archives – How to talk to a family or friend leaving the church

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First, I don’t mean this to be snarky, sarcastic, or hateful. I genuinely want to help people on the TBM side of the equation see what common phrases in the church mean to someone who is doubting/has left the church, and why sometimes very innocent sounding phrases can be terribly offensive.

I mean this to help relationships that any of you may experience in the future. Hopefully none of you will experience it, but statistics say that each of you may encounter this at some point. Regardless, best of luck to you.

(Yes, every one of these has been said to me by a close person, yes a similar list will be posted to /r/exmormon)

I know the church is true”

Why this hurts – The implication with this statement is that all other faiths are not true, including the one the person who you are talking to. It’s immediately comparative, and creates enmity, the definitions of Pride according to Bensen’s 1989 talk on Pride. It lifts you up, by pushing the person you’re talking to down.

The reverse said to a member (So you can see the hurt level created – “I know the church is false”

A better way to say it – “Despite your new beliefs, I am comfortable with mine”. or “I’m happy that you’ve found truth. I feel I have too. I appreciate you sharing with me, and I’d be willing to share more of mine with you if you would like”

“You just wanted to sin!” “Are you guilty of infidelity?” “What are you doing wrong?” etc. etc. etc.

Why this hurts – well, beyond the obvious that you are accusing the person of committing some ghastly deed; it’s an obvious logical fallacy. A person can easily stay a member and sin. We see it all the time, and I’m sure you do to. Therefore, people do not typically leave to sin. Even if someone did leave to sin, as some of the /r/exmo crowd did do, it’s usually very detailed, nuanced and has depth to the reason. This casts it as “black and white” drawing the line appropriately so that the person you’re talking to is the “black” side of the equation. Even if you believe this to be the case, saying it to a person doesn’t help the relationship.

The reverse said to a member – You are just a member of the church because you want to sin (Such as gluttony, a catholic sin, or eating bacon, a jewish sin).

A better way to say it – “Tell me why you left.” or “I understand you probably have reasons for what you did, I don’t want to know the reasons, just know I still care about you”

“Who offended you?”

Why this hurts – The implication is that you left over something trivial. Like spilled milk (or milk strippings) affecting one’s eternal destination. It condenses what is more than likely a very complex/difficult decision into something meaningless very quickly.

The reverse said to a member – “You’re just a member because you were brainwashed” equally reduces the complex nuances as to why one is a member to a simple, trivial statement. “All members are alike” is similar in how it reduces everyone who left to a stereotype.

A better way to say it – “I still love and respect you regardless of belief. Tell me what hurts.”, “I’m sure this journey did not happen over night, tell how you got to this place” both express a willingness to listen to hurt without simplifying the person’s experience.

“People who leave the church can never leave it alone”

Why it hurts – The implications is that one who leaves is affected by the devil, or always obsessed by the church. People who have a genuine interest in the culture or history are grouped together with “Angry Anti’s”, as well as people who are still caught between their spouse and the religion who do get upset regularly are portrayed as though they should “Just leave”, when they continue to talk about the church because it is still prominent in their lives.

Reversed – “People in the church only talk about the church and nothing else. It’s like they are obsessed or something” or “People who stay in the church only do it to save face”. Both of these statements group and stereotype unfairly, as well as remove good reasons that members take action in a similar way to the original statement’s stereotyping and good reason removal.

A better way to say it – “You’re still talking about the church even after you left, what is it about the church that still matters to you”. “People online who continue to attack the church, or talk about it after they left confuse me. Can you explain to me their reasoning for continuing to talk about the faith?”

“People who leave are dark, unfeeling, unselfish, devil-possessed, narcotics users, wife beaters, ugly, etc.”

Why it hurts – Because the statements are designed to castigate humans into a “Them” category that is inferior. Yes, there are leadership quotes to say that these things. Yes you may not be talking to an exmormon. But the person you are talking to might have a husband, father, mother, niece, former-roommate who has left, and calling names at someone’s friend or relation hurts.

Reverse – “Mormons are all dull, the same, bland, stupid, annoying, etc.” Name calling is that on either side.

Say it better – “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” – Thumper’s Mother.

bonus – The above goes for Atheists as well, even if General Authorities do it, it doesn’t make it right or okay to group people together and cast them as inferior.


“I know you know it’s true!”, “You know it’s true, why are you denying it?”

Why it hurts – It immediately brings to mind how wrong we were when we thought we knew the church was true. It forces us to think of how betrayed we feel, the lies we encountered, etc. It quickly makes the conversation “not safe”.

Reverse – “You know that there are problems with the church. You can feel it is false!”

A better way to say it – “Have you ever felt the song of redeeming love? Can you still feel it.” Alma gives a much better way to address this issue that is a lot less condemning. Follow his example.

“Are you gay?!”

Why it hurts – The member has just skipped right past any actual feeling or emotion of the person they are talking to. If the person is gay, they now feel threatened. If not, the ex-member is torn between explaining why “Gay people aren’t bad” and the real reasons they left. In addition it generally feels threatening.

Reverse – Are you in a cult?! Similar shortcircuit of emotional reasoning and threatening felling of conversation is created.

How to say it better – “Tell me your reason for leaving.”

“You have to consider your sources” “The internet is full of lies” “How can you trust such angry people”

Why it hurts – The automatic assumption that the person you are talking to hasn’t verified the source, or thought through what is said is hurtful. In addition though, the exmormon is likely to want to say something about how all the sources the member has been reading are paid by the church. Hugh Nibley, The Maxwell Institute, and General Authorities all have an incentive to twist the truth in favor of the church. FAIRlds have no financial incentive (well, some do), but are not backed by the church in anyway, they have just as much credibility as or, and sometimes much less. Without advanced wikipedia skills, you probably don’t even know who was posting to FAIRlds. The irony of calling out sources, is difficult to reconcile/deal with for members.

In addition calling out Michael Quinn for being gay, or attacking Richard Bushman/the Emma Smith authors when they are very LDS, even when being put through some very trying experiences does not help your case in seeming like you have a well-thought out and reasoned argument.

I’ve had people say this to me when I was quoting Joseph Smith himself. Yes, yes, I considered the source a LOT before quoting him.

The reverse – “Everyone you read is paid off by the organization, consider the source” This one cuts both ways

*A better way to say it” – “Let’s set apart some time to review the materials you’ve been reading/studying/etc. and look at the sources to see if they are valid”. Or, “Please tell me about the source of where you heard this.” Or, if you feel threatened, “I’m not sure I want to discuss this now.” Asking to not talk about a troubling item is not a bad thing, but throwing some mud at a person’s time and efforts in order to not talk about something will damage a relationship.

“We should not criticize our leaders, even if that criticism is true”

Why it hurts – Every organization has mistakes, misdeeds and problems. Even the church. In fact, if one points out any errors made, many people say “Well, he was just acting as a man”. In fact, this statement is a * criticism*. Regardless, criticism is an important tool for an organization to self-correct. Without any criticism organizations make worse and worse mistakes. Being able to see the disaster before it happens, and not be able to say anything is hard for any person. Shutting that person up will not help a relationship.

Reverse – “You should not criticizing people who left the church, even if the criticism is true”. You see how difficult that standard is to maintain, and how ANY system would be able to look good if it followed this advice. “You should not criticize Walmart, even if that criticism is true”.

A better way to say it – “Please don’t use ad hominem attacks against leaders. I honor and respect these men still.” “It sounds to me like you’re just making a personal attack, if that’s not your intent, please explain it to me.”

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From the /r/LDS archives – 18 year olds and alcoholism on Missions

A few of my posts from earlier times have been resurrected from the subreddit  I produce them whole cloth without edits or updates over the next few pages.  I will also link back to the originals but please be aware the subreddit could shut down again at anytime killing the link:

Original Link

With the reduction in missionary age, several things flashed though my mind. One of which was how ill-prepared I was at 19 to deal with alcoholism in people I met. Someone right out of highschool would be even less prepared.

So I want to set the record straight. To be clear, this is not an attack on the church, this is not intended to deter people from going on missions, and this is not to revel in the exmormon stance either. This is because I know the suicide rates of people trying to get off of alcohol, and I am more aware now that it’s fairly likely I may have driven people to death by how we taught the word of wisdom principle, and I see this as a real chance for missionaries to do some good in the world and to help out.

This is me, after years of learning, trying to teach a younger me not to hurt people, and hoping others benefit.

1) Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic.

  • Why this matters: Because if you walk around after getting a guy who has a beer with dinner once in a while to stop drinking beer, claiming you helped cure alcoholics, you’re not only wrong, you’re a danger to others (That’s coming).

Alcoholism is a bad term. Alcohol dependence is preferred, and once you leave the Utah scene (I’m assuming I’m talking to a younger version of myself, many of you may, in fact, have seen the difference) you’re going to see the difference.

Alcoholism is more than just “likes to drink”. It’s where the person is dependent on the drug. Let me repeat that, they DEPEND on the drug. Shaming them, attacking them in front of their spouse and kids, or other things for not quitting drinking so they can be baptized can be very dangerous and will probably not work. If you think it did, odds are they hid the drinking from you because they DEPEND on the drink at that point, and recovery is not miraculous or immediate.

2) Teenagers should not drink –

Why this matters. Odds are, you’re going to see a lot of this in whatever country you go to. Drink of various types is embedded in the culture. Vodka, irish beer, scotch, all of them have some connection to the culture. People drink certain drinks during celebrations. This is just normal for them, and has been for years. Knowing the science behind why teenage drinking hurts kids can really help you prevent future damage to people.

But realize the social pressure is enormous. Not just in the “Hey, buddy, wanna beer” way of American society, but it is a rite of passage to manhood in many countries to have your first beer.

3) The recovery system of the church is taken from the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Knowing the 12 steps, what they are, and how they work can be very beneficial when you meet your first addict. And if your mission is anything like mine, you’ll meet lots of them Something about missionaries attracts the drunk, even more than the hot girl.

Knowing how to deal with a drunk (forget rationality and make your arguments make no sense if they get aggressive/combative, the confusion is your best chance at disarming them) will be very valuable, but the addict you care about will be far more challenging.

Know this: only about 2-5% of people in alcoholics anonymous make it through the program. Got that? 5% tops. That means that out of 100 people you try to help, if you follow the system perfectly, 5 of them will recover (on average) (source is a 1980’s statistical study, more recent studies place it at20% for the first year after.

Here’s the kicker, the 4th step of the 12 step program is basically repentance. One has to write out a list of everything they’ve ever done to hurt someone, and try to make restitution in some form. According to the AA professionals I met and worked with on my mission, suicide rates during this step are about 32%

That is, about 5% recover, and 1/3rd end up dead.

This is an enormously difficult task. The pain is amazing.

4) Numbers vs. Humans

Why it matters: You’re going to want to get numbers of baptisms. You’ll say to yourself now, “I won’t care about numbers, I’ll care about people”, but once you have an AP a Zone leader and a mission president asking where the numbers are, you’ll struggle. It’s hard to resist that kind of peer pressure.

And it will /seem/ like Mr. Foster (or whoever) is clean and should be baptized this week. But the thing is, Alcohol dependence is for life. He has to shift his entire mental philosophy.

But then there’s that number, shining in front of you, so easy to get.

The mission president, zone leaders and AP’s may even encourage you to “Move on”, “forget them if they won’t convert or show progress”.

But remember, you’re looking at a 33% suicide rate, while this person is in the most difficult step, that portion where they try to make amends (Something they’ll be thinking about during preparation for baptism).

You walk away from them, and you might be signing their deaths. You shame them, or mock them, or push them in front of their families, and you might as well have handed them the loaded gun (Suicide, as far as I can tell, is “death by embarrassment”, very few suicides happen without embarrassment).

So if you are still reading this, and you head out on a mission later, remember these words. This isn’t a game. It isn’t just about a plan of salvation, or joy, or whatever; it’s real people with real struggles that odds are, at 18 or 19, you’ve never had to face.

Go out there and be serious, be helpful, and forget the numbers if someone really needs you and be a good person.

Craig Ferguson backing up what I’m saying

Penn and Teller about 12 step program and recovery

Penn and Teller, round 2 on 12 step

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Confirmation Bias and 2 4 6

I’ve had good success with this video in helping kids to understand bias.  I pause it frequently and let them make their guesses (writing down their guesses if they can write) and let them “get it wrong” along with the adults.  It’s powerful for them to see adults getting it wrong the same way they do and when they hear the explanation it is meaningful that adults and children can both be wrong in the same way.

Plus, it’s kinda a game, which makes it fun.  Good family home evening lesson, but I’d cut off after the reveal as he kinda goes anti-religion after he explains what confirmation bias is.

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Leadership and data conference notes

Recently I attended a great multi-industry conference.  A few things speakers said impacted me.  They are included here without spin, but simply allowing the reader to take the context of LDS leadership in connection with the quotes.

“To solve any problem that has never been solved before, you have to leave the door to the unknown ajar” – Richard Feynman

“Blockbuster was doing location analysis so that one of their stores would be less than 10 miles than anyone in the U.S. while Netflix was being released.  Sometimes not changing can be even riskier than taking risks”

Information is a powerful political component.  Individuals in an organization can wield power over others in the same business with the word: “classified”.
If you steal a pencil from the company you can get fired, but if you withhold information you get promoted. Yet the latter can undermine the business and cost millions.

“Letting go of Control is a true sign of leadership”

Hording information may have been successful in the past, but it is negatively impacting business today.

Having doubt is healthy.  We wouldn’t look for more information or bather to seek/ask questions if there were no doubts.

All new discovery is driven by doubting something

The most frightening people (in leadership especially) are the ones who have no doubts.  Because no matter how wrong they are, they will never know it and they cannot be reasoned with

Predators only partner with other predators, not with prey, such as lambs.  If they are not willing to be equal with you, odds are they see you as the lamb on the dinner table.

Hate is gained as much by good works as by evil ones – Marchiavelli

It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver – Marchiavelli

If you find yourself always donning a superhero cape to save someone else from a fire, odds are they see you as a dove; which means you are also on the dinner table

If you share more information that your peers, odds are you are also prey, not a predator.

And finally:

Data is the enemy of belief.  When data challenges a person they move from the intellectual to the emotional response.

Doubt is not to be feared, it is to be welcomed as the possibility of a new potential. If you know that you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation. – Richard Feynman

Posted in Church Finances, Current issues | 3 Comments

The risk of being a Mormon

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I think most members of the LDS faith are Risk Averse.  They are not likely to gamble, they seek steady employment, and generally try to have stable families.

And I don’t think that is by accident.  Much of the church’s philosophies push risk out to after death, or to say that one needs not fear, things are in God’s hands.

And I think this lack of appetite for risk exposes itself as an individual leaves the church. Let me explain

If I were to ask a member how sure they were the church was true they would probably say they were 100% sure.  That is to say, there is no risk that they have made a bad choice.  They might express this as

“I know the church is true”

However, if one talks about any of the details of church history they are less sure.  Even some current doctrines can be skipped over or be less concrete in their minds.  Is Coke against the word of wisdom?

“Didn’t president Monson say it was Okay?  I hear he drinks Pepsi and that is like coke, sometimes I drink a Mountain Dew, I like it better, but not coffee because it is a hot drink, but hot chocolate is okay”

When members learn more about Joseph Smith or church history, they essentially take on more risk.  It’s like doing research in the prospectus for your 401k and not just throwing money from your paycheck into the 401k each month.  “Is Joseph Smith Jr. a good investment”.

And each historical item; Kinderhook plates, 33+ wives without telling Emma, Anachronisms in the Book of Mormon, etc. call into question the risk amount there is for following Joseph.

A member may go through periods where they are 50% sure their investment in the LDS church is sound.  Exmormons sometimes make the statement

I am more sure today that the church is not true, than I ever was that it was true

Under what context would this statement make sense?  Well now they’ve done their homework, they’ve read the prospectus, and decided to move their investments to another location.  They are still Risk Averse; trying to find stability, they just found the church is not as stable as it claims.

Dieter Uchtdorf framed the question as

“One should doubt one’s doubts, before one doubts one’s faith”

But once we see the situation as “appetite for risk” this statement (Stolen from a 1920’s Christian Minister by the way) becomes almost ludicrous:

One should remain constant in an investment, even as more risk appears

Imagine you have a portfolio of stocks in the banking industry in 2007.  You look at the earnings ratio, you look at the reserves.  Something doesn’t add up.  But instead of pulling out; you doubt your doubts, and continue to invest.  By 2008, you are a poor person.

Each of us is going to have a financial crisis.  We are going to die.  The question should be “Can the church provide salvation after death for me?”  Given there is little evidence for it, and so many questions about their story and moments were the balances on the books don’t seem to match the actual reserves, a risk averse person should LEAVE the church.

But they don’t; and this is why the Essays and such are so difficult on members.  They want to be Risk Averse.  They are trying to maintain stability; but leaving the church carries with it an immense quantity of “unknown”  It is a challenge.  And so it becomes easier to refuse thinking about the risk; and to fall back on the concept that  “one knows that the investment is sound”.

Maybe the investment is sound, maybe it isn’t.  But it is worth reading the prospectus to figure out; rather than to pretend the risk doesn’t exist.

Similarly, I think the common factor in people I found on my mission is that they were all risk averse; and learned to see the church as a safe investment.

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Breaking Bias

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At my work we had a seminar about Breaking bias by Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson.  And if there is one thing all Exmormons know about it’s coping with bias.  We have it.  Our loved ones have it.  And we are aware that most the time we aren’t aware of what our biases are.

I can’t share the actual lecture but I can post some of her work that states the same or similar things:

An interesting bits from the lecture:

  1. Diversity improves teams performance.  Again, science shows that the LDS hierarchy model is sub-optimal (But homogeneous teams think the do better).  One can see this in how all the temples in the world got herbal tea after the 12 added Uchtdorf.  It wasn’t forbidden by the word of wisdom before, but it wasn’t served onsite either (even though a lot of people in Europe and around the world would prefer it).  A little diversity improved the church generally.
  2. Brains are all biased.  Having a brain means you have bias.
  3. The upshot is that one needs to classify bias
  4. The public at large is become more and more aware of bias. But this can backfire.  Knowing everyone is biased tends to push people to “Give permission” to themselves to be biased.
  5. Identical Resumes sent out; with only names altered (Stereotypically white/black names); what they found was white names got 50% more follow-up calls.

How to deal with Bias:

The problem with unconscious bias is that just like your pancreas unconsciously makes insulin and that no matter how much you learn about a pancreas, you cannot increase your insulin production simply by thinking about because it is unconscious.

So the answer is to find strategies to break bias without consciously needing to notice the bias.

First for all bias you must:

  1. Accept that your brain is biased
  2. Label the bias
  3. Mitigate the bias

4 types of bias (COST model)  – Each type of bias has methods that work, but the same method will not work for the others.

  • Corner cutting – Mental shortcuts and rules of thumb Replace systematic, reflective thinking (In the church, for example “I know the church is true” replaces thinking about what PARTS of the church are true.  Knowing Joseph Smith is a prophet let’s one know that Thomas S. Monson is also a prophet shortcuts the entire succession crisis)

Real world example:  A bat and a ball together cost $1.10.  IF the bat costs $1 more than the ball, how much is the ball? The quick answer is $0.10.  It’s very available.. but after thinking you have to think more to get to the right answer is $0.05.  More than 50% of Harvard and Princeton students get this problem wrong.

Mitigate this bias –  Slow down.  Get all the information.  Review the whole picture

  • Objectivity – The bias that we believe what we see is all there is.  That one has all the information about what is involved on a topic or subject.  This is not true for anyone.  These come up the most during resource decisions (Spending)

ExampleEven if you know the shades are the same, you’ll still see different shades of grey.

Mitigation Strategy – Slowing it down doesn’t help here.  Solicit different opinions from other perspectives.  Lincoln’s team of rivals.  If you cannot find another perspective; imagine someone who would have a different perspective and try to see how they would see the situation.

  • Self projection – Innate tendency to protect self and in-group and be wary of outsiders

Example – When viewing individuals experience pain; we only have activity in our empathy portion of the brain of people who are similar to us (white participants viewing white individuals in pain, Asian viewing Asians.  Even though they all reported consciouly thinking the pain was the same.  The problem is that this “Empathy portion of the brain” is very correlated with whether we will help others who are in trouble.

Mitigation strategy – Find similarities.  Once one finds ways these people are similar to them the empathy is connected.  This is one reason “N7″ badges work.  One knows the other person had played Mass Effect, and instantly there is empathy created.  They are part of the “in” group.  People in IT can group together against other areas in the organization because they have this kind of empathy for each other.  Helping them find similarities with marketing or finance can help break down this bias (and vice versa for other groups)

  • Time/money – We misread time and money issues because of negativity and proximity issues.

Detecting threat is easier than detecting reward.  It causes us to be more cautious and risk-averse.

Proximity means that we care more about what is going on right around us, but in a global economy that might not be the biggest issue.

Example: This money today or triple the amount tomorrow, most people will take the larger amount of money tomorrow.  But if it’s next month; they don’t take it.

Mitigation Strategy – Take yourself out of the equation.  “What would the new guy do replacing me?”  Might shut down the less effective projects because they haven’t sunk time and effort into them.  Would someone who had never heard of the church start by paying a full tithe, or might they test by paying 0, paying a small amount, paying the full amount and evaluate whether there was a noticeable impact?

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Mathematical proof the church is wrong about marriage

Campaign for the animated MMM here: DONATE

Marrying young and early is not as successful a method as what is presented.  Whether or not any two people CAN live together, happiness is better predicted by mathematics.  Also bonus on how to prevent divorce (Same thing as avoiding a nuclear war):


LDS church statement that any two people can make a marriage work:

LDS take on Divorce:

LDS advice on marriage and dating:

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Extra History treatment of the Mountain Meadows Massacre

I dreamed a crazy dream. That we could animate a discussion of the Historical event: “The Mountain Meadows Massacre”. A third party has accepted the challenge to do this for a reasonable price.


Explanation of common questions here:

I know that some people will have reservations about the medium(Why animation?)

Last time we ran the billboard campaign, a lot of people stated they wanted something that was internet friendly, could be shared with family, or could reach the younger audience.

I think this fits all three. It’s independent, which gives it credibility. One could send them the “Punic wars” episode, and be reasonably sure that if they enjoyed that episode; they’d keep watching and hit the MMM episode along the way.

And seeing how these guys dealt with the massive death and destruction of the Punic wars, or the start of WWI in a serious and yet non-gorey manner, made me think they were the perfect ones to make the Mountain Meadows Massacre accessible

Others will want to know about the cost ($5,000)

If they charged $100 / hour for animation (A fairly reasonable rate, I think the average is $80, but the math is easier at $100) this would be about 50 hours, or just over a weeks worth of work. I know the historian puts in a lot more hours than this on each project so just on the history research alone we’re getting a deal.

Couldn’t we do something more effective

I know everyone has an idea how to get reach, and ya know, I’m okay with trying other ideas. But I took a risk, and called these guys with the idea, and they were open to it. I’m guessing that in 5 years, when they have done 30+ episodes this would cost twice as much. It was a chance to get in on the ground floor with a project and get a good price so I jumped.

This doesn’t mean we can’t do other campaigns and other projects, it’s just one more project.

How do we know you won’t just run off with the money?

Ya know, I did do this once before and didn’t run off with the money. In addition, I hope the time and effort I’ve already put into this shows my passion for this project. I want this to happen, so why would I run off with money if I want the project to happen?

In addition, if we don’t make the $5000 in 45 days; everyone gets their money back.

Why pick the Mountain Meadows Massacre? Wouldn’t animations of Joseph Smith humping all of his wives or something make more sense?

Possibly, but this is something that non-members can get behind as well. The atheist groups/sub-reddits can see that this has merit; artistically and historically. Silly animations mocking Mormonism can be done by a broader audience. Something a little more serious with credibility is worth taking the time and doing here.

Okay, I want to donate, but I don’t have much/I don’t know how/etc.

It’s simple, simply click on the link click the button. Any dollar amount helps. Last time the majority of contributions were under $20 (With one huge $1000 contribution at the end, thank you thank you thank you to the giver).

Seriously, anything helps

I just gave my last penny to /u/Kolobot[1] [+8] for the CES letter

That’s fine. I understand. That’s also a fine project. There are many things you can do with your money. This is volunteer, and all I can do is say thank you and try to fulfill.

I live in another country and gave $500, can I still do the lunch

I’m torn on this. Odds are I don’t have money to fly out to wherever just for a lunch. But I’d be happy to get a skype-lunch together of individuals and still have the conversation. I know, that’s lame, but that’s the best thought I had on people who are remote.

I want to give but don’t want the perk

That’s fine, just wave the perk when you donate

I want to give but not through this system

That’s fine, just send money to the paypal account @ MithrynAds at

Thank you to anyone who considers giving. I hope this is a great project that helps reach individuals who otherwise know little about this point in history.

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The Church is True… which Church?

Someone proposed an idea that caught my fancy.  When members say “The Church is True” the question “Which church, the one Joseph Restored or the modern one”? can be baffling for members.  And yet the two are very very different religions.   Here is a list of changes that one /could/ wave away by stating “it was changed by revelation” but for which the member would need to cite the revelation that allowed the change for each one; as I haven’t found a revelation for anything mentioned here:

Joseph’s Day
1) New Scripture is added by prophet from ancient records continuously
2) Prophet and seer is defined by ownership and use of a seerstone.  It is displayed and used regularly
3) 12 Apostles, Prophet and first presidency are not apostles.  “First and Second Elder” are positions
4) First Vision referred to Angel Moroni or Nephi’s visit
5) Council of the Fifty handled political matters
6) New revelations and changes to doctrine announced by prophet
7) Common Consent is able to over rule even the prophet’s counsel and revelation. Sustaining is more like a vote.
8) Black people are forbidden from ever holding the priesthood in a series of revelations and speeches.  Black people not from Africa can hold priesthood anyway (Samoa)
9) Polygamy is required in this life to enter celestial kingdom.  3 wife minimum is taught enough that it is talked about all the way to Heber J. Grant
10) Word of Wisdom is optional.  Joseph drank alcohol, kept a bar, drank coffee, and wine the morning he was killed.  Pioneers took coffee at Brigham’s demand
11) One quorum of seventy
12) Bishops paid out of tithing for full time work until 1920.  Missions are not paid
13) Speculation and debate happen at general conference, including arguments
14) Saints are learning new information constantly from the prophet including locations of lost 10 tribes, and space travel
15) Tithing was based on “Interest” not on income. Wealthier paid more, poor paid less
16) Tithing and offerings stayed in stakes were donated
17) Gifts of the spirit were manifested openly in meetings (Speaking in tongues, for example)
18) Wine used for sacrament
19) Women promised to have their own priesthood
Modern Day
* New scripture is no longer translations of ancient records Seerstone is locked in vault.
* Becoming a prophet is defined by length of church service and decisions by Quorum of the 12
*15 apostles, Prophet and first presidency MUST have been apostles
* First Vision refers to Father and Son in Sacred Grove in 1820
* Apostles or PR department speak off the cuff
PR Department handles release of new doctrine
* Everyone raises their hand to sustain, very few times does anyone oppose.  If they do it is ignored.
* Black people are given priesthood through secret meeting.  Revelation is never published.  Official declaration mentions revelation but does not cite it.
* Polygamy can be in the next life (which is contrary to Brigham’s statements on the matter).  Maybe the flaming sword was just for show?
* Word of Wisdom required for temple attendance.  Church does not admit to owning wineries in St. George, or owning majority of State Liquor licenses
* 5 quorums of the seventy
* Bishops and Stake presidents are not paid.  Mission President and above are paid
* Every talk is correlated being changed in post-script if the talk varies from approved topics
* Lessons are the same 72 correlated topics year after year after year. Prophet rarely says new things
* Tithing based on income 10% of gross a lot more for poor and less of a percentdisposable income for wealthy
* Tithing is all sent to Church Headquarters
*Gifts of the spirit freak members out. Limited to testimony baring and maybe some healing in the home (not by wome
* Water used for sacrament
* Women excommunicated for asking about priesthood
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Mormons and War

A sociology student felt overwhelmed about having to write a paper for their capstone and wanting to do something on the topic of the church.  I put forward an idea that bugged me for a long time:   How did the church go from wanting to succeed from the union in 1857; to being so pro-U.S. military as to be able to alter the torture regulations and write the torture script for the CIA?

Well, the student jumped on the idea, asking if I would do the research on the Mormon history side.  I did.  And that paper exists here.

Or here:

My personal summary is a bit more inflammatory than her conclusion I think.  I think it is because members have been trained to follow the prophet no matter what he says; so if he says to go to war, they do, and if he says to not go, they don’t.  Indeed, I think that comes out towards the end when Hinkley’s support for the Iraq war is perceived as wavering in the final paragraphs of the papaer.

Regardless, we have submitted this paper to Sunstone, and I hope it is accepted.  It’s a great topic and definitely worth exploring.

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