teasdale and admitted that plural marriages performed after the Manifesto (supposedly bringing a stop to the practice) had shaken the confidence of the members in their leaders. He also admitted to Teasdale that church leaders were perceived to be dishonest and untrustworthy because of their deception in the Smoot hearings. (Solemn Covenant, 261) Current LDS apologists are reluctant to admit dishonesty on the part of their leaders, or they find creative ways to characterize their behavior as noble and praiseworthy; as if they had no choice. Prophets who claim to commune with God, and direct the only true church on earth, are placed on pedestals as models of virtue. Church members assume that their prophets are men of principle.
100. After the statement (1904) denying that plural marriages were being performed currently, and that those participating in them would be excommunicated, church leaders ordered Anthony W. Ivins in Mexico, to quickly marry at least two couples who had intended to marry polygamously before word of the statement was officially taken personally to outlying Mormon settlements. This action contradicted the letter as well as the spirit of the statement read by President Smith in the April 1904 conference. (Solemn Covenant, 261)
101. When many in the federal government became weary of the church’s lies, deception and cover-up of the true facts involving polygamy, Democrats considered placing an anti-polygamy plank in the 1904 national platform; to propose an amendment to the constitution prohibiting polygamy. Church leaders scurried to placate the leaders of the nation. It was suggested that apostles Taylor and Cowley be offered as sacrificial lambs, to create the idea in Washington that the church was finally serious about stamping out the practice of polygamy.
Both men were assured that the action was only a temporary separation from the quorum of the Twelve, in order to appease lawmakers in Washington. After being told President Smith himself would quickly reinstate them, they finally agreed to be cut off and were separated from the quorum on October 28, 1905. The two apostles were not the only two leaders who had participated in the practice after the Manifesto. The sacrificial brethren and the church leaders were both losers because of the deceptive maneuvering.
The leaders did not keep their word to the two apostles. They were never reinstated due to the public pressure to convince lawmakers that their punishment was real. Taylor was excommunicated from the church in 1911, because the church leaders finally made up their minds to abandon polygamy, and he disagreed with the action. Some church members thought that the authorities had gone too far to placate the government while others were relieved. Lies and deception about polygamy caused church members to contend for one side or the other: (1) maintain the practice despite government penalties, or (2) rid the church of the practice. (Solemn Covenant, 261-266)
102. After the Smoot hearings, and the excommunication of Elders Taylor and Cowley from the Quorum of the Twelve, the leaders of the church finally became serious about stopping the practice of polygamy. When members were caught, the church councils began to discipline them (as they claimed they had been doing decades earlier). Joseph W. Summerhays was apprehended and charged with illegally entering the practice. He identified President Joseph F. Smith as the church leader who gave him permission to practice polygamy. President Smith denied the charge. Those leaders eager to excommunicate Summerhays were stunned that President Smith likely gave his consent so it was decided to drop Summerhays from his church position rather than excommunicate him. Smith refused to admit his considerable role in keeping the practice alive. (Solemn Covenant, 291)
103. President Smith addressed the practice of polygamy in the April 1911 conference and once again affirmed that the church was keeping its word regarding the cessation of plural marriages, including the punishment of those found practicing it. Senator Reed Smoot knew differently however. He tried to persuade President Smith to actually do what the church told the government it was doing–take action against those who were engaging in the practice. He sensed what President Smith didn’t. Americans would not tolerate polygamy any longer. He wrote, “If there is another investigation I do not know how [our] present position will be justified . . .. We are in a bad position for an examination or investigation.” Contrary to what the leaders were telling the government, they were still reluctant to stop the practice or bring action against those who engaged in it. (Solemn Covenant, 294)
104. Church leaders did not hesitate to deceive when they engaged in Post-Manifesto marriages well after 1904. While members resided in Mexico, their leaders promised them eternal rewards for taking other wives and refusing to be intimidated by government threats. When they moved to the United States, they were treated with humiliation and disgust by fellow members who were embarrassed to be associated with those breaking the law. One member took his wives into New Mexico from Texas and was accused of white slavery. Another member attended a church meeting in the states with his plural wives and quickly became the object of scorn. The double tongued approach to plural marriage on the part of church leaders led to confusion and disillusionment among all church members. Practicing polygamous fundamentalists learned that deception is no sin, as a result of the behavior of mainstream LDS Leaders. (Solemn Covenant, 296-297)
105. Church leaders deceived its members when they redefined the term “celestial marriage.” Until the 1880’s it had referred exclusively to plural marriage. To mislead government authorities, leaders claimed that “celestial marriage” meant only a marriage that survived death; though they never subscribed to this meaning themselves. During the Smoot hearings leaders used this deceptive maneuver to mislead investigators. This deception proved helpful in Idaho where the constitution prohibited those practicing or teaching “celestial marriage” from voting. Yet, as late as 1904, leaders privately used the term “celestial marriage” to refer to polygamy. In order to distance itself from polygamy, the church finally adopted the new meaning of “celestial marriage.” Modern members in the mainstream of the church do not understand that “celestial marriage” originally referred to polygamy alone. Current church leaders perpetuate the deception. (Solemn Covenant, 297-298)
106. A member of the First Presidency organized a legislative strategy committee to influence legislation in 1896. It informed member legislators that the committee’s action “must be obeyed.” Newspapers later informed its readers that the committee was operational. Ed Ivins, reporter for the Salt Lake Herald, questioned each member of the committee, trying to confirm the existence of the committee. “Every Mormon General Authority told partial truths and downright misrepresentations” during this episode. In other words, they denied the existence of a committee that they knew existed. (Edward Leo Lyman: Mormon Leaders in Politics, Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 24, No. 2, Fall 1998, pp. 46-49)
107. The church’s official position on B
| I was thinking about Mormonism today. It has surely been in the news of late.
In many ways, Mormons are misunderstood, and many of them are very good people. In truth, they are better than the institution they slavishly follow, prop up, and support.
I recall what I felt Mormonism is.
Mormonism is a business. I never could escape the fact that Mormonism is a huge business. It has business interests, loves property, and is spending huge amounts on a mall it does not need. Property and money always came before the members, so now, the members clean the chapels, and the missionaries starve. They are to feel guilty if they don't.
Mormonism is unforgiving. "The Miracle of Forgiveness" said it all. In fact, that awful book is still out there, bringing sobs and heartache to those who honestly do want to do the right thing, but find they are totally inadequate.
The Mormon concept of guilt and "repentance" is very brutal indeed. It is often made public, through, "courts of love," so everyone knows who the sinners are. The transgressions follow the member for their life entire, and they are never forgotten or forgiven. Not really.
Mormonism is greedy. The leaders of the church want lots of money. Their appetite for the stuff defies belief. There is tithing, and dozens of other ways to suck money from the members. If you are not at the top of the Mormon food chain, you give, give, and give. There is no thanks, and there is no appreciation.
Mormonism is prying. The church pries into every corner of a member's life. From the time they are 12, the prying begins. Sexual practices are pried into, as are other things---finances, spare time, hobbies, and what a person does in those rare moments they can escape the suffocating influence of the organization.
Mormonism is destructive to families. The church claims to care about family, but it pulls families apart as much as it builds them up. The members spend hours on church callings. Activities are regulated, forced, and bland.
Mormons can never get away as a family and have fun. The church hovers above them as they go from place to place. If they go on trips, they look for a ward to attend. All too often, vacations center around church sites, or church
Family members who stray are all too often cast off, and disregarded. If the backslider does go to a family event, they can feel the fear and loathing.
If you don't do as you are told, you are a third-rate citizen.
Mormonism is culturally dead. The church calls the basketball floor the "culture hall," and that pretty well sums it up. Where is the culture?
Mormon books are terribly written, didactic in the extreme, and pathetically dull. Mormon movies are always best left unseen. Mormons are not really encouraged to read much, save the writings and pontifications of the church "leaders." The church regulates the movies one sees, and the learning one is supposed to have. Mormonism practices "socialist realism," with no interest at all in art for art's sake.
Mormonism exists for a few families. Michael Quinn explored the family ties of the church leaders, and what he found should be no surprise. The top positions in the church are often based off of family ties. More "General Authorities " are related than many realize.
And those who run the church make themselves rather comfortable. Once you reach the top, life is very good indeed, with virtually no scrutiny of salary, benefits, or goodies. The leaders are not simple humble men who live for the gospel. Best not to be fooled. From the very first days of the church, the leaders got very special treatment.
In the "Doctrine and Covenants," one can read the revelation about making a house for Joseph, ---and a hotel as well. God took an interest in hotels before J. Willard Marriott did. Of course , the hotel belonged to Joseph.
Brigham Young died a millionaire, when a million dollars was a lot more valuable than it is now. He lived in splendor, while many lived in hovels, wagon beds, or shacks. Brigham always took good care of Brigham. Today's leaders always take care of themselves.
Mormonism is, by nature, totalitarian. If left alone, free of the awful restraints of federal law, Mormonism rapidly becomes totalitarian. In isolation, like BYU, the strong arm quickly takes over, and the church calls all the shots. BYU came as close to being a dictatorship as any institution in America can. I recall the joke about Ernest Wilkinson writing a book titled "Free Agency: How to Enforce It." Ernie knew how to enforce it.
"Priesthood Authority," means total authority. Mormonism is a police state inside a dark blue suit.
Mormonism is, in many ways, a cult of personality. Joseph Smith still reigns supreme, as Lenin did in the old Soviet Union, and Mao did in China.
Smith is always pictured as larger than life, the perfect man who held a child with care, combed his wife's hair, and played with the kids. He was all things----a giant, an intellect, a man's man. Joseph trod the sod, and left footprints only Jesus could match.
The brethren still built the cult of personality. Look at the leaders in Conference, as they sit in their comfortable chairs. They seldom smile, and they are a stern and unbending bunch.
The people in the Soviet Union used to say "Our leaders are stern, but they care about us." Well of course they did.
The same can be said for the Mormon leaders. But the problem is, they don't care a hell of a lot. They are special, unique, aloof, and free of human failing. Just ask them.
I left it all. Could not take it any longer. Looking back still chills me. I did not leave them, they left me.
| This is especially true when the the only evidence of their "bitterness" is a negative comment about the mormon church or the supposition that they have a right to express and support a personal opinion.
For years, I've written little pieces about how exmos have a right to feel anger if the morg has hurt them. But that isn't saying that everyone here is angry or bitter. Most exmos I meet are cheerful, upbeat, mild mannered, pleasant, gracious people. So claiming they are bitter is not only name-calling, in my opinion, it's also an off-beat exercise in mindreading since there's no evidence to support such a claim.
Boundaries are not expressions of bitterness, hate, or rage. They're healthy positive step in recovery.
I put up with mormon phone calls, visits, unwanted gifts, and visits for thirty years. Doing this harmed me and also my marriage and family life. Learning to say no to mormons didn't happen overnight and wasn't the result of anger or bitterness. It was a true act of learning to respect myself and my own rights. It took being able to honor my personal integrity and family harmony above my reluctance to say no to intruding mormons when appropriate.
Exmos can now resign. They don't usually have to file police reports, hire lawyers, or hose recalcitrant religious intruders from their property. That wasn't the case when I left the morg. In those days, mormons claimed the absolute right to stalk exmormons until death. This included anyone who had been baptized, including those who were dragged to a font unwillingly when they were only eight years old.
It's people who left in prior decades who deserve some of the credit for establishing the precedent for resignation, for emmerging no-contact lists, for sometimes phoning before VTing and HTing, and for morbots beginning to grapple ot some extent with the idea of personal privacy and boundaries.
The fight isn't won, but it's a far cry better than it was when I was a kid. In those days mormons expected every private door to be cheerfully opened 24 hours a day, without warning, for any representative from the morg, no matter the situation, or the reason.
My parents let dinners go cold or burn if the HTers showed up. They let babies go without nursing or diaper changes, and sick kids wait for pain killers. They'd allow the cows to bellow for milking and let irrigation water rights pass the time limitations. My mother once let a pressure cooker explode and peach jam run all over the kitchen rather than hurry along a VTing lesson.
I'm absolutely certain that many here consider it mean or hurtful not to pander to mormons who pop in at odd times. But I'm married to a nevermo with different ideas. I held him in check for decades as best I could, taking his ire when I should have let him turn it on the mormons. They were the ones without respect for our family's needs and private lives. So for those who think that establishing boundaries is an act of hatred and bigotry, I will have to disagree.
I also disagree that expressing opinions and defending them means someone is angry or hateful. In the real non-morg world, people in workplaces, in families and neighborhoods estabish and protect boundaries. That's how they get along and avoid anger and hatred. I worked a full career for decades and also worked as a union organizer/leader. This meant many oppotunities to talk about differences of opinion. Never once did anyone in over thirty years term spirited discussions as "bitterness."
Real-world people don't agree on everthing and don't consider it hatred or bitterness when they discuss their differences. They can show enthusiasm and defend divergent opinions without snorting or calling one another names. In the non-mormon world people of many different religions or no religious persuation can often get along fine, especially those who don't think theirs is the one and only true church.
| I have read a lot of stories from a lot of exmos about not being able to be ourselves in Mormonism. Near the end, I was trying harder and harder to ignore the glaring problems of Mormonism. My bishop even put me on the spot and told me he wanted to hear my testimony in a meeting. I wasn't feeling it, and faking it only made it worse.
My point is, sometimes we had to push who we really were under the surface and be somebody we were not just to get along in Mormonism. That's one of my biggest complaints, even more than problems with their teachings. I had to pretend.
When I left Mormonism, I saw a counselor who told me that I had a problem with self-authenticity. I was trying to be what everybody else wanted me to be. And by not being true to myself, I was harming myself. Who I am was trying so desperately to get out, and I was stifling it. I was cramped up inside a small box that Mormonism had told me I needed to fit into. And they told me that being in that box was the only way to be happy.
I started to search within myself and find out who I am. Being my authentic self, to the best of my ability, unleashed massive amounts of energy. I found myself able to get up off the couch and work out. I found my mind able to solve problems much better. My memory got better. I didn't obsess over things that happened years ago. I no longer resented people for 'making' me do things.
I used to take a calling I knew I was going to hate and I knew I was going to do poorly, but I was a people pleaser. I was afraid to say no. But I inevitably ended up resenting the calling. I'd have temporary moments of pride from a job well done, but I had not listened to my inner voice. I had ignored the red flags. Mormonism, by insisting on such strict obedience, actually contradicted it's teaching of listening to the still, small voice.
Mormonism teaches that the natural man is the enemy of God. How misguided can one get? It is times when I listened to that voice that life has turned out the best. I have good intuition. When I listen to my gut, I make good decisions. When I listen to the 'counsel' of a bishop, I am doing what a person who knows little about me wants me to do. The advice is not tailored to me, and therefore likely faulty.
Mormonism is fundamentally incorrect any time it teaches that there is a universal, one-size-fits-all doctrine. It is simply not true for me.
It's when I'm true to myself that life is best. Mormonism and being true to myself are inherently incompatible. That is the truth for me.
| Many here hope and believe that one day the LDS Church may collapse. I do not think this will occur. The LDS Church has weathered many storms in its past and has managed to survive. I believe that as an institution it will continue to exist.
I do not speak of my Mormon past to destroy the LDS Church, although I wouldn’t cry too much over its ruin. I believe that most active members of the church would be far happier and healthier without it. There is no small coincidence that Utah, which has the largest concentration of active LDS members, leads the nation in such unsavory categories as the most depressed state in the United States.
The reason I speak out is to change the LDS Church. My goal is the have the LDS Church accept responsibility for its tortured past and to permit and encourage its membership to openly discuss troublesome aspects of Mormonism without fear of censure or criticism.
I want it to change for the sake of my extended family and friends.
I was raised in a very committed LDS home and family. My parents were very good people who believed in the teachings of the church and strived to be the best Mormons they could be. Each parent served without complaint in various callings. When we lived overseas or in sparsely Mormon populated areas, my parents held multiple callings and traveled great distances to bring us to church.
One example is my father’s service as a district council member in the West Germany Servicemen’s District in the early 1970’s. On Sundays, we would travel throughout West Germany to visit small groups of US servicemen in locations which had been usually rented from businesses.
My mother’s greatest joys were having both of her sons serve full-time missions and having all four of her children married in the temple.
I was one of those four. I was a deeply committed LDS Church member. I gave it my all and everything. By the age of thirty-seven, I had not only served a mission and married in the temple, I had been an Elder’s Quorum president during the three years of law school, then Young Men’s President, ward mission leader, assistant to the high priest group leader (while working in the temple), a member of the Temple Open House Committee, high priest group leader and been a member of two bishoprics.
I used “free” time to research ancestors so temple work could be performed on their behalves. I was a member-missionary, speaking about the church with my neighbors and friends.
And I did it all happily and gladly because I believed in what my parents had taught me as true.
My wife was raised in a similar home.
Her parents are very committed to the church and have served in it faithfully and dynamically. Each parent has held significant leadership callings. The one son served an LDS mission and all four children were either married in the temple, or in the case of one single sibling, endowed in the temple.
My wife believed in her family and being a part of it, which included the LDS Church as the central requirement.
She loves her parents and siblings.
Then it all began to unravel for us.
When I began to seriously study my faith and its past, I was distressed. Every “truth” I believed became seriously challenged. My first challenges came from the internet, which led me to source documents and books. My doubts grew to overtake my beliefs.
During this time, I turned to those I trusted for help. I flew home and spoke with my father, I spoke with a sister, my twin brother, and with the bishop for whom I was a counselor. And I included my wife in my search for answers.
I quickly learned that the LDS Church was not open to any discussion which was troublesome. Its members had been taught a very glossy, almost “Glamour Shot” portrait of not only Joseph Smith, but also the church itself. Those I turned to not only didn’t have answers, but became adverse to inquiry. My father began to look into some of the issues and recognized that the church was wrong. His approach was to be patient for the brethren to address it. He recently passed away before the “Brethren” could address it. When he reached this point, our discussions ended. He told me to stop communicating with him regarding the church. The bishop told me to stop reading history.
The overwhelming response to my honest questions from members of the church was to stop questioning and to stop communicating.
Good relationships were destroyed because people feared discussing thorny issues. Very few members of the church felt comfortable or able to discuss troublesome subjects.
My wife took a different approach. She is a very shy person. She internalized everything. She went many months with avoiding speaking to her family. One sister, familiar with Smith’s polyandry, thought that Smith had become a fallen prophet but desperately wanted to believe in the church. My wife found no one comfortable she could speak with without harsh judgments.
When her parents discovered her disbelief, some of her fears were validated. We, or I, were accused of sinning, brainwashing, and soon my wife was being judged by the people she loved the most.
One LDS lady, a fun-loving, charismatic friend of my wife, confronted my wife in a department store and in front of one daughter accused my wife of being a horrible mother for her decision to stop attending church.
My parents called my wife and offered to finance a divorce if she would stay in the church and seek custody of our children.
As you can see, our relationships were being destroyed.
In all of it, I sensed and saw fear as being the prime motivator for people’s actions.
Good people were being permanently damaged because their religion forbade an honest and open discussion of its own past.
My parents, parents-in-law, and friends are good people. My wife is a good person. I would like to consider myself as a good person. We all were ripped apart because of a division created by a religion’s denial of past practices and histories, and its present decision to punish and alienate those who discover the truth.
We all deserved better than what we got.
I felt betrayed and confused by a church I loved. Why would it treat me and my loved ones so harshly? Why would it promote a toxic environment where questions are swept underneath the carpet and why would it establish an atmosphere were parents and children schemed about divorces and rendered severe judgments?
The church owed us all much more for the service and dedication we gave it.
It must change.
I hate seeing what happens to marriages, families, and friendships when someone stumbles onto the truth and can no longer, in good conscience, follow Mormonism.
The LDS church has only changed as a result of outside influence. It stopped polygamy only because Utah wanted statehood, it stopped its racist priesthood ban only as a result of intense outside pressure, and it modified its Lamanite doctrine recently because of outside scientific research and public exposure.
I hope that one day, families don’t need to be ripped apart when a person needs or desires to understand and question his or her faith. Perhaps, if enough pressure is brought to bear, the LDS church will acknowledge difficult misrepresentations and allow an honest and open discussion among good people.
And that is the single reason I post and contribute to the discussion of Mormonism – for openness.
| I recall the tortured odyssey that growing up in the LDS church was.
I recall the sheer horror I felt when my Bishop (next door neighbor) asked me about masturbation at age 13. He asked "Do you masturbate? Masturbation is when you play with your penis."
I was a kid, for God's sake. Why can a neighbor in the guise of a church "leader" ask a kid that question without being arrested for being a pervert?
I did seminary, and learned about people under the North Pole, Cain as Bigfoot, blood atonement, animal sacrifice making a comeback with Jesus,
the "seamless gowns" of the Celestial Kingdom (which has streets paved with gold), the need for polygamy, and on and on and on. It struck me as nutty. But I held on.
I went through the temple, and had the shit scared out of me. I felt I had been "trapped by the Mormons."
I endured the pain and abuse of the mission. I was lied to, mocked, pumped full of guilt, abused, cheated, and used. It was great stuff, I tell you.
My wife and I were married in the temple. We felt unmarried when it was over.
Was it okay to touch her breasts, and get naked? Hell, we felt as unmarried as anyone can feel.
I decided my kids were not going to have to put up with the long and tortured path to being an adult Mormon---where you are still treated like a kid, and denied any of the trappings of growing up.
And contrary to the the threats and fears instilled by the church, the kids have turned out just fine. They have not had the guilt my wife and I felt. They have not been quizzed about masturbation. They have not endured missions. But they obey the law (one son is a cop) and they have shown decency, kindness, and love.
They have made mistakes, and they have learned from them. They have become adults, and they can drink coffee, see any movie they want, and speak freely. They were never tortured with guilt, or left feeling utter despair at their failings.
"Its okay"---as the ludicrous Dr. Phil would say---to let kids grow up and become adults without all the barnacles attached by Mormonism.
| I often remember the time I sent my big brother a scathing email because he had sent me a dirty joke. I remember clipping ads out of magazines because they were too sexy. I remember throwing away rated R movies and refusing to listen to certain bands that I was told worshiped Satan. I remember saying really ignorant things to people who might have become friends because I was "under the influence" of Mormonism.
So as I try to make what I'll call a 'living amend' to the people I harmed in the past. As I clean up the wreckage of my past, forgive those who harmed me, ask for forgiveness from those I’ve harmed, I have realized that there is person I keep putting off. I have had amazing experiences with everybody I have approached. They all welcomed me with open arms.
I have started to forgive the people who I perceived as harming me at church. I did not leave because I was offended, but I had plenty of bizarre interactions with members. Many were judgmental for a variety of reasons. Many said ignorant things and did hurtful things. I am not in the business of figuring out whether they meant to be hurtful or not, I'm just in the business of living my life the best way I can, which means I need to forgive them.
But there is one person I have been putting off. There is one person I really need to forgive, and really mean it. I need to forgive myself. What do I mean? Like a person with an eating disorder, I starved my soul when I was active in Mormonism. I did not listen to my inner voice. I doubted myself. I did not nurture and feed my spirit. Mormonism left me feeling like I had been in a spiritual concentration camp.
Funny how Mormonism tells us to listen to the still, small voice, but if we get any feedback that is negative about "the" church, it must be from Satan. That’s a good way to make a guy neurotic if I’ve ever heard of one.
Because of the restrictions placed on me by Mormonism, and some restrictions I placed on myself because of the way I interpreted Mormon theology, I was not able to connect with others. But even worse, I was not able to connect with myself. When I left Mormonism, I was a hollow shell of a man. I no longer trusted my instincts. I just knew I had the worst judgment and I was going to end up a personal and professional failure. And I was OK with that because I thought I needed to suffer for what I’d done as a Mormon.
I was wrong.
I am now working on forgiving myself. It’s an ongoing process. I am forgiving myself for ignoring my inner voice. I’m forgiving myself for the intellectual and moral malnourishment that were, embarrassingly, self-inflicted. I am forgiving myself for getting so off-course in my life. I am even forgiving myself for all the strange rules I put on my sex life. I used to hate myself because I had normal human needs. I used to hate myself for not being perfect in every way. No matter how many scriptures I read and now matter how many hours I spent praying, attending church, going to the temple, and talking to the bishop about my sins, I am still human. I still get upset when somebody cuts me off in traffic. I just don’t beat myself up for not being a good Mormon. And I no longer worry about what sort of cosmic consequences are going to befall me for not being perfect. I no longer worry about going to hell or a lesser degree of glory.
But today, I am able to accept myself as a human being, with strengths and weaknesses. I am able to be comfortable in my own skin for more minutes and hours each day. And I am able to just relax and listen to my inner voice. I am able to be myself. I no longer damage my core by ignoring my gut. I am listening more and more and finding that I really do have a good idea what to do most of the time. I am learning to be my own best friend, and I’m a good friend to have.
I am forgiving myself.
| I am writing in momory of my father. My father passed away in December last year. My father was a good man, and I miss him a lot. His death became a calalyst for me, as it lead to my search for the truth about the church.
Even though it has been a year, I am still upset about the funeral service and the actions of the church members during this difficult time. A little background… My mother comes from a long history of mormons. My father was not a mormon when he met my mother. My dad converted for her, but when I was growing up he was mostly semi-active and he was only a deacon for several years. My father finally succumbed to the church a few years back, and since then he got married in the temple to my mom and was a TBM when he passed. My siblings and and I have not been to church in 20+ years.
Prior to my father’s passing, he was in bad health for quite some time and he was in and out of hospitals. My mother was also in poor heath. My siblings and I lived several miles away from our parents, therefore, we were unable to be there in times of immediate crisis - but we were making frequent trips to see them as often as we could.
Both of my parents had given many hours of service to the church over the years. However, during this terrible time, the church wasn’t there for them. The members were being asked to help my parents out, but when they did, most didn’t do so with sincerity. On the day that my father passed, one of the members took him to the hospital ER and dropped him off…and didn’t stay with him. My mother could not go with him, due to her health issues…and the rest of the family was not able to be there because we lived out of town.
That very night, the bishop called me out of the blue and told me that my parents had become too much of a burden for everyone. He basically ordered me to move them away so that they wouldn’t have to deal with them any longer. He showed no compassion at all and didn’t ask me how the family was doing during this difficult time. All he cared about was taking my parents off their hands…when in fact the only help that most of them gave was to bring in meals. Little did he know how hard we had tried in the last few years to get my parents to move closer. My father passed just a few hours after this conversation…alone, with no one at his side.
About a week before he passed, my dad set aside a time with the bishop to pay his yearly tithing. He wrote out a $3000 check, even though my parents were on a fixed income without any money to spare. I am convinced that my dad paid his tithing when he did because he knew his time was short and he wanted to ensure his ticket to the CK. For a couple of months before he died, my dad was having some problems getting social security to make a couple of back payments to him. A couple of days after he paid his tithing, he told me that he finally got his social security problem straightened out – and he believed it was proof that tithing really does work. Social security owed him this money anyway (it was a couple of back payments due to a problem with banking arrangements) and it was not a wind-fall by any means (it wasn’t even as much as the tithing he paid). So, my dad went to his grave believing that this he did all the right things to ensure his ticket to the CK. At least he was able to be at peace with himselfwhen he passed.
None of the family is active in the church except for my mother. At the funeral, my mother was the only one on our row that was a TBM. It must have been very disturbing to the church leaders to have so many “evil” people in their church at the same time. The service was going fairly well, until one guy who I had never met and who hadn’t seen my dad in years got up to speak. This man wasn’t even on the agenda, we were told that he volunteered to speak at the last minute because the bishop was busy with some other “important” duty. This man acted like my dad was his best friend, and went on and on about how my dad finally saw the error of his ways and accepted the church into his life. Funny….this “friend” didn’t bother to call or visit my dad once or even call him during his time in and out of hospitals over the months prior to his death. He said that my dad had finally realized that he wasn’t giving up anything for the church…that he was receiving more than he was giving. This man then proceeded to preach fora very long time, and made several comments alluding to the fact the rest of the family needed to “see the light” and to come back to church. He spoke for about 45 minutes – and most of his talk was not focused on my dad’s life by any means…
I was getting more and more annoyed that during this horrible time, they were trying to make the family feel guilty and to admonish us to go back to church. I was so angry by the end of the service that I couldn’t see straight. I wouldn’t speak to any of them after the service, and I wanted nothing to do with them. How dare they try to use this time for their own purposes, instead of celebrating the life of my dad!! It was very offensive to me that they would do this in our state of grief.
The icing on the cake is when the bishop spoke at the graveside service about how “tithing really does work”. He shared the story about my dad’s tithing (however, he didn’t portray the details correctly - he made it sound like he received a wind-fall in social security money - it was really money that they OWED to him, not free money). The bishop kept going on and on about the "blessings" of tithing...even though my dad passed just days after paying his tithing... He could have done without that "blessing". My entire family (except my mom) was getting increasingly annoyed. It appeared that they were using my dad’s death to get more money from their members in tithing. This was right at the end of the year and all of the tithing settlements were being scheduled and it sure looked like they were leaning on all of the TBMs to make their payments by using my dad’s story!
Several of my non-Mormon friends came to the funeral to support me, and they have told me how uncomfortable the funeral service was…and they could tell that they were using it as a lesson and a plea for money, instead of honoring my dad’s life, like most other funerals do.
A few things that I observed during this time…
I stopped going to church almost 20 years ago, and all of this sent me over the edge to dig deeper into the religion. When I started researching, I was surprised to find out that many others felt the same way that I did about the church and I was shocked to finally learn the truth about the religion. I couldn’t believe how many people out there felt the same way that I did…it was amazing to learn that so many others have had similar experiences and doubts.
- Most members didn’t attend the funeral to pay their respects. Only about 15 people from the ward attended. My parents had been in this ward for 25+ years, and knew most everyone…but very few members bothered to show up.
- In lieu of flowers, we requested that donations be made to the American Heart Association. Only one member made a donation in honor of my father, however, several of my non-Mormon friends who never met my father made generous donations.
- The ward was supposed to send dinner over to our house the night of the funeral, but it never showed up. When it didn’t arrive, we called to check on it and we were told that the food had been sent to another family because they didn’t think we needed it. Nice of them to call and tell us that they were changing their plans…
- My mom and dad’s “best friends” in the church didn’t show up to the funeral. The man was asked to speak at the funeral, and he declined. My parents had valued their friendship with this couple for years, however, they didn’t bother to call or show up when they were needed the most. My mother is still bitter about this.
- In general, there was a total lack of compassion or feeling from the church members. They all were very stoic in all of their dealings with the family. It almost seemed like they were on auto pilot and void of any feeling or emotion.
I always knew that something wasn’t right about the church. Now, I know why I always felt that way – it was my “inner voice” telling me that it wasn’t true, after all!
| Mormons and born agains, as well as some other cults think that all anger is evil, of the Devil, urged by Satan. They believe that being testy or out of sorts is a sin.
I have a magnet on my refrigerator from a mormon polygamist writer. It says, "Do not voice your opinion if it is contrary to mine."
That idea is the exmo legacy.
Mormons, both polygamist and mainstream, abor "contentiousness." Facts and logic don't count in the mormon order of things as much as priesthood authority. Reality is this. They expect us to swallow their dicatates whole, or suffer severly at their hands.
I reject the assertion that posters here are too mean, too angry, or too negative about their mormon experiences.
I've met hundreds of exmos in person. Overall, they're soft spoken, kind hearted, and accomodating beyond the normal population.
Those who say the morg is a cult might say it because they think it's true, not because they're mad at their last bishop. Those who claim that mormons are racist might know the history of mormon waffling on the subject and might have seen mormon racism in action, up close and personal. Some point out how they were sexually and physically abused by parents and morg leaders who used morg doctrine as an excuse. If that's their reality, so be it. Gay posters have a right to be angry. They're living with the pain of mormon dogma and family abuse every day. Being angry doesn't mean that their experience or observations are invalid.
I know exmormons who mock their temple names, mock priesthood authority, and show off sets of garments to jeering friends over cocktails. No believing mormon needs to suffer from this, unless they come here and read what I just wrote.
If they take offense, that's sad. I sometimes also feel sad when I go into mormon settings, so I understand how they feel. But life goes on. Whatever doesn't destroy us, makes us stronger!! LOL (Just kidding.) But a little anger or sadness doesn't kill us.
The point is this:
Some exmos suffer with anger issues. I didn't. I left in 1967 and was only angry when mormons showed up at my door, wouldn't leave when asked, and damaged my family's wellbeing. That only happened a few times a year for a few decades. The anger each time lasted only a week or two. Overall, I just wanted to live and let live with mormons.
Though I shouldn't be, I'm always surprised by the harsh mean accusations of "Why ALL the anger??!!" on this board? Anger is just a feeling. It doesn't last forever. If it seems to, people can seek counseling. In my experience no one stays angry forever because it isn't as fun as walking in the woods or going out to lunch with friends.
In reality, the anger is as often as not in the minds of accusers more than it is in the actual messages typed or spoken.
The problem is with those who believe my magnet is the Word of God. "Do not voice your opinion if it is contray to mine."
Well, as a kindergarten teacher, one of my favoite rhymes is "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary." She was a spunky little broad and I like her fine.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know I'm a bad speller. And no, I don't use spell check when I post. So go ahead and pray about it, but don't expect a miracle, unless you're just beginning your recovery journey and if so, we understand. LOL
| My personal definition of success has brought me deep inner peace, but it has also exacted a heavy price. |
I grew up in a social circle in Southern California dominated by mainstream, materialistic Corridor Mormons. Not a lot of philosophical depth among them; money, big homes, new cars, splashy clothes, hot-looking wife, dirt motorbikes, shotguns, etc...were the most important things.
I grew up under the mistaken notion that God favored dentists, doctors, lawyers, and other apparently wealthy white men because those were the ones He always chose as his "anointed." As a child without other reference points, I just assumed they were the smartest people. In that social circle, the accepted "truth" was the smartest were always the richest. After all, when you are righteous, the "Lord prospers you," right? And by "prosper," Mormons mean money, right?
But something happened along the way. Henry David Thoreau caught my attention in high school. And then there were Albert Camus, Wolfgang Borchert (German author), Goethe, Shakespeare, George Orwell, Samuel Clemens. And before long, I was finding myself really enjoying the life of the mind.
No one at church shared my enthusiasm.
Fast forward to today. I sit here as an owner operator of a carpet cleaning company. The daily lifestyle is simple: get the job done, do it right, make people happy.
There are other things like volunteering for the boy scouts, and leading tours in a history museum
Mostly though, I'm thankful to have a caring wife, and to be a father of two loving, caring teenage children; the kind of people who make great friends, and live in a meaningful way.
All of that brings me deep satisfaction, and joy. It makes me feel like my efforts matter; that my life matters.
But almost everyone in my own family, my wife's family, and those from the Mormon communities where I've been and served, are unable to respect me.
They are puzzled, saddened, or worse.
Their programming prevents them from praising, respecting, or honoring my life. I'm seen as a person who has lost his way; as a person who is just coming up with clever excuses for being financially "poor." To them, if I were "righteous," I'd be rich, like the other "rich" people in the family, and I'd still be Mormon.
And though it's sad, it's okay they see me that way as over the years, I've found true friends who show me true respect and I them.
My definition of success now is about "right livelihood." By that I mean job, family, hobbies, and life mission all should blend together into a unified whole.
In other words, my job doesn't define me. It enables me to do things like have the time flexibility to give tours at the history museum. I could work more hours to make more money, but that would cut into my time working with the scouts, or stretching and walking each morning.
A relatively low (for USA middle class suburbanites) Adjusted Gross Income of just over $48,000 for a family of four (a drop in the bucket in the eyes of my "rich" Mormon family) means we have to make "unusual sacrifices" to get by, like not owning a family car. And it also means I must sacrifice getting "respect" from more "successful" people who won't give me credence because I lack the required credentials (status job, big house, hot wife, etc.) to garner their "respect."
But, on the flip side, being "poor" is also a great opportunity for us to slow down our pace of life, have a more immediate-neighborhood-based lifestyle, and help care for the environment. We've found it's actually kind of fun to do our grocery shopping on foot, or to walk to the bank, doctor's office, post office, school, hardware store, and other daily errand locations.
Once a few years back, the leader of the local women's group at the Mormon Church said in a meeting: "We can't all be so fortunate to have a husband who is a doctor, dentist, or lawyer..." My wife told me about that later, and I took offense.
You see, the Mormon-culture-recommended doctor, dentist, lawyer path would've been the easy road. The tougher path was the one of introspection; the spiritual journey to the unknown; the one that would deprive me of respect and praise from most of the people who knew me, but would address my deepest needs as a human being.
Could I have been monetarily richer had I made the "right" choices according to my Mormon family and former Mormon associates?
But my point is I know I am rich, only in a way many who know me can't understand.
| Last week my DH and I resigned and moved from our small Utah town. I decided to resign largely because I have been living with terrible fear that if I talked about what has happened to my family over the past year and a half I would be disciplined. (My SP told my DH he would be).
I was BIC, BYU grad, RM, married in the temple, Molly Mormon as they come. I believed this was Jesus Christ's church and since his example was everything to me I did everything they told me to. My husband and I are both musicians. We played in the Orchestra at Temple Square since it began in 1999. We gave hours of time to OTS. Some weeks we had rehearsals or performances every day but Monday. This was not easy with my husband in grad school and very small children, but we loved it and felt we were serving God.
My husband is an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and when Jeffrey Nielsen was fired from BYU for speaking against the marriage ammendment he was furious. My DH's father lost his employment with the church years ago when he was falsely accused of stealing a journal the church was hiding. The story is incredible. He could have sued the church and been a rich man, but he was faithful. Anyway, my DH has very strong feelings about how people lose their jobs in this church.
My DH wrote a letter to the SL Tribune decrying the firing of Jeffrey Nielsen. As a result he was suspended from the orchestra. He was told he was "in direct opposition to the brethren" and on "the road to apostasy" . He was told the office of the First Presidency asked that he be suspended and that the OTS leadership were to see "if an enemy had infiltrated the orchestra". My DH tried to work things out, but they wouldn't even answer our e-mails. This after 7 years of service.
Our SP and BP were involved in a meeting where OTS turned the matter over to them. I felt like no one could hear anything my DH tried to say. They all knew he was an apostate and that was that. The meeting went for 2 hours and I sobbed through most of it. No one even said a kind word of consolation. None of the priesthood leaders said they wished us well, hoped the matter could be quickly resolved, or anything.
I never expressed any opinion about my husband's letter, just tried to help them understand his thinking and just for that I was made unwelcome.
From there my BP met with DH and asked what he thought about homosexuality. DH said it was innate and it was not generally reversible. BP said he was "picking science over God". He was told that this opinion made him unworthy of a temple recommend. When DH had not changed his mind about this by the next week, the BP threatened to turn him over to the SP for church discipline. This did not end up happening, but we spent several days fearful that it would.
My husband kept trying to work things out. (Mostly for my sake). He became very depressed. When I tried to tell the SP this he said "If he would repent he would not feel depressed."
To make a long story short I eventually wrote to my area authority asking for help. (Things had gotten very bad by this point). I got a form letter back telling me to trust local leaders. I also asked if someone could contact my father in law and briefly express concern for the pain he carries to this day. (I was so naive). This request was ignored. However, another family member wrote and also asked that this very old wound be healed. The response to this was my inlaws were called in by their SP and told that Elder Bateman had called and asked the SP to find out why they were causing trouble. It was extremely humiliating for them. (They didn't even know this family member had written a letter).
There are lots of details but I won't ramble forever. It feels good to tell my story. I went into this experience so naive. I thought the church was about Christianity. It is not. I thought the GA's cared. They do not. I don't want to spend my life screaming about the church because I have better things to do, but I had to resign so that I could speak when the opportunity arose without fear. I think the church gets away with this garbage because many people are so afraid to speak.
| I am no expert on grief, other than living and working through a few tragedies of my own. One of the biggest was figuring out that 'the' church is not true. Since there is no official Exmo doctrine and there is no one true path out of Mormonism, I can only propose a model that has withstood quite a lot of scrutiny and try to take credit for being the latest one to remember to post it.
If you're not familiar with the Kubler-Ross grief cycle, please take some time when you have a chance and look it up. It is relevant for recovering Mormons. The stages we go through mirror the stages one goes through when mourning the loss of a loved one or other significant loss. The following link is just one of many excellent pages outlining the cycle:
Now look at that! If you are depressed because you just found out that 'the' church is a fraud, look how close you are to being through the grief cycle! Look at all the progress you've made. I know it's like a married friend saying, "Cheer up, friend. You'll find somebody." My response was, "Yeah, easy for you to say. You've got somebody."
- Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.
- Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
- Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
- Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
- Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
- Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
- Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.
But I really mean it. You are almost there. I don't know of any way to speed up the process. I do know that knowing we are going through a grieving cycle is helpful. It explains the outrage at finding a site like RfM. It explains the blah feeling we might have after leaving. It can be anti-climatic. It was for me.
But it gives me a lot of hope. A whole new world has opened up to us. We can do things on weekends that we could not do a few months ago. We can extend our vacations to include Sunday or we can just relax at home and watch the game and not feel guilty about it. We've just received a 10% raise - actually much more when we count all the other [hidden cost] donations we were asked to give - missionary fund, building fund, etc. We can have interesting friends and we can try new things.
We eventually find ourselves with a zest for life we have not known since childhood. Our whole lives are no longer planned. Our free time is not spoken for. We are not being judged and we are not living in shame and guilt. There is no longer a phony authority telling us what to think. Instead, we can explore models of how to think. Our imagination is fired up. We feel creative bursts of energy. Some of us start working out again. But overall, we find that the fog has lifted, and the gray cloud over our heads has gone.
| The anger stage of recovery stirs fear and controversy, condemnation and accusations of bitterness.
BUT no one mentions or seems to recognize the first stage. That is *denial.*
It's the first stage in Kubler-Ross literature and it's the first stage in the recovery process. Denial is the stage most jackmos refuse to budge from. The same might be true of those who leave the morg and immediately jump into a different similarly controlling and judgemental cult. They never have time to gain perspective about their mormon experience, but rather take it with them, nurture it and hold it dear.
Denial might have started where all of us began, when we went from comparmentalizing to loading up our secret mental shelf with doubts.
I remember the denial stage. I knew I had to get out of the morg to save my sanity, but I thought it was still a good wholesome, cleancut, family friendly orgaization for others. I knew it was destructive of my parents and siblings and our family, but I assumed we were the exceptions. Afterall, everyone else seemed so smiley and successful and enthusiastic.
For years I apologized and excused strange doctrine or practices. I felt personally responsible, embarrassed, and hurt that my DH was so angy at the morg for harassing and demeaning me after being out of it for so long. I didn't tell him about magic underwear and he didn't know the extent of my family's participation in a polygamy cult and their worship of "the one mighty and strong" plyg prophet.
That denial stage can drag on for a good long time. Those in it can be blind to it and they can sometimes spew hate at those who are aware that the morg is a true cult. Denial guys still tend to think that what they did in the morg didn't hurt anyone. They might believe that anyone is mean and bitter to talk about temple rituals, secret names, Kolob, sexual abuse, anti-gay shock treatments, racism, polygamy, brainwashing, or funny underpants. They tend to call such talk "unfair," "one-sided," "pot shots," a sign of hatred, bigotry, and bitterness.
The fact that those weird mormon practices and beliefs are accurate and honest opinions doesn't seem to matter to the fairness brigade. They want to excuse and gloss over the truth and spin it in their own way to keep their glossy rose colored glasses clean and bright.
One RM the other day said he went tracting for twelve hours a day for two years and didn't think there was a case of his unannounced visits ever waking anyone, interrupting their love-making, causing them stress over having to answer a door when sick, grieving, or in the middle of crisis. Not ONE thought about any of that?? Yet, this person said he was "recovered" since he was only angry at fellow exmos and never at mormons or at anything related to mormonism.
Perhaps no one talks about the denial stage because of being in denial of it?
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