LDS Discussions Blog
"Am I True" (September 19, 2018)
One of the problems we highlight with the church is how the members are handled when it comes to questioning the history of the church or having doubts about its truth claims. In our summary of church problems page, we talk about how the church raises members from their days in primary to think that if they walk away from the church, they will be forever miserable. "Where will you go?" they ask in conference talks as they find stories where people's lives fall apart after leaving the church.
And when it comes to historical problems, the church has a history of hiding evidence from members and then gaslighting the ones that continue to have questions. Again, we document this through all of the major issues in our summary page. The LDS church is famous for telling members that the information has always been there, but that you just didn't look hard enough for it. Even in the 'Face to Face' event with Quentin Cook last weekend, the church made sure to note that the historical issues were all in plain sight, but just not "emphasized" to members. And that is really the heart of the issue - the church has held the documents all this time that reveal the true history of the church, but have crafted their manuals, curriculum, and missionary discussions to avoid all of them.
This post from BYU Idaho is the perfect example of the church using both methods to keep faithful members from investigating the church's truth claims further. They first tell you that if you are having doubts, the problem is not with the church, but with your spiritual state. This is a common way to spin problems - just a few months ago I had a discussion with the local missionaries, and when they had no answers for why Joseph Smith married the wives of faithful LDS members, they told me that the 'adversary had a hold of my spirit' so that I could not get the personal revelation needed. But the truth was that they only fell to that line once they realized there are no good answers why Joseph Smith broke the second revelation on polygamy (D&C 101, which is now removed because it forbids polygamy, and then D&C 132 which says you can only espouse additional wives that are virgins). If there were good answers, they would be happy to give them just as the church would, but the only answers left are not faith promoting so the blame must be placed on the person with doubts.
After they blame the person with questions, the church then wants them to ask the question of "am I true?" That is the textbook definition of gaslighting: to make it seem like you are the crazy one for asking the question in the first place. It is such an unhealthy relationship that the church cultivates with their members, and you can't understand it until you take a step back and look at it as you would any other religion or organization. And I realize how difficult that is when you've been in the church your whole lives (or at least a long time for converts), but you have to let go for just a minute so you can read about the church's history objectively and ask yourself why the church never taught you these historical problems that are in their volumes of documents?
It is not your fault for having doubts. It is not your fault for wanting to research the church that demands so much honesty and obedience from you. And it is not your fault that you are now finding out so much information about the church that the church didn't trust you to know growing up.
At the recent Face to Face with Quentin Cook, the two historians (Kate Holbrook and Matt Grow) continually told the audience that they did not have enough time to get into specifics on historical issues. This allowed them to gloss over just a few troubling topics, put a faith promoting spin on them, and wash their hands of it. But these are questions that deserved the in-depth look that was promised, but they once again blamed a lack of time even as they took fluff questions that served no purpose but to promote faith in-between the tough questions.
But for those who are "temped to doubt the Church or any of its leaders, past of present," don't ask "Am I true," as the church wants to shame you into doing, but ask yourself the following:
Why didn't the church tell us that Joseph Smith retrofitted the priesthood revelation years after he said it happened?
Why didn't the church tell us that Joseph Smith married the wives of faithful LDS members, some while they were on missions?
Why didn't the church tell us that the papyrus that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Abraham had nothing to do with Abraham at all?
Why didn't the church tell us that they hid Joseph's first account of the First Vision, cutting it out of a letterbook and then having to tape it back in once its existence leaked out to the Tanners?
Why did Brigham Young claim that God revealed to him that Adam was actually our God?
Why did the church ban blacks from the priesthood and temple ordinances, but now claim it was never doctrine?
Why did the church insist that the Native Americans were the original Lamanites, only to shift the narrative once DNA testing proved that the Native Americans are actually descended from Asia?
Why did Joseph Smith include Deutero-Isaiah verses in the Book of Mormon, when we now know those parts of Isaiah were not written until after Lehi left?
How come the church leaders have no power of discernment to know that the Kinderhook Plates were a hoax or that the Mark Hoffman documents that they paid him for were a complete fraud?
Why are we just now finding out that Joseph Smith never used the gold plates to translate the Book of Mormon, but instead used a rock that he found digging for treasure years later inside of a hat?
How can we trust that the church is true when Joseph Smith continually changed the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants to fit his evolving theology?
If we believe in personal revelation, how come the prophets do not give revelations anymore, do not have answers for the tough historical problems, and do not claim visions like the early days?
Why does the church continue to tell such faith promoting stories such as the transfiguration of Brigham Young, the miracle of the gulls, or Wilford Woodruff's vision of the Founding Fathers when we have so much evidence that shows they never happened?
The reality is that there are answers to these tough question, but that the answers are not faith promoting. Church historians like to tell us that we just don't have all the answers, and that is true, but we have enough answers to know that the narrative of the church simply can not hold up to what we now know.
So for those reading this, please know that you are not the problem. Do not allow this church to shame you into "doubting your doubts" and avoiding the difficult journey that is learning the real church history. I spent decades avoiding the deep dive into uncorrelated history because I was constantly told that it was all "anti-Mormon lies," but the reality is that those anti-Mormon lies are backed up with sources from the LDS library and, at least on a surface level, now admitted to in the gospel topics essays.
Any church or organization that was confident in its truth claims would welcome people researching their history. This church would not only encourage it, but they would be shouting from the rooftops to potential members to research it because they would know it holds up. But instead they suppress information from a young age and then blame you for wanting to learn more because you learn new information that causes you to doubt their truth claims.
The church is finally coming to terms with the 'Internet age' and how easily accessible information is, but instead of putting it all out there, they are continuing to tell members to only research the church with official materials such as the new Saints book. That might slow the bleeding, but it won't stop it because we all know the information is not only out there, but it's backed up with sources and evidence from the LDS church's own library.
Maybe I shouldn't be so offended by posts such as this one from BYU Idaho, but this theme has been used by the church since the beginning. It is time for people to stop feeling shame for wanting answers, and to go outside of the "approved" sources and find out for themselves. If the church is true, they should have no fear of losing members, but posts like this reveal what they really think about their history, and that should be all you need to know. That they are telling this to students at college who are there to learn makes it all the more offensive.
We've linked to a lot of our pages in this post, but please check out our pages and I hope they help if you're having doubts or struggles with the church. I hope it helps, and you can email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can point you in the direction of more resources, podcasts, support groups, or anything else we can do to help.
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