Christians v Pharisees: Choosing Sides And How To Fight For Them In The Mormon Civil War
EPISODE 6C - AN ANCIENT EVIL AND A PURE DELIGHT
- IT’S FUN TO LIVE IN FEAR OF THE S.C.M.C.
- AN ANCIENT EVIL AND A PURE DELIGHT
- STEPPING UP AND MOVING EVER ONWARDS
- ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN MORMON OR A PHARISEE MORMON?
This minisode 6C has a lot of laughs and hope as it takes a close look at the the Church's ACTUAL Thought Police - they are a real thing - who monitor and keep files on Church members speaking or writing thought crimes and then lean on local leaders to excommunicate the thought criminals, and then takes a deep dive into some of the most awesome aspects of how Mormonism is meant to be - a fearless and open minded religion scouring the earth to learn truth from anyone and everyone and make it part of our own, which if we practiced that instead of the opposite could make ours a religion to fill the world in the 21st century information age. And it ends with a survey quiz - find out if you are a Christian Mormon or a Pharisee Mormon!
Christians vs Pharisees: Choosing sides and how to fight for them in the Mormon Civil War
EPISODE 6 THE THOUGHT POLICE Part C – AN ANCIENT EVIL AND A PURE DELIGHT
IT’S FUN TO LIVE IN FEAR OF THE S.C.M.C.
AN ANCIENT EVIL AND A PURE DELIGHT
STEPPING UP AND MOVING EVER ONWARDS
ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN MORMON OR A PHARISEE MORMON?
IT’S FUN TO LIVE IN FEAR OF THE S.C.M.C.
Welcome back intrepid listeners! Thankyou again for all the encouraging and appreciative feedback on this podcast series and the very helpful resources and suggestions being offered by its listeners to make it even better. It has humbled and moved me deeply to hear from people all over the world in every part of the Mormon spectrum that what I am communicating has given them a voice, validated their own concerns and hopes, and reassured them that they are not alone and they are not the crazy ones.
In this series I am exploring the different strategies that what I am calling the ‘Pharisee’ version of the Mormon religion deploys to keep the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints totally unquestioning, obedient, compliant to the Church’s human leaders and primarily focus their attention and reverence on them and their ideas about what it takes to be approved by God and make it to heaven instead of Christ and His gospel. I have explored how they exercise control of our money. Control of our lifestyle. And in these minisodes of Episode 6 I am exploring the many tactics they deploy to control our minds – how we think, how we learn, what we think about what we are allowed to learn about.
I am demonstrating through their own public, and sometimes private and later published, words and actions that this is an intentional, coordinated effort or secret combination or conspiracy or whatever word you want to use for the same thing. It involves lots of ingredients like justifying lying to the Church members and the wider world in an endless combative propaganda war as we explored Dallin Oaks doing and teaching the LDS Church Education System teachers and academics to repeatedly in the last minisode. Locking Church members into shame cycles about every aspect of their sexuality, clothing, daily routines of prayers and study and service where whatever they do is never enough because their Pharisee version of God is ‘Well pleased, but never satisfied.” Insisting that the human leaders are as infallible as God, even though they obviously are not, but then dealing with the proof that they get things wrong by telling members that God expects us to still be loyal to them and do as we are told ‘even if the criticism is true’ or ‘even if we KNOW that what they are telling us to do is wrong’ rather than actually putting God, and God’s values and ethics, and God’s truth, first by refusing to cooperate with the human leaders, and opposing them, if necessary when they are asking us to believe things or do things that are not in harmony with God’s mind and will and commandments.
I am calling Episode 6 ‘The Thought Police.’ This is not just a cheeky metaphor.
The LDS Church literally has a Thought Police, a Gestapo, started by President Ezra Taft Benson, far right wing anti-Civil Rights racist headbanger, in 1985…. The year after 1984 when he probably first started planning it ironically. Only President Ezra Taft Benson would note the many discussions about George Orwell’s iconic novel about a ruthless brainwashing totalitarian police state during actual 1984 and think to himself “Oooo! That sounds like something the Church of Jesus Christ should do! Let’s form a committee and start planning it!”
The Wikipedia entry for 1984’s Thought Police describes it as follows:
“In the story of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Thinkpol (Thought Police) are responsible for the detection and elimination of thoughtcrime, and for the social control of the populations of Oceania, by way of audio-visual surveillance and offender profiling.”
Well, that’s exactly what ours does! It is called the “Strengthening the Church Members Committee.” You literally couldn’t give it a more Orwellian name if you tried. It was top secret till 1991 when a memo was published that had a reference to it in and everyone got curious. By everyone, I mean the insider and dissident Mormon intelligentsia and national newspapers in the USA, but if course most members of the Church have still never heard of it, and can’t imagine their lovely innocent Church would ever do such a thing.
Church spokesman Don LeFevre acknowledged the existence of the committee and said that the committee "receives complaints from church members about other members who have made statements that 'conceivably could do harm to the church'", then the committee will "pass the information along to the person's ecclesiastical leader." According to LeFevre, however, "the committee neither makes judgments nor imposes penalties." Discipline is "entirely up to the discretion of the local leaders.”
He told the New York Times that the committee "provides local church leadership with information designed to help them counsel with members who, however well-meaning, may hinder the progress of the church through public criticism" and denied that such referrals were intended to intimidate scholars. The First Presidency then issued a statement on August 22, 1992, defending the committee based on an 1839 letter from Joseph Smith while he was in prison after a period of intense persecution, now canonized as D&C 123, that directed Church leaders to establish a committee for gathering up a knowledge of all the facts, and sufferings and abuses put on church members, and the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions. They said the committee was led by 2 apostles, at that time James E. Faust and Russell M. Nelson who is now the President of the Church.
The Church News introduced this First Presidency statement in its 22 August 1992 edition with the usual sarcastic tone so beloved of Scientology as well by saying “Generally, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not respond to criticism levied against its work. But in light of extensive publicity recently given to false accusations of so-called secret Church committees and files, the First Presidency has issued the following statement:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established in 1830 following the appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith in upstate New York. This sacred event heralded the onset of the promised restitution of all things.' Many instructions were subsequently given to the Prophet including Section 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants: "And again, we would suggest for your consideration the propriety of all the saints gathering up a knowledge of all the facts, and sufferings and abuses put upon them. . . .
" `And also of all the property and amount of damages which they have sustained, both of character and personal injuries. . . .
" `And also the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions, as far as they can get hold of them and find them out.
" `And perhaps a committee can be appointed to find out these things, and to take statements and affidavits; and also to gather up the libelous publications that are afloat;
" `And all that are in the magazines, and in the encyclopedias, and all the libelous histories that are published. . . . (Verses 1-5.)'
"Leaders and members of the Church strive to implement commandments of the Lord including this direction received in 1839. Because the Church has a non-professional clergy, its stake presidents and bishops have varied backgrounds and training. In order to assist their members who have questions, these local leaders often request information from General Authorities of the Church.
"The Strengthening Church Members Committee was appointed by the First Presidency to help fulfill this need and to comply with the cited section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This committee serves as a resource to priesthood leaders throughout the world who may desire assistance on a wide variety of topics. It is a General Authority committee, currently comprised of Elder James E. Faust and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They work through established priesthood channels, and neither impose nor direct Church disciplinary action.
"Members who have questions concerning Church doctrine, policies, or procedures have been counseled to discuss those concerns confidentially with their local leaders. These leaders are deeply aware of their obligation to counsel members wisely in the spirit of love, in order to strengthen their faith in the Lord and in His great latter-day work."
So after insisting in the introduction that there was no SCMC - “false accusations of so-called secret Church committees and files” the First Presidency statement then described a secret Church committee keeping files and distributing them to stake leaders throughout the Church. It was then described in very confusing terms as an innocent helpline of sorts for local leaders who have questions about any topic, but then mentioned Church Discipline, and finished with rather sinister fluff about local leaders counselling with their members “who have questions concerning Church doctrine, policies, or procedures” “In the spirit of love” until they regain a “strengthened” faith in the Church. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that in Orwell’s 1984 the local area state organisation that tortures dissidents until they completely submit with absolute loyalty to Big Brother is called “The Ministry of Love.”
In 1993, Dallin Oaks descripted the SCMC to the Arizona Republic newspaper as a "clipping service" that "may have monitored speeches, writings and activities of those suspected of apostasy and passed on material to church officials.”
None of that justifies being justified by the Doctrine and Covenants scriptures the First Presidency quoted which were about gathering evidence of harm done by persecutors of the Mormons who burned down their homes and raped and robbed them with a view to one day getting legal justice and financial redress from the government, as the bits they carefully edited out of the their quotes make clear. Church members disagreeing with the leaders about a doctrine or policy or something bad they’ve done is not oppressing the Church and causing personal and property damage that needs evidence gathering so they can sue for compensation in a court of law. And if they really saw the SCMC as meeting their obligations to a revelation in 1839, why had they waited 146 years till 1985 to do something about it?! It’s actually rare as hen’s teeth to find an official statement by the First Presidency defending itself against an accusation or embarrassing evidence about their schemes getting publicity in which they don’t just make up random nonsense or flat out lie about stuff, even when they don’t have to overcomplicate matters by doing so! It’s as if lying is a reflex action they simply cannot help when they are caught like a bunny trapped in the headlights, or trapped in a basically competent BBC journalist’s reasonable and obvious question. Take from me as a teacher at a school full of teenage boys for more than 20 years now – they need to hire some women as PR spokespeople. The men they employ, and the men the First Presidency ARE when they get caught being naughty and write their own statements making excuses to Teacher, are just lazy teenage boys clutching at straws and make up nonsense to try and get themselves out of trouble and making it really obvious they are lying. They just don’t have the skill set to get away with it. Hire a woman guys! It’s always incredibly obvious when boys are up to mischief. They just give it away. You can be teaching a class of girls who are all texting each other and bullying the other girls based on today’s configuration of alliances by quoting what they said word for word to Kayslee Brinleee 3 years ago and you will NEVER KNOW. Tumbleweed. The amateur trainwreck these boys make of being deceptive is just embarrassing to watch.
- AUDIO from John Sweeney’s ‘The Mormon Candidate’ documentary -
The SCMC WAS of course a new invention primarily used as a weapon to intimidate LDS academics who were the main resistance to the increasingly obvious and deceptive Pharisee corruption of the Church’s history and core values, specially as hardly any Church members or local leaders outside the enmeshed bubble of the Church Office Building bureaucracy and the staff of Brigham Young University have even now ever heard of it or knew to feed it information about other members with suspicious opinions or ask it for help with their questions as the First Presidency statement had claimed it was for.
Once people in the inner circle found out about it, its intimidating presence become such a nasty and corrupting influence so quickly that in 1992 Brigham Young University’s academic vice-president Stan Albrecht allegedly resigned partly due to "difficulty carrying out university business because of complaints from BYU religion faculty about other faculty members' writings, made to the Strengthening Church Members Committee".
I presume this was basically the set-up the reactionary orthodox General Authority overseers of Brigham Young University are apparently trying to recreate now as they have just announced that their Religion Studies teachers will now be selected primarily based on their loyal service teaching in Seminary and Institute rather than qualifications or a credible academic track record of publishing in real academia about relevant fields of research. It would seem the situation in 1992 was that the religious fanatics in the religion department were constantly monitoring the research, publications and statements of their colleagues in the other departments like Science and History, and dobbing them into the thought police for daring to question their own uninformed biblical literalism and right wing political and social views. Back then it culminated in the eviction of the September Six. Since the SCMC is alive and kicking still, the more informed and forward-thinking Christian Mormon faculty at BYU had better start watching their backs even more than usual if the Religion Department is going to once again be turned into Delores Umbridge’s Inquisitorial Squad, feeding information to the Thought Police Ministry.
Some managed to get access to see their files and one of them discovered theirs included newspaper clippings about them being a Young Democrat in college, so of course just as Ezra Taft Benson, who was paranoid and wrote books about communist infiltration in America and the Church and is a big hero today of the young Deznat social media thugs, wanted, it has become a full-on mechanism of intimidation of anyone intellectually or politically liberal in the Church threatening his right wing Pharisee religion of control freakery and tradition.
The next specific public statements by Church leaders came in March 2012 during the delightful documentary BBC journalist John Sweeney made about the Church during the Mormon Moment. In it he interviewed Church spokesman Michael Purdy who at first denied that the SCMC existed, but then very awkwardly had to quickly admit it did exist but he wasn’t sure what he was allowed to say about it, so John Sweeney asked apostle Jeffrey Holland, who insisted it was primarily for tracking polygamists trying to infiltrate the Church, something that had not been mentioned at all in previous statement by Church leaders. That was just another of HIS many lies for the Lord over the years.
He was at it again last month in his 7 March 2021 Young Adult devotional broadcast to the Latter-day Saints of Europe and Africa, assisted by Young Women’s General President Bonnie Cordon. She is another of the nepotistic appointments to power keeping it in the family – her father was Harold G Hillam, President of the First Quorum of Seventy. She’s the one who lectures teenage girls to love themselves as they are and not conform to the judgmental and fashion standards of the wicked world through a face that appears to have had more cosmetic surgery, botox and fillers than any of the other leading Mormon women, which is saying something as the competition for that title is fierce. As usual their advice to the young people was to just get married and start making babies at the earliest opportunity regardless of not being able to afford it because things will apparently just work out. She even mentioned having to go into debt for medical bills just to be able to take her first baby home from the hospital as if it was no biggie. And then they both claimed to still be poor!!! When he used to be paid a handsome sum as President of Brigham Young University and now gets a 6 figure annual Apostle salary paid for from the tithing of the destitute Latter-day Saints of Africa that is in the top 10% of salaries in the USA and UK, and while because she has a vagina they of course don’t pay Bonnie a penny as a salary, her hubbie, who would have made a tidy profit when he was a mission president, has been a senior director of tech companies Adobe, Oracle and Domo and she has her own business. But apparently the poor dears are all still poor as Church mice, just serving the Lord and not worrying about such worldly things as they explained 53 minutes in:
Audio from the broadcast……
BC: “We don’t have any money now!”
JH: “If Sister Holland and I waited till we had money, we STILL wouldn’t be married! And we’ve been married for 58 years! I’d have lost 58 good years if we’d waited for any money! You need to worry about some things but you don’t need to worry too much about Money. You need to be honourable, you need to be responsible and keep food on the table and pay your bills, but you don’t need much to live on. Really truly.” Etc….
These people just lie without hesitation they are so used to lying about so many things now. They are utterly disconnected from reality and they just make u nonsense they think is what he peasants need to hear to continue following the traditional Mormon Mantras when the world most of the people asking them for advice live in is nothing like their privileged Utah bubble subsidised by wealth redistributed from the young people they were lying to. If they actually follow their advice they will be in serious debt and trouble very fast that they may never escape from, specially in the developing world, and they will be highly likely to divorce because financial troubles are the biggest trigger for marriages ending. And the injustice will go even further - when they go to the Church that told them to put themselves into reckless poverty and debt to boost the Mormon birthrate, for help they will get very short shrift, specially in the developing world where the Church’s official policy is mostly not to give the destitute members much welfare support at all…. Because they don’t want to create a dependency culture among the brown people in the poor countries! It’s expensive enough subsidising the white middle class Americans….
Instead of this hypocritical and disastrously irresponsible advice, some sensible guidance from these Church leaders more along the lines of the completely contradictory advice their ‘Self Sufficiency’ program is teaching members in another branch of the randomness that is their bureaucracy about financial planning and maximising your educational opportunities for long-term prosperity and having children when you can actually afford it like everyone else in the world needs to to avoid being a social security burden all their lives could have set those young people on a path to a far more positive outcome.
And if things always DO work out financially in the end if you are faithful, why did Bonnie and Jeffrey both claim to still be penniless? And if what Elder Holland said is true – that “you need to be responsible and keep food on the table and pay your bills, but you don’t need much to live on. Really truly.” – then why on earth have he and his cronies decided that even in retirement they still cannot possibly be expected to survive on less than $140,000 a year plus many additional expense allowances?! The one that President Hinckley called “A modest stipend”. You just couldn’t make this up. They have no clue and no shame.
If you get the chance to see the video of this ethical debacle, look closely at the face of Chad H Webb, an Administrator of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion for many years, who was with them. He is not laughing along and looks suitably stony faced and unimpressed. He knows exactly how rich they are. And how poor his students are.
Since Elder Holland’s car crash encounter with the BBC in 2012, several high profile excommunications of Church members publicly criticising the Church leaders or Church policies have clearly involved their Stake Presidents being sent a dossier of clippings and social media posts and comments, including in private social media groups or pages, by the Strengthening the Church Members Committee and a strong signal from General Authorities that action to disfellowship or excommunicate those people is expected pronto, breaking the General Handbook rules that all Church discipline should be initiated by local leaders. We explored this a bit in the last minisode when Dallin Oaks got caught out admitting privately that Boyd K Packer had done this to bring about the coordinated excommunication and disfellowshipment of the September Six while publicly lying that he had not.
So these days the SCMC trawl Church Members’ public and private Facebook and other social media or published conversations and keep files on Church members who seem to be challenging the leadership or disagreeing with anything at all such as Church ‘policies’, which they have just added to opposing doctrines and leaders to the General Handbook definition of ‘Apostasy’ as a thought crime requiring automatic discipline.
They have just swung into action again as I write this to go after the amazing relationship and sex counsellor and therapist Natasha Parker who will in a couple of days be put on trial by a Stake President in Kansas where she hasn’t lived for a year basically for publicly advocating from her professional norms and expertise that it is unhealthy to consider masturbation a dangerous sin, as many local leaders interrogating traumatised children and teenagers insist it is, while some do not, because of leadership roulette and total lack of consistent training, or just training, although the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet everyone in the Church is meant to get their Law of Chastity guidance from still calls it and any other sexual offence such as looking at pornography or having sexual thought a “sin next to murder” that you must confess to your bishop immediately. Natasha is understandably concerned, as we all should be, about how many young people she has to try and talk out of their self-harming and suicide attempts because of the Church’s dangerous systematic shaming and Apostolic preaching about masturbation and sexuality and the whole fandango.
Some of the quotes referenced by Natasha’s stake president in his rambling list of accusations and complaints include quotes she made in private comments in her private Facebook page, which is yet another indication of how deep this system of surveillance goes. Radio Free Mormon phoned up Elder Timothy J Dyches of the Seventy in 2019 after finding out that he was on the SCMC although it is never mentioned as a responsibility in the Church’s online profiles of its General Authorities and their duties because they are still trying to keep its existence a secret from most of the members. They had a cordial chat on the phone and Elder Dyches confirmed that they have a file on him. You can hear all about that in RFM’s podcast episode 76 called “Spying For The Lord.” And Weird Alma’s delightful song ‘S.C.M.C.’ to the tune of ‘Y.M.C.A.’ is a hoot. Check it out!
I’m assuming the SCMC has a file on me now. I have been informed that he Area Presidency have left it to my longsuffering Stake President to decide whether to put me on trial and my public views are not hard to find, but a little part of me will be a bit disappointed if he doesn’t receive a mysterious package of clippings and prints of facebook comments in the post from the SCMC at some point since it has kind of become a badge of honour to have one’s own place in the Pharisee Mormon Stasi filing cabinets. Not, as I keep emphasising, that I want to be put on trial or excommunicated at all, but in their lunatic Orwellian Thought Police state where criticising a Church POLICY, not a doctrine, is an automatically excommunicable offence and is it a sin we must repent of to even THINK of leaders, ANY of them, local or global, as having human weakness, we have already gone so far through the looking glass into tyranny that there is no line to cross any more. They can justify to themselves spying on, collecting evidence against, and then putting on trial for thought crimes any single one of us at any time. So in for a penny, in for a pound I say. If I’m going to put my head above the parapet to question or challenge or fix something and inevitably have it blown off and cast into Outer Darkness, I might as well go large and try to fix everything if the personal cost is going to be exactly the same anyway. We all have nothing to lose now but our chains.
Natasha and her colleagues and an army of therapists around the world serving active and ex-Latter-day Saints have spent years saving lives and marriages from the utter carnage our Church’s total inability to offer helpful, realistic or safe advice about anything to do with sex and sexuality has wrought in its members’ lives and relationships. She has filled the internet with a vast archive of amazing, professional resources for the Church members who cannot afford therapists free of charge, and given free training to many local Church leaders desperate for the help and training that the Church is failing to provide them in these matters. That community is now going to give her and anyone advocating for her a total of 1 hour to justify not losing her membership after refusing to transfer her membership records to Salt Lake where she actually lives so she is going to have to fly to Kansas to make her case to remain in the Church she adores and has served as much as anyone else alive.
This is a direct and intentional intimidation of all the many LDS mental health and Relationship therapists, like my Mother before she retired, who try to clean up the mess from all the car crashes that happen as the Pharisee General Authorities’ ignorant, uninspired and unrealistic rhetoric and expectations crash into the incoming traffic of reality in Latter-day Saints’ lives. I told you there were easily 50 and arguably 100 different things going on in our religion desperately in need of reform to save it from its own leaders and the corruption of our religion and its values they have inherited and been trained to perpetuate. This is just another one of them.
So let’s do a quick compare and contrast. What advice is the Church offering to replace Natasha and all the professional sex therapists and relationship counsellors when they have been intimidated into silence? Well, I keep saying you couldn’t make this up, but you really couldn’t make this up… In the same week that the Pharisee patriarchy’s steam-powered machinery of menace clattered into action to have Natasha Helfer burned at the stake as a sex-positive witch, while as usual totally NOT bothering to initiate church discipline against a multitude of MALE Mormon sex offenders, affinity fraudsters, armed insurrectionists and wife beaters went public, Brigham Young’s School of Family Life coincidentally launched the Church’s first ever online resource to “increase healthy sexuality among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, created by one of the Professors and his students. It would be hard to imagine a self-selection of people less likely to be capable of giving helpful advice about sex – a bunch of religious fanatics taught all their lives to fear anything and everything to do with sex as a sin second only to murder who are regularly interrogated to check that they are still virgins, unless they’ve done as they are told and already got married and starred making babies as penniless university students. But one shouldn’t make assumptions.
What were they going to call it? Our religion is pathologically incapable of even saying the word “sex”. The sex chapter of the Institute course about marriage when I was in Institute was famously titled “Inviting Little Ones to Live With Us.” Well, true to form the website is called “Covenant Intimacy Conversations” A curious Mormon world tentatively started clicking through what still felt like a rather transgressive website given the subject matter, perhaps hoping it would surprise us and be better than it seemed likely to be. That turned out to be a rapid-fire, big fat “NOPE!” In moments the bloggernacle was in stitches as the page titled “Transitioning from Sexually Active to Sexually Inactive” went viral. Picture the scene – a bunch of Mormon virgins in their early twenties who are not allowed to say the word ‘sex’ because it’s probably an Honour Code violation that will get them kicked out of their university are going to give advice to widowed and divorced people about how to cope with suddenly not being able to do the Wild Thing any more. What could possibly go wrong?!
Brace yourselves…. “The transition from being sexually active to sexually inactive due to divorce or death of a spouse can be difficult. Although you likely won’t be able to replace sexual intimacy, you may be able to identify ways that you can start to fill the holes that were once filled by sex.”
If there’s a Golden Raspberry or a Darwin Awards for LDS PR disasters, THAT has to be the winner for 2021 whatever else happens, even exing Natasha. I’d love to know if the advice continued with suggestions for what precisely those poor unfortunate divorced and widowed souls could fill their recently vacated holes with, but tragically the entire website went ‘Temporarily Unavailable’ within 24 hours and ‘temporary’ is starting to look suspiciously ‘permanent’.
I suggest that they refund Natasha’s plane ticket to Kansas, tell the stake president there to get a life and actually be useful to his people, and put Her in charge of BYU’s School of Family Life. She’s probably far more qualified that anyone else in it and definitely more professionally experienced. Or just replace it with a link to her practice ‘Symmetry Solutions’ that has survived and thrived for far longer than “Covenant Intimacy Conversations” and actually knows what it is doing.
Having Russell Nelson as our President For Life after his training leading the SCMC is rather an unsettling parallel to how Vladimir Putin has became President almost-for-life of Russia after his training as head of the infamous Russian Secret Police.
AN ANCIENT EVIL AND A PURE DELIGHT
There will be a few more minisodes of Episode 6 as I continue to gather and present the evidence of the different strategies for thought control that the Pharisees dominating the leadership of the LDS Church deploy, and I have a lot of really interesting stuff to get to yet. I keep having to take a deep breathe and tell my self to calm down and pace it because I get overexcited and want to tell people all about everything all at once right now. The first version of this minipisode I recorded began with a solid 30 minutes of data and ranting but when I listened back it was clear it was just too depressing and angry and missing the soul of what I am trying to communicate. Don’t get me wrong, I am LIVID. My baseline personality is to be principled but tolerant, but I have never been so angry in my life about anything or anyone as much as I am angry at what these geriatric amateur Satanists have done to my lovely religion, for several generations now it turns out. I’m so angry I keep calling them geriatric Satanists! I think I’ve offered more than enough evidence to rationally support that characterisation, and I will be saying it a few more times. It is, in a nutshell, the root cause of our problems. We have ended up with a leadership system where very very old men who are literally dying before our eyes are always in charge now, and naturally are nearly always out of touch with the modern world and its needs and backward looking in stark contrast to our religion’s very young, forward thinking founders, who as I’ve said before managed to crank out new scripture and meaty doctrine like confetti machines, which these old duffers have totally failed to come anywhere close to managing. By their fruits ye shall know them.
I was called on a mission by a prophet in an actual coma with a letter signed by a machine it turns out, and the inaccurate and similarly backward ‘McConkie Mormonism’ in Bruce R McConkie’s ‘Mormon Doctrine’ and the November 2015 Policy of Exclusion that have between them been the two biggest threats to me remaining a member of the Church were both foisted on us all by scheming pharisees while the actual President of the Church was incapacitated by being close to death and in the grip of dementia. So the geriatric thing is a real specific problem, not just a random insult.
And they are specifically teaching Lucifer’s plan of salvation, his religion, so the same goes for the word ‘satanist.’ Just telling it how it is folks! Geriatric Satanists.
The constant stream of British Anglo Saxon adjectives that most of my countrymen and women use as punctuation in ordinary conversation in ways that would have the Utah Daughters of the Pioneers clutching their pearls in horror the whole time if they lived in my country is WAY beyond the comfort zone of most Latter-day Saints in the United States, and they have exported that sensibility to the Latter-day Saints here, so there is a bit of culture clash going on here. I will seem a lot more transgressive and strident than most of my countrymen would think I am. And I’ve talked elsewhere about how breaking those boundaries of acceptable language is actually a component of resisting totalitarian thought control, which Jesus understood when he did the same swearing at his Pharisees as we read in Matthew 23.
But to compromise a bit, because I am communicating with Latter-day Saints who have been highly conditioned to stop listening to the content of what someone is saying if the style of delivery doesn’t fit within the extremely uptight parameters that the Church has declared to be acceptable, and spare you from the full scale of the eloquent swearing going on every time I discover a new deception and a new cruelty by these people, I’m going to experiment with replacing swears with Book of Mormon people and place names. They aren’t just useful for internet passwords everybody! And it will be much more funny to get excommunicated for calling Dallin Oaks a “Gidgidonnah” than a common or garden lying bastard who told the Seminary teachers to lie to me in the year I personally started Seminary, which he is of course.
I am also conscious that while being strictly realistic about all these depressing and sinister goings on, the purpose of my journey and what I am encouraging Latter-day Saints to consider in this podcast series is that there might still be, despite it all, enough good or potential good and truth in the Mormon religion to be worth fighting for, rescuing from the tightening clutches of the Pharisees, and still embracing proudly as our personal religion, and as an organised religious institution that can really benefit the world instead of mostly adding to its problems and bigotries, and is worth encouraging people to join and be a part of.
Even that we should still be ambitious for Mormonism to become the new world religion we and our prophets and apostles were expecting it to become as I was growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s. So I am going to use the rest of this minisode, if you will indulge me, to make that case. To take a deep dive into just a few of the many ideas I believe are Mormonism’s greatest hits and treasures it could win the 21st century with that I have been scattering through these episodes like Tinkerbell’s fairy dust and will be putting together with lots more I haven’t even mentioned yet in the legendary but very rea Episode 7.
I am going to remind us of the big picture here – what the nature of the Mormon civil war is as an existential struggle that permeates everything Mormon theology is about at its most intellectual and abstract level, and then how that manifests in really specific beliefs and behaviours that we all do or see other people going and believing in our families and at Church as Latter-day Saints in a survey quiz at the end of this minisode in which you can find out for yourself – are YOU a Christian Mormon or a Pharisee Mormon? And then next minisode we will get back into the juicy stuff of what’s going on, and why, and who’s doing it to us.
One thing I adore about Mormonism is that is has it’s head in the clouds as high as anyone can stretch in its big ideas and vision of the nature and purpose of our existence, but also its feet firmly on the ground in asking, always, So what? How is that idea going to change my real life? What are we going to believe and DO about it? What practical USE is this religion and its ideas to me and my family? HOW will it make our lives better? Make us happier?
So that’s what will happen in the rest of this minisode. We will look at exactly what the difference between being a Christian or a Pharisee makes in our real lives, but first let’s reach for the stars with the Big Ideas!
The impulse to think of and practice our religion as a conspiracy to control other people in the Pharisee way is an ancient one that Mormons trace back to our pre-mortal life as spirits living with God who were given a choice about which plan of salvation and exaltation to learn more and become like God seemed to be the sensible one to sign up to. An ambitious spirit named Lucifer, the Son of the Morning who had a lot of potential and was already progressing well ended up championing the bad option where you give up your freedom to think and choose for yourself and hand over your exact obedience and will to a dictator who promises that if you just exactly obey everything that leader says you will be guaranteed the predictable and easy outcome of all being saved in a batch because none will make any mistakes and risk not making it to the goal. It was a very tempting option because it appealed to the worst aspects of what we call human nature, particularly Pride, Laziness and Cowardice.
The scriptures say specifically that it was Lucifer’s unhealthy pride in himself and his own importance that corrupted him and motivated him to be ambitious to be the dictator who everyone obeys in the bad plan of salvation. Mormon scripture and doctrine clarifies further that he wanted to be treated like a God without earning it or understanding what it really involves.
Or perhaps he wasn’t as stupid as we usually make him out to be, which has always seemed incongruous to me with being an advanced angel and all the other shrewd skills we attribute to him. Perhaps he just simply wanted to change the rules of the game and believed that if enough people supported him, he could.
Just being in charge and bossing everyone else around looked plenty wonderful enough to him and appealed to his ego. He decided he knew better than actual God and went for it, leading a rebellion against the plan being recommended by his more experienced and wiser father. And as depicted in the Temple Endowment, when Lucifer had a face to face showdown with Jehovah and His angelic messengers and future Apostles Peter, James and John, he reminded them that what he was doing was the same as had happened before in age after age in other worlds in the universe, so this was not a one-off situation. The higher intelligences of the entire multiverse have always been involved in this existential choice and Civil War between the evil of controlling enslaving cruelty to make yourself rich and feeling powerful, and the good of freedom and selfless love to serve and lift others for their benefit, while always facilitating the fundamental principle of truth, reason and democracy to respect their human rights to self-determination, even if you know you know that you know better what is best for them.
The free choice of the people and persuading them with reason and love and evidence to voluntarily choose the path of truth in a context of sincere full disclosure is the Prime Directive of the Gods. Without it nothing can work and they cease to be God, as Lehi taught in the wonderful deep philosophy of 2 Nephi Chapter 2 in the Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi 2 is a brilliant one stop shop for an overview of Mormon Doctrine – it has the plan of salvation, where Jesus fits in, the purpose of life, AND the wonderful verse telling us that the purpose of our existence is JOY, not original sin and guilt trips, which was the first scripture my parents taught us to memorise as children. That one chapter lays it all out, and how the fabric of the universe and its laws are rooted in the binary code or super-symmetry of the existence and tension between good and evil, freedom or captivity:
“11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.
13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon……..
27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.”
Lucifer’s way is to take our freedom away by forcing or manipulating people to make the choices, believe the ideas and do the things you approve of. You might do this to other people out of pure selfishness and indifference to their rights and needs, or you might do it because you have convinced yourself it is for their own good and you know better than the people you control or manipulate what is in their best interests to believe and do. And if you are convinced that actual GOD is telling you to do this to them, you can feel selfless and virtuous and holy while in reality being the very worst kind of selfish and evil, as we have seen from the words coming from the lips of Dallin Oaks and other LDS General Authorities last episode and in all the others as they have taught and justified withholding crucial information from Church members and the world and intentionally lying and misrepresenting the Church’s history and beliefs to them, presenting this deception as a virtue, a higher law. Their duty. The duty of the Church Education System teachers, and the duty of any Latter-day Saint writing biographies and newspaper and magazine article or making videos about the Church and its history.
The other attributes in addition to pride of laziness and cowardice that were part of Lucifer’s thinking also influenced the 1 in 3 of the spirits who followed him and his religion in the preexistence Civil War. They were too lazy to do the hard work of taking responsibility for their own choices and destiny, and enduring a sometimes brutal mortal life full of suffering and learnings things the hard way, that was a crucial stage of God’s proposed Plan of Salvation. They were too cowardly to muster the courage to face a life that would involve suffering and unexpected experiences and uncertainty. Much easier to have someone else do the thinking and hard work for you. Much easier to just make ALL of that uncertainty and suffering go away.
As I have been reflecting on this fundamental difference in attitude and purpose between Christ’s and Lucifer’s religions, I have started noticing with a chill running down my spine how many Latter-day Saints I love when they bear their testimony give thanks for the ease and comfort of knowing they can totally trust the prophet to guide them and keep them safe in a confusing or dangerous world – what we will later hear Apostle Neil Anderson describe as being wrapped in a warm blanket - and if we just have faith in him and follow everything he teaches us to believe and do we and our families will be safe and protected. We are so used to hearing things like that, both from the prophets themselves and our ward members speaking that kind of a testimony, that we forget to have our Lucifer-detectors switched on. THAT was precisely the thinking that did for the 1/3 of our brothers and sisters who fell for his lying promise of risk-free salvation. We did NOT choose the right side and win the Civil War in our life before this life by thinking like that. Adam nearly screwed everything up by choosing the safe and the familiar and never questioning the leaders and the rules of the status quo. Fortunately Eve still had enough of the fire in her belly for better to not be fooled by the siren call of safety and somehow remembered or just knew that the whole point of our lives is to ALWAYS question and seek greater knowledge by never trusting the safe fold, the comfort zone, because as Jesus taught the real religion is lived out in the wilderness seeking more knowledge you never knew before and ministering to the lost sheep who are in the greatest danger in the most dangerous places.
For Lucifer, if he could persuade a lot of people to worship him like a God while not actually lifting a finger for them, that was a lazy win, and he definitely didn’t like the sound of the crucified human sacrifice our big brother Jehovah was offering to take on to make God’s plan actually work. He was not feeling brave enough to do that. And the billions who followed him started to share his arrogant pride that they could cheat the system, the fundamental laws of the universe Lehi described, and reframe reality.
The more cheerful side of this story is that 2/3 of the spirits had the sense to realise that Lucifer’s offer was a lie. We realised we can’t actually progress and become anything if we are expecting someone else to do all the thinking for us. We understood that this would diminish or basically erase our individual existence and make it all pointless. We had the humility to really listen and learn from God as He explained this to us. We were willing to make the effort and work hard for the progress and creative opportunities we were being offered. We had the courage to take the steps into the somewhat unknown in order to become something better and we watched in excitement and bated breath as our brave sister Eve was the pioneer who went to earth first with our brother Adam and found out if this was really what they believed and wanted as they relived the same analytical thought processes and choices everyone had been through already, but this time for real thinking for themselves without God and Mrs Goddess or Mrs polygamous Goddesses right there in everyone’s face kind of making it easier to choose the right path. Adam was a bit useless and unimaginative at first, but fortunately Eve turned out to be the hero as she stepped up and led the way, used her intelligences and chose humility, hard work and amazing courage to step out of Eden into something much harder but much more worthwhile, and everyone cheered.
Pride or Humility? Laziness or Hard Work? Cowardice or Courage? These are some of the fundamental choices we face as we wake up to our power and our potential as free souls nurtured by Divine mentors to realise our power and our potential to seek more and better, to learn more and do more as creators and mentors for other souls as we step up to join our Heavenly Parents in their eternal mission and glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of our species.
I absolutely love our Mormon creation myth. I think it is absolutely the best one, hands down, in the entire religious world. Whether it literally happened like that or is a metaphor for the human condition, it is far more inspiring and motivating than the traditional interpretation of the Bible’s Garden of Eden Story which is most widely interpreted as a statement of how utterly evil, unreliable, selfish and distracted by sex the whole time human beings are. Also it teaches how useless God is that He let a bimbo’s encounter with a snake and a fruit tree sabotage His entire plan for mankind and force him to have to go with the whole messed up ruthless dictator and infanticide bloodbath thing when there could have been a better way, and we should all feel guilty and justly judged by God for our fallen wickedness, even though it wasn’t our personal fault in the first place. Mainstream Christian theology is a basket case.
If Joseph Smith invented this religion, his instinctive understanding that that explanation for our reality is really messed up and makes God a monster as well us all of us with our original sin alone is worth hailing him as a religious genius and a prophet even if he never taught anything else at all . Because somehow most of the rest of Judaism and Christianity and Islam never managed to disentangle themselves from that story’s inherent contradictions and how it imprisons us in a cage being tormented by a sadist God who doesn’t make sense, refuses to explain Himself and forces us to contort our very selves to fit into a religious worldview that doesn’t make sense to our rational minds or our instincts for justice and compassion and never redeems himself or justifies putting us through all that by at least lifting us up to be His equals.
The Mormon Civil War in heaven for freeagency creation story is empowering and thrilling. It cries out to us “Come on an adventure!!! Let’s go and explore new worlds! Literally! Full-on Star Trekness! And let’s have lots of wild experiences on that world until we learn enough to be able to make our own worlds!” It’s an unlimited vision of who we are and what we can become. It is an incredibly MODERN vision of empowered individuals becoming fully actualised, the best they can or want to be, and empowered communities of those individuals coming together to make Zions where their shared love and learning and cooperation becomes exponentially more than the sum of their parts.
It speaks to the historic human journey and struggle for the ordinary people to become empowered and overthrow their parasitic tyrant kings and make democracy happen, and give every person the opportunity to live their best life and be free within the reasonable rule of law as they share decision-making power about what those laws should be, and how we can keep making them better as a work in progress. The Book of Mormon preaches secular democracy as the ideal form of government to give the greatest freedom to the many, and the Doctrine and Covenants preaches democracy as the law for the Religious community of God’s people with similar separation of powers in leadership quorums and radically inclusive Common Consent consultations and voting of the entire membership to involve their collective wisdom in decision making, and constantly and vigilantly holding the leaders accountable to the people they serve in regular votes.
Every time I think about it I get excited and hopeful and all the trivial nonsense we burden ourselves with is for a little while blown away or reduced back to the tiny things they are when we have an eternal perspective. And the founders of Mormonism were all about embracing, with humility, hard work and courage, all the truth we can learn from every person or culture or religion or scientist who has any in the world and making it all part of what Mormon doctrine and thought is with our research and discussions with everyone we meet to share and test the strength of our own ideas and theirs; and they taught that where they could show us we are wrong about something, we must welcome that and change it for something better in our beliefs and assumptions.
I will go into more depth about how that has been taught over the years by our prophets and Apostles in their more Christian Mormon moments but here are a few quotes from them:
Brigham Young taught “ ‘Mormonism,’ so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to “Mormonism.” The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. “Mormonism” includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fulness of all things in the gods and in the eternities of the gods.” (DBY, 3)
Brigham also taught about the process of seeking all truth wherever it is and then proving all things, holding fast to that which is good, and letting go of what is not as we sift the wheat from the chaff:
“Such a plan incorporates every system of true doctrine on the earth, whether it be ecclesiastical, moral, philosophical, or civil; it incorporates all good laws that have been made from the days of Adam until now; it swallows up the laws of nations, for it exceeds them all in knowledge and purity, it circumscribes the doctrines of the day, and takes from the right and the left, and brings all truth together in
one system, and leaves the chaff to be scattered hither and thither.” (DBY, 3–4)
Apostle John Widtsoe, a scientist who with his wife Leah corresponded regularly with my Great Grandmother Jeannie in a personal ministry supporting her as the only Latter-day Saint in Ceylon, taught that ‘The doctrine of the Church cannot be fully understood unless it is tested by mind and feelings, by intellect and emotions, by every power of the investigator. Every Church member is expected to understand the doctrine of the Church intelligently. There is no place in the Church for blind adherence.’
Apostle Orson Pratt wrote in one of his 12 pamphlets called ‘The Seer’, his version of a podcast series:
“Convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the Word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.”
Apostle George A. Smith, first cousin of Joseph Smith and grandfather of President George Albert Smith who was named after him, said:
"If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak." (Journal of Discourses, Volume 14, Page 216)
President John Taylor taught: "I think a full, free talk is frequently of great use; we want nothing secret nor underhanded, and for one I want no association with things that cannot be talked about and will not bear investigation." (Journal of Discourses, Volume 20, Page 264)
First Presidency member J. Reuben Clark said:
"If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”
Hugh B Brown, the Dieter Uchtdorf of his day who was also evicted from the First Presidency by bigoted racist hardliners for his efforts to end the Church’s institutional racism and reconnect with the modern world and our religion’s education-friendly foundational principles, taught: "We should be dauntless in our pursuit of truth and resist all demands for unthinking conformity. No one would have us become mere tape recorders of other people's thoughts. We should be modest and teachable and seek to know the truth by study and faith. There have been times when progress was halted by thought control."
There are a LOT more quotes like those to explore.
THIS is the religion for the world in the modern age. This is the religion my Great Grandmother Jeannie Simpson Bleakley and her son my Grandfather John Bleakley and her daughter my Great Aunt Joyce Bleakley Anderson embraced and passed on to my extended family. This is the religion for lifelong learners as excited about holding someone’s hand as they are about the latest mind boggling photograph of some of the 2 trillion galaxies in the visible universe taken by the Hubble telescope.
THIS is the religion to win the 21st century with. It makes sense of the nonsense at the heart of mainstream Christianity and transforms it into a rational faith. Christianity, by far the largest religion in the world, desperately needs this to fix its fundamental flaws and stop it’s God being an arbitrary sadist.
The world needs a way to hold on to all the community and compassion and vision and hard-won wisdom that religion offers and carried through the generations from our ancestors to us, while also filtering that heritage carefully to remove or improve the bad ideas that have been mixed up with the good ones along the way to stop religion being more harmful than good for our families and communities.
One of the biggest paradigm shifts occurring in this century, and in most of the developed world it happened last century but America is only now catching up so the American Mormons think it is something new and are having a massive freak-out about it now, is that the vast majority of modern people are decisively disconnecting themselves from organised religion. This happened in my grandparents’ generation in my country. Religion has failed to keep up and keep relevant, specially Christianity. An alternative, rational and functionally adequate Humanist or secular body of values and ideas is replacing religion to give explanations for our lives. It incorporates all the amazing discoveries in science which have explained a LOT that used to be a religious mystery, and the collective wisdom and values that have steadily built up in our laws and social ideals, such as those which my teaching profession works very hard to teach to the nation’s children, much of which we can attribute to the best ideas and contributions of religion but which are now able to exist and continue developing their own right without it.
High demand fundamentalist religions like ours love to demonise the world as going to hell in a handbasket and incapable of being good or maintaining civilisation without religion, but that’s turning out to be a load of rubbish. The dominant secular culture of the modern world in fee societies has been a steady and significant improvement in all the key indicators that Jesus would approve of – poverty reduction, education and literacy, healthcare, people valuing being tolerant and kind to each other and treating everyone as equals regardless of their age, race, sexuality and gender and being more conscious of being responsible guardians of the natural world we live in and depend upon.
As usual in LDS Mormonism, only Dieter Uchtdorf has specifically pointed out this reality to the Latter-day Saints in General Conference in contrast to the usual hysterical and wildly inaccurate cacophony of the Lord’s Anointed telling everyone to prepare for imminent apocalypse and the collapse of civilisation because people aren’t going to church any more and are letting the gays get married. The average modern democracy is doing far, far greater than the people with the Mormon Mantles at taking care of the poor and being kind to the lost sheep and the sinners. Backward-looking, hypocritical religions that won’t let go of their canonised prejudices have now fallen far behind the secular centre of gravity in pretty much all the areas the religions claim to be better at, so of course they have lost their credibility and members because they aren’t offering anything better than average people are managing to work out fine on their own, without religion.
It’s not rocket science then to look at this reality and simply conclude that the first thing the religions need to do is eat some humble pie, admit where they are wrong, learn from the things the secular world is getting right, and catch up, THEN fight hard to earn a place in people’s affections by offering something better and more than the world already has. The catch up the LDS church needs to pull of as rapidly as possible to stop losing nearly all its children is full gender equality by ordaining women – I recommend Natasha Helfer and Gina Colvin and my wife Lynn as the first female Apostles, not more botoxed daughters of General Authorities from Utah who look and think like puppets in Gerry Anderson’s ‘Thunderbirds’. Apology and repudiation of its lingering racism, and full equality for LGBTQ Mormons. Then it might make it to the end of the 21st Century.
And then the world needs its religions to incorporate everything new being understood and discovered as widespread education and research and the miracle of the internet connects us in ever increasing numbers to the knowledge humanity has gained so far, and connects us to each other, in ways that when I was a child were simply unimaginable except in science fiction.
In theory at least, Christian Mormonism offers 2 things that should enable it to accomplish that challenging feat. One is the idea of living prophets and ongoing revelation to all of us receiving updated guidance and knowledge from God to clarify tricky interpretations of past scriptures that harm people or simply override them by saying ‘That was then, this is now, humanity is ready for a higher law in that matter,’ just as Paul described the Law and religion of Moses being a stepping stone to better, a ‘Schoolmaster to bring us to Christ,’ in Galatians 3:24.
STEPPING UP AND MOVING EVER ONWARDS
The second ingredient we offer is the theology behind that – that we are individually and collectively on a long journey of progress until we become like God. We don’t know everything yet. Our religion doesn’t know everything yet. The journey involves lots of interim stages and steps, stepping up to each of which involves challenging and leaving behind the aspects of the previous stage of understanding and believing and doing that are no longer adequate or needed.
This idea of moving on and leaving some things behind is present in lots of different ways in our scriptures.
Most powerfully in my opinion, you have the overarching historical narrative that the religion’s development exactly matched the development of human civilisation because our secular progress is just as much a part of this journey as our specifically religious evolution. As the Book of Mormon often teaches, we cannot have the one without the other. The Church always collapsed when the wider society became politically and financially corrupted and selfish.
In what we call the ‘Patriarchal’ era when humanity lived as large extended families and tribes the religion was tribal with God speaking to the usually male elder or grandfather of the family or tribe and blessing their family to be safe and prosper as long as they were faithful. This then scaled up when historically the tribes started to scale up and unite to collaborate and trade and create city states with professional specialists fed by the surplus food grown by the farmers and herders in the surrounding countryside who domesticated crops and animals and selectively cultivated and bred them for higher yields in the agricultural revolution of the Neolithic or New Stone Age. They traded this extra food for services from the new class of full time specialist craftspeople, priests, soldiers and ruling bureaucracies. At that point the Sumerian cities seem to have been the first to develop writing and hey presto, that’s precisely where and when God launched the next phase of His interactions with our species according to the Bible and revealed himself to Abraham and his tribe and allies in the Sumerian city of Ur.
The next step was to have them create their own national identity under the leadership of Moses and a settled centre of worship and political capital city with their temple and all the religious details and developments associated with that. Later the Bronze and Iron Age of Empires began. Eventually the Romans established their rule over the biggest empire in history up to that point with the amazingly stable ‘pax romana’ rule of law and safe international trade and travel routes. For the first time the religion could become fully international and global so Christ came personally to do his thing and launch the takeover of the world of his religion, and Paul intervened and kicked butt to make sure the non-Jewish Gentile people of any nation or race were fully included in the plans when the cautious Christian Pharisees of his leadership still wanted to make it really hard for them to join and added having the end of your willy chopped off to baptism as a requirement for membership, which is a very hard sell for missionaries.
Can you imagine if THAT commitment was still in the missionary discussions? “To be baptised Mr Brown you need to promise to pay tithing, stop drinking tea… oh, and we will need to mutilate your genitals. We have prayed about a date for your genital mutilation and feel inspired that it should be next Thursday. If you can meet with us at the chapel before then we can get you kitted out with a genital mutilation robe that fits you. Do you have your own towels and sutures?” Nice one Paul, you diamond geezer. You played a blinder challenging and shaming your First Presidency into doing the right thing so the Church could survive and thrive when it was hanging by a thread. Safe.
2000 years later the ‘Restored Gospel’ of Mormonism is meant to be the next natural iteration of the ever-expanding religion – Christianity for the Space Age! – to take us off this planet and into the stars that we already believe are teeming with life and Gods.
As well as this overarching timeline of growth and improvement and development of doctrine and practices as human civilisation’s sophistication has progressed, there are the scriptures that talk about learning line upon line, precept upon precept. How there is a time for everything – building, fighting, making peace, picking your nose. We aren’t necessarily meant to be doing all of everything right now.
There is the intellectual and spiritual knowledge-seeking journey implied by Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians 5:21 telling them to “Prove all things. Hold fast to that which is good.” That means consider and question EVERYTHING with a view to determining which things people say and believe are true and which are not.
Another expression of this idea of ongoing progression is found in 1 Corinthians 13:12 about how we currently see everything and God through a rather dark and foggy looking glass or mirror, but one day we will reach the point where we will see God as clearly as we are seen by God, and know God as well as we are known by God now. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
And the priceless D and C 121 forensically deconstructs all the usual concepts of male patriarchal power in priesthood hierarchies based on ordained authority and being obeyed and believed because of your status as a leader, ideas which reinforce the systems of oppression and domination by authoritarian dictators. Section 121 entirely replaces all of those with convincing people that what you are saying is true by the persuasive reasoning you can deploy to support that ‘pure knowledge’ and a warning that the second you refer to your priesthood authority as the reason to be trusted or followed, it is cancelled by God. “Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man” as verse 37 says. Amazing. Literally revolutionary.
So bearing in mind ALL that wonderful, mind expanding, revolutionary body of beliefs and practices, what the actual Gidgiddonnah has gone so spectacularly wrong that we now finding ourselves in a Mormonism that has thrown nearly all of that in the toilet and flushed it down the memory hole?! Where the separation of powers and democratic Common Consent in the governance of the Church is a very distant memory and we are now ruled by a theocratic dictatorship of 15 men who are preaching every General Conference that they are infallible, that they are our Gods who we must trust and never allow ourselves to say a word of criticism about, or even allow our brains to THINK might have human weaknesses, who have stolen from even the poorest members an astonishing fortune of hundreds of billions of dollars, who are proscribing how many earring to have and which hand to take the sacrament with but cannot answer basic questions about the living arrangements in the next life for their own plural wives, and who just gutted the actual Salt Lake Temple?! And where the prophets are telling us to not even try to ‘prove all things and hold fast to that which is good’ but instead to just believe everything they tell us to without question because they cannot ever be wrong - it’s all good – and make sure you never talk to people who think otherwise, or try to learn anything relevant to our religion from anyone outside it. And they are teaching that the prophet is to be entirely trusted BECAUSE of his priesthood authority even when he cannot convince us with reasoned arguments to believe him. In fact he doesn’t even need to offer any justifications or reasons at all.
Literally everything, EVERYTHING, from the religion of my youth has been turned on its head! I feel like I’ve just been in cryogenic stasis for a couple of centuries and woken up in a bizarre comedy future dystopia where everything has gone to absolute poo!
These pompous Apostles who talk about and quote themselves and each other 10 times more than they quote Jesus don’t seem to have even noticed they are doing everything the scriptures and the Temple Endowment told them not to. Not surprisingly at all, because “by their fruits ye shall know them” as Jesus taught, they are presiding over the catastrophic collapse of our religion and its active membership instead of growing exponentially like we used to be, even in countries like mine where Church-going religiosity died off a century ago! It’s an absolute calamitous Shiz show in LDS Mormonism right now isn’t it! (As in Shiz the Jaredite leader of course….)
Why?! Why?! Why?!
The answer is very simple. The leadership class, mainly because Brigham Young killed off the system of government we were meant to have in the Church in 1847 at Winter Quarters to make the quorum HE was President of the only ruling one, concentrated absolute power with no accountability into his and its very few hands. Absolute power corrupts absolutely as British Lord Acton so rightly said in 1887, and Doctrine and Covenants 121 taught in 1839 when it warned “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood.”
So now the majority of the Apostles who have inherited his dysfunctional and unscriptural system are practicing in their own lives, and preaching to all the Latter-day Saints to practice in theirs, the absolute opposite religion to the one this Church is meant to be all about. They have now given their hearts and minds to Lucifer’s religion and plan for our salvation. The religion we fought against and rejected in the Civil War in pre-mortal heaven. The religion of the Pharisees that Jesus came to earth to personally fight and lead a revolution against. The religion that the Restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith was meant to again liberate Christians from after the same, perhaps inevitable, dynamic played out and Christ’s Church had become fossilised and focused on making its leaders rich and powerful and the ordinary people their compliant and fearful servants.
That one tragic error by Brigham Young trying to get a grip on a confused and divided and scared people at their moment of greatest vulnerability living like the wandering people of Moses as refugee vagabonds in the wilderness has set our whole religion on a path that as time has gone on has relentlessly got further and further away from the path we were meant to be on by now, poised and ready to take the great leap forward and fill the world.
At first, enough of the CHRISTIAN Mormon religion and its powerful ideas about autonomy and free-agency, and our personal divine potential and standing on our own empowered feet to claim and live our personal divinity that all stem from that creation myth, survived because ideas that powerful and brilliant are very hard to suppress, but the corrupted and compromised Pharisee apostles, believing and teaching Lucifer’s plan, went to work, slowly warping and corrupting their peers, promoting people like themselves or naïve “useful idiots” who would do whatever they were told to do and never challenge them to positions of power at every level in the Church. They went after the autonomous women, dismantled the leadership and decision making power Joseph Smith gave them to run the Primary and Relief Society organisations independently. The Pharisee Apostles took over and put themselves in charge.
They stopped the other expression of female power by forbidding women from giving their healing blessings to other women that used to be fundamental practices in our religion.
In recent years a LOT of Latter-day Saint women have reasserted their spiritual and healing gifts as they have developed skills and careers and private practices of healing in the many available traditions of alternative medicine, but once again the current totalitarian First Presidency have moved decisively to stamp that out and add to the Mormon Talmud, the General Handbook, new regulations forbidding them from doing any of that.
They took control of the teaching curriculum and relentlessly purged it of meaty doctrine and depth. Every year they incrementally dumbed it down further and further. High Priests Quorum manuals used to be written by Hugh Nibley and other great Mormon intellectuals. The authorised pre-Correlation Mormon curriculum of lesson manuals and other publications was arguably rather TOO speculative and wild, but the last thing you could call it was limited and boring and it had kept the flame alive of several of our most important doctrines that could really come to our rescue and save us now, particularly Heavenly Mother for example.
Now everyone is studying an elementary school level ‘Come follow Me’ curriculum of proof texts carefully disconnected from a real encounter with the scriptures and their context and all the unexpected and mind expanding food for thought they offer when encountered in the raw. Instead, the young people in particular, but increasingly the rest of us, are being told exactly what to think and believe about everything as specified in the approved and proscribed ‘Doctrinal Mastery’ statements. And they are being told by the First Presidency not to trust anything at all they might find about our religion on the internet, and that they don’t really need to learn much anyway since all they need is a warm emotional feeling that the Church is true and its leaders infallible, and once they’ve got that they are sorted because all they need to do from then on in their lives is exactly what they are told to by the Apostles. THAT is what will save them. Their obedient works. That old fashioned Mormon nonsense Joseph Smith taught about the Glory of God being intelligence has no place in their religion.
And so it was that most of the unique and inspiring and big ideas in Mormonism that we were tasked with teaching to the world, and the radical inclusive revelation through democracy we were tasked with modelling for the religious world, are no longer even being taught to our adult members. The pharisees have now matched their institutional control of the levers of power they secured in the 1800’s with ideological control of our teaching and beliefs. They are in the very final stages of achieving complete victory in the current phase of the eternal Civil War between their religion of Lucifer and salvation through command and control and exact obedience to the leaders rather than empowering autonomous individual ‘Gods in Embryo’ being mentored and healed by the inspiration and powerful unconditional love and grace of their Heavenly Parents.
We now have a hybrid Church practicing two completely different religions with their own rules, their own expectations and their own beliefs. Most members are trying to make both work at once because they have been told it is ALL the infallibly revealed mind and will of God, which is confusing and messy. Others have gravitated more certainly to the Pharisee side or the Christian side and are fighting each other instead of just fighting themselves. It’s a dyfunctional, tangled mess.
ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN MORMON OR A PHARISEE MORMON?
We are talking about real victims here. The things these leaders say and do and normalise in our religion with irresponsible abandon and so little concern for the consequences in millions of real people’s lives harm real people and real families in profoundly and inexcusably cruel ways. Every throwaway, half baked, contradictory or earnestly commanded thing they say has consequences as the faithful hang on their every word and treat them all like actual scriptures from God, even if they don’t make any sense, contradict themselves, or contradict fundamentally important canonised scriptures and principles. I’m a proper geek and get more than fascinated enough just exploring the implications of what they are saying and doing as ideas, as doctrines…..but we must never forget that what they teach and do determines the expectations and norms of a community of millions of people. When they get it wrong the consequences cause emotional and spiritual harm and another battalion of people take up arms and join in fighting the Mormon Civil War against them and their false religion, or just leave.
Before we get into all of that in the next minisode, I want to take some time now to point out that we are all already signed up as troops with particular loyalties and convictions in this civil war, even if we don’t yet fully realise it, or have not stepped up to fight yet. It is not just the high drama moments of people speaking out against the current regime and then being punished and excommunicated for it, or just getting fed up with it all and leaving the Church, where this Mormon Civil War is in play. It impacts every aspect of how active Latter-day Saints think and act in every possible situation and it is easy to see the two opposing sides when you start thinking about it. I started thinking about it and came up with 34 situations just from my own experiences and observations where these two ways to Latter-day Saint are really different but always there in pretty much any congregation. So let’s find out – which side are YOU on in the Mormon Civil War? Are YOU a Mormon Christian or a Mormon Pharisee? Or maybe a bit of both?
Christian Mormons believe you are free to choose and think for yourself.
Pharisee Mormons believe you should hear and obey the leaders unconditionally. They are never wrong. When they speak the thinking has been done, so you don’t need to question it or do anything to decide of it is true. It just is.
Christian Mormons believe the leaders are accountable to the people. When their names are presented to us for a sustaining or opposing vote, that is checking in with us that we are willing to have them continue serving in those roles and we don’t know of a reason why they are no longer suitable or safe to be in those roles.
Pharisee Mormons believe the people are entirely accountable to the leaders. Voting to sustain them is a declaration of unconditional loyalty and obedience to them thereafter, a covenant commitment to always follow and obey them, even if they are wrong, because only God can judge them.
Christian Mormons are open to all truth and see life as a journey of progression. You may have to give up and change some of your beliefs when better ones are presented to you and you understand them. They recognise those changes as the next step on that process of progression, just like all the previous steps up and changes we read about in the scriptures and have seen in our recent Church history.
Pharisee Mormons believe that devoted faith is about holding on tight to the traditional stories of the religion and its history that you heard growing up, and making sure that legacy gets passed on to the next generation and new Church members pretty much unchanged because that’s what worked for them, and that’s what the religion IS.
Christian Mormons believe that the Church has a lot to learn from wider society, which is becoming more understanding and tolerant of diversity and equality in matters of race, sexuality and gender identity. They are looking forward to our previous hardline positions softening and eventually perhaps full inclusion and equality.
Pharisee Mormons are expecting the Church’s position on really fundamental issues to become increasingly divergent from the mainstream social norms and the future of Mormonism to involve a sifting of weaker members as they come under pressure from society to compromise our doctrines and values, and we will increasingly be persecuted by non-member friends and colleagues and governments for not compromising, particularly regarding our positions about gay and transgender people. If the Church gives way or compromises on those positions it will be a sign of apostasy and a victory for Satan. The truths of God are eternal and unchanging. Specially those ones!
Christian Mormons see Church lessons and personal study as an opportunity to revisit, challenge, reframe, see new nuances in, and even potentially abandon our beliefs and replace them with better ones as we learn more - we see though a glass darkly and there is a lot yet to discover and learn.
Pharisee Mormons see Church lessons and personal study as an opportunity to remind ourselves of the same core values and doctrines we have been revisiting all our lives so we don’t forget them. It is comforting to hear the same things taught and give the same answers as last time in an otherwise confusing and ever-changing world. I makes them feel safe.
Christian Mormons believe that the way to decide what is religious truth, true doctrine, the right way to live your life personally and as a Church, is to think AND feel. Doctrines and policies need to make rational sense to your brain and feel right because they are compassionate and just and are compatible with what you have learnt from the scriptures, your education, and wider social and life experiences, as well as feeling right because of a spiritual witness that they are from God. The true official doctrine of the Church should be determined by its persuasiveness, evidence supporting it, a spiritual witness and an authorised common consent vote of the Church’ membership.
Pharisee Mormons believe that the way to decide what is religious truth, true doctrine, the right way to live your lives personally and as a Church, is to trust what feels right spiritually. If the Prophet or Apostles teach something that doesn’t make sense to you, or seems incompatible with what you understand from your education and life experiences and what the scriptures say, this is a test of your faith and you need to fast and pray for God to tell you that what they taught really IS His revealed mind and will, because the prophets and apostles are never wrong and they see and understand a bigger picture that you cannot see that God has revealed to them. True doctrine is determined and authorised by the senior ordained authority of the men teaching it. Specifically, the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles as Dallin Oaks explained in the March 2020 Ensign.
Christian Mormons believe that true science is true religion. Unless there is a really compelling reason to think otherwise, a religious belief that contradicts scientific evidence is not likely to be true and needs revisiting.
Pharisee Mormons believe that science and evidence are not true of they contradict scriptural literalism or established doctrines of the Church. There must be something the scientists are missing and your religious ideas about things like the age of the earth and evolution and suchlike will be proven right one day.
Christian Mormons believe that the Church and its leaders should honestly acknowledge and apologise for its previous mistakes and rhetoric encouraging and justifying things like sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia. Apologising when wrong – acknowledging mistakes and publicly apologising and resolving to do better heals wounds, and divisions, and strengthens the Church.
Pharisee Mormons feel that apologising implies guilt and previous error, which is bad and threatens the prophets’ credibility and endangers the Church. It is more important to protect the Church’s reputation and not discuss its mistakes or messy history because that will threaten fragile or growing testimonies. It is not worth risking those to say anything in case people like that hear you talking about such things, or even non-members who might one day investigate the Church, if we don’t put them of by discussing its dirty laundry or mistakes or weirder beliefs and practices like what happens in the temple. Best to keep very quiet about such things.
It is safer and wiser if the Church’s leaders never apologise, just make necessary changes and pretend it’s always been that way, or focus on the future moving forward, or God changed His mind and we don’t need to understand why, or acknowledge the contradictions.
Christian Mormons believe that if you change people from within - their hearts and minds – their rational and emotional intelligence - they will become better people acceptable to God, and live an acceptable lifestyle, whatever that looks like for them. It is enough to teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.
Pharisee Mormons believe a good way to start changing people for the better is to begin by changing their behaviours and appearance such as their clothes and haircut and makeup, and these changes in habits and how others see them will encourage them towards being better, more spiritual people on the inside, and more acceptable to God. Wearing smart clothing to Church on a Sunday is a clear sign that they are progressing well on the covenant path.
Christian Mormons believe that Christ gives you salvation because God loves you unconditionally and you choose to accept it. Your willing heart and desire to live as Jesus wants you to are what qualify you for the atonement even though each day is a challenge and you are far from perfect. You should feel reassured and confident every day that because of that mercy you are very likely to make it to heaven.
Pharisee Mormons believe that God’s love for you is conditional. You earn salvation and God’s love by exact obedience to the covenant path. If you aren’t constantly striving every day for perfection there is a serious risk you won’t make it to the celestial Kingdom because Jesus can only save you after you have done ALL that you can do to be good, and he cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.
Christian Mormons believe God doesn’t care whatsoever what language you use to pray to Him, just pray sincerely.
Pharisee Mormons believe that there is a respectful language of prayer and God is offended and distances Himself from you and your prayers if you don’t use Tudor English such as thees and thous and thines. If you offered a public prayer from the pulpit in a meeting and used normal grammar it would feel wrong and irreverent.
Christian Mormons believe the scriptural canon has historical context and nuance and isn’t all literally true – some of it is old tribal myths that symbolically present philosophical ideas about our relationship with God or the best explanations a pre-modern people could think of for the way the world is, but not literally like a global flood and Adam and Eve talking to a snake in a garden with no death. A lot of the stories in the Old Testament and New Testament probably got embellished and added later, and we don’t even know who wrote several of those books.
Pharisee Mormons believe that the scriptures are literally true on the whole and every historical event starting with the creation of the earth happened literally as described in Genesis.
Christian Mormons believe the scientific view that there has been life on earth for billions of years and over time it evolved through the processes of organic evolution. This was all part of how God created the world and life on earth.
Pharisee Mormons believe the earth is more like 6000 years old as the Bible describes, maybe older based on some of what Joseph Smith taught, and organic evolution is definitely a satanic lie incompatible with Christian belief. We did not evolve from monkeys. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were the first humans to live on earth.
Christian Mormons believe that women are equal to men and should have equal opportunities and access to senior roles in education, the workplace, social life and Church. Eventually the Church will need to ordain women.
Pharisee Mormons believe that women are deserving of respect and equally important, but God has decided that they have different, but complementary, roles to men. They do not need to be ordained as priesthood holders because when men set them apart in callings they receive authority from their priesthood. Only men should be ordained to the priesthood and have the priesthood leadership and ordinance-performing roles like blessing the sacrament, baptising people and blessing the sick. Like at Church, at home the senior male priesthood holder presides. Women’s exaltation comes by marriage and making covenants with God through their husband and accessing HIS priesthood power and bearing his babies for eternity and focusing in this life on having babies and raising them and making the home a place of comfort and spiritual learning while the man is the leader, the Patriarch, the ‘presider’ and the provider who should be earning the money to support his family unless he is incapacitated.
Christian Mormons believe that the most important thing about the temple is taking time out from our busy lives to meditate about higher things. It’s rituals have powerful metaphors that can mean different things to you each time you go that the Spirit will reveal to you. Doing work for the dead gives you the opportunity to revisit its meaning and also teaches you things about the worth of every soul. You will ultimately be saved by the person you become as glory distils upon you naturally like dew from heaven.
Pharisee Mormons believe that the most important thing about the temple is getting every ritual precisely correct and you will be saved by correctly remembering and giving to guard angels the signs and tokens you have when you die. It is urgent work because unbaptised spirits are in a purgatory called ‘spirit prison’ and doing temple work on their behalf releases them from purgatory so they can go to the much nicer ‘spirit paradise’ to await resurrection and judgment.
Christian Mormons believe you should be anxiously engaged in your own good ideas and causes – God already gave you permission.
Pharisee Mormons believe you should prioritise doing as you are told by leaders and limit all your scope and behaviour to what leaders and the Church’s cultural norms have defined as acceptable behaviours and priorities in life for a Latter-day Saint. The Brethren will let you know when you need to get involved in other causes or community projects. If you don’t know other mainstream members who have done the thing you’re thinking about doing you probably shouldn’t get involved. The Church has established boundaries with clear authorised precedents to keep us in a safe zone.
Christian Mormons believe we should lead and guide other people to be better by sincere non-manipulative love, without guile, and gentle persuasion. Still love people if they disagree with you or don’t do what you wish they would.
Pharisee Mormons refer to their own authority to get people to follow, obey and agree with them, and refer to the authority status of other people they want people to follow as the main reason and motivation to do so.
Christian Mormons believe there is a big difference between human leaders like the Church’s General Authorities and what they teach and do and actual God. They too see through a glass darkly and get some things wrong, or are limited by their life experiences and personalities in what they teach as revelations and priorities from God.
Pharisee Mormons believe that ordained, authorised leaders are infallible and speak for God unfiltered. If you criticise them or resist their teaching you are criticising and disobeying God.
Christian Mormons think of themselves as revolutionary idealists seeking constant change until we get to perfection and make our community a Zion.
Pharisee Mormons see themselves as guardians of an unchanging, familiar tradition and resistant to changes or challenges to what they are used to.
Christian Mormons believe that the goal of their spiritual journey is to get to one of Fowler’s stages 4-6 of faith development – independence, creativity and deciding for yourself what to believe religiously and what religious practices work for you.
Pharisee Mormons believe that the goal of their spiritual journey is to get to Fowler’s stage 3 and stay there – to have everything worked out with certainty and confidence, to have and practice complete trust and compliance with the Lord’s Mouthpiece, His prophet as a sign of letting go of our own prideful ego, and switching off the tempting influences of the world that would distract us from the covenant path following our prophet.
Christian Mormons believe your relationship with God should be based on regard Him/Them as like a coaching guide by the side - God is your co-pilot but you are also in the pilot’s seat; you make choices thoughtfully, you are in control of your destiny and as fast as you can you need to become less dependent on God to micromanage you as you step up and feel and use that power and independence. The purpose and glory of your Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother is for you to become like them, not be infantilised and helpless forever.
Pharisee Mormons believe you need to approach God’s throne in deep humility. You can’t really trust yourself, you are never good enough, you are a fallen ‘natural man’ and an enemy of God. So to please God and one day be allowed to be closer to Him, you must scrupulously conform to the rules and regulations of the prophetic leaders He has sent to teach you everything you need to know and do, because they understand and see what is coming in the future and what you need to prioritise in your life right now better than you can. If the prophet teaches a particular message in General Conference, that needs to become the new priority for every Latter-day Saint family in the world regardless of their many different circumstances because all our lifepaths are coordinated spiritually as we follow the prophet and that must be what we personally and our family needs at this time. God is speaking directly to us through His prophet to meet our needs right now whether we realise yet or not.
Christian Mormons believe that the purpose of your existence and the best outcome of your relationship with God – the key indicator of success - and the best outcome for the Church, is to flourish and become the best unique you - fulfil your individual creative potential. Unfamiliar diversity, independent thought and creativity is a triumph as long as it is doing good and not harming the innocent.
Pharisee Mormons believe that the purpose of your existence and the best outcome of your relationship with God – the key indicator of success – is that you increasingly look and think and speak and live like a clone of middle class 1950’s American General Authorities. Unfamiliar diversity, independent thought and creativity is threatening, and indicates you have got diverted from the most important things to be doing with your life.
Christian Mormons believe education and teaching and learning is all about real education – learning new things that you never thought of before, challenging and reframing what you thought you knew. Ultimately you will realise how little you know or can know for certain and have the humility to therefore be open to new insights from everyone and everything.
Pharisee Mormons believe that gospel learning is all about repeating and reminding yourselves of tried and tested simple information and core principles. The faithful path of the disciple doesn’t need to be complicated and people who go too deep into doctrine and independent research seem to end up upsetting themselves and getting confused and confrontational, and some even lose their salvation because they get too caught up in worldly philosophies and criticisms of the true gospel. It is much safer to stay away from that stuff because it is spiritually dangerous.
Christian Mormons believe life is about having Fun! Having an irreverent sense of humour is OK. Lots of loud laughter. Embracing all emotions. There is a time for everything. We can let rip sometimes in how we express ourselves emotionally, artistically and intellectually, even crossing the usual boundaries of good behaviour in polite society sometimes because ultimately those boundaries are manmade and stifling and about keeping up appearances, which isn’t always healthy and rarely sincere and honest.
Pharisee Mormons believe we should be serious and not make light of sacred things. Loud laughter and abandoning your controlling self to your emotions is not appropriate behaviour. We should live our lives restrained to a tightly defined range of appropriate behaviours and emotions and respect those boundaries in our emotional, artistic or intellectual expression. Otherwise we set a bad example for others and might lead them to sin, or lose respect for God’s standards.
Christian Mormons believe that everyone and everything can teach you something important, so listen to them all with an open mind and use your brain and God will help you sift the truths from the errors.
Pharisee Mormons believe that the only safe sources of truth are living LDS General Authorities and prayer and scriptures and entertainment or books or media they authorise. Listening to anyone or anything else is too dangerous, forbidden even, because alternative points of view to the Church’s ones are temptations by conspiring people being manipulated by Satan to pull you away from the straight and narrow path to eternal life.
Christian Mormons believe we should be looking forward to new and better ideas and discoveries and developments in society and science and academic research and religious knowledge.
Pharisee Mormons have a bottom line worldview like that of Mr Crood - that ‘new’ is bad!
Christian Mormons believe that our religion’s founders were fallible humans like us, and learning about their human weaknesses as well as their strengths is just as important to us to fully understand what they did and taught, and why, and which bits were divinely inspired, and which not.
Pharisee Mormons believe that our founders were almost uniquely special and righteous people, chosen and prepared in the pre-existence to come to earth at their time to do a great work and equipped with the spiritual strength to do it well. When we tell their story we should emphasise their strengths and positive characteristics and actions and not dwell on their human failings or they cannot be inspiring and powerful to us. It demeans them and the good influence they could have as role models to acknowledge or mention their flaws and mistakes, specially to young people and investigators… or old faithful people who have devoted their lives to the Church and never heard any of the difficult stuff. Don’t upset them and make them worry. (Boyd K Packer ‘The Mantle is Far Far Greater than the Intellect’, Russell Nelson ‘Truth… and more’ etc)
Christian Mormons believe we should pay close attention to Church leaders and what they say and do and reserve the right to filter and judge as an informed observer. After all, Jesus taught his people to filter what their Pharisee and Temple priesthood Sadducee leaders were doing, recommending to do as they say when they teach the truth but not to follow their hypocritical and corrupted examples.
Pharisee Mormons believe it is safe to assume that the Apostles and prophets are practicing all of our religion’s ideals of integrity and honesty and virtue – they teach them to us and God has chosen them to be His anointed ones after all! If anyone says they are doing or saying things that don’t match the ideals you have projected onto them, they must be lying or mistaken, or not understanding something. Also, even if they are doing bad things, we are forbidden to judge the leaders or think we are in a position to be able to so righteously. Only God can judge them. Who are WE to judge THEM?! It is much more important to worry about our own sins than theirs. Gods won’t let them lead the Church astray. It will carry on unharmed by anything they might do to it.
Christian Mormons believe that as time goes on and our knowledge of truth and godliness expands, the boundaries of what we tolerate or accept as acceptable behaviour and morality and ethics is generally going to become broader – the tight, prescriptive rules of the Laws of Moses were a schoolmaster to bring weak people to Christ, not indicators of morality and strength. They were literally fatal to groups of people we would be much more tolerant or compassionate towards now, or perhaps not even regard as sinners today in our religious laws. The laws of Moses had gruesome death penalties for adultery, homosexuality (although some have reinterpreted the original language as more likely referring to child abuse), worshipping Baal – for which you should be impaled, false prophecy (how many Latter-day Saint prophets would survive THAT I wonder?!), talking to dead people, blasphemy, breaking the Sabbath rules, marrying your mother in law while married to her daughter, which Joseph Smith did for which you would be burned to death, disobeying your parents, and several more capital offenses.
The general ideal is to get away from such ruthless punitive justice systems and trying to fit people’s complex and diverse natures and lives into a one-sized fits all stereotype. As Captain Kirk taught Spock, and Jesus taught in his parable of the lost sheep, in the highest expressions of selfless compassion and love the needs of the few sometimes outweigh the needs of the many.
We need to learn correct principles then govern ourselves as much as possible as we explore and learn what really matters and works in our real lives to live up to those values.
Pharisee Mormons believe you should constrain the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and morality and ethics based on ancient social norms even if they mean you end up inhibited from actually helping and loving people and doing the right thing in the situation you are dealing with right now. Obeying those rules with exactness every time is more important than the harm they might be doing to a minority of people – God will heal their wounds in the next life. It’s more important to protect the majority of the Church members in the safe fold from confusing and disruptive exceptions and influences by relaxing those boundaries to let more people in. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
Over time as the elect become more righteous the standards we all live by will become stricter as we get closer to perfection.
Christian Mormons believe that when you ponder and pray about the messages from prophets and Apostles delivered to you in General Conference and suchlike, what you are praying about is to know if what the prophet said is a revelation and God’s will or NOT, with the possibility that it is not and God will tell you that too.
Pharisee Mormons believe that when the leader speaks the thinking has been done – you are praying for God to confirm and witness to your heart that the leader is right. If that doesn’t happen you keep fasting and praying till you get that confirmation because they can’t possibly be wrong. You just need God to soften your heart and trust Him and His greater wisdom more.
Christian Mormons believe it is foolish to judge a person’s worth or righteousness by their appearance and clothing because appearances can be deceiving. God looks upon and judges us by our hearts, our character, our true intentions. Teaching people, specially young people, to trust appearances, to regard a man with a smile in a business suit as less dangerous than a goth with a nose ring, or a hippy with a conflicted relationship with deoderants, is setting them up to be exploited by well dressed and charming affinity fraudsters and conmen, or abused. Your real self is your spirit, your mind, your emotions. That’s what matters to God. An that’s what should matter to us.
Pharisee Mormons believe that you can tell a lot about a person by their outward appearance, their clothing, jewellery, grooming, makeup and hairstyles which are all an outward expression of their inward spirituality. We need to be very careful about how we present ourselves to the world in our clothing and grooming because other people will judge us and the Church by the example we set in these things. It’s probably going to be the people who dress and behave most like us who we will get the best results from sharing the gospel with.
Christian Mormons believe that tithes and offerings are given for specific purposes to cover the expenses of running the Church and to help the poor and needy. If it isn’t being used for that, something is wrong. The scriptures, and practices in early Mormonism, are clear – only people who can afford to should be paying tithing, and only on 10% of their annual profit, not their total income. Raising it to that level was meant to be a temporary measure to the get the church out of poverty, and now it is probably the richest Church per capita on earth. We are encouraged to pay a “honest tithe” but if the Church is not being honest with us about what the tithes and offerings we pay it are actually being used for this raises serious spiritual and ethical considerations about whether to keep giving tithing to the Church, or consider other options like not paying it, because Joseph F Smith promised in General Conference in 1907 that when the Church can live off the interest of its investments, as it can now, it would not ask for another penny in tithing donations because we have already paid enough to meet ALL the needs of the Church, or giving the money to charities that will actually help people and do Christ’s work with it.
Pharisee Mormons believe it doesn’t really matter what tithing is spend on - the important thing is to pass the test of your faith to personally sacrifice and put God before your money, even if you are in extreme poverty. Especially if you are in extreme poverty! Because that’s the real test isn’t it! It’s easy to may tithing when it is easy to afford. Choosing to still pay tithing in our worst times of poverty is a pivotal moment when God is really testing you to see if you really believe in Him, like the martyrs in the scriptures who refuse to deny the Saviour even if it will mean they are killed for it. And it’s proving your faith that God will still provide for you and your family’s needs with a miracle.
If the money is being spent on investments instead of the Church then you trust that the prophet must have good reasons for that and we will understand why one day. And if they are unethically taking money from us and misusing it, it is not your place to judge them or do something about that or stop paying – God will deal with it one day. Your duty is to keep paying and secure the blessings that are promised for doing so like having a temple recommend and not being burned to death by Jesus at His Second Coming. Tithing is essential fire insurance, so paying it under any circumstances is non-negotiable.
Christian Mormons believe that every step you take should be as well-lit and as sure as possible when it comes to specific beliefs and making significant life choices with long-term consequences. A leap of faith into the dark is a valid starting point when first testing whether to become religious and believing in God, but as soon as possible your faith needs to become knowledge, as Alma 32 describes, because you see evidence and fruits or outcomes proving that the things you are believing and testing are really real. Faith is a first step, not the end goal of your spiritual journey to learn truth and get closer to God. There’s no rush – you can take our time over big decisions like conversion and marriage and career choices.
PM believe that faith is predominantly a choice and it is fed by spiritual witnesses, and we just have to keep trusting and believing the Church and its leaders because you can never know for sure or prove the Church is true. Seeking evidence and relying on rational arguments to support faith is being an intentional hostile doubter who doesn’t understand how spiritual things work. You CAN make big life choices like conversion, marriage and career choices based on a powerful spiritual feeling even if they don’t seem sensible or lots of people you trust are warning you not to make them at the time. Things will work out and God has a plan for you.
Christian Mormons believe that if you have a spiritual witness that Joseph Smith was inspired by God and an aspect of the Church’s doctrines or scriptures are true, that reassures you that God wants you to engage with it and take the Church seriously as it has truth to offer. Your spiritual path is to continue investigating and learning and ‘experimenting on the word’ as Alma 32 puts it and you expect to have God reveal to you through intellectual understanding and spiritual feelings as you live and study further, specific truths that you can trust and believe.
Some of the things leaders teach and do will be inspired, others will be their own ideas that they think are from God but aren’t because human beings sometime find it hard to tell the difference and there are lots of examples of previous and current LDS prophets getting things very wrong like Brigham Young’s Adam God doctrine and institutional racism and the current leadership U-Turning the November 2015 Policy of Exclusion which they had declared to be a revelation from God but abandoned 3 ½ years later when they realised it was a terrible mistake that hurt a lot of people and broke a lot of testimonies.
PM believe that if you have a spiritual witness that Joseph Smith was inspired by God and an aspect of the Church’s doctrines or scriptures are true, that reassures you that all of everything in the LDS Church is true and trustworthy and ‘ordained of’ and spoken and approved by God. If the Book of Mormon is true and you have a spiritual witness of that then that must mean Joseph Smith was a prophet and everything he did and taught was God’s will, and all the other prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are also true and inspired by God and you can trust and should believe everything they have taught and done. All you need is the witness of those foundational ‘primary’ truths and then you can transfer or infer from that that all the other things are also trustworthy and true. If the Book of Mormon is scripture from God, then the current living prophet President of the LDS Church 200 years later is just as true a prophet as the prophets in those scriptures.
Crikey! Well done making it to the end!
What do you think? Did any of that sound familiar? Did it make the differences between these two religions clearer? Did you find yourself firmly on what I am calling the Christian or the Pharisee sides? Or was it a mixture? Like me, have you migrated over time from one side to the other as you reflect on your personal journey?
Did that make you wonder, as it does me, how on earth we have we arrived at a situation where different Apostles and average Latter-day Saints have such diametrically opposed and incompatible religions going on in the same community and organisation? Obviously I’m firmly in Team Christian Mormon as I am defining it here and constantly amazed at what I see as the completely un-Christlike and fundamentally irrational worldview of Team Pharisee Mormon that doesn’t make sense objectively, or harmonise with Jesus’ example and teaching, or the foundational principles of the Restoration. But it has been carefully established and justified in how the Pharisee Mormons see everything and process information and their experiences.
So let’s get back in the game and carry on fighting to defeat that false religion corrupting and killing our True Church. Next minisode we will explore what on earth is going on in President Nelson’s head that he just threw the entire membership under the bus again in the April 2021 General Conference. The first time was shaming us all as giving a ‘victory to Satan’ for sustaining our prophets Gordon B Hinckley and Thomas S Monson in embracing the name Mormon and telling the world all about how Mormons are enthusiastic, modern, diverse and friendly Christians. This time he set us all up for shame and failure by insisting that if we have not performed a miracle to heal, fix or move ANY Everest sized mountain in our life – your terminal illness, your singleness, your clinical depression, your faith and trust crisis, your disapproved-of sexuality – anything! - then it can ONLY be because you have not even got a “particle of faith”. You must be a ”unbeliever”, a “Lazy Learner” and a “Lax Disciple”. I’ve been warning that the Church might not survive a Dallin Oaks presidency. It’s increasingly looking like it might not survive HIS if he carries on this level of scattergun shaming and cruelty to literally all of us.
Clearly there are several screws loose in how Russell M Nelson rationalises reality, and not just in a visionary prophety way. Well, my fantastic listener researchers and I have between us nailed precisely what it is and why. It’s not too hard to find when you just track through the years what he has said about it in public, and it isn’t reassuring I’m afraid. He is more than just a product of the Pharisee system – he’s in a whole different world of his very own in his head and we are all being turned into victims of it.
I will enlist the help of Hugh Nibley in his remarkable and precisely prophetic speech ‘Leaders and Managers’ which explains EVERYTHING about the mess the Church is in now – ALL of it. He even predicted the destruction of the pioneer craftsmanship in the Salt Lake temple which President Nelson just did after publicly promising he wouldn’t.
And we will also spend some time with Elder Neil Anderson who is another of the longterm campaigning warriors for the Pharisee religion of infallible prophets and absolute unquestioning obedience to these demigods he says we should feel awed privilege to be walking the same earth with.
And I will tell the tale of Amazing Mrs Bleakley and her 16 year struggle as a single mother returning to activity in the Church and the agonies that the Pharisee Mormonism she tried desperately hard to believe and live put her through that she is only now beginning to heal from.