My intent here was to approach the Church’s claims about itself, its his­to­ry, and its mis­sion, from sev­er­al dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives, rather than rely­ing on a sin­gle dimen­sion. The con­clu­sion seems inescapable: the Church is not what it claims to be, and the claims that it makes are demon­stra­bly false. And while there is a won­der­ful com­mu­ni­ty of believ­ers at the ‘grass roots’ lev­el, the actions, atti­tudes, and behav­iors of the Insti­tu­tion­al Church are incom­pat­i­ble with what a rea­son­able per­son would expect from God’s ‘true Church.’

The Church has active­ly dis­cour­aged its mem­ber­ship from seek­ing infor­ma­tion from any source but those offi­cial­ly sanc­tioned and approved by the Church. Those who ven­ture out­side those restric­tions are gen­er­al­ly vil­i­fied, and seen as rebel­lious, wicked, not to be trust­ed. The epi­thet ‘anti-Mor­mon’ is attached to any­thing and every­thing that does not sup­port the offi­cial posi­tions and teach­ings of the Church, and mem­bers are strong­ly urged to avoid any­thing or any­one that might threat­en their Testimony.

This atti­tude is the com­plete oppo­site to the open­ness to truth expressed by Church lead­ers like J. Reuben Clark and James E. Tal­mage, quot­ed at the very begin­ning of this doc­u­ment. Con­sid­er these more recent statements:

It is quite anoth­er thing to crit­i­cize or depre­ci­ate a per­son for the per­for­mance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not mat­ter that the crit­i­cism is true.”
Dallin H. Oaks, “Read­ing Church His­to­ry,” CES Doc­trine and Covenants Sym­po­sium, Brigham Young Uni­ver­si­ty, 16 Aug. 1985, page 25

It is my province to teach to the Church what the doc­trine is. It is your province to echo what I say or to remain silent.”
Bruce R. McConkie, 1981, in a Let­ter to Eugene England

I know that the his­to­ry of the church is not to seek apolo­gies or to give them,” Oaks said in an inter­view. “We some­times look back on issues and say, ‘Maybe that was coun­ter­pro­duc­tive for what we wish to achieve,’ but we look for­ward and not back­ward.” The church doesn’t “seek apolo­gies,” he said, “and we don’t give them.”
Dallin H. Oaks, Salt Lake City Tri­bune, Feb. 4, 2015

There is a temp­ta­tion for the writer or the teacher of Church his­to­ry to want to tell every­thing, whether it is wor­thy or faith pro­mot­ing or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.”
Boyd K. Pack­er, CES Sym­po­sium, Aug. 22, 1981

I have a hard time with his­to­ri­ans because they idol­ize the truth. The truth is not uplift­ing; it destroys. I could tell most of the sec­re­taries in the church office build­ing that they are ugly and fat. That would be the truth, but it would hurt and destroy them. His­to­ri­ans should tell only that part of the truth that is inspir­ing and uplifting.”
Boyd K. Pack­er, Quinn (ed), Faith­ful His­to­ry: Essays on Writ­ing Mor­mon His­to­ry, p 103, fn 22

The author­i­tar­i­an nature of cur­rent Church Lead­er­ship is demon­strat­ed quite clear­ly in these quotes. If Church lead­ers were ful­ly and humbly con­fi­dent of the truth­ful­ness of their claims, the accu­ra­cy of the his­to­ry they teach the mem­ber­ship, this need for con­trol­ling the con­ver­sa­tion, for dis­cour­ag­ing open inquiry and dis­cus­sion, would not exist.

The Church recent­ly reduced the ages for Mis­sion­ary ser­vice for both men and women. Whether or not this was the intent, one of the results would be to have these young mem­bers, who appar­ent­ly are leav­ing the Church in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers, being more ful­ly indoc­tri­nat­ed and com­mit­ted to the Church dur­ing those crit­i­cal post-ado­les­cent years. This is when most peo­ple start the impor­tant process of ask­ing seri­ous ques­tions about life, val­ues, pur­pose, and begin the process of defin­ing for them­selves who they are.

In the inter­est of fair­ness, the fol­low­ing are links to a few of the ‘Apolo­getic’ web­sites, where active Church mem­bers attempt to address the var­i­ous issues and con­tro­ver­sies sur­round­ing the Church, just a few of which I’ve touched on here.

I have read from these sites exten­sive­ly, espe­cial­ly at the begin­ning of my jour­ney. I found them inter­est­ing, but not con­vinc­ing. My biggest dis­sat­is­fac­tion here is that they typ­i­cal­ly start with their con­clu­sions, find evi­dence that will sup­port that con­clu­sion, and triv­i­al­ize or ignore the evi­dence that doesn’t. This is the oppo­site of the Sci­en­tif­ic Method, as I’ve dis­cussed above.

I have also been dis­mayed see­ing so much ener­gy there being spent attack­ing the indi­vid­u­als pre­sent­ing argu­ments against the Church, rather than deal­ing with the issues themselves.

Mor­mon Voices
Jeff Lindsay’s Website

I also want­ed to include links to the Church’s recent­ly pub­lished Essays on a num­ber of top­ics. Some of these are dif­fi­cult to find, and are not direct­ly linked from the main homepages:

Church Essays
Plur­al Mar­riage in Kirt­land and Nauvoo

While these are not as com­plete or as thor­ough as many, myself includ­ed, would want, they are at least the first time where the Church has offi­cial­ly acknowl­edged these prob­lems, with an attempt to respond to them. Before this, many of these issues were just dis­missed as ‘anti-Mor­mon lies.’

As I’ve stat­ed ear­li­er in this doc­u­ment, I ful­ly expect there to be con­tin­ued changes in both Church Doc­trine and Pol­i­cy, result­ing from the pres­sures cre­at­ed by the ready avail­abil­i­ty of accu­rate infor­ma­tion which under­mines the basis for estab­lished Church Doc­trine and Policy.

And most like­ly, these changes will be seen as the result of ‘con­tin­u­ing rev­e­la­tion.’ I would be more will­ing to accept this if in fact these changes and rev­e­la­tions expand­ed upon and clar­i­fied pre­vi­ous rev­e­la­tions, doc­trine and pol­i­cy. But instead, they com­plete­ly con­tra­dict those pri­or ‘rev­e­la­tions,’ and those pri­or procla­ma­tions are then sim­ply ignored. This com­plete­ly under­mines the valid­i­ty of the whole process of ‘rev­e­la­tion’, past or present.

Series Nav­i­ga­tion: Exam­in­ing Church Claims — Don Cohen« Exam­in­ing the Fruits of the Church in Prac­ticeFinal Thoughts — Poten­tial Harm »
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