Monday, June 3, 2013

The Church's Troubling Issues

Most of you have seen the recent announcement we made at that the church is, as an insider informed MT, about to publish “essays” that address the most pressing concern that studious LDS members have as they come across dubious or new information regarding their religion. (A screen capture of the MT announcement is below, in case you cannot get it at the site.)  It dovetails with some of the rumor mill discussed over a month ago with Grant Palmer’s release of what could be called the Mormon leadership conspiracy.  I don’t usually buy conspiracy theories (strictly, by definition, they’re hypotheses).  The question of conspiracy is a matter of degrees concerning the LDS leadership.  Are they conmen who rake in cash for lying to the Lord?  Or are they victims and conned-men who are deluded into believing that it is better to lie for the Lord?  I’ll get right to the distinction in a moment, but first, let’s examine the upcoming release of essays.
The latest LDS church plans to address concerns that have existed for many decades may shed some light on this conmen vs. conned-men question.  It also raises a few questions.

1) Why now?
2) Will they answer the questions to the satisfaction of most knowledgeable members?
3) Who is actually writing the essays?
Question "Why now?"  --  Haven’t the church leaders known about the issues before?  When Fawn Brodie wrote her No Man Knows tome almost 70 years ago, they must have realized it would pose problems. When archaeology in the 1950s-1980s began taking ancient America studies in a completely opposite direction from the historical accounts of the Book of Mormon, didn’t they know?  When in the 1970s-1990s the Tanners raised very scholarly questions about the church, didn’t they know? When in the last decade the internet raised objective sites like MormonThink that expounded in detail the issues, didn’t they know? 
The difference from previous eras is the internet.  Now the objective and even critical information is very easily accessed and readily found by the rising generation of youth in the LDS church. These young people have been educated in secular society to quietly question assumptions and think for themselves.  The LDS leadership is worried that the loss of membership will only increase.  Why now?  Because the internet isn't forgetting.

Question "Will they answer the issues satisfactorily?"  --   Until they are released, we can’t be sure. I'll predict--nay prophesy--that if history is any guide, it is doubtful that they will ever release any responses that approach the depth and objectivity found on sites like MormonThink.  It’s safe to predict that the tired mantra of faith trumps fact and spiritual witness beats scientific work will be hidden in between the lines of every essay.  The leaders have told members since the beginning that they speak to and on behalf of God. They’ve painted themselves as nigh unto the Lord as special witnesses. They’ve colored the LDS world with hues of overwhelming Mormon myths.  They’ve painted themselves into a corner once science completely contradicts their claims. 
Because of this divine claim to God and the scientific contradiction, they must either (1) throw previous prophets under the history bus, they must (2) ignore history & science, or they must (3) act as though they have always been aligned with the past & science (i.e., lie about the past).  On  (2 & 3) they can’t really hide the past—they can no longer control access to information in the Wasatch Front even, let alone the world. They can't lie about the past when it is so easy to look it up online.  They can’t ignore history & science (that’s what they’ve been doing for decades).  I prophesy here that what’s left is (1) for them to subtly and carefully throw the past leadership out with the bathwater.  However, that throws doubt on themselves when future leaders do the same to them. This shows the divinity of their connection to God is really tenuous at best, and made out of whole cloth at worst.  
There is another remote possibility.  They could be honest.  Come clean.  They could admit the whole thing.  They don’t really know; they just believe it too, they can admit.  They haven’t really seen Jesus, they can confess.  That they aren’t very special witness, just ones that have better cuts of the tithing check than the lower quorums.  They can admit that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and the other leaders were egomaniacs and did atrocious acts against women and others.  They can submit to the membership that they all work together to find an answer that the 12 apostles don’t really have themselves.  But they won’t do that.

Question "Who is actually writing the essays?"  I think the era of prophetic edict and revelation is over.  The era of Pressroom release and essays written by unknown scholars is here. At least that is my prediction.  We won't see the apostles signing the essays.  We won't even see FAIR signing the essays, despite that they truly would love to stamp their names and paws all over the articles.  The leaders no longer lead in a way that can get them thrown under the history bus later.  If they won't take authorship, it casts doubts on their sincerity and opens the door to seeing the apostles as conmen.

This gets at the heart of the matter about the difference between conmen and conned-men.  Do they know that it is a scam or are they deluded?  Grant Palmer’s release suggests that they do know and even get paid nicely for keeping the lid tightly twisted down. For those of us that have studied and find it readily false, we can assume that each of the apostles individually may fall in the spectrum of deluded conned man or full-out evil conman. But to believe that they are all deluded says that every last one of them is ridiculously idiotic about the reality they are supposedly defending. Of course, on the flip-side, one can argue, if they're all evil liars, that's a difficult-to-believe conspiracy.  Surely someone would have blown the whistle by now?

Why, how and by whom the essays are written will be revealing as a guide to answer the question about the apostles as deluded leaders or unscrupulous spiritual salesmen.  How can we use the essays?  First, if they skirt the really truly hard questions and gloss over the issues, then it is business as usual (still not evidence enough itself), and then if they throw past prophets under the history bus to save themselves, and last they refuse to assign authorship (so that they can avoid direct responsibility now and being thrown under the history bus later) then these actions tally up together to show purpose.  A purpose of coverup when caught with their history pants down. 

Whether you believe the 15 are conmen (criminals/perps) or conned men (deluded believers), it is clear that:
1) They lie. A lot. Perhaps pathologically.
2) They sometimes (perhaps often) lie knowingly and purposely.
(Those who disagree with #2, please see: (Written by MT contributor and former CES teacher Ken Clark)
The motivating question here is that last word: purposely.
What is the purpose of their lying? To protect the Lord’s kingdom (as conned men) or to protect their selfish interests (as conmen)?
I believe the purpose of their lies can be seen in how they react when caught in the lie. This hasn’t happened often, but it happens.
The reaction of a conman:
Conmen make promises that are fantastic and play to the dreams and wishes of the victim. They gain trust by deceiving. Now at this point you could say the person leading astray is not conning, but deluded and fooled himself. The difference lies in how they treat negative information on their claims. An honest person found lying would attempt to objectively look at the flaws in their claims.
For a conman, if any bad info comes to light, they start by never acknowledging it so as not to draw any attention in the hopes it will wither on its own. When forced to confront unsupported info, they deny it and refuse to discuss it further, pretending offense and playing the victim. If pressed further or in a way that they cannot deny it, they lie about it--downplay its importance, etc.

The fix is in.  The leaders know there are issues.  They tried never acknowledging them for decades. Then the internet showed up and members started leaving in droves. They played victim. They told members to beware of the internet. They refused to address the issues head on and created victimhood & scare tactics to keep members from information.  It didn't work.  Now they realize, it appears with the coming essays, that they have been pressed against the corner where they've painted themselves.  So, will they come clean entirely?  Will they downplay the issues?  Will they further lie about the issues while pretending to address them?

The essays could be very revealing about the tactics of the top tacticians.  Their content could demonstrate the conned-man or conmen within.

If the first presidency, the apostles or members of the Q70  put an official, authoritative name on the essays, it will mark that person.  If they leave it to the BYU historians or other "academics", then they are branded as cowards because, "One of the purposes of a prophet is to seek the wisdom and the will of the Lord and to teach his people give answers to people for the dilemmas in which they find themselves."
(1996 General Conference)

If they relenquish their responsibility to guide and direct members in these trying times, then the prophets have become useless as witnesses and guides.
Let's think a little more about how the conman operates. ( ) Think about Bernie Madoff. They cannot let on that they lied. They would rather ignore, hoping it goes away, or if not, lie again to cover the first lie. Evidence of this is below.

The reaction of a conned man:
If a normally decent person or a person that believes inside he is a champion of something decent, but uses methods that are justified for the ends, is caught lying for his cause, he will eventually, humbly admit it, ask forgiveness and try to move on.
I ask the “15 are deluded conned men” campers to provide me evidence of when the 15 have admitted they were wrong, repented, and requested forgiveness. I cannot think of a time this has happened in my lifetime, since Spencer W. Kimball. Not even on a small thing, like Hinckley’s action in the media, when called on about his “lying for the lord” and he just winks in closed meetings. 
Evidence that they react as conned men (deluded believers):
I don’t have any. Again, this is a request for evidence of the reaction showing they’re just deluded victims like the rest of the members.

Evidence that they react as conmen:
1. Hinkley’s winking about statements he made to media outlets.  Statements on “I don’t know that we teach that” or on “flecks of history”. When it was called out that he had lied to the media, instead of acknowledging, admitting and asking for understanding, he asked the priesthood membership to play along, be part of his lies by winking and suggesting we all go along. That is a conman act, even if enacted by a deluded leader. Get your victims on the inside once the jig is up. Then they will defend it with you by lying alongside you.
 2. Hinckley’s and Oak’s actions when caught in the Hofmann scandal are very evident of conmen. Hinckley tried to coverup documents, hide them from the public and buy off Hofmann’s silence. When it was learned, did he come clean? Hardly. He denied, ignored, pretending it didn’t happen. Oaks elaborated on the salamander trying to justify a silly metaphor for what he believed Joseph Smith had written. When it was learned to be a forger, did Oaks go back and apologize for his own silliness? Hardly. He ignored, pretending it never happened.
 3. The recent blacks/racist newsroom releases are evidence that they knowingly lie, when caught with their pants down. Instead of apologizing for the racism of past presidents/prophets, they make a bold face lie to coverup their predecessor’s stupidity, and say “we don’t know how this started or why, and we’ve always condemned racism, past, present and future.”
 4. The changing of the 2013 scripture headings to remove Joseph Smith's History of the Church, soften the BOA's translation issue, and raise the idea that the racism of the past wasn't really revealed, it was just unacknowledged error. They refuse to actually apologize. They don't even say something as benign as "mistakes were made". They just deny with the utter dodge: "We don't know why this racism happened".
 5. They destroyed documents and hide records of their financial dealings, proposition 8 involvement (and perhaps donations to Mittens, but we may never know).  They refuse any form of financial transparency.  Even the funds that went into the city creek mall are not wholly accounted to the public.  Think about that: a religion builds a very upper-crust mall and then keeps the financials on it secret.  This kind of activity reeks of evidence it’s conmen operating, not conned men making well intentioned mistakes.
 6. Lastly, a little piece of evidence from Holland's reaction to the BBC interviews. As a friend wrote about the committee question of Holland: "Elder Holland on the other hand, had to be led to the answer that it's primary purpose was to protect the Saints against Polygamists. Sweeney picked up on that and followed up by asking what it's secondary purposes were. Cue Holland shifting uncomfortably in his seat and waffling for a short while. He then confirmed that it did also observe and monitor other people/members who might be a risk to the faith of the other members but that he didn't sit on the Committee and so didn't know the details of what it did."
 Holland was evasive because he knew he could be and because it would highlight tactics that smack clearly of a leadership that is about controlling others to exploit them rather than about teaching correct principles and letting others guide themselves.
I could list more, but I don’t think I need to. The evidence that they react as conmen to discovery of their lies is actually abundant.
The question about who will write the essays is a question I will probably address in another blog, if warranted. The releases could marginalize LDS apologists at FAIR quite a bit.  FAIR did the "heavy" lifting (heavy being used loosely) that the GAs didn't dare do since taking a stand on controversies would cement it in history as divine revelation (or at least as leadership mandated interpretation).  That's risky to a group of men who know they don't actually bask in God's presence.  However, where does FAIR stand if the GAs stamp their own name on apologetic material answering the issues? The claimed authorship of the essays is still TBD, and while I believe there is more to this, we will wait for the LDS church to release the essays before diving into authorship.
I think the issue of racism and the 2012 press release and 2013 scripture heading changes illustrate again, that (hiding behind press agents) they willingly lie and even subject themselves to discredit.
Earlier in 2012, after controversy surrounding statements by BYU professor Randy Bott on the history of blacks and the priesthood, the church released a press statement that read: "It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago...We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church."
The same thing was re-iterated in the OD-2 heading changes of March 2013. They denounce racism generally while ignoring/denying the racism of the past in the LDS church.
These denial statements are very profound. They tacitly admit that the D&C OD-1 doctrinal statement, that the Lord won’t allow a prophet to lead the members astray, is false. For nearly 150 years the prophets have led the people astray with racist policies and the current prophet administration does not know why this happened, they just know firmly, racism is wrong. That repudiation of the former policy, of hundreds of statements made by Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, Bruce McConkie, and many more effectively opens the gate to an understanding that the current administrating prophets could be absolutely dead wrong on policies they have in place currently.
Why wouldn't they want to admit that the former leaders were racists? People were in those days. Why not come clean? Could it be because it opens themselves up to more scrutiny as businessmen spending billions on land developments? If prophets can be wrong, and a lot of members secretly doubt the direction of building elite malls, then admitting past prophets were racists could open up criticism on current prophets as profit-mongers.
Additionally, when LDS leaders "discipline" heretics and critics, and then receive media attention to their attempts to guilt and pressure members back to submission, they backpedal very fast. These kind of actions do not speak of a desire to stand for something but rather avoid something.
LDS leaders act more about perpetuating their claims of prophetic infallibility and near perfection than a humble willingness to recognize they have flaws and make mistakes. Why would they hide their humanity? Could it be because they know uncovering normal weakness would also highlight surreptitious activity?
IN CONCLUSION, many will argue that such a CONSPIRACY is unlikely to keep a lid on. Conspiracy is a bad word. This is a corporation with corporate trade secrets. These kind of secrets are kept all the time at the top. The kind of financial deals made in any corporation is held tight. Secrecy in other organizations is obviously not compromised as well.
 But is this a criminal conspiracy? Not to the Q12+3.
First of all, these men do not actually control the finances of the church. They're at its mercy. All their lives have been spun up and dedicated into one system. They are running the front-face of a massive corporation. The machinery is beyond them. But the rock-stardom it gives them reaches far into their extended family.
Not only do they already have many more book deals with their own bookstore, they have families with prestige in the state of UT that brings about business opportunities for all of their children and most of their grandchildren.
Not one of them is actually that talented at this late point in life in scriptural scholarship or academic studies. While they may not need it to write a church dismantling tome, they will need the credibility when one of them alone stands, as an old (potentially senile) man, against a unanimous quorum. Without significant credibility, charges of senility will absolutely ring true for 99% of members.
A single book deal exposing it will fall flat. The family of that man will be utterly disgraced. The business they built and reputation they have will be dismantled. Not the church.
Better to stay the course and slowly reform it without upsetting the family apple cart.

The 13 essays provided by the church leadership (no matter who actually writes them) is in appearance "a good-faith effort to share this factual information with the general Church membership." We MT editors thought about what to write when releasing this information to the public, and we are "hopeful that the Church, with its vast resources, will provide full and complete detail on each topic. If it falls short on this, you can be assured that MormonThink, with its small team of volunteer contributors, will correct any misrepresentations and fill in any identified gaps."

In other words, MT will be here nudging the LDS church along as it evolves in the 21st century. 

CLICK ON THE ABOVE to read it.


  1. How much you want to bet that some chapel Mormons will think that the official LDS response to historical issues is "anti" stuff?

  2. Church officials and prosecutors were able to secure a deal with Mark Hoffman to avoid the death penalty so that some information about the Mormon Church wouldn't be made public if the case went to trial.

  3. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! David last fall created controversy by playing the victim and lying about the role Romney played in his excommunication. Now he's calling the church out for lies and playing the victim? All of you reading this blog are contributing to his ego, speaking of egomaniacs. Him and the whole mormonthunk site editors. All a bunch of whiney crybabies.

    1. Good point. Romney's run may have heightened awareness. I was rather disappointed when there seemed no effort to correct the assumption that heresy accusations had much to do with a political campaign.

      I think the conned-men/conmen dichotomy might be simplistic. GAs were carefully selected and put into a role upholding a facade. Many of the conmen accusations apply to missionaries as well, but I think ignorant 19 year olds would have to be considered more in the conned-men category. We'll see what happens. I will be pleasantly surprised if the church does come clean.

    2. I prefer to have David as a friend rather than Jeff Holland. I have found that David does not let his ego get in the way of truth. Jeff, however, cannot or will not see or admit truth because of his ego IMHO.

    3. Edward T.O.T. MT Editors a bunch of Whiney Crybabies?? So people that call BS's on the carpet are lumped into that category? How would you categorize Jesus in relation to the Jews, Pharisees, Sadducees, Publicans. Truth is truth, and some can't handle it. Apparantley if you drink enough Kool-Aid we can even find Lord of The Rings to be doctrine & scripture. Wake Up!

  4. I know one thing. The forthcoming articles will be as frustrating as any announcement that comes from LDS, Inc. it will be great to have them make official efforts to answer questions. For knowledgeable outsiders, this will paint them further into the corner. For believers, nothing will change. The Force is with them.

  5. I remember when I used to think that exmormons were all crybabies with an axe to grind. I definitely had all the answers. But sometimes things change, or our perspective changes. And we just do the best we can to adjust and live the best life we can.

    It doesn't bother me that you are indignant about the people reading this blog. We're probably nicer and more reasonable than you think.

  6. More incoherent eyes are bleeding.

  7. How reliable is this insider? I assume that you cannot disclose their name/s. How about their titles, or an eta for these essays? W/O an announcement it is very possible that none of this will ever see the light of day.

  8. What I'm thinking is that the priesthood leadership of the church are genuinely doing their best to guide and direct the church, and don't even realize they're fooled into believing some lies. And for the lies they may realize, they brush aside because it doesn't make sense to what they've been taught growing up. Which, you should not, most of the general authorities in the highest of positions were all born and raised inside the church. Sounds odd, doesn't it? Especially since God sometimes people like Samuel the Lamanite to be a prophet, a person who is not even OF God's people.

    Anyway, I personally find history and science to be VERY deceptive. Perhaps science more so than history, as I can honestly say a lot of their theories DO fall through. Example? Did you know that they recently learn E DOES NOT equal MC square? Well all be, Mr. Einstein was wrong. Lord knows how many more scientists who are! Probably all of them. They're no more deluded than the priesthood leadership of the church is.

    How on Earth does one come to know the truth when everything is so....corrupt? The answer is simple: God alone, and he DOES speak to us if we will only but listen with a humble heart.

    Man will lead you astray no matter how much "credibility" they claim to have or speak according to the world's standards. (And yes, that includes laying on of hands, MLA crap, research sources, science, history, etc.) But when when you hear God speak with his almighty power, you can know most assuredly that HE'D never lead you astray.

  9. publish all conseald documents for lds people to read