Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt

The church is grappling with a wave of disillusionment among members who encountered information that sabotages what they were taught about their faith.
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You say "It's doubtful that most 'believers' in any religion expect to find empirical proof of what is written in whatever scripture defines the religion." Keep in mind that in the US, there is a well-funded industry devoted to defending the Book of Genesis--and by extension, the entire Christian bible-- as providing literal, factual, truth. Take a look at the Discovery Institute, Answers in Genesis, etc., etc. This is why so many state and local school boards continually try to adopt policies that allow or require public schools to offer biblical creationist views of human origins as a credible alternative to standard evolutionary science. It's often called "teach the controversy". Of course, there really isn't a controversy except in the minds of members of fundamentalist Christian sects.

9 2018-05-21 12:56:40 - bill lipe

The same is true for all religions. The only difference being how much control over the minds and beliefs of its members the Mormon Church exercises.

44 2017-08-25 02:42:12 - Larry Figdill

Sorry, Zach, but religion does NOT teach "morals" -- it teaches RULES. And more importantly, it teaches that the "rules" are whatever your annointed "leader" (priest, minister, pastor, elder, pope, rabbi, imam, or any other title) tells you they are. And those "rules" can be totally arbitrary, contradictory, and/or nonsensical, but can never be questioned. That is why, for example, a religion that preaches "Thou shalt not kill" can also be completely comfortable supporting capital punishment, "just" war, and the murder of abortion doctors. Your leader says so, and you are damned if you ask why.

"Morals", on the other hand, are universal. They do not shift with the political winds (or the party affiliation of the President), and they apply to equally to everyone regardless of whether or not they are part of the same tribe. Morals are never something to be followed blindly, but rather are the basis for how we live our lives and how we approach difficult decisions. Our morals give us guidance, not black and white rules.

14 2017-08-07 06:18:20 - Happy retiree

Mary the virgin mother foretold in Isaiah was the only human conceived after the sin of Adam to be conceived without the stain of that first sin. Mary was then The one and only, " Immaculate Conception " chosen by God millennia before she existed to be the one untouched by sin in any way and thus worthy to hold within her the living God who would be the Savior of the world. You should at least attempt to know something about the subject before proving your complete ignorance.

0 2017-08-03 04:32:27 - Ed Burke

Plenty of Mormons are good people. You can be deluded and still be good, as the Catholics and Baptist have shown us for centuries. You can also be patently evil and lead a church and no one needs the internet to verify that.

The question is this: What good is god?

God just does not work. You can't use the concept to feed, house, clothe, cure, enrich, or educate. It does not work in any setting except those which can easily be explained by chance. Competing versions of it cause hard feelings between groups that divide humanity and are used to justify murder and mayhem.

Mankind has finally come to a point where we do have tools that are useful. Science and education accomplish things. The enhancement of the human spirit is a worthwhile pursuit, and to the extent that religion and philosophy do that, they are good to have around. But using religion to set public policy and inform decision making based on the advice of human-invented, imaginary supernatural creatures is infantile, both on the personal level and on the species level.

We should be well beyond it by now. Whenever I hear of the faithful finally abandoning fantasy, I am encouraged.

11 2017-07-03 11:06:22 - fauxscot

I, too, find your second paragraph laughable. The church is TERRIBLE at all of those things! Mormons are the most judgmental, catty, fake, un-Christlike people I've ever met. "Morality is doing what's right, regardless of what you're told; religion is doing what you're told, regardless of what's right." To me, that sums up my experience with Mormonism. It's so much easier to be a good, moral person without the harmful teachings of the church. And I have a WHOLE lot more time and money to spend on my family, not to mention better relationships with them without the church involved. To borrow your logic, as long as we non-believers live good, happy lives, full of kindness and service to others, then what do we have to fear? If there is a God, I know he would not fault the billions of people out there who lived righteous, upstanding lives, but didn't know the secret handshake.

5 2017-06-22 22:10:26 - Former Mormon

I hope you are not suffering from the delusion that internet information is necessarily knowledge.

0 2017-06-20 20:03:57 - In awe

I think a main reason that there are now 'doubters' in the Mormon Church is because they put a high price on education. I used to live in Mississippi - buckle of the Bible belt- and the Southern Baptists do NOT place a high price on education, at all. For example, the Mormons have a far higher rate of college graduates than the Baptists. The Baptists are 'lectured' to by the preachers' sermons that if they don't believe EXACTLY in what they must and must not do - they will burn in hell. It is this belief that is central to their religion. And - if they do not do what the Baptist church tells them to, then its the DEVIL that has 'gotten' to them.
For example, my husband was a professor at a state university in Mississippi. He taught anthropology, and in the Intro course he always discussed different cultures' views of 'marriage'. He taught about polyandry, polygamy, gay couples, etc., - how other cultures world-wide practice 'marriage. EACH SESSION, AT LEAST 5 STUDENTS WOULD GET UP AND LEAVE THE CLASSROOM. After all, they were not supposed to listen to the 'DEVIL'. So, even if Baptists do go to college, their religion comes first.
Mormons don't do this. They truly respect education.

27 2017-05-16 06:27:36 - Helene

Almost nobody I taught on my foreign mission had access to this information. Also, the rules restricting what I was allowed to read and study prevented me from having any access to this information. I discovered FARMS (maxwell institute) the last day of my mission in the airport and the world of Mormonism began to unravel itself--poor argument after poor argument.

The church actively discourages its members from exposing themselves to this kind of material--and when you do learn about it and try to talk about it with other members, you quickly realize that almost nobody is aware of it and instead treat you like an apostate.

You are definitely an exception and not the rule. I own books like "Rough Stone Rolling" (sold at the BYU bookstore) that I keep hidden because they are offensive to my family members.

0 2017-05-15 23:17:48 - Chris

My heart goes out to those of you struggling with doubt - I can only imagine what it would be like to have your life turned upside down. I am an active Mormon and am very much aware of some of the turmoil in the early church. I think it is important to remember that the Lord asked some very ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Early church leaders were not tenured professors at Harvard, they were farmers; many of them had little to no education. They were human, and as humans they were bound to make mistakes. The scriptures are filled with examples of prophets who felt inadequate for the mission they had been called to carry out. Some of them tried to hide form the Lord (e.g., Jonah), but nonetheless, they had to comply.

I imagine church leaders aren't trying to skirt around questions - they may just not have the answers yet, and they want to communicate clear, consistent messages. The last thing they need to do is to respond without having clear answers as this would only make matters worse. At the end of the day, that answer won't change the fact that the gospel is true. The church Christ formed when He was on the earth has been restored in the latter days - just as promised in Isaiah and other scriptures. Prophets are on the earth again, and yes, they are human and may make occasional mistakes, but when they speak on behalf of the Lord, what they speak is truth. Thanks to God's answers to prayers, I know this to be true

2 2017-05-03 15:25:52 - JustStoppingThrough

So you're questioning the faith of people here who are openly questioning their faith. That kind of "if-you-were-a-real-Christian" shaming technique seems a bit redundant. (I'm starting to get an idea of what Sunday school must feel like for these poor guys).

And asking people who were raised what they were why they were what they were . . . .now I'm confused too! Dizzy!

The idea that fundamentalists deny their children the right to choose (even their teenage "children") does not seem to enter into your logic. Some people come to understand the personal violation of having their "personal revelation"s forced on them by their church/community/parents sooner, some later.

2 2017-05-02 09:31:55 - American

@Dick Nemelka: I like the way you're going about it. I don't believe skepticism and faith are mutually exclusive. In fact, I tend to worry about those who don't apply some skepticism to our crazy story.

I would just add prayer. The best thing I ever heard Pres. Benson say was that sooner or later, everyone has to pray about the Book of Mormon to find out for themselves whether or not it is divinely inspired of God or a fabrication from the mind of a deluded youth.

I once had a bishop who was an engineering professor. He gained his answer "engineering project-style": He read Book of Mormon daily, pondered what he'd read, then asked God in prayer every evening if it was true. He didn't get anything for awhile, but kept going about it daily. After ~4 months of this, he got his answer through the Holy Spirit that the Book of Mormon is the inspired word of God.

I think it's fair to wonder whether my professor got some sort of a self-provided answer (i.e., he heard what he wanted to hear), so to speak, because his psyche got tired out after 4 months, and since it knew he would never accept the alternative, it just did what he wanted/needed it to do. But based on my experiences working with engineers every day for the past 10 years, I tend to doubt it. Engineers conduct tests, sometimes over months and even years, and draw conclusions based on the data that results from their tests. Maybe this is an approach that'll work for you.

Thanks -- Duane

0 2017-04-24 17:48:30 - Duane Bitner

An interesting irony here is that the basis of LDS faith is personal revelation--a sacred link between you and God that is free from any middle man. No clergy, no parent, no spouse or sibling acting as an intermediary--just Christ. The foundational myth of the religion is a boy reading in the New Testament, personally praying about which religion is true in spite of clerical advice and receiving his own answers directly from God. Intellectual curiosity and spiritual needs combine to give you access to divine answers.

With that in mind, it seems ridiculous to me that there would be problems with Mormons seeking answers to difficult, even embarrassing, questions. That is part of the fabric of Mormon identity. So, I think it silly to suggest that the highest echelons of the church would try to conspire against their members. I don't think one person is pulling the strings on this; rather, a group of old men is trying to carry on, under God's direction they believe, a gospel they are devoted to. A crisis of faith is central to any conversion the church has, and the central message from the Book of Mormon and especially from church leadership is always that you need to receive your own revelation about truth. It seems kind of silly to preach that to members you are trying to hide secrets from.

0 2017-04-23 15:20:34 - polka

As a life long, strongly believing, Mormon, who has known for a decade what Mattsson just discovered, I think two things are at play here: 1)Difficulty changing paradigms and 2) a lack of rigorous personal study. Facts are not the problem, faulty paradigms are the problem. Whenever there is a contradiction between science and the scriptures, it is either because we misunderstand science or misunderstand the scriptures. Almost always it's the latter.

Fundamentalist assumptions about prophets and scripture, will always be ruined by the truth because prophets are fallible humans and scriptures are not word for word dictation from heaven. Too many people get caught up in hero worship and fundamentalist attitudes about scripture, that neither prophets like Joseph Smith Jr nor the scriptures encourage.

The Maxwell Institute at BYU, also known as FARMS, has been talking about DNA, steel swords, papyri and a host of other things FOR OVER A DECADE. There is no excuse for not knowing these things. Answers have been there for those who have actively sought them. There is no justification for assuming that the Church will spoon feed us every little detail of things it has no official stance on. Also, how could anyone not know Joseph Smith was a polygamist(?), IT'S IN DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 132!!

7 2017-04-18 09:39:58 - Atra-Hasis

I thought every high school student who ever took American History was informed about the fact that Utah couldn't become a state until 1890 because the Mormons had to give up polygamy first. I guess it wasn't in the curriculum in Sweden.

41 2017-04-14 00:55:48 - Jennifer

This is a huge problem. The church has not been transparent in the "issues". The church narrative of history is sanitized, and in many cases just inaccurate. This causes feelings of shock and betrayal, particularly among the millennial generation, who really values transparency.

As an active member of the church, I'm disgusted to see fellow members here freaking out and trying to badger others "back into line". There clearly is a problem, but admitting a problem for many church members means that they entertain some possibilities which are "worst fear" situations (i.e., church not what it claims to be in light of decades of commitment to the organization - heavy investment into a belief system).

Some of my favorite comments go along the following lines:

- It's a faith! You're supposed to have faith! Of course there's no evidence!!! And when evidence is found, it contradicts Mormon claims. This is Satan testing us!!!

Wrong. Faith should allow us to bridge gaps where no information exists. Faith, however, should not conflict with facts and reality. I've noticed our culture is hostile towards science, because it doesn't confirm everything we're taught.

- Well, every religion has these problems and inconsistencies. We're doing pretty good for a church!

True, but misleading. The main problem I see inside our church is that we make fundamental "only true church" on earth claims, which means that all the other churches, as we're taught, are "false", or worse.

14 2017-03-21 21:04:57 - Cat

Extensive DNA testing of the pioneer descendants shows no Joseph Smith posterity other than from his one and only wife Emma. In other words, all this stuff about his having more than one wife, etc. is a fabrication, and you have been duped.

0 2017-03-15 19:27:44 - Brother French

Personal witness of Jesus to elaborate.

Fran donovan

5 2017-03-09 21:38:00 - Patrick Donovan

I found it ironic that an article purporting to support the idea that the truth will set you free felt it necessary to publish so many unsubstantiated and misleading ideas.

1. "A wave of doubt and disillusionment"... the church continues to growth in membership and strength worldwide. Saying that Mr. Mattsson's views are evidence of a "wave" is dishonest journalism intentionally written to skew the reader's perception on the truth.

2. "He is... the highest-ranking church official who has gone public with deep concerns". Early leaders in the church, including members of the 12 apostles, chose to leave the church because they doubted Joseph's testimony. Doubt is not new. Judas himself was an apostle prior to his doubt and betrayal, but I would not call Judas' doubt a "wave" among early believers. Would you?

3. Mormons are "afraid of the truth". Nothing could be further from the truth. Latter-day Saint leaders go to great lengths to publish every scrap of writing anyone can find from figures in church history. Nothing is hidden. It is all published and available. Tens of thousands of missionaries go out to invite EVERYONE to come and inspect the literature. We embrace and seek out truth, which is "things as they actually are."

The argument here is probably more about timing. When should members be taught about polygamy or the process of translation? There is a time and place for everything. A foundation of basic knowledge helps support weightier matters.

1 2017-03-08 04:47:15 - Journalists should seek unbiased truth

If Mr. Mattsson believes that his church's teachings about its history is strange, he should examine its teachings about the future.

13 2017-03-04 19:45:42 - Allen

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