An Open Letter to Europe Area Presidency by Chris Ralph.

The following letter was sent by the Europe Area Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to its Stake Presidents and Bishops, and various other leaders in April 2012. It was sent in response to the increase in levels of disaffection of members who were encountering the problematic history of the church through the medium of the internet. The letter was soon afterwards leaked to rank and file members and ex-members, and became a public document. It is here reproduced, together with my response in the form of an open letter to the Europe Area Presidency:

Dear Europe Area Presidency,

While your letter to local leaders of the church, dated 10th April 2012, was not originally intended for public dissemination, “the technology and modern communication tools of our day”, as you refer to them in that letter, have swiftly rendered this a widely read public document.

As such it is clearly deserving of a constructive response from the intended end-beneficiaries, and I, (being one of a rising tide of long established members who have in recent years been deeply affected by an array of distressing historical disclosures), now offer the following thoughts in the hope that the sense of wounded trust may be positively addressed.

Firstly, I applaud the encouragement you have given to local leaders to “work patiently and lovingly” with those of us who, more often than not through devotion to the church and its history, have had our eyes opened to challenging historical facts. How much better and in tune this is than certain regrettable past attitudes, which sometimes labelled those who had discovered uncomfortable historical facts as “unrighteous”, or as “having lost the spirit”, or worse still as “anti-Mormon”.

Whenever the term “anti-Mormon” is employed in an attempt to disqualify those whose avowed purpose is “pro-truth” and “pro-history”, then surely the church is upon very uncertain moral ground. Please, therefore, may I ask you to discourage that kind of name calling which can only cause further damage, and please do what you are able to reignite among the membership that same spirit of enquiry and quest for truth which a couple of generations ago was so aptly articulated by President J. Reuben Clark when he stated: ‘If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.’

Perhaps also we could have clarification about whether we, as Latter-day Saints still believe, (as I was taught and believed when I was converted to the church over forty years ago), that truth is better than riches because it will set us free? Do we still place value upon the title Truth which the Saviour took to himself? Can it justifiably still be claimed that truth is the common currency of the LDS church in 2012? If so, then surely there must be a respectable place within the LDS church for those of us who love transparency enough to speak it, and share it, and stand for it, even though some of us have hitherto been despised and misunderstood for doing so.

Sadly, too many faithful advocates of historical truth have been shunned and discarded over the years, simply because they cared enough to question that which, although not of their own making or choosing, was nevertheless right there before them. What else could they do if they valued their integrity? It has long been a puzzle to me how we, as a church, might teach that the glory of God is intelligence, while, at the same time promoting the idea that when it comes to historical realities, ignorance is accounted a virtue. This, surely, is a contradiction which needs to be reconciled in the eyes of a quizzical world.

The concern extends beyond routine circumvention of intellectual discomfort however, to the weightier matter of commissioned institutional misrepresentation. The charge we, as Latter-day Saints of all levels of understanding, must confront is that the church has actively sought to replace authentic narratives of its history with deceitful mythologies.

For example, all of the contemporary accounts of the translation of the Book of Mormon refer to Joseph Smith using a seer- or peep-stone nestled inside his hat, into which he gazed for inspiration as he dictated the text, while the plates themselves were typically not present in the room. This process was of course an obvious extension of Joseph’s previous occultist practice of “scrying” during his treasure hunting days, (or “glass-looking” as the court papers referred to it when he was convicted of that misdemeanour in 1826). We have very detailed and reliable accounts of the actual translation process followed, and so a growing number of historically informed members feel concern that the church attempts in its publications to promote a different story without foundation in historical reality; these show Joseph apparently translating the gold plates by studying and touching them. Is this portrayal not disingenuous, given that we have a clear knowledge of how the text was actually produced, and also a tacit admission that the real history is perceived by church leaders to be an embarrassment?

Book of Mormon translation according to [1] The Ensign (Church Magazine), and

[2] South Park. NB: The South Park version is much more historically accurate

It is disconcerting when our children alert us to the true facts of this crucial event in Mormon history after watching an episode of South Park. The discovery that the creators of South Park place a higher value on historical authenticity than do the Brethren creates spiritual shock-waves from which some members never recover. And may I state the obvious here? This faith-shaking disparity between what the missionaries are trained to teach, and what the world already knows about our spiritual heritage, can hardly be blamed upon those members who accidentally stumble upon it, or on their children, or on the creators of South Park; the burden of responsibility for the misrepresentation rests firmly upon the shoulders of the Brethren, who allowed, and apparently encouraged it to be introduced into LDS popular culture. It is a sin of commission no less. Furthermore it is most distasteful to suggest, as some do, that because the sin was committed by the Brethren, it is authorised by Jesus Christ, unless of course they are suggesting that the Saviour is a deceiver.

Is it not sadly ironic therefore that your letter advises local leaders that “some choose to dwell on half-truths or inaccurate information regarding the church, its history, or its leaders”? That statement is undoubtedly true, but the accusing finger is readily shown by numerous examples, such as the one already mentioned, to be pointing in quite the wrong direction. Nor is it enough to assert, as you have, that the church does not hide historical facts, when it may so easily be demonstrated that it has done so in the past, and continues to do so even today. To make such a claim is just adding a further layer of untruth to that which already exists, and will not accomplish any honourable purpose. How is this practice worthy of God’s servants?

Might I humbly suggest that some soul searching and realignment with reality is urgently needed? It is certain that the regaining of spiritual equilibrium, which your letter laudably aims to accomplish, is going to take a great deal of constrained dialogue, empathy, understanding, and, where necessary, concession. Only when truth is acknowledged as sovereign will equilibrium ever be regained. Inclusiveness is a very positive first step in this vital process though, so thank you for offering some hope in that respect. May I comment, that my own Stake President has to date been commendable in his sensitive attempts to understand and handle my case? It is a pity that others in a similar position, I am informed, have done rather less well in dealing with these challenges.

We may of course ascribe much of the present situation to human failing. We might ask: is it wrong to fail if we acknowledge failure, and try again? Do we ever truly repent and learn when we cover our sin? It seems to me that we do not, and what applies to the individual, also applies to the institution.

Many wrestle in their spiritual progress with the behavioural problems of past leaders. They cannot understand why it was necessary, for example, for Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to marry and have relations with other men’s wives, particularly, (in the case of Joseph), when his own wife was not even aware of several such relationships. They also baulk at the idea of an angel threatening Joseph with a sword if he did not enter into clandestine polygamous unions with numerous women, and they cannot begin to see the relevance of his secret marriage unions with teenage girls, some as young as fourteen. That kind of behaviour just does not resonate with their concept of what a prophet is, or ever has been. If you insist, as your letter does, that Joseph Smith was not a fallen prophet, then those who have become disillusioned and deeply offended by such disturbing disclosures, will need a full and honest explanation from you, which goes a long way beyond counsel to read the scriptures and pray. Perhaps the Brethren might follow that counsel themselves and seek the necessary inspiration about how the membership may be taught the historical truths, contextualising Joseph’s own fallibility. Nothing less will begin to win back a good number of members who presently feel disaffected for this reason.

However, even the behavioural anomalies of past leaders, is not the most serious concern causing disaffection. For some years I for one have taken the view that it matters far more what God did than what Joseph is recorded as having done. That Joseph was fallible, fallen even, is ultimately acceptable to the believer, for he was a man; however the scriptures, or Standard Works, are at the very foundation of LDS doctrine and practice. We, as members, are duty bound to acknowledge them as the mind and will of God, and as the means available to us for measuring spiritual truth. I ask you in all sincerity therefore to explain publicly an anomaly which apparently undermines the very authority of the LDS scriptures in the minds of many. The reason I ask for a public explanation is so that all may learn where the half-truths as well as the untruths may be identified in this matter.

I refer principally to the deeply disturbing anomalies encountered in the Book of Abraham, for they above all else have caused my own uncritical acceptance of LDS authority to unravel. I wish it had not been so, but nevertheless that is how it was for me, and once again, please remember that the circumstances were not of my choosing. In fact, like many others, I only became aware of the problem because I was attempting to defend, not attack, the position of the church. I and thousands like me now need a credible explanation from the Brethren if any degree of our support is to be regained.

You are probably already familiar with the concerns I shall raise, and also perhaps with some of the unconvincing apologetic responses which have been offered. In brief however, those concerns may be summed up as follows:

  • The Book of Abraham was, (according to official documentation), in 1835 translated by the prophetic powers of Joseph Smith, from Egyptian papyri which Joseph Smith said contained a record of Abraham, and also one of Joseph who was sold into Egypt.
  • The resulting text of the Book of Abraham states that the record was made by Abraham’s own hand upon papyrus. This would presumably have been c 1900 BC. The papyrus actually dates to the first century BC.
  • When it is translated by modern Egyptologists, no mention at all of Abraham is found in the text. The papyrus from which the Book of Abraham was produced, is in fact a late copy, (Ptolemaic), of The Book of Breathings, a regular funerary text, which maps pagan Egyptian beliefs concerning the state of the soul after death.
  • The Book of Abraham produced by Joseph Smith from this papyrus refers in the text to associated “Facsimiles”, which also constitute part of LDS canon. Facsimile 1, (see below), for example allegedly shows Abraham fixed to an altar about to be sacrificed by the priest of the pagan god Elkenah, before being saved from this fate by an angel of the Lord. The official church website dramatically portrays this event in the “Gospel Art Picture Kit” with the following illustration:

  • Note in both illustrations the inclusion of the lion-headed couch, and the presence of tell-tale canopic jars, which were routinely used by ancient Egyptians during the process of embalming. These formed part of the pagan funerary rites, and the same motifs may be found on the chamber walls of later pyramids, as for example:

  • This well-known scene actually depicts the mythical embalming and resurrection of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld, by his son Anubis, the jackal-headed god.
  • There are differences certainly between Facsimile 1 and the images found in Egyptian burial chambers, but they are only the consequence of Joseph Smith incorrectly having guessed what had originally been recorded in the gaps where the papyrus was damaged. Fortunately, we are able to assess from the original papyrus the areas where Joseph employed his faulty guesswork, as the following photograph illustrates:

  • The damaged and missing portion of the papyrus explains perfectly why the jackal-headed Anubis was absent from Facsimile 1, and in his place the otherwise unknown (to historians) priest of Elkenah was inserted by Joseph Smith. Creative though this idea may have been in 1835, according to the best scholarship presently available, it was wide of the mark.
  • It is also very apparent that Joseph Smith had a misinformed idea about the original use of hieroglyphs. By comparing the glyphs on the papyri with an “Egyptian grammar” which was prepared under Joseph’s direction in 1835, it is apparent that Joseph considered that each glyph represented whole, complex sentences, rather than simple sounds or concepts. Accordingly we find one particular glyph, which resembles a reversed capital E, and which we now know means “water”, rendered by Joseph as: “It was made after the form of a bedstead, such as was had among the Chaldeans, and it stood before the gods of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, and also a god like unto that of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos”

Even overlooking the anomaly, upon which historians are agreed, that the Chaldeans did not exist in the time of Abraham, or for several hundred years afterwards, how can such a mis-reading of one simple glyph leave any margin for doubt that Joseph Smith got it all very wrong in this case? Does it not take wilful blindness, and a high degree of spiritual contortionism to overcome plain common sense and believe otherwise? Are we really expected to believe that God, who gave each of us sufficient intelligence to reason and make sense of our environment, would require us in this instance not to use that same intelligence? In order to demonstrate faith, is it really necessary to practice such denial, or have faith and denial become one and the same?

For those of us who utilised native intelligence to renounce as hypocrisy those worldly systems and values around us when we turned our backs as converts on the world, and joined the LDS church, is it now reasonable to expect us to lay aside those same powers in considering this issue? Is it not more authentic, and pleasing to God, just to acknowledge the simple conclusion that Joseph may have tried but he failed? For me and for many others there is far greater peace in that course of action than in any amount of dissembling in a vain attempt to defend what is, and always will be indefensible. Can you or anyone, in the full glare of reason and reality, say I and others are wrong to feel as we do?

Brethren, where are the half-truths? Where are the falsehoods, and the false claims when the facts are properly and fairly illuminated?

It appears to me an impossibility in the light of the foregoing to disagree with the conclusion of one Egyptologist who remarked concerning the papyri: “Joseph Smith’s interpretation of them as part of a unique revelation through Abraham, therefore, very clearly demonstrates that he was totally unacquainted with the significance of these documents and absolutely ignorant of the simplest facts of Egyptian writing and civilization.” (James H. Breasted, Ph.D., Haskell Oriental Museum, University of Chicago)

I have not mentioned Joseph Smith’s interpretations of the other two Facsimiles, which are just as profoundly flawed; nor have I touched here upon any of the other scriptures revealed by him, but for now this one example will suffice. Please explain, with reference to the Book of Abraham, and the detailed evidence we now have concerning its provenance, how one may remain in harmony with Truth, and at the same time continue to believe that Joseph Smith was inspired.

You speak in your letter of providing the best possible answers. That is good, because those answers are what I and the rest of mankind deserve to hear, and we sincerely look forward to your response.

Please do not exclude me or others because we cannot agree with the position you feel forced to defend by virtue of your callings. Please accept us as those who wish for truth, wherever it may be found, to be upheld in the end as victorious over error. I agree with you that faith, (in truth at least), will always be a conscious choice, which is why I care enough to write and invite you to demonstrate the truthfulness of this matter to the world. Faith in that which is shown to be untrue however, is not worthy of the name. The apostle Orson Pratt, (writing with concern to the Book of Mormon, but his words may equally be applied to the case of the Book of Abraham), stated it well:

“If, after a rigid examination, it be found an imposition, it should be extensively published to the world as such; the evidences and arguments upon which the imposture was detected, should be clearly and logically stated, that those who have been sincerely yet unfortunately deceived, may perceive the nature of the deception, and be reclaimed, and that those who continue to publish the delusion, may be exposed and silenced, not by physical force, neither by persecutions, bare assertions, nor ridicule, but by strong and powerful arguments–by evidences adduced from scripture and reason. Such, and such only, should be the weapons employed to detect and overthrow false doctrines–to reclaim mankind from their errors, to expose religious enthusiasm, and put to silence base and wicked impostors.”

So, please provide your best answers, (even if those answers convey a sentiment of doubt), and please extend an honest hand of friendship to me and the many in my position, opening up a constructive dialogue with us, so that all may see that we are able to work together from here onwards in promoting truth and discarding past errors.

Sincerely and faithfully,

Christopher Ralph

122 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Europe Area Presidency by Chris Ralph.”

  1. A very nice letter. I sympathize with your feelings. As regards your extensive critique of the Book of Abraham, I don’t believe it is as obvious as you make it seem. You have ignored the fact that the text as Joseph Smith gave it matches books of Abraham that were found after his time in many regards, and that interpretation of Egyptian glyphs is far from a monolithic, open the dictionary and read what it means, field of inquiry. In that one respect your letter might be less confrontational were you not to accuse them of willful misrepresentation or ignorance in that your accusation on this point might be viewed as the same.

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    1. Which books would that be? There are parallels to some Abrahamic lore, but these parallels come from Josephus, which Joseph Smith was reading at the time. The astronomy sections are clearly derived from Thomas Dick’s “The Philosophy of a Future State,” which describes the different levels and “orders” of planets and stars, with God at the “center place,” just as the Book of Abraham does. Not coincidentally, Joseph Smith had recently been reading Dick’s book when he “translated” the papyri. No one disputes that the “explanations” Joseph provided are not correct for the facsimiles (see, for example, the names he wrongly identifies in Facs. 3), and the places where the papyrus was damaged correspond precisely to the aberrant additions Joseph made to the vignettes. In the end, even if we accept that the papyrus actually is what Joseph Smith said it was, it would make that scroll unique in all the recorded history of the Egyptians. How likely is that?

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  2. Can you share with me more details about this letter? For example, where is Chris Ralph from? Is he really a member of the Mormon faith? How did you come by this letter? Has it been posted in other places? I would like to perhaps share this letter with others. I hate to say this, but the second individuals see that it is only posted on this website it will be dismissed out of hand. I need some more background information before I can pass it along. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks Charles. As Bobby has explained I’ve been posting on his blog for a little while now, and you may track something of my journey by clicking on the previous posts.

      The letter sent out by the Area Presidency to local priesthood leaders last April became a public document a few weeks ago. It appears to reflect a heartfelt wish to reclaim those who have encountered unsanitized Church history, and for that reason I felt it worth making a response, even though I realise that I am putting my head above the parapet in my effort to do so. If there is hope of reconciliation then someone on this side of the unwanted divide must also make overtures. Any process which by consensus defines the nature of the divide, and then attempts to address the problems arising, will, I trust, be seen as a positive step. We are perhaps upon the cusp of something very worthwhile, but that remains to be determined by others.

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  3. Excellent letter. Wonderful tone. Insightful questions. Reading this was like drinking refreshing cool water after a long, hot, day. Thank you for posting this.

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  4. The thing I really love about this letter Chris is the tone and emotion you express. This is the very model of all the Ex-mo’s that I know. Active members and church leaders may try hide behind “disaffected” members being “anti-mormon”, but this is sooooo far from the truth. Most ex-mo’s are actually “pro-mormon”, they look back on their time in the church with fond memories, and mostly as a positive experience. The challenge that you identify so well is the difficulty when you discover truths about the that are not in harmony with its ‘correlated’ teachings . The church holds it’s members to a standard of being “honest in all your dealing with your fellow men”, but then you find out that the church has not been honest in what it has taught about it’s history and practices, and honest members are left with a struggle between loyalty and integrity. For me integrity won that battle. I as a leader and teacher at church I could no longer teach from manuals the required lessons knowing that these lesson were fraudulent in the content at best and downright lies at worst. Your example above regarding the presence (or lack of to be truthful) of the gold plates during the “translation” process, is one of the things that really makes me sick. There will be missionaries this very minute teaching falsehoods like this, as I did 20 years ago as a missionary. This LIE is abhorrent. Not only from the perspective that the LDS church proudly proclaims in the Doctrine & Covenants that it is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth”, but it is making liars of young men and women, as it did me 20 years ago, when I taught this and many other historical inaccuracies to people as a missionary.

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  5. Oh yes, please! This is my request also, that the Church authorities exercise the same humility and prayerful soul searching that they are requesting of its shell shocked members.

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    1. I hope you are wrong in your expectation Henry. I feel sure the Biblical Jesus would give an enlightening answer if challenged by someone who was genuinely seeking truth. These men have an opportunity similarly to demonstrate compassion and humility towards those who are struggling. Surely if they believe themselves to be the Lord’s representatives, they will want to help.

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  6. Jason, I am proud of you. As Mormons, we encourage gaining knowledge. True knowledge in science and history included. In a way, I was mentioned in your letter when you said, “as I was taught… over forty years ago.” I was the teacher. I am still a teacher; an educator by profession. I give you an A+ on this ‘response letter’. As ‘your missionary, I stand by you. You are correct. You are couragous. Saddly, as a missionary, over forty years ago, we were not able to give your father the priesthood because he was of African descent. At that time church authorities were using scripture from The Pearl of Great Price, to ‘help’ justify this racist policy. Your family and I are still together after forty years, standing side by side; equals; god’s chidren. By Doug Chappell, Missionary, England North Mission 1972 – 1974

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  7. “We have very detailed and reliable accounts of the actual translation process followed, and so a growing number of historically informed members feel concern that the church attempts in its publications to promote a different story without foundation in historical reality; these show Joseph apparently translating the gold plates by studying and touching them.”

    Since you acknowledge that the accounts of the translation process are “detailed and reliable”, then you have to acknowledge the fact that Joseph would translate for hours this way. Was he translating or reciting something memorized? There is no evidence from any of the “detailed and reliable” accounts to support memorization from an uneducated farm boy. However, maybe with help he made a telephone using two cans and a string and had one can hidden in his hat while Rigdon and Spaulding coached him at the other end in another room.

    Supposed “seekers of truth” would marvel at the “detailed and reliable” accounts of the translation process itself rather than find fault with later artists who painted a romantic picture of it and anyone who promoted the use of said picture. What’s more important were the words that were coming out of Joseph’s mouth during the process. No logical explanation has been given for their existence other than the testimony that he gave, and the “detailed and reliable” accounts of those you already acknowledge! Many of those who were closest to Joseph became disgruntled with him or estranged from him at one time or another, yet not one of them ever said…”by the way, Joseph is a complete fraud. I was the one that wrote the Book of Mormon and spoon-fed it to him.”

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    1. Hmmm……. Chris, I’m not sure that was the best way to express it. I would prefer to think not, but “IF you are all honest seekers of truth…….” sounds very much like Satan’s words to Christ while he was on the cross (spoken through some of those then present) . You are, I am sure, familiar with James E. Talmage’s “Jesus The Christ”. He explains that those words came from Satan in a desperate attempt to, if possible, force the Saviour to doubt his mission and lose faith in himself at that last and critical moment. “IF thou be the Christ…….” The inference that Jesus was not the Saviour was, of course, as ridiculous as it was insulting. Your questioning of our honesty in that way is also insulting to us in a way that none of us have been or wish to be towards yourself. You imply that a failure to meet your demands to read what you place before us in its entirely demonstrates that we are not sincere and that seems to me a little arrogant. Perhaps you did not mean it to come across like that. Your piece on the method of translation of the Book of Mormon was, I am sure, a sincere view but it doesn’t answer all the questions. Joseph’s mother, in her book, tells how Joseph would recite a make-believe history of the ancient American people in incredible detail and for extended periods of time. It was a remarkable gift which he used for the purposes of family entertainment long before the plates were ever spoken of. This seems to indicate that the thought of Joseph simply making up the Book of Mormon as he went along is not as fanciful as your response suggests it is (and you did not need to resort to ridicule in the way you did). Certainly, all the available evidence points to him having done that with the Book of Abraham. Then one gets into areas such as his approach to other men’s wives and other matters. Regardless of our different conclusions it cannot be claimed that there are not questions which require an answer, some of which are very serious.

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  8. I agree with those that suggest that the search for spiritual truth is a spiritual quest. It is not an historical quest but relies on each individual humbly and earnestly seeking for truth directly from a divine source. However, the church teaches us that we are to study it out in our minds. How are we to do that without looking at the history? And not merely looking but giving close and detailed scrutiny lest there be factors that get overlooked and an incorrect conclusion reached whether that be one way or the other. After all, there is much at stake. The highest possible standards of scholarship are required, not just an amateur review. Chris Ralph, with his Masters Degree in history is in an excellent candidate to carry out the necessary historical research. He, however, would be among the first to agree that, ultimately, only God, through the Holy Spirit, can answer the final questions to a seeker of spiritual truth. But a person must be willing to accept the answer regardless of what it is and that, for any human being, can be difficult because we all have our personal desires, preferences and hopes for what the truth will turn out to be.

    If one hopes that the answer will be that the Mormon church is entirely false then such hopes will not be rewarded because no such answer can be obtained. Why? Because the Mormon church has among its members some of the most wonderful people I have ever met or could hope to meet; genuine spiritual giants of human beings whose faith is strong and who are so obviously in tune with the Spirit. They radiate it. This, however, has less to do with the church than some imagine. It is a result of their faith of which many were in possession before they joined the Mormon church. True, the church has provided a focus or channel for their faith but that type and level of faith revolves around a personal relationship with God and is not as dependent on the church as many might suppose. It is not dependent on the First Vision or the historicity of the Book of Abraham or even the Book of Mormon. It is dependent on the individual’s relationship with God, on their faith and obedience, on their acceptance of Christ as their Saviour and how closely they follow Him.

    Of course there are also those in the church who are of a very different hue and even more who are of an indifferent hue! Those of a very different hue can sometimes be found in leadership positions where they exercise satanic dominion and appear to possess no spiritual light at all. I have experienced that. But a number of people have been an incredible blessing to myself and my family. They have been a source of support, encouragement, counsel and strength. I am convinced that much of what they have said and done has been inspired; not necessarily as a result of their priesthood or calling but simply because they are in tune with the Spirit and God can work through them. I was about to say that they know who they are but such is their humility and their instinctive response to the Spirit that they probably do not. In fact, I was in conversation with one such person recently and thanked him for having been one of those people on several occasions. He was completely unaware! How then is it possible for the Spirit to confirm that the Mormon church is utterly false when God is able to work through members in this way? Clearly God could not give any person the answer that the church is false when He is so active within it. But that is not an endorsement of the claims of the church in regard to Joseph Smith and the divine authority it claims through him in much the same way that the Catholic church claims authority from Peter.

    To counter the uninformed view of some members I wish to say that of all those whom I have known who have questioned the truthfulness of the church not one of them with whom I am personally acquainted wanted the church not to be true. In fact most of them, myself included, desperately wanted the opposite but could not ignore what they continued to discover often to their utter dismay and even despair. The truthfulness in the church is the truthfulness of God manifest through righteous individuals rather than the truthfulness of the church and its history. What this realisation does is to allow us to throw into question the claims of the church in regard to its authority without feeling, as the church wishes us to, that we are questioning God. We are not. We are simply questioning those who claim to be not just His servants but our spiritual overseers.

    In the end I went to God with my questions about those servants. I had begun to doubt that everything they said was true and began to suspect that some of them had lied and that some continued to do so. I approached God in much the same way that Joseph Smith said that he had. I was simply making an enquiry of the Lord because I had reached the point where I could not discern the truth myself. I was confused and could only turn to God to end that confusion. He answered my prayer with great spiritual force. The answer was, in so many ways, a terrible shock. But it was unmistakable. The leaders of the Mormon church lied and misled members. I had my answer. I knew it and I knew that God knew it. Eventually I resigned my membership. Of course I miss it. I miss the association with the best of the members. However, I do not miss being expected to sustain those who misuse authority or who cause untold havoc through taking misguided and uninspired approaches and actions. The simple fact is I really did receive that answer from God. Having been led to believe that the logical extension of accepting the Mormon church to be true (in the sense of having divine authority) was to join it the logical extension of no longer accepting that was to leave although it still took me some time to do so.

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  9. For me and so many other ex-LDS memebers the issue is trust. We trust these guys to uphold the “truth”. We trust and believe that if they knew this stuff they would blow the whistle and be open and honest and all of that. There is no real answer they can give to explain away the many many discrepencies in the Book Of Mormon.
    So then how do we move forward to gain a testimony of false teachings and men who don’t aknowledge truth and lies openly.
    I believe it is all about money and it is so disturbing to me that for the sake of the almighty dollar we turn a blind eye.
    I know that in these uncertain times going back where we know there is food and money and resources to help us is such a temptation, but then we are no better than they and we deserve each other.

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  10. Sadly enough, I don’t find the church leaders to be educated on historical facts or theology. Most of them are powerful and successful businessmen and their strengths lie in the business world vs. teaching about the gospel. Admitting to the fall of Joseph Smith would be equivalent to denying the Savior.

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  11. Hi there Bea thanks for the comment, its a big issue that many are facing right now that the church for years has not been open about the truth of its past. In the interests of honesty I will say there has been times when the church has shown a picture of Joseph with his head in a hat however those moments have been very few and far between and unless an LDS member does some personal digging they will believe it happened with the plates very much present and no head in a hat.

    This obviously also goes for issues such as the church having the plates of the book of Abraham in the 60’s, in my experience people have not found this out through official channels.

    Its great to hear that you are responding to this and I know its far from easy, I would just say do not give up on Christ, if Joseph or the church has been dishonest it does not mean Jesus was, the LDS church and Jesus Christ are by no means inseparable.

    As well if it would help I can put you in touch with other people in your position, please email me on bobbygilpin@gmail.com if you think that might help, or if I can help in anyway.

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  12. Bea…. it is a tough grieving process to come to the realisation that we have been deceived when all the time we thought we had the truth and those outside the church were deceived. But know that there are many many of us out here who have been through this and are willing to support and help. It saddens me so much that the very organisation that taught me to “be honest in ALL my dealings with my fellow men” and even held me accountable to that standard, had not been at all honest with me. But there is light and truth out there. If you wanna talk with others like us, who value integrity over loyalty, then just say. We are here. We are not rabid anti-mormons, we have no axe to grind against the church and it’s members. We just want honesty and truth, and as GBH says…. “Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues.”
    ~ Dec. 25, 2005 interview with The Associated Press

    If GBH is right, then lets let “truth prevail”. It is a bitter pill to swallow, yes. It hurts. Hurts a lot. But truth in the end only brings joy.

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  13. Challenging Chris Holt, Bob Cullen states “but “IF you are all honest seekers of truth…….” sounds very much like Satan’s words to Christ while he was on the cross’.”

    Isn’t that EXACTLY the approach that Ralph takes in his own letter?

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    1. CS: Judge Ralph if you wish… (that’s me by the way).

      Your judgment will have no bearing on truth.

      But don’t you believe that it would be better if instead of judging each other we all united in judging the material issues? Until we learn, in our pursuit of truth, to elevate honesty above tribal loyalties, error will surely continue to blind us. Do you not agree?

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  14. I could not agree more that we should not judge others, that our judgements have no bearing on the truth anyway, and that the pursuit of truth requires elevating honesty above ‘tribal loyalties’.

    That is why I take issue with the tone of your letter, which to me at least, does not come across as someone genuinely seeking the truth, but rather someone who is judging church leaders both past and present, trying to ‘catch them out’, and finding them guilty of willful deceit and insensitivity. Whether you intended it that way, only you know, I was simply commenting on how I read the tone of your letter. I believe if you read your own letter with an open mind, you will see there is a considerable amount of judgement therein.

    For what it is worth, I don’t believe they know what to say. The history appears at odds with what they have personally experienced and to deny those personal experiences would be an equal denial of the truth. Although I accept much of the evidence you cite has not been part of the church curriculum, neither has it been hidden. It is pretty much all to be found in the church’s own historical documents. So, yes, maybe there could have been more transparency, but to conclude it is willful misrepresentation is a harsh judgement.

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    1. I disagree wholeheartedly that the information is readily available. I have been an active member all my life and had zero awareness of any of these issues. When I first became aware of them I used only church or church affiliated sites to seek out clarification and it was the tone and lack of detail that caused me concern and to look further afield. Also as to the tone of Ralph’s letter, I have showed it to a couple of very active members and they found it respectful and genuine in its enquiry. They defend the church when it’s integrity is brought into question yet they found this letter to be an honest search for clarification on points of doctrine and history and in no way offensive. As the church so often teaches, if no offence is intended then none should be taken

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  15. I wasn’t offended – I originally simply pointed out that Chris Holt’s response, the tone of which was criticized by Bob Cullen, was the same tone used by Ralph in his original letter. It’s a shame that Ralph felt this was judgmental of him, which it clearly was not.

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  16. Anyway, all the best to you Lisa and others who are genuinely seeking the truth – which may well be everyone here, I really don’t know what’s in people’s hearts. (BTW, I didn’t say the information was readily available, indeed I acknowledged it had not been part of the church curriculum. Nevertheless, these historical claims are not new discoveries)

    For my own part, yes, the historical events cited in the original letter create some questions. But we still have the Book of Mormon, which despite the apparent discrepancies and notwithstanding the ‘unusual’ way in which it was translated, still speaks to me with such power, wisdom and insight that it could not have come from man alone. At this point, I have seen no credible alternative proposed to the way in which Joseph Smith claimed it came to be.

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    1. “At this point, I have seen no credible alternative proposed to the way in which Joseph Smith claimed it came to be.”…… standard apologist garbage!!!

      So is claiming you found gold plates, stuck your head in a hat to look into a chocolate coloured stone so as to translate the words, and then spoke the words that appeared on parchment paper in your mind “CREDIBLE”???? Give me a break!!!

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  17. I would like to thank you Chris for this letter that i feel covers many of the points that have led me to doubt the truth claims of the church!
    The church preaches honesty but it is dishonest in its representation of its own history! How can an honest seeker after truth have confidence in an organisation that fails to tell the whole truth and fails to answer the honest questions of its own members or when members have questions or brands those members apostate for daring to ask.

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  18. Ralph I believe the things you wrote were written with the pure intention of trying to seek out honest answers. People here may judge you but they do not know you. I know above everything else you will always put integrity above loyalty. Some apologist are still trying to work out which of these two choices are more important but I thank you for being a great example to everyone. I also choose INTEGRITY!

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  19. this is a great division in the church which has been prophesied..im very well read in the scriptures..i can answer all these things…read the bible where it testifies if the church //joseph smith..house of Israel….people read your scriptures,,,your ground is barren

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    1. Jesus Christ never taught the key tenets of Mormonism. Mormonism isn’t a restoration of the Gospel, it’s a substitution. In fact, the key tennants of Mormonism aren’t even found in the Book of Mormon.

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  20. CJ, I’m sure you intentions are good but if you think that Pres Uchtdorf’s talk is an answer to the many questions that exist regarding the anomalies, lies and inconsistencies in many aspects of church history, you are greatly mistaken; it addressed nothing. Vague talk regarding blind men and elephants, suggesting good, honest people (many are christians still) are being deceived by satan is hardly a frank admission that untruths began with Joseph Smith and have been perpetuated by every generation of LDS leadership since that time. If anything, I felt this talk was beneath Pres Uchtdorf and greatly disappointing.

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  21. I am an active member of the LDS church, and I am concerned that many people who’s testimony is not deep-rooted could easily be lead astray by becoming involved in these unimportant discussions.
    I haven’t read this entire thread, in fact I even got bored reading the original letter as it seems very indecisive, repetitive and unfocussed, but the primary accusation (made repeatedly) seems to be that the church “teaches” an inaccurate account of how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and that the true process is covered up.
    This is quite simply not the case. A few years ago, Elder Maxwell gave a talk explaining what was meant by “The gift and power of God” which included the words becoming visible on the seer stone(s). Hardly covering up, as it was delivered in general conference.
    Elder Nelson referred to the process even more directly: “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light…” Again, no cover up there. Both these talks, along with many other references to the translation process, are available on the lds.org website 🙂
    So – since the accusation that the church hides these things is untrue, I wonder what the real motivation driving criticism of the church is? Do you object to the way the Book of Mormon was translated, or is it something else?
    We have long known that satan will try to obtain that which is most precious from us with that which has little value. He will rob us of chastity in return for a brief moment of physical pleasure. I wonder what those who seek to rob faithful Mormons of their testimonies are offering in return?
    Mormons have at the core of their doctrine the right of any man to practice whatever faith he wishes, but ask for the courtesy of being allowed to do the same. I have never heard a church leader criticise another faith’s beliefs and it seems very wrong that any true Christian would do such a thing.

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    1. Dear Magic Finger, maybe you do not realise that Chris Ralph & all of us who signed Proclamation For Truth, and support Chris’s Open Letters, are all still members of the LDS Church. Most of us have been in leadership positions including Bishops & Stake President. We know what we used to believe. We just question why there is a lack of openness & honesty from the hierarchy with regards to these issues.

      When it comes to how Mormons view other Christian churches it is very clear that the LDS Church considers them part of the Great Apostasy. They have been referred to as the Church of the Devil & an abomination.

      Try telling your Christian friends that & see if they still respect you.

      Here’s some of the evidence from the Church’s accepted account of the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, & other General Authorities over the years.

      “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” Joseph Smith history.

      From the Book of Mormon itself, “Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the Church of the Lamb of God [i.e.. the Mormon Church] and the other is the church of the devil [i.e.. the Christian Church]; wherefore whosoever belongeth not to the church of the lamb of God belongeth to that great church; which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” (The Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10).

      “…orthodox Christian views of God are Pagan rather than Christian.” (Mormon Doctrine of Deity by B.H. Roberts, p.116).
      “…the God whom the ‘Christians’ worship is a being of their own creation…” (Apostle Charles W. Penrose, Journal of Discourses 23:243).
      “The Christian world, so called, are heathens as to their knowledge of the salvation of God.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:171).
      “The Christian world, I discovered, was like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro whithersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to me, I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:73).
      “What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute best.” (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225).
      “What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing…Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God.” (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225).
      “Believers in the doctrines of modern Christendom will reap damnation to their souls (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.177).
      “…brother Joseph B. Nobles once told a Methodist priest, after hearing him describe his god, that the god they worshiped was the “Mormon’s” Devil-a being without a body, whereas our God has a body, parts and passions.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:331).
      “The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church, is the great corrupt, ecclesiastical power, represented by great Babylon….” (Orson Pratt, Orson Pratt, Writings of an Apostle, “Divine Authenticity,” no.6, p.84).
      “…all the priests who adhere to the sectarian religions of the day with all their followers, without one exception, receive their portion with the devil and his angels.” (The Elders Journal, Joseph Smith Jr., editor, vol.1, no.4, p.60).
      “…all other churches are entirely destitute of all authority from God; and any person who receives baptism or the Lord’s supper from their hands will highly offend God, for he looks upon them as the most corrupt people.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 255).
      “Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the “whore of Babylon” whom the lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornication’s and wickedness.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p.255).
      “Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:176).

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      1. Steve, if you are a member of the LDS Church, it sure doesn’t look like you believe it much. Why say you are a member when you don’t agree with the doctrines? This lack of loyalty smacks of cowardice at its best. Aren’t you aware of the nature of apostasy and what leads to it?

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      2. I fail to see how a lack of loyalty to a church is cowardly; especially to a church that is built on deceit. There have been many examples throughout history of brave people that have dared to challenge institutions and religions. As these people often suffered hugely, one could hardly call their actions cowardly. I am not suggesting that we are being threatened with our lives but some of us have certainly suffered a lot as a result of our honesty. People like Steve and Chris are the brave ones and don’t deserve to be called cowardly.
        The church is great at promoting free agency and yet when people use that agency to dare to disagree with it they suddenly get hit with all manner of accusations – many of them personal and many of them, like you, threatening God’s judgement. It’s an appalling attitude.

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      3. Petunia, pretending to be a member of the Church while fighting against is not merely disloyal, but very dishonest! If you or Steve or anyone else doesn’t agree with the teachings of the LDS Church, you’re all totally welcome to find a new path in life. All this contentious back-biting and fault-finding is so childish.

        If I work for a company that is unsavory to my liking, I’m perfectly free to find work elsewhere. I need not attack my former boss or company; I simply find new work and start a new life.

        If I belong to a church that does not meet my spiritual needs, I’ll find another or start my own.

        The 11th Article of Faith states: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

        If you don’t agree with LDS doctrine, you’re perfectly welcome to find something else to believe in. However, the wholesale attacks by anti-Mormon zealots and others upon Mormon teachings, the Church, and its members is incredibly immature.

        I say to you if you have something better than our present beliefs, show me. Don’t mock and ridicule us because you don’t agree with us. Destroying faith is easy. Building it takes time and patience. Show me a better way and you’ll be more credible.

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      4. DWRogers: that is like saying to someone that because they have a disagreement within their family, they should go and find a new one. That monochrome over-simplistic attitude, not the act of questioning historical narratives, is what truly signifies immaturity. Good grief, even the current LDS founding claim of the First Vision is based upon the value of questioning.

        It seems you really don’t begin to understand. However, to some extent we probably ought to sympathise with you, because we all have lived in that same ivory tower you presently occupy, and we know the delusional atmosphere of that place.

        Please try to be more sensitive, and not so caught up in justifying your own ignorance by dismissing our concerns peremptorily. These concerns are genuine; they are fully supported by documented history, and tellingly, they remain unanswered.

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      5. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to find that I concur wholeheartedly with DWRogers – and I think this is indicative of those of us who have found a testimony through faith, and those who have lost their testimony (if they had it) through hearsay and argument.
        If you wish to liken it to a family breakdown – remember that sometimes an individual will leave the family quietly for the sake of all those who remain and having done so one would expect no need for him to criticise the family who are not able to respond to those criticisms.
        But that wasn’t my point.
        Let me tell you why your campaign is doomed to failure.
        The only body which could respond to your questions / demands is the First Presidency.
        The First Presidency will not respond to your questions / demands because they have been receiving EXACTLY the same stuff for over a century, and it’s simply a matter of policy to avoid dialogue with apostate groups.
        They will engage in mutually respectful discussion with other faiths, but this won’t happen with “anti-” groups, simply because nothing productive can come of it.
        Now, I realise that it’s just as impossible for you to do what I suggest as it is for the Church to meet your demands, but I’d suggest that a rational, reasoned and reasonable course for anybody who has concerns about the Church’s policy, doctrine or leaders (past or present) would be to poliely withdraw from membership of the church (renouncing the promised blessings and obligations of the covenants you have made) and then (if you feel so minded) embark upon a proselyting mission to convert people to the religion you offer them.
        The campaign as you run it now, relying upon the Church’s silence as “proof” that your accusations are true really is somewhat disengeniuos. Put simply, they just don’t talk to groups like yours.
        Targetting vulnerable Church members and destroying their testimonies, leaving them without hope really seems something motivated by evil rather than a desire for good. I realise that many contributors here say they are now fulfilled and happy by virtue of what they are doing, but I can only speak of the real harm that I have seen done. Perhaps if you were aware of the circumstances too, you’d be less proud.

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      6. Whether you like it or not Magic Fingers, this is presently “our church” as much as it is “your church”. The fact that you are feeling uncomfortable with us being part of it is very much your problem, and will remain so until the day that we, (who you term apostate), are excommunicated for asking honest questions and seeking truth, which of course is what happened in the early years of the church when the Whitmers, Cowderys and Marshes among others were expelled.

        If the Brethren call us to account for questioning, and choose to make news by bringing these matters into the public arena, that is something we will deal with. Until then we will continue to ask the honest questions in the hope that those with real authority in the organisation, (not the would-be apologists), will hear us and respond with transparency.

        You can think and believe whatever you wish, (that is your prerogative of course), but the Brethren’s continued silence merely demonstrates to the world that they are nothing more than the dumb idols the world already believes them to be.

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      7. My problem isn’t with you professing to be a member of the Church (despite openly denying its core beliefs) it’s with the great harm you are causing to innocent members of the Church.
        Like DWRogers, I just can’t see how you can claim any kind of moral high ground or integrity when you fight and criticise the Church from within – are you keeping all your options open, just in case you’re wrong?

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      8. Is it wrong to question accepted belief when it is founded upon demonstrably false premises? Is it wrong to challenge falsehood simply because to do so induces discomfort in some? If so, then why pay lip-service to following Jesus, for that is what he constantly did in his efforts to establish truth? How many did he upset as he taught that the truth would set them free?

        Now, Magic Fingers, why persevere in attempting to defend the indefensible? It changes nothing. You sound rather like a man who would prefer to read an historical novel rather than a genuine historical record.

        If you do not wish to belong to a church which upholds the whole truth, then perhaps it is you who should consider starting a separate movement, because when people join the LDS church they do so under the assurance that it stands for truth . A church founded upon half-truths, is, after all, a church founded ultimately on lies, and the kind of freedom which results from lies will be short-lived at best.

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      9. “Is it wrong to question accepted belief when it is founded upon demonstrably false premises?”
        But that’s not what you are doing. You KNOW the Church won’t reply to you, but you carry on asserting that the fact they don’t proves that you’re right.
        It does no such thing!
        It’s not wrong to question accepted belief under any cisrumstances, but there’s a right and wrong way to do it. When it comes to faith you ask yourself – Do I believe this? If the answer is Yes, you act on it. If the answer is No, you go and find something you do believe.
        If you choose to stay and criticise those who hold the belief, any claim you have to sharing the mantle of Christianity is false. You are deliberately engendering contention – for what purpose, I can only guess.

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      10. DW: your comment to me has largely been answered by journey and I agree with him completely. I’d like to tell you a little of my story.
        Many years ago I chose the lds church because it was taught to me by missionaries and leaders as representing the truth. I held to that belief for many years, taught my children and even my mother. I was unhappy when some of my children and even my mother left the church. My mother tried to explain to me that it was based on lies but I wouldn’t listen – I thought she had been deceived by anti-mormons. So you see I have stood where you now stand.
        I did everything I was supposed to do and I was obedient and faithful. I was even obedient to the admonition NOT to look on websites other than the church’s own. However, one day, I remembered about the BOA papyrus being found and I thought, surely it must have been translated by now and that it would vindicate Joseph Smith and I could prove to my mother that the church was telling the truth.
        I was devastated to discover that the papyrus was nothing more than an egyptian funerary text. I read all the apologists explanations but their answers were unsatisfactory and unconvincing. It was a horrible time for me, just as it was for Steve and Chris and the many others I have talked to. I was standing on a precipice and had no idea how to proceed and eventually left it on a shelf in my mind for about three years before taking the courage to read and study further. I won’t bore you with details but the facts (taken from source documentary evidence) shocked me.
        After many, many prayers I finally conceded that I had been hoodwinked into joining this church, giving it years of service, money, tears and sacrifice – and this is a story that is typical.
        I believe in God and in the teachings of Jesus and I believe that focusing on those teachings, rather than the self-serving commandments of a bogus prophet, will lead me to God. I remain a member of the lds church and have no plans to resign. Why? Because my hope is that the leadership of this church will finally admit the truth, however difficult, and reform this church into something that is more Christ-focused, something that I can attend with the friends and family that remain. So I’m sorry if us pushing for that admittance hurts you but we’re just not going to go away so you can feel better.
        As for destroying other people’s faith. No, I don’t do that. I have never sought to dissuade other mormons from attending church – but I do support the truth and if anyone asks me about the true historical facts I will tell them. Telling true historical facts to a person is not destroying a faith based on truth.
        We often look back into history and applaud the actions of those that challenged the catholic church for its cruel and immoral actions. Even the US has its own infamous episode in religious history with the Salem witch trials.
        “More than once it has been said, too, that the Salem witchcraft was the rock on which the theocracy shattered.” — George Lincoln Burr

        You accused me of being childish, back-biting, fault-finding and of mocking and ridiculing you – would you like to provide me with a quote where I have done that? If I was guilty of any of those things I will be happy to apologise and in turn I hope that you will offer more respect and understanding for those of us who are on an HONEST quest for the truth from the church that we have loved and served.

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      11. Magic Fingers: It’s becoming abundantly clear that you and your friend just don’t get what this is about. But that’s all right; I welcome your remarks because they serve a useful purpose in educating others who will in due course read this thread.

        Please let’s clear up something though: no criticism whatsoever is being directed at those LDS followers who whole-heartedly consume whatever their leaders feed them. My letter holds the shepherds to account, not the sheep. In fathoming my purposes, you need only understand this much: When Mormonism supports truth then I support Mormonism. When Mormonism attempts to subvert truth, then I question it.

        That is meaningful loyalty, involving some courage but no hypocrisy. Ultimately, Truth is what matters, not any –ism.

        So, what do we see when we look objectively at what has taken place down the years within LDS congregations? If we are prepared to acknowledge it, we notice the deliberate, hierarchy-led cultivation of ignorance, concerning our spiritual heritage.

        Now, it is fairly widely accepted that the rewriting of history to suit current political agendas, has been a cheap trick employed by many imperfect systems of government throughout time, but it is regrettable indeed to discover undeniable evidence of this practice also in an organisation which claims to be the Lord’s own true and living church. By definition, will you not agree, an organisation which relies upon deliberate misrepresentation cannot be wholly acceptable to God?

        However, this apparently is the type of system you wish to support. How might that ever be reconciled with conscience? Where is the honour and the enduring value in such a system? Surely it is better to lobby for reform than to be poisoned in our pews by such fatal delusions. Or would you perhaps join the throng in attempting to shoot down Samuel the Lamanite if he preached reform on your city walls?

        Make no mistake, large-scale coercion and misdirection of the people by historical deception is no small error of judgment to be easily overlooked. It is a veritable camel which you seem so eager to swallow. Yet you strain at a gnat in berating those whose questions might, perchance, prove instrumental in bringing hidden secrets of Mormonism’s fragility to the attention of the unwary.

        How, we might ask, will these delicate and faithful souls you seem to think I am intent upon destroying, even come to know of the concerns I have raised with their leaders, unless they are already searching for something on sites such as this?

        As for your decree directing us in how we should respond to the inner workings of belief, you presume to know what God alone knows, and accordingly I consider you presume far too much. Real history, and real historical reform is not so smooth a process, and God well knows it even if you don’t.

        Had all followed your example throughout the last 2,000 years, forsooth, would we not all by now be Pharisees? Has it ever occurred to you, Magic Fingers, that perhaps that is what you have inadvertently become?

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      12. It seems you don’t get it either.
        I received a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in exactly the way He promised, through the touch of the Holy Ghost years before I had even heard of Joseph Smith. I communed with that spirit frequently, and knew it well.
        When I was subsequently taught thre restored Gospel, that same spirit which I knew and trusted bore witness to me of the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s role in that restoration.
        I had IMMENSE problems accepting the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I had HUGE problems accepting the Church’s stance on race. I was EXTREMELY critical of the white, American gerontocracy who lead the Church.
        But I knew it was true, and I couldn’t deny it.
        It took the paradigm shift I explained earlier to be able to accept these things, but having done that I now know the peace that Christ promised.
        All the accusations you rasie have an alternative explanation. Unlikely maybe, but possible and that’s good enough for me. They’re a lot more “possible” than a great part of the Bible 🙂
        I don’t know whether the people on here who deny the Church ever has the kind of testimony I had or just went through the motions. Many do this, I know, and it is easy to sway them with inconsequential arguments.
        Personally, I think you are the ones being misled. You have swallowed some irrelevant truths, some manipulated half-truths and some downright lies which you now consider to be more important than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You consider the arguments and reasoning of men to be more compelling than the witness and testimony of the Holy Ghost.
        I think you are wrong, and I will trust my God and the words of those whom I sustain as His prophets.
        I had intended to leave this website alone, but was lured back by the responses to DWRogers. Maybe I will be stronger this time and resist the lure but to Brother Rogers I say “I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen.”

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      13. You have excelled yourself in proving my points. I particularly appreciate: “All the accusations you raise have an alternative explanation. Unlikely maybe, but possible and that’s good enough for me.”

        In those two brief sentences you have helpfully disclosed to everyone the measuring rod you use to deal with uncomfortable realities. It is revealing and useful to see you illuminated in this light of your own choosing. But please try to understand that the entire cosmos cannot and never will revolve around “unlikely… but good enough for Ronnie”.

        Personally, I have moved beyond LDS Apologetics. It began to corrode my integrity and proved a futile and thankless pursuit. Even that arch-apologist of many years, Kerry Shirts, recently posted in another forum: “Apologetics does it all backwards… I didn’t use or read or see any other side. I worked with blinders on and found just exactly what I wanted to come to the conclusion that I wanted it to… It’s all fluff and phony man. I can go back through those exact same sources I used, and select parts and pieces I left out originally and come up with an entirely different paper showing how vastly wrong it all is!”

        Enjoy your LDS apologist belief if you feel it gives your life additional purpose and direction, and makes you a better, more moral and compassionate man. I would not try to force change on anyone, especially the already self-satisfied. It is clear to me that those who are genuine truth seekers will keep on seeking at any cost, and one day will discover the purity they have always sought.

        Meanwhile, the doctrines and dogmas you or I might allow to shape our respective worldviews, are perhaps secondary. It is our relationship with God, and our commitment to truth, which will always define each of us.

        May you fare well on your onward journey.

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      14. Well said, Journey. Kerry’s example summed up the comments on here exactly; even down to assuming that our testimonies and abilities to receive the spirit must be faulty! I’m not even going to give you the benefit of a reply as it doesn’t deserve one. What presumption and how judgemental; and that is exactly what I have seen from nearly all the apologetics that have commented on this and other sites. Always attacking and judging and requiring further explanations without offering any concrete answers to our questions.

        Like Journey, I don’t intend to continue this debate as I have said all I wish to say. Birds of a feather flock together and I wish DW and Magic all the best in their new-found friendship and purpose, but I know which flock I would rather be part of – and that’s the people that I have discovered, like Chris, Steve and Journey who leave their judgemental hats hanging on a peg.

        God Bless.

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  22. Magic fingers if the church is as you say open and honest about these things why does it insist in using a false image of JS translating the gold plates by studying them openly on a table in front of a scribe! There are no pictures of JS with his face buried in his hat! The only way an investigator or member would find out the truth using church websites would be by pure luck as the sources are very obscure and not taught in general by the church or its missionaries. A picture tell a thousand words and unfortunately the words the images give are lies! I have been in the church over 25 years and was never taught the truth of the translation process! i was taught that there was a curtain between scribe and JS and that JS used 2 seer stones mounted as spectacles which again is not the same as the image! The truth is the church is embarrassed that the true method of translation will cause investigators and members to doubt so it gives a picture that it thinks people are more likely to believe! It is a form of deception and dishonesty that is unbecoming of a church that prides itself in being true and honest.

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    1. Dear Magic Finger, maybe you do not realise that Chris Ralph & all of us who signed Proclamation For Truth, and support Chris’s Open Letters, are all still members of the LDS Church. Most of us have been in leadership positions including Bishops & Stake President. We know what we used to believe. We just question why there is a lack of openness & honesty from the hierarchy with regards to these issues.

      When it comes to how Mormons view other Christian churches it is very clear that the LDS Church considers them part of the Great Apostasy. They have been referred to as the Church of the Devil & an abomination.

      Try telling your Christian friends that & see if they still respect you.

      Here’s some of the evidence from the Church’s accepted account of the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, & other General Authorities over the years.

      “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” Joseph Smith history.

      From the Book of Mormon itself, “Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the Church of the Lamb of God [i.e.. the Mormon Church] and the other is the church of the devil [i.e.. the Christian Church]; wherefore whosoever belongeth not to the church of the lamb of God belongeth to that great church; which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” (The Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10).

      “…orthodox Christian views of God are Pagan rather than Christian.” (Mormon Doctrine of Deity by B.H. Roberts, p.116).
      “…the God whom the ‘Christians’ worship is a being of their own creation…” (Apostle Charles W. Penrose, Journal of Discourses 23:243).
      “The Christian world, so called, are heathens as to their knowledge of the salvation of God.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:171).
      “The Christian world, I discovered, was like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro whithersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to me, I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:73).
      “What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute best.” (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225).
      “What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing…Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God.” (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225).
      “Believers in the doctrines of modern Christendom will reap damnation to their souls (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.177).
      “…brother Joseph B. Nobles once told a Methodist priest, after hearing him describe his god, that the god they worshiped was the “Mormon’s” Devil-a being without a body, whereas our God has a body, parts and passions.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:331).
      “The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church, is the great corrupt, ecclesiastical power, represented by great Babylon….” (Orson Pratt, Orson Pratt, Writings of an Apostle, “Divine Authenticity,” no.6, p.84).
      “…all the priests who adhere to the sectarian religions of the day with all their followers, without one exception, receive their portion with the devil and his angels.” (The Elders Journal, Joseph Smith Jr., editor, vol.1, no.4, p.60).
      “…all other churches are entirely destitute of all authority from God; and any person who receives baptism or the Lord’s supper from their hands will highly offend God, for he looks upon them as the most corrupt people.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 255).
      “Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the “whore of Babylon” whom the lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornication’s and wickedness.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p.255).
      “Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:176).

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      1. Thank you Steve.
        I am aware of many of the quotes you have used, and have always felt uncomfortable about some of the sentiments they seem to represent. I find it even worse when members choose to use them in a prideful dismissal of other religions. I’m very grateful that President Hinckley put the matter into current context by teaching that all religions have truth in their doctrine, but only the LDS has the fullness of truth.
        The attributes of Deity proposed by some Christian churches are indeed something “of their own creation”. Even sadder to me is the ignorance of the membership of these churches to the nature of God and Heaven – ask a catholic if he’s going to see his grandmother in Heaven and he’ll say Yes. Then ask him if his Priest ever taught him that…
        If one accepts (as I do) the restoration of the Priesthood one must admit that no other church has any authority from God. This doesn’t to my mind mean that those who practice those religions are evil – not at all. There are many, many good people in the world who truly believe they are serving God rightly and properly and I trust in the glorious fairness of the Plan of Salvation that once their eyes are opened they will accept the fullness of the Gospel and receive a Celestial inheritance.
        I’d like to ask a question of you and any of the other semi-active LDS members here. Can you succinctly and honestly tell me why are you seeking to lead astray members of the Church? Don’t you concede that the LDS Church and its member are a force of great good in the world – a force that would be lost if every member was turned away from it?
        (There will be supplementaries to this one if anyone answers 🙂 )

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    2. Well, my sharp friend. You seem to have decided on the answer for yourself so why ask the question?
      There is a matter of milk and meat in all doctrine. I think you’re right to assume that many investigators could be lead to reject the Gospel if they were shown a comical image – surely a greater tragedy than leading them gently by a representation of the translation process? After all, the Church has never pretended that any of the images in the Gospel Art Picture Kit are photographs (except for the photographs of course). I’ve only ever seen them as space-fillers for people who get intimidated by too much text.
      I’m very sorry for you if your testimony of the Book of Mormon has been shattered by an inaccurate and romanticised image of its translation. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I am happy to acknowledge the head in the hat story to anyone – like the Church, I see no need to deny it but I see no need to raise it as an issue either because the manner of the translation is, at the end of the day, irrelevant.
      Would the Book of Mormon be more, or less true if someone had used Babelfish?

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  23. Because you believe it to be true it does not bother you that the church has misrepresented the facts in these images and uses that misrepresentation to persuade others of your belief! Can you not at least admit that that is Dishonest and manipulative??
    Milk Before meat was a term used to wean people onto deeper doctrine not an excuse for censorship or deception!
    When you start to investigate the church using all the information available you start to see that the church is active in the suppression of its less favourable history and less savoury habits of its leaders. How can anyone have confidence in anyone who pretends a lie is the truth?

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    1. You’ve made the point. It doesn’t sway me I’m afraid – I really am not in the least bit bovvered.
      President Uchtdorf’s (and Brigham Young’s) responses are exactly the way I feel about it.
      I joined the church for the doctrine. I gained a testimony of that doctrine, and however imperfect the man who revealed that doctrine was – or any of those who have followed – I still believe in the doctrine.
      If the Church ever said “Joseph Smith didn’t put his face in his hat when he translated the Book of Mormon” I would concurr that they were being dishonest and I would begin to question the Church’s leadership, but not the doctrine.
      The milk and meat analogy is a good one. An investigator or a new convert could well be dissuaded from developing a true testimony by learning of one of these historical inconguities, and as I have said before that would be tragic.
      If I had joined because of seeing an “official” picture of Joseph Smith translating, then maybe the fact that it was just an inaccurate artist’s impression would be significant – but I didn’t and it isn’t.
      When you join the Catholic Church, you’re not given a book on the Borgias or Pope Joan. You’re not told that the Spanish Inquisition still exists. I’ll bet in 1500 years of history there’s even more low hanging fruit – and many, many more members with extremely tenuous testimonies and understanding – maybe you can take them on as your next little challenge :).

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      1. “You’ve made the point. It doesn’t sway me I’m afraid – I really am not in the least bit bovvered.”
        the fact that you can happily accept deception and dishonesty and still have faith in those that pedal it, shows loyalty but not integrity!
        for those of us who expect Truth and honesty from the one true church! we have found after serious investigation that it is not possible to have unconditional faith in a history that is riddled with half truths and lies.
        You say you gained your testimony through the doctrine yet the true history shows that the Doctrine has been changed many times to suit the purposes of the church! and even the book of Mormon the supposed most correct book has been changed to reflect Joseph Smiths changing view of God. There are many many problems that most members are unaware of and Chris has highlighted just a few! Any man who says he KNOWS the truth but ignores the evidence is either not a serious seeker after the truth or is delusional!

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      2. Well everybody, all I can say to you is you are doing the right thing in abandonning the Church and I’m sure it will be a more righteous without you.
        I will not criticise you for your beliefs and you must practice your religion according to the dictates of your conscience. I hope it bring you the same joy which my religion brings to me.
        But I will say this – I truly hope each and every one of you stands accountable to the God that I and the leadership of the Church worship for the damage you wreak to the eternal inheritance of those you entice to break the covenants they have made. Three of my friends have been lured into your malicious web and I truly grieve for them.
        Now, as they say, I’m off to polish my shoes.

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  24. Magic Fingers: At the beginning of your first message you say that you did not give Chris Ralph’s letter your full attention (“I got bored”) nor do you appear to have read the second one (nor indeed any of the comments that followed) so I have to say I am rather surprised that you could make comment regarding the letters without first apprising yourself of the full facts. However, you ask some relevant questions that I would like to time to answer. One of your statements regarding church members making derogatory comments about other religions has been answered by Steve Bloor so I won’t touch on that issue.
    You said in your first post:
    “So – since the accusation that the church hides these things is untrue, I wonder what the real motivation driving criticism of the church is? Do you object to the way the Book of Mormon was translated, or is it something else?”
    Based on the sole issue that you have discovered one talk by a GA regarding the seer stone issue you have assumed that the accusation of the church’s dishonesty cannot be held in question any longer – however, there are many other examples of lies and deliberate efforts to withhold information from the general membership; that is to say, some pieces of information CAN be found if one DIGS for it in the official church history books and records. In addition to this there are numerous examples of anomalies within the church, both scriptural and quotes from leaders that call the church’s integrity into question.
    Firstly, let’s take the question of polygamy. In the History of the Church there are a number of examples ( I can provide these if you wish) where the church, and Joseph affirm most forcibly that they do not approve of polygamy and deny any involvement. Yet, there is evidence in the church’s own family search site that Joseph was indeed married to a number of women at the time the statements were made. Not only were they polygamous marriages, there were also polyandrous marriages. Can you tell me why this was never mentioned in the manuals? Was it another case of milk before meat – or simply a cover up of a very embarrassing occurrence? A lie in any language. There are countless examples of similar lies and cover-up stories that you can find on Mormonthink.com/lying for the Lord – all of the facts are verified by source documents and are not ‘anti-mormon’ slurs.
    Next, let’s take just one example of an inconsistency. Again, it covers the issue of polygamy, but the issue I want to make is not ABOUT polygamy – it’s about consistency. Read D&C 132: 37-39. Now go to Jacob 2: 23-26. So we have one doctrine in the Book of Mormon affirming the nature of polygamy as an abomination – yet in the D&C it says something entirely different. Are we not told in Mormon 9:9 and D&C 20:12 that God is the same yesterday, today and forever – so why change his mind? Of course, I don’t believe that God has changed his mind, but Joseph clearly did.
    These are just a couple of examples of the many. If you really want to know the answers to your questions, all I can say is seek and ye shall find. The Book of Abraham has been proven to be a sham by every Egyptologist in the world. Yes, Hugh Nibley attempted to address the issue but sadly, put his own work into question with footnotes that appeared to lead nowhere. The Kinderhook plates are another example; also lack of any reliable archeological, anthropological and dna evidence to support the Book of Mormon, in spite of years and millions of tithe-payers money spent to that end.
    As you can see, Magic Fingers, there are many issues but the lying is the worst. The church CAN be a force for good still but they are letting themselves down in the world in such a huge way when they deceive people; and make no mistake, it IS deception.
    Having been a very active member for over 35yrs I have taught and served in many areas. I can say with authority that as a teacher I was always encouraged to find my sources entirely from scripture, church handbooks, manuals and scripture. I was told to stay away from internet sites other than lds.org; this instruction remains to this day. As a person that values integrity I can no longer look at the church that I once loved with anything other than disappointment.
    If you can find contentment in a church that supports this kind of deception and has the audacity to insult and accuse decent, honest people of being led by satan, then that, of course, is your prerogative and I respect you for that. I know some really lovely people who have chosen to stay in the church – but they also respect those of us who cannot.
    I wish you well and refer you to mormonthink.com for more answers to your questions. It is a good site that does not insult the church and will also refer you to lds.org and lds apologist sites for their opinions. Choose for yourself, but at least choose with your eyes wide open.
    All the best.

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    1. ^^^THIS^^^

      – Head in the hat
      – Book of Abraham proved to be false
      – Book of Mormon inaccuracies and thousands of changes
      – Book of Mormon word for word copy of the Bible, then the JST version is different (oops)
      – Book of Mormon DNA problems
      – Polyandry
      – Marrying 14yr olds
      – Nauvoo expositor destruction
      – Mountain Meadows
      – Zelph
      – Kinderhook plates
      – Blacks
      – Tithing used to “pay” mission presidents as per their handbook
      – Temple changes

      As a set apart temple worker, returned missionary, sealed in the temple & gospel doctrine teacher…. I can tell you the church as an organisation is a lying sham. The general membership are lovely, honest people trying to do what they think is right. But as a fountain of truth and integrity the church organisation and leadership most certainly are NOT lead by god.

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    2. Chris’s letter was a repetitive rant rather than a structured question – which is why I got bored. I picked up the salient points but to my mind they were irrelevant. I won’t repeat again why.
      I found PAGES of references to articles about seer stones and translation on lds.org – have a look for yourself.
      The DOCTRINE of the church has not changed since I joined and that’s what matters to me. Some POLICIES might have, but we’re a Church of continuing revelation. There’s be no point in that if everything was steady-state.
      I still maintain that the Church leadership does not lie. The attack you level is along the lines of “When did you stop beating your wife?” You’re asking modern day leaders to account for and explain decisions made by others now long dead.
      If you’ve been in leadership positions you’ve surely experienced just how revelation works. D&C explains it clearly enough, but we present noptions and ideas to the Lord and the answers we receive are not neccessarilly the one and only answer – often circumstances will cause them to change.
      Make your questions simple and relevant and I’m sure you won’t be ignored. But don’t rant and rail the way Chris did. I am used to reading arguments and identifying significant points; that letter just didn’t cut the mustard.

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      1. I’ve been married to Chris for 32 years. I can assure you he isn’t boring and he doesn’t rant. He tried contortionism for a while, but obviously didn’t get on with it as well as you do Magic Fingers. He found he had to give it up and walk a truer path.

        He trusted that the Area Presidency would be as genuine as himself, and would at least attempt to address his deep concerns, but so far he has been disappointed in that hope. The only answers to date, (actually meaningless non-answers), have come from obscure self-appointed apologists advocating self-delusion. Some of them can’t even be bothered to read the whole text to understand the very real concerns which are spreading among the membership. They will only wake up when they learn to open their eyes.

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  25. What makes this even more hurtful that no response comes from the brethren, is that one of the 1st quorum of 70 is a personal friend to many of us. Having served alongside him our various capacities, and I at one time was his home teacher. To not even have any response from someone we consider a close personal friend, simply is not christianity.

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    1. I hasten to forgive him for that Jeremy, and make every excuse for him. If I know anything about the man, I am sure it hurts him greatly to have his tongue bound in this way. It is totally out of character for one of the most Christian of men we are ever likely to encounter, and surely says more about the collective attitude of the hierarchy than about this one individual, who is probably only acting upon orders.

      The enduring silence is, I fear,also a tacit admission that they, (the Mormon Hierarchy), don’t have answers, and know they ought to have. The Biblical term “dumb idols” is sadly taking on a whole new 21st century meaning…

      … But even now the door is open Brethren. Please say something, even if it is only “Goodbye”.

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  26. I agree wholeheartedly with Steve – when someone attempts to pass off dodgy doctrinal changes as policies, they most surely are self-deluded. I want to add here what well-constructed letters Chris has written; I found them eloquent, honest, consistent, easy to understand and to the point. Magic Fingers, I will keep this one short.
    I believe in God, I believe in following the teachings of Jesus Christ such as being honest, polite, generous and kind.
    Magic, do you honestly think that suggesting the church will be more righteous without people ‘like us’ is a christlike thing to say? It is not a nice thing to say, nor is it polite to call us a malicious web. People who are truth-seekers are generally not malicious and unrighteous. You have no right to suggest that we are in any way unrighteous, simply because we seek a different path to you.
    Oh, and for the record – modern day leaders ARE still telling lies today. Sadly Pres Hinckley was one of them and more recently Jeffrey R Holland. (links can be provided)
    Again, I wish you well. I enjoy good discussions but I hope that if you are going to make any further comments that you will back up your reasoning with concrete evidence.

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  27. Thanks for your comments Petunia. I saw the BBC Documentary on Mitt Romney last year and watched in disbelief as Jeffrey R Holland blatantly lied about the temple ordinances, with his answer “That is not true”,. I was stunned, as I had then always trusted church leaders of being honest and to be trusted. I was also puzzled why he replied “I have no idea” when asked about the Joseph Smith court conviction in NY in 1826, surely Jeffery Holland would know more about Joseph Smith’s history than any of us. Since then, I have become aware of many more instances of deceit and manipulation of the truth in talks, church teaching manuals and full time missionary presentations. So, Magic Fingers, please don’t condemn others before knowing the full facts yourself.

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  28. Well everybody, we all seem to be so totally entrenched in our views that we’re blind to the arguments of the other side.
    I well believe that Chris isn’t boring, maybe he was just trying too hard. Tackle the issue like a lawyer – ask one single pertinent question which calls for an unequivocal answer. (The way I did, although it didn’t work because I never got an answer).
    BTW, don’t expect an answer from anyone in the Church unless it’s the First Presidency. Nobody else can answer on the Church’s behalf, so criticising the Area Presidency and your Seventy chum is disingenuous.
    And my comment on the Church being more righteous without apostate members is simply the applicatiomn of “A house divided…”
    And I have to call you malicious in the absence of an answer to my question about “Why…?” If you do harm without motive or justification, it’s malicious (sorry, but maybe I am thinking too forensically). I actually waited before making such a criticism though, to see what manner of people you were. Reviewing later responses (Hi, Mrs. Chris) I’m going to go for opprobrious 🙂
    Let me pose another question though. The LDS Church offers me peace in this life and the promise of an eternity in the company of those I love.
    What are you offering?

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    1. Magic Fingers, we are all bind to our own misconceptions. If you choose to be at breace, then you will be at beace. If you beleive the promise of eternal relationship, this too will give meaning to your life. The alternative can be more magnificent, or there may well be no life after death. We are not selling you an upgrade.

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    2. Re your question: “What are you offering?” I offer you nothing except my reassurance that pursuit of Truth is more satisfying than constantly trying to justify lies. Remember in your more reflective moments that we have stood where you now stand, and well understand why you think as you presently do. It was not enough for me. Truth however offers me peace here and hereafter with those I love, but without the need to subscribe to any idolatrous belief system. I am committed to follow where Truth leads, and for me that is the right place to be. I wish you well on your continuing journey.

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    3. Fingers-mc-obnoxious….. all we offer and ask for is THE TRUTH….

      like Morpheous to Neo in the Matrix…..

      You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Remember — all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.

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      1. film quotes? well, as Jack Nicholson said…

        Thing is, what do you want the Church to say? “You’re right”? Do you want someone to argue about it with you? Do you want to be proven wrong so that you can return to the Church?
        I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. I don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.
        If you don’t like what the Church teaches, just go somewhere else. If you purport to be a Christian, shouldn’t you turn the other cheek rather than seeking contention?
        Everybody here seems to have worked themselves up into a lather where every utterance of a Church leader is dissected to the nth degree to try to identify discrepancy. Sorry, but I don’t find that clever or productive. It’s got nothing to do with truth, religion or anything except (it seems to me) pride.

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  29. Magic, you’ve had plenty of answers here, a lot of them have been backed up with evidence. You suggest that we are malicious because we haven’t answered your question and yet you yourself have failed to answer any of my questions with any concrete evidence. So what I am to call you?
    I will take one example of your answers: you suggest that the doctrines of the church have not changed – only policies. It seems clear to me that you didn’t read D&C 132: 37-39 and Jacob 2: 23-26. The scriptures weren’t explaining a doctrinal change, they were saying that (in Jacob) God regarded what Joseph and Solomon did was offensive; suddenly in D&C he’s saying it was acceptable. That couldn’t be described as even doctrinal change but rather a discrepancy in Joseph Smith’s writings – one of many!
    So in answer to your ‘why’ we wish to publish our letters and findings, it is this: because we have found about the lies, inconsistencies and horrible things that were done and we don’t believe that people should be ignorant of those facts; just as people shouldn’t be ignorant about ANY atrocity, abuse, deceit and lies. It should be pretty obvious to you that when a person discovers a misdeed, they want to shout it from the rooftops so that others won’t be deceived!
    Many of us have sacrificed years of time, resources and money to what we thought was the kingdom of God restored in the latter days, only to discover that it is a lie, a complete and utter lie. From the beginning it started with a lie and has continued to this day.
    The lds church may offer you peace; if it works for you and you’re happy that’s fine but you clearly have not understood what we are about if you have to ask, ‘what are you offering?’
    We’re not offering you anything other than the evidence that the church is an organisation based on lies. If after reviewing that information you wish to stay in church it’s entirely up to you. There are a number of us that still attend church regularly, occasionally or have left entirely to either join a religion that suits them better or to stay away from religion completely. There are even some of us, even now, that would prefer it if the church WAS true, but they have the courage and rational thinking to accept it isn’t and to get on with their lives.
    People like Chris, Tom Phillips, Steve Bloor have demonstrated not only the courage to speak out but also integrity and strength of character to stand up to adversity and the insults that have been dealt by zealous misled church members.

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    1. @Petunia
      Lots of answers, but not to any questions I asked – although I appreciate what you say now about truth.
      I’m familiar with those scriptures. To my mind there’s no more contradiction than there is between Ex 20:13 and 1 Sam 15:3.
      Besides which, I would like an example of how the LDS church has changed doctrine – after all, that was your assertion.

      @Diana
      Not even a mess of pottage?
      I’ll stick with my current contract then, thanks.

      @ Martha
      I remember having to review staff for promotion and one of our questions was:
      Tell me about a time when you had to lie for the company. How did it make you feel?
      Little philosophical question for you:
      You witness a young girl run over in the street. She has broken bones and the car radiator burst and showered her in boiling water. Her last 15 minutes of life are spent with her screaming in agony. As the paramedics load her into the ambulance, her mother arrives and rushes up to you. She asks “you saw the accident, didn’t you? Did she suffer much before she died?”
      What’s the value of honesty there?
      For myself, I know that I’m neither 100% honest, nor 100% loyal. In some matters I am more honest. To some causes I am more loyal. I consider being loyal and honest to myself to carry equal import.

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      1. The example you give of the young girl is an example of a possibly harmless or compassionate lie. But not all lies are harmless or compassionate. If your spouse secretly married and had sex with multiple other people (some of whom were married themselves, and some of whom were less than half your spouses age) without your knowledge and lied to you and the community about it, would you consider that a harmless or compassionate lie? I would not. These are the types of lies I believe are littered throughout the history of the church and its leaders.

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      2. Sorry, Momo, that won’t do. The rule here is that honesty is an absolute and anything other than that is unacceptable.
        (Not my rule BTW)

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      3. Gosh, and I was told off for using the word “malicious”.
        Well, I’m pleased we’ve got the debate to your intellectual level, Jezzer. What next? My Dad’s bigger than yours or shall we go straight to who can spit the farthest?

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      4. Magic Fingers, answer according to your rule then. If a spouse lied to you and the community for an extended period of time about secretly marrying and having sex with multiple married women and people less than half your spouses age, would you consider that a harmless or compassionate lie?

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      5. Look at what Jezzer says. There’s no such thing as an acceptable or harmless lie.
        Personally, I try my very best never to lie. When I have found myself doing so, I try to own up and tell the truth.
        I’m sorry, I just can’t answer your question. It’s not up to me to judge.
        Now, I assume you are alluding to Joseph Smith?
        Suppose he did all those things.
        And suppose he then confessed them, in secret, to his Bishop.
        And suppose following a prescribed course of repentance he returned to full fellowship in the Church.
        Would you have any right to comment on the matter?

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      6. Yes, I was alluding to Joseph Smith. In these comments, you’ve stated that those who leave the church are less righteous (“Well everybody, all I can say to you is you are doing the right thing in abandonning the Church and I’m sure it will be a more righteous without you.”) and you have also expressed that you hope these people stand accountable before God for the damage they’ve caused (“I truly hope each and every one of you stands accountable to the God that I and the leadership of the Church worship for the damage you wreak to the eternal inheritance of those you entice to break the covenants they have made.”).

        And yet, when it comes to the unsavory parts of Joseph Smith’s life, you claim that it’s not up to you to judge. Why don’t you extend the same compassion to those who leave the church because?

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      7. sorry but yes honesty is absolute…. you can’t be half a virgin…. you can’t be honest but excuse some things as harmless or compassionate… be honest and say what they are…. harmless lies…. compassionate lies… but don’t try to pretend you retain honesty.

        You seem perplexed as to what we want the church to do….. Well I for one would like the following….

        1- the church to immediately stop teaching it’s history as it does and teach what actually happened.
        2- apologise for the previous lies and making a liar out of me when it had me teach these untruths as a missionary and in teaching callings
        3- accept that the Book of Abraham is a work of fiction as proved by egyptologists.
        4- Apologise for the treatment of the black race historically, and for the doctrine it taught regarding them and their associations with the white race. (according to BY I should be put to death on the spot for mixing my seed with theirs)
        5- Apologise for the misogynistic organisation within the church and give equal positions and priesthood callings to women.
        6- Apologise for the treatment of LGBT within the church and approve of gay marriage.
        7- (this may surprise you) Apologise for the ridiculous abandonment of polygamy/polyandry and campaign for it to be recognised as legal between consenting adults.
        8- Confirm that the First Vision story was a revisionist work of fiction.
        9- Stop building shopping malls, and start using my money towards christian values
        10 – Accept that the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction and be honest about the thousands of changes that have been made to the most correct of any book on the face of the earth.
        11- Stop continuing to lie. eg GBH “I don’t know that we teach it”, Jeff Holland “That is not true!”
        12- Stop teaching tithing as 1/10th of your gross income. This is doctrinally incorrect. It is 1/10th of your “increase” big difference.
        13- Stop teaching the WoW as a commandment but as a what it is and always was, a Word of Wisdom
        14- Start to teach the full doctrine within the WoW, ie vegetarism. eg “it is pleasing unto me that they SHOULD NOT be used, ONLY in times of winter, cold, or famine”. If something is pleasing to the Lord as outlined in the WoW it’s a pretty good idea to follow that council. Yet the majority of LDS families have meat every day. Hardly “not used”. And as a little footnote, no-one reading this has EVER experienced scriptural “winter, cold or famine”
        15- re-instate the temple ceremony to it’s original format, including the death oath penalties, the catholic & protestant preachers, PAY LAY ALE & The Five Points of Fellowship.
        16- The Apostles to be honest with the world about whether they have seen the saviour or not
        17- Admit the existence of the second anointing/endowment. And make public who have received the ordinance. It’s kinda important to know who has already had their calling and election made sure.
        18- Stop the 1 year waiting period on people getting married civilly first then going to get sealed at the temple. We do it here in the UK so it’s obviously ok by the lord. It’s unfair on family members who cannot attend the marriage in the temple and have nothing to go to.

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      8. So, MF, you suggest that a mess of pottage would be of greater value than trusting in pursuit of truth? Will your own mess of pottage, (“current contract”), ever set you free?

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      9. Magic, your answer implies although you know the church is hurting people deeply (crushing and scalding them), as the pain has already been caused it is better to continue to lie to those already hurt, to save causing more pain.

        Personally, having been in a situation similar to your analogy, my choice was to find out the truth about the way my loved one died, it helped me to move on and accept how he lived. But that’s just me, we are different, I try to always choose honesty. This is the only way I believe I could ever truly be loyal.

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  30. Magic, one question for you;

    Which is more important in your estimation, Loyalty or Honesty?

    The way you answer this question will determine in which direction you will travel… but never knock those that choose honesty.

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  31. @Momo
    I never commented on the righteiousness of apostate members, my judgement was on the state of the Church.
    I do hope these people stand accountable to God, they’re not accountable to me.
    It really isn’t up to me. If Joseph Smith repented that’s the end of it as far as I’m concerned. If my friends (and anybody else lead astray by apostate groups) repent and return to full fellowship, I will rejoice for them.

    @Jezzer
    It’s interesting to know where you stand. I can’t help with any of that list I’m afraid.

    @Diana
    My comment was that this “pursuit of truth” takes so much, and returns so little. Take Jezzer; would the Church doing all those things bring him eternal happiness? I don’t think so.
    I don’t want to be released from my current contract. It has brought me every happiness I know and promises to continue to do so. I feel far more content and happy that our chum Jezzer seems to be. I am more content and happy than the three friends I have mentioned.

    @Martha
    I think it is only apostate groups which bring misery and malconetent. I don’t acknowledge that the Church crushes and scalds people.

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      1. @Martha
        Ah yes. I see what you mean.
        The analogy was just a standard, simple philosophical debating point for discussing the value of hoinesty and was not chosen for any specific reason.
        See what happens when you try to read too much into something someone says?

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      2. Magic, what I did notice is that you don’t read into comments enough or possibly you just have no empathy. When mentioning the loss of my loved one, you didn’t comment. Most Christlike people, even those you call ‘apostate’ have the common decency to show some empathy in that situation. Magic, I hope you have never lost a love one, but if you have, I hope you are getting the support you need.

        Finally alluding to your earlier comment about ‘apostate groups’, when I lost my loved one, many of those you would call ‘apostate’ showed me more empathy then active members I had always been loyal to. Because of their support I was pulled through the misery you tar us with. The truth will set you free. Best of luck. x

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      3. @Martha
        That seems a strange tangent to follow.
        Yes, I have lost loved ones. Many of them.
        I felt loved and blessed by friends inside and outside the Church, and although that was greatly appreciated the only real “comfort” I received was from the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
        Many people have since commented that the loss of one child would be unbearable, two must be unthinkable, yet Faith sustained me. I even had a coroner (atheist) say he couldn’t understand that, but wished me luck if that was good enough for me.
        I’m sorry for anyone who suffers a bereavement without a strong testimony of the Gospel, and I’m very pleased to know of the lovely people who God provided to support you when you needed it.

        I would like to offer a few details about myself, to explain that I know where you (anti-Mormon Church) are and the journey you are taking. I have made the same journey myself, but in the opposite direction.
        I had a “scientific” rather than classical education. In my teens, I knew that all religion was fairy-tales with Judeo-Christianity being the worst.
        Then I had an experience with the Festival of Light (New age Christianity) which started to appeal to me. I was criticised by many of my peers (I was asked if I knew the “flames” icon was symbolic of burning every book except the Bible) and adopting their arguments I was able to quickly discount spiritual feelings as “group hysteria”.
        Yet, I still was encouraged to learn more.
        I had a personal cosmology and world-view which was able to overlay on the Bible quite closely, and came up with “patches” to make my beliefs fit with scripture (which I considered entirely allegorical)
        I was frequently asked for “proof” of my religious beliefs, but my scientific training meant that I knew that proving a positive is impossible. Newton’s “Scientific Method” can only disprove something – which is why “Science” changes it’s mind so often. As soon as an assertion is made, the whole of academia sets about disproving it in the hope of producing a newer, better assertion.
        So, I had an epiphany. I started to treat first Christianity, then Mormonism as a scientific postulate. Can you disprove it? Well, I haven’t managed yet.
        So, back to Mormoninvestigated’s criticism of the Church.
        Starting from my stance that the Church is true, I examine every criticism and ask two questions:
        Is there any chance that the criticism could be false or manufactured, or malicious – is there any possibility of doubt?
        Does the accusation unequivocally disprove any aspect of the doctrine?
        If the accusation fails (as they all have) I discount it.
        You bang on about wanting the “truth” – well, I’m sorry but that’s impossible. There are maybe a handful of people who know (or knew) the truth and they are all long dead.
        We can’t even establish the truth about something that happened 10 years ago (Twin Towers) or 50 years ago (JFK) – so what chance do you have of finding out “the truth” about something that happened 150 years ago?
        Precisely none.
        Still, you continue your quest. To my mind (opinion again) you have been beguiled into losing that which is most precious in pursuit of a pride-lead, but unattainable goal. I have my theories about what has lead to this – I might be wrong but I’d prefer not to share them as they are sure to lead to further accusations of arrogance and insult.

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      4. Magic, if you would be happy to share your identity, I would be really interested in interviewing you for research purposes, if I may? I am not so interested in what your beliefs are doctrinally, but rather what tragically has happened in your life, leading you to sustain those beliefs so passionately. It would need to be a face-to-face interview, and of course the case study notes would be anonymised.

        Also, please share your assumptions as to why I have taken the path I am on. We all assume to know what the other is thinking, we make assumptions, many wrongly. From reading your comments I assumed you are a ‘little big man’, lacking in self esteem. You refer back to times of authority over others, eg. interviewing staff for promotion. You make accusations and insults directed at others and then play the martyr when people respond to your insults. Your spelling at times is atrocious, implying that you are not as highly educated as you would like to infer. You often seem lacking of empathy however, when describing loss of your children you detach yourself from stating ‘I lost two children’ but instead refer back to having faith. I am truly sorry you have suffered the loss of children. You sound like you may still need support with that, I would be happy to help you if you would like? Many people assume that because I question the doctrine of the LDS gospel, I also question an after life. After loosing my brother, although already less active, I can assure you my testimony of life after death became stronger. I knew these things not because I was told them in church, but because I was questioning, praying, feeling the spirit and getting answers, and yes, it is possible to feel the spirit without the LDS faith, the Holy Ghost is not inclusive to Mormons). While I make these assumptions from just reading the little you have written, my assumptions of you no doubt may be wrong. If you would be kind enough to take me up on the offer of an interview this may help sort out each others assumptions?!

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      5. Thanks for the kind offer, Martha, but I’ll decline for now.
        It’s possible that my spelling is bad because some of my responses have been from touchscreen devices rather than a real keyboard. That’s not to say I claim to be well educated – perhaps better than most, but not Oxbridge. (I’m implying it BTW, you’re the one inferring it. I’m a bit of a Grammar Nazi, I’m afraid)
        I have chosen “semi-retirement”, taking a stress-free job at a fraction of my former income which allows me to vigorously abdicate myself from any decision making responsibility. Nonetheless, I am a nationally respected expert in my field and my self-esteem is great being upheld by an extremely loving wife and a family of whom I am inordinately proud (there are still four of them left).
        I do however believe in exhibiting humility where appropriate.
        I didn’t intend to play the martyr over the insults I received. They amused me, and I’ve been called far worse. Doctrinally of course, I can’t get enough of it (Matt 5:10).
        I didn’t feel I’d insulted anyone directly. Patronised them, maybe (it means talking down to people, Jezzer) but as I said it’s my style of humour. Those who know me give and take such things in equal measure.
        My faith preceeded the loss of my daughter – if it’s not already there it’s pointless trying to find it at a time of great need (wise virgins). I must be honest, my faith is probably sustained in part by the loss since, if the Gospel were to be untrue, my entire life would be a waste of time. I’m most certainly not in need of support and my obfuscating language was due to a concern that I could be identified if I described the events directly.
        I wasn’t thinking of you when I declared that I had ideas about people’s motives, I was thinking of those who started the mormoninvestigated movement. You may of course be one of them, but I felt that rather than being a “founder”, you had stumbled across it and found something that hit a chord with you.
        In broad terms, I feel that many who turn to groups like this do so for acceptance and a voice. To inflate themselves a little and to enjoy appreciation from their audience.
        I realise that this is very similar to your feelings about me, so it might well be just as far off track, but I wonder if I’m right in thinking that those members of the group who formerly held “important” callings in the Church came to their present views AFTER being released, rather than while still serving?
        Anyway – enough. Bobby has called a halt on this thread and we’re getting way off topic. Let me just say though, that I have enjoyed every exchange on here and feel that I’ve profited by it.

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      6. Magic, I appreciate your kind reply. I truly am sorry you have suffered the tragic loss of a child (or two?) but am pleased you feel comforted in your beliefs.

        Like I said previously we all make assumptions, many are wrong. I apologies for any assumptions I have made about you that were incorrect and am grateful for your honesty. I understand why you would assume many of us would leave the church after being released from callings, as I assumed the same not so long ago. Thankfully my assumptions were wrong. I know of many people who have left the church while serving diligently in callings, asking for their release from Bishops to nursery leaders. They did so because they choice honesty to their truth instead of loyalty to the ‘church’.

        Finally, I discovered this site because of the Letter that was posted on here, written by Chris Ralph. (How did you come to find it?) I know Chris personally and love him unconditionally and do not know anyone who cares for individuals as much as he does. He lives his life for others, the way Jesus would want him to. I commented because you attacked his character based on a letter you never even had the decency or courtesy to read. You made an assumption and in this case, you got it wrong!

        Best of luck to your future.

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      7. Sorry, I meant *
        They did so because they chose honesty (to truth), instead of loyalty to the ‘church’.*

        And I wasn’t even using a touch screen computer. I guess mistakes sometimes just happen.

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    1. “I feel far more content and happy that our chum Jezzer seems to be.”….. do you realise how rude and arrogant that comment is? It does nothing to forward the LDS cause but only damage it. And for clarification, I have never been happier than I am now. I am not living with telling lies about the church like the last 15 years was.

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      1. No, I didn’t realise that expressing an opinion, honestly held (“…seems to be”) could be construed as rude and arrogant but if you were offended by it I apologise. After the language and insult you hurled at me on January 30, 2013 at 10:45 pm (Do you think this was more, or less rude and arrogant than what I said?) I though you would have rather thicker skin.
        I was actually aiming for humour with my comment, but I guess that I’ll have to use a different style of humour to amuse any of the folks here.
        The thing is, to my mind most people who have to resort to name calling and profanity in Internet forums have rather unfulfilled and shallow lives which obviously implies a deep unhappiness. I’m very pleased that you’re the exception with a fulfilled and joyous life.

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  32. Magic, you said: “The DOCTRINE of the church has not changed since I joined and that’s what matters to me. Some POLICIES might have, but we’re a Church of continuing revelation. There’s be no point in that if everything was steady-state.”

    “I’m familiar with those scriptures. To my mind there’s no more contradiction than there is between Ex 20:13 and 1 Sam 15:3.
    Besides which, I would like an example of how the LDS church has changed doctrine – after all, that was your assertion.”

    Firstly, I want to point out that at no stage in my first post to you did I discuss doctrinal changes – YOU were the one who brought it up first as per the above quotes. My original post was about the lies that church and its leaders have been involved in and my problem with church remains just that – the fact that church appears to change its doctrinal position is a mere side issue as far as I am concerned. I have provided you with plenty of evidence of lies and have referred you to an excellent website that will educate you with all the lies, inconsistencies, anomalies and doctrinal changes.
    Secondly, your above example only highlights the unreliability of the Old Testament, but does nothing to allay the concerns that within a short period of time Joseph Smith produced two pieces of alleged scripture that completely contradicts each other. Your example was like suggesting that because somebody robbed old women in the old testament times it must ok to still do it now!

    Thirdly, As for Doctrinal/policy/belief changes, we have only to look at the Adam/God theory that was preached as doctrine by BY and other early church leaders, again, blood atonement that was also preached and practised as doctrine by BY and other early church leaders, changes in the temple ordinance – to which we were told, proudly, was the very same as was practised in early days, blacks and the priesthood (and my goodness there’s plenty of readings to be found on that subject), The changes, whether classified as doctrinal or not are still evidences of the changing face of this church. Apologists and leaders alike use the feeble excuse that God’s church changes with the times. On that issue we can argue till the cows come home. My opinion is that the church changes only when pressure from outside forces it to do so.
    Lastly, As I said before, my issue is with the lies, and you, Magic Fingers, have not exerted yourself one iota to answer any those issues. Instead, you have attempted to adopt the practise of many church leaders, including Joseph Smith himself, of deflecting the argument to unrelated issues; sloppily done too, I’m afraid to say. You have disappointed me and I’m sorry to say, that in common with other apologists that have commented on this site, you have proved that you cannot offer any subsantial answers to the dishonesty and deceit, anomalies and lack of proof.
    Sorry, but I won’t be involved in any more pointless discussions with you. All the best for your future happiness.

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  33. Magic,
    I just want to say quickly that like Martha I appreciate your honest answer. Many times I have observed in forums that people can make unfair assumptions without knowing the ‘real’ person. I want you to know that I also discovered the truth about church history while I was a still active member. I have no angst with church members and I admire our Bishop very much who has been very kind and understanding. I try to make it a rule that I don’t blaze into people’s lives and force them to learn the knowledge I now have – after all, it really is about choice. You choose to stay in church because it offers good things for you. I choose to keep my distance and only occasionally attend because I cannot be a hypocrite. The path I have chosen now brings me more peace and freedom of mind than I had before and I am happy. I truly wish you great happiness too.
    All the very best to you.

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  34. The Mormon church has always been under scrutiny and attack from day one-this is a new and clearly more challenging phase given the power of the Internet. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Internet isn’t used to counter it. Also with Boyd. K Packer, L Tom Perry passing on it feels like a new generation of leaders perhaps more ready to reckon with their history. Not convinced some of the extended critiques here or elsewhere will help as these are for the most part arguments that have been used for decades. The open letter won’t have even ben read!

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    1. How will the internet counter it? The biggest problem for the church is not that the internet gets the information out there for easier access, it’s that there is no satisfying response unless someone is satisfied with answers like “have faith,” “it’s not important for your salvation,” “we’ll be able to ask that question in the afterlife,” “put it on the shelf,” “the prophet will never lead the church astray,” etc.

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  35. I guess my point is the challenges to the church are not new – they’ve been there since Joseph Smith went public. What has changed is the accessibility. The Church will either use the internet to selectively release documents and statements in an apologetic mode and/or use the internet to positively publicise their message. Probably doing both to some extent now.

    The key to people staying in the church has always been their testimony and this is unlikely to change.

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    1. The cynic in me says that if the apologetics were successful they would have been trumpeted from the rooftops long ago. As it is, while apologetics does keep some people in the church, I think in general apologetics is the last refuge of the disaffected. I think the church realizes this, and is why the church expends much more energy on positively publicizing their message than on apologetics.

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  36. Little did the Brethren expect that the prophetic truths to be “shouted from the rooftops” include the very ones they have denied and hidden from LDS members. When they alone had access to such truth in the Church archives they chose to suppress it, and now they must face the music. Further denial suggested by apologists will require avoiding the subject of Brigham Young entirely.

    Did you ever wonder why Brigham’s Masonic medals were so prominent in his portraits? He was a 30+ degree mason sent by leader Albert Pike to “take control of the Mormon Church for the purposes of Freemasonry”. That means he was a Satanist as are all those of high degree. He lied to all including Joseph that he was merely a novice. Along with Masonic aids Willard Richards and Heber C. Kimball he did infiltrate and take control of the Church and also changed its doctrines.

    Mormon lives got worse when Brigham became a tyrant in isolated Utah. The Danites and enforcer William Hickman murdered 54 members under his orders for dissenting views. Then there was the Mountain Meadows Massacre that he really did order. Many writings and journals such as the Stenhouse diaries reveal the truth long suppressed in LDS history.

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