White-Washing

Hawkgrrrl Anti-Mormon, apologetics, christianity, church, Culture, faith, historicity, history, LDS, Leaders, media manipulation, Mormon, mormon, Mormons, questioning, religion, thought 118 Comments

“Whitewashing” is an accusatory term often used against the church to describe efforts to gloss over sticky points in doctrine or history.  So, does the church engage in whitewashing?

What is white-washing?  According to Encyclopedia Britannica:  to Whitewash is to gloss over or cover up vices, crimes, or to exonerate by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data.  Some examples of whitewashing given in Wikipedia are:

  • propaganda proliferation
  • implying a rosier version of events through selective inclusion
  • biased editing of official materials to control information or public image

Obviously, covering up actual crimes goes further than covering up unsavory historical incidents.  I am not aware of any specific accusations of crime-based whitewashing directed at the church; actual crimes should be reported, investigated and punished.

OTOH, vices are human nature.  Everyone has vices and mistakes in their history.  Every organization has people with vices.  That’s a human problem.  Is it possible for people or organizations to be truly objective about themselves?  Do all religions white-wash?  I would suggest that most religions (and organizations of all types) do this to a great extent, with one possible exception:  the Hebrews.  The OT is full of crazy folks committing a multitude of sins (e.g. worshipping the golden calf, lying to one another right and left), yet still coming out as the chosen people.  Gotta love those guys.

Two types of white-washing come to my mind, and I think the second helps clarify understanding of the first (to an extent):

  • Organizational.  Examples within the church might be only including favorable historical events, presenting events or doctrine with positive bias, or emphasis on public image through information control.  IMO, the church has a “party line” with a fairly robust apologetics movement on the side.
  • Personal (Journaling).  This refers to individuals glossing over or omitting personal mistakes, focusing only on what is uplifting, finding a “moral” in every story or using personal experiences to teach a lesson to progeny.  Frankly, I’m not a big fan of this approach, although I understand the motives.

Why do people white-wash?

  • To provide inspiration.  Napoleon said: “The role of the leader is to define reality and give hope.”  If your purpose in sharing the information is to edify and inspire your audience, you want to focus on what is uplifting and leads toward whatever your desired outcomes are.
  • Due to confusion and ambiguity.  Whitewashing implies that the organization knows the full truth but opts for selective disclosure.  But when events are unclear or subject to multiple possible interpretations, it may be wiser to present a superficial account to avoid creating further confusion by presenting ambiguous and conflicting viewpoints.
  • Personal bias.  We cannot be truly objective about ourselves.  Similarly, we cannot be unbiased about our religious faith.  We are always subjective, but even more so when the stakes are high and the topic is personal (such as our own life experiences or our religious faith).
  • To hide a multitude of sins.  When journaling, how much personal information is too much?  One’s journal is not the Washington Post, after all–do the readers have a right to know everything?  To extend the analogy to a religious organization, what is the purpose of sharing the information?  To what end?  All churches that have ever had human beings as adherents have dirty laundry.  No one ever joined the Catholic church because of the “bad popes.”  Yet, the Catholic church does great good and is not defined solely by these errant individuals.
  • Priorities and Purpose.  What is the purpose of communicating the information?  Who is the audience?  If the purpose is to edify and to promote Christ-like behavior, dwelling on the negatives or the mistakes of the past doesn’t seem constructive or expedient.

What’s the downside of whitewashing?

  • Saying nothing whatsoever about unpleasant topics can create a sense of “the elephant in the room”–that there is something obvious not being discussed.  It can give undue weight to the undiscussed item.
  • A superficial approach to investigation can provide misleading perceptions.
  • It can lead to a black & white mindset that is just not realistic when dealing with human organizations or human beings for that matter.
  • It can create feelings of inadequacy in individuals who realize their own imperfections but are only presented with images of perfection around them.
  • Organizations and people can diminish their own critical thinking skills by “sniffing their own fragrance” or believing their own press.
  • When knowledge is suppressed or withheld or not easily obtained, paranoia can result.  Individuals who seek and find unique knowledge that goes deeper than the superficial spin may conclude that only they know the “real truth,” may imagine conspiratorial cover-ups, or may feel disillusioned.
  • Since no source is unbiased, negative information presented by opposing viewpoints is likely to be more damaging and even less objective.  The negative item may be taken out of context of the whole religion and evaluated independently or in conjunction with other negative events by individuals or groups at cross-purposes with the religion’s aims.

So, what do you think?  Does the church whitewash as an organization or is it just the efforts of well-meaning individuals to defend what they hold dear?  Do all organizations whitewash?  Is white-washing lying?  Is it inevitable?  Is it better or worse than the alternative?  What do you suggest as a better way to share negative information or confusing and ambiguous information?  Discuss.

Comments

comments

Comments 118

  1. “biased editing of official materials to control information or public image”

    Always practiced by our church. There was also the sticky problem of Mountain Meadows and all that it caused. The church also rarely publishes names of excommunicated nor the total number to avoid possible embarrassments (unless the excommunicated is Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapper, they where quick to release details then). Nor does it publish the total number of missionaries killed around the globe or the number of those set home early. Actually they won’t even publish the number of inactive but still insists on that misleading 13million membership number.

    But with the amount of enemies the church has it really has no choice but to whitewash as much as possible. Its oraganisational whitewash to try and protect members and to permit the work to carry on in spite of the enemies of the church.

  2. Is it wrong for an organization to put its information to the public and its members in the most positive light? The term “whitewash” implies a cover-up, as though there were a whole host of sordid details that were better left undiscovered. I’m reminded of the scripture where it talks about a house divided. Should some parts of the church advocate its strengths why other parts of it denigrate and expose its weaknesses? Should there be an “unbiased, straightforward” lesson in Sunday School on the Mountain Meadows Massacre? Would it replace a lesson on kindness or Abrahamic covenants?

    There are a whole host of sources out there for those interested in minor historical details. The point of the church is not to defend its past practices. No one joins the Church because they are hoodwinked into believing it’s some kind of perfect organization. People join because the teachings of the Church align with the spiritual experiences they have had.

  3. White-wash is the negative term for “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” It is in an effort to hide the truth, if it is negative. But, every organization wants to cast itself in the best possible light and so may not emphasize the negative aspects of any situation. In some cases, the negative aspects do not affect the overall story and the positive aspects out-weight the negative.

    A White-wash is a deliberate effort to hide the truth. While it occurs in every organization on earth, one must recognize the true intent. For example, the US government’s attempt to white wash certain incidents, like the Pat Tillman incident, are far more egregious than anything anyone would accuse the Church of doing, with the possible exception of Mountain Meadows.

  4. I think the culture of “white-washing” still exists, to some extent. A friend of mine who was an institute instructor for most of his life still thinks that things like Rough Stone Rolling should only be available to CES (who apparently also have a document that is meant to help students when they are disturbed by it).

    The only thing that really bothers me is not telling the who story, or leaving out any details that are not faith-promoting, which I think has happened quite a bit, but with RSR being sold at Deseret Book, and the MMM book coming out, I do think we are currently headed in a good direction.

  5. I would appreciate if some of you would share some of the things that you think “might” constitute “white-washing” as done by the church. This concept might be easier to discuss in a meaningful way if we are at least discussing the same events. It seems possible that one of the dangers would be one person’s “white-washing” might involve “horses in the Book of Mormon” and another’s might involve polygamy, blacks in the Priesthood, or statements by GBH that he doesn’t know that our church still teaches the Lorenzo Snow couplet.

    If one person is referring to white-washing by making the argument that the church is denying or cleaning up its perceived decades long racial biases of the past, while another is referring to a single comment made in an interview with a foreign journalist, I can see that the substance can be pretty different. Although some might argue the principle is the same, we might find ourselves merely creating “white-shirted” straw man arguments.

  6. I’m not sure if whitewash and spin are interchangeable but I think that if you’re going to talk about one you should consider the other. In my lifetime I’ve seen Haun’s Mill shown as what early members had to endure for the faith to a lesson in Primary and in Elder Eyring’s recent First Presidency message on what happens when you don’t follow the prophet. And when the handcart disaster was an embarrassment that was never talked about because of the poor leadership at all levels that lead to needless suffering and death to examples of the bravery of the pioneers with reenactments being standard in the youth program.

    This isn’t the same church that Joseph Smith founded but it gets to carry the baggage that he and some of the other founding leaders left it with. Religions like nations will always act in what they perceive to be their self interest and will do what they think they need to do to survive but having that history open and available as painful as it might be is better than having people feel betrayed. Because once people feel lied to or betrayed, it’s not likely that that trust will be recovered.

  7. Andrew C – good points made. What is white-washing to one may not be to another. For me, it is more related to lesson manuals that only give the positive stuff when dealing with history, for example. I’m not sure how to be more specific here, because I don’t believe “the Church” is a real entity in this regard. “The Church” doesn’t do anything, rather, various leaders at certain times make the decisions, imo. But I would define white-washing in the sense here as deliberately leaving out information that is not faith-affirming. Perhaps as an example, I learned growing up various reasons why members were persecuted, but I didn’t hear (until RSR) that many of the people in Missouri and etc. were quite threatened by the prospect of Mormons taking over.

  8. Our RS President just committed an act of whitewashing. When the cultural hall/building was left dirty by a family of the ward who didn’t clean it up adequately after hosting a wedding reception, she advised the ward council that ALL the ward needs to do a better job of keeping the building clean. Those who are fastidious in their part could choose to be offended by her whitewashing, or they could see her advice as being true to the ward in general and attempting to avoid offense from the family who was one (but not the only) part of a problem.

  9. #6 GBSmith wrote: “Because once people feel lied to or betrayed, it’s not likely that that trust will be recovered.”

    This is kind of where I am at right now. I read the Elder Packer talks telling us that not all truth is useful, and that in order to teach the history of the church you must first START with the 1838 version of the First Vision, that without those things you aren’t “qualified” to teach or write about the church history, and I am saddened. I read Dallin H. Oaks state that the church is under no obligation to present both sides of ths story, because they are acting as an advocate, and letting the people be the judge, but that doesn’t seem genuine.

    Dallin H. Oaks admitted that early church leaders lied about polygamy and maybe or maybe not his explantations make sense, but nonetheless those were clearly lies told by early apostles and by Joseph Smith.

    Apostles wrote in the past that if it was ever proven that Joseph Smith had been convicted of a crime similar to being a con-man, that would be damning evidence, and they were sure he hadn’t been. When it turned out that he had been, silence.

    Apostles and the First Presidency told us that the Egyptian papyrii would prove Joseph correctly translated the Book of Abraham. It didn’t.

    Our leaders made statements that can only be seen as racist regarding blacks, even if we admit that the times permitted racism, and that it was common for white men to be racist—that only further evidences that our leaders harbored racist feelings. Stephen F. Child’s recent statement in the Arizona newspaper and Alexander B. Morrison’s 2000 conference talk statement each essentially claiming that our leaders were free from this racial bias seems to cross the line of white-washing, and go into blatant lying in my opinion.

    And, there are dozens of others – D&C 132 contains a coercive attempt to silence Emma Smith’s objections to her husband’s polygamy.

    If we saw these kinds of behaviors in other churches or organizations, we would call them on it, identify them as liars and untrustworthy, and be very wary of giving them a second chance.

    So, yes, GBSmith’s point about being lied to is one I feel personally. I feel I have been lied to, and I don’t like it one bit.

  10. #8 – Rigel makes my point. I think few of us would have great difficulty with that RS President’s type of white-washing (unless perhaps we were the family who had had the immediately previous wedding and had done a near-perfect job of clean up).

    But, denying the racial biases that went on for 100 years and was justified as being God’s plan, seems different to me than what this RS president did.

    #7 Adam – I think I might even claim that it is white-washing to say that “The Church doesn’t do anything” If the only thing “The Church” actually does are the things that are proclaimes by the First Presidency, ratified by the Twelve, and sent to the entire church for sustaining vote, then the church truly does virtually nothing or stands for almost nothing. I think that perspective is just an attempt to give the church wiggle room for when they do dumb things.

  11. The answer is an unarguable yes.

    The church utilizes propaganda just as many other organizations do. The modern day term for propaganda is Public Relations. Michael Otterson is the chief propagandist of the LDS Church and the church has a Public Affairs department which is concerned with how Mormons deal with and are viewed by the public.

    The church requires tremendous conformity. I think that it does whitewas from my experience with the inability for difficult issues to be discussed at church in a non-contentious manner without people feeling that you are “not trying to conform” and are trying to belittle the hagiographic view of the church.

    I want truth….I can’t stand all the propaganda shizen from both sides trying to get you to follow them.

  12. I actually have a quote here from Joseph Goebells, German Spindoctor and Propagandist. I want to replace the term “state” for “church”.

    “It is the absolute right of the church to supervise the formation of public opinion. If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the Church can shield the people from the political, economic or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the Church to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the Church.

    Doesn’t sound to far from Packer’s “The Mantle is Far Far Greater than the Intellect” does it when he says:

    “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.”

  13. Here’s a pretty foundational white-wash in church history. JS was too prideful to take personal criticism. When he had wronged people by losing his temper or speaking unduly harshly in front of others, some of them objected about the treatment they had received. Those loyal to JS would rally behind him and force the “plaintiff” to back down. These situations invariably ended one of two ways: 1) the “plaintiff” recanted publically, sometimes in writing, and apologized for saying anything bad about JS or 2) the “plaintiff” quit the church. I’m sure you’ll see a familiar pattern here. OT1H, a kingdom divided against itself shall fall, and JS always freely forgave once the person was reconciled, but OTOH, the whole thing could have been avoided in the first place had he not lost his temper, etc. Were the plaintiffs also prideful? Probably. Were the supporters of JS right to back him when he was clearly wrong? Maybe not. But if they hadn’t, what would the consequences have been?

  14. Stephen Wellington: “Some things that are true are not very useful.” Good Packer quote. So, using my example above, if JS was incapable of taking personal criticism but was in fact a prophet, is that information useful or does it make it easier for people to excuse their own sins? I find it useful, but I prefer prophets with feet of clay. But does it help me justify my own sinfulness? Perhaps to a degree (not that I need any help with that one).

  15. Andrew C. – You got me! lol.

    “I think that perspective is just an attempt to give the church wiggle room”
    I’m not sure if a reply to this is on topic, and I don’t quite know what you mean here. If we have the same definition of “wiggle room” and the importance of there being none of it, then it seems you are saying that “the Church” is something one can actually praise or criticize. For example, I don’t like Wal-Mart, but when I criticize Wal-Mart I’m not actually criticizing them as a company, but rather those who make the decisions that I don’t agree with. Is that giving Wal-Mart “wiggle room”?

    Fwiw, I don’t agree with Elder Packer on that opinion (re: your comment).

  16. Sounds like a bunch of people are on their high horse.

    Of course the Church whitewashes- it’s a matter of survival.

    Human beings have a very hard time accepting whole images. Instead we tend to break things down in to parts to assess the good or evil of each part. Then depending on what we think is most important, we judge the whole by the parts. This is one of the reasons why God is a better judge then us, as he considers the whole, and judges the parts in the context of that whole.

    We all whitewash our lives for this reason. We are careful to conceal all our weaknesses and project our strengths so that other people won’t see our sin or weakness.

    Why? Because if people could see our sin and weakness they would hate us and seek our destruction. It is natural for men to hate the weak and vulnerable.

    It is only with those we trust (usually a close family member such as a spouse) that we share our full selves. Because we trust that they won’t turn on us just because part of us is weak or sinful.

  17. “Sounds like a bunch of people are on their high horse.”
    I just had to repeat that because it’s a funny way to start a comment. 😉

    Cicero, I completely agree that we do not share our full selves with everyone we meet. Using the term “white-wash” in a personal sense sound pejorative, but I think everyone has the right to what they will disclose about themselves. Whether or not that is the same for the church is the pith of the argument, imo.

  18. #16 Cicero – “It is natural for men to hate the weak and vulnerable.”

    I can’t see this at all. This is not true in my world. I don’t hate those weak and vulnerable people who lived in the nursing home with my grandmother. I don’t hate those weak and vulnerable peolpe who occupy the obstetrics ward at my local hospital. I don’t hate those people who admit to me that they are weak and have done me wrong and are sorry and come to me with an open heart seeking my forgiveness. If I hated them, I could attack them. I ususally hug them instead.

    No, I think some overly macho types or self-important types may see the only use for the weak is to be exploited for personal gain, and that might constitute hate, but I think your statement is baloney and falls apart under the slightest analysis.

    If hate is “natural” in men, then I think the natural hatred is toward the “other”, you know, those Godless Nazis, the baby killers of the Pro Choice movement, the filthy, lazy and slothful members of some race other than ours, etc. And, perhaps if this is a natural hatred, the greatest white-wash is the consistent use of religions throughout the world is to claim it is actually God who hates those “others” and therefore we are guilty in stigmatizing them, banning them to the back of the bus, utterly destroying their cities, grinding salt into their fields, blowing up their religious institutions, etc.

    Maybe one of the fundamental reasons for all religon is to white-wash man’s natural hatred of “others” who are different, and therefore wrong.

  19. Another example of spin or whitewash is the Kirtland Bank failure. In a lesson on apostasy in the Teachings of Joseph Smith it mentions the trouble caused by the failure of the bank but fails to mention that the bank was founded by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saying only that the bank was founded by :church members”. As I understand members were counseled by them that their money would be safe if they supported it which unfortunately turned out not to be the case. This is mentioned in a post titled “Providing Context” on Runtu’s Rincon http://runtu.wordpress.com/. I think that when history is presented and lesson manuals are being prepared not presenting all the relevant facts should be discussed. If Leonard Arrington and Richard Bushman can know all these things and remain believing committed members, then why can’t the rest of us?

  20. #2–“No one joins the Church because they are hoodwinked into believing it’s some kind of perfect organization”

    I did. Politicians and priests need to whitewash because of “standards”. Either the target audience has standards that they hold dear, or the politician/priest has espoused standards. When history demonstrates egregious violations of “standards”, whitewash MUST be used to cover up the facts in order to maintain authority.

    Whitewash – or “managing” the story bothered me more than some of the “standards” that leaders have historically violated. I don’t care if tobacco or whiskey was used. I care that these words in correlated church history were changed to “medicine.” Yes, reading only the “sanitized” history made me feel like crap.

    I had/have levels of “standards” that I believe prophets COULD NOT CROSS.

  21. Pseudolus – I worry about that kind of stuff happening, and it is one of the reasons I am open to talking about anything church-related when talking about the gospel with my friends/acquaintances. Some of them may in the future decide to join and I don’t want them to think it’s all perfect and sunny.

    ““managing” the story bothered me more than some of the “standards” that leaders have historically violated” – Me too!

  22. Sorry, should have read, I think that when history is presented and lesson manuals are being prepared, all the relevant facts should be discussed.

    RE: Cicero #16 “We all whitewash our lives for this reason. We are careful to conceal all our weaknesses and project our strengths so that other people won’t see our sin or weakness.

    Why? Because if people could see our sin and weakness they would hate us and seek our destruction. It is natural for men to hate the weak and vulnerable.”

    The issue isn’t people outside the church. They will always find something to find fault with and there’s really nothing that can be done about that. What’s of concern is what this does to believing members. I remember the first time I read “A Mormon Mother” by Annie Clark Tanner and got a sense of what polygamy was really like. These things need to be faced honestly or sooner or later you pay a price for it.

  23. If “white washing” means presenting all of the positive points in favor of your organization, and not voluntarily bringing up the negative points, then the Church certainly white washes. Then again, so does everyone else involved in advertising campaigns, membership solicitations, job interviews, dating, etc. This tendency to white wash includes both organizations and individuals.

    If you’re bent out of shape about this, be honest and ask yourself: “When I last applied for a job, did I list all of the negative things about myself on my resume? When I was in the job interview, did I tell them all of the ways I’d fallen short in previous jobs? Did I volunteer every reason why they should NOT hire me?”

    The same applies in the dating and courtship arena. When you were dating, did you tell your prospective spouses every reason why they should NOT be interested in you or marry you?

    If not, how could you be so dishonest by white washing yourself?

  24. Steve and the Hawk quoted Elder Packer:

    “Some things that are true are not very useful.” There is truth to this depending on how you apply it. The honest answers to “do I look fat in this dress?” or the “isn’t my new tie just great?” analogies are but two examples. While I personally beleive that “faith-promoting” really means telling the whole story, I can also see reasons for not.

    Pseudolus: I’ve read the “sanitized’ history and it made me want to know more. I certainly “didn’t feel like crap.” I found that a strange reaction. How did you know to feel that way?

  25. #15 Adam – wiggle room

    Of course, I personally take exception to folks in other parts of the world “hating Americans” because of the way “Americans” oppress or whatever it is they feel we do. “I” don’t do that.

    So, I understand the argument that The Church can’t be held responsible to mean that everyone in the church is responsible, but if something is proclaimed by propets, repeated often by apostles, and generally accepted in the church membership and practices for a period of time, then the church is doing it, not just “some members may have acted . . . .” That is the part I don’t like about the argument that The Church doesn’t do anyting. Of course it does. If it didn’t, none of us would have joined it. The Church sends out missionaries. The Church prints magazines. The Church pays its employees. The Church does lots of things, including setting policies and promoting doctrines that are attempts at white washing unpleasant stuff.

  26. There are some good reasons I’m not bothered that you hear only the positive things from correlated church sources. I know about the “difficult” parts of church history, too, but I’ve never felt betrayed by the fact that I only got hints about those areas from church magazines and manuals. It’s probably because I’ve never seen a healthy organization that does things much differently — church, political, corporate or government — if they know what’s good for them.

    I create a magazine for an international organization, and I hold a lot of guardianship for our stated agenda and public image. For my first few years of the job, from time to time I would give treatment to our stickiest and most controversial issues as cover stories. That’s just my natural First Amendment-loving, truth is truth nature. And nearly every one of those article packages backfired in ways none of the leaders anticipated.

    These were topics that had been debated online and in other forums for decades, so it wasn’t like we were dredging up stuff nobody talked about. And the treatment was really quite even-handed and even had a pretty optimistic spin. Didn’t matter. The one place people didn’t want to see these debates was in the pages of our flagship magazine. Hearing about these issues in an official forum was a real turn-off to both members and potential members, even if they agreed with the official party line.

    I kept thinking I just wasn’t doing these article packages wrong, but experience has taught me there often isn’t a right way to broach some subjects when you’re perceived as the organizational mouthpiece. With many subjects, we lose just for bringing up the topic — it has nothing to do with embarrassment or hiding. It has to do with the expectations of the mouthpiece. Some issues demand that they be taken off line, or are better handled by unofficial surrogates.

    So let me say again, I’m not especially uncomfortable with “the church” presenting itself in the best possible light. Who else is going to do that? If you think some of the sticker issues need to be better addressed, that might be a fair point. But don’t assume that dishonesty is the reason they haven’t been officially approached just yet. Organizational communication issues can be incredibly complex when you’re the person holding the reins. Official inattention to certain areas can often be wise and intentional.

    To those who think they know the Church’s problems and intentions, and that they could do this better than those occupying the current jobs or callings: please consider the possibility that you may have no idea what you’re talking about.

  27. #23 Andrew –You used a dating and job applicant metaphor. I don’t know about how you present yourself in such situations, but I do not present myself as the “I will never lead you astray” candidate. I do not present myself as “I am the only true way for your business to succeed” or “the other guys have some truth, but I am all the truth you’ll ever need , Baby!”

    The problem is the church sets itself up with unearthly high standards and has a problem when it and it’s leaders fail to live up to it’s own standards.

  28. Andrew C. – Thanks for your points. I am beginning to understand your view a little better.

    “please consider the possibility that you may have no idea what you’re talking about.”
    I like that line, Lorin. In fact, I consider it almost daily. 🙂

  29. Pseudolus (27), If I understand you correctly, it sounds like you’re conceding that you along with everyone else white wash yourself, but that you think the Church falls into a special category because you think it white washes itself with a brighter white than all the rest.

  30. Jeff,

    I cried when I discovered the other side of whitewashed LDS history. I remember reading about Joseph refusing the alcohol, or the lovey dovey relationship he had with his brothers and family. I read about Nephi’s faithfulness. Yes, there were rare references to such high crimes as being too jovial in nature. It made me feel like crap. I just didn’t measure up to the stories and examples of the whitewashed history. Is that so hard to understand?

  31. #23 – Andrew A.

    Sorry, but I see this as mental gymnastics.

    I get presenting a positive spin. I even get remaining silent on things at times.

    I don’t get BKP telling folks that to be qualified to teach church history they must first believe the 1838 version of the First Vision, or else they are “unqualified.” I don’t get Dallin H. Oaks saying it is ok to attempt to discredit people who present factual evidence. I don’t get excommunicating scholars who present scholarly papers on historical topics related to the church.

    And, for standing silent on personal matters, it wouldn’t be appropriate, for example, to present my resume to you for a job as a typist, showing my test scores, experience, skills, etc. and in the interview tell you all the incredible talents I have demonstrated as a typist in the last 20 years, but not tell you that I was in an accident yesterday and nine of my fingers were cut off. That would be much more than white washing. That would be lying.

    When church leaders deliberately attempt to conceal, distort, or present information in a way that fundamentally alters the perception of the church from an accurate one to one that benefits the church, at the expense of the hearer, reader, then that crosses the line as well. That is lying.

  32. #29 Andrew… I do not claim to need no whitewash. I do not present my history as untainted. The church does and has.

  33. #29 Andrew –

    I will concede that I white-wash. You white-wash. Everybody white-washes.

    Now, ask Thomas S. Monson and Boyd K. Packer. Will they admit that they white wash?

    Based on the evidence from the church leaders, we can’t know the answer to this “beyond ALL reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty” but we probably can know “by the greater weight of the evidence”. The answer is The Church will not admit to white washing. If everyone does it, why would they not admit that they do it too? Precisely because the point Pseudolus is making, The Church itself in its own claims, in its own spin claims to be unique, different, apart, and above the acts of men, because it is directed by God himself through direct revelation to the “One on earth authorized to speak for God”.

  34. Hawkgrrrl: very apropos, insightful post today. Kudos.

    I have to say I’ve been troubled like Andrew C. about the Church’s practice of painting a rosy picture of itself to the world and to its membership. However, I also see Lorin’s point that the official organization of the Church would have a really difficult time confronting problems in any of its publications or public arenas without having many negative side effects. The one difference I see, though, is that the Church is not an organization interested in keeping investors happy and stock values high; the Church’s business is to bring souls to Christ. To blindfold them to the pitfalls of history seems like intentionally handicapping the members in hopes that most won’t get ensnared along the path. Is the Church using this as a strategy of acceptable casualty in the war for our souls? I don’t know.

  35. Jeff Spector said: “While I personally beleive that “faith-promoting” really means telling the whole story”

    hear hear…

    Pseudolus says: “#29 Andrew… I do not claim to need no whitewash. I do not present my history as untainted. The church does and has.”

    hear hear…I am open about my past…but I am open to say when I made mistakes and will talk about the positive perspective that has come from these events. The church as an institutional structure, however, seems to state that these events either didn’t happen, or happened in a way that doesn’t match the historical record SO THAT it can preserve itself as an institution. Unfortunately, people are beginning to realize that certain aspects of the history and organization are a lot more “grey” then “black and white”. (e.g. PoGP, First Vision, Polyandry, Polygamy, Behavior of a few in authority etc.)

    Another difference between the church and myself is that I am a person and it is an institution that requires more conformity than I do.

    I personally have enjoyed watching the church mature through the Stages of Faith as an institution and hope that it can continue to feel comfortable with its idealism and historical/organizational warts.

  36. “When church leaders deliberately attempt to conceal, distort, or present information in a way that fundamentally alters the perception of the church from an accurate one to one that benefits the church, at the expense of the hearer, reader, then that crosses the line as well. That is lying.”

    To state the obvious: The above statement is chock full of emotionally charged assumptions taking the standard anti-Mormon shortcut of upgrading arguments to facts. I just want to point out the conceit of passing on statements like this as if they are settled and as if a more benign reality couldn’t possibly account for the evidence.

    This is a viewpoint that makes the worst assumptions about the motives of the involved parties and presumes a mind-reading ability and factual upper-hand on the part of the accuser that is unwarranted. I’ve only rarely found enough facts to merit the bravado tone that accompanies most anti-Mormon tropes. The above is a good example. Just wanted to say.

    In fact, there’s a lot more I want to say, but I’ve used more time than I’ve had over the past few days on this forum. A pressing deadline, then an extended business trip, then a cross-country move will all take place within 30 days. It’s been fun while it lasted, but time for me to get down to business and I don’t know when/if I’ll return to this forum. Keep the faith!

  37. #37 I’m sorry you have to leave Lorin.

    I’m also sorry you attacked my comments as an “anti-Mormon shortcut.” I have made it clear. I am a Mormon. I want to believe. Taken in context of what was presented earlier, I think my statements stand up pretty well and are not at all what you claim them to be.

    “When church leaders deliberately attempt to conceal,” is a direct reference to the attempts by leaders to get us to not read histories, as in Packer’s statements in “The Mantle is Far Far Greater than the Intellect”

    “distort” – as in Elder Dallin H Oaks admission that the church will attempt to discredit those who teach accurate information

    “present information in a way that fundamentally alters the perception of the church” again, Elder Packer insisting on the 1838 version of the First Vision as a necessary qualification to teach about church history

    “to one that benefits the church, at the expense of the hearer, reader” the converts to this message pay tithing and do service for the church – the church benefits, and they have less time and money for caring for their own families

    “then that crosses the line as well. That is lying” – a conclusion virtually all of us would draw about ANY OTHER organization in the entire world that engaged in this behavior.

    I don’t feel I’ve engaged in any mind-reading, but have applied facts that are well known, and applied them fairly.

    There are many, many others. Distortion – picture of Joseph Smith sitting at a table translating the Book of Mormon – didn’t happen that way (at least according to Russell M. Nelson and the folks who were there with Joseph) so why do we not replace that painting with one that is more factually accurate such as Joseph with his face in his hat.

    Someone posted the statement from this years’ Priesthood manual about the bank in Kirtland “started by members” looks like an attempt to conceal that it was Joseph Smith who was one of the founders of the bank.

    The statements by the General Authorities holding that the church never engaged in racism – attempt to alter the perception of the church from an accurate one to a more favorable one.

    So, I stand by my statements. I know you are busy and that is the reason you aren’t staying to discuss this further, but your thinly disguised ad hominem attack on me as “anti-Mormon” is itself an attempt to distort and deflect, to discredit the ideas based on who said them.

    I stand by my statements. That being said, however, I am willing to be shown where I am wrong, if indeed I am.

  38. Lorin – “It has to do with the expectations of the mouthpiece. Some issues demand that they be taken off line, or are better handled by unofficial surrogates.” I have always assumed that to some extent that was why Ballard instructed members to become active on the internet. What they lose in message control they gain in being able to address things that can’t be effectively addressed by an official source. Also, good luck on the next 30 days! Hopefully, you’ll have a moment here or there for your new friends at MM. You’ve been a great addition to the discussions!

    Of the 5 reasons I list in the post on why people white-wash, some are more valid than others IMO:
    1 – to provide inspiration. This works more for some than for others. I find it more inspiring to hear the whole story. But then again, I go and find out the rest of the story vs. waiting to be spoon-fed information.
    2 – due to confusion & ambiguity. This seems inevitable to me and totally understandable. I couldn’t fault someone for this one.
    3 – personal bias. This one is hard to overcome because it’s nearly impossible to be truly objective about something personal in which you are invested (or in the case of anti, divested). It’s understandable, but one would hope people would question their own objectivity and strive for more.
    4 – to hide a multitude of sins. Hiding one’s own sins is a little reprehensible. Hiding the sins of predecessors at least has a smidge of charity mixed in. Partly understandable, but not a favorite. I say bring on the whole story.
    5 – priorities and purpose. This one is trickier than it sounds. The purpose is to bring souls to Christ, right? So, while the b’nacclers out there might all feel that it’s better to pore over the good, bad, and ugly here on MM, we also have mostly stated we still enjoy going to church because we are spiritually uplifted. So, I’d rather be uplifted at church and talk about how to live the gospel better, not hash through what color hair we will have in the celestial kingdom or whether JS used a seer stone or beer goggles to translate the BOM.

    Andrew C. – I can’t really speak for Lorin, but I read his comment “anti-Mormon” to be about the argument you posed vs. calling you one. Many of the points you shared are ones we’ve all heard from others (as have you). I don’t think it was a personal slam. Just an opinion.

  39. Andrew, you are doing it again.

    Step back, take a deep breath and consider how you would react if someone else spoke to you the way you are speaking to others. I mean that seriously. Go back and read your comments as if they were written by someone else and directed at you. I think it will be enlightening.

  40. Propaganda proliferation – check

    Implying a rosier version of events through selective inclusion – check

    Biased editing of official materials to control information or public image – check

    The question isn’t whether the church whitewashes but why it does so and whether it’s justified.

  41. Andrew used dating as an analogy, which I think is somewhat relevant. Another analogy might be what would you tell your kids. I think it’s important for people to know you are human but not necessarily to know just exactly what stupid things you did when you were growing up.

    The truth of the gospel is that if you live it, you are a better person. It’s not that if someone else didn’t live it 100%, it’s not true, or if they didn’t live it 100% you don’t have to either. Is it relevant to my salvation whether someone else did something foolish or sinful? I can handle the truth. But could I always handle it? And can everyone at every point in their life?

    Without anything more than the white-washed version I was told in church, I concluded that JS was a pretty bad judge of character, over-rewarding loyalty and giving latitude to people who later did not prove faithful. He obviously didn’t know how to handle money that well (who did back then?), and he was somewhat naive. No one had to tell me those things. I don’t feel lied to because no one pointed that out to me.

  42. “The question isn’t whether the church whitewashes but why it does so and whether it’s justified.”

    Why it does so? The motivations are hard to pinpoint without official documentation. The Reed Smoot Hearings would be a great place to start.

    I personally think it has to do with the fact that the #1 rule for any instiution is “self-preservation.” One need only study Ayn Rand or John Nash’s Game Theory to see the human nature in the church’s decisions. Yet the church is not human…it is an corporate structured organization.

    The US and UK governments are just as culpable in their wrong historical decision making but also in concealing it. Scientology and Nazism are great examples of propaganda gone wrong.

    John McCain has just recently been accused of under-proclaiming his funding by about 23%….is it wrong of him to do this…or is his “whitewashing” justified? It is wrong and unjustified.

    Is lying to your children, in order to keep them obedient, justified? NO!!! (When they find out they may lose respect…why not just say “Yes I did that but it was a huge mistake and I learned from it!)

    And is lying to your potential spouse on your dates justified in order to get her to marry you!!?? NO!!! Is concealing truth justified, ethical and moral in this case? Not at all!!

    Growing up emotionally and spiritually involves learning how to handle the truth.

    And I feel that the people who leave the church realize that the church chooses to not face the issues and instead indulge in whitewashing and propaganda. I think the massive dissent and voter apathy in the US and UK about the government is for the same reason.

    I am skeptical and self-protective against any organizations that quashes dissent using propaganda.

    (p.s. I do love the church and want to believe…I am active and love the temple.)

  43. “I don’t get Dallin H. Oaks saying it is ok to attempt to discredit people who present factual evidence.”

    Where is this actually located?

  44. You forgot one of the main reasons people whitewash: To sell a product.

    What’s wrong with accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative? It depends on the context. If you’ve ever read an investment prospectus, you may have wondered why they seem so intent on accentuating the negative aspects of their product. The things are chock full of disclosures and reminders that you could lose all your money if you invest with them.

    That’s because of a concept called “material information.” That is, any information that could potentially impact a reasonable person’s decision. In many contexts, withholding material information is a crime.

    The law requires investment companies to print a big book containing all kinds of negative material information. It’s not enough that the information is freely and publically available. The companies have to furnish it to prospective clients at their own expense, before they are allowed to sell their product.

    Does the church withhold material information from members and investigators? It’s debatable to what degree they are responsible, but every day new converts and lifelong members discover information that causes them to leave the church. Information that, had they been made aware of it before joining, would have caused them never to have joined in the first place.

    The church is asking potential members to commit ten percent of their income to the organization for the rest of their lives. While it may sound ludicrous to expect its missionaries to tote around booklets outlining every reason why someone might not want to join their church, keep in mind that it’s no more than any mutual fund manager has to do.

    As far as blaming whitewashing on the members, I can understand why certain facts would not be discussed in the missionary discussions or Sunday School lessons. The perfect place to tackle Mountain Meadows, the BoA papyri, Joseph Smith’s polyandry, and other such issues would be in religion courses at BYU. But we all know that’s not the case. These things are seldom addressed in any kind of organized curriculum, but only in outside reading lacking any real authority and readily ignored by the bulk of the membership.

  45. Dissimulation is the word I like to use to describe what the church has done re it’s history and commmunication of certain relevant historical facts to it’s membership……wikipedia has a decent definition. Notice that some religious scholars have articulated defenses for it’s use…..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissimulation

  46. Ishmael, great point about material information. Another example would be a patient/physician relationship. An honest physician who cares about the well-being of her patients will disclose all of the potential side-effects of a treatment, including the statistical likelihoods of different outcomes, while respecting that a responsible adult can make her own informed choices.

    Does the church more resemble a well-meaning physician who wants to treat and educate her patients while respecting their boundaries and individual choices? Or does it more closely resemble an advertiser trying to sell a product?

  47. Nathan C. – a scarier question is do physicians even act the way you describe. According to a recent article, doctors are very prone to engage in whitewashing for a variety of reasons: human nature, wishful thinking that the patient will not experience worst case scenario, not sure how to bring it up when it might not make any difference in recommended treatment, fear of law suits, patients simply don’t ask so they assume they don’t want to know or that knowing may be detrimental to their health, and yes, even kick backs from pharmaceutical companies.

  48. hawkgrrrl, so it’s OK for the church to act like shady advertisers selling a product with white-washing because a few doctors are unethical and don’t follow their own hippocratic oath and professional standards? (BTW, I think most doctors ARE honest – you should find a better class of physician if this is not your personal experience.)

  49. The article about doctors wasn’t based on my personal experience, but it cited loads of examples. But, hey those publishing the article need to sell advertising, too!

    I certainly don’t think it’s a proper reason for a religion to whitewash to win converts, nor did I make that point. There are many disclosures made to prospective converts, though, some of which definitely do weed out converts (to wit): word of wisdom, law of chastity (have to get married if living together), tithing and the baptismal interview to name a few. I would like to see a little more open discussion of points people sometimes find thorny (along the lines of the treatment Bushman gives in RSR). I’m not personally scared off by that stuff. All religions have goofy elements and unsavory elements to their histories. That’s the nature of religion. As George Carlin (RIP) said, when those UFO guys get on TV everyone rolls their eyes and treats them like they’re crazy, and then some religious guy gets up and talks about God wearing a white robe and living in the clouds in the sky and everyone is reverent and respectful.

  50. James, if you still are reading, you can’t put 11 links in a comment, including direct links to other blogs’ homepages, and expect it to get through the filter. Please try it again without the links at the end.

  51. Get Real. If there was anything substantial the press and the various enemies of the church could bring to light regarding “white-washing”, it would have been done. Over the years there have been exhaustive investigations into the churches finances and practices. The church is known for integrity and honesty. Even when ligation is necessary the church practices law with a “braided whip”. The business end of the church is something we can all be proud of. Are mistakes made? Certainly, but whenever possible I believe the church tries to make it right.

    Why nit-pick at the church and split hairs over every issue possible. How about some post giving a high five for all the wonderful things the church does. There is sparse material for criticism and an abundance for high fives.

    I personally believe the work of the church is without parallel.

    Year ago, when I was about 8 or 9, while riding my bike in down town SLC, I came across a lady who was dressed and groomed to perfection kneeling down using a tooth pick to clean the cracks in the sidewalk. I had never seen anything like that before. I went into a Dee’s cafe for milk and pie and asked the guy who worked there what she was doing. He said, oh that so and so, she is a “perfectionist”. Could we sometimes go over board in our view of the church, as the perfectionist was about cracks in the sidewalk?

    By the way, when I got to the bottom of my glass of milk there was a large, ugly dead fly at the bottom. Yuk. In spite of that, I still ate many helpings of milk, pie, and ice cream at Dee’s. I suggest we lighten up some.

  52. Whitewash? Given the comments, it can be either positive or negative. Many times we can only perceive what we want to see. I think our challenge is to work through the, sometimes stifling, confusion that man naturally brings to any endevour to find those nuggets that bring us closer to God.

    Paul taught us to “Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good.” I don’t dismiss the church out of hand because of its attempt to instill its perception as reality. I run everything through a sieve and keep what is meaningful. The only problem is my sieve is designed by my own perception, errant as it may be…

  53. #44 Tom – this is the quote I have seen most often on this point. I think there are others, but am pressed for time right now.

    “My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior. Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors.”
    – Apostle Dallin Oaks, footnote 28, Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon, Introduction p. xliii

  54. #40 Ray wrote:

    “Andrew, you are doing it again.

    “Step back, take a deep breath and consider how you would react if someone else spoke to you the way you are speaking to others. I mean that seriously. Go back and read your comments as if they were written by someone else and directed at you. I think it will be enlightening.”

    I took your advice. I read every one as if you had written them toward me. Then, I read every one a second time as if Lorin had written them toward me. Then, I read every one a third time as if Andrew A. and written them toward Nick.

    I am still unenlightened.

    Please tell me what it is I am “doing again.”

  55. #54 A little cutting and splicing with the quote:

    My duty as [husband/wife] is to protect what is most unique [about my family], namely [the love that exist in my family one another]. Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if [someone] reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of [any family member], then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors.

    Does this perspective change things at all?

  56. #56 – Well, that MIGHT change my perspective, but I really don’t think so.

    You see, I am a hard case. I am the type of parent that if someone were providing factual information to me and/or to the police about my under-age children engaging drinking alcohol I would thank them, and deliver my children to the police.

    If someone were revealing factual information about me that I found embarrassing, I would come clean and admit the truth, admit that it was embarrassing, seek forgiveness if appropriate, and move on.

    If someone were revealing factful information about my deceased father’s problems back in the 1940’s I’d probably be puzzled, but I really don’t think I’d take any action at all.

    If someone were revealing factual information about my wife and issues or sins from her background that both she and I found embarrassing, I’d hug my wife, I’d cry with my wife, but I don’t think I’d GO AFTER anyone.

    If someone were lying, then maybe I’d point out the lies, but notice Oaks wasn’t talking about lies about Joseph Smith, he was talking about “information” about Joseph Smith. If he meant lies, he’s a lawyer, I bet he would have said “lies”, but he didn’t. I suspect he meant “information.”

    How would it change your perspective if someone revealed information that was detrimental to the reputation of your family member? What would you do? Would you then spread lies in an attempt to discredit someone? Would you excommunicate researchers in an attempt to discredit them? What would you do?

  57. I’ve had my children in trouble. The facts were important, but I stood up for them even when they were wrong. I provided all the help within the system that was permissible. I stood toe to toe with those who were over zealous in their quest for “justice”. Their my family right or wrong. If it were in my power to fire someone for being over zealous even when my family member was wrong, I would do it. I will protect my family short of being criminal.

    Remember Corrie Ten boom from the book Hiding Place. If she were my sister and a Nazis came to the door questioning me, I would not tell him/her that their were Jews in my home. That would not be a lie, no more than if I were required to kill an enemy solider in time of war– would be murder. The same principles applies for an apostle to protect the church.

  58. Andrew, you are killing a gnat with a shotgun – and using some VERY tenuous ammunition to do so in the process. You have made 9 comments in this thread (that’s one out of every six), and 7 of them have been the same basic point – repeated over and over and over again. Even the examples are exactly the same. It’s why I initially thought you were trolling, since it is like you have a list of issues next to you that you work into every comment on every thread.

    For sake of brevity, let me tackle two of them that can be dispatched quite easily:

    1) Pres. Hinckley told an interviewer “I don’t know that we teach that” about the famous couplet. I was raised among people who used that EXACT same phrase (“I don’t know that ___________”.) ALL THE TIME. It is a “polite” way to disagree and means, “I wouldn’t say that ________________.” When I heard Pres. Hinckley’s statement, I understood **immediately** what he meant, since I had grown up hearing it almost every day from my father and grandparents. It is EXACTLY what I would have heard from them when they disagreed but wanted to not offend the other person.

    Using that translation, what he said was, “I wouldn’t say that we teach that ‘as man is, God once was.'” That is COMPLETELY true. We DON’T teach it. Joseph Smith taught the basic concept in the KFD, but it was Eliza R. Snow who penned the couplet. It is not part of ANY of our scriptures; it is not in ANY official manual the Church publishes for instruction; it simply is NOT “taught” in our day and age. We DON’T teach it. Some members believe it; most, I dare say, don’t – or at least NEVER think about it.

    It’s completely true also that we don’t understand that part of the couplet. We simply don’t have enough teaching on it really to understand anything about it. He was being completely truthful in his response, but those who weren’t familiar with his generation’s use of the phrase “I don’t know that ___________” jumped on it as a deceitful statement of ignorance – not as a polite way to disagree.

    2) Pres. Packer is TOTALLY within his jurisdiction over the Church’s education to state the Church’s position that those who are acting as teachers of Church history need to believe that the official version Joseph wrote in 1838 represents the official version of the Church and should be taught as such. That statement doesn’t deny other versions, and it doesn’t close the door to studying the other versions. It simply says that those who are teachers of Church history have to accept that version as the official one.

    Also, “Some things that are true are not very useful” is a completely accurate and non-controversial statement TO AN HISTORIAN AND TEACHER OF HISTORY. I started my post-college career as a Social Studies teacher, and the biggest part of my job was to decide what to present to my students and what to skip. I had to decide what I wanted them to know and what I thought could be ignored. I had to present what I had time to present and leave the rest alone, knowing that those who REALLY wanted to know more could find it on their own. That was my reality as an actual teacher, and that is exactly what Pres. Packer (A TEACHER BY PROFESSION) was saying when he said, “Some things that are true are not very useful.” It was a completely valid statement, but it has been turned into a nefarious one by people who don’t understand the context and equate it with “suppression”.

    Frankly, Andrew, some of the things you mention are “white-washing” in the sense of “painting the best picture possible”. Many of your objections, however, are NOT “white-washing” at all. The two examples I grabbed are good examples; there is ZERO white-washing involved in them – just people who jumped on them, twisted them out of their original meaning and context and created an offense that simply wasn’t there. You used them as examples of LYING (your exact charge), when, in reality, they are perfectly reasonable statements in context.

    Your loss of certainty appears to have led you to embrace the worst-case interpretation of everything you have referenced – even those things that are obviously twisted hyperbole. There are some serious issues in our history, but you appear to have lost the ability to consider the difference between those instances and the silly ones like the GBH interview and BKP quote.

    You said that this is driving you crazy, and, frankly, that is pretty clear. I would be happy to address each issue you have privately via e-mail; you have an address for me; let me know if you would like to approach it that way.

  59. Andrew–I’ve got to go, but I would like to refer you to Davis Bitton’s talk. I think he says some things that may be worth your while to consider.

  60. Andrew C. – “If he meant lies, he’s a lawyer, I bet he would have said “lies”, but he didn’t. I suspect he meant “information.”” I know I’m probably the only commenter here who is not a lawyer, but it seems to me that a lawyer would know better than to say “lies.” Heck, I’m not a lawyer, and I’d be really careful about slander like calling people “liars” for a different interpretation of facts.

    There are many many faithful members, including the church leaders, who are fully aware of these sticky issues and yet still believe that the LDS church contains the restored gospel. Now, part of the purpose of my post was to say that if the church did a little more open discussion of some of the sticky points, the detractors wouldn’t be the only ones with a voice. But I’m also open to the thinking that that isn’t a very fitting role for them; they have other priorities. I don’t see them as obfuscating. They share what they feel will lead people closer to Christ. At the last day, will God take them to task for not telling people in Gen Conf that JS didn’t look at the plates during translation? Or that Emma couldn’t make up her mind whether or not she could live with polygamy, yet JS practiced it anyway? Or that BY said things that were racist (well, they did relinquish that)?

    It seems to me that there is a straight party line among the church leadership, an apologetics movement that operates independently, and this latest admonishment of Ballard’s for members to be active on the internet in explaining our (presumably positive and better informed) views – an activity that is basically totally independent with no message control whatsoever, as evidenced all over this site.

    How about these white washes:
    – Mormon compiling the plates, but only sharing what was uplifting & spiritual (plus those war stories he was so fond of)
    – Jesus answering “thou sayest” when asked on trial whether he was the Son of God
    – The council of Nicea only including the books of scripture they thought were most authentic, completely ignoring the opposing viewpoints of gnostics, essenes, etc.

  61. Ray, for a man whow calls “time out” and tells others that they are engaging in hyperbole, how’s this one

    “it is like you have a list of issues next to you that you work into every comment on every thread”

    Post #5 was the only place I mentioned the Lorenzo Snow couplet – we’ll come back to this in a moment.

    The point of Post #5 was to ask for examples and point out significant possible different interpretations of what is white-washing, and therefore had a list offered for discussion.

    Post #9 was to agree with another poster and explain where I am now and why, included a list of things I clearly said bothered me (but not the Lorenzo Snow couplet issue)

    Post #10 showed agreement with one poster. No list, one casual reference used from prior list as way of showing agreement. Post also critiques another poster, politely.

    Post #25 answers a question about “wiggle room” – no list.

    Post #31 mentions the BKP thing previously mentioned, but a new Dallin H. Oaks issue not previously mentioned. Two things, one new, not a list.

    Post #33 mentions BKP, but not about anything previously mentioned, rather only about asking him a question, and suggesting how he (and TSM) might answer.

    Post #38 is an explanation I offer for my reasoning to someone who attacked my reasoning, and I therefore enumerated the points of a previous post, and explained them.

    We can stop here, because Post 40 was where you said I was “doing it again” and when I ask what that is, you tell me it seems

    “like you have a list of issues next to you that you work into every comment on every thread”

    Which is CLEARLY not what happened here. YOUR statement is hyprbole!

    Further, you insist people give close reading to your posts, but seem careless in your readings of others. If you will read the only post in which I mentioned the Lorenzo Snow couplet, I said one person might think white washing is an attempted decades long cover up of racism to

    “while another is referring to a single comment made in an interview with a foreign journalist”, I refer to the substance being pretty different, and that if someone were to equate them as principle it would be only a “white-shirted” straw man.

    So, I clearly was not hung up on the GBH single comment made in an interview with a foreign journalist, yet you still felt that was the point that you would make most emphatically clear to me in a CAPS LADEN three-paragraph rant. I had already dismissed it.

    Further, my posts were not making the same point “over and over and over” this is more hyperbole from you.

    I have seen you post comments like “There are some serious issues in our history,” but every time, in every place, you seem to then not discuss any of them, ever. What are some of these serious issues? Perhaps you could share some of them. That is, after all, what I asked for in #5 were other peoples thoughts on what constituted white washing.

  62. Hi, Andrew. Broke my own prohibition because my to-do list for the day just got completed. Posts will still be infrequent. I didn’t call you an anti-Mormon in my last post, and it’s fine if you say your aren’t. But you sure do have the accent down cold.

    “I don’t get Dallin H. Oaks saying it is ok to attempt to discredit people who present factual evidence.”

    After all that buildup we’re expecting to face some real fireworks; we brace ourselves with our rhetorical fire extinguishers and when we finally get to see the evidence behind the bold words, out comes a wimpy sparkler like this:

    “Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors.”

    I can’t find anything in that quote that I find distasteful or unbecoming. Every champion of an ideology tries to limit the influence of his opponents. Everyone on this thread is doing it in one form or another right now.

    If that Dallin H. Oaks quote is disturbing to you, then I guess your point is that if someone says something bad about the church, and the critic uses facts to form his argument [I wish our side could do that!], it would be wrong of an apostle or others to point out that the author and/or his argument is full of hooey. After all, he used facts, so he is above reproach.

    Gotcha.

    The above basically sums up my experience with the vast majority of anti-Mormon arguments: the bark of a rabid Rottweiler, the girth of an adolescent Chihuahua.

    That’s all I can handle for tonight.

  63. Andrew C. – There are some things people might consider white wash that I think are not really, but are something else like a different interpretation of the facts. It’s only a white wash if the church would also acknowledge it’s a negative but it’s downplayed or not mentioned.

    I think a list might include things like:
    1 – JS’s character & potential failings (polygamy practices, his temper, translation skills & process, belief in magic & money digging, poor money-managing skills, drinking)
    2 – origins of authority claims (priesthood not understood very quickly, first vision accounts differing, temple ceremony origins & influences)
    3 – Emma (she basically left and founded another religion yet there’s a lot of positive spin about her)
    4 – Early persecution stories (saints weren’t always 100% blameless, MMM, some saints were willing to commit violence)

    Those are a few I could think of off the top of my head. In reality, though, most of them seem to fit in the confusing/ambiguous category. There are many ways to interpret events, and they are not all clear based on recorded history. So the church mostly doesn’t mention those things as they bring up more questions than they answer, and the answers are not necessarily relevant to coming closer to Christ. You can interpret these things in a believing or disbelieving way; the events themselves are not clearcut. However, the lack of open discussion, IMO, leads some to believe there is a conspiracy or that these issues are huge dealbreakers when in reality, we should know that people are fallible products of their time, the church has a very “spiritually enthusiastic” tradition with angels and speaking in tongues, etc., and these guys are all dead now so can’t really speak for themselves except through ambiguous and confusing (often conflicting and easily misunderstood out of their own time and context) records.

    Some of the above would not be damaging IMO for the church to be more clear about in lesson materials (not necessarily in the missionary discussions – there’s a lot more relevant material to cover). I’d steer clear of trashing the personal reputations of Emma and JS, but to say they were imperfect is not damaging; I usually say what I’ve said here that JS was bad with money (never having had any), a poor judge of character in many cases (very forgiving too), and didn’t like to be criticized. Emma was very conflicted and could not consistently accept polygamy, which I find totally understandable.

    Anyone with more to add to that list, feel free.

  64. Andrew, My point is valid, imo. I really do respect your difficulty, as I have stated more than once. I said that it is “like” you have a list – and it is obvious you at least have one in your head. I didn’t mean you work every single issue into every single comment, although **I worded that badly and can see how you took it that way**; I meant you work all of your issues into every thread. Go back and read your comments on the other thread. You’ll see what I mean.

    I try very hard to stick to the original request of the author of each post. I don’t succeed always, but I try. Therefore, on the post about gay marriage, I try to stick to comments about gay marriage – not every other issue that someone else has about the Church. I’m not ducking anything; I just don’t like to contribute to taking a thread off course. I really believe I owe that courtesy to the person who wrote the thread.

    On this thread, I have tried to stick to comments about white-washing – and I pointed out that there are instances you mentioned that in NO way constitute white-washing. In fact, my mention of Pres. Hinckley’s comment was in DIRECT response to you putting it in your list in comment #5. You listed it with polygamy and blacks and the Priesthood, appearing to group it with those issues (very serious issues which I have addressed extensively all over the Bloggernacle and on this very blog) as something that needed to be addressed, so I addressed it. (Pres. Hinckley was speaking with Richard Ostling, a TIME religion writer for 27 years. I didn’t think you meant that interview when you said “a single comment made in an interview with a foreign journalist”. Frankly, I thought you were stating a hypothetical, since I couldn’t think of an interview that fit that description.)

    How in the world is that hyperbole? Seriously, how in the world is that hyperbole? You wrote it as a good example to address, so I addressed it. That makes it hyperbole? You used the Packer quote multiple times, so I addressed it, as well. That’s hyperbole? That’s “not discuss(ing) any of them, ever”? I gave you detailed responses for two of the issues you provided – and I am refusing to discuss any of them, ever? I have written extensively about thorny issues in hundreds of comments in the Bloggernacle on multiple blogs and I “seem to not discuss any of them, ever”? I went into great detail to answer those issues, and your response didn’t address either of my explanations. Not one word about what I wrote by way of explanation – and I am the one not “discussing any of them, ever”?

    Honestly, Andrew, I don’t get it. I simply don’t get it.

  65. “#16 Cicero – “It is natural for men to hate the weak and vulnerable.”

    I can’t see this at all. This is not true in my world. I don’t hate those weak and vulnerable people who lived in the nursing home with my grandmother. I don’t hate those weak and vulnerable peolpe who occupy the obstetrics ward at my local hospital. I don’t hate those people who admit to me that they are weak and have done me wrong and are sorry and come to me with an open heart seeking my forgiveness. If I hated them, I could attack them. I ususally hug them instead.

    No, I think some overly macho types or self-important types may see the only use for the weak is to be exploited for personal gain, and that might constitute hate, but I think your statement is baloney and falls apart under the slightest analysis.”

    My whole life since I entered pre-school has been one long string of other people determining that I am weak and immediately deciding that this allows them to:

    A) use me as a punching bag
    B) give me orders and use force or threats to compel my obedience- even in areas outside their legitimate authority
    C) demote me to “collateral damage” status whenever it suits their convenience
    D) label me a sinner

    This has held true for not only the obvious bullies, but also for people in positions of trust and authority. This includes fellow students, teachers, administrators, employers, and Bishops.

    The people I truly trust consists of my family, and a few close friends. I fully expect every other person in my life to turn on me if their self-interests ever favor it- I expect that you yourself are also just as cruel and ruthless, whatever your pretensions. I make this judgment on the fact that you are human, and humans can not be trusted. (Blood relatives being an exception most of the time).

    The only being I trust absolutely and completely is God. He has always looked out for me. I am also convinced He has deliberately crippled me, obviously for some good reason that I do not understand at the moment. So I tend to look on God as being friendly and trustworthy, but rather… terrifying- in a good way.

    As for the elderly who you claim to not hate- I have seen that the baby boom generation has a clear intention of treating their elderly parents as burdensome pests who need to be shoved somewhere out of sight and out of mind. Perhaps you are an exception to this, but I find that actions usually do not concur with people’s words (or symbolic actions like hugs).

  66. 23 Andrew

    If you’re bent out of shape about this, be honest and ask yourself: “When I last applied for a job, did I list all of the negative things about myself on my resume? When I was in the job interview, did I tell them all of the ways I’d fallen short in previous jobs? Did I volunteer every reason why they should NOT hire me?”

    Even though we fall way short of the ideal.Shouldn’t we expect the church a vehicle that were all basing our salvation on, that gets direct inspiration not to omit the truth!

    For example in church movies instead of showing just showing Emma, show Joseph with his other wifes and the prophet shooting some of his attackers.

    Small steps but it would start to appease many of the growing members that are getting to grips with the New Mormon History

  67. #50 hawkgrrl – “There are many disclosures made to prospective converts, though, some of which definitely do weed out converts (to wit): word of wisdom, law of chastity (have to get married if living together), tithing and the baptismal interview to name a few.”

    Those are not disclosures. Those are selling points. The product is religion, remember. This is what people are looking for in a religion.

    Also # 50 – “All religions have goofy elements and unsavory elements to their histories. That’s the nature of religion.”

    Funny how I never hear that sentiment voiced at church very often. There’s another phrase I do hear quite a bit, though–maybe you’ve heard it too. It goes, “The members aren’t perfect, but the church is.”

    By and large, Mormons believe that their church is unique among all other churches. Many even believe that it’s perfect. That’s why they are Mormons. God told JS that all the other churches were wrong. His church would be different.

    In fact, I distinctly remember being taught as a youth that every other church had scandals in its history, but not Mormonism. Surely, it was an irresponsible thing to teach and was certainly not from any correlated lesson material, so we can’t hold the church accountable for it, but the result was that I believed it. And I wasn’t the only one.

    At the end of the day, there is only one question that matters when it comes to whitewashing. Are people leaving the church upon discovery of information that the church has obscured or neglected to disclose? I think it’s clear that this is a regular occurrence. And if so, that means that whitewashing has caused people to become or remain members under false pretenses, and that is harmful.

  68. With these and other issues there’s a lot of cart and horse problems.

    If you have a testimony, your tendency will be to find a way to justify or explain something that initially startles or jars you. Anyone who hangs out at these websites who also has a strong testimony is going to take that approach. For those who don’t have a testimony, or for those so burned out by their Church experience they actually have an anti-testimony (yes these things exist), the tendency is to be cautious/cynical (in the case of the former) or to fish for the bottom and always assume a wicked/deceitful motive (in the case of the latter).

    There’s nothing wrong with asking questions, with being inquisitive, with seeking answers. I think, in the case of wading through the Church’s past, your perspective will be determined by how you go about finding answers. “This will all be sorted out in the next life” or “Joseph Smith repeatedly said if he told us all he knew none would remain with the church” sound lazy, pithy even, to those without a testimony. I guess it all depends on where you’re standing…perspective.

    For instance, look at the account of Jesus casting devils into swine that’s found in Mark chapter 5. There’s many angles to examine this event, but one to consider in the context of perspective and perceptions. There are 2,000 swine–someone’s livelihood, a whole village’s livelihood, in fact–and all of a sudden Jesus causes them to run violently into the sea. If you were the owner of that herd of pigs, would you see Jesus as the Savior of mankind, or would you see him as they guy who ruined your livelihood? See for yourself:
    14 And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.
    15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
    16 And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.
    17 And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.

    Those with agendas to discredit Jesus could easily label him a disturber of the peace, a destroyer of the livelihoods of decent hardworking Gadarenes. And the faithful? How would they have to explain this event to those in the village?

    Does having a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel require a Church member to explain or justify every sentence in the Journal of Discourses?

  69. Everyone,

    Andrew C. told me he is going to take some time off for a while, so please do not respond further to anything he has said in these threads. It would not be fair, since he wont’ be responding – and it would look like he is ignoring or avoiding more discussion when, in fact, he simply will not be around to respond.

    Please respect his choice.

  70. RE: Lorin #63
    “Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors.”

    I can’t find anything in that quote that I find distasteful or unbecoming. Every champion of an ideology tries to limit the influence of his opponents.

    Unfortunately efforts in the case of “Mormon Enigma” were to ban the authors from speaking in any sacrament meeting, fireside or other church sponsored event for several years. I guess I find that a little distasteful and unbecoming. My only other comment would be a personal aside that it would help if you were little nicer in your post re: Andrew C.

  71. OMG– Were you people raised in the same church that I was??? Do you not have standards? Doesn’t the eggregious violations and subsequent whitewash trouble you? Does the unconscionable breaking of the golden rule not matter? So all religions and organizations do this. Doesn’t that imply that the church is just another organization of man?

    Do the words/deeds of church leadership not matter to you people? Doesn’t the character of the messenger affect the validity of the message? Ray…I am just stunned. I can see wisdom when people say don’t do business with Mormons. I saw my parents get taken for over 70 grand during the 80’s by Mormons. Seeing the twisted pretzel thought here sickens me. In your minds, you are able to justify anything. Were concentration camp guards any different? Is there no line in the sand for you people? Are there no doings so black and sayings so disturbing that you wont justify? Not everyone has the dark thoughts/deeds that the “prophets” recorded in church history.

    You twist and turn “God” to reflect our convoluted history.

    Does God lie? (JS lying about polygamy and calling his accusers perjurers and liars) Does God tear down people’s reputations for telling the truth? Brigham married Zina twice (Sept 1844 and Feb 1846– eventually cutting Henry off from his own wife and taking kids away from their daddy) How can this NOT BE SEEN AS THE PREMEDITATED TAKING OF SOMEONE ELSE’S WIFE? How is this NOT an abuse of authority, propriety and boundaries? Is this how our God operates? At least JS was willing to share other mens wives. You tiptoe around the darkness that is being whitewashed. The “LIGHT” doesn’t need whitewash. DARKNESS NEEDS WHITEWASH.

    People get excommunicated for doing what the “prophets” were doing. It’s all so capricious. So much for internal consistency to standards.

    You demonstrate fanatical concern for finding the church true at all costs. Which is more important… to know the truth, or to know the church is true? I/we asked potential members in the mission field to open our minds to the possibility that the church is true. Most posters here don’t have that type of humility. Ask the wrong questions and you get labelled. So much for DECADES of dedication, work, service, and tithing. So much for DECADES of deep emotional investment. Ask the wrong questions and you get tossed aside like so much GARBAGE. Do I feel used/abused by the church? You bet!!

    If you posted on this thread and didn’t decry whitewashing, then SHAME ON YOU. You are used car salesmen doing everything you can to keep people from looking under the hood. When the “sale” goes bad, you blame the purchaser. (Just keep trying the key you say) Your “dealership” isn’t the perfection it claims to be and so you need to LIE to cover it up. Our church leaders HAVE LED US ASTRAY and HAVE CAUSED TREMENDOUS DAMAGE IN MY LIFE.

    In the least, THEY OWE US FULL DISCLOSURE BEFORE WE BUY THEIR USED BUCKET OF BOLTS. The internet is forcing more disclosure. I want the church to be true. There are so many big questions on “Life”. The church says it has the answers to SOME of those questions. I want those answers to be true. I want the whole fairy tale to be true. Given what I now know of it’s history and the lengths it’s leaders/proponents will go to WHITEWASH that history, I don’t see how it could be true anymore.

    Whitewash = whited sepulchre

  72. So since we know the Church whitewashes, covers up, downplays the severity of past mistakes, etc., where does that leave us? Do we lose our testimonies because of it? There are many reasons we stay in the church, not the least of which have to do with family associations. I for one am still figuring out how and why I have strong faith in many of the unique LDS doctrines given historicity problems with scripture, public and private missteps of those with priesthood authority, pressures to conform, etc. And how does that faith influence my future decisions in regard to my activity in the Church? What gets those who still strive to go to church every week, accept and serve in callings, keep commandments you’re not sure God really requires of us, pay tithing, attend meetings, serve in the temple, do FHE, read scriptures, listen to conference, etc.?

  73. “What gets those who still strive to go to church every week, accept and serve in callings, keep commandments you’re not sure God really requires of us, pay tithing, attend meetings, serve in the temple, do FHE, read scriptures, listen to conference, etc.?”

    My belief that it contributes directly to my goal of becoming the best person I can become – and the experiences I simply can’t deny or explain away. That’s the ultimate objective, imo, so those who feel like it is doing that for them stay; those who don’t feel like it is helping them become the best person they can become need to assess their participation one way or the other. That’s my take, anyway.

    For me, it really is that simple. I like the fruits, even amid the pruning, and I REALLY like the over-arching theology. It resonates with me, even as we mortals constantly screw up the implementation.

    Fwiw, I believe – in general – we do a LOUSY job of being charitable of others’ shortcomings. We tend to hold others to a standard we can’t reach. We tend to want others to be transgression-less – so we are constantly disappointed in their obvious inability to measure up to our unrealistic expectations. That’s a shame, and it clouds so many of these discussions.

  74. I think people stay for two reasons. The first is that, as I mentioned in my first comment, this isn’t the same church that Joseph Smith founded and the historical business that been discussed has nothing to do with the day to day running or your average ward of branch. The second is that for a number or reasons being LDS may suit a person’s needs. It may have to do with the theology or some goal you’re trying to achieve or it might be that you like the people you serve with and like to help people. For most of us it doesn’t have much to do with belonging to the true church or becoming gods, it’s more likely to feel needed and to be able to help others. As long as the balance weighs on that side of the scale then most will stay. Some things are important and some things aren’t. It’s just a matter of deciding which is which.

  75. #77

    Ray, it’s holding the church and it’s leaders to their OWN standards and written expectations. As I said before, people get excommed for what leaders get a pass on. The hypocrisy reeks.

    The fact that we are talking about whitewash shows that we have a sepulchre of bones we are painting over.

    GBSmith –in one sense, you are right… for you, you have a positive emotional bank account with the church. I suffered from it’s careless teachings on hell fire damnation, sons of perdition, threats and SWKimball’s reckless and irresponsible teachings on masturbation and it’s being a sexual sin next to murder in seriousness. Yes, there were the good times– feeling that rush while singing in 12 sessions of Gen Conf (Mormon Youth Chorus and Symphony). I reconsidered those feelings in light of also feeling them during Paul H Dunn talks. I liked the teachings on patience, forgiveness (I am trying to do A LOT OF THIS WITH THE CHURCH AND ITS PROPONENTS)

    All in all, the church had a severe NEGATIVE bank account with me. It maintained that account with a fraud. It maintained my obedience and attendance through the threat of the alternative. It abused belief/imagination through promises of future rewards/punishments. That is how it kept me going to church. I have felt higher levels of sanity than I have EVER felt before since I started doubting. I now feel free to help my neighbor, rather than being threatened with the blood and sins of 3 generations if I fail to do my hometeaching.

    I haven’t been to church in 3 months. I am spending more time with my kids. My wife and I have never been closer. I am SOOO much happier now. I can only imagine how much better life would have been had my life not developed around the INSANITY of the LDS church.

  76. Pseudolus #79

    The following quote says it all in my opinion. Those who know the history of the church best, historians, have credibility we all can respect. Here is what one prominent LDS historian, Davis Bitton said:

    Let’s get one thing clear. There is nothing in church history that leads inevitably to the conclusion that the church is false. There is nothing that requires the conclusion that Joseph Smith was a fraud. How can I say this with such confidence? For the simple reason that the historians who know most about our church history have been and are faithful, committed members of the church. Or, to restate the situation more precisely, there are faithful Latter-day Saint historians who know as much about this subject as any anti-Mormon or as anyone who writes on the subject from an outside perspective. With few exceptions, they know much, much more. They have not been blown away. They have not gnashed their teeth and abandoned their faith. To repeat, they have found nothing that forces the extreme conclusion our enemies like to promote… Competent historians who have devoted many years of study to the issues have not felt compelled to abandon their faith in the restored gospel…

    To read the entire paper go here:

    http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2004_I_Dont_Have_a_Testimony_of_the_History_of_the_Church.html

    One last thought, take your time before you leave the church. Think of your children, and others who will be impacted by your decision. I suggest a decision like this should be done very carefully because of the huge impact it will have on others.

    In my person opinion, most members who get hung up on issues like church history, white washing, have never really been members, they may have been active in the church, but maybe not in the gospel. This makes for weak testimonies.

  77. Jared, I agree completely with Bitton, but I can’t agree with your last paragraph. Sometimes it really is an inability to reconcile – and I’m not sure that isn’t a function of what we inherit personality-wise as a result of Adam’s transgression.

  78. Does it not really depend on who you look to for your salvation, the Savior or the Church? right or wrong, the church cannot save you, the Prophet cannot save you, the policies of the church cannot save you. As you look to the Savior and try to be like Him, the rest can take care of itself.

    If Jesus based the future of the Church on the way the Apostles acted, He might have given up. but He knew more….

  79. Jared,

    I don’t agree with the last paragraph, either. At least not in a many, or even most, cases. There is some danger in thinking because you’ve had certain spiritual experiences you’ve become immune to further expereinces that will dim them, or call them into question. The trick is keeping one’s eyes on Christ NOW, not on relying on a past spiritual state.

    Also – because of the many years I spent outside the church, I feel inclined to say that leaving the church isn’t the end, and can be a neccesary thing, even if it is tough to call it a good thing at the time. While I was outside the church I held ideas, met people, had experiences, saw first hand many things, none of which would have happened had I remained an active memeber. (Including meeting my wife – with her ancestors born at Kirtland, born at Far West, pulling for her?) Now these same things may have proved my destruction – but since I did ultimately return (not to the church half as much as to God, as Jeff wisely points out), many of those things I look back on as invaluable lessons, as well as happy experiences. It may be so for many of those who currently have genuine questions that keep them from full acitvity. At least I hope that, even if it annoys them. God works in mysterious ways, and all that. 🙂

    ~

  80. 80: This is really bad logic. By definition the church historians included are members of the church. Those who leave the church are assumed to never have ‘really’ been members at all and are simply nasty anti-Mormon ‘enemies’. The definitions applied ensure that the logic is always true.

    I could use the same logic to believe in astrology or any number of other beliefs.

  81. Ray + Jeff + Thomas,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I’m here to learn and share.

    In my opinion, and experience, there are various levels of conversion. The greater our level of conversion the stronger our testimony and the greater our access to the things of the spirit, but there is always the risk of falling while we’re in mortality. Those with the greater conversion would also suffer the greater condemnation should they fall (2 Nephi 31:14).

    I think this fits well with each of your remarks. I’d like to know your thoughts.

    I will be gone for a few hours but would like to know what each of you think about this.

  82. Jared,

    That was quite the insult–that I wasn’t really a member or had a weak testimony. Once again, you make a bad guy out of the person who bought this used LDS car without full disclosure. I think part of the problem is I REALLY BELIEVED IT, AND I COULD NEVER BECOME “THE MACHINE” I WAS TOLD I HAD TO BE.

    Why would I want the insanity I grew up with for my kids? When we were still going I was CONSTANTLY trying to defuse some brain damaging ideas my 6 year old would come home with. He wasn’t afraid of ghosts before, but since a lesson that included the demonic possesion of people and pigs, he’s now scared of becoming possessed. Another week he came back and said he needed to pay his tithing so he wouldn’t be burned. He can’t even calculate 10% at this point and the church already has the fear of God coursing in his veins.

    I got my first exposure to hellish LDS doctrine when I was 5. It was a vivid discription of hell fire and damnation. I obsessed on it for weeks. I HAD TO AVOID THAT HELL AT ALL COSTS. Yes, it is too bad I didn’t have a scriptural lawyer with me. Well those lessons and scriptures were written by and approved by the prophets. Unfortunately, my parents told me to believe my leaders and that the prophet would not lead us astray. I had to believe it. I did.

    My wife has suffered with guilt because she survived a rape. She was taught that it is better to die fighting for your virtue than to lose it. (thank you Spencer W and others) She was drugged and raped. Then the church made her feel like crap because she was still alive.

    I am glad I have never had drugs/alcohol/tobacco. I have only “had” one woman– my wife. I don’t see that changing. We still have FHE. (in fact we do it twice/week -once on Sunday and then again on a Monday or Tuesday, depending on kids sports.)

    We are both 5th gen, BIC, but we have had enough of the brain damage. By their fruits…

  83. Pseudolus, I was trying to remember a “hellish LDS doctrine” from my childhood, and I couldn’t think of one at first, but then I remembered the old story of the father that lets the train run over his son because he has to hold the manual train track guide for the bridge, lest the trainload of multiple passengers derail off the bridge. Remember that one?

    I remember asking my mom about whether she would let the train run over me if I was ever in that circumstance. She very lovingly explained to me that the same story was difficult for her and she didn’t know if she would be able to make that sacrifice for the train. But I also remember stories from my primary teachers to this day that still inspire me and make me love those teachers for their love for me.

    I am very sorry to hear about the rape. I don’t think resources for adequately treating rape victims are deep enough–church OR community. I cannot imagine 9 of my last 12 Bishops counseling a rape survivor in a way that they would make her feel like crap, Spencer W comment or not. I totally believe your wife’s experience, and of the 9 other Bishops, not all of them would have the depth to counsel a rape survivor in the way that I would think it should be done. But I have my own leadership weaknesses and try as I might in doing things the way I think they should be done, I’m sure someone would see through me and discover my weaknesses.

  84. Ishmael – I really haven’t heard those sentiments at church too much about the church being perfect just not the members. The church is the body of the membership IMHO. Maybe that’s because most of my wards have been non-Utah with many converts and people from a wide variety of backgrounds. As to people leaving due to unsavory history, people left Catholicism due to Dan Brown’s books which are fictional and shoddy pieces of research. Seeing a pattern.

    I tend to agree with N8Ma’s thoughts above. Topics not fully disclosed don’t sway the faithful in and of themselves. But by the same token I can only respect where people are at a given point. Everyone has their life to live. I would not want to add to anyone’s burden.

    I also agree with the comment that the church does far more right than wrong. I don’t mind full disclosure because I have that balance in my bank account. I only aspire to be as good as the church has been. Leader flaws don’t excuse my own flaws. I’ve been down that road before, and it’s not a winner.

  85. Charity is very hard in the real world, especially for those who have been scarred deeply.

    Jared, your comment did not wound me like it would others, but I understand Pseudolus’ reaction. I cringed when I read it, and it wasn’t pointed at me. There is an element of “ramiumptum-ism” (too lazy to look it up for proper spelling) in the implication that someone wouldn’t struggle if they just were converted as deeply as you are. That might not be what you meant to say, but it is how it sounded.

  86. The thing is, when your kid is standing in front of you and they’re up to something they are little lawyers who can split hairs and parse to infinity to save their little hides. What do we do? Do we acknowledge that all kids do it? Do we concede that they have every reasonable right to frame reality in the best possible light? Do we accept that we don’t want our trust or pride in them compromised? Do we stop to consider that we want the neighbors to be open to our assertion that they are wonderful or the best or the only true children?

    No. We don’t. We try to teach them that they cannot be the best people they can be, they cannot completely trust & respect *themselves*, they cannot really believe in the honesty of others and then cannot please HF unless they are honest about the fullness, the reality, of what has transpired. We want them to understand where the error of their behavior was, to learn something from it, to strengthen their character and to become a better and a more completely honest person.

    We want that from ourselves. HF wants that from all of us. Why are we willing to be little lawyers or PR agents looking for the way to sell the sizzle or pull a rug over the stain of anything? ANYTHING. Flaws, errors and frailty do not stay hidden but the attempt to gloss over or deny them always discloses the fear or belief in their power that we really have. And it keeps us from discovering what we need to understand more fully to appreciate the complete truth and reality.

    Honesty and integrity are tough masters. But anything else is far worse. And rationalizations just make us complicit in deceiving ourselves.

  87. Alice – I had a hard time telling whom you were excoriating as children in your analogy. I would be hard pressed to come up with an example of a high ranking church leader trying to get out of a pit of trouble he created like my kids sometimes do. Case in point of why I thought you were headed somewhere else. Let’s say you and your husband had premarital sex before you married. Your passions outweighed your virtues. You believe in full disclosure. You tell your teens not to have premarital sex like you did because boy was that a mistake that you regret! A hefty percent of teens are going to take that piece of information and weave it masterfully into a rationalization and justification to sin and not listen to you on these matters anymore because you are basically saying do as I say, not as I did. But those same teens, if they were more mature, could handle that knowledge and even feel sorry for you. This is frankly not a made up example.

    But in this case, it’s not even that those leaders committed a grievous sin. Just that they are selectively sharing what is uplifting. I’ve already said I don’t prefer that approach, but it hardly makes them the recalcitrant children or vilest of reprobates some are painting them to be. But it sure is easy to dismiss the council of someone we prove to ourselves is flawed. I’m just glad my own errors and personality flaws aren’t this closely examined. I have plenty.

  88. The Dilemma

    This ain’t any old church this is suppose to be Gods only true church on the face of the earth.

    Most people believe that God won’t whitewash or give you milk before meat. He at least in my innocent psyche is into “Do what is right let the consequences follow”
    Don’t tell half-truths or omit truth, or feel you or others are wise enough or can judge when its time others hear the rest of the story.

    Members now hearing the rest of the story 30 years later on has caused a lot of anger.

    It appears the church know this and has really made fast efforts to show more of an honest candid face.

    Blacks and the LDS Priesthood Mormon stories # 83
    Brigham Young University invited Darius Gray–entitled, “Blacks and the LDS Priesthood.” Pretty much full disclosure of the policy change.

    Latter day saints and Freemasons
    FAIR_Conferences/2005_Latter-day_Saints_and_Freemasonry.html
    Let me get to the crux of my issue here. Everybody wants to know, ‘Okay Greg, did the temple ritual come from Freemasonry?’ And I’m going to answer that with a qualified yes

    Mountain Meadow Massacre Ensign September 2007

    Polygamy Sacred lonliness Fair

    I can’t see God would be into doublethink or cognitive dissonance – which has caused the big problem and has sprung a whole industry of people who are learning to accept two contradictory ideas or beliefs at the same time.

    I find it hard to walk and chew gum at the same time let along get my head around which of the following camps is for me.

    Former members and questioning members
    EXMORMON.ORG
    POSTMORMON.ORG

    New Order Mormons (active LDS that don’t necessary believe everything the church teaches)

    NEW ORDER MORMON.OGR
    THE FOYER.ORG
    Totally faithful member sites
    MORMON.OR
    FAIRLDS

    Neutral
    MORMONSTORIES.ORG
    MORMON DISCUSSIONS.COM

  89. # 89 Ray& #86 Pseudolus–thanks for your response. I need to be more careful not to create the wrong impression. My intent is to encourage, and where possible provide useful information. I didn’t communicate very well, and I’m sorry about coming across in a way that was offensive.

  90. James – “This ain’t any old church this is suppose to be Gods only true church on the face of the earth.” This is the fundamental problem. A church can never be perfect, whether it provides access to the true gospel or not. The dichotomy is separating the weaknesses of men from the perfection of God. The BOM and D&C both talk extensively about this problem. The Bible doesn’t directly say that (that I can recall), and yet the problem is still there, totally evident. God’s chosen people often act in ways we don’t think are right (Jacob fooling his father into giving him the blessing, etc.)

  91. 94 Hawkgrrrl

    The dichotomy is separating the weaknesses of men from the perfection of God.

    The problem is once you start learning about the New Mormon History their is way way too much dichotomy /issues to separate not unless it becomes your hobby for the next three years.

  92. #91 hawkgrrrl- My rule is be honest because I can’t deal with the complications of half-truths and white washing. If my children or my husband or anyone important to me asks me a question they know they’ll get the truth. I have sometimes asked my children if they are ready for a complete answer so they get to wait until they’re sure they are if they suspect they won’t be comfortable with the answer.

    But if someone asks they will get as much of the complete truth as I understand it and as much as they continue to probe for. Sometimes that’s tough stuff to tell and sometimes it’s tough stuff to hear. But I think the only star we can steer our lives by is the truth. Any deviation at the source produces far more distortion as you continue out along the vector.

    I will not stop any discussion my family wants until we explore what I learned from an episode and what it cost me to make an error and what I gained by making whatever correction I was able to. People I love deserve no less than everything I’m about. They should not be disillusioned or mislead by my warts. They should never be confused that I’m a fallible human and that they and I know that they are too. We are not perfect — any of us — we are just *trying* to be.

    Now I’m not saying that I attempt to tell them how to build a watch if they’re asking what time it is. But I do not gloss over embarrassing or unattractive things because that’s where the pitfalls that eventually trip us up are. And it think that’s as true for the human men who administer the church (note I am not referring to their inspired ecclesiastical roles here) as for anyone else.

  93. James (95): I don’t think 3 years is a bad investment if that is all it really takes. My journey took almost 11 years. My wife, intentionally much fewer. Whether one’s faith journey is to reconcile New Mormon History in order to preserve the LDS community as one’s community of faith, or if it was as for me, to reach a point where my wife and I could grow away from it toward something else, I think it is as valid to put one’s heart, might, mind and soul (and time) into it — to a healthful level anyway 🙂 . LDS kids attend LDS seminary often for four years to learn the church narrative. People often can attend church services for years and hardly encounter a challenging thought. I don’t think whatever time is required for an individual to make the journey of the Dark Night of the Soul makes it a “problem.” It’s an opportunity, as I see it. I think Hawkgrrrl’s POV re: any “perfection” that should be expected for a church, or the common misapplication of its place in God’s relationship with His own, is a very helpful perspective for those aware of the journey.

  94. Rigel (87) That train story is odd. We want so much to understand God’s love, and try to reckon Him by our own human experience. It’s a completely understandable reaction, yet not all church goers realize how helpful it is to keep in mind the inadequacy of analogies to encompass Him. We want easier explanations. This is a particularly poor analogy because Jesus wasn’t unwittingly playing on the tracks. He wasn’t an innocent victim. He is God, a willing participant in fulfilling His plan to redeem His creation. Yet He accepted the righteous punishment for all of our sins so that neither will we eternally die, but also glory and worship in the power that He can raise us with Himself as victors over death. It is unfathomable. Honestly, as a parent I don’t get it rationally. It becomes trite, not majestic, when one tells a story like this. It makes the Atonement seem like a cheap parlor trick.

  95. “It becomes trite, not majestic, when one tells a story like this. It makes the Atonement seem like a cheap parlor trick.”

    JfQ – Maybe for you and I and other mature adults, but the basic construct can teach a powerful lesson for younger teenagers who have no personal frame of reference for the concept of a parent who would watch a child die willingly and not intervene to provide help when He seems to have that power. The Atonement rarely gets addressed from the perspective of the Father who did not intervene. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.” Most kids really don’t get that, and many adults don’t get it until they have kids. Some don’t even get it then – **and many of the common constructs of the Trinity essentially deny the need to get how one separate Being (the Father) interacted with another (the Son).** Without the foundational aspect of separate beings comprising one Godhead, the film makes no sense whatsoever.

    Are there flaws in the analogy? Of course, there are flaws in all analogies. Can it make a very simple point in a powerful, visual way – something to help somewhat immature and inexperienced hearts and minds begin to grasp it? Yes. God, the Father, really did love all of us enough to allow His Son to die for us – enough to not intervene and save that Son while we all die. There really are two separate Beings in this narrative, and the Father literally was an active participant – first, of course, in strengthening Jesus in the Garden, but also in stepping back and “forsaking” Jesus as He died.

    The film does a pretty good job capturing that aspect in a way that resonates in our current world, which is what analogies are all about – imperfect though they are.

  96. Maybe if some of the people on the train were shown to be petty, selfish and foolish that would help. And the kid should be old enough to choose to lay down His life.

    Yeah, I agree. Never a big fan of this movie. I only saw it as an adult. I probably would have liked it in seminary.

  97. Rigel (100): I do give pause in responding to your question of “is there an analogy that rises above the others?” because of what Ray said in #99. I think he’s right. We are story-telling people. It is the primary vehicle that can embody myth so that it can be successfully exported. Unfortunately we do live in a post-Enlightenment-informed interpretive culture while we still carry the spiritual baggage that has served us so well for many millennia. In other words, it is our empirically driven culture that posits that there may be one analogy that could rise above the others.

    The reason I think that Jesus told so many parables is that one parable couldn’t embody what he taught let alone even one facet of what he taught. Therefore the parable, the allegory, metaphor and analogy all should serve as a launching point of the question, not the answer I agree with Ray that “the train story” like we were discussing could be beneficial to the right group — perhaps young adults as he suggested. Where we do them a disservice is that we unwittingly and frequently tell stories as a way to answer the inquiry, which, in this case, is how could God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son. My point is that it could be used as a launching point for illumination instead.

    I imagine a teacher telling this story, and of course it is delivered for its heart-rending quandary of a young, innocent, unaware, beloved child sacrificed for a car full of unknown passengers. It almost seems shocking for the listener to imagine how a parent could weigh and commit to such a decision to sacrifice his child. Where the teacher could help in this instance is to follow it up. Say something like, “The father in this story allowed his child to die to save a car of passengers he didn’t know. Imagine how powerful a choice it would be if he knew and loved each of those people intimately like his son. Now some new info: Not only did the father allow something to happen, he created the opportunity for his son to willingly die. Does that affect how you feel? Now imagine that the son and father know the passengers in the train will be killed, and each knows that together they must work to save those passengers. Therefore the child is not an innocent victim at all, but one who is giving himself to save those passengers. Do you think that changes the emotions that the father would be feeling? How?”

    Therefore when storied lessons like this become used as a way to color a facet of a quandary, inviting the listener to search further, it honors the way we humans have come to treasure, tackle and transmit sacred mystery. When the lesson is used to answer the quandary like it is a puzzle or formula that can be solved, then I think it cheapens the human experience that can result as we grapple with the divine.

    To get back on track with the original question it makes me reflect on the angst I experienced with grappling with my faith in light of LDS history, for example, because it seemed like something one should be able to “solve” with empirical tools of reason. Is there a way that “white-washing” can be confronted that honors any divine experience that peeked through the historical Mormon experience and also honors the way we humans grapple with faith without reducing it to a simple binary problem that either one thinks adds up (just pray about it and you’ll have a good feeling) or doesn’t (no it’s all a made up pile of hogwash)? I don’t have the answer. But I grapple a bit with wondering how the LDS church could encourage a more mature, albeit risky, approach and environment that honors the “solution” that each grappler must find on their own.

  98. JFQ – great suggestions on how to add meaning to storytelling/reading parables. Some of your suggestions might be good ways to deal with those sticky stories, too. Real life events are not like fables or morality tales. So whenever we hear a story that fits neatly into a box like that, we should just instinctively be looking for the real people behind the stories, the motives and conflicts. That makes those stories really come to life. That’s just my view, tho.

    Alice – I applaud your honesty, and I would also not lie if pressed although I might demur. However, I am still not sure it’s a valid parallel for church leaders. The BKP quote sounds off in principle, but it’s not clear when and if it has ever been applied. The parent example was more where someone was hiding their own sins, not doing PR for the church.

  99. I think anytime organizations have people in them and are led by men and women, whitewashing will occur. We are driven by our aspirations and humbled by our failures. Our stories and histories certainly emphasize our ideals, our trials and miracles more than our sins. The Lord works with what is available and those people bring with them their biases, experience etc. I wonder how the Jews continued to have faith in the words of their prophets/leaders after David and Solomon.

    Our church is unique in its emphasis on recent history. Ask a Baptist is he can name 3-4 prominent thinkers or leaders in the last 150 years.

  100. ” I applaud your honesty, and I would also not lie if pressed although I might demur. However, I am still not sure it’s a valid parallel for church leaders. ”

    Why wouldn’t following an article of faith be as applicable to God’s annointed as for you and me who are only aspiring to that level of perfection.

    Here is but a couple lines from the church’s web page on honesty:

    “Complete honesty is necessary for our salvation. An Apostle of the Lord has said: ‘Honesty is a principle of salvation in the kingdom of God. . . . Just as no man or woman can be saved without baptism, so no one can be saved without honesty’ (Mark E. Petersen, in Conference Report, Oct. 1971, p. 63; or Ensign, Dec. 1971, p. 72).”

    “God is honest and just in all things (see Alma 7:20). We too must be honest in all things to become like him. The brother of Jared testified, ‘Yea, Lord, I know that thou . . . art a God of truth, and canst not lie’ (Ether 3:12). In contrast, the devil is a liar. In fact, he is the father of lies (see 2 Nephi 9:9). ‘Those who choose to cheat and lie and deceive and misrepresent become his slaves’ (Mark E. Petersen, in Conference Report, Oct. 1971, p. 65; or Ensign, Dec. 1971, p. 73).”

    The page goes on at some length and I think about all of it applies to this question. http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,11-1-13-40,00.html I urge everyone to see what the church has to say is the standard on this question and consider how it applies to this discussion.

  101. “I applaud your honesty, and I would also not lie if pressed although I might demur. However, I am still not sure it’s a valid parallel for church leaders.”

    “Honesty Is a Principle of Salvation

    “Complete honesty is necessary for our salvation. An Apostle of the Lord has said: ‘Honesty is a principle of salvation in the kingdom of God. . . . Just as no man or woman can be saved without baptism, so no one can be saved without honesty’ (Mark E. Petersen, in Conference Report, Oct. 1971, p. 63; or Ensign, Dec. 1971, p. 72).”

    “God is honest and just in all things (see Alma 7:20). We too must be honest in all things to become like him. The brother of Jared testified, ‘Yea, Lord, I know that thou . . . art a God of truth, and canst not lie’ (Ether 3:12). In contrast, the devil is a liar. In fact, he is the father of lies (see 2 Nephi 9:9). ‘Those who choose to cheat and lie and deceive and misrepresent become his slaves’ (Mark E. Petersen, in Conference Report, Oct. 1971, p. 65; or Ensign, Dec. 1971, p. 73).”

    Much more on the 13th Article of Faith here http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,11-1-13-40,00.html on the church’s website.

    Seems like a good guideline for God’s own annointed, no?

  102. Agreed. Where did the Dark Night of the Soul thread go? I had referred it to a struggling family member and, sadly, it’s gone…

  103. I know this is random, but I’m writing a paper from Germany and I need some help with a few points. The title of my paper is “A Peculiar People: How Mormonism Both Fits and Denies Classification in Lambert’s Religion in American Politics.” Can anyone help me with these things? I’m posting these questions on my blog as well, so I’ll take replies there.

    http://michelleglauser.blogspot.com/2008/07/help-with-my-mormonism-paper.html

    I think my main problem is that I know things I’ve learned from a life as a Mormon, but I don’t know where to quote them from. The secondary problem is that sources from here in Germany are limited. Some things I can find online, most not. So, here are the things I need some help finding sources for:

    -I know that Mormons have historically also been Democrats and (correct me if I’m wrong) it was because Republicans renounced slavery and polygamy as the two worst evils. Have Mormons changed parties another time?

    -In the 1840s, a lot of Catholic Irish immigrants came to America. How did this affect the Mormons? Do we have any documents about this? Was there as much preaching in Ireland as in England?

    -Where can I find a full copy of the text of Boggs’s Missouri Executive Order 44 (Extermination Order)? (I can find the image, but can’t read it.)

    -What was the church’s reaction to the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925?

    -I know about the shift from The Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel to Preach My Gospel. Have there been other shifts in preaching methods?

    -What did Mormons think about the dropping of the atomic bomb? (I would look on Desnews, but their archives only go to 1988 online.)

    -Did Mormons see a special need to spread the gospel to communists during the Cold War?

    -I need a lot of information about the Civil Rights Movement from the Mormon view. I know that the Church was against the ERA (although I still need Church documentation thereof), but better rights for blacks? Did they feel a need for that?

    -When Jimmy Carter had “National Family Week” in 1979, he upset the evangelists because he also invited alternative families, including gays. Were Mormons also invited? What did Mormons think about it?

    -There are a lot of different statistics for levels of education and income for Mormons on the internet, are there statistics somewhere a little more . . . respectable? I know there’s a reference book at the library in Salt Lake, but I don’t recall what it’s called.

    -Where can I find all the proclamations and letters that the Church has sent out? Is there actually a place?

    -In what years did the Church adopt a website, email, satellite technology, etc.?

    Anyone who helps me out will get a free copy of my paper sent to them when I’m done. If they want it. Ha ha.

  104. Everyone, I asked Andrew about the Dark Night post. He marked it private after it was up for a while due to the personal nature of what he shared regarding others. It still can be accessed, however, by going to my Bright Night post and clicking on the link I included in the first sentence of that post. Andrew is fine with people accessing it that way, particularly if anyone wants to recommend it to friends and/or family.

  105. OK; I just got an education. Apparently, it is accessible when I’m logged on as an author/admin, but I can’t get it when I log out and try just in my regular old Joe Schmoe-ness. Sorry, guys and gals. I guess I can’t share the secret powers of the decoder ring.

  106. alice – my point was that your analogy is not an accurate parallel, not that the leaders of the church should be dishonest. Your analogy was of wayward children trying to cover up their own misdeeds. If you have an example of a high-ranking living, breathing contemporary church leader trying to cover up his own personal misdeeds, do share. I haven’t heard of one. The white-washing we’ve been discussing is dealing with thorny issues in church history, not contemporary leaders covering up their own personal sins. That’s why I say your analogy doesn’t really match the situation.

    Michelle Glauser, lots of great questions, although I don’t know most of your answers:

    -“I know that Mormons have historically also been Democrats and (correct me if I’m wrong) it was because Republicans renounced slavery and polygamy as the two worst evils. Have Mormons changed parties another time?” Don’t know on this one, but you should remember two things: 1) the parties themselves have changed dramatically over the time period you are asking about, and 2) party affilitation of church members would have to be an assumption based on majority of US members declaring an affiliation (which is probably not published). Based on current parties, JS probably fits more of a democratic mold. He was clearly after redistribution of wealth, and he was no elitist. But I still like him anyway.

    -“Where can I find a full copy of the text of Boggs’s Missouri Executive Order 44 (Extermination Order)? (I can find the image, but can’t read it.)” Try this from Wikipedia: http://www.quaqua.org/extermination.htm

    -“What was the church’s reaction to the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925?” Remember that there was much controversy on this topic among GAs and apostles, holding opposing viewpoints. There are several different versions of the church’s stance published at different times. This site has some interesting information on LDS history with regard to evolution: http://www.tungate.com/Evolution.htm#Evol_history

    -“I know about the shift from The Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel to Preach My Gospel. Have there been other shifts in preaching methods?” Well, obviously in JS’s day, originally all male members who were baptized were subject to being sent out immediately to preach with zero training and no message control. Most didn’t even mention JS, just the BOM and that the saints were gathering. Then, JS established the school of the prophets to improve the message control and the education of those sent to preach and those called to leadership positions. When my parents converted in the 1950s, the missionaries taught them 52 lessons, one per week for a year. When I was on my mission in the late 80s, we had six discussions which we could teach before, during and after baptism (they could be baptized as soon as they felt ready). Toward the end of my mission, they added six new member discussions for after baptism specifically. Now, the new Preach My Gospel just came out. I’m sure there are more changes I’m not aware of, but those are the ones I know.

    -“I need a lot of information about the Civil Rights Movement from the Mormon view. I know that the Church was against the ERA (although I still need Church documentation thereof), but better rights for blacks? Did they feel a need for that?” There is a lot out there about this topic. The infamous letter to Romney’s dad discouraging him from participating in civil rights for one. Someone here must have a link for you. On the upside, there was always full racial integration in LDS worship services.

    -“When Jimmy Carter had “National Family Week” in 1979, he upset the evangelists because he also invited alternative families, including gays. Were Mormons also invited? What did Mormons think about it?” From the Deseret News (Oct 26, 2007): “Jimmy Carter had the centerpiece of his National Family Week celebration be his address in the Tabernacle on Temple Square at Mormon headquarters.” I’ll date myself and say I vaguely remember this, although I had never been to UT at that time in my life, so I wasn’t there. I recall people feeling it was positive, and that the country and president were finally doing what Mormons had done forever – focus on spending more time together as families. Same type of reaction when Parker Bros. ran commercials in the 80s about having a family game night.

    -“There are a lot of different statistics for levels of education and income for Mormons on the internet, are there statistics somewhere a little more . . . respectable? I know there’s a reference book at the library in Salt Lake, but I don’t recall what it’s called.” The latest Pew Forum survey covered very broad demographics.

  107. To: Pseudolus

    Perhaps because this thread seems to have come to a conclusion you won’t get a chance to read this. However, I read your posts with interest and felt a deep sadness. I have no idea of what you have been through nor do I think I could fully understand without having walked in your shoes.

    I hope in your life you never do feel the need to become a machine. I hope you will find a loving relationship with your Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ. And I hope you will forgive me and other church members for anything we may have done overtly or covertly to cause you such pain and anger.

    I just wanted you to know that my heart goes out to you. I wish I could get to know you better I think I could use a friend like you.

    Take care.

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