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This is my first post so I should intro­duce myself. I met my wife to be, in the last year of high school and mar­ried her when we were both 19. My wife came from an LDS fam­i­ly with her father serv­ing as Bish­op at the time. I was bap­tized into the church about 6 months after our mar­riage and start­ed our life jour­ney togeth­er as active mem­bers of the church. I am now almost 59 and have served in most call­ings par­tic­u­lar­ly in Young Mens, Elders Quo­rum Pres­i­dent, High Priests Group Leader, var­i­ous Bish­oprics, sev­er­al occa­sions as a High Coun­cilor, and most recent­ly as a Bish­op. You could say I am well round­ed in the LDS Church.

My life was going along with the nor­mal ups and downs up until in search­ing for answers to LDS Church his­to­ry ques­tions raised by 2 of my chil­dren and their spous­es, I came across the Church Essays in the Gospel Top­ics sec­tion of LDS​.org.

Here is my recent let­ter to my cur­rent Bish­op and Stake Pres­i­dent that will show you the dif­fi­cul­ty that I am expe­ri­enc­ing.


Dear Bish­op and Stake Pres­i­dent,

I write to you both as my ward and quo­rum lead­ers. I speak for both myself, and my wife, how­ev­er the fol­low­ing let­ter is entire­ly my thoughts and per­son­al strug­gles over the last 18 months.

My wife and I are the par­ents of 5 won­der­ful and unique chil­dren and 8 joy­ful grand­chil­dren (so far). All of our chil­dren were born in the covenant and entered the Tem­ple with their spous­es, with 4 chil­dren (2 sons and 2 daugh­ters) serv­ing mis­sions.

About 18 months ago, my eldest son and eldest daughter’s hus­band were strug­gling with their tes­ti­monies of the church. Need­less to say, their strug­gles were affect­ing their eter­nal com­pan­ions. Their strug­gles were based around fun­da­men­tal beliefs that we have, such as Joseph Smith and the Restora­tion, Book of Mor­mon and oth­er revealed scrip­ture, Race and the Priest­hood. Prayer­ful­ly I coun­seled with them and shared my love and tes­ti­mo­ny with them. In my endeav­or to seek fur­ther knowl­edge I began my jour­ney to search for answers to their dif­fi­cul­ties.

As I began my research, I some­how came across the “Church Essays” found on lds​.org in the Gospel Top­ics sec­tion. As I read some of them I start­ed to get an uneasy feel­ing. Here was infor­ma­tion that up until now I would have expect­ed to find on anti-Mor­mon sites. As I read through them rather than get­ting answers to ques­tions, I was get­ting more ques­tions that need­ed answer­ing. It was like pulling a loose thread and real­iz­ing that my “Gospel fab­ric” was start­ing to unrav­el.

As I read through the var­i­ous top­ics in the “Essays” I real­ized that there was more infor­ma­tion need­ed than what was offered. The church was pro­vid­ing this infor­ma­tion to assist those mem­bers strug­gling with his­tor­i­cal infor­ma­tion as well as being an attempt to become “more trans­par­ent”, how­ev­er this infor­ma­tion was only super­fi­cial and even vague in areas. Unfor­tu­nate­ly rather than find­ing answers to those ques­tions, I was begin­ning to sense a feel­ing of sad­ness and lone­li­ness and a break­ing down of my own “tes­ti­mo­ny”.

I need­ed more help, but where do I go? If I go to non-church sites then there is a bias, which would not be help­ful. I have tried where pos­si­ble to research LDS based sites espe­cial­ly those that refer to var­i­ous per­son­al diaries of lead­ers and promi­nent peo­ple of ear­ly Church his­to­ry, which are in fact quot­ed as reli­able sources by our lead­ers today. A valu­able site for me has been Mor­mon His­to­ry Asso­ci­a­tion, which is a great source of infor­ma­tion on the church’s his­to­ry. You can find it at:

http://​mor​mon​his​to​ryas​so​ci​a​tion​.org

Just over 12 months ago my wife and I along with our youngest daugh­ter (25) relo­cat­ed to our new Ward. In my first inter­view with Bish­op, I expressed my con­cerns with regards to the “Essays” only to find out that he was aware of them and that oth­ers in his ward also had chal­lenges. He sug­gest­ed I read “Rough Stone Rolling”, an LDS based biog­ra­phy of Joseph Smith. I have yet to obtain a copy, how­ev­er I have read var­i­ous quotes and it’s inter­est­ing to note that even Bush­man uses cer­tain ref­er­ences that if researched by the read­er will pro­vide fur­ther infor­ma­tion that, in my opin­ion, is dam­ag­ing to the church.

Dur­ing this peri­od, my wife had been very sup­port­ive and lov­ing to me and of course to our chil­dren. She had been faith­ful in attend­ing to her call­ing as RS teacher and try­ing to be strong in her tes­ti­mo­ny, how­ev­er she has now also start­ed to strug­gle with aspects of church his­to­ry, so much so, that when we unex­pect­ed­ly, were extend­ed a call to serve as Mul­ti Stake Pub­lic Affairs Direc­tors for our region, we real­ized that as Direc­tors, we would have to defend the Church, both pub­licly and in the var­i­ous com­mit­tees that we would need to attend. This was too much for us and with sad­ness offered our apolo­gies to the Area Sev­en­ty and declined the call. In regards to my wife’s RS call­ing she also has informed the RS Pres­i­dent of her deci­sion to no longer per­form her role as teacher.

The last months have been dif­fi­cult for us both to sit in Church meet­ings and lis­ten to tes­ti­monies about the “truth­ful­ness of the Church” or that “Joseph Smith and oth­ers were true prophets”. These have come about because of the unre­solved ques­tions raised by the “Essay” top­ics.

We love the Gospel of Jesus Christ as we under­stand it. What we have dif­fi­cul­ty in, is how to rec­on­cile the his­tor­i­cal facts and the teach­ings of the ear­ly prophets and our cur­rent beliefs today. I know we have known about such things as polygamy, race and the Priest­hood etc. before, but we nev­er knew them in detail, and the essays, in try­ing to be more “trans­par­ent” have only skimmed over the dif­fi­cult ques­tions. The more I have now researched, the more dis­turb­ing the infor­ma­tion has become.

Just last month I came across Elder M Rus­sell Bal­lard address (see lds​.org – There is Absolute­ly Noth­ing Wrong with Ask­ing Ques­tions) Sep­tem­ber 13, 2015. Here are some extracts:

To the Saints in the Utah South Area

Let me make sure that you are hear­ing my epis­tle and that you under­stand this impor­tant point. There is absolute­ly noth­ing wrong with ask­ing ques­tions or inves­ti­gat­ing our his­to­ry, doc­trine, and prac­tices. The Restora­tion began when Joseph Smith sought answers to his sin­cere ques­tions.

We have heard sto­ries where some­one ask­ing hon­est ques­tions about our his­to­ry, doc­trine, or prac­tice were treat­ed as though they were faith­less. This is not the Lord’s way. As Peter said, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man [or woman] that asketh you a rea­son of the hope that is in you.”

We need to do bet­ter in respond­ing to hon­est ques­tions. Although we may not be able to answer every ques­tion about the cos­mos or about our his­to­ry, prac­tices, or doc­trine, we can pro­vide many answers to those who are sin­cere.”

Elder Bal­lard con­tin­ues by relat­ing a sto­ry of a young elder who served with then Mis­sion Pres­i­dent Bal­lard in Cana­da:

One of our out­stand­ing mis­sion­ar­ies that served with us in the Cana­da Toron­to Mis­sion years ago, came to my office in Salt Lake City. Dur­ing our vis­it, he told me that he was los­ing his faith and his tes­ti­mo­ny and that he had many ques­tions. I asked him to write down his ques­tions and promised to find answers to them, cer­tain­ly as many as I could. As he was about to leave, he had his hand on the door­knob of my office, I said, “Elder, how long has it been since you have stud­ied the scrip­tures, specif­i­cal­ly how long has it been since you have read from the Book of Mor­mon? He low­ered his head and said he had not been doing that. I gave him an assign­ment to begin read­ing the Book of Mor­mon for an hour each day while I worked to pre­pare answers to his ques­tions. He agreed to do so.

Two weeks lat­er, he came back to my office, and as he entered in and sat down he said, “Pres­i­dent, I don’t need answers to those ques­tions any­more. I did what you asked—I know the Book of Mor­mon is true and I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.” I was very hap­py to hear that, but said, “Elder, I spent a long time answer­ing your ques­tions so you will have to sit down and hear the answers!” What a joy! The Spir­it and light of the gospel had returned to him. I com­mend­ed him and gave him a big hug before he left.”

He fur­ther stat­ed the fol­low­ing:

When I have a ques­tion that I can­not answer, I turn to those who can help me. The Church is blessed with trained schol­ars and those who have devot­ed a life­time of study, who have come to know our his­to­ry and the scrip­tures. These thought­ful men and women pro­vide con­text and back­ground so we can bet­ter under­stand our sacred past and our cur­rent prac­tices.”

I can hear you say­ing “yes, the answer to our strug­gles is to read the scrip­tures dai­ly, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Book of Mor­mon” as rec­om­mend­ed by Elder Bal­lard. But isn’t it inter­est­ing that he says:

When I have a ques­tion that I can­not answer, I turn to those who can help me … trained schol­ars …”

So does he need more than the scrip­tures? What about Apos­tolic rev­e­la­tion? If even he needs to turn to schol­ars etc. then that would also apply to me. I have thought about the young elder read­ing the Book of Mor­mon. We all do that to get in a “com­fort­able and warm feel­ing” zone. One that we are famil­iar with, one that we have turned to for most of our lives. But is that feel­ing of com­fort and warmth only a “famil­iar feel­ing”? The young man said he was OK, but it’s also inter­est­ing that Elder Bal­lard con­tin­ued with answer­ing his ques­tions. Those ques­tions or answers are not stat­ed. They would have been help­ful for me.

The fol­low­ing are some of the dif­fi­cul­ties that have affect­ed me in read­ing the Essays.

PLURAL MARRIAGE

Rev­e­la­tion on plur­al mar­riage D&C 132 (12th July 1843) – known to Joseph since 1831 fol­low­ing his read­ing about Abra­ham in the scrip­tures.

Although the seal­ing keys were not restored till April 3 1836 (Kirt­land Tem­ple) – Joseph secret­ly mar­ries Fan­ny Alger (a maid in his house) with­out restored seal­ing keys and before the rev­e­la­tion on plur­al mar­riage?

Louisa Bea­man becomes the first of many plur­al wives sealed to Joseph in Nau­voo April 1841. Joseph also marries/seals him­self to mar­ried women, even some whose hus­bands are on mis­sions. No expla­na­tion is giv­en.

The most damn­ing exam­ple of Joseph’s and Brigham Young’s prac­tice of “Celes­tial Mar­riage” was with Zina D Hunt­ing­ton Jacobs Smith Young. She was propo­si­tioned by Joseph to be his plur­al wife and even after she mar­ried Hen­ry Jacobs, Joseph con­tin­ued to pur­sue Zina and even­tu­al­ly sealed her to him­self. Fol­low­ing Joseph’s death, Brigham decid­ed he was a bet­ter man for her than her legal hus­band Hen­ry and had her sealed to him­self for time with­out a divorce from Hen­ry and went on to hav­ing chil­dren with her. Is this Gods “plan of hap­pi­ness”?

The Church Essay states the fol­low­ing:

When God com­mands a dif­fi­cult task, He some­times sends addi­tion­al mes­sen­gers to encour­age His peo­ple to obey. Con­sis­tent with this pat­tern, Joseph told asso­ciates that an angel appeared to him three times between 1834 and 1842 and com­mand­ed him to pro­ceed with plur­al mar­riage when he hes­i­tat­ed to move for­ward. Dur­ing the third and final appear­ance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threat­en­ing Joseph with destruc­tion unless he went for­ward and obeyed the com­mand­ment ful­ly.”

Joseph would use this state­ment of the destroy­ing angel to coerce some of the women to accept his mar­riage pro­pos­al. He would also state that he had received by rev­e­la­tion that the spe­cif­ic woman was to be sealed to him.

The essay fur­ther states the fol­low­ing in try­ing to answer the cas­es of polyandry:

He may have believed that seal­ings to mar­ried women would com­ply with the Lord’s com­mand with­out requir­ing him to have nor­mal mar­riage rela­tion­ships.”

This is not con­sis­tent with one of the rea­sons for the prac­tice of polygamy which was to “raise up seed unto the Lord”. If Joseph didn’t have “nor­mal mar­riage rela­tion­ships” then what seed would have been raised?

Anoth­er excerpt:

The rev­e­la­tion on plur­al mar­riage, record­ed in Doc­trine and Covenants 132, emerged part­ly from Joseph Smith’s study of the Old Tes­ta­ment in 1831. Lat­ter-day Saints under­stood that they were liv­ing in the lat­ter days, in what the rev­e­la­tions called the “dis­pen­sa­tion of the full­ness of times.”5 Ancient principles—such as prophets, priest­hood, and temples—would be restored to the earth. Plur­al mar­riage, prac­ticed by ancient patri­archs like Abra­ham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, was one of those ancient prin­ci­ples.”

This has been a very per­plex­ing state­ment. Log­ic says that if Joseph had to restore all as at first, includ­ing plur­al mar­riage, why isn’t it a nec­es­sary prin­ci­ple today? (The Woodruff Man­i­festo is anoth­er top­ic of dis­cus­sion). Think­ing about this some more, if Joseph restored Christ’s church, then who in Christ’s time prac­ticed polygamy and if not why not? And if the doc­trine of polygamy is to raise seed unto God then why did Adam only have Eve and not oth­er wives, or even Noah after the flood?

And again:

Emma approved, at least for a time, of four of Joseph Smith’s plur­al mar­riages in Nau­voo, and she accept­ed all four of those wives into her house­hold. She may have approved of oth­er mar­riages as well. But Emma like­ly did not know about all of Joseph’s seal­ings. She vac­il­lat­ed in her view of plur­al mar­riage, at some points sup­port­ing it and at oth­er times denounc­ing it.”

This doesn’t sound like Emma was thrilled about polygamy and what about Joseph being hon­est with his wife?

Here’s an inter­est­ing quote:

The rev­e­la­tion on mar­riage required that a wife give her con­sent before her hus­band could enter into plur­al mar­riage. Nev­er­the­less, toward the end of the rev­e­la­tion, the Lord said that if the first wife “receive not this law”—the com­mand to prac­tice plur­al marriage—the hus­band would be “exempt from the law of Sarah,” pre­sum­ably the require­ment that the hus­band gain the con­sent of the first wife before mar­ry­ing addi­tion­al women. After Emma opposed plur­al mar­riage, Joseph was placed in an ago­niz­ing dilem­ma, forced to choose between the will of God and the will of his beloved Emma. He may have thought Emma’s rejec­tion of plur­al mar­riage exempt­ed him from the law of Sarah. Her deci­sion to “receive not this law” per­mit­ted him to mar­ry addi­tion­al wives with­out her con­sent.”

Well a con­ve­nient out for Joseph. He could mar­ry any­one with­out Emma’s per­mis­sion because he was only fol­low­ing God’s com­mand.

Let’s look at Helen Mar Kim­ball, Heber C Kimball’s 14 year old daugh­ter (see BYU Reli­gious Edu­ca­tion):

https://​rsc​.byu​.edu/​a​r​c​h​i​v​e​d​/​n​o​-​w​e​a​p​o​n​-​s​h​a​l​l​-​p​r​o​s​p​e​r​/​s​u​b​j​e​c​t​-​c​a​n​-​b​e​a​r​-​i​n​v​e​s​t​i​g​a​t​i​o​n​-​a​n​g​u​i​s​h​-​f​a​i​t​h​-​a​n​d​-​j​o​s​e​p​h​-​s​m​i​t​h​s​#​_​e​d​n12

Joseph … came next morn­ing & with my par­ents I heard him teach & explain the prin­ci­ple of Celes­tial marriage—after which he said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your eter­nal sal­va­tion and exal­ta­tion & that of your father’s house­hold & all of your kin­dred. This promise was so great that I will­ing­ly gave myself to pur­chase so glo­ri­ous a reward.” Nei­ther a star­ry-eyed nor love-struck pro­pos­al, Joseph Smith’s to Helen resem­bles oth­ers record­ed by the Prophet’s wives; each report­ed that he couched his pro­pos­al in the lan­guage of rev­e­la­tion, obe­di­ence to God’s law, and the promise of eter­nal rewards.”

I can’t help but feel for Helen, a 14 year old girl who had so much pres­sure put on her by the Prophet and her father. Can you imag­ine if you had a 14 year old daugh­ter? Would you feel com­fort­able in sub­mit­ting to the pro­pos­al?

Pres Gor­don B Hinck­ley in an inter­view with Lar­ry King said this of the prac­tice of polygamy:

I con­demn it, yes, as a prac­tice, because I think it is not doc­tri­nal.”

The church essay states this about the doc­trine of plur­al mar­riage:

Church mem­bers no longer prac­tice plur­al mar­riage.54 Con­sis­tent with Joseph Smith’s teach­ings, the Church per­mits a man whose wife has died to be sealed to anoth­er woman when he remar­ries.”

So it is indeed still a doc­trine of the church. Per­haps Pres Hinck­ley was con­fused?

Here is a quote from “Offi­cial Dec­la­ra­tion 1” (D&C) — Scrip­ture: (is this an exam­ple of the accept­ed prin­ci­ple of “lying for the Lord”?)

I, there­fore, as Pres­i­dent of The Church of Jesus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints, do here­by, in the most solemn man­ner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teach­ing polygamy or plur­al mar­riage, nor per­mit­ting any per­son to enter into its prac­tice, and I deny that either forty or any oth­er num­ber of plur­al mar­riages have dur­ing that peri­od been sol­em­nized in our Tem­ples or in any oth­er place in the Ter­ri­to­ry.

Here is an “out” for Pres Woodruff as giv­en by the author of the essay:

The Man­i­festo declared Pres­i­dent Woodruff’s inten­tion to sub­mit to the laws of the Unit­ed States. It said noth­ing about the laws of oth­er nations. Ever since the open­ing of colonies in Mex­i­co and Cana­da, Church lead­ers had per­formed plur­al mar­riages in those coun­tries, and after Octo­ber 1890, plur­al mar­riages con­tin­ued to be qui­et­ly per­formed there.34 As a rule, these mar­riages were not pro­mot­ed by Church lead­ers and were dif­fi­cult to get approved. Either one or both of the spous­es who entered into these unions typ­i­cal­ly had to agree to remain in Cana­da or Mex­i­co. Under excep­tion­al cir­cum­stances, a small­er num­ber of new plur­al mar­riages were per­formed in the Unit­ed States between 1890 and 1904, though whether the mar­riages were autho­rized to have been per­formed with­in the states is unclear.”

I just want to under­stand what are excep­tion­al cir­cum­stances? If Joseph had to fol­low God’s com­mand to mar­ry oth­er women, what excep­tion­al cir­cum­stance were there for mem­bers to break God’s com­mand fol­low­ing the Man­i­festo?

From the essay:

The exclu­sion of B. H. Roberts opened Mor­mon mar­i­tal prac­tices to renewed scruti­ny. Church Pres­i­dent Loren­zo Snow issued a state­ment clar­i­fy­ing that new plur­al mar­riages had ceased in the Church and that the Man­i­festo extend­ed to all parts of the world, coun­sel he repeat­ed in pri­vate. Even so, a small num­ber of new plur­al mar­riages con­tin­ued to be per­formed, prob­a­bly with­out Pres­i­dent Snow’s knowl­edge or approval. After Joseph F. Smith became Church Pres­i­dent in 1901, a small num­ber of new plur­al mar­riages were also per­formed dur­ing the ear­ly years of his admin­is­tra­tion.”

Here again after a Prophet of God pub­licly stat­ing that plur­al mar­riage had ceased and by God’s com­mand, yet more mar­riages were per­formed. Again what spe­cial cir­cum­stance allows a faith­ful mem­ber and indeed the Lord’s anoint­ed Apostle/Prophet to break not only the Law of the land but also God’s com­mand?

BOOK OF MORMON TRANSLATION

Anoth­er dif­fi­cult fact is the use of the “seer stone” in trans­lat­ing the gold plates.

The essay states the fol­low­ing:

The oth­er instru­ment, which Joseph Smith dis­cov­ered in the ground years before he retrieved the gold plates, was a small oval stone, or “seer stone.” As a young man dur­ing the 1820s, Joseph Smith, like oth­ers in his day, used a seer stone to look for lost objects and buried trea­sure. As Joseph grew to under­stand his prophet­ic call­ing, he learned that he could use this stone for the high­er pur­pose of trans­lat­ing scrip­ture”.

The Urim and Thum­mim was only used to trans­late the first 116 pages (the lost ones). After Joseph regained the plates he then only used the “seer stone”. This seer stone was the one found on Willard Chase prop­er­ty while dig­ging in a well. There is no men­tion any­where that it was giv­en to Joseph by God to help him trans­late, or even any men­tion that God “touched” the stones (see Bro of Jared). So this stone and oth­er stones cer­tain­ly were not “gifts” from God.

It’s also inter­est­ing that now we have numer­ous state­ments on Joseph putting the stone in a hat. Pri­or to this the process of trans­lat­ing with the seer stone was men­tioned obscure­ly in a Friend arti­cle of 1979 and some years ago by Elder Nel­son.

I would like to hear anyone’s thoughts on the Octo­ber 2015 Ensign arti­cle enti­tled “Joseph the Seer”. Here is the link:

https://​www​.lds​.org/​e​n​s​i​g​n​/​2​0​1​5​/​1​0​/​j​o​s​e​p​h​-​t​h​e​-​s​e​e​r​?​l​a​n​g​=​eng

I have fur­ther dif­fi­cul­ty in under­stand­ing the fact that the church has had this “seer stone” since Brigham Young and only now dis­closed that fact. And since Joseph, no oth­er Prophet has used it, or felt the need to use it? I would think today would be a per­fect time to receive fur­ther rev­e­la­tion to answer all the unknown facts as touched upon in the essays.

RACE AND THE PRIESTHOOD

The Essay is detailed, how­ev­er no one can find where the “doc­trine” of ban­ning blacks from the Priest­hood came from, only that Brigham Young pub­licly announced in 1852 that:

men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priest­hood, though there­after blacks con­tin­ued to join the Church through bap­tism and receiv­ing the gift of the Holy Ghost. Fol­low­ing the death of Brigham Young, sub­se­quent Church pres­i­dents restrict­ed blacks from receiv­ing the tem­ple endow­ment or being mar­ried in the tem­ple. Over time, Church lead­ers and mem­bers advanced many the­o­ries to explain the priest­hood and tem­ple restric­tions. None of these expla­na­tions is accept­ed today as the offi­cial doc­trine of the Church”.

So it wasn’t a doc­trine and no rev­e­la­tion was giv­en by God to his Prophet, yet we had to wait till Pres­i­dent Spencer Kim­ball received rev­e­la­tion from God to allow blacks the priv­i­lege. The theme run­ning through the Essay is that it was the cul­ture of the time, mean­ing that soci­ety had a par­tic­u­lar view of the Negro and there­fore the Church was of the same opin­ion. How does one con­sid­er that, when we com­pare the prac­tice of Polygamy. It cer­tain­ly wasn’t an accept­ed view of soci­ety, yet the church mem­bers were so obe­di­ent to that prac­tice even though it not being accept­ed by soci­ety.

I have just scratched the sur­face in regards to the church essays and the his­to­ry of the church.

Reuben Clark is quot­ed as hav­ing said “If we have truth, it can­not be harmed by inves­ti­ga­tion. If we have not truth, it ought to be harmed”. I would think that the “truth” found in the essays has harmed me. I cer­tain­ly have come to the con­clu­sion that I have been taught “the philoso­phies of men – min­gled with scrip­ture”.

Need­less to say I sim­ply announce to you both, that Anne and I will no longer be reg­u­lar atten­ders to future church meet­ings. We have shared our dif­fi­cul­ties (briefly) with our 2 “active” chil­dren and their spous­es. Although heart­break­ing for them and us, we could no longer pre­tend that all is well in Zion. We have for now decid­ed to not seek for­mal removal of our mem­ber­ship, as that would show to them a final­i­ty in our “eter­nal fam­i­ly unit”, as the church doc­trines teach­es, and at this stage we do not wish that heartache upon them.

Final­ly, if there is one thing that I would ask of you both, it is that you would read the church essays in full, con­cen­trat­ing on Plur­al Mar­riage, Race and the Priest­hood, Book of Abra­ham, and when you have read and pon­dered them, ask your­selves in all hon­esty, if they do not cause some doubt to come into your minds. I am still per­plexed at the fact that the church has pub­lished them think­ing that they would be help­ful to mem­bers. And it both­ers me great­ly that any­one, espe­cial­ly the Brethren, would say “don’t doubt”.

Sin­cere­ly,

John Krok


They both respond­ed to my let­ter, with the Bish­op offer­ing to meet with my wife and me, to see what he could do. The Stake Pres­i­dent replied by stat­ing that he had read in detail my let­ter, but didn’t know the answers and hoped that I would find them as I faith­ful­ly fol­lowed the Spirit’s direc­tion.

What I real­ly want­ed from both brethren was their thoughts / opin­ions on what is found in the Church Essays, but it seems that they would pre­fer to stay clear of them.

What also sad­dens me, is that when I have raised ques­tions with oth­er mem­bers of the LDS Church regard­ing the Church Essays, none of them have a knowl­edge about them and cer­tain­ly don’t want to know more.

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Paulette
Paulette

Just to give you some com­fort, I once expe­ri­enced a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. I almost “jumped off the wag­on because this was fueled by peo­ple it was very close to in the church… who even­tu­al­ly total­ly fell away. I am so very hap­py that I remem­ber and I was on my deathbed and the only one I had to turn to was Heav­en­ly Father. That expe­ri­ence changed my life ! If I can give you a word of advice, stop focus­ing on things that hap­pened in the past and or any­thing else whether it be true or not .…..Pray to Heav­en­ly Father and ask him to help you under­stand the atone­ment for your­self and oth­ers and to give you the wis­dom that he gave to Joseph Smith and you will nev­er doubt again. If you haven’t ever done this before, ask heav­en­ly father when you’re alone if the church is true… Read more »

Mandy

My tes­ti­mo­ny is built off of my rela­tion­ship with heav­en­ly father and the Lord through prayer not off of Joseph Smith’s. Say­ing will pull you away from the cross and put you in dark­ness any­way he can if it’s mis­con­stru­ing the doc­tor and like 1/3 went with say­ing when it was a third part. You should ask of the Lord in all things yet you are seek­ing in the arm of flash for the answers and by post­ing this you were also ruin­ing the tes­ti­mo­ny of oth­ers which you will be held account­able for. If you go join anoth­er church they teach strict­ly out of the Bible and there’s 43 dif­fer­ent ver­sion so good luck find­ing con­sis­tent Sea there also. Have you tak­ing these ques­tions and con­cerns to the Lord to ask him for rev­e­la­tion or under­stand­ing if they did or didn’t hap­pen I bet you didn’t and now you’re… Read more »

Mat
Mat

I came across your post was search­ing for infor­ma­tion on what my sis­ter should do because she was hav­ing a con­flict with her bish­op. I told her to trust in the Lord and even god’s appoint­ed are not per­fect. After I read this I start­ed to pray in ques­tion hap­pen we found her about all the things I now and all the things I’ve been told and the things that you have the revealed. And the same mes­sage that I had giv­en my sis­ter came back to me trust not in the arm of flesh trust in what I now which is my tes­ti­mo­ny of Jesus Christ and heav­en­ly father is not based off of Joseph Smith. We have been com­mand­ed to ques­tion all things and if we do we should take it to the father and he will reveal it to us and I have had rev­e­la­tion the Lord… Read more »

Carrie
Carrie

It has been some­time since this was post­ed but I had to com­ment. I am in the midst of dis­cov­er­ing all of this for myself and I’m con­tem­plat­ing leav­ing the church. It is such a heart­break­ing deci­sion that changes every­thing. But I don’t know how I can con­tin­ue to go on with it. The god of this church seems to treat women poor­ly. I’m so sad. So very sad that I can’t find truth­ful­ness in it any­more. I hope you are doing well. Thank you for the post!

Wes Trexler

I’m so glad you found this post help­ful. I real­ly appre­ci­ate John’s posts as well. Leav­ing can be a scary propo­si­tion. There are many groups in many parts of the world to sup­port peo­ple hav­ing doubts and con­sid­er­ing the things you are con­sid­er­ing. Please let me know if you’d like help find­ing such a group.

Jess*
Jess*

I have always respect­ed you as a priest­hood holder/leader and read­ing this gave me a lot of com­fort know­ing that some else felt the way I did,not just some blog­ger from Utah but Broth­er Krok. (Me like so many oth­ers spent most of my free time in youth/YSA hang­ing out at the “Krok’s place”,where the door was always open and it was a safe hap­py love­ly place to be) A few years ago I was a pri­ma­ry teacher teach­ing from the D&C man­u­al and every time I would pre­pare a les­son i would get anx­i­ety know­ing I was teach­ing these beau­ti­ful lit­tle minds garbage. I remem­ber one Sun­day giv­ing the kids the pic­ture of the first vision to colour in and a 6 year boy in my class said ” Joseph was lying.……he just want­ed atten­tion” That was it.…out of the mouths of babes. Leav­ing the church “offi­cial­ly” isn’t on… Read more »

Robert M Hodge

John I am sure you know that you have just touched on the prob­lems. One of the biggest not men­tion is Joseph Smith prov­ing him­self to be will­ing to lie when he declared that he could “only find one wife. This denial is record­ed in the His­to­ry of the Church vol­ume 6 page 411. And, Smith per­mit­ted the church to pub­lish a for­mal denial of polygamy which was in the D&C until 1876 as I recall. These two inci­dents alone prove that the Church is ful­ly capa­ble of pub­lic decep­tion.

Abinadi
Abinadi

What you may not have con­sid­ered is that Joseph did not prac­tice polygamy, but in instances where he is accused of mar­ry­ing peo­ple, he was actu­al­ly only seal­ing them to him, or rather seal­ing them to the Father through him, since he is the prophet of this dis­pen­sa­tion. After all, there were some men sealed to him, and yet I don’t think any­one ever accused him of being homo­sex­u­al. Brigham was the per­vert who want­ed to have 50 wives. So he had church his­to­ry back in that time changed to reflect that Joseph received the rev­e­la­tions so that he could use Joseph’s alleged rev­e­la­tion to jus­ti­fy his lust­ful desires. In a day when no birth con­trol exist­ed, how could Joseph live polygamy with dozens of wives and yet he nev­er pro­duced off­spring with a sin­gle one of them. That’s been proven, quite recent­ly in fact, but Brigham on the oth­er… Read more »

Stacy Parsons

Thank you for this. The more I explore and read and hear sto­ries such as yours, the more I real­ize I’ve done the right thing by leav­ing (try­ing to, any­way) this church behind.

Joe
Joe

Thank you Mr. Krok

Sad­ly, this sto­ry has been repeat­ed so many times. Glad that you found out the his­tor­i­cal truths of the Mor­mon cult.

Peter Bradley

John and Anne, as I read your notes, I am guess­ing the var­i­ous sec­tions were sourced from com­men­taries about the Church essays by peo­ple who don’t have the Church’s best inter­ests at heart. For­give me if this is wrong. Nev­er­the­less, in your search­ing and study­ing, I am sure you have read mate­r­i­al from many sources, includ­ing those opposed to the Church. There is a gen­er­al prin­ci­ple about read­ing oth­ers’ words which we need to apply — a healthy dose of Aus­tralian scep­ti­cism. You can read a Dai­ly Tele­graph arti­cle on PM John Howard and con­clude that he was a great politi­cian. Then you can read a sim­i­lar arti­cle about him in the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald and con­clude that he was a down­right scoundrel. The same applies to Joseph Smith and the his­to­ry of the Church. Read one thing and you will believe the best, read anoth­er and you will only… Read more »

Peter Bradley

Let’s use the sub­ject of race and the priest­hood as an exam­ple and see how putting a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on it can change our whole feel­ings towards it. As men­tioned, the Lord calls capa­ble and hon­or­able peo­ple to senior roles in the Church and works through them in spite of their weak­ness­es. It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that God has always been direct­ly involved in the process­es by which the gospel and the priest­hood have been pro­vid­ed to humankind over thou­sands of years. So, how does God’s per­son­al involve­ment in these impor­tant areas rec­on­cile with the restric­tion on blacks receiv­ing the priest­hood? God reveals to his prophets only that which he wish­es to reveal. Some­times, he main­tains his silence for rea­sons only known to him. At times, the prophets may only be able to see “through a glass dark­ly” (1st Corinthi­ans 13:12). On the priest­hood for blacks, I think he main­tained… Read more »

Abinadi
Abinadi

The rea­son that the church had a pol­i­cy for­bid­ding blacks from hold­ing priest­hood was because Brigham was racist. Joseph bap­tized and ordained blacks to the priest­hood. It was Brigham that claimed they had the mark of Cain and couldn’t hold priest­hood. Fast for­ward to the civ­il rights move­ments of the 60’s and 70’s, and the church still holds this racist belief. Well, with enough social pres­sure and a church pub­lic rela­tions depart­ment that saw the writ­ing on the wall, pre­sum­ably a ton of neg­a­tive press if they didn’t change this pol­i­cy, and the brethren decid­ed to man­u­fac­ture a rev­e­la­tion. If the Lord nev­er restrict­ed it, then the Lord wouldn’t have need to give a rev­e­la­tion to undo what was incor­rect­ly done in the first place. There­fore it was a man­u­fac­tured rev­e­la­tion. They have done it before. The polygamy man­i­festo was also due to polit­i­cal pres­sure. Utah was vying to become… Read more »

Alex Campbell
Alex Campbell

Your pri­or com­po­si­tion view is extreme­ly unlike­ly. I encour­age you to watch Skousen’s March 2015 BYU pre­sen­ta­tion, avail­able on youtube. The Book of Mormon’s impos­si­bil­i­ty for Smith doesn’t have any­thing to do with edu­ca­tion; it has to do with lack of knowl­edge, which genius can’t over­come. Cheers.

Simon
Simon Southerton

Joseph Smith was clear­ly very intel­li­gent and imag­i­na­tive and he and his fam­i­ly were immersed in fron­tier Amer­i­can cul­tures. The Mound Builder myth was wide­ly accept­ed in Smith’s com­mu­ni­ty. Accord­ing to this myth the hat­ed Red Man had wiped out a supe­ri­or race of light-skinned peo­ple who built the mounds in the Ohio and Mis­sis­sip­pi val­leys. Many con­sid­ered this race to be Jew­ish because every­thing had to fit in the Bib­li­cal time­frame. In real­i­ty these advanced “white” cul­tures were ordi­nary Native Amer­i­cans dec­i­mat­ed by white man’s dis­eases.

Here you have the basic plot for the cli­mac­tic bat­tles of the Book of Mor­mon. The claim that it was unlike­ly Smith was influ­enced by the Mound Builder myth is a bit of a stretch.

Alex Campbell
Alex Campbell

As stat­ed, intel­li­gence and cre­ativ­i­ty have noth­ing to do with author­ship claims about the BofM. An extreme­ly intel­li­gent, cre­ative per­son immersed in Mound Builder mythol­o­gy still could not have pro­duced the struc­ture of the Eng­lish-lan­guage text. Mound Builder evi­dence is soft and incon­clu­sive. That is because one can always say rather rea­son­ably that a par­tic­u­lar cul­ture or sto­ry influ­enced this, that, and the oth­er thing in the BofM. One could say rather rea­son­ably that the Ref­or­ma­tion influ­enced this, that, and the oth­er thing in the book. Dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al argu­ments are always avail­able. Dif­fer­ent sides and points of view can be tak­en. But they aren’t con­clu­sive. I wouldn’t feel com­fort­able mak­ing bold claims on the basis of such cul­tur­al evi­dence since there are alter­na­tives. The DNA evi­dence and oth­er evi­dence is sure­ly stronger.

Craig Paxton
Craig Paxton

Alex,

Books and their con­tents don’t mag­i­cal­ly appear out of thin air…they are writ­ten by human beings. I’m curi­ous why you say that intel­li­gence and cre­ativ­i­ty have noth­ing to do with author­ship claims? Either the book was writ­ten by Joseph Smith, a known human being, or it was writ­ten by Mor­mon, a claimed human being, as an abridge­ment of ancient records. One of these peo­ple (I use that term lib­er­al­ly) had to have the intel­li­gence and cre­ativ­i­ty to write the book don’t you think? Since there is no evi­dence that Mor­mon or his claimed peo­ple ever exist­ed, isn’t it just plain log­i­cal that Joseph Smith wrote the book?

Dave Mack

Simon
The so called mound builder myth is from Native Amer­i­cans not white men. This so called myth is sup­port­ed by dna evi­dence and archae­o­log­i­cal evi­dence.
The Mound builders / Hopewell Indi­ans dis­ap­peared at the same time the Nephite cul­ture end­ed. There is now way Joseph Smith could have known this.
There is no way Joseph could have known that the mound builders / Hopewell Indi­ans had Cau­casian and Israeli DNA in the form of Hap­logroup x2.
https://www.familytreedna.com/pdf/Shlush-et-all-The%20Druze.pdf
http://​www​.ncbi​.nlm​.nih​.gov/​p​m​c​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​P​M​C​1​3​7​7​6​56/

Craig Paxton
Craig Paxton

Thank you David for your links. I couldn’t help but notice that they were all accred­it­ed to LDS sources. By doing a sim­ple google search I was led to a Hopewell Schol­ar who seems to be an author­i­ty on the sub­ject of the Hopewell Indi­ans… his views seem to con­flict with the ones you’ve list­ed. He says To date “no one has found evi­dence that points to the use of melt­ing, smelt­ing and cast­ing in pre­his­toric east­ern North America.”[3 (3) Mar­tin, S.R. (1999). Won­der­ful Pow­er: The Sto­ry of Ancient Cop­per Work­ing in the Lake Supe­ri­or Basin. Great Lakes Books Series. Wayne State Uni­ver­si­ty Press. p. 136. So I’m fol­low­ing up to ask if you can offer any non LDS Hopewell schol­ars who sup­port your con­clu­sions? Per­haps lead me to some peer reviewed or pub­lished stud­ies on this sub­ject Note the ref­er­ence that I’ve sit­ed was in 1999 so per­haps some­thing… Read more »

Craig Paxton
Craig Paxton

Also you make so many unaccredited/unfootnoted claims its hard to know where to begin.

Craig Paxton
Craig Paxton

Take your fol­low­ing claim:

Hap­logroups A, B, C, D, and X are found among the Indi­ans of the Amer­i­can con­ti­nents. Hap­logroups A, B, C, and D can be explained as com­ing from Asia, but not hap­logroup X, which is only found in North Amer­i­can Indi­ans. Oth­er North, Cen­tral, and South Amer­i­can Indi­ans show the Hap­logroups A, B, C, and D. Hap­logroup X is not found in Asia, it is found in Israel, Europe and North Amer­i­ca specif­i­cal­ly the Great lakes region by New York State.”

Are you aware of this peer reviewed study that con­flicts with your con­clu­sions? This study con­cludes that hap­logroup X is among the found­ing linages to North Amer­i­ca

http://​deep​blue​.lib​.umich​.edu/​b​i​t​s​t​r​e​a​m​/​h​a​n​d​l​e​/​2​0​2​7​.​4​2​/​3​4​2​7​5​/​1​0​1​0​6​_​f​t​p​.​pdf

Dave Mack

Craig

None of the pub­lished research papers have any­thing to do with the lds church or BYU.

An arti­cle dat­ed to 2011 about the advanced Hopewell site in Indi­ana dates after your 1999 source. They spec­u­late about Hopewell lead smelt­ing.

http://​www​.npr​.org/​2​0​1​1​/​0​1​/​0​3​/​1​3​2​4​1​2​1​1​2​/​t​h​e​-​p​r​e​h​i​s​t​o​r​i​c​-​t​r​e​a​s​u​r​e​-​i​n​-​t​h​e​-​f​i​e​l​d​s​-​o​f​-​i​n​d​i​ana

Dave Mack

Craig I’m com­plete­ly aware of the dat­ing issues and have addressed them sev­er­al times so I will re post a pre­vi­ous one that was to Simon. Feel free to respond to any hypoth­e­sis. I agree about the poor foot notes. When­ev­er I quot­ed a research paper I post­ed a link to the research paper by the quotes. Oth­er quotes are foot not­ed by author and page num­ber. Simon, The ref­er­ence you are using I exten­sive­ly quote in the essay. You are right to say that Hap­lo group x is found in south Siberia or the Altain region of Siberia. The hap­logroup x Alta­ian dna is the small yel­low dot found in south Siberia on the Hap­logroup x dis­tri­b­u­tion map below It’s worth point­ing out the Alta­ian Hap­logroup x dna is not relat­ed to the Native Amer­i­can Hap­logroup x found in North Amer­i­ca and it arrived after the Bering ice bridge… Read more »

Craig Paxton*
Craig Paxton*

As I’ve read through the replies to your post John and as a for­mer mis­sion­ary in the Syd­ney Aus­tralia Mis­sion, I’m Gob­s­macked. The replies read like a Who’s Who of Blue Blood Aus­tralian mem­bers who have/are leav­ing the church. As a mis­sion­ary in Can­ber­ra, I believe I remem­ber going Home Teach­ing with your father? Did you live out in West­on Creek area? For­give me but my mem­o­ry is fog­gy… I could be think­ing of some entire­ly dif­fer­ent fam­i­ly. (I’ll need to dig into my mis­sion diary tonight to con­firm) Any­way, just want­ed to extend my love and sup­port to you and your fam­i­ly dur­ing this dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion…

Tom
Tom

John, What a great per­spec­tive! I too, have made the jour­ney into research. I was bap­tized at 10 years old, due to peer pres­sure, mov­ing in a new neigh­bor­hood. I have always had ques­tions, even at 10 years old. The research set me free! All my ques­tions answered! My wife is still a “semi” believ­ing mem­ber but, respects my feel­ings and beliefs. I have told her that the jour­ney of the search for truth is as uplift­ing and empow­er­ing as a con­vert get­ting bap­tized, if not more. My lin­eage traces back to the first Saints that came to Utah. Pio­neer her­itage runs deep in my roots and I am very proud of what the Mor­mon Pio­neers were able to accom­plish, how­ev­er, I have nev­er believed any of it. When the ques­tions are answered by the truth ( that has been denied or hid­den by the church for decades) it gives… Read more »

Mike Cable
Mike Cable

Hi John Anoth­er blast from the past! Do you remem­ber us and your ear­ly days in Can­ber­ra? We made the same jour­ney as you and Anne about 5 years ago, our old­est son also alert­ed us to cer­tain facts which even­tu­al­ly led us out of the church. I served as branch pres­i­dent and bish­op for a num­ber of years, so you can add me to the list of dis­af­fect­ed bish­ops. Our 4 chil­dren and their spous­es are all out too. Our three sons served for­eign mis­sions, but that didn’t help shield them from the truth. We have been for­tu­nate not to have close fam­i­ly still attend­ing, which can be a cause of much pain. The most dif­fi­cult thing for us was telling our youngest son of our deci­sion to leave the church soon after he returned from his mis­sion. We came to the con­clu­sion that the church was not true… Read more »

Simon
Simon Southerton

John, I real­ly enjoyed read­ing your very well writ­ten let­ter. You man­aged to keep the anger out and the hon­esty was def­i­nite­ly in. You’ll no doubt run into my name around the web. I share all of your con­cerns about the essays, which I am pret­ty cer­tain all of my sev­en TBM sis­ters have nev­er read. I have also served in a bunch of call­ings and was, awk­ward­ly, a bish­op when I left. The cat­a­lyst for my depar­ture was DNA and the Book of Mor­mon. The Church’s DNA essay is just as prob­lem­at­ic as the oth­ers. Here’s a link to my response to the essay if you are inter­est­ed. http://​simon​souther​ton​.blogspot​.com​.au/​2​0​1​4​/​0​2​/​r​e​s​p​o​n​s​e​-​t​o​-​p​r​e​s​i​d​e​n​t​-​n​e​w​s​r​o​o​m​.​h​tml Buried in the lengthy essay the church con­cedes that Laman­ite DNA has not been found and that most Native Amer­i­cans are descend­ed from Asians. Even this admis­sion requires mem­bers to throw out their under­stand­ing of the Book of Mor­mon sto­ry.… Read more »

Eric Nelson

Wow, the great Simon Souther­ton has weighed in. It’s good to see that some­one as bright and knowl­edge­able as your­self is read­ing this web­site.

Eric Nelson

By the way, Simon, I loved your book, Los­ing a Lost Tribe.

Simon
Simon Southerton

Hi Eric,
Not so sure about the great bit. I’ve grown com­fort­able with infa­mous. I’m glad you enjoyed my book.

I’m always pleased when some­one close by, who has been a seri­ous­ly com­mit­ted mem­ber, is coura­geous enough to ques­tion. I now know three for­mer bish­ops in Aus­tralia who’s depar­ture from the church was trig­gered by their adult chil­dren express­ing their con­cerns. I admire peo­ple who respect their chil­dren enough to take their con­cerns seri­ous­ly. I’m look­ing for­ward to meet­ing John soon.

Dave Mack
Jason B
Jason B

The DNA from East Asia entered the Native Amer­i­can DNA almost 15000 years ago, way before the Nephites/Mulekites/jaredites would have exist­ed. If any­thing, this is evi­dence AGAINST the Book of Mor­mon, because it proves that DNA did not just dis­ap­pear, but is trace­able, so if DNA from 15K years ago is dis­cov­er­able, why is not 3 migra­tions of DNA from 2.5–3K years ago?

lyn
lyn

As a non Mor­mon, nev­er been Mor­mon liv­ing in the heart of Utah in a city that is 98.8% Mor­mon, I found your let­ter thought­ful and refresh­ing. One of the shock­ing things about mov­ing here and learn­ing a lit­tle about the beliefs and his­to­ry of the LDS cul­ture is how every­one seems to leave their own rea­son­ing and ques­tion­ing behind. I know real­ly well edu­cat­ed peo­ple that nev­er ques­tion some of these claims that sound offen­sive at best and actu­al­ly kind of absurd. It is this lack of ques­tion­ing that I think both­ers me the most. My LDS friends get quick­ly inline to back any new pol­i­cy no mat­ter how hurt­ful or crazy it sounds. Thank you for not aban­don­ing your rea­son­ing and think­ing skills. Thank you for artic­u­lat­ing your thoughts and research in such an elo­quent way. Good luck in your jour­ney.

John Doe
John Doe

This past Octo­ber 2015 con­fer­ence there has been apos­tolic advice giv­en regard­ing some of these ques­tions. Not answers mind you, just advice. Neil L Ander­son in his talk enti­tled “Faith Is not by Chance, but by Choice” said: “Faith nev­er demands an answer to every ques­tion but seeks the assur­ance and courage to move for­ward, some­times acknowl­edg­ing, ‘I don’t know every­thing, but I do know enough to con­tin­ue on the path of dis­ci­ple­ship.’ Immers­ing one­self in per­sis­tent doubt, fueled by answers from the faith­less and the unfaith­ful, weak­ens one’s faith in Jesus Christ and the Restora­tion. ‘The nat­ur­al man receiveth not the things of the Spir­it of God: for they are fool­ish­ness unto him.’ For exam­ple, ques­tions con­cern­ing the Prophet Joseph Smith are not new. They have been hurled by his crit­ics since this work began. To those of faith who, look­ing through the col­ored glass­es of the 21st cen­tu­ry,… Read more »

Eric Nelson

Fan­tas­tic let­ter, John. Thank you for shar­ing it.

Harlan Lang
Harlan Lang

John, I lived in Utah for two years in my youth and had many LDS friends, but Just didn’t feel attract­ed to the LDS men­tal­i­ty. This was also in the days pri­or to 1968 when racism was still a part of that way of think­ing. I have always been fas­ci­nat­ed by the abil­i­ty of the Church to con­vince such good peo­ple to ded­i­cate their lives to this cause and am hap­py for the ones who put the virtues of hon­esty, truth­ful­ness and integri­ty above all else. With­out these, every­thing we hold dear becomes degrad­ed and our souls dark­ened. I applaud you and encour­age you to know with­in your own soul that this vast uni­verse does have a divine ori­gin and that each of us, and all of us as a human­i­ty has a pur­pose. Your expe­ri­ence with the LDS was not in vain, even though I know it was painful.… Read more »

Earl Erskine

John, add me to your ‘band­wag­on’. 65 years, active, tem­ple, mis­sion, HC, 4 bish­oprics, HPGL, Bish­op. 4 years ago learned about doc­tri­nal changes in 1830 BofM; dif­fer­ent, con­flict­ing ver­sions of the First Vision; and, prob­lems with papyri, fac­sim­i­les of the BofA. Lat­er learned about mason­ry, polyandry, seer stones, Levit­i­cal priest­hood to a non-levite, etc. That’s the ‘bad news’…learned also the ‘good news’…I can trust the Bible, the free gift of grace, the true pur­pose of tem­ples, and who Jesus is and what he did for me on the cross. God bless all efforts to share this mes­sage.

Damon Burro
Damon Burro

Exact­ly as expected.…follow the Spir­it. Nobody is pre­pared to answer these obvi­ous­ly we’ll thought out let­ters, because the real answer is truths were with­held, we’re a secre­tive church, we don’t repent well, and our past is filled with impro­pri­ety.

Glenn

Damon, we are not a secre­tive church, our queries can all be answered eas­i­ly. Talk to me and see if I can’t help you, I’m open to any ques­tion.

Jason Booth
Jason Booth

John, Thanks for shar­ing your sto­ry. As I stud­ied the church essays I found my self with more and more dif­fi­cult ques­tions. The essays on Race and the Priest­hood and Polygamy were the ones that real­ly brought up the ques­tions that evap­o­rat­ed my faith. My study of church his­to­ry and church relat­ed top­ics con­sumed my life for months. I came to the real­iza­tion that God wasn’t talk­ing to any of these men I believed to be prophets. I was serv­ing as a Bish­op at the time and soon found that I could no longer tes­ti­fy of things I had “known” for my entire life. I informed my Stake Pres­i­dent that I could not longer serve as Bish­op and be gen­uine. He met with me for a cou­ple of months to try and resolve my con­cerns but was unsuc­cess­ful. For­tu­nate­ly my wife and I went through this togeth­er. I was a… Read more »

Reiny Paxton
Reiny Paxton

Thank you for shar­ing your let­ter. It was very enlight­en­ing. You were very con­cise with­out being harsh. I’d love to share this with my mom but unfor­tu­nate­ly she isn’t ready and I haven’t come out of the non-believ­er clos­et. As far as she’s con­cerned I’m just inac­tive.

terry brown
terry brown

you re sto­ry is so sim­i­lar to mine . i find it inter­est­ing how many ex bish­ops and long term fam­i­lies are leav­ing the church. briefly i joined the church as a 12 year old in 1963. 1have served as a ym pres 5 times branch pres 4 years bish­op 7 years bish­ops coun­cilor 5 times etc etc . ihave been out now for 6 years due to my 4 sons all ques­tion­ing i felt that it was hyp­o­crit­i­cal for me to say they were wrong with­out look­ing at what they had found . i am sure you know what fol­lowed once i began to seri­ous­ly research. good on you ilive in bris­bane. it gets bet­ter as time goes by iam lucky all my fam­i­ly have left appart for some tbm fam­i­ly in the uk.

cheers ter­ry brown.

John oreilly
John oreilly

Jon­ny
I love you man . I remem­ber the exam­ple you were to me as a ting man . You were a great leader .
I too have dis­af­fil­i­at­ed a dyes it has been a dif­fi­cult jour­ney . Say hi to anne fir me .
Great mem­o­ries with you guys . Back town church dances . The music man
Cheers Jon­ny

Christen
Christen

Thank you this insight­ful, schol­ar­ly, and diplo­mat­ic let­ter. I, too, was once a faith­ful mem­ber and was aston­ished to learn of the church­es involve­ment in back­ing prop 8, that is when my tapes­try began to unrav­el. It’s been 7 years since I resigned from the church. Here is to a new, beau­ti­ful path!

Heath
Heath

Krok­ie! You’re one of the most car­ing and lov­ing peo­ple I know. It says a lot that you want­ed to help your kids out in their doubts and ques­tions and went search­ing for the answers your­self instead of avoid­ing the issue and telling them to read the B.O.M more and pray hard­er. I look up to you and want to be more like you when I’m old­er 🙂

Sandy Hoffmann

Very well writ­ten facts. I found your sto­ry on a link from Utah Light­house Min­istries. I have nev­er been LDS, but when I moved here 27 years ago I stud­ied some of the doc­trine and found too many incon­sis­ten­cies to fol­low their beliefs. I ALWAYS match any reli­gious beliefs with the Bible and if it doesn’t pass the test then they are dis­count­ed as fac­tu­al for me. I whole-heat­ed­ly believe every word of the Bible to be God’s inspired word and it nev­er changes. Add to it take away from it and you are no longer cred­i­ble to me. There­fore, the addi­tion­al books the LDS use do not pass that test for me and I only seek a Bible teach­ing church to help me under­stand God’s word. Not to men­tion study­ing the orig­i­nal lan­guage the Bible was writ­ten from. Many words over the course of 2,000 years have changed mean­ing.… Read more »

Matt Thorngren
Matt Thorngren

John,

I am not sure if you remem­ber me. In the year 2000, you vis­it­ed my par­ents in Ida­ho. My broth­er Mike was serv­ing in Aus­tralia at the time. After stay­ing with my par­ents, you and Anne stopped here in Utah to see me and my fam­i­ly.

I read your sto­ry today, and real­ly appre­ci­ate you shar­ing it. I am in almost the same sit­u­a­tion as you, except my wife is still in. I shared your sto­ry with Mike, who is still attend­ing, and he men­tioned how much he loves and miss­es you.

My jour­ney has not been easy, as I can see nei­ther has yours. I just could not be a part of some­thing I feel now is so cor­rupt. I wish you and Anne the best.

Chris MacAskill

Hi John, Ouch, I’m sor­ry you’re going through this. I’m 62, joined the church the same way you did at near­ly the same age, and have had the same call­ings as you. I was in our Bish­opric for four years before becom­ing Bish­op. Our 4 kids mar­ried in the tem­ple, yada, and 3 of them and their spous­es left when my wife and I did, a few years ago. It was trau­mat­ic, emo­tion­al, sad to leave our friends, bewil­der­ing… But 3 years lat­er and we’re pret­ty much over it and sur­pris­ing­ly, life out­side the church is bet­ter than it was inside, even though we loved being inside. You make new friends, it opens up time to work on many oth­er wor­thy and fun things, it’s real­ly great. I’m in Cal­i­for­nia and went through the Propo­si­tion 8 thing as Bish­op, my one true regret in life, that I didn’t resign then… Read more »

OzDoc
OzDoc

John. I am an old friend of your wife and her fam­i­ly and loved and respect­ed them and their kind­ness­es to me. I found I could not cope with nei­ther the illog­i­cal­i­ty of Mor­monism nor the hypocrisy and intel­lec­tu­al pover­ty of many of its adher­ents. I com­mend the rigour and integri­ty you have shown in com­ing to your own under­stand­ing and wish you and your fam­i­ly every­thing for a new life of hon­esty.

B0yd
B0yd

Well done. I know the pain you and your wife went through. 42 years. Bish­oprics, HPGL, YWP, RSP, 3 teens.
No answers, and dont expect to hear more than a few times more from your life­long friends.
But we’ve nev­er been hap­pi­er. Heart­bro­ken it wasn’t true, we could have each had a PhD in church his­to­ry with the research we did.
Stay away from tithing and church finances if you want to avoid being bit­ter

Wes Trexler

I also was very sur­prised that the church holds to this idea that, even pri­or to receiv­ing the seal­ing keys or rev­e­la­tion on plur­al mar­riage, Joseph Smith began the “prac­tice” with Fan­ny Alger in 1831.

How any­one can claim as much with a straight face is beyond impres­sive. It was an affair with Fan­ny, clear­ly.

James
James

I’d say if the Book of Mor­mon is the truest book and brings a man clos­er to God by abid­ing by its pre­cepts than by any oth­er book, see what it says about polygamy [look around Jacob 1–2, and Ether 12]. I think there’s some good stuff on http://​www​.defend​ingjoseph​.com/ as well as the site Joseph Smith fought polygamy that lay a good case for exon­er­at­ing the prophet. http://​restora​tionbook​store​.org/​j​s​f​p​-​i​n​d​e​x​.​htm Also con­sid­er­ing the fact that all of the DNA tests for his poten­tial descen­dants have all come up neg­a­tive helps too [http://​www​.wheatandtares​.org/​2​1​4​0​3​/​j​o​s​e​p​h​s​d​n​a​t​e​s​t​m​h​a​2​0​16/]. I think even Den­ver Snuffer made a sim­i­lar state­ment at some point (and peo­ple who would dis­miss him as anti-mor­mon, I’d say fol­low Joseph’s coun­sel, “One of the grand fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of Mor­monism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” — Joseph Smith, Jr. BTW, Wes you con­vinced me a while ago about the fam­i­ly procla­ma­tion… Read more »

James
James

“One of the grand fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of Mor­monism is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” — Joseph Smith, Jr. I’d say if the Book of Mor­mon is the truest book and brings a man clos­er to God by abid­ing by its pre­cepts than by any oth­er book, see what it says about polygamy [look around Jacob 1–2, and Ether 12]. I think there’s some good stuff on http://​www​.defend​ingjoseph​.com/ as well as the site Joseph Smith fought polygamy (can be read online, or pur­chased) that lay a good case for exon­er­at­ing the prophet. Also con­sid­er­ing the fact that all of the DNA tests for his poten­tial descen­dants have all come up neg­a­tive helps too http://​www​.wheatandtares​.org/​2​1​4​0​3​/​j​o​s​e​p​h​s​d​n​a​t​e​s​t​m​h​a​2​0​16/. Also you can take the prophet’s words on the mat­ter see His­to­ry of the Church vol­ume 6 page 411: “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of com­mit­ting… Read more »

Wes Trexler

John, thanks so much for shar­ing!
I remem­ber hear­ing this Bal­lard talk regard­ing the “doubt­ing Elder”. It was anti-cli­mat­ic for me for the same rea­sons you men­tion.
It both­ered me that Bal­lard essen­tial­ly presents the “straw­man” of some­one doubt­ing only because the indi­vid­ual isn’t read­ing the Book of Mor­mon.
I am of the opin­ion that most doubt­ing for his­tor­i­cal rea­sons have been read­ing the Book of Mor­mon, or if they aren’t it is only because read­ing the Book of Mor­mon just wors­ened the dis­af­fec­tion.
When begin­ning to doubt, every time I read the Book of Mor­mon, I would become even more con­vinced it was noth­ing more than an 19th cen­tu­ry cre­ation of Joseph Smith.
Ballard’s answer rein­forces the stereo­typ­i­cal por­tray­al of ex-mor­mons: leav­ing because they were lazy, etc, and stopped reading/praying.