For anyone who believes in the fundamental truth claims of the church, this is a very sincere and honest question.
In the new ‘Race and the Priesthood’ essay, the church recently added to the gospel topics section of the website, it says this,
“Today, the church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a pre-mortal life;…” https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng
When we read it, our first thoughts were,
“If they disavow it, why are the CURRENT canonized scriptures still containing all of these teachings and narrative about the Curse of the Dark Skin? How can Modern-day Prophets throw all of the previous Modern-day Prophets under the bus, and also throw themselves under the bus at the same time? Why are these teachings STILL laced all through what is considered the CURRENT and Approved Word of God.”
This breaks the law of non-contradiction. It requires double think. It insults our basic intelligence. Why are we, and our kids being left to ask, on our own, where we are supposed to stop crossing out verses or chapters in our current triple combination? Among others, here are a few that contain what is now disavowed that need to be blackened out, or draw a red X through: Moses 7:22; 3 Nephi 2:15; Jacob 3:5-9; Alma 3:6; Mormon 9:6; I Nephi 13:15; 2 Nephi 5:21; etc.
2 Nephi 5:21
With a current game changer such as this, how are we to know what will be disavowed, and what will not, in the future?
In all sincerity, and with a love for the truth, and a love for people, especially those who are hurting because people are pointing the finger of blame at them, the honest question is,
“If you believe the church is lead by modern day revelation, how do you personally reconcile this new ‘disavowal’ of the Curse of Cain? With it still being laced all through what most members consider to be ‘the most correct book’ and other sacred scripture, that has gone through the rigorous approval canonization process, how can this be reconciled with the new Race and the Priesthood essay?”
Isn’t it prudent, faithful, and humble to ask, “What specifically are we supposed to trust and put our faith in?” It appears that they are distancing themselves from modern day revelation. The ‘Prophets – Modern-day Revelators – Special Witnesses’ reassure us they ‘…will not… and cannot lead us astray…’, like Elder Ballard in General Conference last year, but at the same time, they acknowledge not only that they are able, but they, and every one of their predecessors have been, in all actuality, leading us astray since the very beginning?”
In addition to some resorting to attack the credibility of someone asking questions instead of discussing subject matter, leaders who are still attempting to view and speak about concerns or doubts, with a ‘faithful’ or ‘faith-promoting’ approach are making two very common assumptions that deserve attention.
Assumption 1: “For those who are leaving the church, it is largely the result of their struggle to get past the weaknesses of men.”
Assumption 2: “None of these questions or issues are new, they’ve been around for a very long time and been hashed through over and over again.”
Hopefully, in the spirit of love for people, and love for the truth, it will now be acknowledged there are substantive concerns brought about because of NEW information, like this recent ‘disavow’ing, including many others, that ARE NOT obsessing over the weaknesses of men, rather trying to determine the new measurement for what is or what is not eternal doctrine, or divinely inspired scripture.
Are we entering into a whole new game where every verse in scripture that has been canonized, needs to be prayed about by individuals because these fallible weak men may not have been on their ‘A’ game that day, and actually got it a little, or maybe a lot wrong, on what God did or did not tell them to write down for us? How are we to treat General Conference?
For some this ‘disavow’ing has been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. For others we know, it has been a variety of other discoveries, some of which we get into further into this page.
In our experience, as we were diligently hyper-repenting, trying to figure out in which way our faith was being tried, or where Satan was trying to deceive us, it got to the point, that we could not find one single issue that was clean. It was all dirty. We had uncovered so many cover-ups (that we would have previously sworn were lies); our list of verified truths and verified fabrications became definitively lopsided.
RuthAnn and I have felt deeper pain and anguish in going through what we have, than with anything else we’ve ever experienced so far. We’ve had so many of our friends and family point the finger of blame or judgment in our direction without a willingness or openness to discuss subject matter, or even ask us any questions, or offer to help us.
With that said, we have gained much empathy from all of the people that we’ve talked to. We have seen so much harm, sometimes ignorantly or with good intentions, directed at good and honest people. The reason we are still willing to discuss these matters, has nothing to do with leaving the church, but not being able to leave it alone (as we were warned happened to those who left). Rather, we love people, and love the truth, and feel that a part of love is standing up for injustices when we see them. Having gone through what we have, puts us in a situation where we are left to choose whether trying to help others who may be hurting or not is worthy or our time and energy, or will bear good fruit…so to speak. It puts us in a situation where we are left to choose whether we should point out bad behaviors that harm people, when we see them or not.
We are now first hand witnesses that all of the bad things we’d been taught happened to those who leave the church, are simply not based on truth. It has actually been quite the opposite in our case. We now see that all of the fear that we used to have about so many things was not based on reality.
Before reading any further, a healthy question may be, “If it really isn’t true, do I even have the desire to know?”
BECAUSE OF LOVE
RuthAnn and I have always been people people…It is because of our love for people, and in the hope that our words may be of help… to even one person who may be hurting…it is because of this love in a very real and personal way that we have decided to do this.
We do not expect you to come to the same conclusions as we have about the Mormon church. But, because of love, we are going to share with you some of our sincere questions and let you hear about our conversation with a very high level General Authority who told us many things. Of the many things that he told us, he applauded our sincerity and honesty, and let us know that we were not mislead when it came to the truthfulness of things we were in question about. He was kind and gracious to us, and we are very grateful that he was willing to be there for us at a difficult time. He also told us several things that we feel could be of help to anyone who may be having sincere questions like we’ve had. We have had a lot of time to think about this, and we share with you these questions with hearts full of love.
Out of respect to you, and realizing that everyone is in a different place in their life, we would recommend that you not read this, if you don’t feel that you are in a place mentally or emotionally to discuss some sincere questions about specifics of faith, belief, and how it affects relationships. The last thing we want to do is offend anyone. Please, Please, Please, do not take any of our sincere questions to mean anything other than what they are.
Our starting point on all of this, is that the truth should always be our standard. And we believe that truth has a way of helping us whether it is in the short term or long term. As you are most likely to agree, integrity measured up against that truth should be one of the most important driving forces in each of our lives. Isn’t the quest for truth our highest and noblest cause?
When we were talking to the General Authority who helped us, one of the things that he told us was, “…I know that the one true church concept, you know… Is a very tough sale… It’s something our public relations department has never been able to deal with very well…”
In that meeting, he acknowledged that we weren’t just reading about lies. We learned that each of our sincere questions were indeed because of the truth. He agreed that there was a lot of lying done. All in all, he has a very different kind of “testimony” than what we had ever heard in any chapel we have ever been in. When we asked him how he could know all these things and still be a believer, which was one of the most important questions we wanted to ask him, he said that he reached a point that he made himself a promise that he wasn’t ever going to think about it, or study about it anymore. We just simply couldn’t do that. It became a deeply and sincerely measured matter of integrity for us, primarily with thoughts of how we want our children to view truth moving forward throughout the rest of their lives. To just pretend like these truths really weren’t there, or really didn’t matter, just seemed to go against everything we’d ever been taught.
Now with that said, we are not saying that someone who learns these things and stays in the church does not have integrity. We have learned that there are many reasons that people stay, and we would say that many of them have integrity. Many people we know and love dearly are in similar situations.
We have already received hundreds of messages, emails, phone calls, etc. from people who are saying that our story, and our approach has been helping their relationships, and helping them in many other ways. We feel like this information we will touch on here could potentially help more spouses or loved ones who may think that someone they care for has simply been deceived. In reality, that is not the case at all. As was confirmed to us, these questions are there because of the verifiable truth, not because of lies. After having made our best attempt at objective research, then when we heard it come from this high level General Authority’s own mouth, it helped both of us in a profound way.
Because we know some will not see the true intentions behind these questions, we ask that you do your best to be open to a new perspective. Instead of interpreting these questions as Anti anything, please take a moment to consider that they are Pro-Love, Pro-truth, Pro-people, Pro-integrity, Pro-courage, Pro-mercy, and Pro-openness, and Pro-transparency. Should Anti enter your thoughts, consider our approach in this quest for truth: Anti-suppression, Anti-cover-up, Anti-suffering, Anti-spin, Anti-secrecy, Anti-fear, Anti-scare tactics, Anti-doublethink, Anti-bigotry, Anti-cognitive dissonance, Anti-logical fallacy, Anti-judgment, Anti-gossip, and Anti-hubris.
Upon reading Terryl Givens, (who in our opinion is doing the best job of making the attempt to help those who have uncovered some of the real history), Richard Bushman, Brandt Gardner, and many others like them, it is clear that there are many major differences in how they describe things in contrast to what we’ve grown up being taught. In each of their cases, though they differ from each other, their testimonies sound very foreign to what you hear in your Fast and Testimony Meeting, or in Gospel Doctrine Class.
While we were meeting with the General Authority, he mentioned that the church is making an attempt to come clean about several things. Being completely honest with us, he said has a personal list of 35 items, of which the church has agreed to address 13 of them. He expressed his disappointment with the manner in which these items are being released, by just slipping them into the gospel topics section. He said, “It kinda lacks the weight and credibility had the First Presidency released it.” With the recent essays that have been released so far, among other things, the church has now officially admitted that:
- The First Vision isn’t exactly what they said it was.
- The Book of Mormon translation isn’t exactly what they said it was.
- The curse of the dark skin is now disavowed, even though it is still laden throughout the current canonized scriptures.
- The American Indians aren’t exactly who they said they were.
- The Book of Abraham, isn’t exactly what they said it was.
- Prophets really can lead the people astray.
- Polygamy isn’t exactly what they said it was. Polyandry (Proposing to and marrying other living men’s wives) was in fact practiced by Joseph…(which is in opposition, in every substantive way, to the deliberately specific law on polygamy he supposedly had revealed to him in Section 132).
There are many other weighty issues we learned about, they haven’t yet admitted publicly. Every stone we turned over, literally every one, had major problems, issues, or in several cases, flat out contradiction.
Upon learning of these admissions of sorts, the question becomes, do we choose to allow for double think or confirmation bias while we process this information. Or, are we willing to be open enough to get to the bottom of it with our best attempt at discovering reality, with the truth as our ultimate standard?
Why are Prophets, Seers, and Revelators using conjecture when it comes to Joseph Smith marrying other living men’s wives? For that matter why do Prophets, Seers, and Revelators use conjecture at all, for anything? Shouldn’t they just be petitioning the Lord, then letting us know the way it is—instead of tossing around “possibilities”? They are saying a lot of ‘we don’t know’ in the essays. We don’t know how the Book of Mormon was translated. We don’t know about the origins of the curse of Cain /racial ban or why it is even there…but we disavow it. We don’t know how the Book of Abraham came to be. We don’t know much about why there was polygamy/polyandry or why it stopped.
It is unbelievable what is currently happening to the church that we loved so much, and gave so much for. Men who are supposed to be Prophets, are throwing other Prophets under the bus. But, it gets even worse, they are throwing themselves under the bus by disavowing stuff that is still all over what is deemed the most important, and most correct CURRENT canonized scriptures in the world. This is supposed to be God’s holy word to us the regular people to know what to follow, what to believe. Now, they are in a no-win situation, and are not dealing with it directly, and we, and our kids are left to ask where do we stop redlining in our Quad. If this verse needs to have a red X through it because it is now disavowed, then what else is in the process of becoming disavowed, or will become disavowed in the future. What specifically are we supposed to trust and put our faith in?
PROPHETS, SEERS, AND REVELATORS…any one of you fifteen men, who know what the members believe you are, please give us something…some sort of lifeline…one that the cables are not severed much higher than we have the ability to grasp, or seriously frayed beyond our ability to grab onto with ripping our hands to shreds.
Where are the Prophets of God regarding these highly controversial, faith destroying, and contradictory topics? Where is modern day revelation? Where is leaving the ninety nine and going after the one?
Watching this video below and thinking about what we have been taught regarding the concept of faith, being perfectly honest with ourselves, we started to ask ourselves lots of questions about many of our beliefs and where they came from.
Where does faith come from, and what do people usually choose to put faith in? In example after example around the world, it seems to largely have to do with what part of the world they were born, and the parents that they were born to?
The honest seeker of truth will invariably experience a wide range of thoughts and emotions while trying to process this kind of information. It seems like red flags going off at first. For example, regarding the essays, the inquisitive and open mind will start to ask, “Did God’s prophets of the only true church upon the face of the earth just admit, in a not fully transparent and straightforward way, that they and/or their predecessors are guilty of suppressing God’s honest truth?
With these new admissions of sorts, and as much as the apologists don’t like to admit that there have in fact been cover-ups, the very church that extols to us the ultimate importance of honesty is guilty of being blatantly dishonest by the standards of the Strength of Youth.
We repeatedly had to ask ourselves, “Do I consider myself to be an open-minded person?” In any quest for truth, it is imperative to ask ourselves if we are open to ideas that may challenge our current beliefs—obviously not willing to take anyone’s word for anything. As adults, shouldn’t we be able to talk about seemingly difficult things, and determine for ourselves what we think, after hearing all sides of the respectful conversation?
Are we to be expected to live in fear? An honest quest of the truth, and willingness to read or hear anything and be the judge for ourselves, should never be feared or suppressed. Belief shouldn’t ever need to be manipulated or cajoled to stay a belief. When we learned about and accepted the truths that have been brought to light, some of which even acknowledged by the church recently, we became that much closer to the truth…and we now realize this has been a good thing.
Another thing we feel important to mention is that as we have gone through this process, one of the things that we have done very deliberately, is separate the weaknesses of men from any core doctrinal claims, questions or contradictions. We have allowed for some cross over in the obvious cases, but we think you will be able to tell that there has clearly been that distinction made in the sincere questions asked. We also acknowledge that behind each of these questions is a lot of information that is unknowable. In the investigating of history, the full story is never available. What we did find was enough data points of what is verifiable to necessitate a complete overhaul and redefining of core beliefs and claims that the church has made decade after decade, and continues to make today. Obviously, behind each of these sincere questions we share is an in depth back story. By and large, though we researched these things in depth, we realize that the process of researching was a valuable part of our process. The back stories are not addressed here in the short format. The questions are only starting places for those who would like to dig in and research more for their own learning. We aren’t asking anyone to take our interpretations as their own.
Like we’ve said, the main reason that we are willing to share our questions is because of relationships. We see too many people who are honestly searching for truth who are being ostracized, shamed, and shunned, by many that are in leadership, and by members. Pointing the finger of blame toward the honest seeker of truth (not saying that everyone that has left, or is leaving the church is. We know many people who don’t seem to fit that description. But, we know many people who do.) is not at the heart of what is happening. There are many substantive contradictions with MANY of the fundamental truth claims that have been perpetuated by leadership in ‘approved sources’. The attention should be on the content itself, not the attacking the character of those bringing the questions up in their best attempt at integrity that has been taught to them over the years by the same people. Saying that someone who is bringing questions to the forefront is ‘someone deceived who is trying to lead people away from the belief’, and calling this behavior ‘faith promoting’, rather than dissecting the content of the questions, is highly problematic, and manifests the double standard that is alive and well in the church, the way it is today. And real people are being hurt by this.
As we were making our best attempt at objectively researching, we also had some questions come to mind regarding the math. There are over 7.28 billion people on earth, and there are about fifteen million members of the church. That means we need to come up with explanations for the remaining 99.8% of all of God’s children are not benefiting from nor partaking of the most powerful blessings that He has in store for them. That is almost every single person on the earth. For those living in and around Utah, and in more densely populated communities, these numbers don’t seem like reality…it is hard to fathom because steeples are everywhere, and the church is such a huge part of the entire culture. Now if we take into consideration that less than one third (according to most recent studies) of those fifteen million are even active in the church, and much less than that in some countries (Chile only has a 12% activity rate). And even then, what percentage of the remaining almost five million are even adults. Studies show that Mormons have 2.6 children on average, so now we are talking about approximately two million adults on the earth (.027%)…so now we are talking about approximately 99.98% of the people on the earth who are not as privileged, nor are they able to fully participate in the Mormon defined purpose of our mortal existence, nor God’ plan for happiness, and we just have to say that almost all of God’s children will just have to accept it in the Millennium. This is one of the main things we taught as missionaries in the Book of Mormon in Alma chapter 12, “…nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state…” Why is this the case and why is this math is so lop sided? 99.98 is a VERY large percentage, and it doesn’t fit the narrative. Reading through the contradictory messages in the Book of Mormon, and walking through the lesson manuals–learning about the importance of this, our second estate (and its defined purposes), and learning that the growth rate for the church has been declining for decades, why is it that leaders and scripture have said many things that don’t fit this math. Taking all of this into consideration, we began to ask ourselves, why is this the math and trending for the most important church on the face of the earth? With Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventist’s math, although still dismal, even better (even their retention rates), is it possible that the Mormon church and it’s claims aren’t really the “stone that was cut out of the mountain without hands…filling the whole earth” as the leaders (Prophets) have said it was? Is it okay if the only real math that leadership wants to draw attention to are the anomalies like in the Ivory Coast, when the bigger picture and trending, despite their huge efforts, is in fact a lot more bleak? We can understand optimism, but trying to paint a picture, and having the Public Affairs Dept. spend so much money trying to control the narrative to keep up appearances that really aren’t the case, is called something entirely different.
Google- “Pie chart of Mormons in the World”
There have been many quotes from church leaders that have resonated with us during our quest for the truth. Here are a few:
“I admire men and women who have developed the questing spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas as stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent – if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression.”
– Apostle Hugh B. Brown, “A Final Testimony,” from An Abundant Life, 1999
“Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues.” Gordon B. Hinckley ~ Dec. 25, 2005 interview with The Associated Press
“If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.” – J. Reuben Clark
“If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.” – George Albert Smith, Journal of Discourses, Volume 14, Page 216
“There are altogether too many people in the world who are willing to accept as true whatever is printed in a book or delivered from a pulpit.” – Apostle Hugh B. Brown, “A Final Testimony,” from An Abundant Life
We have always been taught that The Book of Mormon was translated from gold plates—an ancient record of the inhabitants of the Americas. Many of those close to Joseph witnessed this process. The explanation for how the translation took place was described in this detailed description by David Whitmer, (one of the three witnesses) “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear.”
– Quoted in Elder Russell M. Nelson’s “A Treasured Testament”.
Why does the Book of Mormon have the exact wording of unique errors specific to the 1769 King James Version of the Bible, and why does it have the italics from that edition? How could these italics (scholar notes to make it more readable in English) from early in the 17th century, word for word, be “Translation from gold plates?” Simply put, why are there unique 1769 KJV edition errors and 17th century italics in the “most correct book on earth” that was supposedly “translated” from an ancient record that was finished in 421 AD? What if someone gave you an old looking book, and they told you that it was literally one of the founding father’s personal journals, written by his own hand. And part way through reading it, you find that the author mentions having learned about something on the television. Since it hadn’t been invented yet, the anachronism of the television popping into the picture quickly nullifies the authenticity of it being the actual uninterrupted genuine journal.
Joseph corrected many of the parts of the Sermon on the Mount in the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible. If the Sermon on the Mount was not translated correctly in the Bible, (errors) why then, is it the same incorrect translation still in the Book of Mormon (which is supposed to be the most correct of any book on earth)?
The church has now acknowledged that Joseph really didn’t have the plates present or use the special Urim and Thummim as we were taught, for translation of the Book of Mormon that we have today. Why did all the approved words and pictures in the lesson manuals, and all the meetinghouse libraries, temple visitor centers, historical site visitor centers, etc. depict this all important foundational teaching falsely? When I first heard about this peep stone in the hat method on PBS, I tossed it aside quickly because it didn’t come from a church approved source, and it certainly wasn’t faith promoting. Why have our priesthood leaders, including Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, in a variety of ways, taught us that these kinds of faith destroying claims were lies perpetuated by those who are trying to attack the church, only now to acknowledge them as the truth? Why did they excommunicate people in the past who brought these truths up?
Why would God and the ancient prophets go to so much effort to preserve the plates when they weren’t used by Joseph Smith to translate the book? (Extract the metal, hammer it out, inscribe upon it, go to all lengths to heft around and preserve the records from one generation to another to be saved up into the hill —with the important interpreters so that the person translating would be in possession of the specially prepared way that God gave for the ability to translate them into English)…only to NOT NEED TO BE USED AFTER ALL… for the ENTIRE Book of Mormon that we have today?
Why does it change the story dramatically, from what we’ve always been taught by the leadership, now that we know Joseph used the same brown egg-shaped rock, a little bigger than a chicken egg, to “translate”…a rock that he found on his neighbors property in 1822? This was the same rock that he had been using to defraud many people for many years telling them that he could help them find hidden treasures underground…for money…and with the same head in the hat method, in which those he took the money from never found the treasure he told them they would find. Why are his stories considered trustworthy when he continued to do this year after year, victim after victim?
In the 1826 court record, having been brought up on charges, Joseph Smith confessed that “for three years” prior to 1826, he had used his magic stone placed in his hat (Glass looking/Scrying). In September 1823, Joseph Smith claims that he received instructions from the angel “Nephi” regarding the plates. Why during this same time frame, was he duping people out of their money assuring them that if they would trust him, he could tell them where to find treasure or lost property. He continued this pattern of deception during the exact years that God was supposedly preparing him to receive the plates (that he didn’t need to use anyway). Knowing this, doesn’t it make us at least question whether his other stories are highly suspect? If you were investigating the church right now, and If you had to hear these parts of the story in a missionary discussion, would you buy it? If you knew someone with this kind of a narcissistic and manipulative track record, would you trust them with everything you have, or your salvation?
In addition to this, it is verifiable that Joseph Smith was deceptive about many things, and from the records, he seems to have a pattern and was comfortable with deceiving people from an early age.
Why is it acceptable that Joseph Smith was lying about his other wives for a decade…including lying to the public, the church, and his dear wife Emma? Would you just chalk it up to the “weaknesses of men” if we found out that over the past ten years it was proven that Thomas S. Monson has been practicing polygamy in secret, and when confronted about it, he has lied to the entire church, the public, and his wife, on multiple occasions? How would you think and feel, if it was a proven that God’s prophet was behind the illegal attempts to silence any who would expose his fraud? If that were your reality right now, and you knew that he had a background of taking money from people deceitfully, could you call him a Prophet of God anyway? Really taking the time to stop and think about it, what do you think your level of trust or belief would be, if that information came to light about him? Would you just say, “God must be using him in some bizarre and strange way?” If not that, then what extremes would he have to go to, that you would get to the point of saying, “What if he really isn’t, what we have up to this point, thought he was?”
Is it alright to be dishonest, if we are “Lying for the Lord”?
Why did Joseph order the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor? Were there any lies printed, or was William Law, who had been in the First Presidency, exposing what Joseph Smith had been lying about all along? Should we just overlook that a prophet of God would go to such drastic, and arguably evil measures to destroy or silence, or smear anyone who was willing to exercise integrity to stick their neck out to expose the truth about what he was really doing, even though he warned them not to? Was William Law wrong to deny Joseph’s advances toward his wife Jane?
Now that the information age has brought all of these things to light, and they can no longer be suppressed, if it were important for the message to roll forth and fill the whole earth, why would a God use people with a reputation that was already heavily tainted as deceivers to deliver such an important message to the world? There are a lot of honest people out there, why not use one of them instead?
Today the 1820 vision story is crucial to the founding of Mormonism, yet early converts never heard anything about it until 1832. Why not?
Upon close examination, regarding the first vision, there are not just a few minor points of change in his story, but rather some incredibly important ones, along with flat out contradiction. In Joseph Smith’s first handwritten testimony of the 1820 first vision written in 1832, about 2 years after he had started the church, he states that he already knew all other churches were false before he prayed. “…by searching the scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatized from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Yet in the “official” story written [years later] by a scribe, Joseph is quoted as saying: “I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong and which I should join.”
Details that differ largely in substance include: (i.e. the purpose of him going to pray, the date, who appears in the vision: Jesus, Angels, or God and Jesus, and the all important message that was delivered to him)
Trying to argue, like some of the apologists do, that Joseph was speaking at one time from his heart and another time from his mind seems like we are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Once you know more to the story, it gets more and more unbelievable. Do you think that after 12 years, if you had seen God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, that you would only mention one being in your attempt to make your story a matter of the record, your official personally handwritten account of the all important event? And, do you think that the particular knowledge, that there really wasn’t an all-in-one Trinitarian God as pervasively thought, that you would keep telling completely different accounts of it in several different settings? Why is Joseph’s own writing of the event 12 years after it supposedly happened, typical of many similar Christian epiphanies in the day that were written in the newspapers.
Why was this original account from written by Joseph’s own hand not made viewable, by the church, for others to see, for over 100 years?
Why was the official version of the First Vision, created in 1838, almost 20 years after, was completely unknown to church members until it was published in 1842? Its evolution over many years describes an increasingly spectacular and miraculous vision than the earlier versions of that same story. Regarding these kinds of differences, according to the General Authority we met with, “…it’s not exactly something you want to bring up in Family Home Evening.”
Why has the real truth been covered up by leaders of the church, decade after decade, when this is the most important foundation that a Mormon is asked to base their testimony on? Most of the apologists spend considerable energy trying to convince that there wasn’t really any cover-ups, yet within our research, over and over again we uncovered things. like the first vision contradictions, that were in fact covered up by leaders over time. Over and over again, trying to see it some other way, without trying to water it down or contort it, we couldn’t find any other way to see it, but as a good ol’ fashioned cover-up.
If the truth is our standard, then is all truth “not useful”? Is it ok to omit information that may not be faith promoting? In a court of law, what do they call it when someone is not telling the whole truth? Are we, the public, wrong to want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…in God’s name? Are we not big boys and girls to be able to handle the actual truth, and choose for ourselves what we will do with all the information? Why have leaders gone to great lengths (Correlation Dept., correlated materials, approved materials, etc.) to make sure that the general membership learns only that which is “faith promoting”? Why, in most every chapel, are members afraid to use anything that isn’t on the approved sources list? Why is it that in the front of the manuals, teachers are strictly forbidden? CES instructors are warned against teaching truths that are “not useful”, by an Apostle. We could see that all of it was coming from the top down. In all honesty and sincerity, every time we heard an apologist try to say that there really wasn’t a cover-up, looking at with our very best attempt at objectivity, it didn’t feel right. It felt like there was some other reason, outside of the truth, that they weren’t willing to admit it to themselves.
The church has been embarrassed many times now in the media and in peer reviewed circles regarding it’s current misleading teachings about its actual history, and the way that they have changed it, and omitted things, to appear more believable. Does the pressure of the new technology of the internet have anything to do with the reason that the church is making an attempt to play catch up to what outside historians have been writing about for decades? (Keep in mind the things you have been taught about Anti-Mormon literature…and the need to stay away from it as far as possible). We now have many examples of issues that have been up until now considered Anti-Mormon propaganda by many church leaders, only now to be widely accepted as being the actual, factual, God’s honest truth by the church itself and LDS scholars. Given this, wouldn’t it be important for the people to hear from the top leadership of the church in a very straightforward manner so they can be completely informed to exercise their God-given agency without any blurriness, continuing suppression, scare tactics, or fear mongering from a leader—keep in mind the culture and unspoken rules in constant motion around this topic?
If Joseph saw two separate personages in 1820, then why does he, even ten years later, write pervasively of a Trinitarian view of the Godhead in the ‘most correct book on earth’—The Book of Mormon, and also in many other of his contemporaneous writings, like the Lectures on Faith, and his changes to the Bible, etc.
If Joseph had already had the vision that Heavenly Father and Jesus were two separate physical beings, why did he fix (make right) a biblical verse (Luke 10:22) that could have been taken to mean separate, and correct it to unmistakably read that they are definitely one and the same being? Why did Joseph make this change a decade after he claimed that he saw that the Son was not the Father and the Father was not the Son in 1820?
Was polygamy, the professed “new and everlasting covenant” of marriage, really from God? And, would Emma or any other wife who wouldn’t embrace it be “destroyed”?
Were the many prophets who claimed that the most important “eternal doctrine” of polygamy flat out wrong? Why was it taught consistently, decade after decade, by the Prophets as the highest “doctrine” and that nobody could get into the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom without polygamy?
Why does the church leave out some of the most important historical information regarding the Vilate Kimball answer to prayer about what was troubling her husband Heber so badly?
The biggest reason that Heber was sick to his stomach was because he was already practicing plural marriage and doing it in secret. Joseph forbid him to tell his wife Vilate. Why do the church manuals, website, and correlated materials make it seem like he was so sick because Joseph had simply told him about the practice, and that the way that it was introduced was above board, and about getting permission from the first wife?
Heber’s, “…anxious and haggard looks betrayed him daily and hourly, and finally his misery became so unbearable that it was impossible to control his feelings. He became sick in body, but his mental wretchedness was too great to allow of his retiring, and he would walk the floor till nearly morning, and sometimes the agony of his mind was so terrible that he would wring his hands and weep like a child…” –www.lds.org
In addition to many others, why does the church leave out some of the most important historical information regarding the Helen Mar Kimball (14) marriage?
Why is it the common understanding of members is that it was Heber C. Kimball, her father, was the one that initiated and arranged the marriage? This is not the truth at all. Before Joseph approached Heber to have their 14 year-old Helen Mar Kimball as his bride, Joseph tested Heber to see if he would be willing to turn over his own wife, Vilate to be Joseph’s wife.
Does it feel right for a man in his late 30’s to influence a 14 year old, (that he knew viewed him as her prophet) to marry him, and to promise her and her family eternal life eliminating any more need to endure to the end as the Book of Mormon so often talks about? If Thomas S. Monson was 37 years old, and came to you right now, would you agree letting your 14 yr. old daughter marry him?
In her memoir that LDS.org frequently refers to, Helen Mar Kimball wrote, “…After which he said to me, ‘if you take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation and exaltation and that of your father’s household and all of your kindred.’ This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward.”
Regarding the question of whether or not the relationship was meant to be merely dynastic, Helen confided to a close friend in Nauvoo: “I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.” (Mormon Polygamy: A History by Richard S. Van Wagoner, p. 53.)
Does it make any sense that he wasn’t planning on having sexual relations with Helen? There is no recorded revelation during Joseph’s entire lifetime that he should enter into polygamy for dynastic or any other purpose other than “raising up seed.” If Joseph approached the marriage to Helen for something other than sex, then where is the revelation for it?
Keep in mind that in the Book of Mormon the Lord expressly forbids polygamy for any other reason than to “raise up seed.” Jacob 2:24-30. So if it really were only dynastic, wouldn’t it have gone against revelation anyway? Also, why were the others who were taking secret brides having sex with them if Joseph had taught them otherwise?
Why did Section 101 of the Doctrine and Covenants, from 1835-1876, say, “Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again…”, if the leaders of the church were practicing polygamy during that entire time?
Why was section 101 taken out and replaced with section 132 in 1876?
During this process, we discovered a new word that we hadn’t ever heard of—Polyandry. Why did Joseph approach and secretively marry at least 11 other men’s wives who were not virgins…while their husbands were alive? Are we really supposed to believe that God would really threaten to kill Joseph by an angel with a flaming sword, if he did not proactively propose to them to be his wife?
What are the doctrinal, scriptural, moral, and ethical problems with polyandry (marrying another living man’s wife)? Does polyandry fit anything that Joseph claimed to have received revelation for?
In addition to the acknowledgments that most of the leaders of the church were doing it secretly, and going against the canonized scriptures, what were the laws of polygamy that were set forth in section 132?
Were all of Joseph’s polyandrous wives virgins, and did Emma give her consent?
Why did Oliver Cowdery confront Joseph Smith face to face about the “dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger’s…in which I strictly declared that I had never deserted from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself”?
Taking the time to really let this marinate, are we supposed to buy hook line and sinker that it is perfectly normal to believe that a God gave a “revelation” that could be summed up like this: The only polygamy that is acceptable to God is a union with a virgin after first giving the opportunity to the first wife to consent to the marriage. If the first wife doesn’t consent, the husband is exempt, and may still take an additional wife, but the first wife must at least have the opportunity to consent. In case the first wife doesn’t consent, she will be “destroyed.” Also, the new wife must be a virgin before the marriage and be completely monogamous after the marriage or she will be destroyed? Should we be afraid to question this kind of “revelation”? Now revisit polyandry (Joseph proposing to and marrying other living men’s wives) in your mind for a moment…doesn’t this seem like it could be something besides “revelation”?
Why were Prophets of God flat out dishonest when they were asked about these behaviors over and over again? These next three paragraphs are from Historian Michael Quinn, Dialogue; New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904. pp. 19-23: “The first significant and long-lasting manifestation of this problem in the history of Mormon polygamy occurred in 1835 when an official statement on marriage was included a section 101 in the first printing of the Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of Joseph Smith’s revelatory writings and statements. Verse four states, “inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have but one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.” In later years several members of the church who were prominent in the 1830s would affirm that prior to the canonization of this statement, Joseph Smith had already dictated a revelation authorizing plural marriage, had secretly explained that polygamy would one day become a practice of the church, and had himself married his first plural wife. This Article on Marriage became the focal point for a number of polygamy denials during the next fifteen years.
Within a year after Joseph Smith began marrying plural wives himself and performing such ceremonies for others at Nauvoo, Illinois, these practices first were counterfeited and then publicly exposed by one of his counselors, John C. Bennett. On 1 August 1842, Apostle Parley P Pratt published a rebuttal as an editorial: “but for the information of those who may be assailed by those foolish tales about the two wives [page 73, “that God had given a revelation that man might have two wives”], we would say that no such principle ever existed among the Latter-Day Saints, and never will,” yet Pratt’s autobiography later stated that Joseph Smith disclosed to him the revelation on celestial marriage in January 1840. Two months later 12 men and 19 women signed affidavits that stated in part, “we know of no other rule or system of marriage than the one published in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.” The signers included apostle John Taylor and apostle Wilford Woodruff (who had already been taught the doctrine of polygamy by Joseph Smith), Bishop Newel K. Whitney (Who had performed a plural marriage ceremony the previous July for his own daughter and Joseph Smith in accordance with the revelation dictated by the prophet on the occasion), Elizabeth Ann Whitney (who witnessed the plural ceremony), Sarah M. Cleveland (who had become Joseph Smith’s plural wife early in 1842), and Eliza R. Snow (who also married him on 29 June 1842)….
…even after the Mormons left Illinois in 1846 for territories where polygamy was not in legal jeopardy, these denials continued. In January 1850, the LDS Millennial Star in England printed a reply to anti-Mormons, which stated in part: 12th lie – Joseph Smith taught a system of polygamy. 12th refutation– The revelations given through Joseph Smith, state the following… “We believe that one man should have one wife.” Doctrine and Covenants, page 331. The editor of the Star at this time was Apostle Orson Pratt, who had temporarily left the church in 1842 because his wife claimed that Joseph Smith had proposed spiritual marriage to her; subsequently converted to polygamy, Pratt, at the time of this 1850 denial, had already married four plural wives and fathered two polygamous children. Nine months later, Apostle John Taylor published a pamphlet of a debate he had in France, which included the statement: “we are accused here of polygamy, and actions the most indelicate, obscene, and disgusting… these things are too outrageous to admit of belief.” He answered his opponents by reading the 1835 Article on Marriage. By this day in 1850, John Taylor had married 12 polygamist wives who had already borne him eight children.
Why are Prophets flat out wrong and completely contradict each other about “Eternal” doctrines, even when speaking for God, to us, the regular people, who are supposed to believe and follow what they tell us? (i.e. Blood Atonement, the Adam is God the Eternal Father Doctrine, Curse of Cain/Racial Ban, Polygamy, etc.) And, why are they are still doing it?
In the 1980’s, a Mormon con-man and forgery specialist named Mark Hoffman met with the Prophet Spencer W. Kimball and many other Prophets, Seers, and Revelators several times. In several visits, they inspected each of his fake documents and paid almost 1 million dollars in total. Why can a Prophet of God be deceived to such an embarrassing degree for the church? Why weren’t they able to See that the documents weren’t authentic? Why were they concealing their actions, and the documents?
In God’s truest church on earth, why aren’t the archives always wide open and fully transparent for all to see? Why aren’t the finances transparent? Why haven’t the seer stones, and all of the other magic relics been proudly on display like the other items are in the Church History Museum for all this time? Why have the leaders felt the need to keep that part of the truth hidden?
Are we really supposed to believe that biracial children and biracial couples deserve “death on the spot” like was taught by a Prophet of God over and over again as “Eternal Doctrine”? Now that they have released their essay on the topic, why were several prophets of God wrong about the “doctrine” of the curse of Cain…and why is that doctrine still laced throughout God’s most important canonized scriptures? Why didn’t they receive any “revelations” on this until major social pressure was bearing down on them…just like happened with the other eternal doctrine of polygamy? Does God cave in to social pressure? If not eternal, then what is the meaning of “ETERNAL DOCTRINE”?
Why would believing that the prophet will never lead you astray be hard to accept, once you learn that what one prophet of God emphatically calls doctrine, another calls false doctrine. While Brigham Young cleared the record once and for all, and speaking for God to the Saints…regarding the Adam God Doctrine…he taught throughout his entire presidency (that Adam was Christ’s father, and Eve was one of Adam’s many wives that he brought with him from another planet, and Christ’s mother). Brigham even had many fights with Orson Pratt, one of the Apostles, who kept telling him and others that Brigham was wrong. He taught this year after year throughout his Presidency. Then another prophet, Spencer W. Kimball, emphatically calls that other prophet’s “revelation” from the pulpit, FALSE doctrine? Regarding this concept, how are we to process current Prophets claiming that many other Prophets (throwing them under the bus, so to speak) were wrong on “eternal doctrines”?
For what possible reason did God allow His Prophets to preach Blood Atonement?
Aside from the many others in the past, what are the reasons that these major changes were made to the temple ceremony in 1990? Elimination of the penalties associated with the signs and tokens (No longer a part of the ceremony for patrons to pantomime their own deaths by slashing their throats or disemboweling themselves by slicing a knife across their stomachs)…no longer referring to Protestant Ministers as agents of Satan…the elimination of the Masonic Five Points of Fellowship.
What is translation? Regarding the serious problems with the Book of Abraham, the apologist’s two best arguments seem to be: 1. That it must have been received by revelation instead of translated like Joseph Smith tried to make everybody believe that it was. He claimed that is was, “A TRANSLATION Of some ancient Records that have fallen into our hands, from the Catecombs of Egypt…” And referring specifically to Abraham, he claimed that it was written, “…by his own hand, upon papyrus”. 2. They also use the argument that we don’t have all of the papyrus. First of all…those two arguments seem to contradict each other. More importantly, by saying that we don’t have all the papyrus, does not dismiss the fact that the parts that we do have were clearly used by Joseph Smith in creating the Book of Abraham. And, those parts that we do have, we now know that those contents are not at all what Joseph said that they were. So aside from the fact that Joseph said that they were written by the hand of Abraham himself, why was he completely wrong in what he did say about it?
Wouldn’t a Prophet of God be able do what he claims that God gave him the specific power to do?
Why is the church being disingenuous and trying to change the focus of controversy now that they have been forced to acknowledge the Kinderhook Plates Hoax? Skeptics from a neighboring town to Nauvoo, who didn’t believe Joseph had the ability to translate, created these six bell shaped brass plates, then etched characters into them with nitric acid. Then they planted them at the site of a dig into a mound so that those who found them believe themselves that they had found something authentic. Now they had many real witnesses, and they wanted to see if Joseph Smith would actually try to translate them? According to many credible primary sources, he did. As a faithful member of the church, William Clayton (serving as Joseph’s private secretary) was present when Joseph translated the Kinderhook Plates. Of them, he declared, “I have seen 6 brass plates … covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. Prest. J. [Joseph Smith, Jr.] has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendent of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh King of Egypt, and that he received his Kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.” One of the actual plates has shown up and has been tested. Why does it hurt Joseph Smith’s credibility, and professed ability to translate, now that it was proven as a veritable fact in 1980, that the one original plate in possession wasn’t ancient or Egyptian at all? Parley P. Pratt (Apostle) also wrote the specifics about Joseph having interpreted the engravings of the Kinderhook Plates that corroborates the History of the Church record of it. Why were these plates used as further credibility to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and Joseph’s ability to translate? Despite defending them for years, now that it has been exposed and verified that the way that the plates were created fits the hoaxer’s description in detail, why are there still those attempting to change the subject? Those who are protecting Joseph Smith have tried to divert the attention by making it seem like it was not Joseph’s own hand that wrote it. Why are the Prophets, Seers, and Revelators allowing this embarrassing explanation when an evidence like this hits to the very heart of Mormonism claims?
Why, out of each example, is it impossible to find anything that Joseph successfully translated?
Why is the church now agreeing with DNA experts that show East Asian DNA, instead of Semitic, for most all of the American Indians instead of what the claim and narrative has been since the beginning?
Discovering more of the story of what really happened in Kirtland, Ohio with the Anti-banking fiasco, why has the church covered the full story up in the correlated materials? Why would God choose to allow his prophet to start and run an illegal bank, print their own currencies, lie about how much money they kept in the vault giving a false sense of security to those who were trusting in Joseph, as the Prophet of God inquired of the Lord, and received the answer (…”not only [heard] the voice of the Spirit upon the Subject but even an AUDIBLE VOICE.”) for all of those investing that it could not fail, and would “…grow and flourish and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.”?
Now that is has leaked out to the public, why are the Prophets of God silent regarding B.H. Roberts assessment after careful study of the Book of Mormon and also Ethan Smith’s (Oliver Cowdery’s pastor) 1825 Second Edition of View of the Hebrews, that has not just a few but many major parallels to the outline of the Book of Mormon? We did not want to risk getting information that was tainted with lies, so we read from his actual manuscripts that are being kept in the Special Collections Dept. on the 4th floor of the Marriott Library at the University of Utah.
Here are only a few of his MANY statements:
“Did Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon? It has been pointed out in these pages that there are many things in the former book that might well have suggested many major things in the other. Not a few things merely, one or two, or half dozen, but many; and it is this fact of many things of similarity and the cumulative force of them that makes them so serious a menace to Joseph’s story of the Book of Mormon origins.”
– Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 240
“One other subject remains to be considered in this division… viz. – was Joseph Smith possessed of a sufficiently vivid and creative imagination as to produce such a work as the Book of Mormon from such materials as have been indicated in the proceeding chapters… That such power of imagination would have to be of a high order is conceded; that Joseph Smith possessed such a gift of mind there can be no question….
“In light of this evidence, there can be no doubt as to the possession of a vividly strong, creative imagination by Joseph Smith, the Prophet, an imagination, it could with reason be urged, which, given the suggestions that are found in the ‘common knowledge’ of accepted American antiquities of the times, supplemented by such a work as Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews [published in Palmyra in 1825], it would make it possible for him to create a book such as the Book of Mormon is.”
– Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 243, 250
“There were other Anti-Christs among the Nephites, but they were more military leaders than religious innovators… they are all of one breed and brand; so nearly alike that one mind is the author of them, and that a young and underdeveloped, but piously inclined mind. The evidence I sorrowfully submit, points to Joseph Smith as their creator. It is difficult to believe that they are a product of history, that they came upon the scene separated by long periods of time, and among a race which was the ancestral race of the red man of America.”
– Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 271
“If from all that has gone before in Part 1, the view be taken that the Book of Mormon is merely of human origin… if it be assumed that he is the author of it, then it could be said there is much internal evidence in the book itself to sustain such a view.
“In the first place there is a certain lack of perspective in the things the book relates as history that points quite clearly to an underdeveloped mind as their origin. The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency.”
– Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 251
(This is only a small sampling of MANY equally condemning observations he made about the claimed origins of the Book of Mormon and also about Joseph Smith.)
Now that B.H. Roberts’ private manuscripts have been made public by the family, why are the Prophets silent on these matters? Why do they allow the FAIR guys, or others, to fight these battles for them? The apologetic attempts to talk about unparallels is a weak sidestep, and an obvious standing up of a straw man. They try to create the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated Roberts proposition by misleadingly replacing it with an attempt to draw attention elsewhere instead of the original proposition B.H. Roberts’ major concerns were… about works like these being used as an outline, or what he referred to as a “ground plan”. There are not just a few parallels as FAIR suggests.
When we were reading the Church Historians words, and when the foundation of the claims that the church makes is so critically challenged, we kept asking ourselves, why are Prophets of God silent on these matters? Why weren’t they feeling “studious” at the time, according to Roberts? Was he wrong to express his discouragement with their response to his findings? Certainly as he was the one trusted as the Historian of the Church–they knew that he was competent. After proving that Joseph definitely had the intellect, creative mind, resources, and time frame, and bringing up MANY legitimate concerns about the very origins of Mormonism, why did those in power just bear their testimony to B.H. Roberts, and not deal with his questions?
Why is it problematic that these entries are in Joseph’s Mother Lucy’s journal, while Joseph was 5 years old?
“In 1811, we moved from Royalton, Vermont, to the town of Lebanon, New Hampshire. Soon after arriving here, my husband received another very singular vision, which I will relate:
“I thought,” said he, “I was traveling in an open, desolate field which appeared to be very barren. As I was thus traveling, the thought suddenly came into my mind that I had better stop and reflect upon what I was doing before I went any farther. So I asked myself, ‘What motive can I have in traveling here, and what place can this be?’
“My guide, who was by my side as before, said, ‘This is the desolate world, but travel on.’ The road was so broad and barren that I wondered why I should travel in it, for, said I to myself, ‘Broad is the road, and wide is the gate that leads to death, and many there be that walk therein; but narrow is the way, and strait is the gate that leads to everlasting life, and few there be that go in thereat.”
“Traveling a short distance further, I came to a narrow path. This path I entered, and, when I had traveled a little way in it, I beheld a beautiful stream of water which ran from the east to the west. Of this stream I could see neither the source nor yet the mouth, but as far as my eyes could extend I could see a rope, running along the bank of it about as high as a man could reach, and beyond me was a low but very pleasant valley in which stood a tree such as I had never seen before. It was exceedingly handsome, insomuch that I looked upon it with wonder and admiration. Its beautiful branches spread themselves somewhat like an umbrella, and it bore a kind of fruit, in shape much like a chestnut bur, and as white as snow, or, if possible, whiter. I gazed upon the same with considerable interest, and as I was doing so, the burs or shells commenced opening and shedding their particles, or the fruit which they contained, which was of dazzling whiteness. I drew near and began to eat of it, and I found it delicious beyond description.
“As I was eating, I said in my heart, ‘I cannot eat this alone, I must bring my wife and children, that they may partake with me.’ Accordingly, I went and brought my family, which consisted of a wife and seven children, and we all commenced eating and praising God for this blessing. We were exceedingly happy, insomuch that our joy could not easily be expressed.
“While thus engaged, I beheld a spacious building standing opposite the valley which we were in, and it appeared to reach to the very heavens. It was full of doors and windows, and they were all filled with people, who were very finely dressed. When these people observed us in the low valley, under the tree, they pointed the finger of scorn at us, and treated us with all manner of disrespect and contempt. But their contumely we utterly disregarded.
“I presently turned to my guide and inquired of him the meaning of the fruit that was so delicious. He told me it was the pure love of God, shed abroad in the hearts of all those who love him and keep his commandments. He then commanded me to go and bring the rest of my children. I told him that we were all there. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘look yonder, you have two more, and you must bring them also.’ Upon raising my eyes, I saw two small children standing some distance off. I immediately went to them and brought them to the tree, upon which they commenced eating with the rest, and we all rejoiced together. The more we ate, the more we seemed to desire, until we even got down upon our knees and scooped it up, eating it by double handfuls.
“After feasting in this manner a short time, I asked my guide what was the meaning of the spacious building which I saw. He replied, ‘It is Babylon, it is Babylon, and it must fall. The people in the doors and windows are the inhabitants thereof, who scorn and despise the Saints of God because of their humility.’ I soon awoke, clapping my hands together for joy.”
Does this sound familiar?
Why were the claims of Peter, James, and John restoring priesthood authority not known in 1829 or 1830, by the members of the church, by the leaders of the church, by Joseph’s own family members?
“The late appearance of these accounts raises the possibility of later fabrication.”
–LDS Historian Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p.75
Why was the wording “revelations from God” of sections 20 and 27 edited, backdated, and added to the 1835 D&C by Joseph and Oliver? Section 27 became twice as long as the original printing of the revelation in 1833. Joseph and Oliver added the completely new language of angels, priesthood restoration, and offices. With the understanding of what Joseph said the priesthood was required for, why didn’t he himself use it to do all of those things? (Start the Lord’s church, baptize, officiate in offices, etc…)
David Whitmer never heard of anything at all about priesthood restoration until the middle of the decade. This has now been uncovered as the truth, like many of the other issues. What does that say about the much different current church narrative is all over the correlated and approved materials. For us, this started to seem like a pattern: (First Vision, Priesthood, Translation from actual gold plates, Book of Abraham, etc…)
“I never heard that an Angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic Priesthood until the year 1834[,] 5, or 6 -in Ohio…I do not believe that John the Baptist ever ordained Joseph and Oliver…” David Whitmer–Early Mormon Documents, 5:137
When we talked about this with the GA I met with, he seemed embarrassed to say, “It is really hard to get the Church Education System in sync with the curriculum department.” We couldn’t believe what we were hearing. What about how many decades have passed? Also, it didn’t make any sense when we thought of the year that the correlation effort even began.
Joseph and the witnesses (most of them relatives), were a very superstitious group of believers in “second sight”, treasure-digging, and many magical rituals.
“Now, most historians, Mormon or not, who work with the sources, accept as fact Joseph Smith’s career as village magician. Too many of his closest friends and family admitted as much, and some of Joseph’s own revelations support the contention.” – Richard L. Bushman, Mormon historian, “Treasure-seeking Then and Now,” Sunstone, v. 11, September 1987, p. 5
A handful of examples that show some of the depth and breadth of the their superstitious and magic practices: Oliver’s “gift of the rod” divining rod, Joseph’s many different peep stones, magic circles when digging for treasure, magic pouches to hold magic amulets, David Whitmer’s seer stone, Hiram Page’s seer stone, Joseph’s Jupiter Talisman, the inscribed Smith family magic dagger, the Faculty of Abrac, the “Holiness to the Lord” magical golden parchment with the Jupiter symbols similar to the talisman Joseph had in his possession when he was killed…along with Tetragrammaton variants, magic signs, Nal-gah the good third angel of ceremonial magic, healing handkerchiefs, the Smith family “Saint Peter Bind Them” magic parchment, the “Jehovah, Jehovah, Jehovah” amulet against evil spirits, healing cloaks, healing canes, healing capes, phrenological readings, along with numerous others.
When you read about the specifics of their magic, and how deep it went into every part of their lives, deceptively taking money for it time and time again, do they remain credible? Despite many trying to make it seem that way, a large portion of the public were not this superstitious, and did not put their faith in them like most all of the early believers. Why did all of the living Book of Mormon witnesses, except Oliver Cowdery, later accept James Strang’s prophetic claim of being Joseph’s true successor and join his church? Why did Martin Harris give highly contradictory accounts of his gold plate encounters? Why did David Whitmer use his own seer stone to start his own church later on? Why did Sidney Rigdon write a letter that was signed by 84 members of the Church that claimed that Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer (among others) cheated and defrauded the saints out of their property “by every art and stratagem which wickedness could invent”? Keep in mind, the witnesses, Martin Harris excluded, were all related to Joseph Smith or David Whitmer? Is this the kind of group that normal people put their faith in?
Joseph Smith received a very specific revelation, through his peep stone in the hat method, to send Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery to Toronto, Canada for the sole purpose of selling the copyright of the Book of Mormon. “Why would God command to sell the copyright to His Marvelous Work and a Wonder—His holy word, and all proceeds go to the Smith family”? They made the trip and were not able to fulfill their mission. When Joseph was asked about why he got the revelation wrong, he decided to go and “inquire of the Lord”.
David Whitmer said this is what Joseph received from the Lord, and then made the following commentary, “…and behold the following revelation came through the stone: ‘Some revelations are of God; and some revelations are of man: and some revelations are of the devil.’ So we see that the revelation to go to Toronto and sell the copyright was not of God, but was of the devil or of the heart of man.” –David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, p.31 Why is God’s most important Prophet not able to distinguish a revelation from God, Satan, or Himself, when it comes to His most important work on the earth for His children?
Why did Joseph remove the name of Jesus Christ in re-naming the church in May of 1834…and kept in that way until April of 1838? During this time Joseph had the name changed to, “The Church of the Latter Day Saints”…a name still on the outside of the Kirtland Temple. What could have possibly been going through his mind, to omit the name of Jesus Christ?
Why did Joseph Smith say this one month before he was killed? “Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. You know my daily walk and conversation. I am in the bosom of a virtuous and good people. How I do love to hear the wolves howl! When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go.” [Italics added] Later in that same speech, with, now acknowledged, over thirty wives at the time (many of whom were probably in the congregation), why did he also say the following? “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience.” -History of the Church, (Volume 6) May 26, 1844
Another interesting Note: In October 2013, there was a study conducted. It was a data analysis comparing The Book of Mormon to over 100,000 books from the pre-1830’s era. Out of the top matches, they discovered a book called The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain, a scriptural style account of the War of 1812 published in New York in 1816. Between 1817 and 1819 it was marketed “for the use of schools throughout the United States” under the title The Historical Reader. The students of New York were getting their history lessons with this book.
Upon reading, we kept asking why it sounded so much like the verses in the Book of Mormon. There are over 100 rare phrases that link The Book of Mormon to The Late War (phrases that do not show up in other contemporary books—or if they do, only once or twice per thousand books). In addition, the two books use very similar language while detailing shared events and themes such as battles at forts and rivers, weapons of curious workmanship, 2,000 soldiers (including striplings), bands of robbers, martyrs burned, righteous vs. savage natives, cataclysmic events, Christopher Columbus, false prophets, fighting for the cause of liberty, freemen vs. men of the king, and silver plates and engravings in brass, among many others. With everything else we were learning, we asked, “Why are these rare phrases that are supposed to have been ‘translation’ from ancient plates all over this book that Joseph Smith had access to?
Regarding many of these sincere questions, Emeritus General Authority/Church Historian Marlin K. Jensen said, “The fifteen men really do know, and they really care. And they realize that maybe since Kirtland, we never have had a period of, I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having right now; largely over these issues.” – Q&A session at Utah State University on January 18, 2012
In late 2013, Church Historian, Elder Steven E. Snow admitted that the church leaders have suppressed information about Church history. “I think in the past there was a tendency to keep a lot of the records closed or at least not give access to information. But the world has changed in the last generation — with the access to information on the Internet, we can’t continue that pattern; I think we need to continue to be more open.” Truth in Church History: Excerpts from the Religious Educator’s Q&A with Elder Steven Snow” http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/truth-in-church-history-excerpts-from-the-religious-educators-qa-with-elder-steven-snow/
According to the prophets, the faith “must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith…If Joseph was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead people, then he should be exposed, his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false…”–President Joseph Fielding Smith
When we found out that it wasn’t a lie at all that Joseph Smith really did use the rock in a hat—the same rock that he found in his neighbors yard, that he had been using to take money from many people saying that he could tell them where to go and find treasures underground—and that the church has finally admitted that this is the correct history. We thought we were losing it, “What happened to the translation of gold plates along with the use of the specially prepared Urim and Thummim that had been found with the plates so they could be translated?”
We couldn’t believe what we were reading…mind, body, and soul were aching worse than can be put into words. In those moments of anguish, we kept trying to reassure ourselves that, “this feeling cannot be coming from God”. On our knees more than we had ever been before, desperately looking for answers, constantly repenting of anything we could think of, we kept trying to reassure ourselves that this just had to be Satan trying to deceive “the elect”. Like we have mentioned, for many years, we have been going full throttle, obedient to the message coming from the prophets (from God)…most recently trying to “hasten the work of salvation” by doing our small part to share the gospel. We were so excited about all that was happening, (lowering of the missionary age, dramatic increase in missionaries in the world, Mormons in the limelight from Mitt Romney running for President, etc…) We thought that maybe because we were handing out so many of my missionary CD’s (We had already handed out about 2500—our way of sowing seeds), and that we were doing so much to inspire others to do missionary work as well, that we were prime targets for the fiery darts of the adversary.
We got very deep into many of our sincere questions looking at everything that the FAIR guys were saying, and then traveling down to the Special Collections Dept. at the Marriott Library and at BYU studying from original source documents. It felt good to be studying together, but it felt horrible in most every other way—to be discovering all these things that we hadn’t ever heard of, things that changed the way anyone would have to believe in most every aspect of all of the critical truth claims about the restoration. It was all much different than what we have always been taught from the church approved materials.
After all these years of faithful service, faith, and dedication, and believing it all happened the way that we have been told it happened by the leaders (that are bold to say that they will never lead us astray), are we supposed to all of a sudden believe that it all happened much differently, in bizarre ways and methods that don’t feel right? Translation doesn’t mean translation after all; horses aren’t really horses, they are most likely tapirs; chariots aren’t really chariots—because there really weren’t wheels in America at the time; steel is not steel; barges with specific cargo and capacities really were big enough; a belief in second sight and all sorts of magic stuff were normal at the time; Prophets really can lead people astray (you just have to know when they are speaking as a man or a prophet from the same pulpit in the same setting, or when they are receiving a revelation from themselves or from Satan); priesthood authority really wasn’t needed to see God, or start His church like they said it was; it’s okay if stories from Joseph’s personal life are all over the place in the most correct translated ancient scripture.
Are we now supposed to believe in Joseph Smith’s ability to translate ancient records, when the Book of Abraham and the Kinderhook Plates fiascos make that impossible to believe that? The Book of Abraham discoveries are not that big of a deal because it is only about 1% of scripture anyway? Are we now supposed to believe that Joseph is honest, and we can trust that he saw what he said he saw, after seeing his deliberate deception in covering-up and denying polygamy and marrying other men’s wives, against his own supposed revelations, even behind his wife’s back, for about a decade…among many other lies and fabrications…and, his willingness to smear the reputations of any who brought his secrets to light? Are we now supposed to believe that it’s no big deal that Joseph Smith was caught in lie after lie, and seemed to be comfortable with deception from an early age? Are we now supposed to believe that the priesthood was restored the way we have been told it was, even though he backdated the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood restoration events as if they were in the Book of Commandments from the start? And are we supposed to believe in all sincerity that Joseph, not using gold plates or the Urim and Thummim, “translated”? This brown egg-shaped rock he found in his neighbors yard, a little bigger than a chicken egg, was a good enough substitute for those special stones fastened to a special breastplate and those golden plates with ancient inscribing—the same stone he deceived people with, for money, in his family treasure hunting business, for several years? Why is he credible, when he was accustomed to taking advantage of people—from the amount of times that it happened, which is clear in the records?
In addition to all of this, we’re supposed to believe that these men are actually Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, who tell us what God wants us to know, who don’t just disagree, but flat out contradict each other on eternal doctrines? They allow others who are not in official capacity to fight their battles for them, and they also throw other Prophets under the bus—so to speak. Why, if they are Seeing anything, aren’t they Revealing it or Prophesying about it in regards to these sincere questions—unanswered questions and contradictions that are causing faithful members to leave the faith. If the only thing that they are talking about is the same commonsensical advice that many other self-help teachers, preachers, pastors, ministers, psychologists, leaders, mentors, etc… talk about, then why does the earth need a Prophet, Seer, or Revelator?
Are we supposed to just go along believing that the “most correct book on earth” is really the most correct after needing thousands of changes (many flip flopping on fundamental eternal doctrines) over the years, and even then still today has many things that are blatantly incorrect? Are we supposed to believe that it really is divine, when The Book of Mormon contains 1769 King James Version edition translation errors and also early 17th century King James Version translators’ verbatim italicized notations?
Are we supposed to believe that God in Heaven would send an angel with a flaming sword to give an ultimatum to Joseph that if he did not propose marriage, and she did not agree, a pregnant newlywed would be responsible for Joseph’s death and the destruction of God’s church? If polygamy was that important, then why isn’t God helping His prophets use something besides conjecture and side stepping to explain it? Why didn’t God prepare a way for it so that church leaders wouldn’t have to cave in to social pressure? Why is God all0wing for people with honest hearts, upon learning more of the details, to reject this most important eternal doctrine?
Are we supposed to believe that God was against polygamy before he was for polygamy but decided to go against it again at a time when there was intense social pressure? Then He was OK with it even though He said He was against it…for a handful of the leaders of the church to continue to practice it in secret for several more years, after He was against it again?
Are we really supposed to just change everything we’ve believed in and trade it for this stuff, then wait until we’re dead to get answers that make any sense at all?
We can have faith and hope in something that there is not much evidence for. It is an entirely different thing to have the same kind of faith and hope when there are major evidences flat out against it. These are not lies, like we had previously been led to believe. They are truths that contradict, in very large ways, the church’s claims. At this point, we would have to accept mental unhealthiness, a lack of integrity, and a high level of cognitive dissonance to continue on claiming that the church is the only true church upon the face of the earth. We are not saying that others are wrong for claiming so…it just wasn’t something that we could honestly continue to claim. It broke our hearts in incomprehensible ways, but it was out of all honesty and sincerity.
We have been “all in” for so long, and so entrenched, that we never imagined in our wildest dreams that our testimonies could change. But, with this new found knowledge of things that are verified as the actual truth, our integrity is screaming at us, “We can’t do this in all honesty. We can’t pretend that these things don’t shatter our ability to believe it. This is nothing like we have been told and what we have been teaching, and it doesn’t come close to passing the gut check.”
We were previously told by our leaders to avoid even looking at any of the false accusers of Christ or of Joseph Smith, which we now see as scare tactics and fear mongering, and not respecting the individual “agency” of people. Is looking at our actual and factual church history, scriptures, and doctrines a “false accuser” of Joseph Smith? We weren’t getting any of our information from Anti-mormon sources. It was coming from those attempting to take a “faithful approach” to verifiable truths. So, are we supposed to pretend like we didn’t learn about any of these cover-ups? The apologists are wanting us to scramble things up and water it down so badly that it isn’t believable anymore. And, God’s mouthpieces are silent on most of it decade after decade.
As the truth is our standard, upon learning about how it all really went down, in contrast to how we have been taught that it did, and in order to stay believing, the best one can come away with is a much different flavor of belief in the Mormon story. There needs to be a stark re-calibration when it comes to the words: Translation, Prophet, Revelation, Eternal Doctrine, Marriage, Lying, Deception, Dishonesty, Witness, Scripture, Ancestor, Canonized, Vision, Authority, Priesthood, Covenant, Ordinance, Secret Combination, and many other words in Mormon vocabulary.
Are we somehow supposed to put all the pieces back together with this new found truth that sounds completely unbelievable? This new definition of the “restoration” is completely foreign to what we have spent our time learning and teaching about. There are many aspects of these newly discovered truths that are incomprehensible. We are not trying to show any disrespect for the believers here. We understand that the average member has not found out that all of these things are actually true and not just lies. For years, any rumor of these things has been disregarded by leaders as lies or distorted truth—this combined with a deep belief in “following the Prophet”, results in not digging to find the truth out of fear. What makes it worse, is that we as members felt like this was all done in the name of “obedience”.
Would you believe it if someone told you that there are people like the Quakers living on the moon? One of the most important Prophets of all time taught that…not too many years ago. By what measurement are we, the regular folk, supposed to know whether he was right or not?
We are incredibly grateful for all that Mormonism gave to us, but we now see that it wasn’t what we had been told that it was.
We have only touched on a handful of the sincere questions. There are many—not just one or two, here or there. We’re talking about dozens that undermine the most important and fundamental truth claims that the church makes.
Keeping a respect for all that it gave to us, to have “faith” in the church after all the truths we have learned of, as we have mentioned, it would require us to deny integrity. Purely and simply, we love the truth, have courage, and care deeply about integrity, and that is why we left. We want our children to move forward in life with mentally healthy identities, and with a clear and concise concern for the truth as their standard, and not be required to believe anything that gets told to them without it passing inspection.
RuthAnn and I are still the same people we were before we found out about all of this. As I am sure you can imagine, it hurts to feel like we can’t talk about the things that are most important to us with most of our Mormon friends and family. It is a weird feeling to feel like you cannot talk about the truth with the people that you love the most. But we really have been able to move on with the new paradigm of: Love above ideology; Relationships above theology; Human connection above belief. So far, we are very happy that we have taken this approach. We love to get together with all of them. We love them. We can definitely empathize with and understand where they are coming from. Putting the relationships first has made all the difference for us.
To reiterate, our sincere questions do not just revolve around the weaknesses of men. We could see that we would have to re-create a new way to believe a whole new set of truths about what really happened. Eternal doctrine cannot easily be lumped together and tossed to the side with the weaknesses of men. We have gained an interesting observation about being willing to be as objective as we know how to be, and let the chips fall where may. Once we were able to get up close and examine enough of the threads of information in intimate detail, and then step back a few steps to take a fresh look at the tapestry that has been woven, it is amazing what we saw once we took those first steps back. A clearer picture of the tapestry took shape, and filled our vision with new perspective.
In order to stay, from all that we uncovered and verified, we would have to be willing to create logical fallacy after logical fallacy in our attempt to say that we believe. We know our own minds and hearts, and we know that we are making our very best attempt at holding up the truth as our standard.
The good news is that we are now finding real peace, comfort, happiness and joy. Needless to say, our family is incredibly grateful for these feelings that have been replacing our sadness, fear, and anger that we initially felt upon finding out about all of these things that have been brought to light.
Because of this process, we have gone through an experience that has taught us many things. For those wondering, here are a few of our beliefs and realities:
-The best attempt at getting to the most accurate reality is our standard by which we make any attempt to measure anything.
-The way we live our life matters more than our specific beliefs on anything.
-We now know for a fact that the previous fears we had about leaving the fold, taking off our garments, resigning, etc. having nothing to do with being under the influence of Satan, or being deceived by him. (That is one of the biggest myths that we used to believe of those who left for whatever reason).
-Our home is full of love, joy, and happiness. (Interesting observation: there have been many times that we have thought that many of us have treated each other increasingly kind since we left. This has only amplified over time!)
-We have a long list of specific core values that we have been working on, that line up almost exactly with Mormons, other Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and also many secularists, humanists, etc… Our deliberate and focused effort as a family to more fully and more passionately embrace these core values feels so good!
We are not advocating that our path should be anyone else’s. We want what is best for everyone. We realize that staying in the church, even while knowing these things could possibly be the best option for someone. For whatever it is worth, should you be one of the people that decides to leave…the hard part only lasts a brief season, and then it gets better. Our family is living proof that there is happiness and a fulness of joy outside of Mormonism….and it really gets better and better and better….Thankfully!
At this point, we are guessing that your mind may be racing. We hope that regardless of however you are feeling now, you always know that can lean on us for support. Like we mentioned in the beginning, it is because of love that we are sharing our story with you.
With all our love,
Kenn and RuthAnn Sullivan