MormonThink is concerned with truth. As such, we present information about the LDS Church that may not be known to many members. We also present a limited range of perspectives and viewpoints, privileging those we believe are the most accurate, consistent and empirically valid. We believe it behooves the prophets, seers and revelators to fulfill their roles as mandated in the Church's own publications.
1. Some devout Mormons say the information on MormonThink is meant to deceive. According to the Church itself, it is a prophet's duty (not apologists') to help people avoid deception: "A prophet is a person who has been called by God to speak for Him. Prophets…help us avoid deception…because they receive authority and revelation from God." ("Doctrinal Topics, Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, 2016" from the LDS website.) Although MormonThink occasionally presents information from apologists, we believe prophets should speak boldly and clearly those things that will help people avoid deception about the topics presented here on MormonThink. We urge the prophets to fulfill their calling.
You may want to start by reading the Introduction to MormonThink.
“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.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
(Prophet, Seer & Revelator)
~ Dec. 25, 2005 interview with The Associated Press
To his credit, LDS patriarch and historian Richard L. Bushman (in the video below) candidly admits that the narrative the LDS church has been teaching its members and investigators for decades, "Is not true."...that the church is on "shaky grounds," and implies that the church "has to change" or it will experience significant problems.
Questioner: In your view do you see room in Mormonism for several narratives of a religious experience or do you think that in order for the Church to remain strong they would have to hold to that dominant [orthodox] narrative?
Richard Bushman: I think that for the Church to remain strong it has to reconstruct its narrative. The dominant narrative is not true; it can't be sustained. The Church has to absorb all this new information or it will be on very shaky grounds and that's what it is trying to do and it will be a strain for a lot of people, older people especially. But I think it has to change.
LDS Church News: President Russell M. Nelson at a 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents said the following about the Book of Mormon:
“There are some things the Book of Mormon is not,” President Nelson said. “It is not a textbook of history, although some history is found within its pages. It is not a definitive work on ancient American agriculture or politics. It is not a record of all former inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, but only of particular groups of people.”
Link is here
It seems as if the Church wants to leave the Book of Mormon in a sort of gray area where it may not be 100% historical. Nelson's remarks are confusing as the Church, since its foundation in 1830, has always said the Book of Mormon is a true record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. The remarks appear to be geared to the complete and utter lack of any archeological, linguistic or any of scientific evidence to support it. To the contrary, many anachronisms are mentioned in the BofM such as horses, elephants, wheat, barley, steel, silk, etc. which did not exist in the Americas during BofM times. Elder Nelson seems to want to lessen the validity of these arguments with his dismissal of the BofM as a 'textbook'.
Perhaps the LDS Church is foreshadowing the day when they recognize that the BofM might be merely 'inspired' writings of Joseph Smith rather than an accurate account of ancient Israelites that lived in the Americas. The 2nd largest church that uses the BofM, the RLDS Church (Community of Christ) realized this about two decades ago and now makes it optional to believe that the BofM is historically correct or simply inspired writings of Joseph Smith.
Although hidden footage of the LDS temple ceremony has been online for years, there is now a video of a current temple wedding and footage of a former member proclaiming the Church isn't true from the pulpit of a ward in the Pinnacle Peak Ward. Regardless of the methods and motives, this clearly shows that the LDS Church's claim that the local leadership has the 'power of discernment' is clearly not true as the photographer got a current temple recommenced and was able to attend the temple and film many ceremonies. We are told that much more will come from this story. Some details can be found here:
Some of the recently released videos:
Noted Mormon historian and author Grant Palmer has written an essay entitled 'Joseph Smith and His Concubines' which has been added to Grant's Home Page. This essay adds some color to Joseph Smith’s belief and practice of concubinage.
Life-long member Tyler Glenn received a lot of attention in 2014 by coming out as a gay Mormon. He attempted to make Mormonism work for him even though the Church views homosexual behavior as sin. In a 29 April 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Tyler says,
My entire life and perspective on God, the afterlife, morals and values, my self-worth and my born sexual orientation has been wired within the framework of this religion that doesn't have a place for me…I was the square peg trying to fit into the round hole. I believed it till six months ago.
Six months ago is when the Church made an official policy change in which children of gay couples could not be baptized and those in gay relationships would be labeled "apostates" and subject to disciplinary action. Tyler's video (accessible from the above linked Rolling Stones' article) shows Tyler's anger over the policy. In the video he show the handshake tokens from the temple and spits on a portrait of Joseph Smith. He also drinks from a bottle (presumably alcohol) and marks his face with an "X" possible signaling how he feels the Church thinks of him as gay or maybe he believes he will be excommunicated.
During his scheduled disciplinary council, at a point in which Jeremy Runnells could see that further discussion was not going to happen and that the "kangaroo court" as he labeled them, would excommunicate him, he resigned his membership.
A 45 minute video of Jeremy's disciplinary council has been "leaked" by /u/PresidentNEWSROOM on reddit (much of the video portion has been blurred out). /u/Gileriodekel has provided a transcription of the disciplinary council on reddit. A condensed (3:13) version of the video was created by /u/amindexpanded on reddit.
I want to thank each and every one of you for coming here tonight. It means a lot. It's my understanding that there's several of you who have come from out of state, so I'm really touched by that.
A decision has been made. I have excommunicated the LDS church (laughter), President Ivins, and their kangaroo court from my life. I handed my resignation to President Ivins just a few minutes ago. My membership evaporated the second that I gave President Ivins my resignation letter. I am no longer a member of this church.
After speaking with President Ivins and the High Council tonight, it became very clear that it was a kangaroo court. They refused to answer any questions that I asked them. I've asked questions over and over for the last three years, and a year and a half with the stake president. And they have not answered at least—not answered one question.
It has become very clear to me that the church does not have answers to a truth crisis. The questions that I have asked the stake president over and over for the last year and a half have been:
- What errors or mistakes are there in the CES letter or on my website that I can publicly correct?
- If there are no errors or mistakes, why am I being punished for seeking and sharing the truth?
- What questions am I being punished for?
And he never answered any of those questions once. Yet that didn't stop him from attempting to spiritually execute me, and I find that very, very disturbing. How they're trying to take somebody's salvation while not answering their sincere, reasonable questions.
I am disgusted by the LDS Church's President Ivins attempts—multiple attempts—to place me in the same category as murderers and rapists and child molesters for simply seeking official answers to church problems. (applause
I have done nothing wrong. I just wanted the truth. I wanted official answers to the church essay verify problem to resolve my concerns and doubts.
For those of you who are struggling with doubts, stop doubting the doubts. Cherish your doubts. Explore your doubts. Resolve your doubts. Doubt is the beginning to knowledge and wisdom.
The only power that the church has is the power that you give them. Tonight, I took back my own power. Thank you.
[we've taken the liberty to copy/paste a bit of ourselves from the last time there was supposed to be a disciplinary council]
In April 2013, Jeremy Runnells (a lifelong member of the LDS Church) was asked by a Church Education System (CES) Director what some of Jeremy's questions and concerns about the Church were. Jeremy wrote a lengthy letter to him, now referred to as Letter to a CES Director. Nearly three years later, he is being asked to appear at a formal disciplinary council to be held 17 April 2016 in which he faces charges of apostasy and could well be excommunicated.
Jeremy notes on his website that he has spent the last two months emailing back and forth with the Stake President who will conduct the disciplinary council:
A theme consistent in the conversations is Runnells' pleas for Ivins to answer his questions and Ivins' refusal to answer them. Among the main questions Ivins consistently and repeatedly refused to answer are:
- What errors or mistakes are there in the CES Letter and on my website that I can publicly correct?
- If there are no errors or mistakes, why am I being punished for seeking and sharing the truth?
- What questions am I being punished for asking?
More information is found on Jeremy's site here.
LDS member Bruce Holt began an intense 15 month look into the history of the Church from January 2013 to March 2014 using Church approved/published sources. He came across many aspects of the Church's history he was unaware of which caused serious doubts about the Church. After meeting with his bishop he then met together with his stake president and an Area 70 in July 2015. None of these men could rebut the facts about the Church that were most devastating to Bruce. Bruce's doubts and concerns were becoming an issue to his friends and family so he thought he would be proactive in heading off any rumors and make a Facebook post to let them know his status. The bulk of the post was benign (the link below has Bruce's full story, the Facebook post in question and a link to the audio of his disciplinary council). There was apparently one part that caught the attention of his leaders:
Joseph Smith, Jr. was a fraud. Whether he was what some call a "pious fraud" or a well meaning fraud or just someone who fully believed in what he preached he was a fraud nonetheless. PROVABLY SO. Do I have proof? Yes, I do. Am I going to share it? I made promises to my church authorities that I would not teach these things to faithful members.
According to Handbook 1 (6.7.3 When a Disciplinary Council Is Mandatory), the two possible definitions of apostasy that Bruce could have been guilty of:
As used here, apostasy refers to members who:
1. Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.
2. Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.
On the Church's official website ("Church Responds to John Dehlin’s Public Comments: The Church Has the Responsibility to Correct the Public Record,"), Newsroom, 10 February 2015) in response to John Dehlin's excommunication, the Church published a portion of the Stake President's letter that explained the reason why John was being excommunicated. In that letter it said:
…you do not have the right to remain a member of the Church in good standing while openly and publicly trying to convince others that Church teachings are in error.
Bruce's Facebook had a statement of belief concerning Joseph Smith. He clearly indicated he did not want to teach his belief to members. Bruce did not violate either of the definitions for apostasy outlined in Handbook 1. Is this a rogue stake president, or are there indications from upper leadership to tighten the reigns on those who do not toe the part line?
On 23 February 2016, in a question and answer session with Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a question from someone in Chile was, “How can homosexual members of the Church live and remain steadfast in the gospel?”
Below is part of Bednar's response:
First I want to change the question. There are no homosexual members of the Church. We are not defined by sexual attraction. We are not defined by sexual behavior. We are sons and daughters of God and all of us have different challenges in the flesh. There are many different types of challenges. Would it be a challenge to be very beautiful or very handsome, and in the world in which we live, never develop deep character because we are able to open doors and have success just because of our physical appearance? And we become shallow and superficial in many aspects of our lives. That can be a challenge in the flesh.
Some people have physical limitations: They may be born with a body that is not fully functional, or we may have an inclination to be attracted to those of the same sex. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ we are blessed with moral agency. Agency is the capacity to act and not simply be acted upon.
For the complete transcript, and MormonThink's response to Bednar's “answer,” visit “There Are No Homosexual Members of the Church”
At a devotional on 26 February 2016 Elder Ballard gave a fairly frank discussion acknowledging that the Church has to teach differently and more accurately in the future. A few excerpts:
Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and a teacher responded, “Don’t worry about it!” Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue.
Today, what they see on their mobile devices is likely to be faith-challenging as much as faith-promoting.
Remind them that James did not say, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him Google!”
I seek help from my brethren in the quorum of the twelve, and from others with expertise and fields of church history and doctrine. You should be among the first outside your students’ families to introduce authority sources on topics that will be well-known or controversial…To name a few such topics that are less-known or controversial, I’m talking about polygamy, of seer stones, different accounts of the first vision, the process of translation of The Book or Mormon or the Book of Abraham, gender issues, race and the priesthood, or a Heavenly Mother. The efforts to inoculate our young people will often fall to you CES teachers. With those thoughts in mind, find time to think about your opportunities and your responsibilities.
Church leaders today are fully conscience of the unlimited access to information. We’re making extraordinary efforts to provide accurate context and understanding of teachings of the restoration. A prime example of this effort is the eleven gospel topics essays on LDS.org that provide a balanced and reliable interpretations of the facts for controversial and unfamiliar church related subjects. It is important that you know the content in these essays, like you know the back of your hand.
MT Editor comment: We appreciate the candor Ballard has in acknowledging some of these issue in a talk, however it sounds like the teachers will only be using answers equivalent to the eleven gospel topics essays. These 11 essays are very sugarcoated and present a very one-sided, incomplete response to serious issues that the Church downplays. If that is the introductory level detail that the Church will only go to in explaining/defending the Church history, then little will have been served in the way of promoting TOTAL historical honesty and discovery. In short, the Church has already made up its mind that it is true and they will teach everything from that perspective e.g. all disturbing problems brought up by a member can be explained/dismissed by the Church acknowledging that some of these disturbing things actually occurred. Explanations for the most part will have to wait until the next life. Stay in the boat. All is well.
There are also many more issues not addressed by the essays such as Book of Mormon anachronisms, Temple and Masonry, lack of any archeological, linguistic, or any other scientific evidence to support the Book of Mormon as a historical document. Additionally, there are many things that don't prove or disprove the Church's truth claims but are big issues to many members and are not addressed at all such as financial transparency of the Church.
For a partial transcript link to the video, and a more thorough response from MormonThink, visit An Evening with Elder M. Russell Ballard.
Interesting article about the faith crisis being experienced by many current Latter-day Saints after discovering the real history of the LDS Church that was never taught by the Church. An excerpt from the article:
Read full article
It is part of the church's wide-ranging strategy to "inoculate" Mormons "against sudden surprises in the historical record," he says. "But some people die of the inoculation. You do have a number of Latter-day Saints being introduced to materials disconcerting enough that they flee the church."
In April 2013, Jeremy Runnells (a lifelong member of the LDS Church) was asked by a Church Education System (CES) Director what some of Jeremy's questions and concerns about the Church were. Jeremy wrote a lengthy letter to him, now referred to as Letter to a CES Director. Nearly three years later, he is being asked to appear at a formal disciplinary council to be held
14 February 2016 20 March 2016 in which he faces charges of apostasy and could well be excommunicated (although, as stated on his website: "I still do not know what the charges are or why any disciplinary action is needed or necessary."). John Dehlin (of MormonStories Podcast and recent excommunicant) interviewed him February 10. (Periscope webcast of the interview.) We will keep you updated with the outcome. More information is found on Jeremy's site here.
Apostasy is an increasingly difficult thing to pin down in the LDS CHurch. It has typically referred to those people who are in opposition to the Church, it's leaders and it's doctrine. In the case of Mr. Runnells, he has only sought greater understanding of the historical narrative of the LDS Church. His letter was asking for help in understanding why the Church's narrative differs so much from verifiable, historical reality. Apparently, since his understanding, although based on an accurate reading of the historical record, is not the same as the Church's erroneous narrative, this puts him in opposition with the Church and its leaders, and therefore he is in a state of apostasy.
Some of the past managing editors of MormonThink have been accused of apostasy for the same reason and have faced disciplinary councils (not so affectionately labeled as a "court of love"). Based on their experiences, and others, it can be said that the disciplinary council is effective at shutting down dissent with those who have a stake in the Church, typically because of family members who are still involved and the stress and trauma such councils can have on the family. In such cases, the one charged with apostasy often gives in to the demands of the accuser, such as removing content, ceasing publications, etc.
Added to our book section, is a book not yet out that discusses little known financial aspects of the LDS Church. We have been looking forward to reading this book ever since we first heard about it when Business Week and Time published articles on the finances of the Mormon Church. You can pre-order the book on Amazon.
On 10/23/15 the Church released an essay called Mother in Heaven. A MormonThink editor responds to the essay.
The Church also at the same time released an essay called Joseph Smith's Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women. A MormonThink editor responds to that essay as well.
(KUTV) In a major policy announcement, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says children living in a same-sex household may not be blessed as babies or baptized.
The decision, which was released Thursday, takes effect immediately, LDS church spokesman Eric Hawkins told 2News.
"A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing," the policy reads.
Former CES director Grant Palmer was interviewed Oct. 19th at the University of Utah. Jason Wallace interviewed Grant and a LDS instructor from the U of U Institute of Religion (Alma Allred) on the Implications of Joseph Smith's use of his stone for producing the BOM, the earliest (18 ) sections of the D&C, and treasure seeking between 1822-1827) that he reportedly used this stone for.
SALT LAKE CITY - Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke Tuesday morning at the ninth World Congress of Families being held in Salt Lake City. Several thousand participants have gathered at the Grand America Hotel for the four-day meeting, which features 185 speakers comprised of scholars, researchers and religious leaders.
However, the Church doesn't say the embarrassing thing Elder Ballard said regarding how women should wear lipstick to attract a man, how the apostles caused it to rain in Ethiopia and how the computer was invented in order to serve the Church's genealogical needs.
Also, Mormon Disclosures BlogYoutube video: Joseph Smith's Seer Stone Revealed - Dan Vogel - 10/23/15
In this video, Vogel discusses how Joseph Smith got possession of this stone, how he used it, and how it came into the possession of the LDS Church.
Dan does an excellent job explaining what the seer stone is and how Joseph used it as a prop to convince his followers that he could translate ancient documents with it as well as to receive revelation.
There is a lot of discussion by disaffected, former, or faith-transitioning Latter-day Saints on social media about the presumably deceptive practices that the LDS Church has historically been engaged in to intentionally cover up the unsavory parts of its past that don't jibe well with the overly-simplistic narrative taught in Sunday School, Primary, Seminary, and Institute.
A popular LDS-themed blog site called Rational Faiths has published a very interesting article called The Mormon History Conspiracy. It discusses the current efforts of the LDS Church to be more transparent about its history.
With all the publicity by the LDS Church surrounding the recent publication of photos of the actual seer stone Joseph Smith used, here is a refreshing, interesting and informative discussion with independent Mormon historians, including Dan Vogel, examining the recent disclosure of pictures of seer-stone used by Joseph Smith in translating the Book of Mormon.