A Comprehensive List of the Problems with Mormonism: Please provide input.

John Dehlin News 16 Comments

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcQthyiTA7c

I’m putting together a comprehensive list of the problems with Mormonism. Please provide input. What did I leave out? What would you change? What should I remove? Thanks in advance!!!!

  1. Joseph Smith’s character
    1. Joseph Smith’s practice of folk magic and treasure digging was deeply problematic
    2. Joseph Smith’s first vision has significant credibility problems
    3. Kirtland Bank scandal
    4. Joseph Smith silencing and maligning critics
    5. Joseph Smith’s practice of Polygamy was deeply abusive and not of God
    6. Joseph went crazy at the end (Militarism, King of the World, Nauvoo expositor)
  2. Fraudulent Scripture
    1. Old Testament is not historically credible, culturally problematic
    2. New Testament is not historically credible, culturally problematic
    3. The Book of Abraham was not a translation, as Joseph Smith claimed taught
    4. The Book of Mormon is not a record of ancient Americans as Joseph Smith claimed, but instead is a 19th century work of fiction/plagiarism
      1. Sources/plagiarism
      2. Translation process (peep stone, hat, no use of plates)
      3. Anachronisms
      4. DNA
    5. The Doctrine and Covenants has been altered repeatedly
    6. Joseph Smith translation of New Testament is plagiarism of Biblical commentary
    7. Kinderhook plates
  3. Authority and truth claims
    1. Mormon claims around the Melchizedek priesthood are deeply problematic
    2. The Mormon church’s claims of exclusive authority are prideful, insulting, and damaging to many
    3. Mormon epistemology (feelings = truth) is deeply problematic
    4. Mormon prophets, seers, and revelators do not prophesy, see, or reveal
      1. Care about stupid things.  Ignore super important things
      2. Always 30 years behind the progressive world in social justice
    5. Doctrine has changed in major ways.  Inconsistent.
  4. Sexuality
    1. Sex-negative vs. a sex-positive culture
    2. The Mormon church’s teaching around modesty are damaging to girls, boys, women, and men
    3. The Mormon church fosters destructive shame with its masturbation policies
    4. The Mormon church allows adults to ask deeply inappropriate and sexually explicit questions alone to children and adults
    5. The problems with prohibiting pre-marital sex
    6. The Mormon Church has harmed generations of LGBTQ people
      1. Teaching that being LGBTQ is an abomination.  Depression/suicide epidemic.
      2. Conversion therapy
      3. Mixed-orientation marriages
      4. Celibacy
      5. November 2015 policy
      6. Opposing same-sex, committed love
  5. Gender
    1. The Mormon church treats women like 2nd class citizens
    2. The Mormon church treats trans-gender issues in harmful ways
  6. Families
    1. The Mormon church strains, divides, and breaks up families
      1. Beliefs are prioritized over relationships
    2. Keeping non-Mormons or unorthodox members out of temple, weddings
  7. Dishonesty, Abuse
    1. The Mormon church has been deeply dishonest about its historical belief and practices regarding polygamy
      1. Originally denying the practice of polygamy
      2. Post-Manifesto polygamy
      3. Claiming now the polygamy is neither doctrinal nor practiced
    2. The Mormon church has systematically hidden and obfuscated its problematic history for generations, and intentionally misled it members.
    3. Examples of abuse/dishonesty
      1. B.H. Roberts
      2. Richard Lyman
      3. Juanita Brooks
      4. Fawn Brodie
      5. Eugene England
      6. Leonard Arrington
      7. Paul Dunn
      8. George P. Lee
      9. Jerald/Sandra Tanner
      10. Mark Hofmann scandal
      11. Brent Metcalfe
      12. Swedish Rescue
      13. September 6
      14. John Dehlin
      15. Sam Young
      16. Bill Reel
      17. Kate Kelly/Ordain Women
      18. Denver Snuffer
    4. The Mormon church defends abusers at the expense of victims
    5. The Mormon church silences, excommunicates, and shuns its critics
    6. Mormon church behaves like a destructive cult in many ways (BITE model)
    7. Leaders do not model Christlike love.  No humility. No apologies.
    8. Maligning and mischaracterizing those who leave
    9. Finances
      1. No financial transparency.
      2. Supporting consumerism/materialism (vs. BOM and Christ’s teachings)
      3. Inadequate support of charity
  8. Rituals
    1. The Mormon temple ceremony is a rip-off from Masonry
    2. Mormon temple work for the dead is inefficient and disrespectful to those who have died.
    3. Up to 80% of Mormon baptisms for the dead are repeats and thus a waste of time.
    4. Second Anointing
  9. Spirituality
    1. The Mormon church worships Joseph Smith more than Jesus
    2. The Mormon church does not encourage real/true spiritual development and maturity
  10. Racism
    1. The core narrative of the Book of Mormon is racist
    2. Mormon leaders have taught egregiously racist teachings since its inception
    3. Indian Placement program
    4. Mormon leadership is excessively white, Utah/Idaho-based, and non-representative of its cultural membership worldwide
    5. Cultural colonialism/genocide in modern church experience
  11. Doctrine
    1. Doctrine of polygamy devalues women, encourages abuse, causes sadness/anxiety
  12. Culture
    1. Devaluing/denouncing science
    2. History of violence (Council of 50, Mountain Meadows)
    3. Mormon Word of Wisdom is outdated, silly in parts, inconsistently applied
    4. Excessively conservative/Republican in harmful ways
    5. Inappropriate political involvement
      1. Prop 8
    6. Boring/irrelevant
    7. Children are brainwashed, baptized too early
    8. Difficult for single people
    9. Difficult for divorcees
    10. Mission culture
      1. Cultlike missionary culture
      2. Missionaries needlessly put in harm’s way
      3. Corrupt baptisms
    11. BYU students punished if earnestly lose faith
    12. Doctrine encourages focus on next life, but neglect of this one
    13. Culture of perfectionism can lead to anxiety, depression, suicidality
    14. Mormon apologetics are cowardly, deceptive, unchristlike
    15. A history of devaluing valuable mental health resources, therapists
    16. Culture of pyramid schemes, superstition, fraud


Comments 16

  1. Unwillingness of Mormon leadership to have dialogue with members/former members, like Sam Young, about horrible policies, etc. It seems if there ever is a round table with Mormon leadership they like to control the narrative, venue, etc.

  2. Joseph’s practice of abortion among his wives. You hear often that Joseph had no polygamous offspring. The reason of this is Abortion was practiced on a large scale in Nauvoo. Dr. John C. Bennett.

    Hyrum Smith’s account of the abortions: http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/joseph-smith-prophet-and-seer/joseph-smith-john-c-bennett-and-extradition-attempt-1842

    Sarah Marinda Bates Source:

    William Law source:


  3. Where Joseph Smith said he did more than Christ: “Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet…When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go.” (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408, 409)

  4. Exclusiveness that is not Christlike:

    Exclusiveness and games of “one up-man-ship” that go against the spirit of Christ’s teachings, is particularly evident in Temple practices that divide and hurt families. For example, the most important and most sacred concept in all of Christianity is Christ’s sacrifice; the Atonement. Each Sunday all are welcome to partake of the Sacrament, and talks about the Atonement are a message of love for all…..no exclusiveness applied for this most sacred ordinance of the Sacrament.

    My “still small voice” tells me loud and clear, that separating families, in the “here and now” on one of the most important family days of their life is so, so wrong. The whole Temple thing is the residue of polygamous secret weddings and Masonic Rituals that were “cut and pasted” into Mormonism by Joseph Smith, an example of creativity gone wrong….a master at cutting and pasting other’s ideas. As Richard Bushman said in Rough Stone Rolling, “Joseph had a ‘green thumb’ for growing ideas from tiny seeds”. He did it with the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, and the Temple rituals….all man made…. I’m sorry to say, as a life-long older member of the church.

    My next comment that follows, will be on a subject that I’ve not yet heard in Mormon discussions of criticism or apologetic writings. This subject has to do with the lack of art and music in the life of the young Joseph and his family, and how this cultural ‘blind spot’ was manifested in his writings and the characters in the Book of Mormon.

  5. Pharisaic culture: wear white shirts, beards and moustaches not allowed for leaders and temple workers, BYU students, must stand when leaders enter room, wearing of fine apparel encouraged, marginalization of poor, leaders sit in the best seat in room (red chairs), nepotism in hiring and in higher church callings, members told that leaders never err, that they must trust absolutely i their local and church leaders, pressure to accept every calling, members aspire to callings for spiritual validation, shunning and gas-lighting of members abused by leaders, bishops told to call Kirtin and Mc Konkie if they see abuse and are routinely told by church Attorneys not to report abuse.

  6. A missing component in the nature and nurturing of Joseph Smith:

    Art and Music was essentially void in Joseph’s life. No piano, guitar, fiddle, banjo, harmonica, crayons, paper and coloring pencils, watercolors to experiment with, like my grandchild enjoys so much, or radio stations, concerts to attend, or art museums to inspire…..just church hymns and the King James Bible. While art and music was exploding in Europe during this time, it was not to be found as an influence in Joseph’s young life, in the culture of his family and neck of the woods.

    If the Book of Mormon, which spans a thousand years, was a real history and “voice from the dust”, this voice would have more mention of art, color, music, and culture. Of all its many writers surely they would have included more about their art, in their time capsule, that was to help “convince the jew and gentile” that this was a real record. Instead the Book of Mormon only mentions two colors…white and black, for “white and delight-some” and “a skin of Blackness”. How sad that color was only used to describe righteousness and wickedness. The Book of Mormon is literally colorless in more than one way. No Songs of Solomon, not a single poem, or mention of cultural arts that may have brought joy to their lives. There is certainly plenty of evidence of the arts in Ancient America.

    Art and music balances our lives. It was missing in Joseph’s life and his creative output shows this. This blind-spot in his thinking was passed on to the supposed writers of the Book of Mormon. This is one more evidence, to me, of Joseph being the author, without even mentioning the problems with science, archaeological evidences, anachronisms, or the evidences “cut and paste” plagiarisms.

  7. 10. Mission culture . I would add pressure for youth to go regardless of level(s) of preparation. Shame, depression and anxiety if missionary comes home for health or other reasons.

  8. Biggest problem for me – the Priesthood was restored. When Christ died on the cross (atoned for us on the CROSS, not in the Garden of Gethsemane) the veil in the temple was torn in two (“rent in twain from the top to the bottom”). This signified that there was nothing between us and access to God anymore. Yet the Priesthood was restored by the LDS church creating a hierarchy for men and a type of slavery for women and causing rampant abuse and feelings of superiority by the all powerful leaders. Another class system is also seen by the belief of 3 degrees of glory and another by the war in heaven (favoring white skin). So glad after 49 years in a bizarre belief system, the scales finally dropped from my eyes.

  9. John, Thanks so much for your work on this.

    Your list is great!!

    All the problems with Mormonism can be summed up with these thoughts

    JS and the church today don’t do or say what Christ would do or say. JS created the cult to gain power money and sex. It is based on corruption, lies, promises and threats. The leaders require blind obedience. Members promise to give everything (including money, time and talents) they have to the church leaders. They put obedience to leaders above everyone and everything. Members are required to stop thinking for themselves. They are not allowed to question what leaders tell them to think or do. It is a cult that controls the minds and actions of its members. Leaders and members cruelly reject those who don’t follow these requirements.

    I know the list could be endless, I realize you will have to prioritize

    We do need this list–for those who left and those who remain in the church.

    I think these are the most damning facts

    JS wasn’t just a polygamist. He was a sexual predator under the guise of polygamy. — He made Sexual advances, married and had sex with underage girls (14- 18) He groomed girls from early childhood (7-12 yrs.) He used his religious authority to manipulate and control with threats and promises… … he also married underage girls who were financially and emotionally dependent on him. (Including step daughters and girls under his care) He lied to others about his relationships with these young girls, and told the girls to keep it secret. His behavior was more like pedophile than polygamy.

    Joseph misused his authority and did immoral things under the guise of polygamy. It wasn’t simply marrying multiple single women… He sent leaders on missions and married their wives in secret. He married close friends wives. (With the promise all the children of the other husband would be sealed to Him in the next life.) He married sisters, and mothers and daughters. He lied to Emma. There is no way he could have been a prophet of God

    I just don’t think you can cover this with saying polygamy abuse—it was sexual abuse. He was a sexual predator

    But many need further proof. All the additional information you will list is just the logical outcome of a corrupt man creating a cult to gain power, sex and money.

    Some ideas


    Blood atonement

    Church discipline and excommunication

    Danita’s—JS enforcers stole and looted from nonmembers in Missouri

    JS went court many times for illegal activity

    JS escaped from Missouri jail illegally

    JS and BY did not follow word of wisdom

    Temple oaths almost identical to masons

    Temple included complete naked washing and anointing

    Temple included secret Blood oaths of loyalty to leaders above all else

    Polygamy is required to live with Christ and family eternally

    BY: Kill interracial couple who sleeps together

    JS political ambitions

    Polygamy revelation given many years after polygamy practiced.

    Emma threatened destruction if she did not accept polygamy

    Real circumstances B of M witnesses

    Early Mormon leaders speak about JS sins

    William Law and the destruction of the printing press

    Garments and word of wisdom

    Promise that all people will turn white as they become righteous.


    Nonmember or unworthy loved ones are excluded from marriages

    Temple (to be with Christ and family eternally) — requires paying money monthly

    Leaders ignore and or discipline rape victims at BYU (run by church leaders)

    Sexual explicit questions to teens by male leader

    Sexually explicit questions and rejection of BYU students

    Sexually explicit questions by male leaders to adults who are sexually sinning.

    Church ignoring child/adult abuse victims of church leaders

    Church refusing to discipline male abusers

    Leaders and members shame those who do not follow cultural standards; dress, entertainment, body piercings, tattoos, hair, etc. etc.

    Members and leaders shame and reject those who question doctrine or leaders

    Most doctrine and teachings have been altered through the years.

    Suggestion: —can you give a topic with each name on your list examples of abuse and dishonesty?

    Looking forward to your completed list.

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