Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Tip for Anti-Mormons on Maintaining Credibility:
Do No Evil, or at Least Admit to No Evil

Some of us LDS folks are often curious about ex-Mormons who become anti-Mormon activists. I wonder why they can't leave the Church alone, why they feel driven to write books and go on speaking tours criticizing the Church, and why so many aspects of LDS life must be mocked. The anti-Mormons often wish to present themselves as dispassionate, objective seekers of truth who left the Church not because of sin or a rejection of LDS moral standards, but because their quest for intellectual honesty required courageously dropping an errant but beloved faith.

Some Mormons make the sometimes incorrect assumption that those who leave the Church must have other personal issues besides intellectual concern over obscure statements of Brigham Young or over the apparent difficulty of squaring DNA science with popular but naive assumptions about the Book of Mormon. This Mormon stereotype of anti-Mormon apostates is, unfortunately, often reinforced by the behavior of the apostates themselves. Ever since Joseph Smith's day, a number of influential apostates were excommunicated for or otherwise left the Church over "stupid stuff" like committing adultery, raising the suspicion that their opposition to the Church may have been based on a personal axe to grind or anger at the Church's standards rather than an objective quest for Christian truth.

Given that, I just don't understand why one up-and-coming anti-Mormon would tell the world that he's being excommunicated for adultery, and even admit that adultery took place. Why, why, why? Seriously, this kind of thing rattles other devout anti-Mormons and makes it difficult to keep the debate focused on the real issues. And I just don't understand why someone who rejects the Church would wait for Church disciplinary action to be taken, allowing an issue like adultery to even enter into the debate. If you reject the Church and want to depart, you only have to write a letter asking for your name to be removed. Even if local leaders know there were moral transgressions involved, they are required (as I understand the current rules) to accept your request and remove your name from the records, if that's what you really want. So, if for some reason you are planning on a career as an anti-Mormon apostate, please don't do stupid stuff, or at least don't admit to doing stupid stuff, and just get your name off the records before any stupid stuff you've been doing might become an issue.

Oh, one more thing: don't show off your profanity, either. I see this from a lot of critical ex-Mormons who seem to revel in their usage of profanity now that they are outside the Church. It's so immature, and again suggests that the issue was the enticement of sin rather than intellectual concerns. Offensive language is not a sign of an enlightened intellect. Just my 1.8 cents (after tithing).

July 26 update:For the person I was thinking of, upon further reflection, one can credit him for being honest and open about the nature of the disciplinary action against him. And much more positive and important is the fact that he and his wife are back together and hopefully doing well. That's great. I still would strongly recommend that people who wish to leave the Church simply ask for their names to be removed and not try to make high and public drama out of a private disciplinary council. This person left the Church some time ago. There was no need to wait for a disciplinary council to score some dramatic points. He's disappointed that the council will deal with the arguably weightier charge of adultery rather than the serious but less weighty charge of apostasy (I offer my opinion on the basis of Alma 39). Maybe it will address both - it could and perhaps should, but it's not going to be broadcast on CNN as the antis would like. Maybe the Disney Channel, though.

Also, several people have accused me of urging people to lie. Come on. Asking people to keep their dirty laundry in the closet rather than showing it to the world is NOT lying. I did not say to lie about anything, just not to go around telling the world about one's serious sins. When interviewed by the press, one particular anti-Mormon volunteered the information that he was facing disciplinary action for adultery. It's now a public story. I think it would have been better to keep that to himself and to never let it be an issue, even in a private disciplinary council, by just asking for name removal long ago. (Or even now -- it's still not too late.) But since this advice has been so poorly received by the anti-Mormon community, I guess I should just apologize for asking for a little decorum. OK folks, if you want to tell the world about your major sins, don't let me stand in the way.

This post has gotten more traffic than I can handle at the moment. I'll close comments on this one, at least for now. Sorry!

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you mean the story at http://kutv.com/topstories/local_story_197205005.html?

Anonymous said...

I cant understand why some people who leave the church feel they have to attack it. I would hope that they would just get a life.

Being a member of the Church is difficult. Much is expected. If they drop out I wish them well.

Mormanity said...

There is a similar story in the Washington Post.

As a bonus, here's another general tip for anti-Mormons seeking enhanced credibility: don't make up educational credentials, like claiming to have a Ph.D. when you don't or boasting of degrees from degree mills or their ilk. You can make challenging arguments and lure people into also sorts of doubt without shooting yourself in the foot with false credentials. That's another pet peeve of mine.

Bookslinger said...

Things that the anti-mormon DNA arguments don't take into account:

1. Maybe Asians are also descended from Israel. We don't really know how Asians fit in with the descendants of Noah. We have no history that describes their relationship to either Shem, Ham, or Japheth. Though some have used brief passages to suggest a relationship to Japheth, but it just isn't clear or documented.

We have no prophetic records of Asians or their ancestors. It's within the realm of possibility that they are also descendents of Old Testament figures. It is within the realm of possibility that their ancestors were Semitic, and also had alterations in their DNA at the hand of God.

Who's to say that the Asians as well as the Lamanites couldn't have had divine intervention in their DNA makeup?

2. We don't know who was here when the Lehites got here, and who they intermarried with. Same thing with the Mulekites who were also thrown into the Nephite/Lamanite mix. We don't know what DNA the Mulekites brought, whether or not they were pure 100% Israelites. They could have had Asian DNA in their female lines. And maybe the Mulekites integrated with people who were here before them too.

3. We don't know who was thrown into the mix after Moroni's time, it could have been people from Asia.

4. We don't know the lineage of Sariah or Ishmael's wife, who would have passed on their mitochondrial DNA. We don't even know for sure the lineage of Ishmael.

5. Neither the Book of Mormon nor Joseph Smith ever claimed that the Book of Mormon people were the exclusive inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere during 600 BC to 400 AD. And we don't know the scope or limits of Book of Mormon geography.

6. If we believe the parts of the Bible and Book of Mormon as literal, where they say that God put "marks" on people in terms of outward features, then God must have indeed altered their DNA. And if God is omnipotent then he has ability.

I am also a bit offended by the charges of racism levied at those who want to take the scriptures literally. And applying the racist moniker to the scriptures themselves is even more absurd.

Because some racists in the past have used scriptures to justify oppression based on skin color, some holier-than-thou types think they can tar all believers of the scriptures as bigots. In attempting to do so, they themselves become guilty of bigotry. Accusing all believers as racists makes as much sense as blaming all Catholics for the inquisition, or blaming all Germans for Hitler, or blaming all Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus.

The whole DNA argument as "proving" the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith as being wrong, is just wishful thinking. The accusers shouting "Aha! Gotcha!" have not only erected strawmen by mischaracterizing what's in the Book of Mormon, and what Joseph Smith actually said, they are also mischaracterizing what the DNA evidence even means.

If you go back far enough, you have hundreds of thousands of ancestors. Your mitochondrial DNA can only come from ONE woman of the hundreds of thousands of that far ago generation. Same with the Y chromosome of males coming from only ONE man of the hundreds of thousands of that far ago generation.

Yet, you could still rightfully claim descendancy of all of that generation.

If we accept as a given that all descended from Adam and Eve, then how can we not conclude that God has altered peoples' DNA since then? Or at least 'allowed' it to be altered? Else all human mitochondrial DNA would be traceable to one woman, Eve, and all Y chromosomes to one man, Adam.

Pris said...

I would imagine that many ex- and anti-Mormons attack the Church for the same reason that members promote it: each group believes that they are right and have the way to a better life, and they believe the other group is wrong.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff pretty much laid out one of the common threads of most apostates who actively fight the church: sexual sin. Right up there with it is the sin of pride.

The most vehement anti-mormons, ones who have done real damage, even from the days of Joseph Smith, have been ex-members, such as Hurlbut, Bennett, and Marsh in the 1830's and 1840's.

There's something about a guilty conscience that just eats away at you. And because of pride, many people want to prove the church wrong in order to assuage their conscience, so they won't have to admit what they did was wrong.

Emotionally, it's often easier to say "the church is wrong" ("or church leaders are wrong") than "I was wrong." To many, it can be easier to say adultery isn't a sin than to admit to adultery and sincerely repent of it.

Some people can admit to it in private, in prayer, or to their friends, but having to confess to a bishop, well, that's just too "catholic" for many folks.

One of the prophecies from the Bible that Joseph Smith clarified is that sign-seekers are adulterers. Jesus said "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." (Matt 12:39). Joseph Smith said that applies on the individual level too. One of my non-member friends said he wanted a sign from God, to prove there is a God, and to prove which church is right; something "objective", not "subjective" like a testimony or internal spiritual answer to prayer. And sure enough, yup, he later confided to me that he had been unfaithful to his wife.

A friend in the church has been inactive for about a year. First he made the normal excuses like work, school, kids, conflicting schedules, etc. But then he started saying his beliefs had changed, and no longer thought the church was true, no longer accepted it's doctrine. And yep, he too hinted he had been unfaithful to his wife.

I would suggest to anyone who is struggling to stay active in the church to examine themselves. If they have any association with immorality, including pornography; they will end up being inactive, or leaving the church entirely if they don't reject those evils.

Those who harbor grudges at being offended by other members (even leaders) and who struggle with their own unrepented sins suffer a double-whammy. It's easy to get lost in the "what's my fault and what's their fault?" maze, trying to figure out blame. I often asked myself "Am I feeling bad because of what that person said/did, or because of my own sins?" The answer was "both!" But because I didn't want to repent, I kept focusing on what others did and said.

My advice: repent of your own sins first, and then you'll see how to deal with the offenses of others. (Beam and mote thing.)

After finally getting out of my own pit of despair, I see some others who are having the same trials, and I want to help them. But just like me, many people have to learn the hard way.

I hope I can be a friendly warning voice ("Here's what will happen if you go down that road...") and not be a meddler in others' lives. "It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor." DC 88:81. But it's a fine line between warning and meddling.

I think apologetics are good in order to answer questions that a sincere investigator might have. But I've found out through a couple of exchanges with anti's, that for the hard-core anti-Mormon, it's not about the evidence of what Joseph Smith said or did, the real issue is within themselves.

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of people who leave the Church for different reasons, but it sort of seems like the ones who turn on the Church and seek the glory of the world in their anti-Mormon antics often have issues with morality or other standards of the Church. One must wonder about their motives.

Bookslinger said...

I've seen lots of surface reasons for leaving the church, and also for just withdrawing from activity.

But I think it boils down to two underlying reasons: unrepented sin, and pride.

In my case, everything else was excuse-making and window-dressing.

In Spencer Kimball's book "Faith Precedes the Miracle", there are 3 ingredients or keys that unlock the powers of heaven:

1) Faith. Believe even just a little, but act upon it.

2) Humility.

3) Devotion to righteousness.

With those three things, you can do anything that is in Heavenly Father's will.

You may not be able to outwardly overcome everything. There will still be trials, tragedies, and human weaknesses. But with those three things, anyone and everyone can particpate fully in the gospel, and be a recipient of all the promised blessings.

Anonymous said...

Most people I know that left the church while I was at BYU said that they did not like the churches dishonesty about its history. I guess there are more than a few reasons to leave the church.

john said...

Are you people insane. Sin has nothing to do with a lack of faith in the church. I think you are talking about jack mormons. Most of the people i know who have left the church have thought their way out of it.

As for the DNA comments. You are assuming that the biblical account of creation should be taken as literal. It is no different than any other creation myth. It is a myth. When people don't have an answer to a question they make one up. This is what the authors of the bible did. They had no knowlege of DNA, evolution or science in general so they made up a story about god creating the earth and everything on it in 7 days.

Wendy said...

"Most people I know that left the church while I was at BYU said that they did not like the churches dishonesty about its history. I guess there are more than a few reasons to leave the church."

Thank you for that. That would be my reason for leaving, with the addition of the temple ceremony (endowment), which I should have got up and run out on, if I'd been thinking clearly and not held back by my years of church conditioning.

I've been out for years and have yet to "sin" in the eyes of the LDS faithful (other than lack of church attendance and blind faith in Joseph Smith as a prophet).

rbrtbmgrdnr said...

Regarding compliants that ex-Mormons won't "leave the Church alone," you might consider something: The LDS Church claims that it is the only true church, that its claims are divine, and that some day the Church will "rule and rein" with Christ on Earth. The church has tens of thousands of missionaries, spends millions of dollars on its missionary program, millions of dollars on PR, and millions of dollars influencing the political process. The LDS Church also has and seeks to maintain a very strong influence in the lives of its members, and makes rules and recommendations about a large number of personal issues, from what you drink to the undergarments that you wear. You take this for granted and it seems good to you. However, many people, including ex-Mormons--*especially* ex-Mormons--see the LDS Church as attempting to deny them personal and political liberty and as intruding too far into their lives, at least in intent if not in fact. This intrusion was an issue with many of the "apostates" in the early LDS church and remains one of the core sources of anger for ex-Mormons. In other words, many ex-Mormons see the LDS Church, particularly the leadership, as "control freaks" and want out from under that control, especially from the forms of psychological and emotional control (excessive guilt, feeling unworthy, etc.) they internalized as members. In light of social, political, and personal impact the LDS church seeks and often has, complaints that *ex-Mormons* won't leave the LDS Church alone seem hollow.

Kirk H. Sowell said...

There are many reasons that people leave the church. In my case it was a mixture of studying the history of ancient Mesoamerica and the church's continued reversals on various issues, including some on issues of morality which it claims to be so strong on. I'm sure some leave due to reasons of immorality.

But you (Jeff) do have something of a point here. I've really never understood the lengths to which anti-Mormon activism goes. I can see the Tanners living in Utah doing it, but for the most part people should just promote their own religion. Of couse since the LDS claim that other churches are false, Baptists and others have every reason to respond. But I agree it gets to be obsessive at times.

Furthermore, when I first joined the church (1992), it was viewed as a major threat to Baptists in the U.S. and Catholics in Latin America because so many were converting. But since the mid-1990s the LDS Church's growth rate has slowed from around 4% annually to a bit over 2%. Both conversions and birthrates are down, and I just don't see how it is a threat. I do still find interest in reading blogs like this and following debates on historicity and archealogy issues (I was once a research assistance at the Joseph Smith building at BYU), but the idea of investing a huge amount of time on this seems a waste.

Good blog, by the way.

Bookslinger said...

I've concluded that the problems with adulterers, abusers, rapists and thieves in the church is pretty much a self-correcting one. They either leave on their own (go inactive or have names removed), are eventually marginalized through the withholding of callings, or are eventually excommunicated.

Murderers have been in the true church since Cain. Cain talked with God, too! There were plenty of adulterers in the children of Israel. There were "problem members" in the true church since day one. It's something everyone has to get used to.

Yes, it does hurt to see them cause problems, and even more so when you are the one they hurt.

But in spite of all those problems, the church and the work move on.

I probably need to adjust my unrepented-sin theory to take into account those who joined or grew up in the church without a testimony. Maybe I'm just ascribing my own reasons to others.

But there is a difference between surface reasons for leaving, and the real underlying reasons.

I swore up and down it was all the fault of certain other people why I left the church. I had to learn more about myself, and what kind of person I was, before I saw the big picture. I finally realized: 1) yeah, some other people did bad, so what? The sin is on their head, not mine. 2) There weren't as many bad people as I thought, they just stand out more. And 3) Oops, I ended up doing worse.

I admit I'm an egotist. I don't quite know how to put myself in the mindset of a member who doesn't have a testimony. I joined as an adult, but I wouldn't have done so without a spiritual confirmation that JS was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon was true. I received the confirmation before any missionary lessons. I wasn't, and couldn't have been, brainwashed or programmed by them.

History, of anything, still boils down to a matter of he-said/she-said, and "victors write the history". Even physical evidence has to have humans testify as to where it was, when it was, and what it means.

I've researched enough of the anti-mormon claims to know that they don't paint the full picture either.

The anti claims fall into 3 categories:

1) misstatement of events, words, or evidence. (IE, "That's not the way it went down" and sometimes just an outright lie.)

2) Twisting, taking out of context, or repeating half truths. (IE, that's sort of true, but not the whole story.")

3) Stating a truth we do believe in, but mischaracterizing it as something "bad". (IE, "Yeah, that's true, we believe that. But so what? Here's the bible scripture supporting that.")

And as soon as the anti's are demonstrated wrong in one thing, they cook up another accusation, or resurrect something that was put to bed a long time ago, like the Spaulding manuscript, as if it were something new.

After seeing enough points go to the pro-Mormon side of the debate, I'm tired of keeping score, and I'm starting to get tired of the pro/anti game.

Parley Pratt, or whoever said it, was right. The anti-mormon's goal is just to wear us out, and prevent us from doing the work.

Everything that I've researched that started out with 'Uh, oh, the Anti's might have something here' always ended up having a logical-sounding explanation.

And it ends up with me saying "I'm not smart enough to figure out which side is right. I wasn't there. I didn't know the people at the time. So I go back to what I *do* know, based on what God told me through the Holy Ghost:

1) There is a God.

2) His son is Jesus Christ, who somehow paid for our sins.

3) Joseph Smith saw and spoke with God (pretty much like biblical prophets).

4) Jesus appeared to the Nephites as described in the 3rd Book of Nephi.

I *have* to judge everything else in the light of those 4 things. I know those 4 things almost as surely as I know I exist. They are woven and BURNED/BRANDED into every fiber of my body and soul.

I'm sorry, but God and the Holy Ghost outrank any and all humans in my ranking of who to believe.

If I'm wrong, and there is no God, I'll still have lived a satisfied and contented life, and then disappear into oblivion.

If I'm right, the atheists and antis will be very embarrassed about 2 seconds after they 'cross over', when their time comes.

And if there is a God, but not the Mormon God, please tell me, which church, of the hundreds of denominations, is his "official" church, and how do I find out which one it is, without having to take a human-being's word on it?

Who claims to have received personal revelation (confirmation, or burning in the bosom, or whatever you want to call it) from God confirming to them that some other church besides the Mormons is God's official church?

And being an ex-mormon myself, (soon to be ex-ex-mormon) does give me standing to comment about ex-mormons. Just as you have standing to comment on what you saw and what it was like for you in the church.

To all disaffected members, I say "Stick around, work it out, I know it's hard, but the problems have answers. A little faith and repentance go a long way."

To those who want to leave or have left, I say: "You're welcome back any time. They let me back in. The people who hurt you will either have left or repented by the time you come back."

Anonymous said...

The people who hurt you will either have left or repented by the time you come back."

Assumptions again. Is it so hard to believe that there are ex members out there who neither "sinned" or were offended by someone and who have a testimony that the church isn't true? This is the first time in years I have read any writings like these. I just happened on this blog through a link. I don't plan on sticking around to cause any trouble, but I just had to comment on the things said here. I can't say that I am puzzled by them. I understand the need for self preservation. In my mind I keep going back to the commandment to not judge others. To me that is what life as a Christian is all about and I am saddened to see so much annimosity on both sides of the debate. I,too, believe that there will be some big surprises after death, just not the same ones you do! LOL

Bookslinger said...

Everyone has the right to decide for themselves what to believe in.

But you're the first person I've read who has claimed that people "have a testimony" that the LDS church isn't true.

We must be using different definitions of "having a testimony". In my dictionary, having a testimony isn't something one concludes on their own after studying. A testimony isn't a decision. A testimony is not being convinced of something by another human. A testimony is a spiritual confirmation or communication about something you are studying, reading, or listening to.

A testimony is something a step beyond belief and faith. A testimony is getting something from God, usually after you have exercised belief and faith. Then upon continued exercise (and increase) of faith on your part, you get more testimonies of more things, line upon line, precept upon precept. Growing in faith, strengthening your testimonies, and obtaining additional testimonies of additional knowledge.

Faith is that unsure area ahead of one's testimony. I think we have to walk ahead of our testimony, not behind it. After the doing comes the knowing, John 7:17.

The apostle Paul speaks much of such growth and progression. And so does Nephi.

I read someone's book-list and reviews of anti-mormon books on Amazon, and for every anti-mormon book they read, they said something like "Poof! There goes my testimony of such-and-such!"

If a mere counter-accusation erases someone's "testimony", then they didn't really have a testimony in the sense that LDS use, they only had a belief. Granted, some members say "I have a testimony of..." when they probably mean "I believe..."

Many of the anti books and claims weaken people's faith. Some of the history is unflattering if you don't put it in the proper context. If you're going to read them, for heaven's sake read the apologetics' response to those points too.

The anti stuff I've read is insidious, because it mixes in lies and half-truths with some truths. Some of it ignores the obvious explanations. But worst of all it detracts people from going to the only reliable source of truth about God and religion, God, for a direct answer. They are saying "Trust me, I know what 'really' happened, so don't bother asking God."

For 175 years, LDS leaders have said "Don't take my word for it, ask God yourself to find out if it's a true principle." I've read Brigham Young's quotes where he said he did NOT want blind obedience on the part of the saints.

Most antis disqualify themselves, in my opinion, because they specifically say DO NOT pray about it, and DO NOT trust answers to prayer.

I think we're all going to be pretty surprised by what we learn on the other side. So I want to learn as much as possible here and now to prepare for it.

Natalie said...

Jeff, Jeff, Jeff....

The REASON ex-Mormons cannot leave the Mormon Church alone is because the Mormon Church will not leave US alone.

It's really very simple. Consider this:

You decide, based on teachings, tenets, and beliefs, that you can no longer reconcile membership in a religion, so you leave.

Then the calls start. The doorbell rings. The bishop comes over. The visiting teachers love bomb you. Neighbors give you strange looks in the grocery store. Family members confront you daily.

"Well, why ARE you leaving?" they ask.

You are honest, and tell them. They come back with answers about why you should not leave, and why your answers are faulty.

So you find MORE answers. After all, you did not reach this point just because someone said something NASTY to you at Church the week before. Or because the bishop's nose hair was offensive to you. No, you left because you didn't like the racist teachings of Brigham Young, or the fact that the Church is trying to hide the fact he "taught" those racist teachings, or even better, that the official biography of Brigham Young only mentions one wife. What happened to honesty?

Oh yeah, I remember. "Some things that are true are not very useful." Boyd K. Packer.

Back to the "truth." When you tell your concerned Mormon friends and family about the lack of truth in the Church, they try to rebut that, and can't, so it generally ends up with a "You should pray about it."

Because faced with the truth, that is the only answer they can have, and the only way THEY can reconcile what they believe. If you feel a burning of the bosom, it must be true.

Ex-Mormons don't embrace that burning bosom anymore. And Ex-Mormons cannot leave the LDS Church alone because it will not leave THEM alone.

End of story.

As for Simon, why shouldn't he be honest about his life? He doesn't live under the Mormon mantra of some truths not being useful, because he has come to the conclusion that Mormonism is NOT true.

Instead of giving him credit for being honest, you are bringing out the adultery claims to drag him down, even stating that he should not "admit to evil." As if Simon himself is required to live by LDS tenets when he has rejected those tenets.

Should he be excommunicated? Yes. He has said that himself. He is no longer living his life according to the tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and therefore, should no longer be a member.

What Simon takes issue with, and where the Church has made yet another fatal mistake, is that this is all coming about AFTER his book came out and garnered great publicity. And instead of being honest, and admitting that the BOOK is the reason he is being exed, the bishop prosecuting him is trying to make it about adultery. If the "adultery" were the issue, it would have been addressed at the time the ADULTERY took place, and not now that his book is lighting up the media fires.

It's just an excuse, and you know it as well as I do. Make Simon look bad, or "evil" as you say, and it will discredit his book. After all, he has an "agenda." He's evil.

I realize that YOU are trying to focus on Simon's human fallibility, and not the book, so you are talking about the same issue as the Church is. I'm sure they appreciate your spin, but they don't really need it. They are spin masters extraordinaire. Gordon B. Hinckley spins with the best.

Your heading on this post is interesting, really, in that you are actually ENCOURAGING "Anti-Mormons" to lie. That would certainly suit your purpose, but why would they? They are not governed by that "protect the Church at all costs" mentality anymore.

Most ex-Mormons have learned to be brutally honest. If you are not, you will be hounded to death for time and all eternity.

On another note, why is it you believe that your church can send out thousands of missionaries to tell people that Mormonism is the only true church, but no one is allowed to disagree?

If you are willing to STEP UP and say something is true, surely you should have to defend it?

Or would that make too much sense?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this interesting comment, Jeff.

Every single person I personally know who has left the church has had "personal issues" (I won't call it sin, because it isn't, at least not always). They will protest that their intellect or sudden new knowledge led them away from Church. But it is always something else. I know, because I saw it coming in their personal lives. When I pointed this out some months ago on another Internet forum, I was blasted for weeks (sigh).

All I could say in response was that I did not know the Internet people who complained so vociferously, and therefore would not judge. However. By my experience.... Everyone who leaves has an issue of SOME kind. Its human nature.

It certainly can't be intellect or knowledge alone, because we in my circle of friends all started out at the same level (back in our teen years). Most stayed in the Church, some didn't. And I could have told you then which it would be.

JoelH said...

Natalie, Natalie, Natalie...

You ought to know that the "official" biography of Brigham Young is the work of a *member* of the Church and not of the Church itself. If that author only spoke of one of BY's wives, that is the author's responsibility.

I'm curious, are you now a member of another church? If so, are you familiar with many of the racist policies in the history of the many protestant denominations? Do you hold BY to a different standard than biblical prophets/apostles? The problem with many who leave the LDS Church (and many who are still members) is that they implicitly or explicitly hold to a tenet of "prophetic infallibility," i.e., expect that everything a prophet teaches or says to be in accordance with the mind and will of God, or shake at the tought that (heaven forbid) God would ever call a man with some (what we would now consider) racist views as a prophet. Joseph, Brigham, and all the rest of us are, to some degree, products of the culture in which we find ourselves, whether we like to admit it or not. Thank goodness that (culturally speaking) we are beyond many of the race issues that plagued our nation in times past.

I realize that people leave the Church for a variety of reasons, but often they leave based on a straw man they have raised up in their minds, and have made big deals out of things that, with a little thought and common sense -- and research -- could resolve their concerns.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on what Natalie says about why exmormons harbor bitter feelings. When your 7 year old son comes home from Primary to announce that you are not a good person because you don't go to church, or your spouse files for divorce because you've lost your faith, or your parents cry and act like children because you've "lost your soul"... this is a heavy burden to bear.

Realizing that these actions are likely caused by the teachings of the church or various church leaders causes an exmormon to harbour bitter feelings for many years. Ditto with being left out of important family events for the rest of your life ..like your own children's marriage.

Some on this blog speak of Humility. Let me pose this question to those who know "for sure" the LDS church is true. Are you humble enough to accept that you may be wrong? If not, how is that different from pride? It takes an incredible amount of humility to look honestly at one's lifetime religion and come to the horrible realization that you've been duped all your life.. Even worse that your ancestors for the past 6 generations have also been duped.

Don't talk to me about humility and pride unless you're willing to look behind the curtain and look for the truth whatever the outcome may be.

That's something that I believe most "believing" members who are aware of the LDS church's questionable past are unwilling to do.. be humble enough to accept that they may be wrong.

Bookslinger said...

Natalie: Interesting that you accuse the church (or Mormons in general) of trying to make Simon Southerton look evil when he is the one who broke the news of and publicized his church court, and he is the one who broke the news and publicized what the court was ostensibly about.

My experience was apparently the opposite of yours. Some ward members I had associated with in the singles group came by, just once, on my birthday. And one kindly old guy stopped by one time. But once I requested no contact (letters only), they honored it.

No one came looking for me to publicize or nag me about my transgressions. Though I suspect a home-teacher had narced to the bishop about something. But as long as he told the truth, I didn't care. The bishop hinted at something in an interview, but when I didn't volunteer anything, he didn't hound me.

When I asked for name-removal, I got a polite letter asking why, and if I wanted to talk about it. When I re-stated my request the next reply was "Okay, it will be done in 30 days unless you tell us not to." The only confusion was that there was no confirmation after 30 days stating "done." I was under the impression that name-removal had not taken place, but in fact it was. I got what I asked for.

Jeff's postings and responses have been very gentle and understanding, typical of the bishops that I have encountered.

The obnoxious Mormons are sometimes the ones like me, analogous to a reformed smoker who yanks the cigarettes out of his friends' mouths.

So your friends and family nagged you when you left the church. Big whoop. That's what friends and family do.

To the previous anonymous: Humility doesn't require self-doubt about everything. Humility is the honesty to admit you don't know all things, or a given thing in particular, but also the honesty to admit you do know something when in fact you do.

To hide a testimony, a sure knowledge, and act like you don't have one, is perhaps worse than pretending you do know when you don't. Either way, it's being a hypocritic.

To say "we can't know for sure" is a false doctrine long embraced by fallen christian denominations.

Even Jesus said in the bible you can know, John 7:17.

I knew for sure there was a God and Jesus years before I heard of the Mormons and their "testimonies", or "burning in the bosom." I received answers to prayers, and received personal revelation before I heard of the Book of Mormon, or ever read Moroni 10:4-5, and before Mormon missionaries told me about it.

Excuse me for not being humble about it, but I gots ta say it. If I only say "I believe", I'm not telling the whole truth. Yes, I believe. But it goes beyond that. To tell the whole truth, I have to say I know, that God lives, that Jesus is the Atoning Savior, that JS was a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is true. I can't admit the possibility, other than hypothetically, that I'm mistaken about those 4 things. To say "I'm not sure" or "I could be wrong" is to deny what has been made an integral part of me.

I'm unsure of a lot of other church doctrine and scriptural teachings. But on my foundation of testimony, I've built my house of faith. And as I continue to build more layers upward, those lower layers just on top of the foundation start to solidify from faith to testimony, like soft clay bricks baking to hardness. But for some reason, the bricks don't harden and solidfy until after you start building with them. If you wait for your faith-bricks to solidify into knowledge-bricks before you use them, it just won't happen.

When I first joined the church I had some false assumptions about many things, life in general, and what church members were supposed to be like. I believed some things that weren't true, and when I used them as bricks to build my house, they didn't solidfy, and my house came crashing down, and I gave up.

Now that I know what went wrong, I'm trying to rebuild the house of my life with true principles/bricks, and it's working out better.

After acting on something I believe for a few times, and seeing the good results, is it still just a belief/faith, or can I now say "I know" ? I've seen the results of using the correct bricks, I've seen belief-bricks solidify into testimony-bricks. So now I can say "I know" about things beyond the basic 4 principles of my original testimony.

Bookslinger said...

Bob,
I too went through a crisis about how the GA's statements sometimes appeared to fly in the face of facts.

It took me 17 years to reconcile things. Actually it took about 17 years be humbled enough, then only about 4 or 5 months of actually working on it to figure it out.

I finally resolved my three or so major problems with issues I saw in the church (GA's statements not seeming to jive with reality, a few abusive priesthood leaders, and "bad" members).

Then I deduced that all lesser apparent conflicts can also either be resolved or explained. I'm lazy. I don't want to have to research every dang issue. Once the worst are taken care of, I can accept that the rest can be too.

I think I'm at the point where, when I see something I can't explain or understand, I can just "put it on the shelf" for later.

I researched, worked on, and resolved my major stumbling blocks. I think everyone has to resolve their own issues. One can help, but can't fix other people.

As much as I want to yank the cigarettes out of my friends' mouths, as much as I want to grab the brownies and cookies out of my obese friends' hands, as much as I want to tell my adulterous friends "repent or face terrible consequences", I know it won't do any good. So I just get online and kvetch about it. :-)

As far as early polygamy, racism, and other issues of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith, I resolved those and put 'em to bed over 18 years ago. Ho hum, big deal. It was the modern conflicts upon which I stumbled. Now that I got the majors out of the way, I'm less inclined to fret about the minor conflicts. It's time to get with the program, move forward.

Bookslinger said...

Bob McC:
I don't like the condescending holier-than-thou attitude and ad hominem attacks of some of the articles on FARMS either. Big whoop. I'm still too often condescending and holier-than-thou too. So paint me with that brush too. The church is still true, in spite of all the imperfect men.

After I once said I finally realized there weren't enough perfect men to fill all the leadership positions in the church, a divorced sister told me "Perfect men? Now there's an oxymoron!"

Mike Parker said...

I have to laugh when ex-Mormons like Bob McCue complain of "ad hominem attacks" by Mormons against their critics. Five minutes of reading messages on the "Recovery from Mormonism" web board will conclusively show that McCue and his friends constantly engage in personal attacks against Mormons and their leaders.

From the RFM point of view, Mormons are stupid, mean, bitter, spiteful, hypocritical ignoramuses that are either lying about believing in Mormonism or are too intellectually challenged to see it for the massive fraud it is. Never is any sincere motive, kind intent, honest belief, or actual intelligence ascribed to "True Believing Mormons" -- whom they graciously refer to as "Morgbots."

The criticisms of the works of Grant Palmer and Todd Compton in the FARMS Review are gentle love notes in comparison to the constant attacks by RFMers.

So, Mr. McCue, before coming here and complaining about the behavior of Latter-day Saints, I would encourage you to first cast the beam out of your own eye and the collective eye of your comrades.

Physician, heal thyself.

Natalie said...

Dear Joel,
(Maybe we should drop the trio of names, and stick with one. I started it, so I'll be the first to stop it. Otherwise, it could get out of control, like little rabbits left alone with too much time on their...er, paws.)

I agree that other religions are equally guilty of past racism, etc., but see, those don't concern me, because I'm not a former (okay, okay, I'm STILL on the rolls, although not by choice) member of those churches. I'm not holding the LDS Church up to a standard set by other churches.

However, what I would like to see is the LDS hierarchy to step up to the plate and admit some mistakes were made in the past, rather than trying to hide them.

And the Brigham Young book? It is the OFFICIAL book sanctioned by the LDS Church, Joel. Come on, you've GOT to know that.

Even I know that.

Natalie said...

Dearest Books,

You wrote:

"Natalie: Interesting that you accuse the church (or Mormons in general) of trying to make Simon Southerton look evil when he is the one who broke the news of and publicized his church court, and he is the one who broke the news and publicized what the court was ostensibly about."

It is interesting. Because, see, they are trying Simon for one thing, when they REALLY want to try him for another.

Or are you trying to tell me that this timing is coincidental?

"My experience was apparently the opposite of yours. Some ward members I had associated with in the singles group came by, just once, on my birthday. And one kindly old guy stopped by one time. But once I requested no contact (letters only), they honored it."

Perhaps this is the difference between being a Utah Mormon and being one of them other Mormons.

As far as Jeff goes, I even posted something he wrote on my blog, as an example of the kind of Mormon thinking that is MUCH needed in the LDS Church, so while I am questioning his stance on this issue, I am not calling him an unfair person. Or name calling, either. I just don't agree with what he said.

Anonymous said...

Parley Pratt, you say? Oh, yes. He was murdered. For adulterly, by an agrieved husband. The husband was wrong to kill Mr Pratt, but Mr Pratt was also wrong in commiting adulterly.

Simon Southerton saw another woman whilst he was seperated from his wife.

Mr Pratt saw another man's wife and took her as his own. That wasn't polygamy, that was adultery.

Simon Southerton is to have a "Court of Love" whilst Pratt was hailed by Mormons as some kind of a martyr.

If that is cog. dis., then goodness knows what is!

Mike Parker said...

Mr. McCue, the irony is so think it's almost tangible. You accuse me of descending to an "ad hominem attack" and then immediately describe me as "someone who would rather not deal with substantive, uncomfortable issues." Do you not see the inherent contraction of your own writing?

Your defense of the reprehensible conduct on the RFM board simply amounts to, "I hang out there, but I don't engage in that sort of thing." I have followed your postings there, and while I freely admit you don't descend to the level of most of the posters, you certainly do nothing to encourage raising the tone and tenor of the conversation.

I have been involved in LDS apologetics for nearly 20 years, and have also participated in a number of church disciplinary councils, and have never seen the sort of despicable hatemongering, name calling, and abuse that is the typical mode of conversation on RFM.

And, contrary to your ad hominem attack, I have "deal[t] with substantive, uncomfortable issues" and have maintained my faith. I do not question your honesty or intelligence in reaching a different conclusion than I have. I would appreciate the courtesy of you doing the same.

Mike Parker said...

D'oh -- I mean "thick", not "think."

The irony is thick.

Daniel Peterson said...

Bob McCue attempts to dismiss the FARMS reviews of Grant Palmer's book and of Todd Compton's book as merely "ad hominem." Mr. McCue insinuates, as proof of his claim, that all or some of these reviews have now been taken down from the FARMS website.

He is wrong on all counts.

Warp_AB said...

Grrrr... I just erased my comment to this post and I am not sure what key I hit to erase it all. So starting over ....

I expect that people leave the Church for the same reasons they join: sociality, friends, peer pressure, hormones, needs, parents, doctrines and a witness of the spirit. The list is by no means complete, perhaps as many reasons as there are people joining and leaving. If reasonably intelligent and otherwise normal people change their lifestyle, they will generally have some strong motivation to do so, whether it be to join or to leave. A witness of the Spirit will cause them to join, while we may be assured that adultery, fornication, homosexuality, abuse or fraud does not. To those that leave, often they see some vital aspect of integrity missing, as pointed out by experts.

"It is the disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get what they suppose is a little authority ..." We tend to think of that as a husband over a wife, or a manger over a worker, but one who is a doctor presumes to speak about health, a dentist about teeth, or a PhD in History, to be equally authoritative in history as the doctor is about the body. They get a little authority by virtue of their knowledge. They insist that you call them Doctor and they add the letters after their name and become experts. Henry Ford reported that as soon as a man became an expert, they had to fire him, because too many things became impossible for him. Rather than search for solutions to problems, they merely say it is impossible and there they remain. Impossible things include airplanes, cars, telephones, radio, television, computers and the Internet, all things impossible to experts, but not to the men and women that didn't know it was impossible. They were all doable. Like a bumble bee doesn't know it is impossible that they fly.

John recorded: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. (New Testament | John 21:25)" That vers alone whould tell us that the four gospels of the New Testament are inadequate to cover the life of the Saviour. Why would we expect that a Sunday school class, a seminary class or a gospel essentials class would tell us every detail about the lives of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Emma Smith or Eliza Snow? Why would we expect a Bishop or Stake President to know every theory or idea that spouts from hostile critics? They were chosen for their ability to lead, to organize and administer intheir ward, not because they are great scholars or experts.

Bill Engvall said signs are for stupid people. Do we then to tattoo the forearm of every candidate for baptism: "Stop and think, are you stupid? Check yes or no!" If they check yes, then lead them out the door and thank them for their interest. If they check no, then they will know that somethings about the gospel will take a lifetime of study to understand. They will learn line upon line just like Jesus of Nazareth did. They will learn line upon line about priesthood authority, about the workings of the spirit, about study, about fasting and about prayer. You can't jump start or bypass those things. Like the seed in the parable that spouts, then withers and dies under the hot sun, they too can wither and die when exposed to experts and those "having a little authority".

It is absolutely ludicrious that any man, women or child would lose their testimony by listening to a confessed adulterer and long time hostile critic of the LDS Church. A plant geneticist, having a little authority, by virtue of his science to announce to the world that DNA doesn't prove that native americans are descendants of Israelites from 600 BC. Wow, fall on my knees, committ hari kari and wither under the "truth" announced by science. My grade 7 science or social text is full of those kinds of "truths". 25 years ago, they hardly knew what DNA was, let alone know what parts are which parts. DNA is good for maybe 10 generations, maybe. So if my Swiss ancestors that suddenly appeared in the middle of the 1650's were of Jewish descent as some of our family genealogists speculate, then I should be able to find a Jewish person and match salient points of my DNA to theirs. Does anyone believe that is possible? Is there any kind of a significant statistical probably that it would match? And what does it tell us if they don't match? BEsides the fact that we are not related at least back to 10 generations? Wow, throw out my testimony, science has "proven" it wrong, just like the experts and authorities knew that the earth was the center of the universe, and all things revolved around it. Yeah, science has such a good track record. Plus, you want me to believe and embrace the idea that Simon Southerton did all that research and put together his latest book, as a hostile critic, because of his deep concern for my welfare. Just send a check, Simon, send a check - it will help my welfare more.

Todd Compton's book sucks! I bought it with such anticipation - finally, a scholarly book about Joseph's wives, oh boy! I opened the mail with such excitment, then upon skimming through it, I saw no footnotes. A work of a dedicated scholar and no footnotes? Did the book belong in the fiction or non-fiction section, I wondered? Did I get a pre-production copy? By the time I had finished reading about Fanny Alger, I realized I was reading the work of an expert. He has a little authority in the field of history and he wields it like a sword to split asunder my misconceptions and inaccurate beliefs. Amazing how he knew what the people were thinking; what was in the mind of Joseph, Emma and Fanny. I undertook to make note of the probablies, could have beens, might be's, his suggestions for the thoughts and motivations of his characters, by underlining them in orange high lighter. When it started to look like a Hallowe'en display, I quit. There is no doubt that the book has marvelous potential, it's details and sources are many, the research thorough, but don't try to tell me what was in Joseph's mind or Emma's! Don't suggest page over page what might have been, or probably could have been. That is technique for a novel or pulp fiction. I want to examine his material and then draw my own conclusions, based on the material presented. It seems that Todd can never reconcile the idea that God could have told Joseph to live the principle of plural marriage with other aspects of his (Todd's) beliefs. He can not seem to fathom that polygamy has any value to society, so he presents information to the contrary, and then concludes for you, that it has no value to society, except for sex. Like Maclean's magainze in reporting on the Bountiful, BC FLDS members, they can not concieve that it can be for any other purpose than the satisfaction of "horny old men". To have two wives for any other purpose than sex is impossible. It can not be. Like the young man who marries to have "free sex", he soon learns a wife is not cheap.

I spent one night a week, for the better part of two school years as a teenager at my grandparents. this was becaue I could get a ride to the church from their place, whereas, I could not from where we lived. I could get to their place via the school bus, however. As we did after school chores, had supper and waited for my ride, he told me all the things as to why the LDS Church was false. Here was a man whom I deeply cared about trying to throw the tender shoots of my testimony among rocky soil, with no rain. The fact that I am writing this, should be adequate proof that he did not succeed, he did however, fortify my conviction. One grandmother left her Swiss alps for the barren dry prairie of southern Alberta to be with Mormons, to associate with them and to attend church with them. Others made similar sacrifices as they heeded a call to expand the Mormon corridor. I said before that you need to have a significant witness to make significant changes to your lifestyle as they did. Can I set their blood and tears aside because some yahoo in Australia tells me the Book of Mormon is not true, because he can't match DNA? Because Joseph had plural wives? Because we can't find the papyri that the Book of Abraham relates to? Because even though God's ways are not man's ways, an expert can reveal all that is in the mind of God or Joseph Smith? Be real. Get over it! It ain't gonna happen.

Anonymous said...

Grrrr... I just erased my comment to this post and I am not sure what key I hit to erase it all. So starting over ....

I expect that people leave the Church for the same reasons they join: sociality, friends, peer pressure, hormones, needs, parents, doctrines and a witness of the spirit. The list is by no means complete, perhaps as many reasons as there are people joining and leaving. If reasonably intelligent and otherwise normal people change their lifestyle, they will generally have some strong motivation to do so, whether it be to join or to leave. A witness of the Spirit will cause them to join, while we may be assured that adultery, fornication, homosexuality, abuse or fraud does not. To those that leave, often they see some vital aspect of integrity missing, as pointed out by experts.

"It is the disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get what they suppose is a little authority ..." We tend to think of that as a husband over a wife, or a manger over a worker, but one who is a doctor presumes to speak about health, a dentist about teeth, or a PhD in History, to be equally authoritative in history as the doctor is about the body. They get a little authority by virtue of their knowledge. They insist that you call them Doctor and they add the letters after their name and become experts. Henry Ford reported that as soon as a man became an expert, they had to fire him, because too many things became impossible for him. Rather than search for solutions to problems, they merely say it is impossible and there they remain. Impossible things include airplanes, cars, telephones, radio, television, computers and the Internet, all things impossible to experts, but not to the men and women that didn't know it was impossible. They were all doable. Like a bumble bee doesn't know it is impossible that they fly.

John recorded: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. (New Testament | John 21:25)" That vers alone whould tell us that the four gospels of the New Testament are inadequate to cover the life of the Saviour. Why would we expect that a Sunday school class, a seminary class or a gospel essentials class would tell us every detail about the lives of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Emma Smith or Eliza Snow? Why would we expect a Bishop or Stake President to know every theory or idea that spouts from hostile critics? They were chosen for their ability to lead, to organize and administer intheir ward, not because they are great scholars or experts.

Bill Engvall said signs are for stupid people. Do we then to tattoo the forearm of every candidate for baptism: "Stop and think, are you stupid? Check yes or no!" If they check yes, then lead them out the door and thank them for their interest. If they check no, then they will know that somethings about the gospel will take a lifetime of study to understand. They will learn line upon line just like Jesus of Nazareth did. They will learn line upon line about priesthood authority, about the workings of the spirit, about study, about fasting and about prayer. You can't jump start or bypass those things. Like the seed in the parable that spouts, then withers and dies under the hot sun, they too can wither and die when exposed to experts and those "having a little authority".

It is absolutely ludicrious that any man, women or child would lose their testimony by listening to a confessed adulterer and long time hostile critic of the LDS Church. A plant geneticist, having a little authority, by virtue of his science to announce to the world that DNA doesn't prove that native americans are descendants of Israelites from 600 BC. Wow, fall on my knees, committ hari kari and wither under the "truth" announced by science. My grade 7 science or social text is full of those kinds of "truths". 25 years ago, they hardly knew what DNA was, let alone know what parts are which parts. DNA is good for maybe 10 generations, maybe. So if my Swiss ancestors that suddenly appeared in the middle of the 1650's were of Jewish descent as some of our family genealogists speculate, then I should be able to find a Jewish person and match salient points of my DNA to theirs. Does anyone believe that is possible? Is there any kind of a significant statistical probably that it would match? And what does it tell us if they don't match? BEsides the fact that we are not related at least back to 10 generations? Wow, throw out my testimony, science has "proven" it wrong, just like the experts and authorities knew that the earth was the center of the universe, and all things revolved around it. Yeah, science has such a good track record. Plus, you want me to believe and embrace the idea that Simon Southerton did all that research and put together his latest book, as a hostile critic, because of his deep concern for my welfare. Just send a check, Simon, send a check - it will help my welfare more.

Todd Compton's book sucks! I bought it with such anticipation - finally, a scholarly book about Joseph's wives, oh boy! I opened the mail with such excitment, then upon skimming through it, I saw no footnotes. A work of a dedicated scholar and no footnotes? Did the book belong in the fiction or non-fiction section, I wondered? Did I get a pre-production copy? By the time I had finished reading about Fanny Alger, I realized I was reading the work of an expert. He has a little authority in the field of history and he wields it like a sword to split asunder my misconceptions and inaccurate beliefs. Amazing how he knew what the people were thinking; what was in the mind of Joseph, Emma and Fanny. I undertook to make note of the probablies, could have beens, might be's, his suggestions for the thoughts and motivations of his characters, by underlining them in orange high lighter. When it started to look like a Hallowe'en display, I quit. There is no doubt that the book has marvelous potential, it's details and sources are many, the research thorough, but don't try to tell me what was in Joseph's mind or Emma's! Don't suggest page over page what might have been, or probably could have been. That is technique for a novel or pulp fiction. I want to examine his material and then draw my own conclusions, based on the material presented. It seems that Todd can never reconcile the idea that God could have told Joseph to live the principle of plural marriage with other aspects of his (Todd's) beliefs. He can not seem to fathom that polygamy has any value to society, so he presents information to the contrary, and then concludes for you, that it has no value to society, except for sex. Like Maclean's magainze in reporting on the Bountiful, BC FLDS members, they can not concieve that it can be for any other purpose than the satisfaction of "horny old men". To have two wives for any other purpose than sex is impossible. It can not be. Like the young man who marries to have "free sex", he soon learns a wife is not cheap.

I spent one night a week, for the better part of two school years as a teenager at my grandparents. this was becaue I could get a ride to the church from their place, whereas, I could not from where we lived. I could get to their place via the school bus, however. As we did after school chores, had supper and waited for my ride, he told me all the things as to why the LDS Church was false. Here was a man whom I deeply cared about trying to throw the tender shoots of my testimony among rocky soil, with no rain. The fact that I am writing this, should be adequate proof that he did not succeed, he did however, fortify my conviction. One grandmother left her Swiss alps for the barren dry prairie of southern Alberta to be with Mormons, to associate with them and to attend church with them. Others made similar sacrifices as they heeded a call to expand the Mormon corridor. I said before that you need to have a significant witness to make significant changes to your lifestyle as they did. Can I set their blood and tears aside because some yahoo in Australia tells me the Book of Mormon is not true, because he can't match DNA? Because Joseph had plural wives? Because we can't find the papyri that the Book of Abraham relates to? Because even though God's ways are not man's ways, an expert can reveal all that is in the mind of God or Joseph Smith? Be real. Get over it! It ain't gonna happen.

Anonymous said...

I left the church not because I was offended, living a sinfull life, or being decieved by anti mormons. I would think that someone giving up salvation because they were offended or were sinning is ridiculous. If that were the fact the person in question probably didn't have much of a testimony to began with. After my mission I took a job at deseret book and started reading everything I could. I only read books sold at DB. Granted a few of them were published by Signature but most were Book Craft or Deseret Book.

I will also mention that I am 5th generation on both sides and had what I thought was a strong testimony. As I studied over a two year period I could only come to one conclusion, The Church was not what it claimed to be.

It seems to me that apologists for the church have to go to great lengths to make sense of discrepencies in history and doctorine. One example of this is speculating that tapirs are the horses written about in the BofM. Joseph Smith would have told you that these animals were indeed horses. He had no idea what animals existed in the new world pre Columbus. His mother attested to the fact that he told stories about the ancient americans long before writing the BofM. This leads me to believe that he was formulating these stories for quite some time. A seminary teacher once explained this to our class by saying that the lord was already influencing Joseph at that time. I would say that the easier explaination was that Joseph was a very imaginative kid that eventually put these stories to use by writing a book. The easiest explaination is usually the right one.

Anonymous said...

I was a member of the LDS church for over 45 years. I was a clean "temple recommend" holding member until I quit. A religious affiliation is similar to a marriage. There is certainly a level of faith, trust and love between them. Yet, when I found that the LDS church had manipulated and lied and was nothing what it originally claimed, I left upset, just as a person who found that their spouse had been lying and deceiving them for many years of marriage. I think it very unfair to say to somebody after a "divorce" (whether from religion or spouse) to just "forget it" and "leave it be" and "don't be angry."

When you put your heart and soul (and even large sums of money) into an organization that you later find has deceived you, you bet there's some resentment. And when you hear certain things said by members of the LDS church to try to manipulate and deceive others, yes, there might be a reaction.

I have no animosity toward those who want to believe in the LDS religion, just as I have no animosity toward somebody who believes in scientology or that the earth is flat. That's fine with me. But when I hear a member of the LDS church say something deceitful and manipulating – such as I heard the other day when an LDS member stated she KNEW Joseph Smith didn't practice polygamy because she had prayed about it and the "spirit" told her he was monogamous – then I will certainly share my viewpoint to try to prevent the same deceit and manipulation that had happened to me.

Bookslinger said...

Natalie:
We have no way of knowing what Simon Southerton had a church court for, other than his statements. He has every reason to twist or misrepresent the reasons after having published a book against basic church tenets.

He has a vested interest in making claims to garner public attention at this point.

Having read the General Handbook of Instructions (the version of 1983) when I had legitimate access to it, I also know that it can be a combination of things. One of the factors is if someone is actually publishing claims that go against basic church tenets.

Making yourself a public figure, or being outspoken about your transgression, can cause church courts in cases where there would not have otherwise been a court.

Sure, it appears that his book triggered the church court, but that doesn't prevent his Stake President from throwing in previously unresolved transgressions, assuming that that is even _part_ of the stated reasons. From the news article it sounded like Southerton claimed it was the _only_ stated reason, but I don't take that at face value.

Southerton maybe wants people to think that the SP lied to him. Since I am not privy to the proceedings, I'm not going to assume those who've kept silent about it are liars.

Since he now has to defend and promote his DNA claims, I would expect him to twist things just as he had to twist what the Book of Mormon says in order to make his conclusions.

My first thought was that the Lamanites are the tribe of JOSEPH, not Judah. So comparing them to modern Jewish DNA is of course going to turn up discrepencies.

Second thought was that if Lamanite DNA has similarities to Asians, then maybe Asians are also somehow descendents of those who intermarrried with parts of the tribe of Joseph. History lost track of the Northern Kingdom (the 10 tribes other than Judah and Benjamin and most of Levi) when they were conquered by the Assyrians.

Lehi, being of the tribe of Joseph, was a minority in the Southern Kingdom of Judah (and Benjamin).

Third, since God altered the Lamanite DNA (in order to change their physical characteristics, ie, dark skin that Nephi wrote), maybe he changed the DNA of the ancestors of the modern Asians at some point in the past to something similar. If God is all powerfull, he can change DNA in (put marks on) two groups, not just one.

And just because some racists use the phrase "put marks on", doesn't mean everyone who quotes those scriptures is a racist.

Of course, I don't know the final explanation, I'm just throwing out ideas that I don't think can be positively ruled out.

Other more tangible things that Southerton apparently IGNORED, in order to come to his conclusions:

1) We don't know the women whom Lehi and his sons married. The Book of Mormon can be 100% true while the Lamanites still had non-Judaic mitochondrial DNA. That is not a conflict.

2) We don't know who was already in the western hemisphere (maybe Asians? :-) when Lehi arrived. We don't know if the Lamanites or Nephites intermarried with them.

3) We don't know who came here (maybe Asians? :-), after Moroni finished up the Book of Mormon, and might have intermarried with the Lamanites and the remaining Nephites who joined in with them.

There were plenty of chances for Asian DNA to get mixed in.

Moreover, the Y-chromosome DNA, being passed down from fathers to sons, and the mitochondrial DNA being passed down from mothers, only tells of two lines. Go back 16 generations, and there are 65,536 "lines" which can be legitimately claimed as ancestors.

All Southerton did was show that TWO LINES out of a possible TENS OF THOUSANDS, came from outside of Israel. And from outside of "modern day" Israel to boot. We don't have any evidence of what the NORTHERN KINGDOM, (tribe of Joseph) DNA was like.

The bottom line to the DNA question is "So what? It really doesn't prove ANYTHING."

Southerton's conclusions are NOT supported by his "evidence."

If Southerton had merely made a scientific report of DNA comparisons, and avoided his conclusions, he probably would not have been noticed. But that's apparently not what he wanted.

One has to make assumptions that are not in the Book of Mormon (IE, that the Lehites never married outside their tribe, and no one else came to the western hemisphere) to come to his conclusions.

Since we don't have a complete genealogy and history of the peoples of the Earth, we just don't know who is actually supposed to be connected to who.

And, his conclusions presume that God is incapable of divine intervention at the macro level of human migration and the micro level of genes and chromosomes.

If God can raise the dead, and re-animate dead tissue, spontaneously heal leprosy, and give sight to those blind from birth, then I put forth that He can alter DNA at His divine pleasure.

Therefore the bottom bottom line to Southerton is: "So what?"

JoelH said...

Natalie,

To which "official biography" of BY do you refer? Or did you mean to say the "Teachings of Brigham Young" manual we used a few years ago in Priesthood/Relief Society classes? The latter is not an official biography, though it is an official publication of the Church.

I don't know all the reasons why the Church doesn't deal with some issues like polygamy in more depth in its curriculum. It may be for the same reasons we don't delve into the "why's" surrounding the polygamous marriages in the OT, or some of the issues with the early Church (e.g., Peter's reluctance to take the gospel to the gentiles). Anyone who desires can do a little research -- even in official Church sources -- and find answers to their questions.

My own opinion is that people shouldn't be so hung up with polygamy as practiced in the early LDS Church, any more than they should be hung up with the Spanish inquisition, the Conquistadors, or the racist activities of many Protestant denominations. There are so many other things in our world of vastly greater importance than arguing about such things.

Bookslinger said...

To 45-year guy:
Did you look for counterpoints to the issues that appeared to be lies and deceptions? Does the non-publishing, or withholding something back constitute a lie or deception?

Must all investigators be given a 7 volume History of the Church, or the umpteen volumes of Journal of Discourses and be admonished to read it and resolve all issues prior to their baptism?

Must church leaders and missionaries carry water for those who want to destroy the true church?

Must church leaders publicize the tragedies, mistakes, and difficult to understand events and doctrines, thereby tripping up many people who might otherwise be able to resolve those things later on?

I don't think so.

Omission is not always deception. God Himself only reveals line upon line, here a little and there a little.

I felt Elder Thomas Monson mislead me with certain statements about the pre-requisites or requirements for missionary service.

When I found out his statements didn't match the reality of what I saw at the MTC, I had a real challenge to my testimony. It wasn't until I went actively looking for answers, who he was talking to, what was his goal, what standards he had to publish, that I finally understood. I also had to understand that it is the rank-and-file members, and sometimes even the local leaders who don't measure up, who don't follow the stated policies and doctrines.

And if people don't follow the stated policies and doctrine, that's not the fault of the apostles who must tell us what the Lord expects.

And when we as rank-and-file members don't live up to the Lord's expectations, that's not the Lord's fault, nor the church's fault, nor the apostles' fault.

Snafus happen. When I went through the temple for the first time, my escorts left me alone for a minute in the changing area. Then a half-blind old-geezer of a temple worker saw me sitting there, didn't realize I was there for my own endowments, thought I was goofing off, and PHYSICALLY laid hands on me and SHOVED me in the initiatory line doing initiatories for the dead, not realizing that I had not been prepared with any explanations. The men in the initiatory were not expecting someone for their own temple work either.

THEN my so-called "friends" gave me the explanations, and I got settled down.

So yeah, I know how it is to get hit with surprises first, and explanations later.

Hopefully, I've learned to have faith that future surprises will also have explanations.

Sometimes the explanation of the embarrassing so-called history is: "No, that's not what really happened. That was only one person's viewpoint."

Sometimes the explanation is: "Yes, that happened, but here's the reason why it was okay back then."

Sometimes the explanation is: "Oh yeah, that was wrong, so-and-so screwed up back then."

Mormanity said...

Don't misunderstand my comments. All of us are sinners in various degrees, and I do think it is wrong to automatically assume that those who oppose the Church have some terrible moral sins to hide. I'm just genuinely puzzled why a certain anti-Mormon would admit to adultery charges before the press - reinforcing a common but not always accurate stereotype. Why discuss the hearing at all? Was it unavoidable? Perhaps - I don't know the full story. But it's clear that leaving the Church was not enough for him. He WANTS to be put on trial for apostasy because he can't leave the Church alone.

It's easy to leave. Sure, there are Mormons who try to rescue people who fall away - that darned ol' Christian concept of leaving the ninety and nine to reach the one lost sheep (you'll have to forgive us non-Christain cultists for taking Christian teachings so seriously) - but once the "lost sheep" has said "leave me alone," my experience has been that we do. Once they have their names off the records and have asked for no contact, there is no risk of home teachers being assigned and there should be no risk of further unwanted contact. And a pointed phone call to the Bishop should suffice if the message didn't get through earlier. I can't speak for the rest of the world, but here in Appleton we make it a point to respect the wishes of people. If they sincerely don't want contact, we back off. And if they take the step of name removal, we're certainly not going to harass them.

So look, my dear antis, we are willing to leave you alone and recognize that there are many personal reasons why some of you may have left the Church. It need not be major sin. And if it was, don't shoot yourself in the foot by discussing that. It can help keep our discussions on a more intellectual level.

Mormanity said...

Links to sites that I find offensive will generally be deleted. Thus, two message from Mr. McCue have been removed, but here are major excerpts from his postings (minus links):

#1
Jeff:

I understand that you have a scientific background, and so presume that you are interested in patterns that recur on nature, including human society. Here are a few patterns I have observed that are explanatory, in my view, of certain aspects of Mormon behaviour, and in particular, are much more explanatory of the situation involving Simon Sotherton to which you refer that what you have suggested.

When Mormons (or persons of any carefully engrained, extensive ideology) are confronted with disconfirming evidence, they tend to use ad hominem (personal) attack as a knee jerk reaction. [My response: Eh?? I've written extensively on the scientific issues around the DNA issue, and have discussed it several times here as well. The response is NOT ad hominem, and my post here was to shake my head in dismay as to why some people would make public statements that could only tend to drive the suspicions that many LDS people have of anti-Mormon.] Why? I will suggest that this is the most effect means of discounting troubling information, whether it in the end turns out to be valid or not. Examples from many walks of life could be easily marshalled to make this point. Recent Mormon examples are Grant Palmer, savaged by the LDS apologetic community on a ad hominem basis, and Todd Compton who was attacked in a couple of FARMS reviews (as well as elsewhere) on that basis. I note that the FARMS reviews were eventually taken down. I also note that reading those FARMS reviews after coming to an appreciation of the overall qualify of Compton’s research was one of my “moments of truth”. Hilariously, a GA of whom I am aware (a lawyer who should know better) was passing information around to SPs who were being questioned about Compton’s book that included the gem that Compton had a history as a rock and roll drummer (I have no idea if that is true or not), implying that on that basis should be ignored. My own case is much smaller, but ran along similar lines. In our community the word was that I had engaged in an extra-marital affair and/or was “addicted to Internet porn”. Regrettably (or not, depending on your point of view) I was squeaky clean up to my resignation.

I see in Sotherton’s case nothing more than this very human phenomenon at work. The faithful will find it easier to dismiss his work on the basis of adultery than scholarship, and this saves the LDS Church the discomfort of excommunicating someone on the basis of his scholarly work, which makes a lot of Mormons and other people squirm.

This behaviour, and a lot of other behaviour within Mormonism and other close-knit ideological communities, is explained by cognitive dissonance research. See Aronson, The Social Animal, for a nice summary. This is one of the most widely used texts in this area.

For example, during the 1960s during the infamous Kent State University riots, four university students were shot and killed by members of the Ohio National Guard. In the immediate wake of that tragedy a number of rumours spread. Both of the women who were killed were rumoured to be pregnant and therefore by implication of low morals. The bodies of all four students were rumoured to have been crawling with lice and syphilis such that they would likely have been dead within a short time in any event. Those rumours were proven false. The students who were killed were clean, bright people. In fact, two of them were not even involved in the demonstrations that resulted in their death. Rather, they were simply walking across campus minding their own business. An analysis of why the good folk of Kent would have spread such rumours is enlightening.

It is fair to assume that the conservative residents of Kent, Ohio were offended by the radical student demonstration that rocked Kent State University. It is also fair to assume that many would have hoped that the students would get their comeuppance. However, death is a harsh punishment for demonstration. This could be expected to give rise to cognitive dissonance. One way to reduce that dissonance would be to demonize the students, thus justifying their deaths. This is likely the driving force behind the rumours just mentioned. Unfortunately, this theory cannot be proven because no attitudinal data was collected respecting Kent's residents prior to and after the incident in question. However, other experiments have been done which support the conclusions just drawn. (See Aronson, pages 179-180)

As to why post Mormons leave “the Church” but can’t “leave it along”, my view is somewhat different form Natalie Collins as noted above. Many of us who believe that we have been duped by Mormon leaders (well intentioned or otherwise – it does not matter) will smart for the rest of our lives as result of what we have lost in that regard, and so are sounding an alarm. This is a kind of altruistic behaviour that has been extensively studied in human and other animal populations (See for example, the biologist David Sloan Wilson’s “Darwin’s Cathedral”).

Evolution seems to have bred into us a desire to warn our social group of danger, and we are often prepared to pay a cost to issue that warning that can only be justified by reference to the benefits that our warning is likely to confer on others. That is, we are prepared to suffer consequences that seem far greater than any benefit we might individually gain as result of issuing our warning. This is what causes the bird at the edge of the flock who happens to first spot the approaching, predatory hawk, and to instinctively call out a warning that will help his group, and by so doing attract the hawk's special attention. Studies within human populations as to how cheaters are punished also show this pattern. That is, the punishment meted out to a cheater will often cost the person who delivers it much more than he can expect to gain, but also warns others of the presence of a cheater which tends to make future cheating less likely and so provides benefits to the group as a whole.

Leaving aside the moment the issue of whether Mormon leaders are “cheaters” or not as a result of their teaching of “faithful” history etc., the fact that post Mormons sincerely believe them to be cheaters is enough to engage the mechanisms just noted.

[And here is his second message.]
#2
Mike,

I am happy to wear the cog dis shoe myself whenever it fits. One does not become free of this sort of thing by leaving Mormonism. Post Mormons, as well as Mormons, as well advised to trust the judgement of the most objective parties they can find with regard to things that have heavy emotional content, like whether their spouses are cheating on them or their religious leaders deceiving them.

If you see the behaviour I pointed to at RFM, it means the same thing as it means when displayed by Mormon apologists or SPs setting up courts of love. That is, someone would rather not deal with the substance of the information before them.

But, I don't think you will find me in the group that uses ad hominem attack to avoid substance. And if you can find that, I will acknowledge my fault and we will return to the substance of the point in question.

"Remove the beam from your own eye" and "physican heal thyself" sound to me like another version of ad hominem attack used by someone who would rather not deal with substantive, uncomfortable issues.

Best regards,

bob

Mormanity said...

And Wendy, asking people to not provide irrelevant and distracting personal information - like the fact that they have committed adultery - is hardly asking them to lie. I didn't not say that they should deny anything, but to keep that private. Maybe it couldn't be under the circumstances, maybe it had leaked out and was being made a big issue somewhere, in which case I can commend Simon for his openness. In fact, as I think about it, I think it makes sense that something like this may be the case, so we should be especially mindful NOT to make adultery an issue and to accept the fact that he has removed that problem from his life. Let's move on.

I don't think we need ad hominem attacks to defend the Church. If DNA is an issue, let's debate it - why discuss adultery? Why allow adultery to become a legitimate issue when one could simply ask for name removal? It seems like shooting oneself in the foot. Likewise, Dee Jay Nelson disrupted the legitimate debate of the Book of Abraham by falsifying his credentials, as have other anti-Mormons. If people would just stick to the issues, we could have more meaningul discussion without the distractions created by anti-Mormons trying too hard to attack rather than discuss. It's seeking for publicity, fame, and undeserved credibility to drive home an attack that undermines the efforts of many opponents. Don't blame that on FARMS or ad hominem tactics from apologists. Blame that on anti-Mormons trying too hard to launch an attack instead of a discussion against a Church they just can't leave alone.

The Church blesses the lives of those who are in it and live the Gospel. If you don't like it, just leave and leave others alone. Don't pretend that you are somehow serving God by mocking and distorting the beliefs of others. It's OK to disagree and share your disagreement. Wendy, I have never said that people aren't allowed to disagree. That fact that I allow so many critical comments on my blog should be evidence of that. But the extremes that I see raise a lot of red flags. Not just the preachers waving underwear in people's faces at Temple Square, but a host of bad behaviors. We all need to keep things civil and above board.

Mike Parker said...

Great comments, Jeff.

If someone discovers for whatever reason that they no longer want to be a Latter-day Saint, nothing prevents them from simply moving on, except their own reticence.

When I was an elders quorum president, I would occasionally go out to find people on the membership rolls who no one knew anything about. Almost all of them (with a few exceptions) were living lives that weren't compatible with the gospel (smoking, drinking, drug use, shacking up, Sabbath-breaking, etc.). Some of them asked not to have Church representatives contact them again. I told them that I would not visit them, and would ask ward leaders not to visit them, but as long as they kept their name on Church records, someday someone would visit them again; the only way to stop that permanently was to ask for their name to be removed.

I offered to give them the bishop's name and address, and to tell them what to write in the letter. In all the times I ever did that, only twice did anyone take my advice. Most of the time they said they weren't willing to do that. Why? Sometimes it was because they didn't want to distress their extended family. But most of the time they wouldn't tell me why they wouldn't go through with it.

When the two people did write their letters, my bishop called them to make sure they had written the letters and that the contents reflected their desire (and not because I had pressured them). Once they confirmed that, they were off the records. No one visited them again. As they say in Britain, "Done and done."

As far as those who have left the Church and are vocally opposing it, if they think that they have some clever new argument that pulls the Church from its foundations, then let them set it out, without engaging in a diatribe, name-calling, insults, and so forth. They need to deal with the substance of the FARMS reviews of Grant Palmer and cease moaning about how Palmer was savaged. If they cannot see that they are the ones involved in dissonance management, then they have the problem. And it is a problem that one can see manifested hundreds of times a day in what gets posted on RFM.

lma said...

Two things...

Number one: I sincerely wish that people would quit trying to act like they know better than I do why I left the church. Since I have never shared that information with anyone, being as it is no one else's business, there is no way any of you could know.

And the other thing: I wasn't aware that Salt Lake had edited "Thou shalt not bear false witness..." out of the Ten Commandments. As far as I can see, suggesting that someone else should lie is just as much a violation of that as lying themselves.

Mormanity said...

Ima, help me out. I don't recall EVER discussing you and the reasons you left. Unless your first name is actually Simon, perhaps? We recognize that there are many reasons for leaving the Church - none of them particularly valid, I'm afraid, but certainly diverse.

As for lying, that's a mischaracterization of what I'm suggesting. One can display one's dirty laundry to the world or keep it in the hamper. The latter option is hardly dishonest. My advice was to not commit sin in the first place and then to not to publicly discuss whatever major sins one may have. It was just some friendly advice to ouor anti-Mormon critics. I see it is not well received, so OK, I recant it. Anti-Mormons, please go ahead and share your list of most grievous sins with us. I apologize for asking for a little decorum.

When one has a few moments with the press, there is no obligation to dump details of all one's past sins. Keeping those things private is hardly lying. So, Ima (if that's your real name), I noticed that you failed to share your most recent sins in your post. Was this dishonest of you? Of course not. In fact, thanks for taking my advice and keeping that to yourself. In fact, I think it's good advice, so I'll recant my recanting. (Yikes, talk about back pedaling so fast that I'm actually going forward again....)

rameumptom said...

I think the reason for admitting adultery and one's upcoming excommunication is to sell more books. Signature books has publicized several disciplinarian councils in the past to sell their books. Quite an effective tool, btw. But then, the Book of Mormon does tell us about "getting gain" at any cost, doesn't it?
I agree with Jeff that there are various reasons for leaving this Church or any organization, for that matter. The validity of the leaving must be left to the individual's perceptions and personal paradigms. However, to openly share one's sins reminds me of the trailer trash people one sees on Jerry Springer - all in the hopes of getting a little publicity or gain. Why else does someone do it?
There are ex-Mormons and anti-Mormons that do not share their dirty laundry and that do try to stay on subject. I thank them for it. Unfortunately, they seem few and far between when compared with the average person who attacks the Gospel.
It is as if people in general now wear their pride, sins, and prejudices as a badge of honor. I still can't figure it out. It is like the kids who wear green hair, tattoos, and pierced appendages trying to act like they are on top of the world, and that the world owes them their due because of the way they look.
I saw this behavior in the West when I lived there. I saw it in the South when I lived there. And I now see it here in Indianapolis. People love to show off their sins.