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  1. I thought the interview was great. I do wonder why they didn’t get some one who actually considers them self a New Order Mormon to do the interview or why they chose to title the broadcast ‘New Order Mormon’.
    In the interview John referenced Revelations 3:16. “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” I do not interpret that scripture as God saying he will spew us from his mouth if ether we are in the church or out of the church or sitting on the fence. Its not even a scripture telling us to be good or evil. What it is saying is that what ever you do, do it with passion. Go all the way. Don’t be lukewarm. It says if your going to take the left path, go it all the way. If your going to take the right path, do that all the way. If your going to take the middle path, do it with gusto. But what ever you do, don’t do it half hazard.
    I think John is one of those who has magnified his calling. I would not categorize him as one who is lukewarm or cold.

  2. The interview was great and very enlightening to me. I was raised a correlated Mormon (everything was black and white —- they correlated anything black out and just kept the faith promoting so it seemed obviously right). So even as an Exmo I had a hard time with people like John who stayed in. Thanks to this interview I can appreciate that he suffers more than someone who just leaves like me —– I couldn’t stand sitting/teaching/acting like I believed (by not challenging most everything) what I considered not truthful. I now hope I can allow more options for people in my mind/heart and give people like John the right to do what he feels best for his sanity/life as that is what I and many I don’t entirely agree with have done. For the record I don’t agree with what John did by staying active in the church or the people dropping God completely out of their lives —— I can accept and appreciate both now.

    I agree, after trying to introduce others to the truth about LDS history and doctrine, that we who are non-correlated, NOM, or ex Mormons based on knowledge appear to be more curious (truth seekers), open-minded, willing to take on tough issues type-people (obvious my words maybe not the best) or we would have never studied to any serious degree anything we “felt” was obviously negative about the church (react to feelings without considering negative information and never validating any facts).

  3. It’s interesting how silent the official church has been on this issue of people reading church history, church doctrine, etc…. And then choosing to leave the church. These are not members who have been in the church for a few years and joined on a lark. These are members who’s ancestors go back to Nauvoo, both the husband and wife are return missionaries, BYU grads. These are the best and the brightest of the church and a shocking number of them are leaving, and at great personal cost I might add.

    It’s easy to explain this away as old fashioned apostasy, wickedness and/or pride, but the ones that I know, are the very essence of the ideal LDS family, except they want nothing to do with the church. They are educated, responsible, good parents, moral and upstanding citizens.

    Pretending that there isn’t a problem, is not a solution.

  4. I hear time and again, “Is there room inside the church for those that disagree with or do not adhere to all of the tenets of the church?” The answer has always been a resounding, yes! The qualifier if there is one is whether you support and sustain the leaders of the church or are actively trying to do harm to the church. If so you give up your membership either voluntarily or through some kind of disciplinary council as it should be with any organization that wants to sustain itself.

    There has always been a hierarchy membership in the sense of temple recommend worthy members as opposed to non-temple recommend holding members. Even still, they are all still members. I feel for those that have lost faith and think that they need to detach themselves from the church. John is right, there is a lot in the church for those who choose to stay even in some type of faith crisis.

    If one wants to wear a white shirt and tie and remain faithful, one might be given callings that reflect your orthodoxy. If not, one’s calling if any will also be reflected. My son a returned missionary with a post-graduate degree who is orthodox but refuses to wear a tie or white shirt to church will probably never be a Bishop or Stake Pres., but has all of the other leadership, knowledge and faith assets that you find in those that have been called. He is not bitter and understands why that is, so he plays the organ and piano and he and his wife teach Primary, a far higher calling than a Bishop anyway. (-;

    Point is, there is room in the church for all who are not enemies or percieved enemies of the church. Just because one does not believe everything or fit the orthodox mold does not disqualify you. Actively trying to undermine the church and the leaders either locally or globally does disqualify members in my opinion and you should leave in good conscience either voluntarily or through some type of disciplinary council. Either way will help maintain the integrity of the church and it’s membership.

    1. Joel, when your son thinks you are ready to hear the truth and you won’t be sad – then he will probably open up to you about his real thoughts about the church.

  5. Joel, I used to believe as you until I stopped attending. My friends have almost no contact with me. Before I stopped attending. I would ask a lot of questions about the issues that bothered me, but leaders told me that I was not to ask questions in mortality but was to wait until I died so that HF could answers them then. I ignored that advice and looked for answers and I found them, but it broke my heart to find what I did. And I used official church sources. I avoided anything anti-Mormon.

    I can see why some people are New Order. At first I told my one child that I didn’t believe what I had been taught by the missionaries over 40 years previous. She cried on the phone and didn’t speak to me for two weeks, but we now have a pretty good relationship but not quite as good as before. Would I go on this journey again had I the choice? Yes. I stand firm on an online statement, “That which can be destroyed by truth should be”, and truth destroyed my testimony. If truth would destroy your testimony,would you follow that truth? Or would you follow an untruth in order to keep your testimony?

    And I want to thank John for this interview. I have read where some exes think that John is wishy-washy. People should walk a mile in someone’s shoes before they think that. John has been a good example and I want to thank him for all the good he has done for truth.

    1. Pat, It’s interesting the paths that people take to get to truth. My guess is that I have read or heard most everything that you have and have come to a totally different conclusion. Mine journey was faith promoting to look into the hard questions. I came away being even further confirmed in my spiritual convictions in the church. I do understand where you are at. My guess is that you have had some spiritual experiences that were brought about through your LDS faith. I find it sad indeed when those that have had spiritual witnesses and faith confirming experience in the church somehow discount or set aside those experiences to go down a very different path. My prayers are for your continued happiness throughout life and eternity.

      1. Joel, I have thought long and hard how two people can listen to the same story, yet come to opposite or even different conclusions. I have come to the understanding that people will ultimately believe what they want…sometimes, in spite of overwhelming evidence against their belief. We all have our motives of why we choose to believe certain things, which can, in some instances, skew our arrival to conclusion by including bias.

        I find your retort to Pat condescending, to somehow insinuate that any spiritual experiences had by him/her were brought by the LDS faith. Like somehow the LDS church has a patent on spiritual experience. Arrogance such as you have just shown is more typical than not by the believer…to pretend to empathize, yet then try to be a parent to show them where their bread is really buttered. Unbelievable.

        1. Colorado, Sorry if you were offended. Not my intention at all. My point on spiritual experiences was not meant to mean that all spiritual experience comes through the LDS experience. My point was that people everyday are brought to a spiritual experience by praying as Joseph Smith would suggest to find out if his claims were true or not. That is a true LDS experience when when asks specifically about the claims made by LDSs and one gets an undeniable yes. I still find it hard to see folks that have had that kind of spiritual experience turn from their faith and go down another path.
          I agree that people can go down similar paths and come to different outcomes. I don’t believe that any two people’s experience in this life spiritual or otherwise is identical. Life is as individual and personal as our genetic makeup. Hope this helps.

          1. I was not offended. I was merely pointing out the absurdity that you continually put forward…that spiritual experiences in life somehow stem from the LDS faith,- or the premise that that church has truth at all (another matter all together) and dismiss the reality that bias plays a significant role in the answer that you claim is undeniable. Is that the spiritual experience that one turns from? If so, then what basis does it have to form foundation? I dare say….none, if it can be manipulated by bias.

          2. For what it is worth I and exmo still believe in God and received a spiritual Yes about the BoM being true (I think because it is 25% from the Bible and basically has Jesus Christ words). I got a definite “NO” when it came to the church/prophets being true as I just didn’t ask for a Yes or No then but also support for the answer, and was directed to the Mormon Stories and Heart of the Matter website and inspired to listen to the church history segments. I treasure my spiritual experiences (warning/comforting voices, feelings, metaphysical changes, inspiration, etc.) that I continue to have and document. Additionally, I go to some lengths with Mormon stories guests that claim to have had “spiritual experiences” and drop God when they leave the church. If any Christian has not had a “born again” experience/metaphysical change I question they have been born again or should claim they are Christians —– I only noted one Mormon ever told me (also in every testimony I heard him give claim) he was born again and I questioned him immediately. Basically he believed since he “committed his life to serving in the church” he was by definition “born again”. I am certainly not going to tell anyone they haven’t been born again, which Jesus said was necessary for salvation, but my average spiritual experiences did not compare to that experience for me and it was certainly not by definition that I was born again!

      2. I’m curious Joel, after looking into the hard questions, how do you square your spiritual convictions in the church (not the gospel) with the results that your looking presumably turned up? For example, the church accepts that “God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Yet, rather than being an ensign to the nations and a light to the world, for decades the church denied the priesthood to males of black African descent (and temple ordinances for both black men and women). Its mea culpa, in the form of its recent essay on Race and the Priesthood, was to throw Brother Brigham under the bus by attempting to pin the blame on him for this institutional racism, while carefully avoiding the substantive question of doctrine (as opposed to policy) for this denial. Yet, in a 1949 First Presidency statement, President G.A. Smith and counsellors noted that “[i]t is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.” And, in 1969, the First Presidency stated that “[f]rom the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding presidents of the Church have taught that Negroes, while spirit children of a common Father, and the progeny of our earthly parents Adam and Eve, were not yet to receive the priesthood …”. How can such a sordid history of institutional racism within the church confirm an individual’s convictions in the church? Granted, the church was no different in its historical treatment of persons of black African descent than were other institutions, but one can, I think, fairly expect more of the “one true church”, ostensibly founded upon continuing revelation.

        With regard to spiritual witnesses and faith confirming experience in the church that some have set aside, faith does not exist in a vacuum, but must be founded upon truth. When one discovers discrepancies and contradictions in the church’s foundational truth statements (e.g., regarding JS’s first vision, translation of the B of M, and priesthood restoration by the literal laying-on-of-hands), then one is left to reassess his/her spiritual witnesses and faith in-light of new found information regarding these foundational events. Kudos to those who can reconcile non-correlated LDS history (as found, for example, in the church’s own documents) with their faith in the church as an institution. However, for those who believe that God is “a God of truth” and expect that his prophets should be truthful and honest in their dealings with others, the numerous examples of “lying for the Lord” in the name of crafting a faith promoting history of the church can be too much to swallow. I think Elder Poelman got it right in 1984 with his original “The Gospel and the Church” general conference talk – there are critical differences between the gospel (i.e., the good news of Christ) and the institutional church, but church leaders prefer to conflate the gospel and the church for their own ends.

  6. I discovered almost immediately on my mission that the doctrines and history of the church were not what I had been taught or understood as a child. I recognized truth and self-serving doctrine and error in its teachings. I surrendered to the ultimate unknowability of its divine origins or inspiration (given the humanity of its leaders and our own internal biases for spiritual confirmation). I chose to remain active and attend BYU after my mission (probably because it was easiest). And I married a woman who is a believing Mormon, intent on remaining so. Because she married me as a faithful Mormon, and relied on it, and because I did not qualify my membership or activity in any respect then, I do not feel I can justly go inactive or leave the church until she approves and supports the decision. Until then, I am obligated (in terms of justice) to remain a committed church-attending, faithfully living Mormon man raising a Mormon family with my Mormon wife. While she knows my faith and doubts, she knows my commitment to her and the covenants I made her. My kids learn the doctrines and beliefs, but they also learn the questions that challenge the doctrines and reach for the truth. And they learn the virtue of other beliefs, including agnosticism and atheism. That is the best we can do. And it is working well. “We are happy family.”

    1. I can understand where you are and realize you have individual circumstances and personalities involved —– hope you make the correct decision. I considered that route after I learned the church was a scam. However, my kids are grown and, I attended Sunday School with my wife and they were talking about the history in conjunction with the D&C and I couldn’t believe all the Lies I heard. I kept talking to my wife in a whisper about the lies being taught. After that Sunday session I confessed to my wife I (integrity, honesty, etc.) just could not continue to go and pretend (as a priesthood leader and instructor) that I was a full tithe payer (which I wasn’t by then and had no intention to be) and had a positive testimony of JS or the lds church. She totally agreed and that was the last I attended our ward (I wrote and email to the Bishop and my priesthood leader saying basically I lost my testimony of the church and would not participate again)!

      I was concerned with divorce and told my wife I could live without her before I would give up my integrity so I could fully understand if she wants a divorce —- never got divorce but got a much improved relationship. No minor arguments or gripes about me not attending any more or divorce will be discussed again. For over a year now things have gone better than before but who knows how long before she joins me or decides to live alone (really scary for women that never worked and depended on someone else for everything outside the home).

      1. Thanks, Stormin. Every situation is truly unique. I am fortunate to have a wife, friends, and church leaders who do not require me to choose between my integrity and convictions and their love and support. Others are far less fortunate. I am grateful for John and others who minister for them. I try to do my part for them as well.

    2. You did make that promise to your wife when you were married. Do your children have to fall victim? We all learn during the course of our life. Do we continue to relive our mistakes for the sake of consistency? So that our spouse will never look at us and say “you’ve changed?”

      I think your children deserve the benefit of your wiser self.

  7. Joel, I had spiritual experiences about the church being true–the missionaries asked me if I enjoyed them being in my presence and I answered in the affirmative. They then asked me if I felt good about being taught by them and I said yes, so they told me that that good feeling was the Spirit bearing witness to me of the truthfulness of what they were teaching me. Then I knew that a good feeling confirmed to me that something was true. But one day I saw a moving Tom Cruise movie and I was brought to tears. How, I wondered, could this be the Spirit telling me that this movie was true when it had absolutely nothing to do with spirituality.

    Each fast Sunday in our ward, one family would get up and each would bear their testimony and every time they would cry. After several years of this even strong believers thought this to no more than feelings rather than a huge outpouring of the Spirit. so much for feelings always being the Spirit bearing witness.

    Had I been told the whole truth by the missionaries, I may not have joined the church in the first place. As my very active neighbor told me when we discussed this, “So, the missionaries made mistakes when they taught you, it’s still true so it doesn’t matter now.” But shouldn’t I have been able to hear the whole truth and use my agency to choose?

    I know many who have attended the temple and found it to me extremely spiritual to them, but my wife and I never felt that. We attended to be obedient and we lived fairly close to a temple the last years of our membership–5 hours by car. And, except for the temple missionaries assigned from our ward, my wife and I attended more than any other couple. Each time, we couldn’t wait to get to the parking lot and change clothes so we could feel normal again.

    I always knew the Book of Mormon was true until one day that our bishop asked the ward to read it. When Pres. Hinckley had asked members to read, I did the obvious and I read, following the explanations of certain passages by BYU professors and general authorities. But this time I decided to read the book another way–prayer and following the Spirit. I was later told my some leaders that this was where I had made my mistake–“I could pray but could get an answer from the adversary, but leaders would never lead me astray.” But I carefully and prayerfully read both the BoM and the D & C finding many discrepancies between the version I was using and the 1830 account, plus general writings that did not make sense.

    I then decided to use the same method to read the New Testament. I also read the history of the manuscripts used. I read about the use of the name Jesus and how it could not have been used in what was said to be his time.

    I then began reading the Old Testament and after completing the Torah and finding out what a mean and hateful god was found there, I wondered about all man-made scripture.

    After all this I have affiliated my beliefs closest to those of most of our nation’s founding fathers. I believe that the Word of God is the creation and I marvel in it each day. It’s too bad that all these man-made religions can’t learn to love one another instead of killing one another trying to prove which one is God’s and the best one.

    I have always lived in areas of high national patriotism where citizens were concerned about the government placing patriots, home schoolers, and preppers on a list to be studied. And then I watched a BBC documentary where ex-LDS talked about such a secret committee in the church that did similar things. When I asked the senior missionaries who visited me one day, about its existence, they told me that such an idea was from Satan. Most local leaders I have talked to have denied its existence, but I heard a GA tell of its existence. Sounds like secret combinations to me.

    My wife would tell old friends, “If it was only a few issues, we could accept them, but there were hundreds of them.”

    And Joel, you did not answer my question–If truth could destroy your testimony, would you follow truth?

    I like Robert Frost’s statement–“Two roads diverged in a wood and I–I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” I love truth and always will.

    And thank you, Colorado.

    1. Pat, Truth is where you find it. I like the Bushmans, the Givens and a host of others would lay everything at the alter of God wherever it leads for Truth because God is all truth. Unfortunately many in this life rely on the arm of their own flesh or the flesh of others for their answers. Science and religion are seeking all truth and I believe will converge at some point when all truth is circumscribed into one great whole. With that knowledge though, I know that science and religion (I define religion as revelation from God and the application of that revelation from God in life) can change as fallible man seeks to put all truth together with our mortal fallible brains and our God given spirit. So far there has been nothing that has trumped my truth driven spiritual experiences that have come from trying to live by the teachings of the church or my ongoing study of the hard questions in LDS and Christian history. I hope this answers your question.

      In regard to the Old Testament God, I would suggest that you read, “Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God” by Paul Gopan if you haven’t yet.

  8. For all those who decide to remain in the church, what do you expect to do with your children? I made a conscious effort to distance myself from the church for the obvious reasons, although I can assure you all it might have been in my interest to remain (family ties have forever been compromised). My own father is TBM, but had I found out that he was NOM and kept that from me I would have been furious with him for having played a part in misleading me. And so I would expect my own children to be equally upset with me for deluding them.

    This isn’t just a little white lie, leaving the church for even the casual member of the church (especially if you grew up in it) is life-altering, we’re talking about a complete paradigm shift. Your brain is hard-wired to think in a certain manner and while taking off those shackles can be liberating there are still psychological and social repercussions that cannot be understated. I’m not suffering per se but I feel alienated and lost. I would never wish my experience on anyone, much less my children.

    1. Daniel,

      My children were the impetus for my walking away from the church figuratively. Looking at my newborn twins in the middle of the night one evening, I came to the realization that I couldn’t spend it knowingly deflecting/embellishing/deceiving them in regards to something I simply did not believe. That’s when I had a frank discussion with my wife.

      For the sake of brevity I won’t go into details of the immediate aftermath but in short, although our relationship went through a dark period because of this initial challenge, this path has strengthened our love, communication and our overall relationship tenfold. (I understand that this isn’t always the case with many LDS relationships when one decides to walk away for a variety of reasons.)

      Where our family sits now? Although my wife is a TBM (although I’d say she’s more middle-way) we do go to church monthly (1-2 times), and both of us are simply 100% honest in our communication about the church and it’s beliefs/teachings with our children- My wife gives her thoughts and I give mine regarding different subjects. They are still very young (6, 7 & 7) so we keep it relatively high-level, but I feel from their feedback that they have an extremely healthy view of our church, other churches, and religion in general.

      As far as social repercussions, I haven’t run into much of anything. Most of my life hasn’t been spent around a majority of LDS people and I never sought after the cultural aspect of the church to lean on for friendship. However, I do have many good LDS friends who’s beliefs run the full spectrum from one side to the other, and those relationships haven’t change in the least. So maybe I dodged that experience? My parents have also been supportive and we, along with my brothers, have wonderful religious discussions from time-to-time which I enjoy thoroughly.

      Maybe I’m lucky? I hope a little of this helps.

  9. So amazing! All you people who are commenting, you are so smart and so good at expressing yourself. Would love to know you all personally. And I feel, regardless of belief systems, you all would make terrific friends. Makes one feel, forget about differences, simply be friends.

    Another thing that amazes me is how strongly members maintain their beliefs in the face of what I feel is clear evidence to the contrary.

    When it comes to “truth” I like to fee I am evidence based. And I feel the methods given by the church to validate one’s belief, simply don’t hold up. Take a couple of examples. If you look at it carefully, prayer is a excellent form of hypnosis. You get quiet, close your eyes and bow your head and repeat established mental cues.
    These are the steps for inducing hypnosis and self-hypnosis–(1) relax (2) screen out external stimuli, (3) focus attention on a word, cue, phrase or object. (4) Believe. (5) Expect you will get results.

    The testimony is clearly a brain-washing technique–repetition and reinforcement. The testimony-giver feels rewarded. When someone bears their testimony, he or she is doing what the good Mormon is expeced to do and feels rewarded for doing it. The testimony is repetition with some acceptible variation. Curiously, I heard a woman get up in testimony meeting,(She had just received her M.A. in psychology.) “I don’t have a testimony.” she says. I thought she was brave. Because this is not something anybody does in Mormon meetings and classrooms. You just don’t say anything contrary to doctrine. There is a silent conspiracy of censorship in the Mormon chapel and classroom.

    This is why John’s podcasts are so refreshing and therapeutic. Unlike the LDS classroom, he gives people permission to say how they really feel. Then he reflects their feelings. And is non-judgemental. The church needs to teach this system of instruction and leadership. Then all you wonderful people, and you are all wonderful, could sit in the same classroom. John needs to write a handbook on his great method.

    I like the “stay Mormon” idea, but the church should allow for
    the expression of multiple beliefs, at least in some designated classrooms.

    The Mormon community is a loving caring community. It’s
    not easy to find such a group of living people. But unless you have the one true Celestial personality, there are times when you might not feel so comfortable.

    But attending church as a “free Mormon” puts you in the driver’s seat. and may give you advantages. You can now evaluate and accept your experience for what it is worth to you, on your own terms.

    Love you all, and if I see you at church. . .

    1. tropical animal AMEN! In the Gospel Principals class that I teach most Sundays, the first thing I say every Sunday is that there ia nothing out of bounds that we cannot discuss in this class. I then ask if there are any questions or topics for discussion that anyone has come across during the previous week. Gospel Principals is not time driven meaning that you can take as much time as necessary to present each lesson whether it is one week or many. I believe that it is critical for all members especially prospective or new members to know as much about the church, its history pro and con, ancient Christianity and Judaism as well as any other spiritual source that comes across ones path and how it applies to an LDS experience and what our niche in it all is. Not many teachers in the church take this approach, but isn’t that what you are talking about?

      With reference to prayer and how it empirically applies to ones psyche, I would suggest reading “Irreducible Mind; Toward a Psychology For the 21st Century”. Edward F. Kelly, Emily Williams Kelly, Adam Crabtree. Alan Gauld, Michael Grosso & Bruce Greyson. Prayer goes way beyond some self induced hypnotic suggestion.

      Joseph Smith made our quest to know quite easy really. Anyone can find out for themselves if it is worth anything or not. I just hope that after we have received this witness from the H. G. that we don’t just discount it for nought and fall into what was seen a long time ago as recorded in 1st Timothy 3:17

      1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

      2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

      3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

      4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

      5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

      6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

      7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

  10. So amazing! All you people who are commenting, you are so smart and so good at expressing yourself. Would love to know you all personally. And I feel, regardless of belief systems, you all would make terrific friends. Makes one feel, forget about differences, simply be friends.

    Another thing that amazes me is how strongly members maintain their beliefs in the face of what I feel is clear evidence to the contrary.

    When it comes to “truth” I like to feel I am evidence based. And I feel the methods given by the church to validate one’s belief, simply don’t hold up. Take a couple of examples. If you look at it carefully, prayer is a excellent form of hypnosis. You get quiet, close your eyes and bow your head and repeat established mental cues.
    These are the steps for inducing hypnosis and self-hypnosis–(1) relax (2) screen out external stimuli, (3) focus attention on a word, cue, phrase or object. (4) Believe. (5) Expect you will get results.

    The testimony is clearly a brain-washing technique–repetition and reinforcement. The testimony-giver feels rewarded. When someone bears their testimony, he or she is doing what the good Mormon is expeced to do and feels rewarded for doing it. The testimony is repetition with some acceptible variation. Curiously, I heard a woman get up in testimony meeting,(She had just received her M.A. in psychology.) “I don’t have a testimony.” she says. I thought she was brave. Because this is not something anybody does in Mormon meetings and classrooms. You just don’t say anything contrary to doctrine. There is a silent conspiracy of censorship in the Mormon chapel and classroom.

    This is why John’s podcasts are so refreshing and therapeutic. Unlike the LDS classroom, he gives people permission to say how they really feel. Then he reflects their feelings. And is non-judgemental. The church needs to teach this system of instruction and leadership. Then all you wonderful people, and you are all wonderful, could sit in the same classroom. John needs to write a handbook on his great method.

    I like the “stay Mormon” idea, but the church should allow for
    the expression of multiple beliefs, at least in some designated classrooms.

    The Mormon community is a loving caring community. It’s
    not easy to find such a group of living people. But unless you have the one true Celestial personality, there are times when you might not feel so comfortable.

    But attending church as a “free Mormon” puts you in the driver’s seat. and may give you advantages. You can now evaluate and accept your experience for what it is worth to you, on your own terms.

    Love you all, and if I see you at church. . .

  11. Joel, I think the problem here is to what is truth. And many Mormons disagree as to what that consists of. An example: Yesterday I spent around 30 minutes talking to an active Mormon, or at least he said he was. He believes strongly in the church as restored by Joseph Smith, but feels that the church has gone astray. He basically believes in fundamentalism. He holds a recommend and has a calling, and is considered by most members to be a very active Saint. His truth comes from the words of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor, and scripture. He is opposed to blacks having the priesthood and the abolition of polygamy in this life. He believes (knows) that he has the truth but is sure that others who follow current leaders, do not. When I asked him, he was not sure if he had the priesthood or if anyone today had it.

    In our area there are a few who follow Denver Snuffer, who, on Mormon Stories, talked some of how he had seen and conversed with Jesus. This was noted in a book which he wrote and which I read. I look at his blog a couple times per month, and he recently talked about the church as being divided into two groups–the residue and the brethrenites. This fellow I mentioned above seems to fit into the residue.

    I find so many Mormons who believe in opposing truths. This fellow believed that Joseph had more than 40 wives. Another fellow in this ward read a recent book on polygamy, and knows for sure that Joseph never practiced plural marriage. And I would class him as part of this residue. He also has had a recommend, his bishop helping him to pass it by saying what would get him past the stake president, so that he could attend his daughter’s wedding.

    As for the old testament, besides reading other translations of the Torah, using Hebrew clarifications, I am currently reading “Did Moses Exist”, by D.M.Murdock. I recently finished her book on Jesus and his existence. (?) And I really learned a lot from reading The Brownstone translation of the New Testament. I don’t just read LDS books, I read a variety. When I was active, I only read LDS books.

    An online site I found on religious truth is religious tolerance.org. On this I found that so many others believe, like LDS, that their religious or faith is the correct one. They have a great section on the comparison of prayers of the various faiths. I took a short test to see if I could identify the prayer language and I mistook two others for a Mormon prayer.

    An interesting question I came across in a book in our local public library was, “Can there be good without God?” It was a book on humanism, asking whether someone who believed in no god at all could be good. Do you think an atheist csn be good? I doubt you will answer since you don’t answer the other questions I asked you. Maybe you just don’t have the truth. If I consider myself as following the faith of most of the Founding Fathers–Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, what faith am I? And do I have truth? And if I don’t, since I disagree with Mormon theology this way, did those great Americans not have truth when they wrote the Constitution, which many LDS believe to be inspired?

    Now you say that God is all truth. Which god? The Mormon God? The Protestant and Catholic God, the Jehovah’s Witness God? The Muslem? Or the Hindu or Buddhist? And to those followers of their god, they believe that they only have the correct god. Even the Mormons differ in who god is. Is the Father’s name Elohim, or Michael as Brigham Young said? Many who follow the trinity (And by the way, many passages in the Book of Mormon, teach about the trinity which is separate from what is taught in what is now considered the one true “first vision”.) believe the name of God is Yeshua or Yehushua, since there was no “J” in either the early Hebrew or Greek.

    As to following the arm of flesh, is following Bushman or Givens not following the arm of flesh. Now Remember that Brigham said over the pulpit in a general conference that what ever he spoke was scripture and the members could take it as such. So did he have the truth when he said that blacks should never have the priesthood and that Adam is our God? At a talk given while Joseph was alive, Brigham Young stated that the words of the living oracle are more important than scripture and Joseph followed his talk saying that Brigham had told the truth and it was the word of the Lord. This quote was taken from a book that was recommended by Ezra Taft Benson in a 1970 general conference. So what is truth and who has it? And how can anyone tell what is truth? The Mormons say that they can (Which Mormons?) and those of other faiths say they can and only they can. And which “word of God” in the world today is the truth since they were all written by men, even if their followers insist they were inspired by their god?

    1. Great questions. To answer your first question on the founding fathers, I according to encyclopedia Britannica:
      “In recent decades Christian advocacy groups, prompted by motives that have been questioned by some, have felt a powerful urge to enlist the Founding Fathers in their respective congregations. But recovering the spiritual convictions of the Founders, in all their messy integrity, is not an easy task. Once again, diversity is the dominant pattern. Franklin and Jefferson were deists, Washington harbored a pantheistic sense of providential destiny, John Adams began a Congregationalist and ended a Unitarian, Hamilton was a lukewarm Anglican for most of his life but embraced a more actively Christian posture after his son died in a duel.”

      I would call many of them Humanists.

      On your other point of truth. Look at the examples you have given. Who says there is not diversity in the church and its members? The tent looks pretty big from your description. Why would anyone throw the baby out with the bath water if what you are telling me is true and I have no reason not to believe you. If you have prayed and the H.G. has confirmed at some point in your life that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Christ’s church and then turn from that truth, isn’t that denying a truth that you once had?

      Can Atheists be good people? Sure they can. I think most of mankind is inherently good. After all we are God’s children and I don’t believe God is a loser when it comes to His children.

      On the book I recommended for the Old Testament, Paul Copan the author is not LDS.

      I love Snuffer, I own his book “The Second Comforter” as well. Sad to see him leave the church.

      I worship the God that answers my prayers and allow all others to worship God in their own way or none. For me anthropomorphic, family God makes the most sense to me. If he is all kind and loving he will grant me that. To a Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim or Catholic etc, I believe that initially these believers will see God as they believe God is and when they leave this life, they will receive further light and knowledge as to who and what God is. I don’t believe that most true Atheists would accept God for who he is. Even if God showed his face, most would find some way to rationalize the experience away. In a very real sense there is no God for them and they will receive their reward.

      Disagreement among leaders in the church simply confirms that we do not have all truth and light at this time. I don’t get real excited about the differences. Again, truth is where you find it.

      God love you.

      1. If, in fact, truth is where you find it, and people find different truths – that may be diametrically opposed, then how can it really be truth. I see truth (substitute fact here) as being an unchangable constant (i.e. 2+2=4). It doesn’t matter to me that you claim your truth says the solution to the simple equation is 3 and another person says their truth answer is 5. The only true (factual) answer is 4. So, either the church is what it claims to be, or it’s not…there is no middle ground, as G. Hinckley said. If you move the goal post, Joel, it is no longer truth.

        1. Colorado, To use your goal post analogy, My son when he is six wants to play basketball. There is no way a 10′ high hoop is going to help him. I buy an adjustable basketball standard, adjust it to his level of play to build confidence and understanding of the game. I indeed do raise the goal or hoop as he progresses and grows in stature until he can play shooting at a 10′ hoop and guess what, he is miles ahead of children that have never had the opportunity to start with a lower standard or goal. He learns the game of basketball at his own ability level. It is the same with God’s children. Two servants of God might be at different levels that might even appear diametrically opposed. But guess what? They’re just men learning the game. That is why math does not work in this instance and why man is still working on that “Theory of Everything” that Einstein didn’t have the tools to complete in his lifetime.

          1. Joel, the goalpost was a metaphor for your sophistry and that of changing LDS doctrine, claiming to be truth. No one is proporting that a 10′ hoop is truth…but nice try at deflection. According to LDS theology, the prophet is not there to learn the game, as you say, he is there to speak for god. Canonized LDS doctrine states he cannot lead the church astray. So when these men teach opposite truths of the same mormon god to the church, how can it really be truth?

            You seem to ok with the changing truths (facts) of LDS theology no matter what. More power to you, brother. The way I see it, your bias blinds your view, because maybe it’s too hard for you to accept the consequence that your belief may be fiction. I don’t know your motives in that regard. That is ok, but is not based in fact. People believe untruths all the time, but just because they believe it, does not make it anymore true.

          2. Every latter day prophet that I am familiar with has said that they are learning the game, so to speak. Pres. They all recognize their need to continue to learn and progress. That does not stop them from speaking for God for the church and the world for their time.
            I think that folks try to make the Prophets out to be something they are not. They are not infallible. The church still works through fallible man. That is quite a bit different than leading the church astray to the point of destruction. So far they have a pretty good track record and continue to carry the work forward. The quote regarding the prophet not leading the church astray is not canonized meaning that it cannot be found in the standard works of the church.

            April 2013 conference was a confession to the fallibility of the leaders, as Pres. Uchtdorf stated:
            Unanswered Questions
            Some struggle with unanswered questions about things that have been done or said in the past. We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church history—along with an uninterrupted line of inspired, honorable, and divine events—there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question.

            Sometimes questions arise because we simply don’t have all the information and we just need a bit more patience. When the entire truth is eventually known, things that didn’t make sense to us before will be resolved to our satisfaction.

            Sometimes there is a difference of opinion as to what the “facts” really mean. A question that creates doubt in some can, after careful investigation, build faith in others.

            Mistakes of Imperfect People
            And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.

            I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes.

          3. Listen Joel,

            I can handle imperfect prophets. What I can’t handle are prophets who fumble on the huge moral questions of humanity no matter the world of their time. I don’t mind the almost quaint version of Mormon cosmology, Kolob, and Moonbeams wearing Quaker attire, I don’t mind Joseph’s failed attempts with various societal models, or his flashes of anger and humanity beyond good judgement.

            What I do expect out of a prophet is prophetic guidance on the profound moral questions that vex us horribly as a species towards tremendous suffering and grief. Questions of race and slavery, questions of violence, sexual violence, genocide, war and tribalism. I expect honesty and integrity above and beyond. If you are here making the argument that prophets are fallible like everyone else you’ll get no argument from me, because to me, they are everyone else. I think there is a more massive question so missed on most, and that is the pomposity and arrogance that lies unassumed in the claim of a person that God has told him a secret, and not told it to me? I know you feel special Joel to invision yourself spoken to by a Deity, but I don’t buy it. What’s more likely? You receiving answers while many who have honestly asked claim never receiving an answer? Or that you are receiving confirming emotion to premises that you most likely tend to, or want to believe in the first place? What’s more likely, the so called “spirit” or “HG” translating from whatever unmeasurable medium it operates onto your biology actually measurable in the brain, or that your experience is and always has been a self generating, internal biological product of the brain that has a tendency to flirt dangerously close with the delusion in every one of us on a daily basis? I know what the evidence and Occam’s Razor would tell us.

          4. Colorado, And you and many others have expectations of prophets that evidently aren’t what God would have of them. You don’t really want to listen to God’s prophet because he is imperfect. You don’t really want to listen to God’s prophet because he says things that offend you. You don’t really want to listen to God’s prophet because the church just has too much money and you don’t like how they spend it. You don’t really want to listen to a prophet because they don’t prophecy what you want to hear. And by golly you really don’t want to listen to a prophet because he is not Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela or Dr. Martin Luther King or some other social leader.

            When and where does the list end my friend when one says what “I” expect out of a prophet? It is never ending when one wants to counsel God and his Prophets because you can never get rid of the “I” and ask what does God want from us?

            Again I quote an Apostle/Prophet from a long time ago about the last times:

            1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

            2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

            3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

            4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

            5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

            6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

            7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

  12. Daniel H.
    As to being lost without friends, I find this to be very difficult also. I left my non-LDS friends behind when I joined the church and then I moved around a lot. When I stopped attending, I suddenly had almost no friends. Last week I attended a Nazarene church and in the two years of freedom, I have also attended a Baptist Church and a Seventh-Day Adventist, but I don’t believe their doctrine any more than Mormonism so that doesn’t seem to be helping. But, I started going to local meetings on gardening and shooting and life is getting much better. At first it was rough. John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories was a real help along with reading about others on sites such as RfM and Post-Mormon.

    At first there is a lot of anger but gradually I feel more love toward my fellow man that I ever felt in Mormonism. There is still a lot of good in the church. I will always remember and cherish the wonderful memories I took from the church. It would be a great place to go even now, if only history was taught as it happened rather than a whitewashed version to make the church look better than it is.

  13. Wow. You mean someone would actually go to church without a white shirt, tie and business suit. That IS getting out of line. Don’t quote me on this but this is the gospel truth. Research at the University of Utah revealed, using sonar imaging, that all Mormon
    male fetuses were wearing business suits.

  14. Joel, apologia at its finest, bravo. Now once the doctrine, that is truth (mind you), changes again in the future due to societal pressures – and I assure you they will, like they have in times past – I will be hear to listen to how you justify their 180 degree turn. If you can’t trust what a prophet says to be truth, and from god, then what use is he? Especially if his successors can materially change supposed truths he taught…what good is he, really? How could god allow his prophet to learn while hurting others? He hurt the black race by denying full blessings, and continues to hurt others today, like my gay brother. How could god permit this? That is totally absurd.

    Btw, OD 1 is canonized LDS scripture. I can think of no way to lead the church away faster than by teaching them who god is not (I.e. Adam-god). It reminds me of the Old Testament guys whom god chastised for teaching that he was an idol or the sun. And how is that different? feel free to apologize on their behalf (and pay your 10%).

    Cheers to you my friend.

    1. Colorado, Thanks for the discourse. I know the church, the leaders and hopefully you and I and your gay brother will progress to a loving, blessed meeting of the truth in all things. God Speed…

      1. Joel, Above you seem to give a pass to anyone that claims to be a prophet and expect nothing from him in return for his claim. Does that really mean to you that Mohammed was a prophet – just because he claimed to be? You are certainly free to believe and view those people how you will, however, most of the world will expect them to act as a prophet, if that’s what they claim to be. The canonized LDS scriptures tell you how to define (and what to expect from) a prophet…not me. By their very definition, they are not prophets if they lead the church astray by teaching a doctrine that is not truth. If I find the prophet to be leading a double life (carousing on the side, stealing, bullying, murdering, etc. – all of which have been done by prophets) I have a right to question their claim and expect them to live / act the part. Some, like you, give them pass and dont question.

        The world will always be full of believers like you that will defend them to the bitter end. As I said previously, just because you believe it, doesn’t make it true or false. People can believe a lie.

        Look at the poor folks that try to extricate themselves from other cults. They really believed it. It was who they were, but it didn’t make it truth. Truth is not where you find it. Truth is independent of the searcher.

        1. My faiths is in God. God has given me a prophet to guide his church in these last days to which I am eternally thankful. However, I take nothing that the prophet says without taking it to God first to get confirmation. I have no intermediary to God except Christ himself. One thing the church teaches people how to be is temporally and spiritually self-reliant. We should lean on no one for access to God. So far God has given me two-thumbs up for following His prophets and building God’s kingdom here on earth. I don’t believe changing a belief or policy in the church is tantamount to leading the church astray. The church is functioning just fine and continues to move on until it fills the earth geographically in the stakes and wards of Zion. So far, God’s Prophets have not destroyed the church and thus have not led it astray nor will they in my understanding until the winding up scenes that usher in Christ’s return.

          No free passes here for prophets.

          1. Joel,

            Ok, let’s run with that. So the prophet announces at the pulpit that Adam is God and that this was a revelation he received from God and a new doctrine of the church. You, as an independent mormon thinker, and seeking to gain confirmation of this new doctrine, go directly to god and ask him…are you really father Adam? What will god tell you? I will tell you that in Mormonism, it does not really matter, because if as a mormon, you don’t support the doctrine, you will be asked to leave the church, even if you had your own revelation to the contrary. Good ol brother Briggy demoted many church leaders for not supporting that doctrine…even an apostle.

            I will give you another example of this very thing. Let’s say you were in the tabernacle when the manifesto to end polygamy was issued. You looked across the isle and see your four wives and fifteen children sitting there. You decide that your family will petition god to get confirmation that you should only have one wife. After much prayer, you feel you received an answer that you should continue in polygamy. When the church finds out, they excommunicate you and all your family. Why? Because, by default, you cannot receive a revelation that is contrary to the prophet. You are assumed wrong. Even if you claim a true revelation, how would god tell you a truth that differs from him prophet? From the church’s standpoint…he wouldn’t. That’s why you would be wrong.

            So then, your truth is what he tells you it is, and many times it has been dead wrong…go figure.

        2. I find this back and forth to be intersting. It reminds me of the Christian philosposher Thomas Aquinas, who debated how many angels can dance on the head of a pin or be in one place at one time.

          All of this regarding the LDS faith can be best sumed up by Occam’s Razor, which states that the simplest and most elequent explanation is the most likely.

          Are the claims of the church to have a monopoly on truth and to be gods ONLY church on the face of the earth? Yes it is possible, but improbable. The probablity is approaching that of Zero, not zero, but close. If you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer. We should not be asking is this true or not. This is the wrong question. The question should be “How likely is this to be the case?”

          I view it as an exercise of people who are still willfully self delusional that there is an invisible, magic, friend who lives in the sky and needs to be begged to do good. Reminded to do good through prayer.

          Just give it up. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t a god. It is unknowable. Any time spent thinking and debating it, is a waste of your finite time. Religions exist to assuage your fear of death. 10% of your income might be a good trade, so that you are not paralysed by your fear of mortality.

          But the question you need to ask yourself: How likely is it that JS and all the other prophets are/were all directed by god, yet preach irreconcilably different “truths”? Is it more likely that they are just like all the other churches who are evolving to stay relevant and keep people in the pews and paying contributions?

          Are we created in gods image or do we create god to fit our values and our image? Usually the latter.

          David

  15. Really enjoyed (not) the bla, bla, bla from both pro and con Mormonism —— but I understand that if you all think that is important great you should do it. The God I found (from reading the Bible) after Mormonism was a God who destroyed the veil of the temple at the death of Jesus Christ. The tearing of the veil meant that God who use to dwell in temples made by man now dwells in peoples’ hearts (“our bodies are temples of God”). The result is we don’t need prophets, pastors, teachers, etc. to communicate with God on our behalf we CAN have His Spirit with us constantly and have a direct connection —– why would anyone rely in the ‘arm of the flesh’ to tell us what to do, what correct doctrine is, what truth is, when God wants us to have a personal relationship with him??? I don’t need no “stinkin” church, prophets, pastors, teachers, etc. if I have a direct connection to God. On the other hand, I do use teachers to help me understand the Bible (have found only 1 of many that are more than 95% accurate in their teachings (the 5% of false doctrine (lot higher in non Christian churches such as LDS) has a lot to do with maintaining their church structure and pay) but that doesn’t mean their teachings are of no value at all as long as you have God to help you know the truth) however —– If any person needs anyone between them and God I pity them and the unloving god they worship that requires an intermediary!

  16. Joel–answering your points.
    I had what I thought was a confirmation from the Spirit, because the missionaries had taught me what that felt like, but when I read about and talked to Christians in other faiths, I realized that they also felt that the Spirit had confirmed to them that their belief was true as opposed to Mormonism. So either the spirit tells each person a different truth or else emotion enters into the equation and there is no spirit. Wars and mass slaughtering over thousands of years have resulted because a particular race felt that their religion was God’s religion and others should be eliminated in order to purify the world. And, the Mormons are no different in this way than others (Mountain Meadows Massacre and the doctrine of blood atonement).

    About a year ago I read Thomas Paine’s “Age Of Reason”. Because he wrote this, he was imprisoned in France because in the book he disproved the Bible by using only the Bible.

    Denver Snuffer did not voluntarily leave the church. According to his blogs, he had a run in with “The Strengthening The Members Committee”, that secret committee that keeps tabs on some people who might be a threat to the church. He was exed because he refused to take “Passing The Heavenly Gift” out of production. Had he known the right people he may still be in the church, as is John Dehlin and Tom Phillips, who even took the church to court in Britain.

    And I guess you could say that God is all kind and loving, but that god of the Old Testament must me a different one. And how about the god who told Brigham Young to teach the people that the blacks should never get the priesthood, or that murdering the guilty is a way for them to atone for their sins in this life so they can return to that god? And remember that each faith believes they are right and others are wrong. So who is right? You say that when others die they will know the truth about God, but there are probably a large number of non-LDS believers who figure that when Mormons die, they will learn the truth.

    One thing about being a deist/agnostic, I can appreciate creation all around me and not wonder about “words” written by men.

    If you want to learn a lot about “truth”, especially in the Mormon church, you might want to brouse a good history source, “Mormon Think”. It will give you both sides and from credible sources, most church approved, or at least they were when I joined the church some 40 years ago. You might also enjoy the Mormon Stories podcast on Tom Phillips as he tells of that very spiritual experience, the second annointing, an ordinance that is talked about in Snuffer’s controversial book.

    1. Pat, Sorry but I would respectfully disagree with your assessment of religion and especially Mormonism. First of all, the church has never claimed an exclusive on spiritual experiences. Truth and spiritual experiences are where you find them. Doesn’t make one right and one wrong. Mormonism does claim exclusion on Priesthood authority and saving ordinances.

      Mountain Meadows simply shows that good people can make bad decisions. It does not make the whole church murderers. What I do like is how the church has reached out to the decedents of this incident in an unprecedented way to try and reconcile. I don’t believe any other organization would have placed a monument in what was obviously a black-eye for the church.

      If you are familiar with the good that religion has brought into the world you would recognize that the world is a lot better place with it than it would be without it especially Christianity and I would say Mormonism. For a history on the good that religion has brought into the world, I would suggest you read: “Atheist Delusions; The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies” by David Bently Hart (A non-LDS author)

      As for Thomas Paine, here is a real brief summary that I really like: http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/mayers-sydney_doubting-thomas-paine-1967.html

      Snuffer did choose to leave the church. He elected not to follow Priesthood council and that my friend is like leaving the church. It’s a choice that he knew the answer to.

      Brigham Young was for Brigham Young’s time. Spencer W. Kimball was for his time and so on and so on until Christ comes again.

      Old Testament God I have already recommended a great little book by Paul Copan.

      I think by now you should realize that I have been exclusively stoked on just LDS sources. I have listened to virtually every Mormon Stories pods cast. Interesting that Tom Phillip’s family are still believing members. I believe his son is or was a Stake Pres.?

      Cheers! and good reading….

      1. Joel, I think you accurately state the LDS church’s position re authority: “Mormonism does claim exclusion on Priesthood authority and saving ordinances.” But that claim is based on a shaky historical foundation.

        From the church’s own History, circa June – October 1839 [Draft 1]: “We now became anxious to have that promise us, which the angel that conferred upon us the Aaronick Priesthood had given us, viz, that provided we continued faithful, we should also have the Melchesidec Priesthood, which holds the authority of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost[.] [W]e had for some time made this a subject of humble prayer, and at length we got together in the Chamber of Mr Whitmer’s house in order more particularly to seek of the Lord information, and if possible obtain what we now so earnestly desired. After some time spent in solemn and fervent prayer, the Word of the Lord came unto us, in the Chamber, commanding us, that I should ordain Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ, and that he also should ordain me to the same office, and that after having been thus ordained, we should proceed to ordain others to the same office, according as it should be made known to us, from time to time, also commanding us, that as soon as practicable we should call together all those who had already been baptized by us, to bless bread, and break it with them, also to take wine, bless it, and drink it with them doing all these things in the name of the Lord, but to defer our own ordination untill we had called together our brethren and had their sanction, and been accepted by them as their teachers, after which we were commanded to proceed to ordain each other and call out such men as the spirit should dictate unto us, and ordain them, and then attend to the laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost[.]” (pp. 7-8.)

        Notice that “the Word of the Lord came unto” those gathered “in the Chamber”, commanding them that Joseph should ordain Oliver to be an Elder, and that Oliver should then ordain Joseph to the same office. Where are Peter, James and John, with their literal laying-on-of-the-hands to confer Melchizedek Priesthood authority? As B.H. Roberts has succinctly noted in his History of the Church, “there is no definite account of the event [conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood] in the history of the Prophet Joseph, or, for matter of that, in any of our annals …”.

        Furthermore, take a look at the “28th Commandment” as found in Revelation Book 1, pp. 35-36, circa August 1830 (now D&C 27). Both this commandment and Book of Commandments 28:6-7 (1833), p. 60 discuss Christ drinking of the fruit of the vine with Joseph and “with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world”. However, in the 1835 D&C this “28th Commandment” has been heavily edited to specifically mention John (the Baptist), and Peter, James and John, all of whom “I have sent unto you”. Such significant edits to a “revelation” are all well and good for correlated church history, but I think Grant Palmer may have been more truthful when he noted, with reference to this section: “In a single stroke, [revision of Book of Commandments 28:6-7] legitimized the leadership’s religious authority, giving them exclusive rights and setting them apart from anyone who claimed a nonliteral or metaphysical reception of authority. Angelic ordinations and apostolic keys of succession provided an incontestable and singular credential for being the only true spokesmen for Christ on earth.”

        1. I feel very confident and comfortable knowing that when Priesthood Authority was restored that Joseph Smith was never alone. You can choose to believe that Joseph and Oliver conspired, but why would Oliver hold to his story to his death after being disenfranchised from the church? Here is a great article that clarifies this position very nicely:

          http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/days-never-be-forgotten-oliver-cowdery/4-oliver-cowdery-second-witness-priesthood-restorati

      2. “Mountain Meadows simply shows that good people can make bad decisions.”

        Good people don’t make bad decisions that ends in the intentional and deliberate slaughter of many people. Step away for a moment and please try to come to understand the implications of what you said.

  17. This was a very interesting podcast and I really enjoyed listening to it on NPR. I am a non-believing member, and I stay for the same reasons a lot of other non-believing members stay (family, culture, heritage, friendship, ect). What is frustrating to me is that I was always taught that this church was one of personal revelation, and that people could obtain individual interpretations during scripture study. But as time goes on this seems further and further from the truth. Some members actually do this today (paying tithing of net versus gross, ect), which is great! But I have found that the church does have official policies on how certain things should be done and they stick to them firmly.

    For example, I can read the D&C and go up to my bishop and say, “Hey I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to pay net instead of gross because that’s how I PERSONALLY interpreted the scriptures.” Do you think I would be able to get a recommend? Probably not, depending on the bishop.

    New Order Mormonism is a very interesting movement, and it’s a great answer to those struggling to be fully in or fully out of the church. However, it does feel like people could use such a system to skirt around the more difficult practices of the church and still call themselves active members, which I know the official church would not approve of (sadly).

  18. Tunflog, sorry to inform you but I will provide you an actual example while a TBM. I was a counselor in a Bishopric (in a military ward where we all knew the military pay scale). Once, and only once, the Bishop challenged me in not paying a full tithing, I told him I prayed about it and me and the God I worshiped were fine with it so if he had a problem just release me as your 1st counselor. He never questioned me again and yes it was only a partial tithing to some self righteous Mormons that try to always go beyond the mark and have no relationship with God or His Spirit!

    1. Stormin,

      That’s great that you were able to pay what you felt was right. I think we should all be able to do that without feeling like we’ll be questioned about it and have to explain ourselves later. I have heard stories like yours before, that’s why I said it depends on your bishop. I’ve also heard stories of people being asked to bring their pay stubs in so the bishopric can calculate the proper tithing amounts for them.

      Ecclesiastical Jeopardy aside, there are other issues that you would have an equally hard time explaining to any bishop. For example the WoW says I can use wine for the sacrament if I made it myself, and that mild drinks made from barley (beer) is fine and encouraged. Just because I interpret the D&C differently doesn’t mean it’s “correct” in the eyes of the church.

      1. Just 1 suggestion for NOMS or people attending that don’t believe in everything and don’t want to pay very much tithing. As far as tithing, I have only been challenged 1 time, and they quickly retreated after my display of “righteous indignation”. However, setting up a free giving trust (through eg Fidelity investments) solves the problem. You deduct the tax deduction when you put money in the trust then pay out any donations in 1 or many years (get a tax deduction up front if you have the money). Anyway once I told the Bishop I paid directly to the Church HQ through the trust he said that is all he wanted to know and he marked I paid $0 to the ward but I was allowed to declare I was a full tithe payer and he had no clue and did not have any desire to know how much I donated directly (which was a trust requirement). This allowed me to live as a non-tithe paying NOM (didn’t know that term at the time) for 2 years as I didn’t attend tithing settlement as the Bishop “knew” I paid no tithing to the ward as I paid directly. It may be wise to pay at least $1 per year from the trust to the church so if they do list direct donors your name would be there.

  19. I think the brethren are in a tough position. The problem is that the church no longer controls its narrative. There are pages of Mormon history that traditionally, the church could edit out of its accepted and credible history, as far as the TBM’s are concerned. The problem is that very credible and believing members of the church are offering alternative (documented) views on church history and it is irreconcilable with the history that has been traditionally taught. Once members realize that the church has lied to them, on a large scale, this whole ship called Mormonism could sink. They didn’t create this mess, they inherited it. It has a long history of lying to its members about its history. It’s not the acts of JS or BY that are damaging; it’s the institutional lying about it.
    The problem for the brethren is that anyone with a $200 used IPad, can watch an episode of South Park and wonder why JS is peering into a hat, with a seer stone while translating the plates. That’s what happened to my son and two daughters. They learned more about church history online, than in 4 years of Seminary. Now they don’t trust the church and refuse to enroll in institute at their respective universities and are continually distancing themselves from the church. If the church is not trusted by its followers, what capital does it really have?
    I think the Mormons could take a page from Penn state (not the Catholic church). Just be honest, take your lumps and move forward. The members want to be members. They want to belive in something. The real appeal of religion and instituions os to assuage/mitigate the fear of death. I think the brethren are good men trying their hardest to keep this church intact. I think that they see it as an island of morality in a sea of hedonism that as a whole, benefits this community.

  20. As others have expressed, it is puzzling how people will maintain their beliefs despite clear evidence to the contrary. For example, how Joseph DOES NOT USE the so-called “golden plates” to produce the Book of Mormon, but rather uses the same technique he uses to find hidden treasures, putting a stone in a hat then putting his face in the hat. Clearly to someone with knowledge and experience in trance state behavior, Joseph is not translating anything at all. There are many examples of this, and much research on how, if you are highly capable of trance-state experiences, the material produced appears as if you are actually there observing history take place. You can make a long list of people who have done this. Joseph is not unique. Indeed, Hirum Page has his own seer stone and receives revelations with it, but Joseph guarding his prophet status, makes Hirum get up in conference and tell everyone his “revelations” are of the devil and that Joseph is the prophet.

    Indeed, crowded into that small Whitmer cabin, in addition to Peter Whitmer’s family, are Joseph Smith, Emma, Oliver Cowdery and another woman, a prophetess, who, using her technique for inducing a trance state, also produces revelation, which curiously enough, is accepted by the Whitmers, Oliver Cowdery and others until Joseph comes back and straightens them out.

    Joseph is dictating a story by means of a self-induced trance state. Indeed, Joseph’s face-in-the-hat technique is clearly a trance-induction technique, not a method of translating.

    From an early age Joseph learns he can manipulate and control others and the technique for doing so.

    Notice that when Joseph wants something, a house, a temple or to seduce a woman, it is not Joseph who is asking them to do it but it is always “the Lord.” And indeed, if something goes wrong–the hidden treasure, of course, is there, but it eludes them because somebody broke the spell, it is guarded by an ancient spirit, or if a prophecy does not hold true, like selling the Book of Mormon in Canada, Joseph “inquires of the Lord” and has God giving the reasons why they were not able to sell it as Joseph had clearly prophecied.

    There is research now to show a strong corelation between spiritual experiences and low seratonin level. And what lowers seratonin level?
    Genetic pre-disposition, mental conflict, depression, being female rather than male, feelings of guilt and unworthiness. Curiously, Utah has a very high rate of depression and teen suicides which relate to a low seratonin level. A spiritual experience is like a sex experience, responsiveness and receptiveness is determined by brain chemistry. Schizophrenia is the extreme example. Schizophrenia is when imagery, voices and visions come into the person’s awareness involuntariily. You can argue with them all day long that they never received a revelation, but to no avail. Many people who experience trance-induced imagery, also believe their imagery is factual. Because during the trance-state the brain is responding the same as if the experience is taking place in the real external world. Like the typical trance-state subject, Joseph Smith doubtless, believes his trance experiences are real. And of course, this is why he sees himself as a prophet. Moreover, like the typical trance state subject, Joseph can’t “translate” when he is having problems with his wife, Emma.

    You will be seeing much more research coming out about the connection between brain chemistry and spiritual experiences.

  21. Joel,
    You mentioned how the church has reached out to the descendents of the victims of the MMM. Not long after I stopped attending church, I visited a local Baptist church, where I participated in an after church dinner. Sitting at a long table, I mentioned that I used to attend the Mormon church. Across from me was a 17-year old girl and her parents. The moment I mentioned my religious affiliation, the girl came alive. Their names were “Fancher”, descendents of that moment in history. Whatever the church may have said to help those people was not apparent her. I mentioned the monument to them, having read about it in the Church News, but this family had never heard of any monument. And by the way, when President Hinckley (I think he was the one.) dedicated the spot, there wasn’t a lot of non Mormons there that I could see.That girl knew a lot more about the incident than I ever did and she had absolutely no love for Mormons.

    This dedication and monument stuff is very similar to an incident that happened in our stake some 18 years ago. The stake president came to our ward to a priesthood meeting and got upset and screamed in anger at a returned missionary, because the missionary had stood up for a native American who said that the Spirit had told him to move to this area. A few weeks afterward I talked to the president’s councilor and said that the stake president should apologize to our ward if he wanted the unity he was always talking about. The councilor told me that he already did that. “He apologized for his actions to the high council.” But, I replied, “He didn’t apologize to those he offended.” The councilor said that at least he apologized. This anger incident really adversely affected our ward for several years. And that is how the Fancher’s feel since no one came to their family and apologized.

    And before you talk about the mistakes some members made, you need to understand the doctrine of blood atonement, a doctrine that was preached over the pulpit by Pres. Young, who has said on several occasions that what he preached is scripture.

    As for not claiming exclusivity for spiritual experiences, Mormons do claim they belong to God’s only true church which would imply that they have a greater chance to receive divine guidance. A few years ago, in one of our Gospel Doctrine classes, the subject of priesthood healings came up, and I mentioned that maybe we don’t need the priesthood if healings go on in other faiths. The instructor along with other class members said, “They may appear to be healed but not long afterwards, their maladies will return.” So from that I would say that most LDS think they only have the rights to healings, and I would think that was a spiritual experience. But you will say that we have the priesthood for that but in Joseph’s time women could also lay hands on for healings.

    Now we can talk about the good of religions in the world especially Christianity. We can talk about the many people killed in the Crusades in the name of God; or we can talk about Manifest Destiny in the early years of our country when in the name of God, Native Americans were slaughtered; how the Indians around the time of the Ghost Dance of the Lakota Sioux were slaughtered because of their religion and how the children were forced to give up their religious culture in order to embrace the true god of Christianity; or maybe George Bush, a good Christian or so he said, took us into a war in Iraq under the falsehood of that country having weapons of mass destruction. And religion in general has cause most of the world’s suffering. Hitler believed he was killing the Jews trying to purify God’s white race. This morning I was reading about the ancient city of Angkor in what is now Cambodia, and how those in religious power led their people in slavery. And when I read the Torah, I can read of how men following YHWH kept women and men in slavery, and slaughtered tens of thousands. And the Romans had religion and look what they did. And the Catholics killing the Irish Protestants. And even though the “Love your neighbor as yourself” idea, that was held in varying forms in religious peoples throughout antiquity (It did not begin with Jesus.)may have helped a few, it certainly did not stop the mass slaughterings in the name of religion.

    I read your article cited on Thomas Paine. I. too, am not an atheist. I believe in a Creator, that being a he, she, or it, I do not know. I will never join an organized religion, because they. like the Mormon Church is into control of the human mind and spirit. I don’t mind if someone wants to be a member of a church or a religion, as long as he does not try to force me to follow him. If a missionary tries to re-convert me, I will point out the errors in his arguments, using his church’s official statements. It is too bad that we can’t just accept people for who and what they are and leave the controlling religions out of the conversation.

    So if Joseph Smith said that man can become a god, he said it for his time and it doesn’t apply to us? So the only doctrine of the Church must come from Pres. Monson. Members don’t need to read anything about past prophets or even Joseph Smith. I guess that knocks out the D & C.

    And rather that reading a book about the Old Testament, we could always just read the Old Testament. If I were to read several books on the OT, I would most likely find that the whole thing is based on mysticism. I know from geological studies of the Black Sea, and other anthropological studies that no worldwide flood existed. I know from paleontological studies that man has existed for more than a hundred thousand years–definitely there was life and death before Adam.

    You are right about Snuffer then, he refused to follow the arm of flesh. Personally I feel that Snuffer was afraid to confront all of the truths of history. But why did Tom Phillips, who went against manual priesthood council, by publicly talking about such a sacred ordinance as the “second annointing”, and who brought a civil suit against the church, not get excommunicated?

    My daughter is still an active Mormon, but then she is so busy raising a large family and doing so many callings that she doesn’t have time to read. Before I retired I, too, was trying to survive and also work at church callings, but when I retired I had more time. And concerning Tom’s family staying active, if you follow some of the blogs you will find that most believing spouses are counciled to divorce their non-believing mates.

    Had I not read all that I did and remained in the dark, and never questioned, I would have stayed LDS. Many people need others to tell that what to do and when to do it. There are followers and leaders and those who are independent. All of my family have been Democrats, because of tradition, I guess. I am an independent. To be a leader in the Church, you need first to be a follower. I got few leadership roles because I did follow well. I believed in truth which always seemed to get me in trouble. My last example of not being a blind follower was when a school district, of which I was a part, struck and I did not since I felt that my signing a contract was my word to teach. For this I was eventually blacklisted and driven from my profession and I had to do manual labor for the rest of my days, but I would do it again, because I will not blindly follow like many of the sheeple in both this country and this church. “That which can be destroyed by truth should be.–P.C.Hodgell

  22. Pat, How does not going to each and every family and family member personally of M. M. detract from the reaching out by the church to all involved. The church has taken the lead financially and otherwise to do almost anything the other organiztions involved have wanted.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrances_of_the_Mountain_Meadows_massacre

    I understand Blood Atonement and to my knowledge we have not run a spear through or killed in some other acceptable manner any new and everlasting covenant adulterer or murderer of an innocent that wanted to atone for his/her sins by shedding their blood and saving them from eternal damnation in some time, but then, I could be wrong.

    Spiritual experiences and faith heaings are not exclusively held by LDS, but they are certainly prevelant. The gospel doctrine class you mentioned regarding only the Priesthood can heal long term were obviously mistaken and you certainly picked up on that. No one said that members of a gospel doctrine class cannot be wrong or misguided. Priesthood stems from God. Women indeed did lay hands on people in the early part of the church and I don’t believe that women are kept from that privilege in faith where Priesthood is not available. Women laying hands on however goes back to faith healing which goes back to God hearing the prayer of the faithful which goes back to the Priesthood that God is the author of.

    No one can say that bad things have not happened in the name of religion. I certainly acknowledge that, but often it is overblown compared to the veil that has happened in rest of the world. That does not change the good that religion has brought into the world which in my opinion far outways the bad.

    “Love your neighbor as yourself” was not held only by Christians, but certainly placed at the top of their belief system next to loving God, the greatest commandment. Christ’s influence can be felt throughout the world and religion began with Adam petitioning God and then teaching his children. Why would love your neighbor not be in some degree found throughout the world if it was preached from the beginning?

    The LDS church is not in control of anyone’s mind or spirit. People come into the church by their own free will and people leave the church of their own free will. Everything I do in the church is by my own free will. I guess if you choose not to be a part of trying to build Zion on earth and preparing as an organization for the second coming of the Savior of all mankind, then you might not want to be a part of any organized religion. I love the concept of preparing a place where even Christ would be willing to come and take over without coersion on His part. A people truly trying to do His will without coersion. But then many might not feel comfortable submitting to the will of the Creator of All Things.

    Funny stuff regarding past prophets. You know I don’t believe Pres. Monson has said that we cannot become gods little “g”. So I guess what Joseph said holds true in regard to becoming gods for our time as well. And that’s the way it works. The current prophet trumps past prophets because he is the prophet for us and our time. Seems to make sense to me because times do change. I like being current.

    I love the O.T. I cannot wait until all truth is circumscribed inot one great whole when religion and science will not be at odds with each other. Truth is where you find it.

    I’m not going to lay judgement on Tom Phillips and his motives for doing what he has. It seems that if he were so right about things, that his family would follow him? His wife as you remember by his account was a big part of his second annointing.

    Regarding divorce, the church does not advocate divorcing spouses because they have non-believing mates. Some local authorities might have, but they would be wrong in doing so. The church is not in the business of breaking up families.

    Well once again truth is where you find it.

    Happy life my friend.

  23. Joel
    Last night I came across a very interesting but a bit lengthy series of three parts of an article on the MMM. The site is CESNOR (Center for Studies of New Religions) The article they display is found in the Salt Lake Tribune, March 14, 2000, by Christopher Smith. Tonight I hope to read all of it as it appears from looking at certain parts to be quite enlightening. So rather that my telling you my opinions, maybe we should both read that article and learn something. This story is about the monument and the unearthing of the bones with a backhoe.

    So is the doctrine of blood atonement a true doctrine or something in which a so called prophet called used to lead members astray? Or was it just a mistake?

    As to Mormon faith healing, I have been the annointer when the voice announced someone was to be healed of his affliction. Sometime he or she was and sometimes they weren’t. Sometimes they even died. And it was pronounced by “the power of the holy ghost.” But, there was always an answer or explanation when a blessed soul would die. “He died because HF needed him on the other side to fight the war in heaven”. That is, God needed his creation to help the creator fight god’s other creation. And remember that it is your opinion that “priesthood came from god”. That statement is no more factual that me saying that “Santa Claus lives at the North Pole, or that Mohammed got his knowledge from Allah.

    I don’t want to be a part of bringing forth Zion on the earth, because I don’t believe anything about Zion, and if a god were supposedly doing this, he, she, or it is not very efficient since church growth in the world is not even coming close to keeping up with world growth. As I gained more knowledge, I changed my opinions on what I at one time thought to be true. For many years, I knew by I what I thought was the spirit the the U.S. should have fought the Vietnam War, or that we had no choice but to go to war against Japan, or that the founding Fathers were all Christians.

    And no, I do not want to be a member of an organized religion and I do not believe that Jesus is the savior of the world. I believed it will all my heart until I began to read and understand about other mystical saviors in times past who were “born of a virgin’ and “were crucified”. And I know that this is a dangerous stance. for example, in my community during what most think will be a soon to be societal collapse, most good Christians would believe that they were doing god’s work to see me destroyed. I’ve been to meetings where such comments were voiced. I don’t voice my opinions there.

    I don’t believe in the mystical story of Adam because I believe that there was death before the fall. And the intellectual world doesn’t even know who wrote the Torah.

    And your statement on where truth is just something you took out of the temple ceremony and it is the opinion of him who wrote the ceremony.

    Tom Phillips supposedly has a guaranteed eternal life, but yet a man is not supposed to be able to go the highest kingdom without a spouse. As for me, I don’t believe any of that kind of malarky.

    It is your opinion and not mine about whether religion has had such a bad effect on mankind.

    You keep saying that the church doesn’t believe this or that. What is the church? The members? The fifteen in Salt Lake?

    You can reply but I’m through. I don’t mind you having your opinion if it makes you happy. Everyone has a right to have any religion or no religion as they please. Don’t try to put me on a guilt trip by telling me that your opinions and only yours are truth. I’m happy where I am and I certainly don’t want to be where I was, or where you are. Have a good life. I know I will!

  24. The apostle said to you “don’t go buy a printing press.” Wow!! I honestly think that the apostles truly believe in it but comments like that make you wonder. I’m assuming he was referencing the Navuoo Expositor which despite what JS said wasn’t full of lies.

  25. Damnit John, I like this episode the second time through. I love this John, I love your moxie with its confidence. You worked it, you owned it, you kicked its ass. It’s good to have you back.

    I totally agree with your observation that Adam’s language (and I must say thank you for helping an articulation of a newly called Gospel Doctrine teacher) is mostly devoid of instructional language, but rich in diplomatic language for a liberal leaning foisted on an evangelical bent. For if I, the un-revealed atheist instructor yet pragmatic student of the beatitudes hope to have any chance at a “rejoicing together”, it would have to be Adam’s language of faith and grace that would diplomatically help this new teacher out.

    But yet, isn’t that the state of affairs? That we would rather go with Adam’s diplomacy than would the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as we see the two completely separate?

    1. Sorry John, I had this episode open in another tab, as this was a response for the Adam Miller line. Could you move it over there?

  26. Pingback: What I’ve Been Up To: May 2014 « Secrets of a Food Storage Mom

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