Archive for July, 2011


Sometimes I feel like I’ve become like a broken record, and that people who read this blog just think, “yeah, yeah… lies, deception, contradictions, blah, blah, blah…”  Of course, I’m sure that is pretty close to what TBMs who come here think (because some have actually told me so).  In fact, one TBM who came on here told me, “…your claim to intelligent reasoning seems a tad flat. It seems that your reasoning and investigations have developed a partisan approach that many disenchanted Mormons frequently and unintentionally employ. Your flippant discourse is telling.”  Like I responded to this person, I am not trying to be “flippant.”  I just think people should use their brains and not rely on what others have told them to believe.  And as far as the label of “disenchanted Mormon” goes, I am an ExMormon, having worked my way through the arena of “disenchantment” many years ago, arriving at the point where I saw Mormonism for what it is and opted against being further associated with a supposed religious organization that plays so fast and loose with the truth.

The fact is that Mormon doctrine is filled with lies, and so is its depiction of its history.  Because of that, I think it is important for everyone to examine the history and doctrine more closely, and not to simply accept what it is they are told to believe.  You know, the Mormon Party Line.  Deciding things for yourself is very important as is critical thinking.  When a person accepts what is told to them rather than doing any research or investigation on their own, they are giving up their own power.  If they decide to accept something despite the problems, at least they know the problems and are making a conscoius decision.  After all, some people are able to work their way through the problems and issus to arrive at conclusions that are suitable for themselves despite all the gray areas.  Others (like me) are more into black-and-white thinking and require factual justification for what they believe.  On a couple of the discussion boards that I visit from time to time, I’ve been told that simply because there are lies laced through Mormonism, including its history, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a legitimate religion because all religions are composed of lies.  I don’t understand that logic, and I don’t see how that makes the lies okay, but at least these people are thinking and not simply relying on what others have told them.

Of course, in my opinion, the most blatant example of relying simply on what a person is told is LDS missionaries.  True, some of them know the actual truth and preach the gospel in spite of it, either due to family/social pressures or the “gray area” thinking I spoke about above.  But there are many, many missionaries out there who do not know the actual history of the Mormon Church or its actual doctrines.  For instance, most do not know the actual truth behind polygamy, the fact that Joseph Smith had 33 wives, or the fact that polyandry was practiced by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, and others (in that they married women who were already married to living husbands).  When faced with this fact, they say it didn’t happen, and that polygamy started with Brigham Young on the Trek West to help widows and orphans (which is what I was told growing up and believed for way too long).  This false scenario came clearly into view one day when I went on http://www.mormon.org/ and visited the link to chat with missionaries.  During that visit, I chatted with a missionary named Elliott and asked him what could be the justification for polyandry being practiced – and he denied that it had ever been practiced.  When I told him that it is verified on the Mormon Church’s own genealogy website, http://www.familysearch.org/, he asked me for a link.  And when I gave it to him, he disappeared for over 5 minutes and then came back and said he was going to have to get back to me about that.  He was obviously blind-sided – and I can understand that feeling because I bought the official Mormon version of polygamy for many years, until I began doing my own research and discovered the truth behind it all.   I’m sure that if I were to go back on the missionary chat line again and ask about the varying version of the First Vision, mentioning the fact that there are at least 9 different versions that were told at various times, that I would get the same type of answer – “that’s simply not true, and if there are variations, it’s only because these versions were told to different people at different times who remembered them differently.”  Yes, that is what I was told for many years – and unfortunately, I bought that explanation until I began doing my own research on that topic as well as many others.

So my advice is this:  Do your own research.  Do not rely on what you are told.  And do not be a Mormon as depicted in the Book of Mormon Musical who “just believes” despite all the mounting evidence.

And in that vein, here is my latest hymn parody based (again) on this theme…

HOW SKEWED IS THE DOCTRINE
Sung to the tune of How Firm a Foundation, #85

How skewed is the doctrine presented as His Word,
And what Mormons preach is so patently absurd.
What more can I say than to you I have said,
Beware of the Mormons, beware of the Mormons,
Beware of the Mormons, and don’t be misled.
For most of my life, I adhered to what they taught,
But now, looking back, I can see that I was caught.
For I could not see that it’s simply not true.
The lies and deception, the lies and deception,
The lies and deception I finally saw through.
They’ll tell you that it is the one true church of God,
But if you look deeper, you’ll see that it’s a fraud.
Just look at the facts, and it all will be plain.
The truth is apparent, the truth is apparent,
The truth is apparent, no questions remain.
© Diane Tingen, 7/25/2011

(Original Post: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/11/sacred-writings-you-are-not-allowed-to.html)

How would you feel if you learned that the LDS ChurchTM claimed to be in possession of sacred writings that it didn’t want its own members reading?
Almost 500 years ago a German monk had similar concerns with the medieval Catholic Church that he served under. His name was Martin Luther, and today Mormons honor him for initiating the protestant reformation. We have long recognized that without Martin Luther’s reformation, there could have been no restoration under Joseph Smith.
Among the reforms demanded by Martin Luther was that the scriptures which the Church considered proprietary to itself should be available to all members.
Now someone on the internet has, in honor of Martin Luther’s birthday last Thursday, made available some records that the ChurchTM provides for its leaders but deems too “sacred” for ordinary lay members. Among other reasons given, the poster believes that since members are directly affected by many of the rulings contained therein, they have a right to know about them. This “sacred record” is the Church Handbook of Instructions, newly revised in a two volume, massive 402 page edition officially released just yesterday.
Although these volumes are said to represent the preeminent authority for all things relating to church government, policy, and doctrine, unless you are a bishop or stake president, the Brethren at ChurchTM HQ do not want you getting your grubby little hands on them.
Should a bishop be entitled to a guidebook that assists him in his calling?  By all means.  But I’ll refer you to the Martin Luther-LDS site if you would like to see just how ridiculously out of bounds that once sensible guidebook has become.  Once meant as a simple guide to procedure, it has completely slipped its tether.The real question is, why has the Church become so dead set against the regular membership seeing the contents?  Some of the policies in the current handbook are intriguing, no doubt, but there’s no question that much of it is directed downward at the lowly and mundane members.  This is the work they will be judged from.  Wouldn’t you think those members should be allowed at least a little peek at the contents? Well, too bad, Amigo. You haven’t been vetted. Only those holding rank, title, and office are privy to its secrets.

I’m guessing whoever is the author of the Martin Luther-LDS site is either a bishop or a stake president, as few others had access to the volumes before yesterday.  Then again, it may have been someone on the inside, someone from within the very bowels of the Morg. No matter; he’s not the only one who feels this information should be readily available to any who desire it.  Copies had already been leaked to the Salt Lake Tribune, and presumably other outlets already have it, just as previous editions have always been available to those who know where to look.  Thousands of copies go out to Church leaders every time there’s a revision, and thankfully not everyone in a leadership position shares the Church’s needless and silly corporate obsession for secrecy.
The Two Mormon Churches
Last month I suggested that in all actuality there may two “Mormon” Churches existing in pretty much the same dimensional space: One consists of the believers, you and me, the Saints as a people, or what the apostle Paul analogizes as the body of Christ. The other, as Paul Toscano has described it, is “a church that is preoccupied with exteriorities. It prizes “righteousness” over holiness, “image” over inspiration.””The Church,” states Toscano, is no longer the Saints, but an increasingly judgmental, puritanical, and authoritarian Corporate entity.”

“Unchecked power,” he continues, “has led Church leaders to believe that their authority is not limited by the gospel, but that the gospel is limited, and may be amended by their authority. (The belief evidenced in Apostle Russell Nelson’s Ensign article that arrogantly declares God’s love to be conditional.) Faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost are rivaled by obedience, respectability, denial, and sycophancy.  The Church is no longer seen as the object of salvation, but its source.””Christ is not so much author of redemption, as authorization for an aristocracy of apostles who serve less as shepherds proclaiming the gospel, but more as sheepdogs protecting the Church’s snow white image from the night soil of human nature.”

Standard Operating Procedure

The corporation that owns the trademark to the name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsTM long ago abandoned the idea that the “church” consists of the people who make it up. Those mere members must now be ruled over, supervised, and kept in line by their leaders. Like the medieval Roman Catholic Church, the modern LDS ChurchTM has become a hierarchy that rules by fiat.  The Church Handbook of Instructions is the very proof of that.
Every major corporation has a book of Standard Operating Procedures, or SOP. This corporation calls theirs the CHI. You may not consider it scripture, but the ChurchTM certainly seems to. In an email from the ChurchTM to a local stake authority (I can’t quote the precise words from the message because the recipient fears it could be traced back to him), the manual and the work that it represents are referred to as “sacred.”
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism describes the CHI as “preeminent among Church publications in both its preparation and its use as an authoritative guide for local Church leaders.”
“Sacred.” “Authoritative.” “Preeminent.” That sounds like the the very definition of scripture to me.  And if the ChurchTM is keeping scripture from you, don’t you have the right to ask why?
Bishops are supposed to be guided by the spirit. Nephi taught that it is the role of the Holy Ghost to tell us all that we should do.  But what bishop has need of the Holy Ghost when he can just reach for the SOP manuals on the shelf behind him?
In discussing the secretive unveiling of the new Church Handbooks, LDS blogger Zo-ma-rah also posted a tribute to Martin Luther on Luther’s birthday Thursday, concluding:

“We should all take a lesson from him and seek to ensure that our church remains firm in it’s scriptural foundations. We may not have Popes and Councils in our church, but we do have Presidents and Committees. Let us not make the same mistakes as our ancestors by allowing such people to do and teach whatever they will, without ensuring that it is in line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Two days after links to the Church handbook were posted on the Martin Luther-LDS site, lawyers for the Corporate Church, claiming copyright infringement, were successful in getting the server to kill those links. It would appear that the LDS ChurchTM thinks it’s the Church of Scientology, whose members are not allowed to possess any knowledge above their rank.
Meantime, however, an unknown number of copies of the CHI were downloaded from Bishop Luther’s site.  Unfortunately for those bent on control, those copies will continue to multiply digitally until everyone who wants a copy of the manuals should be able to find one somewhere.Personally, I would advise you not to look.  The manuals are copyrighted by Intellectual Reserve, Inc., which is a subsidiary of The Corporation of the President, which is, of course, the corporation that owns the rights to the name of our churchI am not posting links here, nor am I advising anyone to download them for their own personal scripture study.  Intellectual Reserve maintains a slew of sharks attorneys in its employ, and nothing is as tenacious as a lawyer who thinks he is toiling on the side of God.  I do not wish to tangle with these people at this time, in light of my massive wealth and the substantial assets I stand to lose if I am sued by the ChurchTM. These assets consist primarily of my wife’s oxygen machine, some dehydrated bananas, and four cases of canned cheese, so you can appreciate my reluctance to draw undue attention.

(Yes, I’ve bought three more cases of cheese since last we spoke.)

So if you are inclined to download materials under copyright to Intellectual Reserve, Inc.,  I will offer you counsel similar to that which the Brethren have offered when shooing us away from materials they deem inappropriate and harmful (such as this blog, perhaps):Brothers and sisters, I say let it alone.  Do not bring such things into your home.  Doing so will only be destructive to your testimony of the Corporation and reap disappointment to you by and by.

Ain’t No Thang

Anyway, here’s the really big secret: Although the CHI contains some information every latter-day Saint should be aware of so you aren’t caught by surprise, most of the information is not that big a deal.  No sacred ordinances are revealed, and you won’t find instructions for eating babies in the basement of the temple.  No, the primary reason they don’t want you reading the manuals is just plain old fashioned corporate control.  This is the Mormon Talmud, and you ain’t no Rabbi.  So just move along, Moishe, and leave this religion stuff to the big boys.

The corporate bullies may have have stuck a cork in it for the time being, but nothing should stop you from reading about the CHI. The Martin Luther-LDS blog is still up, even if the links to the manuals themselves no longer work.  Catch it while it’s hot, because there’s no telling when even that may disappear, too.  The author delves into some of the more interesting topics from the CHI, along with an airtight argument as to why “scripture” cannot be owned, and why it is imperative that those of us who believe in the restored gospel should know what is contained within the pages of the material our tithing money paid for.
Then again, consider this: Just because you are LDS, you may think you have ownership of everything that comes out of the church. But keep in mind you don’t belong to that church.  That is the Corporate ChurchTM. It has a very exclusive membership, and they don’t care what you think.  The members of that Church will do whatever the hell they want.
                                                                     *****
Here’s that link again:

http://martinluther537.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/the-church-handbook-of-instructions-and-thinking-on-your-own/

Why do we as humans seek first external verification of our self-worth before we can learn to love ourselves? Is is because we come into the world as helpless infants, completely dependent upon our parents? Why is it that this external love must come first before we are able to love and accept ourselves unconditionally? This is my general impression of humanity, one which, I’m sure, does not include all individuals. There may be those who escape or are immune to outside forces on their own self esteem, but I believe they are rare indeed.

Religion is such a big part of the external verification by which so many govern their own self worth. As created by man, God’s will can be twisted into a standard by which we measure our own worthiness for love and acceptance. In my experience, religion does far more damage than good in this regard. At an early age, many of us humans are taught strict guidelines for earning not only our parents approval but also the thing that matters most, God’s love. Unfortunately, sometimes these criteria reach far beyond simple behavior into what makes up the fiber of our souls. When this happens, we learn to push down our true selves. The longer we do this, the more distant we become from not only knowing ourselves but also being true to ourselves and living in peace. Guilt, rebellion, and self-harm are all by-products of the self-loathing religion can instill.

Now that I’m out of a legalistic church, I can clearly see that man-made religion is at the root of much of what is wrong in the world today. Much violence and hatred is perpetrated with the belief that one is doing God’s will. Likewise, there is much less visible suffering that is woven into the daily life of many who are striving for perfection in God’s eyes. In Mormonism it may look like a housewife juggling 6 kids, 2 church callings, being the perfect wife, and shouldering guilt for falling short with her temple attendance and visiting teaching. It may be a young gay teenager living with self-loathing and fear that he’ll be rejected by his family if they know the truth, or a middle-aged, single woman or man living with the feeling of ostracization from his church community simply for enjoying being single.

What would the world be without religion? I think it would be a better place. I find it ironic that Jesus went about his work, taking every opportunity to criticize organized religion. He left behind a simple concept: all we need is love. He taught that God loves us unconditionally and that salvation is a free gift for all. Again and again, he shot down the Judaic concept that salvation comes only after strict obedience to multiple laws. Although Mormons claim to follow Christ, the LDS religion is even more legalistic than Old Testament Judaism. Not only do you have the multiple laws to obey, but you have ritual upon ritual to complete as well. So many rituals and works, in fact, that the work does not end at death. I wonder what Christ would have to say about the frantic efforts of church members today.

Is religion really a good thing? Is it of God’s idea or man’s? I believe that God and religion are independent concepts, and that many will be surprised that Heaven may actually be a place devoid of religion.


View

The following letter appeared on Craigslist in March of 2009. It captures the reasons why leaving the Church is so painful. 

 

Dear Elder (Name):

As one who suffers from within, I write this letter to inform you of the magnitude of a growing problem. I am fully active, fully worthy, and fully apostate. I remain active solely for the sake of immediate and extended family unity, and to preserve my marriage. The fact that I cannot act upon my knowledge about fraudulent church history and doctrine has created a considerable dilemma for both the church and myself. The church is filled with people like me, and if you do not address this dilemma, the church will collapse from within. This letter, therefore, is an appeal for your consideration of my personal dilemma, and to serve as a witness against you if you fail to act.

I am writing this letter anonymously because I fear the power of your unrighteous dominion. It is not acceptable for you to claim that you personally would not wish for those like me to suffer or fear. The “Strengthening Church Members Committee” has proven its reach in the true style of “1984 Thought-Crime” investigations and “Ministry (councils) of Love” discipline. Yes, I fear you, I loath your tactics and I forcibly serve you. If you doubt my claim of forced servitude, then you would be wise to withhold your assessment until the end of this letter. I am writing with the futile hope that you (or anyone) will care enough to resolve this growing and unavoidable tragedy within the church; the tragedy of those who know the truth and cannot act upon it without destroying their families.

I come from 1837-convert lineage. I grew up in the Mormon Colonies in Mexico; I was hyper-valiant in my youth; I completed reading the full set of scriptures by the age of 16; I had all the missionary discussions and missionary scriptures memorized before even getting my call to serve; I served a very successful mission in Mexico; I attended BYU; I married in the temple; I served in four different bishoprics, high council, stake executive secretary, gospel doctrine instructor, young men’s president, high priest group leader, and various other callings; I was a student of the gospel, and was known for my answers to difficult historical and doctrinal questions; I have attended the temple more than 800 times, and virtually have the whole thing (all ordinances) memorized; I am a set-apart ordinance worker; I am currently serving in three ward and stake callings; IN OTHER WORDS: I deserve your respect, and am not engaged in any unworthy activity, so before you categorize me into some convenient slot, think again.

I have five children, two returned-missionary-temple-married, one attending BYU, and two active in the youth program. My wife and I have lived our nearly 25 years of marriage completely united in our commitment to a gospel oriented home. My wife is one of the most valiant, unquestioning, devoted members you will ever meet. Our happiness in marriage was centered in the gospel. We have faithfully performed all of the home-strengthening practices (FHE, daily prayer and scripture study, etc) throughout our married years. Our children are strong in the church because we as parents gave them that foundation. We are your typical success story.

This changed approximately two years ago. The story about how it changed is long, complicated, and spans years of personal study, personal observation, and experience. Rather than rehearse the entire journey, I will only summarize the end results. Suffice it to say that I have discovered reliable unchallenged facts about church history, church operations, church doctrine, and church culture that have brought me to the undeniable conclusion that the church is not true. Not only is the church not true (meaning that it is not what it claims to be), but the church purposefully withholds (even denies) vital information that would lead ANY thinking person to the same conclusion. Finally, church leaders even boast about the moral and ethical justification for acting this way. This is the behavior pattern of a cult; it is inconsistent with the church’s own articles of faith; and it is the central reason for the growing groundswell of revolt from within. To ignore this fact is the height of arrogance. You are either stupid or you are devious; whichever you choose, you lose.

I have a feeling (since I cannot imagine a different possibility) that you already know about this problem. You already know that the church is not what it claims to be; you already know that Native Americans are not the Lamanites of the Book of Mormon; you already know that the whole story of the BOM is not accurate or historical or even a translation of gold plates; you already know that the Book of Abraham is not a translation of the papyri that it claims to be; you already know that the first vision account is not reliable or accurate; you already know that church history is a warped version of real history and real history paints a pretty bleak picture of church origins and behavior; you already know that spiritual “special witness” experiences are not what the average member believes them to be; and you already know that as prophets, seers, and revelators, you do not possess any such gifts as they are understood by the average member. You receive and even encourage unqualified trust in your special abilities, and you know very well that those abilities are not special at all. You may be talented administrators, but you are not prophets, seers, and revelators, and you know it. Yet you allow members to revere and honor you as such. You are either self-deceived or you are willing deceivers. You know that members believe and teach that you have had personal physical visitations from Jesus Christ, and you know that you have not had this experience. Yet, you are willing to allow members to perpetuate this myth for unknown but unavoidably dishonest reasons. This is a pattern, not an anomaly. You know you are not what you claim to be (or what church culture teaches about you); and you allow this false perception to continue. What does that say about you and your integrity?

So, after coming to this awful realization that things are not what they claim to be within the church, what are my options? This journey was so disruptive and internally tumultuous that I chose to travel it alone. I was absolutely certain that there were solid faith sustaining answers to each disturbing fact. Finally, after I had absorbed the magnitude of the truth, I tried to share it with my wife. To her horror, she saw that her husband had gone into the unthinkable realm of “apostasy”. At first, she resented me for even looking; then she denied the possibility that any of it could be true; then she tried to stand on the shaky ground that even if it was true it did not lead to the conclusions I had made; finally, she clings to the defensive posture that I cannot be smarter than you (how can so many good men be wrong and her imperfect husband be right?). This is where you come into the picture. This is where the church comes between me and my wife in our marriage relationship. This is where the damage is done in countless other relationships. Do you think that you can escape responsibility for this damage? Do you doubt your complicity in creating this wedge? Can you understand how people like me come to a point of powerless resentment against the church? I suspect that you cannot understand such things, because if you did you would use your influence to make necessary changes.

There is nothing more ironic than the saying that “A man can leave the church, but he can never leave it alone.” The truth is that “A man can leave the church but only if he leaves ‘alone’”, or “A man can leave the church but the church can never leave him alone.” You would gladly split up my family rather than allow my knowledge to draw them away from the church. You have proven such intent in both policy and practice.

I am trapped in the church; of that there can be no doubt. And yet I perceive that you do indeed doubt such an idea. It seems foreign to you that I would claim to be trapped in an institution that glorifies agency. But surely you can see the cultural elements (which you support) that limit my options. Extended family relationships are high-pressure control mechanisms. My leaving the church for doctrinal or historical reasons would have a devastating and disruptive impact on the entire family network. You glorify those who leave their families to join our church and at the same time you demonize those who would leave the church for whatever reason. You stereotype those who obtain damaging “truth” as intellectuals and apostates. You encourage an atmosphere of exclusion against those who have information that would damage faith, even when that faith is founded upon false data.

Your efforts of withholding and denying truth have had the result of destroying personal integrity. I know things that I cannot openly speak about, even with those closest to me. I lie in temple recommend interviews so I can go to the temple to see my own children get married, and because my wife is comforted by the image of a temple worthy husband. I lie to my children when they question an aspect of church history or doctrine, because the truth would place them in the same pressure cooker I am in. I lie to my wife because she finds the truth so disturbing. I lie because telling the truth is more painful than a comforting lie. And I learned to lie from you. You are lying to the membership by your silence (and denial) regarding information that is vital to faith. People base their faith on incorrect information; you know this; and you remain silent. You lie for the same reason that I lie; because people prefer a comforting lie over a disturbing truth. I am trapped here because of the culture you have created, and I am reduced to using the same tactics you use at the expense of personal integrity.

Your understanding of the culture you created and perpetuate through established programs is dismal. You preach adherence to the guidance of the brethren; you promise blessings for obedience to programs and leaders; you build a structure of dependence and hierarchical authoritarianism; you inculcate an environment of conformance without regard to individuality; and you do all of this with the stated intent of blessing and improving lives, relationships and family bonds. Your programs have evolved into a culture with the opposite effect than the one you intended; members feel constantly inadequate regardless of their effort; families pressure struggling children with bad advice that comes from your talks and books; you raise the bar, a blatant slap in the face to those who do not fit within your misguided program. Programs flounder not because of poor execution but because they are poor programs. When such negative results reach your ears, you are saddened that the poor members just do not see the vision; that they cannot learn the vital lessons. It never occurs to you that your inspiration and leadership is the flawed element. Either you are uninspired or uninformed, but your leadership is causing more suffering than blessings. But this is not really about bad programs. Rather, it is about faulty foundations. I do not expect you to acknowledge that the church is not what it claims to be, but I demand that you acknowledge your part in the failures. Stop blaming failure on the members. It is cheap and dishonest.

So, I am angry to the point of despair. I do not expect you to do anything with this information, except try to track me down and deal with me through your secret “committees”. I would resign today if I thought my family could remain intact. But I will continue to coax my family closer to the truth with longsuffering and gentle persuasion, and when they can see the real story without demonizing their father, son, and husband, then I will relish our departure and be rid of you and your unrighteous dominion. Someday I will not be so afraid of your influence, and I will confront your abuse of power directly.

Your success is over. You had a small window of opportunity to be forthcoming and open, and you have missed it. History is against you. Science is against you. TRUTH is against you. As you become more closed and protective, you will appear more ridiculous from the outside. Even though you will probably interpret this result to be “prophecy fulfilled,” the result will be the same. Enjoy your last breath of illusory comfort, because it will not last.

I am not alone. I am part of a growing community of knowledgeable members who will not be silenced for long. You have no idea how to deal with us because you fear our power. You fear it because you know that truth is on our side. I would feel pity for you except for the inexpiable arrogance that you currently display without remorse. The law of the harvest will be your undoing. You have sown seeds of benevolent deception; you shall reap a harvest of faithful rebellion..

Disrespectfully:

Faithful Apostate

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