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Who Are We?
This section answers frequently asked questions about the creators and maintainers of MormonThink. Many of the questions asked of us are related to the mistaken premise that if the people who created, maintain and contribute are not devout members of the LDS faith, they can't be trusted. See the section on ad hominem at the bottom of the page.
Who are the authors?
There are dozens of creators and contributors to the MormonThink website, many of us live in Utah. All of us have been active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have held positions ranging from Gospel Doctrine teacher, YW President, Bishop, CES instructor, Stake President, YM President, Bishopric Counselor, etc. Some of us have written faith-promoting articles published in the Ensign and other Church publications. Most of us have served missions and almost all of us have been married in the temple. We're just ordinary people with a deep interest in learning accurate Church history and doctrine.
A former Bishop and LDS Church Education System (CES) teacher has helped MormonThink by using his decades of teaching LDS history to help ensure historical accuracy and doctrinal correctness of numerous issues we examine. We also benefit from contributions by former bishops, a former stake president, CES teachers, authors, scientists, apologists and historians.
Sunstone magazine published an article on one of MormonThink's founders. The ideas expressed in this piece are also held by many current contributors. The article is in the 150th Anniversary issue of the magazine released in August 2008. Archived PDF copy on MT.
Why don't you identify yourselves?
The current managing editor of MormonThink is Scott Carles, who is not concerned about anonymity. However, most of the compilers and contributors of MT remain anonymous. The LDS Church sometimes unfairly punishes those who publish things about the history of the LDS Church that may be unflattering, yet verifiably true. The September Six is an example of this. Two MT editors were threatened with excommunication by LDS leadership when the Church found out they were involved with MormonThink. When the LDS church ceases to punish its members for telling the complete truth, more MT contributors may consider publishing their names. Some contributors to MT attend church regularly and they don't want to stop, even if they don't believe all of the claims of the Church. By revealing themselves on this site they may face disciplinary action. Others decided they can no longer remain a member of the Church, and some of them have identified themselves and their names can be found on the site.
Who is the managing editor of the site?
The current managing editor is Scott Carles. Read more about him here.
Are you still active members of the LDS Church?
Some of us are still active in the Church while others have found the issues identified on this website to be too troubling to allow us to remain active. Some contributors are not only no longer active, but have resigned their membership. The list of contributors is growing as members and former members and even apologists, continue submit articles and make other contributions, some substantial, some small.
Do any of you still believe?
Some members who contributed significantly to MormonThink still believe the Church is true, yet they have issues with how some of the history is inaccurately taught in church. Two current, active, believing members in particular wrote over 100 pages for one section alone for MT. They believe the early leaders of the Church made some significant errors (which is not the Church's position) and they have asked MT to publish information they wrote to give other, more plausible accounts of certain events of Church history as they understand it. They did this to help struggling members deal with some uncomfortable aspects of Church history. They know that the Church won't publish what they wrote, but we will.
Can anyone contribute to the site?
Absolutely, we publish material from believers, critics, apologists, the Church or anyone who has an interest in Mormonism and has an interesting viewpoint, rebuttal or comment. We will link to any site that has a good argument, pro or con. We have asked repeatedly for help in punching up the devout member responses. You can do so anonymously or have your name or initials listed.
We receive emails from devout Latter-day Saints who appreciate what we've done. They state that they don't like that the Church omits and often misrepresents some of its history. They still believe in the truthfulness of the Church, yet they hope that the Church will stop being secretive about its past. Websites like this may be helping to push the Church to be more open with its history.
We've done our best to be error-free and we continually update the site to improve it as we have time and resources.
If you wish to contribute a comment or essay to this site that will strengthen an argument one way or the other, if want to correct an error, or if have a question, please email email@example.com and someone will reply to your email.
How do you differ from New Order Mormons?
Many New Order Mormons (NOM) remain affiliated with the Church primarily for the benefit of their families and may not necessarily be as interested in determining the accuracy of Church history. Those involved with MormonThink are often more concerned with the historical truth claims of the Church and promoting historical accuracy over the commonly-held beliefs that are generally taught in the Church.
Both NOMs and some MT contributors and readers enjoy being associated with the Church and its members. They don't wish to abandon a community they still identify with, even if they have different interpretations of the religion compared to most mainstream LDS congregations.
What do you expect to accomplish?
Our hope is that no member should be afraid to speak the truth about the Church in church. No one should be afraid of offending other members when speaking the truth about polygamy, the BOM translation process, Masonry, or any other historical aspect of the Church. We want the Church leaders to be 100% open and honest with the members so we can be 100% open and honest with our children, families, friends, investigators and fellow members. Our greatest joy would be for the Church to put us out of business because they are completely open and transparent with all of the issues covered on MT being taught in Sunday School. With nothing unique to share on this website, we could close up shop.
Until that time comes, our job is to openly educate others about our religion's unique history and heritage. If people want to learn accurate history regarding the Church that they aren't learning in Sunday School, they can learn about it here. We aren't afraid to discuss the tough issues. We hope to make the Church we grew up in a better place by making it more honest through sharing the truths they shy away from.
The "Editor's Comments" usually sides with the critics—why include them at all?
Initially we didn't have the 'editor's comments' but readers kept writing in and asking what we believe so we just started adding them to each section. It is also only fair to show our bias in each section. There are many people involved with this and we don't always agree on everything but we try to put in points that are common to what most of us think about each section. But frankly, most of us simply gravitate to the evidence that seems to have the strongest arguments. Take in mind that we don't always agree with the critics. For example, we don't agree with critics who insist the plates were made of solid gold and therefore must have weighed 200 pounds. Also, we don't give credence to many critics' arguments against Mormonism on other websites and don't bother even discussing them on this site; e.g. we don't discuss the use of the word 'adieu' in the BOM or using the Bible as evidence against the BOM. Also, the editors of each section spent a great deal of time compiling this data, so it's only fair to let them give their opinion as well. Readers should of course look at all viewpoints - critics, faithful, apologetic, etc. before coming to a definitive conclusion as to what they think is most credible.
Sunstone magazine published an article on one of the founders of this site. The thoughts relayed in the article represent the embodiment of many of the current contributors to MormonThink. It's in the 150th Anniversary issue of the magazine released in August 2008. Link to article: http://www.mormonthink.com/files/sunstone.pdf
Why don't you include a section on the Church and homosexuality and women's issues?
As of April 2014 an editor and academician are slowly gathering information for a section on gender and sexuality. There is no projected date for its unveiling.
How accurate is the information on the site?
We try our hardest to verify, and link to, all the information we can. If there are errors, please help us correct them by contacting us (email address above). We often copy or link to information from both the critics and apologists that we do not agree with. However, as part of our mission to present all views, we still share the information with you. Links from other sites change daily and may not support our views. It is the reader's responsibility to interpret the information they receive.
Where do you live?
All over the world, but most live in Utah.
This is the most common question we receive. We'll try to give a comprehensive answer by looking at the main categories of those who have contributed significantly to making this website.
When MormonThink was first created, this was the largest group, but over time, it has decreased, and is now the smallest group making major contributions. Some contributors believe the doctrinal claims of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are true, but they also know of its historical problems. They wish to discuss them openly at church and with other struggling members. They seek to provide a way for members to accept the truth of events that may harm the Church by giving explanations for why things happened. Their understanding of the history of the Church may not match the Church's teachings, but are the result of careful research and study. In the words of one such believing MT contributor:
Inevitably, the question arises about testimony. I defend my mortal testimony of Christ, His patient work for His restored Church in this "last dispensation," and of Joseph Smith's contributions to heaven's vast plan. While this study could be feared as undermining testimony, it ultimately unravels mere folklore and misunderstandings—providing doubt where faith shouldn't exist. We have solemn obligations to gather, separate, and throw away (Matt. 13:47-48). We each function from our own conscience in our duty to not misunderstand Joseph Smith, one another, or the truth. And "the Holy Ghost not only helps us to recognize plain truth but also plain nonsense!" —Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, May 1993, 78.
New Order Mormons
Some MormonThink contributors are basically New Order Mormons (NOMs). For the most part they do not believe all of the doctrinal claims of the LDS Church, nor do they believe the Book of Mormon is a historically accurate book. Beliefs vary on whether Joseph Smith was a well-intentioned but flawed man inspired to produce the BOM or whether some form of deception or delusion was involved.
Most NOMs are quite active in the Church, hold callings, do service, etc. but keep their beliefs to themselves out of fear of being rejected or questioned by the ward for not conforming 100% to the will of the Church. Many grew up Mormon and still strongly identify with the culture and core values without believing in the absolute divinity of the restoration.
NOMs typically hope the Church will reform by being more honest. They hope to affect change from within as members of the Church.
Some NOMs continue their fellowship in the Church for family reasons—their spouse still believes; they think their children need the Church; they do not wish to try other religions but think their family should have religion in their life; they have a philosophy of accepting the good and rejecting the bad; they don't want to be excluded from family church activities, etc. However, some remain active out of fear. One contributor's wife said she would leave him if he didn't remain active in the Church. Others work in LDS-influenced companies and fear reprisals if they weren't perceived as believing members. Others have their own reasons.
Most NOMs generally enjoy being associated with the Church and its members and don't wish to abandon a community they still identify with, even if they have some religious views not in harmony with the LDS Church.
Some MormonThink contributors stay in for altruistic reasons: They stay to help others just discovering the truth. If everyone discovering the Church may not be exactly what they thought it was, left the Church, who would help those just discovering this information for the first time? The Church has no resources to help the "wandering one." They tend to be more concerned with keeping the testimonies of the 99 intact, ignoring, or even threatening, the one struggling member who has valid concerns and questions about the Church and has nowhere to go. MormonThink contributors and readers are usually more educated on the troubling issues of the Church than the vast majority of bishops and stake presidents and can therefore be more helpful to those just finding out about inaccuracies in Church history.
It can be very painful for the people when they first discover that many of the things they were taught in church have another more disturbing side to it. We are there to support them and show them they are not alone and tell them what resources are available (online groups, locals in the area that have also come to the same realizations, etc) to help people cope with this as the Church generally provides no comfort at all to these people.
Some MormonThink contributors simply believe that every member has a right to know about issues that they know about but the vast majority of members don't know about. They don't like to see the history of the Church skewed. They support calling out faith promoting stories that are not true. They seek to correct things that are taught in error in church either by stating incorrect facts or omission. They want the Church to be 100% open and honest with its history and don't mind talking about any historical or doctrinal issue of the Church in detail and also think it's only fair that the valid critics' arguments are known about significant Mormon issues so that members have all the facts, from all sides so they can be well-educated and make informed decisions. Most of these contributors stay in simply for truth's sake. They want to share the truth. It's simply the right thing to do. To quote from a common LDS theme, "If you have the truth, wouldn't you want to share it?"
Inactive members and those who have left the Church
Some MormonThink contributors have found the issues identified on this website to be too troubling to allow them to remain active in the Church. Others have resigned but they were active members when they wrote their various sections on this website. Except for information taken directly from critics' websites and books, the majority of MormonThink was written by LDS Church members in good standing and active when they made their contributions. Some contributors elected to resign their membership after the Church threatened to excommunicate them for their involvement with the website, even though the Church refused to provide any evidence at all that refuted the accuracy of the information on MT's website.
Former members, nonmembers and members, active and inactive, continue to submit articles and make other contributions to MormonThink. Many contributors ask to remain anonymous for various reasons. Mormon scholars (both members and former members) often provide feedback used on the site. LDS apologists have asked MT to include their information. The list is growing as Latter-day Saints interested in Mormon history and doctrine continue to submit items for publishing.
Ad hominem, meaning "to the man," is a fallacy that attacks the person/group delivering a claim, instead of attacking the claim itself. Many of the questions we are asked about ourselves have to do with our membership and beliefs in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those trying to discredit the work of MormonThink, or those investigating the truth claims of the Church, often believe that if the message about the Church is delivered by unbelievers, disaffected, "antis" or anyone else who is less than devout and active, that the information they are sharing is untrue. That is an example of the ad hominem fallacy.
Unfortunately, Church leadership often exacerbates the problem by using the ad hominem fallacy as a scare tactic to keep members from finding out information about the Church, especially its history. Something that is true but shows the Church in anything but a positive light is immediately deemed "anti-Mormon". This is a way to keep people from examining unflattering facts about the church.
We ask that you not worry about the individuals who wrote what is on MormonThink, but rather that you focus on what is said, and the historical evidence presented. The majority of the sources referenced by MormonThink contributors are, in fact, from LDS writings.