Episode 167: Articles of Faith for Dummies Part 4

John and Zilpha, break down Articles of Faith 11, 12, and 13 with Robyn, Brandt, Matthew, and Troy.

 

Episode 167

90 comments on “Episode 167: Articles of Faith for Dummies Part 4”

  1. Megan Reply

    Oh goody! Brandt!

    And he is TOTALLY not lite beer, because lite beer is vile. He is the micro-brewery [insert ale/stout/pilsner/etc according to preference].

    • Megan Reply

      Doh – excuse typo please Brant, serves me right for not looking up two lines to see how your name is spelled.

      • brandt Reply

        No, the typo is above.  It’s Brandt.  I might leave Mormon Expression now that they spelled my name wrong.

        😉 JOKING OBVIOUSLY.  But it is Brandt.  So you were right!

        • Matthew Crowley Reply

          Brandt, the change will be made retroactively.  But there will be no apology and no acknowledgment that it was ever incorrect.  We are the one true podcast after all.  People need to remain secure in that belief. 😉

          • Megan

            Also the change will be made very late… apparently.

            Hmmmmm….

            But now I’m all confused – which is the doctrinal Bran[d]t? I mean, yes, HE says he’s Brandt, but he could be speaking as a man, PLUS the General ME Authorities clearly have published it as Brant – on the sacred official podcast webpage. I think the however-many-there-were fundamentals tell me I have to go with Brant.

            If it’s any consolation, I hear a name change is relatively quick and inexpensive.

  2. Megan Reply

    Re Article 12:

    It’s very odd, given the time frame (post Revolutionary and even more recently post-1812), for Joseph to have started his list of ‘officials’ Mormons believe in being to be subject to with ‘kings.’ There was an enormous amount of disdain for kings in America at that time, in fact a deep distrust in the whole concept of kings. Then, after the mention of presidents, rulers takes us right back to the God appointed, ascension through blood concept of kings. The list makes no sense in an American setting.
    Magistrate is an interesting choice here too as it is usually used to mean ‘judge’ in America. 

    Doesn’t it look a little like Joseph is setting up absolute authority, if he had already the concept of ‘king of the world’ in mind? You guys touched on that a bit with – sorry, don’t know who said it – the comment about ‘he was defending his own right of power’ given that he was the leader of his own community.

    After all, the article of faith does not specify WHAT law – only ‘the law.’ It could be God’s law, it could be law as dictated by the ‘king,’ whomever that might be. He doesn’t say law of the land (common phrase), or make a single mention of government. In the article power seems to be centered in individuals, and very clearly mostly in monarchical individuals, and not in a democratic system of diffused and stratified bodies. 

    Doesn’t that seem a little weird, particularly with Joseph’s tendency to place America centrally and ignore the practices of the rest of the world? It seems that if he meant to clearly state that Mormons believe in obeying the civil laws of the state government he would have used language that was much more appropriate to his own country’s legal system. I think this could be another situation where there is a lot of ambiguity that leaves room for some pretty substantial and revolutionary actions on the part of the church against the government while remaining faithful to their own beliefs.

    Or he was just being archaic as he loved to do. I dunno. I mean kingship is totally a way sexier concept than president so there’s that…

  3. Megan Reply

    As to the ‘it’s too long ago’ for an apology?

    Just this past year or so the British government apologized for its treatment of WWII scientist Alan TurinG:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/11/pm-apology-to-alan-turing

    I personally do not believe there is an expiration date on acknowledging wrong-doing and trying to make amends. If the church is meant to lead people to become better people then wouldn’t it be a wonderful example for them to say, hey, we were wrong, and it hurt people and we are deeply sorry and will not do so again- isn’t that what they tell the members they have to do? As an organization shouldn’t the church be held to a HIGHER standard than the members?

    • Anonymous Reply

      They appologized for Mountain Meadows however it hasn’t had much of an effect at all.

      Elder Holland also stated that the reasons for blacks priesthood ban where mostly incorrect but that hasn’t resonated anywhere, even amongst mormon blogs.

      • Elder Vader Reply

        That was a mamby pamby apology for MMM.  Same goes for blacks and the priesthood. 

        How can I say that?  Because mainstream true believing mormons don’t even know about it.  They don’t know about mountain meadows, and they don’t know the church apologized for it.  A real apology is when Jeff Holland or one of the 15 gets up in GC and lays it out for everyone.  “We blew it.  Lets not ever make a blunder like that again.” 

        Within the past year I’ve had a conversation with this super orthodox guy in my ward.  This guy listens to general conference over and over again on his ipod.  He is a straight down the line believer every way he can be.  He’s not an uneducated idiot, he’s a good guy that would raise no eyebrows at all at church.  He’s in his 30’s.  He has a wife, kids, and a job.  Somehow the subject of blacks and the priesthood came up and he seriously tried to explain it that there were fence sitters in the pre-existence.  Exactly the same explanation as Alvin Dyer gave back in the 1950’s.  I responded that that doctrine belonged in the ash-heap of mormon history right along with blood-atonement, and he totally rebuked me for not following the voice of the prophets. 

        Also within the past year.  The new bishop in my ward assigned one of the graduate students in the ward to speak in sacrament meeting about the Pearl of Great Price.  His talk was all about how Joseph Smith had the gift of translation, and he translated the Egyptian scrolls that were written by Abraham while Abraham was in Egypt.  Nobody said a word.  There wasn’t any commentary that I heard out in the hallways or anything about how the Book of Abraham was probably not directly translated from the Egyptian scrolls. 

        When people start pointing out that the church isn’t lying to people I am forced to think of examples like these 3 (and there are more, believe me). 

        Darkmatter.  — Pointing out that the brethren apologized for Mountain Meadows, and the Priesthood being denied to blacks is bull crap.  The reason it hasn’t had any effect is because it was quietly done so as not to make a fuss. 

        • Megan Reply

          ‘A real apology is when Jeff Holland or one of the 15 gets up in GC and
          lays it out for everyone.  “We blew it.  Lets not ever make a blunder
          like that again.” ‘

          Spot on! And what a missed opportunity for the church!

          Look, bring it up, drag it into the light of day, point out ALL the ugly bits – OWN it, and then say, ‘just like the members we made a mistake, and just as we all try to do in our own lives, the church is repenting for this wrong. As this was a wrong done in public to all of our brothers and sisters our repentance will also be in public.’

          Then go on to talk about why it was wrong, talk about failure of Christ-like love, talk about how sometimes we mistake our own desires and needs for the true promptings of the spirit.

          But don’t, for heaven’s sake, make embarrassed little humming noises and then protest that it’s already been dealt with!

          • Troy Morrell

            Today in class someone brought up the fact that Tony Blair apologized formally for the Irish Famine in 1997.  Not how that was meant to come out, let’s see, the famine was 1845-1850, the apology was in 1997. 

        • Anonymous Reply

          There was an official apology delivered by a President Eyring to the descentents and to the relatives of the victims. Plus it was published for the media and its still available at lds.org to anyone interested.

          Conference isn’t the venue to issue appologies to people who don’t go there. An apology there would be worthless for those families of victims and their decendents. I think the way they did do it was best, however as you prove here some people will never accept an apology at all.

          Now that explanation on fence sitting has been around for decades and could be right or it could be wrong. No one ever stated ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ about blacks. That theory belongs to the realm of ‘gather together for instructions and learn from each other’ . Obviously the Lord never though it necessary to explain anything concerning blacks since no section in the D&C addressed the issue.

          I don’t agree with you that the BoAbraham was not directly translated from those scrolls. The issue could be that we still don’t actually have the right ones since they were in a fire. However I know you and others will jump with all the stories of BYU buying the momies etc, but that still doesn’t prove they survived the fire. But that’s another days argument.

          • Ipse Dixit

            I think darkmatter20 is referring to this statement by Henry B. Eyring: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUktFZCP238This is only the most recent example of the Church’s strategy with Mountain Meadows: express sympathy for the harm done to the murdered travelers and their families, but deny any institutional involvement therewith. I don’t know myself if the Church or its leaders were culpable in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, but it is certain that the Church created and cultivated an environment in which such an atrocity was possible to commit. The statement above does not acknowledge the role the rhetoric of Church leaders like Brigham Young and George A. Smith played in the massacre, nor the obstructionist stance of the Church over the next several decades. President Eyring does sincerely express sadness over the loss of life, and does acknowledge the role of local (meaning severable and expendable) church leaders, but don’t mistake that statement for an apology for the actions of the LDS Church.And as for your mention of the race question, it is true that no section of the Doctrine and Covenants addresses “the negro problem” specifically, but the Pearl of Great Price certainly does. Even so, the historical record indicates that Joseph Smith did not see a problem ordaining black men to the priesthood, as evidenced by the cases of Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis. This changed under Brigham Young, who took a more far-reaching view of the “curse of Cain,” stating to the Utah legislature that “[a]ny man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] … in him cannot hold the Priesthood *and if no other Prophet ever spoke it before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ* I know it is true and others know it.” (emphasis added) Why would he need to make such a pronouncement if this was already an established church doctrine? Why cite his prophetic office if he is not making the pronouncement by that authority? No, it is not an acknowledged, accepted-by-the-body-of-the-church Revelation, but it’s as close as they ever came in those days between Joseph’s death and the Manifesto.My research indicates that the “fence-sitter” nonsense began with B.H. Roberts, who taught that the descendants of Cain are those who were “not valiant in the great rebellion in heaven.” B.H. Roberts, “To the Youth of Israel,” Contributor 6 (May 1885): 297. Joseph Fielding Smith parroted Roberts throughout his service as the Church’s de facto chief doctrinal scholar, but he relied more heavily on the “curse of Cain” argument when writing about the priesthood ban.The result of the above teachings was that, by the turn of the twentieth century, it was simply common knowledge in the Church that the restriction was the will of god, not a policy subject to human change. The Prophets had said spoken, and had done so for more than a century. Insidiously, this doctrine provided cover for members to indulge racist tendencies, which leaders and members expressed in many ways, such as institutional support for policies like racial segregation and opposition to practices like interracial marriage.Many argue that the Church was no more or less racist than the popular American culture at the time. This does not reflect well on the Church’s claims to unique authority from, or communication with, the divine. The Church stood up for polygamy, an extremely unpopular practice, for decades. If equality among the races is the true doctrine, as the Church now teaches, why did the Church not also stand up for racial equality during the 19th and early to mid-20th centuries, even in the  face of less-intense popular opposition? It is obvious why they do not repudiate this doctrine: doing so would undermine the church’s claims to divine authority, especially during the still-controversial, turbulent, schismatic years between the Martyrdom and the Manifesto.Over time, the Church moved away from these positions, just like the rest of the western world. But it took the Church more than a decade to catch up to everyone else because it had to deal with the doctrinal inertia that had built up over the previous century regarding the teachings of Young and his successors. The only way to cut the Gordian knot Brigham’s racism caused was a canonized revelation. Thereupon the Church began to argue that anything anyone had said prior to June 1978 simply didn’t matter, which is, again, not the same thing as acknowledging institutional fault.(And before someone brings up the humbug that the prophets and apostles didn’t get permission from the Lord to extend the priesthood to blacks before 1978, describe a good, factual reason for Brigham and his successors to deny the priesthood to blacks when Joseph knowingly ordained black men. There are other, better apologetic arguments out there.)So again we have another example of the Church behaving as a perfectly rational earthly organization would: by seeking to protect its image and message while shielding itself from blame and/or liability. I want to believe that the Church is divinely inspired, but episodes like Mountain Meadows and the Church’s history with race just look so much like the way an earthly organization would handle such matters that it is difficult to suspend my disbelief. Does anyone out there have any suggestions on how to adopt a faithful perspective in the face of such a simple, rational explanation of the operative facts, or should I just embrace apostasy?

          • Ipse Dixit

            Argh! More formatting issues! One more try:

            I think darkmatter20 is referring to this statement by Henry B. Eyring: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUktFZCP238

            This is only the most recent example of the Church’s strategy with Mountain Meadows: express sympathy for the harm done to the murdered travelers and their families, but deny any institutional involvement therewith. I don’t know myself if the Church or its leaders were culpable in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, but it is certain that the Church created and cultivated an environment in which such an atrocity was possible to commit. The statement above does not acknowledge the role the rhetoric of Church leaders like Brigham Young and George A. Smith played in the massacre, nor the obstructionist stance of the Church over the next several decades. President Eyring does sincerely express sadness over the loss of life, and does acknowledge the role of local (meaning severable and expendable) church leaders, but don’t mistake that statement for an apology for the actions of the LDS Church.

            And as for your mention of the race question, it is true that no section of the Doctrine and Covenants addresses “the negro problem” specifically, but the Pearl of Great Price certainly does. Even so, the historical record indicates that Joseph Smith did not see a problem ordaining black men to the priesthood, as evidenced by the cases of Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis. This changed under Brigham Young, who took a more far-reaching view of the “curse of Cain,” stating to the Utah legislature that “[a]ny man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] … in him cannot hold the Priesthood *and if no other Prophet ever spoke it before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ* I know it is true and others know it.” (emphasis added) Why would he need to make such a pronouncement if this was already an established church doctrine? Why cite his prophetic office if he is not making the pronouncement by that authority? No, it is not an acknowledged, accepted-by-the-body-of-the-church Revelation, but it’s as close as they ever came in those days between Joseph’s death and the Manifesto.

            My research indicates that the “fence-sitter” nonsense began with B.H. Roberts, who taught that the descendants of Cain are those who were “not valiant in the great rebellion in heaven.” B.H. Roberts, “To the Youth of Israel,” Contributor 6 (May 1885): 297. Joseph Fielding Smith parroted Roberts throughout his service as the Church’s de facto chief doctrinal scholar, but he relied more heavily on the “curse of Cain” argument when writing about the priesthood ban.

            The result of the above teachings was that, by the turn of the twentieth century, it was simply common knowledge in the Church that the restriction was the will of god, not a policy subject to human change. The Prophets had said spoken, and had done so for more than a century. Insidiously, this doctrine provided cover for members to indulge racist tendencies, which leaders and members expressed in many ways, such as institutional support for policies like racial segregation and opposition to practices like interracial marriage.

            Many argue that the Church was no more or less racist than the popular American culture at the time. This does not reflect well on the Church’s claims to unique authority from, or communication with, the divine. The Church stood up for polygamy, an extremely unpopular practice, for decades. If equality among the races is the true doctrine, as the Church now teaches, why did the Church not also stand up for racial equality during the 19th and early to mid-20th centuries, even in the  face of less-intense popular opposition? It is obvious why they do not repudiate this doctrine: doing so would undermine the church’s claims to divine authority, especially during the still-controversial, turbulent, schismatic years between the Martyrdom and the Manifesto.

            Over time, the Church moved away from these positions, just like the rest of the western world. But it took the Church more than a decade to catch up to everyone else because it had to deal with the doctrinal inertia that had built up over the previous century regarding the teachings of Young and his successors. The only way to cut the Gordian knot Brigham’s racism caused was a canonized revelation. Thereupon the Church began to argue that anything anyone had said prior to June 1978 simply didn’t matter, which is, again, not the same thing as acknowledging institutional fault.

            (And before someone brings up the humbug that the prophets and apostles didn’t get permission from the Lord to extend the priesthood to blacks before 1978, describe a good, factual reason for Brigham and his successors to deny the priesthood to blacks when Joseph knowingly ordained black men. There are other, better apologetic arguments out there.)

            So again we have another example of the Church behaving as a perfectly rational earthly organization would: by seeking to protect its image and message while shielding itself from blame and/or liability. I want to believe that the Church is divinely inspired, but episodes like Mountain Meadows and the Church’s history with race just look so much like the way an earthly organization would handle such matters that it is difficult to suspend my disbelief. Does anyone out there have any suggestions on how to adopt a faithful perspective in the face of such a simple, rational explanation of the operative facts, or should I just embrace apostasy?

    • Anonymous Reply

      In response to Ipse Dixit; 

      This 4 deep only reply really messes up the debate here. 

      Yes , Ipse, I was referring to President Erying’s apology or remarks that are on youtube also and yes they don’t cover an institutional apology or institutional level. For the church, the local leaders responsible for MMM where excommunicated, both stake president and Bishop, with the bishop also hanged by the courts. Now from that point on its a matter of perspective. One can say that these local leaders were ‘expendable’ but also one can point to several historians who doubt the connections to Brigham Young. Its also a matter of perspective or personal judgment whether Young’s rhetoric at the time fueled the murders or those locals misunderstood the message and used Young’s words to justify mass killings of innocent people. At this stage, for me its nothing more than an academic argument and interesting historical footnote of no real consequence today. 

      The blacks issue though does have some consequences today. And you are right that apparently Joseph Smith didn’t have qualms about ordaining blacks but Brigham Young completely banned them. And yes the PoGP mentions the dark skin curse and lack of priesthood to the Egyptians and their descendants however we also only have the orders Young gave -no priesthood for anyone with a drop of blood, death on the spot if you marry them etc- but we don’t have the reasons why he came to that conclusion. I’ve always suspected that maybe Smith’s ordaining blacks contributed to his death because they were very anti-black around were he lived and , remember that even the Baptist church broke into two over the blacks and priesthood issue.  But yes, as you point out, between Roberts and especially Joseph fielding Smith, the ‘policy’ became more of a ‘doctrine’ to mormons and then all the other theories blossomed: fence sitters, ok to segregate in the Utah hotel up to even during President McKay’s time and under his approval. But does that fair poorly for the church from the inside? No, I don’t believe so. Because several, especially McKay, are on record saying that they prayed and prayed over this issue and there was never an answer. McKay even went so far as to separating subcontinentals and native australians as non-blacks and did give them the priesthood, so it wasn’t just based on skin colour (remember that Egyptians and other north Africans were also denied the priesthood even though they are Mediterranean race).  But it does look bad from the outside in. Why’d they take so long to change? I don’t know or I don’t know why it took so long to feel that it was ok to change the doctrine and allow Africans the priesthood. For us TBM  that’s a question only the Lord can answer and he hasn’t done so. So we wait and look for other answers. It did affect the church with all those wild theories but then again, if you live in Utah, you also have some wild theories about government and the democrats, so it isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s a cultural problem that hasn’t been satisfactorily resolved for me but I don’t see it as reason enough to deny all the other things from the gospel, like the answers to pray, the spirits presence that I feel strongly at times, the Lords voice answering my concerns personally. So to answer you directly: you can adopt a faithful perspective keeping the simple, rational explanations of the currently known facts in your diary and continuing to ask God for a decent explanation,which surely will come one day. According to Elder Holland and Oaks too it seems that the explanations given by Joseph Fielding Smith and others were just plain incorrect. But surely there is more to learn about this issue too, like why did Joseph Smith ordain blacks, was it because he hadn’t read or hadn’t understood the PoGP yet and made a mistake? or was it OK to ordain them and fellowship blacks fully and completely back then and Young was wrong? I don’t know yet but the road to apostasy can be a bitter one so I’d obviously ask you not to take that road. 

  4. Kevin Reply

    Terrific podcast, especially the discussion on rectifying past mistakes.

    The church is not unwilling to acknowledge or apologize for the misdeeds of its leaders, past or present. The church is UNABLE to do so. Doing so would directly contradict the church’s foundational assertion, which is that it is led by prophets, seers, and revelators who receive the unfiltered word of God. 

    Therefore, in response to Robin’s question, being a GA means never having to say you’re sorry.

    People of a certain age will also recognize this as being the tagline from a 1970s movie. So I suppose I’m dating myself. Maybe I should read Elder Packer’s “little factory” talk again.

    • Hyjaxe Reply

      Do most members believe that the authority in the church is perfect? If members are aware of past mistakes doesn’t that ultimately crumble the very definition of the church?

      Hello there, Cog Dis.

  5. Anonymous Reply

    I don’t like how believers use “continuing revelation” as a get out of jail free card for anything the church ever says or does.  (Brandt, no offense intended.  I’m not aiming this at you specifically.)

    Also, it seems to me there is a huge flaw with that idea.  It sets up a scenario in which God is either constantly changing his mind or is hunky dory with his chosen mouthpieces running around preaching things that aren’t true until he can get around to correcting them.  Either way, that path isn’t very straight and narrow. 

    If revelation is to be relied upon at all it needs to be consistent.  Meaning, if it comes out of the prophet’s mouth when he’s acting in his official capacity, then it ought to be true forever.  And, if it’s NOT going to be true forever, the prophet out to stipulate that at the outset.  Something to the effect of, “The Lord has revealed to me that communism is a plot by the devil to destroy the church.  But only for the time being.  At some point in the future the devil will get bored of communism and find a different plot to use against us.  Another prophet down the road will inform you Lucifer, that fickle pain in the behind, changes his mind, rendering communism NOT of the devil.”

    • Chuck Borough Reply

      Just a point of interest, the Bible says “strait is the path,” not “straight is the path.” The error causes conservatives to get awfully ridiculous. (The BOM, by the way, has it spelled wrong, but it’s more than spelling; it’s a completely different word.)

      • Megan Reply

        Pronunciation:  /streɪt/
        Forms:  ME strect, ME–16 streit(e, ME–15 streyt(e, strayt, strayth, ME–15, 18 dial. stret, (ME strete, 15streayte, strayet), ME–16 strayte, straite, ME ( strecte, streȝt), streyghte, straiȝt, Sc. strat, ME–15 Sc.strate, ME streiȝt, ( streihte, straeict), strayȝt(e, streith, streythe, ( straytt), ME–16 streyght, ME–18streight, 15–16 streighte, 15–18 straight, (15–16 straighte), 15 strayght(e, straicte, 15–16 streict(e, 16streigt, ME–15 stryte, ME– strait.(Show Less)
        Etymology:  Middle English streit , < Old French estreit tight, close, narrow, also as n., narrow or tight place, strait of the sea, distress (modern French étroit narrow) = Provençal estreit , Spanish estrecho , Portugueseestreito , Italian stretto < Latin strictus (see strict adj.) past participle of stringĕre to tighten, bind tightly: seestrain v.1, stringent adj.(Show Less)
         A. adj. I. In physical senses: Tight, narrow.[BUNCH OF STUFF SNIPPED] b. fig. and in figurative context. Now arch. after Bible use, esp. as strait and narrow (ellipt.), a conventional, limited procedure or way of life; cf.straight and narrow at straight adj. 3a(b).I love the Old English Dictionary!

        • mono Reply

          If my memory is to be trusted, doesn’t it say “strait is the gate and and narrow is the way” which, if I am correct, refers to a gate in the wall of Jerusalem. Which was narrow and restricted, meaning that to ENTER you had to (metaphorically) bend over and humble yourself to get in. A camel would not have made it through, other than crawling on all fours.

          Funny that JS would have spelled it incorrectly, being inspired and all. I guess the Seer Stone didn’t have spell-check.

          • Megan

            Actually the ‘eye of the needle’ gate is a bit of a myth. There’s no record of such a gate and, honestly, when you think about it it’s a pretty stupid way to build a gate anyway! 

            The story might have started in the 800’s CE or as late as the 1400’s CE (I think) but it’s definitely a late effort to make some sense of the story. 

            I don’t know why they feel the need too – it’s a perfectly lovely bit of hyperbole just on its own, and gets the point across beautifully! 

            Strait is the gate simply means that, unlike ordinary gates, the way to the kingdom of heaven is extremely tight and does not allow room for deviation – you must go through in a single path, no wandering, no room for error. 

            Modern translations sometimes use ‘small’ in place of strait, or use ‘difficult’ instead of narrow, which (IMHO) does not mean the same thing at all as the KJV. Whether King James is a more close translation of the Greek I have no idea! 

    • Anonymous Reply

      ” which God is either constantly changing his mind or is hunky dory with his chosen mouthpieces”

      Could also be because the people need to become better before hearing the more complex and thorough revelations. That happened to to the children of Israel under Moses, the Lord wanted them to have the higher priesthood but the people weren’t ready and so they lost it.

      • Anonymous Reply

        If I were a parent and I wanted my children to understand what I was teaching them, I’d communicate with them on their level.  I wouldn’t talk over their heads with “complex revelations” and then punish them when they rejected my instructions.

          • Megan

            Well, but didn’t you sort of miss part of Heather’s original point?

            The church teaches ‘line upon line, precept upon precept,’ right? That’s how Truth is built? Notice that it is a building, a progress from a foundation towards something else, NOT a wiping out of stuff from before and a reworking while pretending that nothings really changed!

            Instead we get a prophet speaking as a prophet – in his own words – giving revelation, telling people how things are meant to be and then, when the world changes and the cultural morality shifts all of a sudden it’s not revelation and he was wrong! And we’re not talking minor things here, we’re talking MAJOR stuff that people staked their lives and their families on.

            Women’s lives were shattered – seriously shattered – by polygamy. Families were ripped apart by it. But! It was the revealed word of God, Celestial Marriage, the order of things – the way things worked in heaven and therefore the way things must work (forever) on earth. It wasn’t a small thing, it was central! If you asked a BY era Mormon whether polygamy was or was not doctrine, they would have absolutely replied that it was!

            And then it’s just… dropped?

            Now it seems that declaring doctrine (like polygamy or Adam God or eternal racial inequality) was so embarrassing or problematic for the church they’ve decided to back away from clarifying what doctrine even is!

          • Anonymous

            You must have been speaking over my head with “complex revelations.”

          • Troy Morrell

            Is your point to blame the members?  That’s what I take from it.  Who is the omnipotent one in this relationship, anyway.

        • Anonymous Reply

          In reply to Megan: “‘line upon line, precept upon precept,’ right?
          That’s how Truth is built?”  NO….that’s how we learn not how truth is
          built.

          Also Celestial marriage is still in force and current, as per sec 132
          and the current sealing policies of the church, but just suspended for
          us due to the legal issues and potential loss of properties etc.

          [Disqus wont allow a reply directly to Megan from my end]

          • Megan

            Wow. Okay, that’s interesting.

            So, I don’t want to put words in your mouth here.

            Do you not believe that there are fundamental doctrines to the church, inviolable, the plain and simple truths that are the restored gospel? And if you do believe there are such things, what are they? Because there has been some serious disagreement on this front through church history.

            And if you don’t believe this, if you believe that the church is recreated for each generation or with the evolution of the people then a) where does that leave scripture which is being nibbled away at now and which can, under this concept, be washed away completely and b) why does the church then not LEAD the moral revolutions but instead consistently and often reluctantly follow them?

            Part two:

            So you believe actively in the principle of polygamy? I hope that you can see how I, as a woman, would find that deeply disturbing.

            But even more disturbing – why, WHY on earth should such petty considerations as property loss stop the one community on earth that claims to live under the vibrant guidance of God give up the Celestial (ie heavenly) model of family? There are many nations on earth that are totally happy with polygamy. The church LAUDS sacrifice – endless stories of the pioneers and their struggles – so wouldn’t make far more sense to immigrate (as the previous generations did) to a place where the true order can be practiced rather than make a weak concession to a fear of losing some property? Honestly, this baffles me. If it is capital-t-TRUTH, salvation level stuff, the way heaven is constructed, then weakly sitting down and saying, well, the US gov doesn’t like it and they said they wouldn’t let me have my pool table is just… well, SAD.

            MIND YOU – I think polygamy as a mandated system is vile for all coerced into it.

          • Anonymous

            in reply to Megan, I still can’t reply directly to you from my end.

            Re Polygamy, it is clear from 132 that no one should be forced into it; ie if a man marry a second, and the first gives consent…etc ie no one is forced to marry. Not that there may have been cases in the 1800 of forced marriages, society was different back then but the message from sec132 is a different one.

            Why the change: because the US government was almost at war with the ‘mormons’ and polygamy was the great excuse. The church would’ve existed as it did under Taylor and not progressed much until maybe today. But it isn’t like it must be practiced today in zion for blessings or covenants, it can wait until the millenium and until this earth becomes that celestial kingdom. There’s time to spare to go back to ‘the principal’ and have it available for those who are willing to entre into it.

            Fundamental doctrines are many, from baptism by immersion to endowments to celestial marriage. Now take for example endowments, although the Temple video changed and some bits where dropped it doesn’t change the doctrine of the endowment per se -they just shortened the presentation by dropping some specific punishments to a generic ‘God will not be mocked’ . I don’t think that qualifies as a doctrinal change but a policy or proceedural change, which will happen frequently as society changes and as the membership matures. But that’s imho though, I could be wrong…

          • Anonymous

            @darkmatter20:disqus 

            You said: ” I could be wrong.”

            I commend you for admitting that you could be wrong, but if you claim that the Church or Mormon Doctrine is any less likely to be wrong than you are, I find nothing commendable or reasonable about that.

    • Elder Vader Reply

      Maybe we can triangulate the will of God from the changes using the truth-usefulness teachings:

      D&C 19:7 – Some things that are useful are not very true.

      And its corollary:

      Some things that are true are not very useful – Boyd K. Packer ‘The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than The Intellect’

      Maybe he told his mouthpieces to teach something un-true in order to accomplish a wise purpose.  Or maybe he told his followers to *not* teach something true, because it wouldn’t accomplish his wise purpose. 

      You see, with our narrow minds we try to nail down things like ‘facts’ and ‘truth’.  But our minds are so feeble compared to God’s mind.  It’s just so much more simple if you follow this simple formula – If God reveals it – its true.  If God changes his mind, the old truth is false, and the new truth is true.  If he changes his mind again, same deal. 

      Hope that clears it up, and hopefully you enjoyed your dose of apologetics vader style. 

  6. Kyle Harris Reply

    I was sad to see this 4 parter end.

    In regards to the question of why more TBM’s don’t notice how much is missing from the AoF. I doubt I am alone in that that issue actually did cause me a lot of cog-dis when I was a TBM. That and how little of Mormonism is in the Book of Mormon. 
    You still see the media get it wrong all the time. They will say things like “Mormon’s learn from the Book of Mormon..” and then go on to say things that aren’t in the book at all. I wonder why more Mormons don’t correct them when they make those mistakes.
    Perhaps they have little of that cog-dis themselves. 

  7. Nikewales Reply

    I tried to think about what else the church needs to add on to the articles of faith to make it more of a mormon creed.  When you start adding in all the little things, it starts to look like the old testament.  I thought when Jesus came, He did away with all the laws and lists of beliefs and just said “Love God and love your fellow men.”  The End.  I feel like mormonism is going backward. I think if Jesus was around and you gave him an articles of faith card, he would be like “WTF is this?”

  8. Anonymous Reply

    Larsen arguing with Brent on those communist countries.

    I think that John is wrong in his argument about these communist countries and flip-flopping, because all those conference talks were concerning Marxist Soviet Comunism which has now ended, and after it did then the church tried to reach out to Russia and others. Plus the way the church fought Marxist Comunism was to try to give the people the gospel and the Temple blessings where possible, as with East Germany. Plus its now just history that communist tried to infiltrate the blacks rights movement to bring caos to the US -fortunately most black leaders didn’t fall for that though.

    However the words of Benson, Peterson, McKay and others still stand because they were against Godless ‘Marxist Communism’ ,which modern China is not, and not against the countries per se like Russian, Ukrain, East Germany, Poland etc. Once Cummunism fell then the church can move in more forcefully. 

    Also a concern for them was the fact that some members considered communism to be similar to the united order and therefore Christlike. That problem made them come out more forcibly against communism since it was godless and not christlike at all, nor did everyone share their property as the united order requires.

    Also note President McKay’s prophecy concerning the fall of communism. He clearly stated in general conference during the ’50’s that the “People’ will bring down communism,the people of those countries and not a war.(can be looked up if really needed for doubters)  We, in the West, all feared a full blown war between nuclear US and nuclear USSR however the prophet was right and the people themselves brought down communism -there was no nuclear war that ended it. It may be unfortunate that Utah republicans think that Reagan won the cold war but prophet McKay held a different view, a view most of the West now agree with.

    RE: China today, they can only take the gospel to the people. They did the same in Chile during the ’70s when Pinochet was at his very worse and actually started a Temple there; they did the same in Ecuador, El Salvador, Columbia when the civil war was full blown, in Argentina during the 70’s-81’s dirty war and broke ground for a Temple in ’82 just after the Falklands war. So that’s how the church works, and how the Lord works, taking the blessings of the gospel and the Temple to countries that are in trouble.

    • Troy Morrell Reply

      DM,

      Are you a Mike Tannehill sock puppet, by any chance?  I haven’t seen this kind of creative theologizing since, well, Mike.

      I love it, BTW.  Keep it spinning, okay?

      • Anonymous Reply

        No, but its just plain obvious  where Larsen, and guys like you are wrong, nothing to do with spinning nor creative theologizing.

  9. Anonymous Reply

    Johns words: ” I live in Utah county and they are still saying this from the pulpit down here..” 
     
    What you still go to church? still hear what they say from the pulpit? I doubt that…

  10. Chuck Borough Reply

    The only sufficient apology for the cruel Negro doctrine is to announce that it was a Satanic doctrine accepted fully by the Church, and that we wish we could compensate for the tremendous damage it did to so many who could have had the advantages of the Church. Anyone who actually believes in Satan must surely recognize that he can succeed within the Church (not ultimately, but temporarily); otherwise his work would be of no use or purpose.

  11. Anonymous Reply

    The “14th Article of Faith” that Robyn cited reminds me of one of my favorite cartoons.  It depicted an uptight and upset executive type leading a staff meeting shouting to a roomful of obviously bored and disgruntled employees, “And were going to keep on having these meetings until someone figures out why nothing is getting done around here!”

  12. Chuck Borough Reply

    I don’t mind meetings if something is actually being researched. I don’t like meetings where everyone already agrees with everything and nobody is comfortable to present a counter argument. What would be the point?

  13. Nancy Reply

    I enjoyed all 4 parts….good job. Also, I just finished reading Martha Beck’s book, “How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith Leaving the Saints” and I wondered if anyone has asked her to do a podcast.

    • Kevin Reply

      Her book is very funny, especially in light of the fact that it is mostly about being sexually abused by her father, Hugh Nibley. I liked her description of the church pamphlet typo about Satan (“Who is this guy Stan and why does he want me to go to hell?”) and how children can misunderstand scripture (“Why did Jesus need twelve opossums?”). Sadly, nothing about being chased by elephants.

  14. RJ Reply

    In the discussion about abiding the laws of the land, I’m surprised that no one brought up the topic of illegal immigration and the stand that the Church took in pushing for the recent legislation in Utah. A lot of uber-conservatives in the church will use this article to defend their opposition to the position the church has taken. As a political liberal it has been entertaining to watch.

  15. Gail F. Bartholomew Reply

    I have really enjoy all this on the articles of faith.  

    Zilpha I must say that I happen to think John has a sexy voice.
    John I agree that the Church has been pretty consistent on civil disobeyance.  I think the comparison between the occupy  movement and prop 8 really illustrates the church’s view on this.  I think that the church really frowns upon being in protests like the occupy movement, but on the other hand giving money for or making commercials with lies in them is completely OK.

    John I also agree it is a real problem when the church does not reputeate things and just stop saying them or slowly change what is being said.  I would agree that there are many church members that still fear Communism they still believe everything Benson said about it.   Same is true about blacks and the pre mortal life and Miracle of Forgiveness’s statements on homosexuality.  Even though the brethren have change what they are saying on all these issues there are plenty of members that still quote and believe all of the former statements because the brethren have never came out and said the former ideas are wrong.

  16. Megan von Ackermann Reply

    Mike, you began with a false premise for me. I neither personally experienced nor observed ANY cultural blessings that came from things that were exclusive to the Mormon church. I saw many good things that came from people acting as a community – things which I also saw in other communities, both religious and secular. However blessings that came from the unique practices, doctrines or cultural mores of the church? Nope, I didn’t see them and I didn’t experience them.

    I also never felt the holy ghost. My father laid his hands on my head after my baptism and spoke the words and I will happily say that he is a good, honest, faithful, loving, generous, wonderful and worthy man. But I never felt the holy ghost. I prayed deeply and sincerely. I put Moroni’s challenge to the test not once or twice but dozens of times over my years in the church. I read the Book of Mormon thoroughly many many times, along with the other scriptures. I read Jesus the Christ. I attended all my meetings. I fulfilled my callings, was morally clean, and let me tell you I desired with a sincere heart to feel something, ANYTHING but I never did.

    I did not have peace in the church. I did not have light.

    The funny thing is that I am totally willing to accept that you do – and I’m totally willing to be happy for you that you have joy there. But can you say the same for me on my path? Can you believe me when I tell you that I am truly, deeply happy outside of the church? Can you believe me when I tell you that I never felt the spirit? Or do you find that you have to qualify my story, assume that I wasn’t really sincere, that I must have had some sin I’m not admitting to or that I was seeking after signs and not recognizing the spirit when it came?

    Oh – by the way. I don’t know where on earth you’re getting the idea that all atheists claim ‘ that mankind is so morally weak that no one can be expected to abstain from whatever pleasure they are attracted to.’ I certainly don’t believe that and nor do any atheists I know. To the contrary, I believe that mankind is so morally strong that they are capable of making ethical choices even if they don’t think some supernatural being is judging them.

    • Megan von Ackermann Reply

      One other little note – I’m puzzled why you think atheists have the specific belief that they should have houses they can’t afford? That’s sort of… odd, and totally without support. It’s just one of the unsupported claims you’ve made but it’s so bizarre I’m kind of fascinated. Does your neighborhood have a rash of defaulting atheists or something, dropping property values?

    • Mike Tannehill Reply

      Megan – I am fairly certain that you did in fact experience the Holy Ghost on a number of occasions but that you probably did not recognize it at the time. While I was found to need a manifestation of the Spirit, like a mule needs a blow to the head to keep it in its row, God may have felt you merely needed a confirmation. A confirmation you obviously did not recognize. I do not think that a civil society, and the blessings of that community, are exclusive to the LDS Church. The point I wanted to make was that a community needs a harmony of interests. A harmony founded in religious principles that allows the individuals in that community to pursue their own legitimate interests but that tempers those interests by a moral order founded in faith. It is a foundation of faith that allows people to use prudence in their judgement, to strive to be virtuous. This enviorment rejects the relativism that blurs the lines between good and evil. I think you can be happy outside the Church, but I think you will find it only under the same principles the Church strives to encourage. In truth religious principles represent the natural order of things. It is only when “progressives” seek to change things to suit their skewed world view that chaos ensues.

      • Megan von Ackermann Reply

        Ah. Figured that would be the first salvo.

        Couple of things on that:

        1. The Moroni promise uses the word ‘manifest’ which means ‘show plainly’ ‘prove’ ‘put beyond doubt’. I am really amazed that you would on one hand use Moroni’s challenge as sufficient excuse for people to make the enormous commitment required by baptism (AND to put their immortal fate at risk since you believe in the doctrine that those who have greater knowledge are held to a higher standard) and on the other hand claim that the answer it provides may be so nebulous, so insignificant, that it is impossible even to discern.

        2. I needed a clear answer. Please do not discount the pain and emotional trials I went through during my time in the church due to the fact that I never, ever felt the spirit. It was what made me leave eventually – not any truth claims, not the history, not the myriad logical problems that I know other people struggled with. No, I left because I couldn’t feel the spirit and it was horrible. If God felt I didn’t need that suffering lifted, that I should be ‘tested’ by not receiving even one small faith-building moment that I could look to and say with assurance ‘THAT was God’s love for me,’ then I don’t want to worship that god.

        3. Again, let me point out that I didn’t pray for confirmation just once – I did it over and over. The first time I really decided to try to develop my own testimony and a personal relationship with god was when I was seven and preparing for baptism. I wanted to be able to be baptized honestly, to start my church life as a responsible member with a knowledge that god was real. Let me say that again – I was SEVEN. I was a child who believed what she was told in primary and, with real faith and desire, prayed. And I felt NOTHING. It shattered me and began me on the path of thinking there must be something terribly wrong with me – at SEVEN. The teachings of the gospel are full of how simple it is, how wonderfully clear, how even a child can understand and receive. That utterly contradicts the idea that I didn’t ‘recognize’ the spirit. I had been taught how to recognize it – we all had. Mike, if the answers god gives to children are so unclear that it breaks their hearts when they think god is ignoring them, what does that say about God?

        The rest of your post I will answer if you really want, but at the moment I want to focus on this because you haven’t really give a reasonable response. I’ve heard you use Moroni’s challenge over and over, and the way in which you and the church use it absolutely implies that the answer given will be clear and unmistakable. Anything else – any suggestion that a lack of answer is still an answer or, the most problematic and damaging response, that it is the fault of the questioner is not only disingenuous, it contradicts the very scripture you are using and it makes the entire idea of a personal god or personal revelation frankly laughable.

        So please, I would really like a better response from you than ‘oh, you got an answer you just didn’t notice or recognize it.’ That’s not good enough. That’s not the promise. MANIFEST is the promise and that’s what the church rhetoric says will happen. From the time I was seven until I left the church as an adult I faithfully put Moroni’s promise to the test – desperately needing and desiring a clear answer, and I never ever received it. Can you explain that WITHOUT blaming me or re-writing the promise as given?

  17. Megan von Ackermann Reply

    I do completely agree with this: It matters what we believe, it matters what we think, it matters what we say, and it matters what we do. So do the agnostic and atheist and yes, even liberal people I know and interact with.

  18. Gale3 Reply

    Mike, your article brought to mind a phrase I heard a while back which aptly describes your comments: “fractally wrong”. You make unsubstantiated claims and errors at every degree of resolution (or close enough).

    It becomes impractical to bring a point to point response to your comments, and so instead I will offer but one criticism: You lack real empathy for those you chose to denounce. In “Mormonese” I would say that you lack charity. You decry against those you don’t actual understand.

    Please consider first exercising empathy. Really seeking to understand and even love before seeking to correct. Then you might be able to dialogue with actual people instead of chastising straw men.

  19. Heather_ME Reply

    1. I didn’t leave the church in search of greater happiness. I left the church because it is untrue and Joseph Smith was a fraud.

    2. There is a “documentary” on Netflix called “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers.” It features a Family Feud competition between a group of conservatives and a group of liberals. I think that particular part of the documentary perfectly explains this blog post.

  20. Hermes Reply

    Why should we become Mormons instead of Muslims (or Buddhists)?  Why is one ideology right while others are wrong?  Are the spiritual witnesses of other faithful believers outside Mormonism fake?  How?

    It seems to me that you are misperceiving your audience.  Not everyone who identifies as ex-Mormon or atheist is therefore “liberal” (by which I gather you mean something like Democrat or Soviet or Maoist).  We don’t all leave the church so that we can join the Democratic party and pray to Obama to give us handouts from rich taxpayers.  (While we are talking about this, notice that Obama was not president of the USA when the tradition of bailing out failed businesses was made: that is a sin that of which both Republicans and Democrats are guilty, and the real movers and shakers behind it are not presidents but government agents whom nobody elects).

    There is a fundamental distinction between negative rights (the right to be left alone, the right not to have government charging into your bedroom and interfering with your family) and positive rights (the right to goods and services, like housing or healthcare). As a conservative, I value negative rights. I claim the right to be left alone (to cultivate my own family values, not somebody else’s). I conserve that right (enshrined, among other places, in the Bill of Rights attached to the US Consitution). I don’t claim any right to housing, or healthcare. To me it seems that those “rights” are really just privileges (privileges that many of my ancestors did without). I am not willing to pass laws making you responsible for delivering them to me, preferring to take my chances on the open market (where I do not expect any almighty bureaucrats, public or private, to save me from disaster).

    The same way I don’t take unilateral dictation from Obama, I don’t take it from anybody else. I don’t take it from Bush. I don’t take it from Romney. I don’t take it from prophets, seers, and revelators (in any religious tradition, including “secular” traditions like your “liberalism”). From my point of view, there is no such thing as a leader who knows more about how to live my life well than I do. I am happy to listen to leaders’ opinions, even when I disagree. (I even listen regularly to General Conference: it’s much more interesting to me now that I am apostate.) If I hear something that sounds helpful, then I put it to work. But I never do something merely because God told me to. You see, God has told me to do all kinds of crap over the course of my life (which is not even that long, yet), and His advice has often proved to be quite bad. Maybe if He could be a little more consistent. Maybe if He didn’t have so many different servants saying so many different things (“Kill adulterers!” “Don’t kill adulterers!” “Kill homosexuals!” “Love your neighbor!” “Don’t eat shellfish!” “Eat shellfish!” “I am one!” “I am many!” “I am easy to reach!” “I am incomprehensible!” “I support this church!” “Actually, I support that one!” “Be baptized or go to hell!” “I’ll save everyone: no worries!” etc. ad nauseam).

    Joseph Smith talked about the war of words and tumult of opinions. That war is still going on. The modern church hasn’t solved it at all. Right now, it is just pouring fuel on the fire (as church leaders fight among themselves to determine what God really thinks about black people, homosexuals, intellectuals, women, apostates, scripture, etc.). It has always done this. Oliver Cowdery disagreed with Joseph Smith. Orson Hyde and Orson Pratt disagreed with Brigham Young (who is the most unpopular prophet of all today: since Bruce R. McConkie, at least, most GAs who read him at length end up repudiating doctrines near and dear to his heart, like Adam-God). Hugh B. Brown disagreed with Ezra Taft Benson. Joseph Fielding Smith contradicts James Talmage (even though both are still in print, in the apartments of LDS missionaries). You pretend that none of this is happening, that it is all somehow a figment of my imagination (and the imagination of every historian I read, LDS or not). If I just say the sinner’s prayer (whoops, I meant “take Moroni’s challenge”), then I will be saved (whoops, I meant “know that the church is true in spite of being false, by its own standards”). The problem is, Mike, that I did this. I said the prayer. I took the challenge. In my case, it felt great – at first. Then, I did a bunch of living, and the whole thing fell apart. In practice, keeping the commandments did not make me a kinder, more capable person. It made me irritable, sad, and even occasionally suicidal (when I could not stop having wet dreams, despite all my prayers and confessions to the bishop). It made me confused, when I encountered people living happily without the gospel (which is supposed to be impossible). It scared me (when I realized that I had no defense against a prophetic command that might turn out to be uninspired: what if Monson were to call me up and demand that I fly planes into buildings? Would I do it?). At some point, I realized that it was giving me more harm than help. So I left. Unlike some around here, I don’t say that everyone should leave. I think that is an individual decision, and there are some people (including some I know) who are happier in the church than out of it (by their own confession, which it is not my place to doubt without evidence that I have yet to see in their lives).

    If church floats your boat, then by all means enjoy it. If you like the Republican party (or the Democratic one, for that matter), then by all means get yourself involved. But don’t assume that people on the other side of the aisle are just a bunch of pathetic losers too afraid or too stupid to see the obvious truth that you know and love. Life is more complicated than that. “My ways are not your ways.” This stuff is even in the scriptures, Mike. You should know better.

    • Mike Tannehill Reply

      Very well said. Thank you Hermes.

      I would just like to add though that if people are living happy lives outside the Church it is by the same principles as those found in the Church. It is also important to seperate pleasurable living from happy living. They are two different things.

      • Heather_ME Reply

        What a claim. So my good friends from college…. the ones who slept around before marriage and smoked pot at parties…. and now who drink alcohol at every party/family gathering… who never pay tithing, attend church, or pray (hell, they don’t even believe in a god)… they are living by the principles of the church? I guarantee you they are happy. They are the happiest, most serene and stable people I know. Also some of the most generous people I know. They donate money and time to charity as well as being really good to their families and supporting people around them who need it.

        Oh wait… I get it. They’re not ACTUALLY happy. They are just living a life of pleasure. Sounds like a distinction without a difference to me….

  21. RickRobison Reply

    MAJORLY straw-men, circular reasoning…and so much more. Telling a person what THEY experience, that THEY have felt (what you call) “the spirit,” your version of morality — this type of arrogant, condescending talk is why I barf even to talk to a typical TBM about religion. They have their perception of the world, and can’t even consider that to be open to differences with others. I think you just played the main character on the Truman Show! (Hoping you can find the end of the stage soon, Mike!)

  22. Jean Bodie Reply

    “The question then is what is so great about a liberal world
    view? Is it the loss of guilt?”

    YES – Guilt is unproductive and produces feelings of shame and lack of self
    esteem that can lead to many other social ills.

    “The understanding being that a society is only as strong as
    the behavior restraints of its individual members. A great society in fact
    needs no policing because its individual members do what is right by their
    nature, not by fear of punishment.”

    YOU said it Mike. I restrain my own behavior when _I_ feel
    it is necessary. I don’t need a bishop or any other man to tell me what
    behavior is acceptable.

    “Ultimate arguement…” There is no ‘e’ in argument, but there
    is a ‘you’.

    “A corrupt mind will create a dragon to slay if there is not
    a real one.”

    Joseph Smith and the Devil who bound his tongue and should
    have kept it that way.

    “It matters what we believe, it matters what we think, it
    matters what we say, and it matters what we do.”

    I agree, but with the caveat that it matters to me, not you
    because it is nobody else’s business what I believe, think, say. The doing part
    is okay if I don’t do anything to harm someone. Those are my values – I am an
    atheist and my name is Jean Bodie.

  23. Truth Free Reply

    (1) “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Sounds like like prayer until you give up actually expecting a response.

    (2) “[L]eave the LDS Church despite all that you have learned regarding the cultural blessing that come from participating . . embracing of deviant cultures and a liberal world view.” Unfortunately my family ties me to the “cultural blessing” of being around people who repeat trite phrases and stories without thinking about what they really mean or if they even make sense.
    (3) “[W]hat is so great about a liberal world view?” It is the ability to see the world as it really is and structure your thoughts and activities around what you think is truly important, after the baggage of superstitious beliefs and dogmatic “prophets” have been removed. I especially enjoy understanding the evolution of our world and how we fit into it, rather than trying to fit the expanse of history into a 7,000 year box. See D&C 77:6.
    (4) “[R]eligious conservatives are often the ones who end up losing something of REAL value, whether it be a loss of income through increased taxation to pay for more “entitlement” programs, or the more ethereal former possession of religious standards in a community” due to the “liberal’s program of redistribution of money or values”.
    I assume you took an oath to give everything you have in order to live the law of consecration. Many people would like to participate in how their money is used instead of giving it to some oligarchs to use without any accountability or transparency. Many people also believe that society is better as a whole if even the most destitute have access to food, shelter, healthcare, and education. The voluntary meeting of such basic needs is the humane thing to do. I believe you would call it “Christ-like”, though your post would make it seem otherwise.

    As to your complaint about the “redistribution of values”, I think you confuse your inability to impose your “values” on other people with their imposition of values on you. While I agree that the manifesto was a result of an imposition of values on Mormons (through the taking of all church property and jailing of polygamists), and the allowing of blacks to hold the priesthood was the result of external pressure to do so, that does not make it right to take the offensive and try to use the law to suppress others’ rights (prevent gay marriage). I find it very unlikely (despite prior polygamy battles) that Mormons will ever be forced to sanction gay marriage. If they do, it will only be after God told them to (after a little external pressure of course).

  24. ff 42 Reply

    “One can’t help thinking of an individual who is so incapable of self
    reflection, so caught up in their own world view, that they choose to
    follow a path of self destruction despite all evidence to the bankruptcy
    of their ideology.” This seems to describe the religious in general and Mormonism specifically.

    I left because I found the foundational claims of Mormonism to be untrue. I ‘fight’ because I found the past and current leaders (and some followers) to be evil in that they instruct teachers and parents to mutilate/manipulation the spiritual, emotional, mental and sometimes physical well-being of children.

    As for ‘secular’ ethics how about “Do not initiate harm (force or fraud)”, in order words the OPPOSITE of the golden rule, “Do not unto others as you would not have them to do you”.

    Since leaving I have found the world to be beautiful, colorful, sensual, not the shadow pictures on the cave wall of Mormonism.

    Yes it matters what we say and what we do. How about first stop abusing/offending (little) children with Mormonism?

    • Mike Tannehill Reply

      And what exactly does the Church teach children that is incorrect? To be Chaste? Virtuous? Respectful? To say their prayers and to help others? To treat their bodies as a temple?

      Please, your claims are ridiculous.

      • ff 42 Reply

        People like YOU start brainwashing the children in primary with “Follow the Prophet” (which he doesn’t of course), this is followed with the apostolic ‘command’ to bear one’s testimony (even if one doesn’t have one) using “I know”. Later leaders add EFY, Trek, camp etc which is physically demanding and ends with a ‘testimony’ meeting with exhausted children who are taught to interpret their crying emotions as ‘testimony’. Later the leaders have one-on-one conversations which include the sexual habits of the children, which usually include guiltily them into believing that masturbation is abnormal (which is opposite of the truth with all studies showing a majority – therefore can”t be abnormal – participate in it). They induce guilt into the children and then offer their solution. The list goes on and on, but you are blind and no longer worth my effort.

    • Chaste_and_Benevolent Reply

      I’m all with you about not initiating harm. But to be fair to the golden rule, “Do not unto others as you would not have them do to you” is the SAME as the golden rule, not the OPPOSITE of the golden rule. You gotta watch out for those double negatives.
      Including all of its close variants, he golden rule is one of the great common elements of most major religions. It was stated not just by Christ, but by Rabbi Hillel, the Koran, Confucius, and many others.

  25. Estaben Suggs Reply

    My knee jerk reaction to this post was a big F U! Then I thought why am I so upset? I realized it’s because your post makes you appear that you want to force me and others to live a certain way, even if my way has no affect on your life. You are insulting, and condescending. Your arguments seem to be riddled with logical fallacies (such as straw man). But, what got me is your lack of empathy and your desire to force people to live as you. Why? I would guess, but don’t know, you are insecure about your own beliefs. I neither define myself as atheist or Christian but I do know the same feeling I use to attribute to the holy ghost I got when I sent my resignation from the Mormon church in. How do you explain that? Probably you do by assigning me feelings, desires, urges and actions that make you feel good about your beliefs. But let me say you don’t know me and you appear to not care too. Unlike you though, I admit to not really knowing your motivations or thoughts.

  26. Seth Webster Reply

    With this post, you absolutley prove you do not understand much or any of what liberals and athiests belive or practice. In fact, it is impossible to stereotype an entire class of persons when they do not subscribe to a united dogma or creed. Some of my athiest and “liberal” friends are the most Christ-like people I know. They may not believe in the divinity of Jesus, but they live their lives in a manner which emmulates his compassion, service, and love. Their actions evidence the goodness of humanity, and the fact that morality does exist independent of religion. Ethics do not require a religious basis or context.

    Another major flaw with your reasoning is the conflation of religion and politics. Your cultural experience has probably limited your viewpoint about this issue. You might be surprised to learn that many Christians are liberal not despite Christianity, but because of it. Conservatism has championed many non-Christian practices, as has Liberalism. Our church has active and faithful members on both sides of the political isle.

    I’m

    Finally, liberals and progressives have ushered in many important social advancements in the US. Christian conservatives would still have peopleof mixed races drinking out of seperate water fountains and women would still not be allowed to vote.

    • Mike Tannehill Reply

      Seth – One example of a liberal Christian is Senator Harry Reid. He time and again votes against the Apostles counsel and supports homosexual programs despite the oaths and covenants he made in the temple. He and others like him no doubt have a space reserved in hell.

      • Heather_ME Reply

        Absolutely awesome. I love this. Keep your rhetoric up, Mike. You’re helping the cause of getting people out of the church with this kind of talk. Bravo.

      • Megan von Ackermann Reply

        No doubt? Really? Please dissect this and see what you’re saying – Harry Reid is supporting benefits and humanitarian approaches to people. This reserves him a space in hell? Can you articulate this better so I understand just why Harry Reid’s politics should consign him to an eternal fate that is, as far as has been explained to me, not even where Hitler ends up?

      • Farmdog47 Reply

        i hope to meet brother Reid cause hell for me would be populated by people who think just like you .

      • Caitlin Sticco Reply

        What hell? I thought Mormons didn’t believe in hell? I’m actually not Mormon, so I genuinely don’t understand. I’ve been studying Mormonism for several years, and my understanding was that Smith taught there was no eternal damnation.

  27. Seth Webster Reply

    *If they had had their way at the time, we would still be stuck in those racist and sexist ruts. I’m personally greatful for those “liberal” Christians like MLK Jr and Mother Theresa who reminded us that Jesus’ mercy extends to all who receive him, and his love extends to all, not just those with whom we identify.

    While one person is led by God to an intense focus on the mandate to care for the poor, another may be called to focus on protecting the rights of the unborn. Though they may register with different political parties and vote for opposite candidates, they are not enemies to one another or to God. And neither is worthless or a scourge upon society. You do not know the will of God, Mike. His ways are not ours. Your post is condescending in a manner which drives away the spirit. I hope you will reconsider your positions.

  28. Fred Kratz Reply

    This post offers only your narrow world view which is matched by the ignorance of your assumptions. If in the future you are interested in making an intelligent argument, you should dispense with placing labels on people you know nothing about. There could be a long response made to your unlettered musings, but it would be such a waste of time and fall upon your deaf ears.

  29. Bandersnatch75 Reply

    I only got about 1/2 way through before realizing that the individual(s) described in this post have absolutely nothing to do with me or anyone I know.

    After all the time Mike’s spent hanging out with the ME folks, I’m mildly surprised that he doesn’t understand the perspective of the disaffected better. But only mildly.

    Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” I have no idea what your educational background is, Mike, and I don’t intend to disparage it with this quote. But it came to mind because it seems glaringly obvious that you have not yet done the work of trying to understand the perspectives (note the plural!) of the people you’re preaching to.

      • Megan von Ackermann Reply

        Mike – reject is a pretty strong word without any supportive reasoning. I think that’s part of the problem. I see your rejection because that’s the end-result of the process, but I don’t see the system by which you come to the rejection. If you could articulate it – lay out the a. b. c. process that led to you rejecting a perspective I think I (and maybe others) could respect your rejection.

        The thing is at the moment it looks like this:

        1. someone says something that is opposed to my (Mike’s) point of view

        2. I reject it.

        That isn’t persuasive, and what’s worse it seems really dismissive and implies a lack of empathy or thought on your part. I don’t think that’s what you are trying to do here. So I suggest that a path, specifically laid out so we can actually have the benefit of knowing your thought process, that would be useful for understanding and discussion would be:

        1. someone says something that is opposed to my (Mike’s) point of view

        2. I OPENLY explore what I think it means

        3. I ask for feedback on my interpretation to see where I might have made assumptions or missed important information

        4. I introduce my own experience and discuss how it informs on the original opinion

        5. I ask for more feedback so a useful dialogue can take place

  30. Chaste_and_Benevolent Reply

    Thanks for this essay, Mike.
    I just want to comment on your admonition to people who leave the LDS church “despite all that you have learned regarding the cultural blessing that come from participating in its teachings,” and that they are abandoning “true happiness.” This seems to reflect a point that many people make: People should accept the church because it promotes a healthy or a happy lifestyle.
    Though I am a believer myself, I don’t think that anyone should accept a religion because it will help them to lead a healthy or happy life. A religion is essentially a system of truth claims. The only good reason to accept truth claims is because you believe them to be, well, true.
    I find that trying to follow Christ is often a less than happy experience. In the New Testament, Christ himself does not appear to be a particularly happy person. In fact, he often seems to be tired, frustrated, fearful, irritated, and even sarcastic. He was poor, sometimes homeless, frequently misunderstood, a refugee while still a child, and survived two attempts on his life before he was finally tortured to death at a young age. He warned his followers to expect the same.
    My own life is way, way more comfortable. But I don’t regret the hard times I’ve had, because I think that I’m responding honestly to the truth and being faithful not just to revelation, but to the ability to reason that God gave me. That brings a lot of satisfaction, for which I am grateful.

  31. Joseph Nichols Reply

    Mike, I have to admit, I was a little taken aback by the
    lack of empathy you showed in this post. After several years of interacting
    with what I perceive to be genuine, kind and moral people who have disaffected
    from the church, you have somehow managed to cling to the ugly stereotype of
    the weak, bitter and immoral apostate. This stereotype causes untold damage to
    those who can no longer accept the churches truth claims and, as a matter of
    personal integrity, leave. It destroys families, ruins self-worth and leads to
    loneliness, depression, despair and sometimes suicide. I shudder to think how
    much more painful my leaving the church would have been had my loving and
    understanding, faithful Mormon family treated me with the same contempt you
    show here.

    I am curious to know if you have ever thought about why you
    are a part of this podcast community. You are clearly aware that your thoughts
    and attitudes are in no way aligned with that of the vast majority of people
    who participate either by contributing or even just listening. Yet you are
    generally treated with respect. Your opinions are not censored or shouted down,
    but rather disagreed with and deconstructed. I am not qualified to speak for
    everyone and could certainly be wrong about this, but I would contend that your
    role in this community is not due to your superior wit, charm, intelligence or
    good looks (though I am not denying you have these traits), but rather because
    you have a different perspective. That is diversity for the sake of diversity.
    Your presence ensures that a podcast does not descend into an all-out assault
    on a caricature of the church. You keep everybody honest. All of us liberal,
    feces-sucking apostates don’t value you because you are right, but rather
    because you are you, a human being with inherent worth and a valuable
    perspective.

    You claim that secular morality is without foundation and
    unreliable, but I would contend that religious morality is far more untenable.
    We humans are social animals. As such we have evolved and adopted societal
    norms that encourage pro-social behavior. I refuse to kill not because I am
    told to, but because I don’t want to live in a society where killing is
    acceptable. I refuse to steal or lie or cheat for the same reason. It is these
    norms that allow society to function and bring us the benefits of community. It
    is telling that every major religion, in spite of their wildly differing
    theologies, possess nearly indistinguishable moral codes. This is not because
    the morals are of god, but because they are of man. Religion nearly co-opted and
    codified what was already in existence. On the other hand, religion has been
    used throughout history to justify the enslavement of blacks, the genocide of
    indigenous peoples of America, Australia and Africa, the burning alive of
    millions of innocent women accused as witches, the torture and mutilation of
    hundreds of thousands of “heretics” who often only spoke the truth, the
    persecution of Jews throughout the middle ages and continuing through WWII, and
    the slaughter of tens of millions of civilians in religious wars such as the
    crusades, the Thirty Years War, and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. How can you
    look at that track record and say that religion has any claim to foundational
    morality? These atrocities were not committed by uniquely sadistic men, but
    rather by people so certain in their beliefs that they could rationalize away
    the humanity of others while their moral shepherds cheered them on. I am not
    claiming the religion does no good, or there are no genuinely good people who
    are religious; I am merely claiming that your view of morality lacks basis in
    reality. The world today is more moral than it has ever been and that is
    because religious morality has retreated in the face of humanistic morality and
    today we recognize all people as having worth, whether they are black or white,
    gay or straight, Hindu or Christian, Republican or Democrat.

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