You might have once had someone give you a backhanded compliment. A child once told me I looked great for being so old (This is when I was 18, by the way), and although it’s nice for the compliment, the bad part of the compliment sucks the enjoyable nature from the positive expressly stated.
The LDS church encourages learning like a backhanded compliment. We’ll call it “Backhanded learning”. For example it encourages study out of the “Best books” but then gives talks that the “best books” are all about the LDS church and should be read with faith. It has scripture that the “Glory of God is Intelligence” but then redefines “intelligences” to be the particulate matter used to create spirit in other scriptures. The school has a University of Higher Learning but the motto is “Enter to learn, go forth to serve“, not lead, not because learning is important in its own regard, but to serve. Now serving one’s fellow man is good and all, but when I attended, there were a few devotionals that made clear that serving the church was the intended idea.
And so it is difficult to point out thought control in the church because so rarely it comes in the form of a figure saying “Don’t think”, but through the “backhanded learning” style of “Learn only what we want you to learn. As such here is the timeline of Backhanded learning and direct thought control:
1828 – Martin Harris alters Anthon’s words about translating a sealed book are altered to spin the story to match scripture. The actual words of the professor are not shared with members.
1828, June – Martin Harris borrows the 116 pages. Lucy Harris hides the manuscript and challenges Joseph to re-translate them as a simple test, as Martin was going to mortgage their house and farm to pay for the publication and had already given Joseph money. Through revelation, Lucy Harris is called an evil woman and Joseph claims an entirely separate book is included, written ~1200 years earlier simply to avoid this woman’s simple test D&C 10:9-13. God clearly is against simple academic tests and is willing to expend enormous amounts of effort of his followers (including lugging extra plates across a continent, writing a story twice, extra gold working, etc.) to get around them.
Apr 12, 1838 – Cowdery competed with Smith for leadership of the new church and “disagreed with the Prophet’s economic and political program and sought a personal financial independence [from the] Zion society that Joseph Smith envisioned.” Then too, in March 1838, Smith and Rigdon moved to Far West, which had been under the presidency of W. W. Phelps and Cowdery’s brothers-in-law, David and John Whitmer. There Smith and Rigdon took charge of the Missouri church and initiated policies that Cowdery, Phelps, and the Whitmers believed violated the separation of church and state. Finally, in January 1838, Cowdery wrote his brother Warren that he and Smith “had some conversation in which in every instance I did not fail to affirm that which I had said was strictly true. A dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger’s was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deserted from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself.” Alger, a teenage maid living with the Smiths, may have been Smith’s first plural wife, a practice that Cowdery opposed. Excommunication of Oliver Cowdery(Bushman, “Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling,” 124; Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2004), 548. Hymns were sung about “Though Cowdery say it was not so” even though Cowdery did not dissuade anyone from the Book of Mormon. Preparing against such an attack that never happened is an anti-intellectual approach, known as “Poisoning the Well”
1832 – Fanny Alger transaction One of Joseph Smith’s first experiments with adultery began with a teen-age girl named Fanny Ward Alger who worked in the Smith home as a maidservant. William E. McLellin, Mormon Apostle, indicated that Emma Smith “looked through a crack and saw the transaction” in the barn. (Richard Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History,2nd edition, Signature Books, 1989, pp. 4-11) The modern essays classify this as an early plural marriage despite it occurring years before the sealing power would be given. Oliver Cowdery would leave the church and say it was a “dirty, nasty, filthy affair.” General membership would not be informed of the prophet’s “transgression”, and when Fawn Brodie wrote about it in the 1950’s she would be excommunicated. This remains one of the key pieces of “learning” that members are told not to learn, or ignore the facts directly by the church throughout the church’s history
1839 – Joseph’s instruction to the Twelve in was that above all else, “do not betray your Friend.” He frequently reminded members that they should honor friendships above all else even to death.
1840s, Reported in 1886 – Joseph Smith institutionalized the practice of lying, so church leaders could deny the practice of taking multiple wives and keep Smith out of legal trouble.
Sober-faced lies permitted leaders to deceive with a clear conscience; believing that God permitted and even encouraged lying to protect the principle of plural marriage.
An article from the 1886 Deseret News listed the code words and the rationale for their use. When accused of practicing “polygamy” Joseph and Hyrum denied it because it was different than “celestial “marriage” and “a plurality of wives.” Polygamy was after all, a doctrine of men and the devil. “Celestial marriage” was different Smith reasoned, because it was a holy doctrine revealed by God. Joseph wanted followers to believe that the two terms were completely dissimilar. Other code words were, “eternal marriage,” “the divine order of marriage,” “Holy order of marriage,” “living up to your privileges,” “new and everlasting covenant,” and “a different view of things.”
If accusers did not frame their allegations using precisely the right terms, the leaders felt justified in prevaricating. If the accusers framed their words perfectly, the leaders lied anyway. Their view was that it was more important to live the higher law ? loyalty to the Prophet ? than to expose the truth to Gentiles. A prominent feature of Mormonism is that loyalty trumps honesty. (Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippets Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, p. 113. See also B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage, University of Illinois Press, 1992, p. 365.) Emma Smith, wife of Joseph Smith, Valeen Tippetts Avery and Linda King Newell were blacklisted from speaking in church meetings.
1841, Oct – 2013 – Polyandry is practiced by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young but this fact is not published in official church instructional manuals. In 2013 the first acknowledgement of this practice on LDS.org in the Essay “Polygamy in Nauvoo” was made (Mormon Polygamy, p. 45)
1842 – Sarah Pratt claims Zeruiah Goddard signed a false statement vilifying her. It was added to other slanderous and libelous statements as part of a smear campaign against Sarah when she refused advances by church leadership.
1842, April 9 – Joseph proposes polygamy to Nancy Rigdon in a letter. Orson Hyde attempted character assassination before the High Priests Quorum of Nancy. All in all it is quite the case of backhanded learning.
“That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said, ‘Thou shalt not kill’; at another time He said, ‘Thou shalt utterly destroy.’ This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.”
1842, May 3 – Joseph Smith introduces the “Nauvoo Endowment”. It includes promises made before one is aware of what is promising.
1842, Aug – The Times and Seasons published an article defending Joseph as not being polygamous.
“… We declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband. We know of no other rule or system of marriage.”
Many of those who signed the declaration of monogamy were secretly practicing polygamy. Joseph had taught Bennett the principle, and the signatories knew it. (Mormon Enigma, p. 128)
Jun 10, 1842 – Destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, which stated factual information about Joseph’s polygamous activities. This is a blatant attempt at thought control via control of the press. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nauvoo_Expositor
1843 – D&C 132 is given to Joseph at Hyrum’s request. The revelation states that first wife had to first give her consent in order for her husband to take another wife; however, Emma Smith was unaware of nearly all of Joseph’s “marriages” to other women. Eliza Snow, secretary to Emma in the Relief Society organization, as well as Sarah Cleveland, Emma’s counselor, who was legally married to John Cleveland, were secretly married to Joseph, and Emma knew nothing about the marriages. According to Newell and Avery, “To live as a secret wife to a friend’s husband demanded evasion, subterfuge, and deception.” (Mormon Enigma, p. 119)
1843, Oct 19 – Joseph privately told William Clayton
“they raise trouble about it [A plural wife] and bring you before me I will give you an awful scourging and probably cut you off from the church and then I will baptize you and set you ahead as good as ever.” (William Clayton journal, Oct. 19, 1843)
She wanted Emma to ask Joseph “if the rumors were true. Was “spiritual wifery” a doctrine of the church?” Emma asked and relayed Joseph’s answer. Vienna reported, “he, [Joseph] had told her [Emma] to tell the sisters of the [Women’s Relief] society…”the whole idea was absolutely false and the doctrine an evil and unlawful thing.” Joseph was secretly practicing plural marriage at the time. (Mormon Enigma, p. 114)
1848-1851 – Orson Pratt publishes a set of tracts that deny polygamy.
- Divine Authority, or the Question, Was Joseph Smith Sent of God? (1848)
- The Kingdom of God (1848-1849)
- Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon (1850-1851)
Once Brigham admitted to polygamy being practiced, Orson Pratt was told to give a speech at a special missionary conference in 1852 admitting he deliberately misled his listeners. He did not consider this to be lying. It was done to protect a law higher than man’s misguided laws.Following the meetings he was assigned by Brigham Young to publish in Washington, D.C., a periodical in defense of plural marriage. The twelve-month run of The Seer in 1853 provides the most detailed defense of the doctrine in LDS literature.
1850 – In a well-publicized debate between John Taylor and a Protestant minister in 1850, John Taylor denied that the Mormons practiced polygamy. At the time, he was the husband of multiple wives. (Solemn Covenant, p. 367)
1853, April 1 – Not an April fools joke, Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, and Erastus Snow argued that polyandry, like prostitution, led to disease, reduced fertility, and confused paternity: despite that Orson’s wife being proposed to by Joseph leading to him writing a suicide note and Brigham’s being engaged in Polyandry with Zina Peterson that Joseph also shared in Polyandry and Erastus Snow being aware of Joseph’s behaviors in this matter (Journal of Discourses, 1:361, 18:55-56, 19:270
See also Orson Pratt, “Celestial Marriage,” The Seer 1 (April 1853) : 60;
1852, Jan 16 – Brigham Young formally instituted the ban on priesthood to males with African blood. In an address before the territorial legislature on , Wilford Woodruff recorded that Brigham said that persons having
“one drop of the seed of [Cain]…in him cannot hold the priesthood and if no other Prophet ever spake it before I will say it now…”
The current Essay “Race and the Priesthood” says that it the ban was never doctrine and no one knows why it was instituted.
Aug 1856 – Smith dictated the history of the church to a scribe but was killed before completing the project. Brigham Young required the historians to write it as though Joseph wrote it. Sixty percent of the history was written after his death. (Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1971, pp. 466, 469, 470, 472) In the middle of the 20th century after the deception was pointed out by critics, the church admitted it.
1857, Sept 11 – Mountain Meadows Massacre. Shortly after Apostles Amasa Lyman and George A. Smith accused members who wanted to honestly testify to the facts of the case of stooping “to betray and expose their brethren into the hands of their enemies.” (Solemn Covenant, p. 367)
1885– David Whitmer says BOM translated via Peepstone in an interview with Zenas H. Gurley, States clearly that Smith gave the Interpreters back to an angel and used a peep stone or “Seers Stone” to translate the Book of Mormon; one that he had found while digging a well. It was an ordinary rock but Smith claimed it gave him the ability to see buried treasure. (The Changing World of Mormonism, pp. 80-83) This wouldn’t be admitted to general membership until 2015, and to Church education teachers it was taught in 1985, 100 years of misleading teachings at least.
1887 – David Whitmer publishes about revisionist revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. He considered the original revelations to be God-inspired. He questioned the revised revelations which coincidentally granted all power and authority to Smith. (Letter written by David Whitmer, published in the Saints’ Herald, February 5, 1887)
1890’s – The church tried to answer the criticism of opponents that a theocracy existed in Utah and church leaders controlled all elections. So leaders instructed members to pretend to align with different political parties. George Q. Cannon was asked about the degree of honesty in this strategy. He said that the potential political gains that could be achieved made sincerity irrelevant in this case. (Solemn Covenant, p. 372) The Manifesto of 1890 is issued.
1895 – Abraham Cannon’s diary records that Amasa Lyman, of the First presidency under Joseph Smith, related, ‘Joseph Smith tried the faith of the Saints many times by his peculiarities. At one time, he had preached a powerful sermon on the Word of Wisdom, and immediately thereafter, he rode through the streets of Nauvoo smoking a cigar. This story is not in any manual or anywhere on LDS.org and yet has interesting implications about a temple interview question. (“Joseph Smith as an Administrator,” Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University, May 1969, p. 161. Quotation found in The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 31)
1897, Jan 10 – Charles W. Penrose, Apostle and Counselor to two Presidents of the Church, admitted that after Joseph Smith’s death, certain facts about him were purposely withheld from church publications “for prudential reasons.” (Charles William Penrose Diaries, 10 Jan. 1897, Charles William Penrose Collection, UHi)
(1903-1907) – Smoot hearings Members are encouraged to lie to the Federal Government, including Joseph F. Smith stating he never had any revelation other than the truth of the Book of Mormon under oath. A cartoon reading of Joseph F. Smith trying to deceive the government on what companies he is over illustrates the issue. Current members are not encouraged or taught about the wide-spread deception used to try and get political power in the standard manuals and lessons.
1904 – Church leaders attempted to persuade Anthony W. Ivins to sign an affidavit that they knew to be categorically untrue. Being a rare LDS man of conscience, Ivins refused to sign it. The purpose of the document was to certify that no plural marriages occurred in Mexico after the Manifesto. Most members are unaware that church leaders pressured others to lie. (Solemn Covenant, p. 257) The modern Essay on Post-Manifesto polygamy mentions Ivins and that marriages happened to 3 out of 12 apostles post Manifesto leaving Wilford Woodruff’s additional marriage as a question, bolstering that this was something hidden from members
1938 – Janice Kapp Perry writes “A Child’s Prayer” in which the first verse has a child asking if God is there, and the answer is given not by God, but by the parent. This song of questioning God and having the superiors answer in his stead telling us to believe is a pretty good metaphor for the method of the LDS church
1945 – “No man Knows my History” by Fawn Brodie, Niece of the prophet David O. Mckay, published
Early 1946 – The Improvement Era, an official periodical of the Church, said that many of the book’s citations arose from doubtful sources and that the biography was “of no interest to Latter-day Saints who have correct knowledge of the history of Joseph Smith.” The “Church News” section of the Deseret News had a lengthy critique: it praised the biography’s “fine literary style” and denounced it as “a composite of all anti-Mormon books that have gone before.” This news piece was turned into a missionary tract.
1946, May – Fawn Brodie Excommunicated, Her work would be the founding point for many of the LDS Essays currently available on LDS.org as researchers like Todd Compton would use her claims of polygamy as a starting point for their own research, either to confirm or deny her claims.
1958 – Bruce R. McConkie publishes Mormon Doctrine, which is not official doctrine. In it, he calls the Journal of Discourses “unofficial doctrine”. However, the Journal of Discourses calls itself scripture. Ambiguity reigns for the next 44 years until the Church Website quotes Mormon Doctrine’s position on the Journal of Discourses (See entry for 2012). The book has been out of print since 2010.
1964 – Leonard Arrington,who would become official LDS Church Historian 6 years later and serve for nearly a decade (1972-1982) lamented the suppression of truthful Mormon history in favor of a faith promoting version.
1966 – D. Michael Quinn’s Talk “On Being A Mormon Historian” in which he urges the church authorities to be more open in telling the entire history of the church, without coloring it. Rather than follow his advice, the church excommunicated him.
“It is unfortunate for the cause of Mormon history that the Church Historian’s Library, which is in the possession of virtually all of the diaries of leading Mormons, has not seen fit to publish these diaries or to permit qualified historians to use them without restriction.” (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1966, p. 26)
1969, May – Hugh B Brown gives a speech warning of thought suppression within the church:
“We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts. One may memorize much without learning anything.” https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V17N01_79.pdf
1976 – Elder Ezra Taft Benson defined true historical accuracy as “slander and defamation.” He warned Church Education System (CES) employees and historians about trying to “inordinately humanize the prophets of God.” He further commanded CES employees,
“If you feel you must write for the scholarly journals, you always defend the faith.”
Up until 1978 – The church’s official position on blacks and the priesthood was that it was a doctrine revealed to Joseph Smith by the Lord. For decades missionaries issued this standard message when answering investigators’ questions. There is no evidence that Joseph Smith ever received a revelation denying black Africans the priesthood. On the contrary, Elijah Abel, a black man, was ordained a Seventy, and Joseph likely permitted the ordination of at least one other black member to the Mormon priesthood. (Lester E. Bush Jr. Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical View, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Volume 8, No. 1, Spring 1973)
Aug 1979 – President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency wrote a message in the Ensign that stated emphatically,
“When the prophet speaks the debate is over.”
1980 – The Equal Rights Amendment, seeking to make everyone equal regardless of gender, is declared by Spencer W. Kimball to
“… strike at the family, humankinds, and basic institution”
The organization did not end its involvement with the prophet speaking against the amendment, but also contributed dollars and volunteers
“In just two days, California Mormons alone contributed close to $13,000 [to the anti-ERA campaign]. A Florida Church leader, explaining how efficiently the [telephone tree] system works, said: ‘The structure exists where I can make 16 calls, and by the end of the day, 2,700 people will know something.” (Linda Cicero, “Mormon Money Worked Against Florida’s ERA,” Miami Herald, April 20, 1980, p. A1)
But it wasn’t just the men who fought against equal pay for women in jobs, following the leadership:
“The publicity also served to draw more Latter-day Saint women into political activity. When a state legislature’s agenda included possible ratification of the ERA (or rescission of an earlier ratification), Relief Society women became involved.” (Derr, Cannon, and Beecher, Women of the Covenant, p. 368)
1981 – A speech by Boyd K. Packer, discusses how obeying leaders is far more important than accurate history to the teachers of the youth in the church education system.
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. – Boyd K. Packer
1982 – Historian Leonard Arrington demoted and transferred from the church historians office to BYU because of his refreshing honesty; he was a threat to the faith promoting history the church insisted he support (Deseret News, Church Section, July 5, 1980)
1984 – Mormon Enigma published Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, Prophet’s Wife, “Elect Lady,” Polygamy’s Foe. The Church seeks to bury it, denying it from being sold at Deseret Book, and having apostles speak out against the book
1985 – Studies of the Book of Mormon by BH Roberts had been published earlier in the year with some alleging that the Church attempted to suppress publication. That summer, Gordon B. Hinckley called out the scholars that were
“poking into all the crevices of our history, ferreting out little things of small import and magnifying them into great issues of public discussion.”
1985, Aug. 16 – Mormon Apostle Dallin Oaks said,
…It’s one thing to criticize the head of a corporation of person in government but “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, “Reading Church History,” CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium, Brigham Young University, 16 Aug. 1985, p. 25. Also see Dallin H. Oaks, “Elder Decries Criticism of LDS Leaders,” quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday August 18, 1985, p. 2B.)
1986, Jan – “Truth—and More,” Elder Nelson solemnly warns
“anyone who, because of ‘truth,’ may be tempted to become a dissenter against the Lord and his anointed.” (The Ensign, Truth and More, January 1986.)
1986 – Apostle Russell M. Nelson says,
“Indeed, in some instances, the merciful companion to truth is silence. Some truths are best left unsaid….Any who are tempted to rake through the annals of history, to use truth unrighteously, or to dig up “facts” with the intent to defame or destroy, should hearken to this warning of scripture:”
He then quoted from the Romans 1:17-18 a threat to the ungodly to beware of the wrath of God. (Russell M. Nelson, “Truth-and More,” Ensign, Jan. 1986, p. 69)
1991 – Juanita Brooks publishes The Mountain Meadows Massacre, Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1991. It details the church’s distortion of history is its long cover-up of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
1991, Oct 23 – Paul H. Dunn prints an open letter in the Church News confessing that he, in his capacity as an apostle and general authority, told tall tales and passed them off as spiritual stories. Mr. Dunn is not excommunicated, but had an ambiguous “Heavy penalty”. The church continues to decry Jarald and Sandra Tanner, exmormons who exposed Paul H. Dunn’s lies.
Spring 1993 – Despite assurance from Elders James E. Faust and Russell M. Nelson that files kept on members of the church are not secret, requests by several members to see their own files are denied. (Anderson, Vol. 26 No. 1 Spring 1993, Dialogue, p. 50)
1992, Aug 16 – Former BYU professor David Knowlton, in a television interview that aired , (KXVS, Channel 4) in Salt Lake, said,
“I’m ashamed, frankly, of a church that doesn’t want to tell the truth. I’m ashamed of institutional lying.”
Spring 1993 – Employees were instructed not to buy journals and books and periodicals from “known apostates, or other liberal sources.” Finally, he commanded CES employees to keep those same materials off their office bookshelves. (Lavina Fielding Anderson, “The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology.” Vol. 26 No. 1 Spring 1993, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, p. 11)
1993, Sep – Six prominent members are excommunicated or disfellowshipped presumably for unorthodox teaching. Opening class by praying to Heavenly Mother, or being gay and researching history when one is a church historian are examples of activities the individuals state that stake presidents talked to them about preceding the excommunication. Just before the October general conference, the excommunications were made more public by the Salt Lake Tribune covering their stories
1998, Sep 8 – Hinckley stated that only 2, 3 or maybe 5 percent of Mormons ever participated in the practice of Polygamy (Larry King Live on September 8, 1998). It is more likely that the number is closer to 20 – 30 percent. It’s difficult to measure because in order to retain one’s status as a leader in the church, polygamy was a requirement. For the members in general, the number practicing polygamy varied according to location, but was certainly more than 2, 3, or 5 percent as Hinckley knew. (http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=425)
1999, Oct – In a press conference referring to the newly constructed monument at Mountain Meadows, President Hinckley made the following statement regarding the tragedy:
“Indians and white settlers accompanied by a few Mormons participated in a massacre of the Fancher Wagon Train.”
He also mentioned that the truth about the massacre may never be fully uncovered. This is in direct conflict with all evidence known about the event.
Fall 1998 – A letter to the Editor in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought recounts a man’s experience with leaders’ deception relating to the Adam-God Doctrine. After discovering that the leaders of the church were deliberately deceiving him he asked, “Wasn’t there concern that some might be dismayed and disillusioned by their church leaders’ lack of candor? The Reply:
‘If a few people lose their testimonies over this, so be it; it’s better than letting the true facts be known, and dealing with the probable wider negative consequences to the mission of the church.” (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Volume 31, Number 3, Fall 1998, “Letters to the Editor.”
2004 – Grant Palmer publishes a book detailing how LDS Historians are threatened and sometimes excommunicated if they publish an objective history rather than a faith promoting version (if they are employed for the church). Packer cited above, referred to objective histories of Mormonism as “disease germs.” Most ethical historians regard deliberately inaccurate histories to be disease germs instead. (Ostling, Richard and Joan, Mormon America, pp. 351-370. One Nation Under Gods, Richard Abanes, pp. 417-419.) (See also Grant Palmer andhttp://www.i4m.com/think/grant_palmer.htm)
2006 – Secret handbook for church leaders leaked on wikileaks
2010 – Church historians Marlin Jensen and Richard Turley made an unprecedented trip to Sweden in 2010 to try to resolve concerns of an increasing number of members relating to Church history. Church leader blames historians for historical issues
“Much of what you get about history comes from historians; from the people like me who do the best they can under the circumstances of their time. And then somebody else comes along later, with new discoveries, new documents, and they rewrite it, okay?
So it’s—Don’t put the responsibility on the prophet; put it on ordinary people like me who do the best we know how to do it. But somebody will come along and do it better.”
2012 Oct – Journal of Discourses officially called unofficial on LDS.org
2013 – Elder D. Todd Christofferson said the “expanding access” we have to Church history raises “new questions,” and that it is not “realistic” to expect answers to all of them. He then warns not to “form conclusions based on unexamined assertions or incomplete research,” and admonishes, “Don’t study Church history too little.”
“They sometimes accuse the Church of hiding something because they only recently found or heard about it.”
2014, Jun 23 – Kate Kelly excommunicated for leading “Ordain Women” group asking the leaders to ask God if they could hold priesthood and using history and quotes to support their stance that Women once used and exercised the priesthood alongside men.
2014, Dec – Ensign article addresses doubts Latter-day Saints have from learning about Church history. But it doesn’t attempt to answer the questions. It blames members for not having enough faith in God:
What do we do when doubt seeps into our hearts? Are there really answers to those hard questions? Yes, there are. In fact, all the answers—all the right answers—depend on the answer to just one question: do I trust God above everyone else?”
2015 – Church Public Affairs Head Michael Otterson
“even ‘routine’ news stories cannot be posted without approval from Church Correlation, which has the responsibility to ensure that all Church communications are doctrinally sound and consistent.”
2015, Feb 10– John Dehlin excommunicated. John continues as of the date of publication to run a series of interviews of Mormons, Exmormons and people who are involved in key Mormon events called MormonStories.org. John’s excommunication reason was unclear other than he was speaking publicly about his beliefs, something the church otherwise encourages members to do.
2015, Sept 13 – Russel M. Ballard gives a talk about “asking questions” comparing them to spiritual dangers to 235 Stakes. He compares those to leave to Sequoia trees that were not watered sufficiently, implying that questions that go beyond “simple” will “… eventually listen to false teachers and self-declared prophets and adopt worldly philosophies”
2015 Oct – Church admits in Ensign book of Mormon translated with Seerstone. Blames artists that anyone ever thought otherwise
“Over the years, artists have sought to portray the Book of Mormon translation, showing the participants in many settings and poses with different material objects. Each artistic interpretation is based upon its artist’s own views, research, and imagination, sometimes aided by input and direction from others.”
2016, Oct 24 – Elder Ballard compares YSA church members to sheep and goats pushing them to be more like sheep and not ask questions.
2016, Feb 14 – Jeremy Runnells first excommunication date scheduled for his “Letter to a CES director” asking challenging questions the church still refuses to answer. As of now the court has been postponed indefinitely
2016 – Church schedules an apostle to talk to a youth group at one meeting a week. These televised events include messages informing kids how to look diverse on camera, to move shorter-skirted women to the back and the questions are all screened before hand
Sometime around 2012-2016 – Jesus the Christ, written by James E. Talmage in the temple, part of the “Missionary reference library” and taught to be scripture to missionaries in the 90’s now contains this statement at the beginning
“The work is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church or of Deseret Book Company.”
2016 April 12 – Ballard actively tells members to ignore the internet comparing doing so to looking for medical advice from the internet on his facebook page:
Wise people do not rely on the Internet to diagnose and treat emotional, mental, and physical health challenges, especially life-threatening challenges. Instead, they seek out health experts, those trained and licensed by recognized medical and state boards. Even then, prudent people seek a second opinion.
If that is the sensible course to take in finding answers for emotional, mental, and physical health issues, it is even more so when eternal life is at stake. When something has the potential to threaten our spiritual life, our most precious family relationships, and our membership in the kingdom, we should find thoughtful and faithful individuals to help us. And if necessary, we should ask those with appropriate academic training, experience, and expertise for help.
This is exactly what I do when I need an answer to my own questions that I cannot answer myself. I seek help from my Brethren in the Quorum of the Twelve and from others with expertise in fields of Church history and doctrine.
This is especially funny considering that most of the men who have served as the official “Church Historian” haven’t been professional historians. The most recent Church Historian to actually be a historian was Leonard Arrington. My understanding is that his tenure ended when he started having issues himself (1982).
User Hiking1950 replies:
“I am a healthcare professional. Does he not know that pretty much EVERY available resource is on the internet now? And that most every healthcare professional relies on the internet, for treatment, diagnosis, etc? ALL of my references have switched from books to internet.
2016, April – Uchtdorf characterizes those who leave as lonely, abandoned, trust braking and without integrity and needing to be rebuilt. Gives no leeway for those who left for intellectual or respectful reasons.
2016 Apr 24 – Jeremy Runnells excommunicates church after Stake President refuses to answer any questions (which ignores the requirements in the handbook). “Now is not the time” his stake president responds to him asking questions “Then when is the time” Jeremy begs. Apparently not in this lifetime
“I cannot repent from the Truth. I don’t know how to do that” – Jeremy Runnels
2016, April 22 – Elder L. Whitney Clayton at BYU Commencement
“We should disconnect, immediately and completely, from listening to the proselytizing efforts of those who have lost their faith, and instead reconnect promptly with the holy spirit.”
These are not children, but fully graduated people going into the workforce that he is encouraging to shun, ostracize or disconnect those who may have supported them through their time at BYU, future co-workers, or even each other as closeted non-believers are a thing at BYU. It is dishonest intellectually to encourage learning, but also shunning those who learned anything differently.
Looks like Janice Kapp Perry was born in 1938, but the song is from 1984.
The church will always re-invent itself to meet the challenges of newly discovered true truth (the actual facts!) in order to preserve its own self-proclaimed bogus truthfulness.
Wait! What’s wrong with Talmage’s “Jesus the Christ”? I can understand the Journal of Discourses being too edgy for the modern church what with the various prophets preaching ‘strange ideas’ from the general conference pulpit, but now they’re saying that a man called as “a special witness of Jesus Christ” might not quite know what he’s talking about? The first presidency at the time approved the book for publication, but now it’s not “an official publication of the Church”?
Well then, what about “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” (the old one by Joseph Fielding Smith, not the new “Teachings of the Presidents” one)?
Good stuff. One correction- Juanita Brooks published Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1950 not 1991.
Thank you, the last copywrite in her book was 1991. I took the last, not the first. Thank you.
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Absolutely love your work. Thank you a million times.
Possibly worth adding a section in here about the Salamander Letter episode. Particularly Dallin Oak’s cringe worthy explanation of why Joseph saw a Salamander and subsequently his explanation of how he and Hinckley were sucked in by the fraud. If only they had gifts of seership or revelation to help them!