Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rewriting History, Dishonest Advertising, False Propaganda, & the Sin of Omission in Mormonism

2018 Update: Note that this was written in 2010, and many things have changed in Mormonism since then. For example, around 2013 the LDS church began publishing essays that include the admittance that Smith used a seer stone and a hat in the alleged translation of the Book of Mormon. This blog post documents the past but is not current with the recent changes in LDS doctrine and policy post 2013.

"And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.' ... Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary" ~ George Orwell, 1984, Chapter 3.

“Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer…There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.” ~ LDS leader, Boyd K. Packer, The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect, 1981.

Similar to Oceania -- a future state where an authoritarian political party controls everything and distorts the truth by rewriting history -- the LDS church also rewrites history; only Mormonism is a real organization not a fictional party in a novel. For evidence of this see chapters 2 and 3 of The Changing World of Mormonism. For several links to more evidence of this see the section titled MORMON FALSIFICATION OF MORMON HISTORY at the bottom of this page here.

Also see the message board thread: Smoke and mirrors: Changing Mormon Church history to bolster belief in the truth. Note: I don't support Benson's polemics or use of negative terms to refer to Mormons but I agree with his point in this thread.

The leaders of the Mormon Church also present dishonest information and a false image to the world by promoting false advertising and marketing stratagies which are perpetuated by the uninformed LDS membership. The following brief list of just a few examples is provided with links for more information.

• The LDS church claims Smith saw two Deities in his First Vision, and after this vision he immediately knew and proclaimed that the Father is a personage of tabernacle (flesh and bone). This is false.

• The LDS church presents images of Smith actually reading and translating from the alleged Gold Plates in front of him as if he learned Egyptian and translated it into English. This is false.

• LDS church leaders and apologists are now claiming that the doctrine that “as man is God once was and as God is man may become” isn’t really doctrine. They are also claiming that LDS scriptures and official doctrine don’t teach that man may become a God, but only a god. This is false.

• The LDS church presents to the public the image that Smith was monogamous in their church manuals by omitting his plural marriages; and the church doesn’t correct LDS members who say that polygamy was only practiced to care for the widows. Both are false. Also, see here for evidence that Mormon doctrine holds that the practice of polygamy is a requirement for Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. For more evidence, see my essay Daughters of Zion, Where's Your Pride?

• The LDS church presents the image that Smith abstained from alcohol. Growing up in the church I was told the story of Smith refusing alcohol the doctor offered him to numb his pain during a surgery on his leg in his youth. The idea that Smith didn’t consume alcohol throughout his life all the way up to the day he died is false.

• LDS leaders keep saying they don’t know why blacks were denied the priesthood and that it wasn't doctrine but merely a policy of the church, when in fact on August 17, 1949 the First Presidency of the Mormon Church stated officially:

The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said: “Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.” President Wilford Woodruff made the following statement: “The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.” ...

The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes. [end quote].

Source: Neither White nor Black by Lester E. Bush, Jr. and Armand L. Mauss, eds. Appendix: Authoritative Statements on the Status of Blacks.

Missionaries were also told not to proselyte to blacks before 1978 which most LDS members born after 1978 are unaware of. When I was in college I became friends with an African American in one of my classes who was a fellow former Mormon and when I asked if he left because of the racial policy and seed of Cain doctrine he didn’t know about this. He managed to remain an LDS member for over a year without knowing any of this. He had left the church for different reasons but when he found this out he was hurt he wasn’t told these facts upfront.

• The LDS church encourages its members and missionaries to use traditional Protestant language when discussing Mormon theology. For example, instead of referring to the “Gods,” Mormons are encouraged to speak only of God or the Godhead, thus misleading the public and investigators. Missionaries are encouraged to read the Book of Mormon with investigators while avoiding the LDS Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price that speaks of "Gods" plural. When I was a missionary I remember reading The Discourses of Brigham Young and how he, over and over again, referred to the “Gods” plural. At the time this sounded more harmonious to my ears knowing true Mormon theology yet as a missionary I continued to use traditional Protestant language as I was taught and encouraged to do.

• The LDS church does not tell investigators up front that they will be expected to change their underwear habits and put on sacred/secret underwear with supernatural/magical powers that they must wear night and day in order to be considered a worthy Mormon.

• Investigators of Mormonism are not forewarned that they will have to learn secret handshakes and passwords in the temple in order to get into the Mormon heaven. They are also not told that they will eventually be expected to swear several serious oaths in the Mormon temple. Some of these oaths include:

-- Swearing allegiance to Mormonism by pledging with a group of Mormons to "sacrifice all that we possess, even our own lives if necessary, in sustaining and defending the Kingdom of God [i.e., the Mormon church]."
-- Swearing to “avoid all … loud laughter, evil speaking of the Lord's anointed [i.e., the leaders of the Mormon church] …”
-- Swearing with the group "that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth [i.e. the spread of Mormonism] and for the establishment of Zion."

I can’t think of any other religion that withholds as much information from the public and flat out distorts or covers up the true history and facts related to the religion. This is at least the sin of omission by way of covering up and distorting the whole picture.

Missionaries are trained by Mormon authorities to avoid offering Full Disclosure to their investigators (clients). This is on par with a salesperson withholding pertinent information to the buyer.

Instead of offering full-disclosure and pertinent information the LDS church appeals to emotions. I was a missionary in the 90s so I know all about the ways missionaries are trained to appeal to subjective feelings and manipulate the investigator's emotions. For example, we were trained to “identify the spirit,” which meant we’d create an emotional atmosphere with our tone of voice, body language, and personal experiences while discussing the Book of Mormon with our investigators. We were trained to share personal stories and talk in a certain way in order to elicit a reaction (the reaction was called "creating room for the spirit"). After getting them to say they were feeling good after we set the stage, we’d say things like, “that feeling of warmth you feel as we discuss the Book of Mormon is the 'spirit' telling you Mormonism is true.” Thus we’d tie the spiritual experience to the Book of Mormon in order to create an association in their mind between the two. I am not denying that people feel genuine spiritual experiences, but to say these subjective experiences about the Book of Mormon proves all of Mormonism is true is illogical, for there are Book of Mormon believers in Missouri and all around the world who have a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon but reject Utah Mormonism. There are also many Christians who have spiritual experiences that they say proves to them Mormonism is false.

We would rely on the "relationship of trust" we developed with them while doing this. All the while withholding information from them as we were trained, and unknowingly presenting a less than honest picture of Mormon origins to the investigator as we were just doing what we were told as obedient servants of our church.

When the LDS church deceived the public about Smith’s practice of polygamy this mislead converts who joined believing the LDS faith was a monogamous organization, only to find out later it was not. For evidence of this compare the 1835 D&C, section 101, with the introductory statement in today’s D&C 132 where it states: “it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation [polygamy] had been known [and practiced] by the Prophet [Joseph Smith] since 1831…” (words in brackets are my own). This is evidence, in LDS scripture, that while Smith and several LDS members were practicing polygamy the LDS church deceived the public by stating in the 1835 D&C that none of its members were polygamous; for a confusing rationalization by Mormon apologists who appear to say the church unintentionally lied due to internal strife between Cowdery and Smith, and for a detailed response by a former Mormon see the following links:



For further evidence of the LDS church's habits of distorting and covering up its own history see:

Mormon church manual paints polygamist Young as monogamist

> chapter 13 of The Changing World of Mormonism.

> MORMON LYING By Richard Packham.

Rip Off Report by Lyndon Lamborn

I also recommend The Mormon Delusion. Volume 4. The Mormon Missionary Lessons - A Conspiracy to Deceive By Jim Whitefield. I haven't read this book yet, but I have read other works by Whitfield and watched him on Youtube and find his historical analysis excellent and accurate.


Seth R. said...

I wonder what sort of stuff you think the Democratic Party ought to be disclosing to all people who want to become members?

William Kempton said...

What do you think the Democrat or Republican Party (or any other political party) should disclose to its investigators Seth? In all due respect is that a real question or just a way to divert attention away from my post? Is your question an attempt at misdirection, a Red Herring fallacy, which would also be a False Analogy?

Are you attempting to compare a political party to a religion when political parties don’t claim to be God’s only organization on earth that is run by direct revelation to its top leaders?

Do the main political parties have secret rituals where members are encouraged to swear oaths of secrecy and total commitment to the party and then commit to wearing special underwear night and day? Do these political parties withhold pertinent information to the investigator and then tell the membership to avoid listening to the opposing party’s point of view? Do they discourage debate and just bear testimony that they had a subjective feeling that proves their party is best?

Then again, maybe your question was sincere?


Your question kind of reminded me of Jeff Ricks’ response to Wade Englund on the message board thread titled, A violation of "truth in advertising"? (http://www.mormonapologetics.org/topic/46665-a-violation-of-truth-in-advertising/ ) where Ricks wrote:
“Wade, I'm going to try another tack at this. My issue with the Church is it's dishonesty. I've clearly shown one example [the church portraying Smith actually translating the Gold Plates in front of him] where the church is deceptive and dishonest and asked you to explain why it's not. It's a very simple request, Wade. I'm not asking you to lay a legal foundation before you respond. It's simple: Is the Church being dishonest or not in the case I pointed out? Yes or no? If no then please explain why.

I know exactly what you've been trying to do instead, and why. You've been attempting the get me to jump through hoops that aren't relevant to the above very simple issue, because apparently you don't want to respond because you realize that what the church is doing in this instance IS dishonest and you don't want to publicly admit that. So, you're attempting to divert the issue into one that you define and you claim that's my issue. It's a peripheral issue at best, Wade. THE issue is the church's dishonesty, not is the church legally required to change its advertising. Please respond to THE issue, Wade. If you refuse or continue dodging it then in my opinion you're not a very good apologist, you're just good at dodging things you don't want to acknowledge (and I'm being generous when I say "good at" it).” By Jeff_Ricks: 06 December 2009

You’re not also trying to get me to jump through hoops are you Seth? After all remember Seth you have said the following online:

“Personally, I wish the Church would just take the time to educate members on these facts [referring to Smith’s use of the seer stone in a hat]. Like sex-ed, better to get the facts from a sympathetic and nurturing voice, than from the playground” (http://bycommonconsent.com/2005/11/07/south-park-peepstones-and-mormon-general-knowledge/#comment-48153).

“In my view, if the Church chooses to artistically portray the Book of Mormon translation process, it would be best to do so in a way that is faithful to the historical accounts we have available. I put this assertion forth for two primary reasons; 1) Remaining absolutely faithful to the historic accounts would allow the Church to “avoid the very appearance of evil” and in no way could be considered misleading, and 2) the Church is actually doing itself a disservice with its “media-friendly” portrayal of the translation process.” (http://www.sethpayne.com/?p=794).

I commend you for your honesty Seth. If only your top leaders would follow your ethical advice.

Seth R. said...

A lot of those things I wish the LDS Church would disclose so it doesn't come as some sort of surprise when critics try to exploit it.

Not because I think they're particularly important to Mormonism per se. I don't think whether Joseph used a hat, or read from plates, or used a voodoo ritual is particularly important to the central message of Mormonism. It's only an issue because critics MAKE it an issue.

Most of what the LDS curriculum deals in is summaries of LDS history. It doesn't pretend to be comprehensive. For that, people are encouraged to engage in personal study.

And I don't recall anywhere the claim that being God's true Church exempted you from the same influences and concerns of other human organizations. So I think the analogy works perfectly fine.

William Kempton said...

It is not my intention to “exploit” but to inform investigators and to express my opinion that those things you also wish the church would disclose are important to know and do make a difference; and for the church to distort and withhold that information is dishonest. I think we both want the truth told upfront. I’m no different than a detective presenting evidence he’s gathered. Again I commend you for agreeing that the LDS church should disclose a lot of the things I mentioned in my post above.

So you wouldn’t care if Smith used a “voo doo ritual?” Was that hyperbole or were you serious? Wow. Well, I don’t need to make it an issue Seth, the method Smith used for the BofM is important; for if he deceived people with his peep stone saying it showed him how to find buried treasure and then used the same divination method to claim to “read” the contents of the BofM from this same peep stone; that’s AN ISSUE Seth. You can try to make it a NON-ISSUE, good luck, but it IS an ISSUE without me having to make it into one. The facts speak for themselves. See my full post on the seer stone here: http://postmormon.blogspot.com/2009/06/josephs-urum-thummim-aka-his-magic-seer.html . Someone may attack the messenger but the facts in the message aren’t going away.

I understand that your opinion is that it’s not important. You have your opinion and I have mine. We can agree to disagree.

Here’s the bottom line Seth. Most Mormons don’t know what you seem to know. When they find out they usually become shocked and disappointed as you point out. They get upset because they were encouraged to only read church approved literature which in turn withholds information (for a recent example see http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/58411/Use-proper-sources.html ). When they do step outside church approved literature and learn things the LDS church distorts or covers up they are scolded by LDS apologists for not finding out that information sooner, after they had been encouraged their whole life by church leaders to only read church approved literature. If you deny this, then your experience is different from mine and the majority of former Mormons I know.

How can members obtain the truth through personal study Seth when they are discouraged from reading the critics and even the LDS scriptures have been changed; for example section 8 of the D&C changed any mention of Oliver’s divining rod to the gift of Aaron. See http://mormonthink.com/rodofaaron.htm . The D&C was changed from saying basically that men can become “Gods” to men can become “gods.” See my post above for the link to evidence of this. This information is not readily available in church approved books and articles for personal study. If the Mormon really wants to become informed they have to read secular historians and the critics of the church. But anything that isn’t faith promoting is considered “anti-Mormon” in LDS culture, so MOST Mormons remain uninformed as the church seems to want it.

You can’t have it both ways Seth. You can’t get frustrated with the critics when they seek to inform investigators because they aren’t loyal to the institution like you are; then turn around and wish the church would disclose the same things the critics want disclosed in order to inform investigators; and then turn around and not hold your church accountable to offer full disclosure in church materials with the excuse that humans run it, when Mormons also say it is a church run by direct revelation and church leaders are on record saying things like, “Some things that are true are not very useful” (e.g. see the Packer quote I added at the top of my post above).

Continued below ...

William Kempton said...

As I was writing my response I came across the following in a blog by an LDS gentleman:

How … are members supposed to have a more enlightened view of the Church if all that is presented are faith-promoting stories about our history? If we are never or rarely taught about the troubling aspects of the historical record how would most members know they exist?

The Internet has made the more seedy side of church history accessible to lay members of the LDS faith. I’ve heard it said by apologists that all the Church has to do to hide something from its members is put it in a book. My question is, why would members bother reading “extracurricular material” when they trust that the Church would be providing them with accurate and complete information? I never dreamed that after taking nearly every institute class offered by the Church that I would not be aware of issues like Joseph’s polyandry, The Book of Abraham and Book of Mormon issues, the different versions of the first vision, ugly statements made by early leaders of the Church about blacks, and other less faith building facts. Considering I received well above passing grades in all my religion coursework (Averaged B+) and attended faithfully, I do not believe I somehow missed it.

In my opinion if the Church really wanted people to be informed of these issues they would be talked about openly and honestly, when appropriate, in weekly meetings at church. Until that happens the vast majority of members will be ignorant of the issues facing the Church. When a faithful member does discover the full history he/she wonders why the Church was not willing to trust them with the information.
They also wonder why the Church doesn’t have at least some official explanation for the disconcerting points in our history. It is the lack of discussion among members that worries the questioner, not necessarily the fact that the problems exist. …

Brian Hauglid’s at the FAIR conference … said, ‘We would do well to shy away from dogmatism and accusatory innuendo as this can engender misunderstanding and smacks of snobbery. Sometimes, we may even need to acknowledge with candor the reality of true facts critics bring up and also good arguments they might put forth”. Source: http://mormonstalk.wordpress.com/2008/09/09/flagging-faith/

Continued ...

William Kempton said...

Seth wrote: “And I don't recall anywhere the claim that being God's true Church exempted you from the same influences and concerns of other human organizations. So I think the analogy works perfectly fine.”

Is this an attempt at misdirection, a Red Herring fallacy, which would also be a False Analogy? Are you attempting to compare other human organizations that don’t claim to be God’s only organization that is run by direct revelation?

So if you can find any other organization run by humans that does similar things the Mormon Church does (still waiting for an accurate comparison based on my comments above: secret rituals, oaths, & underwear, claiming a book is historical when most historians say it isn’t, claims to direct revelation, etc.) then that exempts the Mormon Church from being misleading and engaging in covering up the truth? Isn’t that line of thinking the Fallacy: Two Wrongs Make a Right?

So you don’t think that an organization that is claimed to be led by a Divine Being that provides direct revelation to its leaders should be expected to behave differently, more ethically, than a secular organization? Do you mean to say that you judge Mormonism as if it were secular rather than allegedly divinely led and inspired? Don’t you think that a religion with the title “The Church of Jesus Christ …,” and claims to be “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth …” (D&C 1: 30), should perhaps be held to a higher standard than other organizations? Should the LDS church be doing what you yourself are opposed to Seth?

You are protesting as an insider and I am protesting from the outside. What if every LDS insider joined us former Mormons in the pursuit of holding the LDS church accountable and demanded it present the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? If EVERY single LDS member knew the facts and demanded honesty from their leaders wouldn’t that be better than the current state of affairs?

P.S. I just realized that I mistakenly misquoted you in my above comment as I don’t think you are the person who runs www.sethpayne.com. My apologies for the mistake. Blogger doesn’t let me edit my comments so I can’t permanently fix it.

~The Bargain Babe said...

Most of this I have heard before, but the no loud laughter...really? I mean like when you are with a group of friends and someone says something really funny, you aren't supposed to laugh loudly? Well. If that is the case I wouldn't be allowed to be a mormon even if I wanted to.
I laugh and I laugh loud. :)

Anonymous said...

It is sad that every square inch of Mormon literature and Doctrine has come under scrutiny in our time. Growing up in Africa, the local leaders and visiting leaders made everything look esquisite. Local leaders did not have any idea of THE DANITES AND THE COUNCIL OF THE 50, THE KINDEHOOK PLATES, WARRANTS ISSUED TO ARREST JOSEPH SMITH ETC. I am sure if we had one hundredth of the literature here, many more would have shied away from this problem Now they are coming to know and begining to express regret. Very sad. They are hearing about issues surrounding the Braziling Temple in 1976 that pushed for revelation about BLACKS AND MEMBERSHIP. It looks like every mormon doctrine you touch has some rust waiting to be scrubbed and repainted.
Look, wisedom does not rest in one head--change your tactics and free the people to speak. Somebody in the congregation will help with a suggestion that would free you from this rusty prison.

Anonymous said...

Sometime back we head testimonies, talks, and read ensigns that made us believe that this is the only true church, and all other were abomination before the law. And if any one would get to the Lord it has be through this gate. Now, those that denedrated are calling us to repentance. They have soo much proof that we have secummed. Now, we are applying brakes on WE ARE THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH slogan.

Lance said...

Mormonism is a modern mystery religion due to the exclusivity of their temples and the secrecy surrounding the rituals performed within them. If you point this out to a well indoctrinated Mormon, they'll counter with the statement that the temple and it's ceremonies are sacred, not secret.

They may well be considered sacred by Mormons, but they're still secret, and that makes Mormonism a modern mystery religion.

And of course, these mystery religion ceremonies have been altered in an always-at-least-one-step-behind attempt to keep up with changes in society.

A Short List of Reasons Why I am Not a New Order Mormon and Decided to Resign

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