- Follow up with your investigator on anything they previously committed to. This is a good time to ask them about their personal feelings about God and Jesus Christ. No answer is wrong, it’s good just to listen.
Thank you for having us back. Many individuals, when they have heard the things we have shared, want to know more. Today we’re going to cover further information and research on your own, as well as discuss some steps going forward.
As we share these things with you, we want you to be aware of your feelings as well as what you are thinking. We ask you to consider how you felt about knowing truth when we started, compared to the things we discuss today.
We respect your thoughts and feelings and invite you to share them with us.
Other Points of Research
We’ve only shared with you a handful of issues with the correlated story the church puts forward. There are many, many issues, some of them far more difficult to cope with, than what we have shared in these discussions. We are briefly going to mention a few of these and then invite you to do your own research or investigations. We will also be providing you with some tools to cope with information.
- Note: Many individuals will have done their own research at this point. You can skip any of these points or delve deeper as your own judgement dictates.
The Book of Abraham
Members of the church were doubting if Joseph was a prophet. A man came into Nauvoo with papyri and a pair of Egyptian mummies. The members fetched Joseph Smith and asked him to translate the Egyptian to prove he was still a prophet. Joseph declared that the writings were written by Abraham, by his own hand, upon papyrus. The story of how this book clearly demonstrates that Joseph Smith fraudulently tried to convince the members of the church using these mummies, as well as how mormon scholars tried to cover the fraud, is available in this book.
The Kinderhook Plates
The Kinderhook Plates were another attempt to test if Joseph Smith was a genuine prophet. Men conspired to create false plates and then showed them to Joseph. Joseph declared them to be written by a descendant of Ham. The men then revealed that they had forged them to trick Joseph. Mormon scholars defended Joseph and discussed the plates until scientific processes declared them to be forgeries. Correlated manuals now make no mention of the Kinderhook plates. More information about these can be found here.
When Joseph Smith died, he had no clear successor. Indeed, Joseph had declared that Hyrum would succeed him as well as his own son when his son was of age. But Hyrum died with Joseph, and his son was only nine years old. This led to a crisis with members. The correlated manuals indicate that Brigham was clearly a chosen successor, but there is no contemporary record of such a thing. In fact, there was a statement in the history of the church (“Without the first presidency, there is no quorum of the twelve apostles”) that was changed by two apostles after Brigham Young took over. Almost all statements in manuals about how Joseph said to follow the apostles were made 40-50 years after Joseph died, long after the saints were well established in Utah. That is because Joseph’s son did claim the right to be prophet and the church in the west gathered around him. This church became the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it never believed in polygamy or various other teachings. You can learn more about other branches of the church, including James Strang who lead about 1/4 of the members from Nauvoo, here.
The Church today is a Corporation
Many members believe they belong to a church that continues, unbroken, to the church of Joseph Smith and, in some ways, back to Adam. Very few are aware that the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the church ended in 1890. The legal case can be found here.
The newly formed church that came after this was a corporation set up after the manner of the Vatican. That is, it is a private corporation that owns a non-profit. The tithing donations and other monies collected by the non-profit go directly into the corporation. This corporation owns many, many private companies as we’ve discussed. Understanding that the church ended may change how many members feel about the statement, “I know the church is true,” as the church they are baring witness to isn’t the same organization to which they belong. We don’t feel that someone who doesn’t even know what “the church” is, can really “know” if it is true.
To be a member of the 19th century church was to be liar
In the early days of the church in Utah, the Mormon creed was “To mind your own business.” This creed was printed originally by Joseph Smith himself in the WASP newspaper. The reason for this creed being spread throughout the members was polygamy. Federal Marshals were trying to capture members and prosecute them for this very illegal practice. Wives and children were encouraged to lie, even in court after swearing an oath, to protect their polygamist husbands and fathers. Joseph F. Smith, as prophet, testified that he never had a revelation (except to know the Book of Mormon was true) in the Reed Smoot trials before congress. More about required lying in the 19th century is available here.
Modern lying by General Authorities is documented here.
How we can know truth
It is difficult for members to tell if what many of the things we are saying are based on truth. Sometimes, members believe that sources have been tampered with, such as with Mark Hofmann. Others believe that anything on the internet is a lie. Still others believe that anyone who is not on board with the correlation committee is an evil scheming individual out to destroy the church.
We find solace in the words of Parley P. Pratt in his song “Oh say, what is truth!”:
Oh say, what is truth? ‘Tis the fairest gem That the riches of worlds can produce, And priceless the value of truth will be when The proud monarch’s costliest diadem Is counted but dross and refuse.
Then say, what is truth? ‘Tis the last and the first, For the limits of time it steps o’er. Though the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst, Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst, Eternal, unchanged, evermore.
- Note: You may need to explain that a diadem is a type of crown.
Truth need not hide from evaluation. It is not something we need to be afraid of. Embracing truth brings us happiness, honor, and success.
- Relate a story when truth helped you be more successful.
When considering truth, people who have gone before us have identified common mistakes humans make when trying to ascertain it. They put together a list of these common mistakes, called “fallacies.” Here is one such list.
Many times, conference talks and other talks by leaders use fallacies to lead members to make conclusions.
- Ask your investigator why a true leader might use a known logical mistake to lead followers to a conclusion.
It is, of course, almost impossible to know the historical accuracy of information for sure. Mistakes happen, intentional forgers and con-men exist, and apologists commonly apply bad information or misinformation to confuse issues. But there are some guidelines that can help.
First, learn to identify facts. A historical fact is something that you can touch, see, or read. Whether or not it exists is not in dispute. Some examples of facts are Joseph Smith’s seer stones, that are on display in a museum, or the letters from him to his plural wives. These letters are not really disputed by either sides.
Second, learn to identify bias. A bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternatives. Everyone has biases, but the important thing is to realize a person’s bias and determine how large that bias is. For example, church apologists often claim that ex-mormons attack the church because they are paid well to write books. This attack claims that money has biased the writers. It is important to also note that church apologists are also paid to write books. They also have a bias, and often receive their paychecks from the organization. Biases are important to recognize.
When people around Joseph Smith, who believe him to be a prophet, write something that is shocking to members, these members often ignore those writings. But one should realize the members are biased in favor of Joseph, therefore, the bias should be considered large and in favor of Joseph. Therefore, any fact containing such information should be given heavier weight when considered.
Facts tell stories
When facts are assembled and biases considered, a story emerges. Not all people agree on what the story is to be told. Each of the things we’ve presented is a story based on facts. Even though new science, information, or facts may come forward that may invalidate one of the stories we’ve told, that should not worry or frighten the truth seeker. Holding on to your beliefs when new facts come out is not and endearing quality. One should always be willing to alter the stories, and one’s way of life, when new facts or biases are revealed.
Should You Decide to Leave the Church
- Note: If at any point your investigator decides he/she is done with the church in this or any other discussion, please read them this section.
Many individuals, when they learn about items we’ve talked about, decide to leave the church. In fact, almost as many people leave the church every year as join it. But leaving an organization such as the Mormon church can be very difficult.
The most difficult piece for many people who leave is telling their family. Parents have been trained to believe that it is a personal failure if their children leave. Siblings and even extended family can feel as though a person died if someone announces they are leaving the church. This can strain relationships.
These discussions were written for the purpose of helping family and friends learn, in a very non-threatening way, why you have made your choices. Who do you know that you would like us to share this message with?
- Commitment: Get your investigator to identify people who are the most likely to listen to these discussions.
Sometimes family and friends will not listen, no matter what we do or say. We recommend the following points for sharing with family:
Remember that you are the one who changed: They may accuse you of changing, attack your new beliefs, or insult you. Remember that you did change and accept this. Let them know you still love and respect them.
Put your relationship with your family first: By letting them know that they matter most to you, you’ll create a safe environment for communication. Studies have shown that this sort of emotional threat engages the fight or flight reflex just as much as if you were to physically attack someone. By creating a feeling of safety, you relax that reflex, and communication is easier.
Go slow: Sharing all six of these discussions with family and friends at once would be overwhelming. Share new ideas and beliefs slowly, giving them time to adapt and adjust.
Treat them with respect: Often, people who no longer believe can find ideas and habits of believers funny or silly. Do not mock them. It is best to show them respect, and then they are more likely to respect you.
Many individuals who go through this process consider other faiths. Others are comfortable with having no belief. For many, it can feel as if the floor dropped out from under them. Many struggle with their sense of self worth.
These feelings, when family pressures are added, can lead to suicidal thoughts. We want you to know that there are support networks for you. You are not alone. If you have suicidal thoughts, please call a support hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK
Some online groups that help people cope with the stress of leaving are:
Members may see these groups as simply attack groups on the church, but that is seeing only one side. Most of the activity on such sites is helping members cope with old guilt, feelings of being duped or betrayed, and unforgiving family members. These sites have a high turn over rate as people who lose their anger and hurt leave to lead long and fulfilling lives without the church.
- Note: it is a good idea to have a local list of names of ex-mormon, post-mormon or other groups available to share with your investigator.
Other people decide to stay in the church, but have their beliefs altered. They may not be as harshly against historians or homosexual individuals. There are groups for these individuals as well:
Finding the New You
Another very common occurrence among members who take these discussions is that they become unsure about which beliefs are theirs and which came from the church. This may sound very odd to outsiders, but it is a very real thing that is felt by many. We invite you to think over how you feel on a variety of issues and share your feelings on them.
Issues strongly taught by the church yet that individuals commonly doubt after:
Homosexuality is wrong.
Abortion is morally wrong unless rape and incest.
Modest clothing limits as defined by the church.
Food Storage as a moral issue.
Divorce is a sign of a wicked nation.
Alcohol, drugs, and other recreational devices as morally wrong.
Dependence upon deity for forgiveness and repentance.
We do not wish to dictate to you what to believe about any of these issues, and this is certainly not a complete list of all the subjects individuals find that they have new opinions on. Many find that the church was so ingrained into their lives that even small, everyday tasks become suddenly a question. Please know that this is normal and talk over any questions you have with friends, relatives and others. We even suggest talking to people you don’t know with completely different points of view.
Enjoy Your Journey
With whatever you decide to do, we are happy for you in what you have learned. Your life will be meaningful and rich, and your choices endless. You now have freedom to think, look, research, and decide beyond what many people can comprehend. We admire your courage and open-mindedness and encourage you to enjoy your life.