I first need to make a crucial distinction here, between the Corporate and Institutional Church, and the Church that exists in the lives of the individuals and families that comprise the various Wards and Branches of the Church.
Even though I was a convert to the Church, I raised my family in it, and was therefore able to recognize and appreciate the real sense of community and belonging that is created by the various individuals and families in the congregations, as they strived to live according to the beliefs they had accepted. I valued being able to move from one part of the country to another, and instantly have a new set of friends who were more than willing to provide physical and material assistance in the move, and in accepting us into the community. I recognize, respect, and appreciate the integrity and motivation of the vast majority of those who fill the pews each Sunday, and run the various organizations and activities of the Church on the local level.
That said, I also recognize that this same sense of community and belonging can be found within the congregations of most other religious traditions, so there really isn’t anything particularly unique about the communities of the LDS Church. So while these fruits are good, they don’t have any implications concerning the truthfulness of the Church’s claims, just as they don’t for those other religious, or even non-religious communities.
What I wish to address here reflects a reality different from the one that exists in the Wards and Branches. In fact, many, perhaps most, members can live their whole lives totally at the local level, and be completely unaware of what is taking place at the Corporate and Institutional level of the Church.
1. Financial Matters
There are several aspects to this issue, and once again I’ll try to touch on the most important ones.
a. Lack of Financial Transparency
The Church does not disclose much of anything about its finances. For a Church purporting to having been created by Jesus Christ, who often had some harsh things to say about the rich, this waves a huge red flag to me. The fact that they keep these matters hidden from public view, with no accountability to those who freely contribute their hard-earned funds, raises the inevitable question of what they might have to hide. Lack of disclosure doesn’t imply guilt, but it is not unreasonable to be suspicious. What do they have to lose by simply being open and upfront about their finances?
On this topic, it is very interesting to note that Church leaders, including the President of the Church, have been deceptive on this topic when speaking to the media. On January 9, 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley was interviewed by Helmut Nemetschek of ZDF German Television, at 47 East South Temple in Salt Lake City. The following is an excerpt from this interview on the subject of financial transparency:
HN: In my country we say the people’s churches, the Protestants, the Catholics. They publish all their budgets annually to all the public. Why is not this possible for your church?
GBH: Well, we simply think that information belongs to those who make the contributions, not to the world. That’s the only thing. Yes.
ZDF Interview with Gordon B. Hinckley
This is simply not true. The Church doesn’t make that information available to the membership of the Church, and they are the ones making the contributions. Again, why misrepresent the facts on this matter, unless there are things that they would rather keep from the membership?
The Missionaries are sent out to teach the world about the Church, and as part of their message they speak of the Church not having a paid ministry. This is, at best, misleading (although the missionaries themselves are innocent here, and are only teaching what they themselves have been taught).
The fact of the matter is that most of the General Authorities, and Mission Presidents, do in fact receive compensation from the Church, in the form of ‘living allowances,’ or ‘stipends.’ Now I don’t think any reasonable individual would challenge the appropriateness of their being compensated for their services. But when they do this without being open about it, and while having its representatives teach others about there being ‘no paid ministry’ in the Church, it does raise legitimate concerns.
And why are the actual figures not disclosed? Are the amounts high enough that it would put them in a bad light, relative to the meager income of so many Church members?
Finally, I think it is useful to consider this quote from the Gospel Principles Manual, Chapter 31, on Honesty:
“When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest… Honest people will recognize Satan’s temptations and will speak the whole truth, even if it seems to be to their disadvantage.”
Gospel Principles Manual, 2011, Chapter 31, Pages 179–83
The Church would do well to follow the same principles it expects its members to obey.
The Church currently teaches that Tithing should be a tenth of one’s income, and that this is generally considered to be one’s Gross income, before taxes, living expenses, or other deductions. There is some uncertainty on the Gross vs Net issue, although one can readily find Conference Talks and other official Church publications that endorse Tithing on the Gross.
But regardless, this is, by definition, a ‘Regressive’ process. This tenth is applied uniformly, regardless of one’s income, and so will have greater impact on lower income individuals than higher income earners. There is a significant problem here for the poor, in that paying a full tithe, as it is currently defined, could leave them without sufficient income to live, let alone save for the future.
For example, take a family of 4. Using a Living Wage Calculator from an MIT website, such a family needs at least $40,000, before taxes, to just meet their basic expenses. If they earn this amount, and pay a Tithe of $4,000, this leaves them with $36,000, which is not enough money to meet basic needs.
Contrast this with another family of 4, with Gross Income of $400,000. Yes, the Tithe here is much greater, at $40,000, but this doesn’t impact their ability to meet their basic needs, and in fact, comes purely out of ‘discretionary’ funds.
The emphasis on the importance of Tithing in the Church is enormous. A recent article in the Ensign, by Aaron L. West, included the following:
“If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing. The Lord will not abandon you.”
Ensign, December, 2012
I find this attitude to be abhorrent, and incompatible with the message I receive from reading Jesus’ words in the New Testament.
Yes, the Church does have its own Welfare system that should theoretically kick in, to make up the difference for that poorer family. But it seems clear to me, after reading account after account after account, from actual members, that the Church has become increasingly restrictive, and arbitrary, in drawing on these funds. (The Church also discontinued their paid Janitorial staff years ago, and now require the members to provide those services as volunteers, but that’s a subject for another time.) There is also the matter of members being embarrassed to seek assistance, which further compounds the problem. And ironically, in the absence of financial transparency, it is impossible to assess to what extent the Church is, or isn’t, meeting their responsibilities to the poor.
Another aspect of Tithing which I find troubling, is the Church’s requiring that individuals pay a full Tithe before being granted a Temple Recommend, which provides access to their most sacred Temple Ordinances, regardless of whatever other Christ-like traits and behaviors they might have. I understand why access to these Ordinances is restricted to those with a real commitment to living the commandments. And now it may be just my own personal quirk, but I find it hard to imagine Jesus Christ telling somebody they can’t enter the Temple because they had failed to fill a financial requirement (especially for the poor, who are barely getting by to begin with).
c. City Creek Mall and other Financial Outlays
The Church recently invested between $1.5 billion and $5 billion dollars (apparently the difference depends on whether or not other aspects of the Salt Lake City downtown redevelopment project are included) on a commercial enterprise, the City Creek Mall. Regardless of whether or not official Tithing funds were used, and whether or not it will be generating profits down the road, I find this also quite troubling.
For a Church that claims Jesus Christ as its head, whose mission is world-wide, I find it hard to understand why funds of this magnitude were utilized in this matter, to benefit a very small geographic area, in an area which is already quite wealthy by global standards. Again, it is hard for me to visualize Jesus Christ making this kind of allocation while world-wide starvation and daily deaths of innocent, malnourished children are such huge problems. Imagine what could have been achieved if these funds had been used to build schools, feed children (including malnourished children who are already Church members), combat malaria, build infrastructure in developing countries, etc.
The Church has similarly recently invested huge sums of money into commercial enterprises in Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, Orlando, FL, and is the largest private landowner in Florida. It is estimated to have assets at least in excess of $30–40 billion, and annual tithing income of $5–8 billion. Again, exact figures are hard to come by, because of the absence of financial transparency, but these are likely to be close to the actual numbers according to multiple news sources.
There is no inherent problem with having assets of this proportion, but a reasonable individual can have legitimate questions about how these funds are being used, and how consistent those uses are with the teachings found in the New Testament.
Lastly, the Church has spent quite a lot of money on Temples — both the land, as well as the buildings and accoutrements themselves. While I understand the intent here, I still have trouble reconciling the vast sums of money that are spent here while so many children suffer and starve. Surely, there must be a better way to balance these concerns. This quote from the Book of Mormon seems to have this same message:
“37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.”
And perhaps I have a fundamental misunderstanding here, but it is very hard for me to see Jesus condoning such large expenditures for ordinances for the dead while there is so much pain and suffering among the living, who would benefit enormously, in very real, concrete ways, if those funds were used in their behalf.
“44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
2. Church Leadership and Policies
a. Church Leadership
The main leadership of the Church includes the First Presidency, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They are seen as Apostles in the same sense as the Apostles in the New Testament. The holders of these offices are also described as being Witnesses of Jesus Christ. The implication of this terminology, and the way they speak of this to the membership, is that they communicate directly with Jesus Christ, just as they say Joseph Smith did.
But when they are asked directly about this, they don’t give a straight forward answer, and sometimes express disappointment at being asked the question in the first place. Sometimes they’ll use cryptic wording, or deflect the question saying that those experiences are too sacred to share. In more recent years, it seems that they refer to their calling as being witnesses of the ‘name’ of Jesus Christ, which, to me, further obfuscates the issue.
This all seems quite disingenuous. After all, Joseph Smith is seen by the Church as having perhaps the greatest, most sacred experiences of all, and he wasn’t shy about publicly proclaiming them. My suspicion is that the spiritual experiences of current Church leaders are simply no different from those of the membership, and there is nothing ‘Special’ about them at all.
President Hinckley basically acknowledged this during several different interviews he had done. It is not at all common for Church leaders, especially Church Presidents, to speak publicly on this topic, so I think it would be worthwhile to quote several of these:
DR: As the world leader of the Church, how are you in touch with God? Can you explain that for me?
Gordon B. Hinckley: I pray. I pray to Him. Night and morning. I speak with Him. I think He hears my prayers. As He hears the prayers of others. I think He answers them.
DR: But more than that, because you’re leader of the Church. Do you have a special connection?
Gordon B. Hinckley: I have a special relationship in terms of the Church as an institution. Yes.
DR: And you receive.….…
Gordon B. Hinckley: For the entire Church.
DR: You receive?
Gordon B. Hinckley: Now we don’t need a lot of continuing revelation. We have a great, basic reservoir of revelation. But if a problem arises, as it does occasionally, a vexatious thing with which we have to deal, we go to the Lord in prayer. We discuss it as a First Presidency and as a Council of the Twelve Apostles. We pray about it and then comes the whisperings of a still small voice. And we know the direction we should take and we proceed accordingly.
DR: And this is a Revelation?
Gordon B. Hinckley: This is a Revelation.
DR: How often have you received such revelations?
Gordon B. Hinckley: Oh, I don’t know. I feel satisfied that in some circumstances we’ve had such revelation. It’s a very sacred thing that we don’t like to talk about a lot. A very sacred thing.
David Ransom Interview, November 9, 1997
And there was this exchange between Larry King and Pres. Hinckley, on Sept. 14, 2001, three days following the 9/11 attack:
KING: President Hinckley, though, couldn’t He have prevented this?
HINCKLEY: Oh, I suppose so. I believe he’s all powerful, yes. I don’t know His will. I don’t know how He operates. His wisdom is greater than mine. He sees beyond what I see. But I have confidence, overwhelming confidence in the fact that He, who sees life, in its true and eternal sense will provide for those who suffer as these people have suffered as a result of this atrocity, which has been committed against the nation, which we love.
Larry King Interview, Sept. 14, 2001
Lastly, this is from another Larry King interview in 2004:
KING: You are the prophet, right?
KING: Does that mean that, according to the church canon, the Lord speaks through you?
HINCKLEY: I think he makes his will manifest, yes.
KING: So if you change things, that’s done by an edict given to you.
HINCKLEY: Yes, sir.
KING: How do you receive it?
HINCKLEY: Well, various ways. It isn’t necessarily a voice heard. Impressions come. The building of this very building I think is an evidence of that.
There came an impression, a feeling, that we need to enlarge our facilities where we could hold our conferences. And it was a very bold measure. We had to tear down a big building here and put this building up at great cost.
But goodness sakes, what a wonderful thing it’s proven to be. It is an answer to many, many needs. And I think it’s the result of inspiration.
KING: And that came from something higher than you.
HINCKLEY: I think so.
Larry King Interview, Dec. 26, 2004
As an active, believing member at the time of several of these interviews, I clearly remember how surprised and disappointed I was in how Pres. Hinckley presented himself, and the Prophetic office. Here was an opportunity to speak boldly to the world, following the example of the Prophets of old, proclaiming whatever God would have him speak. But instead, I saw a very likeable, pleasant person, with a good heart, but with no more knowledge, power or authority than anybody else, with no ‘direct line’ to God, despite what members may generally believe, or are led to believe.
One final, brief quote, from current Church President, Thomas S. Monson, at the ribbon cutting for the City Creek Mall (discussed above) in March, 2012:
“1, 2, 3, let’s go shopping.”
Considering the questionable financial and ethical dimension to this project, and the dignity that might be expected from God’s Prophet, this just seems completely inappropriate. I have seen comments by active, believing Church member who also expressed discomfort about this quote.
In this context, I have also been bothered over the years when the First Presidency issues letters requesting that if members have questions about the Church, the Gospel, etc., that they shouldn’t write to the General Authorities, and should address them just to their local leaders.
Similarly, as discussed above, there are many issues and concerns surrounding aspects of the Church’s history and teachings, which are contradicted by the available scientific and historical evidence. Surely this would be an important, even crucial area, where the leaders of the Church, sustained as Prophets, Seers and Revelators, would be able to obtain revelation, and provide at least some answers, once and for all. What is the point of having Prophets if they are unwilling to declare doctrine, and provide definitive answers to members’ questions?
Instead, this task has seemingly been delegated to various BYU Professors who have functioned as informal, unofficial apologists for the Church. This leaves the membership in a quandary — they are told not to ask questions of the General Authorities, and are left solely with the conjectures of these men and women to try and deal with their questions, but who cannot speak with any authority for the Church. And ironically, many of their answers and explanations actually contradict the statements and writings of current and past Church Presidents and leaders.
In the last year (2014), the Church has finally published a number of Essays on various controversial topics, but at least at the time of this writing, it is difficult to find them on the LDS website. They are also anonymous and undated, raising questions about their authorship and authority.
When Church leaders want something brought to the attention of the membership, they have a letter from the First Presidency read at every Sacrament Meeting throughout the Church. Why not with this? Do they not want Church members to be more fully informed on these matters?
The Church seems to rely increasingly on its Public Relations arm, to deal with questions from the Press, or basically anybody else. I find myself asking the question of why a Prophet, who is supposed to have the ‘ear’ of God, the only one on Earth with the authority to speak for God, has need of a Public Relations Department to begin with?
I find it unsettling that the General Authorities sell a variety of books on Gospel Topics, through Deseret Books, and presumably profit from these sales (a reasonable assumption, in the absence of financial disclosure). These men compare themselves to the Prophets of the Bible, in terms of their relationship with God, and their roles in proclaiming the Gospel — I find it hard to imagine Moses, Isaiah, Paul, and so forth, charging the people for access to their messages.
One final area I’d like to cover for this section concerns the Mark Hoffman matter. Hoffman was a Church member, who sold the Church a large number of alleged historical documents, dealing with important aspects of Church history. There is a now famous photograph showing Mark Hoffman meeting with then Church President Spencer W. Kimball, 1st Counselor N. Eldon Tanner, 2nd Counselor Marian G. Romney, and Apostles Gordon B. Hinckley and Boyd K. Packer.
As events unfolded, Hoffman turned out to be a master forger, and as his operations began to unravel, he ended up a murderer as well, planting bombs that killed innocent Church members.
This is important for several reasons. First, it is often preached from the pulpit how Church leaders, from the highest authorities, to the local Bishops and other leaders, have a special gift of ‘discernment,’ which provides insight and knowledge, directly from God, about Church members, assisting them in their service to the Church. I cannot imagine a more colossal demonstration of the absence of ‘discernment’ than what is seen in the Hoffman affair. The entire First Presidency and several other Apostles and General Authorities were completely fooled. Again, I acknowledge that these men cannot be expected to be perfect, but given how members are expected to respect and reverence the leaders for their gift of discernment, and to obey any counsel they receive from them, this speaks eloquently to the absence of any such gift.
The other reason I’ve included this incident is because of the Church’s initial motivation in purchasing these documents. Many of them had material that could prove embarrassing to the Church regarding its history. And so, for at least for some of these documents, they were quietly purchased in order to be hidden away in the Church vaults, so their contents would not be publicly available or accessible.
b. Church Policies
Racism and Social Issues
It seems ironic, and the opposite of what might be expected, to see the Church as an institution on the wrong side of the major moral and human rights issues of our time. The Church denied the Priesthood to Blacks for almost 180 years, until this Doctrine was reversed in 1978 (for documentation that this wasn’t simply a ‘policy,’ see the statement of the First Presidency, August 17, 1949). Further, there is implicit Racism in how Native Americans are addressed in the Church’s teachings as well.
This is readily categorized as Institutional Racism, involving both Blacks, and Native Americans, and is found in both the Scriptures themselves, as well as in statements by Church Presidents. Consider the following quotes:
“And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.”
“The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race — that they should be the “servant of servants;” and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree.”
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:290–291
“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”
2 Nephi 5:21
“The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised (2 Né. 30:6)… There was the doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had an Indian boy in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness.”
President Spencer W. Kimball, Oct. 1960 General Conference
And yes, it is understood that Church leaders, like anybody else, are human, with their own weaknesses and imperfections, and are not seen as being infallible. But yet, there were many, many people outside the Church, dating back to the earliest years of the Church, who were somehow able to see this issue correctly, and worked conscientiously toward eliminating racism from society. Why wasn’t the Church on the forefront of this issue, rather than seemingly being reluctantly dragged into the 20th century? Further, it appears we are seeing the same process going on now, with respect to both Women’s rights, Gay and Lesbian rights, Gay Marriage, etc.
Women and the Priesthood
There is then the issue of ordaining women to the Priesthood. Prior to 1978, it was basically inconceivable for most members to see a change in Church doctrine/policy to allow Blacks to hold the Priesthood, believing that the Brethren, and therefore God, had already clearly spoken on this issue. This seems to accurately describe current attitudes on the issue of women’s ordination.
As shown above, there are multiple scriptural passages justifying the prior racially based Priesthood restriction. Ironically, with regard to the Priesthood being restricted to males, there aren’t even any actual scriptural passages that justify this practice. Ally Isom, official Church spokeswoman, during an interview with RadioWest’s Doug Fabrizio, was asked:
D. Fabrizio: Where does it say in Mormon doctrine that women can’t have the priesthood?”
A. Isom: It doesn’t.
Radio West Interview
Given how things have worked in the past, I suspect that, down the road, Church doctrine and policy will change to allow women to hold the Priesthood, just as it did with Blacks.
Church and the Family
The Church presents itself as being ‘family friendly,’ and in many respects it is. But unfortunately, there are several areas where family conflict, which could otherwise be avoided, is being created.
One are concerns Temple Marriage, specifically Temple Marriage in the United States. ‘Eternal Marriages’ are performed only within the Temples of the Church, and only members with a current Temple Recommend are allowed to enter and witness the ceremony. This creates a major problem for families who are not all members, or even for those who are members, but for whatever reason do not hold a current Temple Recommend (see the discussion above, where financial considerations and paying of a full tithe will sometimes have this result).
There is now a long-standing policy such that if a couple, wanting to include important family members who are not allowed to witness the Temple Marriage, decides to have a public, civil marriage first, they are then penalized by not being allowed to then have that marriage ‘Sealed’ in the Temple for a full year. To me, this is unconscionable, and the very opposite of ‘family friendly.’
Ironically, the laws in many European countries are different, and it is actually a requirement for the civil marriage to be performed first. The couple is then at liberty to go right away to the Temple, to have their marriage sealed.
There is absolutely no reason that this same Policy could not be implemented in the United States. Instead, the Church apparently chooses to create conflict and ill-will within families, which would seem to be completely inconsistent with its claim to be ‘family-friendly.’ There have been rumors of such a policy change taking place, and if so, many families will breathe a huge sigh of relief. But even so, that fails to excuse the past and current behavior, which has caused so much pain and sorrow.
And while the Church publicly preaches that the family comes first, the reality is quite different. For example, if a close family member of a full-time missionary, even a parent or sibling, dies while he or she is on their mission, that missionary is encouraged to stay in the mission field, and not return home even temporarily to attend the Funeral. How is this putting the family first? And the reality of Church callings, especially ones involving leadership positions, is that huge amounts of time are devoted to the Church, rather than the family. Typically, the father and/or the mother are already required to be away from the family for many of the children’s waking hours, to earn a living; callings often add significantly to the number of hours spent away from the family. The message might be ‘family first,’ but the reality is ‘Church first.’
Messages from the Prophet
The world is filled with enormous suffering, disease, hunger, torture, conflict, war. One would expect the Prophetic Voice to speak out boldly on these topics. It is therefore so incongruous when General Conference talks, and counsel from the First Presidency, seems to place so much importance on so many relatively inconsequential matters: how many earrings are acceptable for a female to wear, the crucial importance of obedience to one’s leaders, the paying of a full tithe, and other offerings, etc. Yes there are other messages about following the example of Jesus, which are more consistent with the mission of the Church. But if I were to visualize what I would have expected from God’s True Church, and his chosen Prophet, it would bear little resemblance to what I see in the Church today.
One final topic for this section is Polygamy. Most people today recognize this as a practice which devalues women, treating them as male property, valuing them primarily for sex and reproduction. In the early days of the Church, Polygamy was considered an essential part of the Church, and a requirement for entry into the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. Brigham Young said:
“The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them.“Journal of Discourses Volume 11, P. 269
In fact, early Church leaders went so far as to condemn monogamy, as shown by this quote from Brigham Young:
“Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman Empire.…Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers.… Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord’s servants have always practiced it. ‘And is that religion popular in heaven?’ it is the only popular religion there…”
The Deseret News, August 6, 1862
Joseph Smith married at least 34 women, including 10 teen-agers, the youngest of whom was 14 (he was 37 at the time of that marriage). He also married 11 women who were then already married to other men (called ‘Polyandry’). The Church has finally acknowledged these facts in the Essays I’ve already referred to.
In the case of that 14 year-old, Helen Mar Kimball, she was promised that if she agreed to Joseph’s request for marriage, that her whole family would receive exaltation. She later expressed her thoughts on this subject:
“I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.”
Mormon Polygamy: A History, by Richard S. Van Wagoner, P. 53
This seems to me to be a manipulative practice of the worst kind.
Eventually, the Church was forced to abandon Polygamy, but the scriptural basis for it as a practice, both in this world, and the next, is still very much a part of LDS Theology (see Doctrine & Covenants 132). And ironically, if you do read that section carefully, you’ll see that Joseph actually violated almost all of the stipulations listed there, for how Polygamy was to be practiced, and he would therefore be condemned by it, as a result.
But the Church now consistently tries to distance itself from this practice, which was originally considered an integral part of the Restored Gospel. Consider this quote from Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, when he was asked about Polygamy by Larry King on TV:
“I condemn it, yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal”.
Interview with Larry King, Sept. 8, 1998
This is disingenuous at best, and overtly deceptive at worst. This reflects the behavior of a Public Relations conscious Corporation, rather than the courageous declaration of a Prophet of God, who would proclaim even unpopular truths.
In this manner, the Church quietly changes its doctrine, and the things it teaches as true and important, while at the same time declaring that the truth never changes. And they expect the members to simply obey everything that they proclaim as God’s everlasting, unchangeable truth, despite the fact that these teachings have changed in the past, and most likely will change again in the future.