(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: