Tag Archives: lds

Hard Pulling

The familial history on my mother’s side runs right back to the Mormon immigrants and their trek across the plains. Our family was part of the James G Willie Handcart Company, which was the first of two groups which make up the largest disaster in the history of American westward migration. Their story has been told to me more times than I can count, and referenced even more frequently.

Unfortunately, it seems that none of my forebearers saw fit to keep a journal or diary, so the specifics of their journey was and likely will remain a mystery. The story I was told while growing up, in brief, is that the family left England, had a baby on the ship (The Thornton), dragged their handcart across the plains, and were nearly starving when they arrived – the baby being nearly skeletal, but, thanks to a blessing they received, not a single member of the family died. Of course, it turns out that most of the immigrants from England/Liverpool received the exact same blessing – which was clearly ineffective for many of the poor victims who died in the cold and snow.

I never really learned more details than that. Here and there, but nothing very specific.

That has changed somewhat, in recent days, and I can thank Google for it.

I would like to share these sources with you:

  • http://handcart.byu.edu/
    • This site is really nice. It lays out the official company log for each day of the journey. It also includes commentary coorelating events from the company log with other diaries, journals, and sources. Though it is run by BYU, and does occasionally include dubious stories of a miraculous nature in (for example, a man who gives food to one company member, then mysteriously disappears – must have been a Three Nephite?), it really gives a detailed picture of the day to day doings of the company. If you merely want to read about the disastrous part, start on September 3rd, when they lost more than 30 head of cattle. (This site has since become inactive. If anyone has contacts with BYU History department, please ask them to reinstate this invaluable resource)
    • https://history.lds.org/overlandtravel
      • It looks as most of the above sources have been moved here, but not as nicely organized – with an annotated timeline, etc.
  • http://user.xmission.com/~nelsonb/willie.htm
    • This is a narrative written by John Chislett, who is a new hero of mine. He wrote his story for a book some years after the disaster. His story is riveting and corroborates and further details some of the specific events listed in the official log – including his personal burying of 15 people on the worst day of the Willie Company’s trek. (You can also download the full book in which this narrative first appeared from here: https://archive.org/details/rockymountainsai00stenrich
  • http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/south-pass-will-bagley/1117684719?ean=9780806144429
    • Will Bagley is a well respected historian of Western America, and, often, specifically Mormon history, much to his chagrin. This book contains a great deal more information than just the handcart disasters, which is fascinating in its own right, but he tells of this tragedy and rescue operation in stark, riveting detail. (I believe this is a Lendable book, so if you don’t want to buy a copy yourself, and you know my e-mail, let me know and I think I can lend it for two-weeks via Nook and Barnes and Noble)
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou47dupzoys
    • This is a lecture by Will Bagley on his findings about the handcart “experiment.” It is for a group of “post-Mormons”, which may make some religious folk uncomfortable, but the historical information is stunning.

Among the more shocking things I learned is that the trek was doomed, almost from the beginning, and that the leaders from SLC did little to alleviate the problem until it was far, far too late.

On September 4, 1856. During a storm in the night, more than 30 head of cattle were lost in a stampede. The company searched for three days, but didn’t find a single head. As a result, the wagons had to be pulled by what few oxen they had left – and the milk cows. The milk cows were not up to the task, so the wagons had to be lightened, which meant that 100lb. sacks of flour were loaded onto the handcarts instead!

On September 12, 1856, the company was met by President Franklin D. Richards and his entourage, who becomes the real villain in this story. The company informed Mr. Richards of their cattle misadventure and their plight. Instead of assisting, or sending for assistance, Mr. Richards rebuked Levi Savage for his opinion that it was likely suicide to continue without the cattle, esp. so late in the season, and then demanded that the company provide them with some meat. As John Chislett remembered:

One evening, as we were camped on the west bank of the North Bluff Fork of the Platte, a grand outfit of carriages and light wagons was driven into our camp from the East. Each vehicle was drawn by four horses or mules, and all the appointments seemed to be first rate. The occupants we soon found to be the apostle F. D. Richards, elders W. H. Kimball, G. D. Grant, Joseph A. Young, C. G. Webb, N. H. Felt, W. C. Dunbar, and others who were returning to Utah from missions abroad. They camped with us for the night, and in the morning a general meeting was called. Apostle Richards addressed us. He had been advised of the opposition brother Savage had made, and he rebuked him very severely in open meet- ing for his lack of faith in God. Richards gave us plenty of counsel to be faithful, prayerful, obedient to our leaders, etc., and wound up by prophesying in the name of Israel’s God that ‘ though it might storm on our ‘ right and on our left, the Lord would keep open our way before us and ‘ we should get to Zion in safety.’ This assurance had a telling effect on the people. To them it was ‘the voice of God.’ They gave a loud and hearty ‘ Amen,’ while tears of joy ran down their sunburnt cheeks. These brethren told Captain Willie they wanted some fresh meat, and he had our fattest calf killed for them. I am ashamed for humanity’s sake to say they took it. While we, four hundred in number, travelling so slowly and so far from home, with our mixed company of men, women, children, aged, sick, and infirm people, had no provisions to spare, had not enough for ourselves, in fact, these ‘elders in Israel,’ these ‘servants of God,’ took from us what we ourselves so greatly needed and went on in style with their splendid outfit, after preaching to us faith, patience, prayerfulness, and obedience to the priesthood.

Then as they arrived at Fort Laramie, the provisions that Mr. Richards promised them were not there. I hope that as Mr. Richards walked around SLC in the years after, he felt appropriately ashamed by the myriad of maimed and disfigured saints who managed to survive in spite of his negligent actions.

Their story is astonishing. It is also sickening and disturbing. But their story should never be forgotten. The narratives of these people are so enlightening not only into their fearsome plight, but also into the overland migration of the 1800’s.

“The ascent was sand; it caused very hard pulling.” – Levi Savage, September 15, 1856

Laying Up Treasures


“If a destitute family is faced with the decision of paying their tithing or eating, they should pay their tithing.” – Elder Lynn Robbins

“To those of you who pay your tithing, I commend you. To those of you who presently are not obeying the law of tithing, I invite you to consider your ways and repent.” – Elder David Bendar

 

The LDS Church is, again, investing in commercial development.  Rather than using their vast holding to help the poor, the needy, the sick, or even their own financially struggling members, they are, instead, helping to build a new stadium in SLC.

One argument often made by LDS apologists is that donated tithing is not used for these commercial ventures.  Instead, The Church uses investment income from their commercial enterprises (one might ask why these exist) to re-invest in the new project.  I’ve written of this before, with regards to City Creek and The Deseret Ranches,  What came to mind today was the following analogy.  I give you:

 

Gospel Profits

Tommy: Hey, Gordie, can you give me some money? I really need some money to fix my bike.

Gordie: No problem, brother. How much do you need?

Tommy: Well, I’m not sure exactly, but if you could spare like, maybe 10% of what’s in your wallet, that might cover it.

Gordie: That seems a weird way to ask for it. But, since you’re my brother, and I love you, OK. Here’s $10.

Tommy: . . . . Are you sure that’s 10%?

Gordie: Sure. I’ve got $110, so I gave you $10.

Tommy: Well, but technically, 10% of $110 is $11.

Gordie: . . . .

Tommy: . . . . Don’t you want to help me? If you help me, I’ll help you.

Grodie: . . . . Fine. Here’s another $1.

Tommy: Thank you! Thank you!

<Several Weeks Later>

Gordie: Hey, Tommy! Looks like you got your bike all fixed up!

Tommy: Sure did! Also got these awesome stickers to make it go faster! And some sweet new biking gloves!

Gordie: Um. Where’d you get the money for stickers and gloves?

Tommy: Oh, well, so, before I got my bike fixed, I took the money you gave me and I bought some candy bars. Then I sold the candy bars door to door, and made $15! Then I used that $15 and bought more candy bars, and made $25!  At the end of two weeks, I had $130!  So, then I used $80 to fix my bike and used the rest to buy the stickers and gloves!

Gordie: But, I gave you that money to fix your bike.

Tommy: I know! Thank you SO much!

Gordie: But you had money left over? Shouldn’t you have paid me back with the excess, or at least saved the money so that you didn’t need to ask for money next time?

Tommy: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Gordie:  Well, could you at least help me mow the…

Tommy:  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! <rides away>

 

 

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. – Matthew 6:19–21,24

 

An Uncomfortable Condition

“Don’t you dare bail. I am so furious with people who leave This Church. I don’t know whether ‘furious’ is a good apostolic word. But I am. What on earth kind of conviction is that? What kind of patty-cake, taffy-pull experience is that? As if none of this ever mattered. As if nothing in our contemporary life mattered. As if this is all just supposed to be “just exactly the way I want it and answer every one of my questions and pursue this and occupy that and defy this – and then maybe I’ll be a Latter-Day Saint!?” Well, there’s too much Irish in me for that.”
Apostle Jeffery R. Holland (audio link)

Mr. Holland was not yet an apostle when I was a Conference watcher, so I don’t have much experience with him, but may I offer a brief riposte to the above tersely worded statement?

Dare to bail.  I am so joyous when someone grabs hold of truth, and facts, and reason.  To take the path they know is right, even in the face of difficulty.  I don’t know whether ‘joyous’ is a very good heathen word.  But what on Earth kind of conviction does that take?  What kind of fidelity to veracity?   To let your ability to reason and logic lead you into the unknown and unfamiliar?  Just as if this all is exactly the way it is supposed to be, with all it’s warts and problems, and that “I don’t know, but I will strive to learn more” is a perfectly acceptable answer to hard questions.  To admit that knowing something with your heart isn’t the best way to know anything, and that not knowing is far more honest.

Well, I suppose there’s just enough skepticism in me for that.

Bail on beliefs that can be shown to be false.

Bail on beliefs that cause more strife than they relieve.

Bail on organizations that promise hope and deliver pain.

Bail on leaders who command sacrifice and give none of themselves.

In the words of a man much wiser than I, “Believe as many true things and as few false things as possible.”

“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a
ridiculous one.” – Voltair

Well Documented Evidence

“Some have mistakenly argued that any variation in the retelling of the story is evidence of fabrication. To the contrary, the rich historical record enables us to learn more about this remarkable event than we could if they were less well-documented.” — Richard J. Maynes, Seventy

The founder of the Mormon faith, Joseph Smith Jr., began his journey to prophet with an event that has been called “The First Vision.”  When I was growing up as a young Mormon boy, I was told that Joseph knelt to pray in a grove of trees to ask God which of the many churches was true.  According to the story I was told, Joseph was visited by both Heavenly Father (God) and Jesus Christ, who told him none of the churches were true, and that he was to found a new one.

In the 17 years I was active in The LDS Church, that was the only version of the story I ever heard.  It turns out that there are many versions, with widely differing timelines and subject matters.  The LDS Church even has an official essay on the subject, and you can read them for yourself at The Joseph Smith Papers Project.

FirstVisionsMormonInfographics

For many people, who were as ignorant to these facts as I once was, discovering this can be a bit faith-shaking.  This event is absolutely pivotal and essential in the Joseph Smith narrative, and the inconsistencies are troubling. One might think that such a momentous moment as meeting God, or God and Jesus, or an angel, or a Pillar of Fire, would be distinctly memorable.

If this is bothersome to you, let not  your heart be troubled;  Elder Richard Maynes explains how differing versions of an important story, with different dates, and different people, with different messages actually make The First Vision “the best-documented vision in history.”

To demonstrate my particular reaction to this breach of logic and reason, I present my original one-act play:

The Best Documented Dinner in History

[Scene:  Interior.  A small police department interrogation room.  Two detectives (Cop #1 and Cop #2 stand at a table in front of a seated ‘Gary’]

Cop #1: Hey, Gary. We brought you in because someone said they saw you over by the old Buckner place last Monday, just before it was robbed. Can you tell us where you were last Monday night? At about 7:30pm?

Gary: Oh. I was at dinner.

Cop #2: Yeah? Where’d you go? Any good?

Gary: Oh, yeah. New taco restaurant. ‘Los Amgios.’ Great chorizo.

Cop #1: That sounds great. What time did you get there?

Gary: Let me see. I started walking from my place at about 7:00.

Cop #2: And how far away do you live?

Gary: About 3 miles, which is why I took my bike.

Cop #1: But you just said you started walking?

Gary: That’s right I started walking over to Les Poissons, the French place.

Cop #2: Huh? Didn’t you say you were going to ‘Los Amigos’?

Gary: I did. It’s really good.

Cop #1: What about Les Poissons?

Gary: It’s really good.

Cop #2: Did you get a receipt?

Gary: Yup! It’s there in my wallet.

Cop #1: [shuffles through the wallet] Is this the one? To a restaurant called The Burger Bar?

Gary: Yup! I drove over there at a quarter after seven last Monday.

Cop #1: Is he putting me on, or am I putting him on?

Cop #2: So, on last Monday, you walked to a Mexican restaurant, biked to a French restaurant, and then drove to a burger joint, all on the same night, during roughly the same time period?

Gary: Of course! The consistent inconsistency proves how true it is.

A Wave of Truth

“You can leave The Church, but you can’t leave it alone.”

The quote above is a common phrase wielded at former members, like myself, who continue to expend time and energy to talk, write, and discuss various Mormon topics.

Members seem to wonder why those of us who don’t believe still care what anyone else believes?  This is not limited to Mormons; atheists are often asked the same question by believers of all faiths.

If anyone should understand the impetus to share new knowledge gained by hard work and research, however, it should be The Mormons.

The LDS Church sends out tens of thousands of missionaries each year.  Most of those young men and women leave home with the assurance they possess a knowledge that needs to be shared.  They know something that much of the world does not and are desperate to hear.

Those of us who have researched unofficial LDS History,  other faiths, religions, and philosophies also feel that we have discovered something that many around us have not.  We have new knowledge!  New information!  Many of us grew up in homes where knowing Church History was considered a duty and a virtue. When we encounter facts and writings and events that were heretofore unknown to us, our inclination and desire is to share it – especially with our loved ones – even if that knowledge contradicts and calls into question the claims of that same Church.

I left The LDS Church when young and angry and rebellious.  I tried once or twice to discuss my then less-than-scholarly objections with family members, only to feel unheard.  I think it discouraged me from being more frank and honest for years.  As I continue to read more and more, and learn more and more — and there is ALWAYS something more — I want to share my message.  I want to share what I believe to be the truth, as I have it.  I want those I love most to know what I know, because, ultimately it has made me happier and more fulfilled knowing that nothing needs be unquestioned.  Nothing needs be unresearched.  I can try (and fail) to understand EVERYTHING.  Just as LDS missionaries believe their message to be, I believe my message is one of joy and fulfillment!

A former ward-member once chastised me outside of the SLC Temple at a sibling’s wedding.  I penned an unsent letter in which I wrote:

I am not sorry for questioning my beliefs, past or current, even if it seems unpleasant to do so at the time.  I still remember the story of a 14-year-old boy questioning the teachings of those closest to him.

I often ponder Mormons’ seeming distaste for questioning the status quo of their faith whilst simultaneously holding Joseph Smith’s prayer in The Grove in such high esteem.  What if Joseph had been too afraid to walk into that grove?  Too afraid of destroying what he already knew with what he might learn?

Either knowing Church history is a virtue or a vice.  Either questioning is a virtue or a vice.  It can’t be both.

In that same letter, I also wrote:

I will grant that, however unlikely, it is possible that someday, due to continued searching and questioning, I may find that the initial teachings of my life were always correct.  If so, I will humbly admit my mistakes and return.  Having said that, if such a thing does occur, it will not because someone tells me that my father always wanted me to view the Temple, or because I want to see my sister’s wedding.  It will be because I have spent hours, years,  and perhaps decades in careful reflection of those beliefs.  There is no end on the journey for knowledge and understanding; only rest areas.

But you can’t find new knowledge by refusing to look for it.

http://www.cesletter.com

http://en.fairmormon.org/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Online_documents/Letter_to_a_CES_Director

http://cesletter.com/debunking-fairmormon/

Sinews of The Soul

This is my much-less polite and anger filled resignation letter, as opposed to the message I sent to my immediate family.  This was originally posted at The Friendly Atheist.

—-

Dear LDS Church,

It is amazing how much The Church has changed since my early Mormon upbringing. So many of the messages and teachings have changed and evolved over time. For example, when attending church:

Yes. This last revelation was the straw that finally prompted this long overdue letter.

Although I have found other policies of The LDS Church hurtful, ignorant, and bigoted, this last policy change seems so malicious. So full of hatred. And I won’t be a member of a hate group, even in name only.

I received many odd and certainly unique lessons on sexual morality, and was frequently told in oblique ways that homosexuality was a sin, I was never taught that this kind of sexual immorality would damn the salvation of my children.

The LDS Church claims to be a loving, knowledgeable, and charitable representative of a just and loving god, but their actions speak louder than their empty words.

Potential converts to The LDS Church are asked to commit to baptism in the first discussion, then rapidly pushed through a shallow and superficial version of The Church’s doctrine and history in a mad dash to get them under the water and on the membership roles.

Eight-year-old children are encouraged, expected, and demanded to make lifetime commitments they cannot possibly understand, to a church which continues to hide, obscure, and deny it’s history and doctrines.  Heavenly Fathers wants everyone, and quickly, before they start looking too deeply into the closet.

Except in this one special case; a child raised by same-sex parents.

Even if that child is raised in this fraud of a church by those loving, caring parents. Even if that child believes with all his/her tiny, pure heart that there is a Heavenly Father, and that Jesus knows and loves each of his beloved and innocent children. Even if all that child wants for their eighth birthday is to be washed clean of their supposed “sins.”

The LDS Church will tell them, “No. You are lesser in the eyes of Jesus and Heavenly Father.”

“Though you have done nothing wrong, your parents are the worst kind of sinners.  Jesus does not want you as a member of His church, nor will He take you until you are old enough to curse the names of those who loved and raised you, and shake the dust off your feet at their doorstep.”

As of the writing of this letter, I am an atheist and an ex-Mormon.  Should a Mormon member take my young child to be blessed into your twisted organization, however, my child would be accepted and blessed without pause or question because I am married to a member of the opposite sex.

This hate-filled policy is designed only to cause injury to an already injured population; the same-sex attracted people who The Church considers to be the loved children of Heavenly Father, who are doing their best to make it through this life whilst still maintaining some measure of belief in the deceitful message of eternity and love that you spout between vicious jabs at these wounded souls. It cannot and does not serve any other purpose.

This manipulative “guilt by association” is revolting behavior from anyone, let alone an organization which spends so much time talking out the side of its mouth about the importance and necessity of love, acceptance, and eternal families.

I have not claimed membership in this deception for years, but have never felt it useful or necessary to make it official. I do now. I cannot and will not allow you to continue to count me amongst your hateful, heinous, hurtful, and peculiar number any longer.

I hereby resign my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

A Next Step

Dear friends and family,

I want to let you know that I am resigning my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Though likely unwelcome news to many, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise as I have not regularly attended church service in nearly 20 years, and no longer believe in a god.  Why do I feel it necessary now? To officially cancel my ties with The Church? As has probably been guessed, the new anti-LGBT policies of The Church are the last straw for me.

I hurt so much for those true believing children who were just told by the trusted and beloved representatives of their loving Heavenly Father and Savior that they were lesser and unworthy.

I clearly remember my own child-like and singular love and trust in Jesus — so pure and innocent and all-consuming. Jesus, who gave only love and comfort and acceptance; never a rebuke, even in the face of sin.

Because I remember that so clearly, an image comes to me of having that very love and trust bludgeoned by a visit from President Benson, on the day of my Baptism, suddenly breaking the news to me that Jesus won’t have me as a member of His church today.

I can imagine my heart breaking in my chest as President Hinckley shows up at our ward house, and stops my father’s hands, only to tell me that Heavenly Father will not have me as a member of His Priesthood today.

I imagine being filled with such abject misery and hopelessness when my Primary teacher tells our class that “Heavenly Father needs and wants all of your chosen generation, but not you.  Not you.”

Though I no longer believe in the importance of these events, the thought of the children going through less dramatic but nonetheless real versions of those scenarios right now fills me with heartache. That’s why I’m angry for them. That’s why I hurt for them. That’s why I feel it necessary to take this action.

I’ve considered this final step over the years, but this is the reason I’ve finally decided it’s necessary; to protest a church claiming to speak for a God of love and acceptance, which instead seemingly teaches children hate, exclusion, and shame. Teaching them that they will not only be punished for their own sins, but also for their parents’ love.

I understand that we may have different understandings and interpretations of this policy. I have read several different official, semi-official, and unofficial attempts to explain how this new policy is not vicious nor malicious. I’ve watched D. Todd Christofferson’s reaction video. I’ve read the letter from The First Presidency. I’ve read the press-release from Michael Otterson. I sincerely disagree with all of these rationalizations and explanations.

I don’t mean to preach in this letter, but I felt I owed at least a brief explanation before I join the other compassionate and empathetic believers and non-believers in requesting that we no longer to be counted among the membership of this church.

If this hurts you personally, I am truly sorry. It is not my intent, though that may be cold comfort.

Any and all of you are more than welcome to tell me or ask me anything you like, so long as we can remain a loving family in doing so. I love and value and respect each of you and know that each of us is walking our own path as best we know how.

No Man a Minister

“He’s creating a mythology to take back to his people.  Same thing happened to Joseph Smith, and now The Mormons have a monopoly on the hotel industry.” – Dead Like Me

There may be some people – family, friends, Sunday School teachers – who still harbor hope that I will some day choose to return to The LDS flock. That may happen. I can’t rule it out.  If I were, with the knowledge I have gained wandering in the godless wilderness, my personal gospel testimony would probably sound a little different than it did when I was 14.

*Note: To my knowledge, none of the factual claims below are at all disputed by The LDS Church, and every link is to an LDS-friendly website (mostly LDS.org and FairMormon.org)

“I want to bear my testimony that I know The Church is true. I know that The Book of Mormon is the keystone to the gospel of Heavenly Father as restored by Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of The Lord, and that, when he was 16 or 14, years-old he was visited by God, The Father, and/or an angel, and/or The Savior, Jesus Christ. I know The Holy Spirit led Joseph Smith to a deep well where a sacred stone was hidden, which Joseph was able to use for treasure hunting and translation.

I have prayed and studied and felt the presence of The Holy Spirit when reading how Joseph Smith didn’t have or need or even use The Gold Plates in order to read the translated sacred words written in spiritual light on the sacred stone placed into his hat. And though there is virtually no archaeological, genetic, or scientific evidence that it is a historical document, and though it has been changed by The Prophets many times, I testify to you, my brothers and sisters, that The Book of Mormon is the most perfect book on Earth.

I have a testimony that Joseph Smith was similarly inspired by the seemingly common Egyptian funerary text to receive and translate the gospel written in The Book of Abraham, and that by following the words within its pages, we can all, some day, hie to Kolob and meet with Our Lord.

I know that polygamy, as revealed and practiced by Joseph Smith, was a righteous principle, anointed by The Lord. And though, for secular reasons, the mortal practice was commanded to be ceased, I know that spiritual polygamy is still the law in The Celestial Kingdom. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Joseph Smith was commanded by The Holy Spirit to marry the 16-year-old girl, Fanny Alger, who was, herself, led by The Spirit to live with Joseph and Emma in Nauvoo before becoming his first secret spiritual wife.

I have faith that all of the prophets from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson, are God’s representatives here on the Earth, and that they speak to and for Our Lord and Savior, and reveal the truths of the restored gospel.

And though Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and countless other apostles are imperfect men, who occasionally lead The Church astray by exhibiting the racist mistakes of their times, and make other mistaken prophecies, there is no doubt in my mind that Thomas S. Monson and his counselors clearly speak for The Lord when they tell us that marriage is between one man and one woman, and it will always be that way.”

 

I wonder at what point in the previous I would be asked to sit down.  Should you remain a believer and find yourself uncomfortable with any statement in the writing above, you may have some studying and thinking to do.

A Quicksand of Deceit

“They are as sick that surfiet with too much as they that starve with nothing.” – William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

My wife and I have been known to give amounts of our income to charity.  When we do, we always attempt due diligence to ensure that they money we give is not being squandered. We visit Charity Navigator, and other websites in an attempt to learn how much of our money actually gets to the intended recipient. Some charities are just terrible; with overpaid CEOs and staff, extravagant management costs, buildings, fundraising costs, etc. As we want to help as many people as we can with our donation, we avoid those. Others, like The Road Home, do so much with so little, it’s hard not to want to give them more and more so that they can help everyone in need.

This is probably why I gasp in awe, wonder, and justifiable rage at the singular audacity of The LDS Church.

We’ve known for years that they hold profit making companies and corporations – largely renamed or built into a tangled web of corporations and holding companies in attempt to conceal direct involvement (Bonneville Communications, Property Reserve Inc, Deseret Ranches, etc.) For some reason, The LDS Church owning broadcast stations never bothered me. I thought it funny that they often aired the most euphemistic and humorously filthy shows on television (Will & Grace, Friends), but it didn’t really bother me. It seemed largely out in the open – everyone knew that KSL meant “LDS News”.

City Creek, on the other hand. That bothers me. That bothers me a lot. The LDS Church used tithed money – money they require from their parishioners in order to remain in Temple Worthy standing – to buy and build a giant for-profit shopping center. Not a church. Not a Temple. Not a meetinghouse. Not a humanitarian aid station. Rather, a glorious monument to excess, gluttony, and opulence.

But, the restaurants there will not sell alcohol, because Mormons consider drinking alcohol a vicious sin.

Oh. Well, rather than scare off all those exceedingly profitable eating establishments, who won’t come near a location upon which they cannot sell booze, The LDS Church chooses to manipulate their leasing and perceived ownership through a third party to make sure they can say, “We don’t profit from the selling of demon alcohol,” while profiting from the selling of demon alcohol.

I’ve seen it argued on LDS apologist websites that no tithed money was used. Nonsense. Accounting tricks may, apparently, fool God, but they do not fool me. The apologists claim that only dividends from previously invested tithed money was used to pay for the $1.5 billion shopping atrocity. Why was that money invested in dividend-providing accounts in the first place? Why does any tithed money go unused? Why is it not, instead, used to invest in future tithers – er – members? Why was that money not used to build more churches? Open more missions? Recruit more missionaries? Lower the financial burden for faithful missionary families. Increase humanitarian aid? Or – ha ha ha – reduce the amount of tithing that members are required to pay? I feel that at least one of those alternative investments might be something a certain Nazarene might feel comfortable in endorsing.

Not content with the success of its lecherous City Creek experiment, The LDS Church is seeking to build another monument to its seemingly true focus of worship; currency.

Under the name of ‘Deseret Ranches’ in Florida, The LDS Church is planning, along with other organizations, “a decades-long rise of a Central Florida metropolis of a half-million residents within a 133,000-acre corner of the county.

Revolting.

Mormon families are often counseled to pay their tithing first. A whopping 10% straight off the gross amount of their income. Before shelter. Before food. Before medical expenses. The Church needs have the first taste.

From the December 2012 issue of the church owned magazine, The Ensign:

If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing. The Lord will not abandon you.”

In my godless opinion, it is of the utmost immorality to ask this massive sacrifice of church members whilst The Twelve Apostles and other General Authorities are given generous stipends, who then use the monumental excess of tithed money (and their dividends), not to spread The Word of God into “Every corner of the Earth”, not to feed the starving, nor clothe the need, nor heal the sick and suffering, but rather to ensure that their coffers continue to overflow with glorious abundance.

We Have Found A Witch

“We did do the nose.  And the hat.  But she’s a witch !”
— Monty Python and The Holy Grail

Apparently, some LDS Bishops are on a witch hunt.  According to the latest Mormon Stories podcast, after not attending church for more than four years, Taylor Knuth-Bishop has been called before an LDS disciplinary council to face possible [likely] excommunication.  Taylor and his husband, Sean, were among those happy couples married, on-stage, by Queen Latifa at the Grammy Awards in 2014.

Taylor lives in New York, but recently moved back to Utah for the summer in order to help plan his sister’s wedding.  One night, while preparing dinner, the Bishop of the LDS ward he attended as a teenager called and asked to speak with him.  Taylor was informed that they intended to hold a disciplinary council based on his “choice” to marry Sean and the “lifestyle you have chosen.”

excommunicationIf God really wants to remove from Church membership, those of us who no longer believe and who live “lifestyles” that irritate The Almighty, He’d best get crackin’; there are millions of us.

As much as it doesn’t make sense to me that otherwise faithful people like The September Six or Kate Kelly are excommunicated for pointing out inconvenient facts, it makes even less sense to go after people who no longer really have any interest or affiliation with the LDS Church.  In fact, it seems very much like an old fashioned witch hunt – which stokes the fire, anger, hatred, and persecution complex of the still faithful and the expense of those deemed to be disposable.

According to Mormon Stories, at least two other couples have claimed that they now face disciplinary councils for the same reasons.

Taylor declined to attend his trial and, instead, sent this letter.