Archive for the ‘Fred Anson’ Category

Lt. General Joseph Smith, Command in Chief of the Nauvoo Legion

compiled by Fred W. Anson
Controversy still swirls around if Joseph Smith sent an order to Nauvoo Legion acting General Jonathan Dunham to march on Carthage Jail and free him from what would ultimately be his assassination by an Anti-Mormon mob. FAIRMormon weighs with a resounding negative in this rather lengthy article: “Question: Did Joseph order Jonathan Dunham, head of the Nauvoo Legion, to rescue him?” (please click on link to read and consider this article) 

However, that hardly settles the matter. Below is evidence that counters FAIRMormon’s claims. It’s mentioned in their article but they discount and attempt to explain it away. So I will leave it to you, dear reader, to consider both sides and make up your own mind.

Allen J. Stout 
(December 5, 1815, December 18, 1889. A former Danite and member of the Nauvoo Legion, Joseph Smith’s private militia)
Now, there began to be excitement in the regions round about, so that the [Nauvoo] Legion was called out, which occupied my time as I had command of one company of footmen. The mob was determined to have the Prophet and we were determined they should not, so we kept under arms day and night for many weeks, but finally Joseph and Hyrum gave themselves up to be tried by the persuasion of false brethren and were taken out to Carthage.

And while they were in jail, Brother Joseph wrote an official order to Jonathan Dunham to bring the Legion and reserve him from being killed, but Dunham did not let a single man or mortal know that he had received such orders, and we were kept in the city under arms, not knowing but all was well, until the mob came and forced the prison and slew Joseph and Hyrum Smith and wounded John Taylor severely.
(Allen J. Stout, “Manuscript Journal, 1815-89”, p. 13)

T.B.H. Stenhouse
(21 February 1825 – 7 March 1882. Early Mormon convert, pioneer, and Missionary)
As the shadows on the prison walls, announced the receding day, the approach of death was sensibly felt by the Prophet and his friends. Dr. Richards, one of the apostles, proposed to Joseph that if his life might be accepted in the Prophet’s stead, he would freely give it. The apostle Taylor asked only permission, and “in five hours he would take him from his prison.” These were no idle offers. Life and deliverance were his for half a word; but at this critical moment Joseph seemed to forget all thoughts of life and of the world. It is claimed by the believing Saints that he had premonitions of his approaching end, and that on some occasions previous to the Expositor difficulty, he had spoken of the termination of his mission. So long had his bow been strung to its utmost tension, that this feeling of indifference can readily be appreciated without either miracle or divine manifestation; but to him and his, impressions had special interpretations. Add to this the galling humiliation of being chided by some brethren as a “coward” when he attempted to escape on the presentation of the sheriff’s writ, and then the weariness of earthly things is easy to comprehend. Life at last had lost its charm; the charge of cowardice had stung him, and he was ready to die. It was neither want of friends nor want of ability to secure his escape. He was weary, and with his fertile faith it was easy to listen to the suggestion of those ever-ready words – “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Besides, a “prophet” never dies. The portals of another world hail him as the advancing conqueror, and the field of his labours becomes more extended. Joseph was ready for the change.* It is stated that on leaving Nauvoo for Carthage he said: “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer morning. I have a conscience void of offence towards God and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me He was murdered in cold blood.”’**

*Notwithstanding this apparent readiness to meet death, and the deep and clear divine impressions claimed to have been imparted to the Prophet of his forthcoming end, it is understood that he managed to send from prison a communication to the Mormon officer in military command at Nauvoo, to bring with all possible dispatch a portion of the Legion to protect him from treachery, and from that assassination which he had then so much cause to apprehend. This military commander put the Prophet’s communication into his pocket and gave no heed to the call for help. No one was acquainted with the contents of the paper, and the officer was, therefore, he presumed, safe in disregarding it.

After the Prophet’s death, by some accident or other, this communication was lost and was picked up on the street and read. The intelligence that Joseph had called for aid and none had been rendered him was soon bruited among the Saints, and excited their deepest indignation, as they were not only ready to march at a moment’s notice, but were eager for the opportunity.

Some time afterwards, when all was quiet, this coward and traitor as some of the Mormons called him, or “fool and idiot” as others said, was sent on a mission to the Western frontiers, accompanied by a faithful elder. While travelling alone with his companion, he fell ill and died, it is said of dysentery. His companion buried him.

**“Doctrine and Covenants,” p. 335.
(Thoma B.H. Stenhouse, “The Rocky Mountain Saints [1887]: A Full & Complete History of the Mormons from First Vision of Joseph Smith to the Last Courtship of Brigham Young & Development of the Great Mineral Wealth of Utah”, Kindle Locations 2698-2725. D. Appleton and Company. Kindle Edition)

Fawn Brodie
(September 15, 1915-January 10, 1981. Mormon Historian, infamous Biographer of Joseph Smith, and niece of 9th LdS President, David O. McKay)
Dull and heavy-spirited, the prisoners finally sent for some wine, and all except Hyrum sipped a little.* When Richards handed the bottle to the guard, he started down the stairs. At that moment there was a noise at the outer door, followed by shouts to surrender and the sound of shots.

It was not the Nauvoo Legion galloping up for a dramatic rescue. For some reason never divulged, Jonathan Dunham had pocketed the order and neglected to act upon it**, and no other man in Nauvoo knew of his prophet’s peril. It was the men of the Warsaw militia, who had marched out of the town as a token to the Governor, waited until he was well on his way to Nauvoo, and then come roaring back to join the Carthage Greys.

* According to John Taylor’s account. History of the Church, Vol. VII, p.101.

** This story is told by Allen J. Stout in his manuscript journal, 1815-89, a transcript of which may be seen in the Utah State Historical Society Library. See p. 13. It is confirmed by T. B. H. Stenhouse in his Rocky Mountain Saints (New York, 1873), p. 164.
(Fawn M. Brodie, “No Man Knows My History (Illustrated): The Life of Joseph Smith”, Kindle Locations 8842-8854. Barvas Books. Kindle Edition)

General Joseph Smith reviewing the Nauvoo Legion – which at the time was larger than the Illinois State Militia.

nephi_EDITED

Nephi writing.

compiled by Fred W. Anson
Latter-day Saints like to describe the Lord’s restoration and/or continuing revelation as “line upon line, precept upon precept”. Here’s how this phrase appears in the Book of Mormon (italics added for emphasis):

2 Nephi 28
29
Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!
30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Like the Book of Mormon, this phrase only appears in one place in the Bible – twice in Isaiah chapter 28. Here’s the passage for your reference (again italics added for emphasis):

Isaiah 28 KJV
5 In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people,
6 And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.
7 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.
8 For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.
9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
13 But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

So you see, in that biblical passage, “line upon line, precept upon precept” Isaiah is saying that God’s people are under His judgment and His curse rather than under His blessing and favor. Paraphrasing, it means, “Your hearts and minds and the minds of your leaders are so dull and slow that I have to teach you like a small child or like a drunken, irrational fool who must be spoken to slowly and distinctly so that you ‘get it’ – that is, word-by-word and guideline-by-guideline.”

And then the Lord goes on to declare judgment on these dim-witted people who are rejecting His clear warning. Again paraphrasing, “And since I can’t seem to get through to you all doing this, maybe the foreign-tongued invaders that I’m sending in judgment upon you will get my words and requirements through your thick skulls after you’ve been captured and conquered!”

This, friends is a mocking and pointed declaration of judgment on Isaiah’s audience, it is not a nice sweet little sermon about the Lord’s will unfolding via continuing revelation. God is expressing His frustration with His covenant people in the harshest, most direct, and graphic terms possible. He is calling them immature, idiotic fools publicly, right out loud, and to their face. This is even clearer in the NIV translation of the Bible (yet again, italics added for emphasis):

Isaiah 28 NIV
5 In that day the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people. 6 He will be a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
7 And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer: Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions, they stumble when rendering decisions. 8 All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth.
9 “Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? 10 For it is: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there.”
11 Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, 12 to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen. 13 So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there— so that as they go they will fall backward; they will be injured and snared and captured.

As well-known Bible Expositor, John MacArthur observes regarding the key points in this passage:

28:6 spirit of justice. In that day of Messiah’s reign, the empowering Spirit will prevail in bringing justice to the world (cf. 11: 2).
28: 7 priest… prophet… err. Drunkenness had infected even the religious leadership of the nation, resulting in false spiritual guidance of the people.
28: 8 no place is clean. When leaders wallowed in filth, what hope did the nation have?
28: 9 weaned from milk. The drunken leaders resented it when Isaiah and other true prophets treated them as toddlers, by reminding them of elementary truths of right and wrong.
28:10 precept upon precept… there a little. This is the drunkard’s sarcastically mocking response to corrective advice from the prophet. Transliterated, the Hebrew monosyllables are Sav lasav, sav lasav, Kav lakav, kav lakav, Ze’er sham, ze’er sham. These imitations of a young child’s babbling ridicule Isaiah’s preaching.
28:11 another tongue. Since the drunkards would not listen to God’s prophet, he responded to them by predicting their subservience to Assyrian taskmasters, who would give them instructions in a foreign language. The NT divulges an additional meaning of this verse that anticipates God’s use of the miraculous gift of tongues as a credential of His NT messengers (see notes on 1 Cor. 14: 21, 22; cf. Deut. 28: 49; Jer. 5: 15; 1 Cor. 14: 21).
28:12 the rest… the refreshing… not hear. In simple language they could understand, God offered them relief from their oppressors, but they would not listen.
28: 13 Precept upon precept… there a little. In light of their rejection, the Lord imitated the mockery of the drunkards in jabber they could not understand (see v.10).
(NKJV, The MacArthur Study Bible, eBook: Revised and Updated Edition (Kindle Locations 107516-107537). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition)

And renowned Bible Scholar, D.A. Carson and the team of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible confirm, validate and agree with Mr. MacArthur’s analysis in their own award-winning Study Bible:

28:5– 6 Chs. 28– 33 alternate between representing the false leadership of humans and the true leadership of God. It begins here briefly and continues with larger and larger segments. Ephraim’s (and Judah’s) true “wreath” is “the LORD Almighty” (see notes on 1: 9, 24). He can inspire both civil and military leaders.
28:5 remnant. … The drunkenness described here is probably both metaphoric and literal. Because these leaders are selfishly motivated, they are blind to the truth of God’s revelation (29: 9), but they are also prone to the kind of self-indulgence that results in the abuse of alcohol.
28:9– 10 Having no real experience or understanding of God, all the leaders can offer the people are prescriptions from the law to be learned by rote. The Hebrew of v. 10 may well be a mockery of the rote repetitions the leaders offer…
28:11– 13 Since the people “would not listen” (v. 12) to the words of their true leaders, God would turn them over to the Assyrians, who spoke with “foreign lips” (v. 11).
(The NIV Zondervan Study Bible, eBook: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message (Kindle Locations 161305-161318). Zondervan. Kindle Edition)

Clearly, there is a consensus here on what the term, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little,” meant during Isaiah’s day.

So based on all this expert witness testimony, here’s the question for our Mormon friends: Could you please explain to us how Nephi’s use of the phrase “line upon line, precept upon precept” in 2 Nephi 28:30 isn’t indicative of a people under God’s curse rather than His blessing? Given this what does this say about the state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Is it possible that it too is under God’s judgment and/or curse?

I can’t help but wonder if Latter-day Saints and their church should rethink using this plagiarized and misused biblical phrase, let alone base any doctrine on it given its real and intention and meaning.

It does tend to make one ponderize, doesn’t it?

A mosaic featuring Isaiah.

How Mormons Abuse Paul’s Use of Pagan Sources in Acts 17:28

A marble bust of Cleanthes

compiled by Fred W. Anson
The Gospel According to St. Cleanthes
One of favorite responses when a Mormon cites Acts 17:28 (“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”) is to simply ask, “Oh, and since you think that Paul was endorsing Cleanthes’ ‘Hymn to Zeus’ by citing from it in the latter citation (“ For we are also his offspring“)1 are you also suggesting that he was endorsing it as divinely inspired scripture?” Then I give them the entire poem. Here it is, with the text that Paul cited italicized for emphasis:

Hymn to Zeus
by Cleanthes (c. 300 – 220 B.C.)
O God most glorious, called by many a name,
Nature’s great King, through endless years the same;
Omnipotence, who by your just decree
Controls all, hail, Zeus, for unto you
Must your creatures in all lands call.

We are your children, we alone, of all
On earth’s broad ways that wander to and fro,
Bearing your image wheresoever we go.
Wherefore with songs of praise your power I will proclaim.

Look! yonder Heaven, that round the earth is wheeled,
Follows your guidance, still to you does yield.

Glad homage; your unconquerable hand
Such flaming minister, the heftless brand,
Wields, a sword two-edged, whose deathless might
Pulsates through all that
Nature brings to light;
Vehicle of the universal word, that flows
Through all, and in the light celestial glows
Of stars both great and small.

A King of Kings
Through ceaseless ages,
God, whose purpose brings
To birth, whatever on land or in the sea
Is wrought, or in high heaven’s immensity;
Save what the sinner works infatuate.

No, but you know how to make the crooked straight:
Chaos to you is order; in your eyes
The unloved is lovely, who did harmonize
Things evil with things good, that there should be
One word through all things everlastingly.

One word – whose voice alas! the wicked spurn;
Insatiate for the good their spirits yearn:
Yet seeing see not, neither hearing hear
God’s universal law, which those revere,
by reason guided, happiness who win.

The rest, unreasoning, diverse shapes of sin
Self-prompted follow: for an idle name
Vainly they wrestle in the contests of fame:
Others inordinately riches court,
Or dissolute, the joys of flesh pursue.

Now here, now there they wander, fruitless still,
Forever seeking good and finding ill.

Zeus the all-bountiful, whom darkness shrouds,
Whose lightning lightens in the thunder-clouds;
Your children save from error’s deadly sway;
Turn you the darkness from their souls away:
Vouchsafe that unto knowledge they attain;
For you by knowledge are made strong to reign
Overall, and all things rule righteously.

So by you honored, we will honor thee,
Praising your works continually with songs,
As mortals should; nor higher reward belongs
Even to the gods, than justly to adore
The universal law for evermore.

A bust of Epimenides.

The Gospel According to St. Epimenides
The first pagan source cited in Acts 17:28 (“For in him we live and move and have our being.’”) is Epimenides (c. 7th or 6th century BC). The passage is from Epimenides’ “Minos and Rhadamanthus”. Unfortunately, none of Epimenides’ works have survived, but thankfully a passage has been found cited in the Syrian lectionary Garden of Delights and in a 9th-century commentary on Acts by Isho’dad of Merv. Translated into English, it reads like this. And again I have italicized the text that Paul used for emphasis:

A grave has been fashioned for thee, O holy and high One,
The lying Cretans, who are all the time liars, evil beasts, idle bellies;
But thou diest not, for to eternity thou livest and standest,
For in thee we live and move and have our being.

By the way, the “O holy and high One” being referred to is Zeus, just so that there’s no misunderstanding. Clearly, this provenance is too complex to use effectively with Mormons in short, conversational discussions. However, you can refer them to the following article (which I used as my primary source for this section on Epimenides) for a full explanation if you wish to: “Lying Cretans and Unknown Gods: Allusions to Epimenides in the New Testament” on the “Is That in the Bible?” blog site.

The Gospel According to St. Paul
So with that background let’s consider how Paul actually used these pagan sources on Mars Hills, with the text discussed above italicized for emphasis:

Acts 17 (KJV)
16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33 So Paul departed from among them.
34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

As the text clearly states, Paul’s audience was wholly pagan. Therefore, given the underlying nature of the citations combined with the nature of his audience, he clearly was simply using a common point of reference to make his point. As William MacDonald notes in his commentary:

17:28b To further emphasize the relationship of the creature to the Creator, Paul quoted from some of their Greek poets, who said, “For we are also His offspring.” This is not to be interpreted as teaching the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God. We are the offspring of God in the sense that He created us, but we only become sons of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

17:29 But Paul’s argument continues. If men are the offspring of God, then it is impossible to think of God as a gold or silver or stone idol. These are shaped by art and man’s devising, and therefore are not as great as men. These idols are, in a sense, the offspring of human beings, whereas the truth is that human beings are the creation of God.
(MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary (p. 1625). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition)

To use a modern equivalent it was like when Billy Graham cited the secular song lyrics “What the world needs now is love, sweet love” (from a Dione Warwick song) and “The answer is blowing in the wind” (from a Bob Dylan song) to make his point in sermons during his 1969 Anaheim, California Crusades.2 In both cases, the intention wasn’t to endorse the sources, simply to establish a rhetorical connection with the listening audience from their cultural vantage point. To suggest anything more than that is exegetically unsustainable.

“Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus Sermon in Athens” by Raphael, 1515

NOTE
1 The other pagan work that’s often cited as a source for this latter citation is Aratus’ (c. 310-245 B.C.), Phaenomena from the opening lines which are as follows:

Let us begin with Zeus, whom we mortals never leave unspoken.
For every street, every market-place is full of Zeus.
Even the sea and the harbour are full of this deity.
Everywhere everyone is indebted to Zeus.
For we are indeed his offspring…
(Phaenomena 1-5)

That poetic text is, in my opinion, is too long and complex to use effectively with Mormons in a conversational type discussion, but if you would like to refer them to it, they will find a good English translation here (click on link).

Further, since it’s generally believed that Aratus and the other pagan sources that use the “we are indeed his offspring” were glossing on Cleanthes. Therefore, and in my opinion, it’s better to just go to the short and simple original source rather than those who quoted from him later.

2 I was at these crusades and I recall him using the lyrics something like this in his sermons, “Popular culture tells us that what the world needs now is love, sweet love. I couldn’t agree more because what we need now more than ever is the sweet love of the Savior.” He used the lyrics of the Dylan song something like this, “I agree with the singer who said that the answer is blowing in the wind. That wind is God’s Spirit. And if you’re listening, really listening, you will hear Him calling you to come to Him.” I’ve paraphrased both from memory, but to the best of my recollection that’s how I heard them used back in the day.

BACK TO TOP

“If history has shown us one thing, it’s that today’s Mormonism is tomorrow’s dustbin fodder”

by Fred W. Anson
The Church of Jesus Christ claims, “The gospel has been known throughout eternity, and its principles have been preached among men and women from their beginnings on this earth.” (Robert L. Millet, “The Eternal Gospel”, Ensign, July 1996) and “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a divine and perfect plan. It is composed of eternal, unchanging principles, laws, and ordinances which are universally applicable to every individual regardless of time, place, or circumstance. Gospel principles never change.” (Ronald E. Poelman, “The Gospel and the Church”, Ensign, November 1984).

But history tells a different tale: The Mormon gospel is temporal and constantly changing. Here’s a partial list of Mormon Doctrine, scripture, and bits and various pieces that have been left on the dustbin of history. This is the second in this ongoing, intermittent series of articles.

7) The United Order
Joseph Smith’s February 1831, Book of Commandments Chapter XLIV revelation established the United Order as “a covenant and a deed which can not be broken” (BoC 44:26). Mormon Historian, Fawn Brodie (the niece of LdS President, David O. McKay) explains the backstory and history:

Joseph Smith set up an economic order in his church which followed with a certain fidelity the life history of the typical communistic society of his time. When he first arrived in Kirtland, he found Rigdon’s tiny “community” in chaos. “The disciples had all things in common,” wrote John Whitmer, “and were going to destruction very fast as to temporal things; for they considered from reading the Scriptures that what belonged to a brother belonged to any of the brethren; therefore, they would take each other’s clothes and other property and use it without leave, which brought on confusion and disappointment. . . .”

Before long Joseph issued a revelation setting up the United Order of Enoch. “Behold,” said the Lord, “thou shalt consecrate all thy properties, that which thou hast unto me, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken, and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church.” Private property became church property, and private profit a community spoil.

Production was kept on an individual basis. Each convert, after “consecrating” his all to the church, was given back certain property “sufficient for himself and family,” over which he acted as a foreman or “steward.” The system was thus more akin to farm tenancy than to the true communal agriculture practiced by the Shakers and New Harmonists. Upon the death or disaffection of the steward, the land reverted to the church, which permanently held the title.

Whatever surplus the steward exacted from the land, or whatever profit the mechanic derived from his shop, was contributed to the church storehouse and treasury, the convert keeping only what was “needful for the support and comfort” of himself and family. The spirit of true Marxian communism — “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” — was implicit in the whole system.”
(Fawn M. Brodie, “No Man Knows My History (Illustrated): The Life of Joseph Smith”, Arkosh Publishing, Kindle Locations 2410-2426)

Brodie also describes the demise of the United Order:

On April 10, 1834 the Kirtland council dissolved the Order. Dividing the community property was a thorny business. Tired of quibbling and recrimination, Joseph finally resorted to a revelation to parcel out the real estate, deeding himself the temple lot, Rigdon the tannery, Cowdery the printing shop, and most of the other leaders the lots on which they were then living. In 1835, when the time came tor print this curious document in the Doctrine and Covenants, he substituted fictitious names to avoid any unpleasantness — Ahashdah for Whitney, Olihah for Cowdery, Pelagoram for Rigdon, Mahemson for Harris, and Gazelam for himself. He even used code names for the industries — Laneshine house for the printing shop and Ozondah for the store. Except for a few leaders who knew better, the Mormons believed these to be the names of people living in the days of Enoch.

From this moment Joseph began to efface the communistic rubric in his young theology. Since most copies of the Book of Commandments had been burned, it was easy for him to revise drastically the revelation on the United Order when it was republished in the enlarged Doctrine and Covenants in 1835. The Lord no longer demanded consecration of a man’s total property, but only a donation of his “surplus” over and above living expenses. In reprinting the first twelve issues of the Evening and Morning Star, Joseph revised most, though not all, of the descriptions of the original Order and commanded his missionaries to destroy the notion abroad that the church had ever been a common-stock concern.

Although Rigdon repeatedly urged a restoration, Joseph made only one effort to revive the Order after 1834. This was a greatly revised consecration program that he launched in Missouri in 1838. It collapsed at the end of the year when the Mormons were driven out of the state altogether. Thereafter the prophet was content to let the United Order be translated to the plane of abstract ideals, where it was destined to remain. Years after his death, experiments with communal living were tried in the desert isolation of the Great Basin, but these also disintegrated because, it was said, the Mormons proved as yet unworthy to live the higher law of God.”
(Fawn M. Brodie, “No Man Knows My History (Illustrated): The Life of Joseph Smith”, Arkosh Publishing, Kindle Locations 3184-3206)

So despite the fact that D&C 104:1 claims that the United Order is supposed to be, “an everlasting order for the benefit of my church, and for the salvation of men until I come” the United Order no longer exists in the LdS Church.

8) The Original Law of Consecration
Those members who might feel that the 10% mandatory tithe of the modern LdS Church is high should consider themselves lucky. In Early Mormonism, you were encouraged to give 100% of your estate to the Church. From Wikipedia:

As practiced by the Latter Day Saints in Smith’s day, the law of consecration was for the support of the poor and to ensure that all members would be “equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs”. Adherents were asked to voluntarily deed, or consecrate, their property to the Church of Christ, and the church then would assign to each member a “stewardship” of property “as much as is sufficient for himself and family”. If consecrated property became more than was sufficient for the assigned steward, the “residue” was “to be consecrated unto the bishop” kept for the benefit of “those who have not, from time to time, that every man who has need may be amply supplied and receive according to his wants.”

Under Smith, members attempted to implement the law of consecration through the establishment of the United Order, but it was never fully instituted due to conflict and disagreements.
(Wikipedia, “Law of consecration”

An echo of the original Law of Consecration can still be found in the Temple Endowment Ceremony which contains the following rite:

THE LAW OF CONSECRATION
[Peter, James, and John return to the Terrestrial Room.]

PETER: A couple will now come to the altar.

We are instructed to give unto you the law of consecration as contained in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, in connection with the law of the gospel and the law of sacrifice, which you have already received. It is that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion.

All arise.

Each of you bring your right arm to the square.

You and each of you covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar, that you do accept the law of consecration as contained in this, the book of Doctrine and Covenants [he displays the book], in that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion.

Each of you bow your head and say, “Yes.”

That will do.
(“The Terrestrial World”, LDS Endowment website) 

Each of the 10 companies of Mormon handcart pioneers was accompanied by a wagon train that carried supplies, and sometimes had room for an ill, injured or simply worn-out walker to ride along the trail for a short distance. Painting by William Henry Jackson. – Courtesy NPS.gov, William Henry Jackson Collection, Scotts Bluff National Monument.

9) Gathering to Zion
Just as it’s very name implies, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was originally an apocalyptic cult. As is the case with all such cults, the idea was that the Lord was gathering the faithful together in anticipation of Christ’s return to set up His Kingdom on earth. So if you’ve ever wondered why the Early Mormons moved en masse from New York, to Ohio, to Missouri, to Illinois, to Utah, now you know. If you’ve ever wondered why an estimated 85,000 people immigrated from Europe to America to join the “saints in Zion” during the 19th Century now you know. If you ever wondered how the culture of food hoarding and Mormon triumphalism developed, now you know. As then Apostle (later to become LdS President) Joseph F. Smith explained in 1877:

In this dispensation there is a principle or commandment peculiar to it. What is that? It is the gathering the people into one place. The gathering of the people is as necessary to be observed by believers, as faith, repentance, baptism, or any other ordinance. It is an essential part of the Gospel of this dispensation, as much so, as the necessity of building an ark by Noah, for his deliverance, was a part of the Gospel of his dispensation. Then the world was destroyed by a flood, now it is to be destroyed by war, pestilence, famine, earthquakes, storms, and tempests, the sea rolling beyond its bounds, malarious vapors, vermin, disease, and fire by the lightnings of God’s wrath poured out for destruction upon Babylon.
(Joseph F. Smith, ‘Arrival in Salt Lake City—The First Principles—The Question of Authority—The Ordinances—Education of Our Youth—Plural Marriage, Etc.—“Mormonism” Immortal’, September 3o, 1877, Journal of Discourses 19:192)

Just consider the Apostle’s words above in light of the fact that this was imperative not just a nice idea or some type of nebulous ideal that one could choose or not choose. The Gathering to Zion wasn’t to be taken lightly, it was a requirement of joining the Latter Day Saint faith back then, not an option. You got baptized, you started tithing, and you gathered you and yours to Zion as soon as you could. Period.

So what happened? Why has the Gathering been quietly been swept into the dustbin? Mormon Scholar Kathleen Flake explains that around the turn of the 20th Century there was a subtle but significant shift in Mormonism:

Instead of being admonished to do the works and receive the blessings of Abraham, the Latter-day Saints were encouraged aged to manifest Yankee virtues and Progressive Era values. Exhortations to missionary work overtook the other elements of nineteenth-century millennialism; growth, not gathering to Zion, became the rallying cry. During Joseph F. Smith’s tenure, immigration to Utah was officially ended, and the church began to build centers of membership abroad.
(Kathleen Flake, “The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle”, Kindle Locations 1690-1693, Kindle Edition)

Then in the mid-Twentieth Century, the Gathering to Zion was quietly phased out during the David O. McKay administration. As Greg Prince, the biographer of David O. McKay explains:

David O. McKay brought this church into the 20th century, even though he got started halfway through that century. We were a church that still was insular. We brought people to Salt Lake. He said, “Let’s reverse that. Stay where you are. Grow where you’re planted. Make the church a vital force throughout the world.”
(Greg Prince interviewed in the PBS Documentary “The Mormons”, Part Two. Quote from official show transcript.) 

Thus, today, having someone immigrate to Zion as part of the Gathering to Zion is the exception, not the rule. The Gathering to Zion doctrine is now, it’s explained, a spiritual, not a physical gathering. And the LdS Church is trying to send the original Gathering to Zion doctrine down the Memory Hole by rewriting its own history so that it reads like this:

Why did so many faithful members leave their home countries in those early days of the Church? Many reasons can be named: to escape persecution, to help build the Church in America, to improve their economic circumstances, to be close to a temple, and many more.
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “First Presidency Message: Developing Christlike Attributes”, Ensign, October 2008, p.7)

So down the Orwellian memory hole goes real history! It’s 1984 all over again, “Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.” (George Orville,“1984”, Kindle Locations 1053-1054, Pandora’s Box. Kindle Edition) And thus, modern Mormons are given misinformation to cover up the hard reality that the only constant when it comes to Mormon Doctrine is constant change.  Tomorrow’s LdS Church will be very different from today’s church. Tomorrow’s “eternal gospel” will be very different than the Mormon gospel that’s taught today. And, as it has always been, Mormon Leaders will have to lie in order to give members the illusion that nothing has changed, all is well in Zion, and the gospel is as it has always been.

But this is the problem with dust-binned, man-contrived, bad theology, isn’t it? It still leaves carnage in its wake. It leaves a mess. And by forcing good men to lie to cover up the truth it has left a trail of incriminated dust behind Mormon Leaders since Joseph Smith onward, hasn’t it?

By their fruit, you shall know them indeed.

Bales and bales of shredded paper and cardboard waiting to be converted into paper-mash and then reformed into new paper products. The original will then, of course, be lost to the Memory Hole.

BACK TO TOP

A playful take on the "I'm A Mormon" website that introduced in 2011 and taken down in 2018.

“‘Mormonism’ is the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ; of which I myself am not ashamed.”
(Joseph Smith, “Letter to James Arlington…”, September 8, 1842, “History of The Church”, 5:156)

by Fred W. Anson
If you’re still scratching your head over current LdS President, Russell M. Nelson’s public denunciation of the words “Mormon”, “LDS” and all their various variations and derivations as it relates to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you’re not alone. In case you missed it, here’s what he said:

The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will. In recent weeks, various Church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so. Additional information about this important matter will be made available in the coming months.
(LdS President, Russell M. Nelson quoted in Sarah Jane Weaver, ‘“Mormon” Is Out: Church Releases Statement on How to Refer to the Organization’, Official LdS Church News website, August 16, 2018)  

The same article then goes on to offer new style guide directives including the following:

The official name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The full name was given by revelation from God to Joseph Smith in 1838.

  • In the first reference, the full name of the Church is preferred: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
  • When a shortened reference is needed, the terms “the Church” or the “Church of Jesus Christ” are encouraged. The “restored Church of Jesus Christ” is also accurate and encouraged.
  • While the term “Mormon Church” has long been publicly applied to the Church as a nickname, it is not an authorized title, and the Church discourages its use. Thus, please avoid using the abbreviation “LDS” or the nickname “Mormon” as substitutes for the name of the Church, as in “Mormon Church,” “LDS Church,” or “Church of the Latter-day Saints.”
  • When referring to Church members, the terms “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” or “Latter-day Saints” are preferred. We ask that the term “Mormons” not be used.
  • “Mormon” is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon or when used as an adjective in such historical expressions as “Mormon Trail.”
  • The term “Mormonism” is inaccurate and should not be used. When describing the combination of doctrine, culture, and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the term “the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” is accurate and preferred.
  • When referring to people or organizations that practice polygamy, it should be stated that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not affiliated with polygamous groups.
    (ibid)

In my 40+ years in Mormon Studies, I thought that I had seen some real head-scratchers from the Mormon side of the divide, but this one absolutely tops the list. And then when President Nelson doubled now on this absurdity in the Fall 2018 General Conference, things went from, “What is he thinking?” to eye rolling and facepalming. After all, how can you help it when you’re hearing over the top public rhetoric like this:

The name of the Church is not negotiable. When the Savior clearly states what the name of His Church should be and even precedes His declaration with, “Thus shall my church be called,” He is serious. And if we allow nicknames to be used or adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, He is offended.

What’s in a name or, in this case, a nickname? When it comes to nicknames of the Church, such as the “LDS Church,” the “Mormon Church,” or the “Church of the Latter-day Saints,” the most important thing in those names is the absence of the Savior’s name. To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan. When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us—even His Atonement.
(President Russell M. Nelson, “The Correct Name of the Church”, Fall General Conference, October 2018, italics in original) 

And, yes, President Nelson was correct when he said, “In the early days of the restored Church, terms such as Mormon Church and Mormons were often used as epithets—as cruel terms, abusive terms—designed to obliterate God’s hand in restoring the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days.” (ibid, italics in original), but so what? As Easton’s Bible Dictionary explains, the word “Christian” was also originally an epithet that was used by the enemies of the primitive Christians too:

Christian the name given by the Greeks or Romans, probably in reproach, to the followers of Jesus. It was first used at Antioch. The names by which the disciples were known among themselves were “brethren,” “the faithful,” “elect,” “saints,” “believers.” But as distinguishing them from the multitude without, the name “Christian” came into use, and was universally accepted. This name occurs but three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16).
(“Christian”, Easton’s Bible Dictionary) 

And like the word “Christian”, the word “Mormon” has become nothing more than shorthand for the ridiculously long (43-digit to be exact), “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and its various derivations. This directive makes no sense from any perspective. There’s no nice way to say it, it is both inane and insane! I mean, does President Nelson, or anyone else for that matter, really think that outsiders are going to start referring to Mormons as “members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”? Or Mormon Missionaries as “Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”? And if he really thinks that he’s going to get mainstream Christians and journalists to replace the word “Mormonism” with the term “the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” when they’re  “referring to the combination of doctrine, culture, and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, then he needs to wake up and smell the Postum. As Mormon author Jana Riess correctly observed:

This is problematic for reporters and writers. It is not the job of a religion-neutral media to adopt or validate the truth claims of whatever religions they’re writing about. Some denominational names do have truth claims already baked in—is Roman Catholic really catholic, meaning universal? Is Orthodox really orthodox, meaning doctrinally pure? Have Reformed Christians and Reform Jews actually changed from the traditions that preceded them? Etc.—but in those cases, the truth claims have been part of the religion’s name for centuries.
(Jana Riess, “The name ‘Mormon’: Why all the fuss, and why now?”, Religion News Service website, October 20, 2018)  

Friends, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the words “Mormon”, “Mormonism”, or the abbreviation “LDS” (or more accurately “LdS”) any more than there is anything wrong with the words “Presbyterian”, “Baptist”, “Methodist”, “Lutheran”, “Calvinist”, “Catholic”, or whatever. Using those terms doesn’t offend the Savior, it doesn’t disregard all that Jesus Christ did for us (even His Atonement), and it doesn’t give Satan a victory of any kind. The suggestion that it does any of that is utter and complete madness! They’re just words that encapsulate much bigger, more complex social constructs, cultures, and systems of theology – nothing more. As the aforementioned Jana Riess noted elsewhere:

Given that the LDS Church has not suggested any substitute that is actually workable when referring to its members, the name “Mormon” is here to stay. Rather than fighting it, why doesn’t the Church just embrace it? Its own powerful and often delightful “I’m a Mormon” campaign is not going to have nearly the same descriptive power when it becomes the “I’m Affiliated with the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ” campaign, or somesuch silliness.
(Jana Riess, “I’m a Mormon! But I’m not supposed to call myself that anymore.”, Religion News Service website, August 17, 2018)  

Think about it. Are we really to believe that Christ is so thin-skinned that He gets his nose out of joint if folks don’t constantly and explicitly drop His Name – like some kind of ego-driven, self-absorbed prima donna? Is He like a small child in a sandbox angrily shaking His fist at the world while shouting, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” Doesn’t that image of an immature, divaish Christ seem utterly foreign to the implacable, down-to-earth, “velvet-covered brick” that we see in the New Testament gospels? Is it anything like the no-nonsense, sword-wielding, take no prisoners, all-powerful, overcoming Sovereign that we see in the Book of Revelation?

The strong, steadfast, faithful and transcendent Jesus of the Bible is the Lord and Savior that I know and love. And He’s not someone, who with everything else that’s going on in the world, gnat-strains over what people call His Church like some petty, persnickety, Pharisee getting more and more incensed with every  “mint, dill, and cumin” uptick of the tally.

So, given all that, Beggar’s Bread has exactly no (that is, zero) intention of joining President Nelson in his bizarre Escher’s world of unreality. To coin a phrase, he’s not our President. And if for some reason you consider that stance harsh, inflexible, or unreasonable, I would just point you to the pages of history and consider that fact that not only did Mormon Leaders prior to Mr. Nelson have no problem with the words, they made them their own and took ownership of them. The rest of this article is nothing more than examples of this. And to make the point even clearer for the reader, I have bolded every instance of “Mormon” or “Mormonism” in the text.

And if Mr. Nelson takes issue with anyone calling him on his folly I would suggest that he take it up with these guys – especially the first one.

And You're A Mormon 05

“Joseph Smith Receives the Gold Plates” by Kenneth Riley

Joseph Smith: Great Prophet of the Restoration (of Mormonism)
‘“Look,” he went on to say, “if there is any name that is totally honorable in its derivation, it is the name Mormon. And so, when someone asks me about it and what it means, I quietly say—‘Mormon means more good.’”
(Joseph Smith, “Correspondence”, Times and Seasons, May 15, 1843, 4:194; also see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 299–300)

“The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a ‘Mormon,’ I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves. It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul—civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race.”
(Joseph Smith, “History of the Church”, 5:498–99; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on July 9, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards)

“The inquiry is frequently made of me, “Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views?” In reality and essence we do not differ so far in our religious views, but that we could all drink into one principle of love. One of the grand fundamental principles of “Mormonism” is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.”
(Joseph Smith, “Sunday , July 9, 1843 – Meeting in the Grove”, “History of The Church”, 5:499)

Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true “Mormons.”‘
(Joseph Smith, “Discourse — Burden of the Prophet’s Ministry — Friendship”, “History of the Church”, 5:517); also see “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, p.316)

“Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of “Mormonism“; [it is designed] to revolutionize and civilize the world, and cause wars and contentions to cease and men to become friends and brothers. Even the wolf and the lamb shall dwell together; the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf, the young lion and the fatling; and a little child shall lead them; the bear and the cow shall lie down together, and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall play on the cockatrice’s den; and they shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountains, saith the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah.)”
(Joseph Smith, “Discourse — Burden of the Prophet’s Ministry — Friendship”, “History of the Church”, 5:517)

Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraced it felt himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, falls at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth…

Mormonism is truth, in other words the doctrine of the Latter Day Saints, is truth…. [Y]ou may think that it is a broad assertion that it is truth; but … the first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same; we feel ourselves bound by the laws of God, to observe and do strictly, with all our hearts, all things whatsoever is manifest unto us by the highest degree of testimony that God has committed us, as written in the old and new Testament, or any where else, by any manifestation, whereof we know that it has come from God: and has application to us, being adapted to our situation and circumstances; age, and generation of life; and that we have a perfect, and indefeasible right, to embrace all such commandments, and do them…. And again, we believe that it is our privilege to reject all things, whatsoever is clearly manifested to us that they do not have a bearing upon us.
(Joseph Smith, “To Isaac Galland, March 22, 1839,” Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, p.420-421, ellipses mine)

“Hell may pour forth its rage like the burning lava of mount Vesuvius, or of Etna, or of the most terrible of the burning mountains; and yet shall “Mormonism” stand. Water, fire, truth and God are all realities. Truth is “Mormonism.” God is the author of it. He is our shield. It is by Him we received our birth.”
(Joseph Smith, “The Prophet’s Epistle to the Church, Written in Liberty Prison, Liberty Jail, Clay County, Missouri, March 25, 1839”, History of the Church, 3:297)

“Peace and prosperity attend us; and we have favor in the sight of God and virtuous men. The time was, when we were looked upon as deceivers, and that “Mormonism” would soon pass away, come to nought, and be forgotten. But the time has gone by when it is looked upon as a transient matter, or a bubble on the wave, and it is now taking a deep hold in the hearts and affections of all those who are nobleminded enough to lay aside the prejudice of education, and investigate the subject with candor and honesty. The truth, like the sturdy oak, has stood unhurt amid the contending elements, which have beat upon it with tremendous force. The floods have rolled, wave after wave, in quick succession, and have not swallowed it up.”
(Joseph Smith, “Report of the First Presidency”, General Conference, April 7, 1841, History of the Church 4:337)

And I'm A Mormon 01

Close up of a bronze sculpture in Temple Square depicting Joseph Smith receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood under the hands of the ancient apostles, Peter, James and John.

The Baton is Passed: The Mormon Leaders Who Followed
“They [Joseph Smith the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum Smith] were innocent of any crime, as they had often been proved before, and were only confined in jail by the conspiracy of traitors and wicked men; and their innocent blood on the floor of Carthage jail is a broad seal affixed to “Mormonism” that cannot be rejected by any court on earth, and their innocent blood on the escutcheon of the State of Illinois, with the broken faith of the State as pledged by the governor, is a witness to the truth of the everlasting gospel that all the world cannot impeach; and their innocent blood on the banner of liberty, and on the magna charta of the United States, is an ambassador for the religion of Jesus Christ, that will touch the hearts of honest men among all nations; and their innocent blood, with the innocent blood of all the martyrs under the altar that John saw, will cry unto the Lord of Hosts till he avenges that blood on the earth. Amen.”
(Doctrine & Covenants 135:7, Bracketed text derived from context.) 

“Do you belong to the Methodist’s society? And have you got the truth? It is right, that truth is ‘Mormonism,’ it is my property. Are you a Quaker? It is no matter, if you have the truth, that same truth is mine. Are you a Catholic, and have got the truth? That is my doctrine, and I will not quarrel about it”
(Brigham Young, July 24, 1853, “Journal of Discourses”, 1:243-244)

“The Universalists say that we are all going to heaven in a heap together, and if they believe their religion they do not trouble themselves about ‘Mormonism.’ Though I confess that I think the most of them are like the old man who was a strong believer in Universalism, and, while walking among his cattle, and musing over his doctrine, stepped up to a favorite ox, and said to him­self, ‘I believe the doctrine of the Universalists, but, old Bright, as well as I love you, I would willingly give you if I knew it was true.’ You find a man who does not believe in any religious doctrines, who does not believe in a future existence, and what does he care about ‘Mormonism?’ Nothing at all”
(Brigham Young, February 18, 1855, “Journal of Discourses”, 2:180)

“‘Mormonism,’ so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to ‘Mormonism.’ The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. ‘Mormon­ism’ includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fulness of all things in the gods and in the eternities of the gods”
(Brigham Young, “Discourses of Brigham Young”, p.3)

“A Duty to Listen to the Truth-Do not say, ‘You are Mormons, and we do not want to hear anything about you.’ Wait until you have searched and researched and have obtained wisdom to under­stand what we preach, or to prove it to be untrue. If you cannot prove it untrue and are not disposed to receive it, let it alone. If it is the work of God, it will stand. What do you say, outsiders? What do you say, Christian world and heathen world? If we have the truth to present to you, which will do you good here and hereaf­ter, which will save you today and tomorrow and every day, until it saves you in the Kingdom of God and brings you to a perfect state of felicity and happiness in the presence of the Father, will you have it?”
(Brigham Young, “Discourses of Brigham Young”, p.435)

“Brethren and sisters, our friends wish to know our feelings to­wards the Government. I answer, they are first-rate, and we will prove it too, as you will see if you only live long enough, for that we shall live to prove it is certain; and when the Constitution of the United States hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they will have to call for the ‘Mormon’ Elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it”
(Brigham Young, February 18, 1855, “Journal of Discourses”, 2:182)

The “Eyes Westward” Statue. This is a bronze statue of LdS Presidents Brigham Young and Joseph Smith. This bronze sculpture is located in Nauvoo, Illinois along the bank of the Mississippi River and in Salt Lake City, Utah at Heritage Park. It signifies the plans of the LdS Church’s move to the west, ultimately settling along the Rocky Mountains in what’s now known as The State of Utah.

“Some of the sectarian ministers are saying that we Mormons are ashamed of the doctrine announced by President Brigham Young, to the effect that Adam will thus be the God of this world”
(B.H. Roberts, “Mormon Doctrine of Deity”, pp.42-43)

“Now I come to us, Mormons. We are the only true Church, so we say. We have the only true faith, so we say and believe. I believe we have many great and true principles revealed from the heavens. I will tell you how I feel about it, and what I have said many times when I have been abroad among the priests, people, and philoso­phers. If any man under the heavens can show me one principle of error that I have entertained, I will lay it aside forthwith, and be thankful for the information”
(John Taylor, “The Gospel Kingdom”, p.50)

“WE HAVE frequently said that perhaps the grandest thought that has ever been brought forth to the children of men is the Mormon truism, namely: ‘As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become.’ The foundation of that truism is in this revelation and these words we have just read”
(Melvin J. Ballard, “Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard”, p.238)

“It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”
(Bernard p.Brockbank, “The Living Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1977, p.26)

“…Mormonism be it true or false, holds out to men the greatest inducements that the human mind can grasp… It teaches men that they can become divine, that man is God in embryo, that God was once man in mortality, and that the only difference between Gods, angels and men is a difference in education and develop­ment. Is such a religion to be sneered at? It teaches that the worlds on high, the stars that glitter in the blue vault of heaven, are king­doms of God, that they were once earths like this, that they have been redeemed and glorified by the same laws, the same prin­ciples that are applied to this planet, and by which it will ascend to a perfected and glorified state. It teaches that these worlds are peopled with human beings, God’s sons and daughters, and that every husband and father, may become an Adam, and every wife and mother an Eve, to some future planet”
(Orson F. Whitney, June 9, 1895, “Collected Discourses”, 4:336-337. Ellipses mine)

Mormonism teaches that God was once just like ourselves; that the eternal part of Him was enshrined in mortal flesh, subject to mortal ills and earthly pains and toils. I do not now refer to the experience of the Savior in the meridian of time. I mean that in the far away aeons of the past God once dwelt upon an earth like this, and that through its trials and vicissitudes and the experience they afforded He became a more intelligent being than before, ascending finally by obedience to certain principles, ennobling and exalting in their nature, to the plane which He now occupies. These truths, forming the ladder up which He climbed to celes­tial heights, up which we too are expected to climb from earth to heaven, from mortality to immortality, from a world where grief and sorrow reign, to a better and brighter sphere where sorrow and suffering are unknown—these truths are self-existent and eternal. God did not create them”
(Orson F. Whitney, May 6, 1892, “Collected Discourses” 3:45)

William W. Major captures details in this oil on canvas painting of the faces of this group of Mormon leaders: Hyrum Smith, Willard Richards, Joseph Smith, Orson Pratt, Parley Parker Pratt, Orson Hyde, Heber Chase Kimball, and Brigham Young.

Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground”
(Joseph Fielding Smith, “Doctrines of Salvation”, 1:188. Italics in original)

“And again, we exclaim, O Mormonism! No wonder that Lucifer, son of the morning, the next heir to Jesus Christ, our eldest broth­er, should fight so hard against his brethren; he lost the glory, the honor, power, and dominion of a God: and the knowledge, spirit, authority and keys of the priesthood of the son of God!”
(W.W. Phelps, December 25, 1844, “Times and Seasons”, 5:758)

“I thank God for ‘Mormonism,’ so-called; it is the power of God unto salvation”
(Joseph F. Smith, “Gospel Doctrine”, 1986 edition, p.97)

“Time and time again my heart has been melted, my eyes have wept tears of gratitude for the knowledge that He lives and that this gospel called Mormonism is in very deed the plan of life and salvation, that it is the only true gospel upon the face of the earth, that it is in very deed the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ”
(Heber J. Grant, “Gospel Standards”, p.197-198; Given in General Conference October 1918)

“Seven hundred years before the birth of our Savior, a prophet of God upon the eastern hemisphere predicted the coming forth of ‘a marvelous work and a wonder.’ ‘Mormonism,’ so called, ac­cording the faith of its adherents, is the fulfilment of that ancient prediction”
(Orson F. Whitney, “Conference Reports”, October 1916, p.51)

“However, a more important question for us today is this: ‘Are the so-called ‘Mormons’ true Christians and does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contain the elements of a world-wide Christian religion?’ It is my sincere belief and testimony that the Latter-day Saints commonly called ‘Mormons,’ are Christians in the truest and fullest sense of the term, and that this Church is world-wide in its comprehensiveness, in organization, and in its blessing and salvation of the human family. As true Christianity should and as it did in the days of the Savior, ‘Mormonism’ com­bines the essential elements in the teachings of Israel’s prophets, priests and sages; and in accepting the Jehovah of the Old Testa­ment as the Savior of mankind, it fulfils the noblest aspirations of the Hebrew race, thereby indicating a world-wide scope so far as Israel’s people and Israel’s God are concerned”
(David O. McKay, “Conference Reports”, April 1927, pp.104-105)

“To us, and to all the world to whom ‘Mormonism’ has been pro­claimed, has come the law by which the people of the world are to be judged. I want to say to the world to whom ‘Mormonism’ has come, or may come in the future, that it is unto them the savour of life unto life, or of death unto death, according as they receive it and live it, or as they reject it”
(George F. Richards, “Conference Reports”, April 1908, p.40)

Satan gaining a major victory via the 2014 Thomas S. Monson era feature film, “Meet the Mormons”.

Mormonism is Christianity; Christianity is Mormonism; they are one and the same, and they are not to be distinguished from each other in the minutest detail”
(Bruce R. McConkie, “Mormon Doc­trine”, 1966, p.513)

Mormonism is the wonder of this world, and the great leveling machine of creeds, constitutions, kingdoms, countries, divisions, notions, notorieties and novelties; and praise it, talk about it, lie about it, exalt it, degrade it, blow at it, sneer at it, fear it, love it, hate it, persecute it, or laugh at it, still it is Mormonism, true as heaven, powerful as Jesus, eternal as element, going on conquer­ing and to conquer!”
(W.W. Phelps, “Times and Seasons”, 5:758)

Mormonism’ is not exclu­sive. It does not claim that all who have failed to accept and obey the gospel of eternal life shall be eternally and forever damned”
(James E. Talmage, “Articles of Faith”, 1984, p.468)

“You might as well deny ‘Mormonism,’ and turn away from it, as to oppose the plurality of wives. Let the Presidency of this Church, and the Twelve Apostles, and all the authorities unite and say with one voice that they will oppose that doctrine, and the whole of them would be damned”
(Heber C. Kimball, October 12, 1856, “Journal of Discourses”, 5:203)

“…Mormonism be it true or false, holds out to men the greatest inducements that the human mind can grasp…It teaches that the worlds on high, the stars that glitter in the blue vault of heaven, are kingdoms of God, that they were once earths like this, that they have been redeemed and glorified by the same laws, the same principles that are applied to this planet, and by which it will ascend to a perfected and glorified state. It teaches that these worlds are peopled with human beings, God’s sons and daughters, and that every husband and father, may become an Adam, and every wife and mother an Eve, to some future planet”
(Orson F. Whitney, June 9, 1895, “Collected Discourses”, 4:336. Ellipses mine)

First Counselor, soon to be LdS President, Gordon B. Hinckley (1995-2008) offending the Savior and giving Satan a major victory in Fall General Conference 1990.

“There is no predestination in Mormon theology. Free agency is a sacred gift, divinely bestowed. Here is the answer to the old question, ‘If God loves his children, why does he permit war and strife and kindred evils?’ Because he holds inviolable the right given man to choose his own way, between good and evil, between life and destruction. (What of the Mormons? pamphlet, 1982, pp.6-7.)”
(Gordon B. Hinckley, “Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley”, p.55)

“Well done for Mor­monism; one hundred and forty four thousand GODS, among the tribes of Israel, and, two living Gods and the Holy Ghost, for this world! Such knowledge is too wonderful for men, unless they pos­sess the spirit of Gods”
(John Taylor, “The Gospel Kingdom”, p.29)

“Oppose it in this way, and teach your children to do the same, and if you do not become as dark as midnight their is no truth in Mormonism
(Orson Pratt, October 7, 1874, “Journal of Discourses”, 17:225. Ellipses mine)

“They [Mormons] are generally classed as Protestants, since they are not Catholic. Actually they are no closer to Protestantism than they are to Catholicism. Neither historically nor on the basis of modern association, theology, or practice can they be grouped with either. …Suffice it to say that its theology, its organization, and its practices are in many respects entirely unique among today’s Christian denominations”
(Gordon B. Hinckley, What of the Mormons? a non-paginated tract, 1976. Brackets and ellipses mine. Bracketed word choice derived from context.)

Mormons are true Christians; their worship is the pure, unadul­terated Christianity authored by Christ and accepted by Peter, James, and John and all the ancient saints”
(Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p.513)

“The Mormons believe that all men were born in the spirit world of the union of the sexes, having a literal father and a literal moth­er before coming to this world, that the spirits are just the same in appearance as the body, that God is a married Being, has a wife at least, as Jeremiah said the angels were offering incense to the queen of heaven. The Latter-day Saints believe that God is an ex­alted Man, and that we are the offspring of Him and His wife.
(George Q. Cannon, “Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of Presi­dent George Q. Cannon”, 1:129)

Mormonism does not tend to debase God to the level of man, but to exalt man to the perfection of God”
(Charles Penrose, cited in “The Gospel Through the Ages”, p.107)

“How did this state of things called Mormonism originate? We read that an angel came down and revealed himself to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him in vision the true position of the world in a religious point of view”
(John Taylor, “The Gospel King­dom”, p.6)

“The Mormons believe that all men were born in the spirit world of the union of the sexes, having a literal father and a literal moth­er before coming to this world… The Latter-day Saints believe that God is an exalted Man, and that we are the offspring of Him and His wife.
(George Q. Cannon, “Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon”, 1:129)

“All men, regardless of the degree of their guilt or innocence, will be resurrected from the dead, and this belief also becomes a foun­dation stone in the structure of the Mormon Church. But in ad­dition to this general salvation through the atonement, every soul that lives in mortality to the age of responsibility may place himself within the reach of divine mercy and may obtain a remission of sin”
(Hugh B. Brown, “Conference Reports”, April 1965, p.43)

“We Latter-day Saints have that new revelation. We have a new prophet and new scriptures also, which, added to the Bible, now point the way. This new revelation brought with it the true under­standing of the nature of God and a restoration of primitive Chris­tianity. That restoration is Mormonism. It came about through the ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jun. He saw God and com­muned with him, even as did Moses”
(Mark E. Petersen, “Conference Reports”, April 1964, p.19)

“What the world calls ‘Mormonism’ will rule every nation. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young will be the head. God has decreed it, and his own right arm will accomplish it”
(Orson Hyde, “Journal of Discourses”, 7:53)

Man’s destiny is a God-like one. We do not worry about evolution. We have the true doctrine. The ‘Mormon’ Prophet set forth the eter­nal law of progression”
(John A. Widtsoe, “The Divine Mission of Joseph Smith”, “Handbook of the Restoration: A Selection of Gospel Themes Discussed by Various Authors”, pp.35-36)

“Members of the Church do not resent being referred to as Mormons, nor does the Church resent being referred to as the Mormon church. As we have said, however, it is not the correct name of the Church. Its correct name is, as we have already explained, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (D&C 115:4).”
(Marion G. Romney, “We, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, General Conference, April 1979)

“The term Mormon can be appropriately used in some contexts to refer to members of the Church, such as Mormon pioneers, or to institutions, such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Church members are widely known as Mormons, and in interactions with those not of our faith, we may fittingly refer to ourselves as Mormons, provided we couple this with the full name of the Church.”
(M. Russell Ballard, “Following Up,” General Conference, April 2014)

“CHRISTIANITY WILL BEAR HONEST INVESTIGATION.— We call ourselves Christians, that is, we Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Episcopalians and Mormons, we all call ourselves Christians. Well, perhaps we are, and then, perhaps we are not”
(John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.75, caps in original)

“The Latter-day Saints, so commonly called “Mormons,” have no animosity towards the Negro. Neither have they described him as belonging to an ‘inferior race’”
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions 4:170)

“Enemies of the Church, or stupid people, reading also that Adam is ‘our father and our God’ have heralded far and wide that the Mormons believe that Jesus Christ was begotten of Adam”
(John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p.56)

The President Thomas S. Monson administration (2008-2018) giving Satan a worldwide major victory with the 2011 “I’m a Mormon” media campaign – which also included the 2014 “Meet the Mormons” feature film.

(The author would like to thank the “Preaching From an Asbestos Suit: Reasoning With Mormons on the Internet” Facebook group for their assistance in helping me research and harvest the historical quotes used in this article) 

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Scientology v. Scientology Lite

By Fred W. Anson
The A&E show “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” has been nothing short of a phenomenon. For those unfamiliar with the show, here’s the description from the show’s website:

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath gives a voice to victims of the Church of Scientology despite public attempts to discredit them.

Leah Remini, along with high level former Scientology executives and Church members, explores individual accounts from ex-Church members and their families through meetings and interviews with Leah. Each episode features stories from former members whose lives have been affected by the Church’s harmful practices, even well after they left the organization. Along with a team of former high-ranking Scientology insiders who understand the inner workings and policies of the organization, Leah gives the victims a chance to be heard.
(A&E website; “About Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”)

And anyone who’s watched the show will testify that it’s riveting stuff to watch. There’s intrigue, enlightenment, and horror all at once and usually in the same show. More than one box of Kleenex has undoubtedly been emptied over the heart-wrenching stuff that these people have had to endure both as members of the cult of Scientology and as former members – and often it’s hard to tell which is worse! And, of course, to the surprise of no one, current members and the Church of Scientology deny that any of it is true. Rather, they would have us believe, everyone involved in the show is either an enemy of the Church and/or an angry, bitter apostate – a “Suppressive Person” to use Scientology’s lingo.

Scientology Lite
Does any of this sound familiar Mormon Critics and Ex-Mormons? If so, you’re not the first to recognize the parallels between Scientology and Mormonism. Back in February 2011 (two-years before Leah Remini left Scientology) an article entitled, “Scientology Lite” on the Mormon Expression Blogsite listed the following parallels between Mormonism and Scientology:

  • The church refuses to account for member behavior even when they are quoting or following leaders
  • There are a lot of “unwritten laws”
  • Members default to defending the church, even to lying or turning back on family members
  • It’s all subjective…so how do you “know”?
  • Coverts are often “loners looking for a club to join”
  • Testimonies are overly effusive.
  • There’s “some good” in it, so “what harm can there be?”
  • The crazy S#!$ is introduced later … there’s a long process until you are fully entrenched.
  • Fascinating, enigmatic founder
  • Church underpays its employees
  • Requires sincerity for it all to work
  • Doesn’t “look” like a cult initially
  • Proof is in the lives of its members
  • Testimonies often include, “I don’t know where I’d be without….”
  • Levels of membership. Focus changes over time
  • Perverse pride in membership
  • Charitable but not egalitarian
  • Lack of curiosity keeps members in – they are uninterested and afraid of information
  • Willed myopia of membership
  • Hard to get through “scriptures”
  • At upper levels of membership they are deprived of adequate food and sleep
  • Members tell themselves they are wonderful examples to the world of good living
  • Inability of membership to laugh at themselves
  • Certain processes are confusing and unsatisfying
  • Members project unambiguous, non-ambivalent view of world
  • “If it changes me for the better, who cares if it’s true?”
  • Arrogance of membership with lots of superlatives used in sales pitch
  • Church avoids “overt political stands” but membership is almost entirely homogeneous politically
  • Apostasy is all the apostates’ fault. All disconnection to family  and friends is blamed on that decision
  • Wives tend to stay and denounce husbands who leave
  • Church discipline (kicking people out) is seen as “for their own good”
  • Members consider membership “safe” and a “protection”
  • Members maintain positive exterior, but a very reproachful interaction with former members
  • Public image of religion is MOST IMPORTANT
  • There’s a difference between public tenets and private interaction
  • Greatest fear is expulsion from religion
  • Church holds power the of eternal life
  • Members are taught to handle internal conflict within church’s own justice system
  • Big Brother type files kept of high level apostates
  • Members attack apostates’ character rather than address the issues
  • Church doesn’t live up to its own standards for its members
  • Special service is supposedly to “help people” but most of the time and energy is really just spent on serving the purposes of the organization
  • Sells itself as “fastest growing religion”
  • Members think it “does more good”
  • Critics are vilified and suspected of “anti” sentiment
  • Members sacrifice a lot with little to show for it
  • Original books are changed and church denies the changes are significant
  • All or nothing claims, “base stories are true or else it’s ALL a lie”
  • Shame in leaving, “Everyone else could see it was a sham, why couldn’t I?”
  • Apostates who leave claim they feel “alive” and can think clearly for the first time in a long time (or ever)
    (Dad Primal, “Scientology Lite”, Mormon Expression website, February 19, 2011)

Lt. General Joseph Smith, commander of the Nauvoo Legion, and Commodore L. Ron Hubbard of the Sea Org.

That article was based on this Ex-Mormon author’s dinner with an Ex-Scientologist co-worker during which they compared notes and were floored by the similarities between their two religions.  As he states in the article, “She’s a very successful businesswoman, but I had to scrape my jaw off the floor as she related her experience…some good, some bad…just like my experience with Mormonism.” That dinner was later augmented by the February 14, 2011, New Yorker article about infamous Scientology Apostate, Paul Haggis (Lawrence Wright, “The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology”). That’s where the bullet points related to apostates were drawn from in his analysis.

So when it’s all said and done, Dad Primal’s article was new, fresh, eye-opening, enlightening – even shocking. Thus the article resonated strongly with Ex-Mormons and was soon being discussed extensively across the Mormon Bloggernacle.

Things had settled down a bit when the 2015 award-winning HBO documentary, “Going Clear” (which was based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief”) aired resulting in a fresh new crop of comparisons between the two groups. Then, once again, the Bloggernacle erupted with new articles and discussion based on the revelations of that excellent documentary.

But if that weren’t enough, later that year, Leah Remini’s book, “Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology” hit the bookstores with the aforementioned “Scientology and the Aftermath” hitting cable TV a year later to the month. It was around that time that the influential MormonThink website published a full analysis and explanation of the issues focusing on the following points of comparison:

10 Things common to both Scientology and Mormonism
1) Keeping secrets about the religion from its members.
2) You’ll be lost without the Church.
3) Excessive financial conditions for Church membership.
4) Believers often defend the religion with the comment that “it’s a good organization”, whether or not it is literally true.
5) Read only faith-promoting materials produced by us.
6) Churches use Internet filters to block some websites that frankly discuss some of the problems of their organization.
7) Detractors of the faith are labeled as liars and “anti.”
8) The founders and top leaders are hero-worshiped.
9) Tears families apart.
10) Have been labeled as a cult and the members as brainwashed.
(“Scientology and Mormonism”, MormonThink website)

So what started as a spark in 2011 has erupted into the full-on wildfire that we see burning today. Go to just about any Mormon-centric website and within a few minutes, you’ll find someone making a Mormon/Scientology comparison. It’s almost become a cliché.1

But if the parallels are so obvious to outsiders then why are active, believing Mormons so oblivious to them?

Mormon “Plan of Salvation” (circa the 1950’s) v. Scientology “Bridge” (circa the 1970s) [click to zoom]

Why They Stay (and Other Unsolved Mysteries)
One of the most common questions asked of those of us who have left Mind Control Cults is, “Why did you stay so long?” And very often, candidly, we don’t know ourselves! I have spent decades trying to unravel why I couldn’t see what outsiders could see so clearly about my cult. And I’m not alone, in my work with recovering Ex-Mormons I very often see them struggling to untie that knot too.

One explanation is that we were all in a “Snapped” psychological state. This isn’t a concept and term that I came up, nor is it a term that journalists, Flo Conway, and Jim Siegelman invented when they wrote the watershed book “SNAPPING America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change” in 1978. Rather, it’s the term that ex-cultists often use to describe the shift in thinking that lead them into, and kept them in their group. Here’s how Conway and Siegelman describe it:

In all the world, there is nothing quite so impenetrable as a human mind snapped shut with bliss. No call to reason, no emotional appeal can get through its armor of self-proclaimed joy.
(Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, “Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change”Kindle Location 1302, Stillpoint Press. Kindle Edition.)

And to their point is there any greater cultist defense mechanism than that of thought-terminating clichés? As cult researcher Luna Lindsey explains:

A thought-terminating cliché is a phrase that halts argument or prevents clear thought. It can be a short “bumper sticker slogan”, seeming to deliver a profound message without really meaning much. Or it can represent a larger concept that can’t be expressed in words. In either case, it is a shortcut to prevent deeper exploration or discussion.
(Luna Lindsey, “Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control”p. 194. Kindle Edition.) 

Anyone who has attempted to reason with cultists has encountered these. They’re pat responses that get thrown up when the cultist is presented with discomforting evidence that challenges their group’s claims. Each group has there their own unique set but often there’s crossover between groups. Leah Remini talks about them throughout her book ( the aforementioned “Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology”) and Lindsey, a former Mormon, has an entire chapter of Mormon thought-terminating clichés in her book, things like:

  • The church is perfect, man is not.
  • The hardhearted hate the truth.
  • Satan is raging in the hearts of men.
  • Choose the right.
  • These are plain and precious things.
  • Cast not your pearls before swine.
  • It will be sorted out in the next life.
  • Wickedness never was happiness.
  • All will be revealed in due time.
  • You will not be tempted more than you are able to bear.
  • Are those feelings/thoughts/teachings in line with the gospel?
  • Leaving the Church is the easy way out.

But really, we’re still just describing symptoms rather than answering the question, aren’t we? Perhaps Christian Apologist, J. Warner Wallace, in a July 2018 radio interview, cut straight to the chase when he proposed that there are really only three reasons why we believe anything:

  • Rational Reasons.
  • Emotional Reasons.
  • Volitional Reasons.

And Mr. Wallace makes the point that typically Emotional and Volitional Reasons trump Rational Reasons. This is true even for non-cultists, it’s just not as extreme. Thus the issue when it comes to cults is really degree. For example, in healthy religious settings, you can leave the group pretty much without consequence. As the saying goes, “Cults have many entrances but few exits.” And, in fact, many experts claim that this is the key criteria in determining if a group is a cult or not.

Some Ex-Mormons have suggested this re-branding of their former religion.

Now consider that in light of Scientology and Mormonism, where leaving may result in loss of family, vocation, and social standing. As a result, many members simply choose to stay in the group even though they no longer believe in it. Leah Remini explains in her book that she stayed in Scientology even though she no longer believed in it because she knew that to do so would get her labeled a “Suppressive Person” which would result in her family “disconnecting” (Scientology’s policy-mandated form of extreme shunning) from her. Thus she stayed for volitional reasons.

We see a similar phenomenon in Mormonism with “Shadow Mormons” – Mormons who no longer believe the Church is true but remain members and play the game rather than risk losing their marriage, families, jobs, or social standing in the community. The cult has them trapped and they know it, as the words of one Shadow Mormon demonstrate so well:

REMEMBER US! To those of you on the outside reading this, I beg you, please do not forget us. Please remember the hundreds of thousands of unique, special, beautiful individuals that are currently serving life sentences in the prison of Mormonism. Please do not cease to pray; to whatever God you serve, for our deliverance. Some of us have no hope for redemption or liberation. For the greater good, we willingly sacrifice our souls upon the altar of conformity and orthodoxy. Our pain is real. Our sentence is absolute.
(‘Enigma’, “The Death of Reason and Freedom”, Beggar’s Bread website, October 18, 2013, caps in original)

And speaking from my own personal experience, and factoring in the many conversations that I’ve had with recovering cultists over the years as well, I will tell you that probably the #1 reason why we all stayed in our cults even when confronted with a mountain of discrediting evidence was that we wanted to. The reasons were emotional.

When I was a cultist I could rationalize and justify anything that didn’t conform to my preferred narrative. Thus I could bury any logic, reason, or evidence underneath feelings and will. In the aforementioned radio interview, J. Warner Wallace refers to this as “remediating the evidence”. And chillingly, he says that it’s the same mental process that criminals use to justify their crimes. It is, simply stated, a form of self-delusion – as former Branch, Ward, Stake and Regional Mormon leader Jim Whitefield explains:

I have become convinced that each individual Mormon must have his or her own personal epiphany which comes from uncertainty and questioning that arises along the way. Until something triggers the desire to ‘seek’, a member will never ‘find’ the ultimate truth.

If you try to face a believer with the truth, that person invariably rejects the messenger and the message. Something may get through sometimes, but generally members will not thank you for trying to ‘destroy’ their testimony. The messenger is under the influence of Satan, the message is fraught with lies, and members already ‘know’ and cling to the truth – just as they were taught to. That is called faith.

As long as people want the Mormon Church to be true, more than they are willing to face the possibility that it is not, they will not entertain evidence or reason. Delusion becomes a choice.”
(Jim Whitefield, “The Mormon Delusion: Volume 4: The Mormon Missionary Lessons – A Conspiracy to Deceive”, Kindle Locations 10297-10305)

So in summary and conclusion, the bottom line for to why cultists don’t leave is simply this: They choose to stay.

And whether we’re talking about Scientology, “Scientology Lite”, or any other cult, therein lies the problem. As funny as it sounds some folks actually prefer a cage to freedom. Yet, ironically, they’re utterly blindly convinced that outsiders are the ones who are caged. This is as writer and university instructor, David Foster Wallace famously said so well,

Blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up.”
(David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College Commencement Address, May 21, 2005)

And it is that blind certainty, my friends, that keeps Scientologists; Mormons; people in the abusive Shepherding Movement that I was in; and everyone else who’s ever been a cult from leaving it. Take away that certainty and suddenly everything changes.

NOTES
1 And to add my own contribution to the growing body of observed parallels, here’s another one: The book that is held up to investigators as the best introduction to and/or the foundational text for the religion is not only largely tangential to the current doctrine of said religion but may at points even contradict it. This just as true of “Dianetics” as it is “The Book of Mormon”. As Sociologist of Religion, Bryan R. Wilson noted:

In 1952, Hubbard launched Scientology, and this new, expanded, and more encompassing belief-system subsumed Dianetics, providing it with a more fully articulated metaphysical rationale…

In a collection of scholarly papers edited by the Jesuit sociologist, Professor Joseph H. Fichter, S.J., of Loyola University, New Orleans, (Alternatives to American Mainline Churches, New York: Rose of Sharon Press, 1983), Frank K. Flinn, now Adjunct Professor in Religious Studies at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, addresses directly the question of the religious status of Scientology in great detail. He considers first the religious status of Dianetics…

‘While Dianetics had religious and spiritual tendencies, it was not yet a religion in the full sense of the term… Dianetics did not promise what may be called ‘transcendental’ rewards as the normal outcome of its therapy. It did, however, promise ‘trans-normal’ reward… Secondly, in the Dianetics stage of the movement, engrams were traced back to the fetal stage at the earliest… Thirdly, Dianetics had only four ‘dynamics’ or ‘urges for survival’—self, sex, group and Mankind… Fourthly, the auditing techniques in the Dianetics phase [did not use] the ‘E-Meter’’
(Bryan R. Wilson, Ph.D., “Scientology: An Analysis and Comparison of its Religious Systems and Doctrines”, University of Oxford England, February 1995 pp.32,48) 

And I documented the many conflicts and contradictions between the Book of Mormon and modern Latter-day Saint doctrine in my article “The Book of Mormon v. Mormon Doctrine” which I concluded like this:

The reader may be scratching their head wondering how the work that is held up as the “keystone of our religion” by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not only contains very little of that religion … but discredits much of it. The answer to that question is pretty simple: The Book of Mormon doesn’t teach modern Mormonism, rather it teaches 19th Century American Restorationism.

As Latter-day Saint scholar Thomas G. Alexander explains, “Much of the doctrine that early investigators found in Mormonism was similar to contemporary Protestant churches.” So if you strip away the baggage of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon origin story you’re left with a piece of Christian literature that’s more akin to “Pilgrim’s Progress” or “The Screwtape Letters” than “Dianetics”. In the end, it’s very much as Shawn McCraney described it when he said, “[We] recognize the Book of Mormon as a piece of 19th-century literary fiction aimed at teaching Jesus Christ…”

… For the uninformed, the Book of Mormon can be a powerful recruiting tool.  But for the informed that power is quickly lost.
(Fred W. Anson, “The Book of Mormon v. Mormon Doctrine”, Beggar’s Bread website, June 26. 2014) 

Thus, rather than being an accurate encapsulation of the religion, both “introductory” texts are really just a vehicle to get the investigators to talk to the full-time evangelists for these organizations: Auditors for Scientology, Missionaries for Mormonism.  Those evangelists use the book (even if it ultimately ends up going unread) as a means to begin the process of indoctrination into the religion and groom the investigator for the more esoteric and less comfortable “truths”, which will be only be revealed after so much of the investigator’s time, money, emotional energy, and personal effort have been invested into the organization that it’s hard for them to leave. Different organizations, different books; same tactic, same result.

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by Fred W. Anson
Citing Matthew 7:20 (“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”) Mormons challenge us to “inspect the fruit” of Mormonism. So I did, and this is what I found:

  1. A church that teaches the blasphemy that God was once a man. And that further teaches that good Latter-day Saints can likewise be exalted to Godhood. (see official LdS Church website “Becoming Like God”)
  2. Via the doctrine of “Continuing Revelation” is a church that engages in and teaches moral relativism based on the example and teaching of its founder who once said, “That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another… Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. So with Solomon: first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation.” (see History of the Church, Vol. 5, p.135
  3. A church that hides sensitive topics like it’s pagan “Mother in Heaven” doctrine from investigators and recent converts. (see official LdS Church website, “Mother in Heaven”)
  4. To the last point, a church that in the LdS Church’s official Missionary Training curriculum “Preach My Gospel”, LdS Missionaries are specifically told to withhold information from investigators on key doctrines:
    “…you will not teach all you know about the doctrine [of the LdS Church] …” (p.19, 2004 edition)
    “When first teaching this doctrine [Agency and the Fall of Adam and Eve], do not teach everything you know about it.” (p.50, 2004 edition)
  5. A church that engaged in institutionalized racism until 1978, has never apologized for it and is now lying by claiming that it was never official doctrine. (see official LdS Church website, “Race and the Priesthood”
  6. A church that implicitly makes God a racist by claiming that the LdS Priesthood Ban against People of Color that ended in 1978 was of divine origin – that is God’s will – rather than due to human error. (see Jana Riess, “Commentary: Most Mormons still believe the racist priesthood/temple ban was God’s will, survey shows”, Salt Lake Tribune, June 11, 2018) 
  7. A church that lied about no longer practicing polygamy in 1890 and secretly continued to practice it until 1904. (see official LdS Church website “Plural Marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”)
  8. A church that murdered 120 innocent people at Mountain Meadows on September 11, 1857 and then plundered their belongings but spared any children who were younger than 8-years old intending to raise them as Latter-day Saints. (see official LdS Church website, “Mountain Meadow Massacre“; also see “Peace and Violence Among 19th Century Latter-day Saints”
  9. A church that to this day refuses to acknowledge or apologize for the role of high ranking Mormon leaders in the aforementioned Mountain Meadows Massacre. (see Mormon Coffee website, “Mormon Church Does Not Apologize”)
  10. A church movement that has resulted in 400+ denominations over its 180+ history – a fragmentation rate that will easily surpass Non-Mormon, mainstream Christian denominationalism eventually. (see Wikipedia, “List of Denominations in the Latter Day Saint Movement”; also Steven L. Shields, “Divergent Paths of the Restoration”)
  11. A church that hypocritically points to the denominationalism of mainstream Christianity as a “proof” of its apostasy while simultaneously ignoring it’s own rapidly spreading denominationalism. (see Mormon Reformation Day, Facebook website, Thesis #72)  
  12. A church that allows and condones lying to outsiders by its leaders. (see Mormon Reformation Day, Facebook website, Thesis #71)
  13. A church that allowed their founding prophet to violate state and local law by giving him every political office in Nauvoo from Justice of the Peace to Mayor. The result was that he was able to ignore every writ of Habeus Corpus that crossed his desk – many of which were in regard to warrants for his arrest. (see John S. Dinger, “Joseph Smith and the Development of Habeus Corpus in Nauvoo 1841-1844”, Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 36, no. 3 (Summer 2010), pp. 135-171)
  14. A church that defends a founding Prophet who had at least 34-wives, about a third of them minors (the youngest being 14-years old), and another third of them already the wives of living husbands who were members of his church. (see official LdS Church website “Plural Marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”)
  15. A church that defends a founding Prophet who brought about the Book of Mormon via the Occult practice of scrying (the Peep Stone in a Hat). (see official LdS Church website, “Book of Mormon Translation”; also see Wikipedia, “Scrying”)
  16. A church that defends a founding Prophet who deceptively claimed that his contrived translation of a common Egyptian “Book of Breathings” funerary papyrus was a legitimate translation of the source text. (see official LdS Church website, “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham”)
  17. A church that defends a founding Prophet who ordered his fellow leaders to engage in illegal polygamy with him. And, oh, by the way, polygamy was illegal everywhere the Mormons practiced it. (see official LdS Church website, “Plural Marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”; also see MormonThink website “Polygamy”)

    In a scene from Lehi’s dream from The Book of Mormon (see 1 Nephi 8:4-35), Lehi reaches for the white and desirable fruit on the Tree of Life while holding onto the Iron Rod alongside the strait and narrow path that’s enveloped in mists of great darkness.

  18. A church that defends a founding Prophet who publicly declared, “I will be to this generation a second Muhammad, whose motto in treating for peace was the Alcoran [Koran] or the Sword. So shall it eventually be with us Joseph Smith or the Sword!” (Joseph Smith, October 14, 1838,  History of the Church, Vol 3, p.176). It was inflammatory public rhetoric like that from Smith and other Mormon leaders – such as Sidney Rigdon’s “Salt Sermon” – that lead to the 1838 Mormon War of Missouri. (see official LdS Church website, “Peace and Violence Among 19th Century Latter-day Saints”; also see Wikipedia, “Salt Sermon”)
  19. A church that defends a founding Prophet who boasted that he was greater than Christ and the Apostles when he said, “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (see History of the Church Vol. 6, p. 408-412, or Millennial Star No. 42 Vol. 23 p. 672-674, also see Utah Lighthouse Ministry website “Joseph Smith’s Boasting and Polygamy Denial Sermon”)
  20. A church that defends a founding Prophet who publicly lied when he denied that he was practicing polygamy in a sermon on Sunday, May 26, 1844. Specifically, he said, “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” And this while at least 16 of his polygamous wives were in attendance. (see History of the Church Vol. 6, p. 408-412, or Millennial Star No. 42 Vol. 23 p. 672-674, also see Utah Lighthouse Ministry website “Joseph Smith’s Boasting and Polygamy Denial Sermon”)
  21. A church that defends a founding Prophet who ordered a “hit” on Governor Boggs of Missouri by his private bodyguard, Porter Rockwell. Thankfully it failed. (see Wikipedia, “Attempted Assassination of Lilburn Boggs”)
  22. A church that defends a founding Prophet who, in violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution, had a private printing press destroyed because it was telling the truth about his secret polygamy and abuse of power. (see Wikipedia, “Nauvoo Expositor”)
  23. A church that defends a founding Prophet who in violation of Federal and Illinois sedition and treason laws illegally mustered the Nauvoo Legion (a private army that was bigger and better armed than the Illinois State Militia) and declared Marital Law in Nauvoo in case the State of Illinois should attempt to arrest him for the destruction of the aforementioned printing press. (see History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 532; Joseph Smith, “Personal Narrative of Joseph Smith (June 22, 1844) (End of Smith’s Personal Narrative)”  hosted on the University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Law website; also see Wikipedia, “Death of Joseph Smith”)
  24. A church that defends a founding Prophet who ordered the Commander of the Nauvoo Legion to march on the Carthage Jail where he was being held a free him and his brother Hyrum from jail. This would have been an act of treason and sedition under State and Federal law which the Commander wisely ignored. (see Allen J. Stout, “Manuscript Journal, 1815-89”, p. 13; also see Thoma B.H. Stenhouse, “The Rocky Mountain Saints”, Kindle Locations 2698-2725), and; Fawn M. Brodie, “No Man Knows My History (Illustrated): The Life of Joseph Smith“, Kindle Locations 8848-8854)
  25. A church that defends a founding Prophet who defrauded his own church members out of monies – even entire estates – via the fraudulent Kirtland Safety Society. (see Wikipedia, “Kirtland Safety Society”)
  26. A church that’s so desperate for continuing revelation from their current “Living Prophet” that its members will declare minor church policy changes like lowering the Missionary age of eligibility for boys from 19 to 18-years of age and from 21 to 19-years old for girls, a “revelation”. (see President Thomas S. Monson, “Welcome to Conference” for this policy change announcement. Also so “History, Hearsay and Heresy, Conclusion: Hastening What Work?” for one Mormon’s commentary on the ongoing claim in Mormon Culture that this was a “revelation”) 
  27. A church with leaders so corrupt that they will brazenly violate their own canonized scripture. The most recent example is the November 2015 policy that barred the children of homosexual parents from receiving baptism into the LdS Church until they are 18-years old – and even then only after they have formally renounced their parent’s homosexual behavior. In other words, in direct violation of the first clause of the canonized Article of Faith 2 (“We believe that men will be punished for their own sins”), the LdS Church now punishes the child of homosexuals for their parent’s sin. (see official LdS Church website, “Articles of Faith” and LA Times, “New Mormon policy bans acceptance of children of same-sex couples”, November 06, 2015) And to make things even worse, Mormon Leadership declared this policy change a “revelation” (see prior point). (see Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Mormon gay policy is ‘will of the Lord’ through his prophet, senior apostle says”; Salt Lake Tribune, February 3, 2016)
  28. A church with leaders that are so misguided and out of touch with reality that of all the issues confronting the world today, their biggest concern and priority is what they want people to call the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members. And yet again, the claim is made that this minor, largely irrelevant, and insignificant policy change is a “revelation”. Does anyone else see a pattern here? (see Mormon Newsroom, “The Name of the Church”
  29. A church that is so corrupt and badly in need of reform, that this “short” list is just the tip of the iceberg – as the 95 LDS Theses point out (see “The 95 LDS Theses”). And even then, that’s just the tip of the iceberg too – not only could yet more could be said in regard to the problems in the LdS Church alone, the other 60+ still active Mormon denominations have problems and issues that are just as bad, or worse than what we see in it.

Conclusion: Stated plainly, when one inspects the fruit of Mormonism, it may look good at first glance, but what one finds when it’s closely inspected is quite the opposite.

A couple look over the Tree of Life at Draper City Park in Draper on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. A lone willow tree lights the air with over 1,000 strands of lights in a non-fruit bearing re-creation of Lehi’s Dream from the Book of Mormon.