Pres. Dieter Uchtdorf addresses the LDS General Conference in the Saturday morning session.

Pres. Dieter Uchtdorf addresses the LDS General Conference in the Saturday morning session. (screen shot)

Today’s opening session of General Conference featured a lovely talk by Pres. Dieter Uchtdorf, addressing (albeit obliquely) a growing problem in Mormondom. Despite the statistics of Mormon growth—it was announced today that the LDS Church has passed the 15 million mark in membership—many people are also leaving.

Pres. Uchtdorf’s address did not immediately attend to the question of why some people are leaving the Church. In fact, the first part of the talk struck me as fairly standard Mormon triumphalism: Unlike other religions, ours is still growing! We have the authority to baptize in Jesus’ name! Our people do so much good in the world!

Frankly, I started to tune out at that point. I was thinking about some of the people who write to me with their questions and doubts about the Church, and how unpersuasive such back-slapping insularity can sound to anyone who has one foot out the door.

What those people need is pastoring, not propaganda.

Then came the perfect question:

“If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?”

And from there, I was riveted. Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk was compassionate and nonjudgmental, avoiding the standard blame-the-doubter default position that has too often characterized the LDS Church’s relationship to those who leave.

“Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended, or lazy, or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations. Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question of whether they should separate themselves from the Church. In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly that it was restored by a young man that had questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth.”

This sympathetic and pastoral approach also conceded that people who have questions about Mormon history often have valid reasons for asking them:

“Some struggle with unanswered questions about things that have been done or said in the past. We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church history, along with an uninterrupted line of inspired, honorable, and divine events, there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question.”

And the talk went on to allow—a rare admission in Mormonism—that LDS leaders have sometimes made mistakes, plain and simple.

“And to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine. I suppose the Church would only be perfect if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But he works through us, his imperfect children. And imperfect people make mistakes.”

I think that Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk was a balm to the soul and a step in the right direction. It was wise and timely, given some high-profile defections this year and the theological and historical questions that precipitated those departures. Just getting the Church to acknowledge the pain of this issue in the forum of General Conference is significant.

I also hope as these discussions continue that the Church will unveil what it as an institution plans to do about the problem. Although Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk emphasized the valid issues that people may have for leaving, he placed the burden of returning on the people themselves. They should not feel, he said, that they can’t fit in, or that the Church is filled with hypocrites, or that they cannot live up to the Church’s standards.

And that is true, to a point. But the Church must also commence conversations and programs that make it clear that the burden of reconciliation does not rest solely with “those who have separated themselves” from it. That burden also rests with the Church as the body of Christ, a body that cannot do without its hands and feet.

191 Comments

    • But the fact that they admitted to mistakes without owning what they are and what the truth actually is, in my mind, only fosters keeping heads buried in the sand and soothing words to keep the peace amongst members. This wasn’t meant for people leaving the church. It was to keep the rest from leaving and making a ton of excuses without addressing anything. It’s indidious and would be considered contemptuous in a court of law when people are seeking truth and want to uphold it, not to condone the lies.

  1. The talk was a good gesture. However… I am reporting here that its too easy for so many to feel like they do not fit in. Can you imagine a gay couple trying to find a welcome place in our pews? Or an agnostic? Heavily tattooed? Someone who knew that they smelled like tobacco? The church is filled with problematic localities of intolerance that seems to breed contempt towards those who are different

    • My husband and I are both heavily tattooed. He passes Sacrament wearing short sleeves in the summer. He was called to talk at our Stake Conference. 99% of things that happen around you aren’t about you. Our experience is that people judge themselves much more harshly than the Ward does. It’s often out of that self criticism and not fully understanding the atonement that leads people to perceive others as judging thrm. I agree there are some people who will judge but those are individual people not the church.

    • Or Heaven Forbid a highly educated and successful woman who could probably do a better job of leading the Ward than the Patriarchal Male that is currently in office!… :(

    • I am a bishop serving in Seattle and we have all of those groups sitting in our pews in abundance. A variety of views are exchanged every week in our meetings, I think it is very healthy.

      • Bishop.. I want to believe you. But I cant. Maybe my central calif area is just too staunch and self righteous. It would be so good to be in a congregation of mixed races, smokers, alcoholics, lbgt, normal vanilla… republicans dems tea party… it would be great. Instead, my stake is comprised largely of white republicans who do not tolerate gay couples or people who smell like smoke or who run with biker gangs or who have full sleeve tattoos. Its sad.

      • I thought that the church was good at accepting all kinds of people too, until I became agnostic after investigating church history. As an agnostic I found out just how difficult it is to attend and participate in church activity because of the stifling church culture that discourages opposing views. It is hard to see the problem until you are on the other side.

        • Raymond Takashi Swenson

          If you wanted to do discuss your lack of confidence in the existence of God during an interview with your bishop or home teacher, or another church member who is a friend, I really doubt they would be unwilling to talk about it. My guess is they would be eager to understand your viewpoint, and willing to share their own, and williong to suggest people with the exprtise to address particular questions you raise. That has been my experience in decades of service in those roles.

          On the other hand, if you want to divert a Sunday School lesson into a discussion of your personal doubts, it would be inappropriate and unappreciated.

    • Phillip King

      Agreed, Mike R. But that’s people, not just Mormons. So some of them are like that. There are agnostics that are just as unwelcoming to the religious, And there are gays who make some heterosexuals feel very unwelcome, unliked, and despised. The entire world is filled with intolerance that breeds contempt. That’s the way it is. Nobody is going to create a church whose entire membership is perfectly welcoming and accommodating, no more than any group of people – agnostics, gays, smokers, liberals, lawyers, mothers, or vegetarian pacifists – is going to be completing welcoming to all others. It’s an individual thing. Either individually I am welcoming (in various degrees: I don’t welcome child molesters the same way I welcome surgeons (even if the child molester is a surgeon; or unless the surgeon is also a child molester); or individually I close the door to close contact with certain other people (rich, smart, strong, energetic; greedy, ill-read, whiney sit-at-homes, lazy). It’s an individual choice; it always will be; it will never end, because if it did, for one thing (not the most important), we would lose the opportunity to be welcoming and forgiving and loving.

  2. Jana Riess

    It’s a really good point, Mike. I once heard a discouraging tale about a woman who mustered up her courage and returned to an LDS sacrament meeting after a long time away even though she had not been able to give up smoking and drinking. The woman behind her made a big point of sniffing out loud, repeatedly, to communicate her irritation that a smoker had sat near her in church. So the visitor turned around and demanded, “So what do YOUR sins smell like?”

    Excellent question. Sometimes there’s more judgment than compassion, I fear. But change starts with us.

    • I heard the story about many many years ago President David O. McKay visited a stake conf.. when he spoke he told the people how walking down the isle to the stand he smelt something he LOVES to smell in church,,,he smelled tobacco… he then gave a sermon how church is a hospital for sinners and NOT a sanctuary for saints..

      • Raymond Takashi Swenson

        Any LDS congregation that has smokers and drinkers attending is fulfilling its duty as missionaries. I have seen such folks welcomed in and welcomed when they felt moved to make some remarks during a Fast and Testimony meeting.

        The small-minded are with us, and are also children of God. I was denounced by one such person for not showing up to a church meeting when I had the flu, and she made me answer the door so she could deliver her message to me personally. She is an affliction that other Church members put up with in the hope that she can overcome her bad habits, like the former smokers and drinkers we baptize.

    • Ha! That’s awesome. As a former Mormon (who still drops by sacrament meeting once in a blue moon to say hello to friends or to get a different perspective) I really appreciated the frankness and non-judgmentality. I think you have a new fan!

    • It is true I have been lds all my life but since my wife was married four years of baptism ( 5 years ago ) has not been entirely agree with some points of doctrine as she stop working or have dress a certain form ( not dressed indecoroza ) but the standard of always using certain clothes that makes her feel ” like grandma ” and some other things that make it difficult to live, then the leaders of the stake and the neighborhood have been cold with my family, not I feel the support I have requested to stoke the testimony including relief society pta who told me directly in a meeting that she was not a priority , even when I was two counselor in the district did not receive any spiritual support from the neighborhood and my leaders no they asked me , I demanded to fulfill the law of consecration as giving money and time had excessively without addressing the needs of the illness of my wife or my children today my wife does not want to know anything about this church whose leaders are locally a hypocritical ( and I ‘m telling inlcuyo if they want ) because I can not live a perfect life and small sin with sincere desire to repent you suspend your rights, but I have my conscience clear to follow the path of repentance , not so my wife does not want to know anything about this church hypocritical since other brothers who sold liquor to drink in their business , served in the stake and certainly do not go to meetings on Sunday but if I get sick or my children and I can not go for weeks , then leaders as wicked judge me because I was the Sunday meetings because they force my wife to read the scriptures or go to the temple . In truth I am very disappointed in my local church talking because in other areas of the city ( torreon ) is living the same or worse, if the truth is not somewhere in Mexico is different . A bishop sometimes made ​​me sign blank receipts that I do not spend the budget, dobnle Stake ptes moral , others doing things very aberrant among other ugly things that happen here and not say , but it seems that if they act bad not by openly abusing errors but even your own family, the area is willing to tolerate , what is not this what we nants of the Catholic Church ? even when corrupt the true church of the Lord, are not mistakes are sins that pass and are still supported , blocking , and minimizing .

    • Great story ! I’ve heard it before . Its gotten bigger than the first time i heard it years ago . Anyone that forms opinions based on urban legends should reserve judgement of a church they’ve never been part of .

    • It is difficult for every person to accept those who do not think the same. If you are not staunchly LDS, it is no doubt hard for you to accept staunchly LDS people. For me, it is really hard to put up with tea party folks.

      We are ALL prejudiced and intolerant. It is part of being a human being. My sweat does not stink. Yours does.

  3. Thank you for this post. I appreciate it. Of course I don’t know the situation about the smoker in church- but what if the lady behind her had an allergy or sensitivity to cigarette smoke? It has been my personal experience that those who feel judged (i.e. Myself) end up doing a lot of judging themselves. It is certainly a two way road, with no innocent party.

    • Jehosephine Hull

      I myself have allergies as do other members. We have made it a point to move if someone “smells” like one of our allergies. Besides, sniffing does not prove an allergy. If she had sneezed and coughed after sniffing, I might think it true.

  4. We should measure our Christianity by how closely we would match how that man would treat a gay couple trying to fit in at the lds church (or the tobacco smelling guy etc)

    • You refuse to answer clearly but it seems that your answer is no, there is nothing, in your view, that anyone can do that is “wrong” or “evil” or “sinful” other than making someone feel bad for doing whatever they want to do.

      We obviously do not share the same faith.

      • I actually dont care about what your faith is or isnt … or how it stacks up next to mine. What I do care about is the endemic problem found in our church that creates an environment where those who differ from the norm too often feel unwelcome. We know this because the number of gay couples and others showing up at the chapel are practically nonexistant. Again… my point is to ask WHY. If this is the “TRUE” church of the man, jesus, and that man would go out of his way to welcome any and all…WHY are we so far off the mark?

        • “WHY are we so far off the mark?”

          Because it isn’t true. (Occam’s Razor is your friend.) Once you realise that, everything question you still had is easily answered.

        • I do appreciate your inclusiveness, but just bear in mind that if you welcome them in, and then call their loving relationships sin and expect them to abandon those relationships and be alone forever in order to live ‘the gospel’, you are not doing them any kind of kindness. The church is just flat out wrong about homosexuality and in this particular case, love doesn’t fix that or make things better. Sometimes love without respect is not only irrelevant but also harmful.

          • Hi Debbie. I know. I know. Its my round about way of making a point about the church’s problem. Gay couples will never feel welcome unless a paradigm shift happens at the top. Christ’s one and only “true church”… ends up being a church filled with bigotry and/or intolerance. Just seems crazy to me.

          • Debbie, putting it under the “loving relationship” umbrella isn’t helping. One could call adulterous and pre-marital sex “loving relationships”, too, but they’re also contrary to the law of chastity. Living the law of chastity isn’t easy, but it’s what’s required. The point often ignored in the argument/discussion is that everyone has to change to return to the Lord.

          • RS: “Debbie, putting it under the “loving relationship” umbrella isn’t helping. One could call adulterous and pre-marital sex “loving relationships”, too, but they’re also contrary to the law of chastity. Living the law of chastity isn’t easy, but it’s what’s required.”

            But the same is not required of all. I was a single woman in the church for a long time and yet, I was allowed to WANT to date someone I was attracted to. I was allowed to hold hands with that person and sit with my arm around them and if we had gotten to that stage, plan a life with them. But the Church doctrine is basically saying that for someone who is gay or lesbian, kissing their legal spouse would still be an abomination, and they must endure loneliness and celibacy with no hope of reprieve, and are required to believe that their romantic love and affection and attraction are all something bad to be shunned. I never had to endure any of that as a single straight person in the church. And the idea that the church can make this statement that what is asked of homosexual members is only what God asks of all single members – when the church itself is working so hard to make sure that they never have the choice to be married – is not only ludicrous AND the height of hypocrisy, but it also reeks of a gaping void of empathy or compassion.

          • Just one problem, Utah leads the nation in divorce with children… Perhaps that old version of “non involvement” is not working out so well is it? Pushing people to hurry up and get married and have children is leaving Utah with one of the largest levels of children on ATC in America… Sadly, what you are ending up with is thousands of uneducated mothers with many children, looking for someone to feed them and their children… Too bad you can’t “throttle back” the “Marry and procreate”, aye? … Geeezzz :( It really is NOT all about numbers, it is about spreading Christianity and there is a difference. Sadly Mormonism, does not seem to get that….

          • The church in no way wants to throttle back on the bi families. From Dallin Oaks’ talk in this same conference: “Because of what we understand about the potentially eternal role of the family, we grieve at the sharply declining numbers of births and marriages in many western countries whose historic cultures are Christian and Jewish,” he said.”

            It is, after all, the easiest way to increase membership.

          • Debbie, by what standard do you term this ludicrous, hypocritical, lacking empathy or compassion? Via a worldly standard, or a heavenly standard? There are lots of people who will never marry in this lifetime for reasons besides sexual orientation. They also suffer loneliness. We knew all this before we came down here, only we likely never realized just how hard it would be. It is hard. Thinking that the First Presidency and the Apostles don’t understand that, have you been missing out on their talks over the past years of conference?

            The Lord asks everything of us, and He will give us all He has. Many of us do get a chance to marry and have close emotional relationships, but not all. The Savior certainly understands that. Perhaps you might consider just how profoundly deep the Atonement was.

          • Actually the Atonement sells out justice (as one person cannot actually (justly) pay the price for another’s sin) in order to supposedly offer mercy, while simultaneously ONLY offering that mercy to those who believe against reason, as there is no evidence for the existence of a god. And no, don’t tell me the first vision is, because in his first two versions, Joseph didn’t even mention God or Jesus, just some angels. The Atonement at its best is a father killing one of his children to excuse the rest. And in the worst version the worst believer is saved, while the best non-believer burns. The Atonement isn’t deep – it’s immoral.

            “There are lots of people who will never marry in this lifetime for reasons besides sexual orientation. They also suffer loneliness.”
            I’m sorry, but that is just an excuse. There is no other group singled out to be alone in this way. The purpose of life, according to LDS doctrine is to marry and reach exaltation together. Are you actually trying to claim that one of life’s trials is to be put in a situation where you will be required to miss out on exaltation? I mean, seriously, who believes that?

            “We knew all this before we came down here.”
            That is just a way to tell people that they chose their misery and therefore have no cause for complaint. Another excuse for the meanness of a god that can’t be explained in any other way – ‘oh, there’s a reason, just bear it, you agreed to it.’

          • Debbie, at this point we have to realize that we’re talking apples and oranges, or asteroids and starfish. I had thought there were some common points we could both refer to, but you make it plain that there aren’t. I’m familiar with the points you make and where they come from, and while they have some traction in the some parts of the marketplace, not everywhere. Why do you care so much about what the LDS believe?

            From another of your posts here: “I understand the doctrine and teachings of the Church just fine. I just reject them as easily disproven and foolishly cruel.” It’s apparent that you might be familiar with the doctrine and teachings, but I don’t detect any understanding. As for the second statement, that’s certainly your opinion. From another posting: “You don’t need to believe something in order to understand it.” That nice sound-bite is actually a bit of sophistry that fails. The only way scientific knowledge advances (through the scientific method) is through belief.

            Many Latter-day Saints are not just united by belief, but by experience, too — spiritual experiences. Lacking that experience, there will be a corresponding lack of knowledge and understanding, which would be critical for a discussion on this topic. It’s fine for you to not believe, or to believe in what you want, but throwing rocks — where does that get anybody?

          • “I’m familiar with the points you make and where they come from…”
            I’m curious where you think they come from? Those are my own conclusions after breaking down the Atonement as part of the process for me in leaving religion and examining my former beliefs to see what I would take with me and what I would discard. I was quite surprised actually, at how little stood up to examination.

            “Why do you care so much about what the LDS believe?” Because it hurts people I care about. When you find out a 12-year-old is cutting himself because the church taught him that what he feels for other boys is bad and to be pushed away, and he hates himself for not being what the church tells him is right and normal – you care what false teachings he is getting in the so-called one true church. I had my own reasons for leaving, mostly finding out that Joseph was a fraud, but any harm the church might have caused me is nothing compared to what it has done to others.

            “From another posting: “You don’t need to believe something in order to understand it.” That nice sound-bite is actually a bit of sophistry that fails. The only way scientific knowledge advances (through the scientific method) is through belief.”
            You are talking about two different kinds of belief – scientific theories encourage experimentation and a willingness to discard what is proven false. Religious belief shuts down enquiry and encourages continued faith-based belief despite evidence to the contrary. And it is hardly sophistry to say you can understand something (eg, the creation myth) without believing it is true. I understand the doctrine of plural marriage; that doesn’t mean I believe it was inspired.

            “Many Latter-day Saints are not just united by belief, but by experience, too — spiritual experiences. Lacking that experience, there will be a corresponding lack of knowledge and understanding, which would be critical for a discussion on this topic.” I have those experiences. I even believed them to be real, and evidence of truth. Reason proved to me that they couldn’t have been. Consider them evidence if you want to, but I certainly can’t now that I’ve experienced all the same kinds of feelings and inspiration, outside of the church, and for reasons that don’t align with Mormon doctrine. They are feelings all humans experience – Mormons are just taught to interpret them as spiritual confirmation or comfort. Doesn’t mean they are.

          • I’m curious where you think they come from?
            While they may have truly originated from your own investigation, Timothy Keller in his book, The Reason For God, refers to what you’ve said, about the Atonement (father killing one child for the other) is just cruelty, etc.

            You are talking about two different kinds of belief – scientific theories encourage experimentation and a willingness to discard what is proven false. Religious belief shuts down enquiry and encourages continued faith-based belief despite evidence to the contrary.

            Really? Those are the same to me, and to many other Latter-day Saints, especially LDS scientists, who actually have more familiarity with the framework. Granted, not all LDS members have examined the overall belief structures in as formal a way. Your statement really establishes that we really are talking from different viewpoints.

          • Debbie,

            Are you actually trying to claim that one of life’s trials is to be put in a situation where you will be required to miss out on exaltation?

            No, I’m not, because that doesn’t represent the LDS viewpoint, just your misinterpretation/misunderstanding of LDS views. You might venture to realize that you’ve missed a lot more than you think in your study of Mormonism.

          • RS: I’m fairly sure that 9 years of seminary (5 teaching), 8 years of Institute, 30 years of Sunday school/YW/RS and around 18 years of callings involving teaching – plus all the personal study – probably stands me in good enough stead. I have not ‘made a study of Mormonism’. I was a Mormon, with all that entailed.

            I stand by what I said – that is exactly what the doctrine on homosexuality equates to – and that is a ridiculous assumption, so it can’t actually be correct doctrine to say, as many do, that homosexuality is a trial given by God, which the person agreed to bear.

          • Time in the church doesn’t always equate to understanding, and if you misunderstood enough to leave the church (which is your right and privilege), well, what can be said? I’m sure you were “Mormon”. But our understandings of the doctrines is different enough that, as I said, there’s little common ground to discuss stuff, or there no longer is.

          • “…and if you misunderstood enough to leave the church (which is your right and privilege), well, what can be said?”

            Dismissing the ideas and experience of an ex-member. Gee, how original. Are you going to next ask me if someone offended me, or if I wanted to sin? Or will you just claim I could never have really had a testimony? (Oh wait, you’ve kind of already done that.) LDS are so very adept at confirming their own belief system by never genuinely considering the possibility that the church could actually just not be true. I get it. I did it myself for so many years. And yet now I still can’t help be amazed at how easily Mormons disregard and dismiss anyone who has left the faith.

          • Debbie,

            Interesting when it comes to the mind-reading part of an exchange. It doesn’t matter to me why you left.

            Dismissing the ideas and experience of an ex-member

            I disagree with the false ideas you express, and false representations of the LDS church. Your experiences are your own. When what you represent as LDS beliefs are not that, and certainly not what I recognize, this why I said that the gulf between us is too great for discussion. This goes way beyond just LDS doctrines and beliefs, but theism, too.

            LDS are so very adept at confirming their own belief system by never genuinely considering the possibility that the church could actually just not be true.

            As are many former LDS towards still-believing members and the LDS church.

          • I have made no false representations of the Mormon church.I understand you disagree.

          • that X is a trial given by God, which the person agreed to bear

            Let X be any member of the incomplete set { mental illness, genetic disease, evil parents, horrendous political events, ignorance, …}.

            The gulf between us is too broad to cross in these discussions.

        • I was following Martin Luther King in the news, and reading a lot of stuff about the civil rights movement, when the mormon missionaries came to call and my entire family, except for one brother joined the LDS churdh. I have been familiar with Mormons now for more than 45 years, but I never could get past their racism, intolerance and self-rightiousness.

        • Phillip King

          Mike R, Maybe we are not supposed to be as inclusive as the man, Jesus. But I don’t think you are talking about moral differences, such as someone who wants to murder your children or abuse your wife. You are talking about cultural differences. So, sure, cultural differences can be excused. Not overlooked or overcome, because some cultural differences are totally incompatible with each other. But when we understand that some differences are cultural, then we can keep from becoming offended by someone following their culture. We should not judge them, however, if they haven’t yet gotten to that point. So, apparently a lot of Mormons haven’t gotten to that point, and a lot of everybody else either. That means the Mormon culture, for those people, is partly closed to certain other cultures. It’s only when the differences are moral, is there justification for nonaccommodation. :)

          • Don Harryman

            I don’t doubt that what you say is true–some gay people wouldn’t welcome Mormons–post Prop 8 it surely is. However, if you can find a world wide gay organization that has mounted a world wide political campaign with thousands of hours and millions of dollars–to disenfranchise Mormons from legal marriage or any other right they currently have–then you have parity. Until then, your comparison is ridiculous. Gay people largely simply don’t care what Mormons believe or practice.

            The Los Angeles Temple is an easy walk from the gay enclaves of Hollywood and West Hollywood and overwhelmingly most gay people simply didn’t care, until Prop 8–which gay people see as an all out declaration of war against our civil equality. Demonstrations on Santa Monica Blvd post Prop 8 only occurred after it passed, and nothing has occurred in the way of demonstrations there since.

            We are winning the battle for civil equality, and once we have done that, we will be quite pleased to go back to ignoring the Mormon Church–we actually believe in ‘live and let live’. Had you afforded us the same courtesy, the current animus of gay people for Mormons would be virtually non existent. Throughout it all, we still love and will always love Marie Osmond. Donny, not so much.

  5. @mike r – I’m interested to hear, how do YOU think Jesus “would treat a gay couple trying to fit in at the lds church (or the tobacco smelling guy etc)”?

    • Weakness or rebellion? I believe that Jesus treated each one differently.

      To the prostitute and other sinners who sinned out of weakness he loved and included.

      To the rebellious and proud Sadduccees, Herodians, and Pharisees he threw out insults and condemnations.

  6. I believe he would put his arms around them and tell them how good it is to see them…and that they do fit in…if he could just get more people in this church to truly follow him

      • You asked if i thought “… Christ would instruct the church to change it’s standards, to make the gay couple fit in?”

        Absolutely. The standards that need to change are with the members claiming to be closest to “the source” of Christ’s truth. Its not about whether or not the gay couple is sinning. From what I have studied, Jesus loved people in spite of their life choices… (except the pharisees haha). The members can have all the rigorous standards they want but they need to do better walking a mile in others’ shoes. Have your standards but make sure those who are different know that you really do want them there rubbing shoulders with you.

        • They are not my nor the members’ standards, they are God’s. If you do not believe that, you do not understand the doctrine and teachings of the Church.

          And we must all remember that it is not our place to judge another. That however, does not change the fact that sexual immorality is declared as sin and requires repentance – whether it is hetero- or homo-sexual.

          • “They are not my nor the members’ standards, they are God’s. If you do not believe that, you do not understand the doctrine and teachings of the Church.”

            Except of course that the authority of those standards relies on the authenticity of the Church. As the Church has no authenticity, those standards are the rules of men, and men who lived in an age ignorant of the scientific and medical truths surrounding homosexuality (and so much more).

            I understand the doctrine and teachings of the Church just fine. I just reject them as easily disproven and foolishly cruel. If God exists and these are his rules, then I reject him, too. Your religion justifies sugar-coated cruelty that drives people to despair and even suicide, and your self-righteous little piping up to say that ‘oh, no, you don’t judge anyone…it’s GOD calling their love abomination, not the members’ – that is just more justification of ignorance and bigotry.

          • If you come out gunslinging with “gods standards” you are going to be part of the “why” so many people who are different than the normalized mormon model do not feel welcome at the lds chapel. My point is that is completely wrong and un christian.

          • Well, that is the difference. Obviously, if you do not believe in what the church teaches you won’t understand or accept it. But the church doesn’t change it’s doctrine just to attract more people in – that would defeat the purpose of helping people become better by following Christ and keeping God’s commandments. At the end of the day, it is your choice and if you don’t accept it then there is nothing more that can be said. We just don’t agree on the nature and teachings of God.

          • “Obviously, if you do not believe in what the church teaches you won’t understand or accept it.”
            Logical fallacy. You don’t need to believe something in order to understand it. Nice try at dismissing my statement, but you need to address the actual point, not just pretend I don’t understand. I was a Mormon for three decades. I understand only too well.

            “But the church doesn’t change it’s doctrine just to attract more people in”
            Oh sweetie, it’s so sad that you believe that. Now I’m wondering if you understand. OF COURSE the LDS church has changed its doctrine to bring (and keep) more people in, and for many other reasons. The outlawing of polygamy (except in the case of temple sealings of course), extending the priesthood to black men (and therefore temple ordinances to black men and women), even the fairly recent doctrinal change to stop teaching that homosexuality was a perverse choice – all of these were doctrinal changes in response to social and political pressure. Remember this when the church finally ‘gets revelation’ that women should be ordained or (the more difficult one to explain) that same-sex couples can marry and still be in good standing with the church, remember this and recognise that you have witnessed the church changing its doctrine in order to stay relevant in its society. 1978 was a joke – there were colleges boycotting BYU sports teams. The church was opening a temple in Brazil that almost no Brazilian members could attend because of the overwhelming percentage of Brazilians who are black or have some black heritage. Ezra Taft Benson had been spouting in the 60s, saying that the civil rights movement was a Communist plot. I can’t imagine how stupid that made the church look. It was a great big racist PR nightmare that Spencer Kimball was trying to fix when he was ‘inspired’ to change that doctrine. The Prop 8 fallout and the new widespread access of members to correct information about Joseph Smith and church history are the two new PR disasters they are dealing with.

            “at the end of the day, it is your choice and if you don’t accept it then there is nothing more that can be said.”
            As long as the church is still hurting people I care about, there is plenty more to say. There always will be.

          • My goodness. Put aside the notion of who is committing what sin. We all sin. We are all strangers on this journey. Who cares about the sins of your fellow beings. We all have wonderful contributions to make in mending the broken hearts and saddened spirits of our world. Let ALL attend the feast… let them in! The policy and attitudes of our church drives people away instead of bringing them in from whatever storm they are faring. Christ’s church is supposed to be a safe, warm place for all…. a hospital for the spiritually sick and feeble.

            I move for change. I want to see more christ like love towards all mankind… not just to those who look, talk, dress and act like us.

    • Since there are no further replies allowed after your question, “Did Jesus believe homosexuality was sinful?” I will answer it here:

      I believe He teaches that intimate sexual relations are lawful only between a married male and female couple. So, homosexual acts are sinful and should be avoided or repented of.

        • At the end of the day, in your world view, does Jesus ask us to abide by any standards of right and wrong or good and evil? Or is it all just based on no one ever having to feel guilty or otherwise have their feelings hurt or their self-esteem wounded? Is there anything, in your view, that anyone can do that is “wrong” or “evil” or “sinful” other than making someone feel bad for doing whatever they want to do?

          • Yes. He spoke out on hatred and being despicable to others. He openly taught that one should do unto others as they would have them do to oneself.

            That said.

            If you were gay (I make no assumptions), and you and your partner wanted to fit into an active role in your local lds congregation, may I please ask how you would want to be treated?

          • People like MinJae Lee are why I left the church, and never came back. Plus I came to my senses and realized God isn’t real.

          • @ r – Obviously, if you do not believe in God or believe that God teaches us that some things are right to do and some things are wrong, you have no reason to be in the Church. Not that I don’t want you there, but you don’t share the basic beliefs of the organization. If you don’t believe and are not willing to take upon you the name of Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments then you cannot keep the covenants that you made at baptism.

          • @ mike r -You refuse to answer clearly but it seems that your answer is no, there is nothing, in your view, that anyone can do that is “wrong” or “evil” or “sinful” other than making someone feel bad for doing whatever they want to do.

            We obviously do not share the same faith. While I believe it is not my place to judge another, there are more and other standards that God has taught us that are vital for our eternal joy and happiness. Many of these require the sacrifice of short-term desires for sinful pleasures.

            I have enough sins of my own to worry about so I find judging others for theirs to be a waste of my time. I promise you that I treat my gay relatives, friends and acquaintances with the respect and love due to all children of God. I do not hold anyone’s sins (including my own) to be acceptable but it is not my place to judge their actions. That is God’s job.

        • Jehosephine Hull

          Good grief, Mike. If Ninja is of the same religion and believes in the same scriptures, why would he be instigating contention with you? Contention is of the devil. Check the lds website and look up that quote. It is also in Mormon Doctrine.

          • Who is being contentious? Im saying that christ wouldnt recognize our church with the way the lds treat people who are different. I never once tried to prove homosexuality was a sin. Thats not my point. My point is a gay couple would not feel welcome at the table set by the lds and I find that to be very disturbing

      • Since you are clear about what Jesus taught about homosexuality, then you should have problem providing the precise references to what Jesus said on the subject. I look forward to your citations.

    • He would also say, “sin no more”. It applies to all of us. As a former stake president of ours once commented about “inclusivity” in congregations and perceptions about others’ sins: some sins just smell more than others, but we all have them.

  7. Alison Udall

    What I’m trying to understand is why the quote from his talk that’s popping up everywhere is the doubt your doubts one. Its being used to devalue those that have had doubts and after considering them have come to a different conclusion about their faith. The quote that stuck with people was not something loving toward those who have doubts.

  8. Re: Alison, I can understand how you can read the quote that way. The way I understood the quote and the reason it stood out to me was that it is normal and ok to have doubts, but to think long and hard about giving over my faith because of a doubt.

  9. I believe smokers or gay couples are more accepted that those who have lost faith in the way Church history has been told to us over the years. Many of us want to attend Church, live the “gospel” keep the standards of the Church and continue to raise our families in it. But we have to remain “in the closet” about historical facts that we can’t talk about, or we will be excommunicated. This is un-fortunate. When the Church hides truth or doesn’t want it talked about in our watered down lessons, what are honest people to do? A truth hidden is its own form of a lie. Perhaps those who face the truth and still love the Church are exhibiting the most faith. We are not anti nor are we mad. We just crave honesty.

    • Wow! You’re so noble for wanting to talk about controversial aspects of Church history when everyone else is there to worship God. Keep telling us about how honorable you are.

    • I have never even been reprimanded, let alone excommunicated, for talking about “historical facts.” And calling them “facts” seems a bit of a stretch. There are alternate points of view based on bits and pieces of the remaining records. Most all of the things that I have seen which tell the story differently from the Church’s traditional version are not yet worthy of being called “facts”. I think we all have to admit that neither camp has the whole story. If you insist on calling the alternate version the “factual” version it is no wonder that you get some negative responses.

    • Please have some empathy for those that have doubts. They are in an impossible position. You have to admit that they’re lives will become harder if they express their sincere questions to leaders or Sunday School teachers. They want to be allowed to question publicly (not to convince others, but for themselves) AND still be trusted as individuals in the LDS community. You have to admit that most of us LDS members would loose some level of confidence in someone that doubts and questions. It shouldn’t be that way. Please have empathy for their position.

  10. John D Lopez

    I respectfully offer another perspective:
    Getting back to basics, the “gospel” is plainly, “value others as you value yourself, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” No more and no less.

    (See Matthew 5, 6, and 7; and 3 Nephi 12, 13, 14.)

    When the “Book Of Mormon” was translated, the gospel was restored.

    Leaving a church is not leaving the gospel.

    Not doing what Christ taught is leaving the gospel.

  11. During Gen. Conference in April 2003, Mormon Church president Gordon Hinckley told Latter-day Saints worldwide: “Each of us has to face the matter—either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.”

    Six months earlier, Hinckley told church members:

    “We declare without equivocation that God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in person to the boy Joseph Smith.

    “When I was interviewed by Mike Wallace on the 60 Minutes program, he asked me if I actually believed that. I replied, ‘Yes, sir. That’s the miracle of it.’

    “That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.”

    If you go to the LDS Church’s Joseph Smith Papers website, you can read his conflicting First Vision (FV) accounts involving:

    1. Him seeing (purportedly) “the Lord” in heaven (but no mention of “some actual being from the unseen world”, or about the fantastical 2nd “Personage” in “the woods” not far from his parents’ farm, per his FV story written in early 1838);

    2. “my [JS'] toung seemed to be swolen” and the “noise of walking seemed to draw nearer.”

    Info. about JS’ ‘morphing’ FV tales is also online at http://mit.irr.org/joseph-smiths-changing-first-vision-accounts

    So, no trustable First Vision story. How about the BoM? Well, 17 years ago LDS Church president Ezra Benson told Latter-day Saints that “the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. This was the Prophet Joseph Smith’s statement. He testified that ‘the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion’. A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles.”

    Scientific findings during the past 150-odd years have exposed the BoM as a work of fiction. For example, Native Americans did not descend from some itinerant, rebellious Jews who sailed to the New World nearly 26 centuries ago and were cursed by “the Lord” with dark skin, per the BoM.

    Furthermore, there were no horses, cattle, sheep, oxen, elephants, chariots, synagogues, cities made of cement, “fine silks”, Old World grains (wheat, barley), scimeters, etc. in the Americas during the BoM’s fictitious timeline.

    The exposed “keystone” of Mormonism has been part of the multi-billion-dollar LDS fraud of the past 183+ years. Shamefully, the Latter-day Saint Church has systematically misled millions of people in more than 150 countries and taken an estimated $200 billion from them since the 1830s. It has perpetrated the largest scam, dollars-wise, in U.S. history.

    The LDS Church is fundamentally corrupt and its so-called “prophets” and other senior priesthood leaders are a bunch of duplicitous cowards (they lack the b*lls to tell the truth about Mormonism to Latter-day Saints).

    No wonder ABC News in Salt Lake City reported in Jan. 2012: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is losing a record number of its membership. A new report quotes an LDS general authority who said more members are falling away today than any time in the past 175 years.”

    • Garry Collins

      LOL.

      Blair, methinks you need to spend more time focused on what you believe in and less on what you don’t. Zzzzzzz wake me up when you are leaving.

      Next.

    • The funny thing is, Mr. Watson, that you believe you have made a significant point with lengthy post. I don’t want to be the one to burst our bubble but that type of attack wins no converts to your cause. You have change no minds with that.

      • Minjae Lee, Why don’t you want to burst his bubble? Actually, I think you DID want to burst his bubble. So why did you say you didn’t want to?

        • I think that you think that I think that he wanted to have his bubble burst but that you just might be jealous because you wanted to burst his bubble but were disappointed when you found that I had already burst his bubble and, seeing that I had done so and said that I didn’t want to be the one to burst his bubble, felt compelled to accuse me of actually wanting to burst his bubble and were not willing to admit to the fact that you wanted to burst his bubble and further responded to my message by accusing me of actually desiring to be the one who burst his bubble when I had said that I didn’t want to do such a thing but you have no evidence of that and so I will simply deny ever having wanted to burst his bubble and ask you to produce evidence proving that I, in all actuality, did want to burst his bubble and we will let the public judge between thee and me..

          • That has to be one of the most entertaining responses I’ve ever seen. Thanks for getting a smile on my face.

      • Lee? Collins?

        This is what J Smith said about
        a vision not found anywhere from 1820 to 1838
        It was published in 1842 by J Smith, Joseph claims this happened in 1820
        Smith said
        “..I.soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.
        23 It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.
        24 However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
        25 So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation……
        27 I continued to pursue my common vocations in life until the twenty-first of September , one thousand eight hundred and twenty-three, all the time suffering severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men , both religious and irreligious, because I continued to affirm that I had seen a vision
        ..(PofGP J Smith History 1:22-27)

        And this is what the late Hinckley prophet said about this “vision” The foundation of mormonism??

        “…. Every claim that we make concerning divine authority, every truth that we offer concerning the validity of this work, all finds its roots in the First Vision of the boy prophet. Without it we would not have anything much to say…This becomes the hinge pin on which the whole cause turns. If the First Vision was true, if itactually happened, then the Book of Mormon is true. Then we have the priesthood. Then we have the Church organization and all of the other keys and blessings of authority which we say we have. If the First Vision did not occur, then we are involved in a great sham. It is that simple. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p.227)
        Hinckley, said that if the vision did not occur? …LDS is involved in a great sham..(emph mine)
        Hinckley said if the vision was true…then mormonism is true…

        • Hi Dan,

          The first printed version of this was in Joseph Smith’s own handwriting in 1832.
          http://en.fairmormon.org/Primary_sources/Joseph_Smith,_Jr./First_Vision_accounts/1832

          There are also two 1835 accounts and an 1840 account, among others.
          http://en.fairmormon.org/Primary_sources/Joseph_Smith,_Jr./First_Vision_accounts

          • Scott writes
            The first printed version of this was in Joseph Smith’s own handwriting in 1832.
            http://en.fairmormon.org/Primary_sources/Joseph_Smith,_Jr./First_Vision_accounts/1832

            There are also two 1835 accounts and an 1840 account, among others.
            http://en.fairmormon.org/Primary_sources/Joseph_Smith,_Jr./First_Vision_accounts>>

            Scott, I am familiar with all these accounts. there is nothing in these links that corroborates J Smith telling anyone that he saw the father and the Son
            I am asking the following
            Can you find me a close associate/family/newspaper/dairy/book/friend/foe/historian/newspaper/document, of J Smith , that would corroborate this “vision experience”, I call it a TALL TALE? Surely if he TOLD, there would be TONS of evidence that J Smith TOLD…it was a revival,…folks would flock to the site to see this site of this glorious event in the “sacred” grove…maybe even erect a monument there…
            As you can see from J Smith account he TOLD this TALL TALE to everybody in town…(population about 600+)was bitterly persecuted…not a single time you will find the statement that he saw the “Father and Son” (nothing from 1820 to 1838)
            Joe said he told this TALL TALE for three years…well I will extend the frame time?….. my question to you, can you provide me with any corroboration statement from a close associate/family/newspaper/dairy/book/friend/foe/historian/newspaper/document, of J Smith …… any thing to confirmed J Smith TOLD FROM 1820 TO 1838 time frame
            If you cannot find any evidence of this TALL TALE J Smith made it all up….mormon people have been had big time…
            And I agree with you “seer” You are involved in a great SHAM..
            Hinckley said
            If the First Vision was true, if it actually happened, then the Book of Mormon is true. Then we have the priesthood. Then we have the Church organization and all of the other keys and blessings of authority which we say we have. If the First Vision did not occur, then we are involved in a great sham. It is that simple. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p.227)
            Dan
            Hint: You could look at J Smith mother biography of J Smith surely she must of have mentioned something…or the history written by Oliver in 1834…or his brother William, He was an “apostle” he gave four interviews in his life time up until 1876? he died in 1893?
            If J Smith TOLD, it is inconceivable that you cannot find any corroboration in these 18 years.!

          • Dan makes a good point. There is information where people talk about Joseph and his money digging and his claiming to find gold plates.

            But back then as now, the claim to have seen God and that God has a physical body, such a thing would get the same sort of response that you’re seeing in this article.

            In addition, LDS doctrine did not support that Joseph saw God with a physical body. Consider:
            1) Lectures on Faith, where they say that God the Father is a Spirit. Why would Joseph teach such a thing if the father had a tangible body?
            2) Book of Commandments lacked any first vision account.
            3) JST changes did not “correct” Biblical claims otherwise.
            4) Book of Mormon shows a monotheistic God who is a Spirit.
            5) neither Book of Moses nor Book of Abraham state that God has a physical body, though they disagree on God vs Gods

            Had Joseph seen a tangible God the Father and was severely persecuted for telling people that he had, why would he not teach it to the church from the very beginning? Surely the town bullies would have let word get out about Joseph’s claims. Why only share it with people who would persecute him? I’m not asking for proof that God exists here, I’m asking for evidence that Joseph Smith told his the story to the early saints in the school of the prophets or such? Surely some conference proceeding, some talks, some journal recording what conference was about, some letter, some news letter, some news paper article, some painted pot, something would record that Joseph was teaching that God had a physical body prior to the crafting of the official version of the first vision.

          • Grant,
            Excellent observation, right along with my inquiries.
            let me listed them again
            [) Lectures on Faith, where they say that God the Father is a Spirit. Why would Joseph teach such a thing if the father had a tangible body?
            2) Book of Commandments lacked any first vision account.
            3) JST changes did not “correct” Biblical claims otherwise.
            4) Book of Mormon shows a monotheistic God who is a Spirit.
            5) neither Book of Moses nor Book of Abraham state that God has a physical body, though they disagree on God vs Gods
            Had Joseph seen a tangible God the Father and was severely persecuted for telling people that he had, why would he not teach it to the church from the very beginning? Surely the town bullies would have let word get out about Joseph’s claims. Why only share it with people who would persecute him? I’m not asking for proof that God exists here, I’m asking for evidence that Joseph Smith told his the story to the early saints in the school of the prophets or such? Surely some conference proceeding, some talks, some journal recording what conference was about, some letter, some news letter, some news paper article, some painted pot, something would record that Joseph was teaching that God had a physical body prior to the crafting of the official version of the first vision.]
            Just read them again…and think of the impossibility of not finding any of this ton of evidence that would had to be available to anyone searching history, or just plain newspapers.
            I have four books written between 1842 to 1867 (one of these books is an original copy. You can order a photo-print of this book for 20+ from amazon.from Pomeroy Tucker Origin and progress of mormonism 1867, a fellow contemporary of J Smith about the same age)and they all attack J Smith the new “prophet” and his claims of being a “true prophet” and his golden bible,
            But none attacked him on the claims that he saw God and his Son, or even that J Smith saw two personages…why not? for the simple reason, it never happened (meaning J Smith said he told, but no evidence he told the truth)

            You can google Dave’s uncle newspapers , this site collection of newspapers from 1816 to 1867? and check the newspapers in the Palmyra area…you will never find anything on J Smith claiming he saw two personages, or even that these characters were deities..
            If you want to find the real God of the Bible , read The book of John in the Bible…a book inspired by the real Holy Spirit.
            Again not a single corroboration, that J Smith… telling this story(TALL TALE ) In 18 years.(1820-1838)

  12. “We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church history, along with an uninterrupted line of inspired, honorable, and divine events, there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question.”

    I’m sure he completely missed the irony of his own statement. Because if there is anything the Church really needs to openly acknowledge, it’s that it is the “uninterrupted line of inspired, honorable, and divine events” that mostly cause, and SHOULD cause, people to question, because pretty much all of them were fabricated by conmen.

  13. I first had doubts in the LDS church when I studied the Book of Commandments and how the revelations in that book changed when they were first incorporated into the D&C and then again in later editions of the D&C. This wasn’t farther light and knowledge but rather direct changes to single sections. And why? No “corrupt scribes” could be identified. How could this be? God would not say one thing and then take it back and/or change it.

    Since then those doubts drove me to research many things about the LDS church. I didn’t leave because of hurt feelings or because of sins in various leaders present or past. I left because of 1) the facts I found that declared it false and 2) because of a new and deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

    What I’ve found is that as an LDS there was so much distraction from Jesus that He was mostly limited to the sign out front and not the center and the focus of the church, the services, etc. It’s not a focus on the laws or ordinances or programs or prophets … it’s all about Jesus. Jesus is enough. It’s about a relationship with Him and not religion.

    Peace to you.

      • And increasingly more are studying and learning the contradictory nature of the LDS doctrine.
        Like up until a year or so before Brigham Young died, the D&C contained the old section 101 (this is on the LDS website JosephSmithPapers.org), which denies polygamy and calls it a sin. This is in agreement with the Book of Mormon which calls polygamy an abomination … and yet Brigham had taken many wives by this point (as had many other LDS.) Is this being honest in all their dealings? Would they pass a temple recommend interview with such behavior? Oath and covenant of the priesthood says that if they cover their sins then amen to their priesthood authority. How about Joseph Smith’s comments that people claim had 8 wives and he couldn’t find 1 (in the History of the Church)

        Now maybe this isn’t a big deal to you but I consider it sufficient to throw doubt on the honesty of the leadership and combined with the many other issues I’ve seen, sufficient to ask to have my name removed from the records.

  14. The Tim Channel

    As an anti-theist, I get delight in reading about internecine squabbles over the specific lies and deceptions performed within their own organizations while simultaneously seeing NOTHING about the basis for the religion in the first instance. This is not a slam on Mormons in particular. I see the same thing reading and watching Scientology apostate information. There’s an overwhelming proclivity to overlook the obvious. There’s no proof of any of the Gods that have ever been IMAGINED. Better to face the future with a clean slate that favors honesty over wishful thinking IMHO. Take comfort in just being alive and don’t focus so much on not being omnipotent yourself. Enjoy.

    • Yet there is no proof against God’s existence either. What secularists do not understand is that spiritual truth does not come from physical means. The scientific method and logic work well for the natural world, but for the spiritual world we use the methods taught in all the scriptures I know of: to take the proverbial leap of faith. You can think of these two kinds of knowledge as existing on two perpendicular axes, if that helps you to think of it that way.

      Now, if secularists like yourself choose not to take the leap of faith (or knock and it shall be opened or faith like a little seed will grow when planted – all the same) that is your business. However, laughing at people who have taken that leap seems a little shortsighted in my view. Collectively, secularists assume that because they haven’t personally developed faith that that leap must be impossible!

      • The problem with that theory is that religion makes many claims of knowledge of the physical world. When those are proven wrong, it is right to question its other less tangible claims. And while you are correct that there is no positive evidence against the existence of God, don’t you think that there really should be, by now, some positive evidence for it, if God exists? Or do you actually think it reasonable for a benevolent personal god, who loves us as his children, and understands that we are beings of reason and intellect, to require that we believe in him, to the point of committing our life and purpose to his cause, with no clear evidence of even his existence…let alone any definitive understanding of what he is, or wants, or any evidence that he cares about all the terrible things that happen to people in this life? Without that evidence, the scriptures are just the words of men (and so flawed that we have no good reason to consider them anything else) and God an imaginary being we credit when good happens and excuse when faced with bad things, or worse, complete indifference to suffering.

        I’ve had so many people tell me, yes, it is reasonable for him to expect that, because he is God and anything he asks of us is acceptable. But if you have no way to even know he is god, or to know that he is even making that request or not, then no, it can’t make sense. And your argument that we can’t judge spiritual things by scientific evidence is just an excuse. We can still apply logic and reason. We can still say that unless God offers us tangible evidence of his existence, we will not live by what we are told are his laws. I can never remember where this quote comes from, but the world behaves exactly as we would expect it to if there were no God. Observe that for a few days and realise how true it is. Personally for me there was a lot of sadness in realising that my faith in God was misplaced. But five years later I have to say that in all circumstances I prefer reality. Ironically I learned to value truth in the Mormon church, enough that I had no choice but to leave when I knew it didn’t have it.

      • Leaps of faith are required by both theists and non-theists. Both are beliefs based on assumptions, emotions, experiences, observations, experiments, etc. What’s built after that is what matters. The weaknesses of the atheist argument are such that it actually requires more leaps of faith to support it than the theist argument, which is an odd position.

          • Their belief in their world-view — they certainly have faith in what they believe in, correct? If we restrict the term “faith” to simply beliefs in deity, then what’s the appropriate term for the equivalent beliefs of those who believe in atheism? Regardless of what it’s called, it’s isomorphic with what deists call faith and use. People have faith in the power grid, radios, and the worth of the dollar bill, too.

            Saying that one doesn’t need faith to be an atheist is simply incorrect. If using the term “faith” is restricted to deists, then there’s a verbal disagreement over a term (“faith”), but for the sake of discussion there are other terms to describe beliefs in a particular world-view. The discussion is on the world-view, and the belief in it. “Faith” is a commonly accepted term used to describe it.

          • “…they certainly have faith in what they believe in, correct?”
            “People have faith in the power grid, radios, and the worth of the dollar bill, too.”
            “Saying that one doesn’t need faith to be an atheist is simply incorrect.”

            Having confidence in a viable system – something like the power grid that you see perform every day and which can be tested and examined – is not at all like faith-based belief. Religious doctrine is more like this conversation:
            A: The ball of fire always rises and travels across the sky.
            B: That is because we make sacrifice to Ra. Ra is pleased with us and he rides his solar boat across the sky each morning to drive away Apep the demon of darkness.
            A: But Ra doesn’t visit us. How do we know he does this or even sees our sacrifice?
            B: Well, don’t you see him cross the sky each day?
            A: Maybe we should stop our sacrifices and see if the ball of fire still rises?
            B: And incur the wrath of Ra? No, we must never do that!
            A: Then how will we know if it is truly Ra?
            B: The holy scrolls say it. We just have to believe.
            That conversation would never take place about the power grid.

            Believers do this all the time. When medical science and the care of medical professionals cure their little Johnny’s leukaemia, they credit God and prayer. When those medical professionals are sadly unable to cure him, they talk instead about God’s will and God having another purpose for little Johnny. When they do acknowledge the medical care, they thank God for the doctor’s skill and credit God for the doctor’s knowledge. What they never do it say, ‘maybe prayer had nothing to do with it and sometimes we beat cancer and sometimes we don’t.’ They also don’t stop to question why a benevolent personal god would allow a young child to suffer through cancer in the first place.

            Atheism requires no faith-based belief. It is a state of disbelief, based on available evidence. Or would you also say that not believing in elves or fairies or Santa Claus also requires religious faith? Would you describe your non-belief in Thor or Apollo or Allah as faith-based disbelief? It makes no sense to do so. To quote Ricky Gervais, to say atheism is a belief system is like saying ‘my hobby is NOT playing golf.’

          • Having confidence in a viable system – something like the power grid that you see perform every day and which can be tested and examined – is not at all like faith-based belief

            This is so unlike the beliefs and experiences of LDS members I know (and also what’s taught in the LDS church), it’s a little surprising to me to hear this argument in this forum.

            Atheism requires no faith-based belief. It is a state of disbelief, based on available evidence. Or would you also say that not believing in elves or fairies or Santa Claus also requires religious faith?

            I didn’t say religious faith. I said faith. Any world-view, even atheism, requires some faith to accept and follow.

            The caricature of religion with Ra is simply that, a caricature, and doesn’t apply in the LDS tradition or faith.

          • “I didn’t say religious faith. I said faith. Any world-view, even atheism, requires some faith to accept and follow.”
            Yes, I understood you. I just disagree. I think that the word ‘faith’ has a nuanced meaning that call be difference in various contexts. It is simply not true to say that atheism requires faith. You don’t seem to be able to imagine any kind of thinking outside of how you think and how LDS think, but that doesn’t make you right. I am an atheist and I can assure you that my disbelief requires no faith. I do not ‘have faith’ in the idea of no god – that makes no sense. And I do not need to have faith in it – there are things I am confident I know and things I don’t know and I’m comfortable with that..

            “The caricature of religion with Ra is simply that, a caricature, and doesn’t apply in the LDS tradition or faith.”

            Yes, it does apply. In the LDS context it might go like this:
            A: The fascimiles in the Book of Abraham are supposed to be about Abraham, right?
            B: Yes, they are. The book was written by Abraham in his own hand on the papyrus.
            A: But they’re not about him. Egyptologists see those all the time. They’re common funerary documents and the one with the picture of the man on the table is actually about the Egyptian god Osiris.
            B: Joseph said that he translated the papyrus, and we believe Joseph was a prophet, so if he says he did, then he did.
            A: It’s a bit more reasonable to say that Joseph lied. I mean, the papyrus was translated later after they found the Rosetta Stone. It’s not about Abraham.
            B: God works in mysterious ways. He somehow translated the Book of Abraham through Joseph Smith the prophet. Maybe he thought he was translating and God was actually revealing the words of Abraham to him directly.
            A: That makes no sense.Why would God set his own prophet up to look like a fraud?
            B: To test our faith. We just have to trust God that the Book of Abraham is scripture. Read it and pray and you will feel the Spirit testifying that it’s true. It’s not important how we got it.

          • It is simply not true to say that atheism requires faith.

            Let’s look at it this way, both atheism and religion are world views. World views require faith. Scientists exert faith in the scientific method, doctors have faith in the principles of modern medicine. Pushing this into the realm of a verbal disagreement so you don’t have to agree that your view requires faith is simply lazy, intellectually. However, there are lots of folks in the world who would rather stick to their beliefs than think, which I think you would agree with, since it’s one of your points about the LDS faith.

            You don’t seem to be able to imagine any kind of thinking outside of how you think and how LDS think

            I love it when mind-reading trumps logic in a discussion. Your presumption is incorrect, and your mind-reading of me is actually a bit offensive. However, I’ve had worse from better folks.

            As far as the re-formulation of the Ra caricature to the Book of Abraham, overall the general viewpoint of many who have left the church (and some folks within the church) is a lack of understanding about revelation. Revelation is very real. Regarding the Book of Abraham, I think Nibley’s response on it was pretty good. There are lots of unanswered questions we encounter while here on earth. Dealing with unanswered questions is part of what Pres. Uchtdorf was addressing, which seems to be lost on some here in this blog, and perhaps you, too. The response to an unanswered question is either to bail on the system (which you and others have done), or to hold on to what’s real and good, which is what Pres. Uchtdorf was encouraging.

  15. I am impressed that Pres Uchtdorf acknowledged the historical mistakes made by our leaders in Church history and that the Church is not perfect. I left the Church over these things and the unwillingness of the Church to admit the truth. Since then I have regained my testimony and have come to accept that no church is perfect because the people are the Church… And people are flawed. But God and His gospel are perfect. So I am planning to be baptized again.

    I do feel vindicated and hopeful by what he said in his talk. We as a church should be able to openly discuss historical problems and how they do not change the truth of the Gospel and how God used an inspired young boy to restore the full Gospel.

    • John D Lopez

      Yes, I quoted myself. :o)

      I did it to emphasize that
      I accept responsibility or blame for my thoughts and words, including, the following words concerning “leaving the gospel.”

      The “gospel” is plainly, “to value (love) others as we value (love) ourselves, and to do unto others, as we would have them do unto us.” No more and no less.

      (See Matthew 5, 6, and 7; and 3 Nephi 12, 13, 14.)

      When the “Book Of Mormon” was translated, the gospel was restored.

      Leaving a church is not leaving the gospel.

      Not doing what Christ taught is leaving the gospel.

      • John,

        You forget, as many people do now a days, the FIRST and great commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37. But most people like to ignore this commandment because it means making personal sacrifices, like paying tithing, keeping Sabbath holy, not using Lord’s name in vain, not having other gods “priorities” before the true God, and many other commandments which no one likes to obey….And so these people, like yourself, like to place all emphasis on loving your neighbor, which is good and noble, but it is only half the equation.

        • If ye love me, keep my commandments. What are Christ’s commandments?

          Taking Matthew 22:37 and claiming that it means obeying anything and everything someone who claims to speak for Christ says is reckless and dangerous.

        • Don Harryman

          I agree. So when are you going to excommunicate people for eating shellfish? Or wearing fabrics of mixed types? When are you going to bring back stoning and animal sacrifice?

      • John, If that’s the gospel then all christian churches already believe that. Matthew is clear enough. Why then was any restoration needed? Surely Mormons mean something more than that when they refer to a gospel that had to be restored.

        • If all humans were living “the fullness of the gospel,” as contained in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, then 3 Nephi 12, 13, and 14, would not be necessary.

          I think it can be said, that the world is still not “living” what Christ taught.

          So far, twice hasn’t changed the world.
          I wonder how many times we have to be taught?

    • Oliver-Daniel Kronberger

      well, I have returned to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints two years ago. I did it on my own, no one pushed me, convinced me; my heart simply did not find truth in other denomination. Well, that is just one long story short. But I haven’t heard from home teachers ever since. No one contacted me, the bishop talked to me three or four times. OK, so what? Personally I do not care it just feels, well, strange.

      • Not to see that always works 100% of the time, or even 70% of the time. Kind of depends on the area and the demographics. But, welcome back, though.

        • Oliver-Daniel Kronberger

          Thank you RS and Shalom, you may be right, currently my place or residence is Germany and there are only a few churches in my vicinity. In fact the next branch is about 80 miles away. On the other hand, in the age of Email, Internet, telephone and snail mail, there are always opportunities to fulfill ones duties. Isn’t it said that home teaching is mandatory? Well, as said, it just puzzles me. Nevertheless, the living Messiah brought me back to HIM. And that is what matters. Soon I will Germany and maybe things change then. My heart can only do the things it can do. Shalom!

  16. Many that leave the Mormon church chose to practice their Christianity in another faith. They do not abandon Christianity…… I believe that there is a pervading belief that if ones leaves the Mormon church, they somehow fall to sin… That is just not the case…

    I have know many women that are very educated and have successful carriers that have left Mormonism because as one said, ” Despite all my education and success, a 12 year old male in my church has more authority than do I”…….

    Equal rights for ALL became the Law of The Land, many years ago….. For Mormonism to stay Male dominated is simply not keeping up with the changeling times… In the 70’s it was the Blacks and membership. that got dealt with. Why can not women begin to hold the real positions of authority and decision making power that they are due?….

    • You point out correctly some cultural ideas that are in variance with Church doctrine. As far as women go, there is more to it than you say. As taught this weekend and in Conferences past, women have the power of the priesthood as much as men. The authority belongs to men, sure, but is also extended to women through various leadership callings under the priesthood. Men with authority are not (or at least should not) be making decisions without the input of their ward counsels which include women. What does the priesthood teach men? To serve others, to think about others more than self. Let’s face it – women think of others more naturally than men! They are nurturers from birth, generally speaking. I guarantee you that God wants all His children to progress in the gospel and women don’t need the Priesthood to do so.

      What many people do not understand is that in the LDS Church, doctrine is completely fixed and unchangeable because it is from God. Thus marriage is defined as between a man and a woman and priesthood authority belongs to men in this life. Women have other equally important duties in this life. These duties are given from God, not the Church. The Church teaches the doctrine but doesn’t create it. With the blacks and the priesthood that was a change completely in line with Church doctrine – it’s a mystery to some of us why they were denied the priesthood in the first place because that is not in line with doctrine, though we understand that blacks would not have been denied the priesthood in the eternities.

      I am an LDS woman myself.

  17. One other point I would like to make….. As a non-member of the Mormon Church, I have always felt that Mormonism had two “Achilles Heals”… The first was the domination of men in the Mormon church, when the rest of the world is progressed to “equal rights”…

    The Second is the use of “Volunteer” Priests. The sad thing about that kind of leadership, is that generally, the wealthiest men in a congregation are the leaders and bishops, Stake Presidents, etc.. The fallacy of that practice is that they always espouse a political belief that centers on the Conservative side of the Republican Party, which is basically the party of Big Business. Rather than the Bishops preaching to his congregation what is best for them, those wealthy leaders are inclined to preach what is best for the Bishops and the other wealthy leaders in their church, rather than their congregations. In most other Christian religions, the Priests preach what is better for the Congregation as those priests have no Political and wealth biases….

    Some might not see any problem there, but might I point out that “during the Great Depression, Utah needed more Federal Assistance than any other state in the nation” (Federal Resister). In Business School, I learned that when the country gets an economic cold, Utah gets Economic Pneumonia… The reasons for that are as obvious in Utah Mormons today, as they were in 1932, twice as many children and half as many workers in the average Utah Mormon family…

    • We’ll get your comment up to God right away. I’m sure he is anxious for your advice. He’s lucky to have someone as smart as you to advise Him.

      • Excuse me, but you are the one’s that are having a really difficult time with people leaving… You can offer citizenship to millions of people in 3rd world countries and a chance to come to the USA through your citizenship, but look at how many leave once granted citizenship… It is not about selling “memberships” it is about spreading the gospel of Jesus, aye?

        • Huh? Converts don’t generally move to the United States any more -that was common between one and two centuries ago. There are more Mormons out of the United States than in it for maybe 20 years if I remember right?

  18. “If the gospel is so perfect, why would anybody leave?”–is a perfect marketing line. It’s like that line we see ubiquously on TV, “Love, it’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru”–presupposes that all the warm, fuzzy images of perfect human love is only possible with their brand!

    I’ve absorbed, loved and sought to live the gospel ever since my childhood days, but in the process I changed Christian denominations twice–once in college when it became clear to me that the fundamentalist church I had grown up in, in practice, clearly was harsh and legalistic rather than loving toward the sinner,. And again in later adulthood, when it was clear to me that the liberal Christian denomination I had served for 27 years, had become more interested in stretching the gospel to fit most of the progressive political agenda, rather than spiritual transformation.

    No denomination is perfect; they’re creations of flawed, fallen human beings, and I don’t expect a church to be perfect. I do expect intelligent human beings seeking after the truth, to seek discernment in regards to the “fit” of their spirituality with the message and practices of a particular church. That’s what freedom of conscience in the individual, and freedom of religion in a country–is all about.

    • Fascinating comment. Could it be that when Christians start fixating and bickering about preferred cultural norms, the Spirit leaves and thereby severs the congregation’s connection with God? Changing cultural norms has challenged Christian congregations since Gentile converts started worshiping along side the original (Jewish) Christians.

      For the last forty years at least, our country has been engaged in an increasingly bitter culture war, and I see many skirmishes occurring in churches. The challenge now, as in New Testament times, seems to boil down to the essential question, What defines a Christian? Historically, this question has led to repeated schisms.

  19. Personally, I was more shocked by the “doubt is natural” statement that was made during this talk. Quite at variance with the usaul “can’t have faith if you have doubt” I have heard in plenty of talks on Sundays.

    That’s the first door to be opened if there’s to be room for discussion at all, without the paralyzing peer pressure of Molly Mormons (whether real or imagined).

    • Doubt is part of any reasonable, rational investigation. Doubt is part of scientific investigation. Don’t misconstrue the role of doubt. But as we try hypotheses, we establish a framework of knowledge, or what passes (near enough) for it, based on our experiences (feedback). Occasionally it gets challenged, which is usually the result of some faulty operating assumptions.

      None of us (generally) doubt that the sun will rise in the morning, or set in the evening, and while we generally trust traffic lights, most of us probably start out through an intersection when the light changes on the lookout for red light-runners. If we never trusted traffic lights (presuming we’re all in the US), we’d might as well go back to stop signs, or traffic cops. If we doubted the sun would rise each and every morning, what would we be trying to accomplish?

    • Didn’t we hear in the last Conference that if there is doubt then there is room for faith to grow? Maybe it was some other talk, not Conference. Can’t remember.

  20. I agree, his talk is wonderful. But you’re not remembering that others actually have addressed past mistakes by Church leaders or anyone else. Jeffrey R. Holland last Conference is only one example, and he reminded us that we’re all (including past Church leaders) human and all sin and all need repentance and forgiveness. There are many other examples. I loved Conference this weekend not because our leaders taught us anything new, but that they taught more directly. Hitting us over the head, as it were!

  21. Tiani Coleman

    I just came across this, and haven’t read you before. I agree with you, Jana. The burden does lie on us. With the exception of a few miracles, the people who have left will not come back without a very fundamental, concerted effort on our part to be better disciples of Christ, absolutely and completely, with humility and integrity. We need to do it so powerfully that our entire culture changes. We need to love them back, and we can only do that by loving Christ above all else. I loved President Uchtdorf’s talk, but I think it needs to be even more clear that those of us who are still in, any of us, are not in any way superior to those who have left. And we should be on our knees every day, finding ways to better know Christ, for their sake.

    • Oliver-Daniel Kronberger

      You summarized i wonderfully, thank you. When I t decided to return to the LDS it was not because my heart was eager mingle with fallible people again; no, it was because the living Messiah Yeshua made me aware there is more to life than listening to doubts spread by anti-Mormons. I knew I was deceived and no one in the brach helped or reached out to help me in my doubts. For twenty years my life was burdened with questions, sifting through the arguments, reading about Mormon history and yet, while there are still questions that bother me, it was Yeshua who ought to be the center of my life, not fallible human beings. I do not feel being loved when I go to church. But my heart has realized that is not what matters. What matters is walking with the Savior daily, listening to the subtle inspirations of the Spirit, reading about HIM who redeemed me, us; studying the Gospel, learning, being open to correction. Once my spirit has grasped the concept of what love means, it did no longer matter whether I am being loved or not. What matters is to spread around the love of the Savior, a love HE is willing to share with you once you are open to HIS teaching. Usually there is a lot of talk about love; love, however, is not a noun, but a verb. An action verb, that requires action on our side. Shalom!

  22. Don Harryman

    While I appreciate the invitation, my response must be a firm ‘No thank you’. I left the hateful nonsense of Mormonism a long time ago, and will be grateful to leave it completely behind when the so called Mormon Church gives up its political crusade to demonize, lie about and exclude homosexuals like myself from equal protection under the law. All of the expensive PR, and the ‘we love gays’ hocus pocus doesn’t change the hateful exclusionary doctrines and policies of the so called Mormon Church. While it is refreshing that Elder Uchtdorf admits ‘mistakes’, its a bit hard to accept this admission without wondering why the Mormon Church members and leaders committed mass murder at Mountain Meadows, then lied about it for 100 years. When there is an admission of that, and an apology, then ‘the Church’ can find itself in a position to lecture me about my morality. Until then, I don’t think so.

  23. Is is just me, or does it seem like many people in this discussion TOTALLY missed the point of Uchtdorf’s message: “We respect those who honestly search for the truth”? “RS” and “nc47″ and others~ You know how when you listen to a conference talk and you think to yourself, “Wow, this message was specifically for me”? Well, THIS one was for you! Go back and reread it instead of judging and criticizing. Leaving the church is the most painful decision that a member ever makes: having the courage to question and then the integrity to act upon it should be honored by those who deem themselves Christians.

    • Penny, I agree. As many have experienced, opening up topics like these brings out those with something to say, and many times those with rocks to throw. I’m sorry you thought I was judging and criticizing. I was trying to balance the discussion — as you could see, it doesn’t always go over well. While many do leave the church after painful search, they don’t do it peacefully, and we see the upset and anger in these kinds of forums (this one is mild — many are much angrier and show much more bile).

  24. I have recently made the decision to leave the church altogether. It has been a long prayerful, meaningful, hard decision to make. I was raised in the church, served a mission and married in the temple. After the divorce, I felt as though many questions I had kept on coming up and left unanswered. I never sinned, never got hurt. I just felt that I needed to make that change. Today I can honestly say that I have found true happiness and I applaud him for his comments in this talk. I hope the church is really changing and accepting that the church as an organization of people is not perfect. Glad to see this.

  25. Raymond Takashi Swenson

    The first thing required to develop a conviction of the truth of the teachings of the LDS Church is to “desire to believe” (see Alma Chapter 32 in the Book of Mormon) and perform an “experiment upon the word” to see if actually living according to the message produces a living and fruitful life.

    My personal observation is that many of the people who are disenchanted with the LDS Church (and I am leaving out the people who commit serious sins) don’t WANT the LDS Church and its doctrine to be true. They would prefer it be a different church with different doctrines. I have a hard time imagining them listening hard and sincerely hoping for some kind of spiritual communication that confirms LDS teachings, or spending much time quietly listening to an entire LDS general conference broadcast and pondering the messages.

    On the other hand, there are other people who want the Church to be what we say it is, and are willing to invest some effort, inquiry, thought and prayer into addressing their own doubts. I think they will find that most LDS members are willing to spend time with them to help them understand correctly, to learn more, to explain their own reasons for being convinced that there is unique truth from God at the heart of the LDS Church. I would say to them that, in my own experience, the Restored Gospel is worth any effort you can expend in understanding it and living it. It is rewarding both emotionally and intellectually. It can help you become the best person you can be, a true disciple of Jesus.

    • So in one fell swoop you determine that everyone who doesn’t believe doesn’t because they ‘don’t want to’ and because they haven’t invested the time and energy to investigate. Did you even read what President Uchtdorf said?

      • Don,
        He didn’t say that they hadn’t invested time and energy, that was your insertion (and conflation). You left, others leave. There are lots of reasons: some to do with sin, some for emotional reasons, some for spiritual reasons, some for intellectual reasons, some for over issues of pride, and some (we have to be honest) for laziness, too. Some have never really been “in” the church, were just born in it. Some “active” members have never done any internal spiritual investigations, have never read the Book of Mormon, and may last all their lives still in the church. There are lots of different kinds of persons in (and out) of the church, and lots of different kinds of experiences.

    • It wasn’t a matter of wanting an easy way out or another church to go to. For me it was about the teachings themselves.

      I started out trying to defend LDS from claims about changes to the BoM … nope, I was wrong, BoM had been change very many times. This lead me to look at the changes to the D&C. Did you know that several section of the D&C were changed dramatically from the time when they were recorded in the Book of Commandments to where they are recorded in the D&C? I learned that. Get a replica of the book and see for yourself. How could God say one thing and it be written down and then that very dialogue get changed into something very different? It didn’t make sense to me.

      You talk about how you are to know truth according to the LDS. The D&C tells you a different truth test. It says that God will tell you in your heart and in your mind. It tells you that you must study it out in your mind first, come up with a possible conclusion and ask if it’s true. That’s quite different than what you recommend from the BoM. In fact, it would support and recommend that you study out things about and around the story of the BoM to see if they also make sense. Like horses and elephants and silk and steel and wheels and chariots and wheat and coins and DNA and anachronisms and doctrinal integrity and the parts of 3rd Nephi that exactly match the KJV of Matthew but were re-translated in the JST Translation and so much more.

      Did you study these things out? Did you come up with a conclusion? If not, by D&C standards a person is exposing themselves to false revelation.

      Study it out. Study out the problems. Don’t just trust the official statement about the issues but look a little deeper. Pretend you’re encountering the LDS religion for the first time again and this time, study it out first.

    • “Let’s look at it this way, both atheism and religion are world views.”
      Okay.
      “World views require faith.”
      Nope, sorry, not all of them. I’m not even sure most of them do.
      “Scientists exert faith in the scientific method, doctors have faith in the principles of modern medicine.”
      Scientists do not exert faith in the scientific method. They use the scientific method, and if you think that requires faith, you don’t understand the scientific method. To say someone has faith in the scientific method is like saying they have faith in the rules of mathematics. Doctors have faith (confidence, not religious faith) in the principles of modern medicine – especially those proven through results, experimentation, evidence, etc…oh, and we’re back to the scientific method!

      “Pushing this into the realm of a verbal disagreement so you don’t have to agree that your view requires faith is simply lazy, intellectually.”
      That is not what I’m doing. I have lived a life of faith. Now I do not. I know the difference, because I’ve experienced both. I know how faith feels and it is not what I feel about my atheism. I do not know a single atheist who would disagree. The idea that atheism requires faith is not just inaccurate; it’s ridiculous.

      “I love it when mind-reading trumps logic in a discussion. Your presumption is incorrect, and your mind-reading of me is actually a bit offensive.”
      Hey you’re the one who can’t comprehend atheism without faith; the one who is trying to explain my own lack of belief to me as if it is actually as you say it is and I’ve somehow just not seen it. If you CAN imagine a way of thinking that is outside of your own, then prove it by doing it right now. I am an atheist. I neither use, nor require, faith for this unbelief. If you can’t get your head around that, then stop accusing me of making assumptions, because I am only observing what you yourself have said.
      (Also, I wasn’t assuming. Hence the word, ‘seem’ instead of ‘are.’)

      “…overall the general viewpoint of many who have left the church…is a lack of understanding about revelation.”
      Very curious to know what it is you think I don’t understand about revelation that would make sense of the fact that the facsimiles in the Book of Abraham, which were produced with rubbings from the actual papyrus, are not what the translation claims they are.

      “There are lots of unanswered questions we encounter while here on earth.”
      Really? You’re going to go with the ‘God works in mysterious ways’ defence? You know, the lamest defence ever for why spiritual claims are clearly in opposition to available evidence? Wow.

      “The response to an unanswered question is either to bail on the system (which you and others have done), or to hold on to what’s real and good, which is what Pres. Uchtdorf was encouraging.”
      1. No-one bails because of unanswered questions. Personally, my leaving was about plain evidence and facts. My questions were answered and the answers showed that the Church isn’t true and that Joseph was a fraud. If it were only unanswered questions, I’d probably still be there.
      2. There is very little real and good in the church that can’t be found (and often in greater abundance) elsewhere. In fact, the deeper you look, the more untruth that surfaces. So why would I stay and deal with al the false stuff?

      • “World views require faith.”
        Nope, sorry, not all of them. I’m not even sure most of them do.

        I think it’s back to asteroids and starfish (not apples and oranges). Without a common basis for discussion, there’s little to accomplish here. Other thinkers would disagree and have disagreed with you. We’re talking philosophy at this point.

        1. No-one bails because of unanswered questions. Personally, my leaving was about plain evidence and facts. My questions were answered and the answers showed that the Church isn’t true and that Joseph was a fraud. If it were only unanswered questions, I’d probably still be there.
        2. There is very little real and good in the church that can’t be found (and often in greater abundance) elsewhere. In fact, the deeper you look, the more untruth that surfaces. So why would I stay and deal with al the false stuff?

        1) I’m not so sure about that.
        2) really? “… the more untruth surfaces. Quite a remarkable statement.

        So doubt was more important to you than faith. You’ve established that. Others disagree, and that’s certainly room in my world for that, if not in your world.

        • “1) I’m not so sure about that.”
          It’s not important whether you are sure about that. I am sure about that, and as this is my experience we are talking about, that is enough.

          “2) really? … ‘the more untruth surfaces’. Quite a remarkable statement.”
          Yes, really. And it was also a remarkable experience. But that’s exactly what happened.

          “So doubt was more important to you than faith.”
          No, TRUTH was more important to me than faith. But thanks for trying to dismiss everything I was saying.

          • It’s not important whether you are sure about that. I am sure about that, and as this is my experience we are talking about, that is enough.

            This seems to make it clear that you want to be the defining authority. By the way, my phrase was to express doubt about your general statement, not about your specific statement (about yourself). Switching from the general to the specific is a nice trick for readers, but fallacious.

            As I said before , we’re been beyond apples and oranges, to asteroids and starfish — we’re using English, but not the same nomenclature and definitions.

          • “This seems to make it clear that you want to be the defining authority.”
            Not on everything. But on my own experience? Well yes.

            “As I said before , we’re been beyond apples and oranges, to asteroids and starfish — we’re using English, but not the same nomenclature and definitions.”
            Sweetie if you need to pretend that is so, so you can dismiss what I’ve said and tell your conscience that that’s okay, you go ahead. There’s no part of LDS language or thought that I don’t understand. I was raised with it. I was utterly steeped in it most of my adult life. I wholeheartedly believed it. And you’ve claimed most adamantly that you are well able to understand non-LDS thinking (even though you’ve at least twice misrepresented my words here), so that should mean we can communicate just fine. But the moment I strongly state that the church isn’t true, suddenly you are claiming we just can’t possibly understand each other. Yeah, okay. :)

          • Debbie, the LDS sect, is not only Not true, but it is actually an ant-Christian sect, heretical, if not blasphemous in nature because it promulgates another god, (god was a man, became a god , is married..etc ) a teaching/doctrine Not found in any of the so called LDS scriptures
            There is No foundation (alleged first vision father son bit of 1820) Joseph Smith invented the whole thing, actually there is not foundation facts in mormonism…the only true fact that can be corroborated, is the fact, that there was a man called J Smith…that is all….so Debbie stick to your convictions and read the book of John, in the Bible that is where John tells you who is the real Jesus, and He Jesus will reveal the Father to you

            Matt 11:27
            27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
            KJV

            Luke 10:22
            22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
            KJV
            And we don’t need any prophets . They were messengers/intermediates in the OT. Jesus God the Son is here Jesus is our mediator, our High Priest, OUR ADVOCATE

            Heb 1:1-3
            1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
            2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
            3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
            KJV

          • OR…I could stick to my convictions and reject all religious claims, because books like the Bible are just as manmade as the Book of Mormon. I mean seriously, you trying to discredit Mormon doctrine by quoting other Christian doctrine is like someone dissing the Jedi Order by quoting Starfleet’s Prime Directive.

          • Debbie….You have not done your homework, comparing the Bible against the BOM is impossible BOM and the Bible are separated by infinity…
            But I need to go to work…will give you a good answer tonight after I come back from work…

          • Please, don’t trouble yourself. I am an atheist now and I have no interest in hearing more about the Bible. Now that I am looking at the Bible without the filters of religion directing me towards only what is nice and good, I find God (as depicted in the Bible) to be quite callous, unreasonable and immoral, despite a few select verses saying he isn’t (please don’t quote them at me as if they matter – the whole of the Bible contains many more verses describing God in quite a different manner and I have not intention of taking the time to list them all in reply to you). There really is nothing you can say to interest me in Christianity, or any religion.

  26. The biggest mistake the early mormon church fathers made was to preach a different gospel than the one that the Apostle Paul preached. Some will think that I’m attacking mormons, but I’m not. A different gospel other than the one Paul preached is a gospel that does not save from judgment.

  27. I agree that this talk is a step in the right direction. However, what about “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith?” I do not see how “an acorn of honest inquiry has often matured and sprouted into a great oak” and “In a church that honors moral agency so strongly” fit together with not doubting your faith. If that is not the definition of “blind faith” (a common criticism of the church) then can anyone think of a better one?

  28. I read with great anticipation hoping that Mr. Mattisson had some new, refreshing or even original concerns about the church or it’s doctrine. Sadly – every issue he raises it more than 175 years old and has been dealt with over and over again. Joseph Smith practiced polygamy? Duh. A peep stone? – Read your history of early American folklore. Lame – how disappointing.

  29. I am one of those people who are inactive because my bishop lied to me and then when I found out, I couldn’t support him as my bishop and I decided I would wait till his term expired. When I was a single woman, I was transparent in my ward, not giving me any calling. I then married and all of a sudden I was included and given a calling. When I divorced my husband, I again became transparent. When a new bishop was called, I returned to the ward, made a conscious effort to seek out the bishop after sacrament meeting. He knew who I was and I reached out to shake hands with him, and he said nothing and turned his back on me. I have not been back. Do I still believe the gospel? Yes and I don’t drink or smoke because that is the way I was raised. Why would I go to church on Sundays when I leave feeling insignificant and unwanted? I am not alone with how I feel. Almost every divorced woman I know in the church is treated the same. We aren’t bad people and we don’t want your husbands. Do the priesthood leaders consider us a threat of some kind? I’d love to know why we are treated like we have the plague!

  30. I am an active member of the LDS Church. For personal reasons I am not going to go into I am struggling with staying in the church.

    Every situation is different. Each person has to find in their life what makes them happy.

    Because of my situation, I would not ever judge someone for whatever choices they make regarding the church. It’s up to them and I have no right to make any judgement.

    I don’t question the principles of the church. But I have many questions about my own life and events that have occurred. More questions than answers.

    The standard response… “Pray and you will find your answers” is not what I need. I have been a member and have had experiences with prayer that I will not mention here. No one need worry about my relationship with God except me.

    I hope to find the answers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.