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Why I feel lied to

LDS apologists often claim that the church doesn’t hide its ugly past.  They claim that familysearch.org shows Joseph Smith’s polyandry, byu.edu hosts the Journal of Discourses, etc.  While that’s technically true for some ugly aspects of its history, it’s completely missing the point.

What percent of Mormons know that Joseph Smith married 14-year old girls?  What percent know that he married women who were already currently married to other men?  What percent know that some of the Book of Abraham papyri was discovered and don’t match up at all with the Book of Abraham text?  Those are verifiable facts and can be, with some searching, verified from official church sources.  But I would bet the vast majority of Mormons have no idea about them.

George Q. Cannon:

“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.”

Historical things I should have known, but the church didn’t teach me

30+ years in the church, four years of seminary, a 2-year mission, and numerous religion classes at BYU failed to teach me:

  • How the Book of Mormon translation process happened according to historical records (head in the hat)
  • The Kinderhook Plates incident
  • The various First Vision accounts
  • The complete lack of writing regarding the First Vision until 12 years after the supposed event
  • The discovery of the Book of Abraham papyri
  • The papyri text being completely different than the Book of Abraham text
  • The many problems Egyptologists have with the Book of Abraham Facsimiles
  • Joseph Smith’s polyandry
  • The evidence that Joseph Smith committed adultery numerous times
  • Joseph Smith’s many lies about polygamy
  • Joseph Smith went to Carthage Jail because he illegally tried to cover up his polygamy
  • The temple endowment ceremony being copied wholesale from the Masons
  • The many significant changes to the temple endowment ceremony
  • The oath of vengeance against the US that was in the endowment ceremony for so long
  • The complete lack of archeological and DNA evidence of the Book of Mormon’s historicity
  • The many things mentioned in the Book of Mormon that simply didn’t exist among Native Americans
  • The racism prevalent in the church until 1978
  • The church’s opposition to interracial marriage
  • The complete lack of mention or evidence that there was an actual revelation about blacks and priesthood/temple blessings
  • That Joseph Smith gave the priesthood to black people
  • The Adam-God doctrine that Brigham Young taught numerous times over the pulpit as prophet
  • The Blood Atonement doctrine that Brigham Young taught numerous times over the pulpit as prophet
  • The significant evolution in how the Word of Wisdom was interpreted by the prophets throughout church history
  • Complete lack of transparency regarding tithing and its expenditure
  • Elder Ronald E. Poelman’s censored General Conference address

To lie or not to lie

The Bible is quite clear about lying.  I don’t think I need to delve into that.  So what have modern church leaders said in regards to truth, church history, and lying?

Open and honest truth

Elder L. Tom Perry, October 2011 General Conference:

“In speaking about the church, we do not try to make it sound better than it is. We do not need to spin our message, we need to communicate the message honestly and directly.  If church members do that, suspicions will evaporate, negative stereotypes will disappear, and [outsiders] will understand the [LDS] Church as it really is.”

Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr.:

“We don t believe that there is anything in our current history or in our past history that is worrisome, so we are grateful for people to get to know it.”

Don’t tell the truth or at least hide it

Boyd K. Packer:

“I have a hard time with historians… because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting; it destroys. Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting.”

Elder Russell M. Nelson, Ensign, 1986 p. 69: 

“Indeed, in some instances, the merciful companion to truth is silence. Some truths are best left unsaid.  To anyone who, because of truth, may be tempted to become a dissenter against the Lord and his anointed, weigh carefully your action.”

Boyd K. Packer, “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect”, 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271

“You seminary teachers and some of you institute and BYU men will be teaching the history of the Church this school year. This is an unparalleled opportunity in the lives of your students to increase their faith and testimony of the divinity of this work. Your objective should be that they will see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now. Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer. There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.”

Dallin H. Oaks, “Reading Church History,” CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium, Brigham Young University, 16 Aug. 1985, page 25:

“It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true.

Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, February 1987:

“Truth surely exists as an absolute, but our use of truth should be disciplined by other values. … When truth is constrained by other virtues, the outcome is not falsehood but silence for a season.”

Summary

It’s quite clear, if you have read this “blog”, that the church has a lot of very scary skeletons in its closet.  Those skeletons are hidden away.  They aren’t discussed in church, seminary, religion classes, the MTC, etc.

When members are open-minded enough when they stumble across these things, it can be shocking.  They feel angry, resentful, and hurt.  A religion with such lofty claims to truth and continued revelation should be open and honest about its own history.

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