Christians v Pharisees: Choosing Sides And How To Fight For Them In The Mormon Civil War EPISODE 1 - 15% AND FALLING
- Active membership is falling fast
- Racism and thinking Africa will save us
- The empowering internet revolution
- The Silver Fox foretold the faithful future
- What are the real problems and how can we solve them?
CHRISTIANS VS PHARISEES: CHOOSING SIDES AND HOW TO FIGHT FOR THEM IN THE MORMON CIVIL WAR
EPISODE 1 - 15% AND FALLING
ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP IS FALLING FAST
RACISM AND THINKING AFRICA WILL SAVE US
THE EMPOWERING INTERNET REVOLUTION
THE SILVER FOX FORETOLD THE FAITHFUL FUTURE
WHAT ARE THE REAL PROBLEMS AND HOW CAN WE SOLVE THEM?
ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP IS FALLING FAST
Recently leaked data has confirmed that only 15% of the Latter Day Saints in the UK and Ireland are actively participating now and that number is falling fast. Birmingham Stake lost 40% of its active members in the last 10 years, Maidstone Stake where I grew up lost 25% and my current Canterbury Stake lost 21% of its active members.
We keep telling our beloved young people that they are essential to the future of our religion and will be its next generation of leaders, but despite them being so precious we have still managed to drive most of our children and young adults away. A video of the presentation given to the Apostles in 2008 that was leaked to the Mormonleaks website revealed that the global average outside the USA is 80% of our young people leaving by their mid twenties, and even in the Mormon heartlands within the USA 70% of our young people leave the Church by then. Everything going on around us indicates that this percentage of losses has got even worse in the 12 years since those secret statistics were discussed by the Apostles. We are also experiencing a steady loss of older Church members and their families who have become disillusioned with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and left. It is rather sexist to count senior priesthood leaders we lose as mattering more than anyone else who leaves but it is an indicator that we are not just losing people who were never that deeply rooted in the Church to begin with. Just in my local circle of friends I know 3 bishops and a serving stake presidency counsellor who experienced trust crisis and lost their testimony while serving in those callings and have left, along with their families.
The remnant of elderly members who spent so much of their lives working hard to build up what is now being rapidly burned down in our wards and stakes are going to die off soon, and when they do there will not be enough younger active members left to replace them and maintain viable congregations.
The inescapable conclusion one must reach looking at these statistics and trends is that we will have to take radical action to identify what we are doing wrong to sabotage ourselves as a religion, become relevant and attractive again to our young and older members, and stop driving them away, or we will disappear in the next 20 years... or probably sooner in a lot of places. We are staring oblivion in the face, on our watch, in our lifetime. We might not have a Church to pass on to the next generation, and we may not have a next generation of Latter-day Saints to pass it on to. So it’s time for a sober and clear headed reality check. It’s time to let go of all the highly inaccurate propaganda we grew up with, which a lot of active members still believe because they just trusted the leaders telling them this and haven’t fact checked the claims, that ours is the fastest growing Church on earth, that every ward we live in could become a stake before we die and, more recently, that the Church is going to be fine because thousands of people are joining it in West Africa. That is not going to save us in Europe, or anywhere else.
Focusing on West Africa just highlights our greatest shame as a religion: that we refused to send any missionaries there until 1978 because it was full of black people cursed by God, while all the other Christian denominations have been doing the heavy lifting of Christian missionary work in Africa for centuries.
RACISM AND THINKING AFRICA WILL SAVE US
This default mode self-soothing response to crisis of pointing to the one place in the world where the Church is growing in Africa is a similarly dysfunctional boast, or source of reassurance, to my lifetime of Conference talks and lessons revelling in the 1978 ‘Revelation’ deciding to stop banning black men and women and boys and girls from our temples and letting black men be ordained with the priesthood. Over and over again we pointed to that decision as the best proof we have that God is still speaking to Mormon prophets in significant ways in the modern era. Because that’s all we had - no revelations for 60 years before, and precious little from our living prophets since. All we had to prove our claims of continuing revelation to a prophet of God was cleaning up a mess that should never have happened in the first place because our prophets and apostles were callous racists for 150 years!
Where do you even begin with this scale of desperation and what Elder Jeffrey Holland would call “thin gruel” that deciding not to be racist long after nearly all the other churches decided to stop being racist is THE massive Mormon claim to fame of the 20th century? The Catholics ordained their first black Pope St Victor 1st more than 1800 years ago! 1978 didn’t even end the doctrinal racism because we were still being taught to believe that the racist segregation had been God’s will while it lasted for reasons like the scriptural curse on Cain or Ham’s Egyptian descendants after Noah’s flood meaning every white person had to be offered the gospel and the priesthood first, as Brigham Young and others taught, or black people not being ready for the responsibilities of priesthood and temple covenants until 1978, or white people were not being ready for black people to be equal to them till 1978, or some such nonsense.
The very white overlords of the British Empire somehow managed to end their slavery in 1830, the year the Mormon Church was formally started. So even after 1978 we had to wait another 34 years till 2012 and the embarrassing spotlight Mitt Romney’s run for President shone on the skeletons in the Mormon closet for the LDS Church to officially sort of admit that the racist segregations had not been God’s will all along when they issued 2 official statements through the Mormon Newsroom stating that “The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church”, and they elaborated on that declaration in a ‘Gospel Topics Essay’ titled ‘Race and the Priesthood’ on its website a year later in 2013.
This was a watershed moment for the Church because it was the first time that they came close to admitting that our allegedly inspired, trustworthy and infallible prophets could be totally wrong about something they had insisted was a fundamental, doctrinal, revealed truth for 150 years.
The only previous example that came close was the repudiation and cover-up by later prophets of Brigham Young’s ‘Adam God’ doctrine that he insisted was the truth for decades and had even added to the temple Endowment. His immediate successors had to specifically teach everyone what he had said was wrong about that, and removed the ‘lecture at the veil’ about it from the temple endowment. After the generation that experienced Brigham Young teaching them that Adam was God the Father and his version of the Endowment died off, later prophets just lied to everyone and denied Brigham Young had ever believed or taught that.
The Adam God Doctrine was a pretty significant matter and the anti-Mormon literature of my youth made hay with it - here was the second Mormon prophet throwing a total spanner in the works of Mormon doctrine about the nature of God in a religion which claims to be the only Church on earth that understands and teaches who and what God really is. To most people today that was an obscure doctrinal issue somewhat lost in the mists of time that most members have never heard of or researched. Much more importantly, in comparison, the racist segregation had been rigidly enforced and doctrinally justified in every congregation of the Church for 1 ½ centuries and caused us no end of problems and harm. So admitting THAT was all a massive disaster of human error, falsely and deceptively presented and enforced as revelation from God, was BIG. That day in 2012 was one of the happiest in my life having served a mission in Alabama and living in a ward that was very multiracial and multicultural.
A lot of members and Apostles are still extremely uncomfortable with admitting they are not infallible so the official statements released by the LDS Newsroom and the Gospel Topics Essay have been carefully hidden away from most mainstream members online. Most members have no idea either happened, including a lot of local leaders. This is in stark contrast to the endless high profile talks and lessons the General Authorities pile soaring rhetoric and repetition into about much less important matters that they actually have their hearts in like not saying “Mormon”, or making sure girls don’t wear clothes that show their bare naked porn shoulders. It would seem that whoever it was that authorised this game-changing official statement given to the world’s media through the Mormon Newsroom, which didn’t have any names on like a First Presidency statement usually would, has not won over all the apostles and it is never referred to in General Conference that I have noticed.
Because far too much power is concentrated into the hands of the Apostles in our Church it only takes one of them going rogue to reverse decades of progress and there’s nothing we ordinary members can do about it. This was spectacularly demonstrated when Dallin Oaks decided that the Be One celebration in 2018 celebrating 40 years since we racially desegregated our Church would be a brilliant time to tell all the black Mormons that their God IS racist after all and it was God’s commandment to discriminate against them… but he admitted he has no clue why… but prophets are infallible… but everything they used to teach about why God is racist was all not just fallible but totally wrong…. but apparently while fiercely insisting that only LDS prophets and apostles are entitled to ask for and receive revelations about doctrine for the whole Church, it has not occurred to him or his fellow apostles today to actually ask God and find out for himself and for us why God was racist until 1978 and tell us. We just have to make do with “Noone knows!
“The restriction on the ordination and temple blessings of persons of African ancestry — almost invisible to me as I grew up in Utah — was a frequent subject of my conversations in my life in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
I observed the pain and frustration experienced by those who suffered these restrictions and those who criticized them and sought for reasons. I studied the reasons then being given and could not feel confirmation of the truth of any of them. As part of my prayerful study, I learned that, in general, the Lord rarely gives reasons for the commandments and directions He gives to His servants. I determined to be loyal to our prophetic leaders and to pray — as promised from the beginning of these restrictions — that the day would come when all would enjoy the blessings of priesthood and temple. Now, on June 8, 1978, that day had come, and I wept for joy.”
So his major premise and excuse for the racism here is that God rarely gives reasons for the commandments He gives us. Following God is most of the time all about blind obedience and doing what you are told by God or His prophets communicating these commandments without having to have any rational explanation of why. It was all God’s idea to be racist, and who are we to question God? This is fundamentally dangerous nonsense - it’s nearly always obvious why God’s commandments are sensible and a good idea to follow and what the reasons for them are, and it is incredibly dangerous to teach that we should just do as we are told without needing to have a good reason for it, specially when it involved discriminating against and persecuting particular groups of people, like these racist segregations did! Dallin Oaks is revealing here as he does nearly every time he speaks that his religion is all about unquestioning command and control and submission to the leaders regardless of what they are telling you to believe or do. There is no obligation for Apostles and Prophets like him to explain themselves or make sense.
He modelled here with his own example the rightness of blind, unconditional loyalty even if you do NOT receive ANY intellectual or spiritual witness that what they are teaching makes sense or is approved by God. He was completely open about this and unashamed. It was extraordinary! And it all begs the question of what kind of a person he was and is as a General Authority constantly hearing about the pain that this racist segregation was causing Church members, praying about it and getting no confirmation that it was God’s will, but he said and did nothing to oppose it, and believed that the leaders must be infallible so he would follow them anyway in this matter and carry on praying to God to change GOD’s mind.
The idea that the whole thing might just be wrong and never God’s will in the first place didn’t feature anywhere in his thinking, which reveals his own fundamental racism. He could throw every single thing allegedly inspired prophets had taught as the doctrinal reasons for the racist segregation for nearly 200 years under the bus and reject all of that, but he couldn’t reject the idea that was the OUTCOME of those false teachings - that black people were cursed by God and inferior to white people. It makes no sense at all, unless he is a racist and has a blind spot to that. And although in this talk he used some of the phrases in the Race and the Priesthood Gospel Topics Essay from 2013, so he is clearly familiar with it, he seems to have chosen to completely ignore that it fundamentally blames the racism on Brigham Young and others buying into the racist ideas going around in slave-owning American Christianity trying to justify it that was common in their communities while insisting it conceptually cannot have come from God. The first and last paragraph of the essay are very clear about that - it CANNOT have been God’s will.
So in this talk, which as usual with the Pharisaical Apostles is a tangled layer cake of shameless lies and misleading manipulations and misrepresentations, Dallin Oaks is completely contradicting the message of the 2012 and 2013 official statements by the Church disavowing Mormonism’s racist segregation as ever being from God at all.
He referenced promises that black people would eventually receive all the blessings of priesthood and have their marriages and families sealed for eternity in temple ordinances. What he left out was that when Brigham Young and other prophets taught that, those promises were completely interwoven with the idea that every white person who ever lived would have to be offered saving ordinances and the priesthood and the dealing ordinances first, THEN it would be the black people’s turn, so this could not happen until well into the Millennium after Christ’s Second Coming. It was never framed by the people teaching that as doctrine as going to happen before the Millennium when God felt the time was right. And why if Dallin had already rejected all the previous prophets’ teachings about the racism was he still holding onto that ingredient of those teachings? By teaching these things he is actually perpetuating one of their many false narratives about the racism and God’s mysterious timing that he has already said was not true. This is classic Mormon leader manipulative gaslighting - giving the impression that everything is fine and God is in control and it all makes sense when what the General Authority is actually saying is contradicting itself and irrational.
“Institutionally, the Church reacted swiftly to the revelation on the priesthood. Ordinations and temple recommends came immediately. The reasons that had been given to try to explain the prior restrictions on members of African ancestry — even those previously voiced by revered Church leaders — were promptly and publicly disavowed.”
This is a flat out lie. The doctrinal justifications for the racist priesthood and temple ordinances segregation were absolutely not “promptly and publicly disavowed.” There was no discussion or repudiation of the theological underpinnings of the ban, just the announcement that God had now decided the time was right to end it. That did not happen until 34 years later in 2012 when the LDS Newsroom issued an official statement to the media on behalf of the Church in response to a Washington Post interview with a popular BYU Provo teacher called Randy Bott who had repeated all those doctrines when asked what the church’s reasons for its long history of discrimination were. Noone had told him they weren’t still official doctrine and noone ever told the rest of us. Most members of the Church around the world didn’t even know that 2012 disavowal even happened because it was only nerdy geeks and dissidents like me following discussions about it in social media groups who found out, or people in America who may have seen some converge of it in the news media there during Mitt Romney’s run for president. It was not mentioned in General Conference or the Church magazines or anywhere ordinary Church members would get to see it. In 2016 a survey found that ⅔ of Latter-day Saints still believed that the racism had been God’s will, including black members. I was still breaking the good news to people in Gospel Doctrine lessons about it in the years afterwards and rather irritating the teachers who were about to go into one with their prepared lesson all about why black people were denied the priesthood for so long teaching all the old reasons.
The nearest I have come across to a doctrinal repudiation of the old ideas in the immediate aftermath of 1978 is the idea that Bruce R McConkie told people to ignore what he had taught before about it with limited understanding that was now replaced by new ‘light and knowledge’, as the Race and the Priesthood Gospel Topics Essay itself describes, but he did NOT say that in a setting that most members would ever hear about. It was at a CES Religious Educator’s Symposium on 18 August 1978. You would only have heard about it if you’d been there. His 1979 edition of Mormon Doctrine still taught that the priesthood ban was God’s commandment, was because of the curse of Cain, and stated “In all ages past and until recent times in this dispensation, the Lord did not offer the priesthood to the Negroes.” As we can see, both Bruce R McConkie and Dallin Oaks perpetuate the lie that no black people were allowed to be ordained to the priesthood till 1978 and that this was God’s will, totally ignoring the ordination of Elijah Abel and other black men by Joseph Smith that they both knew and know about. The Church has emphasised Elijah Abel’s story a lot in recent years trying to distance itself from its racist history, so it is extraordinary that Dallin Oaks has completely erased that from the narrative he taught at this event. But as Pharisees selling the idea that leaders are infallible, Bruce R McConkie in the past and Dallin Oaks today cannot allow themselves to factor that into their narrative because it would prove that generations of Mormon prophets were committing an appalling racist crime withholding ordination and temple blessings and sealings from black Latter-day Saints that they had all been entitled to all along. God had already given them the priesthood and the temple ordinances through Joseph Smith.
And of course because we Mormons have been intensively brainwashed to normalise cognitive dissonance - which means believing totally contradictory things at the same time - after Elder Dallin Oaks’ introductory address at the Be One event in which he perpetuated the narrative that God decided black people should have the priesthood for the first time in 1978 he was followed by actors and singers specifically telling the story of Elijah Abel and other black men’s ordination to the priesthood in the first years of the Church in the 1800’s and their experiences. And none seemed to notice or acknowledge anything about the contradictory car crash of logic and truth that was.
This is particularly disingenuous on Bruce R McConkie’s part because when President Spencer W Kimball asked him in the build up to the 1978 decision to research and present to the other Apostles scriptural reasons for ordaining black people he made what should have been the obvious point all along in Mormon history - that even if there were residual restrictions on who could be ordained based on their ancestors, such as the Aaronic priesthood of the Jews only being passed along to direct descendents of Moses’ brother Aaron or some kind of curse on black descendants of Cain as described in the Books of Moses and Abraham in the Mormon Pearl of Great Price scriptures, they were all eradicated when the entire gospel, priesthood and all, went to ALL the Gentiles as described in the Book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament. There is no hint anywhere in the New Testament or early Christian history of any kind of restriction on black Africans. In fact quite the opposite - one of the first great stories in the Book of Acts describes the Spirit catapulting Stephen the missionary martyr to a black Ethiopian Eunuch to teach and baptise him. He was black AND transgender!
So for Bruce R McConkie to continue writing in new editions of his Mormon Doctrine book that the curse had persisted until 1978 after making that scripture based argument to the Apostles in private indicates just how willing he was to be insincere and deceptive in what he taught to the general membership, the same unfortunate qualities Dallin Oaks is demonstrating left, right and centre.
“Institutional policies or practices that could have inhibited the full integration of members of African ancestry, such as the separate congregations common in many Christian churches, were prevented by the longstanding LDS policy of ward membership being determined geographically. Similarly, membership records continued to make no mention of race or ethnicity. The Lord had spoken through His prophet, and His Church obeyed.”
These are more complete lies. He is trying to make the Church look like it was nice even while being racist compared to the denominations in the American Deep South that often strictly racially segregated their congregations, as they still do and I witnessed everywhere on my mission in Alabama. But the reality is that Mormon congregations WERE segregated by race formally by the Church in parts of the Deep South and South Africa where that was the social norm, and informally when countless black Latter-Day Saints were told by racist white Mormons they were not welcome in their chapels. There are a hundred internet pages full of information about all this. You’d think Dallin would do at least a few minutes of fact checking his remarks before speaking about this to the most important Church event regarding its racism in 40 years! Presumably he’s following his own propaganda telling everyone not to trust anything about the Church on the internet, or he knows it all anyway and is just focused on constructing a convincing lie regardless of what the actual facts are.
And how on earth does he have the nerve to say that throughout our entire history we have never recorded black people’s racial identity on ward records when everyone at every level of Church management spent 150 years minutely policing making absolutely sure that nobody with a single black African ancestor was accidentally ordained or given a temple recommend, and in many cases they insisted on you proving your non-black family tree back several generations before allowing you to be ordained, just like the Nazi Ancestor Passports every German citizen had to have proving they had no Jewish ancestors for 4 generations?! Dallin Oaks was THERE, DOING these things as a stake mission president and stake presidency counsellor through the 1960’s and then President of BYU Provo through the 1970’s. Dallin is such an unpleasant and smug liar who hurts so many people with his racist and homophobic and transphobic lies and bigotry I really struggle to remain calm any time he speaks or I have to think about him. But this talk was out of the box, even for him. Is there more? Has he told enough lies yet? Of course not, it’s Dallin Time! Here’s some more…..
“In contrast, changes in the hearts and practices of individual members did not come suddenly and universally. Some accepted the effects of the revelation immediately and gracefully. Some accepted gradually. But some, in their personal lives, continued the attitudes of racism that have been painful to so many throughout the world, including the past 40 years.”
Here the gaslighting continues, blaming the ordinary Church members for continuing to be racist while taking no responsibility for it as a leader. It would have been lovely if the Mormon General Authorities had been spending those 40 years telling the members to stop being racist, or telling them to stop believing the white supremacist doctrines they spent the previous 150 years teaching everyone, but of course they didn’t until Gordon B Hinckley tried telling people to stop being prejudiced in vague terms a couple of times and then tumbleweed until October 2020 after being publicly shamed by the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter movement this year and suddenly they are all over telling us to stop being racist and pretending we never officially were. Church manuals including Aaronic Priesthood and Institute Eternal Marriage manuals continued to teach that interracial marriage was a terrible idea and suggest that social interactions between black and white people should be discouraged because those would potentially lead to forbidden romantic relationships and marriage until the 2000’s!! The racial shunning Dallin describes members doing here was what they were actually taught by the Church to do in the official curriculum!
“Others have wanted to look back, concentrating attention on re-examining the past, including seeking reasons for the now-outdated restrictions. However, most in the Church, including its senior leadership, have concentrated on the opportunities of the future rather than the disappointments of the past. We have trusted the wisdom and timing of the Lord and accepted the directions of His prophet.”
Now Dallin is taking the effort to avoid taking any responsibility for the church’s institutional racism and the ongoing unresolved pain and catastrophic harm that has caused us all, and continues to cause to our reputation and credibility in the world, to its natural conclusion by insisting that we should just move on and forget it ever happened. We don’t even need to know why. If you are one of those people who would like to understand what happened and why you are an unfaithful trouble maker out of harmony with the white privileged leaders of the Church and “most” of the white Church members who have decided to ignore it and move forward, so what’s YOUR problem that you can’t let it go? The whole things was the ‘wisdom and timing of the Lord’ and His prophet. Who do you think YOU are to dare question or complain about actual God? Why can’t YOU trust the wisdom and timing of the Lord?
“In doing so, we have realized the eternal significance of God’s prophetic teaching that “one being is as precious in his sight as the other” (Jacob 2:21). In doing so, we have received new impetus to fulfill the command that we are to teach the everlasting gospel unto all — to “all nations, kindreds, tongues and people” (D&C 42:58). To concern ourselves with what has not been revealed or with past explanations by those who were operating with limited understanding can only result in speculation and frustration. To all who have such concerns, we extend our love and this special invitation. Let us all look forward in the unity of our faith and trust in the Lord’s promise that “he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33; emphasis added).”
So the ONLY possible outcome of wanting to understand what happened there is “speculation and frustration” so there’s no point even asking these embarrassing questions that make the Mormon prophets look really bad. Why Dallin? Why could investigating and researching this not lead to healing and understanding and truth? Because you are determined that we should never find out or understand the truth - the truth that you have lied and lied and lied about this history. The truth that it was never God’s will for our Church to be racist segregators and destroy our integrity and credibility as Christ’s only true Church this spectacularly. The truth that our beloved inspired prophets were all on the wrong side of history regarding slavery and racist segregation and among the very WORST religious leaders in American history, which is really saying something, while far more righteous and inspired Christians of all races in the USA and the British Empire and all over the world were heroically campaigning for equal rights and emancipation for black people, and prioritising rather than shunning them in their missionary efforts at home and abroad like we should have been doing all along. But preserving your own absolute power as an infallible ruler who cannot be questioned or disagreed with or criticised is far more important to you than dealing with this frustrating open wound in our Mormon universe or offering comfort to all the black Mormons who followed your nasty, cruel sermon raining all over their hopes and dreams by singing their pain and telling their story. This human being who doesn’t know what mourning with those that mourn even means turned what was meant to be a reflective journey through a mercifully past history of racist persecution of black people in and by our Church into a cry of pain inflicted by our callous racist prophets and apostles here and now. An injustice that has still not even been acknowledged as real by them, never mind repented of or apologised for.
Dallin Oaks is not as ignorant as he pretends to be. He knows perfectly well that acknowledging that the prophets were this wrong for generations about something they taught as unchangeable and certain absolute truth opens a Pandora’s box of possibilities that immediately threatens his most sacred and beloved personal obsession which he is convinced God has called him to make the Prime Directive of his apostolic ministry - keeping the gay people out of the Church and out of the temple sealing room. He knows perfectly well that once people realise our prophets were completely wrong about restricting access to our priesthood and temple marriages on the basis of race and that the progressive trends in society at large against racism and in favour of civil rights that the Mormon prophets resisted and insisted were satanic lies for as long as they possibly could turned out to be not only right but what God had wanted all along, the inevitable next thing they will radically reconsider is the Church’s virulent homophobia. If the bubble of prophetic infallibility is burst, he knows it will not be long at all before most members of the Church decide they’d like to catch up with average society regarding sexuality and gender identity as well please. So he spent the rest of his talk launching the Be One event making absolutely sure he hammered his homophobic boundary policing home in case people got any ideas and started putting 2 and 2 together, and as usual he didn’t care what mental gymnastics of self contradictory rubbish he had to say to do it. The end justify the means. Watch him try to make a distinction between personal prejudice and institutional prejudice. Personal prejudice bad, institutional prejudice good!
“But throughout history, many groups of God’s children are or have been persecuted or disadvantaged by prejudices, such as those based on ethnicity or culture or nationality or education or economic circumstances. As servants of God who have the knowledge and responsibilities of His great plan of salvation, we should hasten to prepare our attitudes and our actions — institutionally and personally — to abandon all personal prejudices. As President Russell M. Nelson said following our recent meeting with the national officers of the NAACP: “Together we invite all people, organizations, and government[s] to work with greater civility, eliminating prejudice of all kinds."
“Even as we unite to abandon all attitudes and practices of prejudice, we should remember that it is not prejudice for the Church to insist on certain rules in furtherance of the Lord’s requirement of worthiness to enter a temple. The Lord has declared that obedience to covenants and commandments is an essential requirement to enjoy sacred blessings. Any attempt to erase divine requirements for eternal life and eternal families would be like trying to establish Satan’s plan that “all would be saved.” In our premortal lives we mortals already rejected Satan’s plan. We chose the plan of our Heavenly Father, which provides the freedom to choose and keep the eternal covenants and commandments that apply equally to all. The equality of God is not equal outcomes for all, but equal opportunity for all.”
“Any attempts to erase divine requirements for eternal life and eternal families would be like trying to establish Satan’s plan that all would be saved” “The equality of God is not equal outcomes for all, but equal opportunity for all” He’s truly shameless isn’t he. So why Dallin have you just insisted that there was nothing wrong with erasing black people’s equal opportunity to have eternal life and be sealed in the temples so they could have eternal families for all of human history until 1978 and specifically from 1852 until 1978 although you believe there wasn’t anything before 1852 because you are choosing to ignore the black Mormons who had the priesthood until then? It’s not difficult to detect these people’s lies and self contradictions. They just put them all front and centre in their talks! And what should be a very sobering thought for all of us is that they absolutely get away with it with a really large percentage of the really tiny still active membership of the Church. They have brainwashed us so successfully we don’t even notice it. And then you start hearing all the same irrational and self contradictory excuses and arguments heard in these talks being repeated by the unquestioning members who have absorbed them all, but not even noticed that they are complete garbage and don’t even make sense. And then they try them out on people having faith and trust crisis BECAUSE they have started to notice how much the Apostles are manipulating and lying to people, thinking it will help and that they have convincing arguments, and it usually goes downhill from there.
We can't keep falling for it any more because this kind of convoluted and twisted and dishonest reasoning is killing our Church. It’s a ticking timebomb waiting to go off and kill yet another member’s testimony as soon as they look closely and start applying basic common sense and critical analysis to what is being said. Distracting people from these realities with smiles and warm fuzzy feelings doesn’t work indefinitely. There comes a point for everyone where the bubble of delusion bursts and we pull back the curtain and are left staring at the less than amazing Wizard of Oz who we thought was a supernatural being regularly communicating with God and now realise is just a silly old man trying to trick people into trusting nonsense.
“Now temples are being built in many nations for the blessing of God’s children on both sides of the veil. On earth and in heaven, we rejoice together. This is essential to our preparation for the Second Coming of Him who declared through a Book of Mormon prophet that “he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation” (2 Nephi 26:24) and who declared through a modern prophet that “if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27).”
So he has admitted here then that all the racist prophets forbidding essential covenants and ordinances to people because of their race were NOT following principles clearly taught in the Book of Mormon that is meant to be regarded as our most correct scripture and were NOT speaking for God or being One with Him. But earlier he was teaching that like him we should trust that they were absolutely correct and obeying God and it was God’s will to racially segregate access to heaven.
Do you see how many lies and manipulations and distortions of reality Dallin Oaks packed into just one 13 minute talk? And how much it has to be disentangled and analysed to keep up with them and identify and fact check all those deceptions? It’s exhausting, but very revealing, and essential if we are not going to fall for their lies and be so easily bamboozled and controlled, and teach those lies to each other and our friends and our children. Our religion is meant to be all about honesty and truth.
And despite saying THAT, Dallin Oaks has taught in the last 2 or 3 General Conferences and an article in the Ensign in March 2020 that the apostles are never wrong when they agree on a policy or doctrine, even though at the Be One event he had admitted everything they had taught as infallible revelation from God justifying their racism was totally inaccurate, which must mean therefore that they made it up themselves… and then he told us in the most recent October 2020 Conference that we shouldn’t be racist, and in a talk at BYU shortly afterwards insisted “Of course, Black lives matter. That is an eternal truth all reasonable people should support.” So by that criteria he was saying that all the prophets and apostles who taught and enforced the racist discrimination in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the millions of Latter-day Saints who believed them, and taught and enforced it as well, were denying an eternal truth and had lost their reason… which I agree with.
1978 was not God reaching down from the heavens in His wisdom to give black people the priesthood and temple ordinances because the the time was now right for it. It was a RESTORATION of a privilege they had been entitled to all along and had been unjustly denied for 150 years by racist Mormon leaders who allowed their bigotry to override their compassion, their common sense and their own lived experience. General Authorities who had served with Elijah Abel later denied that he had ever been ordained and the documents recording his ordination were intentionally hidden by them in the Church archives.
This man Dallin Oaks who teaches that God IS racist against black people but cannot get his story straight about that, and has taught the infallibility of Mormon prophets and apostles in several recent talks, but in others stated that they were all wrong about every single doctrine they taught justifying racism, and thus constantly contradicts himself, is in line to be our next President Prophet. And don’t get me started on his paranoid homophobic obsession with what he regularly calls the “LGBTQ Agenda”. Heaven help us - things are going to get a LOT worse for Mormonism and retaining our young people before they stand a chance of getting better if we are leaving it to President Oaks to future-proof the Church. How can we carry on testifying that people like him are the absolute best God can come up with from 7.8 billion living people so the whole world should listen to them to learn the most reliable and up to date truth and what God wants them to know?!
Russel M Nelson still doesn’t even believe that evolution is real even though he’s a heart surgeon - one of his quotes about that is “dogs have always been dogs” which is ludicrous because one of the clearest proofs of evolution is how dogs haven’t always been dogs, but evolved originally from wolves into hundreds of very different forms. We still have leaders who have refused to engage with the most basic ideas of science and history and decided instead to ignore it all and just believe with faith what they were taught by equally uneducated and ignorant General Authorities all their lives in the Mormon Bubble. This is why we are so unequipped to survive the 21st century - they haven’t even got their heads around the developments in knowledge and biblical criticism of the 19th Century which other Christian churches faced up to decades ago.
This confusion about God’s racism and evoluton are just two examples of the ongoing tormented internal conflicts we are facing in our Church. The list of issues that are battering and shattering people’s trust and testimonies seems to be endless these days - homophobia, treating women as second class citizens and refusing to ordain them, polygamy, revelations about the predatory and dishonest ways Joseph Smith practiced polygamy which broke every rule he eventually wrote down in Doctrine and Covenants 132 and his penchant for marrying teenage girls and marrying other active faithful Mormon men’s wives, shaming teenagers and young adults in worthiness interviews conducted by men with no training or background checks, the lies Joseph told about translating the Book of Abraham and flipflopping in the narratives about how the Book of Mormon was translated, Apostles telling lies and contradicting each other, the dumbing down of the Sunday School curriculum etc etc.
It’s a perfect storm of cultural practices in the Church that hurt and alienate people and hypocritically contradict what are meant to be the basic ideas in Christianity and the LDS Restoration, and revelations about our real history that prove we have been lied to about all the really fundamental Mormon truth claims by generations of our prophets and apostles.
If we open our eyes and look we can see the clear divisions between different leaders about how to respond to this as some advocate for more transparency and honesty while others are pushing the complete opposite approach of pretending nothing is wrong, the Church is booming and our leaders are infallible.
THE EMPOWERING INTERNET REVOLUTION
These completely contradictory ideas and doctrines being taught by the General Authorities creates confusion and loss of trust in the whole Church and its leaders for members of all ages caught up in it. And now they have somewhere to go to get the answers and support they need that the Church and its leaders are failing to give them. The internet has democratised information and given everyone access to huge archives so they can fact check the truth claims of the Church leaders like never before. Through social media tens of thousands of current and former Church members get together and discuss all these issues at length and listen to hundreds of hours of superb podcasts and youtube films exploring and debating them in thoughtful, powerful and intelligent ways.
These resources and communities are far more interesting and helpful than the vast majority of what we are fed in the tired, endlessly repetitive and childishly shallow dialogues and teaching we have normalised in Sunday lessons and sermons. At last the grown teenagers and adults can engage with our religion and its history in ways that are not determined to infantilize them and keep all learning and dialogue at primary school level and are not whitewashing and ruthlessly censoring the information they are presented with and what they are allowed to say about it.
The very bad news for the control freak Pharisees is that what we discover raises huge questions about the reliability of our leaders who keep ludicrously insisting they are infallible despite all the proof that they clearly are not and never have been, and their constantly changing official narratives about our Church’s origins and history.
I will show later where all the members of the current First Presidency and several of the Apostles are still teaching their infallibility and forbidding us to think otherwise even though apologists for the Church keep contradicting them and insisting that Mormons don’t believe our prophets are infallible, yet another example of how we have normalised cognitive dissonance and mental gymnastics in our religion. But it is important to pinpoint where this idea of Mormon Prophets’ infallibility has been nailed down by our prophets in the past and then frequently requoted in their talks and study manuals ever since.
The 3 main recurring sources of this belief that I have encountered at Church are D and C 1:38, Wilford Woodruff and Heber J Grant.
Doctrine and Covenants 1:38 says “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”
It is easy to interpret that as meaning we should totally trust and treat everything the prophets teach while claiming to be speaking truth from God as infallible and the mind and will of God, and our manuals still teach that, but in doing so they miss the significant caveat that this only holds up if what they are saying really is revealed to them by God. When they are presenting their own ideas as God’s this scripture does not apply and in fact D and C 121:36-37 says that if they do teach their own ideas as God’s, their priesthood and divine authority evaporates - “...the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”
When President Wilford Woodruff was forced to formally abandon the practice of polygamous marriages by the government of the USA in 1890 he had the really tough task of asserting his authority enough to convince the membership to let it go when Brigham Young, John Taylor and himself as prophets had not only promoted polygamy but insisted it was essential and compulsory for exaltation, and bullied members into being rebaptised and marrying every available female during what historians call the Mormon Reformation in 1856 and 57 once they got a foothold in Utah. We used to be lied to that only 3% or so of Latter-day Saints actually married polygamously at its peak but the Gospel Topics Essays and objective historians now admit it was more like 30% of all Mormon marriages, and half of the Latter-day Saints were living in polygamous families and making fanatical sacrifices to persist with it under intense persecution. To flip the script about the whole thing just 30 years later was an existential shock, so in justifying his ‘Manifesto’ Wilford Woodruff made a fateful declaration that was canonised as part of Official Declaration 1 in the Doctrine and Covenants:
“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)”
This was the beginning of the crazy idea still fanatically believed and taught by plenty of Mormons we all know and love that the prophets and apostles are incapable of getting anything they teach as God’s will wrong and that if they do, God will literally kill them, so if they don’t drop dead at the pulpit they must be speaking truth. It also got everyone used to the idea that they are still infallible even when totally contradicting or reversing or repealing revelations and doctrines they used to teach as God’s infallible will - if they do that it is God changing the instructions about what to believe because of His wisdom, not proof that the prophets had got that revelation or doctrine wrong before.
This came in handy when they later reversed the racist segregation, and our current President Russell Nelson went for it big time regarding the November 2015 Policy of Exclusion. In January 2016 he declared in his “Becoming True Millenials” devotional at BYU Hawaii broadcast to the worldwide membership that the revelation allegedly given to President Monson during his final years of dementia was true doctrine from God on a par with 1978 and that the Lord “will never allow the prophet to lead us astray.”:
“Plead with the Lord for the gift of discernment. Then live and work to be worthy to receive that gift so that when confusing events arise in the world, you will know exactly what is true and what is not……… We sustain 15 men who are ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators. When a thorny problem arises—and they only seem to get thornier each day—these 15 men wrestle with the issue, trying to see all the ramifications of various courses of action, and they diligently seek to hear the voice of the Lord. After fasting, praying, studying, pondering, and counseling with my Brethren about weighty matters, it is not unusual for me to be awakened during the night with further impressions about issues with which we are concerned. And my Brethren have the same experience.
“The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel individually and collectively. And then we watch the Lord move upon the President of the Church to proclaim the Lord’s will. This prophetic process was followed in 2012 with the change in minimum age for missionaries and again with the recent additions to the Church’s handbook, consequent to the legalization of same-sex marriage in some countries. Filled with compassion for all, and especially for the children, we wrestled at length to understand the Lord’s will in this matter. Ever mindful of God’s plan of salvation and of His hope for eternal life for each of His children, we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise. We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration. And then, when the Lord inspired His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to declare the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation. It was our privilege as Apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson. Revelation from the Lord to His servants is a sacred process, and so is your privilege of receiving personal revelation.
“My dear brothers and sisters, you have as much access to the mind and will of the Lord for your own life as we Apostles do for His Church. Just as the Lord requires us to seek and ponder, fast and pray, and study and wrestle with difficult questions, He requires you to do the same as you seek answers to your own questions.
“You can learn to hear the voice of the Lord through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. As helpful as Google, Twitter, and Facebook may seem, they simply do not provide answers to your most important questions!.......... Prophets see ahead. They see the harrowing dangers the adversary has placed or will yet place in our path. Prophets also foresee the grand possibilities and privileges awaiting those who listen with the intent to obey. I know this is true! I have experienced it for myself over and over again.
The Lord has promised us that He will never allow the prophet to lead us astray. President Harold B. Lee declared: “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (D&C 21:6).” You may not always understand every declaration of a living prophet. But when you know a prophet is a prophet, you can approach the Lord in humility and faith and ask for your own witness about whatever His prophet has proclaimed. Around 41 b.c., many Nephites joined the Church, and the Church prospered. But secret combinations also began to grow, and many of their cunning leaders hid among the people and were difficult to detect. As the people became more and more prideful, many of the Nephites made “a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation.” Those same threats are among us today. The somber reality is that there are “servants of Satan” embedded throughout society. So be very careful about whose counsel you follow.”
3 ½ years and thousands of Latter-day Saints leaving the Church because of this evil “revelation” persecuting innocent children because of their parent’s sexuality later, President Nelson abandoned the Policy and taught at BYU Provo with shameless chutzpah that he and his fellow apostles had pleaded with God to lift this Policy that he used to insist was infallible and that God kindly acquiesced to his will, and instead of showing some kind of humility about the U-turn and apologising for the pain this doctrine had caused, he insisted this was all faith-promoting further proof of their infallibility and that “Prophets always speak the Truth”!!
“Truth number two: Truth is truth.
Some things are simply true. The arbiter of truth is God—not your favorite social media news feed, not Google, and certainly not those who are disaffected from the Church.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught that absolute truth cannot be “altered by the opinions of men. . . . If men are really humble, they will realize that they discover, but do not create, truth.”1
Many now claim that truth is relative and that there is no such thing as divine law or a divine plan. Such a claim is simply not true. There is a difference between right and wrong. Truth is based upon the laws God has established for the dependability, protection, and nurturing of His children. Eternal laws operate in and affect each of our lives, whether we believe them or not.”
These are the first lies of several that President Nelson told in this talk, ironically while teaching about the nature of truth. He said that “The arbiter of truth is God—not your favorite social media news feed, not Google, and certainly not those who are disaffected from the Church.” The whole massive mess the Church is in right now and the primary overall reason so many long term members are leaving the Church and so many are choosing not to trust and join it, is that it turns out the non-Mormon and even openly hostile anti-Mormon or just ex-Mormon people who properly researched our history and were not part of the intentional conspiracy by the Church’s General Authorities to hide fundamental truths from us, were and still are far more reliable sources and arbiters of the truth about our religion than the prophets claiming to be the truthful mouthpieces of God. For President Nelson to completely ignore this situation and show no humility at all about this reality, and oversimplify it as if he is talking to 3 year old children is just ludicrous and shameless. In the last 10 years the most significant development regarding truth in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been how much it has had to admit the anti-Mormons and “disaffected members” were far closer to understanding and telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth than its own prophets, seers and revelators, and how they have had to start radically rewriting the Church’s official curriculum accordingly.
It was people who were disaffected from the Church, and the brave and honest Mormon historians within it who were excommunicated by the Church for their research throughout the 20th century, who told the truths the Church is only now admitting about seer stones, about the Book of Abraham, about polygamy and polyandry, about the Adam God doctrine, about the First Vision, about the plagiarism in the Book of Mormon, about the racist segregation, about the origins of the LDS priesthood, about the evolution of the Godhead doctrines, about Joseph Smith’s occult scrying, about the translation and later editing of the Book of Mormon and so on and so forth. In fact, there isn’t a single component of the foundational truth claims and origin story our missionaries teach investigator that has not had to be radically rewritten by the Church in the new ‘Saints’ books, in Richard Bushman’s ‘Rough Stone Rolling’ biography of Joseph Smith and all the other ingredients of the new official curriculum the Church is gradually replacing the old narratives with and hoping noone will notice, starting with what they are teaching the kids.
And it was especially cruel of President Nelson to disparage people “disaffected” from the Church in this talk in which he was trying to justify abandoning a doctrine he insisted was a revelation from God that had directly CAUSED thousands of once trusting and loyal Latter-day Saints to become disaffected in the first place, for reasons he is now tacitly admitting were entirely valid because he too was now abandoning that doctrine and revelation, while refusing to admit it was his and his fellow-prophets’ fault in the first place.
We love an analogy in Mormonism. An analogy for this would be Russell M Nelson gathering together thousands of children and teenagers with a gay parent, kicking them all in the nuts for 3 ½ years, and then declaring it to be unreasonable if those children and teenagers and their parents and relatives and friends are now disaffected with him because he kicked them in the nuts for years…. and to add insult to injury wanting everyone to think of HIM as the hero of the story because he prayed to God and got a new revelation telling him to stop kicking children and teenagers in the nuts. That’s the November 2015 Policy of Exclusion… in a NUTshell! A metaphor AND a pun. I’m on a roll here…..
Russell M Nelson does exactly the same thing in this talk as Donald Trump does instinctively - he takes all the valid criticisms of himself and projects them onto his opponents who are embarrassing him by talking publicly about his and his organisation’s lies and hypocrisies. And their most hardcore brainwashed followers just fall for it instead of applying the most basic fact-checking or rational analysis because they have already decided that these men are infallible and 100% virtuous and incapable of deceiving them.
It was Google and social media that saved President Nelson and opened his eyes to the true dysfunctions of the November Policy and the pain and trauma it was causing the children and families he insisted they were trying to protect and serve with this policy. It was social media and Google that revealed to him, the prophet, that he’d made a terrible mistake and urgently needed to reverse it. But his overweening narcissistic arrogance and pride mean he is incapable of the humility or gratitude he should have been showing for the crucial role social media and Google played in making him and his fellow apostles aware of the suffering he later describes as driving him to his knees to plead with God to end the thing he told us 3 years earlier that God had told them to do.
In one of the most delicious moments of poetic justice in the long history of deception and hypocrisy by Mormon prophets when they are falling off the honest cowboy pioneer wagon and yet again choosing to channel the dark side of the Force, in the very same month that President Nelson have this talk disparaging Google and Social Media as worth investing our trust in, a 41 year old LDS employee packed up his things, resigned from his job, and went to speak to the IRS. He was David A Nielsen, one of the managers of the super top secret Ensign Peak Advisors stock market investment fund where President Nelson was hoarding 100 billion dollars of our tithing donations instead of spending them on saving our Church or feeding the starving. David Nielsen lodged a whistleblower notification with the IRS that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been breaking the law by secretly and illegally using this tax exempt charity investment fund to bail out the Church’s publicly acknowledged tax paying investments in the City Creek Mall and Beneficial Life Insurance that were in trouble after the financial crash of 2008.
As this scandal unfolded and the Presiding Bishopric scrambled to spiritually perjure themselves in front of the media in order to try and excuse and defend the indefensible, the Church for the first time ever published some of the Ensign Peak investment accounts... and guess what? Oh yes, it turned out that Russell Nelson, who was telling the students of BYU not to trust Google or social media had given several times the total budget of the Brigham Young Universities to Google and social media and, as the Presiding Bishopric were describing it, entrusted THEM with the Church’s essential nest egg to keep it afloat during the upheavals of the very last days before the Second Coming of Jesus. Instead of investing those billions in us and our wards and trusting US to use it to build and fortify the Church to make it through the Last Days. You just couldn’t make it up. Maybe it was this talk that finally tipped David A Nielsen over the edge. One day a movie will be made of all this and its most powerful and poignant moment will be when they play President Nelson’s words in this devotional, that was likely as not being listened to live in the Ensign Peak Advisors office that day, while David stares at the spreadsheet of shame on his screen itemising the $1.1 billion of ‘sacred funds’ invested in Google. The $1.8 billion invested in Microsoft. The $561 million invested in Facebook. The $7.7 million invested in Zoom.
“The arbiter of truth is God—not your favorite social media news feed, not Google, and certainly not those who are disaffected from the Church.” Who’s really telling the truth now? The Geriatric God Guy, or Google? Spoiler alert: It’s not the Geriatric God Guy.
Every time they mock and try to demonise the internet and social media as sources of information and truth these General Authorities just reveal how terrified they are that the internet has liberated the members of the Church willing to use these tools from their manipulations and control and empowered them with truth that the Church authorities can no longer hide or censor. Saying the internet is not a reliable source of truth is exactly the same as saying libraries are not a source of reliable information. But like trying to reason with the hardcore Trumpists and Q-Anon conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers, we find ourselves having to keep pointing out and restating what should be obvious to the people being so easily manipulated to not see the evidence that is staring them in the face.
He insisted in this sermon that truth is unchanging and objective rather than subjective and cannot be changed by the “opinions of men.” This completely contradicts what he and other LDS prophets and apostles have taught repeatedly about how what the CURRENT living Prophet-President of the Church teaches is the truth overrides what has been taught by previous prophets as the truth, or even the scriptures, if what the current prophet teaches contradicts what previous prophets and scriptures taught was the truth. And it completely contradicts the evidence of our recent history Church members my age all lived through and witnessed for ourselves - that it was only under intense external and internal social pressure as wider society’s values shifted and the Church’s allegedly eternally unchanging true doctrinal positions about racism, sexism and homophobia changed that the Church eventually caved and changed to follow societal norms. They absolutely did not hold to them regardless of society’s opinions of the Church. And caving on the homophobic November Policy was yet another classic example of this.
But Russell Nelson is a master manipulator and liar… or rather he is a very amateur manipulator and liar because he just lies and contradicts himself all over the place in public sermons so it is super easy to see through his deceptions, but he has a VERY trusting and compliant audience so he gets away with it a lot. He knows that if he is going to follow up completely abandoning and contradicting something he declared 3 earlier to be a pure revelation to the prophet from God he is going to somehow have to spin it as NOT contradicting himself, NOT giving in to the external worldly social pressure of the grassroots backlash and intense terrible publicity the Policy of Exclusion inflicted on the Church, and insist that this 180 degree reversal is NOT a change of doctrine at all and NOT revealing that he was either lying to sustain the abandoned policy as a revelation in the first place and totally misrepresenting it, or lying now that it was a revelation from God telling him to U-turn the Policy.
The simplest way to bamboozle gullible people is to go full ‘1984’ Orwellian and declare that black is white, lies are truth and the loyal faithful should engage in the cognitive dissonance of Double Speak. Erase and rewrite history. The Policy we just heard him eloquently elevate to the status of Revelation from God in 2016 is once again just a flexible and easily amended Policy made by well-intentioned human leaders trying to do the right thing and needing to tweak it some more. Nothing to do with God changing His mind.
To quote Orwell’s 1984 ‘War Is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Ignorance Is Strength.’ ‘He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.’ ‘The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power – pure power.’ ‘Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.’ - This is the philosophy of Lucifer’s plan of salvation and the Pharisees. ‘The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.’ In other words, if you can rewrite history the masses don’t realise that something has changed and that things have got worse for them. ‘Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.’ ‘The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.’
Whether consciously or not, these are all the strategies President Nelson deployed as he continued to gaslight the young people of BYU and the Latter-day Saints of the world:
“Truth number four: The Lord Jesus Christ, whose Church this is, appoints prophets and apostles to communicate His love and teach His laws. The gospel of Jesus Christ is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” .....Sometimes we as leaders of the Church are criticized for holding firm to the laws of God, defending the Savior’s doctrine, and resisting the social pressures of our day. But our commission as ordained apostles is “to go into all the world to preach [His] gospel unto every creature.”8 That means we are commanded to teach truth. In doing so, sometimes we are accused of being uncaring as we teach the Father’s requirements for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. But wouldn’t it be far more uncaring for us not to tell the truth—not to teach what God has revealed? It is precisely because we do care deeply about all of God’s children that we proclaim His truth. We may not always tell people what they want to hear. Prophets are rarely popular. But we will always teach the truth!
“My dear young friends, exaltation is not easy. Requirements include a focused and persistent effort to keep God’s laws, rigorously repenting when we don’t. But the reward for doing so is far greater than anything we can imagine, because it brings us joy here and “never-ending happiness” hereafter. Thus our commission as apostles is to teach nothing but truth. That commission does not give us the authority to modify divine law. For example, let’s consider the definition of marriage. In recent years, many countries, including the United States, have legalized same-sex marriage. As members of the Church, we respect the laws of the land and abide by them, including civil marriage. The truth is, however, that in the beginning—in the beginning—marriage was ordained by God! And to this day it is defined by Him as being between a man and a woman. God has not changed His definition of marriage.
“God has also not changed His law of chastity. Requirements to enter the temple have not changed. And our desire for there to be love at home and harmony between parent and child has not changed. Though we of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cannot change the laws of God, we do have the charge “to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations.” Thus we can adjust policy when the Lord directs us to do so. You have recently seen such examples. Because the Restoration is ongoing, policy changes will surely continue.
“Perhaps I can illustrate this through policy adjustments regarding those who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) and their children. (I realize that other initials could be added to this acronym, but LGBT should suffice for the purposes of this message.) Consider the policy announced in November 2015 related to the advisability of baptism for the children of LGBT parents. Our concern then, and one we discussed at length and prayed about fervently over a long period of time, was to find a way to reduce friction between gay or lesbian parents and their children. Because parents are the primary exemplars for their children, we did not want to put young children in the position of having to choose between beliefs and behavior they learned at home and what they were taught at church. We wanted to facilitate harmony in the home and avoid pitting children and parents against each other. Thus in 2015 the policy was made to assist children and their parents in this circumstance; namely, that children being raised by LGBT parents would not automatically be eligible for baptism at age eight. Exceptions to this policy would require First Presidency approval.
“The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have continued to seek the Lord’s guidance and to plead with Him in behalf of His children who were affected by the 2015 policy. We knew that this policy created concern and confusion for some and heartache for others. That grieved us. Whenever the sons and daughters of God weep—for whatever reasons—we weep. So our supplications to the Lord continued. We also took note of LGBT parents who sought permission from the First Presidency for their children to be baptized. In nearly every case in which the LGBT parents agreed to teach their children about—and be supportive of—the covenant of baptism, the requested exception was granted.
“As a result of our continued supplication, we recently felt directed to adjust the policy such that the baptism of children of LGBT parents may be authorized by bishops without First Presidency approval, if the custodial parents request the baptism and understand that a child will be taught about sacred covenants to be made at baptism. We also determined that LGBT parents may request that a baby be named and blessed by one who worthily holds the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is important that these parents understand that ward members will contact them periodically and that when a child who has been blessed reaches eight years of age, local leaders will recommend that the child be baptized. Finally, we also clarified that homosexual immorality would be treated in the eyes of the Church in the same manner as heterosexual immorality.
“Though it may not have looked this way to some, the 2015 and 2019 policy adjustments on this matter were both motivated by love—the love of our Heavenly Father for His children and the love of the Brethren for those whom we serve. Because we feel the depth of God’s love for His children, we care deeply about every child of God, regardless of age, personal circumstances, gender, sexual orientation, or other unique challenges.”
As well as the big lie rewriting history and pretending this whole thing was just a policy revision, not a revelation or a catastrophic error of judgment by President Nelson and his peers, it should be noted that there were as always several other ingredients to his lies in these devotional sermons. It has since emerged that the laborious process he described in 2016 of deliberating about the November Policy and considering all its potential consequences by the fasting and praying quorums of Apostles receiving unanimous personal revelations in the night was a massive lie. Half the Apostles had not even heard about it when it was presented to them as a final draft with no opportunity allowed for discussion by whichever apostles were its actual authors for a one chance only sustaining or opposing vote. They voted to sustain it out of blind loyalty and most quickly regretted it. The First Quorum of Seventy and the female General Boards of Relief Society, Young Women and Primary representing the mothers and children who were going to be most severely impacted by it were not consulted at all in its creation.
To take the sting out of it all, President Nelson lied to the BYU students that children with a cohabiting gay parent were able to request exemptions all along and get blessed, baptised, ordained and be allowed into the temple to do baptisms for the dead if their gay parents were OK with them being taught the gospel. The Policy itself was adamant that they had to be a legal adult, move out of their gay parent’s house and then formally disavow their parent’s relationship to their local priesthood leaders before an application was then made to the First Presidency to give permission for these adults to be baptised because even as adults they were contaminated by association with their parent. Even if they had somehow remained actively involved in the Church throughout as unbaptised participants. Becoming an adult made no difference at all.
The only way the actual November Policy would ever apply to any child was if they already had parental support and permission to participate in our Church and receive its ordinances and were requesting them but the policy said they were forbidden. For President Nelson to pretend that having parental support made them an EXCEPTION to the Policy was totally shamelessly insane and crassly deceptive.
They genuinely think we are that stupid, and sadly a lot of us are. My social media feed was flooded with ditzy comments and memes declaring how grateful people were to have prophets that “always speak the truth.” It doesn’t matter what these prophets actually say and do and how many times they are proven to be lying or contradict themselves and each other, most of the very few remaining active members appear to be the personality type that will just project their own ideals onto their leaders without any kind of critical analysis or caution, and they have no idea whatsoever why another cohort of frustrated Mormons actually using their brains just left the Church because of the exact same thing they are celebrating.
When he made his Manifesto ending polygamy declarations Wilford Woodruff was lying his head off. Mormon communities in Mexico and Canada and other places continued practicing plural marriage with official support for decades, including Mitt Romney’s ancestors, and within the USA several Apostles and Seventies continued secretly authorising and performing plural marriages in not very well kept secret, and marrying more wives themselves. This included Wilford Woodruff himself in 1897, and future Apostle B H Roberts of the Seventy who was elected as a Congressman but prevented from taking office by a petition signed by 7 million Americans because he married his third wife after the Manifesto. The publicity about this got so bad that 14 years later President Joseph F Smith had to publish what became known as The Second Manifesto in 1904 that plural marriage really really had to officially stop this time, and from then on several large polygamous Mormon communities severed tied with the Church and began their own spiral into hell as the increasignly isolated, dangerous and child abusing Fundamentalist polygamous Mormon sects dotted around the Americas today with tens of thousands of members. Two Apostles even continued performing and authorising plural marriages after the Second Manifesto and were fired from the Apostleship for it.
And plural marriages have never stopped being performed by the thousands in our temples as long as the previous wives have died or divorced.
So what does the current introduction to Official Declaration 1 in our scriptures say? “After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the following Manifesto, which was accepted by the Church as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890. This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.” Of course.
This is yet another example of how when you start to properly look at and research Mormon truth claims and history, every deception and lie that has been told is just the first link in a long, complicated chain of lies that have distorted and corrupted our religion and harmed people in countless ways. Latter-day Saints experiencing this freefall into a completely unfamiliar and deeply worrying version of their religious and intellectual reality often call it “going down the rabbit hole” with reference to Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ who follows a white rabbit into his hole in the ground and find herself falling into a disorienting kaleidoscope of disturbing discoveries in a parallel world where every direction you look or step you take brings you to yet another unfamiliar and worrying situation to have to make sense of.
The third recurring source of the idea that Mormon Prophets are infallible is President Heber J Grant according to Apostle Marion G Romney that has often been repeated since, including by President Ezra Taft Benson, along with the other sources I have mentioned. Chapter 11 of manual we all studied as adults in 2015 called “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson” said:
“If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain —how close do our lives harmonize with the Lord’s anointed —the living Prophet —President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency. - “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.” The prophet will never lead the Church astray. President Wilford Woodruff stated: “I say to Israel, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God” [see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff (2004), 199].
“President Marion G. Romney tells of this incident which happened to him: “I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Heber J. Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home. …. Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’” (Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78.)”
This is the most dangerous and disturbing doctrine about the infallibility of our prophets of all. It says that even if you KNOW what they are asking you to do is literally wrong and NOT what God wants you to do, you should still do it anyway because the Mormon God values your loyalty to the human prophet more than loyalty to Himself or to truth. You should obey the prophet instead of obeying God, or your conscience. This unconditional obedience doctrine is still being included in our officially sanctioned and correlated teaching and study curriculum in the 21st century!
The best spin to put on that quote is that perhaps what President Heber J Grant was reassuring Marion G Romney about was that if he followed the prophet with blind and unconditional trust, he didn’t even need to check whether what the prophet was asking him to do was of God or not, because God would bless him for being obedient anyway.
Whichever way you interpret that story, the message is the same: Do as you’re told; it doesn’t even matter if what the prophet is asking you to do is anything to do with God’s will, or even ethical.
Absolutely barking mad, and sinister, isn’t it. Are we going to continue ignoring this or making lame excuses for it? Or are we going to demand that this dangerous nonsense stops?
The Church membership is divided now more than ever into incompatible factions who believe completely different things about what our true religion actually is, and what we must think and do to please God. Which side we end up on mostly depends upon whether we have strictly limited ourselves to the officially approved curriculum in our studies and research or whether we have got informed about our religion from ALL the easily available sources.
We now have a situation where men in quite senior leadership roles know practically nothing about the Church’s real history or its recent efforts and reforms towards more accuracy and honesty and quietly dropping things it used to teach as true about everything from the earth being 6000 years old and Adam and Eve the first mortal humans to walk on earth despite the fossil record of their millions of much more ancient ancestors, to admitting that gay people are actually born that way. These people who are presented to us as knowledgeable, exemplary and trustworthy role models but who are very ignorant, then make impactful judgments about the things much more informed Church members are believing and teaching. They often condemn the people who did the research and actually know what they are talking about as liars and apostates when actually they themselves are now the liars and apostates officially, because they haven’t kept up.
Even the members of the highest international leadership quorums are just as divided about these matters if you pay close attention to what they say in their public sermons in General Conferences and the really significant new trend of Brigham Young University devotionals and ‘Face to Face’ interviews with them that are broadcast specifically to our teenagers and young adults which most adult members of the Church and local leaders have not seen or heard.
THE SILVER FOX FORETOLD THE FAITHFUL FUTURE
A tiny handful of courageous leaders like Dieter Uchtdorf HAVE seen clearly where all this is heading and he has been the only Apostle so far to have had the vision and courage to address it directly in his talks, for years. Only he has admitted that our leaders have done and taught things that are incompatible with our values, and that people are leaving the Church for understandable reasons, not because they are too lazy to read their scriptures every day or want to sin, which is the usual narrative.
In his October 2013 General Conference talk “Come Join With Us” he spoke directly “To Those Who Leave. The search for truth has led millions of people to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, there are some who leave the Church they once loved. One might ask, “If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?” Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations. Some of our dear members struggle for years with the question whether they should separate themselves from the Church.
“In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth. It may break our hearts when their journey takes them away from the Church we love and the truth we have found, but we honor their right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves.
“Some struggle with unanswered questions about things that have been done or said in the past. We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church history —along with an uninterrupted line of inspired, honorable, and divine events —there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question… And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.”
Dieter Uchtdorf’s epic clarion call in his October 2015 General Conference talk titled ‘It Works Wonderfully” pleaded with us all to remove the ‘mountain’ of pharisaical and unnecessary manmade expectations and programs that are crushing the real gospel and its members. That opportunity 5 years ago for a course correction to save the Church was squandered.
In that talk he said:
“I know firsthand how the gospel can invigorate and renew one’s spirit —how it can fill our hearts with hope and our minds with light. I know for myself how the fruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ can transform lives from the ordinary and dreary to the extraordinary and sublime. But why does it seem to work better for some than for others? What is the difference between those whose experience in the Church fills their souls with songs of redeeming love and those who feel that something is lacking? As I have pondered these questions, a flood of thoughts came to mind. Today, I’d like to share two. First: are we making our discipleship too complicated? This beautiful gospel is so simple a child can grasp it, yet so profound and complex that it will take a lifetime —even an eternity —of study and discovery to fully understand it.
“But sometimes we take the beautiful lily of God’s truth and gild it with layer upon layer of man-made good ideas, programs, and expectations. Each one, by itself, might be helpful and appropriate for a certain time and circumstance, but when they are laid on top of each other, they can create a mountain of sediment that becomes so thick and heavy that we risk losing sight of that precious flower we once loved so dearly. Therefore, as leaders we must strictly protect the Church and the gospel in its purity and plainness and avoid putting unnecessary burdens on our members. And all of us, as members of the Church, we need to make a conscientious effort to devote our energy and time to the things that truly matter, while uplifting our fellowmen and building the kingdom of God.
My second suggestion is: start where you are. Sometimes we feel discouraged because we are not “more” of something —more spiritual, respected, intelligent, healthy, rich, friendly, or capable. Naturally, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve. God created us to grow and progress. But remember, our weaknesses can help us to be humble and turn us to Christ, who will “make weak things become strong.” Satan, on the other hand, uses our weaknesses to the point that we are discouraged from even trying. I learned in my life that we don’t need to be “more” of anything to start to become the person God intended us to become.”
He absolutely hit the nail on the head. He identified exactly what it is about the Church’s increasingly Pharisaical and toxic culture of anxious perfectionism that leads to psychologically harmful obsessive scrupulosity is overwhelming and alienating its members and driving them away. He framed it as the same mistake the Pharisees made that Jesus excoriated them for - burdening the people with endless extra rules and expectations which all seemed like “good ideas” thinking they were helping them to be more righteous and more safe, but in reality overwhelming them and crushing their souls like a mountain crushing a flower. Dieter challenged the leaders of the Church to stop doing this and to lift these burdens and get rid of the mountain of sediment we are all carrying around in our heads and our hearts that make it almost impossible to still connect with the real gospel of Jesus Christ in our religion.
But the Pharisaical bully boys who are determined not to give another inch to this honesty and progress and want to actually reverse it now and insist they are totally infallible and we must all just submit unconditionally and unquestioningly to their authority and infallibility, and their many additional manmade expectations, have kicked the door down, evicted Dieter Uchtdorf from the First Presidency and taken it over. They are now turning the rest of the General Authorities to their will and even Uchtdorf has begun to upset the progressives by describing people who leave the Church as “unruly children” in a recent talk, which has been disappointing and totally unhelpful to the people in faith and trust crisis who he has been the only hope for in the leadership for so many years.
The clearest thing we know about today’s wonderful, ethical, compassionate young people is that they are not going to touch the racist, sexist and homophobic religion they teach with a barge pole, and nor are increasing numbers of our older Church members or potential converts.
Dieter Uchtdorf has not been the only prominent and beloved Mormon to stand at a pulpit and tell the whole Church some brutal and prophetic home truths about its flaws and where they would take the Church. BYU ancient history scholar Hugh Nibley is best known for arcane and sometimes very confusing lectures and books making connections between Mormon scriptures and doctrines and parallel ideas and themes in the writings and cultures of the ancient civilisations of the Middle East, but he was also a passionate and vocal social and ethical conscientious objector to the Pharisaical trends in Mormonism.
After my mission I found and purchased a compilation of Hugh Nibley quotes about all kinds of social and spiritual matters called “Of All Things” and I would argue that as his academic reputation and not always very credible apologetic work for the Church is eroding now, it is his teachings and opinions about the wider culture and society of the Mormon religion that are going to prove his most profound and useful legacy. The standout moment came on 19 August 1983 when he was honoured with an invitation to give the Commencement address to the students and faculty of BYU Provo and he rose to the occasion with one of the most important sermons in Mormon history, which he titled “Leaders and Managers.” He described how ancient Roman civilisation and the civilisations described in the Book of Mormon were thoroughly corrupted and compromised by allowing a bureaucratic managerial class of predominantly lawyers and businessmen to take over the levers of power and infiltrate their political and religious institutions. He clearly described how this eventually choked off the ability of those societies to innovate and progress, to access and act upon inspiration from God, and how they replace making selfless service and integrity their priority and strength with increasingly seeking security and strength in amassing huge wealth.
Hugh Nibley observed these trends increasingly corrupting the United States of America and also starting to take hold among the Latter-day Saints in their strongholds in Utah and the surrounding region as Mormon culture forgot its revolutionary utopian communal roots and socialist experiments with cooperative financial economies and shifted to power and money-seeking prosperity gospel and risk-averse conformity.
Everything he warned us about 37 years ago has come true. The vast majority of Apostles and General Authorities of the Church are now lawyers or trained in Business Management rather than educated in the humanities of History and Literature or Theology or Science as great religious leaders need to be if they are to have the first clue about the scriptures and big ideas of philosophy and religion they are responsible for preserving and developing. Instead of meeting the needs of the dwindling active members and funding a rescue effort for our creaking missionary outreach, our youth and our collapsing intellectual and social infrastructure as a religion, they have chosen to seek security in secretly hoarding $300 billion in business investments and when caught laying up all these treasures in places where they can be stolen or evaporate under the onslaught of the moths and rust of stock market crises, promising that these fragile illusions of strength are what will protect and save the Church in times of future crisis rather than the testimonies and resilience of its members, which the ignorant leadership class have severely neglected, refused to invest in or overtly sabotaged intentionally and in their wilful ignorance.
Leaders think outside the box, value diversity and take risks. Managers devote themselves to stability, preserving a safe tradition and making everyone think and behave predictably and like robotic clones. Jesus’ plan of salvation is all about empowering us to become divine leaders. Lucifer’s plan of salvation is all about making us into subservient and unthinking managers, doing and thinking exactly what our line managers tell us to.
One of the greatest benefits of growing up Mormon in the UK has been that our general extreme lack of members has meant we have been blessed in many regions with a diverse range of local leaders of all ages and lots of different life experiences and careers that has stopped us in several stakes from stagnating into the controlling and monolithic and spiritually smothering culture that is all too common in the Mormon heartlands, where they have so many members they can ensure that all the bishops are middle aged compliant managers from the business world in perpetuity. We have some amazing, totally sincere and incorruptible, exemplary Christian men and women accessing decision making power with far more freedom to do the right things regardless of the worst excesses of Utah Mormon culture, and they have been a privilege and a pleasure to be led by and serve with. Hugh Nibley’s Leaders are still to be found, but they are an endangered species now like all the Mormons are.
WHAT ARE THE REAL PROBLEMS AND HOW CAN WE SOLVE THEM?
So what are we going to do about our relentlessly shrinking active membership? Sit around being fatalistic and feeling helpless? Naively expect the Prophet to wave a magic wand and get us back on track to growth at some point? If that was going to happen in time it should have happened decades ago. It didn’t happen. Or arguably when the Prophet Seer and Revelator Dieter Uchtdorf did actually tell everyone exactly what the problem is, he was ignored and then demoted and replaced by a First Presidency who is absolutely convinced that the real problems causing our growth to grind to a halt have been saying “Mormon” too much and giving too many secular and civil rights to gay and transgender people.
This is so barking mad it beggars belief, but President Nelson has stuck with that narrative doggedly since throwing Presidents Hinckley and Monson, and all of us, under the bus after our decade of effort on the “I’m a Mormon” campaign that had some chance of engaging positively with the world instead of fighting it. President Nelson insisted in October 2018 General Conference that actual Jesus has been so “offended” at our ingratitude for His atonement by using the name “Mormon” in anything official that He has been withholding unprecedented blessings from us despite all the thousands of man hours we have put into loving the gospel, serving each other and worshipping God with utmost reverence.
“When the Savior clearly states what the name of His Church should be and even precedes His declaration with, “Thus shall my church be called,” He is serious. And if we allow nicknames to be used or adopt or even sponsor those niknames ourselves, He is offended.”
Apparently he didn’t listen to David Bednar teaching that being offended is a spiritually weak choice in the October 2006 General Conference when he taught
“When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.
“In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation.
“However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.”
You couldn’t make this stuff up. But President Nelson is an arch Pharisee so of course none of our lifetimes of devoted reverence and service to Jesus Christ counts and none of it is good enough for him or His God who he has made in his own image, and he will carry on shaming us and endlessly lying to perpetuate his monomaniacal obsession while ignoring the real problems the Church and the world is facing.
Of the many lies he has told as an Apostle and Prophet the one that gets my goat the most as an Art teacher with graphic design training is his lie that we ignored and downplayed the centrality of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ’s name before he came to power. His ego is so overinflated that in his imagination that moment was year zero and he is rebuilding the Church correctly from scratch.
The reality of course is that Presidents Benson, Hinckley and Monson already were the revolution emphasising making Jesus rather than Joseph Smith the central focus of our worship services and talks. They already changed the logo of the Church to making the name of Jesus Christ bigger 24 years ago in 1996. President Nelson’s new dated clipart logo dominated by a statue of Zeus in a Greek toga by a Scandinavian Protestant artist, a total snub to the many very talented Mormon artists and graphic designers out there, actually makes the name of Jesus Christ SMALLER compared to the rest of the text than the previous one, and the entire name of the Church too small to read at all anyway. But he literally presented the new logo in the April 2020 General Conference as the unprecedented blessing God was giving us as a reward for all the effort to say Mormon less! And after taking the name “Mormon” out of the name of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir he totally forgot to put the name of Jesus into it as a replacement even though he has claimed this is the entire point.
In April 2020 General Conference he said “Our beloved choir is now the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. We have gone to these extraordinary efforts because when we remove the Lord’s name from the name of His Church, we inadvertently remove Him as the central focus of our worship and our lives. When we take the Savior’s name upon us at baptism, we commit to witness, by our words, thoughts, and actions, that Jesus is the Christ. Previously, I promised that if we would “do our best to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church,” He would “pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints, the likes of which we have never seen.” I renew that promise today. To help us remember Him and to identify The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Lord’s Church, we are pleased to introduce a symbol that will signify the central place of Jesus Christ in His Church.”
In January 2018 at the press conference announcing his secret ordination as prophet 3 days earlier and broadcast to the worldwide Church, Russell M Nelson bodged the questions he was asked by Salt Lake Tribune journalist Peggy Fletcher Stack about giving women more influence in decision making in the Church which has started to be encouraged by his predecessors, and had all of his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren paraded one family at a time in front of the cameras like the King of Siam in ‘The King and I’ proclaiming his virility and power. It was extraordinary - right from the start of his administration he has been off in some narcissistic la la land somewhere while the Church he leads burns, so it’s going to be up to us to make the big changes needed to save our religion. All of us. It always has been. So let’s talk about what the real problems we have are, not his made up ones.
Begin by asking yourself this simple question that President Dieter Uchtdorf had the sense to ask in his “Come, Join With Us” talk: If the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is so self evidently amazing and what every person needs in their life, why have 85% of the people who accepted it and were baptised into our Church then decided they can do without it and left? Even people who have been intensively taught and supported in our religion through Primary, Youth, Seminary, Institute, served 2 year fill time missions for goodness’ sake, been endowed and then married in the temple, and served for years in all kinds of leadership roles? Why would they then still leave? That’s an incredible investment of time and effort by all of us for very small long term results. We scrabble around desperately for a handful of convert baptisms a year if we are lucky, then most of those converts leave almost immediately or a bit later, and that’s all we can manage in ward boundaries that often contain hundreds of thousands of amazing children of God. And while we do that we lose another few more of our active membership. This is not the way to convert the world and have a global impact.
If we have all these incredible extra ingredients in our religion that the rest of Christianity is lacking, why is it that our rate of decline now is exactly matching that of the bog standard Baptist or Anglican church down the street from our chapels? This begs what should be an obvious next question. What are we as Latter-day Saints doing proactively to ourselves that is so WRONG it has undone and neutralised every single percentage point of advantage that all the amazing extra things we do RIGHT should be giving us compared to the other churches? And if our special uniquely Mormon qualities are so super amazing, what does that say about the true scale of what we are getting so catastrophically wrong that it erases the benefits of ALL of them?!
I may actually have to slap the next Mormon I hear saying “Well, religiosity is declining across the religious world and in all the other churches. It’s just what we should expect in ours too really.” NOOOOOOOO!!!!! What on earth is the entire point of being Mormons with the “Restored Fullness of the Gospel” if we don’t have anything more to offer, or any more strengths or resilience than the allegedly ‘apostate’ and ‘dead’ churches are offering to their members? In the Mormon paradigm they are MEANT to become increasingly irrelevant and decline under the weight of their own empty inadequacies because they don’t have living prophets speaking to the needs of today’s world like we claim to have. They don’t have the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, the Pearl of Great Price! They don’t have temples! They don’t even have the Gift of the Holy Ghost… or the priesthood…. or Seminary and Institute…. or CTR rings! They are running on empty! It should be astonishing to us that they have lasted as long as they have. Their members are MEANT to be walking out of their churches... and straight into ours! So what happened to that rationale and understanding of our relationship to the rest of the Christian world? If God really is our co-pilot and leader in the ‘True and Living Church of Jesus Christ’ we can’t possibly be losing 85% of our members because of random social trends we can’t do anything about. We must be getting a lot of the things WE do to our members spectacularly wrong to screw up this badly and sabotage God.
Let’s talk! If you think my analysis is wrong, bring your A Game and let’s have a heated debate…. or a friendly one! I’m fine with either. What do you think the Church will need to change to survive? How are Church members responding to declining active membership in YOUR area? What will it take to make our Church a helpful and safe place for your own or anyone else’s children to stay, and love, instead of leave?